Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Birthday Daze

First of all, two birthday shout-outs, one belated. My dad Bruce's birthday was on the 28th. My oldest nephew Skylar's birthday is today; he turns 8 years old. I hope they both had a great day!

I slept in this morning and spent an hour finishing Out West. It was near noon when I finally got moving to the gym. The mailman must have shown up early today. The mail had already arrived by 10:30. It usually doesn't come until between 11:30 and 12:30. I dropped off my nephew's birthday card and present in the "out of town" slot at the Audubon Post Office instead.

The gym was busy when I arrived. Maybe the women were just interested in watching Team USA play Germany in Men's Indoor Volleyball. (USA won, 3-0.) I even saw one of the college students from the Acme working out in the weight area. I got a really nice stationary bike session in, then did the leg weight machines. I also brought my iPod in for the first time to listen to while on the bike. It worked really well; better than the same five songs Lucile Roberts keeps playing over and over.

Went straight home after the gym. Had a quick leftover lunch while watching Snow White and the Three Stooges, then went for a short walk to Dad's to bring him his Lime Mousse Pie and birthday card. I had a short chat with him and Jodie, who were just watching one of the 900 Law & Order re-runs on cable. They just went out to lunch together on his birthday, but they seem to have enjoyed themselves.

I came home and finished the Stooges before heading to work. Work was pretty much the same has it has been - quiet when I come in and leave, very busy during rush hour. (It was so quiet when I came in, I spent an hour organizing shelves of Goya items.) We actually had plenty of help, unusual for this time of year, but we're also coming up on the beginning of the month. Some people may have gotten their money already.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Busy Day at the Laundromat

Started the morning with a series of Three Stooges shorts with exotic or jungle settings. "Three Missing Links" takes Curly, Moe, and Larry to Africa on a movie shoot that goes wrong when a real gorilla invades the set. "We Want Our Mummy" has the boys looking for a mummy and a lost professor in Egypt. "Some More of Samoa" takes them to the island of RhumBoogie to find a mate for a lonely tree. "Mummy's Dummies" brings Shemp in as he, Larry, and Moe play used chariot salesmen in ancient Egypt who discover a plot to steal the Pharoah's gold. The trio are going "Hu-La-La" when they have to teach some unfriendly natives how to dance for a movie, if they can keep their heads from being shrunk first!

The laundromat was amazingly busy today, especially compared with last week. The place was hopping with families and older women as I dumped my very small load into a washer. Good thing it was a small load. As soon as it was out of the washer, almost every one was taken. It was only getting busier as I stuffed my things into the bag and hurried out.

I put everything away, then ran an episode of The Greatest American Hero while making a Summer Vegetable Omelet for lunch. Ralph has taken Pam, Bill Maxwell, and his class down to a small island in the Pacific for a lesson in the local culture and some fun in the sun. Their vacation gets a lot scarier when the friend of Bill's who was supposed to have put them up turns out to have been run down by a local voodoo cult. No one will talk about the man's death...except for the island's new dictator and his henchmen, who warn the group off the island. Ralph and Bill discover that the death of the previous president wasn't an accident...right when the others disappear!

Work was pretty par for the course for this time of the month and the year. It was really busy during rush hour, with very long lines, but otherwise on and off. There were no major problems, and I was in and out.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Growing Up Is Hard to Do

I slept in so late, it was almost 11 before I got to making Blackberry-Blueberry Pancakes for breakfast. I called Mom while I ran soundtracks from 80s film musicals like Flashdance and Xanadu. Mom was fine; she'd just gotten out of the shower. She spent most of the week cleaning her house and doing her yard. She was about to vacuum in preparation for my stepfather's return from a fishing trip this afternoon. I told her about my plans to dig into my childhood to try to retrieve my creativity; she told me about what the drought is doing to her poor garden, especially her butterfly bushes.

I went to work not long after that. It wasn't too bad. It was quiet enough when I got in that I spent a half-hour shucking corn for produce. (I don't know why people insist on having shucked corn. It's not that hard to do yourself.) It did get very busy later, to the point where there were long lines and not enough help. Good thing my relief, one of the college-age boys, was on time.

When I got home, I changed out of my uniform and had leftover chicken and vegetables for dinner while watching Take Me Home Tonight. A really cute take on one of the 80s favorite movie plots, the "everyone goes to a wild party, does stupid things, and learns something" comedy. Appropriately, it's set in the 80s. Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) has a dead-end job in a Suncoast Video. He really has no idea what he wants to do with his life. When he sees his high school crush in the store, he lies to her about having a great job and ends up going to a party held by his sister's (Anna Ferris) boyfriend. His best friend (Dan Fogler) just lost his job at a car dealership and finagles his way into the same party. All three have some growing up to do, as Matt learns that the girl of your dreams may not be as unattainable as you imagine...and that sometimes, risks aren't as foolhardy as everyone says they are.

For all the bad language and drug use, I thought this was really rather sweet. Fogler in particular has a great time as the best pal whose hijinks - and hair - just keeps getting progressively wackier. I also relate to many of the characters - I'm going through some of the same problems, and I'm well out of high school. For adults who remember this era or college students who are having their own troubles getting out there, this is a little hard to find (it was filmed in 2007 but, for some reason, not released until last year) but well worth a look.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Out of the Heat, Into the Frying Pan

Started a steamy, sunny morning with the American Top 40. We skipped ahead to 1983 and the dominance of pop, New Wave, and soul. Among the hits during late July were "Our House" by the British group Madness, "She Works Hard for the Money" by Donna Summer, "1999" by Prince, "Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant, "Come Dancing" by the Kinks, and "Maniac" by Michael Sambello and "What a Feeling!" by Irene Cara from the Flashdance soundtrack. A third British group had the #1 hit that week, the classic ballad "Every Step You Take" by Police.

After a quick stop at a quiet bank and a chat with a teller, I headed off for this week's yard sale/farm market run. Unlike last week, I actually had time to enjoy it. I stopped one house on Haddon Avenue near the bank and a few in Collingswood before I hit the farm market. I came up with two videos and three records from Haddon Avenue:

Nat King Cole - Stay As Sweet As You Are and Nature Boy

The Andrews Sisters -  In the Mood

The two videos to dub were the Laurel & Hardy vehicle Flying Deuces and the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby.

The farm market was packed today, despite the heat. It took me a while to get to some booths. No wonder. It's the height of the summer harvest, and there's beautiful produce wherever you look. The farms are bursting with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, blueberries, peaches, corn, cucumbers, melons, and all kinds of summer squash. I ended up with blueberries, white peaches (cheaper than yellow ones), two more of those mini cantaloupes that were so sweet earlier this week, tiny Pristine apples, a green pepper, an onion, and a tomato.

I rode around a bit more after that. Took in another yard sale on the other side of Collingswood, but found nothing. Did much better after a long ride to Audubon. It had clouded over while I was riding around. I felt raindrops as I made my way down Carlisle Avenue. Thankfully, they didn't last long, and I was able to dig through at least twelve boxes of books. The pickings turned out to be slim. They were mostly college textbooks or books on spirituality, religion, or holistic medicine. I did find one interesting-looking volume, Don't Worry, Make Money, by the author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

The small shower disappeared as quickly as it arrived. It was long gone by the time I had arrived home. When I put away my finds and produce, I was dismayed to discover that the long ride had made a squished mess of my poor tomato. I ended up eating it with a bit of Red Wine Vinaigrette for lunch, along with a slice of raisin bread and chunky peanut butter.

Made a very quick run to the Oaklyn Library after lunch. I got there at 1 and they start shutting down at 1:45, but I did get a few things done. I organized both the adult and kids' DVD shelves and moved series books to the series shelves.

I spent an hour reading Don't Worry, Make Money in the living room after I got in. I wish I could take their advice. I can't help worrying about money. Of course I live from paycheck to paycheck. I've never lived any other way. I don't want to work at the Acme anymore, but it would mean losing my paycheck and health insurance and ultimately, my apartment and my independence. I'm proud of my independence. I don't rely on anyone, and no one relies on me. I want things to stay that way...but I have to make money to do it.

I went out to sweep the porch around 3ish. There were already clouds building on the horizon. The porch was a mess; thanks to the hot summer, there's dry leaves and branches everywhere. I was just finishing up when I heard noisy thunder. Thankfully, I'd just made it inside before the first sheets of rain splashed down.

I didn't really do much else today. I had considered going into Philadelphia, but my legs were killing me, my thumb has been sore (I hope I haven't sprained or strained it), my heel spur has been acting up, and I didn't sleep all that well last night. I was too dead tired to do anything major. I paid bills and updated some household inventories on my computer for a few hours.

When I got off, I made chicken stir-fry with summer vegetables and spiral pasta for dinner and watched Footlight Parade. My favorite Busby Berkley musical is the first of former hoofer James Cagney's infrequent forays into musical territory. Cagney is the creator and director of "prologues," traveling ten-minute stage spectacles that played between shows in major movie houses during the 30s. Joan Blondell is his devoted secretary. Ruby Keeler's the mousy assistant who would rather be in the chorus; Dick Powell is the slumming college boy who falls for her. Frank McHugh is the whiny director/choreographer who never seems to think anything will work. Can they all come together in the end to impress impresario Paul Porcasi with three of the most amazing musical numbers ever on film?

I know 42nd Street is usually the one people think of when Berkley comes to mind, but he really topped himself here. For one thing, despite this not really being about Broadway, you get more of a backstage feel here than in most of the other Berkley backstagers. There's a lot of pre-Code innuendo too, like Blondell's retort to gold-digger Claire Dodd - "As long as they've got sidewalks, you've got a job!" And Cagney's a blast to watch. He's a force of nature that blasts through the film and takes everyone else along with him - even Keeler and Powell seem to be having more fun than usual.

