Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Goes Out Like a Lion

Brrr! The window next to my bed showed gloomy gray clouds and the tail end of last night's storm when I awoke this morning. The last half-hour of the American Top 40 warmed up things nicely. We covered the last week of March in 1981, as New Wave crested in the US. Among the most popular songs that week were Don McLean's version of "Crying," "Keep On Lovin' You" by REO Speedwagon, and that week's #1 hit, Blondie's pioneering rap/New Wave mix "Rapture."

I spent a pleasant hour or so afterwards having a spinach, mushroom, and Swiss cheese omelet for breakfast and watching the Disney movie The Aristocats. In this cross between 101 Dalmations and Lady and the Tramp with a feline bent, a pampered mother cat and her three feisty kittens live with a kindly older woman in Paris during early 20th century. Their wealthy owner wants to re-write her will to make the cats the main beneficiaries, which doesn't sit well with her loyal butler. The butler tries to get rid of the cats, but they end up lost in the French countryside instead. They're helped home by a dashing tomcat, a group of international alley cats with a penchant for that swinging new jazz sound, a mystery-loving mouse, and a trio of hilarious British geese.

One of Disney's lesser-known efforts of their "dark era" of the 70s and early 80s is also one of their cutest, not to mention of the few to be equally popular with girls and boys. The villainous butler isn't terribly frightening and the violence is mostly of the slapstick variety; other than a couple of mild drunk jokes, this is one of the best Disney movies to start off young kids with.

Made a short errand run around 10:30. Made it to the bank first to deposit my paycheck, then volunteered at the Oaklyn Library. It was mouse-quiet there; other than shelving some books, there wasn't much for me to do. Went up to WaWa after that for milk; also bought a too-sweet chai tea. It was still chilly and gloomy, and the fine, misty rain was picking up a bit.

I had planned on spending the rest of the afternoon at home. I had to curtail that a bit. There was a message on my answering machine from Angie, one of the managers at the Acme. Could I come in at 1 or 1:30? They were really busy. No, not at that point. It was 12:30 and I hadn't eaten lunch. I had leftovers while watching Here Comes Peter Cottontail instead.

I did finally get to work around 2PM. I was originally supposed to go in at 2:30; 2 makes more sense anyway, and I even got to relieve another cashier who thought she'd be shutting down with a line. It wasn't that bad when I came in, but we had on-and-off crowds for most of the afternoon as people dodged the last of the misty rain. Turns out that, for some reason, a lot of people had left work early as well; we were short-handed throughout the early part of the afternoon. Thankfully, the crowds had slowed enough by 7 that I was able to leave on my own, despite my relief being the kid who is always late coming from his second job.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lottery Mania

I awoke a little late today, but not too late for the gym...or so I thought. When I was locking my bike across from the gym, I realized I'd forgotten my wallet with the red membership card. Oops. I just ended up riding over to the Acme to do this week's grocery shopping and pick up my paycheck instead.

The Acme was a mess when I arrived. The checkout lines were long, and the line at the customer service desk was longer. I assumed it had to do with it being close to the beginning of the month. With the bank gone, there's no second desk to cash checks. I got my money and did my shopping. Grabbed shrimp and chicken cutlets on sale, along with one of my favorite cereals, Cinnamon Oatmeal Squares. Needed yogurt, grapefruit, and bananas. Strawberries and asparagus were $1.99 (per pound for the latter). Bought things to make a mousse pie.

When I finally got in, I put everything away, then made a Strawberry-Cream Mousse Pie. Sliced up the remaining ham from St. Patrick's Day and threw in chicken stock, whole wheat pasta, and various vegetable leftovers to make Ham and Pasta Soup. It made a nice, filling lunch while I watched Kung Fu Panda 2.

This time around, lovable Po (Jack Black) searches for "inner peace" while also seeking the truth behind his past. He has a flash of memory when he first encounters the revenge-obsessed Prince Shen (Gary Oldman) on a mission with the Furious Five. This time, he must save the kingdom from Shen's incredible machine that may just put an end to martial arts forever, while finding the key to his lost family.

I think I enjoyed this sequel even more than the first movie. For one thing, Shen is an incredible villain, far better than the original's cliched muscle warrior. He's subtle and dark and nasty (as you'd expect from a peacock voiced by one of Hollywood's foremost experts in dark characters). The character development is just as good...for everyone but the Furious Five, who have a little bit more to do but otherwise aren't much in the way of characters. The animation is great, too. The switches between "real life" (computer) and Po's fractured memories (hand-drawn animation) is very well done in both cases. And mini-Po is a real cutie either way!

Wish work was as much fun. It was busy and annoying for most of the evening. I hadn't realized what all the fuss was about earlier today until I heard someone mention that the jackpot for one of the New Jersey lotteries was 640 million dollars! No wonder everyone's going crazy! It was right on the lottery sign over the customer service desk. I never really pay attention to that. I have no interest in lotteries...or money, for that matter. I don't want a lot of money. I only need enough to live. Money just causes trouble.

I have mixed feelings on next week's schedule. On one hand, I have two days off again...but the first of those two days isn't until next Thursday! Not to mention, I work late on Tuesday again. I do work in the morning on Monday, which is an improvement, but I'd give anything for a consistent schedule.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Balance and the Writers

Spent a rare morning at home. Usually on my days off, I head out right away, but today I wasn't doing anything until 1. I slept in a little bit, then tried the Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies recipe from the Pillsbury Cookie cookbook my sister Anny gave me at Christmas. I had some raisins leftover from the Irish Soda Bread a few weeks ago. The cookies came out beautifully, crunchy and sweet...and I had just enough time for a quick lunch of leftovers before heading out to Collingswood for my first meeting of the day.

I met Jody Staton at her home in Collingswood, a few blocks down from Vitality Fitness and the Post Office. She turned out to be a slender, sweet older woman who lived in a big, lovely brown house with white trim. I think I've passed it a couple of times on yard sale jaunts. She had whole long shelves filled with tons of books, including lots of books on writing in her small but attractive office. I borrowed three on beginnings, middles, and endings, and we had a nice chat about writing and our lives over cups of tea. I'm glad I caught her when I did. Apparently, she and some family are taking a road trip in her car to Florida and New Orleans in a few days. She's a brave lady. I had a hard time with short road trips to Upstate New York with my family when I was a kid, much less all the way down south.

After I left Jody, I rode over to the Collingswood Library for this week's volunteer session there. I thanked FA and the upstairs librarian for suggesting Jody to me. Turns out she's a longtime Friend of the library and library patron. I didn't end up doing much there. Shelved a few DVDs downstairs and some nonfiction upstairs, then read a book on Rogers and Hammerstein musicals for a half-hour.

Went for a short walk on Haddon Avenue after I'd gotten bored at the library. I ended up at the Collingswood Used Book Seller. I wish I had the time and money to go there more often. I love that place. I ended up with one of the more recent Garfield comic books (Garfield Large & In Charge), the Barbara Michaels gothic novel The Master of Blacktower, and Assignment: Ceylon, another installment in the Assignment spy series that seemed to have lasted from the 50s through the 70s. I used to see those all the time in the early 90s on various library sale tables, but for some reason, I can't even find that many of them online anymore.

I had just enough time to grab water and a snack from WaWa before heading to Yogawood for the 4PM Gentle Vinyasa class. Fond though I am of Karin, I really do prefer the late afternoon Gentle/Basics classes. They're easier to modify and go far slower. Today, Lee had us work on core and back strength, which meant a lot of twists, crunching, and twists. It's so much easier to keep up with these classes, and there's far fewer people and lots more room to work on poses, too. I just wish I could get to them more often. There aren't any Gentle classes in the morning.

Went straight home after class. I grabbed a jacket, used the bathroom, put my books away, and skipped right back out for my meeting with Cassandra at the TreeHouse Cafe in Audubon. That went extremely well, too. She was a petite, pretty, dark-skinned woman about my age with bright, happy eyes. I got to read part of her new young adult novel A Beautiful Girl and see the process of selecting the cover for her next one. We talked about my nephews and cousins and her middle-school-aged sons, her other job doing taxes, my job at the Acme (and why it drives me crazy), and starting websites to sell her novel and show off my work (and Lauren's).

I was very happy when I rode over Nicholson Road and back into Oaklyn. I don't often get to make one connection in a day, much less two. It's always been really hard for me to reach out and talk to people, even when it might help me. I'm really hoping I can finally begin to network and meet more people who can  help my career...and just be friends I can talk to.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

He's In the Navy Now

I slept in a little bit this morning, not nearly as long as yesterday. I wanted to make a gym run. It was still sunny, warm, and windy when I headed over to Lucile Roberts around quarter of 11. I finally upped the time on the bike to 25 minutes. It did me good. I was nice and sweaty when I finished; went right into my leg machine work out. There were a few people on the bikes and treadmills when I got in, but by the time I left, the place was almost empty, which was fine by me.

I went straight home afterwards and did something I've been meaning to do. I wrote a letter to my brother Keefe, who is in the Navy. He's graduated from boot camp earlier this month and is now stationed near Charleston, South Carolina. Mom sent me a photo of him in uniform, and he looks incredibly handsome. She said he's already gotten stripes for being the top sharpshooter in his unit. I'm so proud of him, and I told him so in my letter. I always knew he was a brilliant kid. He's wanted to join the Navy for a couple of years now.

After I put my letter in the mailbox downstairs, I had a spinach and mushroom omelet for lunch, then messed around on the computer a bit before work. By this point, it had clouded over a bit and started showering lightly. Very lightly - it was ending even as I rode to the Acme.

The rest of the night was pretty much a repeat of most of this month - very busy during rush hour, quiet thereafter. It was so quiet by 8PM, I was able to shut down with no relief.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Long Title Lady

I was up late last night and didn't get up until past 10AM this morning! I wasn't in the laundromat until 12:30. That turned out to be a good thing, mind you. One person left shortly after I arrived; a few more came shortly before I left. Otherwise, it was just me, my load of clothes, and Family Feud on Channel 10. (No Jerry Springer this time, thank heavens.)

