Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Angel and the Baritone

Yayyyy! Warners is adding more MacDonald/Eddy movies to the Archive, including three of their solo vehicles and their only movie together I haven't seen, their last as a team, 1942's I Married an Angel! They'll be out next week! : D

I Married an Angel
Boys and Birds In Love

Finished The Great Gatsby this morning during breakfast, then started Rio. I thought this would be a good way to have a little fun after the somewhat depressing Gatsby. Blu is a macaw who has been the beloved companion of a young woman in Minnesota his whole life. He's always lived in her book shop or a cage and has never needed to fly...until they go to Rio De Janero to mate Blu with the last remaining female blue macaw, Jewel. Jewel is very much a wild bird, and she's not happy about being in captivity. They both have a lot to learn, though, when they're stolen by men who want to sell rare birds as pets and they have to get back to Rio De Janero and Blu's human in time for Carnivale!

What saves the cliched story (it uses almost the same plot as Disney's The Princess and the Frog) is the fun characters and the delightful music. The movie opens with birds singing "Welcome to Rio," and we hear musical numbers throughout the film. It's also sweet to see how Blu learns that you only need to open your heart and trust yourself if you want your wings - and your heart - to soar.

I cleaned the bathroom during the second half of Rio. I did the bathroom and the kitchen late last month, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Nevertheless, it still took me so long, I barely had the time to have leftovers for lunch, change into my uniform, pack a bag for the gym later, and hurry off to work!

Work was quiet when I came in, on-and-off during the 4-6 rush hour. It's the beginning of the month, and a lot of people do their shopping now. February is usually one of our busiest months of the year. Unlike November and December, where there's lulls between holidays, things don't let up in February. You have the beginning of the month, then the Super Bowl, then Valentine's Day, then President's Day Weekend, and there's the years when the Winter Olympics are running, too. There were a lot of older people who had problems bagging, and at least one college student who had to put back a quarter of her order because she didn't have enough money with her. (Please, always bring two methods of payment!)

Headed straight to the gym after I got off at work. I was surprised to see how busy it was at 6PM, which is the dinner hour for most people. Maybe it was the two classes that were going on the entire time I was there. I worked on the machines for the arms and upper body, lifted weights, and did the elliptical machine. This was a lot tougher than the stationary bike! It's a walking machine, but unlike the treadmill, you walk on two separate metal poles. It's harder than it looks! I barely got 20 minutes in, and I was sweating like crazy.

I had limited options for dinner after my workout. My first thought, since it was such a nice, warm night, was Sonic...but for some odd reason, they were closed. I hope it's not for good. I'll miss their delicious onion rings. I finally decided I wanted a meal that was balanced, but still fast, and rode over to Golden Corral. I don't eat over there often because they're expensive (my dinner cost almost 14 dollars with an iced tea) and it's a pain to cross the busy parking lot. Since I was on that side of the mall anyway, I figured I'd try it. I had a spinach salad, a small barbecue chicken fillet, some kind of cooked greens (spinach or collards), and those tasty braised mushrooms. The greens turned out to be overcooked, with no flavor at all. I barely ate half and replaced them with a few Brussels sprouts and a little sweet potato casserole. Had a bit of frozen yogurt and some coconut macaroons for dessert (and didn't finish the yogurt).

I had a lovely ride going home, too. It's a gorgeous night, and it's supposed to be an even nicer day tomorrow.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Roar of the Dryers

The laundry was the big thing today. I finally made it there around quarter after 11. I think I waited too long. It was very busy, with lots of families and other people folding clothes and chattering to each other. I got the last available washer! I had an easier time getting the new dryers. They're smaller than the old dryers, and they don't get as hot. There's a row on the top and a row on the bottom. I used a top one, but that may have been a bad idea. I could barely reach it. I think I'll try to use the bottom ones from now on.

When I got home, I put the laundry away, then put on The Great Gatsby while making Chicken-Tomato-Vegetable Soup from leftovers for lunch. This is the 1974 adaptation of the famous F. Scott Fitgerald novel. Robert Redford is the mysterious title character; Mia Farrow is his great lost love, Daisy. A young Sam Watterson narrates and plays Gatsby's neighbor. We see Gatsby and his world of the roaring 20s through Watterson's eyes. I love this movie, but then, I also like the book. (I know there was a version in the 40s with Alan Ladd that wasn't well-received; there was apparently also a silent film with Warner Baxter made in 1926 that has since been lost.)

It was chilly and sunny when I headed to work, but the wind from the weekend had largely died down. This was reflected at work; it was steady during rush hour, quiet and very dull the rest of the night.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quiet in the Riverside Rest

Actually, I didn't do a whole lot today. Mom was recovering from dental surgery and not up to talking; Lauren spent most of the evening with her parents. I kept things simple this morning; woke up late and listened to most of Brunch With the Beatles. They honored the anniversary of the Beatles' famous Rooftop Concert with lots of music from Let It Be and Abbey Road, including "The Two of Us," "Get Back," "Hey Jude," "I Me Mine," and "Come Together." Even my pancakes were simple. I nixed the usual added ingredients and made Whole Wheat Silver Dollar Pancakes.

Work was steady when I went in, crazy-busy when I left. I just barely got out on time with no relief. Lines or no lines, I needed a few things I'd forgotten or couldn't fit in yesterday - toilet paper, fruit concentrate for baking, and marshmallows. The express line was by far the shortest line, thankfully.

After I got home, I made a bathroom break, changed clothes, and went right back out again. I didn't want to put off the bank this time. There was a lovely sunset as I strolled down West Clinton Avenue to the White Horse Pike, all glowing molten red-gold-purple. That's one of the things I love about winter. With the leaves off the trees, I have a spectacular view of the sun setting on the river.

Spent the rest of the night working on inventories. This time, I moved the children's fiction to its own inventory separate from the adult fiction. I ran out of time to add more to the inventory; we'll see if we can work on that this week.

Oh, and my health insurance card FINALLY arrived. It must have came yesterday and I missed it. I guess my papers were at the top of the pile. This means I can return to looking for a doctor for a check-up.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adventures at the Gym and the Aquarium

I did finally make it to Lucile Roberts today. I got in with about ten minutes to spare. I pushed my backpack and coat into a locker, locked it, bought a bottle of water, and joined the others waiting for the orientation to start.

Lucile Roberts is the cleanest, newest gym I've ever seen. Most gyms I've encountered have been shoved into small spaces or rooms in a college or high school. Not this one. It took over one of the large new storefronts in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center, a few doors down from Staples and next-door to the Chinese restaurant. It has an enormous wood floor for classes and state-of-the-art equipment. We were shown how to use the stationary bike, the elliptical (walking) machine, the treadmill, and the various weight machines.

I decided to keep it pretty simple today. I tried some of the machines that concentrated on the lower body first, since I got a pretty good upper body workout with the various yoga DVDs this week. I think I can go up a weight on most of them. I had problem with the one that works the thighs, but it turns out that the metal piece used to hold the weights in place was bent. I had to move to another one.

The stationary bike turned out to be almost too simple. I put it on 20 minutes, with no resistance...which just wasn't enough to get my heart rate going. I added a little more resistance. Next time, I think I'll either try the elliptical machine or add more resistance. I do ride a bike every day, after all.

I headed out to lunch around quarter of 1. I had no idea where to go that wouldn't completely blow my diet. I decided to hitch my wagon to some of Bassett's delicious barbecue. I had cole slaw and their BBQ Sliders - three mini-versions of their pulled pork, beef, and chicken sandwiches. Very tasty. As usual, the small cole slaw was a bit too much. I brought some of it home.

Stopped at the Acme next to do my grocery shopping. It was a little busy there, but nothing too horrible. I did the sale where you filled an insulated bag with meat and got the bag free. I didn't fill it. I only bought chicken legs, chicken cutlets, and stew meat...and the cutlets were the only things that were part of the sale. That's ok. I really just wanted to replace my insulated bag. The one I've had for a few years now is falling apart. I also stocked up on brown sugar, grapefruit, strawberries, bananas, good cheddar cheese from the deli, yogurt, and eggs. Took advantage of that sale on Emerald products and the coupons I've cut out of the boxes for the trail mix bags to get two boxes of the trail mix bags and two containers of almonds.

Called my sister Rose the moment I got home. Yes, she'd forgotten she said we'd get together. No matter. She invited me to go to the Adventure Aquarium on the Camden Waterfront with her, her best friend Colleen (who is visiting from Harrisburg), and 1 1/2-year-old son Khai. I gladly accepted. I'd had no other plans for today but doing my taxes.

The trio picked me up about an hour later. The Adventure Aquarium is one of Camden's biggest attractions. It's the home of hundreds of species of fish, sharks, hippos, and other marine animals. (And some non-marine animals. An African-themed exhibit has birds and, for some reason, a porcupine.) I don't know if Khai quite got what was going on. We browsed through all of the exhibits that we could. (Adventure Zone C was closed to be remodeled into the Aquarium's kid area.) Khai was a little apprehensive about the dark and some of the scarier animals, especially the huge alligator Mighty Mike.

He was happier (and so was Colleen) when we went outside to look at the African Penguins and the seals. The penguins were hanging around the door to their area; apparently, it was close to their feeding time, and they knew where to get their lunch! There was only one seal outside, and he was napping. A lot. He was napping when we first went outside around 3:30, and he was still asleep on the same rock an hour later (though by that time, he'd been joined by a second seal who at the very least was going for a swim). One little girl noted that the seal even looked like he had a flipper stuck in his mouth like a thumb.

Khai seemed to enjoy the concrete walkway in the back of the building more than anything inside. No wonder. It was bright, sunny, and windy, and there was plenty of room for him to out-run his mother, giggling happily. He loved watching the choppy green waves lap against the concrete. I enjoyed the spectacular view of Philadelphia, the river, and the Ben Franklin Bridge.

