Monday, October 31, 2011

The Music of the Night

Happy Halloween, all! Actually, I had a very quiet Halloween, especially compared to the last few years. I worked late tonight, so I didn't get to help out with trick-or-treating. I did get the laundry done this morning. I was surprised at how busy it was! I figured everyone would be getting their kids ready for tonight or themselves ready for parties. Thankfully, I did get a washer and a dryer pretty fast. I had a very large load, including towels.

When I got home, I ran Halloween specials as I put the clothes away and had leftovers for lunch. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the most famous of the trio. Linus insists that the Great Pumpkin will arise out of a sincere pumpkin patch on Halloween night and give treats to good little girls and boys. Lucy and the other kids scoff, but Sally's willing to spend a night in the pumpkin patch with her Sweet Baboo. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown has his own problems with trick-or-treating, and Snoopy begins his eternal World War I battle with the Red Baron.

When most people think of Halloween specials, this is probably the one that comes to mind. Actually, there's an awful lot of filler (Snoopy's World War I sequences don't really have much to do with the rest of the story), and who on earth gives children rocks in their treat bag? On the other hand, some of the opening episodes, with Charlie Brown and Lucy and the football and the kids getting ready to go out, are more fun. And for once, Lucy gets zinged (by Patty, I believe).

The other two I ran are less well-known. Garfield's Halloween Adventure takes Garfield and Odie have a very spooky encounter with a group of ghostly pirates after their lost treasure. Halloween Is Grinch Night is less spooky and more just plain strange. When a sour sweet wind sends the Grinch on the prowl, young Whoville citizen Eukeriah takes it on himself to make sure the Grinch never gets to the town.

Switched to Arsenic and Old Lace while making bread pudding with the last of the whole wheat bread and getting ready for work. A 1944 adaptation of a hit stage play, this dark farce features Cary Grant as a drama critic who discovers that his two little old lady aunts have been poisoning old men with no family and burying them in the basement. As Mortimer tries to figure out how to deal with his two serial-murderer aunts, his ghoulish criminal brother and his plastic surgeon show up with skeletons of their own in the window seat.

This is a great Halloween comedy for those of you looking for something that's just scary enough. It's even set on Halloween.

With Halloween on a weekday for the first time in two years, work was much, much quieter than the last few Halloweens have been. It was steady during the rush hour when I came in, but it died as early as 5:30. By the time I left, there was practically no one left but one or two customers and the remaining employees.

I did see some nice costumes on the college students. One boy was a whoopie cushion. (Seriously.) Another was a hockey player. The girl working the customer service desk was a panda bear in a fuzzy costume. Another cashier was the blond girl in the blue sailor middy outfit from the movie Sucker Punch, complete with fake sword.

Some of the kids had cute outfits, too. I saw the sweetest little Belle, and a lovely pirate girl. An older boy wore Army fatigues. Another young lady was a very pink and silver Spider Woman. A college-age girl was Minnie Mouse.

I was Little Red Riding Hood this year. I wore the red cape I got from the Haddon Heights town-wide yard sale event a few weeks ago and the jean skirt and vintage apron from Frugli in Collingswood. I had my own white t-shirt on under the cape and carried an Easter basket trimmed with flowers and Gabe the WebKinz Gray Wolf. Tied a red ribbon in my hair and wore red socks. (Alas, there wasn't much I could about wearing sneakers. My good white shoes are not only inappropriate for the chilly weather, they're not the most comfortable things to stand in for six hours, especially given the way my heel's been feeling.)

I'm now running the original London cast CD for The Phantom of the Opera, as I have every Halloween night since I was in high school. Here's hoping your Halloween was truly spook-tacular!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Frosty Halloween Weather

Brrr! I awoke to a chilly but sunny morning before Halloween. It was probably in the upper 40s-lower 50s, well below the norm for this time of year. At the very least, the storm hadn't seemed to have caused any trouble here. What very little snow and sleet we had was gone, and other than a few branches and more leaves, there was no indication anywhere that we even had a nor'easter yesterday.

I skipped Brunch With the Beatles in favor of Halloween specials and horror comedies. (I don't do actual horror movies, or anything with heavy gore. I'm not a big fan of blood.) Ran the Winnie the Pooh special, Boo To You, Too! first, then the tape with the three New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episodes that goes under Frankenpooh.

Most of the stories in Frankenpooh involve Piglet and his imagination, which is a rather big one for such a small pig. "The Monster Frankenpooh", as you can guess, is a spoof of the famous horror film and book, with Piglet as a very unlikely mad scientist and Pooh as the title creature. "Things That Go Piglet In the Night" have the gang scaring each other when they venture into a dark night to investigate a strange sound (that turns out to be Eeyore and a spooked Piglet). "Pooh Moon" is more sci-fi than horror oriented. Pooh and Piglet wander around what they think is the moon after a close encounter with a mud puddle during a camping trip. The others think they're monsters.

Boo to You! reminds me of the Pooh Thanksgiving special and New Adventures Valentine's episode. All three involve a character wanting to cancel the holiday in question because someone raised a fuss or something isn't going right. In this case, the someone raising a fuss is Piglet. Pooh insists they not celebrate Halloween because it frightens their diminutive porcine pal too much. Piglet, however, ends up giving them all a good scare when he takes off and they go after him...and he realizes how brave he can be when he thinks his friends are in danger.

Called Mom during the tail-end of the Frankenpooh video. We talked for over an hour! It's hard for me to discuss a lot of my deeper problems, like my inability to move forward on finding a job. She suggested that I return to yoga, heel spur or no heel spur, and that I get cracking on posting advertisements for my new business and finding places to advertise at. She also suggested I talk to Jodie, Dad-Bruce's girlfriend, who is looking for a job herself, for advice on how to find a job. Whatever I've been doing for almost ten years hasn't found me a real job I can really enjoy. She also suggested looking for smaller college courses in something I could use for work, like doing medical filing. I may look into that.

Ran the original Ghostbusters while I ate a fast lunch and got ready for work. When three Columbia University professors of the paranormal are fired from their jobs, they strike out on their own as professional ghost-chasers. They get more than they bargained for when a lovely musician who lives in a spooky Central Park West apartment building requests their help in finding the evil deity who seems to live in her kitchen. Spooks suddenly start turning up all over the Big Apple, including one hungry little green ghost...

A classic comedy mixing elements of laughs and Dan Ackroyd's long-time interest in real-life paranormal activity, along with some of the most quotable lines of any 80s movie. My favorite was supposedly an ad-lib by Harold Ramis:

Peter Venkman (Bill Murray): Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole in your head.
Egon (Ramis): That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me.

Work was very busy all afternoon, the result of people avoiding the weather yesterday, this being the beginning of the month, and the Eagles playing the 8:20 game tonight against the Dallas Cowboys.)

(And at press time, the Eagles are smashing the Cowboys all over the place, 34-7. I knew they had it in them. ;) )

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Puttin' On the Snow

I awoke to the sound of rain pouring on the roof in torrents. Yes, we were getting the huge storm everyone was talking about, though at that point, it was just rain. I ran the American Top 40 while I hoped that the rain would slow down enough for me to go to at least the bank and the farm market. They were in late October 1986 today, a year that seemed to delight in ballads - we heard Don Johnson's "Heartbeat" (yes, the Miami Vice Don Johnson), Boston's "Amanda," Genesis' "Throwin' It All Away," and that week's number one song, the classic Cyndi Lauper ballad "True Colors." (Interestingly, Phil Collins would have an equally popular remake of that number more than a decade later.)

I ended up spending most of the day at home. The rain never slowed down. Sometime before noon, it changed to sleet. I could see it on the side of my porch with fewer trees. I never did get to the farm market or the bank, or anywhere else besides work.

Spent the morning cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen. I ran horror-themed Looney Tunes and Garfield and Friends shorts while I was in the kitchen, and then during lunch. After lunch, I put on Young Frankenstein and worked on crocheting.

Young Frankenstein is one of Mel Brooks' most unusual movies, even for him. For starters, it's one of the few movies he made that he doesn't appear in, even in a cameo. It also has far more atmosphere than most of his films, thanks to the use of the real sets from the original Universal Frankenstein. The script by him and star Gene Wilder is both a funny and oddly touching homage to the films and book. The "young Frankenstein" of the title is the Fredrick Frankenstein (pronounce it "Fraunk-ensteen, please)(Wilder), grandson of the famous mad scientist, who wishes to distance himself from his infamous grandparent. He travels to Transylvania to claim an inheritance. The inheritance turns out to be a spooky castle, an assistant named Igor with a humpback that keeps moving (Marty Feldman), a far more attractive female assistant (Terri Garr), and his grandfather's library of ideas to reanimate dead humans. Believing that his grandfather's theories may work, the trio unearth a dead man and bring him to life...but Igor's mistake with brains may wind up doing a lot more damage than even Fredrick could have predicted.

I've always liked this one. It's perfect for a spooky, rainy afternoon like this one, a great movie to watch while sipping hot chocolate in a cozy room. It's not as goofy as some of Brooks' other movies, with an odd elegance all it's own.

Switched to The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters after Young Frankenstein ended. This one goes further into goofy territory. For once, both Slip and Sach are equally in trouble when they try to buy a lot off a spooky family of mad scientists who want to get their hands on both their brains. Not my favorite Bowery Boys horror comedy, but it is one of the most popular they did. There are some clever touches, notably the man-eating tree.

Obviously, even I wasn't going to attempt to ride to work in sleet. Dad and Jodie drove me to work. Dad drove me home. Work was busy with beginning-of-the-month shoppers when I came in, dead when I left. Someone told me it snowed for a little while. If it did, I didn't see it. When I came out after buying produce to replace what I wasn't able to get at the farm market, it was back to raining and sleeting. It's continued to rain and sleet for the rest of the night.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Let It Halloween?

First thing on the agenda this morning was volunteering at the Oaklyn Library. It was dead quiet there. They had a table set up with Halloween-themed party items and a tablecloth, probably for a party sometime this weekend. I just organized the DVDs and the children's books and headed out.

