Sunday, July 31, 2011

Digitalizing Memories

Started off a hot, sunny day with Blueberry-Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Brunch With the Beatles. The album in the spotlight was Hey Jude: The Beatles' Again, a US-only Capitol records release that more-or-less collected all of the Beatles songs which had only been heard as singles on this side of the pond before then. Along with the title number, these included "Paperback Writer," "The Ballad of John and Yoko," "I Should Have Known Better," "Revolution," "Rain," and "Lady Madonna."

Called Mom after I finished breakfast. Our chat was brief. She'd just finished a long session in the garden and was about to start another one. Keefe was only just tumbling out of bed. His girlfriend Vicki's birthday was yesterday, and they spent the day together, from enjoying a brunch to spending the evening at the Wildwood Boardwalk.

I also told Mom to pass my birthday greetings onto my nephew Skylar, my sister Anny's oldest son. He's turning 7 today! Mom suggested to just send him money; everyone else in the family had showered him with presents, and at his age, he's just starting to enjoy shopping for himself.

Swept the porch while Brunch With the Beatles was ending. I'd put it off for a while. The mosquitoes have been really bad this year. I just couldn't put it off any longer. There were cobwebs and large, round, peppery-smelling nuts (and the leftovers from my "neighbors" the squirrels and chipmunks eating those nuts) and sticks and dry leaves everywhere.

After I finished, I went for a long walk to Newton River Park. It was a lovely day for it. There were puffy white clouds in the sky, but at 12:30, they were hardly threatening. It was sunny and a little breezy. Lots of people were out and about, jogging, biking, or walking dogs.

I hiked up a long, steep stone stairway and up to Oaklawn Avenue in Oaklyn. Walked to East Clinton, then across the White Horse Pike to Dunkin' Donuts. I don't usually go in there. I don't like donuts (too sweet and sticky) or their prices. To celebrate my rare Sunday off, I decided to treat myself to a Frozen Hot Chocolate...i.e, a slushie with chocolate syrup. Not bad, but not worth 3 bucks, either.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I was determined to get the DVD recorder and the VCR playing together. I finally removed the thick cable all together. Shining a flashlight on the VCR revealed that I had the audio hooks in the wrong spots. It's hard to read the writing on the VCR in that part of the living room, which is pressed against the back wall and has no windows. I arranged the audio and video cables in the right places...and this time, it worked. Everything recorded right, video and audio. And yes, I now feel very silly for not figuring that out earlier.

Under any circumstances, I was able to record my first home-made DVDs this evening. The first one I did was very special to me. In 1988, my father Bruce and his wife Kaye borrowed a camcorder from friends and taped my sister Rose's 8th birthday party, which they held with their friends when we visited their then-home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida over our spring break. Bruce, Kaye, and their friends also recorded our antics in their friends' pool over the next few days.

Rose and I visited Bruce and Kaye again in the summer of 1990. This time, we were off to Walt Disney World for most of the week. Dick Tracy was the big movie being advertised at the theme parks that summer. The movie-oriented park that was then known as Disney-MGM Studios had a show in one of the shops where they pulled random people from the audience to perform in a Dick Tracy-themed skit. Yes, I was one of those people. I played Tess Trueheart confronting Breathless Mahoney and two of her back-up singers after she found Mahoney's sheet music in Dick Tracy's office. I eventually "knock out" the girls (via cartoon-y "punching" sound effects). The girl who played Breathless actually sang part of a credible "Vogue" and was pretty funny when she had to collapse after I "hit" her, including singing part of "Vogue" again! (The director's ad-lib was the best line, though - "It's Madonna after a long concert." ;) )

I believe the third item was from about a year or so later, from my reference to the Cher song "Love and Understanding" and Rose's oh-so-cool short hair-do. We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale this time, joining two young teens named Amy and Kelly on a night when our parents and their little brother had all gone out to eat. We spent the night filming each other acting silly. I in particular was overly-excited about my rare chance to spend time with peers and was a bit shrill (to the point where Rose took me aside and complained). (We'd done it earlier in the week, but alas, that footage remained in Florida.) We mostly made jokes about how bright the light the girls attached to the camcorder to be able to film at night was, what we planned to do (and never did), and goofed off on their brother's playground equipment in the backyard.

The next disc was all cartoons. My Muppet Babies Video Storybooks and two videos of public domain Felix the Cat and Three Stooges animated shorts were so cheap, no one bothered pulling off the tabs despite them being commercial copies. They transferred easily to DVD.

I also transferred the Schoolhouse Rock video Linda Young sent me a while back. Though I will eventually get the 30th anniversary Schoolhouse Rock DVD set as well, Linda's tape has live-action introductions to each short and cartoon featuring Glenn Close and a passel of kids in extremely 80s clothes. You probably won't see those today outside of the original ABC videos.

Jodie and Dad called to invite me to my cousin CJ's birthday party on August 20th. I added to Dad that I needed him to pick up his old TV, which is currently sitting in the middle of my living room. I've already tripped over it once and nearly killed myself. Dad said he really didn't want it anymore, either. He and Uncle Ken apparently have at least three or four similar tube TVs sitting in their garage. He finally agreed to come over on Tuesday to help me get it downstairs and leave it for scavengers.

Oh, and we did have a rather nice little storm tonight. It started getting darker while I was working on the cartoon DVD. By the time we were on "Science Rock," there was a very noisy storm going on.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fruits of Summer

When I awoke, the storm had swept away yesterday's heat and humidity for the second Saturday in a row. It was hot, in the upper 80s, neither as hot nor as humid as the past few days. I turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows.

Ran American Top 40 while eating breakfast. Late July 1976 was in the spotlight. Despite this being the beginning of the disco era, most of the songs on the chart that summer were jazz, R&B, or basic pop. They included the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight," Queen's "You're My Best Friend," the Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing," Paul McCartney and Wings' "Let Them In," Starbuck's "Moonlight Feels Right," Lou Rawls' "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," Elton John and Kiki Dee's classic uptempo duet "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart," and George Benson's "This Masquerade." (The album that song comes from, Breezin', was the number one album that week. Good choice - there's just something about that album that says "breezy summer afternoon.")

I headed out as soon as the show was over. Made a quick-stop at the bank first, then went looking for yard sales. It took me a while, but I found the first one on Merrick Avenue in Collingswood. Alas, it was all baby toys and items and turned out to not be worth the effort. I moved on.

The Farm Market was the next stop. It was a lovely day for it. There were more dogs out than there had been last week. I saw a handsome labradoodle, a cute black pug puppy, a tiny black-and-white terrier, and a grouchy-looking dachshund who belonged to a snooty lady in a fancy suit, hat, and sunglasses.

The summer crops are out in full force now. Yellow squash is gone, but there's tons of everything else. I bought peaches, tomatoes, blueberries, small yellow apples, an ear of corn, a head of Boston lettuce, a red onion, a small Italian eggplant (the regular ones take forever for me to eat), a green pepper, honey, and the first Italian plums of the season. (I saw blackberries, too, but I thought I'd try something different this week.)

Rode around for a few hours after that, looking for more yard sales. Since I had more time and yard sales are harder to come by in the summer months, I went further afield than usual. A sale on Taylor Avenue near Collingswood's Theater District didn't yield anything of interest. Nor did a flea market at the Auction House on Market Street in Audubon. (Though I did stop across the street at Desserts By Design for a cupcake and a chat with the owner.)

I finally made a nice little score at a sale on Princeton Avenue in Audubon. A lady was selling, among other things, a huge container filled with bags of various yarn remenants. She told me she was a long-time crocheter and wanted to get rid of the ends and balls leftover from various projects over the years, like Mom did when she sent that big bag of yarn to me last winter. I bought a few bags of yarn balls ranging from a quarter to $1.50 and two Cooking Light cookbooks for 50 cents each. I had a nice chat with the lady about crocheting and getting around in the area, too. She was really sweet.

After I got home, I ran the first disc of the last Danger Mouse set while having a Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich and a salad with farm-market tomatoes, cucumbers, and Boston lettuce for lunch. Lengthening Danger Mouse's adventures from 15 to 30 minutes only makes them weirder. We've seen everything from an ink well that gives you wishes when you throw in a copper coin to a spoof of Murder On the Orient Express that starts with the Venice Grand Canal being paved over! And that doesn't even count the whole strange episode involving Count Duckula and a Dr. Frankenstoat, who has created a machine that can unleash a hoard of maniacal vampire bats on the bats, that is.

And what's with all the really bad puns in this set? They're pretty lame, even by this show's standards. Even Danger Mouse and Penfold are starting to notice the constantly repeated jokes and stealing each other's lines.

I spent two hours after lunch trying to get both sound and picture on the DVD recorder again. It just would not work, no matter how hard I tried or what I plugged in. I went online for another half-hour to see if anyone had any suggestions. Tomorrow, I'm just going to try unplugging the VCR from the TV and let it play through the DVD recorder and see what happens.

I really needed a nice walk after all that. It was a very pleasant late afternoon when I finally headed out, this time on foot. I needed milk at WaWa. I treated myself to a fountain Coke Zero with vanilla and raspberry syrups and a pretzel to try to feel better after the incident with the electronics as well.

I was so thoroughly fed up with the DVD recorder, I thought I'd try something different during dinner. I ran The Lone Ranger and Let's Pretend old-time radio CDs while I made pepper steak and green beans for my meal, instead of watching anything. It was so nice. Felt like a real, old-fashioned summer late evening.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sometimes Things Just Work Out

I'd been up for twenty minutes this morning when the phone rang. Yes, it was the Acme. Could I switch my schedule today from 2 to 7 to 12 to 6? There was a call-out at the front desk, and they had to pull a cashier who knew how to work the front to handle customers. Sure! My only plan for this morning was a walk. I'd be getting out earlier, too, which is always a plus.