We finally headed home around quarter of 5. Rose drove us past the buildings of Rutgers University, where she finished her law degree, to show them to Colleen. I amused her son in the back seat with a Dr. Seuss board book on animal sounds. He loved it when I mooed, whoo-whooed, and knocked on his child's seat to simulate knocking on a door.

When I got home, I spent the next hour or so doing my taxes. My taxes take less than an hour. I own no large property and have no dependents. The sun had just finished setting when I sent my file to the IRS. I direct-deposited again this year, so I should be seeing both my federal and New Jersey returns within a week.

Watched the Bowery Boys and finished up Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated while making a quick omelet with broccoli and cheddar cheese for dinner. I never knew goofy ol' Fred could be put to such dramatic ends. I won't spoil anything here, but suffice to say, I will be waiting for the debut of this show in May with a great deal of interest.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Great Dane and the Meddling Kids

I awoke to a cloudy, warm morning. Alas, by the time I was up and about, the clouds had burst. It was raining cats, pigs, dogs, and chickens! I had planned on going to the Oaklyn Library, but it was too messy to go anywhere. I worked on crocheting and watched Scooby Doo: Mysteries Incorporated.

This is the newest version of Scooby Doo, which ran on Cartoon Network last year (and can still be seen in re-runs). On the surface, most things are the same. Velma is still smart and wearing orange. Daphne is still pretty, redheaded, and fond of purple mini-skirts. Fred is still goofy, has a things for traps, and wears an ascot. Shaggy is still wearing green, eating too much, and heading for the hills whenever something even remotely scary turns up...which, if you know this franchise, happens quite regularly. And Scooby is still a big dog with a bigger appetite who is almost more of a coward than his owner.

A lot of things, however, have changed. The name of the town has been changed from Coolsville (which always sounded sort of dumb anyway) to Crystal Cove. The kids all have parents and relatives who are actually concerned about their offspring running around in haunted buildings...except for Fred's dad, the town's mayor, who only cares about attracting tourists to the town's many ghostly sightings. The trouble is, the kids keep proving the ghosts are fake, which isn't making Mr. Jones happy. And then, there's what happened to the original Mystery Inc, who seem to have disappeared under very odd circumstances. Not to mention "Mr. E," the voice that pops up to give out clues from time to time, and Angel, the DJ who seems to know more about Crystal Cove and its secrets than she wants to admit...

There's also the romances running rampant. Daphne's always had a thing for Fred, but the only thing he has eyes for are traps and mysteries. Velma and Shaggy are quite hot on each other too...or would be, if Scooby was happier about sharing his best friend with someone else.

This is especially fun if you're a long-time fan of Scooby like I am who knows something about the show, its history, and the history of animation in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. A whole episode is devoted to spoofing the many Hanna Barbara and Ruby-Spears teams who were Scooby imitations in the 70s; another involves Vincent Van Ghoul, a prominent character from the 80s Scooby show The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo. (The same episode refers to another character from that show and Scrappy Doo.)

As a fan of real mystery series, I enjoyed the serial format; it's almost like watching an old-time cliffhanger. Those of you who prefer the more traditional format, don't like the darker tone or the mushy stuff, or who aren't animation fans may want to try the original show or the direct-to-home-video movies before coming here.

The rain finally ended around noon, which gave me a chance to run over to the Oaklyn Library for some volunteering. It was fairly busy, but there wasn't much to do. I organized the DVDs and children's shelf, and took a quick look at the young adults section. After I left there, I had lunch at my place, baked pumpkin muffins, and watched more Scooby, then went to work. By this time, the rain had disappeared completely, to be replaced by sun and lots of wind.

Work was quiet when I arrived and when I left. It was only busy during rush hour. I'm not thrilled with my schedule next week. Only one day off (Wednesday) and a very late night next Friday.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Running Balance

I started today quietly with That's Entertainment Part III and a baking session. I just got rid of the remaining cookies I bought on sale from the Acme's bakery last week and decided I wanted a less dry successor. I finally ended up making the last bag of Gingerbread Cookie Mix from last month. Ran That's Entertainment III as I baked. The That's Entertainment films are perfect for when I just need background, or when I want to watch a musical and can't decide. It's like picking all of them.

It had been cloudy and cool but not too cold or warm all morning, and it remained so when I headed out around 11:30 with a bag of books and CDs to donate to the Haddon Township Library. I had a few stops to make on the way. Went to Dollar Tree first for sponges, scrubbers, and a back brush for the shower. Skipped a few doors down and had a nice, simple lunch of Minestrone Soup, a bottle of water, and a toasted honey-oat bagel at the Westmont Bagel Shop. It was past noon by then, so they were fairly busy.

(And I noticed that the Party Shop party goods store in the Westmont Plaza seems to be moving across the parking lot to the freestanding building that once housed Blockbuster Video. I guess they needed more room. I wonder what will move into the store they're vacating? That store was empty for years before they opened.)

Rode over to the Haddon Township Library next for this week's volunteering session there. There were plenty of DVDs to put away, so I mainly concentrated on doing them. I encountered my sister Rose carrying a gigantic box while I was shelving the adult movies. She mentioned first that she wants to know more about Lucile Roberts when I finally get there; she's considering joining up, too. She then told me that her best friend Colleen will be visiting from Harrisburg on Saturday, and she thought I might want to get together with them. Besides, she still needs to pick up her son's winter hat that he lost at work. She says it's his favorite.

I did end up taking out a couple of DVDs this week. Grabbed the animated film Rio, the first set for the new Scooby Doo series Mysteries Incorporated, and two movies, the 70s Robert Redford/Mia Farrow version of The Great Gatsby, and the recent version of True Grit with Jeff Bridges.

The pavement and my bike were a little bit wet when I got out, but it wasn't too bad. It was still showering slightly as I pushed my bike down the hill, but the rain was long gone when I arrived at the Collingswood Library. My session there was much faster. I just shelved and organized a few DVDs. There was nothing to do upstairs, and not a lot going on besides high school students doing homework. I left a little early. Headed across the street briefly to take a look at the Antique and Used Book Shop where I bought Uncle Ken's Rachel Ray cookbook last fall, but there wasn't much left there.

Yoga was next. Lee had just come back from six days in Jamaica. She was energized and full of ideas and inspiration from her trip. We did a lot of work on twisting this time and on standing poses. I think I'm finally getting the hang of the slower pace. It's also nice to see a lot of less-coordinated people, which doesn't often happen in the morning classes or with most workout DVDs.

Rode home via Newton River Park, since I didn't go through the park this morning. It was almost dark by the time I pulled up next to CVS. I picked up Pantene curl formula shampoo and conditioner on sale there, then quickly made my way home for dinner and an East Side Kids movie, Spooks Run Wild.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Balance and the Toons

Started out a gorgeous, sunny day with the last of the organizing in the living area I plan on doing for now. I moved the narrow ash heart cut-out shelf into the music area and filled it with the Christmas CDs and cassettes. This freed up room on the CD rack and made things a lot less tight. I won't be able to do anything else in the music area until I can get crates for the records.

Went right into putting up the Valentine's decorations. The majority of my these are cardboard hearts for the walls and old Valentine's cards sent by family members. I have one small heart-shaped box covered with ruffles that was once a box of chocolates that I deemed to pretty to throw away and a tin shaped like a bear in a pink lace dress. I put up a red tinsel garland in the bedroom over the windows behind the desk and a white one in the dining area over the big windows looking out onto the porch.

It was such a nice day, I took a very quick walk after I finished with the decorations. It was probably in the upper 40s-lower 50s, still too warm for this time of year. A few people have Valentine's or winter banners out, but most folks have settled on a wreath, leftover Christmas items, or a bare yard. It was pretty quiet, other than the kids playing in the yard at the Haddon Learning Center (day care center on West Clinton).

When I got home, I made oatmeal and tangerines for lunch while running Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers and one of the three specials that came on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 5 set, Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals. This unusual half-hour special shows Bugs and Daffy's dueling piano duet on the title classical piece, intermingling with shots of a real orchestra and limited animation footage of the animals being represented in the music. Pretty simple and very strange, but Bugs and Daffy's attempt to one-up each other with fancy animal rhymes is fairly amusing.

Work wasn't too bad. This is the middle of the week and the middle of the month. It was quieter than yesterday, even during rush hour. I had some trouble with a WIC check that wouldn't go through...and my register absolutely had to crash in the middle of figuring it out! A manager took the check at customer service, and I moved to the register behind me. There were no other problems, plenty of help, and my relief was on time.

When I got home, I made Chicken Stir-Fry with leftovers and ran the other Looney Tunes prime-time special from Vol. 5, Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over. This time, we have three all-new shorts directed by Chuck Jones himself, with a very mild spring/early summer theme. The first depicts a young Bugs and Elmer chasing each other with Elmer's cork pop gun. The second has Bugs being taken to Mars by Marvin the Martian as a pet for his new Earth monster. And where Chuck Jones is, Wil E Coyote and the Road Runner are sure to follow...and they had the last segment to themselves.

After dinner, I tried that Power Yoga DVD I took out of the library. It was basically my morning Vinyasa class at Yogawood with more work on the core muscles. I've discovered that, first of all, while my legs are fairly strong (as I've mentioned,), my core and upper body desperately need work. Second, though I did enjoy the noisier DDP Yoga, I'd like to alternate it with something more serene that allows for better meditation. The Power Yoga was a little too difficult for me, but I'll see if I can find a DVD that's quieter than DDP but allows for more of a workout than the Yoga For Beginners I was using. (After five years, I think I'm beyond that Beginners DVD anyway.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flying Into the Past

Overslept and didn't really get to much this morning. I barely had enough time to get to the bank and blow up my back tire. I wanted to do the front one, too, but I couldn't get the cap unscrewed. I had to get my paycheck to PNC today. I have bills to pay and I've been putting it off because of the weather.

When I got in, I had a quick lunch of a peanut butter and apple butter wrap and a cup of home-made vegetable soup, then dashed off to work. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - quiet when I arrived, very busy during rush hour. This time, though, there were no call outs, no bad weather, and we had plenty of help. My relief was on time, and I was in and out.

