Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Tiring Day and an Unwanted Call

Thank goodness after all the trouble yesterday, work wasn't really much of a problem. It was dead when I came in at 9, but it quickly became on-and-off busy. While it did make the day go quicker, we're still short on help...especially since several baggers were given their terminating notices today. (Two of them already got new jobs!) I bought contact lens cases and unbleached flour during my last break, which allowed me to leave as soon as a manager came in for me.

It was still cloudy and windy when I went to work this morning. When I got out, it was gorgeous - sunny and windy, warm but not as bad as earlier in the week. Even so, my legs were killing me. I had debated going for a walk after work, but I ended up just hanging out at home, eating leftovers for dinner and reading A Song In the Dark.

The unwanted call came not long after I got out the shower. It was the guy I tried to fend off last year. He said he "found my number in his phone and decided to give me a call." Yeah, right. How dumb do I look? He just wanted a piggy bank and a roll in the hay again. I told him what I told him last year - no. NO, forget it, absolutely not. What part of "I am not interested, get my number out of your phone, go away," does this jerk NOT understand? I didn't feel any chemistry last year. I just felt confused - and now, I feel angry. I don't want any man right now, much less this one. I have no desire to bring another person into my life until I can figure out mine.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Long, Long Day

Ugh. Today was just as bad as I feared. It was dead and boring for most of the morning. Good thing it was, too. When it did finally get busy around 2:30, we didn't have nearly enough help, and the lines got very long. I really wish they wouldn't let everyone go on vacation at the same time.

People were a pain. It's the beginning of the month, which always brings a lot of fun people out of the woodwork. I got stuck with a lot of obnoxious older women who demanded I bag everything in five or six bags, please, we can't carry them...and then rearrange everything and hold up a long line.

And then, there was the announcement we got yesterday. I didn't want to say anything before the real reporters had a chance to spread the word, but Acme is laying off over 900 part-time workers across the board. We were told yesterday. They say it's anyone who's worked less than two years, but that doesn't make me feel any better. I didn't know what to tell customers, either.

And I'm just plain not used to working at 9AM or for 8 1/2 hours. I was almost literally falling asleep on my feet by the time I finished at 5:30. I'm so glad it had started dying again by then and I was able to leave with no problems.

I went to Sonic for dinner. It was gorgeous when I headed out this morning, sunny, breezy, and nothing resembling as hot as earlier in the week. By 5:30, the breeze had turned into wind, and the eternal clouds had returned. I probably should have eaten at Arby's or Tu Se Bella's because of the wind, but I just couldn't stand being inside anymore. I ordered my chicken wrap, Cherry Limeade, and tater tots and ignored the three pre-teen boys ordering milkshakes and being what they probably thought was funny - making dumb noises and asking about prices when they were printed on a colorful menu right in front of their faces. (And everyone wonders why I wasn't interested in dating until I was in college?)

Went back to work to get groceries. Mostly needed to restock fruits and vegetables. Broccoli was on sale. Spinach wasn't, but I needed it. Needed a lot of paper goods. My paper towel roll is almost empty, and I'm just about out of toilet paper, too.

Thank goodness my schedule for next week is more normal. I work 10 to 3 or 4 every day but Sunday and Saturday. I work at 2 on Saturday...which will allow me to attend the first Farm Market of the year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Under New Management

Spent most of today at work; will be spending most of tomorrow and Saturday at work, too. More than a quarter of our staff took off this week to use their last days of vacation before our cycle starts over on May 1st. I had 7 hours today and will have 8 1/2 hours tomorrow and Saturday.

Today was...boring. Boring as all get-out. There wasn't even any candy to put away. It was dead for almost the entire day. It didn't really start to pick up until the usual 4-6 rush hour, by which time I was almost done.

I did get to leave the register for a while, though. We just got a new manager. His name is Pete. He was a small, slender man with a mustache who seemed nice enough. We saw a video and greeted Pete.

Bought Smart Ones ice cream cups when I finally finished and headed home. I got lucky. It was cloudy, windy, and cooler when I went to work this morning. It apparently did rain in the afternoon, but the storms that destroyed parts of the South mostly passed us by. When I finally got out at 10 after 5, it was just cloudy again, and a little less windy than before.

After I got home, I changed and went for a walk. I needed milk. Besides, I doubt I'm going to get a walk in tomorrow. Maybe not Saturday, either. As I headed to WaWa, the clouds started gathering again. Thank goodness they waited until long after I had gotten home to start raining. (And that didn't last long, either. At press time, it's just cloudy again.)

Ran Three Jacks and a Beanstalk during dinner. The original toddler version of Rugrats did two spoofs of fairy tales in its later seasons. This was one of them. The kiddies imagine they're a orphans being raised by a very sassy but loving cow. Having spent her milk and tired of sharing one bed between seven kids, they all wish for a larger home for their family. They get their wish when a beanstalk grows in their backyard! Susie the Fairy tells them they can have the key to the castle in the clouds...if they can get three things from the castle's current owner, the greedy Giant Angelica, who doesn't know how to share.

If you know anything about Rugrats, this is kind of fun. I really could have done without the bodily function humor, however, not to mention the five hundred udder jokes. On the other hand, the idea of combining the characters of Jack's mother and the cow that runs out of milk surprisingly works well; "Aunt Moo" is tough enough to arm wrestle an ogre (a crack at Shrek?), but sweet enough to handle a bawling Angelica's tears. I also liked the nice ending, which has the kids earn the key through kindness instead of knocking the giant off the beanstalk.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where's the Storms?

I got up early today in order to volunteer at the Haddon Township and Oaklyn Libraries. I won't have time for the rest of the week! I work 7 hours tomorrow and 8 1/2 hours Friday and Saturday. This will be the last day this week I'll really have the time to get any regular chores and errands in. (Though I will be grocery shopping on Friday.)

When I headed for the Haddon Township Library around 10, it was warm, but a hard wind and pale gray clouds kept it from feeling as hot as yesterday and Easter. Perhaps this is why I saw so many people in the park today. I dodged dog walkers, elderly couples out for strolls, families pushing strollers, and joggers. The park is absolutely gorgeous this time of year. The daffodils are disappearing, but many of the trees are in bloom. Our trees are so amazingly green this year. I've never seen such a bright shade of pale green.

The Library was fairly busy when I got in, perhaps because of the iffy weather. Though there was a big pile of DVDs, they also had more volunteers than usual to put them away. A lot of teens who were off of school were around to help out. I concentrated on the kids' discs. Found three to take out - more Max and Ruby and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, along with a Rugrats spoof of "Jack and the Beanstalk." The only books I picked up were two more Calvin and Hobbes comics, Homicidal Jungle Cat and The Days Are Just Packed.

Next stop was a quick one at Dollar Tree. I needed sponges and a container for brown sugar. I saw that they had cheap bags of dried cranberries and grabbed one of those, too. Went down a few doors to the Westmont Bagel Shop for lunch. I had a Turkey and Provolone Sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes on a Cranberry Whole Wheat Bagel. I sat in the back, next to the Flyers' memorabilia, of course.

The Oaklyn Library wasn't nearly as busy. It was an hour before their 2PM daily closing when I arrived. I organized DVDs. I noticed that the young adults' hardback shelves had been massively paired down. This was a good and bad thing. Now I wouldn't have to strain to put anything away...but many of the ancient classic titles you can't find anymore were gone. I pulled some paperbacks that didn't have scan bars and will pull more next week.

The clouds were getting darker and starting to gather on the horizon. Between that and the library being very close to the afternoon closing, it was time to head home. The local forecast on the TV at the Bagel Shop had mentioned possible storms for this afternoon.

We did have a storm today, around 3...for all of five minutes. I did see some lighting and hear thunder, but it wasn't around for very long. It was mostly just warm. I put on the air conditioning again.

I started a crocheted skirt for Jessa. I cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen. The bathroom really looked awful. The tub was so disgustingly scummy. I would have put it off until next week if the bathroom hadn't looked so bad. Since I had the cleaning items out, I did the kitchen, too.

Ran cartoons during and between cleaning. Minne's Masquerade let Minnie and Daisy solve mysteries and learn about shapes, days of the week, colors, and the importance of teamwork and being a good friend. My favorites were Minnie's Calender Pages and Super Spy Daisy. The Calender story had Minnie and the others chasing after pages of her calender after a strong wind blows them away and learning about the days of the week in the process. Super Spy Daisy spoofed James Bond tales. Daisy, the two mice, and Pluto chase Big Pete, who is after Clarabelle Cow's secret cookie recipe. Loved the car chase!

Once again, most of the Max and Ruby stories were repeats. The new ones were the ones I ended up enjoying most. In Max and the Three Little Bunnies, an annoyed Ruby tells Max the story of "The Three Little Bunnies and the Big Bad Max" after he blows down hers and her girlfriends' paper doll house. Ruby's Water Lilly is a pool-bound variation on the "Max inadvertently teaches Ruby to do something" plot with Grandma thrown into the mix. Grandma is the coach for Ruby's synchronized swimming team. Ruby and her friends are delighted to show Grandma their cute Esther Williams-esque routines...if Max and his floating toys will get out of the way!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Survive a Dull Day At Work

Yes, we were dead today. We were dead right up until 3PM. Even then, it wasn't THAT busy. It was nothing like last weekend. First, we're between holidays again. Second, it's the last week of the month. People will probably be getting their money later this week or early next week. Third, a lot of people just paid off taxes. Fourth, some folks may still be on spring break.

Once again, it was a beautiful day when I got home. Some clouds in the morning were quickly replaced by sunshine, wind, and mid-70s temperatures. I changed into shorts and tank top and went for a walk to run some errands.

My first stop was the PNC Bank on the White Horse Pike to deposit that $50 Mom and Dad gave me into the ATM machine. (I moved it to my savings account later in the evening.) I strolled down the White Horse Pike next, stopping at WaWa for a pretzel and a bottle of water.

Not surprisingly, everyone was out enjoying the day. It's so gorgeous here. Though it remains hot above the average, the wind kept it from feeling as sweltering as it did on Sunday. Kids rode their bikes and scooters. Parents pushed toddlers in strollers or walked dogs. Teenagers wandered in groups or sat at picnic tables and texted their buddies.

