Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Treat

Happy Halloween! I started off a gorgeous, windy, blue-and-gold day with the second half of Ghostbusters and some spooky cartoons. I did It's the Great Pumpkin first, then Garfield's Halloween Adventure and two horror shorts each from Disney and Warner Bros.

The Looney Tunes made quite a few horror-oriented shorts over the years, possibly more than the family-aimed Disney. I checked out two of the most famous. Hair-Raising Hare is Bugs Bunny's first encounter with Gossamer the Red Furry Monster in sneakers. Bugs is lured to a Peter Lorre look-a-like's castle by a mechanical female rabbit. He's supposed to be dinner for Gossamer...but after all, monsters are such "interesting people." It's some of the least-like likely creatures who finally send Gossamer fleeing...the audience.

Broomstick Bunny is, like Disney's Trick Or Treat, actually set on Halloween. Witch Hazel mistakes Bugs' very good witch mask for a real ugly witch. She gives him a potion to make him pretty, so he won't be uglier than her. Later, when she discovers he's a rabbit, it turns out he's perfect to complete her current potion. Not the best Bugs cartoon, but fun for the holiday.

Called Mom while the cartoons were running. Didn't talk long. Mom was on her way to pick up pumpkins to carve. She does some wonderful things with pumpkin carvings. Every year she does at least one very elaborate jack-o-lantern. I never bother carving pumpkins. I buy one small pumpkin to display indoors until Thanksgiving or it goes bad, whichever comes first.

Keefe was already out for the day. Apparently, he was going trick-or-treating with his girlfriend. He dressed as a woman for Halloween this year. My sister Anny was getting ready to take her boys Skylar and Collyn trick-or-treating later in the afternoon. Six-year-old Skylar was Captain America; almost two-year-old Collyn was a dragon.

Went to work shortly after Broomstick Bunny ended. This time, it was too windy and chilly to be wearing a skirt while riding the bike. I wore my knit pants and changed in and out of them at work.

Work went very well. It was busy for most of the day, until about an hour before I left. I saw several kids in costumes early in the day. One of my first customers was a completely adorable Minnie Mouse toting a stuffed Minnie. She even had little bloomers! Too cute. There were two little ladies as an Inuit maiden and Ariel from The Little Mermaid. A young boy was Spider Man; another was Buzz Lightyear.

Though there were as many employees in costume as yesterday, I still saw a couple of people who were dressed. There were a few people in football jerseys for their teams. (No Eagles jerseys this week - this is their week off.) One teenage boy was a hockey player in a Flyers jersey. One woman in the bakery was a blue M&M. Another teenage boy was a sterotypical nerd in taped black-framed glasses, a gray sweater vest, and red suspenders. A college girl...well, I'm not sure what she was supposed to be, other than a black raven-girl in a short skirt with a huge, elaborate feathered mask and laced peasant top, but the costume was cool.

My dad's girlfriend Jodie came by my register about half-way through my shift and invited me over to her house for tacos and to talk to my sister Rose and see my baby nephew Khai. I was more than happy to accept the invitation. I wasn't over there as fast as I would have liked. It took me a while to find the batteries, which had been moved to a small display in the front of the frozen food aisle. I needed drain clog remover, too.

I did finally make it home. I poured the clog remover down my drains. The bathroom sink in particular has been really slow lately. After that, I changed back into the skirt and went to Jodie's. I wanted everyone to see my Velma costume.

Jodie, her sons TJ and Jesse, and a friend of the boys' were still giving out candy when I arrived. Rose and Khai were there, too. He's getting so big! His hair is much darker now, and he looks more like a real little person. Rose says he's in the midst of teething, too. He chewed on slices of cantaloupe and honeydew in Jodie's arms while his mother and aunt chatted. He was a skunk for Halloween, but alas, he'd spit up on the costume before I could see him in it.

I had tacos for dinner with Rose, Jodie, and the boys. While the boys watched Cujo, we ladies talked, played with Khai, and had strawberry shortcake from Super Fresh for dessert. I left shortly after Rose did.

I made pumpkin-apple muffins while watching the early East Side Kids movie Spooks Run Wild. It's far more ghoulish and atmospheric than the later East Side Kids scary story Ghost On the Loose or any of the Bowery Boys horror comedies and thus, perfect for tonight.

Spooks Run Wild ended just in time for tonight's Dress Circle. (I skipped the Brunch With the Beatles show this morning to watch cartoons.) Naturally, the Dress Circle had a Halloween theme. We heard music from the off-Broadway shows Bat Boy: The Musical, Zombie Prom, and The Toxic Avenger, the Maury Yeston and Andrew Lloyd Webber versions of The Phantom of the Opera, the currently-running musical version of The Addams Family, the original German version of Dance of the Vampires, and the musical episode of the TV version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I just switched over to the Original London Cast Album of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Phantom. This is my special Halloween tradition. I've listened to this every Halloween night since I was in high school and had to borrow Rose's cassette copy of the Highlights album. I'll put on the X-Entertainment Halloween Jukebox after Phantom ends.

I hope everyone else had a fun and (at least slightly) spooky Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Eve of All Hallow's Eve

I got up at the usual 7:30 this morning, in time for breakfast and WOGL's American Top 40 re-run. I poked my head out to see what the weather was like...and ducked back in to grab a heavier jacket. It was sunny, windy, and cold, probably in the upper 40s-lower 50s. Perfect weather for a spooky weekend.

Did the usual Saturday farm-market/yard sale run this morning. I'm on my last few weeks for my Saturday errands. The Collingswood Farm Market ends the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I usually see the last of the yard sales around Veteran's Day weekend. (Sometimes even earlier if it gets really cold by then.)

There were only a few yard sales today. I saw one in Oaklyn and a bunch in Collingswood. I didn't get anything in Collingswood, but I did find a rather nice fall wreath in the shape of a bow in Oaklyn I bought to replace the cheap dollar-store broom I was using as a fall wreath. I pulled some of the decorations off the broom to use for other fall displays and tossed the wreath. The new wreath is a vine bow with lovely fake fall leaves and flowers in the center. Looks far more elegant than the broom.

I did better at the Farm Market. It was surprisingly busy for a weekend with a lot going on. Corn and peppers are gone, but there's plenty of other things. I bought apples, mushrooms, eggplants, fresh cheddar cheese from the dairy booth, and bananas and pears from the wholesalers. (And I forgot what I was there for, which was spinach. Sigh. I'll just get the bagged spinach from the Acme.)

I rode around for a while longer after leaving the farm market, but there weren't any other good yard sales around. I was home by 11. I had things to do, anyway. I ran The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters while putting everything away and eating leftover chili for lunch. After lunch and the movie, I made my bed, vacuumed the apartment, and aired out the rag rug in my bedroom.

Miss Ellie and I were going to do more pruning this weekend, but we finally decided that with everything going on today and tomorrow, we were better off waiting for Monday to resume outside chores. I went for a walk instead and watched cartoons until it was time to round up my costume and go to work.

I'm being Velma from the many versions of Scooby Doo for work today and tomorrow. It's an easy costume. I already own an orange sweater and a brown skirt, have brown hair, and wear glasses. I bought brown strap shoes from the thrift shop, a magnifying glass from Target, and a stuffed Scooby Doo from a yard sale. I did try to get my hair to lay straight, but I don't have hairspray and didn't want to do a lot of messing around.

Work was crazy-busy when I got in, just dying when I left. Even with the Phillies out of the World Series and the Eagles having a bye week, there's still a lot going on this weekend, up to and including getting close to the beginning of the month. It was generally fun...with the exception of the one incident where a woman slipped and hurt herself after falling in a puddle of soda. I'd just announced that they needed to clean up that after a customer told me about it. They must not have gotten there fast enough.

A lot of people dressed up for work today, especially older employees who get Sundays off. Two cashiers were pirates. Another wore a thick orange feather boa that shed all over the store. One head manager was a gypsy with a huge curly red wig. A guy in the deli wore army fatigues. A college girl who works as a scan checker went as in old lady in a shapeless dress and a wig with huge can rollers.

After I finished, I changed into pants (I wasn't going to ride home in 40-degree weather in a knee-length skirt) and rode over to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center for dinner. My first thought was Fat Jack's Barbecue...but when I arrived, they were dark. Their sign was lit, but no one was inside and the lights in their store weren't on. There was a sign on their door that more-or-less said Coca-Cola wanted their machines as soon as they opened. They were closed when I went over there last Friday as well.

I wonder what's going on? Sudden bankruptcy? Wouldn't surprise me. They're pretty expensive, especially compared to the intense competition in the Audubon Crossings mall area. In the shopping center complex alone, there's four fast-food joints (including the Subway in the Wal-Mart), one sit-down chain restaurant, one burgers-only chain restaurant, a pizzeria, one regular buffet, and a Chinese buffet that's supposed to open soon. Not to mention the Acme sells some "fast" food. There's also a diner, another pizzeria, and a roadside beef and pork place within two or three blocks of Audubon Crossings. As good as their food was, they may have been lucky to last as long as they did.

I ended up having a quick slice of broccoli and tomato pizza and a Diet Coke at Tu Se Bella's instead. They were busy, but I was able to get a seat in front. After that, I just went straight home. It was too cold and blustery to hang out for much longer!

For those of you who will be concentrating on trick-or-treaters and parties this weekend, I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Perfect Halloween Weather

I was very happy to awake to a cold, windy, blustery blue and gold fall morning after the ridiculous heat and humidity we had earlier in the week. It doesn't feel like Halloween in New Jersey when you're running around in capris and shirtsleeves a week before the big day.

First stop of the day was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there. The children's section was overloaded with 135 pumpkins for their big Halloween party tonight. I didn't want to mess with the gourds, so I concentrated on DVDs. They needed it, anyway. There were DVDs piled on top of each other, out of order, and in completely the wrong section.

I did get into the children's section enough to pull out two Winnie the Pooh Halloween-themed videos, the Halloween special Boo To You, Too and a collection of three horror-oriented New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episodes, Frankenpooh.

Went straight to the Audubon Crossings Mall next. Made brief stops at FYE (they didn't have the Christmas DVDs I was looking for, and the Bugs Bunny Halloween DVD was too expensive for an hour-long special that's mostly older material anyway) and at America's Best for my contacts.

