Monday, January 31, 2011

New Jersey On Ice

I awoke to a chilly, 30-degree morning. Unfortunately, that meant anything that melted yesterday was frozen by the time I got out...including the ice on the path leading to my apartment, a line of melting snow on my porch, and just about any water surrounding the laundromat. The streets are still clear, but it was hard to get onto the sidewalk once I got there.

At least I didn't have much laundry to do. It didn't take much more than the usual hour-hour and a half. They laundromat was really busy today. Everyone was fussing about the ice and the weather, and it got very annoying to listen to. I got squawked at by the old lady who owns the place, too. She complained about my bike blocking the door...but there weren't too many other places I could put it! I was glad when I was finally done with both Clues In the Shadows and my dryer load and was able to go home.

I put my clothes away, then had leftover meatballs and peas and carrots for lunch while watching more McBride. In The Doctor's Out...Really Out, Mac attempts to help out his friend and accountant Harvey, who just lost custody of his son due to a psychiatrist's insistence that he's unstable. Harvey goes to the man's house to have it out with him and make it look like he's going to kill himself, but he trips and accidentally shoots the man. When he panics and calls McBride, it's discovered that the man was likely dead before Harvey arrives, and that he may have been poisoned with a chemical that can dissipate in the body after 36 hours. However, when Roberta arrives, the body's somehow disappeared. Some very interesting cat-and-mouse games here, especially as Phil searches the hospital for the body.

I wish I'd stayed with McBride. Snow/ice jitters crossed with beginning-of-the-month customers made for a busy and fairly unpleasant night at work. This is getting absurd. We are supposed to have ONE inch of snow tomorrow, then a LITTLE freezing rain, and tons of regular old RAIN! People will have to be a little careful on their morning commutes, but we're hardly going to get snowed in. People were snippy; old ladies were demanding and obnoxious. We had call outs, including one manager who couldn't get her car started, and were short-handed all night.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

I slept until 9:30 this morning, then read in bed for another hour. The Brunch With the Beatles show wasn't very interesting today, so I opted for more McBride and an episode of a 1994 show called Burke's Law instead.

The McBride movie was It's Murder, Madam. A naive young woman is accused of killing the high-priced madam who set her up with a man who tried a little too hard to get her in bed. Turns out the madam was also blackmailing her famous customers, and McBride and Phil have to find out which one of the blackmail victims might also be a murderer. Meanwhile, Mac's not terribly happy that Roberta's dating someone else.

I've never heard of Burke's Law, which seems to be an unusually elegant cop show from 1994. A father-and-son cop duo investigate a murder at a beauty pageant. The young lady who was considered a shoo-in to win was killed with a baton in the dressing room, and Burke Senior and Junior have to find out who did it...and why. I recognized quite a few familiar faces here, including Diahnne Carroll (as the pageant coordinator), Alan Thicke (as the smarmy Master of Ceremonies, an aging singer), Elizabeth Berkley (as the victim's main competition), and Jennifer Anniston (as a reporter undercover as a makeup artist). It's a shame this stylish show didn't seem to last long - considering I'm not fond of either Berkley or Anniston, I quite enjoyed this episode.

Called Mom after my breakfast of Cranberry-Lemon Pancakes and half a grapefruit. Mom was working on projects for neighbors whose daughter was getting married and couldn't talk long. We were on the phone long enough for her to deliver some wonderful news. My brother Keefe has finally decided he's going to join the Navy after he graduates high school in June. I think Mom said something about him wanting to do something with nuclear - probably designing or building submarines, if I know my brother the master builder. He'll be going to school in Charleston, South Carolina, for 2 1/2 years. I'm proud of him, and Mom's elated. She's a native southern belle (born in West Virginia) and loves the Carolinas.

I just hung out online for the rest of the afternoon, then headed to work. Work was very busy all day, not unusual for an end-of-the-month Sunday. It was much nicer today than it has been, too, sunny and in the 40s. The good weather (and melting snow) must have brought a lot of people out of the woodwork. People were generally in a good mood, my relief was actually a little early, and there were no major problems.

Went straight home after that for a shower, a dinner of leftover baked pasta and sausage and peas and carrots, and The Dress Circle. "The Music of Jerry Bock" was the theme today. Bock is best known for his famous series of shows done in the 60s and early 70s with Sheldon Harnick, including Fiddler on the Roof represented here by a medley of songs used in Jerome Robbins' Broadway, including "Sunrise, Sunset," "Tradition," and "The Wedding Dance." Other familiar Bock songs include "Artificial Flowers" from Tenderloin, "Too Close For Comfort" from the Sammy Davis Jr. vehicle Mr. Wonderful, the charming "Dear Friend" from She Loves Me, and the touching "In My Lifetime" from The Rothchilds.
"Winter at the Riverside Rest" Posted

Photobucket wouldn't cooperate...but I did finally manage to get the whole American Girl doll photo story up. Actually, it's two stories put together; the first one ended when my camera ran out of batteries! Enjoy! :)

Winter at the Riverside Rest

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter at the Riverside Rest and Other Stories

Started off the day at my place, with a spinach and cheese omelet and grapefruit for breakfast. After I finished eating, I worked on crocheting a scarf for Samantha while watching another Bowery Boys movie, Lucky Losers. Sach and Slip are working for a prestigious Wall Street broker when the man suddenly kills himself. When Slip finds dice in his desk, he might have the answer as to why. With the help of a street vendor who sells a book on gambling, TV reporter Gabe Moreno, and ever-nervous soda shop owner Louie Dumbrowski, they set out to infiltrate an illegitimate casino and ferret out the man responsible for allowing the casino to stay in business!

After The Bowery Boys ended, I decided to go for a walk and run some errands around Oaklyn. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library, since I hadn't been able to get in on Wednesday. The only person there was some college student who kept badgering the librarian about getting newer releases and more DVDs. I organized the DVDs; moved some adult DVDs that had somehow wound up in the kids' section to the other side. Organized the young adult series shelf (the Nancy Drew and Goosebumps series were especially disorganized today) and took a quick look at the kids' picture books.

After I headed out, I went to the bank really quick to use their ATM machine, then to CVS. I forgot batteries, nuts, and sugar at work, and they have better prices on dried fruits anyway. (And the sugar and dried fruit turned out to be on sale as well.) Went across the street for a walk in Newton River Park, but it turned out to be a short slog. Their paths aren't shoveled, and it was past 2:30 by that point and I wanted lunch.

Headed back to Oaklyn to try a pizza place around the corner from me, Philly's Phatties. It's next-door to the dance studio and a few doors down from Leo's Yum-Yums and Doria's Deli. It's always been there; I just never tried it before. I had a small panzerotti - a smaller pocket pizza pie. I had been craving strombolis, but I thought this would be smaller and less to eat. I was right. It was smaller, half the size of a full-sized stromboli, though still pretty large. I had it with a 12-ounce can of Diet Pepsi and some of the dried apricots I bought. I ate, listened to the teen boys behind the counter talk, and watched what I assume to be one of the 800 versions of Law & Order on USA.

When I got back to Manor, I quickly went to see if anyone was home at Uncle Ken's...but I saw a mostly-empty driveway. I decided I'd just have to make my own fun.

I went upstairs to the apartment, quickly put away the things I bought at CVS, and grabbed my modern American Girl doll Jessa. Jess is the only one of my dolls who has a winter coat, a white fur coat I believe came from the Springfield Collection. Her sneakers are also far more appropriate for the snow than Felicity's buckle shoes or the Mary Janes on Sam and Molly. I wrapped Jess in her coat and the scarf I made last spring, grabbed my (now re-charged) camera, climbed back into my boots and coat and scarf, and headed back out.

I walked around the park again, taking shots of Jessa doing snow things - standing against the piles of snow the plows left in front of the park to show how big they are compared to her, throwing tiny snowballs, "rolling" down a hill like I did yesterday, looking out onto the frozen whiteness of Newton River, posing by the snowman I found and the snow-bear I made on the porch the other day. I even posed her taking off her coat and with a cup of hot chocolate when we got in.

While Jessa and I warmed up, we watched the first two McBride movies together, the second while I made tilapia and roasted broccoli and cauliflower for dinner. McBride is actually a series of movies the Hallmark Channel made between 2005 and 2008. Linda sent me these DVDs a few weeks before Christmas, but I put them on the small green shelf with the Monkees and Bowery Boys/East Side Kids DVDs and completely forgot about them until last week. (Sorry, Linda!)

Murder After Midnight introduces "Mac" McBride (John Larroquette), a LA cop-turned-lawyer who specializes in taking on cases that others consider lost causes. Phil Newberry is the technology-savvy young lawyer who quits the public defender's office to work for McBride, who is his hero. Roberta Hansen is a police detective and Mac's on-again, off-again girlfriend. And then, there's Jesse, the large white dog who is Mac's closest companion. (The second show in a row with a dog character that's often smarter than the humans around them! ;) )

The most interesting "gimmick" with McBride is the use of flashbacks. Two or three times a movie, McBride will be seen in a flashback of one of the suspects or clients, either to find out what they saw or ferret out a possible lie. It definitely makes the endings that much more vivid to have seen things the way McBride sees them...literally!

Of the two, I preferred The Chamelon Murders for it's more imaginative plot involving a young intern who is accused of killing the wife of a rich real estate magnate...but the woman is not what she claims to be. Murder After Midnight's family squabbling wasn't quite as creative, but it did serve to nicely set up the series' premise.

Here's Linda Young's fan site on the McBride mysteries.

Oh, and look for a photo story about Jessa's adventures outside later tonight! (If the darn pictures will ever upload onto Photobucket...)

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Dashing Through The Snow, On a Two-Wheeled Open Bike..."

Started today with work. The skies were just gray when I arrived at the Acme around 10AM. I dodged snow piles, went slow on ice, and was careful on the ramp into Oaklyn and going around that turn where the Black Horse Pike becomes Nicholson Road.

Work was very busy all day. It was also very annoying. Everyone was fussing over the snow! I don't know why. I think it's pretty, and a lot of fun. I guess it's because we're not used to getting a snow storm a week. People don't like things they aren't used to around here. And admittedly, I don't have to worry about kids being underfoot or tramping around in wet clothes, either. I was very glad that work went fast and my relief was on time.

