Thursday, June 30, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

It was a gorgeous day for a ball game. Lauren and I had tickets for the last of a three-game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox. The Phils won the last two games going in.

We were both very excited, and not just about the game. The Phils play at Citizens Bank Park, one of the two big, new stadiums that replaced Veteran's Park a couple of years ago. (The other is its football-oriented neighbor across the street, Lincoln Financial Field.) It really is a gorgeous ball park. There's a huge screen that shows the game and stats and wonderful views from all over. Lauren and I had seats at 102, right on the aisles behind center field. We arrived early, around 11:30 - Lauren's a baseball fan and wanted to see some batting practice.

We were in our seats through the 7th inning stretch. It was a very exciting game. I'm not the baseball fan Lauren is, so I'm not going to be able to give you play-by-play details. I do know the Phils were doing pretty well through the first half of the game. No one scored until someone hit a ball right at pitcher Cole Hamels' pitching hand and took him out of the game. (Someone did it earlier, but Hamels caught it...unexpectedly, from the surprised look on his face.)

By the 7th inning, my arms and knees were starting to turn a very nice shade of Jersey tomato red, and Lauren only looked slightly lighter. We went upstairs to take a look at the gift store. Lauren bought an Irish-themed Phillies hat and a big stuffed Phillies Phanatics. I just bought a simpler red Phillies hat and a program.

I briefly rejoined Lauren in the seats, but I was just too darn hot. I spent the majority of the last two innings upstairs in the main concourse, just exploring. I did see Ryan Howard's big 9th inning home run between backs. (It was literally standing room only - according to the signs, there were over 45,000 screaming, cheering fans at the game today.) Despite that last-inning effort, the Phillies ultimately lost, 5-2.

We waited just inside, then just outside the gates for Dad and Jodie. We waited about a half-hour. First of all, they were coming in through rush-hour traffic. Second, President Obama was visiting Philadelphia today, and several major roads were shut down for his arrival. It wasn't too bad going back. In fact, the worst traffic on the trip home was around the stadium.

Rose, Khai, Uncle Ken, and Dolores were all home to greet us when we arrived. Rose and Khai took us back to my place. I needed to give her that jar of apple butter I bought for her last weekend anyway. Lauren and I got cleaned up, put our things away, and watched cartoons until it was time to meet Dad and Jodie down the street at Oaklyn Manor Bar.

We had a nice chat with Dad and Jodie on the patio at the Manor Bar. Lauren and I both enjoyed iced teas. She had a chicken and peppers wrap. I had a pizza cheese steak. Jodie had a pepper cheese steak. Dad ordered his favorite Ruben, which was so big, he barely ate half of it. We all split an order of cheese fries, a favorite of Jodie's. They asked Lauren about herself and what she does in Pittsfield (she's a head teller at a small area bank).

After dinner, we said "good bye" to Dad and Jodie and went across the street to Leo's Yum Yums for dessert. I thought Yum Yums and water ice would help make our sunburns feel better. I'm glad I suggested it. My small Rainbow Yum Yum was colorful and just sweet enough. Lauren enjoyed her blueberry water ice, blue lips and all.

I went straight in the shower when we got in. Between two days of sweating and my sunburn, I needed it! Joined Lauren online afterwards. Tomorrow, Lauren heads home, and I head to the Acme to pick up my paycheck and do my weekly grocery shopping.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Anywhere I Wander

As if making up for the humid and hot weather yesterday, Lauren and I awoke to a sky as blue as a robin's egg, soft sunshine, fresh breeze, and no clouds. Lauren wanted to stop at the post office first. Between what she's bought this week and the things I'm getting rid of that she's taking off my hands, she had way too much to carry home! In fact, it took four boxes to get it all sent out.

Since the Oaklyn Post Office was on the way, we went into Collingswood. We had a wonderful lunch at Tortilla Press, a local Mexican restaurant. I ate there last year on my second vacation week, and my friend Amanda joined me for brunch there a few weeks before Christmas. It was just as good as ever. We both had burritos. Lauren had beef and bean. I had chicken and cheese. The jicama slaw and home-made salsa and corn chips were delicious, too.

Our original plan was to wander around in Philadelphia's Old City for a few hours. The thing is, we've spent most of the week wandering around. We've done a LOT of walking. Our legs were tired, and Lauren's not the biggest fan of museums. We decided we'd rather enjoy the small stores in Collingswood and the park on such a nice day instead. Not to mention, neither of us really felt like spending more money on train tickets. We're going to be going to a Phillies game tomorrow, too, and need to rest up for that.

We just went in and out of stores instead. We peeked at an antique store across from the library. I bought a Peanuts comic book, Josefina's Surprise, and a historical action novel about a steamboat race from the Used Book Store. Lauren bought two action novels. We browsed in the little consignment shop. Lauren bought a fancy raspberry soda from the gourmet food shop; I bought a box of chocolate mint green tea. We both got fountain sodas with syrups at WaWa.

Strolling through Newton River Park on the way home was practically mandatory. I showed Lauren the mimosa tree with the long, woody bean-like pods. We ran around on the playground equipment; I went down the roller slide. We tried to swing on the new swings, but they were kind of high.

After we got in, I decided it was cool enough to bake. I made a Blueberry Coffee Cake while Lauren watched three of the Seuss specials (The Lorax, The Grinch Grinches the Cat In the Hat, and The Hoober Bloob Highway. We ran That's Entertainment while I made steamed carrots, whole-wheat macaroni, and chicken breasts marinated in tomatoes and Red Wine Vinaigrette for dinner.

Tomorrow, we are going to be doing something big - we're going out to the ball game to see the Phillies play the Red Sox.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Philadelphia Pops

We headed for Collingswood around 10:30-11. It turned out to be perfect timing. It was just cloudy and humid when we headed out. We felt the first small drops of water when we were strolling under trees on Lakeview Avenue. By the time the rain was coming down in sheets, we were nice and dry, walking across the parking lot under the train tracks on our way to the PATCO Train Station.

Our first stop after we arrived in Philadelphia was the Gallery Mall. We briefly peeked at the Hallmark and FYE there to wait out the last of the rain. Finding nothing of interest at either store, we decided to brave the weather and head down the street for lunch.

When we came off the escalator at 10th and Market Street, the rain was gone and only a few puddles gave any indication that a shower had occurred. We followed the crowds a few blocks to Reading Terminal Market, the best place in downtown Philly for lunch. It was so busy, we ended up at the only place I could find two counter seats together - Pearl's Oyster Bar, the same counter I had lunch at on my birthday. I had the deviled crab cake sandwich. She had a bowl of lobster bisque that was so big, I was surprised there were no full-grown lobsters swimming in it. She ate the whole thing and said it was delicious.

Macy's across the street was a bit less crowded. Unlike my venture into Macy's at Christmas, there were no lines and lots of help. Lauren bought some sportswear she'd been looking for upstairs. I bought a desperately-needed pair of sandals. Rose and I bought the old pair together from the Macy's in the Deptford Mall about five or six years ago, a few days after I hurt my knee the second time. They'd done their job well, but the bottoms were falling apart. A sweet shoe seller in a black suit and a lovely lace head wrap helped me find the perfect pair, an incredibly comfortable set of brown sandals with thick soles, low heels, and heavy adjustable ankle and toe straps. Buying a Godiva chocolate bar allowed me to drop the price from $50 to about $43.

We went through City Hall and over to South Broad Street and the Avenue of the Arts after Macy's. We both browsed around FYE for almost an hour. Lauren bought a couple of comedies. I found well-priced used copies of The Rocketeer and Danger Mouse: The Complete Series, along with a good sale on the two-disc animated Wonder Woman movie that came out a few years ago.

The sun was out for good as we strode briskly down the Avenue of the Arts and the clouds were down to a few lacy puffs. However, the nasty humidity not only remained, but felt much worse than it had yesterday, and there was no breeze. I took Lauren to my favorite Starbucks on Broad Street that I often visit during the Mummers Parade (mostly because it's one of the only stores on Broad Street open during parades) to grab a quick drink and bathroom break. (We also had a brief peek at the gift shop for Philadelphia International Records.)

Our last stop in Philadelphia was Russakoff's Used Books in Washington Square, one of my favorite used book stores on the planet. They sell used DVDs now, too. Lauren and I both made good finds. Lauren bought a huge pile of Christopher Pike and similar young adult horror novels from the 90s along with the 60s Producers. I picked up a paperback copy of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and two Laurel and Hardy movies, The Devil's Brother and Bonnie Scotland.

There was a reason Russakoff's was our final destination in Philly. It's just a few doors down from the 10th Street and Locust PATCO terminal. We hopped on a very full train back to Collingswood.

Lauren had asked to return to the Pop Shop sometime this week. She liked the look of my ice cream soda so much, she wanted one of her own. I wasn't going to chance it after half of my soda ended up on the counter. This time, she bought an ice cream soda made with blue raspberry syrup, chocolate ice cream, and seltzer. I made my own sundae: two scoops of butter pecan ice cream drizzled with honey, with farm market-fresh blueberries, whipped cream, and two cherries on top.

Mine was heavenly; I love honey on ice cream, and the blueberries added just the right note. Lauren loved her ice cream soda. She also bought herself a Pop Shop shirt to add to her t-shirt collection.

Once again, we were sweating buckets and tired from walking. Time to go home. We didn't go straight back to my place this time, though. Lauren wanted to pick up some soda at CVS, and I bought graham crackers to replace the Fig Newtons cookies we'd both scarfed during the week. (The crackers turned out to be on sale.)

We swung by Uncle Ken's to say hi to him and Dolores, who got home from their trip to Ocean City, Maryland yesterday. Uncle Ken was on the porch we arrived, chatting with his best friend Al, his granddaughter Amber, and Amber's five-year-old daughter Ella and eight-month-old daughter Lilly. I got to introduce Lauren to everyone. Uncle Ken agreed to drive us to the Phillies game on Thursday, and added that Dad would be home from a job in Baltimore tomorrow.

We finally made it home after that. I made Chicken Burgers on Multi-Grain Rolls, sauteed yellow squash, and steamed snap peas for dinner while we watched The Hollywood Revue of 1929. I took a much-needed shower after that.