I had leftover chicken and carrots with spinach salad for dinner while I ran How to Train Your Dragon. Hiccup, a Viking teenager, is a bit of a joke in his village due to his clumsiness and seemingly crazy inventions. At first, he wants to be a great dragon-killer, like his father the Chief, but he changes his mind when he realizes there's a lot more to dragons than meets the eye. It's too late by that point; the village is desperately recruiting anyone who can fight the fire-breathing beasts, including kids. Hiccup joins a group of goofy fellow teenagers (including two very intense female Viking warriors) mostly against his will. He really changes his point of view when he encounters a black dragon who is said to be the fastest and most fearsome of the breed...and can't bring himself to kill it. The two become fast friends, and in doing so teach Vikings and dragons alike a lesson in harmony.

This was a very touching action tale with some phenomenal animation (love the dragon in the air - no wonder Hiccup was thrilled). I especially love that the two female Viking dragon fighters are a lot more intense and intelligent than any of their fellow gentlemen; Hiccup lets one he has a crush on, Astrid, in on his secret friendship.

Oh, and congratulations to the Philadelphia Flyers for their do-or-die 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres tonight! Next up, they take on the Washington Capitols for the Eastern Conference Finals!

Monday, April 25, 2011

All Party-ed Out

I'm very tired, which does not bode well for this busy week. I awoke early. I had to get my laundry done before Rose and Craig picked me up around 11:30. I got into the laundromat around quarter of 10 and was out by 11 sharp. Once again, I timed it well. It wasn't busy at all when I came in; when I left, almost every washer was taken.

Much to my surprise, Rose and Craig actually picked me up at 11:30. With them was their year-old son Khai and Kelsey the Miniature Pincher. Khai was a bit fussy going up, but he wouldn't sleep all day. His mother had to join us in the back.

It was nearly 1 when we arrived in Cape May County. We were all hungry, including Khai. Craig pulled into the Sonic in Rio Grande on Route 9. (It's in the parking lot of the mall with the Michael's where Mom used to work.) Craig and Rose had spicy hot dogs. I had my favorite Chicken Wrap and Cherry Limeade. Khai had French Toast Sticks.

We got into Mom and Dad's around 1:30. Mom was working on dinner. Dad was outside, playing with my nephews Skylar and Collyn. Keefe and his girlfriend Vicki were on the deck, talking to my youngest sister and the boys' mother Anny. We were there for a little while, but Rose and Craig wanted to show Khai the beach and let Kelsey stretch her legs. I decided I needed to stretch my legs, too, and went with them.

We decided our closest option (and the only local beach that would allow dogs) was the beach along the bay in North Cape May. Mom used to take the girls, Keefe, and me to this beach in the mid-late 90s. It's a long stretch of pebbly, soft gold sand that runs along the Delaware Bay from the Ferry Terminal to the Villas. It lacks the amenities of the fancier beaches in Cape May and Wildwood, and the Bay can be too rough for swimming. Though Mom says it's become more popular as people flee the restrictions and fees in other area beaches, it's still quieter than most. Sometimes, you can even see the Ferries leaving for Lewes, Delaware.

We were only at the beach for about 20 minutes. Kelsey played in the water. Khai tried to figure out if he liked these "wave" things that kept splashing cold stuff on him. His mother and I snapped as many pictures as we could see in the bright glare.

I'm glad we went to the beach. It was a gorgeous day for it. It was sunny and hot, probably into the 80s, with a soft, sweet breeze. The sky was robin's egg blue and completely cloudless, which I appreciated after last week's storms.

When we got home, we went in the backyard. I tossed a frisbee around with Dad, Keefe, and Craig. Skylar continued to work on a Toy Story Buzz Lightyear Lego ship, which he'd apparently been working on for five hours. Vicki played video games on her mobile phone. Mom worked in the kitchen. After a while, Keefe put chicken and ribs on for barbecue. Dad and I helped him keep a hungry Kelsey away.

Dinner was delicious. "Oh, we're not having much," Mom told me yesterday. Please. Mom's idea of "not much" is barbecue chicken breasts and ribs, salad, sauteed green beans, rolls (both mine and from the Acme), celery and carrot sticks, and cut-up fruit. Everything was yummy, as always. Keefe makes some really good barbecue.

I went upstairs to rest in Mom's office for a while. I read our old kids' books and watched Skylar and Collyn play with their Radio Flyer wagon in the backyard. When I came down, I tossed around the frisbees with Dad, Keefe, and Craig again. I love frisbee. I'm actually quite good at throwing it - it's my aim that's not so good. The breeze from earlier picking up didn't help. (Dad actually threw one frisbee into a neighbor's yard!)

After a while, we went inside for sugar cookies, Mom's famous chocolate chip bar cookies, birthday cake and ice cream...or cakeS and ice cream. Mom had a marble cake with white and orange icing for Rose, a German Chocolate cake with boiled coconut frosting for me, and a tiny yellow cake with whipped topping for Khai. It took a good five minutes just to light the candles on all those cakes! In that time, Khai decided he was tired of waiting and stuck his fingers into his cake. (Collyn and Skylar did the same to Rose's.)

We opened birthday presents after we ate. I got a beautiful red bamboo mixing bowl filled with glossy wooden spoons, nice dish towels, colorful silicone whisks, and other gourmet cooking goodies from Anny and her boys. Keefe gave me a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Mom and Dad gave me fifty dollars. (Rose said she had something for me, but forgot it.)

Khai got some neat gifts, too. His grandparents gave him a ride-on toy and Weebles. His aunt and cousins gave him clothes. I gave him a soft Philadelphia Phillies ball - the only Phillies merchandise I could find for a one-year-old baseball fan.

Rose may have gotten the best gift of all. Anny made her a gorgeous collage of photos of Khai and photos of the sun setting over the bay and framed it. She's such an amazing artist. Even the ribbon and paper she used for it was artistic. My bowl looks so nice, I don't know how I'm going to be able to take it apart.

We finally left around 6:30-7. Khai was getting very tired, and I wasn't far behind. Well, that's what his parents said. The kid slept for all of five minutes before we hit road repairs in the Villas and he was jolted awake again. We finally gave up trying to get him to sleep. I played peekaboo with him. His parents switched off and played with the new stuffed bunny his nana knitted for him. (Craig drove half-way. He had been complaining about his contacts bothering him since the trip to the beach. Rose drove the rest of the way.)

When I got in around 8, it was hot as heck in my apartment. The temperature said 86! I hated to do it in late April, but I had to turn the air conditioner on. My apartment was just too darn boiling, especially after Craig had the air in his van cranked.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Red Hot Easter

With thunderstorms still predicted, I was surprised and delighted to awaken to a warm, sunny Easter morning. It's the second warm, sunny Easter we've had in two years...and it couldn't be nicer.

I made Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast and ran cartoons all morning. I did It's the Easter Beagle first, then The First Easter Rabbit. The Easter Bunny Is Coming to Town was just starting when I called Mom.

Mom was preparing Easter baskets for her grandsons. Her Easter was going to be quiet. Dad was still having trouble with the boat and wasn't in a good mood or feeling very well. Anny took her sons to the opening of the Wildwood Boardwalk, an Easter tradition for them. After they left, they were going to do an Easter egg hunt at Mom and Dad's house.

I asked Mom if there was anything I could bring for tomorrow, and she suggested rolls. She wasn't going to have the time to make bread for dinner. (Good thing I nixed my original plans to make cut-out Easter cookies. She's making chocolate chip for the little gentlemen.) She was going to send me an old Fleischmann's Yeast sweet roll recipe that she used for years...but Yahoo! diverted it into my spam folder due to the scans and I didn't see it until tonight. I used a recipe I got online instead.

After breakfast and The First Easter Rabbit ended, I took a pudding pie and cards over to Dad and Uncle Ken's. Dad was packing to go on a work trip starting tomorrow. Uncle Ken and Dolores were watching some biblical epic with Anthony Quinn. Jodie hadn't arrived yet. I stayed long enough to wish them all a happy Easter and tell Dad that I was going to miss him and I'd see him again when he came home.

Everyone was out and about on such a fine early Easter afternoon. Children rode bikes and showed off their Easter candy and goodies. Older adults chatted on their porches in their church finery. I saw a man bringing a box of Easter flowers up his walkway and decided I wanted some Easter flowers of my own.

I headed next-door to Veteran's Park. I picked wildflowers and watched a group of kids and pre-teens look for eggs. They weren't doing that great of a job. I saw eggs out in the open that they couldn't find. I grabbed some lilacs from the bush out front on the way back.

Spent the next few hours in the apartment. I made the dough for the Sweet Rolls and let them rise. I ran Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Yogi the Easter Bear, and the beginning of Easter Parade. I wrapped a birthday present for my sister Rose. (Her birthday was two weeks ago, but I wanted to give her something nicer than a hastily-assembled chiffon loaf cake.)

Headed for Haddon Lake Park around 3:30. I heard from Rose while I was on my way there. (Good thing it's a lot easier to pull over to take a phone call while you're on a bike than in a car.) She had to feed her son and round up her dogs. No matter. I was off today and in no hurry.

I ended up waiting more than an hour. I rode around the Audubon section of the park. I explored around the Recreation Center and grounds. There's a nice gazebo with a beautiful garden (dedicated "To the Youth of Audubon") and a beautiful view of the park at the Recreation Center grounds. I finally rode down King's Highway to look for Rose...before she called me and told me I was going in the wrong direction.

We did finally meet on the other side of the park. Rose was sitting near the ramp leading to the playground. Her son Khai (sporting a cute Flyers' shirt) sat with her. The dogs Kelsey and Toby barked at the people feeding geese. Khai is getting so big! He looks so much more like a toddler than he did on Christmas Eve, which probably would have been the last time I saw him.

I walked part-way around with Rose, then a couple of blocks down Graisbury. Rose was going towards the White Horse Pike and I was returning to Oaklyn, so we parted ways. I made a brief stop at a little convenience store on Merchant Avenue for water on my way home, but otherwise went straight back to Oaklyn.

When I got in, I finished Easter Parade. I ran Three Stooges shorts while having Pan-Fried Ham with Pineapple-Brown Sugar Sauce, steamed asparagus, and boiled carrots for dinner. Took a very-much-needed shower afterwards!

I hope all of you had an Easter that was just as fun...and beautiful.
A Very Bear-y Easter

Here's the early 80s Easter special The Berenstein Bears' Easter Surprise. I hadn't seen this in years...but throughout most of the decade, it was one of the only Easter specials I regularly saw on TV. It's still pretty cute, especially if you're a fan of the earlier Berenstein Bears books.