Of course, the big thing here are those three finale numbers "Honeymoon Hotel" is back in semi-cutesy "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" territory. The real classics are the last two. "By a Waterfall" puts Keeler and probably most of the chorines on the Warner lot through a gigantic water ballet that would leave Esther Williams dumbfounded. "Shanghi Lil" brings Cagney into the picture as a sailor looking for his Chinese woman. While Keeler's no Chinese beauty, Cagney gets to show off the moves he later used to such good effect in Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Heat

Team USA aren't the only ones who wanted a workout today. I headed to the gym around 11 for a good session at Lucile Roberts. Worked on the elliptical machine while watching The Price Is Right and worked up quite a sweat. I did a quick session on the arm weight machines after that. It was surprisingly busy for a day that remained hot and humid despite the rain yesterday.

Headed to the Acme next for my paycheck and groceries. While Lucile Roberts was busy, the Acme, surprisingly, was not. I was easily able to restock eggs, milk, the Emerald Trail Mix bags, Kool Aid, and yogurt. I needed salad dressing; I had a coupon for Acme's generic Essential Everyday brand from the Giveway Game. Also grabbed two of the smaller Kraft salad dressings for a dollar each in nifty fruit flavors. I was almost out of sugar; good thing the Acme was having a good sale on their 4lb bag. Chicken was still on sale, too, as was Acme's generic Cheerios. Since I had a coupon for free Essential Everyday whipped topping, I bought things to make a mousse pie for my dad Bruce's birthday tomorrow. Grabbed cards for Dad and for my nephew Skylar, whose birthday is Tuesday. Treated myself to another Greek frozen yogurt on sale, this one called Adonia. I just went with their vanilla. It's pretty good, smoother than Ben & Jerry's - I tried a little when I got home.

I had enough time when I got home to put everything away, have leftovers for lunch, and run two Peanuts specials revolving around sports and competition. You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown, throws Chuck into the exciting world of motocross racing. He and the other Peanuts learn that slow and steady wins the race when he's pitted against Peppermint Patty and "The Masked Marvel" in a big biking competition. "The Masked Marvel" returns for You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown. This time, Chuck and Marcie are entered in the decathalon for their school's big track meet. The Masked Marvel and obnoxious Freddy Fabulous from Fremont are determined to win. Marcie and Chuck, on the other hand, know that being a good sport is just as important as winning.

Work was steady for most of the evening. It's Friday, and we're getting close to the beginning of the month. It was actually busy until right before I left at 8:30. I even got to see a little of the Olympic opening ceremony as I was retrieving my bike from the break room to head out.

My schedule is par for the course for this time of year. My only very minor complaint is, after tomorrow, I don't get a day off until Thursday. On the other hand, this is offset by no hours as late or as long as this week. (The latest is 9:30.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Balance Gets Hotter

It didn't start out that way. It was still cloudy, windy, and relatively cool when I headed to yoga class this morning. It was a bit more full than last week, but not nearly as bad as the spring and fall classes. We worked on hip-openers and shoulder stands. I did the best variations I could. My back and thumb have been sore, and that heel spur has been acting up, too.

There was absolutely nothing to do at the Collingswood Library afterwards. They had several volunteers shelving books and DVDs already. They'd moved the children's DVDs and the Wii games and I couldn't even find them. No non-fiction needed to be shelved, either. I was there for a little over a half-hour.

Rode down Haddon Avenue. Stopped at Walgreens first. I needed money to get through the rest of the afternoon. They were having their first back-to-school sales. I picked up a 7-pocket folder for $3.99 (one of my older ones got stretched out). Also bought a sketchbook with stencils that allow you to design your own clothes. It's a kids' art project, but I despite my lack of fondness for fashion, I remember using something similar for hours to design "costumes" for characters in stories as a child and young teen.

I had a quick lunch at Central Park Bagel Shop, a small bagel/sandwich store in the same shopping center as the Yogo Factory. It's the same idea as the bagel shop in the Westmont Plaza, in a much smaller store and staffed by a pair of friendly Asian ladies. I had a turkey club sandwich on a pumpernickel bagel, and it was very tasty.

Headed up to Haddonfield next. By this time, the sun had come out...and the humidity and high heat that had been predicted all week came with it. I was grateful to hop into the Haddonfield Library. It's a lovely older building situated on a triangle of land between two major streets. There's a statue, a park, and a beautiful fountain in front of it. The interior isn't quite as fancy. The lobby and main meeting and DVD areas are lovely, but the back area where the non-fiction stacks are is gray and plain, with a hard tile floor. The basement children's area is huge, though, with twice as many books as any other kids' section in the area, a small puppet theater, and even a fish tank with several large specimens.

The difference between exploring libraries here and in Cape May County is, most of the libraries down there belong to the county library system. Here, every library but Haddon Township and Ferry Avenue is independent. While I'm sure they get more money that way, that also means I have to pay big bucks for a card at any of them but County Library branches. Needless to say, I didn't take anything out.

I went for a bike ride around Westmont after leaving the library. I didn't really have the money for the usual browsing in Haddonfield. While the temperature had risen to likely the mid-90s, the nice, cool wind remained and made things a little more tolerable. I did have enough money for an Icee from WaWa when I got into Oaklyn to cool me off a bit.

Spent some time resting when I got home. I organized my file folders, moved papers to my new one, and ran Puss In Boots. This spin-off from the Shrek franchise gives us the back history of that series' feline mercenary. Puss started life in an orphanage. His only friend was an egg named Humpty (Zach Galifinki), but Humpty went rotten and turned on him. He's now back with a mission - get the Magic Beans from outlaws Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedarkis) and find the Golden Goose, with and without the help of thief Kitty Softpaws (Selma Hayek).

Pretty standard fare if you're a fan of the Shrek series. There's some nice moments, including the dancing duel in a litter box and the finale as Humpty and Puss try to evade the wrath of a very angry Golden Goose. There's enough that can stand on its own, and while not great, it is better than the last few Shrek films.

I rode over to Dad's for a swim as soon as the movie ended. It was still hot and humid, but the wind had gotten heavier. The water was surprisingly cooler than I figured it would be, only about 82. I still had a very nice and quiet solo swim. I was the only one there. Dad, Jodie, Dolores, and Uncle Ken were all watching TV and doing things on their computers indoors, avoiding the heat. I did talk to Dad and Jodie a little bit later, before I left.

I made Italian Chicken, stewed summer veggies, and pasta for dinner while watching another sports-related TV episode in honor of the Olympics. This time, I moved to Tales of the Gold Monkey for "The Sultan of Swat." Jake Cutter is delighted when his childhood idol, Arnold "Gamble Rogers, a retired baseball player, comes to Boragora on a goodwill tour of Asia. The beloved home-run hitter winds up over his head when he's accused of killing a native girl. Only Jake believes he didn't do it, and he's determined to find out who did.

Oh, and we finally got that much-needed rain. I'd just gotten out of the shower when I realized that the wind had picked up even more. I'd been online for a while when the storm finally started, though. That was a few hours ago, and as far as I can tell, it's been on and off ever since.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Sunshine

I was amazed at how gorgeous it was when I finally headed out around 11:30. The heat, haze, and humidity had been replaced by brilliant blue skies, a cool wind, and mid-80s temperatures. It was as perfect as the weather gets in Southern New Jersey in late July. I dodged several joggers, walkers, and other bikers as I rode through Newton River Park on my way to the Haddon Township Library. I saw a man playing fetch with his handsome Golden Retriever, too.

The library was surprisingly busy for such a nice day. Though there wasn't a lot to do when I arrived, more DVDs came in after I organized the children's titles. I also pulled foreign titles from the regular DVDs - there were a lot today, for some reason. I eventually ended up with the Oscar-nominated Hugo, the 80s-set comedy Take Me Home Tonight, and Puss In Boots.

It was so nice, instead of running errands, I rode to WaWa and bought a turkey and provolone hoagie instead. I ate my lunch outside on my porch while reading Moe Howard's biography. While the dry summer and my landlord's recent clean-up efforts have been keeping the mosquitoes at bay, the flies can still get bad. I went in as soon as I finished my lunch.

But not for long. The weather was far too lovely to spend the rest of the day indoors. I didn't have much time left, so I went for a quick walk down around Woodlawn Terrace and to West Clinton Avenue. I stopped at Leo's Yum Yums and treated myself to a Yum-Yum, a grainier water ice. I tried their Cotton Candy flavor for the first time. I'm not all that fond of real cotton candy - it's too sweet and sticky for me - but their version of the flavor was delicious. Creamy, a bit less grainy than usual, and not nearly as sweet as the real thing. I think I'll get that one more often.

I did spend the last hour before work taking advantage of the somewhat cooler weather to make Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. Ran an episode of Wonder Woman revolving around the Olympics as I baked. "Screaming Javelin" has Diana Prince protecting a young Olympic-quality gymnast who has recently defected to the US after she gets word of a rash of disappearing athletes. When the girl vanishes as well, Diana finds herself dealing with the foppish, insane ruler of a tiny country. He believes that the only way to literally put his miniscule kingdom on the map is to kidnap top athletes and force them to compete on his company's Olympic team.

One of the strangest episodes of the otherwise fairly thoughtful second season. In fact, only a few episodes from the third season are weirder. Henry Gibson (of Laugh In and the animated Charlotte's Web) is over-the-top and  tad grating as the King who is desperate to change his country's image.

The cookies had literally just come out of the oven when it was time to hurry off to work. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - busy during rush hour and on-and-off thereafter, but mostly quiet. I spent a lot of time putting away two full carts of candy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back In the Heat

Ugh. It's gotten hot again, into the lower 90s and climbing. Good thing I spent most of the day indoors, starting with a late morning run to the laundromat. I need to do the laundry on steamy days more often. There wasn't a soul in the room when I came in around quarter of 11. I saw one or two people go in and out, but by and large, it was just me, the book I was reading, and The View on TV interviewing gospel singers. I didn't have a lot of laundry, anyway. I was out just as The View was ending.

When I got in, I put away my laundry and finally ran National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) is now a history lecturer. When a man (Ed Harris) claims he has papers with a coded message that was deciphered by Gates' ancestor directly after the Civil War, Gates is intrigued. Joined by his estranged parents (Jon Voight and Helen Mirren) and his former assistants (Justin Bartha, Diane Krueger), he searches in Paris and London and throughout the US for clues to solving this years-old mystery.