Tomorrow, we'll be going back to Philly, this time to stroll around in Old City and Penn's Landing.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Milkshake Mania

After not doing anything yesterday, we wanted to at the very least get up and stretch our legs. Trouble is, first of all, many of the small, locally-owned shops are closed on Mondays. Second, the weather wasn't promising. It was cloudy, cool, and humid.

Lauren requested returning to the Bagel Shop in Westmont again sometime during this trip. She really loved it when we went there last year. I decided to do something a little different and eat there for breakfast/brunch instead of lunch. I've eaten there on Mondays before, and the chain stores in the Westmont Plaza would all be open.

We arrived at the Bagel Shop around 11:30. Lauren had the Pizza Cheesesteak. I had French Toast and bacon. My French Toast was thick and tasty and just sweet enough, with a hint of garlic under the spices (I suspect it was probably cooked with sandwich breads). Lauren's Cheesesteak came on the same bread that made up my toast. It was huge. She did manage to eat most of it, but I snitched her pickles and the majority of her French fries.

There was a small Game Stop next-door. I didn't get anything there. (The only game system I own is a 1987 Nintendo that doesn't work very well.) Lauren bought two Nintendo DS cartridges filled with Atari games from the early 80s. Her older brother had an Atari when they were first popular, and she said she played with it for many years afterwards. My family wouldn't have a game system until Nintendo was a hit later in the 80s.

After that, we made brief stop at Super Fresh. I needed maple syrup, one of the very few items that's genuinely cheaper there. I also bought green beans for dinner later in the week and rolls. Lauren bought lemon soda.

On our way to Westmont, I noticed a sign next to Kayla's Custard Corner that said "$1.99 Milkshake Mondays." We stopped there on the way home for a treat. We did spend slightly more to get shakes in one of their 24 soft-serve flavors. Lauren had Black Raspberry. I had a very tasty German Chocolate. We rocked back and forth in the wooden glider booths with the bright-colored canopies while watching Elmo's World and children and their parents order ice cream.

We went home to make a pit stop and round up our laundry, then walked back to the laundromat. My luck returned. It was a little busy when we came in, but by the time we were loading our things into one huge drier, everyone was gone but the older woman who was managing today. The weather may have been one reason. Even as Channel 10 News announced storms, the clouds that had been present on and off all day were beginning to look darker.

We decided not to chance fate. The moment the drier stopped whirling, we went home and spent the rest of the evening eating leftover chicken tenders and salad and watching Bowery Boys movies. Right now, we're online, listening to Lauren's iTunes oldies playlist.

Tomorrow should be more exciting. We'll be going into Philadelphia to do some serious shopping.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Daydream Believers

Actually, we didn't do a whole lot today but be together. I didn't get up until around 11:30. Lauren didn't awaken until nearly noon! I made whole wheat pancakes for both of us for breakfast. Lauren had raspberries and blueberries in hers; I had blueberries and chocolate chips. Other than I made a bit of a mess, we had a pleasant meal. Lauren said the pancakes were delicious. They must have been. She had two big ones and ate both!

I put on a copy of the Monkees concert from 2000 that Lauren sent me years ago. It was fun to watch Peter, Micky, and Davy (Mike doesn't like touring) be silly and play music onstage. We followed that up with a couple of episodes of the original show, including one, "Monkees Mind Their Manor," featuring Bowery Boy Billy Benedict in a cameo role as an elderly man. (He also showed up briefly in an earlier second season episode, "Monkee Mayor," as a sky writer.)

Around 4PM, we decided we were tired of sitting around. I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and Lauren made a salad. We threw bags of snap peas and cherries and a container of sliced tomatoes and apricots in my Styrofoam cooler, grabbed my umbrella, and headed next-door for a picnic.

It was a good day for just hanging out. It was cloudy and much cooler than it has been lately, barely in the 80s. There was a wonderful breeze coming off the river. Except for one woman and her big, shaggy dog, we had the whole park to ourselves. We sat on an old navy sheet of mine and enjoyed our lunch/dinner and the decent weather. Lauren prowled around the park for a while, looking for berry bushes. She never did find them, but she did enjoy the splendid view of Oaklyn and West Collingswood.

When we came back in, we switched off taking showers and getting cleaned up, then watched Bowery Boys movies before going online early. We'll be doing more tomorrow. At the very least, I need to do the laundry, so we won't be hanging around the house all day again.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pop Goes the Farm Market

I actually got Lauren out around 9:30 this morning for my weekly farm market/yard sale run. We saw a sign for a yard sale at West Park Avenue going into Audubon yesterday. Lauren didn't find anything, but I picked up two CD books and a video copy of Ducktails: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. (Ducktails is currently only available on DVD as a Disney Movie Club exclusive.) I'm hoping to make more room for my growing record collection by loading the CDs into books instead of crates. Pre-recorded DVDs will stay in their own boxes for now, but home-made ones will eventually go into books as well.

We briefly checked out one more yard sale on the way to Collingswood, but it was mostly kids' toys, nothing of interest to either of us. The Farm Market was as busy as always. Encouraged by picture-perfect, lower-80s-breezy-and-sunny weather, I imagine many people had barbecues today or held their graduation parties outdoors. Lauren got her favorite red raspberries and apple butter for her parents. I bought cherries, blueberries, honey, apricots from the wholesaler, and I picked up sugar-free apple butter for my sister Rose, who requested it yesterday.

We made a pit-stop at the Collingswood Library, then went over to the PATCO to take the train to Haddonfield. I promised Lauren I'd take her to the British Chip Shop for lunch. She loves British Invasion bands. We both had the same Chip Shop Sandwich and mountain of greens with malt vinegar and oil I had a few months ago. She had lemonade soda; I had black currant soda. (We were far too hot for tea!) The sandwiches were once again excellent, crispy and slightly sweet and made with mustard that was so spicy, it cleared our sinuses. We both agreed that we'd rather have a pile of fresh, earthy greens drizzled with vinegar and oil than greasy fries or chips!

After lunch, we made our way across Kings Highway to the Happy Hippo Toy Shop. For once, I didn't see anything I liked. Lauren bought a large set of basic Legos that were just Legos, not something belonging to a set or series. She said she'd been looking for a basic set like that for a long time. Apparently, she still has all of her childhood Legos.

There wasn't really much else in Haddonfield that interested us. We just hopped the PATCO back to Collingswood. Besides, I wanted to introduce Lauren to a special treat. The Pop Shop, a very popular 50s-style diner in Collingswood, is renown for their amazing ice cream creations. Their milkshakes have literally won awards from local magazines. They were dealing with the tail end of a noisy lunch crowd when we came in, but we did find seats at the counter. She had chocolate ice cream with marshmallow topping. I had a "Strawberry Blonde" - strawberry ice cream with strawberry syrup in seltzer. I went to the bathroom...and came out to find a glass of pink froth gushing all over the counter! It was a big mess, but a very tasty mess, sweet and cool and VERY strawberry. Lauren enjoyed her ice cream, too.

By this point, we were hot and tired and sweaty. Other than one quick peek at another yard sale with nothing of interest, we went straight home. Spent the rest of the afternoon playing games, listening to records, and watching movies at my place. I finally made that fish I was going to do yesterday for our dinner, along with mashed turnips and sauteed zucchini. Dessert was Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Pie.

We're back online in my living room again, listening to Monkees CDs. Tomorrow...we're just going to hang out at my place after two long walks in a row. I was thinking we could sleep in as long as possible and have a picnic in the park for lunch.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't Stop Us Now

After her long trip, I let Lauren sleep in this morning. I got up around 9:30 and read and wrote in my journal in bed. She got up around 11, just after I finished breakfast. I ran the "Garfield's Travel Adventures" specials while she got dressed and ate.

It was past noon when we headed out on foot for the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. (Lauren's too small to ride both of my bikes, so we'll be either walking, asking for rides, or taking buses this week.) I stopped at the Acme really quick for my paychecks, then we headed to the shopping center proper.

With FYE gone, there wasn't much back there that interested us. Lauren owns a Wii, so we popped in the Game Stop there for a moment for her to check out the inventory. After that, we went to Tu Se Bella, the pizzeria next-door to Game Stop, for lunch. I had a slice of mushroom and a slice of white garlic broccoli. She had a slice of bruschetta (olive oil and tomatoes) and a slice of pepperoni. I bought a bottle of water; she bought a bottle of Coke. It was all delicious, as Tu Se Bella always is, and delivered quickly despite us hitting the tail end of the lunch crowd.

We went back to the Acme after lunch. She wanted more soda for the week. I needed a few other things. I was out of eggs and chicken and wanted to stock up on peanut butter. Acme was having a good sale on Wishbone salad dressing, and I had a coupon for $1.50 off three. The mousse mix was on sale, so I bought things for a mousse pie for us this week.

After we walked home, I put everything away and made a pudding pie while Lauren took her bathroom break. I took mine, then watched Looney Tunes with Lauren for about 20 minutes until we were ready to head out again.

We made a quick stop at the bank to deposit my paycheck money. Our first stop after that was The House of Fun, the collectibles store a few doors down. They weren't open when Lauren visited last year because they were busy moving into their larger current location. (Their former location now houses a tattoo parlor.) She loved it, loved the shelves filled with boxes of 70s and 80s board games, rows and rows of still-in-packaging action figures, and displays of random Hello Kitty merchandise, pop culture-print t-shirts, comic books, and obsolete video game systems going back to the earliest Atari boxes.

Lauren didn't buy anything, but I found something just sitting on one of the still-waiting-to-be-unloaded boxes. A pretty white bear with a pink saddle on her back and faded white and yellow stars around her body stood on the box and watched us with her painted pale-blue eyes. I very much remembered owning her as a child. According to the man at the desk, she was Ursa Major, one of the toys in the Hasbro mid-80s Moon Dreamers line

Yes! Moon Dreamers was one of the 15-minute "Friends" segments of My Little Pony and Friends. Hasbro marketed doll versions of all of these segments, including Moon Dreamers. Basically a cross between My Little Pony and Rainbow Brite, the Moon Dreamers made sure humans had sweet dreams via the crystals they carried. The "gimmick" with the dolls and toys was that they, their clothes, and the animals the smaller dolls could ride on glowed in the dark. Ursa was one of the two vinyl ride-on toys, a gentle white bear. We had the other one, too: Rory, the lion with the pink mane.

