Thursday, March 31, 2011

Balance and the Spring Showers

Started out a wet, gloomy morning with yoga. Pattie was there for the first time in weeks; she'd been away in California. She made me feel much better as we did shoulder stands and joint-openers with the rest of the class. Thanks to her bad back, she couldn't get on her shoulders, either.

Went to the Collingswood Library next. Probably thanks to the cloudy weather, there were piles of DVDs to return - and there were piles more after the Storybook Hour let out! I was busy shelving, organizing, and filing DVDs for well over and hour and a half.

I considered going out to lunch after leaving the Library, but I decided I'd rather get to the bike shop in Haddonfield first while the weather was cooperating. It was still cloudy, but the "rain" was the barest sprinkles. Even that vanished as I headed up Westmont Avenue and past the Bus/Train Station to King's Highway.

The guys at the Freestyle Bike Shop said they were working on another bike and it would take about an hour to finish mine. Oh, that was perfect! I could go out to lunch. It's not like there aren't plenty of places to eat at in Haddonfield.

I strolled down King's Highway, checking out the prices at various restaurants. I finally decided I'd try something that was new to me - the British Chip Shop. Yes, they serve the basic British pub food - fish and chips, bangers and mash, various meat pies, Ploughman's Lunch, Scotch eggs, that sort of thing.

I eventually had the Chip Shop Sandwich. It's Irish cheddar, chicken, Granny Smith apple slices, greens, and Dijon mustard on a huge roll. It comes with a gigantic pile of spring greens drizzled with malt vinegar and oil. It was very, very tasty! I washed it all down with a pot of tea in a tea pot with the Union Jack painted on it.

The atmosphere was pretty cool, too. The walls were faux-brick. There was a fire roaring merrily in a fireplace. Pictures of British icons, from the Beatles to fox hunts to London landmarks, hung on the walls. A widescreen TV in the front of the room was tuned to a rugby match. British Invasion bands played in the background. It felt nice and cozy, especially on an afternoon that was still pretty dark.

I timed things perfectly. The two boys were just about done with my bike when I returned to the shop. And they did take a trade-in on the tire I bought months ago but couldn't use. They took half-off the chain, which brought it and the installation to a little over $20. Sweet.

Treated myself to a slice of pumpkin bread at the deli across the street. When I came out to enjoy my snack, I realized that the rain had picked up slightly. Not anywhere near monsoon levels, but it was a tiny bit heavier than before, more of a mist than a sprinkle.

Even so, I just made one more quick stop on my way home at Walgreens. I didn't find what I was looking for there, but I did pick up dollar boxes of dried fruit. They'll be great for granola bars.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at home. I vacuumed. I baked a Peppermint-Chocolate Chip Chiffon Cake. I watched two Duke-era Bowery Boys movies, Spook Busters and Hold That Hypnotist. I made the bed. I made a revised version of Thumper's Tuna Noodle Casserole from the Mickey Mouse Cook Book for dinner. I used defrosted frozen peas instead of canned, low-fat, low sodium cream of mushroom soup, tuna in water instead of tuna in oil, and whole-wheat noodles. I also added celery for more fiber and carrots for some color.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When Enchantment Meets the Real World

Kicked off my Easter season this morning with The First Easter Rabbit. This 1979 Rankin-Bass special tells the origins of the Easter Bunny. Originally a stuffed rabbit (hense his name, "Stuffy"), a fairy turns him into a real animal and anoints him the symbol of spring and head of Easter Valley. Can he keep the valley's Golden Lilly blooming in time for the holiday...or will a chilly character called Zero put his celebration on ice?

I left for work shortly after the DVD ended. Work was pretty much dead all day. The day had started out sunny, but the sun disappeared about half-way through my shift. When I got out at 4, the day was gray, blah, and windy, though not quite as chilly as earlier in the week.

As soon as I got home, I changed into a sweater, pulled my coat back on, and went back out. I wanted a walk and I needed milk at WaWa. It was very busy there when I arrived; I had to wait a little while to get my milk.

Spring is in full bloom in the neighborhood, despite the temperatures. Canary-yellow daffodils and soft lavender hyacinths bloom in every garden. Some of the trees have their first creamy white magnolia blossoms. Others have buds that'll be leaves in the next few weeks.

Not trusting the weather, I spent the remaining afternoon inside, cleaning the kitchen, listening to music, and watching Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.

The third movie in the Disney "Fairies" series introduces something new to Tinker Bell's world...humans. Fairies and humans aren't supposed to go near one another, but Tinker Bell is very curious about the human world. She can't resist following a Model T when she sees one for the first time, but the grouchy night fairy Vidia follows her and reminds her to restrain her curiosity. If humans find them, they might hurt them...or worse!

Fortunately, the human who does find Tink and takes her home is Lizzie, a little girl who likes fairies. Vidia gets upset when Tink is captured and tells the others, which spurs a mission to rescue her during a huge rainstorm. Lizzie's having problems of her own. Her very "modern" naturalist father will have none of her nonsense talk of fairies. To him, the only things that exist are the ones that are visible to the naked eye. Tink, however, has a few lessons in ingenuity, faith, and magic to teach everyone, fairies and humans alike...

I'm glad Disney didn't shut this series down when they disbanded their made-for-DVD/video animated movie division a few years ago. I've enjoyed the tales of Tink and her magical buddies. Here, for once, we get to know her friends slightly better, and everyone gets a chance to shine.
More New Bowery Boys Stories and a Page Overhaul

We have so many Bowery Boys role play stories at the site now (and at least three more coming in the next few weeks), I completely reorganized the stories on the front page into their own indexes. Look for "Slip and the Mystery at the Window" and "Changes" in the "Multi-Part Stories, 1946-1955" section!

("Changes" in particular is important to read in light of the upcoming stories...)

Multi-Part Stories, 1946-1955 (Go to the very bottom of the page!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Adventures In Bike Riding

Started off the morning by finishing Robin Hood. Not bad. The second half was more interesting than the first half, but it was still too long and too dour. On the other hand, this was a lot more realistic than most versions of the famous British tale, and Russell Crowe and especially Cate Blanchett were fine as Robin and Marion. Really, it depends on what you're looking for. I'd recommend it over the ridiculous Kevin Costner version without hesitation, but if you want a more colorful Robin Hood, check out Errol Flynn or Disney.

Headed for the Haddon Township Library as soon as the movie ended. It was a lovely day. Probably still a bit chilly for the time of year, in the mid-upper 40s, but otherwise sunny and breezy. I passed many people walking dogs and children, as well as a flock of Canadian geese, in Newton River Park.

The library hadn't been open for too long when I arrived around quarter of 11, but they already had at least one other volunteer there. I concentrated on returning the few DVDs that were there and organizing the kids' DVDs.

They had the third and final new American Girl mystery, the Rebecca story A Bundle of Trouble, on the shelf with the other AG books. I grabbed that one. In the spirit of trying something new, I decided to try a disk for the current PBS version of Curious George. I have fond memories of the version of George that ran on Nickelodeon when I was very little. I also found the newest Tinkerbell movie Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue and more Max and Ruby. Since the live-action movies I took out last week were gritty action dramas, I went with two comedies this time. I chose the 1988 hit A Fish Called Wanda and last year's Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (love that title).

After a short stop at Super Fresh, I rode over to Audubon for lunch at one of my favorite local restaurants, Simply Soups. It was 1 by the time I made it over there, and the small, dark room was packed with families, executives, and local shop-keepers enjoying their lunches. I was lucky I was able to grab a table! Good thing, too. I had two breadsticks and a delicious cup of spinach tortellini soup. The soup was one of the best I'd ever tasted, with tons of spinach, huge tortellinis, and enormous halves of stewed tomatoes. It made for a very satisfying and tasty lunch.

It was such a nice day, I just went for a ride down to Haddon River Park after I finished my meal. Haddon River Park passes through Audubon and Haddon Heights and is much longer and larger than Newton River Park. It's so long, I only took in the part that runs between King's Highway and Mt. Ephram.

Most of the Mt. Ephram side of the park was on the edge of a hill that mostly bordered houses...but I saw fields up there, too. I thought I'd check it out. The hill was long and steep, but I managed to get my bike to the top. Turns out there was a school and a field on the summit of the hill. I didn't want to disrupt any remaining kids, so I headed back down.

That was a little scary. The hill was very steep, and the bike kept wanting to go without me! I should have left it on the bottom of the hill. There were a couple of times I almost ended up sliding down the hill on the dry leaves.

After that incident, I did no more roaming around the hillside. (And ironically, I saw a ramp just a minute away that lead to another part of the school and the park's playground.) I just rode straight home.

I was a block away from my apartment when the gears on my bike just stopped turning. Yes, the chain had come off. Again. I walked it the rest of the way home and tried to get it back on myself, but nothing I did seemed to work. I ended up hiking it down the block to Doria's Deli and requesting help from Mr. Doria (and a half-pound of turkey from Mrs. Doria - I could use it for lunch tomorrow).

When I got home, I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning the bathroom. I've been putting it off, but I really couldn't do it anymore. The sink in particular was gross, and the tub didn't look much better.

I ran Max and Ruby while baking Chocolate-Dried Cranberry Granola Bars and Curious George during dinner. Much to my disappointment, both DVDs were badly scratched, so much that I couldn't really watch the second half of the George disc at all. And I think the Max and Ruby disc is relatively new!

Birthdays are the theme of the Max and Ruby disc. For once, Ruby tended to come off better than Max in most of the stories. I especially liked "Bunny Money," where Max learns a lesson the hard way about saving for a rainy day and Ruby about doing price research before you buy when they go shopping for their grandma. The three-part-story about Ruby's birthday party is also very sweet...especially Max's present in the last episode!

The importance of caring for the enviorment is the theme of the Curious George set. George and his buddy The Man With the Yellow Hat go back and forth between city and country living as George learns how to grow carrots, recycle, and that you don't throw a box with your buddy's favorite hat in it in the trash! I found the series to be charming and funny. The little balloons representing George's imagination are a nice touch; the animation in the balloons is in the style of the original books.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Into the Park

I slept until 9, but didn't get out to doing the laundry until quarter of 12! Good thing I only had a very small load today. It was so small, I put it in for less time than I usually do in the dryer and it was fine. I was also helped by the laundromat being surprisingly quiet for a Monday late morning-early afternoon. There was a couple of women doing their laundry and the owner, but everything wasn't full to capacity.