The Berenstein Bears Easter Surprise Part 1
The Berenstein Bears Easter Surprise Part 2

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rainy Day Surprise

It was, once again, raining when I awoke this morning. I was going to go to the bank right away, but I held off for about a half-hour after breakfast. By quarter of 10, it was still cloudy, but the rain was down to sprinkles. I grabbed my umbrella and headed out.

The rain may have been driving every human nuts, but it's done wonders for the local plant life. I don't think I've ever seen the grass and trees such an amazing shade of bright green before. Everything smells so fresh and alive. The flowers are in hues that would make an artist's palette jealous.

The rain slowly died to a trickle as I continued my walk. As I headed home, it stopped all together. When I arrived, the umbrella was closed, though it remained cloudy and relatively cool. It stayed that way through the next hour or so. I watched the Dr. Seuss special The Lorax (to finish up yesterday's Earth Day festivities) and part of Dr. Seuss On the Loose, made lunch, and headed to work.

Work was busy all day, though never quite as bad as yesterday. The rapidly clearing weather and encroaching holiday had put most of my customers in good moods. There were no major problems. When I finished, I picked up a birthday present for my sister Rose (her birthday was two weeks ago, but I want to give her something better than a cake) and headed home.

Much to my delight, I stepped out of the Acme and into natural sunlight. Thunderstorms had been predicted for this evening, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky at 6PM. It stayed nice through the rest of the night. I had leftovers, finished On the Loose, and ran two Looney Tunes Easter specials, Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies and Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-Citement. (The latter is only on DVD as a special feature on the Looney Tune Gold Collection Volume 6.)

Speaking of...for those of you who won't be able to get online tomorrow, I hope everyone who celebrates it has a great Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Earth Day, Charlie Brown

I wish I could have spent more time today on the earth, but alas, I had all-day work. It was really busy too. We had long lines the entire day, though no other real problems. Thank goodness for once there were three people coming in when I was leaving and they were all on time. I had my own groceries to shop for.

The majority of what I needed was fruit and vegetables. Asparagus and strawberries are on sale. Needed to restock grapefruit, oranges, bananas, peanut butter, and yogurt. The Acme gourmet brand fresh mozzarella (Culinary Circle) was on sale and I had a coupon, so I grabbed some of that, too. Got things to make a pudding pie for Jodie and Dad for an Easter present and a bag for my 1-year-old nephew Khai's birthday present.

Khai's mother, my sister Rose, called when I got home. She feels exactly the same way I do about everything that's going on at Dad's. We both feel sorry for Uncle Ken's cancer, but they're all being ridiculous over there. You don't cancel holiday festivities because you suddenly decide you don't like someone's girlfriend. We're going to chat with Dad and Jodie for a little while Easter morning. If Rose (and Khai) are up to it, we'll hang out together in the afternoon. If not, as I mentioned, I don't mind being alone. After this weekend, I could probably use it.

Not to mention I have a long schedule next week. Though I have three days off (Easter Sunday, Monday for the party at Mom's, and Wednesday), I work 7 hours on Thursday and 8 1/2 hours next Friday and Saturday! I'll try to get the laundry in on Monday before I go down to Mom's. I have to get to the Haddon Township Library (DVDs are due), and the Oaklyn Library is easy to get to. I'll just take a week off from yoga and the Collingswood Library to make things a little less crazy.

I ran a couple of cartoons related to environmentalism and protecting our natural resources throughout the day. In It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, Sally decides to celebrate the tree-related spring holiday by turning Chuck's baseball field into a garden. Her brother isn't thrilled at first...until he realizes that the plants give his team an unexpected advantage.

Tiny Toon Adventures did several cartoons related to keeping the Earth clean and helping animals. One had Buster and Babs rescuing a pair of endangered whales from beauty-crazed Gotcha Grabmore, who wants to use their blubber in her "all natural" line of cosmetics. Another spoofed The Toxic Avenger as Plucky outwitted Montana Max to get his swamp water back. Monty wants it for his swimming pool. (I don't care if it's free - was Monty crazy? Swimming in swamp water? Eeww. You can tell he's never lived next to a swamp.)

"Pollution Solution" had three shorts with environmental themes. Plucky explains recycling to a clueless Elmyra. Buster and Babs stop an obnoxious executive from destroying rain forests. GoGo the Dodo finds a clever - and wacky! - way to get Monty to clear his factory's backwash out of Wackyland.

Pollution is a world-wide problem, as we were reminded in the first season of Sailor Moon. The Soldiers' favorite local park is going to be torn down to build and office building...and the job of the kindly old gardener who is a friend of Amy's will go with it. While Amy tries to figure out a solution to her friend's difficulties, Serena and Raye pursue Darien...with varied success. The Soldiers come into play when the evil Nephlite harnesses the man's anger to increase the power of the Negaverse...and it makes the park's citizens go wild in the process!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Balance and the Windy Day

It was sunny and blustery when I headed out for this week's yoga class. The wind was chillier than yesterday, but the sun felt so nice when you could get out of the breeze. It was nice all day, which I really appreciated. I had many things to do today!

Yoga was hard. We concentrated on handstands and balance moves. I keep trying, but I just can't get those. I wish I could. I've been taking these classes for three years now, and I still can't get on my head.

The Collingswood Library was next after yoga. I shelved some DVDs there, but I couldn't do much with the organizing. There were quite a few people looking for movies today. It wasn't even the usual kids and their families; Collingswood's Storybook Hour was taking the week before Easter and Passover off.

Headed for Haddonfield after I finished at the library. I made a brief stop for water and a pretzel, then rode around in Westmont before finally getting to King's Highway. There was one last thing I needed from the bike shop. I've had my bike basket for probably over fifteen years. It's not only rustier than scrap metal, it's been dented badly in several falls. I can barely get my groceries in it anymore.

I went to the Freestyle Bike Shop again, the same store that fixed my chain last month and my tire in January. I got really lucky. The kid behind the counter said they had a basket like mine...but it didn't have a part to hook it onto the bike. My basket's hook was fine, if a bit rusty. It was the basket itself that was a problem. The kid fit the basket onto the hook, then offered to give it to me for 10 bucks, 15 dollars off the original price because of the lack of the hook part. Sold!

Browsed in Haddonfield a bit after that. I had lunch at the Bistro at Haddonfield this time. It's your basic semi-fancy restaurant, a common sight in Haddonfield. It did have outdoor seating, which was nice on such a pretty day. I had a tasty grilled chicken pannini with Monterrey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions. They even had their own home-made sweet potato chips dusted with cinnamon and sugar.

I checked out a few stores, including the Happy Hippo Toy Store. I saw some really nifty recreations of classic Fisher Price baby and toddler toys there, including a record player and the famous Pull Telephone. I debated getting them for my now one-year-old nephew Khai, but they were too expensive. Took a look at the Paper Trail stationary store. Eyed some nice journals, but once again, they were beyond my budget. Bought a cupcake from another cupcake store. It was tasty ("Cinnamon Bun,") but even smaller than the one I bought in Collingswood...and at $1.77 for a tiny cupcake, I won't be going back there, either.

Went back to Oaklyn after a trip through Newton River Park and a brief stop at CVS. I swung by Dad and Uncle Ken's to find out what's going on for Easter. Dad was the only one home. They've drastically changed their Easter plans. I thought we were all going to get together on Sunday, but there's been a lot of problems over there between Dad, Jodie, Uncle Ken, and Dolores, and they scotched the idea. Then they were going to get together with our cousins Karen and Jim...who moved everything up to Saturday because their daughter Taylere is going back to college on Sunday.

Dad said he might do something with Jodie's family on Sunday. You know, I really love all of those guys, but I may end up just going over there to say "hi" and give everyone cards and spending the rest of Easter by myself. I don't have the problems with spending holidays by myself that I used to. I tried calling Rose, but she wasn't home. Maybe I'll get together with her.

It doesn't help that Uncle Ken has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Yes, the type that isn't going to go away. They're hoping they can keep it at bay long enough for him to live a few years more. Poor Dad is a nervous wreck, and the feuding at their place isn't helping.

Finally headed home next. I had two treats waiting for me in the mail box when I arrived. The first was a lovely Easter card from Mom. It depicted the Easter Bunny making his deliveries on a soft, purply spring morning. Like the Art-Deco inspired birthday card Mom sent me a few weeks ago, this probably came from the gorgeous greeting card collection at the Whale's Tale gift shop in Cape May.

The second was a package containing my birthday presents from Lauren. Thanks to the Warner Archive of rare titles from their vast library, I now have digital copies of The Boy Friend and the cute MGM musical Yolanda and the Thief, along with The Hollywood Revue of 1929. Our timing couldn't have been better. The Boy Friend was released just two days before my birthday!

I ran Hollywood Revue while working on a pudding pie for myself. This is the first of several all-star movie revues made during the early talkie era. If you're a fan of the era like me, this is actually pretty cute. It's pretty much what it says on the DVD cover - the MGM roster does what more-or-less amounts to a talent show, circa late 20s.

Jack Benny and then-matinee idol Conrad Nagel are the masters of ceremonies. Jack Benny...did not change in 25 years. At all. Even the skinflint jokes are the same. Heck, he even gets a violin solo (interrupted by comics Karl Dane and George K. Arthur). He gets some decent lines, too. He introduces Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, and Bessie Love as "five lovely girls."

Speaking of those "five lovely girls," they are among the best parts of the show. Marie Dressler started her early 30s comeback with her hilarious performance here. Check out her trying to keep herself from enjoying her "I'm the Queen" number. Bessie Love (after being pulled from Jack Benny's pocket in a neat bit of trick photography) has fun with an acrobatic act; she should have done more comedy. Polly Moran's Al Jolson impression during their trio number was so wild, it supposedly knocked out a few microphones.

Other performers don't fare as well. Charles King is (literally) deflated by Conrad Nagel early on when he sings "You Were Meant For Me" for Anita Page, and then gets the awful "Your Mother and Mine." Gus "Ukulele Ike" Edwards just comes off as whiny in everything but the famous "Singing In the Rain" number. He would make a much better Jiminy Cricket over ten years later. Joan Crawford's so-so Charleston has a fun tune and is rather sweet, in an odd way...and a little eerie if you know anything about Crawford's later career.