(This was one of the few toy lines we had a playset for. We used the Dream-Along-Drifter for years as a floating bed or ersatz RV for our smaller dolls and My Little Ponies. We also had the Crystal Starr, Whimzee, and Star Gazer dolls and the plastic "crystal" necklaces that came with them. Whimzee's plastic gem-trimmed headband and Star Gazer's silver and purple gauze robe were around for longer than the dolls themselves were.)

It was a gorgeous day, breezy and hot without being as humid as yesterday...but it was still hot. By 3:30, we both desperately needed a drink. I bought an Icee at WaWa. Lauren added raspberry syrup to Mello Yello, turning it a gorgeous shade of red. (She said it was really tasty, too.)

We went over the train bridge and into Audubon. Lauren got along so well with Bob at Abbie Road last year, I wanted to take her back again. We had a nice chat with him, and he let us pick out used CDs for two and three dollars each!

We also dropped by Desserts By Design while in Audubon. I got a chocolate coconut cupcake. Lauren bought her favorite Almond Paste Cookie. She got to meet the nice lady who works there. (One of her daughters was working the counter when I brought Lauren there last year.)

It was 6PM by this point. We headed across Nicholson Road, down Manor Avenue, and over to Hillcrest. Jodie invited us over to Dad's house to say "hi" to her, Rose, and Khai. The two women and the baby boy were still there when we arrived. They offered us the last of their cheese pizza, which we gratefully accepted. (I'll use the fish I originally pulled out tomorrow.) Lauren got to meet my sister and coo over my adorable nephew...and Khai got to show off his new walking skills!

When we finally arrived back at my place, I went straight in the shower and Lauren put on Tangled. We spent the rest of the night online, listening to CDs and looking up Ursa Minor and other 80s toys.

Tomorrow, we're hoping to hit the Collingswood Farm Market, then have lunch in Haddonfield.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Balance on Vacation

With so many things to do before Lauren arrived at 6:14, I decided to get an early start and some nice meditation in. It was spitting lightly and humid when I headed out to Yogawood this morning. It wasn't even doing that when I arrived in Collingswood.

Yoga was actually quite pleasant. We concentrated on standing and balance poses to stretch the hamstrings. Most of them weren't too hard for me to do. When the others briefly did headstands, I did a child's pose. It was too humid and stuffy to try pushing things.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library after work. There was a small pile of DVDs for me to do. I spent more time trying to rearrange the kids' section, which was the usual disaster. I also shelved my first Wii disc, Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. Collingswood is the only local library I know of that rents Wii titles.

I was out of the library by 11:30. I had too much to do to linger for long. It was raining slightly harder when I rode across Newton River Park, dodging several dog walkers, but still not storming. My next stop was the CVS across from the park. I needed frames for all of the pictures of various siblings and nephews I've accrued over the past few years and allergy medicine.

Next up was my second library volunteering session of the day, this time at the Oaklyn Library. Their DVD section looked awful. They finally got rid of the last of their videos...but in attempting to move the DVDs down, they just got them out of order. The non-fiction is in with the fiction and nothing was alphabetical.

Since the Oaklyn WaWa is a few blocks from the library, I headed over there for lunch and for milk. They were a bit busy, but I got my skim milk half-gallon and turkey and Swiss junior hoagie without too much of a fuss.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at home, preparing for my visitor. I ate my hoagie and honey twist pretzels from the Acme. I gave the bathroom a quick scrub. I mounted photos of my nephews, Keefe and Jessa's senior pictures, a shot of my friend Jen in her Navy uniform, and a very nice picture of my sister Anny onto frames and set them on the antique dresser in the living room. I swept the porch. I cleaned the plastic deck chairs. I took the recycling downstairs. I sewed up my stuffed bear Bernice, whose underbelly split.

I was working on sewing Vert, another stuffed animal, when Jodie called. She'd showed up early, at 5:30, to pick up Lauren. Barely a minute after her call, I heard from Lauren. She was delayed at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia - something about power difficulties.

Thankfully, it turns out Lauren was only about ten minutes late. She arrived around 6:25, wearing a sweater and jeans. She said it was in the 60s in Albany when she left this morning! Needless to say, she changed into shorts the moment we got in.

Lauren spent the whole day on a train, and I didn't have much money left on me. We've been hanging at my apartment tonight, watching Bowery Boys movies and National Lampoon's Vacation. Tomorrow, I need to get to the Acme to pick up my paycheck and grocery shop, then we'll probably just stroll around Oaklyn and Audubon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Welcome to Vacation

Thank goodness work wasn't nearly as bad today as it was yesterday. I think working much earlier (I went in at 9) was a big help. There were a few annoying customers, but nothing too horrible. We were on-and-off busy during the noon rush, which tends to hit us hard, due to the eight restaurants in the mall behind us. Otherwise, we were fairly dead. It was hot and humid all day. I doubt anyone's in a hurry to get anywhere.

Except for me. It was quiet enough when I got off that I was able to shut down on time today and head right out for the start of my vacation! I'm off from tomorrow until July 1st. Even if Lauren wasn't coming down tomorrow evening, I think I still need it badly. I feel like I've been going non-stop for the past month and a half.

I spent my first few hours of vacation doing the last of the dusting in the bedroom. It took longer than usual because I actually dusted under all of the stuffed animals, books, and action figures. I usually dust around them. Who's gonna see it but me? I dust under them four times a year, once a season. Normally, I would have done it already, but I put it off until closer to Lauren's visit.

After I finally finished, I made a quick dinner of blueberries, mashed turnips, scrambled eggs, and toast while watching Tiny Toons Adventures. Plucky, Hampton, Babs, and Buster take a wacky tour of the Old World in "Europe in 30 Minutes." The four eventually end up in London, where they foil a plot to kidnap Princess Diana and Prince Charles. (Did I mention this episode was made around 1991? There's even fairly accurate caricatures of the royal celebrities in question.)

I went for a stroll to Leo's Yum Yums on West Clinton Avenue to stretch my legs and go for a short walk. It was still humid out by 7:30, but a bit cooler. The recent thunderstorms have been a huge help to the neighborhood gardens. Rows of lillies in brilliant oranges, golds, and whites and soft, sunny daisies bloom in profusion in front of many homes. The wind dashed through large green leaves in the shady trees.

Bought the same thing at Leo's that I did on my last excursion there, a small vanilla frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles. This time, there was no line, and I was able to enjoy my treat in peace.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Out of Time, Out of Mind

The day didn't begin too badly. I slept in after staying up late with Lauren last night. (She took a full two weeks off. I opted to save part of my second week off for visiting Mom and the family in Cape May County later in the summer or early fall.) After breakfast, I spent most of the morning and early afternoon dusting the bedroom and finishing Nick of Time.

Linda Young was right about Nick of Time - it is a "corking good adventure!" The "Nick" of the title is Nick McIver, a 12-year-old boy living in the English Channel Islands in 1939. When he and his sister Kate find a sea chest on the beach that doesn't look worn, they find themselves thrown into a wild adventure involving time travel, pirates, Nazis, and kidnapped children.

Forget whether you're a kid or not. If you're a fan of historical novels, time travel stories, swashbucklers, or World War II tales, you'll love this. The switching back and forth between two time periods is well-done, the action is just violent enough without being bloody (this is a book for pre-teens), and the characters are well-written. According to the back of the book, there's a second novel out about Nick's adventures in history, The Time Pirate. I'm absolutely going to have to look for that one, too.

I wish work was that much fun. It was a total pain in the rear end. It wasn't too bad when I came in, but the 4-6 rush hour brought large crowds. I had one older couple who kept arguing with each other while giving me orders about how to bag that were so confusing, I didn't really know what they wanted. Another woman who came through my line 20 minutes later threw a fit when I dared to bag her groceries in plastic. I thought the handles would help her carry them! "No plastic!" she snapped. Geez. I was just being nice.

And of course, my very last customer was a woman with a WIC Check who got the wrong bread. "Oh, my son grabbed the wrong one," she fussed. Um, her son didn't look any more than three years old, and I didn't see anyone else with her. I had to go back twice to get bread because she wanted Pepperidge Farm, not Arnold's. (If she wanted Pepperidge Farm, why didn't she get it in the first place? It's not like the labels are hard to read.)

On the other hand, there was a really funny guy around 5 who came through with reading glasses along with his other things. When I handed them to him so they wouldn't get broken, he said that's why he was buying this pair. He apparently sat on his old ones and broke them in half! The lady behind him laughed and said she and her co-workers just bought their supervisor three pairs for more-or-less the same reason. "We wanted to stop holding up papers so he could see them across the room!" she chuckled.

I went straight home after work. I had leftovers and watched Donald Duck cartoons. Even when Disney ended Mickey, Goofy, and Pluto's solo series in the early 50s, Donald continued doing shorts into the 60s. His last ones were all what today we would call "edutainment."

The best of these was the classic featurette Donald in Mathmagic Land from 1956. Donald wanders through a world of mathmatical ideas, discovering how they relate to real life. From the history of math and music to geometry in plants to the way math and sports go together, Donald learns that math really is more than numbers for "eggheads." As someone who has always been terrible at math, I enjoyed seeing how it could relate to real-world subjects like nature and music. I especially enjoyed seeing the live flower footage and how even Mother Nature employs geometric designs.

The other cartoons weren't quite as successful. The two How to Have an Accident shorts portray Donald in Goofy-suburban-father mode, which doesn't really suit him that well. Otherwise, they're still pretty funny, and At Home in particular remains relevant today regarding common household carelessness and how it can be avoided.

The Litterbug and Donald and the Wheel were some of the last theatrical shorts Donald would appear in until the 80s. Both rely heavily on live-action footage with the animation, showing off the lack of resources in the shorts department by then. The first is an environmentally-friendly warning against littering with Donald and his nephews as Exhibit A for the defense.