I noticed a Toys R Us Express had opened in one of the closed stores on the FYE side of the mall and browsed around in there. I sure hope they're sticking around after the holidays. I could use a place to shop for my nephews and cousins that's nearby.

After I left Toys R Us, I rode back over to the Acme for this week's grocery shopping. I didn't really need much. Got ground chicken for meatloaf later in the week. Continued to take advantage of the McCormick Extracts and Spices sale and bought Cinnamon Extract. Found the Dark Chocolate and Mint Limited Edition Nestle Chocolate Chips I've been dying to try. Got Acme Light Yogurt, this week's yogurt sale. Decided I wanted to try grating my own Parmesan cheese and save some packaging. The Acme's generic gourmet brand Parmesan wedge is $3.99, the same price as the plastic container of cheese, and the wedge is a pretty good size.

And of course, I had to get Edy's Pumpkin Ice Cream. I've been waiting for that to go on sale during the fall. Edy's Pumpkin Ice Cream is my favorite ice cream flavor, right up there with Bryers' Cherry Vanilla. Not surprisingly, the Pumpkin is only in stores between about mid-September and mid-late November. I've had it at least once a fall since my friend Amanda and I discovered it on a routine grocery shopping trip in college. Between the two of us, it was gone in less than two days. It's that good. Really tastes like pumpkin pie.

Rode straight home after I finished. I put everything away and went right back out again. I mixed business with pleasure and walked to CVS for shampoo, to the bank to deposit my paycheck, and to WaWa for milk and a Turkey Club Ciabatta Melt for lunch.

Miss Ellie called when I got in. I told her I'd help her prune the yard today. I went downstairs as soon as I finished my sandwich and banana. She wanted me to cut back as much of the bush next to the pine tree in front of her side of the house as I could without killing it. I had to leave plenty to tie for the men who pick up our sticks, too.

I was out for about two hours, from 3:30 to 5:30. Miss Ellie left half-way through that. I wanted to wait for her to come home and tell me where the twine was, but by 5:30, it was getting colder and she still wasn't home. I decided to wait on tying the sticks until tomorrow and headed inside.

I'd started a Crock-Pot beef stew earlier this morning, before I went to the Oaklyn Library. It was hot and bubbling and ready to eat by the time I came upstairs. I had that with leftover cauliflower and Edy's Pumpkin Ice Cream for dessert while watching the Pooh Halloween specials.

Almost all of the Pooh cartoons, including Boo To You, Too concerned the easily-frightened Piglet. In Boo To You, he gets so scared of Tigger's talk of Halloween ghoulishness, Pooh opts to cancel their Halloween plans in deference to the timid Piglet. Piglet feels bad about it, though, and goes after them. It takes a major scare for everyone to make Piglet realize that there's a lot more to Halloween than spooky stuff...and that being scared can sometimes be a lot of fun.

The other cartoons were more horror-oriented. Frankenpooh was a 100 Acre Woods spoof of Frankenstein that shows what happens when Piglet's imagination gets the better of him. Things That Go Piglet In the Night has most of the gang chasing ghosts...that turn out to be a spooked Piglet. Pooh Moon had a science fiction bent. When they land in a mud puddle during a camping trip, Pooh and Piglet think they're on the moon...but the rest of the gang just think they're monsters.

Since I had the VCR going, I switched to the concert Hey, Mr. Producer!: The World of Cameron MacIntosh after the cartoons were over. MacIntosh produced some of the most popular stage musicals of the 80s and 90s, including the very long running Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, the revue Side By Side By Sondheim, the French blockbusters Miss Saigon and Les Misrables, and well-received revivals of My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, The Boy Friend, and Oliver.

All of those were represented in this huge concert, a gala event put on for Queen Elizabeth herself in 1997. Alas, the video didn't have the full show...but what was there was fabulous. My favorites included Bernadette Peters and British divas Julia McKenzie and Ruthie Hendall strutting their stuff in "You've Gotta Get a Gimmick" (originally from Gypsy, here representing Side By Side), Dame Judi Dench's devestating "Send In the Clowns" (also from Side By Side), Little Shop of Horrors' original Audrey, Ellen Greene, performing the ballad "Somewhere That's Green," and Jonathan Pryce reprising his big song "American Dream" from Miss Saigon.

(Some of the numbers that were cut and shown at the end of the tape were just as good, including Hugh Jackman's "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from Oklahoma! and Bernadette Peters being joined by a bevy of ladies of a certain age for a hilarious kickline to "Broadway Baby" from Follies.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trees and Balance

The rain that persisted all through yesterday had finally vanished by the time I woke up this morning. There were still a few clouds and it was still windy, but the sun was out and the humidity had dissipated. However, it remained too warm for this time of the year, probably mid-upper 70s, though it wasn't quite as bad as yesterday.

We worked on the Tree Pose in a full, 18-person class. At one point, we worked with partners, who helped us steady our poses. Pattie did a really great job steadying me. She's a good teacher. She said I did well with her, too.

My next stop was my last trip to the thrift shop. The thrift shop is closing after this week, a victim of an economy that can't sustain the non-profit organizations that run it. I was able to say "hi" to Erica and buy some tins and boxes for Christmas baking.

Volunteered at the Collingswood Library next. Their Storybook Hour was having a special Halloween party, and I saw some really cute costumes. One boy was a skunk. Another was a puppy. There was Sleeping Beauty, a fairy, and two really cool dinosaurs. I watched the kids go in and out as I organized and filed DVDs.

Dropped by WaWa for a pretzel after leaving the Library, then rode home. I had a quick lunch when I arrived. After that, I went outside to work on pruning the bush next to the pine tree in front of Miss Ellie's side of the house. I quickly filled a garbage back with branches and dragged it to the front of the yard. I saw Miss Ellie as I was going in and told her I'd do some pruning tomorrow, too.

Went straight to work after I finished in the yard. Work was fairly quiet when I arrived, but it picked up during rush hour and was steady by the time I left. There were no problems, other than my relief being late.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October Heat

It must have rained overnight, though I didn't hear it. It must have happened after I went to bed. I awoke to clouds, heavy humidity, and unusual 77 degree temperatures. My porch was soaked.

My first stop of the day was an early trip to the Haddon Township Library. I wanted to beat the weather. It showered a little on my way there, but nothing really bad. The weather and the early hour - I arrived around 10:30 - must have cleared people out. The books were being inventoried, but I was still able to shelve and organize DVDs. I only two two Scooby Doo DVDs - a set of two episodes of the original 1969 series and one of the recent animated movies - out this week. I have plenty of other things to watch for Halloween, but I'm going to need inspiration for my Velma costume.

Stopped at Super Fresh after I left the Library. For once, I really needed things there. Their 4 LB bag of sugar is cheaper than Acme's, and their grits were on sale, too. And I like the Hodgeson Mill individual yeast packs better than the more expensive Fleischman's. They just seem to work better for me. Super Fresh was busy, but I was able to find an empty checkout line and get out fairly quickly.

Next, I made a quick stop at Dollar Tree. I badly needed a new shower curtain. Mine was disgusting. I also picked up napkins and a new laundry bag. It's made of cheap maroon plastic. I doubt it'll last very long, but it'll do until I can get or make a fabric one.

Headed to the Bagel Shop next for lunch. The weather must have scared all the teenagers off. It was 12:30, and there was only one other customer. I had a pizza bagel that had so much cheese on it, it was too rich and I couldn't close to finish it or my fries. I did eat my pickles, though.

Went home after lunch. It was cloudy again, but getting lighter. The sun was even starting to show. Alas, by the time I'd gotten inside and was pulling out my DVDs and grocery store items, the rain had returned.

I ran Scooby Doo episodes and a horror-oriented Bowery Boys movie, Spook Busters, while working on Halloween Sugar Cookies. The cookies were inspired by a box of Pilsbury Haloween Sugar Cookie Mix I saw at Super Fresh. I was tempted to buy them...then decided I could make them much cheaper myself. I used the low-fat Stir-and-Drop Sugar Cookie recipe from The Betty Crocker Cooky Book. Swapped almond extract for vanilla, one cup of regular flour for whole-wheat flour, and added red, yellow, and brown sprinkles and orange food coloring. I burnt the second batch a bit, but otherwise, they came out quite well...and VERY orange!

The Scooby Doo DVD was one of the cheap collections with two episodes from the original 1969 Scooby Doo, Where Are You? that Warners put out when DVDs first came out on the market. This was relieved somewhat by the episodes being some of the best and most iconic of the original series. Which Witch Is Which? concerns Mystery Inc. running afoul of a witch and a zombie in a southern swamp. That's Snow Ghost turns their ski vacation into a scary trip when they encounter a Abominable Snowman-like ghost on the mountains.

The rain had slowed down enough by the time the cookies were cooling that I decided I could get away with a walk. I had a nice stroll down Manor Avenue and back up Kendall. The trees are just starting to hit their peak here. I had a wonderful time admiring all the fabulous pale greens, brilliant golds, bright oranges, soft rusts, and flaming reds.

The rain slowed during my walk, then finally stopped all together. I was able to bring the bags of sticks and my and Miss Ellie's trash without getting soaked. I went to Miss Ellie to find out what she needs pruned when things dry a bit and to get my pay for raking yesterday.

Spent the rest of the day inside. I desperately needed to clean my bathroom. The tub in particular was really scummy. That new shower curtain needed to go up, too. I had enough time after I finished to work on editing more Bowery Boys fanfiction.

I made chicken burgers, sauteed peppers and eggplant, and mashed sweet potatoes for dinner while watching Scooby Doo and the Loch Ness Monster. Mystery Inc. heads to Scotland to visit Blake Castle, the home of Daphne's ancestors. Blake Castle is hosting Scotland's Highland Games...but the most famous resident of Loch Ness Lake may have other ideas in mind! The gang find themselves trapped between a scientist who truly believes in "Nessie"...and a museum curator who just as firmly believes the monster is a fake.

I rather enjoyed this story. For once, the "villain" wasn't really a bad guy, but someone who had a good reason for doing what they did besides hiding a crime. And as one of the very few Scooby Doo outings to take on a genuine legendary creature, I liked the open-ended finale, with Velma admitting that even she thinks there are some mysteries that are just better off staying mysterious.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When Autumn Leaves Start To Fall

I was going to rake tomorrow, but since we're supposed to get massive storms tomorrow, I decided to get the yard done today. Leaf-pick up is this week. I got the whole front yard done in less than two hours, including the side path leading to my apartment. (I did it last week, so there wasn't really much to rake there, but still.)