After I took my laundry home and put it away, I had a nice lunch of leftover Lemon Thyme Chicken, stir-fried vegetables, and spinach salad with strawberries and peanuts. Ran Robin Hood while eating lunch. Honestly, I found it a bit dull. While it made more sense (and had more sense of the time period) than the weird 1991 version, they may have gone a little TOO dark.

I spent my time at the laundromat reading A Weekend To Change Your Life, by Joan Anderson. It discusses a woman who had retreated to Cape Cod for a year to "find" herself after being all things to all people. Now, I'm not married and have no children, so I have a much easier time retreating than most people do. I spent a lot of my childhood just taking random walks by the ocean, picking up sea glass or "Cape May Diamonds" (wave-buffered quartz), watching boats on the horizon or admiring paintings artists would make of the landscape. I repeated these long walks when I moved to Wildwood. I would hike all the way down to North Wildwood in the summer and stroll among the tide pools there.

The woman now holds weekend retreats in Cape Cod for women who want to "retreat" and find themselves as well. As I thought about it, I realized I didn't need to run off to the sea to lose myself in nature. I lived right next door to nature! One of my neighbors is a park! I pulled on my coat and went for a walk.

Actually, it was more like a climb. I decided to explore the wild, rugged cliff-side in the backyard and that lead to the park. You can climb right up the hill and be in the park without actually going through the entrance.

It was cloudy this morning, but the sun came out when I was in the laundromat, though it remains chilly. It warmed my back and made the greenish waters of the river sparkle. I hiked down to the cliff, then around the ubiquitous green sticker bushes and spindly small trees. Most of the trees here have buds, but it'll probably be a few weeks before we see actual leaves.

I kept seeing those green sticker bushes everywhere as I hiked up the hill. When I carefully took hold of one to inspect it, I realized it wasn't a bush. It was a vine - a clinging vine, like the ones Miss Ellie taught me to pull away from the holly trees last fall. Only, unlike the vines we removed from the holly, these vines had thorns that were sharp and able to catch onto anything.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much of a metaphor those vines were. I'd been clinging to so many things, so many outdated notions and old ideas. I may not have had anyone clinging to me, like the women who went on that retreat, but I was doing a fair bit of clinging myself. I wanted to be free of things that clinged...including those with thorns that held on.

I kept seeing those vines EVERYWHERE as I kept hiking around the perimeter of the park. The seemed to grow around every tree and bush, choking them and blocking out the light. I'd never noticed them before, but with the leaves and the snow gone, there was nothing hiding them. I rarely walk around the edges of the park, fearing falling in or getting hurt. I wanted to see everything.

I noticed with disgust how much trash was in the park, too. Doesn't anyone in Oaklyn know how to use a trash can? There were beer cans, bottles, and packs, WaWa iced tea bottles, plastic grocery bags, and flattened milk and water jugs. I wonder if there's a way to suggest a trash clean-up in the park for the local schools. Someone has to teach the kids to respect nature.

I hugged that big tree on the southern edge that has been spray-painted, though. I feel as disrespected by my customers as that tree is by half the teenagers in Camden County. Why do people treat people - and trees - this way? How hard is it to learn to be kind to one another and the world around us?

I finally found one tree on the other side of the park that wasn't covered in sticker vines. It was a wide behemoth that already had huge pale green buds on it. The taller, skinnier trees behind it were smothered by vines, but they barely touched the big tree.

I found myself wanting to be more like that tree. I wanted to be strong and flourishing, with nothing clinging to me. That tree showed me that skinny and tall don't always mean you avoid the clinging vines.

I thought about the vines and the trees for the rest of the afternoon, even when I was at work. It was more interesting than work. Work was steady for the night, fairly busy but not quite as bad as this weekend. There were no major problems, and I was able to go straight home.

On my way back to my apartment, I saw flashing lights on West Clinton Avenue. Curious, I rode down there to check them out. All I saw were fire trucks gathered on various streets and lots. Nothing seemed to be on fire, though, and there was no smoke or puddles of streaming water from hoses. I couldn't figure it out.

(I finally discovered online at the Weather Channel that there was a fire weather watch and a red flag warning, though it has since expired. Although I don't know why they were on West Clinton. Maybe practicing?)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

You Can Always Count On Me

Slept in pretty late this morning. It was 10:30 before I got going. I made Strawberry Pancakes while listening to Brunch With the Beatles. The animated film Yellow Submarine was in the spotlight today. The eclectic soundtrack includes "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Eleanor Rigby," "Hey Bulldog," "All Together Now," and the bouncy sing-along title number.

I worked on editing our recent Bowery Boys role-play stories for a little while after the Beatles ended. They include "Bowery"-fied versions of Rear Window and The Prisoner of Zenda, the story of how Louie and Slip left the Bowery and Duke became the group leader, and one that has all of the boys becoming superheroes after Blinky and Sach's invention accidentally douses them with radiation. Look for these stories next week!

Work was, once again, busy for most of the night. This wasn't helped by a call-out. Thankfully, Sundays are usually pretty easy. There were no major problems, and I did manage to get out and get home on-time.

I called Mom while making leftovers for dinner. Mom was on her way to making dinner for her, Dad, and Keefe, but she did chat for a few minutes. I tried calling her in the morning. but she was busy. Very busy, as it turned out. Not only was she babysitting my sister Anny's son Skylar, but she had to get all-weather tires put on her new car, instead of the summer ones they came with...and apparently, it knocked the car's tire-control system (or something like that) out of alignment.

My sister Rose called about a half-hour later, right after I finished dinner. She was also making dinner and dealing with her dog Kelsey and her almost-year-old son Khai. Khai's able to pull himself up onto things and crawl around like crazy now...and he's driving his mother nuts. She's been working at Anthony's in Haddon Heights with her boyfriend Craig again, and she sounded as hectic as she was probably feeling.

She asked me if I could get the 25th off to go down to Cape May County for Khai's first birthday (and probably hers, mine, and Easter, too). I'm going to see if I can switch my birthday off for the 25th. My birthday off would be nice...but I'd really rather spend time with people.

Hit the shower next. Got out just in time for "The Dress Circle." Tonight's theme was one of the fun broad ones they do from time to time - "You, You, You," i.e, songs with the word "You" in the title. Among the ones that made it on the show were "You Are Beautiful," You Are Love," You and the Night and the Music," "You and I Love," "You Can Have Him," "You Mustn't Be Discouraged," and a favorite of mine from City of Angels, "You Can Always Count On Me."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Springtime Chills

I ended up sleeping in again this morning. Maybe it was just as well. It was rather chilly today, though the fact that it was also sunny helped. It took me a while to get going; I felt too nice in my blankets. I read for a while before having breakfast.

When I did get going, I made a quick run to the bank, then the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there. I organized the DVDs and did a run-through on the picture books. I felt a little awkward there. The older man who was the librarian today kept staring at me weird, like I was going to steal something. I will not be going back there on a Saturday morning.

I just spent what remained of the morning and early afternoon watching Bowery Boys movies and crocheting. I made a nice lunch of Teryiaki Vegetables and Lemon Thyme Chicken. I just got out to work on time.

Work was, once again, busy for most of the night, just slowing down right before I left. There were no really major problems, including after work when I picked up yogurt and light bulbs.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fickle March Weather

Yeah, it was much colder today than it has been, in the lower 40s. That's really pretty normal for this time of year, though. You never know what it'll be from week to week. I slept in and didn't have the time for much of anything this morning. I watched The Princess and the Frog, read books, and did some things online.

Work was on-and-off busy, with no major problems. It went faster than it had in ages, even with the extra hour. Not that the extra hour ended up mattering much. It was much quieter by the time I finished at 7:30, and we had plenty of help.

Went shopping right after that. I didn't need quite as much as previous weeks. Mostly restocked fruit - bananas, grapefruit (they're 3 for $1.99 for the smaller ones), oranges, strawberries, and the tiny clementines. Stocked up on honey, chocolate chips, and olive oil.

My schedule for next week isn't too bad, other than fewer hours. There's two days until 8 and one somewhat-early day on Wednesday, but I do have Tuesday and Thursday off again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sweet Balance

It was wet and chilly when I started for yoga class this morning. It wasn't doing anything at first. I'd just ridden past the 7-11 on the White Horse Pike when I realized there were small, glittering flakes falling softly all around me. The cold morning had turned our snow into a spring flurry! It was very pretty as I made my way across Oaklyn and into Collingswood.

Despite the weather, the class was fully and busy today. We worked on hip-openers, deep bends, twists, and balance poses. It was frustrating. I couldn't lift myself into a shoulder stand like the rest of the class could, and I couldn't balance as well, either. When everyone else did shoulder stand, I found myself doing legs-up-the-wall.

It made me think. I had an image while we were meditating of a solitary child, in a field of flowers, running and laughing. She was carefree and happy...but she was alone. I'm still very much that solitary child. I'm free in many ways, and my freedom is precious to me. In other ways, though, I'm still that hurt little girl. The one who felt she needed to compete with her sisters and the other kids in school for attention and affection. The one who believed that nothing she did was ever perfect enough. The one who was told that she shouldn't cry when she's hurt, and that it's babyish to show pain. The one who thought she would be sent away to somewhere scary and bad if she did something wrong.

I'm proud of how I live now. I don't like my job and intend to find a better one, but I do have my own money. I rarely borrow money from anyone. I live the way I want to live, and I no longer care what others think of me. I'm not them. I'm tired of competing with other people for everything. I have my own opinions, and being quiet about expressing them doesn't mean they're not there. I'm not going to change just because one or two people are spoilsports. They live their lives, and I live mine.

There's still a lot of that hurt little girl inside of me, though. I've been working on healing her, on showing her that her emotions are ok. That growing up is supposed to hurt. That she doesn't have to go anywhere she doesn't want to. That it's ok to be different. The negative energy has just been there for so long, though, that it's been hard for me to work through these feelings. I'm doing my best. Writing in my offline journal and this blog has been a huge help; so have my walks.

