Monday, April 30, 2012

Laundry Day

I slept in this morning. Finished The Drackenburg Adventure, then did The Artist's Way and my journal. I didn't get to breakfast until past ten. It was noon when I finally made it to the laundromat! Though there were a lot of people around, they seemed to be mostly on their way out. I was easily able to get a washer and a dryer. A mother and her silly toddler son (he kept running around and sliding on the floor - his mother is lucky he didn't really hurt himself) and a few older men were the only people still there when I left.

I had just enough time to do some reorganizing when I got home and put the laundry away. The top of the new bookshelf was empty, and there was some room next to the American Girl books. The Sailor Moon dolls were removed from the desk and put there. I moved the non-entertainment non-fiction books (on business, finding jobs, writing, and self-help) to the desk. That leaves an empty shelf on one of the DVD shelves in the living room. I'll figure out what to do with that tomorrow.

I just barely had enough time for leftovers for lunch and to make my dinner and change before rushing out to work. Work was steady for most of the evening, and likely will remain that way this week. It's the beginning of the month, with all the attendant madness that brings out.

I was able to get out on time. Good thing. When I got home, I really needed to take out the recycling, including the two large boxes from my purchases last week, and take a shower.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Greenery

I slept in this morning, then read The Drackenburg Adventure and did my journal and An Artist's Way in bed. When I finally got up, I switched on Brunch With the Beatles. The album in the spotlight today, The Beatles (generally known as The White Album), is a favorite of mine. The big hits were George's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," John's "Revolution," and Paul's driving "Helter Skelter." The boys were beginning to fracture as they did this album, and some of the fracas found its way into the music, including "The Continuing Story of Buffalo Bill," "Green Tangerine" (John's response to people looking for meaning in their lyrics), George indulging his sweet tooth in "Savoy Truffle," Paul taking over an angry Ringo's drumming duties for "Back In the U.S.S.R," and the ultimate rock "Birthday" song.

I made Pear-Honey Pancakes for breakfast, then called Mom. She'd just finished her breakfast and was about to spend a nice day in Cape May. I told her that, thanks to my trip to Haddonfield, my new purchases, and my less-stressful schedule, I am feeling a bit better. Mom was also in a good mood; she told me that my sister Rose is trying to get her lawyer certificate, so she can become a junior partner in the firm she's working for right now. My brother's girlfriend visited him in South Carolina while he's on leave. Keefe and Vicki are so sweet on each other, they're giving the entire family cavities. ; )

Spent the rest of the early afternoon changing the American Girl dolls into less fancy spring clothes and reorganizing their wardrobe. I moved the Sailor Moon dolls' things into the last milk crate I took out of the bedroom and switched the American Girls' winter clothing to the gray container. Samantha's now in her nautical-themed Middy Dress, brass whistle, black stockings, and Springfield Collection black flats. Jessa's going casual in the tie-dyed T-shirt from 1996 Earth Day Outfit, the cargo khakis from the 1999 Drawstring Cargoes and Plaid Shirt outfit, and the sandals from Molly's bathing suit. Molly's showing off her new purple pleated Jitterbug Dress from the American Girl Place Revues. Felicity stayed in her pink Birthday Pinner Gown. I don't really have much else for her. Her things are still fairly expensive on eBay.

Had a very quick leftovers lunch and headed to work around quarter of 2. Work was very busy when I got in, despite the utterly gorgeous weather. It was a little chilly when I poked my head out during the Beatles show, but by 2PM, it was sunny and a little windy, but nothing like yesterday. People were either buying beginning-of-the-month orders, food for barbecues, or gearing up for the big Devils-Flyers showdown at 3PM.

I got to see a little of the end of the second quarter during my break. The Devils were winning then, 1-0. The Flyers must have had a heck of a second half. When my relief came in and I got my eggs and tortillas and went to the back room to get my bike, they were in overtime. I saw one of the Flyers get a goal that seemed to win the game...and promptly screamed my head off. I brought a stock boy running in, and he did his own screaming. We screamed even louder when we discovered it had been kicked in and the goal was removed.

I had eggs to get home; I couldn't stay any longer. I rode home, enjoying the lovely weather. I heard someone yelling as I rounded the corner of Goff and Kendall Avenue; I figured it was about the game, but I couldn't tell if it was good or bad.

The weather was too perfect for my original plans of making fish at home. I went for a walk to WaWa for a hoagie instead. It's so green outside. The iris are already blooming; the lilacs are about done. Many bushes are blooming profusely, too. The leaves on the trees are already big and full and fat. Fuzzy season seems to be winding down here. I haven't seen nearly as many seed pods in the last few days as I have the past month. There were tons of people out and about, enjoying the weather. Kids played in backyards; adults went for jogs or power walks. One enterprising fellow was selling porcelain dolls on the White Horse Pike, next to the Gulf Gas Station. (I didn't buy any. I'm trying to clear out my porcelain dolls, not buy more.) A family on Manor was either moving into their home or moving out; I saw a half-full U-Haul. I do wish they hadn't been tossing that poor huge teddy bear around and abusing him. They were young adults and college-age kids, and they were being awfully noisy.

(And yes, that scream was a good scream. The Flyers finally made a legit score and won more than 4 minutes into overtime, 4-3.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A View to a Sell

The sun was still out when I awoke this morning. There were clouds on the horizon, but they weren't really anything threatening yet. They kept at bay as I put on today's American Top 40 re-run. Casey took us into 1980 as disco ended its run and New Wave, country, and British supergroups dominated a troubled year. Among that week's hits were "Another Brick In the Wall" by Pink Floyd, "You May Be Right" by Billy Joel, "Too Hot" by Kool & the Gang, and two classic duets, "Don't Fall In Love With a Dreamer" by Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes, and "With You I'm Born Again" by Billy Preston and Serena. (The latter was a favorite of mine during my early childhood. I thought it was one of the most romantic songs in the universe.)

Blondie continue their dominance of the charts in the late 70s and early 80s with the week's number one song, one of their biggest hits, "Call Me."

I headed out as soon as I pumped up my tires. Made a very quick stop at a very quiet bank, then headed down the White Horse Pike to Audubon. They're having their town-wide yard sale this week. I did a little better than last week, if not as well as at last year's spring sales.

Found six videos to dub onto DVD - the 1933 Little Women with Katherine Hepburn (which I've never seen before - I've seen the June Allyson one from 1949, and I have the recent one with Winona Ryder), The Little Drummer Boy Book II (one of the few major Rankin-Bass specials that still isn't on DVD), Forest Gump, the animated Charlotte's Web from the 70s, and two James Bond movies, Goldeneye and A View to a Kill. Also picked up the romantic comedy-drama Waitress on DVD.

I didn't find any records until I was on my way back home. A fellow on Maple had two boxes of really interesting titles. I ended up with:

Paul Simon - Still Crazy After All of These Years

The Temptations - Cloud Nine

The original Broadway casts for Evita (a rather appropriate find; it's being revived on Broadway as I type this) and The King and I

The soundtrack for Superman: The Movie

I stopped at another sale as I was leaving Audubon and heading for Nicholson Road. They had several intriguing wooden items for sale, including another heart cut-out shelf like the two I had at home. I thought I might be able to use it, and it was only three dollars, so I piled it onto the bike basket and rode back to my place.

I had enough time when I got home to load books onto the new bookshelf. I finally moved the Effanbee dolls to the top of the closets, where the other Effanbee dolls and collectible toys are. The new bookshelf now holds children's books - hardbacks, paperbacks, and anything related to the various American Girl historical series. The only children's books I weren't able to move were the oversized picture books. They'll stay on the bottom of the smaller Ikea shelf, mainly because I can't fit them anywhere else. The comic books and Care Bears stay on the tower of wooden crates next to my desk, between the bedroom windows that overlook the porch.

(Still haven't found something to do with the shelf I bought today, though. We'll figure that out tomorrow.)

I barely had enough time for a leftovers lunch and change and hurry off to work! By this point, the wind had really picked up, and the clouds were far more threatening than they had been while I was exploring Audubon. That, and the end of the Town-Wide Yard Sale, may have been why we were off and on busy all evening. Good thing we were in an "off" spell when I finished. My relief was the boy who is always late coming from his second job. I was able to buy milk and head home. Big, fat raindrops started coming down as I headed down Kendall, but I don't think they lasted very long.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Building the Perfect Bookshelf

I spent most of this morning putting my new bookshelf together. The instructions weren't all that great and it took me a while to figure out what went where...but I did get it together. However, it took me so long to do, I just barely had enough time to put the remaining Effanbee dolls on one shelf, have a very quick lunch of leftovers, and pack a snack and gym clothes for after work before I hurried out the door.

Work was quite busy for most of the day. We'll be getting into the beginning of the month next week, and some people may already have gotten their government money. Thankfully, most people seemed to be in a good mood. The weather held out, too. It was cloudy this morning, but by the time I headed out around 6PM, the skies were blue and the weather was in the lower 60s, though it remained very windy.

The gym was surprisingly quiet when I arrived. It's usually wall-to-wall people at 6PM, but even with classes going on, I had no problems getting a good work-out in on the elliptical machine. I timed it well; a personal training class started using the elliptical machines just as I was finishing my arm weight machine session and starting to stretch.

I hadn't really eaten much all day. I decided it would be worth it to splurge on the Golden Corral Buffet for dinner. I was so hungry by the time I made it there, I probably could have eaten their entire buffet. I settled on a spinach salad, pot roast with celery and potatoes, and my favorite Brussels sprouts and sweet potato casserole. The pot roast was so tender and flaky, I went back for seconds. (And I think I finally discovered the secret to their sweet potato casserole. I know I saw some oats in the bit of brown sugar I scraped out along with sweet potato. They must add oats and brown sugar to the marshmallow topping. Yum!) Had half of a chocolate cupcake and their "Chocolate Waterfall" for dessert. You dip cookies and mini-whoopie-pies on sticks into a fountain that flows with melted chocolate and have your own dipped desserts. Very decadent...and very messy.

Went back to work to do my own grocery shopping. I mainly needed fruit and vegetables. Strawberries are on sale, and I had to restock pears, grapefruit, bananas, celery, and oranges. I saw a woman buying a small bundle of red Swiss chard earlier and thought I'd try some this week. I ran out of the Emerald Trail Mix bags, and I needed to replace the chicken broth I used on the poached chicken legs on Wednesday. And I still forgot eggs. I'll get them at work tomorrow.