As it turned out, that wasn't the only reason I was called in. The beginning of the month colliding with people either going to or coming from vacations turned the store into a madhouse when I arrived! There were lines into the aisles and not nearly enough people to handle them. For all that, most people were in good moods. It was insane until about 4:30, after which it was steady but not quite as bad. My relief was on time, and I was in and out with no problems.

I headed to Tu Se Bella's, the pizzeria in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center behind the Acme, after I left work. I picked up slices of Vegetable (spinach, sweet pepper, broccoli, and tomato) and plain cheese pizza and a bottle of water for dinner. They were pretty busy, but I did snag a seat up front.

Went back to the Acme after work to do some grocery shopping. I mainly needed to restock my meat. They're having a big sale on chicken this week; I bought legs and thin-sliced breasts. Also grabbed steak and ground chicken (the former for Pepper Steak). Picked up eggs, French Vanilla mousse mix (on sale), yogurt, and Chai tea.

It started getting cloudy when I was shopping. It had been hot and humid all day, and the rapidly building clouds didn't make things any cooler. Thankfully, it was getting windier by now, too. In fact, I found myself very glad that I did take the earlier hours as I rode home. If I did work 2 to 7, I probably would have been caught in the storm coming home.

There was enough time after I put everything away at home to go for a short walk to Leo's Yum Yums down the street for some frozen yogurt. They finally had the Only 8 Chocolate Peanut Butter, which is wonderful. I haven't seen it there in at least two years...and this time, they have it in hard serve. I had my favorite small cup with chocolate sprinkles (after a little girl finally chose the water ice she wanted, exasperating her mother and the girl doing the scooping).

Mixed feelings about my schedule this week. On one hand, I have two days off in a row after today, tomorrow and Sunday. On the other next day off after Sunday isn't until NEXT Saturday, and every day is late, including until 10 on Thursday.

And it did finally rain tonight. Mother Nature was nice enough to wait until I'd been home for at least a half-hour to start storming. If it's raining at all now, it's doing it lightly.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Twist and Balance

It was slightly more humid today, but otherwise remained sunny and warm but not out-of-the-ordinary hot when I got up this morning. In other words, I had no reason to skip yoga this time. We concentrated on twisting twist movements. I was able to get some of the standing poses down, but I had to revise the one where you get your legs over your head. I just did it on the floor. I can't get my legs over my head yet.

There wasn't much to do at the Collingswood Library. They had a kid putting the DVDs away. I just worked on shelving DVDs, then left early.

I had other things to do today, anyway. Today is my dad Bruce's birthday. I made him a Lime-Vanilla Mousse Pie last night. Dad lived in Florida for years and loves Key Lime anything! I even used fresh-squeezed lime juice. Alas, Dad wasn't home when I walked over to his and Uncle Ken's house. Only Dolores was around. She said everyone else went out to eat or out shopping. They probably took Dad out for a birthday lunch. I left my pie and a card for Dad and moved on.

Just read To Be Continued until it was time to go to work. Work was steady for most of the night. It's getting close to the beginning of the month, which means business should pick up a bit this week. Other than a couple of kids spilling chocolate milk (in a small puddle I was able to clean up on my own this time), there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer in the Shade

I'm glad I didn't sleep in quite as long today. I wanted to get to the Oaklyn Library to volunteer. Their summer Storybook Hour was going on as I came in. I worked on organizing the DVDs while the kids finished their crafts and stories. When they left, I shelved the books they were reading and worked on the kids' section. I took out a book on movie serials, To Be Continued..., to help with the Bowery Boys story Lauren and I are currently writing.

Went up to WaWa after I left the library and bought a Sour Apple and Cherry Icee. I decided it was just too nice to go home right away and decided to extend my walk. I hadn't had a good walk around the neighborhood in ages. It was the perfect day for a good walk around the neighborhood - sunny, breezy, and hot but not too hot, with no humidity.

I thought I'd see if the playground at the Oaklyn Lions Park was busy. I hadn't been down there in a while. It was. What looked like a local day camp was having the time of their lives at the playground. Most played on the equipment. A few older boys had a kickball game near the tennis court. Some counselors handled the last of the kids eating lunch.

I settled down in a shady spot under a tree on the hill overlooking the playground and read my book for a little while. It was really nice. The wind rustled the dry leaves overhead. The kids' laughter drifted on the breeze. The grass was brown and brittle but comfortable. It felt so lovely and cool under the canopy. I was reluctant to leave, but it was nearly quarter after 1 and I had to work at 3:30.

When I got in, I made lunch and fiddled with the DVD recorder and VCR more. It's still not working. I just cannot get the video on the VCR to record onto the DVD. They won't play on the same channels. I'm going to try plugging the video for the DVD recorder into the front of the VCR tomorrow and see what that does.

Work was on-and-off steady for most of the night. The first half of the evening was marred by a few fussy older customers who absolutely must have their bags done just so...and don't bother to try helping themselves.

Towards the end of the night, a customer dropped a two-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper, one of the sweetest, stickiest sodas around! Nearly all the soda wound up on the floor in front of my register and the one next to me. It took two managers, a bagger, me, the other cashier, a mop, and two rolls of paper towels to get the mess soaked up and cleaned...and it was still sticky when I left.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Welcome Back, Library

Started off my day with my first official volunteering session at the Haddon Township Library in two and a half months. They finally re-opened yesterday. I had to square something with them, too. For some reason, someone forgot to sign in a Calvin and Hobbes comic book I know I returned...right before they shut down. Yes, the comic book was on the shelf, where it's probably been since they closed. Thank goodness they got it off my record.

I worked on organizing the children's DVDs, then took out several myself. I grabbed one of the shorter Max and Ruby sets, an collection of Angelina Ballerina episodes on working together, and the newest Shaun the Sheep collection. The adult movies I took out were the 1974 The Great Gatsby with Mia Farrow and Robert Redford, the 1950 Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor, and National Treasure 2 with Nicholas Cage.

After a brief stop at Dollar Tree for cards for my nephew and biological father's birthdays, I rode over to Audubon. It was such a nice day for a trip, I thought I'd eat at Simply Soups near Willie the Woodsman and Wife's. Though it was in the lower 90s, it didn't feel like it. It was beautifully breezy, with absolutely no humidity at all. I enjoyed my cup of Italian Wedding Soup, breadsticks, and can of Coke Zero.

Went straight home after lunch. There were a lot of things I wanted to do around the apartment. I glued a couple of new recipes into my recipe file. I finally stuck the pieces onto the Acme Giveaway Game board. I listened to my new Golden Treasures oldies record set. I dusted the apartment. I tried to make a zucchini-carrot "griddle cake," that is, a cake cooked in a pan on the stove...but I think I made too much batter and couldn't turn it over. It got mushy and a bit burnt on the bottom.

Ran Max and Ruby and Sean the Sheep after the records ended. Only two of the Max and Ruby episodes were new to me, but they were really cute. "Super Max's Cape" had Max and Ruby babysitting for their neighbors' baby while they set up their picnic. Baby Huffington seems to be cranky and unhappy with his old blue blanket. Could Super Max (and his red cape) help out? And in "Emperor Max's New Suit," Max and Ruby put a spin on "The Emperor's New Clothes" when Max refuses to choose a new outfit.

Sean the Sheep and his pals had some noisier fun. In "The Big Chase," Timmy the Lamb steals the farmer's new motorcycle...which leads everyone in the barnyard, from Sean and Bitzer the dog to the Naughty Pigs (in a pink car!), on a wild ride after him! Bitzer has his own messy problems in "Bitzer from the Black Lagoon" when he falls in a mud-puddle and the sheep mistake him for a monster. Sean and the other sheep hide a mouse from the nasty cat in another horror spoof, "Hide and Squeak." The cat and his claws provide some nice ribs at slasher flicks and jump-and-boo scares.

Put on the more genial Father of the Bride as I made chicken mini-cheeseburgers, sweet farm-market-fresh corn-on-the-cob, and ratatouille for dinner. If you've seen the 1994 version of this film, you know the drill. Dad (Spencer Tracy) is shocked to hear his beloved daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) is getting married to a guy they hardly know. Mom (Joan Bennett) is fine with it; her beau is sweet, and he really does love her. As the bills mount and the wedding gets bigger, will Tracy learn to cope with losing his little girl..and the woman she's become?

This is one of the few films where I equally recommend the original and the remake, for the same reasons - both feature excellent casts having a fine time with a rare comedy to show something that many real-life fathers go through.

Put on Angelina Ballerina as I cleaned up from dinner. Learning to work together is the theme of In the Wings. My favorite was "Two Mice On a Boat." Angelina isn't a happy camper when she's assigned to work with local bully Sammy on the decorations for the local boat pageant. Angelina wants to be a swan princess; Sammy's determined to build a pirate ship. Will their boat end up in shallow waters...or will they learn to compromise?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Crazy Over Rain Storms

Hoping for rain, I slept in this morning. It was still sunny and humid when I got up around quarter of 10, but the heat had dissipated. By the time I headed out to the laundromat to do this week's load, the sun had vanished behind gray clouds, and it was much cooler than over the weekend. A nice breeze helped, too.

The iffy weather must have kept people at home. The laundromat was empty of everyone but the older woman who runs the place when I came in. It did get a bit busier later, but by that point my laundry was almost out of the drier.