My mind was still on these issues as I walked my bike down to the Collingswood Library for this week's volunteer session there. (I usually walk my bike in downtown Collingswood. The streets and sidewalks are too busy and narrow to ride.) There was a nice pile of DVDs for me to file and shelve when I arrived.

I just organized the "Television" section when the Library's Storybook Hour finished. I was flooded with requests for Strawberry Shortcake and Thomas the Tank Engine. I helped the kids and their parents as best I could, then went out myself.

Made a couple of brief stops on the way home, including WaWa for a Ciabatta Melt for lunch. I also checked out a new cupcake bakery across the street from Collingswood's City Hall. Their Medium Red Velvet Cupcake was tasty, and the college student who sold it to me was friendly...but at $2 for a medium cupcake, this place will be a once-in-a-while treat only. That's steep for something I could make myself.

I went out for a long walk when my hoagie was done. The clouds had started breaking up, and though it was still damp and cold, it was much brighter. The snow was long-gone. My mind was still on that morning, though. Though I really feel better about myself than I did at this time last year, a part of me still wants to be like everyone else and do what everyone else can...even though I know everyone's different and my body can only do so much. I really need to practice more, or maybe do some strength exercises at the apartment.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing things around the apartment. I ran Two Mules For Sister Sara while working on Spiced Meringue Cookies. Two Mules is a gritty late 60s "spaghetti western" that made a star out of Clint Eastwood and proved Shirley MacLaine could handle action roles. Eastwood is a mercenary in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution, at a time when France had invaded that country. MacLaine is a nun traveling to help war-torn Mexicans. Eastwood is going to aid Mexican rebels invading a French garrison. He saves her from drunk cowboys, and the two find themselves riding together with the afore-mentioned mules of the title as they work on ideas to take the French out of Mexico.

You can guess the rest...or most of it. MacLaine turns out to be far from what she claims to be. I've never been a huge fan of the Italian oaters of the 60s and 70s, but this one is quite enjoyable. MacLaine and Eastwood work better together than you might expect. Actually, it reminds me somewhat of The African Queen moved to Mexico with a grittier feel, the French replacing the Nazis, horses instead of boats, and Mexicans instead of African natives.

I worked on Wishcraft exercises while the cookies were in the oven. Today, I made a flow chart of how I intend to start an at-home business and made a list of everyone I know who could possibly help me start said business and/or find a job.

Made vegetable-beef stir-fry for dinner while watching the end of Two Mules For Sister Sara and a somewhat related Get Smart episode. In "Viva Smart," the second episode of the third season, Max and 99 find themselves in a South American country that was just taken over by a very nasty dictator. They disguise themselves as flamenco dancers in an attempt to rescue the real president of the country...but they get in real trouble when the dictator sees through their ruse and has them jailed. Can they get the real president out of the country before they all find themselves in front of a firing squad?

Oh, thankfully, my meringue cookies came out beautifully this time. I let them cook for a little too long, but it doesn't seem to have impacted the taste that much. They're exactly like the meringue cookies that come in tubs at the Acme...and a lot cheaper!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed...

First of all...YAY! TCM is finally adding two of my oft-requested MacDonald/Eddy vehicles, Naughty Marietta and Sweethearts, to their Vault Collection line-up. Marietta was their first movie together and remains a favorite of mine. Sweethearts was their first of two Technicolor films and MGM's first full three-strip Technicolor film. Now, could we have the remaining six as soon as possible, please? And while you're at it, how about some of their solo vehicles that MGM owns? Her The Firefly or The Merry Widow, or his Let Freedom Ring or Balalkia? (They already have one he did with Eleanor Powell, Rosalie, in the Vault Collection.)

I was going to sleep in this morning...but a phone call at quarter after 8 ended that idea. Yes, it was the Acme. No, they didn't want me to come in right away. They were asking me if I wanted to stay an extra hour on Friday. Sure. I'll be grocery shopping that night anyway.

I tried to go back to sleep, but I just couldn't do it. Even with the gray weather, I couldn't sleep. I wrote in my journal and read the new Samantha mystery instead. It wasn't raining by the time I got out of bed around 9-ish, but it was still gray and gloomy.

I cheered up a bit with Barbie: A Fairy Secret while I had Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms for breakfast. Fairy Secret picks up almost directly from where last fall's Fashion Fairy Tale left off. Once again, we begin in the real world as Barbie, Ken, and Barbie's fashion stylists confront her snotty rival Raquelle about her behavior at a recent movie premiere. Fantasy quickly intrudes when a group of fairies, lead by the love-besotted Queen Gabriella, kidnap Ken and take off with him to the fairy world, Gloss Angeles! The stylists reveal that they're fairies, too, and lead Barbie and Raquelle into Gloss Angeles to rescue Ken...before he's trapped there forever!

The goofy name of the fairy city aside, I really enjoyed this one. Fairy Secret reminds me a lot of the stories my sisters and I used to concoct as kids that would have all of our Barbies working with She-Ra and riding My Little Ponies to rescue Ken and Luke Skywalker from some nasty queen or witch or warrioress. Though the moral about the power of friendship and forgiveness is still laid on a little thick, it's not quite as bad as the heavy-handed script in Fashion Fairy Tale. The plot's a lot more original, too. And Ken is still wonderful comic relief. He has a hilarious magic duel with a male fairy (with a decidedly non-PC Italian accent) who is in love with Queen Gabriella.

I went for a walk after Fairy Secret ended. It was sprinkling lightly as I left, but otherwise, it wasn't really doing anything major. The clouds remained dun-colored and dull, though, and everything was damp and chilly (though surprisingly not as cold as I figured it would be, probably in the mid-to-upper 40s).

The very light rain continued throughout the afternoon. When I finished my quick lunch of yogurt topped with fruit and Oatmeal Squares, it was barely spitting. I rode to work with only my coat getting mildly damp.

Work was on-and-off busy. There were no major problems, other than the reliefs for me and another college-student cashier were late. Mine came in after a manager had already come in for me. Hers never showed up at all. I spent the down time doing candy.

It was lightly showering when I briefly ran a bag out for a customer. The showers were gone by quarter after 4. I was able to ride home with a few things I needed and stay fairly dry.

Spent the rest of the evening inside, listening to music and experimenting with egg white baking. I was going to make Meringue Cookies again, but some egg yolks got in my batter. No matter. I made some wonderful Chocolate Chip Chiffon Cupcakes instead. I had a fabulous Tilapia In Lemon-White Wine Sauce for dinner with steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

Incidentally, the rain didn't pick up again until about 9:30. There was a small thunderstorm, too. I hope it doesn't continue until morning. I'd like to go to yoga tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Princesses, Paupers, and Strawberry Shortcake

It was a gorgeous morning for a ride to the Haddon Township Library. By 11, when I headed out, the sun was shining, the breeze was whistling, and it was probably in the lower-mid 50s, fairly normal for this time of year. There were lots of people out and about, too, enjoying their last day of gorgeous weather before rain (and possibly snow) comes in starting tomorrow.

The library was also bustling when I arrived. I mostly concentrated on DVDs today. The kids' DVDs badly needed to be organized. There were stacks and stacks of adult DVDs to shelve, too. There weren't as many non-fiction DVDs as in the past few weeks, which was probably a good thing. It looks like most of the non-fiction DVDs were just reorganized, and it'll take me a while to figure out what goes where.

The Library seems to have gotten several new kids' DVDs in during the past week. I indulged my girlie side and took out two Barbie As specials, the first musical The Princess and the Pauper and the just-released A Fairy Secret. They had the newest Strawberry Shortcake and Max and Ruby DVDs, so I grabbed those as well. I also took out the western Two Mules For Sister Sara and last year's Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood.

I ended up taking out a pile of books, too. I not only picked up the newest Samantha AG mystery Clue In the Castle Tower and the one and only Josefina mystery, Secret In the Hills. Found two cookbooks on healthy eating that were far more to my liking than the awful Hungry Girl cookbook from a few weeks ago. One was The Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook. The other concentrated on seasonal foods. I'm a firm believer in eating seasonally.

Made a couple of quick stops at the Westmont Plaza next. I grabbed dried apricots from Super Fresh and sponges from Dollar Tree. Had a tasty turkey, avocado spread, lettuce, and Swiss cheese sandwich for lunch at the Bagel Shop. I went straight home after lunch, dodging two FedEx workers who thought they were being cute by standing in my way and pulling back at the last minute. Jerks. They're lucky I didn't run them over. That wasn't funny.

I remembered while riding back to the apartment that I have bills due. I paid them online right away when I got home, then did a few things on the computer. Went for a walk around 4. I went down to the end of Goff Avenue to enjoy the perfectly clear view of Newton River and the Ben Franklin Bridge, then walked back around to Kendall and West Clinton. Everything in the neighborhood looks so nice. Daffodils and crocus bloom in gardens; forsythia bushes drip with brilliant sunshine-colored blossoms. Some homes still had St. Patrick's Day banners waving in the breeze. Others settled for more general spring depictions of birdhouses, flowers, birds, and baby animals.

Spent the rest of the afternoon working on granola bars at my place and watching cartoons. First on deck was Princess and the Pauper. I avoided this one after hearing a song from it performed at the 2004 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and finding it to be excruciating. That song isn't great...but the movie itself is surprisingly one of Barbie's best. It's actually a fairly accurate adaptation of Prince and the Pauper. Here, Barbie is wealthy intellectual Princess Annika and ambitious indentured servant Erika. When the kingdom's supply of gold runs out, Annika finds herself engaged to marry a rich prince from a neighboring kingdom. When the queen's treacherous adviser has Annika kidnapped, it will take all of the wits of both girls, their pet cats and horse, and their respective beaus to reveal his plot and save the kingdom!

The biggest surprise of all was how much of a musical this was. It had at least 7 songs plus some reprises, more music than many live-action movie musicals. And unlike Diamond Castle and Island Princess, where only Barbie and a couple of her animal buddies get to sing, almost everyone has a number. Even the villain gets two songs and a reprise to himself.

Even better, the plot was genuinely exciting and fun. The villain was appropriately menacing, and this is one of the few times the good queen really figures into the plot. The prince who falls for Erika and the royal tutor who is Annika's best friend are far more interesting than most of the bland male characters in these stories, too.