My schedule for next week is a mixed bag. On one hand, I have three days off in a row late next week, from Wednesday to Friday. That means I'll finally be able to get back to Jodie and Cassandra and really start spring cleaning before Lauren visits in mid-May. Unfortuantly, it also means I only have 21 hours next week, which also means my paycheck leading into vacation will be lousy. On the other hand, I got an excellent paycheck this week and should be getting another good one next week, and I get two paychecks for vacation. Not to mention, I did just get birthday money. I'm hoping that I have enough in the bank, even after I pay my rent this week, too offset a bad week or two.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Balance on a Library Day

It was still cloudy and surprisingly warm when I headed out to Collingswood for this week's yoga class. The class was a little more full than last Thursday, though still nowhere near as much as usual. We once again concentrated on Earth Day-based moves, mainly standing poses and back bends. I can actually do bridge poses fairly well now, but I still can't quite get wheel.

A small shower was just ending as I made my way to the Collingswood Library. Not a whole lot going on over there. I shelved a small stack of DVDs and Wii titles and organized the shelves, mainly concentrating on comedies, action, and the kids' section. There was nothing to do upstairs and no more DVDs coming, so I just headed out early.

I heard someone on local radio station B101 this morning say that Philly Pretzel Factory, an area fast-food franchise specializing in soft pretzels, was giving away free pretzels today in honor or Pretzel Day. There just happens to be a Philly Pretzel Factory about four blocks from the Collingswood Library, next-door to the post office. It smelled wonderful when I walked in; a worker was just putting a new tray of pretzels in the oven, and more being pulled out of another. I got a diet root beer and a soft, chewy, very warm pretzel and only paid for the root beer.

Stopped at the Oaklyn Library on my way home to get my session in there. (I plain ran out of time for it last week.) Not much to do there, either. The DVDs really needed to be done, but the kids' section wasn't that bad. I reorganized some series novels and picture books. Moved a few Easy Readers over to the shelves they're on now.

There was a long, heavy box waiting on the front porch for me when I arrived home. The new bookshelf I ordered from had arrived! I didn't really have enough time to put it together, though. That'll wait for tomorrow. I did bake Tangelo Muffins (to get rid of the old tangelos whose peels were getting hard) and had a nice lunch of leftovers while listening to records.

Work was a pain in the rear. I was in the express lane, and we're getting close to the beginning of the month. A lot of people have gotten or will be getting their government money soon. Sometimes I feel like people think of me as nothing but a servant. It was steady through about 7PM, after which it died so quickly, I spent my last hour being bored. I was in and out with no major problems.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Goin' Up to Haddonfield

It was a pretty typical day for late April in New Jersey, sunny but windy, with big, fat clouds in the sky indicating that more storms are on their way this weekend. I took advantage of my only day off this week to make a few trips that I've been putting off. April is usually pretty busy for me, and I don't often get the chance to do a lot of day trips besides my birthday.

Started at the Haddon Township Library. There weren't as many DVDs to shelve this time. I organized the children's DVD shelves, pulled kids and foreign titles from the adult bins, and shelved children's books. Perhaps due to the nice day, it wasn't really that busy. I didn't take anything else out again. I have no idea when I'll have the chance to watch anything, and I have plenty to read.

I wanted to ride to Haddonfield last week, but I got out too late because of the weather. Haddonfield is the only local small town whose coffee shops I hadn't hit. Alas, I couldn't find the small coffee shop I had a bagel in last fall and Starbucks was too busy for questions, but I did check out other stores. I browsed in two toy stores (including the Happy Hippo), a stationary store, a tea shop, and Jamaican Me Crazy, a gift shop specializing in eclectic merchandise ranging from classic rock memorabilia to authentic Birkenstocks to computer pads emblazoned with pop icons to WebKinz.

My only purchase came from the last named. I found a book called Defining Moments In Music, which is pretty much what the cover says - great moments in all types of music, from the beginnings of the recording industry in the late 1890s through the book's publishing in 2006. It's so facinating, I've been reading it off and on for the rest of the day. The book comes from England, which means that a great deal of space is devoted to British, European, and World acts whose music may not have crossed over to the states but have had impact elsewhere. Not to mention, it's a fabulous read if you want to know more about how music changed in the 20th century, from George M. Cohan to Radiohead and Nirvana.

I had lunch at an odd little store about two blocks from Happy Hippo. Animo is probably the first restaurant I've ever seen that specializes in two seemingly dissimilar items - burritos and fresh-squeezed juice. (They also have salads.) The store had a modern sensibility, with plastic white space-age furniture and a long dark counter nestled into the back of an older building. I had a Fast and Furious "Petito," a smaller burrito with blue tortilla chips on a simple black plate. (They get major points for the chips. I love blue corn chips, but I don't often see them anymore.) That "petito" was slightly smaller than your average wrap and even tastier, a lovely melding of hummus, chicken, vinaigrette, and shredded romaine lettuce. My juice was Ginger Snap, a sweet n' spicy combination of lime, apple, and fresh ginger.

I braved rush hour traffic to try a new ice cream parlor on Haddon Avenue in Westmont, across from (what's left of) the Westmont Theater. The Yogo Factory took over part of what used to be the mom-and-pop video rental store. You'd never know it was the same place. The racks of videos and DVDs and whitewashed walls festooned with new release posters had been replaced by colorful walls, a row of soft-serve frozen yogurt machines in the back, a wide toppings bar, brightly upholstered booths, and a cute bar with low, pull-out neon seats and computer touch-screens embedded in the walls for older kids to play with.

The gimmick is they're self-serve. You grab one of the bowls and fill your own with your choice of the flavors in the back, for 49 cents an ounce, then add the toppings at the bar. The kids behind the counter weigh your creation when you're done. I really overdid it. I couldn't resist trying two flavors, Irish Mint and Fancy French Vanilla. That, along with rainbow sprinkles, fudge, and crushed cookies, brought my order up to over five dollars! I'll be more careful if I'm ever there again.

I got caught up in reading my new book at both places and didn't get home until quarter after 5. I spent the rest of the evening reading my book and playing some influential albums from some favorite groups of mine (except the Monkees, whom have gotten more than their fair share of hearings lately). I ran the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour (yes, I know the movie isn't popular - the album has great music), and the Who's Who's Next. When I finally dragged myself from the book, I made Chicken Legs Poached in Lemon-Wine Sauce and Creamed Spinach (made with skim milk and thickened with whole-wheat flour) over brown rice for dinner.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Turbo-Charged Spring Cleaning

Started out today's chores with a run to the laundromat. It was a beautiful day, very windy but not nearly as cold. People must have decided to enjoy the nice weather while they can. I saw a few men who were in and out and one very confused woman asking for bigger washers (you can't get much bigger than the front-loading ones), but other than that, it wasn't busy.

There was a big red and white box waiting on the front patio when I got in. My new Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner that I bought on Amazon last week had arrived! My old Hoover stick vacuum cleaner turned ten years old in February. First of all, it no longer picks up dirt very well. Second, my apartment in Wildwood only had wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room and bedroom, not to mention it was a great deal smaller than my current digs. The kitchen and bathroom in Wildwood had linoleum floors. Here, the only rooms that aren't carpeted are the bathroom and the rectangle of linoleum that separates the living room and the bedroom. I needed something that worked better on carpeting.

It took me a few minutes to put the new vacuum cleaner together. It's a bagless canister model, larger than the old one but not as big as some fancier machines. It also came with a few attachments, necessary with all the nooks and crannies in this place. I can't believe how well it picks up dirt! This baby has amazing suction. It takes me months to get a full canister with the Hoover. The Dirt Devil had a full canister after just running it in the kitchen and the music area of the living room! I actually had to unload the canister after every room, it picked up so much debris.

In fact, it did it's job a little too well. There were fibers fraying on the carpet in my bedroom and the music room. The Dirt Devil ate both of them...and got a roller ache for doing so. I had to spend a good ten minutes prying the fibers off the roller in my bedroom. I think all of my hair may have gunked it up, too. Unlike the Hoover, it actually picked up most of the hair around the apartment. I can't help it; I have thick hair.

I just barely had enough time to eat leftovers for lunch, change into my uniform, and hurry to work. As it turned out, work went pretty much the same as yesterday. It was quiet when I came in and dead as a doornail when I left. It did get busy later when the girl in charge of self-checkout had to leave early and the woman who had the express lane took over for her. Other than that, I was in and out, and there were no problems.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Showers Bring Cold Weather

Started a cloudy morning with oatmeal for breakfast and cartoons to celebrate Earth Day yesterday. I did The Lorax, the Dr. Seuss tale of the little orange man who "speaks for the trees," yesterday. This morning, I ran two Tiny Toons Adventures episodes with environmental themes and a Sailor Moon episode from the early first season. The Toons deal with Elmyra carelessly littering Plucky's swamp, the destruction of the Acme Acres jungle, and Montana Max dumping his factory's sludge into GoGo's beloved Wackyland in "Pollution Solution." Babs and Buster Bunny (no relation) save a baby whale and his mother from poacher Grabbme Gotcha, with the inadvertent help of Elmyra, in "Whale's Tale." The Sailor Soliders band together to save a park from being destroyed by developers and stop the Negaverse from making nature go wild in "An Unnatural Phenomenon."

While the cartoons were on, I tried something I haven't done in years. I bought a sun catcher paint set at Dollar Tree last week. We used to buy them all the time when I was little. The kits usually consist of a circle of translucent plastic and four colors of a special paint. You paint the pattern in the plastic, then let it dry and hang it from a window. I painted a deep red rose with soft green leaves and yellow and blue octagons around the edges. I haven't found anything to hang it with yet; I'll figure that out later.

It was still just cloudy, windy, and cold when I rode to work. It sprinkled a tiny bit on the way, but nothing resembling yesterday's monsoon. I arrived perfectly dry this time. It was quiet when I got in, steady but not crazy when I finished as rush hour petered out. There were no major problems, and I was in and out quickly with no relief.