I brought my clothes home, put them away, and ran Sailor Moon episodes while having a very quick lunch of leftovers. I finished with just barely enough time to change, make dinner, and run off to work!

Work was pretty much the same as last week - busy during rush hour, quiet otherwise. That should change as we inch closer to both the beginning of the month and the spring holidays. A kid who had been working on organizing tags in the back came in for me; I was in and out with no trouble.

And why have I been up so late recently? I've been digging through the archives of the Monkees Long Title Fanfiction Yahoo Group. This group has pretty much been dormant in the last five years...which is a crying shame, because many of the stories they wrote between 1999 and 2003 ran the gamut from quite good to some of the best darn fiction for any fandom I've ever read. A little of it still exists online, but some of these stories, like the Davy's Secret series (Davy turns out to be a witch) and most of Freeze Frame and Star Collector (the Monkees are thrust into 21st Century LA, only to discover that Mike is now a greedy record executive who has been possessed by a devil) can only be found here.

Not to mention, the writers themselves and their "clones" (characters based after various people, from real-life, stories, or even their own lives) are witty and fun to read, even when just replying to various goings-on. It really makes me wish Lauren and I hadn't joined on the tail end of the group's peak period.

Oh, and I heard from Jody Staton and Cassandra Ulrich. I'm going to meet Jody at her home Thursday afternoon, and Cassandra for dinner at the TreeHouse Cafe Thursday evening. All right! I can't wait. A chance to talk real writers, and ladies who seem very nice besides. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rhythm of the Camden County Lands

It was a lovely morning in Camden County, chilly and sunny but VERY windy when I got up this morning. I finished Oklahoma! and ran some Sailor Moon as I had breakfast. In this mid-third-season episode, Serena and the girls are delighted to take Rini to the park to see the filming of a new western film. Of course, they're mostly interested in the rising young star who has the lead. So's Mimtete of the Witches Five. When his groupies spurn her, she becomes even more determined to get his love and his pure heart crystal! Meanwhile, Rini meets a strange, frail  young girl and strikes up a friendship, but her new buddy isn't what she seems.

Headed for the Haddon Township Library first. The wind wasn't too bad as I made my way through the park. It was gorgeous and green, with everything in bloom. The trees were sweeping veils of white and pink; the grass was a thick green carpet dotted with soft yellow buttercups and dandelions. No wonder I dodged several dog-walkers and joggers as I rode my bike across the still slightly muddy paths.

Despite the brisk wind, the library wasn't really that busy today. There was only a small stack of DVDs to put away later and no children's books. I ended up organizing the kids' DVDs and clearing the foreign films out of the shelves with the regular adult titles. Took out a book on writing novels and getting them published and the two newest Garfield comic books. Also grabbed Time After Time (which I never did get to a few weeks ago), and two animated film sequels, The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride and Kung Fu Panda 2.

My next stops were quick ones. I bought oatmeal at Super Fresh (99 cents on sale!), then headed to Capitol Pizza on the White Horse Pike for a fast and cheap slice of vegetable pizza (picked off the olives - I'm not an olives fan) and a bottle of water. I ignored CNN droning on in the background and read Garfield comics while I waited.

Headed straight home after that. I spent a few hours online, reading Monkees fanfiction and e-mailing people. I asked Cassandra Ulrich and the woman whose number the Collingswood Library gave me the other day, Jody Staton, if we could get together to talk writing on Thursday. They both replied in the affirmative, which makes me very happy. I hope they can help. I also e-mailed my friend Pattie, whom I haven't been able to get to by phone.

Went for a short walk around quarter of 6. It was too windy and chilly to go for a longer one at that point, but it was still nice to get out and enjoy the very fresh and very fast air. The wind was whipping everything around, from pastel Easter-themed banners to ME. The wind could barely get me home fast enough; I swear it blew me right up the stairs and in the door.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the night inside. I made Corn-Battered Baked Chicken Thighs with Avocado Sauce, steamed vegetables, and a spinach and tangelo salad and watched Simba's Pride. Simba is protective of his daughter Kiara, to the point of constantly sending Puumba and Timon to watch her. She wants to learn to do things on her own, away from her father...and on one such attempt, she almost literally runs into a tough little lion cub named Kovu. Kovu turns out to be the (possible) son of Scar, the villain from the original Lion King, and is being trained to kill Simba and his pride. As Rafiki points out, love (umendi) will have it's way, and before the stirring finale, both lions will teach their families a lesson in working together and the healing power of family.

Not bad. Not quite as good as the original, but very sweet in its own way. I especially liked the candy-colored "Umendi" number and some of the songs imported from the wonderful, long-out-of-print album Rhythm of the Pride Lands, like "He Lives In You." Necessary if you're a fan of The Lion King; enjoyable enough if you're not, but it really helps to have seen the first movie beforehand.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Green and Private World

I slept until past 10 this morning, and I was still tired. I've been up really late recently, digging through the archives of the Monkees fanfiction group list Long Title. I traded the Beatles show for Monkees CDs as I made Pear Ginger Pancakes for breakfast.

Called Mom around 11:30. We talked for almost an hour. She basically said for me to be more positive about the Acme job and that I'm lucky I have it and can fend for myself. If I'm so lucky, why don't I FEEL lucky? Why does it drive me crazy? Why do I hate myself when I come home from it? Why do I dread going to work every day? Is it truly impossible to have a job that I enjoy doing and that pays me enough to live on? Isn't there one person who understands what it's like to be a creative person who can't create anymore and who is being encouraged to do something that she feels is demeaning? I keep doing it because it makes money, not because I want to. I just haven't been able to find something that's better, and no, I don't think it has a single thing to do with the darn economy, which is everyone's favorite scapegoat.

The trouble is, I'm not sure what it is I want to do. I know I want to write, but there's a hundred things I want to do with that. Every time I get an idea, it doesn't work out. I start things, and I never finish them. Yes, I do have friends, but I'd give anything for a close, warm circle of friends who lived right in this area and knew exactly what I was going through. None of my closest friends live in the South Jersey area. They're scattered across the country, from Wildwood to the Atlanta suburbs to Denver to San Diego. And as much as I love my family, none of them are writers, and most of them aren't even artists or craftspeople in the way Mom is. I don't want to be on a journey anymore. I want to find the place I belong.

I do like Mom's suggestion of looking up spirituality. I take yoga classes, but I have a hard time with their meaning. I've never been really good with religion. Maybe trying to change that would help.

At least work was fairly painless. It was off and on, with no really major problems. It slowed down enough that I was able to leave without having to wait for the kid who is coming from a second job and is never on time.

When I got home, I listened to one of my Lost In Boston CDs and had leftovers. The Lost In Boston series is long out of print, but it's worth looking for if you're a musical fan looking for something different. It's a series of CDs by now-defunct label Verese Sarabande that feature songs cut from Broadway musicals, from the well-known to songs dropped from flops.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rider In the Storm

Started off today with the second half of the American Top 40. We went back a decade to late March 1973 this morning, as hard rock, folk, and Motown ruled the airwaves. Among the hits in the early spring of that year were "Love Train" by the O Jays, "Neither One of Us," by Gladys Knight and the Pips, and "Ain't No Woman" by the Four Tops.

That week's number one hit was a classic smoky ballad by Roberta Flack, "Killing Me Softly." It had apparently been number one for several weeks, was displaced by "Love Train" for a week, then bounced right back. I'm not surprised - this is an oft-heard 70s favorite.

It was sunny out this morning, but the sun was fast disappearing behind clouds when I headed out for this week's Saturday errand run. As with last week, I started with the bank, then moved to the Oaklyn Library. There wasn't much going on at either place; the library was just me and the librarian. I was in and out of both places quickly.

It was just as well. Once again, I had more plans for the day. I wanted to continue checking out local coffee shops for information on writers and take a longer look at Barrington. The clouds had gotten heavier as I left the Oaklyn Library. They finally burst when I arrived in Haddon Heights. I briefly checked out their coffee shop, but it was so spare and Spartan, they didn't have much room for open mic anything. The rain picked up as I made my way down Atlantic Avenue, past the train tracks and under the over pass to Barrington. It never did get really heavy, just enough to make me slightly damp and smell good.

One of the reasons I hit Barrington was to take a second, longer look at the Antique Center. I love that barn. I'd be there more often if it didn't require a half-hour bike ride. As I did last month, I came up with some great things there. Found a box filled with vintage linens and doll clothes. I hardly need linens, but I did find three adorable dresses - two for spring, one for Christmas - that fit the Cabbies. I also picked up three records - a later Johnny Mathis album from the early 80s, an 80s John Entwistle solo album, and a 70s book-and-record version of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.

When I was prowling around upstairs, I came across a small room with a table in the center that was filled with Fisher Price toys that probably dated back to the 60s. I easily recognized the Popcorn Roller thing that Rose loved as a child, as well as two favorite Little People sets my sisters and I used until well into our early teens, the Circus Train (complete with the lion with the big brown mane and the monkey with the movable tail) and the Camping Set with the red and white van and the matching trailer. I finally chose a Roly Poly Apple for my little nephew Khai. The girls and I used to love that thing. We'd knock it over and hear the bell inside it ring again and again.

After I left there, I headed to the Barrington Coffee House for lunch and to see if they had any information on writers. Alas, they couldn't help me, other than direct me to their open mic night. They did make a mean hot Chicken Spinach Wrap and Chai Latte, though.

I made one more short stop at a more folksy antique shop across the street. There was nothing interesting there. Not to mention, the rain was starting to come down a little harder. I finally just packed up my new (old) findings and headed home.

Though the sun looked like it was trying to come out as I rode back to Oaklyn, it never did make it all the way. It's rained on and off since then. I pumped my slightly flagging right tire, then went inside for the rest of the evening.