Alas, most of the episodes on the Max and Ruby set were ones that had been previously released. "Max's Castle" was my favorite of the episodes that were new to me. Ruby and Louise are building the "perfect" block castle. Max, as usual, thinks their castle could use a little his toys barging in.

Puttin' on the Glitz, on the other hand, was entirely new Strawberry Shortcake. It's the first 2009 series DVD I've seen to be a series of episodes, instead of episodes strung together to make a "movie." The first and last episodes, both dealing with confronting and criticizing friends about problems and with the impersonality of technology, were my favorites.

Made granola bars and dinner while the cartoons ran. The Lemon Thyme Chicken from the Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook came out superbly, other than I added a wee bit too much lemon juice. I paired that with spinach salad and steamed broccoli for a nice dinner.

The granola bars...were more of a problem. The recipe called for a kind of thick caramel-type sauce to be added to dried fruit, nuts, and oats. I was hoping that leaving them in the pan to harden would make them less flaky. That wasn't smart. They just stuck to the pan. Oh well, they still taste good. I'll just eat my granola bars in chunks...and now I know how to make caramel sauce, too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rainy Days and Laundry

I slept in this morning and didn't really get to do much besides the laundry. Maybe it was just as well. It apparently rained early this morning. I finally got to the laundromat around 11:30, by which time the rain was gone, leaving a gloomy, damp day. The laundromat wasn't too busy when I got in, but more people arrived as it became plainer that the clouds weren't going to burst again soon.

After I got home, I put away my laundry and, since I had a little time, worked on inventories. I worked on them for too long. I just barely had enough time to have leftovers for lunch, throw together dinner, change into my uniform, and get to work!

Work was busy for most of the night. There were a few obnoxious customers. One guy made a fuss because his half-gallons of iced tea were $1.99 instead of $1.69. The sign was dated, but he made such a fuss that I gave them to him anyway. Then there was the annoying guy who blathers on about "Dungeons & Dragons"-type games to anyone who will listen...and many people who won't.

And of course, I ended up staying later. One of the college students called out. He was supposed to be in charge of the self-checkout line. They replaced him with a teenage girl...but she was originally a checker tonight. That meant we were short-handed in the checkout lanes. I stayed an hour, but I really didn't want to push later. I was riding home on the bike. Not to mention, I'm not THAT desperate for hours right now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Don't Fence Me In

It was well into the first day of spring when I finally finished 7,000 Clams and started breakfast this morning. The Banana Pancakes I made came out extremely well. In fact, I think they're the best pancakes I've done in a while. I really need to start adding more buttermilk to this recipe.

Listened to Brunch With the Beatles while eating breakfast. The theme today was "The Beatles In 1967." Fine by me - that meant the emphasis was on two of my favorite Beatles albums, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. Singles from this era include "Penny Lane," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "All You Need Is Love," and "Baby You're A Rich Man."

I tried calling Mom twice this morning. Today is her birthday, and I really wanted to wish her a happy day. I did finally get her around 11:30. We only talked for a few minutes. It sounded like she had Keefe and the little boys there. I mentioned to her that I want to look into starting a business and leaving the Acme after the trouble yesterday. I feel like I'm getting burnt out on the Acme. She said yes, do that...but don't leave until you find another job. And oh yeah, the economy is bad, so how will you find another job at all?

I'm sick and tired of using the economy as an excuse to stay in my comfort zone. I've had a hard time finding a job for eight years. I've struggled financially since I got out college. My family has struggled for most of my life financially. Being broke is a way of life with me. I'm used to living with little money.

I want to try to find a job. I believe that what I need is to think outside the box. It's just a matter of finding the right strategy...and the right small business. It's not going to be retail, though. I've had enough of selling things to obnoxious people.

I ran Iron Man 2 while cleaning out and organizing the area under the sink. I think I've seen evidence of a mouse down there. Besides, I haven't cleaned it in ages. It's most certainly due for a scrub.

Iron Man 2 puts more emphasis on the suit and technology developed in the first movie. The very thing that billionaire Tony Stark developed to save his life may be killing him. He's having problems with his girlfriend, even after he promotes her to the head of his company. His best friend absconds to the military with one of the suits. And, oh yes, an insane Russian whose father was sent to Siberia after working with Stark's father in the 70s wants revenge...badly.

It was...ok. Maybe you need to be more of a comic book fan to get this one. I still like Robert Downey Jr. as Stark, and Don Cheadle got a rare big action role as his best buddy/sidekick. Otherwise, if you liked the first one and are into the books, go ahead. If you're not an action/superhero fan, this probably isn't the best place to start.

Thank goodness that work was no problems at all after yesterday. The weather was colder, but otherwise remained nice and sunny. Once again, my relief was early, and I was thankfully in and out quickly.

Went straight home after work for dinner, the end of Iron Man 2, and The Dress Circle. Staying with action, tonight's theme was "Singing Cowboys and Themes From Westerns." TV western themes heard include Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Zorro, and "The Ballad of Jim West" from The Wild Wild West. Movie themes included High Noon, The Sons of Katie Elder, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Tex Ritter each got to perform some of their biggest hits. Autry's included "You Are My Sunshine" and "Don't Fence Me In." Rogers' included "Tumbling Tumbleweeds."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Windy, Bright, and Beautiful

I'm glad I got up fairly early this morning. I got a lot done. My first errand of the day was the bank to deposit my paycheck. Once again, it was a beautiful, sunny, windy day. The wind kept it from being too warm, but it was still warm enough for me to be out in just my heavy Cape May hoody sweatshirt and be fine. The bank was dead when I was there, and I was in and out.

Next stop was WaWa. It was only about 10:30 when I got there. They were busy with people picking up coffee and late breakfasts. I grabbed milk and a small cup of chai tea.

Went for a short walk after leaving WaWa. The neighborhood is looking very much like spring. There's buds on the trees. Many yards and fields are bursting with the first crocus and daffodils. Bushes that were trimmed back in the fall are now sporting new, pale-green growth. I waved to a neighbor and Acme customer walking her two large, beautiful midnight-colored dogs, and headed home.

Since I got out so early, I had the time to get a lot of things done around the apartment, too. I took down the St. Patrick's decorations and put up some spring-themed cardboard hangings. I swept out the two shelves between my sink and stove that make up my pantry. I decided to try something different and made some delicious hummus for lunch.

I wish I'd stayed home. Work was not only a pain in the rear today, it was a bit scary. Though the worst that happened in my line was an obnoxious older woman who had to re-arrange every bag and hold up the line, there were problems in the self-checkout and the line in front of me later in the day.

I don't really know WHAT happened in self-checkout. My back was turned. I just heard two women having a very noisy and violent argument. From what I could hear, it sounded like one had probably skipped ahead in the line...and the other didn't like it. One of the women was eventually ejected from the store.

About an hour before I went home, a lady came in and told customer service that there were two children in a car with the windows down. Turns out the kids and the car belonged to a young couple in the register in front of me. The woman was so appalled with them leaving their kids in the car with the windows up, she called the police on them!

Today confirms it. I can't stay in the Acme anymore. This is utterly ridiculous. I know this doesn't happen all the time...but it shouldn't happen at all. I just want to work somewhere small and quiet, with quiet, sensible, intelligent people.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Soak Up the Sun

I slept in and didn't really do a whole lot today. When I did finally have breakfast around 9:30, I threw open the windows...and discovered a gorgeous, partly-sunny day that was probably in the 70s...TOO warm for March in New Jersey!

Naturally, a walk was mandatory on a day like this. I didn't get to take as long a walk as I wanted to because it was getting late, but I did get one in. I just went down Manor and back around to West Clinton. It was windy and so warm, I didn't even really need my blue hoody sweater. I was fine in my short-sleeved maroon false-layered blouse.

When I got in, I had a quick lunch of yogurt, an apple, and my home-made granola bars and rode to work. Work was on-and-off busy, with some annoying customers and a distinct lack of help. A lot of the college students and teenagers must have had been a little too free with the green beer last night. One called out; several others complained about hangovers.

I went straight into grocery shopping after I finished work. I got lucky. The Acme is having their big $1 for bagged produce sale. I grabbed bags of broccoli and cauliflower tops, vegetables for stir-fry, a small bag of five clementines, celery, and bagged, salted peanuts in their shells. Grapefruit were 3 for $1.99, Granny Smith apples were 99 cents a pound, and strawberries were $2.50. I also needed brown sugar, canned diced tomatoes, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, and dried cranberries.

I have a pretty decent schedule next week. Slightly fewer hours, but otherwise, it's not bad. The only really late day is next Saturday. Tuesday and Thursday are once again my off days.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lucky Balance

Top of the evenin' to ye. I hope ye all be havin' a wonderful St. Patrick's Day! I started out mine with yoga class. It was already in the 50s when I headed over to Collingswood, sunny and bright and breezy. We worked on heart-openers today, most of which involved standing and balance poses. Balance definitely is not my strong suit. I still have a hard time focusing.

After class, I headed for the Collingswood Library for my first volunteer session of the day. Not a whole lot to do there. I just shelved some DVDs and did a lot of organizing. I don't know how action movies keep getting mixed in with the dramas!

I made a brief stop at Rite Aid and picked up a box of raisins for a recipe I intended to make later and at WaWa for a bottle of water, then headed back to Oaklyn. I'd decided I was going to volunteer at the Oaklyn Library today instead of waiting for tomorrow or Saturday, when I had less time. The DVDs weren't too bad, but the kids' books really needed to be done.

Headed home after I finished at the library. I had a quick lunch, then went back out for a walk. I hadn't realized how low I was on sugar. Besides, I badly wanted a walk. By 1:30, it was absolutely stunning outside. I was warm in my blue jacket going home, so I just wore my green sweater for my walk and was perfectly fine. There couldn't have been a nicer March day.

Got the sugar at CVS. Also picked up honey, which was on sale. I took a detour going home to say "hi" to Uncle Ken and Dad, which I haven't done in a while. Dad and Jodie were in Allentown for Jodie's work at Campbell's Soup, but Dolores, Uncle Ken, and Jessa were at home. Uncle Ken was cleaning out the garage...or he was supposed to be. According to the ladies, he wasn't really getting very far. Dolores was making stewed cabbage for dinner, and Jessa was just hanging out. She gave me a ride home; she was on her way to work anyway.