When I got home, I had leftover Chicken with Tomatoes and broccoli for dinner and watched the rest of The Aviator. Howard Hughes (Leonard DiCaprio) was a billionaire in the early and mid-20th century with a passion for three things - airplanes, starlets, and movies. He produced a huge airplane epic in the early talkie era (the World War I-set Hell's Angels) that was well received, but most of his other films, including the 1932 gangster tale Scarface and the 1943 western The Outlaw, got him into trouble with the Motion Picture Production Code. His relationship with witty Katherine Hepburn (a pitch-perfect Cate Blanchett) goes on the rocks when she gets tired of him dating other women; she finally decides she prefers tougher Spencer Tracy (Kevin O'Rourke). His beloved "Hercules" airplane is considered too big and elaborate to fly. The owner of Pan-Am (Alec Baldwin) is determined to drive Hughes' TWA out of the air and away from trans-Atlantic flights. And then, there's his fall into Obsessive-Compusive Disorder, which would eventually take over his life...

No doubt about it, this is harrowing stuff. It's definitely not for everybody, especially the second half that concentrates on Hughes' struggles with Pan-Am and his more troubled dealings with Ava Gardner (Kate Beckingsale). Blanchett gets the acting honors as a spot-on Hepburn (and deservedly won a Supporting Actress Oscar). If nothing else, this is interesting for familiar actors in small roles; in addition to O'Rourke (of cable's Remember WENN), look for Jude Law in a brief but fairly accurate scene as Errol Flynn and rock musician Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow at the Hell's Angels premiere.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Snow Where There's Rain

Yes, it was raining when I got up this morning. Normally, I'd put doing the laundry off until a less-wet day, but the laundromat is going to be closed tomorrow in order to install new driers, and I work fairly early on Wednesday. It was now or wait until Thursday, which would really be too late.

The rain was just a shower when I headed out. The grass was still mushy, but the rain had cleared the majority of the ice and slush off of the street. I was able to ride my bike normally. It was also still fairly cold, more than it was supposed to be today.

Much to my surprise, the laundromat was busy when I arrived. I guess everyone decided to get theirs done now, too, before they close. I was able to get a washer and drier, but I had to dodge several people, including the owner and a couple of workers removing parts of the back wall that held the driers in preparation to replace them.

The rain had started coming down harder as I headed home. I arrived wet, though thankfully, I have a thick bag I use for laundry, and the dry clothes weren't too bad. The rain was coming down so hard, I tried calling Dad for a ride after I finished putting the laundry away. Turns out he's down in the Florida Keys, visiting friends. The phone call wasn't a total loss. I hadn't talked to him for a couple off weeks, so that was nice.

I was incredibly lucky. The rain had slowed into a mist by the time I finally headed to work, and I arrived just a little damp. Work wasn't too bad when I came in at one, but it got very busy during rush hour and never let up afterwards. A teenager called out at the very last minute and left us short on help, too. I barely got out on time.

I picked up a few things I couldn't fit in last night after work. A sale on King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour was the big one. I also needed tangerines, mushrooms, more of those dollar bagged veggies, laundry detergent (I have enough left for next week in my current bottle and that's it), and baking soda. By the time I finished, the rain, which had apparently gotten really bad at one point, was gone...along with most of the snow and ice. I had a perfectly dry ride home. Picked up the last of my recent online orders, my own copy of that 10 Laws for Career Reinvention book.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Making Some Changes

Started out a late morning with my journal, then Brunch With the Beatles. The theme today was "Songs that came out in or around January." These included "Penny Lane," "She Loves You," "In My Life," and "A Day In the Life."

I made Cocoa-Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast, then called Mom. Got Dad, but that was cool. I haven't talked to him since Christmas Eve. He was watching CNN. He's a huge Giants fan and gave me a lot of talk about how "revved" they were for tonight's game. He said Mom was in the shower. I'd call her back later.

Spent the rest of the morning re-arranging my bedroom. There's a lot of furniture in the bedroom that I really can't put anyplace but where they are. I tried to find somewhere else for the closets and the dresser that came with the apartment, but they were both too big to fit anywhere but against the walls. I can't move the desk away from the internet cable, either. Plus, there's only two electrical outlets in the room, and one phone jack in the whole apartment.

I originally wanted to push my "bed" (really, a very worn mattress and box spring that I've had since I was a kid) against the wall and turn it into a daybed, but it took up too much room that way...not to mention, I would be sleeping against that electrical outlet. I moved both Ikea "Billy" bookshelves in the alcove on the end of the closets, the old vanity chair that's the home for some of my collectable Effanbee dolls next to the wooden crate I use for an bed table, and the American Girl dolls' bed to the foot of my bed. The American Girl dolls themselves now sit on their bed instead of blocking the closets; the Disney Animators dolls will just stay on my bed.

Once again, I pushed too long. I barely had enough time to grab two muffins and a pear for lunch, change into my uniform, pack a bag for grocery shopping later, and hurry out the door! Though Manor Avenue was still icy, Kendall Boulevard and the Black Horse Pike were fine. I had to walk my bike on Manor, but I was able to ride normally when I hit the main roads.

Work was very busy for most of the day with people restocking after yesterday and getting ready for today's big football games. The Baltimore Ravens played the New England Patriots for the AFC title, while the San Francisco 49ers took on Dad's beloved New York Giants in the later game for the NFC. It did clear out slightly later on. Work went quickly with no problems; I was in and out.

My only real trouble today was my nose. I hadn't moved some of the furniture in my bedroom since I came to Oaklyn in January 2006, and the bookshelves weren't touched since April of that year. It was really dusty under those shelves, and it got into my lungs. I've been sneezing like crazy all day.

I already did fast food this week and I wasn't hungry enough for a big meal at Bassett's Memphis Barbecue or Applebee's, so I rode over to Tu Se Bella's to grab a slice of pizza. The place was hopping when I got in. All eyes were on the last few minutes of the Ravens-Patriots game. Even as I waited for my slice of Broccoli Rabe-Sausage Pizza to warm up, the Ravens missed a heartbreaker of a field goal that lost them the game, 23-20.

Went back to the Acme for a major grocery shopping session after dinner. I needed a LOT. In fact, I needed so much, I couldn't get it all tonight. I wouldn't have been able to carry it on my bike! The Acme is having a "buck a bag" vegetable sale and I needed to stock up, so I bought celery and a bag of cauliflower and broccoli, along with grapefruit, pears, and bananas. I also grabbed milk, brown eggs, ground chicken, cubed steaks, peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, cereal, green tea, small wraps for sandwiches until I can get to making bread, and canned tomatoes and low-sodium chicken stock in a carton to replace what I used yesterday. And I still need whole-wheat flour, baking soda, and mushrooms!
I finally got a hold of Mom when I arrived home. She was watching the 49ers-Giants game in her room and doing things online. She, too, wants to look into taking online business courses. In fact, she's looking at some of the same ones I am, these from Atlantic County College. I'm going to see if I can find any other online business schools around here this week.

(And alas Mom, the Giants finally beat the 49ers in overtime just a few minutes ago, 20-17. That means that the Giants are going to the Super Bowl, which isn't good...but I don't like the Patriots, either. Is there any way for both teams to lose? ; ) )

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Avengers On Ice

Ok, so I was wrong. I awoke to what appeared to be three inches of snow. I was originally going to go to the gym this morning, but the road still hadn't been cleared at 10AM, and the sky looked pearly-gray and iffy. I ended up finishing The Fences Between Us and writing in my journal instead, with the radio disco-ing away in the background.

(Incidentally, Fences was a hard read but a touching and well-written one. Piper, a thirteen-year-old girl living in Seattle in the early 40s, learns a difficult lesson in prejudice and sacrifice when her father, a minster for a Japanese church, follows his congregation as they're moved to a concentration camp in Idaho. Piper makes friends with the people there, and through her beloved camera, she discovers that no one is an enemy when you come to understand them. I actually kind of wish her Japanese friend Betty had been the protagonist so we could see life in the concentration camps first-hand, but other than that, this was an excellent, if harrowing, story. Oh, and the deaths of several major characters and fairly graphic descriptions of life in the concentration camps and in the war in the Pacific definitely make this a story for teens Piper's age and older.)

It was 11:30 before I finally settled down to putting the shelf together. Needless to say, it took me far less time to get it finished today than it did New Year's Eve. For one thing, I was doing it in the middle of the day, not during dinner. I was off today, too, so there was no need to rush. My morning had gone just fine, so I wasn't yelling at myself over every little thing. I had a good idea of put it together now, too. I got the shelf done and set up and the DVDs organized in two hours.

The shelf didn't fit where I was originally going to put it, so it went where the rack used to be. It did fit there (barely). I loaded it with the comedies and action and drama films and moved the holiday DVDs back to the smaller cherry heart cut-out shelf. To my delight, the DVDs barely took up two shelves. I didn't have as much overflow as I thought. Even moving the animated movies over just took up another shelf. I moved some of the non-entertainment books from the music area and put them on the bottom shelf. Moved the winter seasonal stuffed animals to the first shelf from the baker's rack, and the horses and remaining stuffed animals on the cherry heart shelf to the new one. The cherry Ikea shelf wound up staying right where it is. It's perfect. I love how everything looks now, and how much room I have.

Miss Ellie called me as I was finishing up the entertainment area. Apparently, I had a package in the mail. I pulled on my snow boots and headed out the door to pick it up...and barely got three steps before I realized I felt something crunchy under my feet. That "snow" was ice! It might have been snow early this morning, but it had probably rained this morning, and it must have frozen over. Just walking downstairs to pick up the package and the rest of my mail was treacherous. It was sloppy and messy, and the street still hadn't been plowed.