Spent the next few hours online, doing some browsing and finishing the job ideas list. I now have twenty writing/book related jobs I'd like to take a look at or learn to do, and the questions I want to ask about them. I also added ideas to look into to make them happen, from online sites to look at to trips to local Barnes and Nobles to talk to authors.

I baked a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, then made a late dinner of thin Chicken Breasts and Sauteed Vegetable Mix while watching the 1955 Oklahoma! This is my favorite of Rogers and Hammerstein's stage and movie musicals. I especially love Gloria Graham as Aldo Annie - for someone whom I don't believe had done musicals before, she does a great "I Cain't Say No." Charlotte Greenwood is the perfect Aunt Eller, too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm Just Wild About Muppets

It was once again sunny and too warm when I hit the gym for my second session there this week. Had a really nice run on the elliptical machine, then worked on my arms. Not surprisingly, given the weather, it was very quiet there this morning. There were a few people on the treadmills and stationary bikes, but I had the weight machines to myself once I got over there. When I finished, I stretched and headed out quickly.

I still had to run to the Acme for my paycheck and groceries. I had quite a bit to get today. They're having a really good sale on skinless chicken thighs and cutlets, and I grabbed another spiral ham for Easter, too. Picked up peanut butter and the new Smuckers fruit spread (the prices weren't great on either, but I'm about half out of what I have in the fridge now), butter (had a coupon for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter), eggs (didn't need-need them, but there was a $2 sale on Land-O-Lakes Brown Eggs), cooking spray (on sale), chocolate chips, and brown sugar (ran out after making the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies on Tuesday). Restocked pears, tangelos (good sales on both), grapefruit, and bananas.

When I got in, I watched a couple of third season Muppet Show episodes while unloading the groceries and eating leftover ham, collard greens, and sweet potatoes for lunch. Gilda Radner sings selections from The Pirates of Penzance with a six-foot carrot and gets really stuck on Beaker during a tap number. Pearl Bailey does a rousing version of "In the Good Old Summertime" with the Electric Mayhem, then joins the whole cast for a spoof of Camelot...using songs from just about every other 50s and 60s musical. Jean Stapleton is wild about Crazy Harry and his exploding music.

Before I started working on the career list, I saw a blinking light on my land line phone, indicating a message. One of the librarians from Collingswood had called back and said they managed to contact a woman who might be willing to help me after all! It's too late to get a hold of her tonight, but I'll e-mail her tomorrow.

I added more careers to my expanding list, then got my uniform on, threw together dinner, and headed to work. Work was a little busier than the last few days, but still not too bad. I was able to do some returns before the rush hour crowds came in.

And my schedule next week is a bit more manageable, too, Not as many hours, but only one late day and one relatively long day, Tuesday, with Monday and Thursday off.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Springtime Balance

Began a gorgeous, sunny, breezy day with yoga class. I was lucky I could squeeze in! I guess everyone in Camden County felt like trying yoga today. There were 23 people attending the 9:30 class at Yogawood today, counting the teacher Karin. Good thing she'd just taken her daughter Grace on a nature trip and mostly did moves related to spring and insects, which meant we were on the floor a lot.

I talked to Karin a little after class. I had to talk to somebody who would understand, or I'd go crazy. She was really sweet about it. She said that it might help if I concentrated on the things I love...and not the job I can't stand.

Went to the Collingswood Library after I settled down. I did file and shelve some DVDs there. Also did some shelf organizing; the kids' section was a mess. Unfortunately, I got no help with finding a writer who can be a mentor to me. FA directed me upstairs...and neither of the upstairs librarians could remember what writers they wanted to suggest for me.

GrooveGround wasn't a help either...but at least I had a nice lunch. Had a turkey, tomato, and bacon wrap with chips and a pasta salad made with vinaigrette. I also picked up a copy of What's On?, the local community events paper. I don't often eat there because they're dark and expensive, but the food is good.

Made a brief stop at Rite Aid, then headed home. When I got in, I went for a walk. I needed a walk. My mind is still all in a jumble. It was a glorious early spring afternoon. The breeze felt good on my shoulders as I trooped down Manor and back around in the area behind the school. The neighborhood looks so nice this time of year. The trees are in bloom (even though all the magnolia petals on the ground are slippery), and the daffodils and forsythia are so sunshine-y. It even smells nice.

Spent the next hour when I got in making a list of jobs I got from Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Writing, along with questions that I need to answer about each job, and places I could learn more about them. I got down "Author," "Book Packager," (think "book producer" - handles all aspects of publishing, including the writing), "Editor," and "Freelance Writer" down before I had to sign off and pack up for work.

Work was, once again, busy during rush hour but otherwise not a problem. I was even able to round up carts for an hour after my break. I'm glad I did. Even just spending time in the parking lot is better than being stuck inside all night.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All I Do Is Dream of Chocolate

Started off a cloudy but warm and humid day with the two remaining Scooby Doo episodes. Actually, both were What's New, Scooby Doo? shows I'd seen before, probably during the show's original run on the WB. "Uncle Scooby and Antarctica" takes the gang to the frozen wastelands of the south to return a penguin Scooby's become attached to home to his natural habitat. When they arrive, they discover a science lab built over the penguins' breeding grounds and the scientist who ran the lab kidnapped by a shark-like monster.

"Reef Grief" has one of the most creative monsters of the entire franchise. A creature that looks like it's made from coral attacks kids taking part in a sand sculpting contest in Australia, including Shaggy and Scooby. It's up to the remaining members of Mystery Inc. to find out why the sculptors are disappearing...and how the monster relates to other mysteries of the Great Barrier Reef.

Made a gym run after the cartoons ended. It was past 11AM when I arrived. Everyone must have been getting ready for lunch. There were only a few people on the treadmills and bikes, and no one on the weight machines. I upped the time on the bike and did the leg machines and got a pretty good work-out in.

When I got home, I had a spinach-mushroom omelet for lunch, then baked Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies while watching the classic musical Singin' In the Rain. Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) is a huge star in late 20s Hollywood. He has everything he could want...except for love. His frequent leading lady Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) is a nasty diva with a Brooklyn accent that would make sour cream curdle. When he has a close encounter with actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), he begins to rethink his ideas of love. He's not the only one doing rethinking. Even as he moons over Kathy, sound pictures are taking Hollywood by storm. Don, Kathy, and Don's goofy best friend Cosmo (Donald O'Connor) come up with a way to make Don's newest movie a talkie hit and bring Don and Kathy together...but then Lina gets wind of the plan...

When people think of movie musicals, this one is usually high on the list. It's considered to not only be one of the top musicals of all time, but one of the top movies, period. While the songs are mostly from MGM musicals of the early talkie era and the 30s, the numbers are clever, sweet, and joyous, perfectly matching the witty script. My biggest kudos go to two smaller numbers that perfectly exemplify this movie's spirit - Don and Cosmo's hilarious "Fit as a Fiddle" early on, a genuine comic vaudeville ditty, and Don, Kathy, and Cosmo's delightful version of "Good Morning," danced all around Don's odd Art Deco living room.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - quiet when I came in and when I left, busy during rush hour. I shelved candy during the down time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Magical Mermaids and Sea Monsters

I slept in this morning and didn't get out to the Haddon Township Library until past 11. It was already in the 60s by then, though not quite as warm as yesterday. There were a lot of people and animals roaming around in Newton River Park; I dodged dog walkers, parents out with little kids, people taking a mid-day stroll, and Canadian geese poking around for their lunch.

Given the nice day, it probably shouldn't have been a surprise that there wasn't much to do at the library. Another volunteer had already shelved most of the adult DVDs. I organized the children's DVDs and pulled foreign and children's titles from the adult section. Took out this spring's Barbie As special, Mermaid Tale 2, and the newest Scooby Doo collection, Scooby Doo and the Sea Monsters, along with two books on writing careers.

There wasn't enough time to eat lunch out, and I had plenty of leftovers anyway, so I went straight home, passing a group of teenagers in front of the Ritz Theatre in Oaklyn waiting to board their school buses back to Audubon. When I got in, I took down the St. Patrick's Day decorations and put up the Easter items. I have quite a few cute things for Easter, including three baskets, a huge bunny statue I picked up from the thrift shop in Collingswood before they shut down, two smaller ones I got from Mom a few years ago for a combination Easter/birthday present, and two stuffed Peeps in bright blue and yellow.

Ran Mermaid's Tale 2 while doing the decorating and eating leftovers for lunch. Merliah, the half-surfer, half-mermaid, once again finds herself rescuing the sea from the evil sorceress Eris. Her surfing rival Kylie unknowingly helped her out of the whirlpool she was trapped in...setting off a chain of events that leads Eris to trap Merliah's mother in a spell that traps her in her worst fear forever! The two competitors will have to work together to rescue the Queen...and prove that two mermaid tails really are better than one.

Not bad. Not as good as the first, but better than the somewhat similar Fairy Secret. The animation is improving, too. I especially like the waves and ocean effects here.

Ran some Scooby as I got ready for work. All three of these episodes come from What's New, Scooby Doo. "She Sells Sea Monsters By the Seashore" takes Mystery Inc to a time share resort on a tropical island for a vacation. But the natives aren't too friendly...and neither is the sea monster who is terrorizing tourists. The locals think it's the spirit of an island god, but Velma and Daphne aren't buying that myth. The laid-back owner of a glass-bottom boat and a sea turtle-loving marine biologist both have their reasons for wanting tourists away from the island, but only one has the equipment or the time to create the "monster."

Work was, once again, busy during rush hour, quiet before and afterwards. I spent a lot of the night doing returns. Oh, and the bathrooms finally have stalls. Nice steel ones, too. They did a good job. Now, if they'd only get furniture for the back room...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Good Day Sunshine

I awoke to a gorgeous, sunny morning, an incredible 70 degrees, breezy and warm. Ran Easter specials and Monkees episodes. It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown is my favorite Peanuts special, if only for the running gag involving Marcie, Peppermint Patty, and a hundred different ways of cooking eggs.