Spent the rest of the afternoon doing things at my place. I've always wanted to try making Irish Soda Bread. The Acme sells it in late February and March, but I've never had the time on St. Patrick's Day to make my own before. That's what the sugar and the raisins were for. I used a recipe in my big Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. It came out completely yummy, very moist and flavorful. (The raisins weren't in Clayton's version, but the Acme includes them, so I did, too.)

I ran my LP soundtrack from the movie version of Finian's Rainbow while making the bread. This was Fred Astaire's last singing and dancing appearance in an actual musical (other than That's Entertainment II, and he has some nice numbers in this odd version of the whimsical Broadway musical about an Irishman who buries a pot of gold near Fort Knox, hoping it'll "grow" the way America's gold supply seems to have.

While the bread was in the oven, I checked my e-mail and did Wishcraft. I've decided that I want to do two things. First of all, I'd like to work for a smaller company or business as part of the team, even just part-time. Since I know how little these pay, I'll supplement my income with a small at-home business. I'm reading a book with a list of 55 different at-home businesses you can start. I may start brainstorming on a few of them.

Ran what little I had with an Irish theme while making "fish and chips" (flounder in vinegar with sweet potatoes, onions, and mushrooms) and boiled cabbage for dinner. One of the stranger episodes of Moonlighting's second season had a young Irishwoman who claims to be a leprechaun go to Maddie and David and ask for help protecting her and her pot of gold. Naturally, this sparks debate between the two about magic and believing in the things we can't see. It turns out, however, that people are after the lass' gold...but not for the reasons she thinks!

Porky Pig had an even scarier experience with the Little Folk in the classic Looney Tunes short "Wearin' of the Grin." When he arrives at a large, spooky castle near Dublin, he dreams that a group of vengeful leprechauns mistake him for a thief and make him wear green shoes that dance forever! But is it all a dream?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

It was still cloudy, cool, and damp when I rode to work at 8:30 this morning. It spit a little while I was on my bike, but the worst appeared to be long gone by the time I headed out. I had no problems getting to work.

Work wasn't busy, either. In fact, it was pretty dead when I first arrived. It did pick up later, but it never got quite as busy as it did Monday. Worst that happened was trying to explain to several people that the big $.99 sale on six-packs of Canada Dry soda was only for four days. It's still on sale for $1.99...but for some folks, that just wasn't good enough. (Maybe if people hadn't bought carts filled with cases of soda, there might have been enough to last the weekend.)

Otherwise, there were no major problems. I even finally remembered to put in my requests for time off. I asked for my birthday on April 14th, June 17th for my brother Keefe's graduation, and June 23rd through July 1st for my best friend Lauren's yearly visit. Having my birthday off is nice but optional, but I really want the other two.

After work, I rode to the Audubon Crossings Mall behind the Acme. I needed new cheap sneakers to run errands in. The soles started coming off the old ones shortly after I bought them. I eventually just picked up a pair on sale for $10.99 at Payless. I'd had that pair before and they didn't last long, but hopefully by the time they do give up the ghost, I'll have the money for more.

By this time, the sun was bursting through the clouds, which looked a lot fleecier and less gray. It was much warmer, too, far too warm for the heavy black winter coat I'd worn that morning. I finally rode home around quarter after 1.

I stopped at the mail box on my way in and found four packages bound together with rubber band waiting for me. My recent eBay orders for the American Girl dolls had arrived! I hurried inside to check them out.

The first one was for Felicity. I was originally going to try making her Christmas Gown and Stomacher myself from an AG pattern, but I finally decided it would take me years to be able to make such a complicated pattern. I picked it up on eBay instead when I saw it for $19.99, far less than it's last price of $32 before it sold out in December.

It's a very pretty dress, and the bright blue color is gorgeous on my Pre-Mattel Felicity. I like that it's in two parts, too. I can use the petticoat for other things as well. My only complaints is that the fabric feels less like a fancy ball gown and more like something a parachute would be made out of, and the dress is a recent Mattel version and the stomacher attaches with Velcro, rather than the more practical snaps that originally came with it. Otherwise, I'm glad Lissie finally has something nice for Christmas.

My favorite of my eBay finds was Samantha's Plaid Cape and Gaiters. I believe it's the original version that came out in the 80s, or at the very least a Pre-Mattel version. The wool is very thick and heavy, and the lining is silky and smooth. I have a pattern for this one, too. Perhaps I can make her a cape in a lighter fabric for spring and fall when I get better at sewing. I'd love to make myself an adult-sized one, too. It's just such a lovely, elegant coat!

I had less luck with two outfits for Jessa. An off-brand outfit came with a pink, black, and white false-layered shirt and jean capris. The shirt looks really cute, but the capris were too small. Oh, well. I still got them on her, and I love how the outfit looks. Didn't have as much luck with the other outfit. It appears to be home-made. The pants are too big and the vest is too small, but the black turtleneck fits.

After I changed Jessa into her new capri outfit and put everything else away in the back or in the recycling, I changed into a t-shirt and capris myself. I had a quick lunch of Peanut Butter and Apricot Preserves on home-made rye bread and an orange, then headed out for a nice long walk in Newton River Park.

I got out at around 2:30, apparently the same time as the Oaklyn School. Groups of children, some with their parents, ran and jumped and skipped down West Clinton Avenue. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and who could blame them? A day that had started out gloomy was now sunny, warm, and breezy. I skipped along with them, glad that I worked early enough to enjoy the beautiful weather.

It was nice in Newton River Park, too. Lots of people were doing the same thing I was, going for a stroll or a jog. Dafodils and crocus were blooming in gardens. The trees are just starting to show the first signs of buds. The newly-arrived sunlight sparkled on the deep-green waters of Newton River as I passed by.

When I got home, I spent the rest of the evening sending good feedback for all of my eBay purchases and making honey-peanut butter granola bars. I burnt them a little, but otherwise, they came out all right.

I ran the 1937 The Prisoner of Zenda while having leftovers for dinner. Ronald Coleman is Rudolf Rassendyl in this version of one of my favorite books. Rudolf arrives in Ruritania hoping to do some fishing...but gets caught up in a dastardly plot to take over the throne when it's discovered that he's a dead ringer for Ruritania's about-to-be-crowned King.

The cast is the thing in this rousing action tale. Ronald Coleman is perfect as Rudolf and his royal double. Madeline Carroll is a bit chilly as the King's intended, Princess Flavia, but C. Aubrey Smith and David Niven have a fine time as the King's most loyal advisors. Raymond Massey and a dashing Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are marvelous villains as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"In Your Easter Bonnet, With All the Frogs Upon It..."

Started a quiet morning with two live-action sitcom episodes inspired by classic tales of double dilemmas. "The King Lives" is a third season Get Smart spoof of The Prisoner of Zenda. Max has to take over from the King of Corovia when he's shot, but the King's dastardly brother figures out and kidnaps 99. Max has to rescue his girlfriend after showing off his swashbuckling ability to KAOS!

The first season The Monkees show "The Prince and the Paupers" has fun with Mark Twain's short novel of the same title. Davy Jones' double is a shy young prince who is desperately afraid of girls...but he has to get married in order to claim his throne. Davy woos the Prince's lady friend (with Mike's help), while Micky and Peter try to teach the Prince the ins and outs of dating. Meanwhile, the Prince's uncle will do anything to keep him from getting married, including kill his nephew!

Headed for the Haddon Township Library after The Monkees ended. It was a gorgeous day for a ride. The wind was a bit blustery, but otherwise it was sunny and in the lower-mid 50s, perfect weather for mid-March in southern New Jersey. I wasn't the only one enjoying it, either. There were several people out for a stroll in Newton River Park, and at least two flocks of Canadian geese poking around for an early lunch.

The library actually wasn't that busy today. There wasn't even much for me to do. I put away a small pile of DVDs and a couple of children's books. I noticed that there were two new American Girl Mysteries sitting in the kids' new releases section, one for Julie and one for Samantha. Since I just read a Sam mystery not long ago, I grabbed the one for Julie, The Silver Guitar. The last Julie mystery I read was excellent and a huge improvement on her rather dull "core" series. I'm hoping for the same here, especially since one of the subjects dealt with is rock music in the late 60s and 70s.

I also took out a couple of DVDs. I only found one movie I wanted to see, Iron Man 2, but I went with three cartoon sets. Grabbed the newest Sean the Sheep set "Spring Shee-na-nigans," "Easter With Max and Ruby," and "Christmas With the Backyardigans."

My next stop after the library was Super Fresh. I like the individual packs of Hodgeson Mill yeast from there. They seem to work better and are cheaper than the ones that come in three-packs. They were having a sale on pecan bits, too, and I wanted those to try some more meringue cookies. After that, I made a brief stop at Dollar Tree for birthday cards for my friend Kelly (birthday is St. Patrick's Day) and Mom (the 20th). I hit WaWa on the way home for a Turkey Ciabatta Melt, then headed home.

After I got in, I had a quick Ciabatta Melt lunch, then made Chocolate-Pecan Meringue cookies while watching Sean the Sheep. Timmy, the mischievous little lamb, was at the center of two of the best stories in this set. In the first, he gets stuck on a spring and leads Sean and the other barnyard residents on a merry chase to catch him. In another, he eats a tomato that's been doused with a super-grow formula. He grows so tall, Sean and the others mistake him for a monster...and so does the farmer, who calls in a mob to take the monster sheep down! The nearsighted farmer was the focus of the last story. He loses his glasses and blunders all over the farmyard...until Sean comes up with a very creative replacement for his lost specs!

I worked on Wishcraft exercises while the cookies were in the oven. Chapter 6 deals with Negative Thinking. I've indulged in a little too much of this in the past. The exercises encourage you to just write out all of your complaints - I'll never earn enough money to start a business, I wouldn't know how, etc. Chapter 7 starts the actual brainstorming process. Most of the ideas I came up with involve talking to people. We'll see if I can actually make myself do that. I get so nervous about it.