Strolled to Dad and Uncle Ken's after leaving the Library. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was out, the sky was a fresh, bright blue, and there was a snappy breeze in the air. Dad was removing his exotic plants from the side of the front porch. Jodie was there, too, taking a smoking break outside. I told them both about seeing the doctor and getting the x-ray done earlier in the week, and asked for recommendations of good local general physicians.

When I went home, I had leftovers for lunch again and ran Perfect Strangers. Their one actual Halloween-themed episode was the fourth season's "Aliens." Larry talks Balki, Mary Anne, and Jennifer into watching a night-long marathon of horror movies with him on Halloween night. The other three leave early, but Larry insists on watching the whole marathon...which leads him to having a nightmare (his second of three throughout the series) where he thinks Balki is an alien from the planet Mypos who is taking over the Earth!

The other two episodes weren't about Halloween per se, but they both dealt with supernatural elements. "Fright Night" from the seventh season involves the boys trying to get rid of a ghost who lives in Balki's room in the new house. And in the third season's "The Horn Blows at Midnight," when a psychic predicts Larry will die at midnight, Balki and the girls do their best to keep "Mr. Death" at bay!

The Acme called during "Fright Night." Could I come in as soon as possible? They had a call-out, and it was busy. I was in the middle of lunch! I finally said I'd come in a half-hour early at 4. I had to get my paycheck anyway.

It was cloudy, damp, and a little windy when I headed out to work around 3:30, but nothing out of the ordinary for late October in New Jersey other than how cold it was. I wore my heavy black coat for the first time since last spring! I don't think it was even in the 50s.

As it turned out, the worst of the crowds must have been earlier in the afternoon. It was busy, but no more or less than a normal Friday rush hour at the end of the month. I'm not surprised. For all the fuss about snow, we're not supposed to get more than a few inches at the most, and it's more than likely that it'll stick to the grass and not much else...if that.

I decided to avoid the panic and get my own shopping done. I needed to restock pumpkin, brown sugar, and eggs after this week's baking. Was almost out of yogurt and applesauce, and I wanted more of those on-clearance Acme generic organic multi-grain flatbread (long, crunchy whole-grain crackers) - they're really good.

My schedule next week is ok, not great. On one hand, I have two days off again, Tuesday and Saturday, and only one long shift. Not to mention, the fact that I have hours at this time of year is something. On the other hand, the long day is Monday, which means I'll have to miss trick-or-treating all together, and there's more nights until 9:30 than I'd like.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Whither the Weather

It rained on and off all day, a light rain that didn't really do much besides make everything damp. I ignored the weather and rode into Collingswood for my first Collingswood Library volunteer session in over a month and a half. I'm still going to take time off from yoga because of my foot, but I miss it when I don't do all of my library volunteering. I'm glad I did it today, too. There was a very big stack of DVDs to file and shelve and a lot on the shelves that needed to be organized, especially the kids' and classics sections.

My library visit also confirmed that my decision to switch internet providers was the right one. FA, the librarian who was behind the counter this morning, told me that the Library's internet had been down for all but one hour of their day. Yes, they use Verizon. I should have switched from them ages ago. They can't even keep their business lines up and running, much less residential.

After I finished at the Library, I headed across the street to Frugli, a resale clothes shop. Like the thrift shop before they shut down, they rely on donations for their inventory. Unlike the thrift shop, they don't just take any old thing. They only keep the nicest, newest, most decent clothes, books, videos, DVDs, and accessories, along with some vintage items in good shape.

I made my first find among the vintage items. Hanging with the polyester 70s dresses and 60s paisley blouses were a really cute apron and pot holder made of red and blue cotton. The apron had a flower print on the blue fabric and was trimmed with red rick-rack. The pot holder has beautifully embroidered flowers on the front. I can always use another pot-holder, and I thought the 40s-50s style apron would be great for my Red Riding Hood costume!

As I explored the store, I also came up with a thin but soft Lane Bryant sweater and a pale orange-peach Land's End t-shirt. Neither item looked like it was ever worn. The sweater still had the buttons in their bag dangling on the inside collar! I found a lightly used jean skirt with ivory and green trim on the bottom on sale with the skirts. It's a little tight around the middle, but I'll just wear a shirt that covers it. It'll be a wonderful year-round skirt (I can wear something warm under it in the winter) and look really cute with the apron for my costume. Everything but the apron and pot holder came up on sale, too. I bought all four for about 31 dollars.

The rain was starting to pick up as I headed down to Newton River Park. It was cloudy, humid, fairly warm for this time of year, and not too windy. In fact, I was too warm as I headed for the CVS across from Newton River Park on the border of Collingswood and Oaklyn. In addition to the strained left heel, I've also had a callus on my left big toe for quite a while now. I finally bought some callus pad removers to get rid of it, along with orange juice to make Orange-Cranberry Muffins later and milk.

Not surprisingly, given the weather, I spent the rest of the afternoon at home. Ran some more Get Smart while I had leftovers for lunch. In the fifth season two-parter "House of Max," Max and 99 travel to London to discover that a wax figure who resembles Jack the Ripper has been seen around town committing murders. This leads them to French scientist and sculptor DuVal's "Cave of Wax," with its gruesome set-ups involving both famous Hollywood figures and scary horror icons. Max does his best to find out DuVal's plot and avoid becoming a waxwork himself!

Switched to The Black Cauldron after lunch while I worked on the Cranberry Orange Muffins. Most people probably don't think of "Disney movies" and "Halloween" in the same sentence. This lesser-known Disney animated feature isn't technically a horror film, but the dark atmosphere is forbidding enough for me to have watched it every Halloween for the past four or five years. A young man in a fantasy kingdom is sent to hide his oracular pig from the evil Horned King, who wishes to use her to find the fabled Black Cauldron. Taran learns an lesson in friendship and what really matters in life when he, a princess with a glowing magic ball, a goofy old minstrel, and a perpetually-hungry little creature, look for the Cauldron and try to keep it out of the Horned King's hands.

This was a first for Disney in many respects. It was their first animated movie to feature nary a song, be rated PG, and go in for really heavy action. Alas, for all those "firsts," it's far from a masterpiece. Taran and Elonwy are not the most exciting characters, the all-important pig is barely mentioned after the first half, and a lot of it just seems jumbled or doesn't make sense. It was adapted from the Chronicles of Prydain series of novels by Lloyd Alexander, and trying to condense a five-book series into one short movie really did not work.

On the other hand, the dark, spooky atmosphere is spot-on. The animation is really quite well-done, especially the Horned King and his castle and his Army of the Undead. There was apparently to have been more of the Fair Folk, but a lot of their sequences got cut.

I have fond memories of seeing this in the theater when it first came out in 1985, but I can really understand why it wasn't well received by critics or most movie-goers at the time. Fantasy fans and older kids who think they've seen every Disney movie out there may enjoy this...but please, it's not for little guys. It earns that PG rating with action movie violence, ghoulish scenes of the walking undead, and at least one character who jumps into the cauldron to destroy it.

Ran two horror-themed Tiny Toons episodes as I did the dishes and a few chores around the apartment. "Stuff That Goes Bump In the Night" and "The Return of the Acme Acres Zone" are anthology episodes with myriad spoofs of science fiction and horror cliches. "Acme Acres Zone" has my favorites - a dead-on spoof of Blade Runner and film noir, a take on old-haunted-house movies with Plucky and Hampton being spooked by a poltergeist working the day shift, and a hilarious take on "Duck Dodgers" that marks the only appearance on Tiny Toons of Marvin the Martian and his protege Marsha.

The weather had changed significantly by the time I headed to work. It was a bit colder and much windier! The clouds had darkened as well, but it wasn't doing anything besides blowing. I made it in and out of work with no problems. I wasn't working a very long shift tonight, anyway.

I heard people at work mention snow. Yes, it looks like we may be getting some snow Saturday night. I hope it doesn't make people go crazy. First of all, it's late October in southern New Jersey. Even if we do get snow, it probably won't stick. Second, even if it did, it's only three inches. It's not like it's the end of the world.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

X-Ray Marks the Spot

Rose did drive me to South Jersey Radiology. We were a few minutes late, but that was all right. As it turns out, AmeriHealth doesn't require referrals, so there wasn't much to sign or explain. Not to mention, even if they did, I had the note from Dr. Berlin. I waited a few minutes in a booth, then went into a room, pulled a big heavy apron on a plastic tube around my waist, let the doctor take two pictures of my foot, waited while the doctor developed the film, picked up the film, and left.

Rose and I talked going there and back. She wants me to find a gynecologist and a general physician. I did some research on both when I got back in, since I had no other plans for this afternoon. When I'd found some names that looked worthwhile, I had lunch and watched two fairly spooky Get Smart episodes, the first season's "Weekend Vampire" and the third's "The Mummy."

Went to work not long after Get Smart ended. Work was fairly busy all night, probably with the first of the beginning-of-the-month people. Thankfully, there were no real problems besides a lack of help (we had call-outs). I was in and out with no problems.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Insurance of Good Health

I spent a frustrating morning trying to get the X-ray matter settled. I called the South Jersey Radiology branch at Haddonfield. Yes, they take AmeriHealth. Do I have an insurance card? Uh, no. I didn't think so. I hadn't needed one before. I used Uncle Ken and Bruce's doctor when I got my knee checked out in 2007. I made my appointment for 11:10 tomorrow and told them I'd figure out the insurance thing.

Next, I called Rose for a ride to Haddonfield tomorrow. I don't like asking for rides, especially from someone as busy as Rose, but Jodie and Dad are still down at the Jersey Shore. I told her about my foot and the X-ray appointment. She asked me why I didn't have this better organized and hadn't called AmeriHealth about this. And why don't I have a primary health care physician? Why haven't I had a checkup, or a mammogram?

I don't know. I guess, part of it is the manual they send is long, thick, and filled with boring jargon I don't understand. It would take a very patient doctor to plow through it. The paperwork is endless. Not to mention, I don't get sick enough to need a doctor that often. I just haven't gotten around to the mammogram. I will, eventually.

I wish I knew how to handle this better. This is the first time I've ever had health insurance. Fishing boat workers are considered self-employed and don't have health insurance. My parents always paid for anything health-related when I was a kid.