The Monkees episodes were both Peter-centric tales from the first season. Quiet Peter goes after a pretty debutante, with the help of the other three, in "One Man Shy." The frequently confused bassist is at the heart of a kidnapping plot in "Case of the Missing Monkee," and once again, it's his fellow bandmates to the rescue.

Finally headed to the laundromat around 11. I can't believe how busy it was! There were tons of young men milling around, several families, and Jerry Springer blaring on the TV. Thank heavens I got a washer and drier with no problems. I had a lot of laundry to do, and I felt awkward enough as it was.

When I got home, I put all of my laundry away, then went for a walk. It was a perfect day for it. The neighborhood just looks beautiful. The trees are just starting to bloom. The soft pink and cream blossoms on the magnolia trees scatter softly in the wind; the sweet scents of the bright yellow daffodils and vibrant purple and lavender hyacinths perfume the air. Bees buzzed all around as they sought the best nectar. I hiked down to Goff Avenue and could see clear all the way to the Ben Franklin Bridge.

I ran The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town while having the last of the chilli for lunch. The second of the three Rankin-Bass springtime tales is the only one to be completely about Easter. Sunny the Bunny wants to deliver the eggs from all-child Kidville to all-adult Town, but nasty Lady Lilly would prefer Town to stay grown-ups only...except for her nephew, kid rule King Bruce the Frail. Sunny and the creative residents of Kidville keep coming up with new ideas to get their products around Lady Lilly's laws...and learn how traditions are started in the process. Not the best Rankin-Bass special, but cute in its own way. I especially love the Hendrews Sisters, chicken proprietors of the special eggs, and their jazzy numbers.

I was surprised at how busy work was on such a beautiful day. I did get out to round up carts a bit around 5PM, but I was mostly inside. It didn't slow down until it was almost time for me to go.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jazz for the Quiet Days

I awoke to clouds, at least somewhat chilly temperatures, and the Brunch With the Beatles show. It was well into the episode before I finally started making Carrot Raisin Pancakes for breakfast. The theme was "Beatles B-Sides." A surprising amount of popular Beatles hits found themselves on the "b" sides of singles, including "Something," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Act Naturally," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Eleanor Rigby," "Revolution," and "I am the Walrus." I tried calling Mom after breakfast, but she was dealing with my nephew Skylar; I'd get to her later.

I ended up spending most of a quiet early afternoon listening to my new Instant Replay Monkees set and mucking around online. I wish I could have stayed there, or gone outside to enjoy a day that had turned sunny and a bit warmer. Work was busy all afternoon, and we'd had call-outs and were short on help. I was surprised that we were so busy on such a nice day. Either a lot of people had to work this week, or there are a LOT of folks who wanted that 10 for $10 7-Up six-pack sale. My relief was the guy who is always late coming in from his second job, and I just barely got out on time.

Called Mom after I got home and changed back into regular clothes. Mom was between calls; she needed to call her sister Terri, too. She was thrilled to hear that I'd managed to contact a writer and had gotten some help. She suggested my next move be to calculate how much money I need to live for a month. It's hard for me to do this. I buy things based on how many hours I'm working a week. I never know how much money I'll have week after week.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Something Sort of Grandish

Happy St. Patrick's Day to ye! The sun was beaming softly through my bedroom window when I awoke this morning. The clouds were gone, and it was getting into the upper 50s and climbing. I began with the second half of this week's American Top 40. This week, the Top 40 hit March 1983, with hits including "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran, "Back on the Chain Gang" by the Pretenders, "One on One" by Hall & Oates, and "Shame on the Moon" by Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band. The #1 song that week would be one of that year's top songs, from one of the decade's biggest albums - "Billie Jean," from the smash Michael Jackson record Thriller.

I didn't really have any major plans for today, other than running a few errands in the Oaklyn and Audubon area. I hit the bank first, dodging some sidewalk repairs on the White Horse Pike, then headed over to the Oaklyn Library. They were having a special St. Patrick's Day Storybook Hour with Darby the Cat. "Darby" turned out to be a sweet-natured, gray-striped tabby owned by a woman who takes him to local nursing homes and schools. It might have been just as well that there were only a few families. Darby wasn't overwhelmed, and all of the kids got a chance to pet him and have their pictures taken.

I hadn't had a nice walk to Audubon in a while, so I went there next. I bought a couple of Irish Potatoes from Desserts By Design and explained my business situation to her. She was very sweet and supportive. She's a nice customer at the Audubon Acme, too, and her desserts are popular with local restaurants.

Went across the street to have lunch at TreeHouse Cafe. I'd had a brainstorm. Coffee houses were the only other places I could think of local creative types congregating besides libraries. I know the TreeHouse Cafe has seminars and open-mic nights, for poetry and for music. I asked the owners if they knew any local writers who could help me break into the market. One recommended a woman named Cassandra Ulrich who had just published a young adult novel and had apparently gone through some of the same problems I had. I gave them my phone number and e-mail address to give to her.

Feeling a bit better, I went back across the street to Abbie Road. Said "hi" to Bob, then went through his record collection. He'd put a lot out since I was last there, including a whole pile that were only a dollar each. I ended up with four titles:

The original 1966 Carol Channing cast album for Hello Dolly! and the soundtrack to the 1970s movie musical version of Tom Sawyer with music by the Sherman Brothers

The Best of the Spinners

England Dan & John Ford Cooley - Nights are Forever

It was getting warmer by the minute. I was too warm in my green v-neck sweater and heavy dark flared jeans. Time to go home. I made one more quick stop at the WaWa on the White Horse Pike for skim milk before heading back to the apartment.

Just a few minutes after I got in, my phone rang. Much to my delight and surprise, it was Cassandra Ulrich, the woman I'd heard about at the TreeHouse Cafe, on the other end of the line! I hadn't expected her to get back to me so soon, but I was very glad she did. We had a nice, long chat about writing. She said that she hadn't written anything in years...but once she'd switched to a job she liked better, her ideas seemed to flow. She just got her first young adult novel published last year. She also seconded what Mom said that I'm still on the "discovery" phase of my journey - finding what I like and don't like, what I want and don't want.  She didn't really have any suggestions on what to do about the business class; I have the feeling I'm on my own there.

Here's her blog, with the link to her novel: Cassandra's Journey

Spent the next hour working on goals and what to do next. It's hard to have goals when you're never sure what you're going to be doing at work next week. I at least know I want to hit the other local coffee shop in Collingswood, GrooveGround, and see if they can recommend anyone as well. I also need to finally e-mail the teacher and see if he has any ideas of what I can do now, because I feel bad, but I don't think I'll be able to complete the course.

After I got bored with that, I decided to have some fun. I rounded up Molly, Jessa, Tiana, and Cinderella (the latter three are the only dolls in green!) for a St. Patrick's Day/spring photo-taking session in Miss Ellie's garden. I got some shots of them among the daffodils, then cut a few daffodils to bring upstairs to my own apartment.

Spent the rest of the evening indoors. I'd run St. Patrick's Day and Irish-themed TV shows and cartoons all day. Porky Pig has a surreal close encounter with leprechauns who think he's after their pot of gold in the classic Looney Tunes short "Wearin' of the Grin." Woody Woodpecker actually gets a visit from one of the wee folk in "His Better Elf," but learns a lesson in earning his bread when he wishes for money that belongs to a bank. Wonder Woman has her own odd encounter with a human version of the wee folk when gangsters steal his pot of gold to buy printing plates for counterfeit money in "Pot 'o Gold," from the third season of the 70s show. And in the second season Moonlighting episode "Somewhere Under the Rainbow," David and Maddie argue over magic and the things we can't see when a female leprechaun asks them to protect her and her pot of gold.

I ran Finian's Rainbow as I baked Irish Soda Bread and made a small spiral ham with sauteed collard greens, carrots, and celery and mashed sweet potatoes for dinner. This adaptation of the 1947 Broadway musical is a very strange but oddly charming fantasy about an Irishman (Fred Astaire) who plants his stolen pot of gold in the ground near Fort Knox, hoping it'll grow the way the gold in the famous vault seems to have. His daughter Sharon (Petula Clark)  is more interested in the handsome sharecropper who is in charge of a tobacco cooperative that's trying to grow a new kind of mint-flavored tobacco. Trouble is, the leprechaun who owns the stolen gold (Tommy Steele) has followed Finian to reclaim it, before he becomes fully human...and he's more interested in chasing Sharon and anything female that gets in his view. And then, there's the bigoted local senator (Keenan Wynn), who isn't happy that the cooperative is equally owned by whites and blacks, but Sharon's about to teach him a lesson in equality, thanks to the pot of gold...

The music and the cast are the saving graces in this fairly dated but still fun cult musical. Songs like "How are Things In Glocca Morra," "Old Devil Moon," "Look to the Rainbow," and "Something Sort of Grandish" were already often-recorded hits by the time the movie finally came out in 1967. Steele can be annoying, but he does have a couple of good numbers, notably the adorable "Grandish" with Clark. "Old Devil Moon" smolders with a sexual energy that wouldn't have been possible if this movie had been made in the 40s. And Fred Astaire gets several chances to show off his still-nimble feet, notably in his solo during "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich."

The script is the problem. The bigotry subplot comes off as well-meaning but overly politically correct today (long before the phrase was coined), and the idea of magic changing skin color may not sit well with a lot of people. (It doesn't help that the makeup used to transform Wynn is terrible and obvious.) There's also the fact that the plot revolves around selling tobacco, which would have been far more acceptable in the 60s - today, Woody wouldn't get past Rainbow Valley with that tobacco, no matter how minty it smelled.