I never went anywhere else today. Made vegetable soup for lunch as I watched the two Backyardigans episodes revolving around snow and ice, "The Snow Fort" and "The Yeti". As "Knights are Brave and Strong" wound down, I decided that since I couldn't get outside, I would try what came in that package - a series of yoga DVDs done by a man who had designed his own yoga course to lose weight after many years of struggling. Lauren said it was a really good workout, and she loved it. I need a faster workout than the yoga and pilates DVD I have provides, one that really gets your heart pumping.

Well, this certainly did that! I just did the ten minute "Wake Up" and the 30 minute "Strength Up" discs, and I was breathing hard afterwards. The fellow was energetic and noisy, but fun. He did some typical yoga moves, often renamed to make them more "manly" (i.e, Child's Pose was called Safety Zone), and some of his own, such as the Black Diamond (basically, pull your arms back, pull out your chest, and breathe). There was also a lot of push-ups and crunches, and a lot of standing poses. I can do crunches, but push ups...forget it. My legs (except the bum knees) are fine. Bike riding every day will do that. My arms can't hold much of anything, including me. I just did Child's/Safety pose.

My neighbor Michael appeared while the DVD was running. He finally shoveled and salted my porch and steps. He said he regretted doing it earlier when it was slush, confirming my suspicion that it must have rained and hardened later this morning.

Ran movies while making sugar-free Apple Muffins and Italian Chicken and Tomatoes and steamed broccoli for dinner. I've been meaning to watch Captain America: The First Avenger since Christmas Eve, and have put off viewing The Aviator since October! The reason? Both movies are really long - The Aviator is over 2 hours! - and I simply haven't had the time.  I didn't get to all of The Aviator tonight, but I did do Captain America.

While I'm not a comic books fan, I did have some idea of the Captain's story going in. Once a 98-pound weakling named Steve Rogers who wanted to join the Army during World War II, the young man is injected with a serum that turns him into a huge, hulking youth. Turns out another man, a Nazi who has formed his own organization, has also been injected with the serum...and gone mad. He takes a whole battalion hostage in the hopes of turning them into super-beings, too. Steve was originally just used as a patriotic prop to encourage people to do what they can for their country. When he hears that his best friend has gone missing with the battalion, he becomes determined to rescue them...and then the serum...no matter what the cost.

This was done by the same director who did The Rocketeer, and it does show. The movies have a great deal in common, from the "little guys vs. big guys" spirit to the attempt to show that not everyone who is a German or of Japanese origin (a member of the battalion points out quickly that he's from San Fransisco) is bad, even during wartime. If you're even a mild comics fan or a fan of this era, it's highly recommended...especially if you have any interest in this summer's upcoming Avengers movie.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Snow and the Fury

I heard the sound of a huge crash as I was reading The Fences Between Us in bed this morning. When I got dressed and made my way out to the music area, I discovered, much to my dismay, that the Wal-Mart rack I was using temporarily for the CDs had fallen over. The floor is uneven around the window that overlooks the park. That's another reason I keep the Christmas tree pulled away from the window - to get it on a level space. The rack had been leaning precariously since I set it up last week, but I was hoping the new shelf would arrive before anything happened.

Thank goodness nothing was broken, including the rack. Since the shelf would probably arrive any day now, I decided to just move the good rack over to the music area and swap the cherry Ikea shelf with the crates for the records. I like the Ikea shelf near the window. It doesn't take up so much room that you can't get around, and I shouldn't have problems with the tree this December, either. It's also so heavy that leaning isn't a problem.

The Acme called while I was figuring all that out. Could I come in five minutes ago? No. I told them I'd go in an hour early. It took me long enough to get everything put away as it was. Since I now had more room, I returned the CDs I'd put out in the back room, intending to keep them in books and get rid of the cases. I now realize I have too many CDs to do this. From now on, I only keep home-made CDs in books. I just barely had enough time to eat, change into my uniform, grab dinner, and hurry out the door.

The Acme had their reasons for calling me in. Despite the nice, sunny, chilly day, the Acme was flooded with people panicking over the weather tomorrow. I have no idea why. We're supposed to be getting between one and three inches of snow, a little ice, and rain. I doubt that snow will be around for more than five minutes. It's been too warm this winter to get anything as significant as we have the last two years. I wish people would think of that, and of the fact that no one in this area lives more than five minutes from any business that sells food, before they hurry out the door for a huge order because the Philadelphia newscasts said we might get snow.

It was a pain all night. People were cranky, and the lines were very long. There was a call-out and we were short on help, too. It was so busy, I didn't get a break until 6:30, and I went in at 2. The college student in charge said I could take a half-hour break because I missed my first 15 minute one...but they really should have found someone to go in for my break in the first place. It had only just slowed to steady when I left.

When I came home, the new shelf was waiting for me on Miss Ellie's patio. I took the old Wal-Mart rack out to the trash cans (I'll put it with the trash on Thursday), then dragged the shelf upstairs. I'll put it together tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Learning Balance

Started a day with reading The Fences Between Us and writing in my journal. After breakfast, I made some phone calls I've been putting off. I received a bill in the mail from South Jersey Radiology last week. I thought they said they were waiting for the insurance to come through! When I called them, they said they hadn't heard from them. I called the Union, and they directed me to AmeriHealth. The woman on the line said her boss "has it in the pile on his desk with 15,000 others" and will get to it eventually. I was (and am) steamed. Will get to it eventually? I sent it to them over a month ago! What are we paying these people for? Don't they have people who can run these things through a computer and get them organized in five seconds? Isn't that what computers and secretaries are for? What's that "boss" doing, playing video games? And people wonder why I put off doing my health insurance for so long. If this is what health insurance is like for everyone, the system needs more than an overhaul. It needs to be dragged by its hair and shaken to its very roots.

I called the Foot & Ankle Center next. I hadn't heard anything about my orthopedics, and I had put off calling them because they just moved down the White Horse Pike to Haddon Heights a few weeks ago. I know how confusing moves can be! Colleen was much nicer than the health insurance receptionist. She said that no, they still hadn't come in, and yes, they were waiting on my stalled health insurance. She'll call me when they hear something...and if they don't call in a month, I'll ride up to their new location.

I finally headed out for today's errands around 11. Volunteered at the Haddon Township Library first. There were lots of DVDs to shelve today and plenty of things to do. I helped an energetic toddler boy and his mommy find Bob the Builder DVDs. (Not a hard thing to do - the only series the library has as many copies of are Pokemon, Sesame Street, and Thomas the Tank Engine.) A slightly older boy requested Go Diego, Go!

I did get a few things out for myself today, but no movies or cartoons. Most of the workout DVDs at the Haddon Township Library are empty-headed vehicles for too-skinny, too-muscular celebrities in tight-fitting clothes with bright covers. There was only one that was even close to useful for me, Power Yoga. The front cover was plain white with a normal-looking woman doing simple yoga moves, and claimed it was a "revitalizing total body workout." Well, why not? I also took out a book on fitness walking and another one that I thought might help, Fit From Within, on changing your mentality towards eating and exercise in order to lose weight.

It always takes me a long time to pick books. It was past two when I went downstairs to Wendy's for lunch. Yeah, I know, you shouldn't eat fast food when you're trying to lose weight. Wendy's, however, is a pretty good choice for people who need something fast and cheap without killing their diet. I had that half-a-salad and one other item for $5.89 deal, in this case a salad and a baked potato. (I also ordered a Diet Coke.) This time, I went with the Apple Pecan Salad, which is tasty and filling. Honestly, just the so-called "half" salad fills me up; I probably wouldn't even need a whole one. With the baked potato, it's the perfect meal on the go.

Made a quick stop at the Westmont Acme on my way to Collingswood. They did have the marshmallows I wanted, but not the whole-wheat flour. I did find something I'd been on the hunt for, though. I heard online that Jell-O put out its divine Pumpkin Spice Pudding mix again this holiday season after having missed the last two years. I never saw it at the Audubon Acme or the Super Fresh...but when I was browsing around in the Westmont Acme's baking aisle, I found a display on the end that showed off baking items for Valentine's Day...including several boxes of Pumpkin Spice Pudding mix. I immediately grabbed two.

Rode over to the Collingswood Library next, dodging the traffic on Cuthbert and Haddon. There was a few more things for me to do there this week than last week. There was a couple of DVDs to file and shelve, and they really needed to be organized. I was able to shelve a book in the non-fiction section, too. Even so, I left after less than an hour to pick up a bottle of water at WaWa before yoga class.

Yoga class was very small today, just six people...but that gave us more room to work on basic standing poses and twists. Boy, did I get a workout! I sweat a lot more in this supposedly easier class than I ever did in the more "advanced" morning one. It's really hard to try to focus on going more slowly, instead of just trying to keep up with everyone else.

It was getting dark by the time I headed out. I took the long way through Newton River Park, enjoying the chilly oncoming twilight. On my way home, there were a group of kids selling Girl Scout Cookies. Two were the Scouts themselves. The others appeared to be young teens and their friends who got corralled into babysitting. I bought a box of Lemonade cookies from them. I can't resist young entrepreneurs. I also remember how hard it was for my sisters to sell Girl Scouts Cookies in the dead of winter in Cape May when we were younger. My family would often end up buying more than half the boxes for ourselves because we could never find enough people to sell them to.

When I got home, I got so caught up reading Fit from Within, I almost missed dinnertime! I had to put aside the chicken I planned to have tonight and just have leftovers while I ran more Looney Tunes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Balance at Home

Since I was up earlier than usual today, I started the morning with finally sweeping the porch. I've put it off because of the wind, but I finally decided that I simply could not put it off anymore. The piles of sticker ball pods and sticks were just too big. I don't really do much sweeping during the winter anyway, for obvious reasons. I'm just glad I can sweep the porch at all. This time last winter, I would have been pushing slush, snow, and ice away along with seed pods and wood. In fact, it did flurry a bit while I pushed bits and branches around, though it really didn't do much besides look pretty.