For once, I got off early enough to have a decent dinner at home. I made Chicken Parmesan with spinach salad, steamed broccoli, and multi-grain pasta, with bread pudding made from the last of last month's Irish Soda Bread and Cinnamon Swirl Bread for dessert. I did At Sword's Point, my second Warner Archive birthday DVD from Lauren, during dinner.

The aging queen of France (Gladys Cooper) fears her evil nephew (Robert Douglas) intends to try to usurp the throne on her death. She calls the original Four Musketeers to come to her rescue. Alas, the four gentlemen are now too old to fight, so they send their sons...and Athos' tough daughter Claire (Maureen O'Hara). Claire may be a woman, but she's the equal of any man in France, as D'Artangan Jr. (Cornel Wilde) discovers. Claire will need all of her wits and cunning if she and the other Musketeers are to save the Queen's daughter and young son from her nephew's plotting!

This one is notable for being one of the very few Golden Age of Hollywood action films with a female star. Athletic O'Hara is genuinely good at the fencing heroics, and is noticeably more at ease with the swashbuckling than Wilde is. The dialogue is a bit stilted at times, but if you like old-fashioned swashbucklers or the original Three Musketeers, it's all a great deal of fun.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Not-So-Little April Showers

I awoke late in the morning to a heavy, steady downpour that has continued without abate for the entire day. Oh well. Even my customers, most of whom fear anything that isn't perfect 60 degree weather, have said that we badly need the rain. It's still raining out there now, as I type this.

I made Banana-Currant Pancakes for breakfast after I switched on Brunch With the Beatles. The subject of today's show was Beatles EPs - ie, long-playing singles, records with two or three songs on each side. Apparently, they were common in Europe, but never caught on in the US. This is why the majority of today's songs were lesser-known singles mostly heard in England, like "Slow Down" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy."

Called Mom about half-way through the show. She had a much better week than I did. She's now taking several online courses in Microsoft Excel and Word and seems to be quite thoroughly enjoying both of them. She never had the chance to take typing or computer courses when she was in school, and now that she's finally an official empty nest mom, she's taking full advantage of the opportunity to upgrade her skills and learn something new and interesting.

Spent the rest of the afternoon updating my inventories, including the records I bought yesterday and my newest dubbed finds. The rain continued, pounding on the roof like a mad Keith Moon drummer. Around 2PM, I began to realize that, despite my best hopes, the rain would not be stopping anytime in the near (or even distant) future. I tried to call Jodie, but couldn't get her. Rose and Jessa would probably be at work, and Dad's out doing a cruise ship job. I just rode to work and got very wet.

Work was surprisingly the same as yesterday - busy when I arrived, quiet when I left. Apparently, a lot of people shopped earlier in the day, before the big playoff game between the Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was do or die for both teams - whomever won this one won the series and the right to continue in the post-season. The Phillies were playing the San Diego Padres in Southern California, too. (The latter was playing on the new TV in the back room when I had my break.) There were no major problems, and I was in and out with no relief.

The rain was still coming down heavily when I got out of work. I guess Mother Nature wants to make up for our dry spring all at one time. I once again just rode home. I needed a shower anyway, so I got pre-wet.

(Oh, and the Flyers kicked the Penguins' rears 5-1 and will be going on to the next round of the playoffs. I could so kick myself for forgetting that game was on today and not tomorrow! The Phillies didn't get nearly that lucky. The Padres beat them 6-1.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Before the Rain Came

Much to my surprise, considering the weather people had been hyping rain for this weekend since last weekend, I awoke to blue skies and soft breezes. It was a beautiful, warm spring day as I put on this week's American Top 40 re-run. We jumped ahead a decade to late April 1982, as disco partied out and pop, hard rock, and country danced in. Hits from this week included "Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, "867-5309 (Jenny)" by Tommy Tutone, "Don't Talk to Strangers" by Rick Springfield, "Freeze Frame" by the J. Gelis Band, "We've Got the Beat" by the Go-Gos, and the theme from Chariots of Fire by Vangelis.

That week's big hit (and apparently the big hit for the last few weeks) was an old favorite of mine, Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll."

This time, I headed out right after the Top 40 ended. My first stop was a quick one to the bank to deposit my paycheck. After that, I rode up to Haddon Heights for their spring Community-Wide Yard Sale. I did pretty well at their fall community yard sale, and I was hoping for more luck this season. Alas, I didn't find as much as I would have liked. For one thing, I had to work at 2PM. I didn't have all day to wander around, like I did in the fall. Haddon Heights' narrow streets were jammed with cars from all over. They can be hard to navigate on a good day, but the crowds just made it worse.

I did finally find a few items. Picked up four records from two different houses:

Soundtracks to Flash Gordon and American Hot Wax

The Steve Miller Band - Greatest Hits 1974-1978

And a Christmas record simply labeled New England Sleigh Ride - Music for the Christmas Season. It has some songs that appear to be unique to the recording.

Also found two cassettes (also picked up a locally-released baking cookbook at the same house):

Soundtrack to Cocktail (Never liked that movie, but the soundtrack was one of my favorite cassettes when I was about nine or ten years old.)

The Holiday Singers - White Christmas (More nostalgia - this cassette collection of instrumental and studio chorus holiday songs was another late 80s favorite of mine. There were also two cassettes of kid-oriented songs done by the same group that we had.)

My last find was probably my best. On my way home, there was a street that was nothing but yard sales...and one had the 1986 Christmas With Southern Living mint for a mere quarter. Mom has the ones released from 1981 to 1983, and I've always loved looking at them. My favorite sections were always the wonderful recipes, and in earlier books, the details on Christmas in various parts of the south.

I had just an hour to spare when I finally made it home. I swept the fuzzy-covered porch before the storms that were supposed to arrive added more. I finished Sally and watched cartoons. I opened another birthday present package, this time two books I ordered for myself. For some reason, none of the local libraries has Addy's mystery, Shadows on Society Hill, despite its local setting. I've heard in several places that it's by far the best American Girl character-based mystery novel. I also grabbed the newest Elizabeth Peters-Amelia Peabody book in paperback, A River In the Sky. The last Vesper Holly story I hadn't read, the European-based Drackenburg Adventure, arrived a few days ago.
Perhaps because of the lovely day, work wasn't nearly as bad as it has been the past week. It also helped that we had plenty of people working for once. It was very busy up until around 6PM, after which it died so quickly, I was able to leave a little bit early with no relief and no need for one.

The clouds everyone had talked about earlier had finally arrived by the time I left at 8PM. Thankfully, they waited to burst until more than an hour and a half later. I don't think it's doing anything right now, even raining. I don't even hear wind anymore, which I did before the storm arrived.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Look for the Silver Lining

It certainly wasn't hard too look for silver linings on such a gorgeous day. I rode to the gym under a bright blue sky, with fresh breezes against my back. Did a good 25-minute stationary bike session, then worked on the leg weight machines. It was relatively quiet in there this time, so there was no waiting.

Went to the Acme after the gym to pick up my paycheck and do this week's grocery shopping. It wasn't that big of an order. Most of what I needed was restocking fresh fruit, including grapefruit, tangelos (cheaper than big fat oranges and less for me to eat), bananas, and pears. I had to ask one of the people shelving meat where the ground chicken was, but it was worth it. I got one fresh from the box! Also picked up yogurt, cereal (Mom's Best Shredded Wheat on sale), buttermilk, peanut butter, and shredded Parmesan cheese.

There was a small box waiting for me in the mailbox in the front of the house when I got in. Lauren gave me hand-picked Warner Archive titles for my birthday, as she did last year. This year, I went with movies from two very different divas, the early talkie musical Sally, featuring Broadway dancer Marilyn Miller, and the swashbuckler At Sword's Point, with Maureen O'Hara as a female Musketeer.

Ran the first half of Sally as I put everything away and had leftovers for lunch. Sally is the movie version of Miller's blockbuster 1920 Broadway vehicle. The title lass is an orphan who dreams of becoming a great dancer, but hasn't had much luck catching a producer's eye. She works at one restaurant after another, but her mind is so much on dancing, she can't concentrate on her work. Her luck changes when she meets the handsome young son of a millionaire who falls for her (Alexander Gray) and Connie, a former European nobleman who has now fallen on hard times (Joe E. Brown). Connie's the one who hears about a Russian dancer failing to show up at the millionaire's big party and suggests Sally takes over the role. Could this be the break Sally's been looking for...and could it lead to something even bigger?

Sweet and a lot of fun. Miller's not the best actress and far from the best singer, but something happens when she dances. Even more than 80 years later, you can understand why she was such a success in the original Sally. Gray (whom she apparently requested for the role) is fine as her prince charming; Brown's really miscast as Connie (you'd never believe he was any kind of royalty).

The two best numbers in the film are very different but delightful grandparents to many modern musical numbers. Brown and Miller go to town in a hilarious duet of "Look for the Silver Lining." They're having a blast, knocking each other around and jumping like mad, and the fun shows onscreen.  

Sally was originally filmed in the same Two-Strip Technicolor that was used for parts of Hollywood Revue of 1929. Alas, most of the color footage has not survived, and the movie is today only seen in black and white...except for the "Wild Rose" chorus number at the mansion. The sudden jump to color almost gives the film a Wizard of Oz-like fantasy feel that's very appropriate (and for some reason, the soundtrack improves, too). The color's gorgeous, too. Suddenly, the overdone makeup everyone's been wearing looks...still overdone, but not as noticeable. Miller looks every inch the "wild rose" the lyrics talk about; when the chorus boys cheer for her, you can't help but agree.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday. Once again, we were very short on help, especially early on. One of the older women called out again. They couldn't even get any extra help; managers had to take lines during rush hour. Thankfully, things cleared out after that, and it was so quiet by the time I left, I was able to shut down easily with no relief.

My schedule next week is pretty much the same as last week with earlier hours (except that 3-9 Tuesday again). Wednesday is my only day off.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rock Candy Balance

Started a lovely, sunny morning with yoga class. I was almost late, but it hardly mattered. There were only about six or seven people in class today, including me and the teacher Karin. This class is usually full to capacity! Actually, it worked out much better for me. Karin had us concentrate on standing poses and back stretches in honor of Earth Day and our connection to nature. We had far more room to work on the poses than usual.

As with Haddon Township yesterday, there wasn't much to do at the Collingswood Library when I arrived there. I shelved a few DVDs and Wii titles and organized the DVD shelves. I didn't even bother with upstairs. I had to work at 2. I just headed out after the DVDs were done.