It was past 12:30 when I finally got off the phone with her and got going to the Haddon Township Library for this week's volunteer session there. It was absolutely gorgeous when I headed out, sunny, breezy but not too windy, and in the lower 60s, perfectly normal and lovely weather for late October in southern New Jersey. I stopped at the Oaklyn Post Office really quick first to send off two Halloween card and a birthday card, then rode through a busy Newton River Park to Westmont.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't busy by the time I arrived. It was too nice to be hanging around inside! This was reflected in the stacks, too. There weren't nearly as many children's books to put away as usual. There was a very small pile of adult DVDs and no kids' movies. I organized the kids' DVDs, put the DVDs that were there away, and shelved kids' books and put Halloween ones on display. I ended up taking out two more Scooby Doo DVDs (the newest movie Scooby Doo and the Phantosaur and another recently-released random episode collection, Scooby Doo and the Pirates) and the Angelina Ballerina DVD Lights, Camera, Action! that has their Halloween episode. (It was the only Halloween episode of any series I could find.)

Went across the street to Westmont Plaza after I left. I needed a few things at Super Fresh. The were having a $1 sale on their generic cake mixes. I needed white cake mix after making that Pumpkin Cake last week. They also have frequent sales on grits, which I love to have for breakfast in the fall and winter. I also grabbed a Halloween card for my sister and nephew.

I made it to the Bagel Shop across the Plaza about twenty minutes before they shut down. One of the waitresses was mopping the very back of the dining area as I ordered my Roast Beef and Provolone Sandwich on a Sesame Seed Bagel with Spicy Mustard, Lettuce, and Onion. There are some advantages to being a quick eater. I managed to finish my sandwich and pay right before they closed.

After that, I went straight home. I spent a couple of hours finishing the Holiday Music Inventory, then baked Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (thought I'd try a different recipe than usual) and ran the Scooby Doo DVDs.

Phantosaur takes the gang out west to a health spa to try to help poor Shaggy recuperate after their last mystery. As usual, where the gang goes, ghosts matter what Shaggy wants. When a ghostly dinosaur starts haunting the people of the town and the archeological dig in an old mine, Shaggy's ready to turn tail...until the spa's owner hypnotizes him into becoming truly brave! While Shaggy takes on a biker club, Velma's fallen head-over-heels for the archeologist's assistant, but her feelings for him makes her ignore the weird signals he's giving off...

Not great, not bad. I thought the mystery was interesting, and a brave Shaggy was truly a sight to behold. (Check him out taking on the entire biker himself!) Probably best for dinosaur lovers or Scooby fanatics who have seen the other movies.

The Pirates episode collection was something of a misnomer. The first episode, "Hassle In the Castle" from the original Scooby Doo, Where are You? series, doesn't really have anything to do with pirates. This spooky tale of magic and mystery is one of the best of the first series, though, so it gets a pass. "Go Away Ghost Ship" obviously has a far better relation to the theme. The ghost of Redbeard the Pirate and his ship is stealing cargo from Mr. Merton's line. The gang investigates before Merton is driven out of business.

The third episode, "The Ghostly Creep from the Deep," is from The New Scooby Doo Movies. Scooby Doo fans know these as the hour-long episodes that featured caricatures of kid-friendly "celebrities" from the early 70s solving mysteries with Mystery Inc. The celebs in question here are basketball group the Harlem Globetrotters, who help the kids deal with the return of Redbeard the Pirate, this time in an abandoned inn next to a scary swamp. An old man tries to warn the kids and basketball players away, but what is he really after?

Campy as all get-out, more than the original show, but still pretty funny, too. I kind of wish it had been another celebrity besides the Globetrotters, though. I'm not a basketball fan, and their antics wore out pretty quickly. If nothing else, I got to hear the second theme song that stuck to the show well into the 80s.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Quiet Girl

It was a sunny, slightly warmer autumn day when I opened my eyes this morning. Since I didn't work until 5:30, I decided to linger in bed a bit. I didn't actually get moving until around 10, and it was past noon when I made it to the laundromat to get my laundry done.

That may not have been a bright idea. It was the busiest I've ever seen it when I got in there. I took the one remaining washer no one was using! There were several families and at least one old man doing their wash. Thankfully, there were a few driers open by the time my load was done. I was in and out as quickly as possible.

I spent the rest of a very quiet afternoon having leftover chicken meatloaf and broccoli for lunch, working on the Holiday Music Inventory, listening to jazz music, and watching The Young Victoria. Another biography of a British monarch, this one takes us back more than a hundred and fifty years to the reign of a much younger ruler. Princess Victoria (Emily Blunt), who has spent her life being sheltered by her silly mother (Miranda Richardson) and nasty Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong), takes the throne after her uncle (Jim Broadbent) dies. Most people think she's too young and lacking in experience to be queen...except for intelligent, handsome Prince Albert of Germany (Rupert Friend). Victoria, however, has more than a few surprises in store for everyone in the English court...including the dashing Albert.

I enjoyed this as much as the less-mushy The King's Speech. A lot of critics complained about the lack of historical accuracy, and while this may be true (I really don't know much about this time period myself), it's more than made up for by some wonderful performances (including a marvelously passionate Blunt) and the splendid Oscar-winning costumes.

Rode to work around quarter after 5...and got a huge surprise when I saw the Black Horse Pike. Traffic was backed up on the side of the Pike coming from Philadelphia for miles! Thank goodness I was riding a bike on the sidewalk on the half of the Pike going towards South Jersey. I had no problems getting to work.

Work was busy despite the traffic, but it cleared out quickly around 7:30-8. I discovered why when I hurried outside and saw that everything was wet. It must have showered while I was in the Acme. It's just cloudy now, though, and did nothing while I was riding home.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rock and Roll Music

It was almost 10 when I opened my eyes this morning, and past 10:30 when I finally rolled out of bed. I made Cocoa Chocolate Chip Pancakes and listened to Brunch With the Beatles. "Rock and Roll Music" was the theme today. Among the unvarnished, gritty, upbeat sounds heard were "Back In the USSR," "Revolution," "Come Together," "Get Back," and the covers "Rock and Roll Music," "Twist and Shout," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," and "Roll Over Beethoven."

I tried to call Mom, but I got the answering machine. I spent the rest of the early afternoon after the Beatles working on adding records to the Holiday Music Inventory. For some reason, I had to re-download Comcast's software, too. They wouldn't let me online until I did!

It was a gorgeous day when I headed for work. The sun was out, but it was neither too warm nor as windy as the last few days. In fact, it was just about perfect for Southern New Jersey in late October. That may be one of the reasons why we were on-and-off busy but not nearly as bad as Sundays usually are in October. The Eagles being off this week probably helped, too. I was in and out quickly and with no real problems.

When I got home, I put on one of my instrumental jazz records and tossed some leftover vegetables together with home-made chicken stock and a pack of flounder I meant to make the other day and didn't get a chance to. I finally got a hold of Mom while it was cooking. She sounded a little tired but said she was fine. Keefe was the only one home; Dad had gone out fishing. I told her about getting my foot looked at and about how frustrated and tired I am. I haven't been writing anything. Lauren says it's just a slump, but it's been a couple years since I've done any real writing. I don't know what's wrong with me. I get ideas, but they never make it to paper, or I never finish them. Mom says that it's easiest to write what I know, and that I have to make an effort to sell them. That's not easy for me. I'm nervous about the rejection, where to send them, how to do it, and how I'm supposed to sell it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blue and Gold Autumn

It was as perfect of a fall day as one could wish when I rolled out of bed this morning and switched on the American Top 40 re-run. We moved a year to late October 1980 this week. Hits included the title song of the bizarre movie musical Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "I'm All Right" by Kenny Loggins, "Give Me the Night" by George Benson, and "Woman In Love" by Barbara Streisand. The number one song that week was one of Queen's biggest hits and most iconic songs, "Another One Bites the Dust."

There couldn't be a nicer day for riding around to yard sales and attending farm markets. The Farm Market was quite busy when I arrived around quarter of 10. They're in their last month and are starting to wind down for the season. The wool yarn booth with the live alpacas is already there. Kids were gathered around a booth for a local animal shelter that was showing off a sweet cocker spaniel mix. Thanks to last month's rain and warmth, there's still plenty of produce around, more than usual for this time of year. I picked up Brussels sprouts, apples, broccoli, cranberries, honey from the honey booth, a green pepper, and bananas from the wholesaler.

I made my best yard-sale finds in Collingswood and Audubon. After I left the Farm Market, I rode to Frazer Avenue a block from the Collingswood Library for an estate sale. Turns out the house had belonged to a dedicated musician who had recently passed away from old age. His children were selling off the contents of his huge, gorgeous, recently remodeled Victorian home...including a massive collection of records! There must have been nine or ten piles of records there, mostly dating from the 50s and 60s. The majority of them were classical or instrumental organ collections (not a surprise, given the large and beautiful organ I saw in the living room), but I did find a few things I liked:

Firestone Presents Your Favorite Christmas Carols, Volume 3 & 4 - I have fond memories of Mom playing her mother's copies of these as we decorated the tree when I was a kid. Turns out I already had Volume 4, but I've never seen 3 anywhere.

Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly

The Greatest Hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Ray Martin & His Orchestra - Witchcraft...!, a collection of instrumental songs related to witches, magic, and/or spells that I thought would be nice for Halloween.

Rode over to Audubon after I finally left Frazer Avenue. Though I didn't find anything at the sale on South Davis Avenue, there was a big blue sign there that pointed out two other sales on the other side of town. I hit paydirt at the one on Maple Avenue. They had a small plastic container filled with vintage 80s My Little Ponies, including several I remembered my sisters and I owning as children. I bought Meghan (the Ponies' human friend), Sundance (who originally came with her), Baby Firefly, and a purple and blue Sea Pony (sea horse-shaped pony you could play with in the bathtub - they even had her pink shell holder). I'm going to clean them up and give them to my five-year-old cousin Faith for her birthday next month. She adores My Little Ponies and really liked the yard sale Ponies I gave her a few years ago.

When I got home, I made a Leek and Broccoli Omelet for lunch, then spent the rest of the afternoon working on the inventory for my holiday music. I got off with plenty of time to get ready to go to work for once.