We're in the more of the same department. If you're a fan of The Da Vinci Code or the Indiana Jones series, or you enjoyed the first movie, you'll love this. It's as big, loud, and dumb as most of Jerry Bruckheimer's other movies, but it has a sense of humor about itself that some of his films tend to lack.

I'm not even sure why they wanted me to come into work today. I actually showed up a bit early. I thought they said 2 to 8:30. Nope, they meant 2:30 to 8, which makes more sense anyway. It was only busy during rush hour. The rest of the evening was so dead, I spent an hour dusting the chrome around the entrances and exits, and another half-hour before I left cleaning registers.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Stooges, the Mouse, and the Sailor Soldiers

In honor of the London Summer Olympics this week, I had a sports theme going this morning. In an episode from Sailor Moon's third season, frail Hotoru admires a young athlete who was also frail as a child, but worked himself up to being a track record-breaker. Hotoru wants to give him a letter to tell him how she feels, but she's too shy. Serena and Rini try to encourage her to talk to him while he's training. Trouble is, Mimtete of the Witches Five is also after the comely young runner...and his pure heart!

Mickey Mouse may be an even more unlikely athlete. In the 1932 short "Barnyard Olympics," he joins the cross-country race (marathon). With Minnie and Clarabelle cheering him on in the stands, he looks poised to be a winner. Will a nasty rival cat make it across the finish line first?

Went right to work after that. I was at work most of the day. Today was my 8 1/2 hour shift. It could have been worse. Actually, it was pretty on-and-off for most of the day. It did get really busy during rush hour, but otherwise, it wasn't bad. It was so quiet by 7, I spent the last half-hour doing returns.

A pair of small treats I ordered on Amazon.com last week finally arrived today. I saw Moe Howard's out-of-print autobiography Moe Howard & The 3 Stooges for a good price. Also bought The Three Stooges Career Guide. It was cheap, and I figured I could use some job-related laughs.

I'll go through Moe's book more thoroughly tomorrow, but for now, the Career Guide is a riot. The premise is simple - job-related captions to Stooge photos. I like that the book is democratic. There's pictures with all six Stooges, including Joe Besser and Curly Joe DeRita. In fact, Curly Joe nabbed one of my favorites. His expression when confronted by a guy fatter than him and Curly put together is classic. So's the caption - "Believe In Yourself and You Can Tackle Any Challenge. Probably." Oh, and "Embrace Creative Destruction" should officially become the Three Stooges motto.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's a Lovely Day for a Walk

And it was a very nice day when I finally rolled out of bed around quarter of 10. The clouds were breaking up, but it remained cooler and relatively dry, probably in the lower 80s. I just opted for running records while making Blackberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast.

Called Mom after I finished my pancakes. She was just about to hit the shower. Her week had been relatively quiet. We discussed the explosion of wonderful fruits and vegetables at the farm market, along with my recent financial difficulties. She says to stockpile money; the winter will be hard because of the droughts in the Midwest. I don't know how she can know what the winter will be like when we're in the summer. I don't need much more, anyway. A few underthings, mainly. Mine are really worn out. Anything bigger than that can wait. No buying TVs this summer!

(Now I'm glad I bought that used Sylvania LCD model from Amazon.com last July. It works perfectly, is a good size for my apartment, looks and sounds great, and is easy to lift. I just adore it. Not only would I not be able to afford it now, but it's currently out of stock at Amazon - there weren't a lot left when I bought it.)

I got bored after doing the dishes and went for a walk. It was so gorgeous out. The sun was emerging from behind the clouds as I strolled down Goff Avenue to the boat launch. It was beautiful there, with little of the haze that's obscured the view for ages. I could see right to the Ben Franklin Bridge. There was even a young Hispanic woman there, chattering away in a cell phone while relaxing on the rough old bench that's missing a board.

I went back down towards the school and around to Manor Avenue. I was surprised I didn't see more people out and about. There was a dog walker with a Jack Russell Terrier trotting along on West Clinton. A couple of pre-teens rode their bikes or slumped in groups. I could hear the delighted screams and splashes of kids and their dad playing in an above-ground pool in a back yard.

When I got in, I just relaxed. I read Gone West. I went online to check my e-mail. Taking a suggestion from Mom, I made a blueberry smoothie for lunch with skim milk, yogurt, wheat germ, and honey and blueberries from the farm market. It was delicious. The honey and berries made it just sweet enough, and the wheat germ thickened it and added fiber.

I hurried off to work shortly afterwards. Work in and of itself wasn't a problem. It was busy until about 6, after which it quieted down so quickly, I spent the last half-hour doing returns. They asked me to come in on Tuesday, 2 to 8:30. I was really looking forward to having that day off to do the Haddon Township Library run, and my feet and legs are killing me...but I really need the money. I said yes.

When I got home, I had shrimp and leftover ratatouille for dinner while listening to most of my original cast album for The Apple Tree. I wanted to hear it after I saw Barbara Harris singing "Movie Star Gorgeous" in Broadway's Lost Treasures a few days ago. Actually, the best part of Apple Tree is the opening Adam & Eve segment. There's some really pretty ballads in this part, including two lovely ones for Harris, "Go to Sleep, Whatever You Are," and "What Makes Me Love Him?"

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rushed Harvest

Started out a still cloudy, windy, and cool morning with the American Top 40. We jumped back a year to mid-summer 1978 as disco and R&B continued its dominance of the charts. Among that week's hits were "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow, the title song from Grease by a solo Frankie Valli, "Take a Chance On Me" by ABBA, "Runaway" by Jefferson Starship, "Love Will Find a Way" by Pablo Cruze, "Three Times a Lady" by the Commodores, "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner, "Last Dance" by Donna Summer, "Life Is Good" by Joe Walsh, and and an early Bonnie Tyler hit, "It's a Heartache."

Andy Gibb briefly left his brothers to enjoy his own solo career apart from the Bee Gees. One of his solo songs, "Shadow Dancing," was in the number one spot that week.

Alas, my farm market run had to be quick today. My shift was at 11AM. I hurried to the Collingswood Farm Market as soon as "Shadow Dancing" was on the air. The Market was packed elbow-to-elbow at quarter after 9. The summer harvest is at it's height, and everything looks so nice. Okra, onions, and potatoes of all sorts are out now. I finally grabbed honey, two tomatoes, small sweet potatoes, a small lavender-streaked eggplant, Chinese string beans, a zucchini, peaches and tiny yellow apples from the orchard booth, and a cucumber and the cutest little honeydew melon from the organic booth. Treated myself to some chocolate chip cookies, too. I figured I'd need the energy later.

I went home, put everything away, made lunch, changed into my work shirt, and headed out again to the Acme. Work was on-and-off busy for most of the day. It was busier than last week, but not quite as bad as it could have been. For one thing, some people are still on vacation, or just coming back from vacation. For another thing, we had a lot more help than we did yesterday or for most of the week. Other than some annoying customers, there were no major problems, and my relief was on time.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, then finished A Summer Place while making Blueberry Softbake Cookies. I switched to dubbing Shadow of the Thin Man while sauteeing some of those summer vegetables to go with salmon and leftover sweet potatoes for dinner.

The fifth entry in the Thin Man series pushes Nick and Nora into the world of sports betting. Nick becomes involved in a jockey's murder after it's discovered the jockey was going to testify against a huge sports gambling syndicate. When a reporter's also killed and his rival is blamed, Nick believes the young man to be innocent. He and Nora search for clues to find out what the reporter discovered...and how it relates to the syndicate.

Really cute series entry, better than Goes Home. We meet Nick Jr. for the first time here. Nick Sr. has some odd ideas about child rearing - his idea of fairy tales is reading his son the racing forms. The kid's a chip off the old block, though. He manages to force his ever-drunk pop to drink a glass of milk and get on a merry-go-round. Also loved how Asta managed to start a bar brawl. (Only in this series would a dog be responsible for initiating a fist fight in a restaurant.) Donna Reed is the ingenue, but she doesn't really add that much to the proceedings.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Windy Place

It was surprisingly windy and cool when I headed out today, barely in the 70s. It looked like it rained overnight, but by the time I finally rolled out to the gym around 11:30, it was barely spitting. No matter. We needed any rain we could get. The gym was pretty busy, too, possibly because of the improved weather. There were quite a few people doing cardio with me this morning, especially on the bikes. I had fewer problems getting the arm weight machines.

The Acme wasn't too busy when I arrived to do this week's shopping. Even so, they'd apparently wanted to call me in at 2 - there was a call-out. It was almost 1 when I got there! I still had to get to the bank, too. I wouldn't have time tomorrow. Besides, I needed a lot of groceries. I finally ran out of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, whole wheat flour, and brown sugar. Acme's having good chicken and seafood sales. I picked up skinned chicken breasts, chicken tenders, and a container of shrimp for lunch today. Grabbed blueberries; restocked milk, buttermilk, and fruit concentrate (which was on a good sale).

When I got home, I put everything away and had shrimp and leftover ratatouille and Blackberry Flummery for lunch while watching more Three Stooges. "Three Pests In a Mess" puts the boys in a cemetery, burying a dummy they think is a dead body. Things really get scary when three cops in costume show up to see just what they're doing! And in "Idle Roomers," the Stooges are bellhops who hope to impress pretty customer Christine McIntyre (in her Stooge shorts debut), but wind up tangling with a wolf man who hates music instead.

I made a very quick run to the bank after lunch. The weather remained cloudy and windy, which was fine by me. It was also still very humid...but the rain continued to hold off. The bank was a little busy, but there was no line, and I did get in and out.

When I got home, I had enough time to get some things organized, pack lunch, change, and start A Summer Place. Oh boy, are we in both the 50s and soap opera territory. A wealthy couple (Richard Egan, Constance Ford) and their daughter (Sandra Dee) come to a dilapidated Maine inn owned by a lush (Arthur Kennedy) and his sensible wife (Dorothy McGuire) and their son (Troy Donahue). MacGuire and Egan were lovers years before, and while they renew their affair, the kids fall heavily for each other, too. Trouble is, their conniving spouses won't let the kids go, and Ford has repression issues wide enough to fill the Atlantic Ocean. Will the lovers ever find a "Summer Place" of their own?