I volunteered at the Oaklyn Library after I finished with the sweeping and put the broom inside. It was very busy for such a lovely morning. There were at least two families with young children there when I arrived. I'd just started working on the picture book shelves when the kindergarten class arrived. I listened to their teacher read them a book about penguins while I worked on organizing the kids' non-fiction. I left as soon as the book was over.

When I got home, I decided to try something I hadn't done in a while. I bought a DVD, Yoga for Beginners, when I attempted to lose weight back in 2007. I got bored with doing yoga at home soon after I started doing classes and haven't touched the DVD in about three years. This Gaiam set emphasizes basic yoga postures like Proud Warrior and Down Dog and is pretty slow-going if you're used to vinyasa. It is, however, easier on the joins and probably better for me to work on flexibility at home than the Pilates DVD. I may continue to try to do it at least once or twice a week.

I had a quick lunch of leftovers while watching one of the two "bonus" episodes on the Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown DVD, It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. As with There's No Time For Love, this one is misleadingly titled. It really should be You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown. Chuck and the gang play in their big homecoming game that is obviously a spoof of the Super Bowl and Rose Bowl, up to and including a big parade with floats made of flowers, Snoopy and Woodstock filming the event, and Lucy pulling the football away at every opportunity. (Who assigned her to the kicking crew?) Chuck cares less about the game than the fact that he's the escort for the Homecoming Queen Heather, also known as the Little Red Haired Girl...and he's supposed to kiss her at the homecoming dance!

Went to work shortly after the special ended. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - busy during rush hour, fairly quiet the rest of the night. There were some problems in the last hour when two computers in a row slowed down so badly, I had to move somewhere else while we rebooted them. Otherwise, I was in and out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cupid Capers and Other Rainy Day Tales

It was, indeed, raining when I got up this morning. I ran one of the three Valentine's Day-themed DVDs I ordered online last week while having Wheat Chex and a half a grapefruit for breakfast. A Charlie Brown Valentine is basically the same thing as Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales - a series of short skits revolving around a holiday, in this case, Valentine's Day. Unlike Christmas Tales, the skits here are related and lead up to the kids attending a Valentine's Day dance. As usual, Chuck wants to ask the Little Red Haired Girl but is too scared, Peppermint Patty and Marcie fight over who gets to ask Chuck, Sally chases Linus, and Lucy chases Schroder...and Snoopy's too cool for any of them. Though most people on Amazon and elsewhere tend to be hard on this one, I like it more than Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown in some ways - it's not not quite as mean to poor Chuck.

Despite the title, There's No Time For Love, Charlie Brown, really has more to do with back-to-school than with Valentine's Day. The first half of the special is basically the kids at school. In the second half, Chuck, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Sally somehow mistake a supermarket for an art museum during a school trip. Peppermint Patty tries to tell Chuck that she likes him, but as usual, it comes out all wrong.

I finally decided to ignore the rain and head over to the laundromat. I did the right thing. There wasn't a soul in the room when I came in. A few people did show up later, but it never got as busy as it did last Monday. I timed it right with the weather, too. It poured while I was inside, but by the time I'd finished, the rain was starting to slow down. I only got a little wet going home.

I had three packages waiting for me in the mail when I got in. One was the final Looney Tunes Golden Collection I didn't have, Volume Five. The other two were the remaining Valentine's Day specials I picked up on Amazon, Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, and Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers. Cupid Capers is another Looney Tunes special from the 70s and 80s that is basically bits and pieces of shorts revolving around a thin plot. In this case, an Elmer Fudd-like Cupid is determined to hit the Toons with his arrows, despite Bugs insisting that he's meddling. (And this isn't the last time we'll see the Elmer Cupid, either - he also turned up in at least one Tiny Toons Adventures episode.)

The rain had slowed even more by the time I headed out to work around 1. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - quiet except for during rush hour. This state of affairs will likely continue until we get closer to the beginning of the month and the many February events, festivities, and holidays.

The rain had vanished completely sometime around 5. I emerged from work to a clear sky and a night that had to be in the 50s. It was even warmer than it had been earlier in the day! I rode home, made spaghetti and meatballs with steamed broccoli for dinner, and watched Looney Tunes.

Now I'm wishing I'd bought this set sooner. The first disc has some of my favorite Bugs and Daffy shorts, including "Ali Baba Bunny" ("I'm rich! I'm a happy miser!"), "Buccaneer Bunny," "A Star Is Bored," "Stupor Duck," and "You Were Never Duckier." (It also includes the full version of one of the shorts exerpted in Cupid Capers, "The Super Snooper.")

Monday, January 16, 2012

"I Have a Dream..."

First of all, I salute Dr. Martin Luther King and his dream on this still-cold January day!

I was up late again with Lauren and slept so late, I didn't really have the time to do much of anything this morning. I just worked on my inventories. I moved the comic books to their own section and added the Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts books. I've been meaning to start doing the book inventories for a while now. In addition to separating the comic books from the regular non-fiction, I need to separate the adult and children's fiction and do a separate inventory for cookbooks and Star Wars-related non-film media.

It took me longer to do the inventory than I thought it would, and once again, I was almost late to work. I thought it would be busy all day, due to the holiday, but maybe a lot of people are still recovering from the last holiday or went away for the weekend. It was busy during rush hour, otherwise not bad. I was in and out.

When I got home, I decided to try one of two exercise DVDs I own. Rose gave me Pilates Conditioning for Weight Loss several years ago when she decided it wasn't what she needed in her own workout. I was frustrated with how badly I did. I couldn't focus on breathing. I couldn't control my stomach muscles, no matter how hard I tried. It was hard to relax. I couldn't roll up at all! I was in tears when I realized just in how bad of shape I was. I didn't know I let myself go so badly. I think I might try the Yoga for Beginners DVD I bought around 2007 instead and see if that can help me first, before I move back to conditioning my stomach.

I also realized how hard it is for me to do anything without support. There was no one around to tell me if I was doing it right, or to encourage me or cheer me on. It felt lonely. I'm glad I joined the gym. It might be more helpful than any DVD.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Giant(s) Victory

I was up really late with Lauren last night. I ended up spending a lot of this morning sleeping in. When I did finally get up, I made Tangerine-Honey Pancakes and listened to Brunch With the Beatles. "Meanings and Messages" was the theme today. We heard songs with deeper "meanings" in their lyrics, from the meaning of life in George's solo "What Is Life" to John and Paul trying to help their manager Brian Epstein feel better about their newfound fame in "Baby You're a Rich Man," not to mention John's political beliefs cropping up in "Power to the People." I did try calling Mom this morning, but she was busy with my sister Anny and her sons.

I worked on the Career Reinvention book for a little after Brunch With the Beatles ended before heading out to work. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, without the wild wind of the last week. It was also bitter cold, far more than it has been recently, barely making it into the lower 30s. I had to be careful going past the huge puddle of water on the bottom of the hill where Goff Avenue meets Woodlawn Terrace. Most of it had frozen, or was black ice. The last time I tried to ride over that puddle when it was icy, I fell off my bike. Thankfully, I only bruised my elbow and dented a basket that was in bad shape anyway, but I had no desire to tempt the fates.

Much to my surprise, work was only mildly busy throughout the day, despite this being the last day of that big 3-day sale. Perhaps people were avoiding the chilly weather, opting to come out on their day off tomorrow. Or they were watching the big afternoon playoff game between the Ravens and the Texans. Someone early on mentioned that the Ravens were losing - apparently, they pulled off a big play that won them the game, 20-13. As for my shift, it was quiet enough by the end of the evening for me to leave with no relief.

When I got in, I put on a pot of soup, ran CDs and records, and called Mom. I caught her watching the second playoff game of the day between the Giants and the Packers. She was watching it alone in her bedroom. My stepfather was downstairs. He's a huge Giants fan, and he can be unbearably noisy during a game. Other than she's battling a really nasty cold, she was fine. I told her about joining a gym (she was thrilled), the Career Reinvention book, and my organizing.

(Oh, and the Giants, alas, dominated the game and beat last year's Super Bowl champs the Packers 37-20.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Listen to Your Heart

I was reading The Xanadu Adventure and listening to the American Top 40 re-run in bed this morning (they were doing mid-January 1984 today) when I got a phone call. Yes, it was the Acme. Could I work 12-4? There was a call-out. No, no, no, I wanted to scream. I want to go to the gym and the bank and drop off my donations! My brain scolded me you need to make money. You'll feel guilty if you go over to that gym right behind the Acme when you should have been working. Of course, I said "yes."

I didn't mean to run so late after the Top 40 ended, but I got to a late breakfast. Then, I put on Tangled and got caught up watching that. I had to round up the bags of donations to take to the Logan Presbyterian Church. I had to pedal it all to the Church on my bike, on a day that was sunny but still cold and windy. I wanted to talk to the lady who owns and runs Desserts By Design before work, but she was really busy. I ended up just getting two small heart sugar cookies from her instead. I bought a spinach and turkey wrap from the Market Deli and just barely made it to work riding down Nicholson Road.

Work was pretty normal for all that. It was busy, but that's to be expected on a holiday weekend. I just didn't want to be there. The fact that my allergies were acting up and I spent most of the afternoon sneezing was no help, either. (On the other hand, I was able to get a lock for my gym locker.)

After I got off, I rode the long way down Nicholson Road and over the train tracks past Newton to the White Horse Pike and the bank. They were long-closed by that point, but I needed to drop off my paycheck in the ATM machine. When I finished there, I rode straight home. I was happy to find the first of my last four DVD orders I plan to make for a while in the mail. I only have one Valentine's Day special, so I got three more on Amazon.com, two Peanuts specials and one of the Looney Tunes hour-long shows made up of bits and pieces from various theatrical cartoons. (I also have the last Looney Tunes Golden Collection I didn't have coming, which I used my eBay gift card on.)

When I finally got in, I put the DVD away and went on the laptop. The Career Reinvention book has worksheets in the back that allow you to brainstorm, write down ideas, and keep track of your search. I did the first "law" today - creating a vision for my life and what I want to do. Oh, I know what I want my life to be like. I want to either work in a nice, quiet nine-to-five job, or a job that will allow me to make my own hours and rules. I'm sick of the revolving door of bosses and people changing the rules every five minutes. At least when I change my rules, I'll know it.