I went for a walk while the cookies cooled. It was still a lovely day. In fact, it was such a nice day, I switched to my blue spring jacket, instead of my winter coat, which I wore this morning. Since it was past 5 by this point and school was long out, I decided it was safe to take a walk down to the park and school yard. I saw lots of kids out and about. Two boys played street hockey on Landis Avenue. A whole gaggle of little guys climbed around on the school playground equipment as their parents watched. Little league softball and baseball teams practiced on the school field.

Ran The Backyardigans while finishing the cookies and starting dinner. My favorite episodes were two bizarre but cute sci-fi spoofs. The first had Acorn Scouts Austin, Tasha, and Tyrone helping alien dictator Pablor (Pablo) get to the Crystal of Power before his sworn enemy Uniquor (Uniqua) does...and learning a bit about helping others in the process.

In the second, space cops Uniqua and Tyrone think diner owners Tasha and Pablo's sweet-natured alien customer is the rogue alien who has been going around shrinking objects. But Hugs the Alien has a surprise for everyone when she teaches the kids about the importance of the word "no."

Switched to Max and Ruby while making Shrimp with Tomato Sauce over Pasta and steamed broccoli for dinner. Springtime and Easter tales were the focus of this set (obviously). In "Ruby's Easter Bonnet," Ruby wants to make a prize-winning hat for the Bunny Scouts' Easter Bonnet Competition, but Max thinks her hat could use a little his jumping frog!

Ruby came off much better for once in "Ruby Scores!" Ruby's determined to land a goal against Roger, the best soccer player in school. Max's robots get in the way, until they finally distract Roger instead. I give Ruby - and Louise, too - a lot of credit here. Though the robots helped Ruby make some nice dodges, that great ball-off-the-head shot that landed the goal was her own. And Louise is one heck of a cheerleader - maybe she should try out for her local little league squad!

I'm a little disappointed with how the cookies came out. They're tasty, but not as crunchy as I'd hoped. I don't think I chopped the pecans fine enough. Oh well. I'm really enjoying working with egg whites. I think I'll try more meringue cookie recipes. They're the perfect cookies - sweet, easy to make, low-fat, and very tasty!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Double or Laundry

Started out a cloudy, cool morning with this week's laundry run. It was busy, but I was able to get some machines. One guy who is a friend of my dad's said he recognized me from the Acme. I wish he hadn't. I really wish people would recognize me for something else besides working at a grocery store. It's embarrassing.

After my laundry finished, I headed home. I got a surprising amount of mail, considering I usually get either an occasional piece of junk or, more rarely, a present from someone or something I ordered. Today, I got a present. Lauren sent me a copy of the novelization of the Danny Kaye movie On the Double from Amazon. She'd really enjoyed it, and thought I would, too.

I also finally got the American Girl catalog without buying an outfit...and found out why it took two months to come. It had been damaged in the mail; the plastic introduction cover was ripped, though the bulk of the catalog was in better shape than the one that came with the Snowsuit and got water-logged. The Post Office was extremely apologetic about this, ironic considering it really wasn't a problem. I took off the rest of the plastic cover, and would have even if it had been intact.

In honor of On the Double, I watched two half-hour cartoons about doubles while having Brown Rice Porridge and a spinach and citrus salad for lunch. Disney's version of The Prince and the Pauper came out in 1990 as a double-bill with The Rescuers Down Under. Here, Mickey Mouse is the double, the Prince and pauper of the title who switch places for a day...and discover how the other half lives.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't often have a chance to deal with royalty. An episode of the 1987 show made an exception when Shredder mistakes April for her look-a-like, the princess of a country with a newly-discovered metal that could bring the Technidrome to the surface. When the Princess runs away, Shredder kidnaps April instead. The Princess has other ideas...and so do the Turtles. It takes a little bit of royal aid to outsmart Shredder's latest plot!

Went to work shortly after the Turtles ended. Thanks to the end of a 4-day sale, we had long lines all day. There were call-outs that left us short on help, too. Not to mention, we'd finally run out of the six-packs of Canada Dry sodas that were on sale. Given that people were buying them by the three and four cases-full, I'm not surprised, but a lot of folks weren't happy. I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of rain-checks for that one later in the week.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Love On the the Wrong Tracks

Thanks to Daylight Savings, I didn't go to bed until past 3:30 last night. Needless to say, I really slept in this morning. I finally put on Brunch With the Beatles around quarter after 10. "Songs Recorded Or Released In the Spring" was the theme today. We heard "All My Lovin'," "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!," "Ticket To Ride," "Eight Days A Week," "Penny Lane," and "The Ballad of John and Yoko," among others.

I made Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes for breakfast, then called Mom. Mom was getting ready to go into Cape May as I called. We discussed changes in Cape May, the horrifying tsunami in Japan a few days ago and what it means for the US, local teacher troubles, and my brother's impending graduation and joining the Navy.

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon crocheting and watching Brief Encounter. I'm not normally into romance tales, but I did rather like this quiet British movie about a gentle affair between a housewife and a doctor. It's all very simple and subtle. The two don't really do anything that indiscreet, but it drives both crazy anyway, especially her.

It's hard to believe that David Lean is the director of this quiet, charming movie, especially if you know his bombastic Hollywood epics well. There are many unassuming touches here and there, and some wonderful shots of the two at the train station, the movies, and chatting on a bridge in the country.

Also, I like how adult everything is. The two are, despite their affair, happily married, and their spouses and families are good people. It makes their ultimate choice all the more tragic.

I had a quick lunch of tuna salad and an orange after the movie ended, then headed for work. It was on-and-off cloudy and still very windy, making for a blustery, chilly ride.

Work was less of a problem. We were busy all day, and except for a smattering of annoying older women, everyone was in a good mood. It slowed down enough for me to head home after work without a relief.

When I got home, I set up a Lemon Coconut Mousse Pie made with skim milk for dessert. It's not finished yet - I'll check again in a hour.
Three More Bowery Boys Stories at the Riverside Rest

Just posted three more Bowery Boys stories at our site and moved our short Bowery Boys role play stories to their own page. Enjoy!

The Bowery Boys' Basement Clubhouse

And don't forget to set your clocks ahead an hour tonight!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Winds of March

I slept until 8:30-9AM, then spent the rest of the morning doing errands. I went to the bank. Chatted with the tellers about how I want to find a better job but not being sure what that better job IS. Did some brief volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. (Boy, were their DVDs in lousy shape today. I can't believe how unorganized they were.) Went for a quick walk afterwards, enjoying the windy, sunny, mid-50s morning.

When I got home, I had a spinach salad and the last of the Swedish Brown Rice Porridge for lunch, then had a windy ride to work. It was so warm by quarter of 1, I wore my blue spring coat and was perfectly fine.

Work was a pain in the rear. In addition to a lot of little old ladies who are picky about bagging, there was a family that kept having trouble with their credit cards. The daughter couldn't find her Food Stamps card at all and had to take her order to the front desk. The mother couldn't figure out how to swipe hers. Another woman with them kept switching things. They were all pretty nice about it, but it got really annoying and they held up the line.

It was very busy on and off. Thankfully, the lines had slowed enough by 7 that I was able to shut down. My relief was one of the college-age boys who is always late.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Springtime In the Neighborhood

I woke up fairly late this morning. I had just enough time after breakfast for a nice little walk around the neighborhood. Signs of spring are everywhere. Though a smattering of homes still have Valentine's or even Christmas decorations in random places, most have replaced them with St. Patrick's Day and spring banners and wreaths. Flowers are just beginning to sprout in every garden. It's nice to see the green growing shoots.

When I got in, I did a little bit of work on the Wishcraft exercises. The exercise asked you to list five or more "lives" that you'd live if you had the money, time, resources, etc. I listed ten! Most involved writing of some kind, but there's also "baker," "doll clothes maker," "librarian," and "marine biologist." This is part of where I get confused. There's so many things I'm interested in, it's hard to know where to begin.

I finished the Scooby Doo disc while having a quick tuna salad lunch. Foul Play In Funland had the gang chasing a seemingly indestructible man in a popular local amusement park that has closed for the winter. Foul Play is an oddity in several respects. It's one of the few episodes where the gang takes on a non-living "monster"...and where the villain isn't a person in a costume. In fact, this may be one of the only episodes with no real villain at all.

Headed for work early to get my schedule and paycheck. Ironically, this proved to be a futile gesture. First of all, my schedule for next week is exactly the same as this week's. I think this is the first time this has happened in the eight years I've worked at an Acme. I didn't even need to write it down. Second, the line at Customer Service was so long, I ended up waiting until my break to get my paycheck.

Customer Service weren't the only ones who were busy. There were long lines for most of the day. It was just starting to slow down when I finished at 6:30. Other than some old ladies who were so obnoxious about their bagging even the baggers complained, there were no major problems.

I rode over to Arby's for dinner after work. This time, I just had an iced tea and a Turkey Club Sandwich, which was so big, I didn't really need the fries. A couple of young teen girls (probably no more than 14 or 15) screamed and chattered noisily behind me. I felt sorry for the boy with them - he seemed to be there solely to grab things for the girls.

Went back to the Acme after dinner and did my grocery shopping. I had a LOT of restocking to do. The rye bread I made on Thursday used up my rye flour, and I ran out of cooking spray on Wednesday. The Swedish Rice Porridge cleared out my brown rice. I replaced the can of Cherry Fruit Cup I had with lunch this afternoon. I needed a ton of vegetables and fruit - grapefruit, bananas, Gala apples, strawberries, bagged spinach, and the cabbage that's on sale 2 pounds for a $1.00. (NOT two heads for a dollar, as many people thought - they get weighed.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Balance In the Rain

It wasn't raining when I first got out of bed this morning. The porch was wet and the sky was gloomy, but there wasn't anything going on...until a half-hour before I wanted to leave. Since I was ready to go, I just rode to yoga in the rain, anyway. I did get a little wet, but it wasn't raining so hard I was dripping when I arrived.

Not surprisingly, the rain cleared out Yogawood. There were only 9 or 10 people in class today. That gave us plenty of room to work on poses inspired by birds, like pigeon and peacock. Alas, most of these involved pulling back and grabbing legs, or standing on your head. I'm just not that flexible.

I went straight to the Collingswood Library after class. Initially, there were only a few DVDs to put away. When I did them and organized the DVDs, I went upstairs and shelved some adult non-fiction books. I came downstairs...and discovered the kids' Storybook Hour had just finished, and there were now lots of people looking for movies and returning them!