If you love other Technicolor melodramas of the 50s and early 60s like Madame X or Peyton Place, you'll adore this one. There's no denying that it's dated as heck, but some really good performances (including Egan and Dee) cut through the mush at times. There's also the lush Max Steiner score, which is probably the best-known aspect of this today; the instrumental theme tune was a huge hit in its own right.

Work was far less fun. The cashier who took my order this morning insisted it hadn't been busy, and it wasn't bad when I was there...but I came in at rush hour, and it was packed then. One of the managers said it was busy before that, too. Everybody must have come out of the woodwork now that the weather is more tolerable. It was crazy up through the end of rush hour, off-and-on busy thereafter.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Balance Cools Off

Yes, it was still very humid but far cooler when I got up this morning, thanks to the heavy cloud cover. I really wish it would just rain, though. We need it so badly. We'd already had at least one monsoon by this time last year.

The morning yoga class was surprisingly quiet today. In fact, I hadn't seen so few people in the morning classes in months. It was just five other women, Karin, and me working on heart-openers and back bends. Fine by me. My lower left-hand back has been rather sore (probably been sitting in front of the computer too much). I could use the stretching. The smaller class made it feel more like the cozy afternoon courses than the usual frantic morning ones.

There was even less going on at the Collingswood Library. I organized the DVDs, helped some kids coming out of their Storybook Hour find movies, and that was that. There was nothing to shelve upstairs or downstairs. I left earlier than usual.

I made a quick stop at the Collingswood Used Book Trader a block down. I hadn't been there in a while. Alas, this time, they had nothing of interest. I headed out quickly and returned to my bike. I was home before noon.

I had a fast lunch of leftovers, then went back out again to browse and run some errands. Since I was heading in that direction anyway, I made the Oaklyn Library my first stop. There was even less going on there than at Collingswood. I pulled a few new DVDs that ended up with the old ones, and organized a few kids' books, mainly the board books. Didn't see anything to buy at their sale this time.

The main reason for this trip was to find out what the hold-up was at the Foot & Ankle Center. My orthopedics STILL hadn't arrived! I had to wait ten minutes before a secretary finally told me we forgot to sign two measly places on the back of the sheet last month! The damn insurance company wouldn't process it until they did. And everyone wonders why it took me so long to bother getting an insurance card? These companies are obnoxious.

I was only a few blocks from Station Avenue, Haddon Heights' main drag, so I rode up that way next to have a look around. Wound up at their library. Like the Collingswood Library, it's a two-story, 70s-era building that features a small but thorough DVD collection, a decent fiction collection, and a very nice non-fiction section. They actually had some very nice older books on movies I hadn't seen since I lived in Cape May, including ones on short subjects (the Stooges were profiled) and movie series up through the 70s (a nice discussion and filmography of the Bowery Boys was included, along with Andy Hardy and James Bond, among others).

I didn't find any books in their book sale shelves, but I did pick up a very interesting video, and I ran that when I finally headed home. Broadway: The Lost Treasures is a collection of performances of classic musical numbers from the Tonys. I absolutely adored it. If you're any kind of a musical fan, you must find these. Even though some of the singers were apparently lip-synced, that doesn't detract from the experience. My favorite numbers included Jerry Orbach singing the wonderful "Lullaby of Broadway" from the original 1980 42nd Street, Carol Channing's "Before the Parade Passes By" from Hello Dolly, Yul Brunner and Broadway favorite Patricia Morrison gliding through "Shall We Dance?" from The King and I, Paul Lynde's hilarious "Kids" from Bye Bye Birdie, Barbara Harris' touching "Movie Star Gorgeous" from the three-part show The Apple Tree, two fabulous dance numbers from the 1980s Tommy Tune/Twiggy vehicle My One and Only and the early 70s hit Applause (the latter featuring an energetic Bonnie Franklin, the mom from One Day at a Time), and two medleys of songs from the original 1977 cast of Annie.

Switched to a quieter The Thin Man Goes Home as I baked Blueberry-Peach-Chocolate Chip Cake and made summer vegetables, leftover chicken stir-fry, and mashed sweet potatoes for dinner. Nick and Nora are visiting his parents for his birthday. Even during what's supposed to be a quiet vacation, Nick can't help meddling, especially when a dead man turns up on his parents' front stoop! Turns out the young man was a painter with a secret past that involves a local crazy woman (Anne Revere) and a crook (Leon Ames) who wants the paintings, and will do anything necessary to get them. Fun if you enjoy seeing MGM's many classic character actors in action, but do start with the original three Thin Man movies first before coming here.

And oh boy, did my cake come out nice, soft and just sweet enough. I'm glad I was actually almost out of brown sugar; I replaced part of it with apple juice concentrate, and it tastes wonderful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In the Heat of the Morning

Whew! It was a scorcher here today, hitting the upper 90s...with a heat index that went into the 100s and climbing. I once again slept in, but this time, I hit the gym before work for a little exercise in air conditioning. Once again, it wasn't too busy. I got a really nice run in on the stationary bike, then worked on my legs. I'm so happy with how my weight machine workouts are progressing. I can lift 40 pounds on most of the leg machines now.

Needless to say, I went straight home after that. I had leftovers for lunch while running some more Stooges. "You Natzy Spy!" and "I'll Never Heil Again" from 1940 are historic entries in the Stooge canon for more than just some dead-on political satire. These were the first American comedies to outright spoof Hitler and what he was doing in Europe at the time. It helps that Moe does look like Hitler (with or without the right mustache). Moe is the dictator of the Kingdom of Moronika, Curly and Larry are his men, and they proceed to chase every woman in sight, including spies for the dethroned king.

Work was pretty much the same as it has been - steady during rush hour, otherwise not that busy. Thanks to being short on baggers, I did get to round up carts later in the evening. It was a good time to get carts. By 7PM, clouds had moved in and covered the unrelenting sun, and there was a nice breeze. It was still very hot and humid, but a bit easier to take than earlier in the day. I got my second workout of the day in.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hot Summer Days

I slept in this morning, then read the latest Daisy Dalyrumple novel Gone West and wrote in my journal in bed until around 10ish. Finished Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation while having yogurt, blueberries, honey, and two slices of cinnamon raisin toast for breakfast. I didn't get going to the Haddon Township Library until past noon!

It was surprisingly busy in Newton River Park as I rode by, maybe because of it being the lunch hour. I figured everyone would be avoiding the heat. There were joggers, mothers pushing their children in the shade, and couples going for a lunchtime walk. While I don't think there's anything that can be done about the dry, brown grass, the recent storms have helped the trees and plants. Most of them aren't drooping anymore, and they look a bit greener.

Despite the library being busy when I arrived, there wasn't a whole lot for me to do. Volunteers had already taken care of the DVDs and most of the kids' books. I organized the kids' DVDs, pulled a few foreign titles, and shelved some picture books. Ended up renting Hollywoodland (a fairly recent movie on the death of 50s TV actor George Reeves), National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (which I hope to actually get to watching this time), and A Summer Place (the late 50s-early 60s flip side to Mr. Hobbs' family vacation farce - a family vacation melodrama). Found two videos on the sales racks to dub, the John Wayne 40s vehicle Dark Command and Jeanette MacDonald's first movie at MGM, The Cat and the Fiddle.

Made a very quick stop at Super Fresh for cooking spray (which was on sale there), then went to Friendly's for lunch. I was originally going to ride to the Legacy Diner in Audubon, but it was too hot for going out of my way. I had the same thing I had last time, half of the Super Melt Chicken Sandwich and a salad. It was just as tasty as last time...and just as messy, too.

I debated having ice cream at Friendly's, but I finally decided to stop at Kaya's for a milkshake instead. Had a Pina Colada soft-serve shake. I sat down in the rocker seats, but I wasn't there for long. Not because of water on the canopy. It was just too hot to be drinking anything outside. I slurped the rest of it while riding home.

Spent the next hour and a half dubbing The Cat and the Fiddle and relaxing. This adaptation of the hit 1933 operetta paired MacDonald with occasional musical performer Ramon Navarro. They're composers in Brussels who meet cute when he jumps into her cab, then fall in love and live together (yes, unmarried - this one snuck out before the Production Code kicked in). Her "The Night Is Made For Love" is a big hit, producing friction between her and Navarro, who is struggling to get his operetta off the ground. He's tired of living in her shadow; she's tired of his frivolities. Can these two find a way to make sweet music again?

Alas, MacDonald's first MGM operetta only proved how hard it was to find her an appropriate partner. Novarro had been a star in the late silent and early talkie era, but by 1934, his vogue was waning. He's too small and sweet to work with strong-willed MacDonald (or stage diva Vivianne Segal, for that matter). The big 3-strip Technicolor finale is blurry and too bright, a far cry from the later glories of MGM musicals. What still makes this is Jerome Kern's lovely score, including the ballad that caused all the ruckus and the perky "She Didn't Say Yes."

Around 5, I decided it was time for a swim. I rode over to Dad and Uncle Ken's to hit the pool. Craig and Khai were about to jump in as well. We were joined by Dad and Jodie as Khai showed us how well he could swim. (He's also getting better at talking. He said a clear "please" and "thank you" when Jodie handed him a drink.) Rose was working and couldn't join us, but I still had a nice time there.

When I got in, I made ratatouille to go with my leftover chicken burgers and ran more Three Stooges shorts, this time with Curly. The boys are "Calling All Curs" when they're running an animal hospital and one of the patients is dog-napped. The "Flat Foot Stooges" are firefighters who are in charge of the horses who pull the engine. When man who wants to sell them a firetruck with an engine tries to sabotage the antique fire truck and accidentally sets the fire house ablaze, the boys are really cooking! They're "Three Missing Links" playing (appropriately) cavemen and a gorilla in a movie set in Africa. The fun really gets started when Curly meets a real female gorilla who wrecks havoc on the set. "Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise," a personal favorite of mine, has the trio aiding a widow who was swindled out of her land...which just happens to have oil on it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hazy Days of Summer

Did a lot of chores today, starting with the laundry. It was hot, hazy, and humid today, though a nice breeze made things a little more tolerable. The heat may have encouraged people to stay away; the laundromat wasn't that bad. There were one or two people when I came in, and a couple when I left, but by and large, I was on my own. I got my small load done in less than an hour.