I got my schedule earlier in the day. The good news is mostly earlier hours, including 2-6 on Sunday and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday off again. (Which will once again work to my advantage; the National Weather Service is calling for a chance of snow and/or freezing rain on Tuesday night.)

The bad news is just as many hours as last week...which is to say, not enough of them. Plus, I'm stuck with that 4-9:30 shift on Thursday again.

Did my grocery shopping right after work. Took advantage of a couple of in-flyer-coupon sales to pick up Skippy's Peanut Butter for a $1 for 2 jars, 2 bottles of Wishbone Salad Dressings for $1.50 each (I got Light Italian and Red Wine Vinaigrette), and two boxes of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter sticks for $2.59 each. Picked up eggs, too, just to stock up ahead of snow panickers. Also grabbed granola bars, steak, ground chicken, grapefruit, oranges, apples, bananas, and bags of spinach and broccoli and cauliflower.

I cut across Audubon Park to avoid the traffic on the Black Horse Pike, so it took me a little longer to get home than it had getting to work. It was about ten after 4 by the time I arrived. I was tired of being cooped up inside, though. I put everything away, changed into a normal long-sleeved t-shirt and my boots, put my coat, scarf, and gloves back on, and went for a walk.

I had a great time. It had started snowing sometime during work. Not heavy snow, like the other night, but light and pretty. I walked across the path over the train tracks to Uncle Ken's to see if anyone was home. They were all inside, so I went back home and played in the park next-door and in my front yard.

Most of the snow in the park and on the train tracks were as pure and unmarked as if they were on some unexplored territory. The whole world looked new. As Lola put it, "everything is different and not the same,"...but unlike confused Lola, I thought it was a wonderful feeling. The sky was whitish-gray, like a rabbit's coat, and so soft, I felt like I could reach up and stroke it.

I ran as fast as I could. I threw snow up in the air and over my head. I admired a snowman someone else had already made. I made snow angels. I rolled down a hill...and when I stopped, I just lay in the snow, puffing and letting the flakes fall silently on my face. There was no sound, no other world. It was like it was just me and the snow.

When I finally got back in, I put my boots on the daisy welcome mat and hung my coat on a chair to dry, then did my taxes. My taxes usually take about 20 minutes to an hour to complete. I have no dependents, own no property, and prefer to eFile. My tax return was sent on it's way quickly. I'm not getting anything back from New Jersey, but I am getting something from the Federal Government. (And I did Direct Deposit, so I should get the money even faster.)

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I want to go out and play in the snow again, but I do have some errands to run first, including trips to CVS and the bank and volunteering at the Oaklyn Library.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Miss Redmer and the Tales of the Canceled Shows

After last night's storm, I wasn't even going to attempt to get to Collingswood this morning. I doubt either Yogawood or the Collingswood Library were open, anyway. I slept until 9:30 again, then read in bed for a while and wrote in my journal.

When I finally got dressed and made grits for breakfast, I ran the last two episodes of Tales of the Gold Monkey. My favorite of the two was A Distant Shout of Thunder, in which Sarah is accused of causing a rash of nature-related phenomenon by a charismatic native shaman, including a volcanic eruption. The final episode, Mourning Becomes Matuka, had Jake working as a bodyguard for Princess Koji when she fears someone in her palace may be trying to assassinate her.

Even more than another one-season wonder from the early 80s I have on DVD, Voyagers!, I really wish this show had lasted. While Voyagers! apparently hit stiff competition (including 60 Minutes), Tales ran into executives who didn't understand the concept and wanted it to be more "kid-friendly."

Actually, the biggest problem with both shows may have been they were simply ahead of their time. People are far more appreciative of action shows with lots of special effects and elaborate, ongoing story-lines in the early 21st century than they were during my early childhood, thanks to hits like Lost and Heroes.

Spent the rest of the afternoon messing around online. I watched a couple of Sailor Moon Season 2 episodes while eating leftover steak, spinach, steamed peas and carrots, and a slice of Molasses-Oat Bread with apple butter for lunch.

I debated walking to work, but by the time I finally got out the door, it was too late. I half-slid, half-walked down my snow-covered steps, dug out my bike, and hit the streets. I was fortunate that even the back streets had been plowed by quarter of 4; I had a harder time getting to the streets than riding down them.

I wasn't crazy about working 4 to 9:30 tonight, especially after it was such a pain last week. Thank goodness this time, we were on-and-off busy and I had no problems whatsoever. I even had enough time to put several shelves of candy away.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow and Slush and Sleet, Oh My!

I think we had a little bit of everything today. I awoke to land of whiteness. I couldn't tell where the world began and the sky ended. Only the trees broke up the endless pearl landscape. It was eerie. Everything was muffled. It was like nothing existed but me and the trees.

I didn't get up until 9:30, and it was well after 1 before I decided to go for a walk and to volunteer at the Oaklyn Library. I spent the morning mucking around online and watching the Bowery Boys movie Smuggler's Cove. Terrence "Slip" Mahoney thinks he's inherited a large manor house on Long Island, and takes the other Bowery Boys to check it out. Not only was there a mistake and a far more prominent Terrence Mahoney really owns the house, but smugglers are using it for their base...and they don't like trespassers!

The weather had changed a great deal by the time I got out the door. The sky was a little grayer, though it retained a pearly sheen. The snow had changed into light rain, making the two inches of snow we'd gotten that morning sloppy and slushy...and perfect snow for making snowmen. I strolled along, kicking at puddles happily. I've wanted the chance to play in the snow all winter, but I've always been busy.

My delight came to an abrupt end when I arrived at the Oaklyn Library. It was dark inside, and there were no cars in the small parking lot. Yup, the Library had closed because of the two inches of snow we got last night. Well, I was disgusted, and I still am. The back roads were a little slushy, but the main roads were clear. It seemed completely ridiculous to close anything over two inches of snow that wasn't even really snow anymore. People around here really are wimps when it comes to the weather!

I continued my walk anyway. I went to WaWa and bought a Chai Tea (which wasn't as sweet as the last time I got chai at WaWa - this time, it was too watery) and a soft pretzel. I walked over the tracks and down to Doria's Deli. I chatted with Mr. Doria about the weather and bought a fat kosher pickle to go with my lunch.

When I got home, I decided to try making a snowman on my porch, where the snow was less messy. I made a cute little snow-bear, with round snow ears and a little tail. I'm glad he came out rather well. I can't remember the last time I made even a small snow-creature.

My boots were getting soaked, so I headed indoors. I spent the rest of the day amusing myself indoors. I had leftover turkey burgers and spinach for lunch. I tried to do a picture story of my American Girl dolls thinking of ways they could have fun on a snow/slush day, but my camera ran out of batteries. I made Lemon Squares. I watched another Bowery Boys movie, Loose In London, and the next set of Tales of the Gold Monkey episodes.

Naka Jima Kill was my favorite episode in this round. Sarah and Jake meet Whitney Bunting, an old college roommate of Sarah's who is now intends to interview the Japanese Defense Minister. Trouble is, she'll do anything to get that interview, including getting on the wrong side of Princess Koji and almost getting everyone killed. Kim Cattrall has a lot of fun as the Brenda Starr-style reporter here, and the crafty assassin who is a master of disguise is one of the show's best villains. I do feel very sorry for Corky here, though...

I also liked Boragora or Bust, where Jake's regular stomping grounds Boragora Island becomes a boom town when a grizzled old prospector finds a platinum mine in the mountains. Cooked Goose, where Jake has to rescue the kidnapped bride of a pilot and keep Corky from leaving after he lets the Goose burn while drunk, was enjoyable. Last Chance Louie, with Louie, the owner of the Monkey Bar and a kind of mentor to Jake, almost going under the guillotine, was a little too convulted and a bit morose for my taste.

I don't know when it started snowing again. All I know is that when I peeked outside before I took my shower around quarter after 8, the snow was coming down again...and much harder than this morning. Life came full circle as I once more gazed into a land that had become a soft, glistening pearl.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Riverside Frozen

I happily slept in this morning. By the time I finally headed out around 11:30, the sun was out, and it was probably into the mid-upper 30s, much warmer than it has been. This manifested itself by the considerable lack of ice on my porch. The thick icy patch near the steps was rapidly vanishing. I saw two small boxes for me, one in a rather sorry state, on my way out, but I didn't have the time to pick them up then.

I opted to cut through the park both ways. Though it was no longer cold, the waterway winding through Newton River Park was still frozen solid, as it has been for over a month. It was so solid, a bunch of teenagers were walking on it later in the day with no fear of ending up in the water. There were lots of other people out, too - dog walkers, joggers, older couples out for a stroll, Canadian geese looking for lunch.

The Haddon Township Library was busy when I arrived. There were lots of DVDs and books to shelve. I put away a huge stack of Easy Readers. One of the librarians told me she really appreciates my specializing in the children's section. For some reason, no other volunteer will tackle it. (Oddly enough, the librarians at the Oaklyn Library have complained about the same thing.) I still have a lot to read and watch at home, so I didn't take anything out.

Stopped at Wendy's for lunch. It's not my first choice, but I didn't have much money, and I figured Wendy's was cheap and close, not to mention not that bad calories-wise for fast food. I had a small Apple-Pecan Salad and an almost slider-sized Bacon Cheeseburger Jr.

Went straight home through the park. When I got in, I grabbed the two boxes and hauled them upstairs. Yay, my WebKinz order had arrived! I ordered the Silverback Gorilla and the Blufadoodle (a sparkly blue bird with a head and neck like a blue flamingo's and a body like a swan or pelican's) from Amazon when I couldn't find them around here. Slip the Silverback was perfectly fine...but the box poor Sach the Blufadoodle came in looked like someone sat on it! Good thing Sach is stuffed and was unharmed.

And by the way, Sach and Slip are the last WebKinz I intend to buy for a long time. Slip is this month's Pet of the Month; Sach is next month's. You get extra goodies for buying the Pet of the Month. After that, I won't buy another pet unless it's something I really, really want. Counting Sach, whom I won't be adding to my account until next week, I have at least 88 WebKinz. I've donated some of the actual stuffed animals to the thrift shop and will probably be giving more to Goodwill eventually, but still. 88 of anything is more than enough.