Laurel and Hardy have a fun little magic act routine; not their best, but not horrible, either. Likewise Buster Keaton, who does a very odd acrobatic dance number in drag after the Ziegfeld Follies-esque "Tableaux of Jewels" that opens the second act. Marion Davies is one of my favorite performers from the 20s and 30s, but she just looks tired during her "Tommy Atkins On Parade" dance. (She has a legitimate excuse. She and Laurel and Hardy, among others, had to film their sequences during the wee hours so as not to upset their regular shooting schedules.)

The color numbers were in terrible shape, but we're lucky they included them at all. Most movies from this era only exist in black-and-white. The first spotlighted Norma Shearer and John Gilbert in a straight version of "Romeo and Juliet"...which director Lionel Barrymore decided to reshoot in "modern" slang. It comes off as fairly endearing today, especially Gilbert's use of pig latin.

The second color number is a more typical ballet routine. Charles King sings "Orange Blossom Time" as dancers do their thing. There's a bit of a surprise as the camera goes Busby Berkley and gives us a couple of nice overhead shots.

Actually, my favorite number may be the finale. We reprise "Singing In the Rain," this time with most of the MGM lot in raincoats. Marie Dressler goofs off under her umbrella. Bessie Love would glow even in black and white. Marion Davies is beaming; Buster Keaton just looks like he wonders why he's hearing people sing.

Yes, it's all primitive beyond belief. The sound isn't great. The color footage is scratched. Half the performers can't really sing or dance; the other half look uncomfortable. But if you enjoy this era or any of the people involved, it's an invaluable look at a time in Hollywood history when sound turned everything anyone knew about film-making upside-down.

Went for a short walk after Hollywood Revue ended. I needed milk at WaWa. Treated myself to a Coke Zero with chocolate syrup as well. Despite the wind, everyone was out and about. There was a gaggle of kids hanging around in front of Philly's Phatties, Pilar Dance Studio, and (the still-closed for the season) Leo's Yum Yums. Parents and children rode bikes together, or parents pushed little ones in strollers. People walked their dogs and mowed their lawns. It was really lovely after the cold weather we've had.

When I got home, I had steamed asparagus, a sweet potato pancake, and leftover chili for dinner. Ran the second disc of The Three Stooges. My favorite of the three shorts I caught tonight was In the Sweet Pie and Pie. Three ladies marry the Stooges, convicts on death row, in order to earn their inheritance. When they're pardoned at the last moment, the ladies try to embarrass them into divorcing. You've gotta love that hysterical pie fight ending.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too Early For Summer

It wasn't that warm when I got up this morning. I poked my head out around quarter of 10 and felt a nice, fresh breeze. I wrote in my journal, then had cereal and grapefruit for breakfast and watched Angelina Ballerina.

Angelina's tendency towards scheming was spotlighted in most of these stories. She fancies herself a rodent Nancy Drew in "Angelina the Mouse Detective," but can she, Henry, and Alice find out who's been stealing garden gnomes around Chipping Cheddar? She and Alice get into a really big mess when they pass themselves off as adults to attend a fancy party in "The Costume Ball." In "The Big Performance," Miss Lilly is determined to get herself and Angelina to Queen Seraphina's big gala so Angelina can perform for matter what they have to do to get there!

"Angelina's Baby Sister" hit rather close to home for me. Angelina is delighted when her baby sister Polly is born at first. Polly was born the day before her big end-of-the-year performance, and that means her parents can't go and miss seeing her win an award. Poor Angelina is terribly upset. She's even worse when her grandparents arrive and fuss over Polly, too. She feels neglected and frustrated...until she finds a way to make her and Polly happy.

I know exactly how Angelina feels. Mom was pregnant with Keefe when I was just getting out of the Special Services Middle School. They missed my "moving up" ceremony so Mom could get to the clinic in Atlantic City and get a check-up to make sure everything was fine. I was just as disappointed. Keefe cried the first time I held him, too. When he got older, though, I took care of him because quite a bit I was the only one who didn't do much, and we ended up being very close.

Went for a walk to the Oaklyn Library around 12. The cool of the morning had become blazing heat. It was at least 80 degrees. I was warm in my lightest pair of work pants, and I didn't need my spring jacket at all. The preschoolers who come in every Wednesday were hard at work on Easter pictures when I arrived. I worked on organizing DVDs until they left. After they headed out, I shelved kids' books. Also bought a cookbook, Southern Heritage Celebrations Cookbook. There were two other Southern Heritage cookbooks there, for sport events and entertaining, but the recipes didn't interest me as much.

Went for a short walk down Manor, then headed home for lunch. I had leftover chili, spinach salad, and a slice of home-made French bread with honey while watching The Easter Bunny Is Coming To Town. This is more-or-less Rankin-Bass's spring version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. It's my favorite of the three Rankin-Bass Easter specials, if only because it has more to do with Easter than their other two specials do.

It was so warm, I left my coat home and was perfectly fine going to and from work. Work was steady for most of the night. Many people were taking advantage of the nice weather to have parties or barbecues. Others were getting ready for Easter. There were no major problems, and I was able to shut down with a relief who is always late.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Miss Redmer and the Busy Day

I probably shouldn't have slept in this morning, with everything I needed to get done today. After yesterday, though, I really needed it! I got up around quarter of 9 and read and wrote in my journal for a little while. I had cereal for breakfast while watching the MGM musical on Rogers and Hart, Words and Music.

Didn't get to the laundromat until around 11. It was perfect timing. The place was ghost-town quiet when I arrived. There was one other person just getting ready to leave and NBC 10's morning talk show, and that was it. Ten minutes after I got my laundry in the dryer, people suddenly swarmed in. When I left, there was barely a washer open.

It was cloudy and cool all day long. It showered lightly on and off for most of the day, but the rain never got as heavy as last week. I got my small load of clothes home without getting soaked this time.

After I put the laundry away and had a quick lunch, I went back out again. I had books due at the Haddon Township Library. There was plenty of DVDs to put away when I arrived, and lots of childrens' books to do, too. I also found some interesting DVDs and a few books. The DVDs were The Backyardigans's newest release We Arrrrr Pirates, one of the older Angelina Ballerina collections, and How to Train Your Dragon. The Calvin and Hobbes comic I bought last week made me want more, so I took out three more of those. Also grabbed two books on writing.

Made a few short stops at Super Fresh (was looking for peanut butter but came out with honey for a $1) and Dollar Tree (Easter cards). I thought of stopping elsewhere, but it had continued to shower off and on. I decided I was tired of being wet and rode home.

I finished Words and Music, then ran The Backyardigans while making cornmeal-battered chicken cutlets, spinach salad, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower for dinner. As you can guess, pirates and nautical stories is the theme of this DVD. Alas, all but one of these episodes had been released to DVD on previous collections...and the one new episode ("The Tale of the Not-So-Nice Dragon") is a follow up to an earlier story, "The Tale of the Mighty Knights."

Good thing the Haddon Township and Oaklyn Libraries don't have many older Backyardigans DVDs. One of the previously released episodes was one I hadn't seen before, the first season's "Pirate Treasure." Uniqua and Austin and Pablo and Tyrone are two sets of pirates with half of a map, both looking for the same treasure. They meet up when Uniqua and Austin almost end up walking the plank. The two groups find they must work together to overcome their handicaps and find the treasure...and learn the importance of sharing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Tired

I was awaken at 6:30 by the ringing of the phone next to my bedside. Yup, it was the Acme. Could I come in at 10:30? There were call-outs. No. I'd come in, but not at 10:30. I was up until 1:30 last night! I slept until 9:30, then wrote in my journal and got dressed.

Ran Yogi the Easter Bear while making eggs and spinach salad for breakfast. Yogi gets into big trouble when he eats all of the candy Ranger Smith had for Jellystone Park's big Easter Jamboree. Yogi and Boo-Boo vow to bring back the real Easter Bunny to replace the goodies. The real Easter Bunny is in even more trouble than Yogi. A pair of dastardly villains have kidnapped him in order to make Easter safer for their plastic eggs. Will Yogi get the Easter Bunny and Chicken back to the park in time...and how will Ranger Smith explain the absence of eggs to his tough-guy boss and his grandchildren?

If you're a fan of Yogi like me, this is cute enough Easter viewing, and very in-line with the classic shorts. Not for anyone who isn't already a Hanna-Barbara fan already, though, or who can't stomach later H-B cartoons (I think this is actually from the 90s). It'll probably be on Boomerang or cable within the next week or so.

I did finally get into work by 11:30. Yes, we were busy when I came in, so the extra hours were not in vain. They still weren't fun, though. I was tired from my sudden wake-up and being up late the night before. There were several annoying old ladies who get fussy about how you bag.

Plus, that rule about having to call the managers for the store cards has changed yet again. Now we can't use the intercom to call the managers for the card or the key. I kept forgetting this morning and getting lectured about it. I wish it was easier to explain that the managers do have jobs besides hauling those darn cards up to our registers. They can't always be out front. Not to mention, shouting over people's heads is even less professional than the constant intercom calls, and it's rude, too. Why can't they just let us type the darn cards in again? If people want the cards, they'll get them.

Thank goodness it was quiet later in the day, quiet enough that I was able to shut down with a late relief. (Who had also been called in.) I wanted to use a coupon for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter while it was on sale and buy things to make a pudding pie for Easter. I went straight home after that.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Return of the Sunshine

The storm blew over sometime around 1:30AM. When I awoke around 9, the skies were blue, the sun was out...but the wind remained. I read in bed and wrote in my journal for a while, then got dressed and put on the radio.

Listened to Brunch With the Beatles while making Oatmeal-Dried Cranberry Pancakes for breakfast. Today's theme was "Songs Released By Apple Records," the recording company the Beatles set up in the late 60s to handle their music and other artists'. Among the Beatles group and solo hits released by Apple were "Hey Jude," "Revolution," "Just Another Day," "My Sweet Lord," and a favorite Ringo solo number of mine, "Oh My My."

Called Mom after finishing breakfast, around 11. We couldn't talk for very long - I had work and she had cleaning to do - but we did discuss several things. The most important being that I'd like to start writing again...but I'm nervous. I start writing and end up staring at a blank page. I get ideas and either don't write them or never finish them before I go onto the next ideas. Mom's right. I still need to work on confidence and self-discipline, neither of which I've ever been good with.