When I got home, I put my laundry away, had leftovers for lunch, and did more chores. I finally dusted the bedroom. It was really, really bad. I put it off last month because I dusted a lot in May due to Lauren's visit. The shelf with the kids' books and Sailor Moon dolls was especially bad. The bed wasn't great, either.

The budget was next on tap. I really did spend too much last month. I didn't make anything resembling what I had in previous months. I made more in the last two weeks than I have for most of last month! Needing new contacts didn't help. Between needing less and several good paychecks (including the one from the 4th of July), I should be on firmer footing this month.

I ran Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation while I was doing my chores. I rented the Haddon Township Library's video copy about five years ago when I first started volunteering there. This early 60s film is pretty much standard "family goes to the beach" shenanigans. Businessman Hobbs (James Stewart) and his wife (Maureen O'Hara) have invited their daughters and their families to a seaside vacation in a ramshackle old house. The vacation is a disaster at first. The teen daughter is feeling awkward about her braces and won't do anything. The pre-teen  brother is surgically attached to the TV. One older daughter is married to an obnoxious psychology professor from Europe; the other is having problems with her husband and her two bratty children. Mr. Hobbs is against interfering with all this at first...but he and O'Hara find they just can't help getting involved with their children's problems.

If you're a fan of National Lampoon's Vacation or Captain Ron, this is pretty much an earlier version of the same idea. For all the goofiness (Stewart does battle with a recalcitrant pump; he gets his son away from the TV long enough to get lost on a small boat in the bay), a lot of this is surprisingly realistic, even now. I especially like how the daughter really does look like an awkward 14-year-old kid who is reacting badly to her braces. (Though I'm not sure she would have ended up with Fabian at her first summer dance, with or without Dad's help.)

Work was similar to yesterday - busy in spots, but mostly very quiet. I did a lot of organizing candy. It probably won't pick up until the college kids start going back to school in early-mid August. Most people are joining the Hobbs on vacation.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bring On the Rain

Very quiet day here. I got up around 7 originally...then rolled over and went back to sleep until 10. Lauren and I are usually up late chatting on Saturdays, and I chat with Linda and others at the WENN chat as well. After I finished with my journal, I switched on Brunch With the Beatles. Even they weren't doing anything exciting. The theme was "A Decade of Beatles #1 Hits," also known as "What we run when we're out of ideas and everyone is on vacation." We went from "She Loves You" to George's "My Sweet Lord" as I made Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes. Tried calling Mom, but I didn't get her. I'd call again later.

The rest of the afternoon was passed quietly. I still have a lot of Bowery Boys stories to edit. There's at least four more to do before I even get to our recent Three Stooges fanfics. I'm debating whether or not to post these on my current site or wait. I'm thinking of moving our fanfics and my original work to an inexpensive website host. It'll look far more professional than the free popup-laden, graphics-less site I have now. Trouble is, I don't have the money for extras like a fancy website. It'll probably have to wait for the fall, along with any other classes I want to take.

Work was no problem whatsoever. It was busy when I arrived. By 7PM, it was so quiet, I spent the last hour returning items people didn't want. I was in and out with no problems.

It had been hot and humid all day. Dark clouds were building up when I rode home. Thankfully, they waited until around 9:30 to actually burst, by which time I'd been online and inside for a while. In fact, a nice thunderstorm is passing through even as I write this. As long as they do it at night, I hope they burst a lot. We still badly need the rain.

Oh, and I did get a hold of Mom. Other than she's been happily without a working Dad the past few days, she's not really doing much. Cape May County is flooded with people escaping the heat in the cities. (Which explains why it's been so dead here the past week or so.)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Uptown Girl

We started out a gloomy, rainy, humid morning with the American Top 40. They headed to mid-July 1979 for some classic disco and R&B. Hits from my very first summer (I would have been about 4 months old at the time) include "Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden & Whitehall, "The Logical Song," by Supertramp, "Good Times" by Kool & the Gang, and that summer's two top smashes, the title track and "Hot Stuff" from Donna Summer's massive hit album Bad Girls.

I was shocked when I opened my door and discovered it was barely in the mid 80s. It was supposed to be in the lower-mid 90s and sunny all weekend! I knew those guys on the broadcast news weather forecasts couldn't accurately call the weather in a paper bag. I ignored the on-off rain showers and headed out for this week's farm market run.

I did make one stop at an estate sale in Collingswood, but besides some ok furniture, there wasn't much of interest. I moved on to the farm market, which was bustling, despite the weather. Melons and the little yellow apples are out now, and everyone has piles and piles of tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini. I eventually bought white peaches (they were cheaper at the orchard booth than the yellow), blackberries, apples, two zucchini, cheddar cheese (I ran out yesterday), Cuban peppers, a really ripe tomato, and plum butter (the blueberry butter in the fridge is getting low).

I rode home through Newton River Park. It was raining even harder than before; I was getting quite wet. I did have one more errand to run in the neighborhood, though. I ran out of dental floss the other day and forgot to buy it at work last night. It was cheaper at CVS anyway, a $1.99 for a two-pack of your basic waxed string.

Spent about an hour or so at home when I got in, having leftovers for lunch and finishing Green Lantern. This adaptation of the very long-running DC Comic book series (he was one of their earliest characters) gives us Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, a hotshot pilot who has just lost his job on a crucial mission after a stunt goes wrong. Jordan isn't feeling very good about himself or his abilities...until he encounters a crashed space ship and an alien in green. The alien gives him a ring and a statue that powers it. Turns out the ring gives him the power to become a superhero and join an elite force of aliens dedicated to protecting the galaxy. Not all of the Green Lantern aliens are happy about having a mere human on their squad. Hal does his best to prove that a human is as good of a superhero as anything in the galaxy when a monster that feeds on fear threatens the Earth.

Not great, not bad. I've never been a real big fan of this character to begin with (where DC is concerned, I've always been more of a Superman kind of girl), and the movie didn't do much with him. Reynolds was pretty good and the special effects were marvelous, but the plot was simplistic and the dialogue only so-so.

Headed out as soon as Green Lantern ended. My first stop was the Oaklyn Library for this week's volunteering session there. The rain had slowed down a bit by this point, enough for me to ditch my blue raincoat (which was hot and sopping wet from that morning anyway) and trade my wet sneakers for sandals that would dry faster. There wasn't much to do at the Library. I pulled a few new DVDs from the older ones and organized some kids' titles. I was done in less than a half-hour.

The rain started to pick up again as I headed to Cuthbert Road to pick up the bus to the Towne Center. The Towne Center is the shopping center/apartment buildings in Cherry Hill that house, among others, Wegman's, Best Buy, Dick's, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Barnes & Noble. I had two things I couldn't hold off on anymore. My old work sneakers were falling apart, and I needed some new underthings, too.

I ended up buying New Balance sneakers (the brand I always use) at Dick's and underthings at Nordstrom's Rack, probably their outlet for the leftovers from the big Nordstrom's in the Cherry Hill Mall. Took a peek at Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Talbot's, and the Christmas Tree Shop. The Christmas Tree Shop was disappointing. I was hoping they'd be a year-round Christmas store, like Winterwood in Cape May County. Alas, at this time of year, they basically seemed to be a more outdoor-focused Bed Bath & Beyond. Talbot's wasn't much better. I liked their elegant clothing, but they didn't carry plus sizes and their prices weren't great. Couldn't find The Artist at Best Buy, and their price for Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows was not wonderful. Was tempted to grab The Three Stooges Scrapbook at Barnes & Noble, but decided it was unnecessary and would hold off on it until later in the summer.

I did get a WebKinz Lil'Kinz hippo for a very good price at Discovery Toys. With my Stooges thing going on, I had to name him Curly. I also treated myself to a frozen dessert at Kiwi Yogurt, basically a smaller, less expensive version of The Yogo Factory in Westmont. This time, I made sure to just buy a small cup of Low Fat Birthday Cake Frozen Yogurt, with a small spoonful of yogurt chips, dark chocolate chips, and sprinkles.

And...while I'm glad I got the chance to check out the whole Towne Center, I think I'll be doing my clothes and shoes shopping at the Cherry Hill or Deptford Malls from now on. The sneakers and underthings were a decent price...but they might have been even cheaper there. I'll mainly hit this mall when I want to browse Barnes & Noble or Bed Bath & Beyond.

Quickly stopped by WaWa for a pretzel and a fountain soda when I got in, then just headed home. I made chicken pepper stir fry and farm market corn for dinner while watching Scoop. Woody Allen directed and co-starred in this cute romantic comedy-mystery set in London. A slightly geeky journalism student  (Scarlett Johanssen) and a magician (Allen) get caught up in a big scoop when the spirit of a dead reporter gives her a message from beyond - a handsome businessman (Hugh Jackman) may be a serial killer. Johanssen is intrigued at first, but Jackman's charms soon have her falling head-over-heels...and questioning why she's even deceiving him in the first place. But as Allen knows well, things aren't always what they seem, even hunky Australians...

I'm not the biggest fan of Allen, but he was really a lot of fun in this cute, quirky mystery. Johanssen was adorable as a Velma-style character; Jackman devil-may-care charms were on full display. I wasn't entirely crazy about the supernatural subplot (including the whole thing with the reporter continually coming from the other side to give Johanssen tips), but the rest of it worked so well, I'm surprised this isn't one of Allen's better-known films. Worth your time if you like Allen, Jackman, or cute mystery-comedies.

Ooh, and I took advantage of the cooler-than-expected weather to turn off the air conditioning and bake a blackberry-blueberry grunt. I wish it came out better. I think I undercooked it, but it was really getting  hot in my tiny kitchen!