After I finished the yard, I edited the last of the Bowery Boys story Lauren and I have been working on for the past few nights. Look for Bowery Boys Will Be Girls at the Basement Clubhouse later tonight!

I had just enough time after I finished the editing to have lunch, grab my stuff, and barely make it to work. This wasn't a day I could be late, either. We were surprisingly busy for a Tuesday. We must be having really good sales. It's the end of the month, and the weather, which had been cloudy, warm, and humid all morning, had just gotten even cloudier after I arrived at work. I heard reports of scattered sprinkling, but it hasn't out-and-out rained here yet, as far as I know.

Unfortunately, I discovered at work that I forgot to bring my keys with me. Good thing Miss Ellie got home ten minutes after I arrived and I was able to get the spare keys from her.

I had a leftover chicken thigh, steamed cauliflower with melted farm market cheddar cheese, and spinach salad for dinner while watching Sixteen Candles. Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwauld) is a fairly typical 80s high-schooler. She wishes the hot guy in school would notice her...and that goofy geek (Anthony Michael Hall) who rides the same bus would STOP noticing her. Her problems come to a head when her parents forget her sixteenth birthday, thanks to her sister getting married the next day. Her luck finally changes for the better when the Geek turns out to be a pretty good friend, and that guy might be more interested in her than she thinks...

This was my favorite John Hughes movie as a kid. I'm not as crazy about it today. A lot of Samantha's problems would have ended if she'd talked to her dad or someone in her family a lot sooner and not just assumed they'd remember her birthday. Ok, so forgetting it was rude. She could have helped.

And then there's Long Duck Dong, a variation on 80s Stereotype #15 - the goofy foreigner, in this case, the goofy Asian kid. The whole plot revolving around him and the huge girl he ends up going to the party with just has not dated well at all.

On the other hand, there's still some very sweet scenes here. I completely understand how Samantha feels when she tries to talk to the boy she has a crush on and ends up backing out. I'd probably do the same thing today, much less at her age. I had a lot of guy friends like "Farmer" Ted in high school and in college, and I'm glad he ended up being a really nice guy. I liked the scene where he and Jake, Sam's crush, talk after the party. It just seems natural.

But my favorite scene is still where Sam's dad comes in to apologize about forgetting her birthday and she spills her troubles to him. I don't know if I would have been able to do that with my dad at her age. She was lucky to have him.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Week Before Halloween

With less than a week before Halloween, exactly a month before Thanksgiving, and exactly two months before Christmas Day, I have plenty of things to do and increasingly less time to do it. I got started early this week with the laundry. Not as early as I would have liked, but I still in by quarter of 10 and out by just after 11. For once, I timed it well. There was only one other person when I got there. As I was leaving, at least three or four other people arrived with big loads of laundry.

I didn't work until 2, so I had plenty of time to put the laundry away. After I finished that, I ran to the library really quick to return Charlie and Lola and The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

When I got home, I worked on editing the Bowery Boys story we're currently writing. When Slip angers a gypsy, she puts a curse on him, the other Boys, Gabe Moreno, and Louie Dumbrowski that turns them all into women. They have to find the Gypsy to lift the curse...and figure out how to literally walk in someone else's high heels.

(I posted some other stories late last night as well. Look for two more fairy tales, a short Slip and Sach story, and a longer story about the Boys' trip to Niagara Falls at The Basement Clubhouse on our site The Riverside Rest!)

I got things done so quickly today, I even had time for a decent lunch of leftover chili and home-made rye bread with farm market honey before I changed into my uniform and left for work.

Work was very busy, and a bit of a pain. We had a lot of annoying people today, including one woman who held up my line when she didn't get half of what she was supposed to on her WIC Checks. I finally got fed up with waiting and put her things aside to take my now-long line. She threw a fit, even after the managers explain that you're supposed to get what the pamphlet says, not what you want or what a dairy man says you can get.

(Please, PLEASE read those WIC Checks pamphlets carefully before you come to the store! They tell you exactly what you should and shouldn't buy.)

Thankfully, I was able to get out and home with little fanfare. When I got home, I made an omelet with farm market vegetables and cheese for dinner and watched the first half of Paris '36 (or Faubourg '36). Monsieur Pigoli was the manager of the Chansonia for 35 years before the owner killed himself and the theater shut down. He's heartbroken when he is unable to keep his beloved son with him and the Chansonia is bought by a ruthless Fascist businessman. He thinks he might have a chance when the businessman reopens the Chansonia and he discovers that the businessman's mistress is a wonderful singer. But she might be too good for the small-time music hall...and too embroiled on the wrong side the left-leaning, strike-encouraging stagehand who is pursuing her.

Though technically this isn't a musical, music does play a big part in this tale of changing politics, broken dreams, and lost memories in Paris just as the Popular Front came in. I'm especially enjoying Pigoli's tale. The story of the mistress and the striker is a bit more conventional, but still touching.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Rest I Need

I spent most of my time at home today just hanging out. I didn't think I'd be able to move after all the walking yesterday! Besides, Lauren and I were up until 3:30 last night chatting. I slept until 10, then wrote in my journal and read for a while. I didn't start my Applesauce Pancakes until nearly 11.

Called Mom right after breakfast. With Halloween a week away, she and the family were quite busy. My brother Keefe is a member of Lower Cape May Regional High School's Marching Band, which always attends the parade in costume. He was going as a girl, which should be interesting, given how tall he is. My sister Anny had taken her sons Skylar and Collyn to Washington Street Mall's annual trick-or-treat. Dad was out fishing.

Listened to Brunch With the Beatles during and after breakfast. "The Beatles In 1966" was the theme today. We heard songs from Revolver and from their troubled 1966 tours, including the infamous one to the Far East.

I went online for a little while after Brunch With the Beatles ended, then went to work. Work was very busy all day, not surprising for a football Sunday in sports-heavy October. With the Phillies ending their run for the World Series with their loss to the Giants yesterday, many hopes were switched to the Eagles-Titans game. Though a customer mentioned they were winning in the first half, alas, Tennessee must have made a major comeback. The Titans won 37-19, leading the Eagles into their bye week on a sour note.

It had slowed down enough by 5 that I was able to shut down easily with no relief. I needed a few things after work. My last dry erase marker had died, and I really needed a new pack. I also bought a card, granola bars, and took advantage of a huge McCormick food colorings and extracts sale to pick up Pure Almond Extract for holiday baking.

I went straight home after that. Had leftovers for dinner while listening to the operetta CD set I picked up yesterday and one of my records, a studio recording of the Victor Herbert operetta Sweethearts. Went online for The Dress Circle at 7. The theme tonight was "Everyone Sings Rogers and Hart"; i.e, a mix of pop, jazz, and theater performers singing popular and little-known songs by the composer and lyracist of the Broadway shows Pal Joey and Babes In Arms and the movie Love Me Tonight, among others.

In fact, the movies provided my favorite number of the evening. Rogers and Hart did not have a pleasant experience in Hollywood. They kept writing songs for movies that kept getting cut, including the 1934 mish-mash Hollywood Party. One of those lost numbers was "In the Dark of the Night." It was one of those slightly depressing but truthful ballads the love-torn Hart was good at...and I'm not exactly sure what those two were thinking, because as good as the song was, it was too dark for a movie about Jimmy Durante inviting all of Hollywood for the opening of his newest film.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mall Day

Started out a breezy, warmer day with a short Saturday Farm Market-yard sale run. The Collingswood Farm Market is now in its last month. Several of the stands are already gone, and another one announced that this would be its last week. I was able to get most of what I needed from what remained, including honey, apple butter, carrots, apples, bananas and kiwi from the wholesalers, and the first New Jersey Brussels sprouts of the season. (And I've been looking forward to fresh Brussels sprouts after the ones I had last year were delicious.)

I rode around Collingswood and Oaklyn after that, looking for yard sales. There weren't nearly as many this week as there have been in previous weeks. I made my only finds at a garage sale on East Haddon Avenue down the street from PNC Bank. Picked up the first Great Songs of Christmas LP, two CDs (a two-disc Readers Digest collection of selections from operettas and a collection of World War II swing music), a small green shelf for DVDs, and an American Girl book of "inspirational words" (mostly passages from the books written through the advent of Julie in 2007).

I was home around 11:30, much earlier than I have been on Saturdays in a while. Good. There were other things I wanted to do today. I put everything away, had chili for lunch, listened to the operetta CDs...and went right back out again.

I've been needing to get to the Deptford Mall for ages. I was going through my bus schedules, and I realized that the 400 going from Philly to Sicklerville passes by Audubon Park and makes a stop at the Deptford Mall. That would eliminate having to take the PATCO train and the bus and ride to the PATCO.

I was really early walking to the bus stop, so I strolled around the neighborhood behind the Sunoco on the Black Horse Pike. That was nice. I passed a pretty park with small gazebos with booths, a baseball field, and a playground. I was surprised to see that the playground had some older equipment, like a balance beam, springy bounce riding boys, and a see-saw that was deliberately low to the ground for the youngest riders. I stopped at Di'nic's, a beef-and-pork roadside restaurant on the Black Horse Pike, and got a Diet Coke after my walk.

Finally got on the bus at quarter of 2 and arrived at the mall around 2:30. Shopping-wise, I generally did very well. My first purchase was new errand sneakers at Payless Shoes. I needed them so badly, I took off my old ones right after I left the store and threw them away! They were in such bad shape, I couldn't have saved them, even if I'd wanted to.

American Greetings was having a 50% off all WebKinz sale. They had a great selection, and I had a hard choice, but I finally went with something small I could carry in my big blue and white Aeropostale purse. I chose a canary. I haven't bought any bird WebKinz in a while.

Hit the department stores next. Didn't find anything in Sears, but I hit the motherload at JCPenny. For one thing, their St John's Bay Cuffed Socks were on sale, $5.99 a pack. I got a pack with red, gray, white, navy, and black socks. Lee's Jeans were on sale, too. Got a pair of khakis for work for $19.99, $20 off the original price tag. Holiday-themed beauty items were on sale, too. I bought two bags for friends for Christmas.