Headed for work after getting off with Mom. Work was on-and-off busy for most of the day. There were a few annoying customers. My last customer was this older woman with a Marge Simpson bee hive who is always extremely fussy about her bagging. No matter how well I do it, she re-arranges it anyway, holding up the line and making me wish I could tell her off. If she wants to re-arrange things, she should move elsewhere. And if she doesn't want my help in the first place, she should say so.

It couldn't have been nicer when I finally got out (having picked up tissues and dryer sheets after work concluded). It was still windy, but it was also warmer than this morning, probably in the low to mid 60s.

When I got home, I changed out of my Acme uniform and went for a ramble around Veteran's Park. I wasn't the only one. There were a lot of people in the park today. I saw a kid in the big tree and fisherman down on the very edge. A couple with a cute bull dog had a picnic by the cliffs. I climbed around on the hillside near my apartment for a while, but I couldn't do too much in sandals.

I listened to B101 on the radio while making granola bars and eating leftover chili for dinner. After I finished, I took a shower, finishing just in time for The Dress Circle. "Live In London" was the theme here tonight, i.e, concerts of showtunes and full shows. We heard a medaly from a Barbara Cook concert, one of Michael Ball's many performances of "Love Changes Everything," and numbers from concerts for Les Miserables and Nymph Errant.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oaklyn's Easter Egg Hunt and Other Rainy-Day Tales

I was enjoying my oatmeal with strawberries, brown sugar, and a little peanut butter when I saw something going on in Veteran's Park next-door. People were bringing bales of hay out of a truck, roping out squares, and hiding colorful plastic eggs. Yup, it was time for Oaklyn's annual Easter Egg Hunt. They hold a hunt for all of the local kids up to age 12 at Veteran's Park every year.

The weather was gloomy, chilly, and blustery, but the rain held off as I headed out the door. I really needed to get to the bank...and I slept in longer than I'd planned, so I was late getting out. Miss Ellie's sister Linda who lives down the street saw me walking and drove me part-way, but I only agreed to it because I was in a hurry. Thank goodness the bank wasn't busy.

Caught the tail end of the Easter Egg Hunt after I got home. Despite the weather, there were quite a few kids at the Hunt this year. The Easter Bunny (a fellow in glasses and a rather silly bunny suit) gave any kid who found a dark green egg a gift card to Barnes and Noble. I thought that was a far more interesting and useful gift than the usual pre-wrapped baskets kids get as grand prizes at the Egg Hunt.

I headed to work less than an hour after the Easter Egg Hunt ended. The weather was still chilly and blustery, but the rain held off.

Even when it did finally start raining sometime in mid-afternoon, it didn't effect the crowds. We were on-and-off busy all day, a lot busier than yesterday. Other than a few mildly annoying customers, there were no major problems, and my relief was on time.

It was still raining, and raining hard, when I got out of work. If I'd been going to work, I would have called for a ride. Since I was going home, I figured I could just dry off there. I rode home and arrived dripping wet. (On the other hand, it actually felt warmer going home in the evening than it did this morning, so it could have been worse.)

Spent the rest of the evening baking chocolate-oatmeal chip cookies and watching Road to Singapore, one of the only Road To... movies I hadn't seen. Bing is the laid-back heir to a fortune who would rather be sailing around the world with his buddy (Hope) than working for his dad. They end up on an island near Singapore, where they rescue a lovely local girl (Dorothy Lamour) from her abusive boss (Anthony Quinn). Crosby's father and jilted fiancee are hot on his trail, though, and so's the authorities after Hope's "miracle cleanser" isn't as much of a miracle as he hoped...

Though this is the first Road To movie, it doesn't feel as polished or as funny as later entries. It wasn't originally intended to be a series at all, but Bob and Bing were added at the last minute, and they and Dorothy Lamour just worked so well together, and the movie was such a huge hit, they ended up making six more between 1941 and 1962.

As for the weather, I got really lucky. Thunderstorms moved in during dinner...and with the thunder came heavier rain. It's been storming heavily on and off for the rest of the night.

Oh, and I finally got Molly's Camp Outfit. Two of them, actually. Her original Camp Outfit in full came yesterday. I won that on eBay (it retired earlier this year). I never thought I'd get the full outfit, though, so I'd also won just the shorts and hat. Molly will get the full outfit; Jessa will get the shorts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Springtime at the Library

I took advantage of my only afternoon work this week to sleep in today. I watched Stooges shorts during breakfast, then walked over to the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteer session there. The DVD shelves were a disaster area. Non-fiction DVDs were mixed in with fiction. Kids' DVDs were mixed in with adults. I put everything where it belonged, then pulled some of the TV sets that were taking up room on the main shelves and put them on the shelf with the non-fiction. New releases went on top.

The young adult's series shelf desperately needed to be organized again. It wasn't quite as bad as when I did it last fall, but they must have taken the shelves down when they painted the room and put everything back the wrong way. I got the books organized in their correct series and gave the extra Sweet Valley High copies to the librarian to add to their sales racks.

Went home and had leftover chili for lunch, then went to work. The day was sunny again, but yesterday's warm was replaced by a chilly, blustery wind. I had a rather cold ride to work!

Work was on-and-off busy, though not as bad as last weekend. There were no major problems, and my relief was right on time.

Went to a quick dinner after work. I had a Charbroiled Chicken Sandwich, waffle fries, and an unsweetened iced tea at Chick Fil'A. I thought about doing Sonic, but it was still too windy to be eating dinner outside.

Went back to the Acme and did my weekly grocery shopping after dinner. I was primarily replacing vegetables and fruit this week - grapefruit (3 for $1.99), oranges, strawberries, mushrooms, baby spinach, and asparagus. Had run out of brown sugar, and I needed to restock diced tomatoes and kidney beans after making that chili last week. The Acme is having a big seafood sale this weekend; grabbed shrimp and those dollar packs of salmon, tilapia, and flounder that come in handy for work days.

I have a pretty decent schedule next week, too. Two 2:30-7 days, Monday and Wednesday, otherwise nothing really late. Friday will be early, 10-4.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Balancing Changes

Happy birthday to me! Mother Nature couldn't have given me a nicer birthday present. It was utterly gorgeous when I awoke this morning. The breeze was chilly, but the air was much warmer, and the sun was coming out.

I ran a couple of birthday-themed cartoons during breakfast. The very first 80s Strawberry Shortcake cartoon, The World of Strawberry Shortcake, is set during the title lass' 6th birthday. Disney did two birthday cartoons for their most popular character, Mickey Mouse. The first was "The Birthday Party," a black-and-white "everyone sings and dances" short from 1931 that featured Mickey and Minnie's adorable duet on "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." The second, "Mickey's Birthday Party," came out in 1942. This time, the emphasis is on Goofy's antics as he attempts to bake the cake, some really wild hoofing from Mickey, and a bit of Latin American dancing between Donald Duck and Clara Cluck that gets a little out of hand.

It was a great day for a ride to yoga class. I told Karin today was my birthday when I got in. She was so sweet. She had the whole class sing "Happy Birthday" to me...while doing their vinyasa exercises. It was a little embarrassing, but very kind of her and all of them. Talk about good karma!

My next stop was the Collingswood Library. There was a stack of DVDs to put away and file, and the shelves needed to be organized. I wasn't around for too long, though. I had other plans for today.

After I left the library, I rode over to the Collingswood PATCO and hopped a train bound for Philadelphia. I had so much fun shopping in Philly on my birthday last year, I thought I'd repeat it.

I got off at the 8th Street stop and went straight to Reading Terminal Market for lunch. It was quarter after 12 by then, and I was hungry! Alas, everyone in the entire downtown Philadelphia area seemed to have had the same idea. It took me two rounds of pushing my way through crowds before I found an empty seat at Pearl's Oyster Bar. I had a tasty lunch of cod sandwich with a delicious bowl of Manhattan Clam Chowder.

I had thought of getting cake, but Dad would probably have one for me later. I went a couple of booths down and got Bassett's Ice Cream instead. My two-scoop Cinnamon cone was sweet and wonderful; tasted like a liquid snickerdoodle. I took it across the street to the sculpture park next to the Marriot Downtown Philadelphia and enjoyed my treat while watching the people go by.

Headed for FYE after my cone was down to the last drip. I didn't do as well there as I did last year, but I did find some good stuff. I picked up the third volume of The Three Stooges Collection and found Yogi the Easter Bear in the used bins. The Road to Collection four-DVD set wasn't on sale, but at $14.99, it was a much better bargain than some of the other DVDs in the store that were going for that price for a one-disc set. I already have Road to Zanzibar, but my copies of Road to Morocco and Road to Utopia are on aging videos. I've never even seen the first one, Road to Singapore. FYE was selling Chicago for $5.99 with any purchase; that was another video replacement.

I didn't do nearly as well at Borders across the street. Alas, the Philly Borders is one of the many stores across the country that's shutting down in the wake of their bankruptcy announcement. I was hoping the location would save it. I bought a Felicity American Girl mystery, Traitor In Williamsburg. Asked the woman who rang up the book why the store was closing; I always assumed it was pretty popular. She said it was...but the owners of the building the store is in opted not to renew their lease after Borders filed for Chapter 11. Popular or not, they had to go.

The beautiful day and soft, fresh breeze lifted my spirits after my disappointment at Borders. I strolled down Broad Street, admiring all the wonderful theaters and art-related buildings. I took a turn and headed down Spruce, passing some wonderful old brick buildings converted into condos, and went into the heart of Washington Square to explore one of my favorite stores in the world, Russakoff's Used Books and Records.

Only now, it seems to be Russakoff's Used Books and DVDs. The store still has the same great collection of used books, videos, and posters, but the store is no longer quite as cramped and cozy. Much to my disappointment, the records were gone. The owner said he wanted to thin out his inventory after his parents retired, so he moved the records to his North Philly location and raised the price on them. Phooey. I still like the store, though. They did have a decent selection of used DVDs, and they still have good books (even though the prices seemed to be higher on them, too). I ended up with the Calvin and Hobbes collection Something Under the Bed Is Drooling and Leonard Maltin's volume on classic animated shorts, Of Mice and Magic.

The 10th Street PATCO entrance is an almost literal hop, skip, and jump away from Russakoff's. I just went straight from there to the train station. However, instead of riding right home from Collingswood, I swung by Dad and Uncle Ken's house. Dad said they had cards for me.