Friday, July 13, 2012

No Scares On Friday the 13th

Sorry folks, but the Three Stooges are as scary as I get. I started the day with a couple of their spookier shorts. Shemp accidentally eats a diamond in "Crime On My Hands"...and the thief who stole it wants it back by any means necessary! "The Hot Scots" takes the boys to the UK, where they have to solve a mystery in a seemingly haunted castle. Curly joins Moe and Larry for "Spook Louder", as the three ferret out three spies after a death ray and try to figure out who's throwing random pies.

Rose called while the shorts were running. She wanted to say "hi" and remind me to make a doctor's appointment. I've been putting off getting a check-up. It's just a pain in the rear. I wrote down a couple of AmeriHealth doctors in the area and called up one of the women. My appointment is August 8th.

The gym was a little busier than it has been the past few Fridays. I think I read that there was a class at 9:15. I guess a lot of people decided to stick around afterwards. There were quite a few people on the cardio machines when I arrived at 10:45. I got a really nice little workout on the elliptical machine in; worked up quite a sweat. Did the arm weight machines afterwards and worked with hand weights. This time, I was able to stretch on the carpeted square-shaped stage used for classes.

I rode back to the Acme to pick up my (large and much-needed) 4th of July paycheck. I had a little grocery shopping to do, too. Found ground lean turkey on a sale made even better by a manager's coupon. Also needed tortillas, milk, sponges, blueberries, and baking soda. Picked up the Emerald Trail Mix boxes again. I still have coupons from the boxes. That 10 dollar off coupon I got in one of the Giveaway Game tickets last week was a big help, too - dropped a $24 order to $14.

When I got home, I put everything away as quickly as I could, then grabbed my bike. I stopped at Andrew's to finally give him the rent check, then rushed to the bank to deposit the money from my paycheck and Dad. Thankfully, there's enough leftover for a short mall trip tomorrow. I have a few things that I absolutely can't put off buying anymore.

When I got home, I had leftovers for lunch and started Green Lantern. I finally got rid of the last of the crab claws, which ends that massive mountain of seafood Mom and Dad gave me last month after Keefe's party. I left for work early so I could get my schedule before going in.

Work was a little busier than the last few days; otherwise, it wasn't bad. It was busy through the end of rush hour, after which, it died very quickly. I had no problems getting in and out.

Not a bad schedule next week. Two days off; two late days, Monday and Friday. I work at 11AM Saturday, which means I'll have to rush the farm market run. I might be able to pull it off if I get up early enough.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beautiful Day...but There's Heat On the Horizon

Once again, I got stuck spending a relatively gorgeous day at work. As with yesterday, it was dry and warm but not above the average for the time of year. A nice, brisk wind and some clouds kept temperatures in the mid-upper 80s, where they belong in early July in Southern New Jersey.

At the very least, work was painless. It was pretty much the same deal as yesterday - busy only during the lunch and after-work rush hours, dead otherwise. I don't expect much else for the rest of the month. Most people have probably gone on vacation or are hiding from the heat in their homes or backyards. My relief was late and the guy in self-checkout had to come in for me. Otherwise, there were no really major problems.

I thought a session at the gym would help me relax after a seven-hour work day. It was surprisingly busy, given how empty they've been lately. There turned out to be a class at 5:30. A personal trainer worked with a young woman around that time as well. I did a good, solid workout on the bike while watching Action News, then worked on the leg weight machines. Due to the class, I stretched in the personal training area.

My original plan was to eat out, but I realized that I don't really have much money left. There's a ton of leftovers in my fridge, too. I just rode home and had leftovers in my living room. Waved "hi" to Mark and his son on the way. Looked like they were working on the area under the porch, where the hose is, and the garden today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Not So Hot

While it does remain a bit humid, the weather was on-and-off cloudy today and not nearly as warm as last week. I think it was in the mid-80s, about par for the course at this time of year. I actually have the air conditioner off. I get so sick of it running constantly. It makes so much noise.

I slept in this morning and pretty much just watched Stooges shorts until it was time for work. Work was the same as Monday, though a bit quieter during rush hour. I don't imagine things will change much for the next couple of weeks as people head to the Shore or the Poconos for vacation. There were a few annoying folks who gave more orders than help, but otherwise, it was quiet and my relief was on time.

I was glad to be able to get home at a decent time, for once. I got to make a nice dinner of chicken burgers, steamed speckled beans, and sauteed zucchini. Mark, Andrew, and Mark's son came upstairs while dinner was cooking. I explained about the weak spot in the porch. Andrew said he'd find a smaller board to cover the spot, rather than the two huge two-by-fours that just gather leaves (and possibly add to the problem).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Balance and the Two Libraries

I don't often do yoga on other days of the week besides Thursday. I really like the two classes that day. This week, I work too early on Thursday to catch either class. A young lady named Debbie was the substitute today; apparently, the regular Tuesday morning teacher is pregnant and two weeks overdue! Thankfully, she mostly concentrated on simply standing poses and hip-openers. I kept things simple; my sore heel spur and legs weren't in the mood for pushing things.

Headed for the Collingswood Library right after class ended. Not a whole lot to do there. FA said they might need my help upstairs, but there were only a few books to put away. I shelved some non-fiction and did a little browsing. Filed and shelved a few DVD titles downstairs, then organized the children's shelves.

Decided to try somewhere new for lunch. Knight's Bistro, on the corner of Collings Avenue and Haddon Avenue, just opened a few months ago in what was a flower shop when I first moved here. It's pretty much a fancier, smaller version of a diner, with a basic pizza/pasta/sandwiches menu, simple but elegant gold-and-rough-wood decor, and decent prices. It did take at least ten minutes for me to get service, despite not being that busy at noon. The waitresses didn't even see me! At least my vegetable stromboli was really good when I finally got it, soft and chewy and filled with tomato, broccoli, spinach, and LOTS of cheese.

Went straight to the Haddon Township Library after lunch. Not a whole lot to do there, either. I mostly shelved DVDs and fished foreign and kids' titles out of the adult bins. The foreign titles are really jammed in; no wonder so many of them ended up in the wrong places. Took out Green Lantern (which I never got to a few weeks ago), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (I've seen it, but it's appropriate for the time of year), the romantic comedy-mystery Scoop, and a public domain copy of Life With Father.

Made quick stops at Super Fresh, Dollar Tree, and Rite Aid on the way home. Super Fresh was out of the clearance fruit concentrates and Dollar Tree was out of sponges, but Rite Aid did have mouthwash on sale. Thankfully, the traffic on Cuthbert wasn't too bad, and I was able to get home quickly.

It was past 3:30 by the time I made it home. I'd been going since 9 this morning! I put everything away and started Life With Father and dusting the living room, but I didn't get very far. In fact, I got tired and bored, even though the dusting needed to be done.

Rose called me when I was out; did I want some seafood and to join her, Dad, Khai, and Craig at Dad and Uncle Ken's for dinner? Sure, why not. I'd make burgers tomorrow. Khai, Craig, Jodie, and Dad were in the pool when I arrived; Rose got there shortly after with a big bowl of seafood gumbo and a delicious Blueberry-Peach Cobbler. The gumbo was a little spicy, but very tasty. The cobbler was heavenly, just sweet enough. Rose said she and the boys had picked pounds and pounds of blueberries from a farm earlier in the day (well, the ones Khai didn't sneak into his mouth, that is). Khai probably would have preferred blueberry-peach cobbler. He kept shoving his baby carrots and sliced hot dogs into one of his cars.

With Dolores and Uncle Ken visiting Samantha and her family in Ocean City, Maryland, the rest of the family had free reign of the house. Dad put on Monsters Inc. for Khai (he couldn't find Cars). The adults played a game of pool on Uncle Ken's pool table. They were probably about half-way through when I realized it was getting late, and I wanted to hop in the shower before I went online.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Doin' the Laundry

Which is pretty much all I did today. I was once again up late with Lauren, and I slept until past 9:30. I didn't get to the laundromat until almost 11:30! It was on-and-off sunny, very humid but nothing resembling as hot as it was last week, far closer to the norm for this time of year. There were a few families when I arrived, but by the time I left, there were one or two other people folding clothes and watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire on Channel 6.

I went home and spent some time putting away my piles of laundry. I had a big load today, thanks to changing the sheets and towels last week. When all of that was finally done, I had crab legs and leftovers for lunch while finishing Snow White and the Three Stooges. (Lauren and I are in the midst of finishing a Stooges fairy tale spoof.) After that, I quickly packed lunch and changed, and was off to work.

Work was pretty par for the course at this time of year - quiet when I left, quiet when I came in, nuts during rush hour. Most people have probably gone on vacation...which was confirmed when I heard a manager complaining about how many Acme employees have begged for vacation in the next few weeks. (Good thing I'm not taking my next vacation week until late September-early October.)

The outside of the apartment is looking better and better every day. They totally cleaned up the side path leading to my steps, cleared out the gutters under my roof, and finally replaced the floodlight downstairs. While I appreciate them sweeping my porch, I do wish they'd left the boards alone. Miss Ellie had them there for a reason; they're covering weak spots.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Editing the Boys

Lauren and I were up until almost 4 last night! I chatted a bit with Linda, James, and Mike, too. I didn't get up until past 10:30. I started listening to Brunch With the Beatles, but I ultimately switched to the Three Stooges while making Mixed Berry (blueberry and blackberry) Pancakes for breakfast. Lauren and I have switched from writing Bowery Boys stories to Three Stooges - they're her new thing right now. Since the next stories we have planned are fairy tale spoofs, I put on "Squareheads of the Round Table," "Fiddlers Three," and "Restless Knights" this morning. "Squareheads," one of the best Shemp-era shorts, is my favorite of the trio, but there's some fun bits in the others as well.

Called Mom as "Fiddlers Three" ran. Poor Mom spent the 4th of July dodging a nasty flu bug. She did have the time to watch all of Yankee Doodle Dandy - she's the one who used to like to watch it every 4th with my sisters and me when we were little. Otherwise, she had a quiet week finishing up the cleaning from the party and scrubbing the house. Dad's been out fishing and will be gone on business matters next week - she quite happily has the house to herself.

Spent the next couple of hours editing Bowery Boys fanfiction. I have stories backlogged from last Christmas I haven't edited yet, much less posted, along with the Stooges stories we've just started working on. Look for them trickling down to our site in the next few weeks.