In a weird way, it reminds me a little of Xanadu - a musical about an old dance master and a young English-accented woman that revolves around misfits and magic, with a score that's more beloved than the plot and a plot that doesn't make a lot of sense, that was a flop on first release. Like Xanadu, it's not for everyone, but if you're a fan of Steele, Clark, Astaire, the original Broadway show, or director Francis Ford Coppola, it's worth a look.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Into the Spring of Things

It was, once again, chilly and cloudy when I headed to Lucile Roberts for my second gym session this week. I got a later start than I would have preferred and just kept it short. It was a little busy, but nothing like yesterday, and there were no classes going on. I was able to get an elliptical machine and use the arm weight machines without a wait this time. I even got to see part of (last year's?) St. Patrick's Day Parade on channel 3.

Went to the Acme next to get my paycheck and do this week's grocery shopping. I used up both my whole wheat and regular flour and eggs doing this week's baking. Wanted to stock up on wheat germ, and they have bagged vegetables for a dollar this week. Replaced the diced tomatoes, ground chicken, and dark red kidney beans I used on chilli earlier in the week. It was a little busy there, but I was easily able to get in and out in less than a half-hour.

When I got home, I put everything away, had leftover chili and an avocado-tomato sandwich on one of the rolls I made on Tuesday for lunch, and ran Bowery Boys movies. Private Eyes had Slip buying a detective agency when a whack on the head gives Sach the ability to read minds. Sach is also at the center of Paris Playboys. He, Slip, and soda shop owner Louie Dumbrowski find themselves in France when Sach is discovered to be the double of a famous scientist.

Work remained busy for most of the night. We're still in the midst of remodeling, but they've at least put some of the old furniture in the back room now that the walls have been painted. The stalls for the bathroom STILL haven't shown up, though. On the other hand, they just got new freezers and cases for the dairy and pre-packaged deli items that are really nice, much nicer than the old ones.

I'm not terribly happy with my schedule next week. On one hand, there's nothing longer than five hours or later than 8:30. On the other hand, after tomorrow, I don't have my next day off until NEXT Saturday! It seems at least five or six people went on vacation next week. I hate it when everyone decides to go on vacation at the same time. I wish they'd make stricter rules about choosing vacation weeks. Lauren's bank has it that people pick the weeks they want to go beforehand, instead of randomly. I also wish I could find a job where the hours were more consistent. It doesn't work with grocery stores.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fast Balance

It was chilly and cloudy when I headed to Collingswood for today's yoga class. Despite the complaints, it was really more like it should be in March in southern New Jersey, probably in the lower-mid 50s. We warmed up by working on balance and on back stretches. I was up later than I should have been last night and wasn't up to a lot of pushing myself into pretzel shapes.

I didn't have enough time for the Collingswood Library after class - I had to work at 1 - so I just went straight home. I made bread pudding and watched Yogi the Easter Bear when I got in; ran The Rescuers while having a tasty tomato, salmon, and avocado wrap and romaine salad for lunch. The Rescuers ended just in time for me to head out to work.

Work wasn't fun. I was tired, and we were busy for most of the afternoon and I was stuck in Express with cranky people in a hurry. Not to mention, they're still in the midst of remodeling. The stalls for the bathrooms have yet to arrive. Nor has the new furniture for the back room; we're eating in the cafe again. (In fact, there were customers at the cafe when I had my break. I ended up eating in the back office.)

Headed to the gym after work to get my mind working again. I completely forgot they were having their St. Patrick's Day Open House this evening. Lucile Roberts was so busy, I had to wait a half-hour to get on the stationary bikes! At least I got a nice little ride in, and I did get finally get onto the leg weight machines.

Went to Bassett's BBQ after I left the gym. I had the same thing I had last time, the three sliders with cole slaw, tossing fries into the mix. The fries are the crinkly kind. They were pretty good, but there was a ton and I didn't finish all of them. Those sliders are really tasty. I had one of each - pork, beef, and chicken. I think the chicken was my favorite, but they all came out well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making a Budget

My original goal today was to make a budget and figure out how to get on with my goal-setting from there. Trouble is, as usual, I got too caught up with reading other things and didn't get to the budget until almost 1. I did get it done, though. I spent a lot of money on "other" stuff last month...but I also bought contacts, had my eye exam, and won three rare American Girl outfits on eBay that don't often show up for decent prices.  I don't normally spend more than $150-200 a month on "other" stuff, and I'd like to pare that down. I need to stop buying junk like DVDs or books unless I can find them cheaply used, really want them (like the Instant Replay set), or really, really need something.

I've been putting off e-mailing my teacher, too. I'm never going to complete my course in time. I don't care about a good or bad grade. I really need help getting started with my writing business, but I don't know whom to ask...or how to ask them. I'm not good with stuff like this. Not to mention, I spent $100 on this course, and while I did learn some things about marketing, that won't do me any good unless I have something to market. I can't make a website until I have something to sell on it...and I don't really know anything about editing beyond editing mine and Lauren's fanfiction. I have no idea whom to ask, either. I've seen two writing groups listed for this area. One is full and not accepting new members. The other only meets at 7PM every first Thursday of the month. Not only do I usually work then, but that's kind of late to be out on the bike, and I don't really know anyone to carpool with.

This happens to me a lot. I stare at a story, hoping to start it, but it just stays blank. I can't come up with the ideas. I hope to e-mail someone, but then I get nervous and talk myself out of it. Or I can't make myself sit down to write at all. I write in this blog every night and in my journal every day, but I can't bring myself to write a story or a website or edit our Bowery Boys fanfiction or do any of the things I need to do. I don't know what's wrong with me. Writers are supposed to write, not stare or put things off. There has to be something wrong.

This blog and the journal are easier to write. The journal is for working out my thoughts every morning. This blog is mainly to keep all of the people who worry about me abreast of the goings-on in my life. ;)

I had leftover chilli for lunch and ate it outside. It was even nicer than yesterday, breezy and warm but not quite as much as the day before. Perfect day for an outdoor meal.

Work was almost exactly the same as Monday - busy during rush hour, quiet otherwise. Once again, I spent an hour later in the evening returning carts, if only as an excuse to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and a better work out that I'd even get in a gym.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Hippie, the City Cowboy, the Soul Man, and the British Kid

It was a downright insanely warm morning when I headed out for today's library and errands run, already in the lower 60s by quarter of 10. I volunteered at the Collingswood and Haddon Township Libraries first. (I work too early on Thursday to do the library then, though I probably will do yoga that day.) Dropped a huge pile of records off at Collingswood and one last video at Haddon Township, which concludes my donating for the moment. I'm just glad to clear so much out of the back room. I can walk around in there again!

Not surprisingly, on such a lovely day, there wasn't much going on at either library. I organized and shelved DVDs at both places. Shelved a few non-fiction titles at Collingswood; shelved children's books at Haddon Township. I renewed several books and X-Men: First Class and took out two new Strawberry Shortcake titles (the 2003-version-based Berry Brick Road and the 2009 Berry Bloomin' Gardens) and one more movie, the 1979 romantic sci-fi adventure Time After Time, as well as two books on business writing and copy editing.

I made a quick stop at Super Fresh (and forgot what I went in there for, which was peanut butter) and Dollar Tree (needed birthday cards and sponges), then went straight home. Just as I had hoped, there were two large packages waiting for me on Miss Ellie's porch. My two online purchases from last week had finally arrived!

I took them upstairs right away, for I needed one to be able to use the other. The smaller package contained my new Emerson CD/cassette player from Amazon. The CD player finally died on the other one. This one was built quite differently, with no large metal disc on the top to hold the CD...which I believe is what got damaged on the last one. It seems to have come over perfectly in transit. I played the three discs from my other order and my Journey Greatest Hits cassette, and all sounded not only fine, but better than on the old machine.

As you can probably guess by the title of this entry, today's other arrival was the Instant Replay: Deluxe Edition from Rhino Records. Actually, by the time this album came out in 1969, "the Hippie" - Peter Tork - had quit, citing exhaustion but really fed up with infighting and the others not wanting to record as a group. The upheaval is reflected in a fractured and really only so-so album. It wouldn't be until the next record, the underrated Monkees Present, that Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones would find their groove again. Mike and Davy have the best tracks, of both the original and additional material. One of my favorite Davy "missing links," the fun "Look Down," is included here, as is one of Mike's best ballads that would find its way into his solo albums, "Propinquity (I've Just Begun to Care)."

For Monkees fans, probably the most interesting items are at the end of the third CD. Most of what's on there are instrumental backing tracks...but there's some recently unearthed music, both backing and with lyrics, from the Monkees' truly bizarre 1969 special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. I ended up liking Peter's "(Prithee) Do Not Ask for Love" and Davy's "Goldilocks Sometimes" much better without the respectively odd and syrupy lyrics...but Mike's "Naked Persimmon" doesn't make much sense unless you can hear the back-and-forth representation of his dual-sided personality. Although Micky is the only one whose solo number isn't represented (I guess they haven't turned up his soul version of "I'm a Believer" yet), he does get to sing the Neil Sedaka tune "I Go Ape." (The fact that you can't see the ridiculous white ape suits they wore for this number in the special is a vast improvement.)

I spent the next hour trying to work out goals for my business. I didn't get far. My mind woke me up around 6:30, and though I tried to go back to sleep for an hour, my body didn't buy it. I just couldn't concentrate. I got up to trying to figure out how much it would cost me to start a copy editing business before I was ready to either take a nap or tear out my hair. I decided to opt for neither and went for a walk.

By 4PM, it was a jawdropping 71 degrees outside. There were kids out running around in shorts...boys and girls. I really wished the ice cream parlor around the corner from me was open, but I settled for a chilled French Vanilla Cappuccino from WaWa and a pretzel to get my mind working. Everything was in bloom, from sunny yellow daffodils to soft lavender hyacinths to the palest buds on trees. Green grass is sprouting in every lawn. If adults weren't chasing their kids in the playground behind the Oaklyn School, they were washing their vehicles, working in gardens, walking their pets, or chatting with friends and neighbors on their porches, patios, and balconies. It felt more like an afternoon in early summer than one in early spring!