I did have enough time to pick up a special treat on the way home. There's a candy store down the street from the Collingswood Library called the Candy Jar. They remind me so much of the candy stores in Cape May during my childhood, I get homesick just walking in there. Despite their small size, they have every kind of candy you can imagine, including hard-to-find old-fashioned types that you only see in the Vermont Country Store catalog, like Sky Bars and Turkish Taffy. I remember how much my sisters and I liked the rock candy on a stick that the candy stores in Cape May sold when we were kids. They came in different flavors, and they were usually a dollar...and pretty much the only things a kid could afford in a fancy candy store. I finally bought a cherry rock candy pop, and the owner let me have a sample of two dark chocolate "roses."

I crunched my rock candy, happily remembering how much I loved the hard sweetness as a child, as I walked down Haddon Ave. I rode home after I finished my lollypop. Made scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms for lunch, then baked Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and dubbed Naked Gun 2 1/2 - The Smell of Fear

If you saw the first one, you have at least somewhat of an idea of the plot here. Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielson) is in Washington DC, protecting a wheelchair-bound scientist who is about to deliver an important speech on alternative fuel sources. His girlfriend Jane (Priscilla Prestley) is also in town, working in the scientist's lab. Well, his ex-girlfriend. They broke up because he was too dedicated to his job. When the lab is blown to bits and Jane is the only witness, Frank finds himself and his eternally damaged partner Nordberg (OJ Simpson) having to protect Jane and the scientist from a tycoon (Robert Goulet) who is determined to sell his oil and nuclear power to the world.

Actually, the big problem nowadays with this one is that the central premise of the scientist and his environmental speech isn't so funny now that people really are taking the search for alternative fuel sources seriously. Other than that, if you enjoyed the first movie or are a big fan of the 80s-early 90s Zucker Brothers spoofs or Leslie Nielson, go right ahead. There's just as many hilarious gags the second time around, including how Nordberg ended up in Detroit and Jane and the menagerie in her apartment.

Work was a total pain in the rear end. One of the managers had attempted to call me in earlier, but she wanted me in by noon, and that's just about when I got home. It wasn't busy when I arrived, but it did get busy later, and once again, we didn't have enough help. I was late getting out because the other night cashier was late getting back from her break, no one came in for me, and I got stuck dealing with one of those darn people buying 500 sale items for the chop shops in Camden.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rainy Daze

It was a gray and gloomy morning when I finally climbed out of bed. I decided to spend the morning working on dubbing the animated films I bought last week. I also baked Applesauce Cookies from the natural baking cookbook I bought last year, adding the last of the coconut from Easter baking into the mix.

Although Jetsons: The Movie and Happily Ever After were released in the early 90s, both films' hearts are firmly in the previous decade. Jetsons takes the "First Family of the Future" to a new home on an asteroid populated by many different creatures, from fuzzy aliens to friendly robots. Mr. Spacely, George Jetson's greedy boss, is mining the asteroid to make his sprokets. The new factory has been plagued by sabotage from day one and has gone through several head operators, and Spacely thinks the ever-devoted George is dumb enough to keep the factory going. His family accepts the change pretty well. Jane loves her husband enough to follow him most places. Elroy makes friends with a blue fuzzy alien kid and a robot kid who seems a bit stuck-up at first. Judy's far less happy - Dad took her away from a big date - until she meets a dreamy alien teenager with a fondness for late 80s synthesizer pop and abstract music videos. The movie takes a sugary turn when Elroy and his new friends discover who's causing the sabotage...and why.

Happily Ever After is supposed to be a follow-up to the Disney Snow White, but it looks and sounds more like "Snow White as interpreted by the makers of He-Man." The evil queen's equally wicked sorcerer brother (Malcom MacDowell) is determined to avenge his sister. He kidnaps the Prince, using him to lure Snow White (Irene Cara) to the Land of Doom. Snow White is joined by the Seven Dwarves' female cousins, the Dwarfelles, a group of goofy ladies whose powers control nature. Mother Nature herself (Phyllis Diller) commands that the ladies help Snow White and learn to work together, or lose their powers. The eight women are helped on their way by a strange creature who looks something like Orko from He-Man with spindly human arms, and inadvertently aided by an owl and a bat who keep trying to be evil and end up  totally useless.

Jetsons is a nostalgic favorite of mine. My siblings and I loved this one when we were kids. I even listened to our cassette of the soundtrack, with music done by late 80s pop princess Tiffany, endlessly. (She was also the voice of Judy Jetson.) The first half is fun if you're a Hanna-Barbara fan, especially the interesting abstract music videos and not-bad CGI animation used for some backgrounds. Unfortunately, the second half takes a turn into preachy environmental territory, and the cutesy characters who pop up at this point don't help. If you remember this from your childhood, it's not bad, but for anyone else, start with the classic 60s series if you really want a taste of the Jetsons.

(Actually, the best part of this video may have been what came with it. This was taped off of what appears to be an NBC airing in 1993, and it comes complete with vintage commercials and trailers for episodes of Blossom and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, among others.)

Happily Ever After is weird but generally enjoyable. It reminds me a bit of The Swan Princess, another barely-released "cult" animated princess film of the 90s that I liked. The action is the high point. There's some real nail-biting stuff, including a sequence involving a flash-flood in a cave and the finale, that's very well-done. The Dwarfelles are a riot at times, and even Snow White gets in on the action (which isn't something Disney's version can claim). The music is the trouble. It's really, really bad 80s pop and rap, worse than even the passable synthesizer songs that showed up in Jetsons: The Movie. In fact, the music is a problem with both films - the very 80s pop tunes badly date both movies and take them out of their intended fairy-tale and far-future settings.

I headed out to run today's errands after I pulled the Applesauce-Coconut Cookies out of the oven. Stopped at the bank first to deposit my birthday money into my savings account, then headed to Westmont for lunch. I always forget that there's a Friendly's in the shopping center across from the Haddon Township Library, between the Game Stop and Nick and Joe's Pizza. Despite the competition, they seemed to be doing pretty well when I was there around 1:30. I had a half of a Chicken Ranch SuperMelt and a garden salad for lunch. It was very tasty and not too much to eat. I'm glad I didn't get a whole sandwich. The round of chicken they used for just the half-sandwich was juicy and soft...and huge.

Went to the library next. It had been raining lightly on-and-off all morning, and people must have been taking advantage of the weather to do chores they'd put off earlier in the week. There were plenty of DVDs to return and books to shelve. I didn't take anything out, though. I work for the rest of the week and won't have much time for extra watching and reading.

I had originally planned on riding to Haddonfield, but not only was it 3:30 by then, but the weather remained iffy. I made a few stops at Super Fresh and Dollar Tree instead. I picked up currants, cooking spray, and maple syrup on sale at Super Fresh. Got sponges at the Dollar Tree and decided to try something I hadn't done since my childhood - one of those paint-on plastic rounds with patterns in them that were all the rage when I was little.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. I baked a Rosemary-Lemon Cake and, still feeling in the mood for fantasy, watched The Princess Bride. The title character is a beautiful farm lass (Robin Wright) who loves a young hired hand (Cary Elwes) who is reported dead after being killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. A nasty price (Chris Sarandon) takes her as his fiancee, but she doesn't really love him. When the Pirate himself rescues her from three bumbling assassins, she finds herself falling for her rescuer all over again. The course of true love never did run smooth, and before the two are reunited, we'll encounter sword fights, romance, kissing scenes, and enough wacky comedy mixed with high action to impress even jaded 80s boys and their grandfathers.

Mom taped this during some random showing on cable in the late 80s, and it's been a beloved family favorite ever since. I picked it up on video during college, and it was one of the first movies I replaced when I bought a DVD player in 2004. Like Clue, another cult 80s film with an all-star cast, it starts as a slow romantic drama, but builds into a crazy comic swashbuckler by the finale. Look for Mandy Patikin as the Spanish fencer who utters the movie's most famous line and Andre the Giant as his oversized buddy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hot Fun In the Springtime

I once again awoke to sunshine. The weather remained above-average warm and dry, though not as bad as yesterday. I slept in a little, finally getting out of bed around quarter of 10. Had Oatmeal Squares and grapefruit breakfast and watched more Tom & Jerry cartoons. Headed to the gym about an hour later.

It was a bit busier than last week at the gym. There was a private trainer session going on, plus a surprising amount of people on the treadmills. I did 25 minutes on the elliptical machine. Had to wait to get my arm weight machine session in. There were two middle-aged women chatting on the machines who took forever. I worked with hand weights until they were done.

Made a quick stop at Marlton Curtains across from Applebee's on my way home. I wanted to get a third set of sheets, just in case I need them or have guests. I ended up buying a separate fitted and flat sheet and pillowcase set. The sheets were $5 each; the pillowcase set was $4. Spent $14.98 all together. Some places wouldn't sell you one sheet for that! I love the curtain outlet. They have the best linen prices in the area.

There wasn't enough time after lunch to go to the bank, my original plan for this afternoon. I settled on doing a few at-home chores I'd been putting off. I swept the porch, which was a mess. The fuzzy seed pods have started falling, and they covered another layer of covers from leaf buds and the last of the sticker balls.
When I finally finished out there, I came inside and did last month's budget. I bought more than I thought I did last month, but I did get the CD player and Monkees CD set the first week of March. Otherwise, I intentionally tried not to buy too much after everything I bought with my tax return money in February.

Work was a pain in the rear. Though it was quiet when I arrived (to the point where I spent the first hour doing returns) and quiet when I left, rush hour was crazy. One cashier was late; another was being used elsewhere. We had to call a stock boy and a bagger to take over the registers for a while! Thank heavens my relief was another kid who had spent most of the nights organizing tags in the back room and was eager to stretch his long legs for a while.

Monday, April 16, 2012

April Heat

I began the first really hot day of the year with a ringing phone. Yes, it was the Acme. Could I come in early? For once, no. I had to get to the laundromat. My sheets and all of my uniforms needed to be done badly.