I browsed in a few other stores after I left JC Penny, but there wasn't really anything I needed in them. I hiked over to Target next. I mostly needed underwear there. They have better prices and a better selection of bagged underwear than Wal-Mart. I bought a few other little things that are cheaper there, as well as orange socks and a magnifying glass to complete my Velma costume.

It was well after 5 by the time I finally got through Target's lines. I figured I'd just cross the street and go home. I was dead tired. I waited for the 5:28...and waited. It never showed. I saw busses go by Target, but I never saw them go on the other side of the street. I bought a bagel from Dunkin' Donuts, and still saw nothing.

I finally gave up around 10 of 6 and made my weary way back to the Deptford Mall. I cheered up when I passed a kiosk selling clothes for American Girl dolls on my way over to the bus stop. I ended up buying a long jean skirt and emerald green tie blouse for Jessa and a beautiful blue-and-white colonial gown and mob cap for Felicity. Felicity's outfit is particularly lovely. Someone put some thought into it. It's made with very thick and sturdy fabric, and has sweet ruffle trim on the skirt and sleeves.

I found out why the bus never showed when I hopped on the 6:28 bus to Philly. It turns out the 400 goes past Target on the way to the mall...but NOT on the way back to Philly. It goes around the mall and past Wal-Mart and Sam's Club on the other side. Oh well, live and learn.

It was dark when I finally got home around 7. I had a rather nice walk home in the dark. It was rather pleasantly spooky, with the full moon and the breeze running through the trees.

Oh, and meet Sunshine the Canary! Her sound system pet item is going to keep the Cabana Room (and her roommate Alex the Citrus Dragon) hopping!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Laughter On a Chilly Day

The day began quite well with the arrival of two eBay orders. I finally found a 2000 Sailor Moon Tuxedo Mask doll for a decent price. He came in his original box and had his hat and glasses and stand.

The set also came with a Japanese Sailor Mars and a 1997 Sailor Moon. I already have Sailor Mars, and this one was a bit odd. Her hair was a rich chestnut color instead of black, like Sailor Mars in the cartoon and comics. She was missing her tiara but came with everything else, including her box, wand, and stand. I'm going to give her to my cousin Faith.

There's a reason I collect the Sailor Moon dolls from 2000 and not 1997. The Irwin Sailor Moon dolls that came out in 1997 are just plain ugly - tall, thin, and with no noses to speak of. The one I got was made even less attractive by tangled hair that no brush could get through and a shredded ribbon on her suit. I'm going to give her to Goodwill.

I also ordered the three Sailor Moon movies on DVD. All of the Sailor Moon DVDs are wildly out of print and can only be found for decent prices on eBay now. I think this might be a bootleg, but that's ok. I'm just trying to clear out any videos I can to make some room in my entertainment area. I'll probably give the Movies videos to Faith as well.

Headed out to run this week's Audubon errands after I put the DVD set away. I first made a quick stop at Acme for my paycheck, then rode to FYE. I didn't find the movies I was looking for...but I did find the first Airplane, the first Naked Gun, and Top Secret! packaged as the "Laugh Or I'll Shoot!" set on sale for $9.99. I've been really hot with DVD sales lately. That set originally retailed for $23! With my membership card, it came out to more like $9.60. That's a little over $3 for each movie. Sweet!

My next stops were faster. I couldn't find good work pants at Fashion Bug. I didn't see any Halloween decorations I liked at the Halloween store. I grabbed empty two-disc DVD cases for the East Side Kids/Bowery Boys movies Lauren sent me a few months ago at Staples. I ordered contacts from America's Best.

I decided to try something a little different for lunch. The Golden Corral Buffet is behind the building with the Audubon Post Office, PepBoys, and America's Best. I always forget it's there. Unless you're coming up the Black Horse Pike from the direction of Mt. Ephram and are really looking, it's kind of hidden. In fact, it already closed once and was reopened under different management, though it's seemed to have done fine since then.

I had a very enjoyable lunch. Other than you have to pay for your drink (unlike Old Country Buffet), the price was reasonable (about $8 for lunch) and everything was quite tasty. I had chicken with peppers and onions, steamed Brussels sprouts (and any place that serves Brussels sprouts automatically gains my seal of approval), a salad, a slice of peanut butter tart, and two little peanut butter and chocolate bar cookies.

Went back over to the Acme after lunch to do this week's grocery shopping. Most of what I needed was meat. The Acme's having a pretty good sale on bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks for $1.49 for the small packs. I grabbed thighs for $2.34 and drumsticks for $2.44. Buttermilk was finally in, too. I also picked up oatmeal, yogurt (Yoplait was on sale this week - yay, Light Red Velvet Cake!), ground chicken, tea, and kidney beans.

Oh, and they were having a good sale on the McCormick extracts. I got Peppermint. I had Peppermint Extract a few years ago, after the Wildwood Acme closed to be rebuilt. I made some great mint cookies with that little bottle, but it was so expensive here, I never bought it again until now.

I rode home and put everything away. When I finished, I wrapped a box of things to send my friend Amanda Stites. Her birthday was a few weeks ago...and I have Christmas presents I never sent her! I lost her address and couldn't find it until recently. I walked to the bank, then to the post office and sent off her box. After that, I went to Uncle Ken's to pick up the cake pan from the football party last week (and the last of the spice cake) and to give him the Sailor Moon things for Faith and tell him that I won't be at the football party this week. Turns out he and Dolores are babysitting Sam and David's kids tomorrow while they enjoy their anniversary and will be able to bring the doll and videos with them.

It was past 4 by the time I got home. I picked up some sticks and pulled some more grape vines from around the yard, but it was getting late. The wind, which had been heavy all day, was picking up and getting colder to boot. I just went inside after I finished with the sticks.

Watched Mad Monster Party? and a couple of cartoons while having carrots and salmon for dinner. The most famous Silly Symphony horror-themed cartoon is probably the first in the series, "The Skeleton Dance"...but Disney did a couple of others during the black-and-white era. "Hell's Bells" is Disney's idea of Satan, circa 1931. Some of the imagery here is so freaky, I'm surprised this one didn't land in the "From the Vault" section.

"Autumn" is a more benign depiction of October. It's another in the long series of "characters sing and dance as they depict a season" black and white Silly Symphonies Disney did in the early 30s. In this case, we see various animals gather food for the winter...then see them flee when an early winter storm takes them by surprise.

"The Cat's Out" (apparently also known as "The Cat's Nightmare") returns us to spookier territory. It's a cat's eye-view of "Pluto's Judgement Day," which came out several years later. A cat is tormented in his nightmare by several of the creatures he'd earlier picked on, including a black bird, two trees, and several oversized spiders. Not as strange as "Hell's Bells," but still pretty creepy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Balance and the Sudden Storm

It was still cloudy and cool when I rode to Yogawood this morning for this week's yoga class. The focus today was on "shavassana"...i.e, the corpse pose, or leading up to relaxing. Most of it wasn't hard, just standing poses and easy balancing. Nothing I couldn't do.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library next, but there wasn't much to do there. I put one DVD away and organized the DVD shelves. I left barely an hour later. Stopped at the thrift shop and bought brown Mary-Jane shoes for my Velma costume and at WaWa for a turkey hoagie, water, and a pretzel.

Twenty minutes after I got home, I heard a tremendous BANG! It had gotten sunny when I was at the library, but clouds had built up in the horizon on my way home. Or at least, on part of the horizon. It was a rather noisy, wet thunderstorm...that lasted all of ten minutes. The Bowery Boys movie I was watching online hadn't even finished when the storm passed and it was sunny again, and remained sunny for the rest of the day.

Spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between helping Miss Ellie in the yard and doing things inside. I piled sticks into bags and took them to the bush next to the road. (They'll go out next week.) I paid my college bill. I helped Miss Ellie pull away grape vines that were choking the holly and lilac trees on the edge of her property. I raked.

When I finished raking, I had just enough time to run inside, change into my uniform, pack dinner, grab a jacket, and head to work. The clouds were gone by now and it was sunny, but windy. It wasn't even that when I rode home.

Work was on-and-off steady, no major problems besides some annoying customers early in the evening, including one woman who kept screaming curses at her family where everyone could hear her.

It died fairly quickly later, and that could have had to do with the Phillies game that started around 7. They were losing when I was at work, but at press time, the Phillies are beating the Giants, 3-2.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All the Delights of Fall

I slept in a bit and didn't start out to the Haddon Township Library until around 11. Stopped at the Westmont Plaza first. I needed soap from Dollar Tree. I'm glad to see they're almost done with the new Wachovia building, too. The fence is gone. I can ride across the sidewalk and parking lot with no trouble. The building is fairly plain brick, but it's certainly better than a fast food place. They even fixed wall at the end of the main building where GNC is.

The library wasn't too busy. There weren't even many children's books to put away. I mostly organized DVDs for adults and children. I ended up taking out the next book in the Molly Murphy series Death of Riley, an Indiana Jones-style action thriller The Lost Temple, a Pilsbury Bake-Off cookbook, and three DVDs - volume 10 of Charlie and Lola, Sixteen Candles, and a French musical, Paris '36.

I had debated going out to lunch, but I finally decided that the chili I had sitting in my refrigerator was fine. I rode home via Newton River Park, dodging dog walkers with very big, handsome, fluffy dogs (including a lovely brown and tan collie) and people strolling together.

After lunch, I headed outside to rake the side path leading to my place. Though it was chilly, cloudy, and damp, it hadn't rained since yesterday. Even so, the leaves were still wet and muddy, and it took longer than I thought it would to get it done.

Miss Ellie arrived home from work just as I finished sweeping the debris off the path. I said "hi" to her and confirmed when we're pruning the bushes tomorrow. She said she'd leave a Vermont Country Store catalog she'd picked up by accident in the mailbox for me.

I went upstairs to sweep the porch after she went inside. It's not as bad yet as it will be in a few weeks, but I wanted to get it all off so the porch can really dry. There's still some wet spots from the rain we had earlier this week.

Went for a walk next. It was still cloudy and chilly, but I enjoyed it. The trees haven't hit their peak here yet, but many are starting to turn brilliant shades of gold, fire-red, rust, chestnut, and copper. There were many people out in their yards. Kids played kickball (and were scolded by their father when their ball went into their next-door neighbor's yard). A man worked on his lawn while his two dogs sniffed around the trees. Kids rode by on their bikes.