I put my small pile of laundry away when I got home. Ran the Bowery Boys movie Crazy Over Horses while having leftovers for lunch. A man who owes soda shop owner Louie Dumbrowski money sells him and the Boys a race horse instead. It turns out gamblers hope to use the horse in a racing scam. Slip figures out their game after they switch their gentle horse with a much wilder one. Slip becomes determined to race the right horse himself...but will his buddy Sach be more of a help or a hindrance?

Most of the racing gags are the same thing you've probably seen in countless sitcoms. This one's notable for three things. It's one of the rare movies where the Boys use their heads and not their fists to save the day. (There's not one "routine.") It was the first movie to replace the simple rendition of "East Side, West Side" and the cursive script in the opening credits to the caricatures of Sach and Slip (and later in the 50s, Duke) used in the credits for most of the remaining entries. It was also the last Bowery Boys movie for series regular Billy Benedict, who had gotten tired of his limited role and the infighting between the boys.

The clouds were still just hanging overhead when I rode to work. It didn't start raining until around dinnertime. We were very busy during rush hour, when people were trying to avoid the weather, but it was otherwise quiet. It was so dead when I left, everyone was just standing around, and I left a little early.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Might As Well Be Walking On the Sun

I didn't get to post last night because my internet has been a pain for the last two days. It was down for almost all of last night, from 8:30 to nearly 2AM, and for the entire afternoon today. And when I finally did get back on, I discovered Verizon reset me for no good reason and I had to download everything all over again! I would have switched to another carrier ages ago, but Verizon is the cheapest local Internet service and is said to be faster than Comcast.

I did get out to the usual yard sale/farm market run yesterday. I found some really good records at an estate sale:

Two Disney LPs from the 80s, Yankee Doodle Mickey (a collection of American folk music and one song from the Disney Theme Parks' Liberty Square) and the very Greed Decade Splashdance (check out Minnie in her off-the-shoulder sweatshirt on the back cover).

A Blossom Fell, Nat King Cole

Two Christmas collections, The Sound of Christmas and one of True Value Hardware's Happy Holidays LPs.

Golden Treasures, a 3-disc set of 50s and 60s rock music that came with two more records from another early rock-themed set, Dynamic Treasures.

I also found a mint-condition Wilton teddy-bear shaped cake pan. I remember using that pan for a project in my Cake Decorating and Candy Making class in high school, but I haven't seen it since. Perhaps I'll make myself a bear cake when the weather starts cooperating again.

Stopped at another yard sale on the way to Collingswood. I picked up two good double-CD greatest hits collections for the Doors and the Supremes, but the owner insisted on downloading both to her computer before I could buy them. (I don't know why she didn't do it before selling them, but at least she was nice about it.)

The Farm Market wasn't quite as busy as usual, with far fewer dogs, thanks to the hot and humid weather. I saw the first lima beans and small apples of the season and several unusual varieties of tomatoes. I'm not fond of lima beans, but I did get the apples. Also bought blackberries, blueberries, peaches, two regular beefsteak tomatoes, a cucumber, golden beets (I hope they're less messy than regular red beets), and an ear of corn.

When I got in, I did the windows, then went out to Leo's Yum Yums and got some Orange-Vanilla Yum Yum (creamier water ice). I walked over to Uncle Ken's to go swimming after I finished my treat. I'm glad I did. The water was so warm, it was in the 90s. Blake and I floated around on inner tubes, rafts, and noodles while Uncle Ken, Dolores, and Blake's dad watched the Phillies-Padres game. (I do NOT envy those guys having to play in the 100-degree heat.)

I think I've figured out why the DVD recorder won't record, too. I have to figure out how to get the DVD recorder and the VCR on the same channel...literally. The VCR shows up on Channel 3. The DVD recorder plays on Video 1. The DVD recorder will pick up the audio from the VCR, but not the picture. I need to find out how to get both on the same wavelength.

Made some very tasty Blackberry-Peach Pancakes for breakfast, then called Mom. She'd just gotten off the phone with her chatty sister Terri and wasn't eager for a long conversation, but she did tell me that she was worried about her garden not getting enough water and a sinus infection that really made my brother Keefe sick. This happens to him from time to time, thanks to his really nasty allergies.

Brunch With the Beatles was pretty interesting today. The emphasis was on the US-only album Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, it's infamously short-lived "butcher" cover, and other songs that were released as singles in the spring and summer of 1966. Songs from that album and the time period include "We Can Work It Out," "Act Naturally," "Eleanor Rigby," "Paperback Writer," and "Yellow Submarine."

I was off of work yesterday. It was long-lines busy when I came in, but a heavy shower around 7:30-8 cleared out the customers. By the time I left, it was pin-drop quiet.

The rain was gone by the time I finished as well. It remains humid, if not anywhere near as hot as it was.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot In Philadelphia

Yes, the temperature reached 100 here today. 103, to be exact. It was humid and hazy and way too steamy for words. Needless to say, the only time I was out in it before I went to work was to check the mail. Yay, the TV I ordered on finally arrived! I easily carried the 15-inch, flat-screen, two-year-old Sylvania set upstairs...much to my surprise. My old TV is a 19-inch tube model that nearly gave me a hernia just moving it across the living room. (And it actually belongs to my dad - I borrowed it from him when the TV I'd had since high school started dying around 2007.)

I got the apartment vacuumed before the TV arrived and dusted the heavy antique table I use as a home entertainment unit after it arrived. Spent an hour setting up the DVD recorder and VCR - they both work just fine. I love the TV. The picture looks nice, everything plugs into it (no more modulator), and I can now easily dust under it and dust it, instead of having to dust around it. It's what I've wanted for years. Actually, it's the size I wanted in high school, but my stepfather insisted on a larger, 22-inch console. (He claimed it was on sale. Mom blamed his "bigger is better" complex.)

Didn't get too much of a chance to watch it. I ran some cartoons during lunch, then went straight to work. Yes, I rode the bike. I wasn't going to drag anyone out in 100 degree heat. Besides, I worked until 10. Everyone I know is either in bed by that time, out with friends, or tending to children.

It was surprisingly steady when I came in and during rush hour. I figured everyone would avoid the heat as much as possible. It did die a bit later and was quiet when I finally left.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Too Darn Hot!

Between the heat and staying up late with an on-vacation Lauren last night, I decided to skip yoga this week and just stay home. I spent the morning watching Danger Mouse, making Peach Flummery, and editing the next batch of Bowery Boys fanfiction. Look for them sometime in August.

It got into the 100s today, and will apparently be even worse tomorrow. This is no time to be out running around. I didn't even see any mail today.

Work was surprisingly busy. It wasn't that bad when I got in, but it picked up around the usual 4-6 rush hour and was on-and-off the rest of the night. I guess people are trying to avoid shopping during the time of peak sun. I got a little more candy done; I think I'm finally coming to the end of that. I did get out in time to pick up some bread, spice wafers (ginger snaps), and one last box of chocolate mousse mix before the sale ends. (Our sales end on Thursdays.)
New Adventures In Care-A-Lot

I'm not the only one who thinks the Care Bears need a third makeover. Looks like American Greetings is going to re-launch the characters in a new CGI series next year...and if the pictures in Variety and Time are anything to go on, the new designs will be far closer to the original characters than the more slender, brighter 2007 versions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heat Wave

Heat or no heat, I had a few errands to do today that I wanted to get done. I just took it easy walking to the Oaklyn Library this morning. They were actually quite busy. There were several families picking books when I arrived, another almost all of the computers were full. I guess everyone wanted to get out before it gets into the 100s. I organized the DVDs (including pulling one without a label and a few kids' titles that needed orange stickers) and did what I could with the kids' books.

I made a quick (at least, as quick as I could in the heat) run to WaWa next. Normally I would have gone to Doria's Deli for lunch meat, but they're on vacation until the end of next week. I picked up a whole wheat roll, a half a pound of turkey, and treated myself a Coke Zero from the fountain with a little vanilla and cherry syrup.

When I got in, I had my turkey sandwich for lunch, then cleaned the kitchen while watching Me and the Colonel. A rare dramatic role for Danny Kaye, this touching 1958 film is by far his best acting in a non-musical. Based after the play Jablowsky and the Colonel, Kaye's the Jablowsky, a gentle middle-aged Jew from Poland who has fled all over Europe in order to escape the Nazis. He finds himself on the run again in 1940 Paris right before they're overtaken by the Germans.

Though he does manage to get a car, he doesn't drive. Instead, he convinces an obnoxious Polish colonel and his lackey to join him and do the driving. Along the way, they pick up the colonel's very pretty fiancee. As the quartet make their way across France, the colonel and the survivor learn that there really is always two sides to everything...and that, with a little resourcefulness and common sense, we'll all be here tomorrow.

A sweet film with a lovely message of understanding between religions and classes...and that one can love two people without it becoming messy. Kurt Jurgens is also excellent as the blustery military man.

(Incidentally, Jablowsky and the Colonel was heard from again on Broadway in 1979, as a vehicle for Joel Gray with a Tony-nominated Jerry Herman score, The Grand Tour. The show was a flop, but I've heard some of the songs on The Dress Circle and they're quite good.)

Work was a pain. I was asked to put candy away, which I'd really rather do...but we were so busy that it kept getting disrupted. It wouldn't have been a big deal if there wasn't still a ton to shelve. We just got a huge lot of newly-released items that need to find places at the registers. I was hoping to get it all done tonight, but I still didn't manage to finish.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Library's Back In Town

I've been keeping a close eye on the Camden County Library System's website for updated information about the status of the Haddon Township Library...and finally got some good news. They'll be opening to the public this Monday, the 25th, but they need help restocking and re-shelving items now. I needed to run errands in Westmont anyway, so I decided to swing by there and see if I could lend a hand.