They weren't the only ones home when I arrived. Jodie, Dolores, my friend Erica, and her mother Miss Helen were there, too. Poor Jodie was very, very upset. Her beloved black lab Max had to be put to sleep this afternoon. She kept saying he was in a better place...but I know how she felt about Max. He might as well have been another son to her.

Dad, Jodie, and I had sloppy joes and broccoli together after Erica and Miss Helen left. Dad bought the cutest little cake with Cool Whip frosting and pink trim. He and Jodie sang "Happy Birthday" to me. I got a card with a picture of me and a really sweet 30s-style graphic of women in garden party dresses enjoying a birthday party from Dad (who makes his own cards.) Dolores and Uncle Ken gave me a cupcake-themed card done in lovely shades of pink, turquoise, and yellow. I got $75 from the four of them all-told.

Nothing could really cheer Jodie up, though. She started crying half-way through eating the cake. I just held her. She held me when I was feeling overwhelmed at Rose's baby shower last year.

I went home around 6. Just messed around for a while. Watched The Three Stooges. The first short on the set, "You Natzy Spy," was a hilarious spoof of the Nazi regime...a year before the US got involved with the war. "A Plumbing We Will Go" was a lot of fun, too.

Mom called to wish me a happy birthday just as I was stepping out of the shower. She had just come from my brother's spring band concert. Keefe's played drums for his school bands since junior high. Playing the drums is one of his favorite hobbies. We're both going to miss him when he joins the Navy; he'll be signing up officially within the next few weeks.

And I think, if I can get off next year, I'll try something a little different. I still enjoy spending my birthday in the city, but maybe I'll go to South Street instead of FYE, or shop on Antique Row. There's a lot of city out there. The world's changing, and it's time I changed with it. I just need to figure out how to take it slowly...and make it stick.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Woman With An Umbrella

It wasn't raining when I rode over to work this morning, just a little gray and damp. Work wasn't anything near as bad as the weekend and Monday. It was a little busy when I arrived at 11, and getting busier when I left at 4. Otherwise, it was quiet for the majority of the afternoon. I spent a lot of time helping the manager Sharon put away candy.

It was just start to rain very lightly when I rode home. The rain was so light, I decided I was tired of hiding from it. I changed shirts, grabbed my orange and brown umbrella, and went for a walk.

Headed over to Dad's to keep my promise to visit more often. Dolores was (ironically) just coming home from the Acme. Uncle Ken was watching sports; Dad was working on his guitar. He loves playing the guitar. It's his favorite hobby. We talked about Uncle Ken getting radiation treatment and about Dad's other favorite hobby, landscaping the pool area. He's just starting to clear the leaves from the pool patio and patch up some holes in the pool.

When I got home, I worked on Peanut Butter Meringue Cookies and on Ground Chicken Chili for dinner. I ran cartoons about birthdays and spring while I worked. In two early episodes of Sailor Moon S (Season 3), Serena is upset because she thinks her best friends and her boyfriend Darrien have forgotten her birthday. The girls and Darrien aren't the only ones who have big surprises for the birthday girl, though. A nasty villainess is after Serena's very pure are a set of mysterious unknown Sailor Soldiers who want pure hearts for a noble purpose.

Yogi Bear's surprise birthday was a tad less chaotic than Serena's. The "sponsor" has arranged a TV birthday party for Yogi, but they want it to be a surprise. Ranger Smith tells Yogi he's going to be on a TV special. Yogi takes music, dancing, and singing lessons, but he's just not more talented than the average bear. Yogi tries to flee initially, but is caught by a picnic basket. He rethinks his fear when the show turns out to be a tribute from not only Smith, Boo Boo, and Cindy, but most of the other Hanna Barbara funny animal characters, too.

Yogi and Snagglepuss were involved in two spring "love is in the air" stories. Yogi came out the better of the two. He finds himself having to compete with another bear for Cindy's affections...but Ranger Smith's not happy with the present he shows off to win her! Snagglepuss has an even harder time with a lioness who is supposed to be hiding from hunters, but ends up taking over his cave instead.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cozy Baking on a Rainy Day

Started out the day with a run to the laundromat. (I worked too early and got off too late to get there yesterday.) I made it there earlier than usual, around quarter of 10. I picked the right time. Other than an older man and a middle-aged woman, the place was totally deserted. I had my choice of washers and driers for once. Good thing, too. I had a ton of it, thanks to changing my sheets last week.

The weather did not look promising. The sky was dark when I got up this morning, and it was getting darker every minute I was in the laundromat. The clouds finally burst 20 minutes before the dryer ended, of course. I didn't feel like waiting for the shower to end, so I just rode home.

That may have been a mistake. Just five minutes in that shower left me dripping and my clothes wet. I had to hang half my clothes up to dry again, including my brown cotton capris.

Ran Date Night while putting my remaining clothes away and having leftovers for lunch. This is pretty much Adventures In Babysitting for adults. A married couple (Steve Carrell and Tina Fey) whose marriage is getting stagnant go out to an expensive restaurant in Manhattan for dinner. The husband gets a table after being brushed off by claiming he and his wife are a couple who don't claim their reservation. Turns out that couple stole a very important flash drive that could implicate a gangster and a district attorney in several mob activities. The duo are chased all over Manhattan by corrupt police officials...but all they want is to figure out what's going on and get home to their kids.

Not the greatest comedy in the world, but you could do worse with this cast. Tina Fey and Steve Carrell don't have the best chemistry, but they both play their usual uptight neurotics to the hilt and have fun with some of the wilder material. Extra points for Mark Wahlburg as the sexy owner of a local security business who helps the couple out...and won't put his shirt on. Ever.

The movie ended around 1:30...and thankfully, the rain also halted temporarily then. This gave me a chance to ride over to the Haddon Township Library without getting totally soaked again. I'm glad I went through the park. I was joined by several joggers and a flock of Canadian geese, and I can't blame any of them. The weather may not have been good for humans lately, but it's done wonders for the flora. The trees are in bloom, rippling with the most amazing shades of white, pink, lavender, soft orange, and pale green. Others have the beginnings of bright green leaves. The tiniest, daintiest little yellow flowers dotted the lush grass.

I was at the library for a while. There were a lot of DVDs to return, and even more children's books to shelve! I didn't take out anything this week, though. I still have books to read at home (including Wicked), and I'll probably end up buying DVDs for my birthday.

I made short stops at Super Fresh and Rite Aid (the latter for contact solution), then rode home. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Three Stooges shorts and baking. I made Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes for my birthday. The rye bread is almost gone; replaced it with a simple loaf of French Bread.

After this morning's bout with the weather, I opted to stay in. This time, I made the right choice. It started raining again around 5, and it's been raining off and on for the rest of the night.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Room In Oaklyn

To be honest, I spent most of the day at work. It was busy on and off all day. The sky was a bit overcast and it was cool when I came in at 10. However, by noon, the sun was out, and the temperatures had soared into the lower 80s. Not surprisingly, there were several call-outs this evening, and I ended up staying an hour later. Even with a manager coming in for my break not long before I left, I was still really tired.

Went straight home after I finally finished my shift. I changed into shorts and a t-shirt, made a simple omelet and green beans for dinner, and watched The Boy Friend. Ken Russel's 1971 version of the 50s British stage hit retains the 20s setting (I'm guessing somewhere between 1928 and 1930, from the costumes and the references to "song and dance movies"), but makes the original story of shenanigans at a girls' school in Nice into a Busby Berkley take-off with the cast of a small-time musical trying to impress a visiting Hollywood director. The show is strictly low-budget, but everyone, from the Hollywood impresario to the show's director to the costume assistant who took over for the ailing leading lady, can't help but imagine what they could all do with a Berkley-sized budget...

Actually, what they could do with a Berkley-sized budget is make a series of strange-but-charming numbers that have nothing to do with anything. The songs somehow become backgrounds for kaleidoscopic musical interludes ranging from Berkley girls-in-geometric-forms romps to a ballet based on Greek tragedy in a real forest. While not as inherently strange as Russell's later Tommy, it doesn't work that well, either. Some of the numbers (like the Berkley-esque "I Could Be Happy With You" and the bawdy "It's Nicer In Nice") are fun and really cute. Others (the outdoor Satyr Ballet, the elves-and-fairies segment of "Room In Bloomsbury" that looks like something from a bad live-action kids' show) are just plain odd.

Shame this wastes some nice performances, including Twiggy as the Ruby Keeler-esque kid thrust into the spotlight and Tommy Tune as an American tap dancer appearing as one of the schoolgirls' beaus. Russell might have been better off just filming the show as it is. From what I've gathered, it remains an oft-revived stage favorite in England to this day.

I went for a walk to WaWa after dinner. It was a little cooler by this point. There was a really nice breeze that kept it from feeling as hot as it could have. The streets were teeming with people washing cars and mowing lawns. Groups of kids moseyed along, chatting or texting their friends. Kids rode bicycles or scooters. People pushed toddlers in strollers or walked their dogs. The trees here are just starting to bloom. Flowers in soft shades of pink, white, purple, and green perfume the air. Gardens are brightened by daffodils, crocus, and hyacinths.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Writer's Way

I slept in a little this morning, but not too long. I had work at 12:30. I read Wicked in bed, then wrote in my journal. I got up in time for Brunch With the Beatles. The theme there today was "Songs That Won Awards." These include "A Hard Day's Night," "Yesterday," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Hey Jude."

I did get to talk to Mom today. She was in a good mood. She initially had the house to herself before Keefe arrived home. Poor Dad wasn't. Both of the commercial fishing boats he works for broke down, which means he's losing money during a prime work period.

I told Mom about my desire to seek life counseling and to start an at-home business. She said that what I should really do is...write. It's what I'm good at. Yes, I'm good at writing, and I enjoy it, but I just can't seem to sit down and do it outside of my blog and journal on my own. I either get an idea and don't finish it, or I can't even write it down. Or I can't get ideas to come at all. I sit there and stare at a blank screen.

Headed for work right after "Brunch" ended. Work was busy, as it always is on Sunday. It went very quickly. There were no major problems, and my relief was a bit early. I was in and out.

I came home, made Flounder with Lemon White Wine Sauce and Mushrooms for dinner, and baked granola bars. I finished The Sting while the granola bars was in the oven. Hit the shower after they finished.

Got out of the shower just in time for The Dress Circle. The prolific Hollywood musical composer Harry Warren was in the spotlight tonight. If you've heard of him at all, you probably know him for his work with Al Dubin at Warner Bros in the 30s. He wrote music for other studios long after that, though, including "I Can't Begin To Tell You," "Jeepers Creepers," "On the Atcheson, Topeka, and the Santa Fe," and "I Wanna Be a Dancin' Man."