Spent the rest of the evening at home, watching DVDs, baking, and making dinner. I ran Volume 10 of Charlie and Lola first while my Baked Acorn Squash and Baked Chicken Thighs were in the oven. My favorite here was "I Aboslutely Must Have Glasses." Most kids wouldn't be thrilled to need glasses...but Lola thinks a pair that belongs to one of her friends is cool and wishes to have her own pair. When it turns out that Lola's eyes are just fine, Charlie helps her and Lotta come up with a way to still have some awesome shades.

Another episode I could relate to was "But I Have Nobody To Play With." Lola is left on her own one afternoon when Charlie goes out with his friend Marv and all of her other friends her age are busy. She's very lonely...until she and her imaginary friend Soren Lorenson turn hers and Charlie's bedroom into a magical forest!

Ran Fantastic Mr. Fox while I worked on British "Wholemeal" (Whole Wheat) Bread and Oatmeal Apple Crisp. I saw bits and pieces of this when I was at FYE for my birthday shopping spree and have wanted to see the whole thing for ages. The "Fantastic Mr. Fox" of the title is a former chicken thief who is now a newspaper columnist with a wife, moody teenage son, and odd visiting nephew. He's also...well, a fox. A fox wearing clothes, who has a badger for a lawyer and a mole for a fishing buddy, but a fox. It's hard to go against your nature, though, and when he hears about three nasty local farmers, it's hard for Mr. Fox to resist the call of the wild...

This stop-motion animated caper was a lot of fun once you got over the slight creepiness of the animation style. George Clooney was a perfect "Mr. Fox," a character not unlike an animal version of his cool "Oceans" series persona. Meryl Streep was his smart, worried wife, who just wants him to forget stealing chickens. Bill Murray was his badger lawyer. Great soundtrack of random Beach Boys songs and 50s and 60s ballads, including my favorite Beach Boys song playing over the opening, "Heroes and Villains."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I am Really Very Good At Pruning Trees

It was raining when I got up this morning. Not surprisingly, I spent an hour or so in bed, reading, writing in my journal, and listening to the radio. After I got up and had breakfast, I got this month's bills together.

The rain stopped around quarter of 10. By 11, it was still cloudy, cold, and damp, but otherwise fine. I was able to get to the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteer session there and stay dry doing it.

The Oaklyn Library continues its beautification efforts. The Children's Area is now a cheerful orange. The same guy who did the kids' section last week was doing the wall above the New Releases shelves when I arrived. I concentrated on the DVDs and the kids' picture books instead. The kids' books really needed to be done. I wasn't able to do them last week, due to the painting going on in there. I also took out two DVDs, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and an earlier Charlie and Lola set.

I went for a nice, if chilly, walk in the neighborhood after I left the Library. Most of the houses in Oaklyn are brightly decorated with pumpkins and mums. Many have Halloween things out by now, too - cloth witches flying into trees, cheesecloth ghosts blowing in the small breeze, carved jack-o-lanterns, plastic or wooden "tombs", bushes covered with cotton "cobwebs." I love how festive things get around here for holidays. It's a lot of fun.

I got a call from Miss Ellie when I came home around 12:30. She was wondering if I could help her prune the small trees on the front yard this afternoon before I went to work. Sure! I was more than happy to spend the next hour learning how to cut down old branches and pile them in bags.

I found out the other reason Miss Ellie won't get rid of the smaller trees besides the cost, too. They're special to her. They're the saplings of the big tree on the patch of lawn next to the driveway. She raised them herself from seeds. She even had fences around them at one point, so they wouldn't get mowed over.

I finished around 1:40...which gave me just enough time to hurry upstairs and have leftover chili for lunch, change into my work uniform, and make it to work right on time!

Thank goodness after yesterday, work was steady the entire night, and there were no problems whatsoever. It cleared out a little bit later in the evening. That could have had to do with the Phillies game tonight. Alas, they lost to the Giants, 3-0.

I went home, had tilapia, spinach salad, steamed broccoli, and a slice of home-made rye bread with honey for dinner, and watched the Charlie and Lola DVD that came from the Oaklyn Library. My favorite episode on Volume Three was the title short, "My Little Town." For once, it's Charlie who learns the lesson when he and Lola are given an activity set from their grandparents that allows them to build a town out of blocks and art supplies. Trouble is, Charlie hogs the whole mat for his vast city, crowding out Lola's park and zoo. Lola wants the last blocks for her zoo animals; Charlie wants them to head off a Martian invasion. They finally decide that they can work together and make a city filled with animals, flowers...and Martians.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rush, Rush

I overslept this morning and didn't get to the laundromat until quarter after 11. This wasn't a very smart idea. First of all, the washing machine I chose turned out to not have been allowed to finish its spin cycle by the previous user. I had to wait while I finished. When it did finally finish, I was lucky to get a drier. The laundromat was very busy today.

Didn't get home until after 1...and I worked at 2. My sister Rose called while I was sorting clothes. I was very glad to hear from her. I haven't heard from her in weeks, and I wanted to confirm our Thanksgiving plans. She's fine. Her baby son Khai was just sick, but otherwise, she's been busy taking care of him and their puppies and sorting through things for the Audubon town-wide yard sale last weekend.

I gulped down an apple, yogurt, and a granola bar, changed into my just-washed work uniform, and rushed to work. I made it just on time.

Work wasn't so bad later in the night, but some of my customers in the first half of my shift were really annoying. I got stuck with that lady who always shows up in fifty layers of ripped and tattered sweaters, looking and behaving like a crazy bag lady. She always complains that the prices aren't right or are too much when they're fine, and she takes forever to get her money because she has to go through the hundred pockets and scarves she has in those sweaters. And she's rude and paranoid to the point of being obnoxious. I finally got fed up with her. I admit, asking her why she doesn't just get a purse probably wasn't tactful, but she was driving me nuts. I really wish people would learn to leave their paranoia at home. We're not out to cheat you, harm you, or do anything besides help you get what you need.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sweet n' Tough Victory

Started off a gorgeous, 70-degree October morning with Peanut Butter Pancakes and a call to Mom. Mom and I chatted for a little over a half-hour. Between the Eagles game and having the house to herself, she was in a very good mood. Dad had gone for a bike ride; Keefe was babysitting my nephews.

I listened to Brunch With the Beatles while I talked to Mom and had breakfast. The theme of today was "Beatles Outtakes." My favorites were the many versions of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and the one for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

After the Beatles ended, I put on a Bowery Boys movie and made icing for the spice cake I baked last night. I put a stick of Smart Balance 50/50 Spread, a cup of powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, allspice, and nutmeg in the food processor. I love that food processor. The icing actually came out the consistency I wanted it to...something I could never pull off until Lauren got me the food processor last Christmas.

Headed to Uncle Ken's for this week's football party around quarter of 1. Uncle Ken and Dolores were there, along with Samantha and David and their kids and many of Dolores' children and their children. Jessa and her boyfriend arrived later. I was the umpire for the kids playing Wiffleball for a while until they started to argue too much. They went inside to find a football that was better inflated than the one it the garage.

The Eagles' game went much better than the kids' game. They were up 21-7 by half time, even after one of their star players, DeSean Jackson, ran literally head-on into a Falcon and landed them both on the ground, out like lights. The moment that happened, everything just stopped. The Linc went silent. It was really freaky. Jackson had a concussion. I think the other guy may have hurt his neck.

Uncle Ken was nice enough to make me a hot ham and cheese hoagie for lunch. I finished it right before half-time began and I left for work. I'd brought my lunch bag with a banana with me, so I wouldn't even have to go back in my apartment. I walked back to my bike, jumped on the bike, and rode to work.

Work was crazy-busy when I arrived, but on-and-off for the rest of the night. No wonder. Apparently, the Eagles continued to play well and eventually won, 31-17. I was in and out quickly and with no problems.

This has been a big sports weekend in Philadelphia. In addition to the Eagles game tonight, the Flyers played yesterday, and the Phillies just won their playoff game with the San Francisco Giants as I type this, 6-1.

Listened to the second half of the Dress Circle when I got in. "New Cast Albums" were the theme of the night. I wasn't that crazy about the selections from The Addams Family, no matter how good Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth were singing them. I found the revue Sondheim on Sondheim to be far more enjoyable. Loved Vanessa Williams and a couple of the female dancers in a number cut from Gypsy, "Smile Girls."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Rather Blustery Day

And it was an absolutely gorgeous morning to enjoy community events. Though the wind remained, the clouds had mostly vanished, and it was sunny and in the lower 60s when I turned on today's Casey Kasem American Top 40 re-run.

I learned two big lessons after my long trip last week. First of all, I started with a short ride around Oaklyn. I didn't see anything on Kendall and moved on. The next stop was the bank. It had just opened and was dead; I was in and out.

The Farm Market was far from dead. In fact, I think it was busier than last week. This was despite my arriving earlier than I did last week, around 9:30, the wind, and the fact that several booths are already gone for the season. I didn't really need much, anyway. I picked up apples, bananas, kiwi, mushrooms, molasses, and the first New Jersey cauliflower of the season.

The other lesson I learned last week was to stick to the main roads when I'm actually going somewhere. Unless I'm following a sign, I get lost too easily in the back roads. I rode through Newton River Park and down to Cuthbert Road, then crossed Cuthbert, went down to Newton, and rode over Newton and into Audubon.

Audubon was having its town-wide yard sale today. I made a find right away. One of the row houses next to the bridge going over Nicholson Road was having a sale. I picked up the DVD of the first Care Bears movie for a dollar.

I made a few other good finds elsewhere in town. One house had a huge collection of Muppet toys and memorabilia. Most of it was Kermit-related. He's not my favorite, however, and the puzzles weren't in good enough shape to give to my nephews. I got a picture book about Baby Fozzie.

There were sales up and down Chestnut and Atlantic, but I didn't see anything good. I rode over to the high school. Picked up a soft pretzel at the high school's sale for their graduating class. Found the video for Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving at a sale behind the school. That was just re-released on DVD last year, but as with many Disney DVDs, it's overpriced. I will eventually replace it when the price goes down. Got three records (James Brown, the Coasters, John Cougar Melloncamp) at a sale near the Black Horse Pike.