I had a quick lunch of leftovers, then headed to work. Work was mildly steady, no more. Everyone must have fled to the Jersey Shore or the Poconos now that the holiday week and extreme heat are over. I was in and out with no major problems whatsoever.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Pest Woman Loses

Today didn't go especially well. First of all, I discovered when I deposited my paycheck in the bank this morning that, even with a good paycheck, I still didn't have enough to cover my rent. It's way overdue. I've been taking money out of my savings to pay for my rent the last two months!

The farm market run went a bit better. Thanks to today's much-talked about 100 degree heat, it was still busy, but not quite as much as usual. Blackberries, tomatoes, string beans, and red potatoes made their debut this week. The blackberries and two tomatoes came home with me, along with peaches, a quart of very pretty speckled beans, two cucumbers and fresh thyme from the organic booth, cherries, and a beautiful purple and green heirloom tomato.

Thanks to the heat and the extended holiday week, I saw no yard sales anywhere today. I stopped briefly at Doria's Deli for a soda and to say "hi" to Mr. Doria, then headed home. I unloaded my purchases, then finished out the Three Stooges set.

By the time the Stooges did the last shorts in this set in 1951, television was starting to catch up with them. Even with cost-cutting and more stock footage used, some of Shemp's best shorts could be found here. "Merry Mavericks" is a fun remake of the 1943 Curly "Phony Express." "Scrambled Brains" has Shemp hallucinating everything from two more arms that allow him to play the piano to a beautiful fiancee who is cute only to him. "Pest Man Wins" is a not-bad remake of another Curly short, this time "Ants In the Pantry." "Hu-La-La" spoofs south seas epics. And I really felt bad for the boys in "Don't Throw That Knife," where a hot-headed husband thinks three census-takers are after his wife. Here, they really were "victims of coicumstance" - they were just doing their jobs.

I made a quick run to the Oaklyn Library around 12:30 for this week's volunteer session there. They, too, were quiet. It wasn't even busy at the Oaklyn Swim Club pool; the families who usually congregate there may have been at lunch. I did some brief organizing on the DVDs, then put children's books away. Bought two more items from their book sales, the EL Doctorow novel The Waterworks and another serial, Federal Agents Vs. Underworld Inc, a wartime actioner that looks like it has just enough plot to be fun. 

I spent most of a very hot afternoon hanging around inside, doing things online and with my inventories. It wasn't until almost 5PM that I got bored and decided to ride over to Dad and Uncle Ken's for a relaxing dip in the pool. I'm glad I did. Khai, Rose, and Craig were already there when I arrived, and apparently had been there for over two hours. Khai loves the pool! He has no fear of the water whatsoever. It was hard to get him out, and I couldn't blame him. The water was in the upper 80s today. I only left because I didn't trust the clouds on the horizon.

When I got home, I made cornmeal-crusted chicken, sauteed zucchini and tomatoes, and cucumber-tomato salad for dinner while watching Meatballs, one of my official summer movies. Meatballs is the first of an unrelated series of films about life in various summer camps. Bill Murray had one of his first major roles as the wisecracking, sex-crazed head counselor in the original.

The Acme called earlier in the afternoon. For once, I agreed to go in tomorrow of my own free will. First of all, they asked nicely and ahead of time. Second, it's only 3:30 to 7:30, which is pretty normal hours for me on a Sunday anyway. Third, it was a legitimate request. One of the college boys not only has a sick note from his doctor, but his grandmother just died. That, I can fully understand calling out for.

And I hated doing it, but I ended up borrowing money from Dad. I feel so guilty. Rose, Lauren, and Jodie all said it was ok, everyone goes through bad periods...but I still feel like I should be providing for myself.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Heat Wave!

Despite the continuing heat, the first thing on my agenda today was getting a gym session in. I haven't had a lot of time for the gym lately. I did a good 20 minutes on the elliptical machine while watching The Price Is Right. There were a few women on the other elliptical machines and bikes, but by the time I was working on my arms, the weight machine area was completely empty.

The Acme wasn't busy when I went over there to get my paycheck, either. There was only one other older woman in line at customer service getting lottery tickets. I didn't need much, anyway. Had to restock eggs, Emerald Trail Mix, French Vanilla mousse mix, fruit concentrate, contact lens cases, and blueberries. I was out of contact lens cases and vinegar and almost out of cereal; Life was the only thing on sale I'd eat. I love blue corn chips. I first had them in college; Richard Stockton's dorm cafeteria would have them out ever so often. I fell in love with their hearty goodness, but I don't often see them at the Acme. Utz's Organic Blue Corn Chips were on a decent sale, so I got those, too.

Rode straight home after shopping. I unloaded everything and made scrambled eggs with summer squash and fresh cucumber for lunch while running more Stooges. The boys were getting more experimental by the early 50s...and some of their attempts at a different approach were a little odd. "Self Made Maids" had the Stooges playing all of the roles, including their girlfriends (them and drag do not mix), their children, and the "girls'" father (Moe). "Three Arabian Nuts" is a fantasy that has Shemp finding a wish-granting genie. (It's a lot like the Bowery Boys' later Bowery to Bagdad without the gangster subplot and a different ending.) "Three Hams on Rye" pushes the trio onstage as they make their debut with ingenue Christine MacEntyre and a cake filled with feathers. "Punchy Cowpunchers" pokes fun at Columbia's B-westerns. The Stooges have to round up the infamous Dillon Gang...with no help from a warbling, aw-shucks cowpoke who is even less coordinated than they are!

Work was the same as yesterday - quiet when I came in, quiet when I left, very busy in between. Rush hour was just crazy. Everyone's trying to beat the heat and avoid the 100-degree temperatures tomorrow. I had some annoying beginning-of-the-month people, but otherwise, there were no major problems.

No problems with my schedule, either. I have three days off this week (including a much-needed Sunday), and no day later than 8:30. Wednesday is going to be a long 7-hour day, but at least it's an early long day.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Balance On a Steamy Day

It was already in the 90s and climbing when I struggled out of bed this morning for this week's yoga class. The class was pretty quiet. There were only nine people, counting the teacher Karin - practically dead for the Thursday morning class. We had plenty of room to work on hip-openers and pigeon "lay on the leg" poses. I can do pigeon fine by now, but even with a strap, I had a hard time lifting my leg behind me.

Volunteering at the Collingswood Library went better. A lot of people must have been renting movies to amuse them indoors while avoiding the heat. For the first time in ages, I had lots to file and shelve. It was very busy, too. I dodged quite a few people while organizing the DVDs. There wasn't anything to do upstairs; I didn't stay there for long.

Made a brief stop at WaWa for milk, water, and a pretzel, then rode home. I forgot that the last can of seafood was crab CLAWS, not chunk meat. Oh, well. I had claws and leftovers for lunch while watching more Stooges and taking down the 4th of July decorations.

Shemp was at the height of his tenure as the third Stooge between 1949 and 1951, and some of these are as good as anything done with Curly. "The Ghost Walks" and "Who Done It?" are hilarious spoofs of supernatural and suspense stories. "Fuelin' Around" gives oft-neglected "middle Stooge" Larry a chance to shine when he's mistaken for a professor who has created a new rocket fuel. "Vagabond Loafers," despite its title, has the Stooges working as plumbers at a society house who foil the theft of a priceless work of art. "Malice at the Palice" takes the Stooges to ancient Arabia, where they somehow retrieve a priceless diamond from a nefarious Emir dressed as Santa Clauses.

Around 2PM, I was about to do the dishes when I realized there was no water coming out of the tap in the kitchen. It made a faint gurgle, but nothing flowed. The sink in the bathroom wasn't working, either. I wasn't even going to attempt the toilet! I tried calling Andrew; got his answering machine. I thought his brother might have been working on the plumbing. I even went over to Andrew's to ask him if he knew what was going on; no one was home. The water was working and the toilet flushing again when I came back.

(Linda called while I was on my way to work. It seems the trouble was caused by the men working on the street a block down Manor Ave, and effected the whole street. She said it wasn't supposed to come back on until 4. It's working just fine now. I saw the work crew when I rode home, and I actually didn't think anything of it at the time.)

Work was busy. It was busier than yesterday, especially during rush hour. A lot of people must have put off shopping yesterday because of the holiday. It's still the beginning of the month, too. Some people may not have gotten their money until now. Other than we were short on help, there were no major problems.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Star Spangled Holiday

Started off a hot, humid, and sunny 4th by finishing up the Three Stooges Collection Vol. 5 set. "Fright Night" was Shemp's first Stooges short after Curly had a stroke. Despite the title, the short revolved around not horror, but boxing. A gangster threatens the Stooges if they let their fighter win. They try to soften him up...but when he breaks his hand, they have to handle the gangsters on their own. (I vaguely wonder if this was Shemp's idea - he apparently was a boxing fan.)

As usual, Oaklyn's Fourth of July Town Parade started late. I was at the curb on the corner of Manor and West Clinton at 10AM on the dot...and the parade didn't start for another 40 minutes. I bought a Diet Cherry Coke from Doria's Deli - Mr. Doria had decided to open, since it is the middle of the week. I checked out the crowds, most huddled under awnings or the skinny trees near the Oaklyn (Middle and Elementary) School. I took a look at the decorated bikes in the parking lot across from the Oaklyn Manor Bar. Some of the kids got really creative. One girl festooned her pretty pink bike with glittery garland and red, white, and blue fabric roses. Another kid had a foam noodle "tent" over her bike. There was even an older adult on a decorated motorized rider. (She later won a "grand prize" as the oldest participant in the Decorated Bike Contest!) There was even a family pulling a kids' pool as a float.

The theme of the parade was "Saluting Our Veterans." Most of the attractions were either veterans marching from the VFW and American Legion, the area string bands, or all of the many local little league teams throwing candy. Kids scrambled for Tootsie Rolls (fruit-flavored and chocolate), hard candy, small boxes of Nerds and Dots, Laffy Taffy, bubble gum, and Dum Dum and Charms lollypops. I kept some lollypops, Tootsie Rolls, and a box of Dots for myself. I don't like bubble gum, and taffy gets stuck in my teeth, so I gave those to the kids.