It took me a lot longer to do that than I planned. I probably shouldn't have run the Tom and Jerry Chuck Jones cartoons at the same time. Jones took the cat and mouse over from fellow animator Gene Deitch and had a lot of fun with them. Both look much cuter than they had before or have since, and Tom now looks something like a cross between a blue mute Sylvester with thicker eyebrows and Wil E. Coyote. My favorite of this morning's shorts was "The Cat Above and the Mouse Below." Tom is an opera star doing a solo to a rapturous crowd; Jerry is the mouse who lives under the stage and doesn't appreciate the concert intruding on his beauty sleep. As you can imagine with these two, mayhem ensues.

The laundromat could have been worse when I arrived. There were a lot of people, but everything was open. I think I must have just missed the worst of it. Good thing, too. With the sheets added in, I had a lot of laundry to do and not a lot of time to do it in. I barely had the time to get it done, get home, put everything away, have a hasty lunch, change into my newly-washed uniform, and hurry off to work!

I'm not sure why I got called in this morning. It must have been much busier earlier in the day, before it got into the 80s. Rush hour was steady, but other than that, it wasn't that bad. I spent most of the second half of the night doing the mountains of returns sitting in carts.

It was so warm today, it was still warm when I left work. I broke out the fans for the first time since last October when I got in. Debated the air conditioner, but it's still a little early for that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Broadway Baby

Started off a hot, sunny morning with Brunch With the Beatles. "Rock and Roll Music" was the theme today; in other words, songs that were just pure hard rock. These ranged from "Come Together" to "Get Back," "Drive My Car" to "Day Tripper" to George's "All Those Years Ago," Ringo's cover of "You're Sixteen," and the boys' early covers of "Rock and Roll Music" and "Twist and Shout."

I had half of two loaves of  home-made bread that had been around for weeks, almost a month, in the case of the Irish Soda Bread. Time to make French Toast. I paired that with a half of grapefruit and lots of real maple syrup for a very pleasant breakfast.

When I finished eating and the show was over, I dubbed The Broadway Melody of 1936 and fooled around online. Eleanor Powell's first big vehicle at MGM features her as a young lady from Albany hoping to land a role in the Broadway show being put on by her former boyfriend (Robert Taylor). Taylor, however, is being pursued by the socialite backing his show (stage star June Knight) and doesn't recognize her. A big-time columnist (Jack Benny), the producer's secretary (Una Merkel), and a friendly brother-sister dance team (Buddy Ebsen and his real-life sister) come up with a fictional French actress to promote in Benny's column and let Powell take the role in order to get her in the show.

Definitely one of the stranger Busby Berkley imitation semi-revues of the mid-30s. Taylor sings pretty well, but is otherwise out-of-place. The story makes no sense at all - Benny's hardly a believable Walter Winchell type, and Powell's no Frenchwoman, either (or a blond). As with Rosalie, the music, this time by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, is the saving grace. Three standards from this movie were later incorporated into Singin' In the Rain - "I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'" (done as a charming duet between Taylor and Knight that's built into a huge nightclub number), "You are My Lucky Star" (heard many times, from a simple radio rendition in the opening sequence to a huge number in an empty stage for Powell), and "Broadway Rhythm" (the big finale).

Also did a few more episodes of Max & Ruby. I really loved the ones I hadn't seen. "Ruby's Detective Agency" was especially cute. Ruby plays Kinsey Milhone with Max as her assistant to find her lost stuffed duck. Max, however, seems to know more than he's telling, but it's Grandma who has the biggest surprise of all. 

Headed to work shortly after the movie ended. Work was very busy when I arrived, but for the first time in over a week we had plenty of night help, and there were no major problems. I was in and out.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

And it was a great day to celebrate my 33rd birthday, too. I awoke to bright sunshine, far less wind than earlier in the week, and temperatures that were already in the upper 50s by 8AM. Mom called me as I worked on my journal entry. She had Skylar there, but she wanted to wish me many happy returns of the day. I told her about my long and stressful week, and how much I needed the day off.

I put on today's American Top 40 rerun as I changed and had breakfast. Casey took us all the way back to mid-April 1971 this morning, as pop, R&B, and vocalists ruled the charts. Among the hits were "What Is Life" by George Harrison, "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye, "Rollin' On the River" by Ike and Tina Turner, "Another Day" by Paul McCartney, "Put Your Hand In the Hand" by Ocean, "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin, "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night, "Theme from Love Story (Where Do I Begin?)" by Andy Williams, and "She's a Lady" by Tom Jones.

For once, I didn't head out right away after the Top 40 ended. I kicked back with some chai tea and watched the original two 80s Strawberry Shortcake specials. The World of Strawberry Shortcake is set during the title character's sixth birthday; Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City has some clever country mouse/city mouse gags and a few really cute spoofs of the real Big Apple. (For instance, there's a Little Theater off Time's Square in real life - it's called the Helen Hayes, and it's the smallest major Broadway house. They may also been referring to the Ed Sullivan Theater, which does house several live TV productions, including the David Letterman show.)

Did a short version of the Saturday morning errand run first. I hit a yard sale in Oaklyn and came up with four videos, two 80s comedies, a home-recording of Jetsons: The Movie, and a really odd-looking Snow White "sequel" called Happily Ever After. I'll work on dubbing them this week. I also made a very quick stop at the Oaklyn Library to do this week's session there. Needless to say, they were quiet and there wasn't a whole lot to do, plus they had another volunteer there.

I went home to return the videos. The moment I pulled onto the path that leads to the house, I got a call on my cell phone. It was Dad. Would I like to join him and Jodie later in the evening for dinner, cards, and cake? Sure. I was going to go into Philadelphia that afternoon, but I had no dinner plans.

After I dropped the videos off, I rode over to the PATCO station in Collingswood and hopped a train to Philadelphia. I had lunch at one of my favorite places in downtown Philly, Reading Terminal Market. They were busy, but not quite as bad as on a weekday at noon. I found a booth that sold every kind of French crepe possible, in both sweet and savory varieties. I opted for a tasty Chicken Tomato Pesto crepe for lunch. Had a cup of Cherry Vanilla ice cream from Bassett's for dessert. Enjoyed it in the small park across the street from the Market, as I did last year.

My next stop was the big FYE on Broad Street. They were having a 30% off all used items sale. Since I found live-action movies to dub, I opted to buy cartoons. Finally found a good price on a Max & Ruby set none of the libraries have, Berry Bunny Adventures (the set with the three-part Ruby's birthday episode, interestingly). Got the Chuck Jones Tom & Jerry set for $10.50, Max and Ruby for $5.60, and The Bishop's Wife for $3.50 (the last named to clear out one of my remaining non-dub-able videos). I also grabbed the cast album for the Broadway version of Once on sale for $10.99. I'd enjoyed the movie and heard good things about it's adaptation.

I wanted to hit South Street next, but I never made it there. I just hiked down 13th Street to see what there was to see. Made a pit stop and a chai latte break at Starbucks before continuing. I was sipping my spicy latte when I saw a dark, non-descript door in a building that said "Moonstone Art Center - Robin's Books - 50% off all books in the store."

Now, how could I resist that? I climbed up a steep set of stairs. At first, when I peeked in, I just saw chairs, tables, and pamphlets. As I continued, I found shelves of brand-new books of various subjects and basic fiction, along with racks of magazines. I ended up with The Sea Hawk by Rafael Sabatini. I'm a sucker for an old-fashioned swashbuckler.

When I left the bookstore, I continued my walk, looking out for anything interesting. I'd just finished my chai latte when I looked across the street and saw a colorful blue sign with a guitar and the words "Rustic Music" emblazoned in bright yellow letters, next to a big yellow guitar. They had crates of records for sale for two dollars each. I found something right away, and found even more when I went inside. The fellow had every used audio and visual media you can imagine. The upstairs had mostly CDs, but there were also cassettes, audio equipment, and musical instruments. I found DVDs, videos, and more records when I made my way down the steep red steps to the basement. I ended up with two CDs

The soundtrack to Grease 2

Chicago - The Heart of Chicago (greatest hits collection)

And three records, the cast albums for The Apple Tree and the original 1950 Wonderful Town and the soundtrack for the Ken Russell The Boy Friend

(Incidentally, I am now in love with both stores, especially Rustic Music. I think I'll try to take Lauren back there when she visits next month.)

I tried to find more stores, but I got lost at Pine Street looking for Antique Row. Turned out to not matter anyway. Jodie called me around quarter after 4. Rose, Khai, and Uncle Ken were going to join them for my birthday dinner at 5PM. I turned around, headed for the 16th and Locust PATCO station, and jumped a surprisingly only half-full rush-hour train back to Collingswood.

I rode to Dad and Uncle Ken's house via Newton River Park. By 5PM, it had gotten a bit cloudier and the wind had picked up considerably, making my ride a little more difficult than this morning. I didn't get into Oaklyn until quarter after 5. No matter. Everyone was there to wish me a happy day - Dad, Jodie, Jessa, Rose, Khai, and Uncle Ken (who was watching the Phillies play the Mets). Jodie's son Jesse brought their cute new King Charles' Spaniel over to visit. He was a handsome fellow, white and brown, with shaggy, wavy fur and liquid brown eyes. Erica came by to say "hi" a bit later. We watched the first Cars (one of Khai's favorite movies) and ate pizza and rich chocolate cake with thick cream cheese icing from Desserts by Design. I received $150 from Dad, Jodie, Uncle Ken, and Dolores, and a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble from Rose and her boys.

When I finally got home (with the last of the cake and a few stray slices of pizza), I ran some Max and Ruby as I put things away and got organized before I went online. The series' first and only three-part episode turns into a fun tale of Ruby's surprise party. Ruby knows her friends are going to give her a big surprise birthday bash, but Max leads her on a merry chase to make sure it's a real surprise! Later, Ruby and her girlfriends want to play party games, but Max is more interested in cake. And Max finds a very creative use for the wrapping paper from Ruby's gifts after she puts them aside to keep.

Some of my favorite episodes of this series (and books, too) are the fairy tale spoofs. The Big Bad Max Wolf tries to sneak cookies from his sister in "Little Red Ruby Hood." Ruby tells Max "Max and the Beanstalk" to prove to him that ordinary green beans can be pretty darn cool. It's Ruby who learns the lesson in "The Froggy Prince" when Max wants to include his frog in his sister's play. Ruby and Louise then remembers a story about a princess who made friends with a frog, and what the frog turned out to be in the end.