I was up late with Lauren last night (who is on vacation this week) and didn't get going until around 11:30. It was hot as heck today, and humid, too. A nice breeze helped, but I was still sweating buckets as I passed through Newton River Park. Needless to say, the park was empty. I didn't even see any Canadian geese or ducks; they were probably all napping in the shade.

I was so glad to see cars and not dumpsters in the parking lot when I arrived. In fact, the back lot was more full than it usually is when the place is open. I couldn't figure out how I was going to get in until I saw two young ladies leave by the normally-locked door on the side of the building.

The door lead into the lounge area and offices. They surprisingly looked the same as always, other than the new carpeting and lack of stacks of donated books on the floor. The couch from the lounge was gone - probably a victim of the flood. I dumped my purse on a plastic and metal chair stacked along the wall and went to see how I could help.

The place was bustling with activity. The librarians were directing volunteers and cleaning up the circulation area. There were doughnut holes and bottles of water in the main lobby. I grabbed a much-needed bottle of water and, on the suggestion of the head librarian, headed for the children's area.

This was one of the areas most effected by the burst pipe. It had entirely new purple carpet and new paint on the walls. The construction workers had put the books back on the shelves...but they'd just thrown them on any which way, so they were all in the wrong order. I rearranged the C and D sections and shelved books that had been returned at other libraries while Haddon Township was closed.

I finally got hungry for a real lunch and headed out at about 2. Needed to run a few errands across the street, too. I had a tasty turkey and Swiss sandwich on a whole wheat wrap, with lettuce, tomato, and avocado spread. Picked up sponges at Dollar Tree and things to make a mousse pie at Super Fresh.

I thought of stopping for an ice cream or running other errands, but it was just too darn hot. Not to mention, by quarter after 3, the clouds that had been in the distance this morning were getting darker. I just rode back to my apartment.

Cleaned the bathroom after I got in. It wasn't too horrible, but it did need to be done. (The kitchen's probably in worse shape this month. I didn't get a chance to do it again before Lauren arrived.)

I did hear lots of rumbling thunder as I scrubbed, but to my knowledge, it has yet to actually rain. I wish it would. As long as I'm not on my way to anywhere, including work, Mother Nature can do whatever she darn well pleases.

Watched The Rocketeer as I made salmon poached in home-made chicken stock with mushrooms and potatoes and steamed green beans for dinner. One of Disney's entries into the stylish superhero race of the late 80s-early 90s was too low-key then to make much of an impression...but it's laid-back, natural style looks much better now than their other big superhero movie of the time, Dick Tracy. A young test pilot and his mentor/sidekick/partner discover an experimental jet pack stolen from Howard Hughes himself. The pilot's delighted to be able to fly without a plane...but his delight turns to shock when it turns out the FBI, a group of gangsters, a mysterious swashbuckling Hollywood star, and the Nazis are all after the awesome powers of the rocket pack.

As much as I enjoy Dick Tracy, there's something to be said for a quieter approach. Sure, there's still a lot of things blowing up and going bang, but the dusty-dingy Art Deco look is light years away from the over-the-top trappings of other superhero films. This goes for the characters, too. Bill Campbell is fine as the title character; Alan Arkin is a lot of fun as his inventor buddy. Timothy Dalton is a suitably charming villain, and Jennifer Connolly has more spirit than the usual damsel in distress.
Finally Posted Spring Bowery Boys Fanfics!

Thanks to a busy couple of months, I've been way behind on editing Lauren's and my Bowery Boys fanfics. And this is only the first batch! Look for more later this summer!

Bowery Boys Basement Clubhouse

Monday, July 18, 2011

Goin' Down

Boy, was it hot today. By the time I went to the laundromat at quarter after 11, it was already humid, hazy, and in the 90s. Thank goodness they just installed air conditioning at the laundromat. It wasn't too bad when I came in. It did get busy later, but by that time, my laundry was in the drier.

When I came home, I put my clothes away, had a Mushroom and Tomato Omelet and Roasted Red Potatoes with rosemary for lunch, and watched more Danger Mouse. I wanted to post the Bowery Boys fanfics I just finished editing, but the Internet was down for most of the afternoon. I ended up looking over stories instead until it was time to pack dinner and head out.

Good thing I got to work right on time. We were incredibly busy all week. People were either coming from vacation or heading out to it. A lot of employees are on vacation, too. It didn't slow down until almost 9. I did get to putting some candy out. I'll be working on that throughout the week. We just got a truckload of new candy that needs to be shelved.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Hot Day's Night

Slept in this morning, then made some very tasty blueberry pancakes for breakfast. The blueberries - and the berries in general - have been incredibly sweet and tasty this year. I'm thinking about making a blueberry mousse pie later in the week.

Ran Brunch With the Beatles as I enjoyed my pancakes. "Number One Hits, 1964-1974" was the theme today. Among the Beatles group songs to make it to number one were "A Hard Day's Night," "Penny Lane," "Yesterday," "Paperback Writer," "Come Together," "Hello Goodbye," "The Long and Winding Road," and "Let It Be." Solo Beatles efforts that hit the top of the charts included Ringo's "You're Sixteen" and "Photograph" and George's "My Sweet Lord."

Called Mom during the second half of the show. Mom sounded a bit better than she did last week. She says she now has a routine down with my nephews when she watches Skylar, so she can keep an eye on him and do the things she needs to do. She's also worried about my stepfather, who, despite claiming he still doesn't feel well, insisted on going for a motorcycle ride this morning. He also bought a huge teak patio set that she doesn't think is right for their small back porch. My stepfather is a very good man, but he's firmly convinced that bigger is always better. Mom can be a bit fussy about many things, which doesn't help.

Spent the next couple of hours editing the Bowery Boys stories Lauren and I worked on during February, March, and early April. Look for them at the Riverside Rest site by the end of the week!

I had leftover chicken and ratatouille for lunch while watching more Danger Mouse. I left for work soon after. Work was busy all evening, not uncommon on a still-fairly nice Sunday. It was only just slowing down when I left at 9.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Breeze

What a gorgeous, glorious summer's morning! Fresh breezes, blue skies without a hint of haze, mid-80s temperatures, sunshine. What more could a woman ask for on a day in mid-July in Southern New Jersey?

I listened to the American Top 40 as I had Carrot and Zucchini Cake for breakfast. Mid-July 1979 was in the spotlight. Disco reigned supreme, with a little bit of soul and country for good measure - David Naughton's "Makin' It," Sister Sledge's "We are Family," and a two-fer from one of my favorite Donna Summer albums (and the number one album from that week), "Hot Stuff" at number, and the title song of that hit album at Number One, "Bad Girls."

It was a wonderful day for a farm market-yard sale run. The nice day must have encouraged Oaklyn's entrepreneurial streak. There were four yard sales within walking distance of my apartment, and another two in Collingswood near the condo towers. Only one had anything of interest. I found the CD for the original 1977 cast of Annie at a sale on East Ormond.

Next stop after an in-out trip to the bank was the farm market. It's the height of the summer harvest season, and there's plenty out now. I saw the first apples and melons of the season, and blueberries were so plentiful, they cost me a mere $4.00 for two pints. I also picked up peaches, an ear of corn, Boston lettuce, Cuban peppers, mushrooms, a cucumber from the organic booth, two tomatoes, honey peach butter, and the aforementioned apples.

When I got home, I put everything away and went online. I spent the next hour buying myself a TV set. The TV I currently have really belongs to my biological father Bruce...but it's almost exactly like the one I had before that, which started dying somewhere around 2007. Both TVs are big, round sets with huge, heavy, rounded backs that have to be attached to VCRs or cable by thick wires you screw in. They're also about 22 inches, which is really larger than I need...and both are totally outdated analog models.

I should have bought a TV when the first one started to die, but TVs aren't cheap. I never had the money before. Following a suggestion of Lauren's, I bought a nice, simple 15-inch Sylvania set from Ok, so it's not new-new, but it's newer than my old TVs, and a lot easier to lug around. At $100, it's also a lot cheaper than most TV sets. I don't need anything fancy. I'm not looking for the greatest picture in the world, or the loudest sound. I just want to be able to see my movies and use my VCR and my DVD recorder.

I ran the last of the third season of Danger Mouse while having a Peanut Butter and Blueberry Butter sandwich, a peach, and ratatouille for lunch. The show remains hilarious, if not quite as weird as the first season. Also, the episodes of season 3 and 4 are all done serial-style, with 2 to 5 episodes a serial. Some of the jokes can be very repetitive when watched in succession (including budget-stretching and obvious re-use of animation), and is it really necessary to have the theme song played after every five-minute episode?

Work was, appropriately for one of the nicest Saturdays I've ever seen in July, busy but not overwhelming. Everyone was in a very good mood. It was worse earlier on, but it had calmed down enough by 7 for me to leave with my relief being put elsewhere.

I decided I wasn't really up for much more than either Sonic or Arby's for dinner after work. It was too gosh darn nice to be sitting inside and eating, so I opted for Sonic. I'm not the only one who thought so. For the first time I've seen, the patio was busier than the parking spaces. I had an ok grilled chicken sandwich, a tasty cherry limeade, and those wonderfully crunchy and thick onion rings again.