The second is a bit more fanciful. The Spirits of Progress try to persuade cave duck Donald to become the inventor of one of man (and duck) kind's greatest inventions - the wheel. Donald and the Wheel has some really catchy music, too. I always liked Papa and Junior Progress' "The Principal of the Thing."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Baker's Delight

I have lots to do this week before Lauren arrives on Thursday. Started today with a laundry run. Alas, my luck with avoiding crowds ran out this morning. It was busy as heck when I got in. For some reason, there were at least three or four families doing their loads today. I'm thankful I was able to get a washer and dryer quickly.

Put the clothes away as soon as I got home. Returned the floral tablecloth to the coffee table in the music area. (The old 60s-era plastic table I got from a yard sale is ugly without it.) I ate a quick lunch of leftovers, then did some baking. It'll be too late later in the week to bake! I made raspberry muffins and chocolate chip bars. The bars were a little hard, but the muffins came out very well. I used another recipe from that British cookie/muffin baking book I bought a few years ago. It called for oil and buttermilk, making it one of the lower-fat recipes in the book. The muffins are moist and sweet and tangy.

While everything was baking, I dusted the entertainment area. I'm doing major dusting, which means removing all of the DVDs and videos and stuffed animals and dusting under them. It takes a while. I just barely made it out to work on time.

Work was really busy all night. Other than a few annoying people, there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy's Day

Happy Father's Day to all dads, including those whose children are four-legged or feathered. I began today with blueberry pancakes, Brunch With the Beatles, and a call to my dad (and mom) in Cape May County. Brunch covered the Beatles' break-up in 1970. That meant we primarily heard songs from Let It Be ("I Me Me Mine," "The Long and Winding Road," "The Two of Us," the title song) and the Beatles' early solo efforts ("Instant Kharma," "Maybe I'm Amazed").

Called the family in Cape May County after finishing my pancakes. I was very happy to get Dad first! I got to wish him happy Father's Day. He had a very nice morning. His wife, son, and grandson took him out to a breakfast brunch in Cape May that's very popular. His leg is improving as well; he no longer needs the cane. He'll be going back to the doctor's for more tests on his blood pressure tomorrow.

Also got to talk to Mom. She was doing what I did two weeks ago; going through old material on CDs and floppy disks. In her case, the material in question were posters, flash cards, and other visual aids she made for the Mitnick Elementary School when she worked there around 2003-2005. Poor Skylar got a workbook filled with homework that he needs to do during the summer! Though Mom and I agree that the very idea is ridiculous - summer vacation is for REST - the school insists that it's necessary and must be done. Mom thought some visuals would help Sky.

Spent the rest of the morning beginning all the things I need to do in preparation for Lauren's visit on Thursday. I went through the things I've put in the back for donations. Lauren wants to go through it and see if there's anything she can use. Most of the clothes and shoes will probably be deposited in the clothes drops in the back of the Acme. The videos, books, and CDs will be given to the three local libraries I volunteer for to stock their book sales. I don't know what to do with the other random items and toys I no longer want now that the thrift shop is gone. Maybe I'll see if someone can drive me up to Goodwill or can recommend another near-by thrift shop.

I also started the dusting. I've been putting off the major spring dusting to closer to Lauren's visit. I had just enough time to do the music and dining sections of the living area today. My living room is so big, it's separated into three sections: the dining area (where the table is), the music area (record player, CD player, CDs, records, books on entertainment, the antique dresser that holds odds and ends) and the entertainment area (baker's rack, TV, DVD player, VCR, DVDs, videos, rack for my aprons and blue backpack). I dusted the chairs and washed the table top. Removed the floral cloth I use for the coffee table in the music area to be washed with the rest of the laundry tomorrow. Removed the books on my plastic shelves and dusted under and behind them. Dusted under some of the records and CDs. (Others are in rough wood crates that are too rough to really dust.) Dusted on and under the record player and CD/cassette player and the antique dresser.

I just barely had enough time to grab a Peanut Butter and Strawberry Raspberry Butter sandwich before dashing off to work. Good thing I made it right on time. We were crazy-busy all day long, with lines going out the door and not nearly enough help. I was late leaving because one of the two other cashiers took forever coming back from break, the lines were too long to leave one cashier, and the managers were doing other things.

When I got in, I had leftovers for dinner and listened to the last 20 minutes or so of The Dress Circle. My favorite of the parents-themed songs for Father's Day was another winner from the Unsung Irving Berlin CD set, "I'm On My Way Home," apparently intended for the 1930 Al Jolson vehicle Mammy.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Berries Jubilee

Once again, I had a really hard time getting to sleep last night. I have no idea why this time. It was warm, but there was no thunderstorm, or even clouds. I guess I just have a lot on my mind right now.

I was still tired when I got up this morning and switched on today's American Top 40 re-run. We went back to June 1981 for some really hot tunes from the era where disco went out...and hit both some really hot stuff (Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl," George Harrison's "All Those Years Ago," Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes,") and really strange stuff. (The top hit for that week was the "Stars on 45 Medley?" Really?)

Made a fairly quick farm market-bank-yard sale run next. I got in the bank just after they opened and was in and out. The farm market, as usual, was bustling. People (and dogs) were out shopping for produce, dairy, meat, and honey for their graduation barbecues and Father's Day get-togethers. I saw black and red raspberries for the first time this year and picked up a pint of the latter. Also grabbed spinach (which should be ending soon), cherries, mushrooms, a jar of blueberry butter, a cucumber for my salads, and two pints of blueberries. (One for snacking, one for baking.)

I rode around looking for yard sales for a while. I did check out a few, including two on East Park Avenue on the border of Haddon Township and Oaklyn near where the Newton Diner used to be, but had no luck. I ended up riding home a little earlier than I have the past few weeks.

Maybe it was just as well. I want to finish up the cleaning before Lauren arrives on Thursday evening. When I got home, I put everything away and worked on vacuuming. I've been putting it off until closer to when Lauren's coming, but I just couldn't anymore. The kitchen was a mess, with bits of leaves and rocks (the front door goes into the kitchen) and peanut shells everywhere.

I finished vacuuming with enough time to eat lunch and change into my work T-shirt before heading out again. I made one more yard sale stop at Audubon Park before heading to work. No dice. I saw lots of stuffed animals and videos, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Work was busy all afternoon. In addition to Father's Day, there's graduation parties and birthdays going on all over the place. Not to mention, most kids got out of school this week, and their parents now have to stock up to feed their children all day. There were no really major problems, and I was in and out fairly quickly.

I inaugurated the 2011 summer season a little early with this year's first showing of Recess: School's Out while having leftovers and farm market zucchini for dinner. The only feature-length outing for the hit Disney cartoon releases the misfits of Third Street School - smart aleck leader TJ, wimpy Gus, smart Gretchen, tomboy Spinelli, athletic Vince, and big and sweet Mikey - into the world for the summer. Everyone but TJ is going to summer camp, much to his frustration. He's ready for a boring summer...until he uncovers a strange light in the windows of the school cafeteria. He brings the others back in order to help him investigate. Just what's going on at the Third Street School, and how is their principal and his 60s past involved?

Even if you aren't a fan of Recess, this is still a really fun cartoon. The characters are universal enough that you don't really need to know the show to understand what's going on. (It might help to be a fan of late 60s classic rock, though. They're literally peppered throughout the film, and Robert Goulet - Mikey's singing voice - does a cover of "Green Tambourine" over the credits.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Princess Who Was Tangled

I got up so late this morning, thanks to a massive series of thunderstorms last night that kept me awake, I basically had the time to eat breakfast and watch Tangled before work. Tangled is Disney's retelling of the Grimm's Fairy Tale Rapunzel. Rapunzel is still imprisoned in a tower by a witch who stole her from her royal parents as a baby...but the famous hair is now imbued with strength and healing powers. Probably stung by complaints of the colorless princes of earlier movies (and trying to attract boys as well as their sisters), the royal youth of the original story has been replaced by a very funny, roguish thief. He hides in Rapunzel's tower when the guards are after him. She catches him (with a frying pan) and tells him she'll give him the tiara he's stolen in exchange for him taking her to see the beautiful lights that appear every year on her birthday. He'd rather dump her in the nearest pit, but he doesn't really have much of a choice. Meanwhile, Mother Gothel isn't happy that her adopted daughter has run off and taken her ticket to eternal youth with her...

Tangled is basically "The Disney Aladdin crossed with Romancing the Stone with a smidge of The Little Mermaid." As such, it's probably the best movie they've done in years. Dashing Flynn and sweet-but-strong-willed Rapunzel are certainly two of their best lead characters in years. The supporting cast - including the ruffians with wacky dreams, the horse Maxmillian who is after Flynn, and Rapunzel's odd little pet chameleon Pascal - is also a blast. Some phenomenal computer animation, too. The scene where Rapunzel finally realizes her desire to see the beautiful lights released every year on her birthday is breathtaking.

Work was busy all day. There were a few problems with customers. One older lady got me confused with her payment. I thought she wanted me to put $20 on her food stamp card, then pay the rest by check. Perfectly normal. Turns out she wanted $20 back on the food stamp card. I either hadn't heard her right, or she wasn't clear enough. She threw a fit, even after I tried to explain what happened, and finally stomped off to customer service. Though the girl behind her was much nicer, she ended up putting back a quarter of her order. (I really wish people on a budget would learn to watch what they put in their carts. If you can't afford expensive stuff, don't buy expensive stuff.)

I hadn't had much for breakfast or lunch, so I decided on a special treat for dinner. I rode across the Audubon Crossing Shopping Center and behind the America's Best/Pep Boys/Audubon Post Office building to Golden Corral for dinner. I don't really eat there that often because of the out-of-the-way location, the price ($10.89 for the dinner buffet), and because most of what they serve is terrible for you. I was too hungry for just pizza or a burger, and I had two cold cuts sandwiches yesterday.

My meal got mixed reviews. The spinach salad and fresh strawberries were delicious. The fish surprisingly wasn't bad, delicately seasoned if a little too buttery. The carrots were tough and leathery, but the sweet potato casserole was to die for and the braised mushrooms were succulent and tender. The chocolate cupcake was ok, but the icing was just sweet enough and tasted home-made (even if it probably wasn't).