Went for a short walk after I put the WebKinz in my room. It was sunny when I came out, but there were wispy gray clouds on the horizon. Other than that, it was as nice as a day in late January in southern New Jersey can be. It was neither windy, nor that cold. I went down to the end of Goff Avenue and took a good, long look at the ice on the river there. Despite the relative warmth of the day, it was still thick enough for the Philadelphia Flyers to play hockey on.

Spent the rest of the evening inside, making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and salmon and roasted broccoli and cauliflower for dinner and watching more Tales of the Gold Monkey. Force of Habit was the best episode in this batch as Jake, Corky, and a novice nun who also happens to be a former girlfriend of Jake's set off in search of the vaccine the nun and her Mother Superior were supposed to be transporting. High Stakes Lady, in which Jake gets involved with a beautiful blond poker player who also turns out to be a spy, was fun, too. Wasn't as crazy about the convulted God Saves the Queen, in which Jake and Corky save the Duke of Windsor from a thief seeking revenge on the Queen Mary, other than the chance to see Jake in a towel.

And yes, meet Slip the Silverback Gorilla and Sach the Blufadoodle! Slip looks like a tough goon, but he's a smart softy inside. Sach is a sweet but none-too-bright bird who loves playing with chemicals and goofing around with his big best buddy. I made a Bowery Kinz' Boarding Room for them that's an intentionally eclectic mix of the Condo, Jungle, and Farm themes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cold Valentines

Started today with this week's trip to the laundromat. It was surprisingly quiet when I arrived there at quarter after 10. The only people there were a middle-aged man and an old woman who were complaining about the generation gap and how horrible anyone who isn't their age is. I read An Unsutible Job For a Woman and ignored them. It didn't get much busier in the hour and a half or so that I was there. People were likely still trying to avoid the 20-degree temperatures.

After I got home and put away my clothes, I pulled out my Valentine's Day decorations. I don't have a lot for this one, just two tinsel garlands, one white, one red, a bear-shaped tin, a red ruffle-and-rose-trimmed candy box that was too pretty to throw away, and lots of heart-shaped window hangings. I also have two cardboard hangings I picked up from the thrift shop last year, a pink bear with a valentine and a Holly Hobbie-type pioneer child against a pink backdrop.

I ran Tales of the Gold Monkey all morning after I got in. The Late Sarah White was by far my favorite of this batch. Jake, Corky, and Jack fly to Manila to rescue Sarah when Jake suspects that her reported death may have been faked. The other two episodes were more bizarre. The Lady and the Tiger involved Jake rescuing an Amish mother and son from a very hungry big cat and a group of Western-loving Japanese soldiers. The Sultan of Swat has Jake defending his childhood baseball hero when he's accused of killing a native girl.

One of my big chores for this week was getting all those boxes and the recycling leftover from the holidays downstairs and out to the curb. I did manage to get it all downstairs...but I ran out of time to get it to the curb and just barely made it to work on-time! Good thing it's cold but not windy, and the clouds wouldn't come in until later.

Work was on-and-off steady all night, busy enough to keep boredom at bay but otherwise not a problem. I was in and out with no trouble.

And of course, when I got home, a car was blocking the part of the curb where I usually put the recycling and trash. I hope my neighbors don't mind my moving it in front of their house. I had to be really careful bringing it out front. The side path is fairly clear, but the front yard is covered with ice and very slippery!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Taking Inventory

Started a late morning with Brunch With the Beatles and apple-cinnamon pancakes and half a grapefruit for breakfast. Today's Brunch theme was "The B Sides of Beatles Singles." Some of the most famous B-Sides include "I Am the Walrus," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "I Saw Her Standing There," "That Boy," "Day Tripper," "Revolution," and Ringo's "Act Naturally."

Called Mom after I finished my pancakes. She was keeping warm in today's 20-degree weather by working on craft projects inside. She and Dad were fine, but my brother Keefe had apparently picked up a really nasty stomach virus at school. She says he's having a hard time eating anything.

Spent a couple of hours on the computer after finishing breakfast. I've been wanting to do inventories for my various toy collections - the American Girls, Care Bears, WebKinz, Efframbee dolls, Sailor Moon dolls, and other stuffed animals, good teddy bears, and porcelain dolls. I started with the one I've had the hardest time keeping track of - the WebKinz. According to the "My Page" section in their site, I have 86 WebKinz! I know their names, but couldn't tell you much else. I at least got started with that.

Watched more Tales of the Gold Monkey and crocheted after I got bored with inventory work. Trunk From the Past, with Sarah receiving an Egyptian trunk from her deceased father, was my favorite of the three I did today. Honor Thy Brother was also quite interesting...and poor Jack the dog almost got his eye back!

Work was pretty quiet, which I highly appreciated after Thursday. Maybe the cold scared people off. As I mentioned earlier, it only got into the 20s here today, though it was sunny and only a little windy. I had one annoying customer who didn't read her WIC Check right and gave me attitude about it; otherwise, there were no major problems.

Oh, and I didn't find out until later, but it looks like the Steelers and the Packers are going to the Super Bowl. I'm a little disappointed. It's not like they haven't been there before.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Travels In Audubon

I blissfully slept in this morning. I really had no plans for today, so after a late Life cereal breakfast/brunch, I put on my heavy black winter coat and went for a long walk over the train bridge and into Audubon.

It's been a while since I went for a nice stroll in Audubon. Stopped by Desserts By Design first. She was busy with a family with young kids looking for a treat when I came in. I just said "hi" and bought an Orange Cupcake. (Actually a regular yellow cupcake with orange-flavored-and-tinted frosting, but it still tasted pretty good.)

Went a block down to Abbie Road next. I hadn't seen Bob in ages. He was busy, too. Several young men were browsing in the store, looking for the coolest rock CDs. I opted for two used CDs, the 1994 Broadway revival cast of Show Boat and a CD replacement for my old cassette copy of The Big Chill soundtrack.

Went up to the Pine Street Shops after leaving Abbie Road. Act Two Collectibles didn't seem to be open, but Willie the Woodsman and Wife was. Alas, they didn't have either of the WebKinz I wanted. I was hoping to pick up this month's Pet of the Month the Silverback Gorilla, along with next month's, the Blufadoodle (a fat, sparkly blue bird). All I got was a pack of WebKinz Trading Cards.

I had lunch at Simply Soups. I had a tasty, thick Pumpkin Barley Soup with Sausage, a huge slab of cornbread, a can of Diet A&W root beer, and a pat of butter for the cornbread. There were lots of people joining me for lunch. A couple was finishing their sandwiches as I arrived; a family showed up as I was finishing my cornbread.

I couldn't think of anything else to do after lunch. Besides, the clouds were hiding the sun, making everything very, very cold. I just walked home.

Spent the rest of the afternoon mucking around online and working on editing the last Bowery Boys story Lauren and I did, a spoof of Sherlock Holmes-style mysteries. Look for it later tonight or this weekend!

I ran the Bowery Boys college spoof Hold That Line! while baking a Lemon Pound Cake and more Tales of the Gold Monkey while making flounder with mushrooms, an orange and spinach salad, and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner.

My favorite of the two I watched tonight was Legends Are Forever. An old friend of Jake's, Gandy Dancer, gets him, Corky, Louie, and Jack mixed up with a tribe of African Watusis (yes, in the South Pacific - don't ask) and the search for the famous King Solomon's Mines. Escape From Death Island concerned Jake attempting to flee the French penal colony of the title with Corky, who is sick and feverish from a snake bite.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I've Got My Bears To Keep Me Warm

As it turned out, we did get snow very early this morning...less than an inch of snow. The snow wasn't the problem. It must have turned into freezing rain or sleet later in the morning. By the time I got up around quarter after 8, there was a layer of ice on my porch. It was very, very windy, too, and quite cold, in the 20s.

I had cereal for breakfast while watching The Man From the Diners' Club, the last Danny Kaye movie in the box Lauren sent me. Danny moves into the swinging 60s as a worker at a Diners' Club (credit card) company who signs and writes the approval forms for all card holders. When he accidentally approves a notorious gangster for a card, he goes to the gangster's spa hideout to get the card, before his fiancee and boss find out what's going on!

Given it's one of Kaye's last vehicles (and as far as I can tell, his only vehicle in black and white and for Columbia), this one was surprisingly fun. It feels like a 90-minute Bowery Boys movie crossed with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Kaye gets some rare encounters with early 60s culture, too, including a hilarious battle with one of the era's oversized computers and an impromptu visit to a beatnik party, complete with bongos and lots of men with goatees.

Headed for the Acme right after the movie ended for this week's paycheck and grocery shopping. My porch and steps were very icy, but the streets weren't. It took me longer to get to my bike than to get my bike to the Audubon Crossings Mall.

(And before you ask, yes, I was cold, but I have my heavy black coat, and I wore my favorite thick read tunic sweater and the chenile scarf that was made for me several years ago, not to mention my new boots. I was just fine.)

The Acme wasn't too busy when I got in, which was fine for me. I was able to shop and get my paycheck and schedule in peace. I mostly needed fruit and vegetables, and Acme complied with a $1 sale on bagged veggies. I bought bagged spinach, mushrooms, and cauliflower and broccoli. Grapefruit are still on sale, and they must have restocked the bananas after last night - I heard they got decimated when people went into their unnecessary snow fuss. I also got yogurt (good sale on the light Acme and Dannon brands), cereal (Acme's generic version of Cinnamon Life), and those Smart Ones ice cream sundae cups. Needed ground chicken and cubed steak. There were $1 sales on Arm and Hammer Deodorant and Softsoap, too, so I bought those.

Oh, and I got my schedule. Other than slightly more hours, I'm not thrilled. My hours are all late - I work until 9 on Sunday and 9:30 on Thursday! And then I work at 10AM on Friday. I hate working late. Working late yesterday was nothing but a pain. Don't they have teenagers and college students to do this stuff?

On the other hand, I do have Tuesday, Wednesday, and next Saturday off again. The first two especially may be a good thing. We might be getting our next round of snow on Tuesday, though at the moment the National Weather Service is saying a chance of snow.