Went back to the Acme after dinner for this week's grocery shopping. It was mostly restocking after baking and last week's meals - ground chicken, canola oil, mousse mixes, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, peanut butter, chocolate chips, muffin cups, yogurt. I needed some pharmacy items as well, mainly bar and pump soap and toothpaste.

Friday, July 15, 2011

There's Nothing In the World Like Mint and Chocolate

I awoke to another lovely, albeit slightly hotter and more humid, day. Once again, it wasn't so hot that I couldn't indulge in some rare summer baking. I wanted to get rid of the mint leaves leftover from last week's farm market, so I decided to try something different. I chopped them finely and added them, the last of the "Topper" mini chocolate chips, and mint extract to the low-fat Fudgy Brownie recipe from one of my cookbooks. Yum. Minty without killing your sinuses and very chocolatey.

(I don't normally bake in the summer because I don't like pushing the air conditioner like that. Why make it hotter when it's 90 degrees? That makes no sense. You bake when it's cool enough. I don't really like air conditioning that much, anyway. My family didn't have an air conditioner until I believe the late 80s-early 90s. We couldn't afford it.)

I went for a walk to WaWa after the brownies came out of the oven. I needed milk, and I ended up getting a bottle of water, too. It was surprisingly busy around the neighborhood. Lots of people were working in their gardens, and I saw kids riding in groups or strolling together. (One trio of pre-teen boys nearly knocked me over as I went past them on Manor - they weren't watching where they were going.)

Had leftovers for lunch and watched Danger Mouse until it was time to go to work. This being a Friday, work was on-and-off busy for most of the night. There's plenty to do there. The head manager wants us to clean the front end, and there's at least ten containers of new candy that need to be shelved. There were no really major problems, and I was in and out.

And I have mixed feelings on next week's schedule. In good news - plenty of hours, far more than usual for this time of year, and Tuesday and a rare Saturday off. In bad news - they're all really late hours, including 3-10 on Friday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summertime Balance

I knew it was going to be a gorgeous day when I peered out my bedroom window this morning and saw no haze, only bright blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Indeed, the heat and humidity of the past few days were gone, replaced by fresh breezes and temperatures barely in the lower 80s.

Yoga class celebrated summer freedom by working on opening the thighs, buttocks, and lower back. I had to be a little careful on my knees today. My left knee is still sore from my close encounter with the Oaklyn Library's metal shelves yesterday.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library after class. There was a nice, full Storybook Hour and plenty of things to return and organize. Lots of kids asking for DVDs, too. I went upstairs for a little while, then came back down to shelve more.

I headed home around 12:30. It was so nice, after lunch, I made a Carrot-Zucchini Cake. It came out moist and flavorful and a literal slice of heaven. I also made chicken stock with the leftover chicken leg bones.

I went to work soon after the cake came out of the oven. I was on time, but I needn't rushed. It's the middle of the week and the middle of the month, and a lovely day, to boot. We were dead all night. I spent the last hour doing candy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Into the Pool

Spent most of the morning trying to hook up the DVD recorder again. I came to the conclusion that I either need a new modulator...or a new TV set. My TV is a very old 22-model. It has a huge, wide back and uses big, thick wires to screw into a VCR or cable outlet. I'm guessing it's mid-late 90s vintage. It's also Dad's. I borrowed it when my equally heavy TV of similar vintage was dying in 2007. It wasn't made to hook into DVD recorders. I did buy a modulator in 2004 so I could hook up the VCR and the DVD player, but there just isn't enough hooks for everything I have now. I'm going to look for a decently priced 15 or 19-inch TV online.

After all that struggle, I needed to get out. It was cloudy and still humid, but remained windy and was much cooler than yesterday. I strolled over to the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there.

They came up with a very smart idea. All children's and teens' DVDs now have a clear orange sticker over the label to keep them from ending up in the adults' section. (Adult DVDs retain their plain white labels.) I organized everything, removed some books-on-CD that somehow wound up with the DVDs, and added more orange stickers to kids' DVDs that just came in.

I had more trouble in the kids' book area. For one thing, it was a mess. There were books piled on the shelves, and many items clear on the other side from where they should have been. As I leaned over to try to reorganize a shelf, I slammed my knee into the old metal unit! Nothing fell off, but I did get a rather nice bruise. Later, I did knock some books off the wooden non-fiction shelves while putting books away there.

I went to Capitol Pizza for lunch after leaving the Library. I had a slice of cheese pizza, a slice of broccoli and mushroom pizza, and water. When I finished my lunch, I strolled down the White Horse Pike, around to Newton, and over to Hillcrest for another swimming session at Dad and Uncle Ken's.

It started showering a little bit shortly after I arrived. It was still raining when I stepped into the pool with Blake and his grandfather. The rain ended as quickly as it arrived, leaving the two of us to enjoy our swim. The water wasn't quite as warm today, but it was plenty warm enough, probably in the lower 80s. It was a nice, relaxing swim. Jodie and Dad arrived home later from running errands - I eventually chatted with both.

Spent the rest of a pleasant, quiet evening at home. I worked on editing Bowery Boys stories, watched The Green Hornet, and made a tasty summer dinner of chicken in mushroom and onion sauce, corn on the cob, tomatoes with red wine vinaigrette dressing, blackberry muffins, and green beans.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Amusements

I set up the DVD recorder first thing in the morning. Or I tried to. My VCR and TV are older versions that use thick cables that screw in instead of RCA video cables. I couldn't figure out how to get it all hooked up to my modulator. I did get the DVD recorder to play the Green Hornet DVDs later, so at least that works. I didn't remember until much, much later that my old Nintendo uses an adapter from a late 80s-early 90s Sega Game System Grandma Ann gave us around 2001. I was using it for the Nintendo, but I unhooked the Nintendo and its accessories this morning. Good thing I forgot to untangle the adapter! I pushed the plug in the DVD recorder, and it fits. We'll see if I can actually get the whole thing to work tomorrow.

When I got frustrated with the set-up, I had muffins and yogurt with honey and blueberries for lunch, then went online. As I looked for ways to hook up the recorder, I called Rose to say "hi." I hadn't seen her since Lauren was here. Turns out there was a reason - she was trying to take care of an energetic one-year-old, take her cat Bob to the vet, work at a local restaurant, and study for the Bar. I caught her at a good time, though. The baby was napping, she was off of work and done with studying, and her boyfriend Craig took the cat to get his check-up. She mentioned they'd all be at Dad and Uncle Ken's later to use the pool. I told her I'd swing by, since I didn't have any plans for today and have been meaning to get to the pool. (With the path between Hillcrest and Manor fenced off, I no longer have a quick way of getting to Dad's...and I've just been plain busy lately.)

I called Jodie and Dad to confirm my visit. I then spent a little while editing Bowery Boys stories Lauren and I have written this spring, then watching more Green Hornet. I headed out around 4:30...and headed right back in. My order had arrived...and quickly, too! I made it the day before yesterday! I loved the two songs from the Unsung Irving Berlin CD set I heard on The Dress Circle so much, I decided I wanted the whole set. It's long out-of-print, but I found it used for a good price on Amazon.

When I finally headed out, I made a side trip to Leo's Yum-Yums for a small cup of vanilla frozen yogurt and chocolate sprinkles. I needed it. It was hot, hazy, and humid. Though it remained breezy and it wasn't as stifling as I thought it would be, it wasn't exactly comfortable, either.

Rose and Craig were already at the pool when I got in. They were just about to change Khai into his bathing suit. I did the same, then hopped in as Rose, Jodie, and Khai did. (Craig said he wasn't feeling well.) Dad was there, as were several friends of Uncle Ken's and Dolores' grandson Blake. Blake was adorable with Khai. He tossed him an orange ball and a blue ball and made little splashes at him. I think Khai, an only child, sorta looks up to him, as much as a one-year-old can.

I'm glad I went over there. The pool was bathwater-warm, at least in the mid-80s. There was none of the usual shock going in. I swam with Blake, Khai, Rose, and Dad until about 6:30. Blake's parents called him in for dinner, and Rose and I decided we'd had enough of wrinkly fingers and Khai was getting tired.

Besides, Jodie was just about ready with our dinner. She made barbecue ribs so succulent, they fell right off the bone. There was fresh cucumber salad, corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes with rosemary right off Uncle Ken's rosemary bush next to the back steps. After dinner, Khai briefly went back in the pool with his cousin Ella. I'd changed back into dry clothes by that point and just watched the two and Jodie, who held Khai as Ella showed off her cannonball skills.

We took Khai inside just in time for the second half of Jeopardy!. I watched Wheel of Fortune as everyone chatted with Uncle Ken and Dolores in the den. Headed home after the shows ended; Rose and Khai were going to leave shortly after.

I enjoyed it so much, I think I'll do it again after Oaklyn Library volunteering and getting the DVD recorder going tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hot Nights and Good Friends

Started the week with laundry. The laundromat wasn't too bad when I got in around 11:30. President Obama was making a big speech on NBC; I loaded things in the washer as he droned on. Actually, I owe him one. His speech postponed Channel 10's morning talk show for so long, they still hadn't aired that awful housewives reality show thing that usually runs during the noon hour. The laundromat wasn't busy, and I was in and out.

When I got home, I folded laundry, ate lunch, watched more of The Green Hornet, and went right back out to work. The nice weather ended today. It was hotter and more humid, in the lower 90s despite a nice breeze.

The weather didn't keep our customers away. We were very busy all evening. It was only just slowing down when I finished. In fact, it was slow enough for me to shut down with no relief.