Work was busy when I arrived, slowing down enough when I left that I was able to head out easily with no relief. I'm glad I switched hours with another cashier who wanted more time with her kids. It was nice to be able to head out at 7PM to have a decent dinner at Arby's, instead of eating at work or having leftovers at home!

I had debated Applebee's for dinner...but this is Saturday night. Applebee's is both a bar and a popular family restaurant. Arby's is always much quieter. I tried their new Angus Beef Deli wrap. The thing was GIGANTIC, with tons of meat, lettuce, and relish in a tasty whole-wheat wrap. It was the best sandwich I've had at Arby's in ages, but it was so big, I couldn't finish it.

And good news and bad news about the schedule this week. Good news - only one day of more than 4 hours (Wednesday) and one day of really late hours (Monday). Bad news - also only one day off, Tuesday. That doesn't leave me a lot of time to get my foot looked at or rest the darn thing.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Long Windy Ride

My first errand-run of the day was to the Acme for my paycheck, groceries, and to get my prescription for stronger Motrim filled. I didn't need a huge order. I took advantage of a good sale on shrimp and chicken pieces to do a meat restock. Also grabbed a lot of things on clearance - Acme's generic organic sesame seed flat bread, two flavors of sugar-free Jello they're no longer carrying (strawberry-banana and peach), and two containers of pear juice concentrate and a pear-peach-apple juice blend concentrate.

I'm glad I did wait to get the prescription filled today, too. I forgot to buy laundry detergent with the rest of my order. Grabbed that while the prescription was being filled.

I ran another spooky TV show episode as I ate lunch and put everything away. In the second season Greatest American Hero show "The Beast In Black," teacher and reluctant superhero Ralph Hinkley discovers he can cross into the Fourth Dimension when he sees a room in an old house slated for demolition that no one else sees. Trouble is, the room is guarded by a raging beast, and the ghost of a greedy real estate saleswoman who lives in the house wants possession of his friend Bill Maxwell's body so she can survive the house's destruction. Ralph is frightened to use the suit at first, but it turns out to be the only way he can save Bill before the house comes down.

Went right back out after the episode was over. I stopped at the bank first to deposit my paycheck, then had a windy, cold bike ride up to Haddon Imaging in Haddon Heights to get my foot X-rayed. The wind was brisk and the air was chilly - the sign at Beneficial Bank in Audubon said it was 57 degrees at 3PM - but it really felt like fall, and it made for a very energetic ride.

When I finally found the brown glass and brick building for Haddon Imaging, it turned out they didn't take my health care program. I couldn't have my foot looked at there. They gave me suggestions, but I was disappointed and a little embarrassed. Why didn't the women at the Foot & Ankle Center tell me that and save me a long ride?

I stopped by the Foot & Ankle Center to tell them what happened and ask them what to do now. It turned out that Dr. Berlin and Caroline didn't know that Haddon Imaging doesn't accept AmeriHealth. They gave me a list of branches for South Jersey Radiology, which apparently has branches all over the area. Oh well. At least I got a nice ride in today.

I made a quick stop at WaWa across the street to treat myself to a soft pretzel and a cappuccino to cheer myself up, then rode home. Spent the next hour and a half working on the Holiday Music Inventory. Around 5:30, I started chicken meatloaf and ran I Remember Mama.

Based on the real Kathryn Forbes' account of growing up in San Francisco in the early 1900s, Mama is the story of a Norwegian immigrant family headed by strong-willed and kind-hearted Martha (Irene Dunne) and her quiet, hard-working husband Lars (Philip Dorn). Oldest daughter Kathryn (Barbara Bel Geddes), who hopes to become a writer someday, watches as life changes from one season to the next, from the near-loss of a pet to her graduation, from sneaking Mama in to see her little sister Dagmar in the hospital to the arrival of her noisy, overbearing Uncle Chris (Oscar Holmoka). Through it all, it's the memory of Mama counting out their weekly earnings that finally inspires Kathryn to write a story worth publishing.

I found this to be one of the most charming and gentle tales of growing up I've ever seen. A wonderful collection of character actors brings Kathryn's story to life. Ellen Corby (of The Waltons) is lovely as a timid aunt. Real-life son of Norwegians Edgar Bergen is equally good as her soft-spoken fiancee. Another radio veteran, Rudy Vallee, turns up briefly as the doctor who argues with Mama and Uncle Chris over Dagmar's hospital care, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke plays a penniless boarder who reads to the children as payment for his room early on. If you love tales of girls growing up in the last century or plotless but atmospheric family tales, you'll love to remember Mama, too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Against the Wind

The rain was long-gone by the time I got up around 9:30. It was still on-and-off cloudy and VERY windy, but nothing like yesterday. It was chilly, too, probably in the upper 50s-lower 60s, perfectly normal and pleasant for this time of year. I opened the windows to let in all that crisp fall air and ran spooky Disney cartoons as I had cereal and a pear for breakfast.

When I finished, I headed out to run a few errands in the neighborhood. My first stop was the Oaklyn Post Office to send out a card and home-made DVD for Lauren's birthday yesterday. (I didn't get a chance to send it out yesterday because of the rain.) There was a long line at the Post Office squeezed into the tiny building, as usual, but at least the lady behind the counter was nice and everything went quickly.

My next stop was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering there. I just organized DVDs and kids' books. A couple of guys came in to fix some long-dead florescent lights as I was finishing the kids' books. I did the remaining books fast and got out of their way.

I was on my way to Dad and Uncle Ken's to pick up the cake pan I left there Sunday when Dad and Jodie drove by in Dad's van. Seems they were just coming back from their own errand run and were willing to pick up the pan and drive me home. I'm glad I ran into them. Dad says they're going down to Cape May and Atlantic City to visit friends starting tomorrow.

After I got in, I did things around the apartment. I finally removed all of the Verizon High Speed Internet-related programs from my laptop (and there were a lot of them). I did a disc cleanup and defragment. It was a huge help. The laptop is now running much faster. (Thank goodness Comcast seems to require far fewer programs to run.)

Baked Oatmeal Cookies and had a leftover chicken leg and roasted Brussels sprouts for lunch while watching more spooky TV show episodes. In the Tales of the Gold Monkey episode "Trunk From the Past," Sarah White is sent a trunk covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics that once belonged to her late father, an Egyptologist who was murdered by a creature wearing the head of a dog-god statue. When her former fiancee arrives, Jake and Sarah become determined to solve the mystery of the trunk. Why did someone send it now...and is that really the ghost of Sarah's father who keeps appearing in her room?

Laverne and Shirley had an equally scary time with urban legends. Laverne wants to buy a used couch from a house that's being torn down. Shirley claims that the old Ramsdale Manor is the haven for a monster! The two young women, along with their guy friends Lenny and Squiggy, head to the manor to pick up their new furniture...and to see if the legend is true.

Headed to work after Laverne and Shirley ended. Work was busy for most of the night. It was just slowing down when I headed out at 8:30. I had a stroke of luck, too. Someone wanted to trade her 3-7 hours for my 4-8 hours on Saturday. Fine by me! It's the same amount of hours, and I don't mind going in a little earlier if I can get out a little earlier. Not to mention, either way, I can still run my usual Saturday errands.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rainy Day at Home

It was pouring cats, dogs, and the rest of the animal kingdom when I got up this morning, and rained for most of the day. It was no day to be doing any running around. I stayed home today, working on the budget. I also found a folder to keep my receipts in, instead of throwing them in the front of one of my file folders.

I ran Scooby Doo and the Zombies this morning. Actually, it's a collection of three What's New, Scooby Doo? episodes revolving around the titular monsters. My favorite was the last one. Growing up around lighthouses, I've heard stories like the one that spooks Shaggy, Scooby, and the gang on the Great Lakes in Wisconsin. The five handle a spooky lighthouse keeper zombie, the spirit of a ship that sunk in the rocks off Lake Michigan, and a snotty local shop owner who seems awfully familiar...

When I finished the budget, I had lunch and dubbed "Casey at the Bat" for Mom. "Casey" is another Tall Tales and Legends episode. Unlike "Annie Oakley," this one is purely comic fiction. Based around the famous baseball poem, Casey (Elliot Gould) is a wanna-be player during the game's infancy in the 1880s. He's finally given a chance to revolutionize the game when he tells his sweetheart's (Carol Kane) father that he plays or quits. The local owner of Mudville's Industrial Revolution mud-furniture factory isn't thrilled that Casey's popularity is re-energizing the game. He wants to by the stadium to use as a sludge dump! Can Casey find a way to beat the "machine" at their own or lose?

This was another "Tall Tales" winner, a hilarious and sweet spoof of the Horatio Alger myths of baseball and the Industrial Revolution era that spawned it. I've always been especially fond of the anachronistic but still awesome ragtime/swing score. And for a little verisimilitude, it's narrated by two of sports commentary's greats, Bob Uteker and Howard Cosell.

I had a little time left before work, so I ran a Tiny Toon Adventures episode that also has fun with Casey at the Bat before I went to work. In the second show to make fun of ABC's Wide World of Sports, Buster is the big star of Acme Loo's baseball team. Sylvester narrates the story as only he can as we see Buster step up to bat. Other stories here has Buster buying a bike from a huckster that turns out to be a lemon (and how he gets his revenge), and the gang's participation in the Acme Acres Olympics.

Went to work right after the Toons ended. It was busy when I came in, but it was also 4PM, the start of rush hour. Though it was spitting by then, it wasn't raining so hard that I couldn't ride to work and get more than slightly damp. By the time I left, the rain had picked up and cleared out the customers. It was so dead at 9:30, I left slightly early.

Good thing. Twenty minutes after I got home and took out the trash, the spitting had become another heavy shower, though it doesn't seem to be doing anything at the moment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Really Putting My Foot Into It

Lauren's off to a Weird Al concert this evening, so I stayed up late with her last night. I didn't get out of bed until after 10, and it was 11:30 before I even had breakfast! I had two Spicy Cranapple Muffins and a fresh farm market pear and dubbed the Tall Tales and Legends "Annie Oakley" for Mom.