When I got home, I put everything away and attempted to break the ice, but it was just too thick. I just grabbed my purse and money and took my bike back out again.

My first stop was the bank to deposit my paycheck. The teller completely agreed with me on everyone overreacting about the weather. Not only was the bank busy with people freaking out yesterday, but she'd tried to do some routine shopping and hit the snow mob.

My next stop was one of my favorite lunch places, the Bagel Shop at the Westmont Plaza. It was surprisingly busy for quarter of 2. There were quite a few people coming in, looking for a warm bagel-and-cream-cheese snack. I opted for a tasty turkey-and-Swiss sandwich on rye with Cranberry Cole Slaw and fries instead.

Made some quick stops at the Westmont Plaza after lunch. The Blockbuster next door to the tire store on the far side of the parking lot is closing down. I'm honestly not surprised. In fact, the only thing that surprised me was that they stayed open as long as they did. Their prices were ridiculous and they had a lousy selection of nothing but new releases. It wasn't so bad with the Blockbuster in Wildwood, mostly because it was the only option on the Five Mile Islands to buy or rent DVDs. There's still a lot of other places in Camden County that have better choices and other, cheaper ways to rent or watch DVDs without buying them.

Next quick stop was Super Fresh. They have better prices on maple syrup, and I like those individual packs of Hodgeson Mill yeast - they work better and are much cheaper than Fleichman's or Red Star, too. I also bought cupcake papers, which I forgot at the Acme.

Rode over to the Haddon Township Library after leaving Super Fresh for my last library volunteer session of the week. The library was very busy with people looking for books and DVDs to keep them amused during this cold weekend, and there was plenty for me to shelve and arrange.

I went straight home across Newton River Park after leaving the Library. Brr, was that a cold ride! By this point, it was after 3:30 and very, very windy! Most of the snow and ice was gone from the park, but the wind made riding slow and difficult. The only other people in the park today besides me were a large flock of Canadian geese looking for a late-afternoon snack and a couple of kids having a mock-sword fight on their way home from school.

Made a very quick stop at WaWa for milk before heading home. This time, I stayed in. Messed around online for a while, then made steak, steamed Brussels sprouts, and spinach for dinner while watching Tales of the Gold Monkey. I've decided I've wanted to run this one all at once, like one long Indiana Jones movie.

I wasn't disappointed. "Shanghaied" concerned Jake and Sarah searching for the kidnapped Corky, even as Jake is battling malaria. "Black Pearl" pits Jake against Nazi spies out to create a super-bomb long before the word "nuclear" came into people's general vocabularies. Both were quite a bit of fun, and I'm looking forward to watching the rest.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No Free Balance

Started a lovely, sunny morning with yoga. (And I made it on time this week.) The focus of the week was on binding poses and shoulder and arm-joint opening. Roughly translated, we leaned behind us to try to grab our hands behind our backs in various ways. Karin had been watching specials on Martin Luther King Jr. earlier this week and wanted to do something to help represent freedom of mind. Needless to say, I really can't do anything resembling binding. I'm not quite flexible enough yet.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library to volunteer after class. I spent a pleasant hour putting away and shelving a big pile of DVDs. I also organized DVDs. The classics, kids' section, and dramas were especially bad today.

Headed home after I finished the DVDs. Actually, I went upstairs...and decided to go right back out again. It was the perfect day for a nice, long walk. I hadn't had a good one since before Christmas. While cooler than yesterday, it was still warmer than it has been, probably in the mid-30s. Most of the snow leftover from the last few showers is gone. There's some left in shady places and a few piles left on curbs, but for the most part, the streets and sidewalks were completely clear.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at my apartment. I baked Norsk Apple Muffins (a wonderful recipe from a baking cookbook I picked up from the registers at the Wildwood Acme many years ago), ate turkey burgers and roasted Brussels sprouts for lunch, and watched Merry Andrew

Merry Andrew is one of the oddest musicals I've ever seen, and Kaye's strangest vehicle. A British school teacher who wants to be an anthropologist talks his intimidating father into letting him dig for an artifact that's found in a meadow in Northern England. Trouble is, so's an Italian circus and the future site of a dairy farm. Andrew convinces the owner of the dairy to let him and the circus stay for a week. He spends that week doing a lot more than digging when the daughter of the circus' owner introduces him to the delights of performing...and of doing what you love.

I thought it was cute, but far from my favorite of Kaye's vehicles. The music was just ok, and the "do what you love" lesson is spread on a bit thick. Not to mention, the plot gets pretty strange in parts. For major Kaye fans only.

I wish I'd stayed with Merry Andrew. Work was the proverbial pain in the rear end. People around here are total wimps when it comes to weather. Folks, no one in Camden County lives more than five minutes from a food store of some kind. THERE IS NO REASON TO PANIC OVER 1 TO 3 INCHES OF SNOW!!!!! I had long lines with huge orders all night. What kind of forecast are people watching, the one for the North Pole?

My very first customer of the night threw a total fit when she saw that her order came up to about $185, which I thought was pretty sensible for what she bought. Not to her. "I can get that for less at Wal-Mart!" she whined. "But their selection's terrible," I tried to remind her. She didn't listen. She made me void the whole darn order and ended up putting it all away.

(I don't think our Wal-Mart is worth the lower prices on a few items. It's about the size of your average Big Lots, and the selection not only really IS terrible, but the customers are worse - obnoxious and stupid. I refuse to go there anymore. A few cheap items that might not be there anyway aren't worth the hassle.)

There were a few other fun customers, too. At least two customers with very large orders didn't have enough in their credit/debit accounts to cover it and had to put their orders back. We had one of those people who overload their carts with food and then don't have nearly enough money to pay, too. They were all far nicer and more mature about it than the first lady, but they did hold up long lines.

Thank god it had finally slowed down enough by 9:30 that a sympathetic teen manager came in for me. The other cashier was late coming back from break, and she's the only other person staying until the store closes at 11.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Little Bit Of Spring In Winter

I got quite a surprise when I headed for the Oaklyn Library late this morning. It was...warm. Probably in the mid-40s. Not hot, but above the norm for New Jersey in January and much warmer than it has been. All of the remaining snow and slush was melting like crazy. My porch was almost clear.

Volunteered at the Oaklyn Library for the first time in two months. I did miss them. The kids from the day care were there when I arrived, and I helped them find books. I organized the DVDs, too. The kids' DVDs had been moved back to the main DVD/video shelf and the teen DVDs were mixed in with the kids' movies again...which is really how it should be. That got too complicated before. I also shelved some fiction and nonfiction and put kids' books back after the pre-schoolers left.

After I left, I strolled to WaWa. Treated myself to a soft pretzel and a Coke Zero with Raspberry and Vanilla syrups there, then headed home. When I got in, I finally took out the trash leftover from Christmas, including the old boots Miss Ellie gave me that were such a mess and all the various plastic wraps and Styrofoam innards from the back room. I made Turkey and Vegetable Soup from leftover turkey cutlets, various vegetables sitting in my refrigerator, and the last of the beef stock I made with last week's Slow Cooker Beef Ribs.

Went to work after lunch. Work was on-and-off busy when I came in and when I left, but got crazier during rush hour. There were some annoying customers, too, including one of those obnoxious old ladies who keeps telling you to "bag light"...and then just throws more items in the bag when they see how many bags they're going to have to carry, even if you do make it light.

And as of right now, we're supposed to be getting snow again tomorrow. One of the cashiers said she heard six inches, but I wouldn't trust any local forecasts. As of press time, the National Weather Service, the only weather forecast I'd trust in nasty weather, says we'll be getting 1-3 inches late tomorrow night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Indoor Garden Party

I awoke to that freezing rain I mentioned last night. It went on for most of the morning, then changed to rain for an hour or so before ending all together. I decided just to avoid the weather and spend the day inside, doing chores I put off during the holidays and running the many DVDs I either got for Christmas or bought for myself.

Started with the Chia Herb Garden my sister Rose gave me Christmas Eve after breakfast. On one hand, they turned out to be pretty easy. You just wet the dirt "sponge," put it in the earthenware pot, sprinkle seeds on, make sure it has lots of water, stick a plastic sign in that tells you what herb it is, and cover it with plastic.

My problem is, my apartment doesn't get a lot of sunlight. That's why I only have one plant in the whole place, and that's been getting skimpy lately. I put them (and the other plant) on top of the refrigerator. I just hope it isn't too cold there. My refrigerator is directly across from my front door.

I went online, then had a peanut-butter and apple butter sandwich for lunch while finishing up the Woody Woodpecker and Friends cartoon set. Even as Woody was at his height of popularity in the late 40s and early 50s, his boss Walter Lantz was adding co-stars. The most famous Lantz star to appear in this time period was the adorable Chilly Willy, the mischievous little penguin. The girls and I loved his Arctic-bound adventures.

After lunch, I started some bread. The Sally Lunn bread hadn't really worked out very well. All it did was fall apart, and the extra bread I stashed on top of the refrigerator just conducted penicillin. I gave the rest to the birds and started Molasses-Oat-Whole Wheat Bread instead.

As the bread rose, I ran The Five Pennies. This is one of Danny Kaye's occasional dramatic roles. Here, he's Red Nichols, a famous bandleader and coronet player from the 20s and 30s whose orchestra once included such big-band-era luminaries as Glenn Miller and the Dorsey Brothers.

While it was nice to see Kaye perform with Louie Armstrong again (their "When the Saints Go Marchin' In" is a delight) and he's a lot of fun with the little girl who plays his daughter early in the movie, it ends up swimming in melodrama. A pity, since the emphasis on family gives it a more cozy and real feeling than many Hollywood biographies of this type, a far cry from Hans Christian Anderson.

After The Five Pennies ended, I finally cleaned up the pile of boxes in the back room. I really don't need every single one and all of the packing peanuts and tissue paper and bubble wrap that came in them! In fact, I just kept two sturdy blue boxes that my WebKinz Lauren sent from came in. Trash will be going out tomorrow; recyclable boxes will go out Monday.

I went downstairs to check the mailbox - and the weather - around quarter after 3. Yes, the last part of Sailor Moon Season 2 had arrived. The porch was a bit slushy, but not nearly as icy as I'd feared. The path going to my apartment was pure slush, but the roads were very dry. I was able to pick up the DVD set without incident.