By this time, it was almost noon. Since I was on the Pike anyway, I made my way to the Acme. No, I didn't go in. They were having that big yard sale/bake sale I mentioned yesterday. I didn't get anything at the yard sale, but I did buy a small chocolate cupcake from the bake sale. The proceeds were going to breast cancer research, and I figured I did so much riding in the wind today, I probably rode most of it off anyway.

I rode around Audubon Park and Oaklyn, looking for more yard sales. I found a few behind Kendall, but they didn't have anything interesting. It wasn't until 12:30 that I finally decided it was time to go home for rest and lunch.

I had scrambled eggs with mushrooms, spinach, and Cheddar Cheese from the farm market for lunch. After that, I decided to warm up a bit and do some baking. I made the dough for Cocoa Drop Cookies out of The Betty Crocker Cooky Book and added coconut to the recipe.

I ran Little Miss Broadway during lunch and while I was working on the dough. Typical Shirley Temple vehicle for this era, though a bit more musical than many of them. Shirley is an orphan who is adopted by a man who owns a hotel for vaudeville performers and other show biz-type folks. Trouble is, the crotchety owner (Edna May Oliver) doesn't approve of the noise or what she considers to be "riff raff." She puts out a court order to throw them out of the hotel and sends a detective after Shirley. It takes intervention from the owner's good-natured dancer nephew (George Murphy), her gentle brother (Donald Meeker), and the hotel's pianist (Jimmy Durante) to get Shirley back where she belongs.

Not Shirley's best by a long shot. The songs are mostly bland, the story rather old-hat. It's the cast that saves this one, and is really the reason I rented the DVD. Jimmy Durante doesn't have much to do; George Murphy has more fun, especially dancing with Shirley in the finale and the charming "We Should Be Together."

Since the cookie dough had to chill for an hour, I went for a walk. It was still blustery by this point, but the clouds from the morning had vanished, and it was a bit warmer. I stopped by Uncle Ken's first. Said "hello" to him and Dolores, who were getting ready to watch the Rangers-Yankees game. I apologized for the incidents Thursday and told him I'll be able to see the first half of the Eagles game tomorrow, thanks to my working at 3.

I had a nice little walk. I went to CVS next; needed brush picks. After that, I strolled down to WaWa for milk and a fountain Coke Zero. It was fairly quiet for a Saturday afternoon, but a lot of people may have been getting ready for sports events or out and about with their families.

Spent the rest of the evening at home. I baked the Cocoa Coconut Drop cookies. The batch made so many, I kept half for myself and still had plenty to bring to the Eagles party at Uncle Ken's tomorrow. I also baked a spice cake for the Eagles party. I made chili with ground turkey breast and farm market peppers and watched Bowery Boys movies.

(And at press time, the San Francisco Giants just barely have the lead over the Phillies at the bottom of the 8th, 4-3.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Winds of Fall

The heavy winds had blown the clouds away by the time I awoke this morning. It was as sunny and breezy a fall morning as one could wish. It was so chilly, my landlady had the heat on for the first time since the spring!

As soon as I finished breakfast, I went for a long walk in the neighborhood. It was a lovely day for it. I walked down to Newton Avenue, around to the library, and up to WaWa. After picking up water and a banana for a snack, I went back down the White Horse Pike, then down West Clinton, looking for yard sale signs for tomorrow. Didn't see any, but I'll look again tomorrow morning.

I spent the rest of the afternoon editing three short Bowery Boys stories Lauren and I wrote over the past few days. Two are more Bowery Boys fairy tales, "Cinder Sach" and "The Three Little Bowery Boys." One is a quickie about Sach and Slip's reaction to a nasty thunderstorm. All should be up at the Riverside Rest by the end of the weekend.

I left for work slightly early. Today is payday and the day we get our schedules. My schedule was disappointing, especially compared to this week's. While I don't work earlier than 2 or later than 8:30 (and I only do 8:30 once, on Thursday), I only have 17 hours. And they now don't have the excuse of us constantly being dead. We've been fairly busy lately, and will continue to be busy. The Eagles and Flyers are doing well; the Phillies' run for the National League Championships begins tomorrow. Not to mention there's tons of fall festivals, fairs, hay rides, parades, and school and community events going on.

Work was a bit quiet when I arrived at 2:30, but it really kicked in around the 4-6 rush hour. It didn't start slowing down until right before I left at 7. There were a few annoying people, but nothing on the line of yesterday. I was in and out with no problems.

I went to Arby's and had a Chicken Club Sandwich for dinner, then went back to the Acme to do grocery shopping. I mostly needed to stock up on things that were on sale - granola bars (I love Fiber One), peanut butter (Skippy was $1.99), peanuts, cooking spray, yogurt, canned pumpkin, and Smart Balance 50/50 Spread. I also bought shaved beef for sandwiches next week and coconut to make coconut macaroons. I've been craving macaroons since I bought those big ones from the Acme two weeks ago.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gloomy Balance

The day didn't start out looking like I mentioned in the last entry. When I headed out the door for this week's yoga class, it was still bright and sunny. The air was chilly, but it was no more or less so than it should be at this time of year, and there was no wind.

Inspired by last night's rescue of the Chilean miners, Karin had us work on standing and balancing poses "to feel freedom and unity with the Earth." My standing poses are getting better, but I still cannot get on my head. I guess my arms aren't strong enough.

Dark clouds started rolling in while I was in class. My next stop was the thrift shop. I dropped off two sweaters and ended up grabbing a lot of Christmas things - four Great Songs of Christmas records, The Betty Crocker New Christmas Cookbook, two videos (one Snowden's Christmas), and two Golden Books. (My sisters and I had one of them, Raggedy Ann and Andy Save Santa Claus, as children.) I also picked up a Three Dog Night record.

The clouds just continued to gather as I walked the bike over to the Library. (I don't like to ride my bike on the busy and narrow Collingswood sidewalks.) I didn't spend a lot of time there. I just put away DVDs. When I finally finished the stack and got everything organized, I said good-bye to FA and went out the door.

Alas, I didn't dodge the weather this time. It was just starting to rain when I headed out...and the rain continued all day. I just rode in it and got wet. I couldn't even get a ride. Uncle Ken was shopping for my cousins. Dad's on a job in New York.

Work was a pain in the rear. I don't know if it was the weather or today's end-of-the-week sales got mixed up, but we had a lot of annoying people. At least two people had to return their orders because they didn't have as much money in their accounts as they thought. Another woman kept pouncing on every item that didn't come up exactly right. And it was frustrating that the sales change at 6...and a lot of people were buying last week's sales and not getting the right price. I was about ready to scream when I finally finished my shift.
Halloween Monkees Role Play Now Posted

This rainy day is a more than appropriate time to add this year's Monkees Role Play Halloween story, "Monkees That Go Bump In the Night," to Arc 20 at our site! Enjoy a spooky story on this gloomy day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I am Absolutely and Extremely Glad It Is Fall

It was perfect fall weather when I awoke around 8:30. I opened my windows to sunshine, soft breeze, and mid-60s temperatures. It was such a lovely day, I couldn't wait to head out on today's errand-and-library run. I got out at quarter after 10, fairly early.

I made my first stop at JoAnn's. I heard on the AGPLaythings Message Board that JoAnn's now carries the Springfield Collection line of modern clothes for 18 inch dolls. If they do, they haven't reached all stores yet. The tiny JoAnn's next to the Super Fresh didn't seem to have them.

Headed for the Library next. There weren't many DVDs to put away, but the kids' picture books were overflowing, so I concentrated on those. I didn't take out as many DVDs as I have in previous weeks. My hours at work went up this week and will probably just continue going up as we get more into sports events and the holidays. Not to mention, I have plenty of things to watch at home. I took out Halloween-oriented DVD sets for the cartoons Little Bear and Charlie and Lola. I also took out one of the few Shirley Temple films I hadn't seen, Little Miss Broadway. I liked the premise - Shirley is the darling of a theatrical boarding house - and it sounds a bit less cutesy than some of her other movies.

I also took out several books. I found a book on facing fears, On Becoming Fearless, plus another book on crocheting and another one on basic sewing. They'd just gotten the newest Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter mystery, The Tale of Oat Cake Crag, in, and I was able to grab that too.

Went to the Bagel Shop for lunch. It was around 1 by then. I must have hit them at the right time. For once, they weren't mobbed with high school kids eating something better than their cafeteria lunches on a school day. (There were plenty of kids outside, but they seemed more interested in Friendly's ice cream.) I had a turkey and Swiss sandwich on a flaxseed bagel, fries, and pickles.

Rode straight home after finishing lunch. I went upstairs, put everything away, and watched Charlie and Lola for a little while. It was about 2:30 when I went back downstairs to work on raking the front yard and clearing the sticks out.

First of all, the front yard looked terrible. The storms over the past few weeks have left the yard covered in piles of leaves and tons of sticks. While it isn't as bad as it will be later this month and in November, it's still a pain.

Second, the leaves are driving my nose crazy. I spent a lot of the afternoon sneezing all over trees. Mom says I might be allergic to leaf mold, and I'm starting to wonder if she's right. I've had really nasty sinus headaches for the past few weeks, too.

Third, I needed the money. I ended up earning $25 dollars, and Miss Ellie asked me when she came home if I'd help her prune the trees and small bushes around her side of the house. No problem! The sooner, the better. The branches on the small trees around her side of the house keep getting caught in my clothes and hair. Honestly, I think those trees are dead and really need to be removed all together, but Miss Ellie probably can't afford that.

I did finally finish the entire front yard but my side path, which I'll do later this week or early next week...or whenever Mother Nature cooperates next. That's another reason I wanted to get the raking done today. It's supposed to rain hard tomorrow, and I wanted to get it done before the storm makes an even bigger mess.

After I finished, I went upstairs and baked Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins while finishing Charlie and Lola. I really loved that. Charlie and Lola has some similarities to Max and Ruby. There's an older sibling and a younger sibling who seem to raise each other. Adults are mentioned but are never seen, including parents. The younger sibling is creative and a bit goofy - they make mistakes but always come out in the end.

The difference is in the older sibling. Here, we have an older brother and a younger sister. Unlike bossy and (sometimes overly) assertive Ruby, Charlie is patient and rather sweet. He and Lola are practically best friends, though they do have best friends of the same ages and genders as well.

There's other differences. Charlie and Lola is a BBC cartoon, based after the Laura Child picture book series of the same name, and there's the use of British-isms like "term" for "school year" and "biscuit" for "cookie." The animation style matches the books, with sketchy people against backgrounds often made from real objects, like cotton balls and bits of fabric. And of course, everyone here is human, rather than bunnies.