Stopped at work for a few groceries on my way back. Chief on my list this week were butter and chicken. Acme was having a good sale on Smart Balance 50/50 sticks and its chicken breasts were 40% off. Also grabbed cooking spray, eggs, and the Acme's tasty (and cheap) whole-wheat honey twist pretzels.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hello Goodbye, Keefe

Rose shocked me this morning. She actually called and said she would be picking me up earlier than planned, around 12:30...then really did it. That put me in a bit of a bind. I slept in because I didn't think we were leaving until 1-1:30. I rushed the banana muffins I made for an early Father's Day present and got everything I needed for the trip down to Cape May County together for our brother Keefe's high school graduation. The muffins had just come out of the oven when Rose called and said she was downstairs and ready to go!

The trip going down there was fairly uneventful. It was just Rose, her 1-year-old son Khai, and me. Rose's boyfriend Craig had to work at the last minute. Khai slept the whole way down while we talked about our families and my decision to concentrate on writing and starting my own business this summer.

Mom had cold cuts, sandwich fixings, rolls, wraps, and flat bread out for us when we arrived. Anny appeared with her son Skylar and her new boyfriend Patrick shortly after. The little boys played with the toys their grandparents had out for them and Sky's new Build-a-Bear monkey Mr. Monkey.

I chatted with Dad while the kids had fun and their mothers kept an eye on them. Dad was in a good mood, but his health wasn't. He was walking on a cane. Apparently, he finally went to Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital in Cape May Court House a few days ago to have his heart checked out. They had to run a camera up arteries in his leg. On one hand, the camera found that his heart was fine. It's his blood pressure (and having a high-stress commercial fishing job for 40 years) that's causing all his pain. On the other hand, the procedure means he can't lean on the leg or carry anything heavy for five days.

We all finally headed out to Lower Cape May Regional High School around quarter of 4...and hit a long line of traffic. While Lower has grown over the years, their graduation, alas, remains as unorganized as ever. No matter how big they've gotten, they've never had enough parking for school events, or even for kids who drive there. This is a major problem. They're on Route 9 in Erma, literally in the middle of nowhere. We all ended up parking in the junior high school's soccer/field hockey field!

It was a nice day when we headed for Lower's Football field. The rain we had briefly coming down held off. It was windy and cool for this time of the year, probably in the mid-upper 70s. (Felt much nicer than my graduation, when it was hot and humid all day, and there were brief showers.) We met Keefe's girlfriend Vicki, her mother Missy, and Anny and her boys in front of the bleachers. That was the only place we could fit. Keefe is a part of the largest graduating class in Lower's history, over 1,000 kids. Not to mention, this is Lower's 50th anniversary and 50th graduating class. The huge metal bleachers were elbow-to-elbow packed!

(Thank goodness it didn't rain while we were down there. If it had rained, they would have had to move the ceremony to the auditorium. Lower has a larger auditorium than it did when I went there, but it's still not big enough for all those people. Rose and I probably wouldn't have gone.)

As it was, Rose ended up leaving early. Khai just did not like the crowds. His father took him to a Phillies game last night, and he was tired and fussy. The rest of us stayed for the surprisingly short one-and-a-half hour ceremony. I expected the speeches to be much longer and for more people to talk. Maybe they were worried about the threatened storms. Four kids (the class president, vice president, valedictorian, and salutatorian) and two administrators (head administrator and principal) gave short speeches, then the kids got their diplomas. (I liked the Class Vice President's farewell speech that made references to The Beatles' "Hello Goodbye.") Between Dad's bad leg and Skylar, we didn't stay for the newly graduated students throwing their hats in the air.

We got home fairly quickly. Dad texted Keefe as we left Lower to tell him that he'd "have a cold one" waiting for him when he got in. He then joked that, with a promise like that, Keefe would beat us home! Ironically, Keefe, Missy, and Vicki arrived with Dad's truck at exactly the same time we pulled in. Rose and Khai were already there; Anny and her boys showed up a few minutes later.

We spent another hour or two having cake and watching Keefe and Dad open cards. Keefe is impossible to shop for. Like I said, what do you buy an 18-year-old boy who has everything and is joining the military? Everyone else besides me gave him money. He loved my iTunes card. "I'll get some use outta this," he said to me with a grin.

Rose and I had a harder time riding home. For one thing, it rained off-and-on, though not too hard. Mostly, though, Khai just wouldn't settle down. Every time we thought he'd gone to sleep, he'd start crying again. Rose had to pull over three times to calm him. She ultimately took him home first (meeting Craig right as he arrived home from work), then dropped me off.

Oh, and Rose finally gave me my birthday present from her - the DVD/Blu-Ray copy of Tangled, the newest Disney movie. I've been dying to see that. It sounds like fun. I gave her the Usual Suspects book-format screenplay I found at a yard sale last week.

And...congradulations to Keefe Jackman and Lower Cape May Regional's 50th anniversary Class of 2011! I'm proud of you, Buddy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strawberry Flummery Forever

I spent most of this lovely late-spring day at work. Today was my 7-hour shift. It was on-and-off steady, not too busy. This was hardly a surprise on a gorgeous day in the middle of the week. I suspect the only reason we were steady at all is a lot of kids will be getting out of school tomorrow, and their mothers want to stock their pantries with snacks and lunch items. Other than a few annoying customers (including one guy who sent me chasing after rotisserie chickens because he couldn't be bothered reading the right name of the chicken that's $5.99), the day was fine and went quickly. It was dead by 6, allowing me to sign off on time despite my relief being one of the college boys with two jobs who is always late.

Went straight home after dinner. I had leftover chicken and salad as I ran cartoons. For dessert, I decided to try something simple from Felicity's Cooking Studio. Apparently, Flummery - jelly-style fruit desserts - were popular in the Colonial era. Felicity's Raspberry Flummery recipe called for raspberries, water, sugar, and cornstarch. Simplest dessert in the book. I replaced the raspberries with the last of the late-season strawberries. Most of them were still soft from being squished in my backpack on Saturday, and many were too small for me to eat on shortcakes or dip into Cool Whip.

It came out quite well, other than I used too much sugar and it was too sweet. I didn't have three cups of strawberries and hardly needed six servings, anyway. I'll remember to use a quarter of what they call for.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Balance and the Spring Rain

Yes, I know it's almost summer...but not here. Today, we returned to much cooler spring weather. It was just barely in the 70s when I headed out to Yogawood for today's class. Carrie mostly had us run through basic vinyasa and some shoulder stand and back bends. Nothing too hard, but she's a quick one and I was sweating keeping up with her.

My next stop was the Collingswood Library. There was a nice pile of DVDs to put away when I arrived. When I finished, I went upstairs, put a book away, and took a look at a couple of books they have on movie musicals.

After I left the Collingswood Library, I went straight to the Oaklyn Library. I decided that, since I have other things to do for the rest of the week, I'd get all of my library volunteering done today. I'm glad I did. Their DVD section and their kids' book section were messes. (Who keeps putting the regular fiction movies in with the documentaries?) And unlike last week, the place was empty except for a few people using computers and the librarians.

Oh, and a chat with the librarians reminded me of something else. As of June 9th, the Haddon Township Library won't be reopening until mid-July. Apparently, the damage was far more extensive than originally believed. "About 32,500 square feet of walls, ceilings and floors are being repaired or replaced." That's a direct quote from the website. Yow! And they thought they'd open in a week? I have the feeling they'll be lucky to open in mid-July. Between how busy I am, the library being a bit out-of-my-way (and on a difficult-to-cross street), and that mess, it'll probably be August, or even September, before I'm able volunteer there again.

I felt like something different than the usual WaWa hoagie for lunch. Rode over the train bridge and into Audubon to hit Simply Soups and More, the awesome little soup restaurant a few doors down from Willie the Woodsman and Wife's on Pine Street. I love them. Their soups are delicious, filling, and cheaper than most local eateries. I bought their Italian Wedding Soup, a favorite of mine, a bottle of water, and breadsticks. The soup was yummy as always, filled with huge pieces of onion and spinach and tasty meatballs.

(And much to my disappointment, I've noticed Act Two Collectibles has shut down. I suspect it has less to do with the economy and more with the older couple who ran the place has had health trouble since last fall. I've barely seen it open in the past six months. It's a shame. That older couple was really nice, and I've picked up some great things from there over the years.)

The demise of Act Two wasn't the only thing I noticed as I headed home. There were big, puffy clouds in the sky all day, but by quarter of 2, they were growing heavier and darker. I did manage to fix the loose chain guard on my bike when I arrived before it started raining.

It's rained on and off for the rest of the day. I took advantage of the much cooler weather to get some baking in. I made Teen-Time Chocolate (Cookie) Squares from The Betty Crocker Cooky Book. I made granola bars. I washed the windows outside and in and dusted the ledges. Also taped the small patriotic stars on the windows, which I put off until they were clean.

The rain let up around 6, long enough for me to get a walk in. I went over to see if Dad was home. Dad wasn't home, but Uncle Ken, Dolores, and her children and grandson were. They told me that Dad was at work on another cruise ship job, but should hopefully be home next week. Jodie and Jessa are in Cape May. Jessa is working down there three times a week; Jodie's visiting old friends who live in West Cape May. Uncle Ken and Dolores will be joining his daughter Samantha and their family in Ocean City, Maryland for their annual trip next week.

It was raining by the time I headed home again. No matter. I didn't mind getting a little wet. It was even chillier after the rain came through. I think it barely got into the 70s. Perfect night for making Noodles and (Chicken) Meatballs and Persian Cucumber Salad for dinner and watching movies.

I ran The Muppet Movie this afternoon. This was the first of (to date) six theatrical films based around the "Muppet Show" Jim Henson creations. "Is this really how the Muppets got together?" little Robin asks his Uncle Kermit before the movie-within-the-movie begins. "Well, it's kind of approximately how it happened," his uncle admits. Which means no, but it's still a really cute movie. Kermit the Frog is living in a swamp in Florida when a talent scout (Dom DeLuise) encourages him to try his luck in Hollywood. Kermit hits the road, picking up various Muppets on the way as he dodges the owner of a frog-legs franchise (Charles Durning) who is determined to have him as his any cost.