I finished up Sailor Moon and worked on crocheting for a bit, then made Turkey Burgers with the last of the Farm Market cheese with an escarole salad, baked sweet potato, and steamed broccoli for dinner. Ran two Bowery Boys movies, Private Eyes and Paris Playboys, while I was doing the dishes.

Oh, and the Molasses-Oat-Whole Wheat Bread came out nice and dark and chewy...and looking more like bread should.

I am going to try to at least get to the Oaklyn Library tomorrow, before the next round of bad weather hits.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Snow Isn't Right

First of all, I salute the Man Who Had a Dream, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., on this chilly weekend.

Today was laundry day. It was merely cloudy and cold when I headed over to the laundromat around 11AM. It was surprisingly quiet when I arrived, a pleasant surprise on a holiday. I just saw two older ladies, a college student, and Drew Carey doing Pricing Games on The Price Is Right. People didn't start showing up until long after the Showcase Showdown had ended and my dryer was just about done.

I ran more Woody cartoons while having an escarole, mushroom, and Parmesan cheese omelet for lunch. This next batch came from the late 40s and early 50s and is notable for introducing Woody's Oscar-nominated theme tune "The Woody Woodpecker Song" and for gradually replacing the dopey Swedish Wally Walrus with the nastier Buzz Buzzard. Stand-outs include Drooler's Delight (Woody keeps stealing his dime for the title ice cream soda back from Buzz) and The Woody Woodpecker Polka (ever wanted to see Woody in drag, dancing with Wally Walrus?).

Work wasn't nearly as much fun. We're supposed to be getting another inch or so of snow tonight, along with freezing rain and regular old rain in the morning...and everyone was panicking accordingly. People were giving me a hard time about prices, too. One lady fussed because I rang up her onion and she wanted the one that came up 20 cents, not 30. Lady, it's just a dime, and I had a line. Have some consideration for others when you're in a line, please! One thin dime won't break the bank.

When I rode home at 7:30, the sky was that pearly, snowy-gray. The snow held off until about 20 minutes ago, though. I don't see anything resembling rain yet - it's just very light and very pretty white stuff.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Knock On Woody

I slept in again today, having stayed up late writing Bowery Boys fanfiction with Lauren. I wasn't really interested in the Brunch With the Beatles theme (their failed audition for Decca - ever wanted to hear the Beatles perform "The Sheik of Araby"?), so I switched to Woody Woodpecker cartoons.

Good ol' Woody. The shorts here were from what many considered to be his golden years, about 1945 to 1948. First of all, he was helpfully redesigned, eliminating those weird fat legs and adding his white stomach. He now looks far more like the Woody who delighted my sisters and I with his antics on Channel 29 in the late 80s and early 90s. My favorites here were The Dippy Diplomat (Woody invades Wally Walrus' barbecue), The Reckless Driver (who on EARTH gave Woody a driver's license?), The Coo Coo Bird (the bird in Woody's clock won't let him sleep), and The Mad Hatter (Woody does battle with a top hat).

Poor Andy Panda was redesigned and re-characterized even more often than Woody. I suspect Universal may not have known what to do with him. He started out as a cutesy cub (Life Begins For Andy Panda), segwayed into a Huey/Dewey/Louie-style mischief-making kid after a few cartoons, and ended up a Mickey Mouse-style every-panda. It's rather a shame. Some of his later cartoons, including the devilish Apple Andy, weren't bad. (According to several online cartoon sites, Andy had a bigger career in the comics, where he even picked up a girlfriend, Miranda Panda.)

I called Mom briefly while running Woody cartoons. She was babysitting my nephews, who were attached to SpongeBob Squarepants. Nothing much going on in her neck of the woods - she'd spent most of it working.

I did some things online after I finished with the cartoons, but I ultimately got bored and went for a short walk. It was a nice day for it. It's still cold, probably in the lower-mid 30s, but not out of line for mid-January in southern New Jersey. The sun was bright, the sky was icy-blue, and there was a nice little breeze. The snow has been slowly but surely melting here. All of the roads are clear, though some of the sidewalks remain icy.

(Also got to say "hi" to Uncle Ken and my cousin Ethan, who were working on taking down Uncle Ken's Christmas lights. Most of the rest of Ethan's family is sick; he was on a camping trip and managed to avoid their illness.)

After I came back in, I had a quick lunch of escarole salad and half of a turkey cutlet, then changed into my work uniform and headed to the Acme. I had a very pleasant ride. I wouldn't mind getting more snow like this, snow that looks pretty without lingering for too long or causes more than a day's worth of trouble. The snow is vanishing quickly from sunny patches and is more than half-gone from my porch.

I thought work would be busy all night, but the lines were only long when I came in at 3. By the time I finished at 7, it was dead. I was able to leave without a relief, and there were no major problems.

Went straight home for the second half of The Dress Circle. The theme tonight was "Everybody Sings Harold Arlen." You may not recognize the name, but you very likely know this composer's songs, some of the most famous written between 1930 and 1960 - "Over the Rainbow," "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe," "Stormy Weather," "Ac-Cen-Tu-Ate The Positive," and "One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)," among many others.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tour De Camden County

Slept in again. In fact, I slept longer than I'd planned. I didn't get out of the apartment until almost noon! I was going to go to the Haddon Township Library first and then take the bike to Haddonfield to get the tire fixed, but since I got up so late, I decided to reverse it. I walked to Collingswood and took the PATCO to Haddonfield, bike and all.

(Yes, you can take your bike on the PATCO. I don't normally bring it along on the train - it's easier to walk in Philly - but I didn't feel like hiking all the way to Haddonfield. And both the Lindenwauld and Philadelphia trains were running on the same track today. I don't know why. Maybe they were doing repairs on the other track.)

The bike shop is two blocks from the Haddonfield PATCO/Bus Station, so I was able to get there right away. Freeride Bike Shop is smaller than the Cherry Hill store, but they're just as knowledgeable and a lot easier to get to. Not only was the boy there able to replace the inner tube and the very thin tire, he found the reason the inner tube kept deflating every couple of months. There was a small bit of metal stuck in the skimpy old tire, which I've had since I bought the bike over 12 years ago. (Wanna know how old the bike is? I bought it from Ames shortly before they went out of business.)

I went for a short stroll in Haddonfield after I paid for my new tire and a couple of inner tubes and the tire was back on the bike. There was nothing interesting at the toy shop and I didn't need anything else, so I next decided it was time for a late lunch. I went to the Italian deli/sandwich shop a block from the bike shop and the PATCO and had a tasty cabbage, tomato, and meat soup, two oatmeal-raisin-nut cookies, oyster crackers, and hot chocolate for lunch. The hot chocolate was watery and tasted like it was from a mix, but the cookies and soup were home-made and tasted divine. The soup had lots of big cabbage and tomato pieces and was just spicy enough to keep me warm.

Headed through Haddonfield to Westmont and down to Cuthbert Road after lunch, finally ended up at the Haddon Township Library. There actually wasn't a lot to do there. There were no kids' books to put away and no DVDs that needed to be shelved. They have a lot of kids who volunteer on weekends. I organized the kids' DVDs and some children's books and headed out.

I made a quick stop at Super Fresh next for carrots and grits, then rode home. It had been sunny, breezy, and warmer than it has been (though still fairly chilly) earlier, but it got cloudy after I got out of the deli. I headed straight home after I left Super Fresh just in case the weather got uglier.

Thankfully, it never did. I spent the remaining afternoon and evening at home, watching more Danny Kaye movies and working on the blanket I'm crocheting for the American Girl dolls. The two I did tonight are among Kaye's lesser-known vehicles. Knock On Wood had Kaye as a troubled ventriloquist who seeks help from a lovely female psychologist to find out why he insults women with his dummies every time they get marriage-minded. There are spies after him, too, looking for the top-secret blueprints hidden in the dummy.

Other than the really cute dance number to the title song, this was the only Kaye vehicle so far I wasn't crazy about. It came off as a poor attempt to cross the troubled nervous Nellie involved with conspiracies of Walter Mitty with On the Riviera's nightclub routines. I really could have done with more of Kaye's genuinely sweet relationship with the woman psychologist and less of the spies.

On the Double, which I ran while having Turkey Cutlets in Lemon-Yogurt Sauce and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner, was much better. Once again, Danny is back in On the Riviera/Wonder Man territory, a nervous guy impersonating a high-ranking hero. This time, however, there's a lot more than just a gangster going to jail or an airplane contract at stake. Kaye is a very nervous officer in World War II with a flare for impersonations, including one of a high-ranking British officer. When he and his buddy are caught trying to sneak off their base, he's brought back and told to either play a decoy for the Major...or be jailed for impersonating an officer. He has second thoughts when he discovers that the officer is involved with the Allied invasion of Europe...and the Nazis are after his head!

Basically, this is a variation on On the Riviera...but replacing the nightclub backdrop with the war story was a smart idea. There's a lot more riding on Kaye's impersonation this time, and it makes for a far more interesting movie. I liked the wife here, too - she was a bit more passionate.

Also helpful was the premise that this was a semi-realistic "documentary" of how England really won the war. It gave it a look closer to 70s movies like Caberet than to Kaye's earlier Technicolor vehicles. And speaking of Caberet, you've never lived until you've seen Kaye in Marlene Dietrich drag pursued by a drunk and love-lorn German officer!
Two Bowery Boys Stories Posted

Lauren and I have just been whipping out the Bowery Boys fanfiction lately! Enjoy two of our newest, both of which we worked on during the holidays.

The Bowery Boys and the Keys of the Lost City
The Piano

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dust Removal Be My Destiny

Slept in a bit this morning, then watched Three Stooges shorts while having an escarole and mushroom omelet for breakfast. I pulled on my new boots and headed for the Acme around quarter after 11.

I tried to take a shortcut through Audubon Park to avoid the snow on the sidewalk on the Black Horse Pike, but it really didn't end up being very short. Audubon Park is a 50s development that's all cul-de-sacs, plain houses surrounded by fences, and roads that go nowhere. It took me ten minutes to find a road that went to Nicholson.