The stand-out episode was "Everything Is Completely Different and Not the Same." Lola and her best friend Lotta learn a lesson in autumn and seasons and how change can be good...even when they're not popular, like a new school teacher or tights that sag or leaves falling off your favorite tree. Other good ones included Lola's determined attempt to ride a two-wheel bike, and the story of how she and Charlie started a sandcastle that turned into a sand city when several local kids get involved. (My sisters and I used to do that when we were little in Cape May - we'd start a sandcastle, and one way or another, we'd get half the kids on the beach working on it, whether we knew them or not.)

I have fond memories of watching Little Bear in college. I ran that while making small shoulder steaks with peppers and mushrooms and a cucumber salad for dinner. Little Bear is the tale of the imaginative title character, his family, and his friends, and their gentle adventures. "Goblin Night" is the closest Little Bear and his buddies get to an actual Halloween story. He and his friends dress up as noisy monsters to scare goblins away...but end up scaring each other more.

Most of the other stories concerned Little Bear alone or with his parents. "Thunder Monster" was my favorite. When a noisy storm frightens Little Bear, he and his parents first chant the old "raining, it's pouring" poem to awaken the moon and end the thunder. When that fails to work, they resort to banging pots and pans and making lots of noise.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Changes For the Library

I started off a partly sunny day with a walk to the Oaklyn Library. It was fairly busy when I arrived. The children's area was covered in plastic. I saw a man painting the wall above the shelves a cheerful bright yellow. The librarian told me they're completely repainting the children's area and getting new carpeting. It'll be a while before I can do anything over there! I spent a while organizing DVDs instead.

I met a very cheerful fellow volunteer while I was there, too. Shannon asked me to sign a card for a librarian whose husband had a stroke. We struck up a nice chat. Apparently, she lives around the corner from the library and volunteers there frequently. Cool! I hope I'll see her more often. She was really nice.

I took a short stroll around the neighborhood after leaving the Library. I didn't have the time for a long one! It was 11 by then, and I had to be at work by one. The sky had clouded over for a little while, but by this point, it was sunny again. It was a little warm and humid, but the cold wind kept it from getting really bad.

Got home around 11:30. I had plenty of time for a good lunch. I made an omelet with spinach, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese from the farm market and had one of the kiwi fruits from the farm market wholesale booth. I watched Bowery Boys movies until it was time to go to work.

Work was steady when I came in, busy during rush hour. Other than some annoying customers, there were no major problems. I was in and out on time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Laundry Day

First of all, I wish everyone a happy Columbus Day! I hope you got to do some exploring of your own.

I got up early this morning to get my laundry done before I left for work at noon. I really need to do it early more often. I arrived at the laundromat at around quarter after 9. There were only two other people there, and almost all of the driers and washers were open. It got a little busier by the time I left at 10:30, but it was never overwhelming.

When I got home, I put my clothes and dust rags away, then had an early lunch. I had a leftover chicken leg and a spinach salad with cucumbers and the last of the small pears. Even with a decent-sized lunch, I still had plenty of time to get dressed and head to work without rushing.

Work was on-and-off steady, a bit surprising for a holiday. I suspect a lot of people may have taken advantage of a warm, sunny day to go down to the Shore and close their summer homes for the year. There were a couple of condescending old ladies, but otherwise no problems, and my relief was on time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

They've Really Got a Hold On Me

I'd just barely opened my eyes this morning when I heard the phone ring. Yup, it was the Acme? Could I come in at 11 or 12? There had been call-outs. No problem. I'd be in at noon. It was quarter of 9 at that point, and I had to have breakfast and get dressed.

Once I got moving, I made some fabulous gingerbread pancakes, then called Mom. Mom was fine, and in a very good mood. She was getting ready to find some flannel fabric to make a blanket for a friend of Rose's who had her baby a few weeks after Rose had Khai. I told her about my pleasant, productive week, and that I'm feeling much better than I did in the winter or at this time last year.

And I am. Yeah, I still sometimes get a little depressed or down, but I don't feel nearly as bad as I used to. I've been trying to find things to do to keep me occupied, and I think I've been pretty successful. Not to mention Lauren and I have been doing a lot of writing and are really feeling in sync with each other.

Brunch With the Beatles wasn't as interesting. The theme was the album With the Beatles (or Introducing the Beatles, as it was known in the US), and I'm not a huge fan of their earlier songs - they still sound a little too "boy band-ish" here for my taste. I like it better when they got experimental later in the 60s.

I left for work around 11:40. I'm glad I took the extra hours. The Acme was off-and-on busy all day. There were no really major problems, other than the 4 packs of meat for $19.99 sale isn't working right. We're supposed to be able to take the right amount off the yellow-and-red-labeled meat, but it keeps saying people aren't buying the right things, even when they are. They haven't put all the items in as part of that sale yet. It was really annoying.

Picked up eggs after work (the Land O' Lakes brown eggs were on sale), then went straight home. I had leftovers and took a shower. Got online just in time for The Dress Circle. The theme was "Opera Singers Performing Showtunes." Though Eileen Farrell had a grand time with the Gershwins' "Looking For A Boy," the real kicker was Placido Domingo and Carly Simon singing "The Last Night of the World" from the huge European hit Miss Saigon. I love that ballad...but neither Simon nor Domingo were the right people to be singing it, and it came off as odd rather than passionate.

Oh, and this is a busy sports night in Philadelphia. At press time, the Eagles are beating the wayward 49ers 10-7, while the Phils are leading the Reds 1-0.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Bounty of Fall

Awoke to another brilliant morning. It was just as nice as yesterday, and a little warmer this time, as the breeze had vanished in the night. I leaned back and listened to the American Top 40 re-run, enjoying the peace of the day.

Headed out for this week's farm market-yard sale run around quarter after 9. I spent most of the morning riding around, looking at yard sales. Haddon Heights was supposed to be having their city-wide yard sale day. I tried to ride up there, but I kept getting lost in the rabbit's warren of streets that makes up Audubon and Westmont. By the time I got there, I was too tired to do much looking around.

Stopped at the farm market before I went to Haddon Heights. Despite the nice day, it didn't seem as crowded as usual. Maybe a lot of people decided to spend this gorgeous holiday weekend at the Shore, closing their summer houses. Tomatoes and pears were gone, but I was able to find peppers, spinach, leeks, an eggplant, those lovely little apples I like, decorative gourds, and the first New Jersey broccoli of the season. I picked up bananas and kiwi from the wholesalers to make up for the missing pears.

Even with all the running around, I made my best yard sale finds today in Oaklyn. I stepped into an estate sale on East Clinton and bought four 60s-early 70s A Very Merry Christmas LPs (the 60s records say they were made exclusively for Grant's, a now-defunct department store chain) and one record of music from the Mummmers' parade.

I went home from Haddon Heights via Atlantic Avenue and eventually ended up riding to Kendall and checking out the sales there. I bought two more of those hardback Wonderful World of Reading books for my nephew Skylar for Christmas, the Mickey Mouse Prince and the Pauper and Lady and the Tramp. I went across the street and found some American Girls-sized clothes. I bought Molly the most adorable pink cardigan sweater and an apple-themed dress that might fit the Cabbage Patch Kid girls. (They also had Samantha's "Meet" dress, but I don't need that.) The college-age girl running the sale had once owned a Samantha and was disappointed she's now retired. We had a short but pleasant chat about collecting Samantha items.

It was past noon by the time I bought the doll clothes. Time to head home. When I got in, I made a hot turkey and cheese sandwich with fried peppers and onions and little pears for lunch, then worked on editing this month's Monkees role play for a while. (Look for it sometime next week!)

But that gorgeous day kept calling me. I went out again to run errands around 3:30. My first stop was the CVS across from Newton River Park. I'd forgotten to buy contact solution yesterday at the Acme, and I was almost out. I walked down to WaWa next for some milk.

I wasn't the only one who'd opted for a late-day walk. The sidewalks were busy with people strolling with their children, kids and teens in packs or riding their bikes or scooters, and adults on bikes, enjoying the gorgeous weather. I saw quite a few people putting up their Halloween decorations, too.

I did stay at home when I got in...but not inside. I put Molly into her new pink sweater, then scooped up her and Felicity and took them outside. I took pictures of them as I had them "play" on the porch. I have a small green foam ball that's the perfect size for an American Girl doll to play catch with. I also had them inspect fall leaves. And the naughty girls climbed on my railings and tried walking on them. (I'm probably lucky they didn't fall off!)

By 5, it was now getting dark and cold. I finally retired indoors. Spent the rest of the evening finishing the crocheted purse I made for Jessa and watching the Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times. Modern Times is Chaplin's last silent movie (though there is some dialogue and singing). Chaplin's Little Tramp goes nuts in his demanding factory job...but when he meets pretty orphan Paulette Goddard, he decides that he wants to make enough money for a home for both of them. But where the Little Tramp goes, trouble always follows...

I remember seeing this movie as a child and enjoying it, especially the opening in the factory. It's still a lot of fun...and may have even more meaning now as many people face the same perpetual unemployment that the Little Tramp and Paulette do here.

As I made shrimp, mushroom, and leek stir-fry for dinner, I reflected on how this has been one of the most pleasant and productive weeks in recent memory, at least since my August vacation. I got a LOT done this week. Next week, I hope to get started on raking the front and side lawn.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Everything Is Just Right

The weather today couldn't have been more perfect. I've never seen a lovelier day in early October. It was clear and warm when I awoke this morning. The wind that was leftover from the storms we've had the past few weeks had finally died down to a breeze. The sky was so blue, it hurt my eyes to look at it.

After an oatmeal and mini-pears breakfast, I headed to the Oaklyn Library to finish this week's library volunteering. They're working on moving the kids' videos over to the children's area. I didn't know what the librarian in charge of the project wanted, and she wasn't in today, so I worked on organizing the DVDs instead. The children's picture books badly needed to be shelved and organized, too.

I went straight to the Acme from the library to pick up my paycheck and grocery shop. I really didn't need to do much shopping. In fact, I was mostly there for Cheerios and stew meat and ended up grabbing a couple of sales - Acme Light Yogurt, Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent, Acme's generic tissues, flour, Palmolive dish-washing liquid.