The problems are my hurdles. I have no experience, no portfolio. I know nothing about running a business of any size. I haven't worked anywhere but a grocery store in a decade. I don't know what skills from my cashiering job can be transferred to business and/or freelance writing. I have a hard time talking to people period, much less business people and other writers. I don't like to ask for help. I grew up assuming that help was for children, not adults. If an adult asks for help, that means they're not good enough to make it on their own. And there's the matter of, yes, as Mom said a while back, I do lack confidence.

I did learn something important today, related to Law 2: Listen to your gut, not your head. If I'd listened to my heart this morning, I could have lost some pounds, met some new people, gotten to to drop off those donations and talk to the lady at Desserts by Design without rushing. Instead, I spent four miserable hours doing the same old boring thing I always do, and my stomach is still in knots. I now know that I need to stop tuning out my body when it's telling me something.

I cheered myself up by trying one of the recipes in the natural sugar-low-fat baking cookbook I bought from a yard sale last summer. The recipe was supposed to be for Blackberry Upside-Down Cake. I didn't have any blackberries, so I used pineapple with orange juice concentrate. The result was a little more like a cobbler than the cake in the book, but it was still pretty tasty. Another lesson learned - not all mistakes lead to disaster. Some lead to a very sweet Pineapple-Orange Cobbler.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Getting Physical

I ignored the gale-force winds that sent everyone else in the area scurrying this morning and made a quick run to the Oaklyn Library. No, there wasn't much going on there, either. I organized a few DVDs, rearranged some of the picture books, and took a good look at the children's non-fiction and young adult section.

When I got home, I had Ham and Pasta Soup for lunch and ran two East Side Kids movies, Docks of New York and Bowery Champs. Despite their titles, both have a lot in common with later Bowery Boys episodes. Champs has Mugs McGinnis and another kid (Gabe Dell) working for a local newspaper. They discover that a singer is accused of killing her husband...but Mugs isn't so sure that she did it. Docks also involves a mystery. In this case, the Kids are helping a young woman who is the rightful princess of an overthrown country in Europe regain her throne.

I left for work about an hour earlier than usual to pick up my paycheck and do something I've been meaning to for a while. I've looked at the Lucile Roberts, a gym exclusively for women, in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center before. Normally, I don't like gyms. I'd rather be outside. One yoga class, a couple of walks, and bike riding doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore, though. I've regained almost all of the weight I lost over the past few years. I really need to try something else, and I don't want to go back to Weight Watchers. They were having a really good membership sale, too. I caved in and signed up for the basic 2-year membership.

When I rode over to work, since I had some extra time, I got my schedule first. Not bad. Pretty much the same as last week, only I work late on Friday. That's my only late day, though. Once again, I have Thursday and Saturday off.

Work wasn't too bad when I came in, but rush hour brought huge crowds. We're having another big 3-day-sale. This is also the first major holiday weekend of the year after the Yuletide festivities end and the first time since New Year's that many people have had a chance to really shop.

I had my own stocking up to do after work. I mainly needed produce - pears, grapefruit, strawberries (they're on sale), collard greens, broccoli (also on sale), and romaine lettuce. Thought I'd try using fruit juice concentrate for baked goods experiments again, too. Also needed Smart Balance spread (still on clearance) and yogurt. Replaced the lock for my locker at work. The store is clamping down on leaving lockers unlocked, and my old lock had been yanked around so much, the dial came off.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Slow Balance

I had a busy day today. It's a good thing I'd planned on starting with putting up the rest of the general winter decorations. It was still raining pretty good when I got up this morning. The rain had finally slowed enough around 10:30 for me to grab a bag of book and CD donations and ride over to the Haddon Township Library. (After going back because I forgot the DVDs I needed to return.)

Haddon Township's parking lot was filled to capacity when I arrived. I couldn't figure out why. That must be some party, I thought as I pushed my bike up the steep hill. I actually have no idea what was going on in the meeting room, only that it was pretty busy. There weren't many DVDs to put away, so I organized titles that had been put in the wrong section and shelved children's books. (I didn't take any DVDs out this week. I still have movies and cartoons to watch that are back-logged from over the holidays, and I didn't see anything that interested me.)

Went to lunch at the Crystal Lake Diner after leaving the Library. It was still misting a little at this point, though not as much as when I rode through Newton River Park earlier. I had Chicken Souvilaki, which I've heard of but never tried. It turned out to be sliced chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, and lettuce with a tangy sauce on grilled pita bread, with some kind of yogurt dip on the side. It was really tasty. I was so hungry, I ate all of the chicken and veggies and more than half of the pita...though they filled me up so much, I barely touched the fries.

Made quick stops at the CVS and Westmont Acme next-door to the Haddon Township High School next. Picked up brush picks and a good sale on Palmolive dishwashing liquid at CVS. Didn't find what I was looking for at the Acme, which is more of those flavored Jet-Puff Marshmallows. I did see that they have the Pilsbury Quick Bread mixes I like to use at Thanksgiving, which the Audubon Acme only carries during the holiday season.

The Collingswood Library wasn't nearly as busy as Haddon Township when I arrived. It was mostly teenagers doing homework and playing games on the computers upstairs and kids being read to. There weren't even any DVDs for me to put away. I organized the DVDs and shelved some non-fiction, but I mostly ended up reading books on musicals for an hour. (The Collingswood Library has the most extensive collection of books on the theater, films, and musicals of the three libraries I volunteer for.)

After a brief stop at WaWa for water and a pretzel, I went around the corner to Yogawood. A few months ago, they started a 4PM half-price yoga class for people who want more instruction or are just beginning. I thought I'd try that. It turned out to be, in some ways, even more intense than the morning classes. I'm not used to going slowly, and I found myself having to focus more on what I was doing, instead of just trying to keep up with everyone else. The teacher, Lee, is apparently a kindergarten teacher by trade, and she was very kind and patient. I liked the class so much, I may take it from now on when I have Thursdays off or work early on Thursdays.

It was nearly 5:30 when I finally headed home. It's funny that Lee had complained about how gloomy it was all day. The first thing that greeted me when I made my way out Yogawood's back door was a warm pink-and-blue glow lit by soft mist. Sometime during the class, the clouds had broken up, and a thin fog had settled over the area. It looked especially pretty steaming up off of Newton River as I passed by.

There was a small package waiting for me when I arrived. I used the last of my Vermont Country Store gift card to pick up some of their wonderful maple syrup, since I was out of it anyway. It's a lot easier than carrying a glass bottle home from Super Fresh. (Their prices on maple syrup are better than the Acme's.)

I still had half of that small ham I bought for New Year's Eve left, so I cut it up, tossed it into some beef broth, added vegetables in my refrigerator and dried whole wheat pasta spirals, and made Ham and Pasta Soup. I enjoyed my dinner while watching Room Service, the last movie in the TCM Marx Brothers set I hadn't gotten around to yet. This was apparently based on a hit play, and it does show. The Marx Brothers are trying to get a backer for their play...but they can't even pay their hotel bill, much less their cast. Frank Albertson is the play's naive writer; Ann Miller is his small-town sweetheart. Lucile Ball is Groucho Marx' sarcastic secretary who will be appearing in the play when it gets off the ground. Lucy and the Brothers try to keep their hotel room long enough for the backer to arrive...and when their antics scare him into canceling his check, they try to keep the hotel's manager and detective in the room long enough for the play to go on!

For Monkees fans, if you've seen the late first season episode "Monkees In Manhattan," when they, too, find themselves stranded in a hotel room waiting for a backer, then you pretty much know what the movie's about. I don't know why this isn't held in higher esteem by Marx Brothers fans. It's kind of fun. The scene where Harpo's pretending to be sick to keep them in their hotel room and Lucy is his nurse is a scream.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Place For Everything...

Spent the morning and early afternoon dusting and re-organizing my apartment. Some pieces of furniture were really too big for where they were; others were plastic or cheaper wood pieces that I want to replace with better items. I moved one of the cherry Ikea shelves with the rounded corners into the entertainment area, and another in the music area. The crates that held the CDs in the music area replaced the Ikea shelves in the bedroom. The narrower, ash-colored heart-cut-out shelf and the Wal-Mart rack were both moved temporarily into the music area to hold CDs.

It took me a while to figure things out, but I generally like it. The Ikea shelf will definitely be staying in the entertainment area. It looks pretty good there, and the wide top is perfect for my DVD player. I'm not sure if the other one will remain in the music area. While it is a splendid place to set the record player and CD/cassette player, the shelves are too wide for CDs and too narrow for records and many of my coffee-table entertainment books.

However, I absolutely adore the crates in the bedroom. They look much better - and allow me far more room to move around in my desk chair - than the heavy Ikea shelves. In fact, I think I'll get a few more and clear out or find another use for the plastic milk crates I snitched from the Eckard's around the corner from me in Wildwood shortly before I moved. I'll probably need more crates for records, too. They seem to be the only shelves wide enough to hold them!

I think I might get one more of the shelf set I bought the week between Christmas and New Year's, since that seems to be working out really well. There's only a few things I need to replace around the apartment this year. The big one is the baker's rack. It was a cheap piece I bought for me from Ames shortly after I moved on my own. It's wobbly, it doesn't really hold all of my cookbooks anymore, it doesn't really provide enough (or stable enough) shelf space, and the bottom of the drawer is starting to pop out. I actually bought it as a desk, figuring it would work with the laptop I had at the time...but then the laptop died, and I ended up buying a full upright computer. That was when I bought the simpler desk from Big Lots that I replaced with my current roll-top desk. I need a real cabinet like Mom has, with drawers and lots of shelf space.