Some wonderful moments here - check out Kermit and Piggy's romance number, Piggy rescuing Kermit, Kermit on that bike, and the famous "Rainbow Connection" opening. Great guest cast, too. Can you spot Milton Berle, Richard Pryor, Bob Hope, Telly Savalvas, Madeline Khan, Elliot Gould, Carol Kane, Paul Williams, Orson Welles, Cloris Leachman, Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, Austin Pendleton, and, in their last film appearances, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy?

The Bowery Boys' adventure was far scarier, in fact one of their more effective horror-oriented tales. Master Minds starts as one of the goofier "Sach suddenly has a special power" episodes. Sach Jones develops the ability to predict the future when he gets a sugar-induced toothache. Naturally, his best friend Slip Mahoney and their buddies turn this into a carnival mind-reading act where he tells fair-goers their futures. The Boys' futures looks bright...until a mad scientist kidnaps Sach in order to swap his amazing mind with the mind of his superhuman ape-like creation.

The later sequences in the supposedly "haunted" house are genuinely freaky. The guy who played Atlas really did great with Huntz Hall's mannerisms...and Huntz Hall wasn't a bad monster, either. This is the only time in the entire Bowery Boys/East Side Kids run that a mad scientist is actually able to pull off an experiment on the guys without them escaping first.

Monday, June 13, 2011

At the Laundromat

Today was laundry day. I didn't get out to the laundromat until around 11:30. Thankfully, it was quiet when I came in, with only a few washers being used. I timed it right. I was just putting my clothes in the dryer when two women came in with bags and bags filled with laundry. When I got in, I put everything away, had fresh farm market salad and a leftover chicken leg for lunch, and watched cartoons.

Rose called right before I went to work. Sounds like we're going to leave for Erma around 1-1:30 on Thursday, meet the family for a hoagie lunch, then head to Lower Cape May Regional for Keefe's graduation. Mom wants to leave early. I don't blame her. Even with more lots than there were when Rose and I went there, parking at Lower is still a nightmare.

It was absolutely gorgeous today, too. Sunny and far cooler than last week, barely in the 80s. Even with the nice weather, we were crazy-busy all day at work. There were call-outs. I had actually been asked to stay later for the boy who is training to be a firefighter on Monday nights and can't work. It was only an extra hour-and-a-half, so I didn't really mind, but it was tiring.

I did have a nice ride home. It was so cool, I wished I brought a sweater. There was a beautiful pink and purple sunset on the horizon as I headed back to Oaklyn. I saw fireflies for the first time this year, too, blinking to one another as I passed them.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Maybe I'm Amazed

After staying up late with Lauren last night, I slept until almost 10 this morning. When I got up, I put on Brunch With the Beatles. In honor of Paul McCartney's birthday later this week, his solo and Wings songs were in the spotlight. My favorite Wings song is by far the theme song from the 1973 James Bond film "Live and Let Die." Others heard today included "Silly Love Songs," "With a Little Luck," "My Love," "Jet," and "Band on the Run."

I had Multi-Grain French Toast (with the last of the farm market Multi-Grain Bread), grapefruit, and strawberries for breakfast. Called Mom when I finished, towards the end of Brunch. Mom's busy this week, getting ready for my brother Keefe's graduation from Lower Cape May Regional High School. She's very proud of him right now, and he's thrilled, too...and so am I. He won first place at Lower's end-of-the-year show for all of the home economics and industrial shop classes. He made a scale model of a "green" apartment building, with gardens on every fifth floor and a big one on the roof.

He also won a service award from the Music Department. Mom says, in addition to being one of Lower's best drummers, he's done anything asked of him by the teachers at a moment's notice. He's helped organize recitals, made sets for this year's school musical, and was an usher at the school musicals and plays for several years. I am so unbelievably proud of him. I knew he'd find his way through high school if he just found his niche.

After that wonderful news, I didn't do much else. I swept the porch, which needed it after the last couple of major storms we had. I tried to figure out what to do about my eyes. They've been itchy and watery the past few days, probably thanks to all the pollen remaining in here...but the constant rubbing has made the left one in particular puffy and swollen. I decided to wear my glasses to work instead of contacts and just took allergy medicine.

Work was incredibly busy all day long. First of all, there's lots going on. Father's Day is a week from today. Most public schools finish out this week, and mothers were shopping accordingly for kids who would now be at home all day. There's graduations for the ten or so major high schools around here, too. There were also quite a few call-outs. Clouds threatened heavily at one point, which didn't help. (To my knowledge, it never rained.)

The call-outs apparently continue through the week. I picked up extra hours tomorrow, just and hour and a half. I also switched schedules with someone who wanted later hours on Friday and got the far preferable 12:30-5:30. I'll be able to get my groceries before dark and go out for dinner, too.

After work, I did a little shopping. I asked Mom what to get Keefe for his graduation this morning. Unlike most kids, he's going into the military, not college. He won't need cleaning or cooking or housekeeping items. Mom reminded me that he loved the iTunes card I gave him for his birthday, and he'll be doing a lot of traveling and will need music to keep him company. I ultimately ended up getting him another card. Bought a few other little things that I needed as well - batteries, a bag and a present for Lauren when she visits, a card for Keefe, bakery bread (I had a coupon, and bread made in the store's bakery is still better for you than factory-made bread).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Berry Sweet Morning

I got up earlier than I'd planned this morning. I tried to sleep until 7:30, but I just couldn't. I listened to the American Top 40 re-run instead. Casey remained in the 80s, moving back a year to 1983. Hit-makers included Rick Springsteen ("Affair of the Heart,"), Culture Club ("Time,"), and Men at Work ("Who Can It Be Now?").

It was still humid when I finally headed out, but the too-hot sun had been replaced by a cooling breeze and clouds. It made riding around today a lot easier. I'd heard about the possibility of more storms, but they seemed to be holding off for the time being.

My first stop was a tag sale in Collingswood. I think I ended up liking the house better than anything in it. The house was a big old Victorian barn with colorful stained-glass windows and a really nice little kitchen. Most of the contents were fancy antique furniture and expensive Oriental gewgaws. I did see some original Charlie Chan books that were tempting, but I ultimately decided it wasn't my cup of tea and moved on.

Next on the agenda was the Farm Market. They were bustling, and I could understand why. I picked up the first New Jersey cherries, blueberries, and cherry tomatoes of the season today. Also bought strawberries (last of the year, according to the farmer I bought them from), kiwi, bananas, snap peas, and yellow squash.

Rode around Oaklyn for the next hour looking for yard sales. I found three, but only one had anything good. A couple at Bryant Avenue near the Oaklyn School was selling, among other things, records, toys, and books from the 80s. They weren't always in the greatest shape, but I did make some good record finds:

The soundtracks for The Great Muppet Caper, Star Wars (A New Hope), Smokey and the Bandit, the original 1964 Disney Mary Poppins, and the 1980 Robin Williams musical Popeye.

I've had a hard time finding children's records, especially ones from my childhood. I guess, like the mother who sold me the World of Strawberry Shortcake album, most people want to hang onto them for their own kids. Today, though, I dug up:

The Muppet Musicians of Bremen

Introducing the Care Bears - One of the "picture disks," limited-edition records with pictures of popular characters printed directly on the vinyl. (I know my sisters and I had a Raggedy Ann and Andy picture disk album in the early 80s.)

Holi-Daze, a Looney Tunes Christmas album with voices by Mel Blanc.

Also grabbed 5 kids' 45s: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, Bugs Bunny Get That Pet (once again with Blanc), Disney's version of Hansel and Gretel with four songs from the opera, and two Peter Pan Records renditions of popular fairy tales, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Pinocchio.

My book finds were mostly 80s related: the novelization of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the storybook version of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a collection of three Felix the Cat comics stories, and the Golden Books version of Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (which Mom may still have at her place - I know the girls and I had it).

It was cool enough when I got home to use those first-of-the-season blueberries to make muffins. I've been wanting blueberry muffins for ages now, but I don't like buying most fruit out of season. Why bother? It doesn't taste right unless you get it at the right time. I can wait. I used a recipe from one of my British baking cookbooks, and they came out very well, juicy and moist and sweet.

I had leftover slow-cooker barbecue chicken legs and a salad for lunch, then worked on adding the new records to my inventory. I finished up with just enough time to change into my work uniform, pack a quick dinner, and head to the Acme.

It was spitting a little bit on my ride, nothing really big. That waited until I'd been at work for more than an hour. It was about quarter after 4 when I noticed a curtain of rain coming down outside of the main entrance. Yup, it was pouring. I was glad. As long as I wasn't out in it, it could rain as much as it liked. We really need the rain. It hasn't rained hard in weeks, and everything is looking so brown.

Work was generally not a problem tonight, other than one disorganized customer who made a mess of her coupons. The rain did end up clearing out most of our customers. It was on-and-off busy when the shower started. By the end of my shift at 7, it was dead enough for me to leave with no relief. (The boy who was supposed to have been in by then to help the night cashier was, of course, the kid who is always and without fail late coming in from his second job. He was almost an hour late as I was leaving.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

I slept in a little today, not a lot, until about 8:30. I ran Disney cartoons from two of the Cartoon Classics videos while I ate my Life cereal and strawberries. Since Mother Nature is saying it's summer, I ran the "Happy Summer Days" tape that features the classic Goofy-as-suburban-father 50s shorts "Father's Lion" and "Two Weeks' Vacation," the Donald short "Tea for Two Hundred," and Mickey's last theatrical short until the 80s, "The Simple Things."

After the cartoons, I headed out to the Acme for this week's grocery shopping. I picked up a nice paycheck, then got what I needed. I lost my list somewhere between Oaklyn and the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center, so I had to approximate what I needed. I picked up chicken legs, single packs of fish, baking powder (which I was almost out of), brown sugar, and the Duncan Hines Angel Food Cake mix, which was on the clearance rack.

Headed home next to drop off my things and have lunch, then went out again for a quick run to the bank. I couldn't put it off. After I worked all those hours last week, including Memorial Day, my paycheck was just too big.

I'd been debating what to do with my afternoon. I wanted to go to the Deptford Mall, but the bus that picks up on the Black Horse Pike doesn't come back to Deptford until 9:19 on weekdays! That's way too late to be at a mall. I finally decided that, since it was a nice (if a bit humid) day anyway, I'd ride my bike to Barrington and catch the bus that went past Haddonfield, Barrington, and Runnemede. (I could have ridden my bike to Haddonfield, but not only would that have taken a little longer, but with Barrington, I'm going in a straight line. Getting to the bus/train station in Haddonfield requires more twists and turns.)