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Into the Spring Of Things

The clouds had disappeared into the horizon by the time I was having breakfast. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, windless and in the mid-upper 50s. It was about what it should be this time of year. I rode my bike to the bank, then around the neighborhood, looking for yard sales. One sale on East Bettlewood was indoors. There was a line to get in when I rode past; I didn't have the time to wait! Checked out one at West Cedar; didn't find anything interesting.

I stopped at Doria's Deli and bought a roast beef hoagie, then rode home. I had a quick lunch before changing into my work uniform and heading out. My ride to and from work was perfectly pleasant. It was so nice, I wore my red sweater and nothing else and felt fine.

Work was on-and-off busy all day, though never quite as bad as earlier in the week. I got in and out on time with no relief, and there were no major problems beyond a few mildly annoying people.

Good thing. I had my own grocery shopping to do. I skipped shopping tonight because I worked late. I didn't have quite as much to get tonight. I mainly needed to restock my fruit - got grapefruit (3 for $1.99), oranges, strawberries, and bananas. Was out of yogurt and almost out of milk; needed tomato sauce and tomato paste after using them on a recipe on Tuesday.

When I got home, I put everything away, had leftovers for dinner, and watched the first half of The Sting. This is a rare Oscar-winning comedy...and a rare movie to completely deserve its Oscar. A young con-artist in 1936 Illinois (Robert Redford) is devastated when his long-time partner is killed by a gangster and his men. He heads to Chicago to meet up with his buddy's old friend (Paul Newman) to settle the score. They decide to pull the biggest swindle of their entire lives on the nasty mob boss...but with a cop (Charles Durning) on their tail, will they be able to make the biggest "sting" of all?

While other movies have shown con-artists at work, none top the sheer artistry on display here...or the sheer talent. This is a great movie to check out if you're a fan of classic character actors. In addition to Newman, Redford, and Durning, we have Eileen Brennan (as Newman's girlfriend), Harold Gould, Ray Walston, Robert Shaw (as the crime lord), and The Bowery Boys' Billy Benedict (in a cameo early on as a card dealer).

The best known-aspect of this film today may be what I purchased on LP last weekend - the score. Ragtime music may be an odd choice for a movie set in the 30s, but it so vividly captured the film's mood that the soundtrack was not only a hit in it's own right, but brought the long-forgotten composer Scott Joplin back into the limelight and made his "The Entertainer" a Top 40 hit over 60 years after it was composed.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Revelations In the Rain

The rain kept me inside all morning. I slept in, had breakfast, then finished off Wishcraft. Most of the last three chapters of the book was reading, rather than exercises. They dealt with getting through fear, rallying your family to the changes in your life, and the next steps.

Sigh. Though Wishcraft gave me an idea of what I want - to start an at-home business or at least work for a smaller company - I still don't know how I want to make those ideas work, or what strategy to use. I don't know many people I can just ask to come over and give me ideas. I'll look around for life counselors and see what I can do about starting with one later in the month.

That took much longer than I thought it would. It took so long, I didn't even have the time for lunch! I had to leave early. The lady who rang up my new work pants at Fashion Bug last night forgot to take off that white plastic tag thing that's attached with a metal piece, and I need those pants tomorrow. Not to mention, today is paycheck and schedule day.

So I hurried over to the Acme. It was raining a little at that point, around 2, not as hard as earlier but not lightly, either. I wasn't too wet when I left Fashion Bug and headed for work. I bought a bagel and a banana for lunch, picked up my paycheck, and went in.

Work was on-and-off busy all day. The waves of beginning-of-the-month customers are finally beginning to subside. It probably won't be really busy again on the weekdays until we get closer to Easter and Passover. I put candy away during the dead spots. I was able to get off and on with no problems. I did get wet going home, though.

Oh, and I have a very nice schedule next week. Nothing later than 6:30 (next Friday), and a couple of early days. Once again, I have Tuesday and Thursday off, which makes me very happy. My birthday is Thursday.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Family Balance

I overslept and was almost late for yoga class! Ironically, the class ended up being not THAT full. Karin wasn't feeling well, so Micki worked on hip and shoulder openers and shoulder stands with us.

I generally like the classes, but I need to start focusing on the more positive aspects while I'm there. I tend to obsess over being as good as everyone else. I'm overweight and I'm not as flexible as others who take these classes are. I often feel that I'm just not as good as they are, which isn't true. It's hard to reverse a lifetime of feeling the need to compete with everyone from my sisters to my classmates. I never feel like I'm as good as the next person.

After class, I went over to the Collingswood Library. There was a small pile of DVDs to file and shelve. I did some rearranging, but for once, it wasn't too bad. This morning's chilly weather must have scared off some of the usual Storybook Hour crowd. I didn't see as many kids as usual on a Thursday morning.

I went home via Newton River Park. The sun was just starting to come out after a cloudy, cool morning. Thankfully, the wind finally died out last night. I had a very pleasant ride.

After a brief stop at CVS, I rode by Dad and Uncle Ken's to see if anyone was home. Dad was, as it turned out. He told me he was going to take my sister Rose and her boyfriend Craig out for dinner at the Oaklyn Manor Bar down the street. Today is Rose's birthday, and she's usually so busy, she doesn't get a chance to celebrate it! Dad said she let Craig's mother babysit their son Khai and opted for a day with her family.

I was supposed to meet them at Dad and Uncle Ken's house at 5, and it was 1:30. That gave me plenty of time to do chores at home. I had half of a turkey and spinach sandwich on rye for lunch. I dusted the bedroom, which finished this month's cleaning. I finally got around to putting up the Easter decorations. I baked an Orange Chiffon Loaf Cake for Rose and signed the card I bought her on Tuesday.

Of course, when I went over to Dad and Uncle Ken's at 5 after a nice walk, they weren't ready yet. Rose was in the shower, and Jodie had only just gotten home from work. I went back to my apartment and worked on Wishcraft exercises until quarter after 6, when I walked down to the Oaklyn Manor Bar on my own. Just minutes after I arrived, Dad's white van turned a corner and headed down West Clinton.

We had a good time. I kept knocking over drinks. I knocked over my own and Rose's. I'm a little tired; I was up late last night with Lauren. We talked about the owners of the bar over the years, and about how the Phillies are doing. (They creamed the Mets this afternoon, 10-0. Rose, Craig, and Dad are huge baseball fans.)

We had a cake that Jessa made for Rose at Dad and Jodie's house. Dad and I talked about my job options. When Rose and Jodie came back inside from their own chat, Dad and Jodie talked about home ownership with Rose and Craig. Rose and Craig live in a small apartment in Audubon that didn't really fit them, two dogs, and a cat very well...and certainly doesn't work for a baby.

Jodie drove me home. She was worried that I haven't been over there much lately. Part of it is simply I'm not over there as often in the winter, after football's done but before Dad opens the pool and people start congregating for parties. I don't want to do my laundry over there, either. It's a lot easier and faster for me to do it at the laundromat. There's been some tension between the members of the household, too. And Dad just told me Uncle Ken isn't feeling well. Not to mention, I'm still trying to figure a lot of things out on my own.

I did promise Jodie I'd try to visit at least once a week. And it sounds like Jodie's getting burned out on her Campbell's Soup job. She says she's not happy there anymore. Maybe some else I know can finally relate to how I feel about the Acme!

(I will be going over there for Easter. Apparently, everyone's going over to Uncle Ken's for Easter this year, which is a lot more convenient for me.)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Springtime Frolics

I slept in this morning. Ended up spending most of it reading Wicked and listening to my CD of the cast album. By the time I really got going, it was almost time for work.

I'm glad I did have the chance to pick up the mail before I left. Much to my surprise, as I haven't ordered anything from anywhere lately, there was a package for me in the mailbox. It turned out to be early birthday presents from Linda and James Young. (My birthday is a week from tomorrow.) They gave me the 1994 version of Little Women on DVD and a kids' adventure book called Nick of Time. I have the 1949 Little Women on video, but I like the 1994 version as well. And the book sounds like a lot of fun!

Work was on-and-off busy. It was much busier than it usually is on a Wednesday, thanks to the beginning-of-the month people. There were a LOT of annoying old ladies who give you six thousand orders on how to bag. Ladies, I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING! LET ME DO IT, PLEASE!

I was very happy when my relief showed up on time. I wanted to do a little shopping at the mall behind the Acme. I haven't had as much need to go back there since the FYE closed. I mostly want to save my clothes shopping for after my birthday, when I get more money. However, I really did need a new pair of spring work pants. The flannel-lined pair I had were going to be too warm for summer, and I really need two pairs. I ended up with a cotton drawstring cargo set. I hope they at least last the summer.

I had the last of the leftover tuna casserole at home while listening to the Xanadu soundtrack. Changed my sheets, too. The flannel sheets I bought from the Vermont Country Store are now too warm for the time of year. I was going to wash them last week, but I had enough laundry with the towels.

I also went for a nice little walk. I strode down Goff Avenue to admire the view from the boat landing, then down to West Clinton and up Manor. It had been windy and sunny all day, warmer than yesterday but not as warm as Monday. Clouds were starting to gather on the horizon as I hiked around the neighborhood as well. It's supposed to rain tomorrow; we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Spring Is Running Hot and Cold

It wasn't that cold when I woke up this morning. I heard rain on the roof and decided to sleep in, hoping that the clouds would be gone when I got up for breakfast. Well, the rain had stopped by the time I was getting dressed, but the clouds remained.

Alas, as I was finishing breakfast, it started raining again. Hard. It was crazy-windy, too. I've had enough of running around in bad weather. I spent the rest of the morning organizing the back room instead. When I re-packed my winter clothes, I got them all into one bin...which meant I no longer needed the other bin I was using for clothes. That bin now holds the winter decorations, including things for Valentine's Day. The small container that held the winter items now holds doll clothes and the shoe boxes. Separates remain in the plastic dresser, but I moved pajamas, accessories, and any outfit I don't have a hanger for to the bin.

I didn't get out to the Haddon Township Library until past noon. Turns out there wasn't much to do there anyway. The majority of the DVDs that needed to be shelved today were non-fiction, so I worked on organizing those.