I had baking I couldn't put off when I got home. I made Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars, then simple Honey Yeast Rolls while running the two Strawberry Shortcake DVDs, then X-Men while eating leftovers for dinner. The Berry Brick Road 2003 set, as you can probably guess, spoofs The Wizard of Oz. The first episode, involving Strawberry's first trip to Oz and her encounter with the Cowardly Lion (cowardly Orange Marmalade), Tin Woodsgirl (ever-insensitive Peppermint Fizz), Scarecrow (fast-talking Ginger Snap), and Wizard (token male character Huckleberry Pie), is fairly cute. The second story, which had Strawberry helping the Berrykins (Munchkins) to save their GlowBerries, got a little too heavy on the environmental messages.

Berry Bloomin' Gardens was entirely different and just as cute. My favorite of these three tales revolving around gardens and growing things was the middle one. Lemon Meringue is proud of her beautiful violets, which she hopes will win first prize at Berry Bitty City's Flower Festival. When her violets start disappearing, however, she throws around wild accusations at everyone, including a kindly Berrykin gardener who wins every year. It takes some creative photography and a little detective work for the girls to literally get to the bottom of this mystery!

I heard really good things about the newest X-Men movie when it came out last summer, even compared to the intense superhero competition. It deserved every bit of praise. Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr are two "mutants" - evolved humans with incredible abilities. Professor Xavier feels they should seek out others like them to help humanity. Lensherr says they're better than those darn humans and should be fighting them, not helping people who treat them like dirt. They both come together for a common goal when the slimy mutant head of the Hellfire Club Sebastian Shaw and his girlfriend Emma Frost do their best to turn the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 into World War III. Xavier has the support of human scientist Moira McTaggart and several promising young mutants, but the troubled Lensherr and Xavier's shape-shifting female pal Raven may throw wrenches into the works...

This was the first of two Marvel comics adaptations from last summer that literally went back to its roots. Like Captain America, the X-Men are literally returned to the era the comics were first written in, and are all the better for it. I especially enjoyed the fun training montage, the relationship between Lensherr and Xavier, and how the Beast came to be a blue fuzzy genius.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Do I Do Now?

Started off a sunny, breezy, (too) warm day with a call to Mom. I finally got her after missing her all yesterday. We talked for over an hour! Basically, she said that I need to make more of a plan before I drop the local copy editing idea. I get all of these big ideas...but I never do any of them because I'm not good at making strategy. It overwhelms me, and I end up getting scared and dropping the idea. That's been a big problem for over a decade now. I need to make a business plan and start separating the big plans into more manageable chunks.

I have no idea what to do for class, either. The teacher hasn't e-mailed me since I sent in my first assignment in late February. I need to e-mail him and ask him what I should do now. I'm not going to have a website ready by the time the class is supposed to end on March 22nd, nor will I be able to do major advertising. The class did give me a business idea...but I really should have taken writing courses first, not courses in starting an online business. I was hoping to learn how to draw up a business plan, but there's nothing about that in this class.

And I need to figure out  how to meet other area writers. I want a mentor, someone who can help me get started, but that's always been another sticking point. I'm not sure how you go about meeting area writers. The one and only writer's group for South Jersey listed online isn't accepting new members. There are no professional writers in my family or among my few friends. Mom suggested asking the libraries if they can direct me to any writers who have guested there. That's not a bad idea, especially at artsy-fartsy Collingswood.

It was 10:30 before I finally got to breakfast, and past noon when I finally hit the laundromat. The wait may have been worth it. There was one couple there and a few random people, but it wasn't really busy. Good thing, too. I had a lot of laundry, including two towels from my gym visits and the jeans with mud stains on them.

After I got in and put everything away, I went for a walk. I did end up at CVS, but they didn't have what I was looking for, so it was really more of a wandering the neighborhood walk. Oaklyn looks lovely at this time of year. New pale-green grass, lavender hyacinths, and brilliant yellow daffodils brighten gardens that are still shedding their winter grayness. A few families have St. Patrick's Day decorations or banners out; a few more have left up their winter decorations. Most are content to be between holidays.

I had a really quick lunch when I got in, then went to work. Work was exactly the same customer-wise as yesterday, steady and fast with few problems. The computer did slow down on us later, but I dodged it by volunteering to round up carts outside. That was a blast! It was a gorgeous night, breezy, warm (in the 60s), and a little cloudy. I got a better workout pushing carts to the patio than I do at the gym, even after one of the baggers was sent outside to help me. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Too Much Experience Necessary

Started off a sunny, windy, chilly day with Brunch With the Beatles and Strawberry Pancakes for breakfast. The emphasis today was on songs released in the spring. This mostly included earlier songs like "Please Please Me" and "Help!," but I also heard "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" in there.

I didn't have much of a morning. I tried calling Mom twice, but never got her. I tried calling my friend Pattie, but her voice mail box is STILL full. I went online and debated whether or not to start a website, but then I wondered what I would write on it. I don't have a portfolio or examples of my work, unless there's a lot of fans of Monkees and Bowery Boys fanfiction in the business world. I wish freelance writing wasn't so hard to break into, especially if you're shy or have a hard time selling your work.

I don't know any writers. I don't know where they live or work or hang out. I really need to find forums for Philadelphia area writers. The only writer's group in South Jersey I could find a website for isn't accepting members right now. And I really need to check out conferences. I want to find members, "natives" who could talk to me. I just have no idea where to go with it.

And I came up with yet another idea. I still want to do copy editing and newsletters and such for local businesses. Something else I feel passionately about is bullying, especially regarding girls. Bullying and the lack of knowledge about early onset puberty in the 80s damaged my childhood and continues to haunt my life to this day, and I don't want that to happen to any other kid. I'd like to write a series of essays (including the one on my current website) and self-publish it. I don't care about making money. I care about getting demons out...and finding ways to keep other young girls facing the same problems to be as hurt as I was.

I finally got fed up around 2:30 and decided I needed chocolate. I made Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins from an Alton Brown cookbook while watching the end of Around the World in 80 Days. I revised the recipe a little, replacing part of the required sugar with apple juice. They came out absolutely delicious, moist and flavorful.

The muffins came out just in time for me to head to work. I was surprised to discover that the weather, while still sunny, was quite changed from the morning. The wind was dying and it was much warmer, probably in the upper 50s. That may have effected work, too. We were steady all day, but not too busy, and it was quiet by the time I  headed out at 8. It went very fast, and there were no problems.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Around Camden County In Five Hours

The American Top 40 was on when I got up this morning. We discoed our way into early March 1977 as bubblegum pop, dance music, and vocalists ruled the charts. Hits from this era include "The Things We Do For Love" by 10cc, "Torn Between Two Lovers" by Mary MacGregor, "Weekend In New England" by Barry Manilow, "Night Moves" by Bob Seeger, "New Kid In Town" by the Eagles, the live version of "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney, and "Don't Give Up on Us" by David Soul (of Starsky and Hutch fame).

Barbara Streisand had the #1 hit that week, one of the biggest hits of her career, in fact. Her version of A Star Is Born usually suffers by comparison to the Janet Gaynor and Judy Garland movies...but the soundtrack was one of that year's blockbuster records and spawned the smash ballad "Evergreen."

I had a lot of errands to run this morning, starting with my last trip to the Logan Presbyterian Church's thrift shop for what I hope will be a while. I had two more bags to deliver, a large one filled with no-longer-needed or threadbare linens, the other with containers and random knick-knacks. I didn't see anything I wanted and just headed out after a few minutes.

Went straight to the bank next to deposit my paycheck. One of the tellers mentioned a new thrift shop on the White Horse Pike, on the edge of Oaklyn and Audubon next-door to TD Bank. They really didn't have much more than clothes and DVDs, but they might be a better place to take any clothes I want to donate than the collection boxes in the back of the Acme.

Made a quick stop at the Oaklyn Library after that, where I organized DVDs and did what I could with the children's books. Several people were showing a new volunteer how the library worked, and I didn't want to get in their way. I left early.

Rode over to Audubon next to hit the gym. Wasn't in there too long, either. I got a decent workout on the elliptical machine. Next time, though, I think I'll up the resistance and the time. I concentrated on the arm weight machines. Since there aren't as many weight machines for the arms as there are for the legs, I did free weights as well before cooling down and stretching.

Made a few more short runs, since I was in the area and off work. Went in Staples really quick for a new mouse pad. I've had the old one for probably about three years. Had a nice lunch of French Onion Soup and a Chicken Fajita Wrap at Applebee's, then bought new rugs for the bathroom, kitchen, and outside the main door. All four of those rugs are also about three or four years old and definitely needed to be replaced. The one in the kitchen has a charming red-and-white strawberry print; the one for outside is a simple, heavy woven twine. The bathroom rugs are plush sage-and-off-white. One has stripes; the other has a leaf print.

I worked on the computer for a little while. I was going to start a web site for today and finally get that assignment done. The next assignment requires me to send my URL to search engines. Trouble is, that pesky lack of experience is getting in the way again. What am I going to say on my web site? How will I make people trust me? I'm beginning to wish I'd taken copy editing classes before taking this business course. It doesn't even teach you how to make a business plan! It just says to make your web site "one that sells," advertise, get with local groups for your product, and voila! I don't think the teacher considered what one does when one lacks experience in everything, or when one's product isn't really physical. This class was a mistake.

I got so frustrated, I finally went outside for a walk around quarter after 4. It was a lovely day, chilly and still a bit windy, but sunny and fresh. I went back into the park again, this time being more careful in our backyard. The sunlight glistened across Newton River, showing through the tangle of bright green, thorny vines around the trees. I even caught sight of a train going over the near-by bridge, and two men fishing on a small motorboat on the river. Leaves can just be seen on the bushes now, and the daffodils have blossomed in Miss Ellie's garden.