"Annie Oakley" is one of my favorite of Shelly Duval's second series of fables and fantasies, this one revolving around American history. This is a grittier and somewhat more accurate version of the story of legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley than the musical Annie Get Your Gun. (For one thing, in real life, Frank Butler knew he was no match for his wife's skills with a gun and did step down to manage her career.) A young Jamie Lee Curtis is a marvelous, down-home Annie, possibly the best until country music star Reba McEntyre wowed Broadway audiences in the late 90s Annie revival on Broadway.

Headed to the Haddon Township Library after work. It was partly cloudy and a little humid and warm, but nothing like it has been the last few times rain has threatened. Unlike last week, the Haddon Township Library was very busy. I organized kids' DVDs, shelved DVDs and kids' books, and for the first time in ages, helped kids find the DVDs they wanted. One little boy requested the Toy Story movies. I directed him to the second one. (His mother said they'd rented the first one every other week!) Another little boy wanted Thomas the Tank Engine.

It was past 2:30 when I made my own DVD and book choices. I found two more of the new historical American Girl books, both about Marie-Grace this time, Marie-Grace and the Orphans and Marie-Grace Makes a Difference. Rented two Scooby Doo collections, a set of the first four episodes of A Pup Named Scooby Doo and three What's New, Scooby Doo? episodes revolving around zombies. Decided to continue my streak with film biographies and chose I Remember Mama and The Young Victoria from the adult section.

Headed across the street to the Westmont Plaza next. Stopped at Dollar Tree first. Two of my very best friends, Lauren and Amanda, have birthdays this month. I wanted to buy Halloween cards to say "hi" to everyone in Cape May County, too. I also needed new scrub-brushes. The old ones were absolutely disgusting. The bristles were getting crunched.

It was a little past 3 when I went around the corner to Nick and Joe's Pizza, the Westmont Plaza's pizzeria. Their pizza's only ok, but I was hungry and it was late. I ordered a mushroom slice and a bottle of water and read the AG books while waiting for lunch.

The two books were quite interesting. In ...And the Orphans, Marie-Grace finds a baby on her father's doorstep. She and her dad, who is a doctor, are too busy to care for a small child. They eventually take him to a large orphanage in New Orleans. However, when the nuns there say they've found a home for the baby in Chicago, Marie-Grace realizes how attached to him she is and seeks Cecile's help in finding a way for him to stay.

...Makes a Difference brings the girls into the Yellow Fever epidemic as Marie-Grace dedicates her time to volunteering at the orphanage and nursing her sick singing teacher. When the fever becomes too much, Marie-Grace's dad tries to send her away...but how can she leave Cecile and the children at the orphanage, who need her care?

After lunch, I finally decided it was time to do something about my foot. It was quarter of 4 when I rode over to the Camden County Foot & Ankle Center on the White Horse Pike, less than a mile from my apartment in Oaklyn. Thank goodness I caught Dr. Berlin and her assistant right as they were preparing to close up shop!

After we got the matter of my health care settled, Dr. Berlin took a look at my bad foot. She gave me an injection...which I wasn't thrilled with at first. I hate needles. Then I remembered how brave Marie-Grace and Cecile were when they were faced with the Yellow Fever and how it ravaged New Orleans and their loved ones. If two 10-year-old girls in crinolines can handle an epidemic, I thought, surely I can handle one little needle! It stung going in, but it wasn't so bad. Dr. Berlin put a Band-Aid on it, then made a plaster cast of my foot in order to make the right size orthopedic pads for them. That felt good. It was nice and warm, like a heating pad.

Dr. Berlin wrote out two prescriptions for me. One was for a stronger Motrim than I could buy over-the-counter. I could get that one filled at the Acme. The other was to have the foot X-rayed at a doctor's office on the White Horse Pike in Haddon Heights. (I think it may be the same place I got my knee looked at the second time I sprained it in July 2007.) I'll get the prescription done tomorrow before work and go up to the doctor's office on Friday, my next day off.

Just headed home after that. My now-swollen foot wasn't up to any more running around. I spent the next two hours organizing items in my bedroom and the back room. I moved the Sailor Moon dolls' clothes from the plastic dresser to those two sturdy boxes I got from at Christmas. I've been trying to find something to put in those for months! Some of the American Girl dolls' clothes were moved to the dresser. Others were moved to Sam's box. I really need more clothes hangers for them. Oh well. Christmas is coming. Moved the Sailor Moon comic books and graphic novels to their doll display and the other comic books in with the Garfield, Peanuts, and Calvin and Hobbes comics.

Tackled my vinyl accordion file folders next. The transparent one was falling apart. Moved any instruction booklets I didn't clear out and the few remaining notes, cards, and letters I've kept to other folders. Moved my old college and high school papers and essays to the random stories folder. Went through my taxes and W-2s - I have those going back to 2003, the first year I did them after I moved out on my own. I gave those their own folder and put that and anything relating to my health insurance in the huge leather portfolio the secretaries at the Stockton Media Center gave me in 2001 for a dual Christmas/Graduation gift.

It was 7PM before I got to dinner. I had shrimp, roasted Brussels sprouts, and brown rice with Smart Balance butter while watching A Pup Named Scooby Doo. Of the first four episodes of the series, the one I most enjoyed was "The Schnook Who Took My Comic Book." Shaggy is thrilled that he was able to buy the first edition of his favorite comic book hero, Commander Cool, for pennies at a comics convention. When a frog monster from the comics appears and tries to slurp up every Commander Cool first edition at the convention, Shaggy becomes determined to protect his beloved any cost! (Also, note that Red Herring has more of a role in this than he usually does. We don't normally get to see him do anything besides refute Fred's pointing the finger at him. Here, he's actually the bully Fred claims he is.)

Though I did enjoy the episodes, I repeat what I said when I rented the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Season set earlier in the year. These episodes are very repetitive (almost annoyingly so) if watched in succession. On the other hand, I noticed that these earlier episodes have more of an emphasis on interactivity, with Velma encouraging the kids at home to put the clues on-screen together themselves before Mystery Inc. solves the case. Pup Named might be a nice Scooby cartoon for somewhat younger grade-school age kids who would enjoy the bright colors, blocky anime-esque animation, and goofy gags. It's also fun for Scooby fanatics who can recognize the many references to the original series. Casual fans and older kids will want to start with the original, the movies, or What's New, Scooby Doo.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baby, You're a Rich Geek

I slept in this morning and didn't get to the laundromat until past noon. I'm glad I waited so long. By the time I made it there, it was dead. The only people there were one other woman and the manager and Days of Our Lives on NBC. I spent a pleasantly quiet hour reading Simple Abundance.

When I got home, I put the laundry away, then ran The Social Network while having a leek and mushroom omelet for lunch. The Social Network revolves around the creation of Facebook and its developer, Harvard computer nerd Mark Zuckenberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his friend and business partner Eduardo Savarin (Andrew Garfield). Arrogant and shy Zuckenberg finds himself facing two major lawsuits after he's accused of stealing the ideas of a pair of snobbish Harvard twins and their buddy (Armie Hammer as both twins), then of cutting Savarin out of Facebook in favor of the sleazy creator of Napster (Justin Timberlake). Things quickly spiral out of control as Zuckenberg realizes that his arrogance has isolated him and made him a target for people like Carter...and that no amount of money or being cool can buy him someone he can really trust.

This is an excellent movie, but I had a harder time with it than fellow Oscar-nominee The King's Speech. Some of it may be this movie hits awfully close to home for me. I, too, tend to isolate myself and have a hard time trusting people. (Ironically, while I do have a Facebook page, I seldom post on it, though I do read the posts of others.) I knew guys like this at Stockton, who spent more time on the computer, mired in programming that would never harm them, then with people.

On the other hand, something about this just seemed cold. For all the talk about connection, you often can't really connect with the characters, which may be the point. Online social networking has many advantages, but humans need real, one-on-one contact, too.

It's also nice to see a movie deal with a current reality. I know a lot of films prefer to act like things like the Internet don't exist or only appear as a plot point...but for better or for worse, the online revolution is a part of modern life that shouldn't be ignored.

Work wasn't nearly as interesting. It was on-and-off busy all night. I didn't have any problems, though some of the managers had trouble with customers. We're also having some technical difficulties. Three of our 7 frequently used registers are out of order. The credit card/debit machine is down on 3 and 4 and the check machine doesn't work on 1. Thankfully, it was so dead by the time I left, I was able to buy buttermilk and head out quickly.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Eagles Time!

It was gorgeous again this morning, windy but sunny and just warm enough for October, when I woke up around quarter of 10. Turned on Brunch With the Beatles while I wrote in my journal and got dressed. Brunch celebrated its 10th anniversary with the A and B sides of all of Beatles singles that hit #1 in the US. These included "Day Tripper," "Help!," "A Hard Day's Night," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Hello Goodbye," and "Yesterday." The Beatles song that spent the most weeks at #1? "Hey Jude," at seven weeks. This was interspersed with clips from that first episode, when it was a one-hour show called The Beatles' Brunch.

I made Cranberry-Whole Wheat Pancakes for breakfast, then called Mom. Didn't talk to her for very long. She had Anny and Skylar there. She sounded like she was in a decent mood, anyway. I quickly discussed my week and my decision to get my foot looked at.

I used the rest of the farm-market cranberries to make a Cranberry-Carrot Cake for Uncle Ken's football party. I pretty much just added applesauce and cranberries to Betty Crocker's carrot cake mix. I don't know how it came out. I never got to try any. I literally just pulled it out of the oven and left!

Stopped at a rare Sunday yard sale on the other end of Manor Avenue before I went to Uncle Ken's. Despite the claim on the cardboard sign on the light pole that it was a "big sale," there wasn't much there besides books, tube TVs, and trinkets. I saw nothing interesting and moved on.

The game had literally just begun when I pulled into Uncle Ken's. The place was hopping! All of Dolores' children and their children were there. Little May is getting so big, and Mercedes is looking more and more like a teenager. My cousins Karen and Jim and their son CJ were there, too. I haven't seen them in ages. They live in Washington Township, about 45 minutes away, and they don't get down here that often. Samantha and David and their brood showed up a bit later.