The other thing I want to replace is my vacuum cleaner. That's another item I've had since I moved out. That was a decade ago! The attachments stopped working ages ago, and it barely picks up dirt anymore. It might be partially clogged with my darn hair...but a lot of it may be sheer age. Time to find a new one that's just as slender and bagless, but easier to move around and store.

If nothing else, I was able to get rid of the remaining half of the plastic shelf unit that I picked up at the thrift shop in Collingswood years ago. They're wobbly, tacky, and the top part is starting to cave in. I put it out with the rest of the trash tonight. If anyone wants it, they're welcome to it. It might actually work well in someone's garage.

I finished with barely enough time to have a quick lunch and run off to work. Work was busy for the first half of my shift, during rush hour. After rush hour ended, so did our customers. I spent the second half of my shift putting candy away. (Some of it, anyway. Most of the items in the cart were either new and not listed on the shelves yet, or overstocks.)

I discovered another reason for the later quiet when I headed out around 8. It had started to shower lightly. I did get a little wet going home, but not soaked. Good thing I did get home when I did. It sounds like it picked up a bit about a half-hour later, and is still going at press time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I woke up later than I planned, so I pretty much just did a few quick things around the apartment. I pulled out a lot more things to donate to the Logan Presbyterian Church on Saturday, including several more WebKinz, holiday tins, and another porcelain doll. I've pretty much decided I'm going to drop several collections that don't really do much for me anymore. I'm keeping four porcelain dolls I really like - sweet Lisa in her desk, Cindy Lou the sock hopper (who once belonged to my late stepmother Kaye), and Candi and Brandi, the turn-of-the-20th-century girl twins. The others never really thrilled me all that much. I'm getting rid of the majority of my Beanie Babies except for Gigi, the black poodle who was the star of a film project in college, a rabbit and chipmunk who sit on top of the baker's rack, and a few bears. As for the WebKinz, I probably have about 95 of them now. I don't need to keep all of the stuffed animal versions! In fact, I cleared out a bunch of WebKinz not long before the Collingswood thrift shop shut down. Time to do another batch.

I went online and checked out the business courses at Camden County and Stockton not long before going to work. There's a lot of small non-credit business and writing-related courses at Stockton that I wouldn't mind checking out, including a whole series on freelance writing. The online company used for Camden County College's non-credit courses have more expensive business management courses. I think they sound more like they're preparing you for managing a big company or being a secretary, not running a small at-home business. I may have to call them and ask for more details.

Thank goodness after the last few days that work was no trouble whatsoever. It was fairly busy during rush hour, quiet the rest of the day. My relief was on time, and I was in and out without a problem.

Monday, January 09, 2012

ReInventing Myself

Slept in and didn't get to the laundry until around 11:30. It was busy, but not quite as bad as last week. I did get a washer and dryer pretty fast. I spent the time reading The 10 Laws of Career ReInvention...which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. The author entirely agrees with me - the long-term job security that many people so heavily rely on and count on is non-existant nowadays. I've tried to tell half the people I know that. You have to constantly reinvent yourself to fit what you want, not the job or the field...which is just what I want to do.

I know I don't belong in the Acme. I never belonged in the Acme. I have no loyalty towards them. They're just a job. I cringe when people recognize me for working there. The truth of the matter is, you can't live on "just a job" anymore. If you're not happy or satisfied, it shouldn't matter how much money you make or how "safe" the job seems to be. I want more control over my life. I need it. I want freedom, creativity, and either steady hours or the ability to make my own hours and rules, and I'm not getting that from being a cashier in a grocery store.

This has confirmed my desire to look for business courses. Right now, it seems like the best path. No, I don't know how to make a business plan, but I can learn. I took a Business Math course in high school that I got a B in, probably the only math course I even did that well with. Business math is something sensible that you can use in your daily life...and I actually, I do. I make a budget every month, and I have a saving and a checking account. I just need to learn more of the basics. I'd like to learn more about freelance and online writing and editing and start to develop a portfolio, too.

When I got home, I put everything away as quickly as I could. Even with a rushed lunch of leftovers, I was still almost late to work! Despite the end of that 3-day-sale, work was really busy again (though not quite as bad as yesterday). Two ladies towards the end of my shift ended up putting back nearly a quarter of their order when they didn't have enough in their food stamp card to cover it! Please, always bring at least two methods of payment, and read the signs carefully to make sure you know what you're getting.

Oh, and I also got the last of my Christmas online orders today. I've been dying to read the last Vesper Holly story, The Xanadu Adventure, and I finally found it for a good price on Barnes and Noble's website. And poor Felicity was the only one of my dolls who didn't have a coat of some kind. The prices on most of her clothes on eBay are still a little higher than I'd like, but I did get her bright red "Cardinal Cloak" for about $18 with shipping, which is much cheaper than the $24 it was when Lissie was archived last year. I'm glad I went ahead and grabbed it. It's a soft, heavy PM piece, much better-made than I figured it would be, and it looks fabulous on Lissie.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

"Sunday, Sweet Sunday, With Nothing To Do..."

I awoke so late, there wasn't time to do much of anything...which is fine by me. Sundays should be nice, quiet days. I made Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes, wrote in my journal, and worked on stuff online. I knew Mom and Dad would be taking Keefe to his Naval recruiting office to leave today, so I decided to save talking on the phone with them until tonight.

Work, when I finally got there, was busy, busy, busy. In addition to the last of the beginning of the month customers, we're having a huge three-day-sale on a lot of items. People want to stock up after the holidays. The store was a mess all day long. It was so crazy, I didn't go on break until nearly 5, and I finished my shift at 6! I was almost late getting out when my relief was the college student who is always late from his second job, too.

Went straight home after work. I ate leftovers for dinner, listened to Broadway musical CDs, and finally talked to my folks. The second time I called, I caught Mom just coming in from a walk. Other than she has a bad chest cold, she seemed ok. She's going to miss my brother something fierce, of course, but she says she saved doing some major house cleaning and organizing for this week so she'd have something to distract her.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Spring Into Winter

It was almost in the 60s when I finally made it out late this morning. Actually, I slept in for a lot of the morning. When I went out to the Oaklyn Library, it was much too warm for my heavy winter coat and the fur-lined boots Mom gave me for Christmas! I was sweating during my entire errand run. I organized DVDs and children's books and pulled out snow-themed books for a display in the children's area at the Library. I deposited my paycheck into the ATM machine at the bank (the tellers were closed by the time I finally got there). I made a quick stop at WaWa for milk and a half of a 16-ounce root beer Icee.

When I got home, I  had peanut butter on celery and fruit for lunch and watched Scooby Doo on Zombie Island, one of several DVDs I bought in the late fall that kind of got lost in the holiday shuffle. The first (and often considered to be the best) of the Scooby Doo direct-to-DVD/video movies brings the gang back together after a couple of years' separation when Daphne wants their help seeking a real ghost for her TV show. She gets more than she - and everyone - bargained for when a trip to the Louisiana bayous proves to be just a little too spooky for comfort...and the zombies that start popping up aren't robots or humans in masks...

Unlike most versions of Scooby Doo, this one goes in for genuine scares. No, there's no blood, but those zombies aren't pretty...and they are played as real. Genuinely frightening monsters and voodoo curses makes this inappropriate for the youngest Scooby fans, but pre-teens and older grade schoolers will probably enjoy it more than the recent films with the usual people-in-masks.

I finished the last household budget of 2011 with just enough time to pack dinner and hurry off to work. Work was busy when I got in, steady-to-quiet when I left. I spent the last half-hour putting candy away.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Surprise Fire In the Sky

Started a sunny day in the 40s with a quick run to the Acme for my paycheck and groceries. I normally do it after work on Fridays when I have a shift, but I didn't get off until 9:30 tonight. I had to restock flour, eggs, cheese (mozzarella this time), and Smart Balance Spread sticks (which Acme has on clearance). Needed lots of fruit, including tangerines, grapefruit, pears (on sale), and raspberries (for Flummery). I also grabbed a bag of Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix. The sale wasn't great, but it was the last bag on the shelf. I may or may not see it again after the last bag is gone, so I might as well enjoy them while I can.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at my place. I had leftovers and Raspberry Flummery for lunch.  I made the bed. I aired out the rag rug in my bedroom. I vacuumed the apartment. I put all of the manuals and warranties for various electronics and collectable items in the file folder I bought earlier this week. I talked to my brother, Keefe, who will be leaving for the Navy this weekend. He was playing Wii Dance with his parents and his girlfriend Vicki.

It was rush hour when I got back to work. It was busy up through my break at quarter after 6, but it was steady to quiet thereafter. I left a tiny bit early with no relief and no need for one.

As I rode home, I saw what looked like sparkling red and blue lights on the Black Horse Pike near West Collingswood. I couldn't figure out what was going on until I heard noisy booms coming from the other side of Peter Creek, near where I'd seen the police cars. Much to my surprise, I had a perfect view on my porch of some really lovely fireworks. I have no idea why there were fireworks, but it did make for a rather nice Epiphany treat. 

Oh, and I did get my schedule tonight. On one hand, I don't have another day off until Thursday, which is going to be a pain. On the other hand, I also have Saturday off, and the latest I work is 8 on Wednesday.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Balance and the Snowy Surprise

We weren't supposed to get snow today. Every weather forecast had said flurries overnight, then warmer and partly cloudy the next day. Well, they got the "warmer and partly cloudy" right. It was warmer when I got up, probably into the lower 40s. There was also a thin layer of white frosting on the porch. Those "flurries" turned out to be a dusting of snow.

The snow was still on the ground when I rode my bike over to Yogawood for yoga. Another very full class concentrated on standing poses to keep us grounded. I wish I could focus better. I can pretty much do standing poses by now, but I have a hard time balancing and staying on my feet.

Went right to the Collingswood Library after class. The snow was starting to melt by this point, and it was becoming warmer. Nevertheless, with people back in school and at work, the library wasn't very busy today. I filed and organized a few DVDs and shelved some non-fiction upstairs, then took a look at some books at musicals. I was out by noon.