I didn't really have much shopping to do in any case. I mostly needed to restock fruit and vegetables - grapefruit, Brussels sprouts, bananas, and celery. I also needed Smart Balance butter (which turned out to be on sale), a little yogurt (which wasn't on sale - good thing I only needed two containers), and good Colby and Parmesan cheese from the deli. (I love the Collingswood Farm Market's brick cheese so much that I've decided not to buy the regular brick cheese from the dairy section anymore. Why buy any old thing when you can get the good stuff?)

Even with a ride home from a frequent customer who is also a neighbor of my uncle's, it was still past 1 when I got in. I was going to walk to Audubon today, but I just plain ran out of time. I had leftover stir-fry for lunch, then went for a shorter walk in the neighborhood instead.

Tried going to the Oaklyn Library, but they seem to have returned to their original 10-2 and 4-8 schedule, and it was around 2:30 when I got there. I opted to head for the bank next, and then to CVS to pick up shampoo and a get-well-soon card for my landlady Miss Ellie, who hurt her knees on the patch of ice in front of her side of the house.

Spent the rest of the evening at home, dusting, putting up the remaining general winter decorations, and watching more Three Stooges and the Danny Kaye movie On the Riviera. Like Wonder Man, Kaye is once again playing doubles, this time an American comedian and a French pilot who needs him to appear as him at a very important function. The comedian has to fool the pilot's beautiful wife, too, and he does...only too well, which doesn't make the comedian's girlfriend happy.

Actually, I was a little disappointed with this one. All the Technicolor and fancy dance numbers in the world can't hide an oft-told plot that lacks the verve and goofiness of the somewhat similar Wonder Man. (And it's a very oft-told plot. This is the third remake of this story for 20th Century Fox, going back to 1935's Follies Bergeire, where the entertainer was the very real Frenchman Maurice Chevalier.) Gene Tierney is about as much fun as a block of ice as the unhappy wife and is clearly out of her element in a musical.

On the other hand, this is worth seeing for Kaye fans to catch him playing a somewhat normal, non-nervous guy for a change...and for his incredibly relaxed and even sexy version of "Ballin' the Jack."

Sigh. And yes, the back tire on my bike has finally gone completely flat. I'll take it up to Haddonfield tomorrow to see if that bike shop can look at it. The Acme actually tried to call me in for tomorrow, but I really want to get the biked looked at...not to mention, I haven't had off since last weekend and was really looking forward to having this weekend off.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Balance In the Snow

I felt well enough by early this morning to go to yoga today. I overslept and just barely made it, though! I'm glad I finally decided to go. We worked on hip openers, back stretches, and hand stands today. Not my best moves, but I'm trying.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library after class let out. There was a big pile of DVDs to put away and shelve when I got in. The DVDs needed to be organized, too. The kids' shelves and the drama section looked awful. (The dramas had a lot of action movies mixed in, for some reason.)

It was sunny and very cold today! Made for quite a brisk ride. The main roads are completely clear, though. Not so much the back roads. I still had to dodge a lot of ice on Manor and other side streets, especially this morning. It was a little better this afternoon.

I finished watching The Inspector General and made Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cake (Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Cake mix with mint and dark chocolate chips) after I got in. The Inspector General is another Danny Kaye vehicle. This one reminds me a lot of The Court Jester set in 19th-century Hungary instead of medieval England. Kaye is a bewildered, illiterate peasant who is mistaken for the king's Inspector General by a corrupt town. At first, Kaye is just happy to have a meal and the attention of the flustered mayor (Gene Lockheart) and his delighted wife (Elsa Lanchester). When his former master Yakov appears (Walter Sleazak), he encourages the peasant to help the townspeople...but he may have something else in mind for the bribe money the mayor gives him.

One of the things that I like about Danny Kaye is that, unlike many comedians, he's a natural for period pieces and is as at home with a sword as he is a microphone. Indeed, along with Court Jester and Hans Christian Anderson, this is one of his best and sweetest vehicles. I like how he just can't lie about the real Inspector General at the end...and how that touches the Inspector.

I ran one of the Bowery Boys movies, Trouble Makers, while the cake was in the oven and I was having a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich for lunch. The Boys spy a man being strangled through the telescope they're using to drum up money and tell their friend Officer Gabe Moreno about it. Unfortunately, the "corpus delicious" is gone by the time they arrive at the room. After meeting the deceased's grieving daughter, Sach and Slip decide to work there themselves in order to flush out the killer.

Went to work right after Trouble Makers ended. Work was exactly the same as yesterday - steady during rush hour, otherwise dead as a doornail. My relief was on time, and there were no major problems.

There was a package on Miss Ellie's porch when I got in. My Land's End order had finally arrived! When it became quite apparent to me that those snow boots Miss Ellie gave me last summer were lemons, cracked and old and not likely to keep the water from a tiny puddle out, I finally broke down and ordered a pair of real snow boots. These are made of waterproof suede and jacket material, with fashionable big buttons on the sides. They're turquoise, the only color I liked that came in an 8. I checked them tonight, and they fit just fine, snug but with room for thick socks. I also ordered a terracotta (ie, soft orange) mock turtleneck.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Follies

Yup, we got snow. More than the last few times it's snowed, but still not huge piles. According to the ruler I stuck in the snow on my porch this morning, we got about five inches. It was very pretty when I was out there, sunny and glistening, with the snow sparkling like a thousand miniature diamonds.

It was also windy, and this did wreck havoc with my riding to work this morning. As it turned out, while Manor was still snow-packed by 10, the main roads were perfectly clear. I did ride my bike to work. Didn't help that my bike tire is deflating again. I hope it doesn't have yet another slow leak. I don't know when I'm going to get to that bike shop in Haddonfield to get more inner tubes.

It's a good thing work was dead throughout the morning. At least half of the daytime employees called out. I don't know why. The roads were fine. I'm assuming they couldn't shovel their driveways fast enough, or they were supposed to come in really early, when it was apparently still snowing. It was so dead this morning, I was able to shelve an entire cart of candy before my break! It picked up a bit later as we got closer to rush hour, but it still wasn't really busy. Thankfully, my relief was on time, and I was able to ride home before it got dark and icy.

Also thankfully, my neighbor had shoveled the steps and the walkways by the time I got home. I needed to take out the trash and inflate the bike tire again.

After all that, I made Baked Pumpkin Pudding from the Felicity's Cooking Studio cookbook, but decided I wasn't really up for anything else. I spent the rest of the evening watching Sailor Moon and the beginning of the Danny Kaye movie The Inspector General and crocheting. I'd had a massive headache since late in the morning. I took some cold medicine at home that helped somewhat, but I still don't feel quiet right. Between the weather and my head, I might skip yoga tomorrow. We'll see how I feel in the morning.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"It's a Marshmallow World In the Winter..."

It didn't start out that way. Actually, it started at 6:30AM with a beautiful bright pink and dove gray sunrise. It was partly cloudy for most of the morning, not pretty but with no indication of anything resembling snow. Looked like an ordinary mid-January day in southern New Jersey. It wasn't even that cold, probably mid-30s.

The forecast, however, still called for at least 3-8 inches of snow overnight. Which means yes, the Acme was still crazy today. Thankfully, we had more help this time, with no need for people to stay late. People also seemed to generally be in better moods - maybe a lot of folks got out early to avoid the snow.

I wasn't as lucky. Both my relief and the relief for the other early morning cashier were two of the teenage boys who are always late coming from second jobs. Mine never turned up at all! A manager went in for the 6AM cashier, and the one who was mildly late came in for me. I needed chicken soup and milk, too.

All of which means I didn't start for home until well after 3. When I did finally get in, I changed into a regular shirt, grabbed my coat again, and went for a walk. It was so warm by the time I went out to Goff Avenue, a lot of the snow leftover from the last two snowfalls was melting. There was enough gone from my porch that I was able to sweep some of the sticker balls off when I arrived back at my place.

There wasn't enough time to dust, my original plan for today, when I finally finished with the porch. I was able to make my bed and vacuum, and I made muffins with strawberry jam and apple butter in the middle.

The snow finally started around 6, while I was having salmon and broccoli for dinner and watching my new Sailor Moon Season 2 set. It flurried a little bit when I was out for my walk, but it wasn't anything big. This was big, with soft, fat flakes, and it was coming down hard. It still is at press time. The National Weather Service continues to say 4-8 inches, so I'm going to assume it'll end sometime tonight. While not a foot, it's already higher than the last two times we've had snow. My porch is a lot more covered than before.

(And allow me to add that, while I wasn't crazy about getting early hours again when I got my schedule on Sunday or having to wait for the weekend for my days off, I'm now glad for both. First of all, being off at 2:30 gave me the chance to to get home well ahead of the weather. Second, I have the feeling that even if I had today off, I would have been called in anyway, given how busy we were.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Forecast Calls For...Something...

I slept later than I'd planned this morning and didn't get to the laundromat until about 11:30. On one hand, it was just starting to empty out when I arrived. I had no problems getting a washer and a dryer. That was a very good thing. I had a lot of items to wash today, including towels and jeans. Thankfully, those huge industrial-sized driers don't take very long.

I made it home around quarter after 1. I just got everything put away and grabbed the Sally Lunn Bread to make a Peanut Butter and Apple Butter Sandwich when I realized that the half of the bread I left on top of the refrigerator didn't look great. In fact, it looked like it was doing a lot of penicillin-gathering. I cut off the worst of it and stuffed the rest in the freezer. Thank goodness I put the other half in the refrigerator! I was barely able to jam the sandwich and a banana in my mouth and rush off to work before it got late!

With a forecast calling for 3-7 inches of snow starting sometime tomorrow afternoon, the Acme was crazy all evening. There were a lot of annoying people, too, and people who just plain needed attitude adjustments. One lady yelled at another for moving her food so she could put her own on. Two more fussed about how much more expensive we were than Wal-Mart and oh, why did they come here, and why wasn't I better, and why wasn't the store better? Geez, if you don't like the store, don't go there.