When I got in, I dusted the apartment, put up the spring and St. Patrick's Day decorations, and made a simple chili for dinner. Ran Around the World In 80 Days as I worked. This is the 1989 miniseries version of the Jules Verne novella. Mysterious British gentleman Phineas Fogg (Pierce Bronsonan) wagers that he can get around the world in 80 days. Today, this feat could be done in a matter of hours, but in the late 1880s, it was still an arduous undertaking. Fogg and his servant Passepartout (Eric Idle) run into everything from a student revolution in France to cowboys, Indians, and bandits in the American West. Trailing Fogg from one corner of the globe to the other is Inspector Fix (Peter Ustinov), who is determined to land Fogg on a charge of stealing thousands of pounds from the Bank of England. A trip to Bombay throws an Indian princess into the mix as well. Will the quartet win the bet and finally make it back to England...and how many star cameos can you count in this massive undertaking?

Like the 50s Around the World movie with David Niven, this is a star-laden travelogue that relies heavily on pretty scenery and a bevy of character actors popping up in odd places. Unlike the 50s version, there's a lot more adventure...and at the very least, the Indian princess looks Indian, instead of like Shirley MacLaine. Recommended for fans of Bronsonan, Idle, star gazing, or epic 70s and 80s miniseries.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Help From an Internet Source

I slept in a little later than I planned this morning. I was going to go to the gym, then the Acme; as with last week, I just shortened it to a quick Acme trip. I didn't really need much anyway. Most of what I bought was fruit and vegetables, including a good sale on strawberries. The only other things I grabbed were cereal (Fiber One 80 Honey Squares) and more of the Emerald bagged trail mix, both of which were on good sales. I also had a coupon for the trail mix. The boxes come with coupons in them; useful if you really enjoy these. I only buy them on sale because they're really overpriced, but the coupon helps.

When I got home, I put everything away and did work on the computer for an hour. This time, I hit the jackpot. Google came up with something called, a website for freelance writers and copyeditors. Most of the freelancers seemed to specialize in corporate editing and writing, not in small businesses. I know I won't get a lot of money from these people, but I don't need a lot of money to start off with. I hate it, but I have to keep the Acme job until I can find another job as the sideline to my business that I both enjoy and will be more satisfying. I also figured out some ideas for pricing, which is why I haven't sent in my second or third projects for the college courses yet. I'll do them tomorrow.

Ran more Monkees while having leftovers for lunch. I switched back to the first season for a pair of favorites of mine. "The Chaperone" is more typically sitcom - Davy is crazy about a girl with a very strict military father, so Micky winds up dressing as a chaperone so she can come to the boys' party. (Someone forgot to tell him that Mike and Peter were technically adults by that point.) "I've Got a Little Song Here" is the first Mike-centric episode of the series, and one that has a real grain of truth in it. A phony song plugger fools Mike Nesmith into believing he can sell his song (the comic novelty "Gonna Buy Me a Dog", which, interestingly, was not one of Mike's songs). Mike is heartbroken when he discovers he sold his favorite guitar for nothing, so the other three get even on the plugger.

Work was a little bit steadier than yesterday, but otherwise went quickly and wasn't a problem. I was in and out on time. There was a gorgeous moon out when I went home, full and round and yellow like cheese, which made up for going home so late.

Thank goodness my schedule is, other than slightly less hours, generally pretty good. I have two days off again, and no hours later than 8:30. March usually isn't a busy month, especially when the weather's gorgeous, like it was this week and is supposed to be next week.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Windy Balance

It was absolutely gorgeous when I headed out for this week's yoga class. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and it was already in the 50s at 9AM. Perhaps the good weather encouraged good karma; the class was jam-packed when I came in. Karen emphasized heart-openers and squat poses; I had to be careful with these on my twisted, heel-spurred foot.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library next. There was a nice little stack of DVDs (and one Wii title) to file and shelve. Got the DVDs organized before the kids came out of Storybook Hour, too. There wasn't anything to do upstairs (just one book to put away), so I left early.

It was so nice, I bought a roast beef hoagie and a bag of red grapes at WaWa (after making a quick stop at Rite Aid - they didn't have what I wanted) and had a picnic in Newton River Park. It was peaceful and pretty. The sun sparkled on the green water; the wind blew through the trees, most of which were just starting to show new buds. There was one college student on the swings; a family was arriving just as I left.

Stopped at CVS next. I'm almost out of toothpaste, and they were having a good sale on Colgate Total. Ran into Jodie, who was picking up a few things for herself. I explained how busy I've been (which is why I haven't gone over there recently), and we traded groans about the Acme's sometimes frustrating remodeling. (The bread is clear on the other side of the store from where it used to be.)

When I got in, I went right back out for a walk. It was too nice to be inside! I ended up at another WaWa, this time for a Cherry Limeade Icee. The wind was whipping even harder now, and clouds could be seen in the horizon, but the sun still shown brightly. Dafodils have sprung up in almost every garden; the bush next to Miss Ellie's side of the house is starting to show those pretty coral-colored blossoms, and there's buds on the forsythia and lilac bushes.

Spent the rest of the afternoon doing research for my web site. Alas, I couldn't find any small-time copy editing sits on Yahoo. They were all big companies, or Craigslist freelancers. I need some idea of what people should pay for my services, especially people who are struggling with their businesses to begin with and don't have a lot of money. Maybe I'll check Google.

Ran more Monkees while getting ready to go. In "Monkees Mind Their Manor," Davy inherits an estate in England. Trouble is, he has to live there to claim it, which is the last thing he wants to do. If the boys don't help out, the estate will go to a drunkard playboy and his opportunistic lawyer.

Work was fairly empty when I came in and when I left, and busy only during rush hour. We had plenty of help, and this time, the computer worked just fine. I was in and out.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

She Hangs Out

Started an absolutely gorgeous early spring morning with a gym trip, stopping first at America's Best to pick up my contacts. There was a class going when I arrived around 10:30, and it was really busy. I was lucky I was able to get a bike! Thankfully, after a good, solid work-out, the class was done, and so were most of the women. I was able to get to the leg weight machines easily.

Went straight home after the gym. I ran a few more Monkees episodes while having leftovers for lunch. "Hitting the High Seas" takes the guys aboard a pirate ship, where Davy, Peter, and Micky foil a plot to attack a cruise ship. "Some Like It Lukewarm" has a local connection - favorite Philly DJ Jerry Blavat falls for a gender-bending Davy, who got stuck in drag so the group could join a mixed-gender rock contest.

My favorite Monkees episode is "The Devil and Peter Tork," a Monkees take on Faust that may be the only time they took on a villain whom you felt would do them real harm. Sweet-natured Peter signs a contract for a harp with the owner of a pawnshop...not knowing that "Mr. Zero" is the devil himself. When he comes to collect the gentle bassist, the other three literally go to (cuckoo!) and back to save their friend's soul! (And yes, there's some very amusing cracks at network censorship in the 60s.)

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing online stuff and reading the book on starting an at-home business that Linda Young sent me. Thanks, Linda! I really need to see if they have books on copyediting businesses, too.

I wish work was as much fun. It was nothing but a pain all night...and for once, it had nothing to do with customers. Our computer system was down all night and running VERY slow at times. I'd have to wait forever to ring up one item! And while they have finished remodeling the bathrooms, they look terrible, more like bathrooms in hospitals...and no stalls, which is odd. Not to mention, it was dead all day, and we had tons of help. I easily got off work with no relief.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Springing Into March

Though it was still chilly when I got up this morning, I'd had quite enough of winter. I started the day by taking down the general winter decorations right after breakfast. I didn't get the spring decorations up today. I'd really like to finish the cleaning first. I'll do them later in the week.

Rose was supposed to bring over salmon this morning. I called her when she hadn't showed up by 11AM. Yup, she forgot. She brought over the salmon just as I was getting ready to head out. I put them upstairs, then grabbed my DVDs, jumped on the bike, and rode to the Haddon Township Library.

It was a gorgeous day for it. The weather was pretty par for the course for early March in South Jersey - sunny, windy, and probably in the mid 40s to lower 50s. There were lots of people out and about in Newton River Park today. I had to dodge lots of couples strolling and dog walkers.

The Library was fairly busy when I arrived, and there was lots for me to do. I organized children's DVDs, shelved kids' books and adult DVDs, and pulled books for displays. Ended up renewing Desk Set, which I never got to last week, and took out the Pierce Bronsonan miniseries version of Around the World In 80 Days and X-Men: First Class.

Stopped at Wendy's for a quick chicken sandwich and fries lunch, then headed straight home. It was so nice, I went for a walk in the park and our rocky, cliffside backyard when I got in. Wasn't careful and slipped down the stone steps leading to Miss Ellie's garden as I made my way to the park. Thankfully, other than scraped hands and mud-stained jeans, I wasn't hurt. I hiked up to the main park, making my way over to the big climbing tree. Alas, the branch that used to hold the rope swing was apparently sawed off ages ago, along with several other branches. Other than that, the park is lovely at this time of year. Leaves are just barely budding on most bushes and trees, but not so much that you can't take in the incredible view of the river.

Spent the rest of the afternoon in the apartment cleaning. I ran the Bowery Boys movies Looking for Danger and Feudin' Fools as I scrubbed the kitchen and washed the windows. The kitchen wasn't that bad (I did it late last month), but the windows really needed to be done. They hadn't been done since before Christmas. I made my bed and vacuumed after the movies ended.

Ran Desk Set while making Barbecue Salmon and roasted vegetables for dinner. This 1957 film was the second-to-last movie Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy did together, and their last pure comedy. Hepburn is the head of a TV research department that fears it may be replaced by Tracy's huge new computer. It doesn't help that Hepburn's boyfriend (Gig Young) and her best friend (Joan Blondell) both think Tracy's interested in her...and they may be right...