I'm glad I did. I had a very nice trip. When I arrived at Barrington, I had enough time to buy an unsweetened iced tea and treat myself to a black-and-white cookie at the Barrington Coffee House. The bus picked me up only a few blocks down from the cafe.

I did really well in Deptford. My first stop was Target. I only needed a few things there and was in and out in less than an hour. I headed straight for JC Penny next. They send me coupons in the mail all the time. My most recent coupon for them was for $10 off an order of ten dollars or more. Between that and the money remaining on the last gift card Mom and Dad gave me at Christmas, I whittled a $69 order down to $32. Bought two pairs of bermuda shorts (one khaki for work), a turquoise tank top to replace the olive one that's getting stretched and a little bleached under the arms, a pretty peach blouse, and a nice red canvas St. John's Bay purse to replace the heavy leather one I've carried for the past few weeks. (I'll keep the leather purse in case anything happens to the canvas one or the knit one I use in the winter.)

After that, I walked around in the main mall for a while. I was hoping to find a graduation present for my brother Keefe, who will be finishing Lower Cape May Regional High School on Thursday. I couldn't even find a card I liked. I have no idea of what to buy an 18-year-old boy who is about to join the Navy in the fall. He probably won't even need the housewares and cleaning items everyone bought my stepsister Jessa when she graduated high school and went on to college in 2009. I did find a small present for a friend and a the WebKinz Tomato Clown Fish on sale for myself at American Greetings.

I had an early dinner at Burger King in the food court. I haven't eaten at Burger King since I lived in Wildwood. The closest Burger King here is in malls and on the Black Horse Pike. My siblings and I ate at Burger King all the time when we lived down the street from them in North Cape May...and tonight, I'm wondering why. I had a plain old Whopper with no cheese, Diet Coke, and fries. The Whopper was an obvious processed patty, without even the smoky taste some of Arby's sliced meat sandwiches have. The fries still weren't as good as McDonald's or Five Guys'.

After a peek around Lane Bryant, I headed out to the bus stop between Lane Bryant and Lens Crafters early. Good thing, too. The bus showed up more than ten minutes before it was scheduled. This also means that I was able to get in ten minutes earlier, too, and get home a little earlier than planned. When I got in, I went right in the shower after I put everything away. Whew! I needed it.

And meet Jersey, the Tomato Clown Fish! As my first (and likely only) underwater pet, he'll get his own Underwater Room, complete with sunken furniture and waving coral plants.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Balance In the Heat

It was already in the 90s when I headed out at 9 this morning for this week's yoga class. Karin smartly kept us on the ground. We focused on twists, lifting poses, and back stretches. I can twist ok, mostly, but I still can't get on my head.

Went right to the Collingswood Library next. There was a small pile of DVDs to put away, though it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I'm assuming the hot weather's scared a lot of people into staying home.

Including me. As soon as I finished at the library, I went straight back to the apartment. Spent the rest of the afternoon having lunch and updating my CD inventory. I finished updating the record inventory last night. As of press time, I have over 330 records! I had no idea I had that many.

The sun was blazing and still hot, hot, hot when I headed to work. I left a little early in order to ride slowly. Heat waves are no time to be rushing.

Work wasn't too bad. It was quiet-to-steady for most of the night, except during rush hour. We did have some problems with gift cards not wanting to ring up correctly, but other than that, everything went fine. It was so dead when I finished, I was able to leave slightly early.

That was a good thing. Dark clouds were building up behind me, nipping at my heels as I raced home. The hot breeze from early had turned into a raging wind. Dust and debris flew at me from all directions. I got in as quickly as I could...and it was just in time. Ten minutes after I made it in, I peered out the door and saw lightening. The storm didn't last long, but it did produce sorely-needed rain. In fact, as long as I'm not out in it, I hope we get more. It hasn't really rained in ages.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

We All Scream For Frozen Yogurt

I spent the morning and part of the afternoon at work. Work was mostly steady, but I did have some customer trouble about half-way through. My finger slipped when I was giving an older woman change, and I accidentally typed in her $20 as $40...and her fussing only made me more flustered. I apologized profusely after it took me at least three tries to give her the right amount. She ended up complaining to the manager anyway when she couldn't find her money...which she had in her purse, of course. I did explain what happened, and they all said it wasn't my fault. Accidents happen, and grouchy people are grouchy people.

After work, I treated myself to the new Fig Newtons Fruit Thins - basically, Nabisco's whole-wheat and dried fruit version of ginger snaps. I bought a small pack of the Cranberry-Oat last week and loved them. They tasted like a crispy Cranberry-Orange Muffin! I decided to try the Blueberry Brown Sugar.

It was deadly hot when I came outside, in the mid-90s. Needless to stay, I went straight home and spent the next couple of hours inside, working on updating the record inventory.

When I finished that, I made flounder and spinach salad for dinner and started Rose Marie. This is the second Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy movie (after Naughty Marietta), and the first of three with a modern setting. MacDonald is a prima donna opera singer chasing after her brother (a very young James Stewart), who is being pursued by Mounties. Eddy is the Mountie officer doing the pursuing, while unknowingly wooing MacDonald.

Actually, I don't like this one as much as some of the others. The story is needlessly complicated, and MacDonald (who was said to be something of a diva in real life as well) is no fun as a fish-out-of-water. Stewart's equally out of place as a villain, too. Eddy does somewhat better as the Mountie trying to get his man...and lady.

Around 7, I decided it would be cool enough for a quick walk to Leo's Yum-Yums for a cool dessert. It was still pretty warm when I headed out, but the sky was blue and so clear, I could easily see a jet gliding overhead.

Not surprisingly, given the hot day, there was a big crowd around Leo's counter when I arrived. A couple of mothers had brought their broods over from the local pool for a snack. Thankfully, it wasn't a long wait. I originally asked for my favorite Only 8 Vanilla Soft-Serve frozen yogurt...and was surprised to be told that they now only make it in hard-serve. No matter. I just got it in a cup with rainbow sprinkles. It felt nice going down as I hiked home in the hazy heat.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

And the Children Shall Lead You Around the Library

With this my first day off in a week, I had quite a bit planned. First on the dock was a trip over to Westmont. My first stop was the Haddon Township Library to see if they were open. My DVDs could no longer be renewed, and I finished the other books I had out. Nope. They were still dark, and there was still a dumpster in the parking lot. The signs on the doors and book drops still said "closed until further notice." I knew it would take them a lot longer than a month to clean up after a pipe break. I deposited the items I wanted to return in the book drops and moved on.

Oh, well. My day would just require some minor revision. I next headed across the street to Super Fresh and Dollar Tree. Super Fresh had the 12-inch fan I wasn't able to get at the Acme yesterday. The head on my old fan was loose, and it was noisy to boot. I'd been putting off a Dollar Tree visit and needed a lot there - sponges, toothbrushes, and lights for my closets.

Rode home after Dollar Tree, dodging noon traffic on Cuthbert Road and the White Horse Pike. When I got in, I set up my new fan, put batteries in the lights and hung them in the closets, put my toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet, and headed out again. If I couldn't volunteer at one library, I figured I'd just volunteer at one closer to home.

As I headed up to the Oaklyn Library, I saw a group of children in the yard/garden area in the back with two older woman who were probably their teachers. I wondered what they were up to? They weren't holding another volunteer party this year, as far as I knew, and the preschool kids are just about done for the year.

I found out when I went inside...and discovered quite a crowd. A group of elderly women watched Some Like It Hot (good choice) at the tables on one side of the room. On the other, the two teachers were trying to keep their charges together and explain how the library works. The kids were noisy, energetic, and eager to see everything!

To test if they'd been listening to their lectures on the library, the teachers sent groups of children around the kids' area on a "scavenger hunt" to find a young adult (juvenile) fiction book, a picture book, and a kids' non-fiction book. When they were finished, they could read books or read a book to a younger kid, then would go outside and draw bookmarks. I helped the kids find what they needed, then aided some of the younger kids who didn't read well yet. There were two groups of kids. The second group was slightly noisier than the first, with a larger range of older-younger kids. A volunteer helped me put away all of the books after they left.

By the time I got out of the library, it had gotten really hot. The sun was beating down on my bare shoulders (I opted for an olive-green tank top today). I was going to go for a walk, but I decided to curtail it somewhat. I went to WaWa for a turkey hoagie, pretzel, and soda, then walked straight home.

Spent the rest of the afternoon inside, having lunch and cleaning the kitchen. Boy, did the kitchen need it. The refrigerator in particular was AWFUL. I hadn't done the inside since the last time Lauren visited. I had to duct-tape the front of the crisper drawer. I yanked it too hard once too often and it cracked right down the middle. The crisper needed to be scrubbed, too. So did the outside of the stove. Also needed to dust the shelves.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Beating the Heat

There were a few things I wanted to do this morning before it gets really hot again tomorrow. The big one was laundry day. It was pretty busy when I got in around noon-ish, but there were some washers and driers open. I didn't have a big load anyway and was in and out in less than an hour.

When I got home, I called Mom as I folded my clothes. I was glad to finally catch her after I kept missing her yesterday. She was taking a lunch break from working in her garden. She said I sounded much better than I did last week, and she's right. I do feel better. Between fewer hours this week allowing for more time for me to get other things done and a mostly enjoyable weekend, things are looking a little more "up" than they did last Sunday.

We also discussed the Acme's change in summer uniform policies. Mom told me the Acme clerks in Cape May County got fluorescent-colored T-shirts - bright pink, sun yellow, and sea aqua - to go with the area's beach bent. I'm glad I live up here. I look terrible in neon colors.

I had a quick peanut butter and plum butter lunch, then hurried to work. Work was very busy, with long lines all night long. This was not terribly surprising on the first Monday of the month. Thankfully, I was in and out without too much trouble.