It was so busy, I ended up staying an extra hour. I was going to have dinner at home, but I just bought a turkey hoagie and took that home instead.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Running On Ice

I slept until almost 10 this morning, then spent an hour listening to the radio and writing in my journal. After I finally got out of bed, I made Apple Cinnamon Pancakes for breakfast while listening to Brunch With the Beatles. They weren't terribly exciting, though. The them today was the US-only The Beatles' Second Album, which was one of their earliest releases in this country. I'm not a big fan of most of the early Beatles music, when they still sounded pretty much like an ordinary boy band. After breakfast, I switched to the Danny Kaye musical A Song Is Born and called Mom.

Mom sounded a little tired, but otherwise fine. She'd spent the morning shoveling snow. Cape May County apparently got the same 6-8 inches we did this week. She was also getting ready for the big Eagles-Packers playoff game. Alas, I wasn't going to get to see it. I worked 3-7, which meant I'd be there for most of the 4:30-starting game.

I did some things around the apartment after that. Michael shoveled and salted my steps last night, but part of the porch leading to my door was still icy. I broke up the ice with my broom, swept what I could away, and salted the exposed porch.

After I finished that, I did the last budget of 2010. For once, I spent more on other stuff than food...but I did eat home a lot last month, and ate at someone's house both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Plus, I got Christmas money and a pile of gift cards.

It was very cold and windy when I headed off to work around quarter of 3. Once again, the streets weren't bad, but the sidewalks were. I was able to ride on the streets, but while I did walk my bike on the sidewalks on the Black Horse Pike, I had to tread carefully over the ice.

Work was a pain in the rear end. I had several customers who were obnoxious, rude, or just plain ignorant. One lady in particular got annoyed when the Acme generic bottle of cocktail sauce rang up a measly 20 cents more than she thought it was. Most people would have just shrugged and said "it's just 20 cents," but she actually had me chase after the price, which she SWORE said $1.69 and not $1.49 in the seafood section. Trouble is, I couldn't find the item anywhere in the seafood section. A seafood worker told me it was in the aisle with the ketchups...and so it was, under it's original price. She finally didn't take it. Either she found it in the wrong place, or it had a dated label. And whether she did or not, she could have just shrugged it off. 20 cents is nothing to fuss about.

I needed several items when I got done. My brown and white sugars needed to be refilled badly, and I really needed baking soda, too. That 2lb box of baking soda Rose bought me almost 6 years ago when I first moved to Oaklyn finally ran out. I bought a far more normal-sized 16oz box. I don't think the Acme even sells that 32oz box anymore. No one needs THAT much baking soda unless they're a professional baker or plumber.

Oh, and it's the end of the road for the Philadelphia Eagles. They lost to the Green Bay Packers 21-16. At least the Flyers are still going strong...
Two New Bowery Boys Stories Posted

Just added two Bowery Boys stories that Lauren and I did last month to the Riverside Rest site. One is a spoof of pirate tales. The other is a short story about the Boys going skating in Central Park. I'm still catching up on editing stories after the hectic holidays, so look for more in the coming weeks...including a section for PG-13-rated stories!

Pirates of the Bowery
The Bowery Boys On Ice

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Peace and Quiet

I don't often spend a day at home. I had debated taking a walk over to the Oaklyn Library, but it was once again snowing when I awoke. This time, I didn't get up until 9:30, so it had likely been coming down for a while. It didn't snow hard or fast. We probably only got about three or four more inches, which still doesn't match the foot we got a few weeks ago or the two feet from last February.

Ok, so I probably could have walked in it. My porch still hadn't been cleared by noon, though, and I was still tired from all the running and rushing I did yesterday. I opted to spend the day at the apartment instead. I spent the remaining morning eating Life cereal for breakfast, reading my new books, and watching The Court Jester.

I saw part of this one on TCM when I was in college and enjoyed it, but I never got around to taping it then. Danny Kaye is the title character, a carnival performer who finds himself playing a jester for the King of England in order to aid a lovely female rebel (Glyns Johns) and restore the infant heir to the throne.

By far Danny Kaye's best movie, this is a very funny musical swashbuckler with a great cast - in addition to Johns, we have Basil Rathbone as the villain, Angela Landsbury as the Princess, and Mildred Natwick (of House Without a Christmas Tree) as her spell-casting Maid. Lots of famous tongue twisters floating around, too - see if you can get that "The pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle" routine down.

I had the last of the leftover baked pasta for a very late lunch after Court Jester ended, then cleaned the bathroom and kitchen. The bathroom in particular desperately needed it. It was absolutely disgusting. I put off cleaning because of the holidays, but I really couldn't put it off anymore.

Ran Wonder Man while I did the kitchen. Unlike Court Jester, this one was entirely new to me. Kaye plays twins here, one a brash, goofy nightclub comedian, the other an uptight scholar. The comedian is killed by two mobsters who don't want him to testify against a gangster whom he saw murder a fellow performer. His twin has been estranged from him for ten years...but gets involved in a big way when the dead comedian appears to him as a ghost. He gets him to take over his nightclub act, woo his fiancee (Vera-Ellen), and live long enough to testify...if anyone thinks he's sane enough to after he goes around town telling people he's talking to a ghost!

This one was a bit strange. I kind of wish there'd been more to the mystery and the testifying. We don't really learn more about that until the end. It also reminded me a great deal of Secret Life of Walter Mitty, with a lot of people thinking Kaye is telling crazy stories. I suspect this was a way to bring out both the nervous tics of Walter Mitty and the laid-back charm of Hans Christian Anderson. Some nice special effects, too, especially when the "twins" are together.

I switched to That's Entertainment as background music after Wonder Man was done. I'd finally finished off those Peppermint Mocha Cookies from New Year's, so I refilled my cookie canister with Cranberry Drops, using the last of the cranberries from Christmas baking. Had a pleasant dinner of flounder and mushrooms, roasted Brussels sprouts, and apples stewed in cider while accompanied by MGM's finest musical performers.

Oh, and the snow has continued off-and-on throughout the day, but it still hasn't gotten anywhere near as bad as a few weeks ago. My neighbor appeared in the early evening to shovel the snow off my steps and porch as well.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Wonderful Philadelphia

Yes, it was snowing when I got up this morning around 8:30. No, it ultimately didn't amount to much. It may have caused trouble for the morning commute, but by the time I was finally getting dressed at quarter of 10, it was slowing down. For once, it was about the advertised two inches, nothing more, nothing less. By 11, the streets were even clear.

I watched Hans Christian Anderson while having breakfast and waiting out the snow. Unlike most Hollywood "biographies" that present fiction as fact, this one is quite upfront about being a "fairy tale about a spinner of fairy tales." Hans is a sweet-natured cobbler in a small Danish town. He's a laid-back fellow who spends most of his days telling stories to the local kids while the town's schoolmaster and his young apprentice Peter worries about his lack of work and his effect on the kids. When he and Peter are more-or-less run out of town, they head for the bright lights of Copenhagen, where Anderson becomes infatuated with a married ballerina who inspires his most romantic story, The Little Mermaid.

This has long been my favorite by far of Kaye's vehicles. It ran constantly on cable and on local channels in the afternoons when I was a kid. This is the movie that gave me an appreciation for Kaye, Frank Loesseur, and ballet. Loesseur wrote a grand score for this movie between Broadway assignments, including the standards "Wonderful Copenhagen," "Inchworm," and "Anywhere I Wander." Kaye is a wonderfully warm Anderson; ballerina Zizi Jeanmarie makes her film debut as the beautiful dancer. The ballet sequences are fabulous, including the cute "No Two People" and the "Little Mermaid Ballet" in the finale.

Ran to the Acme to pick up my paycheck and do some grocery shopping after Hans Christian Anderson ended. I had no problem coming or going. There was still snow on the ground, but the streets were completely clear, even the back roads. The Acme wasn't that busy, either. Nor did I need much. I mostly just picked up fruit, vegetables, and granola bars. Also needed ground chicken and canned tomato sauce.

I came home, put everything away, had a very quick yogurt lunch, and went back out again. My first stop was a quick one to the bank. After that, I headed for the PATCO to make a Philly trip and use most of my remaining gift cards for Borders and Barnes and Noble. The Borders on the Avenue of the Arts in Philly is the closest free-standing Borders for miles. The Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse Square doesn't carry DVDs, but that's ok. I've bought a ton of DVDs in the last few weeks and probably don't need more right now.

The Borders wasn't too busy when I arrived. I found something interesting right away - a book on 101 great Hollywood Musicals. To be honest, I was more interested in the pictures and information than the commentary, since it was written by the same guys who wrote my 101 Great Broadway Musicals book and has the same vices...namely, these guys don't seem to like half the movies they call "great," and the other half, no one's heard of. (College Swing? How about the 2007 Hairspray? Or Maytime? Or Hello Dolly?)

Strolled to Rittenhouse Square next. Unlike New Jersey, there wasn't much snow left in downtown Philadelphia. There was just a scattering on the sidewalk to suggest there had been a snow storm this morning at all. The sky was blue, and the breeze was nippy but not freezing. There were quite a few people out and about on Chestnut Street and the Avenue of the Arts around 3PM, including many children walking home from school.

I browsed for much longer here. Eventually bought two American Girl books (Changes for Addy and the Molly mystery Clues In the Shadows), a journal, the second Alton Brown Good Eats book Good Eats 2: The Middle Years, and a TCM book on popular "Golden Age of Hollywood" couples like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn and Myrna Loy and William Powell. I also had a sparkling blackberry juice in a glass bottle and an apple pastry at the cafe.

It was at least 5:30 by the time I finished at Barnes and Noble. I hadn't planned on being there so late! I hiked down to Market Street, then back around to the Avenue of the Arts. Made a very brief stop at FYE to see if they had something I wanted (they didn't - I'll check again after I get my tax return), then went across the street to Borders again. Actually, I was mainly in Borders to go to the bathroom. I ended up buying the second book in that Candy Shop Mystery series, which I hadn't seen at Barnes and Noble.

It was past 6:30 when I finally hit the PATCO at 13th Street. I was so tired when I got in, I opted to have a Mushroom Cheese Steak at the Oaklyn Manor Bar instead of eating at home. They were noisy and busy, and while the waitress was nice, she took forever. I just wanted to eat and go home.