I was surprised to find a large package on the porch when I got in. Lauren said she was sending me a "little something" for a very early Christmas present. That "little" something was a long, wide rectangle. When I got in, I opened it up...and discovered a DVD recorder in a beautiful dark-blue corduroy bag. I've wanted a DVD recorder for a while as a cheaper way of replacing the pile of videos I made off of TCM when I was in college. Some of those movies aren't on DVD at all; others are only available on the Warner Archives. I figured I'd cut out the middleman and become my own Redmer Archives. Thank you Lauren, the best best friend anyone ever had!

(And thank you Amazon for not using plastic to ship items anymore. That bag will be just as useful as the DVD recorder.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I slept in this morning. When I got up, it was still sunny and breezy. It was hotter than yesterday, but it also remained dry, so I kept the air conditioner off. I made Blueberry Pancakes for breakfast and watched The Green Hornet.

The Green Hornet was originally a 40s radio show about a Britt Reid, crusading newspaper owner, and his karate-chopping Oriental sidekick Kato, who donned green and black masks and clothes to fight crime. They drove the "rolling arsenal" Black Beauty and had their own ultra-plush hide-out in an otherwise normal part of town. The only people in on Reid's secret are his secretary Lenora Case and the district attorney.

The character was revived in the superhero-crazy mid-60s, but the show only lasted a season. Perhaps, despite the set-up, it just wasn't campy enough for the time period. Unlike Batman, Reid and Kato fought fairly normal goons and gangsters, not costumed supervillains. Their get-ups were plain black suits and green and black masks, not tights. They did use some nifty gadgets, like the gas-shooting gun, but nothing too bizarre.

I headed to work around quarter of 2. It was very busy there all day. Sundays are always busy at any time of year. Plus, there's lots of barbecues, family get-togethers, and large graduation parties going on, too, not to mention the last of the beginning-of-the-month people. This meant it also went fast. There were no problems, and I was in and out.

I picked up hand soap for the kitchen really quick, then came home. I had fried egg whites, toast with farm market honey, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some of that cole slaw I picked up on Friday for dinner. Ran the classic George Benson jazz album Breezin' while I ate. The title track and "This Masquerade" have long been favorites of mine.

Put on The Dress Circle after dinner. "Judy Garland at MGM" was tonight's theme. This meant lots of classic material to choose from - "The Boy Next Door" and "Under the Bamboo Tree" from Meet Me In St. Louis, "It's a Great Day for the Irish" from Little Nellie Kelly, "Minnie from Trinidad," from Ziegfield Girl, Judy's famous version of "You Made Me Love You" known as "Dear Mr. Gable," "I'm Nobody's Baby" from the Andy Hardy series, "Get Happy" from Summer Stock, "Be a Clown," from The Pirate, "I Love a Piano" and "A Couple of Swells" from Easter Parade, and her 1936 recording of "Stompin' at the Savoy."

Actually, my favorite song tonight never made it to the movie it was recorded for. Judy's myriad personal problems lead her to drop the role of Annie Oakley in the movie version of Annie Get Your Gun. She did film two numbers and apparently recorded more...including a very funny version of "Anything You Can Do" with Howard Keel.

I called Mom while The Dress Circle was on. She was just plain tired out. She spent the week babysitting my nephew Skylar while his mother works at Big Lots in North Cape May. Generally, he's a good kid...but for some reason, he has homework this summer. Not surprisingly, he doesn't want to do it, and Mom has to fight to get him to. I did relay my plans on visiting Erma in early September, the week after Labor Day. Mom suggested I call Rose sometime this week, too. She hasn't heard from her in a while, and I haven't heard from her since Lauren was here.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Barbecue Bliss

The storms took a breather today. I awoke to sunshine, pale blue skies, beautiful breezes, and temperatures as perfect as they're going to get in early July in southern New Jersey. It was so nice, I turned the air conditioner and fans off for the first time in days.

Switched on this week's American Top 40 re-run during breakfast and as I wrote in my journal. The charts during July of 1985 were almost as hot as this week's weather. Among the hits from this era were Bryan Adams' "Heaven," Journey's "The Search Is Over," Cyndi Lauper's "Good Enough" (from a favorite childhood movie of mine, The Goonies), Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days," and Prince and the Revolution's "Raspberry Beret."

For once, the number one hit of the week was just as good - the title song of the very weird James Bond film that came out that year, Roger Moore's last, "A View to a Kill" by Duran Duran.

Since I didn't need to go to the bank today, I got a slightly later start than usual. I did a lot of riding around. July and August are slow months for yard sales. I hit one on West Holly in Oaklyn and one in Collingswood. I found a cute Roo-and-Kanga stuffed pair who would go nicely with my Poohs and Eeyore on the children's shelf after a washing machine bath in Oaklyn; nothing of interest in Collingswood.

Had a bit more luck at the Farm Market. Not surprisingly, on a gorgeous weekend when many people have barbecues and graduation parties planned, it was packed there. I saw the first nectarines and Italian peppers of the year; a woman told another customer that watermelon will be out next week. For my own part, I picked up honey, a small white eggplant, tiny plums, peaches, a red onion, blackberries, blueberries, fresh organic mint (complete with long, pretty lavender flowers), two yellow squashes, and a tomato.

When I got home, I put everything away and checked on the computer. Thankfully, shutting it down and restarting it seems to have cleared whatever happened last night. It's given me no more trouble.

It was so nice this morning, I baked blackberry muffins when I got off the computer. I got the recipe from that muffin and biscuit cookbook Jen Payne gave me for Christmas a few years ago. Yum! It came out very well, moist and tart and just sweet enough.

Headed to work a little early today, partially to avoid yesterday's tardiness problems. Mostly, I just wanted to deposit my change in the Coinstar counter machine. My change was almost to the top of the little container I keep it in. I got almost twenty dollars out of that little container, thanks to all the leftover quarters from the laundromat.

Work was pretty decent. There were some mildly annoying customers with bagging issues; otherwise, it was steady but not too busy, and I was in and out quickly.

Went out to dinner after leaving the Acme. A new barbecue restaurant, Basset's, replaced Fat Jack's in the mall behind work. They were in the same place and even used most of the same furniture and equipment, but the menu on the wall was more fast-food-like, the prices were lower, and there were cowboy hats, acoustic guitars, and vintage rock, country, and soul records tacked on the walls. (You could see the push-pins they used on the records quite easily.)

I ordered a Grilled Chicken Sandwich with a small side of slaw and a bottle of water. I'm glad I nixed the fries that originally came with the "meal" order. The sandwich was huge, and the plastic container the slaw was in wasn't all that small, either.

They were also awesome. The grilled chicken tasted fresh off of someone's grill. The slaw had real celery seeds and just a hint of salad dressing sweetness. I made quick work of the sandwich (despite half of it ending up in my basket), but it really filled me up, and I eventually took most of the slaw home (along with the water).

Stopped at the Acme on my way back to do this week's grocery shopping. (I worked too late to do it last night.) I needed to restock Oatmeal Squares, oatmeal, eggs, graham crackers (one of my go-to cookies when it's too hot to bake), and chicken. Stew meat was finally on a decent sale, and I used a coupon to get two Pam cooking sprays.

Friday, July 08, 2011

On the Banks of the Black Horse Pike

It was already cloudy and dreary when I got up this morning. I wasn't even going to attempt any running around. I slept in, watched more Danger Mouse, and went on the computer to do some writing work and editing.

The computer is giving me trouble. For some reason, AVG won't run at all, and it keeps giving me a lot of weird boxes. It won't let Start run, either. I push it, and it won't come up. I think it's something to do with bugs in the recent updates for AVG and Windows XP. I just updated both not long ago. I'll see if uninstalling AVG later tonight helps.

When I looked out my window around 1:30, I got a distinct feeling of deja-vu. It was thundering and storming and pouring something awful. Last year, I tried to call Dad for a ride to work during a similar storm, only to discover he couldn't get through flood water on West Clinton Avenue. I walked and was a half-hour late.

I wasn't going to do that again. This time, I just had a quick lunch, put the bag with my dinner in plastic, threw on my blue rain coat, and headed out on my bike. I did the right thing. Flood waters were so high at quarter after 2, the Black Horse Pike at the entrance to Audubon Park was one massive puddle. Traffic was backed up for miles. Since the rain had stopped by then, I just took off my shoes and socks, dumped them in the bike basket, and walked over the hills and around the water. The rain was just starting up again as I arrived at work.

It rained on and off for the rest of the night. The traffic stayed bad, too, if the complaining my customers did all evening was any indication. I was more worried about how a lot of my co-workers would get out of the parking lot in that mess than how I'd get home.

The Acme wasn't in great shape when I arrived, either. From what I've gathered, the store was built on swampland, and water seeps through Aisle 1 whenever there's an especially bad this afternoon. Thank goodness, the rain we had the rest of the day was more like a normal summer shower, which caused no further problems. It was mildly steady when I finally came in (ten minutes late, but that's better than thirty). When I headed home at 8:30, it was so dead, I spent most of the last hour doing returns.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Balance In Monsoon Season

The morning didn't begin pleasantly for the second week in a row. I felt a funny tickle on my right side...and awoke to find myself staring at a gigantic, mutant-sized brown beetle! Ugh! I shook him off, then got him outside as quickly as possible.

Yoga was much better. We worked on freeing up joints and hips and opening the back of the legs. The bending and twisting poses didn't always feel the best on my knees, but I am getting better at them.

Headed for the Collingswood Library next. My volunteer session there was short this week. There was only one DVD to shelve and nothing upstairs. I organized the DVD shelves for a while, then headed straight home. It was too hot and humid to linger for very long!