There was tons of food, too. Uncle Ken made Italian Noodle Soup with elbow macaroni, carrots, tomato pieces, and bits of ham and salami. It was salty and spicy, to the point where it cleared my sinuses! Dolores had a loaf of sourdough bread from the Acme. There were pieces of honey mustard-flavored pretzels, potato chips, ranch dip, orange jelly slices, and potato chips. I'm glad I didn't work until 3. Unlike last week, I got to enjoy the food and the company. (I especially enjoyed Mercedes reading a Disney Cinderella picture book for May. They laughed as Cinderella tried to prepare for her wedding, without the well-meaning interference of her lady-in-waiting Prudence.)

Went right to work from Uncle Ken's. We were on-and-off busy all night. I had my own problems. Fifteen minutes into my shift, a check wouldn't feed through the machine. It just kept freezing the computer! The check machine in Register 1 had been freezing off and on for days. It was working earlier, but it just decided to go down again on me. The manager reset the computer and had to take my customer at the service desk.

And when a fellow teased me about the money I held for the register, I got upset. I hate being teased. He apologized nicely later, but I felt bad for getting upset. I never know how to react when some of my male customers make jokes. I know most of them don't mean to be rude, but I spent most of my life being taunted and teased and bullied.

Thankfully, there were no problems after that. The store was clearing out by 7, when I finished. That could be because the Eagles game went so well. They were 20 to 0 against the Washington Redskins at 2:30. They eventually won the game 20-14, their first win in weeks.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Adventures In Audubon and Oaklyn

Started off an absolutely gorgeous, windy morning with the American Top 40. Casey took us into the final autumn of the 70s with disco, jazz, and some lovely ballads. Hits included Donna Summer's "Dim All the Lights," Robert John's "Sad Eyes," and Herb Alpert's first hit since the late 60s, that week's number #1 song, the jazz tune "Rise." (Alpert may have been too busy with his day job as the then-head of A&M Records!)

I didn't do quite as much riding around as last week, but I did hit some yard sales. Did the best at a sale on Belmont Avenue in Haddon Township. Found the original 1992 CD copy of the soundtrack to the Disney Aladdin, the 1982 Wilton Cake Decorating magazine, and the cutest tin with vintage 60s Disney holiday graphics. (My favorite was Santa Donald and his too-quick Nephew Reindeer.) Picked up four Jazz For the... CDs at a sale on Harding Avenue in Oaklyn, but otherwise found nothing there.

Hit the Farm Market before I went to Belmont. Despite the wind, they were elbow-to-elbow full. I was delighted to see the first Brussels sprouts of the season. I loved them the last two years I've gotten them. Also grabbed apples, pears, molasses, an onion, garlic, a small head of organic Bibb lettuce, and cranberries.

Did better in Audubon. A fellow on Walnut Avenue had a pile of small wooden 50s folk-art-esque Christmas ornaments, like the ones Mom has on her tree. My tree's pretty full as it is, so I only bought three. Also picked up three records:

Bonnie Tyler - Faster Than the Speed of Night

Pete Townsend - White City

Cat Stevens' Greatest Hits

Stopped at the Rite Aid across from the Westmont Plaza on my way from Haddon Township to Audubon. My foot was already hurting. I needed that ibuprofen! My current journal is almost done, too. I also grabbed a notebook for my next journal.

Went straight home after leaving Audubon. I had leftovers for lunch, then spent the rest of the afternoon resting my foot and doing things on the computer. I had a hard time getting online - had to re-install Comcast's software.

Work wasn't too bad this evening. It was very busy and went quickly. In fact, it didn't die until an hour before I was done. I spent that hour doing candy. There were no really major problems, and I was able to pick up some Multi-Grain Cheerios on the way out.

My schedule for next week is actually pretty good. My hours are still late, but they're not nearly as long (the longest I work is 5 hours), and I have Tuesday and Friday off again. Considering I was averaging about 16 or 17 hours at this time last year, 22 hours isn't so bad.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wild Fall Weather

It was cloudy and windy when I heard the phone ring first thing this morning, around 10AM. For once, it wasn't the Acme. Actually, it was the electrical firm, wanting to know when I wanted someone to come over and look at the wiring in the kitchen. They could do it any time that morning. I finally told them an hour. I hadn't had breakfast or gotten dressed or even written in my journal yet!

They were earlier than that. I was finishing my tea when a large, shaggy middle-aged man with a tool belt and a slender college-age boy turned up on my porch. I directed them to the kitchen, the pantry shelves between the sink and stove, and the switch for the porch light in the living room that's been sticking.

They replaced the outlet in the kitchen and the switch easily. I do wish they hadn't put the outlet so close to the stove - it was fine next to the fridge. The older man said they couldn't save the outlet in the pantry, though. It had to be removed and covered, and the radio I had plugged in there was moved across the entertainment area until I can find a better place for it.

After they left, I tided up a bit, then headed for the Acme. Picked up this week's paycheck and did some grocery shopping. I needed to stock up on some baking essentials, like unbleached flour, Acme's dollar cinnamon container, Smart Balance 50/50 spread, and canned pumpkin. Finally found Betty Crocker's Spice Cake Mix on sale for $1.49. My best find was shrimp on sale. The container I grabbed was originally $7.19. It came with a $3.00 manager's coupon that brought it down to $4. A coupon for meat and seafood that I got in the mail knocked the price down to $1.19 for a pound of shrimp!

Went straight home when I was done shopping. Clouds had begun to gather as I rode home, but I didn't think anything of it until I'd finished my lunch and putting everything away. As I headed back out, the clouds became thicker, and it got windier. The rain started when I was just a block away from my apartment. It quickly picked up speed, until I was dripping wet when I walked in the door of the bank.

I had a quick chat with one of the tellers. My foot is still sore. I'm hoping that taking aspirin will help. She suggested ibuprofen as well. I meant to get some Aleve (or the generic version) at the Acme today, but I forgot. I'll either do it tomorrow or stop at one of the local pharmacies on my farm market/yard sale run.

Thank goodness the rain had slowed to spitting when I left the bank. I dodged huge puddles and made my way down to Cuthbert to pick up the bus. The bus had excellent timing. It arrived just as the rain was picking up again.

My trip to the Cherry Hill Mall was much faster than my previous excursion in August. I don't have much money, my foot isn't up to a lot of standing and looking at things, and it was getting fairly late at that point. JCPenny sent me a $10 off an order of $25 or more coupon in the mail, plus they were having huge sales at the store. I did get some things I needed. Picked up a new orange cable-knit sweater (to replace the old Land's End sweater whose collar was unraveling), white t-shirt, and tan pin-stripe button-down shirt for $36 with the sales and coupon.

I strolled across the mall to FYE after a brief stop at the Disney Store. I didn't really see anything good at FYE. Naturally, with Halloween being so close, they're pushing horror movies right now. I just ended up with Radioland Murders to replace the video copy I couldn't dub. I saw these cute 16-inch Disney Princess dolls at the Disney Store. I especially loved the expression on Tiana's face. Her sweet little smile was priceless. And with her huge golden curls and fancy blue dress, Cinderella was the very image of some of the better-preserved girl dolls from the 50s I've seen in books or on eBay. I thought that was rather appropriate, given her movie came out in 1950.

The bus home was late. I had the feeling I knew why, and I was right. Traffic was really bad in the area around the Cherry Hill Mall and Garden State Park Marketplace, and then it was held up by road work on the bridge over Cooper River. It was 6:30 before I got home, and nearly 7 before I began dinner and started The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which I didn't get to finish.

At least the weather's improved. The clouds were breaking up even as the bus inched its way over the Cooper River Bridge and seem to be gone now.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cranberry Autumn

It was still cool and humid when I got up this morning, but it doesn't look like it ever rained. Actually, I was jolted awake by a phone call. No, it wasn't the Acme. I have no idea who it was. Someone called Miss Ellie and came around to her door, too. No one ever told me who it was, and I didn't recognize the voice.

After I had oatmeal and a pear for breakfast, I headed out for a walk to WaWa for milk and lunch. Since I got there around 12:30, it was very busy! The first thing I saw on the touch-screen used to order items was a new 6-inch hoagie, the Turkey Ranch Shorti with cucumbers and spinach. Yum! That sounded delicious. I ordered that, then grabbed milk and an Icee for a treat while it was being made.

When I got home, I had lunch, then worked on making Spicy Cranapple Muffins with fresh farm market cranberries and apples. Ran two spooky-oriented TV show episodes while I baked. "I See London, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld" is from the final season of Moonlighting. Maddie and David aren't thrilled when they find a dead man in their office. They're even less happy when a pal of his shows up and says he wants the other half of his friend's lottery ticket...which was in the dead man's pocket! Maddie and David argue over death and the idea of there being something "on the other side" as they search for the body.

Remember WENN's sole foray into horror territory was far less gruesome. In "The Ghost of WENN," a thunder storm and a scary, possibly jinxed script has the cast on edge. Hilary Booth, WENN's diva actress, starts hearing what she thinks sounds like voices...but head writer Betty Roberts thinks there may be another explanation for the voice from the beyond. Meanwhile, the script is giving Mackie Bloom the willies, and the storm may not allow the cast to complete their show...

The muffins came out of the oven just as I was heading out to work! I barely made it on time. Good thing I did. Despite the continually gloomy and humid weather, it was busy for most of the evening.

I ran into problems later in the night. A woman and her son were using WIC Checks, but she threw a fit when I explained that she couldn't get the kind of cereal she wanted because it's not on in the cashier's WIC books or in the customers' pamphlets. She just went on whining about how she'd bought it before. Maybe at other stores, but we get into trouble if we let people buy things that aren't in the pamphlet. And I'd made a mistake before that order and put it in as a regular check and not WIC and had to redo it! (When they revamped our computer system last month, they also completely changed how we enter WIC checks. Now we have to type the dates on the checks first instead of last and look under transactions instead of checks.)

I really wish people wouldn't act so darn annoying about those checks. If you read the pamphlets, you know what to buy. They're your list, not a suggestion.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baby Monster Mash

Started the morning with Life cereal and the Rugrats disc. Despite having done an excellent Christmas episode early on, it was well into the 21st Century before the Rugrats got around to Halloween. Turned out to be worth the wait - this was a cute and inventive episode. It's the kids' first big Halloween adventure. Tommy and Dil's parents are taking them to an amusement park that's been decorated in spooky regalia for the holiday. Trouble is, Angelica convinces the kids that they'll turn into whatever they dress as for Halloween after the holiday is over! Chuckie doesn't want to be a werewolf forever! Both Chuckie and Angelica learn that Halloween is nothing to be afraid of when Chuckie uses his "wolf-ness" to get a frightened Angelica and the other kids out of the haunted house.