I still had a couple of chores to do when I got home. I realized a few days ago that the front tire of my bike was wobbling back and forth. I have no idea how that happened. I'm wondering if it got loose when I fell into that hole in Newton River Park last month? I tightened the wheel, and it seems ok now. Both tires needed air, too, which meant breaking out the pump. After I finished with the bike, I delivered this month's rent around the front to Miss Ellie and took the recycling to the curb.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Barbecue and Muffins

I didn't do a whole lot today. I tried to call Mom a couple of times, but I kept getting busy signals. I had Whole Wheat Mini Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast. I baked Strawberry Muffins. I listened to Brunch With the Beatles. (The original Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album was in the spotlight today.)

As of yesterday, the Acme has loosened it's strict uniform policy for the summer months. They gave us three light-weight, short-sleeved T-shirts with the Acme logo on them - one red, one gold, and one royal blue - to wear between now and October. We're also now allowed to wear capris, bermuda shorts, and long cargo shorts as long as they're the appropriate khaki, black, or tan.

That makes me very happy. For one thing, I'm not thrilled with the white polo shirts anyway. Who on earth came up with white? White gets stained easily! And they don't breathe all that well. I sweat to death riding to work in them in summer. I also have to choose light pants in the summer that I can roll up to my knees to ride to work. I did try to wear shorts to ride in and bring pants to change in at work for a while...but once, I left in a hurry and forgot the pants! I had to buy pants at Fashion Bug.

Work was crazy-busy all day long. That's not a surprise. First of all, it's still the beginning of the month. Second, we're usually busy on Sunday at any time. Third, the clouds were in and out again, not the world's greatest weather.

The clouds were gone when I finally got away from the long lines and headed home. I did get a message from Mom. Just as I'd suspected, she was talking to her sister Terri all morning. Aunt Terri calls Mom for very long chats every now and then. That's ok. I tried calling her again twice tonight, but got the answering machine. I'll just call tomorrow.

Before I went to work, I threw a couple of those defrosted chicken legs into the crock pot with water and barbecue sauce. (I want to get rid of the barbecue sauce. It contains high fructose corn syrup, which is extremely bad for you. From now on, I intend to avoid eating anything with that stuff in it as much as possible.) When I came home, the legs were absolutely divine. They literally melted in my mouth. I never tasted such delicious chicken. I had them with a cup of fresh spring peas.

I hit the shower after dinner. I got out in time for the second half of The Dress Circle. They were highlighting shows that opened in June in today's show. My favorite was "Razzle Dazzle," as performed by Jerry Orbach from the original cast of Chicago.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Yard Sale Bonanza

Started out this morning with a nice discovery. WOGL had finally switched their Saturday American Top 40 re-runs from the 70s to the 80s. In fact, they couldn't have begin more 80s if they tried - early June 1984. Among the songs on the charts this week in 1984 - "Jump (For Your Love)," Madonna's second hit "Borderline," Laura Brannigan's "Self Control," and that week's number one song, "Let's Here It For the Boy," Denise Williams' smash from the Footloose soundtrack.

Today was Collingswood's Town-Wide Yard Sale. Having done well by Audubon and Haddon Township's similar events, I was looking forward to this one. I wasn't disappointed. I was red-hot with record finds:

The original 1946 Broadway cast for Annie Get Your Gun with Ethel Merman in the title role and the 1959 Bob Merrill show Take Me Along, with Jackie Gleason, Robert Morse, and Walter Pidgeon.

Donna Summer - Bad Girls (Rose and I loved that set when we were really little. Dad did, too. We used to dance around the house to it.)

Two Hy Lit collections of 50s and early 60s rock. (I believe Hy Lit was a very popular Philly DJ in the 50s and 60s.)

Fred Astaire - Nothing Thrilled Half as Much as Fred Astaire (which looks like a collection of his solo material from his 30s movies)

The Vogues - The Vogue's Greatest Hits (They also had a few songs on the Hy Lit albums)

Steve Martin - Let's Get Small

Soundtrack for Lady Sings the Blues with Diana Ross as jazz and blues singer Billie Holliday

The Sound of Christmas

The Mamas and the Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears and Deliver

A studio cast album of the operetta The Desert Song, featuring Gordon MacRae and Dorothy Kirsten

Studio opera cast album of The Merry Widow, with Beverly Sills in one of the most amazing costumes I've ever seen on the front cover, a confection of pale blue ruffles and sequins.

Starflight, a collection of late 70s hits

Culture Club - Colour By Numbers

A really neat Disney Sword and the Stone pop-up book and record.

Linda Rondstat - Don't Cry Now

Sister Sledge - We are Family

Two Golden Books - The Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (which we had as kids) and Muppet Babies Be Nice!

My best finds were two videos. I rarely find videos that aren't available on DVD at yard sales. Today, though, I found the MacDonald/Eddy Rose Marie and a vehicle for Eddy and Rise Stevens, The Chocolate Soldier, for three dollars each. Rose Marie is one of two MacDonald/Eddy films I didn't have. I did tape The Chocolate Soldier off of TCM around 2000, but TCM wasn't working too great and my copy didn't come out very well. I didn't figure out until I got home that they were both still factory-sealed in the original plastic, too. Score!

Did well at the Farm Market, too. They were elbow-to-elbow when I arrived around 10. I picked up two jars of Strawberry-Raspberry Butter (the smaller one is for a present), zucchini, strawberries, snap peas, radishes, spinach, and the first New Jersey cucumbers of the season. Also grabbed kiwi, bananas, and grapefruit from the wholesaler.

On my way around Collingswood, I found a little fair at parking lot for the Good Shepard Catholic School a few blocks from the Farm Market. They had booths set up with games to win tickets, like a water-dunk game, a get-your-ball-past-the-goalie, and a bean bag toss. There was a booth with small prizes in the center of the lot. I didn't play any games, but I did try a Frozen 3 Musketeers Bar on a Stick. (They also had Frozen Milky Ways.) It wasn't bad. Very chewy, once it defrosted enough to eat. (One of the teachers actually brought the bags with the bars out while I waited.)

I spent the rest of the afternoon eating a fresh garden salad and leftover chicken for lunch and adding the new records to my inventory. It started out cloudy this morning, but by the time I was in Collingswood, the sun was out. It had vanished again by the time I headed to work.

Work was on-and-off busy again, even more-so than yesterday. We had a lot less help, too. I guess everyone wanted the weekend off. There were no major problems, and I was in and out.

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Return of Comfortable Weather

The nice weather continued today. It remained windy and much cooler, probably in the lower 80s. My first stop today was the Oaklyn Library, the only library I had the time or energy to volunteer at this week. I did some organizing on the DVDs, then moved to the children's area. It would appear that someone's starting to re-arrange and clear older books from the picture book shelves in much the same way the young adult shelves were done. This is a double-edged sword. It looks far less cluttered, and there's more room for new books...but I'll miss some of the older ones. There's books in there I haven't seen since I was really little, and others that may not be easy to find outside of libraries today at all.

I went for a short walk to enjoy the nice weather, then headed home for lunch. I ran Sailor Moon episodes while having leftover beef quesadilas and salad. I packed up a peanut butter and plum butter sandwich and a banana for dinner and a bag for shopping afterwards, then headed for work.

Surprisingly for the time of the week and month, the Acme wasn't that bad this evening. It was on-and-off busy, mostly during rush hour. It wasn't even as busy as yesterday. A lot of people probably took one look at the weather and (understandably) headed for the Shore.

I didn't have much shopping of my own to do, either. Applesauce, more of those plastic containers of mini chocolate chips, a can of diced tomatoes. I wanted to get a fan, but I didn't feel like hauling it home in the dark. I'll pick one up next week.

My schedule next week is better, too. Fewer hours, but they're all later (except for Wednesday), and I have two days off again.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Spring Is Here In Person

I wanted to clean the kitchen and go for a walk today, but I never got around to either. First of all, I slept too late. Second of all, I'm not as tired as I was, but I'm still hurting. My legs are KILLING me. My joints hurt something horrible. I wish I never had to move again. It's been months, if not years, since I've had back-to-back hours like this. I'm so stressed. I'm not used to working 35 hours a week...and by July, I'll be back to 20 or fewer, of course.

And I discovered when I went to the refrigerator to put something away that I'd accidentally left the freezer open slightly all night! I'd wanted to defrost it a bit - it's three-fourths ice - but not like this! Anything that had been in the front of the freezer, including the Breyers Cherry Vanilla ice cream and some meat, were half-defrosted. I closed the door quickly and left most of it inside for the rest of the day. I'm hoping that leaving it alone with let it all freeze again.

I did get some things in. It was much nicer this morning than it has been all week. It's still warm, but the humidity was replaced by a wonderful, cool wind. I was able to bake brownies this morning and granola bars after work. I also swept the porch both times. The debris and seed pods on my porch confirm most local complaints that this has been one of the worst pollen seasons on records. Usually, the "fuzzies" have subsided by now, but there's still some coming down.

Work was steady, but not quite as busy as yesterday. It'll probably be busier tomorrow, when people get their paychecks. There were still more people around than usual for a Thursday...which is normal for the beginning of the month.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Just Tired

I'm so tired...again. I worked for 8 1/2 hours today. On one hand, that does mean I missed the horrible heat that continued through today. Many of my customers complained about the stifling humidity and steaminess. I went in at 9:30...and got out at three. Both times, it was hot but not harmfully so.

Work was on-and-off busy all day. It was much busier than it usually is on a Wednesday. Today is the first day of the month...which means we get all of the usual people who come in to spend their government money and Food Stamps that they just got.

Actually, my only real problem was in the early afternoon. Some guy came through with a cartload of soda bottles and boxes that I knew were on sale...and that I knew he intended to sell in some chop-shop in Camden. I told him he could buy five of each box. No more. He didn't listen when one of the managers tried to explain that the 5 for $12 Coke sale ended Monday, or that if you buy 20 bottles for a dollar, it'll still come up to twenty dollars plus tax. He ultimately left without anything.

Though my relief was late, it was quiet enough by 6 that I was able to shut down with no problems. I treated myself to Bryers' Cherry Vanilla ice cream on sale. Bryers' has the best cherry vanilla. The vanilla is sweet and creamy, and the cherry chunks are huge and real cherries, not maraschino. I had leftover tacos and asparagus when I got home.