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on editing Bowery Boys stories, going over some stories I hope to work on this summer, and watching Danger Mouse. If you grew up in the 80s and had Nickelodeon, you probably have very fond memories of Danger Mouse and his fellow British animated expatriates Count Duckula and Bananaman. This many have been my first exposure to dry, Monty Python-esque British humor.

If you're a fan of the Patrick McGoohan BBC series Danger Man/Secret Agent Man or Mission: Impossible, you know the drill. In each 10-15 minute episode, Danger Mouse and his sidekick Ernest Penfold (a hamster) are called on by Colonel K to save the world from the nefarious Baron Greenback (a frog) and his French crow lackeys. The plots may be some of the most bizarre ever found in animation, much less spy stories - pyramids suddenly appearing in the middle of London, a world inhabited by antique machines with lives of their own, Greenback flooding the Earth with custard, a pastel cloud that makes nightmares appear.

As you may have guessed, this is one strange show. I don't remember it being this surreal as a kid. The budget for Danger Mouse was apparently very limited, even by BBC standards. Thus, the animation consists of Monty Python-style cut-outs with lots of blank or pale-colored backgrounds. The makers had a lot of fun with this. Anything goes on this show, from Danger Mouse driving off the edge of the universe to him and Penfield being attacked by spaceships that look suspiciously like cut-outs of antiques.

Folks who like their humor more linear and less weird or prefer newer, less limited styles of animation will probably be baffled. For those of us who enjoyed the show in our youth or are fans of British comedy, this is highly recommended.

I could see clouds gathering on the horizon as I rode along to work. They were still pretty far away at that point. They waited until about 5:30-6PM to burst. And when they burst...they went CRAZY. I looked over my shoulder at one point and could see nothing but rain. One of the cashiers said it looked more like a blizzard! There was heavy thunder and lightening. Water bubbled up and flooded Aisle 1 and the hallway leading to the back lounge area. The lights in the Acme flickered on and off for almost an hour and actually went out twice. (We never lost the computers, thank goodness - they must be on a separate battery.)

Surprisingly, the storm only somewhat cleared out the store. Even after the monsoon started, it was fairly steady. I needed someone to come in for me when I finally left. By that point, the rain had ended, and the sun emerged...but I could see clouds building up again. I went straight home and in the shower. To my knowledge, it hasn't rained since then, but it's still cloudy.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Staying Out of the Heat

I awoke to the phone ringing. Yes, it was the Acme. Could I come in early? I eventually told them 2:30. That would add a few more hours to the week. I won't be getting much of a paycheck on Friday, so the money will come in handy.

Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon puttering around. I did things online. I got my rent together. I tried to load some CDs into boxes, but they didn't fit. I ran one of the remaining Danny Kaye movies Lauren brought me when she visited, The Kid From Brooklyn.

In this cross between the Bowery Boys boxing-based films and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Kaye is a mild-mannered milkman who accidentally knocks out a boxer who was picking on his younger sister (Vera-Ellen). The fighter's manager wants to make him a star, but his girlfriend (Eve Arden) is skeptical...and so's the milkman's singer girlfriend (Virginia Mayo). He thinks he's really doing the knock-outs, but his manager has other plans...

Not bad Kaye Goldwyn vehicle, one of the better ones, in fact. If you liked Secret Life of Walter Mitty or Wonder Man, this one's just as fun (though harder to find - to my knowledge, it's not currently on DVD).

I did go to work at 2:30. I'm glad I opted to spend the day inside. Though not quite as hot as the weather claimed (it was probably in the upper 80s-low 90s), it was also very humid. A nice breeze helped. For all the fussing this morning, work was steady when I came in, dead when I left, and never more than mildly busy. I didn't expect much else the week after a major holiday.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

"Another Fine Mess You've Gotten Me Into!"

After the excitement yesterday, I wanted to keep my only day off this week more laid-back. I started the morning with taking down the Fourth of July decorations. I figured I might as well. I'm working the rest of the week after today. Besides, I don't like leaving most holiday decorations up after the fact. (Except for Christmas. I like having them up, and they take forever to put up and take down anyway.) My very few general summer decorations will stay up until early-mid September.

I took a leisurely stroll to the Oaklyn Library a bit later in the morning. It was very hot today, but surprisingly not humid. The sky was a pale blue, with a few fleecy clouds. Actually, I wish we would get some rain. The grass is looking so brown and dry!

The Oaklyn Library needed the organizing. I finally decided to take out the DVDs that were listed wrong and get the librarians to fix them. Someone listed at least ten or fifteen titles under the words "The," "A," and "An," which as any good librarian could tell you, aren't counted as words. I'm tired of putting them in the right places, under their actual title, and then having someone try to put them under the letter listed. (And The Mark of Zorro goes under "Mark," not "Zorro." Conversely, the Angelina Ballerina and Backyardigans discs should be listed as those series, not the episode names.)

The kids' section was worse. There were young adult titles mixed in with the picture books, non-fiction in with fiction, and very large gaps where older material had been hastily removed. I put the out-of-order books where they belonged and fixed the young adult series section, which had gotten completely disorganized after its move from the metal shelves to the wooden ones.

Hiked over to WaWa after leaving the library for lunch and milk. It was even hotter by the time I headed out. The sun beat down relentlessly, despite a not-bad breeze. I grabbed a half-gallon of skim milk, a turkey and Swiss Junior hoagie, and a pretzel, and quickly made my way home.

I spent the next few hours inside, watching The Devil's Brother and doing things online. The Devil's Brother is one of the few musicals Laurel and Hardy appeared in (usually as comic relief). Dennis King is the title character, a Robin Hood-like figure who robs from the rich to give to the poor. The "rich" in question is a lovely noblewoman (Thelma Todd) with an older and very rich husband. Stan and Ollie try to rob King after they lose their money to bandits, but King ends up taking them on as aids to help him pull the wool over not only Todd's eyes, but her husband's and a young soldier after King.

Finally headed to the laundromat around quarter of 6. It had cooled off considerably, enough that it actually felt quite nice outside. Some clouds had begun to build up in the afternoon, but they'd completely vanished by 6. The laundromat was quiet, too. There were only a few people and the local Channel 6 and Channel 10 newscasts. This was a good thing. I had a lot of laundry to do, thanks to Lauren's visit and the sheet I used yesterday at the fireworks.

When I got in, I ran Bonnie Scotland and made Flounder in Teriyaki Sauce with mushrooms, steamed green beans, and cucumber and tomato salad. Bonnie Scotland is something like a more exotic Bowery Boys movie. In this case, when Stan and Ollie come to Scotland for Stan's inheritance, they find themselves stranded with no money, no pants for Ollie, and no way to get home. Joining the Scottish Army provides them with clothing and travel...but they quickly prove to be even worse soldiers than they were Scotsmen.

While I did like the swashbuckling Devil's Brother better than the bizarre Bonnie Scotland and neither are the pair's absolute best, they both have their moments. And the set comes with segments that Laurel and Hardy did for other MGM films (including Hollywood Revue and the otherwise lost operetta Rogue Song) and a documentary on the short subjects of the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Yankee Doodle Woman

I ran a couple of summer and/or Fourth of July-themed cartoons this morning while having blueberries and Shredded Wheat for breakfast. In addition to the three Looney Tunes, Disney, and Pink Panther shorts I did last year, I added a trio from Walter Lantz. Woody Woodpecker plays boardwalk fortune teller and drives Wally Walrus up the pilings in The Beach Nut. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit finds Confidence from FDR when his farm is hit by the Great Depression. And we get a musical Hysterical Lesson In American History with a spoof of everything from Christopher Columbus' voyage to Depression breadlines.

The Oaklyn Town Parade was supposed to start at 10AM. Of course it didn't. It never starts on time. It finally showed up around quarter of 11. I showed up at 10 after 10 and easily found a spot on the curb. Good thing. When the parade did finally appear, the curb was packed with kids, parents, grandparents, and college students. The American Legion and VFW marched with flags. There were floats from the Boy Scouts, the Oaklyn Library, and several schools, small string bands, and local Little League teams. Everyone threw candy! Kids around me scrambled for Dubble Bubble gum pieces, Brach's Ice Mints and Butterscotch discs, Tootsie Rolls in flag-themed wrappers, taffy, Airheads, lollypops, lemon drops, Pixie Sticks, mint puffs, Starlights, and bags of Swedish Fish and sour gummy candies. Kids drove by in patriotically-decorated bikes. The fire trucks, with their noisy horn blasts, were the finale.

After the parade finished, I followed everyone to the end of Oaklyn School at the end of West Clinton Avenue for the annual Post-Parade Ceremony. One of the string bands played "America the Beautiful" as we all saluted the flag. The mayor made a speech and announced the winners of the float contest. (The Boy Scouts won first place. Oaklyn Library placed third.) St Mark's Church donated free hot dogs and fixings in the back of the school. I grabbed my free hot dog and headed back to my place.

I went to work about an hour later. The first half of work was even crazier than yesterday, with longer lines and fewer people to work them. Thankfully, by 4:30, most people had finally gone to their barbecues and parties. When I left at 6:30, the place was dead as a doornail.

Went straight home after work. I tossed chicken legs, onions, and barbecue sauce in the Crock Pot before I left. When I came back, my apartment smelled like molasses and chicken stock and spices. I made a cucumber and tomato salad, added one of the whole wheat rolls, and had a lovely Fourth of July dinner.

Ran Yankee Doodle Dandy during dinner. I remember watching this every 4th of July with my family when I was little. We loved it so much, Mom finally bought it on video a bit later. James Cagney won an Oscar portraying George M. Cohan, beloved early 20th Century performer, playwright, and author of such classic tunes as "Mary's a Grand Old Name," "Over There," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Give My Regards to Broadway," "Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway," and "Harrigan."