This look at romance in the workplace and how machinery can never really replace human talents still surprisingly resonates today, with only the fashions and the enormous, room-claiming computer itself dating it. Not Hepburn and Tracy's best comedy, but really cute if you ever run across it, and a blast for fans.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Next Move

Started the morning with a call to Mom. She, Dad, and my brother Keefe's girlfriend Vicki just got back from his boot camp graduation in Illinois yesterday. Mom really enjoyed her trip to the Midwest. She said everyone was really nice in Chicago, even at the airport...especially compared to some of the people at the Philadelphia International Airport! They got lucky. Their first flight was canceled and they had to wait four hours for the next one, but their flight going home was on time and just barely dodged the storm out there.

I was also able to discuss my tumultuous week with her. It's not every week you get a business idea and lose a Monkee. This week, I'll be doing research on other copyeditng companies and see if there's anything locally that might give me a clue of the kinds of prices we're looking at and how to begin.

Ironically, even as I asked Mom if she'd heard from Rose lately, Rose called me on my land line phone. When I got to her, I discovered she had some spare salmon steaks she thought I'd like. I had my laundry to get done and work later, but I'm off tomorrow. She said she'd be over tomorrow morning.

Headed over to the laundromat next. I timed it really well. There was one couple and another woman watching NBC's news when I came in around quarter of 11. By the time it was almost noon, there were several couples coming in, and I was on my way out with a full bag of laundry. I had a lot to do today, including towels, so I was grateful for the empty machines.

When I got in, I put the laundry away and went online. I really went overboard with shopping last month and intend to try to keep it to the bare minimum in March...but there was one thing I really needed, and one thing I really wanted. The "needed" was a new CD player. I looked for one like my old Emerson at the Deptford Mall a few weeks ago, but both Boscov's and Sears were out of that model. Ended up ordering it from instead. I hope it lasts longer than the other one did. The CD player on my last model has been acting weird for ages - skipping, won't let me play the first song. Now it won't play any disc at all, a good sign that it's dead and needs to be replaced.

The other thing wasn't a need...but maybe that's not true, given the events of the past week. Rhino released the second "Handmade Deluxe Edition" of a Monkees album in November, the first album without Peter Tork, Instant Replay. It's not their best, but it'll be nice to have...and perhaps if it's successful, it'll encourage them to release the second, much better Peter-less album, The Monkees Present, in a Deluxe Edition (the one with my other favorite Monkees song, Mike Nesmith's "Listen to the Band").

Instant Replay Rhino Handmade Deluxe Edition

Speaking of the Monkees, I ran two Davy-centric episodes from the first season as I had leftover chicken stir fry for lunch. "Success Story" is especially relevant at the moment. Davy tries to impress his grandfather, who believes he's wealthy...and when he realizes the boys don't have a sou, he vows to take Davy back to England with him. The other Monkees,  however, are determined to keep their little British friend on this side of the Atlantic. And in the mid-first-season story "Too Many Girls," the guys have to keep Davy from succumbing to the wiles of a dancer and her nasty stage mother...not an easy task if you know Davy Jones' real-life penchant for female-chasing.

Work was more-or-less the same as yesterday with more help - steady and annoying. It's the beginning of the month, which means dealing with all kinds of fun people who won't help bag and can't count their orders and buy about three times more than they can afford. I was very happy when it was slow enough by 8 for me to leave on my own with no relief.
Conclusion of the Dream World Series

After more than a year away from the fandom, Davy's death prompted Lauren and I to take another look at our long-running Dream World Monkees fanfiction series. Though we stopped writing it in December 2010, we really just cut it off in the middle of a story that wasn't working, with no actual end. In Davy's honor, we decided to give it a proper send-off. Here's the real conclusion to our Monkees Dream World.

It's Not Too Late

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Winds of March

First of all, I saw on Facebook that my brother Keefe  has passed Navy boot camp! He's now on his way to Charleston, South Carolina to begin training. I'm so proud of him!

Second, I pre-empted the Beatles show today with Monkees records. Made German Chocolate Pancakes (regular whole-wheat pancake recipe with added cocoa and shredded coconut) and had a half of a grapefruit while running Headquarters (the first record the Monkees made on their own, with only a little outside assistance), and The Monkees Present (my favorite of the two records Mike, Micky, and Davy did as a trio after Peter left the group in late '68). I also did a little bit online.

Work was a total mess all day. Even with plenty of help from the new cashiers, we were backed up for most of my short shift. This time, we weren't lacking in cashiers - we were lacking in managers. There was no one to sign me out when I got out late, and I wasn't terribly happy.

After the problems and annoying customers at work, I NEEDED a long walk. The moment I got  home, I changed into regular clothes, grabbed some music, and headed outside. It was a decent day, chilly and windy, but sunny and in the mid-40s, really par for the course in early March in Southern New Jersey. I hiked down Goff Avenue to my favorite boat launch with the view of the Ben Franklin Bridge, then over to the playground behind the Oaklyn School, then back around to Manor Avenue. There were no kids in the playground, but I could hear them playing in backyards and on the baseball field near the school. People walked dogs, ignoring the wind. One kid ran his remote control car on Manor across from my apartment.

Spent the rest of a quiet evening baking Coconut Sugar Drop Cookies (a revision of my favorite Sugar Drop Cookie recipe from The Betty Crocker Cooky Book) and watching DVDs. Did some of the material from one of the Monkees DVDs I dubbed last year first, including the videos made for the 90s Monkees CD JustUs and a mid-90s interview Davy did with what was then known as TNN (now Spike TV). Ran Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation while having Roasted Brussels Sprouts, strawberries, and leftover chicken burgers for dinner.

Oh, and Lauren and I are finishing what we intend to be our final story in the Monkees Dream World series tonight. Look for it later this week!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Shades of Gray and Sunshine

It stormed last night, but thankfully, by the time I finally got out of bed, the rain was long gone. Only clouds remained as I ate grits and a half of a grapefruit for breakfast, and even those were starting to break apart. I decided I'd be perfectly fine running errands in the neighborhood this morning.

Stopped at a busy bank first to deposit my paycheck, then headed to the Oaklyn Library for my volunteering session there. I just missed their big Green Eggs and Ham - themed breakfast. There were still a couple of women chatting as I organized DVDs and shelved and organized books in the kids' area. Went to WaWa next for milk. Treated myself to a fountain Coke Zero with small squirts of cherry and vanilla syrups as a treat after a very long week.

When I got in, I ate lunch and watched Springtime for Roo. Despite the title, Roo isn't really the main character in this Winnie the Pooh Easter tale. Rabbit is supposed to be the Easter Bunny, but upset over being slighted after trying to make Easter perfect the year before, he has canceled the holiday and turned it into Spring Cleaning Day. The others don't understand Rabbit's reasoning and try to have Easter, but when Rabbit blows up at them, it'll take intervention from the Narrator and Roo's reminders that holidays are supposed to be fun to teach ever-controlling Rabbit a lesson.

This is the culmination of every Winnie the Pooh special that had someone canceling a holiday because it didn't work out they way they wanted it to. (Rabbit did it twice, at Thanksgiving and in the New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Valentine's Day episode.) It's also the Hundred Acre Woods version of A Christmas Carol, with the Narrator filling in for the ghosts. It's a little strange, and kids who are expecting more of Roo may be disappointed to see that the focus is mostly on Rabbit. It's out-of-print and, unless you're desperate to find something Easter-ish for the kiddies or your kids are big Pooh fans, I don't recommend it.

I did a little work on the computer, then headed to the Acme. The sun had come out around the time I was walking home from WaWa. It was utterly gorgeous at 2:30, sunny and breezy, with only puddles to indicate yesterday's storms. It was busy when I came in at rush hour, but it slowed down later. We had more help this time, too. And while the bathrooms are still being worked on, the back room is almost finished and only needs to be painted - we can eat in there again.

And Lauren and I have decided we're going to work on that final Dream World story together. I started it this afternoon...but we both wrote this series, so it makes sense that we both end it. Look for it by next week, along with updates saying that this is the last story.

Friday, March 02, 2012

I'm a Writer

I was up until 3AM last night reading the stories from our old Monkees Dream World series. First of all, I may as well say it here - that series is finished. Lauren and I both burnt out on it. It really ended a few years before actually stopped writing it, and I doubt we'll ever pick it up again. Even if we do write anything else Monkees-related, it won't be from that series.

That said, Davy's death has made me take another look at it and at my involvement in the fandom. I would really like to bring the Dream World series to some kind of a conclusion. Lauren and I just dropped it when we started writing Bowery Boys stories, without really ending it. I tend to do that a lot, and it's time to break that habit. I want to finish the two non-Dream World Monkees stories that I have that are closest to fruition, The Monkee Knight and The Little MerMonkee, as well.

I got up too late for the gym, but I did get a chance to hit the Acme. They were pretty busy when I came in for my paycheck and groceries. I forgot a coupon for the Emerald Trail Mix bags, and they were out of the brown eggs I like; I ended up getting both later. I did restock fruit and vegetables and picked up olive oil, Scotties tissue, and that yummy Lipton tea in the pyramid-shaped bags on sale. Also needed sugar and fish packs.

When I got home, I put everything away, then went online. I wanted to do a little research on copywriting websites. Yes, I lack a portfolio...but once again, I know my territory, and I'd be willing to work fairly cheap. Most of the small businesses in this area can't afford the expensive copywriters who work for big companies. I just want to help the people here. Frankly, if I never had to do any kind of work for a major corporation again, I'd be very happy.

Speaking of, work was pretty much the same as last night - quiet when I came in and when I left, busy during rush hour, with plenty of help from the new recruits. They may have helped make my schedule a bit less crazy, too. I have 25 hours and two days off; not as good as the last few weeks, but about par for the course at this time of year. I really need it. I have a lot of things I want to do in the area and at home.

And while it was only cloudy when I went in, I found out why it was so dead later in the night when I came out and discovered a light shower. I rode home in the rain and got damp.