There were four other spooky-themed episodes on the disc. My favorite was the first, "Ghost Story." The kids all take turns telling a story about a little boy named Chuckie who explores a scary-looking house. Angelica wants a good, frightening tale, but the others do their best to remind Chuckie that a ghost story is still just a story, and not really scary at all.

Made a quick run to the Oaklyn Library around quarter of 1. It rained overnight, but the weather for most of the morning and afternoon was just gloomy, cool, and cloudy. As with the Haddon Township Library yesterday, there wasn't much to do. I rearranged a few DVDs and did the kids' books.

It was still cloudy as I strolled home. Oaklyn's yards are definitely showing more signs of fall. Mums and the last of the roses bloom in every garden. Banners depicting leaves and pumpkins or Halloween scenes wave from flag poles. Pumpkins, some carved, some still whole, perch on porches and stairs. Scarecrows stand watch over bushes with leaves that are just starting to turn colors. Some folks even have their Halloween displays out. Witches ride on trees, ghosts hang from branches, gardens are mini-cemeteries, and every bush has a cotton cobweb.

Spent the rest of the afternoon watching the Rugrats and the Disney Halloween Treat and Scary Tales Halloween specials I dubbed last month while baking Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. I used a variation on my favorite recipe from a Prevention cookbook. They came out even better than usual, wonderfully soft and chewy.

I had a quick lunch, then headed to work. Other than some problems with an order mid-way through the night, work was busy when I came in (I arrived just in time for the usual 4 to 6 rush hour), quiet enough to spend a half-hour shelving candy right before I left.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just a Big Girl From Oaklyn

Began a cloudy, cool day with a late-morning run to the Haddon Township Library. Alas, they had plenty of help, and there wasn't really much to do there. I organized kids' DVDs and shelved some children's books. I also did something I'd been meaning to do for a while. I went through the adult DVDs and removed any G-rated movies or cartoons that had been dropped there by mistake. Considering that the adult DVD section is overflowing as it is, you'd think people would be more careful.

I ended up with the Rugrats Halloween special, the Max & Ruby set "Rainy Day Play," and three movies, The Social Network (which I never did get to last week), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

My favorite finds were also the only books I took out this week. The Haddon Township Library finally got the new American Girl historical books in! I checked out Meet Cecile, Meet Marie-Grace, and Cecile's Gift. Cecile and Marie-Grace are two young ladies growing up in New Orleans in 1853 during a horrible yellow fever epidemic. Cecile is a free person of color and wealthy; Marie-Grace is white and less well-off, not to mention a relative newcomer to the city, having lived in New England for many years after her mother died. Despite their differences, the girls learn a precious lesson in compassion and understanding when they volunteer in orphanages that have been overtaxed by the epidemic.

Stopped at the Bagel Shoppe for lunch. I haven't been there in ages. I had a tasty vegetable and cheese quesdilla while reading the AG books. Though the time period isn't really my thing and the plots didn't seem all that realistic, I found myself enjoying them. Both girls are well-written, and their stories show an interesting side of the oft-battered but always fascinating Big Easy.

There was nothing else I needed to pick up this afternoon, so I just headed home. Went right into doing my outdoor cleaning. I normally only do it in the spring, but I've been having a flying insect problem in my kitchen, and I thought cleaner waste canisters might help.

Scrubbed the deck chairs first. I think they're on their last years. I've had them since I lived in Wildwood, and they're both starting to look more than a little messy. I could barely scrub the dirt smears and bird droppings off! What I need is a real small patio set, but I don't know if I could afford one or how I'd get it home if I could afford it.

After that, I took the trash can, paper recycling can, and tin/plastic/glass recycling can downstairs. I use the hose under the porch to wash these. It's easier than using a bucket. I also gave my bike a quick wash. Despite the cool, gloomy day, I was constantly getting bitten by mosquitoes. (I was hoping they'd be long-gone by now.)

Did a few things online, then did some baking. I got rid of the last three slices of the Acme bakery whole-wheat bread and the last three cornmeal muffins by making them into bread pudding. I ran Max & Ruby while I baked. I'd already seen about half of the episodes. Of the new ones, my favorite was "Max's Mud Bath." Ruby and Louise want to use Max as their first customer at their all-natural spa, with beauty products made from fresh fruit and vegetables. Problem is, Max thinks their treatments are for lunch, not his pores! It's Grandma who reminds the girls that Max's mud bath is one of the most natural of all spa treatments.

(And...yeah, this is one I can very much relate to. My sisters and I used to use Keefe as a model/spa client quite frequently. Anny in particular loved to practice new hair styles on him or try new brands of nail polish. To his credit, he took it much better than Max did - I don't remember him ever attempting to eat our beauty products.)

Switched to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as I made Broccoli, Chicken, and Brown Rice in a skillet for a quick dinner. This is the most famous of several musicals made by 50s blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe. She's a sweet-natured gold-digger chasing a nerdy millionaire. Jane Russell is her sensible best friend who would rather go after lookers than men with money. When Monroe becomes determined to follow her moneyed man on a cruise to France, Russell joins her in the hope of catching the eye of the US Olympic team. Things get more complicated when they're pursued by a private eye and Monroe chases an elderly millionaire (Charles Coburn) whose wife has a tiara Monroe wouldn't mind having for her best friend...

I was actually a little disappointed that beyond Monroe's famous "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" number (and Russell's hilarious reprise of it in court later), this isn't really much of a musical. Despite the lack of music, this is a fun comedy with both leading ladies in fine form. Coburn may be even funnier as the dirty old man with one eye on Monroe's shapely form and the other on his African safari stories.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trying Something Different

First of all, Happy Columbus Day! Here's hoping that you did some exploring of your own today.

I was up very late with Lauren last night. She's off today (she works for a bank in Pittsfield, and they were closed for the holiday) and I didn't work until 5. I wasn't up and about until 10:30! Didn't get to the laundromat until 12:30. That ended up working out rather well. There were a bunch of people leaving as I was coming in...and more came in as my drier was on its last few minutes. Mostly, it was me, the older woman who manages the building, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and The Chew on ABC.

When I got home, I put everything away, then had a quick lunch of leftovers. Since I still had some time left, I decided I'd do some rearranging. I never liked how I had the two large wooden shelves that held the children's paperbacks, comic books, American Girl books, and the file folders with various paper notions, directions, and other paper necessities. They blocked the two windows between my desk and my dresser.

I moved the shelves on top of each other. The narrow wooden shelf with the heart cut-outs that held the Care Bears was moved into the entertainment section of the living room. It and the wider, darker heart cut-out shelves that held the Christmas DVDs were moved where the small table that the lamp sat on was. That table was moved into my bedroom to hold the printer and the file folders. The boxy 80s video shelves that were next to the small table were put out with the recycling. I've cleared out so many videos, I really don't need them anymore.

I'm still not satisfied with the results. That little table isn't big enough to hold the printer, which juts out awkwardly and blocks the entrance to my bedroom. The shelves now don't have enough room for my Care Bears. The narrow heart shelf is too narrow for DVDs. I want to get another DVD rack for the living room and move the heart shelf back in the bed room for the Care Bears. I also want a table that fits the printer better.

Finished The King's Speech as I organized. This is one of the sweetest films to ever win an Oscar. It's the 1930s, and the Depression is raging in England. George, Duke of York, known as "Bertie" to his friends and family, is a shy man with a chronic stammer (Colin Firth). He's also one of the heirs to the title of King of England, a fact that brings him no amount of frustration. His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) hires an elocution coach (Geofrey Rush) to help him with his speech impediment. Lionel becomes both a friend and confidant to Bertie, but their friendship is tested when Bertie's brother abdicates the throne to marry a divorcee. Can the timid Bertie find the courage to be king...and the voice to lead England into war?

I thoroughly enjoyed this real-life tale of an unusual friendship. As someone who also has difficulty with speech, I could understand why Bertie was so reticent to take the throne...but I could also see Lionel's point about the common man and how Bertie had to reach out to them to be a truly effective ruler. Firth and Rush both did well as the title reluctant monarch and the would-be actor who helps him find the self-confidence to pull England through some of their darkest days.

Went to work shortly after the movie ended. Work was busy when I came in (not surprising on a holiday), dead when I left.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

No Winged Victory

I slept until 10:30 and thus, didn't get to my apples and cinnamon pancakes until more than an hour later. Brunch With the Beatles was honoring John Lennon with some of his best songs. Among the Lennon solo tunes were "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," "Woman," and "Just Like Starting Over." Lennon's songs with the Beatles included "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Revolution," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "No Reply," "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," "Ticket to Ride," "Come Together," and the early "Ain't She Sweet."

It was nearly 1 before I got over to Uncle Ken's to visit the family for an hour before work. Though Dad and Jodie are away, there was still quite a crowd there. Most of Dolores' children and grandchildren were there when I came. Samantha, David, and their brood showed up later. I left just as Dolores and the kids were starting to make ice cream.

Not surprisingly, on such a gorgeous day, the Acme was dead all evening. We had plenty of help and no problems whatsoever. I grabbed a few things I didn't get on Friday on my way out - lemon juice, whole wheat flour, yogurt, more of those new Nestle Dark Chocolate chips on sale, and the last discounted Duracell hard drive.

Called Mom when I got in. Mom was just washing the dishes from dinner. She was in a much better mood than last week, partially because of the improved weather. She confirmed my suspicions as to why the Acme was so quiet. Everyone is in Cape May County for Columbus Day Weekend! Mom said it was packed when she went for a walk in Cape May yesterday.

And alas, the Eagles did lose to the Bills, 31-24.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Keep On Tryin'

Started today with the American Top 40. Casey went back to 1976, this time moving to the fall of that year. Among the hits from early October were the Bay City Rollers' cover of "I Only Wanna Be With You," "Say That You Love Me" by Fleetwood Mac, and "Rockin' Me" by the Steve Miller Band. That week's #1 hit was, according to Casey Kasem, 170 years in the making - "A Fifth of Beethoven," the disco version of "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony" by the Walter Schuman Orchestra.