Even with the sudden influx of parents and kids looking for DVDs to watch on a rainy day, I was still out by noon. It was still raining and windy when I rode home. Once again, I got wet, but not soaked. I decided not to push my options and spent the rest of the day inside.

I had a Peanut Butter and Apricot Preserves Sandwich while finishing the second Sean the Sheep disc. Aardman Entertainment sure likes their aliens. Sean and his buddies meet their second extraterrestrial visitors in one of these later stories. This time, they're young'uns who wreck havoc around the barnyard...until their parents arrive to take them home. Another fun one had the entire barnyard trying to figure out how to keep Shirley, the largest and least intelligent sheep, from snoring.

Spent the rest of the afternoon editing Bowery Boys stories and working on Wishcraft exercises. Look for two multi-part Bowery Boys stories and one short one tonight or later this weekend!

When I got tired of Wishcraft, I practiced my crocheting for a while and watched Dial M For Murder. One of Hitchcock's best 50s thrillers, Dial M is a talky but riveting thriller based after a hit stage play. Ray Milland is excellent as the husband who has been blackmailing his wife (Grace Kelly) after discovering she's having an affair with an American mystery novelist. He finally devises the "perfect murder" to get her money...but nothing is perfect, not even murder...

It's obvious that this was based after a play. Most of the movie is set at or around the couple's home, with a few scenes shown outside or at a party, and there's a LOT of talking. Hitchcock's excellent direction generally manages to get around this, but action junkies may want to go elsewhere.

According to the short documentary on with the movie, this was also originally filmed in 3D. I thought some of the shots were oddly framed, including the one of Kelly trying to reach for the scissors that ended up in the poster. Otherwise, though, this is far from your typical attempt to show off the process (including the movies out now).

I switched to Scooby Doo while making flounder, broccoli sauteed in I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and white wine, steamed asparagus, and applesauce for dinner. The ones on this 4-episode set are from the original, classic 1969 show. My favorite was What the Hex Is Going On?. The gang visit a spooky old mansion and discover that a ghost is aging its owners unless they give up the residence's fabled treasure. If nothing else, this one is notable as the episode featuring the scene in the original opening credits with Shaggy on the roller skates and ending up in the bathtub.

And though the rain slowed down a bit while I was working on the Wishcraft exercises, it returned during the movie and has been going ever since.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

March Goes In Like A Lion...

Started a gloomy, damp, gray day with a rare early work morning, my first since New Year's Day. Other than some annoying older people, work was on-and-off busy, with no really major problems. Ironically, my relief was one of the older women whom I usually relieve when I work in the afternoon! As soon as she arrived, I grabbed milk and headed out.

After I got home, I changed into a long-sleeved t-shirt. Ran the Bowery Boys movie Spook Busters while making a Cheese-Mushroom Omelet for lunch. Spook Busters is one of the later Duke/Sach tales, and the last of nine East Side Kids/Bowery Boys movies to concern haunted houses. Mike Clancy, the owner of the Boys' new hangout, buys an old house in the country and brings the Boys with him. Trouble is, the place is not only a mess, but may hold a gangster's treasure...and his ghost. The real estate people who sold them the house and the original owner's mob go after the Boys and the house when Sach finds part of the loot!

After lunch, I took a walk to CVS to buy brush picks. I tried to use the pathway across the tracks. First of all, there's still stumps, logs, and sticker bushes blocking the entrance. And now, there's a fence across the entrance at the end of Hillcrest, too. I think that's a good way of saying I'm just going to have to take the long way around West Clinton to get to Dad's and CVS from now on. (Good thing I stopped doing my laundry there last May.)

I did end up going around. Bought the brush picks at a quiet CVS, then headed home. It had gotten sunnier briefly during lunch, but the clouds had quickly returned during my walk. It was getting windy and chilly, too, probably in the mid-upper 40s. I went home as quickly as I could.

I spent the rest of the evening doing things around the apartment. I did the dusting, which finishes this month's cleaning. I put up the general spring and St. Patrick's Day decorations. (Easter's so late this year, I won't put up those decorations until the last week of March.) I did the exercises in the Wishcraft book.

And I learned something doing those exercises. I'm perfectly happy at my apartment. I enjoy my time here. I like living here. I might get a cat someday, and clear out some more junk, but other than that, I like where I live, and at the moment, I don't want to go anywhere else.

The problem is where I work. I like my co-workers, but I don't fit in with them. I don't hang out with most of them. They're either older working parents, single parents trying to make ends meet, teenagers, or college students. I'm none of the above. I don't do anything with my co-workers outside of work.

I'm bored stiff with my job. It doesn't challenge me. It offers me no room for advancement. I used to clean the bathroom, stock items, and round up carts when I worked at the little Wildwood store, but here, they have people to do those things...and it isn't me. My customers have no respect for me. I'm tired of the so-called "flexible" hours, too. I want either a fixed 5-day, 40-hour schedule...or to make my own hours.

Right now, I'm thinking I'm looking at either talking to smaller and medium-sized local businesses or starting my own small business doing something I enjoy doing and am good at doing. I don't entirely buy the economy thing. Maybe that is a problem in the west and midwest, but I think the trouble here has less to do with economy and more with people who have been doing the same job for years and aren't used to looking outside the box.

I do know one thing. I know I don't want to work for a large corporation anymore. I'm sick and tired of being a cog in a wheel. I want to work somewhere where I'll be more than just "that girl at the Acme." I want to help people, to do something creative for them and for me. I want to do things. It's just a matter of figuring out what those things are.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Miss Redmer Had Some Wacky Sheep

It was so nice and sunny when I got up around 8, it was hard to believe we're supposed to be getting major storms starting tomorrow night. It was sunny, breezy, and a little chilly but nothing abnormal for March in Southern New Jersey. It was such a nice day, I took the long way through Newton River Park on my way to the Haddon Township Library. Not surprisingly, there were lots of joggers and dog-walkers out and about today. A big flock of Canadian geese went for a swim near the Westmont-side entrance.

The Haddon Township Library was busy, too. I arrived around 11. The Storybook Hour was in full-tilt; I listened to the kids as I organized DVDs. There were lots of DVDs and books to put away today. There were so many non-fiction DVDs, I had to wheel them over to their section in a cart!

I did find the Season One set for Sean the Sheep there. I loved the Party Animals set and really wanted to see more. I also took out a collection of four Scooby Doo, Where Are You? episodes and two live-action movies, Brief Encounter and Cadillac Records, along with a Hungry Girl cookbook.

My next stop was a brief sojourn to Dollar Tree for hair bands and soap. After that, I headed to Capitol Pizza for lunch. I had two slices of Broccoli and Mushroom pizza and a bottle of water while listening to CNN on their TV...and remembering why I hate cable. Other than the weather, nothing they said was of the slightest interest to me. I prefer to get my news from newsmagazines, newspapers, and the Internet, where I can filter out what's important and what isn't.

Went home after lunch. I put on Sean the Sheep while making Coconut Macaroons from a very simple recipe in The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It just required egg whites, salt, sugar, and coconut. Other than I made them too big, the macaroons came out delicious, sweet with a crunchy outside and a soft inside.

Sean the Sheep was fun, too. The premise of the series has apparently been the same from the beginning. Other than some changes in character design (the cat looked awful), Season One isn't too different from later stories. Sean and his fellow barnyard animals love creating mayhem behind the dim-witted farmer's back. My favorites included the party held in the barn after Sean finds the farmer's old record player, the soccer game with the cabbage that the Naughty Pigs try to steal, the sheep stealing the farmer's hot bath water when their own is too cold, and the animals doing the farmer's wash after they inadvertently send it all over the farmyard.

I went for a walk after the Macaroons finished. It was still breezy and chilly, but clouds were starting to move in. There were a lot of people strolling around, probably enjoying time outdoors before the storms arrive.

I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning, baking, and watching Sean the Sheep and Bowery Boys movies. I did the windows, then worked on some Rye Bread and Swedish Rice Porridge from Kirsten's Cookbook. I made the porridge with brown rice instead of white; otherwise, it remained the same as the original recipe. I don't think the rye bread rose enough. I haven't tried it yet, but it smelled good in the oven.

I did the budget before dinner. I spent a lot on "extras" last month...but that was because of my tax return. I don't intend to spend nearly as much on anything this month. March is usually a fairly quiet month for me.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Snowsuit In March

For once, I managed to get up fairly early this morning, around 7:30. It was blustery and chilly, but sunny. I'm guessing it was in the mid-40s, normal for Southern New Jersey in early March. I saw a package for me on Miss Ellie's front stoop as I headed to the laundromat. I'd pick it up on the way back.

The laundromat wasn't too bad when I got in around quarter of 10, but it got busier as the morning wore on. I'm assuming everyone avoided doing their laundry in the rain yesterday. I just managed to get a drier before they were all used.

I stopped around front to pick up the package when I arrived home, then headed upstairs. Molly's new Snowsuit had arrived! I heard a rumor online that this outfit was going to be retired and decided to finally buy it. Molly really needs a winter coat.

Once again, I'm glad I did. The outfit is so cute! The coat is lovely; I love the embroidered flowers. The boots look very real (except for the lack of tread), and the snowsuit itself is so warm and fleecy! It even has a cute little pair of mittens attached to a piece of yarn so they won't get lost. I love it, and Molly looks adorable.

After I put away the snowsuit and my own clothes, I vaccumned the apartment. That really needed to be done. The kitchen carpet was a mess. (And I don't know why the kitchen's carpeted. That has always seemed weird to me.)

I had just enough time to have tuna salad for lunch and watch Shaun the Sheep before heading to work. Thankfully, the wind was at my back during my ride to work and gone by the time I headed home.

Work itself was pretty much the same as last night - busy, with no really major problems. It slowed down enough by 8 that I was able to shut down with no relief.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Pure Imaginarium

I slept until 9:30, then read in bed for a little while and wrote in my journal. It was the perfect morning for it. It was gray and cloudy and rainy, and pretty much remained that way off and on all day.