(Sigh. And the Phillies did end up losing to the Mets badly, 5-0. Otherwise, this was one of the nicest birthdays I've had in years.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring, Spring, Spring

Started off Friday the 13th with a couple of birthday-related cartoons in honor of my big day tomorrow. Disney did two birthday cartoons for Mickey Mouse, the black-and-white "The Birthday Party" from 1931, and the better-known color semi-remake "Mickey's Birthday Party" from 1942. Another monochrome short from 1931, "The Whoopee Party," is a favorite of mine - who knew Mickey Mouse was one heck of a party animal in the early 30s?

Mickey's not the only animal partying on his big day. The final episode of The Yogi Bear Show had the program's sponsor holding a televised birthday bash for Yogi. They want to keep it a secret, so Ranger Smith just tells him he's gonna be on TV. Yogi thinks he's going to be in a variety show and tries to take lessons, but he's nobody's Bobby Darin or Fred Astaire. The show turns out to be a bigger surprise than Yogi - or anyone - could have guessed.

Two earlier episodes also dealt with birthdays. Yogi holds a smaller - but equally secret - birthday party for a suspicious Ranger Smith in "Slap Happy Birthday." In "Happy Birthdaze," Yakky Doodle the Duckling wants to buy his friend Chopper the Dog the biggest bone he can find...but the biggest bone he can find is a dinosaur bone! When Yakky inadvertently steals it from the museum, a cop is sent after him and helps him find Chopper a better present.

Sailor Moon's birthday doesn't go nearly as well. While the Soldiers are holding her their own surprise party, Serena's upset because her boyfriend Darien seems to have forgotten her big day...or has he? Meanwhile, the evil Kaorinite is after her very pure heart crystal. She turns the glass shoes Serena wants into a monster who encases Darien in glass! And what will Amara and Michelle, the two older Sailor Soldiers, do if Serena has the pure heart they've been looking for?

I'm glad I got up a little earlier than planned. I made it to the gym by 10:30. It was a little busier than last week, but otherwise not bad. I did a good 20 minute run on the stationary bike, then worked on my legs. Got a quick stretch in (had to use the private trainer's area, since there was a small class going on in the exercise area), then headed to the Acme.

It wasn't that bad when I was there this morning. I picked up my paycheck, then did this week's grocery shopping. I was mostly restocking fruit, vegetables, and mousse mix. Needed baking soda and vinegar - the drains are running slow again - eggs, and honey. (I forgot brown sugar and mushrooms, which I grabbed at work later.)

After I got home and put everything away, I made a Spinach, Onion, and Swiss Cheese Omelet for lunch, then went right back out. Stopped at the bank first to deposit my paycheck and a birthday check from Mom, then rode to the Haddon Township Library for a short session there. There were tons of DVDs to return, probably a combination of people returning movies after their week off and people running errands after avoiding the chilly weather earlier this week. Got everything put away and the kids' DVDs organized. Opted not to take anything out - I'll probably end up buying movies for my birthday, and I don't think I'll have the time to watch much this week.

I managed to get home with plenty of time to change into my uniform, pack dinner, pump up my front tire (again), and head to work. Work was quiet when I arrived and when I left, but very busy for most of the night...and it was made worse by the fact that we remain short-handed.

And we'll continue to remain short-handed as people with vacation time take their remaining days before our vacation cycle starts over in May. That's why I only have one day off next week. However, the day is Wednesday, and none of my hours are very early or very long. (And only one - Tuesday - is later than 8:30.) I've come to expect a lot of hours in April, so none of this is a problem.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Too Much Stress

Sigh. The day didn't begin that badly. For one thing, other than it remained windy, it was a little warmer than yesterday, with blue skies and a few clouds. Maybe I should have taken that as a sign. I watched some Max & Ruby. My favorites on the "Treehouse" set I took out were the two adorable fairy tale spoofs. Ruby is the title royal in "The Princess and the Marbles" when she explains to Max just how sensitive royalty is. Ruby and Louise are competing to be royalty - and for Grandma's attention - in "Ruby's Real Cinderella." But dust-covered Max turns out to be the only perfect fit for the glass slippers and the role.

It wasn't that bad at work at first, either. I even got to return carts when I first came in late this morning. It was a lovely morning for it. The wind was still pretty bad at that point, but not so much that it impeded my progress. I really like doing carts. It's a great way to get out in the fresh air (or at least as fresh as you get in a parking lot) and get some exercise in. I think I get a better work-out in pushing carts than I do at the gym!

The rest of the day wasn't as pleasant. We got much busier in the afternoon. Once again, the afternoon help called out, leaving us desperately short. She called out tomorrow, too - family emergency. I ended up taking those late hours, despite having planned all week to use Friday for errands. I felt guilty about begging Easter off, especially after I found out one of my friends gave up her Easter to go in for me. I spent the later part of the evening stressed and frustrated and angry with myself.

I'm still stressed and angry with myself. I can't figure out what's wrong with me. I've been hard on myself at work and home. I can't write anything. I can't even get my Monkees fanfics going. Nothing interests me anymore. I haven't been into anything in ages. My classes petered out; I never even heard from the teacher. I don't want to take more classes until after Lauren visits next month.

Lauren's working on an ongoing project to record her family's ancestry. Most of her relatives are older, including her own parents, and she wants to know more about their stories while they're still with us. I wish I could figure out a project like that for me. The trouble is, every idea I get, from writing fantasy novels to running a business, never pans out. I get ideas and don't finish them. I'm afraid even if I do start a project, I'll do it for a little while, waste hundreds of dollars on it, then drop it when I get bored with it. I want something that I'll  never, ever get bored with.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The (Lack of) Help

It was once again chilly and windy when I finally headed to the gym for my first session there this week. I did 20 solid minutes on the elliptical machine, then hit the arm weight machines. I had the time to get some work on the free weights in before I stretched, too. It was a little busier there than last Wednesday morning, but still far from full.

I was hoping to get some vacuuming done when I got home, but I got into watching the Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy special I dubbed off my old tape last summer, and then I made leftovers for lunch. I just plain ran out of time. I spent too much time loafing.

Work was exactly the same as yesterday - busy during rush hour, otherwise quiet. Good thing, too. The teenage girl who called out on Monday did it yet again. I'm lucky it was quiet when I finished, or I probably wouldn't have been able to leave when I did.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Balance and the Busy Day

I don't usually do yoga on Tuesdays, but I'm not going to have the time to do it for the rest of the week! I overslept (I need to figure out  how to get my clock off of "sleep" mode) and was late arriving. Carrie was the teacher; we mainly concentrated on twists and hip-openers. I did what I could, but my side's been sore for the past week. I wonder if I've been sitting in front of a computer for too long lately.

Went straight to the Collingswood Library after class, but that place was quiet as a mouse. I guess everyone's still away for the week. There wasn't even anything to shelve. I organized DVDs, then read upstairs for a little while. After I left, I grabbed milk and a pretzel from WaWa, then rode home.

I had leftovers for lunch, then headed to the laundromat to get a big bag of laundry done, including bathroom towels. Once again, this was the only time I could get it done...but now I'm wondering if I should have waited. It was crazy-busy the whole time I was there. I did get a drier and a washer, but it was noisy, with lots of families and college students and older people trying to use eight washers at a time. I got out as soon as I possibly could.

Since I had a little time after I got all the laundry put away, I took down the Easter decorations. I do want to get to vacuuming and dusting eventually this week. It'll be easier to do with fewer knick-knacks around. I got everything put away, changed, and made my dinner for work with just a few minutes to spare.

Work was quiet for the second day in a row. It did get busy during rush hour, but otherwise, I spent the first two hours shelving stray items and the last two hours shelving candy. I was in and out with no fuss.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Avoiding the Wind

Though I did get up at a decent time, I had a few things to do this morning before work. The big one was sending off a few late Easter cards, including one to my brother in the Navy. That took longer than I thought, and between that and the heavy wind, I just barely got in on time.

As it turned out, I probably could have taken all day. We were dead for most of the afternoon and quite a bit of the evening. It got busy during rush hour, but otherwise, I either stood around or did candy. Other than a father-mother pair early on who fussed over soda prices, there were no problems with customers. The problem was the same one we always have during holiday weeks - ie, lack of help. Not only did a lot of people who normally work in the day take their vacation time, but the teenager who was supposed to work tonight called out at the very last minute. (Again. This is far from the first time she's done that.) The managers had to take her place. I grabbed I Can't Believe It's Not Butter sticks on sale, peanut butter, and the last bag of Easter Mini York Peppermint Patties (they never have enough of those in stock, and they go fast), then headed home.

At least the weather's going to stay nice. It looks like a chance of rain Wednesday night; otherwise, the wind will die out, and it'll stay in the upper 50s-lower 60s and sunny, which is pretty much what it's supposed to be at this time of year.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Adventures

I got up much earlier than I usually do on a Sunday in order to head over to Dad and Uncle Ken's for breakfast. I hurriedly ate half of a grapefruit and gulped some tea. Remembered I'd forgotten to sign my Easter cards, so I did that, too. It was sunny again, but even windier than usual, and the wind was chilly. I pulled stockings on under my teal ruffled dress (worn over a peach blouse), grabbed everything I needed, slipped into my good white flats, and hurried out.

The trouble started just half-way down the street. I don't often wear my good white shoes. I don't usually have a reason to wear nice clothes! The shoes were just something I'd bought at Fashion Bug about two or three years ago. Maybe that's why the sole suddenly came unglued on my right one as I rushed. I was in too much of a hurry to go back and change! The other started about half-way to Uncle Ken's. By the time I arrived, the top half of one sole had come off entirely, and the other was just starting to. Jodie drove me back to my place briefly later in the morning to get a pair of sandals. (We also stopped at CVS.)

Thankfully, most of the day went much better after that. Dad, Uncle Ken, Jessa, and Jodie were the only ones home when I arrived. Rose, Craig, and Khai appeared a mere 10 minutes later, and Dolores came shortly after them. Jodie's son TJ and his friend Riff arrived an hour later. I gave Rose the small bouquet of red roses I bought from Flowers By Renee yesterday for her birthday. I have no idea when I'm going to see Khai again, so I gave him his birthday present today. He got the Fisher Price Roly-Poly Apple I bought at the Barrington Antique Center a few weeks ago and a small foam Nerf football. My sisters and I had that Roly-Poly Apple when we were little, and we were making him ring well after the toddler years. We all ate tons of Jodie's French Bread Casserole and canteloupe, grapefruit, and pineapple chunks.