The snow was almost completely gone by the time I headed home. There were only a few lacy bits remaining in shady spots. Some puddles were still icy, but that was probably leftover from the last few days. Even the clouds were starting to lessen. Despite the improving weather, I had things to do at my apartment. I went straight back there.

I wanted to at least start the cleaning today. I ran records while I scrubbed the bathroom and the kitchen. The bathroom in particular was grungy. I haven't done any kind of major household cleaning since late November! I also made banana muffins. Didn't get to vacuuming or dusting; I'll do them over the weekend.

Went for a short walk after I finished the kitchen. It was nightfall by then, just after 5:30, and the clouds had totally vanished. It was a really lovely night. I strolled down to Goff Avenue (shooing a huge, fluffy gold-and-white dog back to her owners on my way), then around the neighborhood behind Kendall Boulevard. The stars and a glowing almost-full moon were out in force, nearly outshining the remaining light displays. I'm going to miss the Christmas lights when most people put them away by mid-month. They're a real help in December when I have to ride the bike home in the dark!

When I got in, I made Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry for dinner and watched most of Flower Drum Song. This charming musical is the tale of a young Chinese woman (Miyako Umeki) and her father who arrive illegally in San Francisco's Chinatown to honor an arranged marriage. Trouble is, the son who is supposed to be her groom (James Shigetta) is an older Frank Sinatra-Rat Pack-type who owns a nightclub and is more interested in his lead dancer (Nancy Kwan). He tries to turn her over to a younger Chinese-American boy just out of college (Jack Soo) and his parents, but Kwan, tired of waiting for her boyfriend to pop the question, chases the college kid. It'll take a lot of inter-generational wrangling to get the romances of the "younger generation" sorted out to everyone's satisfaction!

This Rogers and Hammerstein show was a minor hit in 1958, and it translates surprisingly well to film. I have the Original Cast Album, but I think like this even more. (A short-lived Broadway revival in 2002 completely revamped the book and rearranged the score; it has its admirers and detractors, though I haven't heard it myself.) Kwan gets my favorite number, and probably the most famous song from this score, "I Enjoy Being a Girl." Umeki's "Hundred Million Miracles" and the gorgeous ballad "Love, Look Away" are other standouts. Other than, like most musicals of the 60s and 70s, it's overlong (a ballet directly after "Love, Look Away" is pretty to look at but adds nothing to the film), this is recommended for Rogers and Hammerstein fans, fans of the big 60s-70s shows, or for people looking for something slightly different in their musicals.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The End of the Holiday Season

Spent the morning and early afternoon taking down the last of the Christmas decorations. Did the garlands first. They're going into the Santa Bag this year to save some room, instead of a crate. The wreath for the front door and the plaid ribbon that hangs on the door to my bedroom also go in the Santa Bag, as do small items that go out first, like the mistletoe and holiday-themed linens. (The poinsettia placemats need to be washed and will be put away next week.)

When the Santa Bag had been returned to the back room, it was time to change the dolls into their winter clothes. Samantha now wears her Gray Flannel "Buster Brown" School Dress with black flats and her thick black stockings from her "Meet" outfit. Molly wears her "Meet" argyle sweater and blue felt skirt with her saddle shoes and Springfield Collection white stockings. Felicity's now in her green military-inspired Riding Outfit and tri-cornered hat. I got more creative with Jessa. She wears the thick black corduroys from the 1996 First Day Meet Outfit, the hi-top sneakers from the original mid-90s "Blue Jean Basics," the reversible magenta and blue vest and magenta scrunchie from the 1995 Mix-and-Match Meet outfit, the white socks from Molly's Polka-Dot Outfit, and an eBay find navy turtleneck. The Sailor Soldiers were all put back in their regular uniforms and dresses.

It took me longer to do all that than I thought it would. I ate a quick lunch of leftovers and barely got to work on time! Work was busy during the usual 4-6 rush hour, but it faded very quickly after that. It was a bit of a pain, too. Lots of annoying beginning-of-the-month customers. I was so happy when I finally finished and headed home.

There was a surprise waiting for me when I got in. The new American Girl catalog that shows off this year's "Girl of the Year" doll McKenna and one of my two online Barnes and Noble orders, Samantha's Cooking Studio, had arrived. McKenna's theme is gymnastics. The doll isn't different enough for me to buy, but some of her outfits are cute. And I can't wait to make the delicious gingerbread recipe!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Winter Finally Arrives

It took it long enough, but it actually felt like winter today. I awoke to a wonderfully cold morning, just at freezing temperatures. Most people hate the cold. It doesn't bother me. It's easier to ride a bike in cold weather than it is in warm...and it beats heat and humidity! I had a nice, warm bowl of grits and a grapefruit before heading out for the laundromat (stopping quickly at Miss Ellie's side of the house to deliver my rent).

I couldn't believe how busy the laundromat was this morning! When I got there at 11, there were at least two large families and two older people doing their clothes and linen. Kids ran all over the place and yelled at each other. Their mother screamed curses across a not-large room at them. It was highly unpleasant, and I'm really glad I didn't have all that much laundry to do.

When I got home, I put the laundry away, then ran my Backyardigans DVD with the winter-themed episodes "The Snow Fort" and "The Yeti" as I ate tangerines and the last of the Pop Shop Gingerbread Pancakes for lunch. As soon as I finished lunch, I bundled up again, grabbed the DVDs I needed to return to the Haddon Township Library, and jumped back on the bike.

Stopped at the Rite Aid across from the Westmont Plaza. I needed contact solution. I was dismayed to discover that they're previously-best-in-the-area prices had gone up...so I just went with the larger size that was really a better value anyway. I also found a buy-one, get-one sale on several brands of nuts (chose the 8 oz Blue Diamond Sea Salt containers), a new 6-pocket folder for some of my stories and essays, and a small snowman-shaped cake pan for $1.99 on their after-Christmas sale.

Cuthbert Road was so busy, I went through the park and around the back way to the Haddon Township Library. They were busy when I arrived, too, with lots of people asking questions about the computers. It was so busy, I had plenty of DVDs to put away and organize for the first time in weeks. I ended up taking out a book on changing careers, and DVDs for Sean the Sheep (their new Christmas-themed collection), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Space Adventure, and the last of the four Scooby Doo random episode collections, Scooby Doo and the Robots.

The sun was setting when I headed home across Newton River Park, passing a few brave dog-walkers bundled against the fierce wind. When I made it home, I spent the rest of the evening taking down my Christmas tree and watching cartoons and more Busby Berkley. Space Adventure takes Mickey and the gang on a wild trip into the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy to teach kids about various planets, meet Moon Dwellers Chip and Dale, Martian Mickey, and Pluto from Pluto (naturally). Professor Ludwig Von Drake gave them a map to follow to a super-secret space treasure! Space Pirate Pete, however, is determined to get to the treasure first. Meanwhile, for the first time ever, Toodles, the Mickey-like computer thing that brings the objects of the day, has a really major roll in a story. He falls for Pete's computer Cootles (a Minnie version of Tootles), and everyone finally comes together when they have to rescue the two electronic devices!

I switched to more Busby Berkley as I heated up leftovers for dinner. Dames is the last of the four major 1933-1934 Berkley extravaganzas, and the only one where the accent was squarely on the by-now major stars Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. They're lovers from a snooty family who frowns on such things as Broadway shows. Blondell is the one who gets the show going when she blackmails Keeler's uptight father Herbert (Guy Kibbee) into backing the show. Herbert's afraid that his rich, snobby cousin will cut him off without a cent if he finds out he's done something so scandalous as be involved with the theater! Keeler's not happy either when she sees Powell writing a number for Blondell, but Powell only has eyes for Keeler...all of her.

Best known for introducing the standard title number and "I Only Have Eyes For You," this is probably the least well known and regarded of the early 30s Busby Berkley extravaganzas. The most famous number is "Only Have Eyes For You," where Powell keeps seeing chorines with Keeler masks when he's searching high and low for the real thing.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Speaking of the (Cold) Weather

It finally dropped back into the 40s where it belongs today, making it a perfect day to start taking down the Christmas decorations. I cleared out the remains of the new shelf this morning, then started taking down the displays. Putting them in boxes or smaller containers instead of tins was a big help. I had no problems fitting everything into one large plastic container this year with room to spare. I had just enough time to get the boxes, piles of Christmas catalogs, and other recyclables together and have a quick lunch before I went to work.

Work was very, very busy all day. Not only is it the beginning of the month, but with Christmas and New Year's on Sundays this holiday season, the Mondays after are counted as federal holidays...which means people who would have normally been at work have extra time off to go shopping. We had long lines all afternoon. Thank heavens my relief was just on time, and I was able to get out quickly. It had clouded over during work and was even flurrying a little as I rode home, but I don't think it's doing anything now.

When I got home, I returned to getting things organized. I did the bears and stuffed animals under the tree next. Cleared out a bunch of Beanie Babies to be donated. I think I'll donate those, except for Gigi (the black poodle who was the star of my college movie "The Ruby of Peril") and a few collectable teddy bears. I have lots of other stuffed toys I like more. Anything that didn't go in the back room was returned to my bed. The clothes and Christmas-only stuffed animals were put in plastic bags, then loaded into another large plastic container. The stockings and my Santa hat were laid on top.

Started Gold Diggers of 1937 while heating up leftovers for dinner. This was the second-to-last Gold Diggers film (1938's Gold Diggers In Paris was the last one), and though it's a little strange compared to the other two, it's still fun. The odd storyline (Dick Powell is a singing life insurance salesman who has to keep Broadway producer Victor Moore in the peak of health if he wants money to back a show; Joan Blondell is a former chorus girl who is now a secretary at the life insurance company) is surprisingly well-integrated with a nice score that includes E.Y Harburg and Harold Arlen's "Speaking of the Weather" (which becomes a charming duet for the then-married Blondell and Powell) and Al Dubin and Harry Warren's hit "With Plenty of Money and You." Berkley gets one really great number, "All's Fair In Love and War."