I also got my schedule while I was at work. It's the best schedule I've had since mid-August. I got 24 hours, nothing earlier than noon or later than 7:30. 24 hours still isn't great, but it's much better than what I have been getting lately.

The Acme was packed when I was there. There was lots going on. Everyone was talking about the Phillies game tonight, especially after Roy Halliday's historic no-hitter on Wednesday. I'm glad they're doing well, but I'm almost getting sick of hearing about it! That's all they talked about on the radio this morning, too.

Went straight home after that. I put everything away, had light yogurt, peanut butter on rye bread, and an apple for lunch, then went back out again. It was too nice of a day to be inside for hours on end. I still had errands to run, too.

My first stop was the bank. I actually had a little bit more in the bank than I thought. It still wasn't enough to pay my rent. I did have to raid my savings account, but it wasn't as much as it could have been.

After that, I just went for a walk. I headed across the foot bridge and into Audubon. My original intention was to hit Act Two Collectibles and check out their bin of Cabbage Patch Kid clothes, but for some reason, they were closed when I got there. I just turned back instead and went home partially via the White Horse Pike.

It was such a nice day for a walk. The sign at the Beneficial Bank on the White Horse Pike in Audubon said it was 74 at 3PM...and I completely believe them. It was warm without either the summer's dry heat or the recent spate of cold dampness. The rain left a positive mark, though. The grass is now as green as emeralds, with few straw-like spots left, and the gardens of mums and daisies practically glow. I passed several people on bikes or on foot, and I wouldn't be surprised if many of the traffic on the White Horse Pike were drivers just out enjoying the weather. I did stop briefly at the WaWa in Audubon for a drink and a banana and at Doria's Deli for a roll for dinner and conversation.

Spent the rest of the late afternoon and evening at home. It was still too gorgeous to be inside, so I swept the porch. I finished Murphy's Law sitting outside as well. It was nice just to sit outside and read and be at one with nature. I've realized how much I'd miss the birds chirping and the squirrels playing on my roof and the wind blowing through the trees if I moved.

I finally went in around 5. I made ginger molasses cookies from a Prevention Magazine recipe. They were made with Smart Balance 50/50 butter and skim milk, and they came out very moist and flavorful. I cleared out leftovers and old vegetables for dinner and had a Meatball Sandwich, Ratatouille, and applesauce. Watched one of my favorite Bowery Boys movies, Loose In London, while baking, and finally got to The Black Cauldron during dinner.

Oh, and I really ended up liking Murphy's Law. Intelligent, feisty Molly Murphy immigrates to America in 1904 under another woman's name to avoid a murder charge in Ireland. She winds up involved with a murder at Ellis Island and has to clear her name and the name of a sweet-natured man she met on the boat...not to mention keep her cool around the hunky young police sergeant.

It's very evocative of both Ireland and New York in this time period, when Tammany Hall still ruled New York with an iron fist and people living in squalid tenements were just down the road from the Vanderbilts and Morgans in enormous brownstone mansions on Park Avenue.

Oh, and at press time, the Phillies were winning their second playoff game over the Cincinatti Reds, 7-4.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Unified Balance

I rode out early into a gorgeous, sunny, windy October morning. It couldn't have been a more perfect day in early fall. It was still a little chilly, but not nearly as much as it has been the past few days. The clouds were fewer, and the sun was brighter.

Unity is the theme of the month at Yogawood, and to celebrate it, we concentrated on hip-opening and working with partners. Unity is something I still have to work on. I'm so used to being isolated and closed off in my own world. I'm not accustomed to having people around who actually like me for what I am and give me genuine support who aren't a part of my family. Most people always seemed to think I was crazy or weird, or would just use me.

On one hand, I want so badly to be a part of a group. I want to belong. But on the other hand, I enjoy my independence, too, and I'm afraid of having to give that up if I let other people in. I'm also frequently afraid to trust people I don't know. I've had people let me down before. People have taunted me, harassed me, and bullied me. I'm afraid of what people can do...but I want that support, too. I want to be loved for me.

After class ended, I dropped a bag of clothes donations at the thrift shop, then headed to the Collingswood Library for this week's session there. The DVDs were overflowing on the file cabinets where the discs themselves were kept, so I concentrated on doing those. They badly needed to be organized, too, both the adult and kids' sections for once.

I rode straight home after finishing at the library. Spent the rest of the afternoon having stew and a tomato for lunch and working on the budget. Seems I spent a little less last month than in August, but I didn't go on vacation last month, either.

The internet went down a couple of times for a few seconds, then for longer. By that time, it was too late to call Verizon. If it was still down when I got home, I'd call them then. I changed, packed my dinner, and hurried to work.

Work was on-and-off busy, though it never got quite as busy as it did earlier in the week. I was in and out with no problems.

And the internet hasn't gone down since I've been home. We'll see what happens there. I probably won't be able to afford to upgrade to FIOS until after the New Year.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Beginning of the Halloween Season

It was sunny and clear when I awoke around 8 this morning. I turned on The Breakfast Club and wrote in my journal. It was still pretty nice while I ate breakfast. However, by the time I was dressed and heading out to Westmont, clouds were starting to roll in. It never did rain, but the on-and-off clouds lingered throughout the day. It remained chilly and very windy...perfect fall weather.

My first stop was Dollar Tree to stock up on more of those thicker sponges I like. They did have the three packs this time. I bought two. I had less luck with Super Fresh. There were no good cereal sales.

Next up was this week's volunteering session at the Haddon Township Library. There weren't many books to return, so I mostly concentrated on DVDs. I found a History Channel special on Halloween that looked similar to the one on Christmas that Linda Young sent me a few years ago and grabbed that. I also took out the Barbara Streisand-Robert Redford weepie The Way We Were, Charlie Chaplin's last silent movie Modern Times, and two collections of Max & Ruby and Angelina Ballerina cartoons that included Halloween shorts.

I made a quick stop at WaWa for a drink and a pretzel on the way home, then went straight to the apartment. I had a quick yogurt-peanuts-and-fruit lunch, then went out for a walk. By this point, it was partly cloudy, windy, and cold. Just about the most perfect Halloween weather. I strolled around in the neighborhood between Kendall Boulevard and the creek, enjoying the brisk weather and all the Halloween decorations that are up now.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. After I got in, I watched Max & Ruby and Angelina Ballerina and worked on dusting.

Ruby, the eldest of the two bunny siblings, wants to be Cinderella for Halloween, and Max must be her Prince Charming. Trouble is, Max would rather be a vampire. I think Ruby was being a bit of a snot here. So the kid doesn't want to be a prince? It's his costume, not hers.

Angelina's Halloween tale came off much better. Actually, it revolved around her little cousin Henry. Henry's been spooked by Angelina's dad's tale of "The Chipping Cheddar Witch," an evil being that turns residents of their sleepy English village into stinky cheese. Is that witch that Henry and Angelina's friend William see a real witch...or is it just someone in costume?

I switched to two spooky soundtrack LPs for Young Frankenstein and the first Ghostbusters movie as I finished the dusting. When the dusting was done, I finally pulled out the Halloween decorations. I have quite a bit for someone who really isn't a huge fan of this particular holiday. I especially have several Halloween stuffed animals, including four Beanie Babies (a ghost, a ghostly bear, a wolf with red eyes, and a sparkly mini-bat), two WebKinz (a Bat and a Black Cat), a bat made from polka-dot fabric I bought at a yard sale, and a crow with a scarecrow's hat that came from the thrift shop.

When that was done, I started the Baked Chicken Legs with Lemon-Wine Broth, Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary, and steamed green beans I was going to have for dinner. I ran The Haunted History of Halloween while I ate. I've enjoyed starting my Christmases these last few years with the Christmas Unwrapped History Channel special Linda sent me, and thought this could perform a similar function to kick off this year's Halloween season. It discussed the origins of Halloween, from it's Irish Keltics roots to the modern costume-oriented celebrations of today.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

School's In, Rain's Out

I awoke to another rain storm and decided to sleep in a bit. After I had breakfast and watched some of Sahara, I took the fact that the rain had slowed as a good sign and headed to the Oaklyn Library for volunteering. They were busy with a senior program when I arrived, so I opted for a walk instead.

I'm really glad we've had so much rain over the past few weeks. The trees, grass, and plants look much better. The leaves on the trees are just starting to turn gorgeous shades of rust, scarlet, and gold. The grass is as green as emeralds. The mums and late roses are blooming in profusion in every garden.

Many people have started putting up their Halloween decorations, too. There's a lot more early fall and Halloween decorations out than last year! Maybe all the rain we had last year kept people from doing elaborate displays.

I was on my way down Kendall when the rain became heavier. I thankfully made it home before it started pouring again. When I got in, I finished editing the last of the three Bowery Boys fanfics Lauren and I wrote last month, The Lone Disarrangers, and posted it to the Bowery Boys Basement Clubhouse page.

Finished Sahara while dusting and washing the windows and having Persian Cucumber Salad and a grilled cheese and turkey sandwich for lunch. Sahara is a modern-day treasure hunting adventure story somewhat like a more comic National Treasure. A doctor who is trying to find the cause of a plague in Mali and two goofy treasure hunters who are looking for a lost Civil War ship join forces to stop a ruthless businessman with a lot more than gold on his mind.

If you're into more old-fashioned action stories like National Treasure, Romancing the Stone, or the Indiana Jones series, Sahara will be right up your alley. It's a little long, and Matthew MacCaughney is much too laid-back to play an Indiana Jones type. Penelope Cruz does much better as the devoted UN doctor.

Work was actually kind of fun tonight. I was only up front for the first half of my shift and the last hour. Acme Markets is holding training classes to help employees become better-acquainted with their new emphasis on customer services. While they didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, both of the district managers who ran the class were very nice. I liked the man in particular. He told great stories. My favorite was about the time he went to Burger King and ran into a fight between the cook and the cashier. Not only did the cook throw a cheeseburger at the wall, but he scraped the burger off and put it back on a bun. Yuck! And Burger King wonders why they've been losing business lately.

Everyone in the class got a GOT Five Star Service card for $5 off their next purchase for being able to scream the company motto the loudest. I'm glad I did. I was going to hold off on getting paper towels and sugar until later in the week, but I ended up getting them tonight after all. I also treated myself to low-fat coconut macaroons from the bakery.