I had a very long morning. I made a few yard sale stops in Oaklyn and Collingswood, but I didn't do nearly as well there as I did last week. All I found was a copy of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre that I'll probably dub next week. (And that'll be the last dubbing for myself that I intend to do for a while. I've been dubbing things since early August! I want to do a disc for Lauren's birthday in a few weeks, and Mom and Rose have asked for a few things, but I won't be doing any more mass-dubbing until I do the holiday videos in November. After that, I probably won't do anything until the yard sales start up again in the spring.)

Next stop was the Collingswood Farm Market. It was busy but not too bad when I got there, maybe because I was there a little earlier than the past few weeks. I picked up the first New Jersey cranberries and broccoli of the season. Also needed apples (I got the sweetest, tartest little Gala apples!), pears, Colby cheese from the dairy booth, honey from the honey booth, and red Romaine lettuce from the organic booth.

I made a long ride up to Haddon Heights for their town-wide yard sale after I left the farm market (after a few fruitless stops in Collingswood). I didn't get up there until past 11, but the town was hopping. I made all my best finds there.

Picked up nine records:

Two Disney kids' LPs, Mousercise (complete with the original booklet detailing all the exercise moves to do to the songs) and Mickey Mouse Disco. My family had Mousercise for years in the 80s. My favorite song was always "Get the Money (Uncle Scrooge's Money)," miming the Beagle Boys trying to raid Uncle Scrooge's bin!

Neil Diamond - Tap Root Manuscript

Billy Joel - Streetlife Serenade

Hall & Oates - H2O

An RCA Vintage series LP of rare songs from 10s and 20s performers Fannie Brice and Helen Morgan

The soundtrack for the movie version of Cabaret

The Mary Martin original cast album for The Sound of Music (I already have the movie soundtrack on CD.)

A CD of winter/Christmas-themed jazz-New Age music, On a Winter's Night.

The two-disc DVD set for the movie The Aviator, with Leonard DiCaprio as Howard Hughes and Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn. I'm not normally fond of DiCaprio, but the movie is set during the 20s and 30s and sounds like it's right up my alley.

Two books, the 80s Wuzzles story Eleroo's Big Surprise and the paperback novelization of Superman Returns.

A woman in Haddon Heights was selling off her daughters' old dance costumes. Amid the ruffles and spangles was a red cape in nice condition that fit me. I decided it would be perfect for a Little Red Riding Hood costume. I could provide a basket, a blouse, and a stuffed wolf myself, and I could probably find red shoes and a red skirt somewhere. (I need new good winter shoes anyway.)

By 1:30, my bad knee was getting sore and my foot was killing me. It was time to call it a day and grab lunch. Since it was on my way, I stopped at Simply Soups in Audubon for a nice, filling meal. I had a cup of creamy Turkey Pumpkin Soup with Wild Rice, two breadsticks, and a can of Diet Root Beer. It was tasty, just like all Simply Soups meals are, and it went a long way towards refilling the gas tank after riding around three towns for four and a half hours.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the apartment. I was too pooped to go anywhere else! I hung out online until around 5:30. After that, I baked brownies and made Honey Whole Wheat Bread, the first bread I've made in months. I had salmon, Sweet and Sour Swiss Chard, and an apple for dinner while watching the very strange Rankin-Bass movie Mad Monster Party? and the Bowery Boys horror comedy Spook Busters.

Friday, October 07, 2011

What a Wonderful World

I've had a rather pleasant couple of days. Yesterday, I slept in and watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Adventures in the great outdoors was the theme of this set. My favorite episodes were Minnie and Mickey's search for a rare tropical flower (with a little help from Jungle Pete's elephant friends) and Mickey and Donald's attempt to rescue the girls and Pluto when they get a little too carried away by a pile of balloons.

It was so gorgeous yesterday, I just had to get out and do something. I finally swept the porch after letting it go for almost a month because of the rain. It needed it. The leaves are just starting to show the first tinge of autumn colors here, and they're falling at a much faster rate.

Work was pretty much the same as Wednesday. It was steady when I arrived right on time for the usual 4-6 rush hour. By the time I left at 10, I was just doing candy. Once again, there were no real problems, and I was in and out.

After a shower, I spent most of last night and this morning dubbing a pile of home movies for Dad-Bruce to DVD. He said he did it himself years ago, but he wanted to take advantage of the improvement in technology since then. I wasn't sure about doing it for him, but I'm glad I did it. The tapes were mostly of my stepsister Jessa, from her adoption from China by Dad and my stepmother Kaye in August 1993 through Jessa's 9th birthday in 1999, two years after Kaye's death from cancer. In between, I saw everything from Jessa's first Halloween in the US (I can't believe my sister dressed as a Pink Power Ranger) to Dad's 50th birthday party (I didn't know he and Kaye were such great dancers) to Jessa's First Communion (she looks stunning in white).

I finished up the tapes this morning while waiting for the Comcast technician to arrive. I got some other things done around the apartment, too. I changed the Cabbies into fall clothes. I cleared out the piles of papers on the table and junk drawer dresser. I dusted the living room.

After the Comcast technician left and the tape I was dubbing ended, I headed out to the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. I picked up my paycheck, then went out to lunch. My first thought was Tu Se Bella, but I finally decided it was far too nice to eat inside and opted for a Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Onion Rings, and an iced tea at Sonic.

It was another gorgeous day here. The weather just doesn't get much more perfect than this. It was sunny, breezy, and dry, warm but not above the average for early October in Southern New Jersey. It was great for an outdoor lunch. There were other people eating on the patio at Sonic with me, too, a group of teenage boys, a family, and a middle-aged couple.

Went back to the Acme after lunch for this week's grocery shopping. With the holiday baking season upon us, now was the time to stock up on essentials like brown sugar, white sugar, cake mixes (99 cents for Duncan Hines this week - I got Fudge Marble for family parties), vanilla, peanut butter, and cooking spray. I was almost out of oatmeal, and I found beef stew meat and chicken cutlets for good prices. Also got two of the dollar single packs of fish.

Headed home next. I finished dubbing Dad's videos while putting away my groceries. Went right back out again to run a few errands. I wanted to get the videos and DVD to Dad before he goes on a work trip starting tomorrow. I did catch him and Jodie watching Law & Order at Uncle Ken's house. I delivered the videos and DVD to him, and he showed me his lovely collection of exotic plants outside and gave me a sprig from his and Uncle Ken's huge rosemary bush.

My next stop was a quick run to the bank. After that, I went straight back to my apartment. I dusted and listened to records, then ran Summer Magic while making Chicken Legs Poached in Rosemary-White Wine Sauce with carrots and leeks, steamed Swiss chard, and Sweet Potatoes with Vanilla and Cinnamon for dinner. Baked that yummy Rosemary-Lemon Cake from the day after Hurricane Irene again, too.

And I don't have a bad schedule next week. A couple of late days, but nothing quite as bad as Thursday, and Tuesday and next Friday off. (And I work late next Saturday, so I won't have to rush the farm market-yard sale run tomorrow or next week. Great! This is the prime fall yard sale season in South Jersey.)
Back In Business

Hi, everyone! The Comcast guy just left. I'm back online! Comcast is cable-based, rather than phone-wire based, and their modem is MUCH heavier. I'm just hoping they don't go down every time there's a storm or every college and high school student has homework to do online. I'm dubbing some home movies of my stepsister Jessa for my dad, then I'm going to head to work, have lunch, and run errands. I'll give more details later tonight!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Caring Is What Counts

I normally try to avoid doing the Haddon Township Library run on work days, but I had DVDs due and I really couldn't wait for my next day off, which is Friday. As it happened, I'm glad I did. For one thing, the ride to and from the library was utterly gorgeous. It was sunny, breezy, and warm but not hot or humid when I headed out on the bike late this morning. Newton River Park was just gorgeous. There were so many people out walking, biking, and jogging, I ended up riding on the street.

There was plenty to do at the library, too. I shelved piles and piles of DVDs. The children's DVDs badly needed to be re-organized. There were lots of kids' books to put away, too. I ended up taking out another Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD Mickey's Great Outdoors, another Care Bears Team "movie" Share Bear Shines, and the first live-action movies I've rented from the library in ages, The King's Speech and The Social Network.

Made a brief stop at Super Fresh on the way home. I desperately need gel inserts for my work sneakers. I'm hoping they'll help my poor, hurting feet. They had cupcake papers for 50 cents, so I got those, too.

I got home with enough time to have leftovers for lunch and watch Share Bear Shines. Actually, I wish I'd found this one first, before The Giving Festival Movie and Care Bears to the Rescue, since it introduces the character of Princess Starglo and the Care Team concept. Share Bear is upset when the other Care Bears claim to not believe in the story of Princess Starglo or how she transforms twinklets into full-fledged stars. Share Bear takes off with her new twinklet friend Glimmer to prove the others wrong. She does find the princess and Glitter City, but the Princess, who is losing power now that no one believes in her, brushes her off.

Meanwhile, Bedtime Bear has noticed that the sun and stars no longer seem to be shining in Care-a-Lot, and the night is never-ending. He sends Cheer, Funshine, and Grumpy off in search of Share, the Princess, and the answer to the mystery of the disappearing stars.

Frankly, I'm still not sold on the Care Team idea. Princess Starglo was nothing but obnoxious to Share until she and the others finally convinced her to see her problems from a different perspective. I don't think the Care Bears really work as superheroes, either. American Greetings probably should have just revamped the entire franchise in 2009 after it became obvious that Adventures In Care-a-Lot was finished its run.

(And as I mentioned, it looks like this one is set well before either The Giving Festival or Care Bears to the Rescue. Try to get this one first if you or your kids are interested in the Care Team movies.)

Work went quite smoothly this evening, despite working late. It was steady until about 8PM, after which it died very quickly. I was in and out with no problems.

I'm not sure if I'll be online or not. My Verizon internet is ending tomorrow, but I forget when. Comcast is supposed to be in on Friday morning to set up my new Internet. If I'm not in tomorrow, have a great one!