After I got out of bed, I put on the Brunch With the Beatles show while I made Lemon-Coconut Pancakes for breakfast. Today's theme was "Songs That Were Heard on EPs." EPs were "expanded long-playing singles," albums that had two or three songs on each side. Most of these were made for England only, though there were apparently three that debuted in America, including one rare one from 1964.

Talked to Mom during the second half of the show. I found out that, as I suspected, Dad hadn't told her I got the box of yarn on Wednesday. (I know Dad. He probably forgot the moment he got off the phone.) I also found out why she was so scarce this week. She just traded in her old Grand Am for a new car. She wanted some changes made to it and spent a few days driving a rental car before her new one was ready.

The Beatles ended around the same time I got off the phone with Mom. After lunch, I put on The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and worked on crocheting and baking Shaker Lemon Muffins. Imaginarium takes us into the mind of the "Doctor Parnassus" of the title, an immortal man who lives in a rickety old horse-drawn cart in present-day England with his daughter Valencia, the actor Anton, and Percy the mouthy midget. The Doctor made a pact with the devil to gain his immortality, but it meant giving up his child on its sixteenth birthday...and Valencia's birthday is rapidly approaching. When she, Percy, and Anton find a man who has lost his memory under a bridge, Parnassus wonders if he's a sign that it's time to try to make everything right...including his games with Mr. Nick.

As with most of Terry Gilliam's movies, you'll either get a kick out of this, or you won't understand it at all. Heath Ledger is technically Tony, the stranger who brings changes to Parnassus' outfit...but when inside the "Imaginarium" (a mirror people step into), Tony is also played by Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp. Yes, this is the movie Ledger was working on when he died in 2008. The conceit of having Tony played by four different actors actually works very well. He's different things to different people, and the four men look enough alike for the audience to buy into the illusion.

Actually, this movie reminds me a bit of another Gilliam fantasy spectacle, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. That movie also concerned itself with illusion, the differences between fantasy and reality, and a troubled daughter-father relationship. If you liked that movie, you'll probably enjoy this one as well...but if you aren't a fan of Gilliam's brand of whimsy, this isn't going to change your mind.

Once again, I headed to work as soon as the movie ended. It was still raining as I rode to the Acme, but not enough to really make me wet. It wasn't even cold. I was fine in my blue spring jacket.

Work was busy all day long, not surprising on a rainy Sunday in the beginning of the month. There were no really major problems, and I was in and out quickly.

Getting home was a little bit messier than getting to work. By 7, the rain had started coming down hard again. I just rode home and got wet.

I did have enough time for the second half of The Dress Circle when I got in. "The Shows of March" was the theme tonight. My favorites were the charming "Maine" from Richard Rogers' first foray into solo songwriting No Strings and the adorable comedy number "All Or Nutin'" from Oklahoma!.
More Bowery Boys Stories Posted

Just posted four more Bowery Boys fanfics at the Riverside Rest. Three are multi-part stories about Butch, Chuck, and their new friend. The fourth is a Thanksgiving story we did the day of the holiday that I've been meaning to edit forever. Enjoy!

The Bowery Boys' Basement Clubhouse

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Apartment That Rocked

I couldn't believe how nice it was when I finally poked my head out this morning after breakfast. It had to be in the 60s, and though it was windy, it was sunny as could be. I didn't even need my heavy black coat. In fact, I was warm in my blue ribbed hoody sweater.

It was the perfect day for a short stroll to the bank and around the neighborhood. The bank was surprisingly busy for such a nice day, both inside and out. After I finally finished my transaction, I went for a short walk around the neighborhood, enjoying the fine weather. I saw a lot of other people outside, too, raking or pruning bushes or cleaning out cars. They were cutting down bushes at the Oaklyn Library. (I don't know why. I never saw anything wrong with their bushes before.)

When I got in, I put on Pirate Radio and cleaned the kitchen. Pirate Radio tells the story of a little-known piece of English rock history. In the late 50s and early 60s, the British government only played one hour of rock a day on the BBC. In protest, pirate radio stations sprung up on boats along the English coast, devoted to playing nothing but rock. The movie follows one such fictional radio station, Radio Rock, in 1966.

Like Fast Times at Ridgemount High and the Christopher Guest movies, this is an ensemble comedy. Not surprisingly, it also has a killer soundtrack that includes music by Dusty Springfield, the Beach Boys, the Hollies, the Rolling Stones, and the Who. It'll probably be best appreciated by those who are either fans of the music from this time period, mid-20th Century history in general, or of comedies with lots of great characters and not a lot of plot.

Pirate Radio literally ended just as I'd finished lunch and was getting ready to walk out the door. I had quite a ride to and from work. By this time, it was very, very windy and getting cloudier by the minute (though it remained warm). I was luckier I wasn't later than I was.

Work was very busy all day, though not out of line with the first weekend of the month. Other than a couple of old ladies who gave me a hard time about bagging, there were no major problems.

I held off doing my own grocery shopping until tonight because I worked so late last night. I mostly needed fruit, anyway - strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, apples, and tangerines. I bought asparagus on sale. Restocked dried fruit, ground chicken, packs of fish, a can of crushed pineapple, chicken soup, and oatmeal.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Dreaming in the Afternoon with Dreamgirls

I got up at around 8:30, but it was more than an hour before I got out of bed. I spent that hour writing in my journal and reading the novelization of Dreamgirls. Not bad, especially for a musical that relies heavily on visuals and sound. It did make me want to watch the movie again, which I'm sure was the author's intention.

After breakfast, I headed for the Oaklyn Library for my last volunteering session of the week. It was a lovely day, warmer than yesterday but not above the norm for this time of the year, sunny and windy.

The Oaklyn Library was holding a birthday party for Dr. Seuss (and Dr. Seuss fans) later. I had to make my way around tables set for the party to organize the DVDs and the kids' videos.

I went for a short walk after I left the library. It's looking more and more like spring in Oaklyn. The wind blew the last of the fall leaves and sticker balls, sending them skittering down the street. Tiny crocus buds are just barely beginning to pop out of the ground, and branches have tiny brown buds on them, too.

I checked something online really quick when I got home. After I finished, I made Pineapple Tuna Salad for lunch and watched Dreamgirls. Dreamgirls is one of my favorite movies, the tale of the rise of a fictional black female musical group in the 60s and 70s. Yes, the story is familiar, but the fabulous musical numbers and wonderful acting (especially from Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy) really makes it work.

(However, one very big word of warning - this is a musical. A really musical musical. As in, people do burst into song in the middle of a sentence. I love that. If you don't love that, this will not be your movie, no matter how good the acting is.)

Went right to work after lunch. Work was very busy all night. It's the beginning of the month, and people are getting their usual money and funds. Thankfully, other than some mildly annoying older ladies, there were no major problems.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Healthy Balance

Started out a chilly, sunny day with yoga class. Karin had fallen downstairs and bruised her rear a few days before. It wasn't anything serious, but she wasn't sitting down too well...which is likely why we concentrated on standing poses, back bends, and poses on our stomachs.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library after class ended. There wasn't really much to do. I put one DVD away and organized the shelves. I wanted to do some other things in Collingswood, so I just left early.

I had checked out the health food store in Collingswood before...and I remembered why I never bought anything there when I did it again. Healthworks is jammed into one of the older storefronts a block down from the Library. It's rows upon rows of containers of soy and protein powders, vitamins and supplements of every stripe, and every kind of low-fat, low-sugar, sugar-free, salt-free, and gluten-free product you can imagine.

Problem is...what they sell is expensive, especially compared to similar products at the Acme. It's one thing for some items like the soy powders and some of the more exotic items like date sugar that you genuinely can't find anywhere else, and for the dried fruit and beans sold in bulk. But for boxed products like tea, baking items, cookies, and pasta, you're better off buying them cheaper at grocery stores. I purchased a small, fat coconut macaroon and went on my way.

My next stop was Frugli, a brand-new consignment shop that opened a few doors down from Healthworks. I mostly just browsed. There were lots of clothes, including children's clothes, and some toys, books, and DVDs, but nothing else. It was definitely more upscale than the thrift shop, and not as much fun.

I made a quick stop at Rite Aid next to restock my NyQuil, then at WaWa for milk and a Peppered Turkey and Cheese Wrap (saying 'hi' to Jodie on my way in - she was grabbing a bite on her lunch break). Went straight home after that. I took the long way across Newton River Park, enjoying the brisk late winter air and soft sunshine. The chill had cleared out the park. I saw one college student on her way home from classes and a flock of Canadian Geese going for a mid-day swim.

After I got home, I had lunch and went for a nice walk. I went down to end of Goff Avenue for a look at the crystal-clear river and the view that went all the way to the Ben Franklin Bridge. After that, I hiked around behind Kendall Boulevard for a while. The neighborhood is beginning to show the first signs of spring. I can see new grass sprouting under the old, new leaves just developing, and the first flowers poking their heads out of the soil.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I practiced my crocheting on some of the tiny balls of leftover yarn Mom sent yesterday. I cleaned the bathroom, which desperately needed it. It was gross. I finished Scoop to Kill. I worked on editing Bowery Boys stories.

(Incidentaly, I really enjoyed Scoop to Kill, a mystery about an ice cream shop owner whose niece's favorite college professor is accused of killing a student teacher...and then dies herself. I liked it a lot more than the Cupcake or Cooking Class series, enough to look around for the other "Murder A'La Mode" novel and the one coming out in June. The plain-spoken main characters and rough-and-ready Texas setting are refreshing changes from the typical neurotic midwestern sophisticates who usually turn up in these books.)

Speaking of the Bowery Boys, I ran one of the later movies while having salmon, steamed broccoli, and honey-glazed carrots for dinner. Bowery To Bagdad is one of the boys' rare encounters with out-and-out fantasy. Sach discovers a genie in a lamp (the very unlikely Eric Blore - his last movie), but Slip naturally wants in on this. The genie finds himself with two very vocal masters! Meanwhile, a group of none-too-bright gangsters want the lamp for themselves...and so do the descendants of the lamp's original owner.

One of my favorite later stories is quite a bit of fun. I especially get a kick out of seeing two classic character actors, Eric Blore and Bernard Gorcey, get drunk together. My only complaint here is that the villains are some of the most annoying and least menacing of the entire series, including the supposedly seductive molls.