And when I finally did go home, I had a scare with the carbon monoxide detector, which was going off every five minutes or so. Miss Ellie finally called a man to check it. He didn't detect anything and suggested I put the machine outside to air it. I'll change the batteries tomorrow.

Oh, and I got two packages today. One was the Sailor Moon Season 2 set I've been waiting for from eBay for almost two weeks. The other was from Mom. She sent me a thank-you card for her cookies and a present from Keefe's girlfriend Vicki - a lovely, delicate wooden bookmark. I don't know what I'm going to do with it. It's too fragile to actually use as a bookmark. Maybe I'll hang it somewhere.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Balance In the New Year

Started a sunny, chilly morning with the first yoga class of the new year. I guess I'm not the only one who skipped last week. Today's class was full, with at least 18 people counting me and the teacher Karin. Balance for the New Year was the theme today. We concentrated on balancing poses, like Tree and handstand. I'm getting really good at the walking-on-walls handstand and better at Eagle and Tree, but I'm still working on that headstand and shoulders stand.

Went straight to the Library after yoga class ended for this week's Collingswood Library volunteer session. It was pretty quiet there. I just returned and organized DVDs. The DVDs really needed to be done. The kids' shelf was terrible - half the DVDs weren't where they belonged. Is it really that difficult to teach kids how to put things back where they found them?

I made a quick stop at the gift basket shop to look at WebKinz (nothing I want), then headed home. As soon as I got home, I did the last thing I had to do for Christmas. I changed Molly, Samantha, and Jessa into their winter clothes and the Sailor Moon dolls into their regular uniforms.

Samantha now wears her gray Flannel School Dress, black Springfield Collection stockings, and black velvet AG shoes. Molly wears her "Meet" argyle sweater, skirt, and dickey with white Springfield stockings and vinyl shoes. (I got around her blue skirt not fitting by fastening it with a safety pin. Her sweater covers it.) Jess wears the green front-tie blouse I bought her last fall, her original black corduroys, white Springfield socks, and the Springfield sneakers I got for Christmas. I left Felicity in her Riding Outfit; it's the only winter outfit she owns.

I had a quick lunch of leftover chicken stir-fry, then headed to work. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - on-and-off busy. There were some fairly obnoxious people, though. One lady fussed about a $10 for $10 sale. If you bought the right items, they were supposed to come down to 80 cents each. Well, she bought some of the right items, and they did come off...but they weren't all a dollar. They were still on sale, though...and she still complained over a measly couple of cents! She had to go back and get the right things and hold up the line. I wish people would learn to have consideration for others. Sheesh, that canned pasta isn't even good for you!

I heard two rumors going around work tonight...and neither were quite right. The first was that local pastry company TastyKake is shutting down. Uh, no. They just built a new baking facility in South Philly. They just named a new CEO, for crying out loud! They're having financial problems, but all three local newspapers and their website say they'll be continuing to make yummy local favorites like Butterscotch Krimpets and Creme-Filled Cupcakes for the time being.

The other was the same persistent rumor we hear all winter - we might be getting snow tomorrow. Um, well this one was a point. As of this second, the National Weather Service says we'll be getting about an inch. Maybe two inches by the Shore. There's a chance of snow on Monday or Tuesday, but just a chance.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

I started out a clear, brisk but not freezing morning with work. The Acme was on-and-off busy all day. I spent the lulls putting candy away. Other than some annoying beginning-of-the-month people, there were no major problems and my relief was right on time.

Went straight home (picking up a box from Lauren on the way in) and changed into regular clothes. I did a few things around the apartment before starting the next phase of taking down the Christmas items. The garlands came down next. They didn't take very long; I twist-tied most of them to unused curtain rods.

Next up were the remaining miscellaneous items, which go in the large red felt "Santa Bag." These are items that I either want to pull out first or are too big to fit in the other containers. They include the wreath, mistletoe, pot holder coasters, the big plastic bell, the plaid ribbon I hang on the door to my bedroom, and several extra tins I didn't use for cookies. I'm going to wash the poinsettia placemats and the vintage handkerchief I use for a table runner before they go in the Santa Bag as well.

The last thing I did tonight was return the Christmas books to their crate in the very end of the back room. I still need to dress the American Girl dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids dolls in their winter clothes and the Sailor Moon dolls in their regular uniforms.

I opened the box from Lauren before I started in on the decorations. She's been on a Danny Kaye kick ever since she saw White Christmas for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I already have White Christmas, but she made copies of his other movies for me that she got from here and there. I started with one that sounded interesting, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Walter works for a publishing company that puts out pulp fiction magazines, the pulpier, the better. He's constantly daydreaming himself into adventure and romance...and with a nagging mother, an obnoxious fiancee, and a boss who keeps stealing his ideas, who can blame him? He finally gets a chance to have an adventure for real when a pretty blond spy shoves a little black book into his hands that a renown art thief wants. Is he really seeing a killer...or is he just daydreaming again?

This is a perfect showcase for Kaye and all his nervous tics. Fay Bainter is fine as his bossy mother, too.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Moving Finger Writes

I started a late morning with my first library volunteering in over a week. I rode through a breezy, chilly but not too chilly Newton River Park to the Haddon Township Library. The milder temperatures and sunny weather was reflected in all of the joggers and dog-walkers I saw today (not to mention Canadian geese).

The Haddon Township Library was busy when I arrived. It was the tail end of the Children's Storybook Hour, and a lot of kids needed help finding DVDs. One boy wanted Thomas the Tank Engine. A little girl requested Barbie and the Diamond Castle. There were quite a few DVDs to put away, too, especially kids' DVDs. Many parents must have taken DVDs out for their kids to watch during Christmas Break.

I got out a little early. I had other things I wanted to do today, too. I made quick stops at Dollar Tree (for sponges and a new laundry bag) and WaWa (for a Roast Beef and Swiss Ciabatta Melt and a soft pretzel) before heading home.

After lunch, I started taking down the Christmas decorations. I did the displays first. I did clear out a few small things, mostly cheap dollar-store items I bought when I first moved out and didn't have a lot of decorations. I now have many things that are far nicer.

Since it was such a nice day and I had to deliver the rent to Miss Ellie, I went for a walk after putting the container with the display items away. I headed down Goff Avenue to Newton River, admiring the late-afternoon sun glittering on the mostly-frozen creek. I turned down Ridgeway this time, opting to go towards the end of Kendall instead of the school. I admired people's outdoor decorations. If there's one thing I miss about the holidays after they're done, it's the lights. It's so much easier for me to ride home on the bike in December.

After I got in, I put the Christmas Bears away and took down the tree. Put the bears that stay out year-round in my bedroom. Weeded out a few older bears that I don't really need anymore. Got everything remaining into their container. I cleared a few decorations out of the tree container and consolidated a few boxes as well.

Even after taking two hours to do the bears and the tree, I still had plenty of time for a lovely dinner of shrimp, sweet potatoes and apples, and spinach salad with tangerines, along with several Three Stooges shorts. I ran the first disc of Volume One, including their very first Columbia short, "Women Haters" (done entirely in rhyme), and the hilarious football spoof "Three Little Pigskins."

My dinner was so simple, I had time to bake Mint Chocolate Chip Muffins afterwards. I made Alton Brown's Old School Muffins recipe and added peppermint extract and those Nestle Limited Edition Mint Chocolate Chips. They came out quite nicely, minty and sweet.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Back In Business

With the holidays over and my schedule returned to a more manageable pace, I plan on resuming my regular activities this week. Started this today with the laundry. Though I didn't get in until after 11, it was surprisingly quiet, just a mother and her cute little daughter, one woman who was just finishing as I arrived, and a couple of old ladies. I was in and out in no time.

Went straight home and got everything organized and put away. I listened to the Xanadu soundtrack, then watched Charlie and Lola while having leftover sweet potatoes and apples and skillet ground chicken pasta for lunch.

Work was on-and-off busy. I got their just in time for rush hour, and as it's the beginning of the month, we had a lot of people who wouldn't bag or couldn't bag or just plain was in a mood. Thankfully, there were no really huge problems, other than my break was late. My relief was on time, and I went home in time to make leftover steak for dinner and watch Max and Ruby.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Raining In the New Year

I was up late with Lauren last night and slept until almost 10 this morning! By the time I did some reading, wrote in my journal, and got dressed, it was past 11. I made Strawberry-Peanut Butter Pancakes while listening to Brunch With the Beatles. "Songs Released In January" was the theme today; they included "Penny Lane," "From Me To You," and "Magical Mystery Tour."

I called Mom during the second hour of Brunch. Mom was in a very good mood. She was working on taking down her Christmas decorations, including her tree. Like me, she spent most of her Christmas week working.

It was warm and wet when I headed for work around quarter of 1. Looked like it rained last night. Good thing, too. The rain cleared out most of the remaining snow. There's still a few small piles on curb-sides and in shady areas, but the streets and most sidewalks are fine. I easily rode to work.

Work was very busy and a bit of a pain. It's the beginning of the month, and we had lots of old people who did nothing but give orders and people with chips on their shoulders fussing over this and that price. And on top of that, my relief was late...which made ME late getting out!

(On the other hand, that did make up for losing that 15 minutes earlier in the week when I was late because of the snow.)

I bought flour and chicken breasts on really good sales, then rode straight home. Headed right over to Uncle Ken's for the last game of the regular season between the playoff-bound Eagles and the definitely-done-for-the-season Dallas Cowboys. I had Uncle Ken's spicy Beef Vegetable Stew for dinner and sampled cookies, chocolates, and coconut macaroons leftover from Christmas.

There weren't many people there tonight. It was just Jodie, Dad, Uncle Ken, Dolores, her son and his son Blake, and a couple of Uncle Ken's buddies from the neighborhood. I'm glad I got to see Dad; he's going on a work trip tomorrow. His luggage was packed and sitting in the dining area, waiting for his departure.

Got home in time for most of The Dress Circle. "The Shows of January" was tonight's theme here. Among the shows released in the first month of the year were the Gershwin anti-war satire Strike Up the Band, the 1971 revival of No, No, Nanette, Plain and Fancy, Ragtime, Shenandoah, The Happy Time, and The Wiz.

(And the Cowboys just barely beat the Eagles' second string players, 14-13.)