It took me longer to find fiction books to read than it did to shelve DVDs! I've always had problems searching the regular fiction stacks. Nothing seems to jump out at me. That's why I started reading mysteries in the first place. They seemed a lot more fun than all the dull romances, silly bodice-rippers, blood-filled political suspense stories, and ridiculous tales of women who don't want to do anything but shop, whine to their families, and get married. I want action...but nothing political. I want Zorro, The Prisoner of Zenda, Rafael Sabatini. I want comic action like 7,000 Clams, or fun action, like Carter Beats the Devil, or even something as profound as one of my favorite books, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Kay. I want strong women and men who DO something, not just complain or swoon. And when I do non-action, I want stories about smart people, quiet people.

I do read fantasy from time to time, but most of the series novels tend to be too complex. One exception is the world of Oz. I like the musical Wicked and thought I'd try the novel it was based on. That ended up being the only non-fiction book I took out today. I also took out a book on creativity by Julia Cameron and four DVDs - The Care Bears To the Rescue Movie, Mickey's Round Up, Date Night, and The Sting.

It was so late when I got out of the library, I rushed the rest of my chores. I hurried through Super Fresh for maple syrup and plum tomatoes for tonight's dinner. I rushed to Dollar Tree for sponges, a container for brown sugar to replace the one that got cracked in the refrigerator, and cards for my sister's and her son's birthdays in the next few weeks. I raced through my two slices of pizza at Nick and Joe's for lunch.

Finally got home around 4:30. I made chocolate chip meringue cookies, then dusted the living area. I didn't have the time to get to dusting the bedroom or putting up the Easter decorations. Maybe Friday.

Ran cartoons for the rest of the afternoon. Mickey's Round Up is a collection of numbers and/or puzzle-related episodes from the Disney Channel little kids' series Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I usually avoid renting the toddler cartoons that involve the audience. Fond though I am of Dora, Diego, and similar shows, the "interactivity" can get annoying if you're just watching them.

I do, however, love the classic Disney characters. I've seen Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the Disney Channel a few times, and it's really cute. The basic idea - Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and Pluto hang out in Mickey's really nifty clubhouse (that just happens to be shaped like him). They're sometimes joined by other famous Disney characters, including Big Pete, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, Clarabelle Cow, and Chip and Dale.

The Professor was involved in the disc's first and title episode, "Mickey's Numbers Round-Up." Goofy's supposed to be delivering a box of "wild" numbers to the Clubhouse so Mickey can watch them while the Professor's out. Goofy drops the box, and the numbers all run off! Mickey and the gang count down each number as they catch them.

"Daisy Bo Peep" was a variation on "Numbers Round-Up." Here, we're counting down Daisy's lost sheep instead of numbers. The next two episodes, "Mickey's Big Surprise" and "Super Goof's Super Puzzle", involved critical thinking and puzzle-solving. (And marked a rare animated appearance of Goofy's comic-book superhero alter-ego.)

The bonus episode, "Mickey's Show and Tell," took us back to rounding up objects. Martian Mickey (yes, an alien who looks like Mickey with green skin and feelers), loses his "pets" - moving 3-D shapes like cubes, spheres, and cylinders. Once again, the others have to corral them. Probably my favorite of the five episodes on the disc - I liked searching for the shapes among different objects.

As with The Giving Festival Movie, Care Bears to the Rescue was a collection of what I assume to be episodes of Care Powers Team. The wrap-around wasn't even interesting this time around. The Care Bears are holding their own Oscars for the best caring rescues. Oopsy is upset that he probably won't win anything, but he might get his chance for the most spectacular rescue of all when Grumpy gets stuck under the stage as he's about to win an award.

I'm still not sold on the Care Power Team concept. Thankfully, there was a lot more involvement from the other Care Bears this time. Cheer Bear had a mildly sweet story involving her taking care of a baby Gobblebug, and the first story with Funshine and the two walking Clouds was kind of fun. Otherwise, this was a bit dull, and the awards ceremony story was lame. I still say American Greetings need to do what it did with Strawberry Shortcake and completely revamp the Care Bears concept and design again.

The rain and cold continued for most of the day...and started breaking up around the time I got home at 4:30, of course.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Spring Has (Finally) Sprung

It was sunny, bright, and windy when I awoke this morning...and even more to my surprise, it was warm. Really warm. It had to be in the 60s when I poked my head out the front door. It was so warm, I barely needed a sweater while riding over to the laundromat.

I probably shouldn't have gotten in so late. It was really busy when I arrived. I was very lucky to get a washer and dryer. I spent the time finishing up Zorro, which will be going back tomorrow (along with A Weekend to Change Your Life and A Bundle of Trouble).

When I got home, I went right into putting everything away. I had a really big load this week, and there was a lot that needed to be organized, including towels and a bath mat. As I returned everything to its proper place, I put winter clothes aside in one pile.

When everything was stored, I pulled out the bins I use for the seasonal clothes. I wanted to pull out the spring clothes last week, but it never got warm enough! Today was the perfect day to do it. Other than some good black pants and skirts and a few long-sleeved shirts, all of my winter clothes - the other long-sleeved ts, turtle and mock-turtlenecks, most of my long pants, sweaters, anything corduroy, my chenille sleep socks - went in the bin. I pulled out short-sleeved blouses, more t-shirts, shorts, and short-sleeved pajamas.

I just had enough time for leftover tuna casserole for lunch before heading to work. It was so warm by quarter after 2, I didn't need to wear the sweater I brought along. However, it was also very, very windy, making for a difficult ride.

Work wasn't too bad when I got in or when I left...but the 4-6 rush hour was a mob scene. It was especially bad in the express lane I worked today. People were in a hurry to get out and enjoy the nice weather. This wasn't helped by this being the beginning of the month and having to deal with all the fun people that brings out of the woodwork.

Much to my surprise, it was still warm (and windy) when I rode home at 8. I didn't need the sweater coming OR going! I don't think that's happened since last October, maybe September.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Emma Redmer Vs the Internet

I wasn't able to post last night because Verizon was down from the time I got home at 8:30 until almost 1:30AM! I'm still soooo mad. The DSL light was on, but the Internet itself wouldn't go on. I finally called them around 10. Found out that a computer had gone down at headquarters and a whole swatch of Camden County and Philadelphia were out, including us. And when I did finally get back online, they made me completely re-do my account just because I called them...again. For at least the third time in the last year.

That's it. I've had enough of their nonsense. I'm going to look into Comcast or other high-speed internet browsers this week. If I continue to have trouble with them, I may check for other options for my land-line phone as well.

(I did get some things done last night. Read Zorro and worked on my half-double and double crochet.)

Other than that, I've had a very pleasant weekend. It was gorgeous and sunny yesterday morning, though windy. Perfect weather for my first yard sale run of the season.

Audubon had it's Spring Town-Wide Yard Sale. I picked up a whole stack of great albums from five different sales:

The soundtracks for The Sting, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Fame

Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

The Doors - 13

The Original Cast Album for the 1960 Broadway hit Fiorello!, featuring Tom Bosley as Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia

Frank Sinatra - Strangers In the Night

Judy Garland - Live at the Palace Opening Night

The Spinners - Pick of the Litter

Two kids' albums, Disney's animated version of Robin Hood and The World of Strawberry Shortcake, a slightly expanded variation on the first special.

The Strawberry Shortcake record was a particularly meaningful find. My sisters and I wore our copy of that record into the ground in the 80s. The woman I bought it from said she hoped to save the records for her children, but didn't think she'd ever get around to buying a record player. She also had fond memories of listening to it over and over again.

I also found four CDs:

Natalie Cole - Stardust

Linda Rondstat - Simple Dreams

Billy Joel - Glass Houses

True Value Hardware Happy Holidays Vol 39 (I love those! I have 28-33 on cassette and CD and am always on the look-out for more.)

My best find was closer to home. I went to St. Mark's Lutheran Church across from PNC Bank in Oaklyn for their Indoor Flea Market. I found in a collection of mostly odds and ends a video copy of the 1971 movie version of the British musical The Boy Friend. Twiggy is the usherette who becomes a star; Glenda Jackson is the star she replaces. Ken Russell, who directed the truly strange Who musical Tommy, made this...which means it's probably pretty weird. Sounds like fun, though, and I do love the music from the original The Boy Friend.

Work was extremely busy yesterday and today. It was even worse today, thanks to a lack of help. No one called out; we just didn't have enough people to handle the heavy beginning-of-the-month crowds. At the very least, it went quickly both days.

I started off this morning with Brunch With the Beatles. "Rock and Roll Music" was the theme today. In addition to the remakes of "Twist and Shout", "Rock and Roll Music," and "Roll Over Beethoven," we heard Beatles songs with more of a rock edge. Among these were "Come Together," "Revolution," and my favorite George Harrison solo song "All Those Years Ago."

Mom was in the shower, but I talked to my brother Keefe for a while. He was going to practice archery in the backyard after we chatted. That's awesome. I don't remember learning archery when I was in high school in the mid-90s.

I watched Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World while making granola bars this afternoon. This is the story of the young man of the title, a slacker wanna-be rock star who plays in an alt-rock garage group with his buddies and ex-girlfriend. He's dating an effervescent teenager to make himself feel better about a recent break-up...until he meets the girl of his dreams. Turns out that mysterious, independent young lady carries a lot of very literally baggage. Can Scott defeat her seven exes in order to get the girl of his dreams...and learn that true love is really worth fighting for?

I ended up getting a big kick out of this one. Adapted from a series of indie graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim has a marvelous time sending up video game cliches, from Mortal Kombat's "Round 1 - Fight!" intros to the coins that appear whenever Scott defeats an "ex." The cast had a lot of fun, too, including Michael Cera as the confused slacker musician and Kieran Culkan as his gay roommate.

I can, however, completely understand why this was a huge bomb last year. I like it because, even though I'm not a gamer now, I played enough video games as a kid to get what they're making fun of. If you've never played video games, aren't into comics, and/or can't handle slacker teens and youths, this is definitely NOT the movie for you. This has "cult" written all over it in letters six feet both ways.

Got home in time for The Dress Circle. "The Shows of April" was the theme this week. Among the hits, flops, and limited releases that first appeared in the spring were Destry Rides Again, Carousel, Follies, the late 70s hit I Love My Wife, the 1996 revival of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, last year's Sondheim on Sondheim, and one that's about to debut this month, the Frank Wildhorn Wonderland (a modernization of Alice In Wonderland).