We finally headed to Karen and Jim's house around 12:30, about a half-hour after Rose took both of her boys home for naps. I went with Jodie and Dad; Jessa drove the boys. (Dolores and Uncle Ken were going out to dinner with her family.) Karen and Jim are my cousins who live in a development in largely rural Washington Township with their 6-year-old son CJ. They have a huge house with a big back-yard, and the family tends to hold a lot of parties there.

Karen met us at the door. She was greeting guests; Jim was doing dinner. CJ was hitting golf balls into the kitchen. CJ's always been a golf nut (it's genetic - his father and grandfather are, too) , and it seems his passion has just grown stronger in the last year. He idolizes Tiger Woods (and no, don't try explaining what the guy's been doing these past few years) and wants to join golf tournaments. I spent a lot of the early part of the afternoon outside, watching him hit golf balls around the backyard and babbling on in arcane golf language.

I was delighted to see that Jim's 22-year-old daughter from his first marriage, Taylere, was there as well. She's in her last semester as a journalism student in Rutgers at New Brunswick, and I haven't seen her in ages. She's also friends with Jessa, and they spent a lot of the afternoon together.

I was inside watching Jess and Taylere play some golf video game on the XBox when Karen called us outside. She'd hidden a bag of plastic eggs around their yard. Some had CJ's initials; others were filled with marshmallows. Taylere, CJ, and I went around looking for eggs. I only found two of the marshmallow eggs, but Taylere and especially CJ made excellent hauls.

We finally had dinner around 3PM. There was tons of food, and it was all excellent. Jim made a big ham; Taylere roasted asparagus. Jodie brought macaroni salad. Jim whipped up real au gratin potatoes dripping with cheese. Karin baked croissants from a can. There was also cole slaw and corn, but I didn't have those. We had tea, coffee, tiny tartlets from Desserts By Design in Audubon, and my Orange Coconut Cream Pie and Easter Cookies for dessert.

Eating all that food all day, along with the meat and cheese tray Karen had set out when we first arrived, wasn't the smartest thing I ever did. I spent the next hour or so laying around with a bulging, sore stomach. I first watched Riff play chess with CJ, then giggled at Jessa and Taylere as they got into Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventures Continue for XBox. TJ read quiz questions for a game he plays at one of the local restaurants to us to see if we could guess all of them.

By that point, it was starting to get dark, and I was getting bored with all of the theological and political talk Jim and TJ were doing. Dad, Jodie, and I left around 7. Jessa and the boys opted to stick around a little longer.

The road was perfectly fine until we hit Deptford, where the traffic seemed to just stop. Dad pulled off into the Deptford Mall area, where he and Jodie spent ten minutes arguing over whether or not to go straight or turn back onto the highway. Jodie finally won, and she turned out to be right. According to her cell phone, the highway was clogged for miles because of a nasty accident. I finally got home around 8PM.

I hope all of you had a lovely Easter or Passover! For everyone else, enjoy your spring.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

"In Spring, the Easter Bunny Never Sleeps"

First of all, happy birthday to my sister Rose, whom I'm so proud of for being a good lawyer and a good mother. 

It was once again bright, sunny, and windy when I woke up this morning. Began today with The Artist's Way and the American Top 40 re-run. We headed back to April 1978, when disco was king. Hits from that week included "Can't Smile Without You," by Barry Manilow, "Running on Empty" by Jackson Browne, and the two blockbuster songs that had pretty much been on top for months, "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever," both two of the biggest hits of the Bee Gees' careers.

It was a lovely day to inaugurate this year's Spring Yard Sale Season. I made a quick run to the bank first (saying "hi" to the teller on my way), before checking out a few sales in Audubon. I couldn't find the one on South Davis and there was nothing interesting at the sales at the White Horse Pike and Spruce Avenue, but I hit the mother load at Washington Terrace. A man was selling at least 10 or 15 crates of LPs, ranging from classic rock to jazz, vocalists to a stray cast album or two. I picked up 17 records and four cassettes for 24 dollars (some of the records were 3 dollars):

Elton John - Madman Across the Water

Herman's Hermits - Herman's Hermits and There's a Kind of Hush All Over the World (Lauren loves these guys - she has a crush on Peter Noone)

The Who - Quadrophenia soundtrack

Oliver - Good Morning Starshine

The Carpenters - Singles 1969-1973

Bing Crosby - The Bing Crosby Story: The Early Jazz Years, 1928-1932

Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby - Fancy Meeting You Here

Phil Harris - That's What I Like About the South

Tony Orlando and Dawn - Greatest Hits

Don Henley - Building the Perfect Beast

Al Stewart - Time Passages

Judy Garland - Her Greatest Hits!

Jackson Browne - Running on Empty

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap - Gary Puckett and the Union Gap Featuring "Young Girl"

Bells are Ringing - Original Broadway Cast Album with Judy Holliday and Sydney Chaplin

Steve Martin - A Wild and Crazy Guy (Yay! More Steve Martin in loony mode! Even has "King Tut!")

Since I was already in Audubon, I decided to treat myself to a cupcake at Desserts By Design. Not a good idea. They were mobbed, and I wasn't about to fight the crowds in that tiny store. I went a few doors down to Flowers By Renee instead to get a present for Rose's birthday. Thank heavens Renee wasn't busy. I guess people already put in most of their Easter flower orders.

I went home to put away the flowers and the records, then went back out on foot. Went to the Oaklyn Library first to do this week's volunteer session there. I rearranged a few DVDs and shelved some children's books. They sounded like they were going to work on some new shelves, though, so I left early.

My next stop was Dad and Uncle Ken's. Jodie was working on the French Toast Casserole for tomorrow morning when I arrived; Dad was doing work around the house. Uncle Ken and Dolores were watching the History Channel. Dad said we're going to get together around 10AM with Rose and her boys for breakfast, then leave for Karen and Jim's between 1 and 2. All are fine by me. I had to push to get this holiday off, and I had no desire to rush it.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at home, running cartoons and Easter specials and movies while first cleaning the kitchen, then doing holiday baking. Did Barbie Presents Thumbelina while I was in the kitchen. When a group of kids make fun of a girl's tiny tree, Barbie tells them the story of a diminutive, fairy-like creature who did make a difference. In Barbie's version, Thumbelina is a Twillerbee, a small nature-dweller who lives with her friends in a flower-filled meadow near a large city. Thumbelina and her friends find themselves small fish in a huge urban pond when Makenna, the spoiled daughter of a pair of yuppie business owners, insists on having their flower patch uprooted and brought to her room. Thumbelina discovers that Makenna's parents intend to build a factory on the meadow, destroying the Twillerbees' homes. She sets out to prove that a person can be brave and change things for good, no matter how big or small they are.

I wasn't crazy about it. The problem with environmental tales for children is, no matter how well-meant they are, they often tend to be preachy. Thumbelina is no exception. The "make a difference" message was laid on a bit too thick. The story has absolutely nothing to do with Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale whatsoever, either.

I believe this was one of the earliest Barbie titles released by Universal. That means there's some very nice animation, including the Twillerbees' eye-popping, almost Seuss-like meadow. Even so, it wasn't enough to offset the too-obvious morals. If your daughter is into the Barbie specials, try either the earlier ones or the most recent ones first unless she's a big fan of going green.

I switched to Easter specials around the same time I finished the kitchen. I made Cinnamon Swirl Bread for me and rolled-out Easter Cookies to split between me and the family tomorrow. Ran Here Comes Peter Cottontail, then Yogi the Easter Bear.

I did Easter Parade while having salmon and a spinach-citrus salad for dinner. A dancer (Fred Astaire) has to find himself a new partner when his old one (Ann Miller) leaves him in the lurch when she accepts an offer to star in her own show. He randomly chooses a chorus girl from a bar dance show (Judy Garland) to work with him. She's awkward at first, especially when he tries to force her to be just like his former partner - something she isn't. He finally discovers her own comic rhythm that propels them to the top ranks of vaudeville stardom. What will he do when his old partner makes a play for him...and his best friend (Peter Lawford) makes a play for his new one?

One of the best of the Freed Unit MGM musicals is this delightful charmer. Everyone gets a good number in. Astaire astounds with "Drum Crazy" and the trick photography on "Steppin' Out With My Baby." Ann Miller gets an amazing "Shakin' the Blues Away," while Garland finally got fastidious Astaire into hobo togs long enough for their hilarious "A Couple of Swells." Peter Lawford may not be the singer that the other three are, but he does get my favorite of the songs written directly for the film, the sweet ballad "A Fella With an Umbrella."

Friday, April 06, 2012

Sort-of-Good Friday

I had a rather busy day today. First of all, I did end up going into work early. They called me again this morning and asked if I could come in at 11. I told them to make it 12, and I'd do it. I could go grocery shopping after work, but I did want to get to the gym. They said it would be fine.

I went to the gym around 10:30...and then had to ride all the way back home, as I'd forgotten my work clothes for later. This wasn't an easy task. The gale-force winds from earlier in the week were back, making all riding today rather difficult, despite the sunny day. I did finally get to Lucile Roberts at 11. Thank goodness it was only slightly busier than Wednesday morning. I did a quick 20 minute run on the stationary bike, then another 20 minutes on the leg-based weight machines. There was just enough time after stretching to change, hurry to work, get my paycheck, and get someone to sign me in.

Work was very busy for most of the afternoon and evening. Today is Good Friday, the beginning of the Easter/Passover holiday weekend, and if people weren't off all together, they probably got off early. We're still in the beginning of the month, too. Not to mention, April and May are huge sports months. The Masters' golf tournament is this weekend. Baseball just started this week. Hockey and pro basketball will be winding down and going into their playoff seasons soon. March Madness should be winding down soon as well, if it hasn't already. Thank heavens my relief was a teenage boy who recently moved up from bagging to cashiering and has never had trouble coming in on time.

I went straight in the back. I was hoping Sonic would be open, but no dice; they were still dark, and despite it being 7PM, no cars surrounded the building. I guess they're gone for good. They were probably in a bad location anyway, stuffed behind that very big and popular Chick-Fil-'A. I wonder what's going to happen to it now? Unlike the barbecue restaurant when it went belly-up, that's not exactly the kind of building you can instantly remodel into something else. They'd probably have to tear it down to do another fast-food place with indoor seating.