I headed out to the fireworks a little early. The fireworks are at the Collingswood High School's football field, but they're quite visible from Newton River Park. That's where I watched them, after a stop at CVS across the street for contact lens solution and floss.

It was really nice. I spread out an old sheet, took off my sandals, and poured myself onto the cool white and blue sheet. It felt so nice and soft against the dry, brittle grass. There was a delectable breeze coming off of Newton River. I listened to boys play soft ball in front of me and college students babble to my left and read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm until it got too dark to read.

Unlike the parade, the fireworks were on time. The were gorgeous, as always. The people around me oohed and ahhed over the glorious, noisy rockets exploding into glittering poofy golds, sparkling floaty purples, brilliant patriotic blues, majestic reds, glistening sunset pinks, and emerald greens that glowed with thousand-watt brightness. It was nice to be able to just lean back and watch all that beauty go off, in the best seat in the house, one with plenty of room to spread out and an incredible view.

(I didn't have the best view in the house. At least four or five planes passed by during the display. One went so close, I was sure it would get fried.)

With just me, the blanket, and my book and things from CVS to gather, I got home far quicker than many people who brought more, including other people. I followed the crowds past CVS and down West Lakeview, then went down Newton to West Clinton.

I was struck at how wonderfully quiet Manor Avenue was as I strolled home. There were only a few homes that had lights on. A couple more had their front lights on, or patriotic light displays. Most were probably on vacation at the Jersey Shore or Poconos, or visiting family, or caught in traffic coming back from the fireworks. The air had the earthy, fruity smell of blossoming lilies and dry grass and trees in full flower combined with the faint tinge of smoke from fireworks and barbecues. I remember a similar smell from the wooded area in Rio Grande around the old pond where Dad used to take my sisters and I swimming when we were younger. It brought up some wonderful memories.

I went online when I got home. I'm just finishing up the Ragtime original Broadway cast album, which I listen to every Fourth of July. I hope all of my American readers had an equally memorable Fourth!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

I'll See Them In September

Slept until quarter of 10 this morning. I had French Toast and sugar plums for breakfast while running Brunch With the Beatles. Ringo Star, whose birthday is Thursday, was in the spotlight. We heard "This Boy," "Act Naturally," "With a Little Help From My Friends," "Yellow Submarine," and "Octopus' Garden" from his Beatles days. Solo numbers included "Photograph," "Back Off Boogaloo," "You're Sixteen," and "Oh My My."

Had a very nice and long chat with Mom during the second half of the show. We both decided that it wouldn't be a good idea for me to come down there during August this time. Mom's babysitting Skylar and Collyn almost every day this summer, and she'll be teaching knitting at the Michael's in Rio Grande starting this week. Not to mention, traffic in Cape May County is perpetual pain the entire summer long. I'm going to take my second vacation week in early September instead, the week after Labor Day. I'll go down there and visit for a few days, then take a few days off on my own at my apartment, as I did last year.

My brother Keefe finally got his Navy enlistment assignment. I was very happy to hear that he won't be leaving until mid-January. That means he'll be here for his birthday in late November and the holidays. I was really hoping we'd get one last holiday season with him. I'm gonna miss that kid. I've always been close to him, and he's such a sweet guy.

I put together yogurt, a peach, and honey pretzel twists for lunch, then rode to work. Mom said it was raining in Cape May County and mentioned thunderstorms earlier. If we're gonna get them, they haven't made it yet. It was humid, windy, and cloudy this morning. The sun was coming out even as I rode to work.

Work was busy when I came in. Unlike yesterday, we had more than half the registers open and plenty of help. By the time I shut down with no relief, it had quieted down to nearly being dead. Other than a few mildly annoying beginning of the month people, there were no major problems.

Went straight home after work. I listened to my Take Me Along Broadway cast LP while having spinach salad, leftover burgers, and yellow squash with pasta and tomatoes for dinner.

I got online in time for The Dress Circle. The theme was the new cast albums released by British company Sepia. We heard selections from the London casts of The Music Man, The Most Happy Fella, and Once Upon a Mattress, and the original British shows Make Me an Offer and Follow That Girl.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Back to Work

Before I spent most of the day at work, I did make it to the farm market this morning. Needless to say, they were packed with people buying produce and dairy for their 4th of July parties, picnics, and barbecues. Cherries, spinach, and peas are gone...but just about everything else is out, including peppers, Jersey corn, green beans, eggplant, peaches, and sugar plums. I ended up with Colby cheese from the dairy booth, organic zucchini and cucumbers, one ear of corn, green beans, a green pepper, sugar plums, small peaches, an eggplant, carrots, blueberries, red potatoes, and two tomatoes.

Even with rushing to and from the farm market, I still just barely made it to work. When I arrived, I could understand why they wanted me to work 8 1/2 hours today. It was off-and-on busy at work all day long.

People are usually in good moods on holiday weekends, and today was no exception. Other than some mildly annoying customers, there were no major problems. I was in and out quickly - picked up the Oatmeal Squares I forgot yesterday and laundry detergent on my half-hour break.

When I got home, I had leftovers for dinner and ran the disc in Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 6 devoted to wartime shorts.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Wonder Women

Lauren headed home around 1:30 this afternoon. We spent most of the morning at my place, watching cartoons together. I'm so happy she visited. She's the best best friend anyone ever had. I had a great time, and she said she did, too.

Bruce and Jodie drove us to the Cherry Hill Train Platform. It was another gorgeous, sunny, warm day. Lauren had checked her iPhone to make sure there were no train delays. It would appear there wasn't, at least not in Cherry Hill. The train to the 30th Street Station was only a few minutes late, nothing to worry about.

After I bid Lauren adieu and Bruce and Jodie dropped me off at my place, I ran upstairs, grabbed my backpack and a tote bag, and went back out on my bike. I needed to do my usual Friday grocery shopping and run some errands I didn't get to with Lauren last week in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center.

I wish I hadn't needed my paycheck so badly. The line for the customer service desk ended up going past Register 1. In addition to the holiday weekend, it's also the beginning of the month. Many people want to cash government checks before the 4th of July kicks in. Not to mention, the store was so busy, the line only had one manager for at least 10 minutes.

I wasn't a happy camper when I finally rode over to Sonic for a late lunch. Happily, it came out much better than my last visit there a month and a half ago. I just bought a regular burger, onion rings, and a Diet Coke. The burger was ok, same as any other fast-food burger. The onion rings were the best darn fast-food onion rings I've ever tasted. Blew Burger King's tiny, stringy rings out of the onion field. These were piping hot, with just enough crunchy breading surrounding thick, juicy slices of onion. Delicious, and just the thing to cheer me up after the trouble at the Acme.

Took the bike into the mall next. The lining in the red change purse/card holder I've had for at least six or seven years finally frayed so badly, the change was falling out. I replaced it with a larger wallet from Fashion Bug, a pretty long floral holder with spots for money and cards and a little purse for change. Went across the parking lot to Staples to check out the CD wallets, but the prices weren't wonderful. I'll try online instead.

The Acme was much quieter when I finally arrived back to do this week's grocery shopping. I didn't need that much. Needed to restock fish, buttermilk, yogurt, tissues, and diced tomatoes after Lauren's visit. I noticed when I made macaroni for us the other night that the pasta canister was running low; time to refill it. I was out of brush picks, and I grabbed some on-sale rubber bands to replace the dollar store ones that had stretched too much. I treated myself to Bryers' second-best flavor, Butter Almond, on sale.

Rode the bike back to my place when I was done. I put everything away, then once again went right back out. I really needed to get to the bank before it closed for the holiday weekend. I just made it. Said "hi" to the tellers, explained my new tan, and told them Lauren and I both had a great time on our vacation.

I had no major plans for the rest of the evening. I work 8 1/2 hours tomorrow and need to make an early quick run to the Farm Market! I swept the porch, then did stuff on the computer for a few hours. I had a late dinner of salmon, green beans, fresh Jersey tomatoes, and whole-wheat rotini pasta while watching the animated Wonder Woman.

I'm not a comic book fan, so I don't know how much this goes by Wonder Woman's "cannon" origin. As in the pilot movie for the first season of the TV show, Wonder Woman leaves her home, an island that's home to an Amazonian all-woman race, to return pilot Steve Trevor to the US. Instead of dealing with Nazis, this updated version goes to Diana's Greek/Roman influences and brings in the God of War, Ares, who escapes the island and heads for the US in order to create chaos and bring more souls who will give him power.

While I thought it lacked humor and the feminist discussions were a bit awkward, by and large, this was an enjoyable outing. There was tons of action (including blood and two decapitations - this one works hard to earn its PG-13 rating), the animation was quite well-done, and the voice cast - including Keri Russell as Diana and Alfred Molina as Ares - was excellent.

Oh, and I heard from Lauren shortly before finally getting dinner going. At that point, she was about 45 minutes outside of Albany. The trains were all on time, and she apparently had no problems anywhere. I imagine she's either at home or on her way there with her folks by now.

And thank goodness my schedule for next week isn't nearly as bad as tomorrow's! Granted, I only have one day off (Tuesday), and I do work the 4th of July. However, I work in the afternoon on the 4th. That means that while I'll miss the barbecues, I should make both Oaklyn's Town Parade and the fireworks at Collingswood. None of my shifts the rest of the week are very long, which will leave me plenty of time to catch up on household chores, library volunteering, and yoga.