Ended up grabbing two slices of pizza and a Diet Dr. Pepper at Tu Se Bella's, the pizza parlor in the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. That might have worked out even better. It was warm and fragrant inside. The crowd wasn't bad, either. I think I missed most of the dinner people. I ordered a plain cheese and one topped with tomatoes and asparagus while everyone else talked about sports and holidays and watched the Masters on the TV on top of the soda coolers.

Went right back to the Acme after that to get my grocery shopping in. I had a ton to do, too. I badly needed sugar - I was almost out. Picked up the Domino's on sale because the Acme brand that's a better price was gone. Got a good sale on chocolate chips and frozen fruit concentrate for baking; stocked up on supplies to make Easter cookies and an Orange Coconut Cream Mousse Pie tomorrow. Restocked my fruit and vegetables, too, including asparagus on sale for $1.99 a pound.

I'm not thrilled with my schedule this week, but I don't think the manager had much of a choice. Everyone took off on vacation at the same time again. I work 8 1/2 hours Monday and Wednesday and until 9:30 on Tuesday. I had to beg for Easter off. I already asked for my birthday, and I got Friday. I agree with the manager who does the schedules; I wish one of the head managers would stick around long enough to help make a some kind of a schedule that would allow people to choose their weeks off, instead of everyone going off randomly and leaving the rest of us in the lurch.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

An Artist's Balance

Started a beautiful spring day at home. I read Maisie Dobbs in bed for an hour and did the first pages for The Artist's Way. I already write in a journal every morning; I'll just answer the questions put forth in the first chapter in this morning's entry. Mostly it talked about the traumas and doubts that can build up in your mind and block creativity, which is a major problem for me.

When I finally got out of bed, I had oatmeal and a half of a grapefruit for breakfast, then cleaned the bathroom. I had four Sailor Moon episodes on during the morning that involved the Soldiers rescuing artists who are having problems or are experiencing a block.

In the first one, from the original series, Serena and Raye are thrilled to be visiting the animation studio that's bringing their favorite comic book heroine, Sailor V, to life. One of the animators isn't acting like herself; when she starts talking about how she'll turn the movie into the tale of the glory of evil, even Serena can't help but smell a Negaverse plot.

The second first season episode had Serena and Darien modeling for a shy artist who hides her plain exterior under a glamorous name and persona. Serena does her best to convince the young woman that she's as beautiful as her artwork, inside and out...even after Zoicite of the Negaverse attacks!

The theme of the fourth season was dreams, dreaming, and how we dream, the perfect background for two more artsy tales. Lita's old friend Tomoko has become a successful romance writer with the publication of her novel "The Moonlight Pegasus" that has everyone in Tokyo talking. Tomoko, however, has had her heart broken and is trapped in a serious case of writer's block. It'll take support from Lita, Rini, and Serena and an encounter with Tiger's Eye of the Amazon Trio to inspire her to write again.

In the second half of the season, Serena and Rini encounter an artist who believes in painting only the truth. The truth, however, doesn't sit well with many of his clients, who think too well of their beauty to believe what they see in the pictures. He's flat broke and is so starving, he even wolfs down Serena's notoriously bad cooking. CereCere of the Amazon Quartet is determined to make the young man an offer he can't refuse, but it may end up costing him his dreams of artistic freedom.

Made this week's errand and library runs in Collingswood and Westmont next. I had a quick roast beef and cheese on a pumpernickel bagel at the Bagel Shop. (Picked off the American cheese. I forgot to tell them to use provolone or Swiss. I'm not fond of American; it's mostly fillers.) Bought a pile of birthday and Easter cards and toothbrushes at Dollar Tree. Hit the Haddon Township Library, then rode over to the Collingswood Library. There wasn't much going on at either place. It's too nice for people to be spending a lot of time in a library! I mostly just shelved DVDs. Did take out DVDs for Max and Ruby  and the Barbie As version of Thumbelina, along with the massive MGM musical Rosalie.

I guess it was too nice for yoga, too. There was only one other student in the class besides me. Even the teacher Lee wasn't there; one of the weekend teachers, Scott, took her place. He was really nice, though. We mostly concentrated on opening sore and tight hips and legs. I really like these afternoon classes better than the morning ones. They go slower, and because they're usually smaller, they allow for more intense instruction.

I took the long way home through Newton River Park to take advantage of the lovely weather. Made a stop at CVS on the way. I needed new hair bands, and I wanted a second plastic head band with teeth that really hold your head. The fabric headbands tend to slip down my hairline. Treated myself to something I'd never seen before, too, a Peeps krispie cereal treat. It was a very marshmallow-y yellow "chick" with little crunchy Easter sprinkles mixed in.

When I got home, I ran most of Rosalie while making Pasta Primavera with Asparagus and leftover chicken for dinner, then Spiced Crumb Pudding for dessert. Rosalie is pure musical fantasy. A West Point cadet and football star (Nelson Eddy) and his buddy (Ray Bolger) pursue the pretty girl Eddy met at a nightclub overseas to a fictional Balkan country. He's stunned to discover his sweet and strong-willed Rosalie (Eleanor Powell) is really a princess, and she's engaged to marry a prince. The prince, however, would rather marry her lady in waiting (Illona Massey). The goofy King (Frank Morgan) has no desire to be a ruler, either. He'd rather be a ventriloquist. It's his wife (Edna Mae Oliver) who is determined to marry her daughter for political reasons. It's Bolger and Rosalie herself who finally come up with a way to make everyone happy, including the stubborn Eddy.

Some of the most elaborate musical numbers ever filmed (check out Powell's famous dance on the drums to the title song) are undercut by miscasting. Powell is nobody's Balkan princess; Eddy and Bolger aren't exactly football material, either. This was originally a Broadway show in 1928 with Gershwin music and Marilyn Miller as the title character. MGM had planned on filming it with Marion Davies during the early talkie era, but her ongoing problems and the rapid end of the first musical cycle caused them to cancel the production.

When they picked it up again in 1936, they retained the rather ridiculous semi-operetta plotline, but dropped the Gershwin songs. Maybe that wasn't a bad idea. I've heard it wasn't the Gershwins' best score to begin with, and Cole Porter came up with some fabulous songs. The title song is so awkward in this context, I can believe Porter wrote it as a joke. On the other hand, the quiet "In the Still of the Night" sequence still smoulders. Eddy looks and sounds so darn hot singing this classic ballad, I'm surprised Powell wasn't a puddle on the soundstage. Not the most necessary MGM musical, but fun if you ever run into it or pick it up with a Warner Archives order (it's been available there for several years); recommended for fans of the cast, Cole Porter, or the big 30s musicals.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Springtime Sunshine

Started a gorgeous but still windy spring day with a run to the gym. It was too nice (and I got in too late) to be there for long. I did 20 minutes on the elliptical machine while watching The Price Is Right, then moved onto the arm weight machines for 10 minutes and another 5 or 10 minutes of stretching. I wasn't the only one who kept my work-out short. There were only two people on the treadmill when I came in, and not too many more in an exercise class behind them. The one person I'd seen on the weight machines was long gone by the time I got there.

Made leftovers for lunch and ran some more Monkees. In "Monkee Mayor," Mike Nesmith throws his green wool hat into their town's political ring when several neighbors homes' are targeted by a scheming contractor out to build parking lots. Micky finds himself taking on another kind of con man in "I Was a 99 Pound Weakling." When he joins a sham health club to impress a pretty girl, Peter and Davy end up rescuing him, from the con man and himself.

Work was a little bit less busy than yesterday, especially when I went in. Otherwise, it was pretty much more of the same. I was asked to come in early on Friday, but I turned them down because I was going to do the gym that day. I thought about it and mentally revised my schedule, but by the time I did it, they'd asked someone else. Now I'm a little embarrassed. I don't have that many hours this week.

In good news, two packages in the mail I've been waiting for finally appeared on the front porch. One was Molly's cute peach bathing suit. It's the last outfit I wanted for her that isn't retired yet, and it comes with a lot of pieces, including a chunky "shell" necklace and a beach towel.

The other was two books I ordered off of Amazon. Barbara Michaels' The Wings of the Eagle is one of my favorite books. It was out of print for years, but it seems that her books have finally been re-released in paperback. I'm a sucker for Gothic romances and Scarlet Pimpernel-esque stories, and this has both themes in spades. Also bought The Artist's Way. I took another Julia Cameron book out of the Haddon Township Library last spring that really did a lot for me, and I'm hoping this one will be equally helpful.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Monkees and Motorcyclists and Spies, Oh My!

Started out the morning with cereal, grapefruit, and more Monkees. Peter finds himself involved in a spy plot when a ballerina from an Eastern Bloc country falls for him in "The Card Carrying Red Shoes." The Monkees pursue a quartet of attractive biker chicks at a hotel, but wind up in a motorcycle race with their tough boyfriends in "The Wild Monkees." And in "A Coffin Too Frequent," the guys help out an old woman who is being lead on by her nephew to believe her husband will return from the dead in their beach house.

I managed to get to the laundromat a little earlier than last week, around quarter of 11 this time. Glad I did. There was one other person when I arrived, and only a few when I left. Everything was open, and I was able to get my small load done quickly.

When I got home, I put my laundry away, had leftovers for lunch, and mucked around online for a while. I worked until 9:30 tonight, and there were a few things I wanted to do, since I wouldn't be in until late. For once after an online session, I did manage to get going quick enough to get to work on time.

I wish I hadn't. Work was a pain tonight. First of all, we're still at the beginning of the month, and it was really busy again...until around 7PM, after which it died so quickly, I got bored stiff. Had some annoying customers, too. One woman threw a fit because she couldn't get the bread she wanted with her WIC Check. "But the Acme in Westmont lets me do it!" she fussed. Well, they're not supposed to let them get that bread. You're only allowed to get what WIC lets you get. Another woman got mad when the coupon she was supposed to get for milk didn't come out...despite the fact that she didn't buy the right cereal, and she was wearing a Shop Rite uniform! (Shop Rite is one of several local supermarket chains that is our major competition. Others include Wegman's, Super Fresh, Thriftway, and Pathmark.)