Followed the crowd down to the School for the awarding of the float prizes and the free refreshments. The new mayor seemed nervous and unused to making speeches; he lacked the easy-going personality of Oaklyn's former mayor. The girl who sang "The Star Spangled Banner" was pretty good; she looked like she was just a teenager. I think one of the churches won first place in the float competition; the Oaklyn Library came in third, as they did last year. They had the after-parade refreshments in the school parking lot this year instead of behind it. I grabbed two hot dogs, a couple of pretzel rods, and a can of Diet Sierra Mist, and headed back to my place.

I was a little bored at this point. I ran into Andrew and his family coming from the parade. I went to the VFW on his suggestion, but they were all just talking and eating hot dogs. I just came from eating hot dogs. I went for a short walk in the park, checking out the fried greenery and watching fishermen down by the river. I took 4th of July-themed shots of the American Girl and Disney Animator's Collection dolls on my porch. (I did my best to angle it to avoid getting all the mess from the cut-down trees and brush.)

Ran Yankee Doodle Dandy while cleaning the kitchen. I did this one last year as well; my family watched it every Fourth when I was little. James Cagney won an Oscar as turn of the 20th century playwright/actor/producer/composer George M. Cohan. He was so integral to developing Broadway as we know it, there's now a statue of him in Times Square. Walter Huston is his more down-to-earth father; Joan Leslie is his sweet wife.

Thankfully after yesterday, work wasn't really that bad. It was still really busy when I arrived at 2:30. We were out of the Giveway Game pieces, too - we had to give out IOUs on the receipts! By 4PM, most people had gone to barbecues or parties, and left us quiet for the rest of the day. I left without a relief when a manager took over for me.

My original plan for the evening was to make crab cakes at home and finish Yankee Doodle Dandy. I got a call on my cell phone almost as soon as I got in and changed. It was Rose. She, Craig, and Khai were at Dad and Uncle Ken's. Khai was in the pool, and they were going to make burgers and salad for dinner. Did I want to join them?

That was fine by me, too. I'd make the crab cakes tomorrow. Craig picked me up, and we headed over to Uncle Ken and Dad's. Rose was just pulling Khai out of the pool when we arrived. My littlest nephew had a busy day. He saw Audubon's 4th of July Parade and got tons of candy. He got to ride in a fire truck. He swam in his grandfather's pool. He visited his other grandparents.

Poor kid was already kind of tired when we trooped inside for dinner. He was so pooped, he fell off the high bar stool by the kitchen island! Good thing he landed on his hands on the soft rug under the stools and was more surprised than hurt. I looked at some of the great photos Dad used for the screensaver on his TV. Some of the ones of Jessa were adorable. I liked the one of her about 8 or 9 years old sprawled in the walkway of Dad's house in Ft. Lauderdale, her full backpack beside her. I used to feel like that after school, too. ; )

We had a delicious dinner. Craig cooked burgers on the barbecue. Rose made lobster salad with some of the seafood Mom and Dad gave us a few weeks ago, and a cucumber salad using a yummy Asian salad dressing that gave it a nice sesame/ginger tinge. They also brought some of that yummy sweet Jersey corn. Jodie provided plenty of fresh fruit - cherries, blueberries, pineapple, peaches, and nectarines.

Jodie, Rose, Craig, and I pushed Khai down to CVS in his stroller around 9. We were going to watch the fireworks from the CVS parking lot. It was really crazy down there. There were people parked all over the lot and sitting on the entire sidewalk, from Collingswood down to the bar two blocks away! We did manage to find a spot on the mulch under the CVS sign.

The fireworks didn't start until almost 9:30. By that time, we'd been joined by Jodie's son Jesse and his girlfriend Dana, who gave everyone Twizzlers. I went to CVS intending to buy water; their shelves were so empty, I ended up with a York Peppermint Patty instead.

I loved the fireworks when they did finally start. They were as gorgeous as ever. Collingswood always does amazing fireworks. I love the ones that go off in shapes, like ovals and hearts. Khai was completely amazed. He oohed and wowed until he finally got too tired and started to nod off. His parents took him home to beat the crowds; Jesse and Dana followed them. Jodie and I were the only ones who stayed for the whole show, and I think even she was getting tired. (She must have said five times that the fireworks were going to end before they actually did.)

I walked as far as Hillcrest with Jodie, then strolled the rest of the way home on my own. Thankfully, it waited until I was long out of the shower and online to finally unleash the rain that had been predicted all day.

Hope all of my American readers had an equally great Fourth (and our neighbors to the north enjoyed their Canada Day on Sunday)!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

One Tired Woman

I kept busy on what turned out to be a warm but not humid day. First thing on the agenda was the arrival of the house inspector at 10:30. Before he came, I made my bed, changed the sheets, did the dishes, and vacuumed the whole apartment. I was airing out rugs when I heard a commotion at my front door. Not only had the inspector arrived, but so did a middle-aged man and a 10-ish boy. The latter turned out to be Andrew's brother Mark and his son, who have been cleaning up the yard. They were working on taking down some of the more unnecessary trees, including an older one that had been blocking my window on the music area side of the apartment and Miss Ellie's kitchen window overlooking her garden.

Oh, and the inspector said everything was fine. The only problem were loose boards on the steps leading up to my place. Mark actually fixed them later in the afternoon. The kid was even nice enough to bring up my mail before I left for the Haddon Township Library.

Haddon River Park was busy today! There were tons of people around, enjoying the still relatively dry weather. I dodged a dog walker and her two sons with a huge brown sheepdog who looked more like a big, fuzzy bear, other bikers, and kids and their parents at the playground. For all that, Cuthbert Road wasn't hard to cross at all, and McDonald's wasn't too bad.

Neither was the Haddon Township Library. While it was pretty busy with people getting things done before the holiday, they had lots of help and not a lot for me to do. I organized kids' DVDs, pulled foreign titles from the adult ones, and shelved the few DVDs coming in. I didn't bother taking anything out today. I had plenty to watch at home, including more Three Stooges.

I made a really quick trip to Super Fresh on my way home to pick up maple syrup; their prices are cheaper than Wegman's or Acme's. I also grabbed Cool Whip and a graham cracker crust on sale to make a mousse pie. On my way up to the Westmont Plaza, I pushed my bike past what appeared to be two cop cars and an ambulance cleaning up a car accident. One of the cars was ok, and it didn't look like anyone was really hurt (though I heard complaints about someone's back) ...but the smaller dark blue/black car had a really smashed front bumper. I've always thought the back entrance to the Westmont Plaza across from the Library was dangerous. I've had a few close calls. The street is narrow, and visibility isn't great, especially coming from down by the schools. People pull out of the library and the Plaza often without looking or slowing down.

I went straight home after Super Fresh. Spent the rest of the afternoon at my place. I made a Strawberry-Blueberry Swirl Mousse Pie. Used French Vanilla mousse mix, swirled Strawberry-Banana Jello mix through it, and added fresh farm market blueberries. After that, I continued cleaning. I scrubbed the bathroom, which badly needed it. I probably should have done it last week, but I ran out of time. I swept cobwebs out of random corners, including a gigantic one attached to the light fixture in the kitchen!

Continued running more Stooges shorts all afternoon as I worked. Some of Shemp's best-known shorts are in Volume 6. In the oft-seen public domain short "Brideless Groom," he has to find a wife by 6PM, or he loses his inheritance. He and the others capture a bank robber using nothing but their tailor equipment and their wits in "Sing a Song of Six Pants." The trio want to prove themselves as reporters in "Crime On My Hands," but they have a lot more than a scoop to deal with when Shemp accidentally eats a diamond that a robber wants back - NOW. And in "Heavenly Daze," a departed Shemp finally gets to give out the smacks to his buddies when he's sent back to Earth to keep them from swindling a society couple.

Sick though he was, Curly did manage to get a few good shorts of his own. "Monkey Businessmen" sends the three to a sanitarium for relaxation...but the scam the owners have going is anything but relaxing. "Uncivil Warbirds" pits the Stooges on opposite sides of the Civil War. Will they finally make it back to their sweethearts in one piece? It's Three Stooges and a Baby in "Three Loan Wolves," when three pawnshop owners discover an infant in their store and raise it themselves.

I wish I could have stayed with the Stooges. Work was awful all night. The four and a half hours I worked felt way too long. It was busy right up until 9PM! We didn't have nearly enough help that late, either. How long have people been putting off their holiday shopping? It's still the beginning of the month, too. Then there was that guy who whined to the manager because we dare to shut the self-checkout lines down at 9PM. What's wrong with standing in line with two items? Does it kill you? I was so happy to finally get out of there.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Let Yourself Go

It was a surprisingly nice morning when I finally dragged myself out of bed. Oh, it was still sunny, hot, and humid, but it wasn't quite as hot or as humid as over the weekend. I had a simple breakfast of Life Cereal, green tea, and blueberries while watching the Astaire-Rogers movie Follow the Fleet.

I've rented this one from the Haddon Township Library before. This time, there's no doubt about whose show it is. Astaire and Rogers' names are over the credits, and they're the ones with most of the big numbers, including her "Let Yourself Go," the classic challenge duet "I'm Putting All My Eggs Into One Basket," and the dramatic tour de force "Let's Face the Music and Dance." Enjoying the show are Harriet Hillard (better known as Harriet Nelson) as Rogers' shy schoolmarm sister-turned-singer, Randolph Scott (looking a bit more comfortable than he was in Roberta) as the Navy officer chasing her, and wisecracking chorus girls Betty Grable and Lucile Ball in small parts.

I finally made it to the laundromat around quarter of 12. Perfect timing. There were a few people when I came in. When I left, the place was pin-drop quiet. The Price Is Right was especially cute today. They're celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, and went the Let's Make a Deal route by dressing everything from the set to the contestants to Drew Carey 70s-style. The lady who won the Showcase Showdown wore a sequined pant suit and had a huge Afro ponytail. All of the models had Afros of many colors and glittery bell-bottomed pant suits. An actor from The Love Boat introduced one of the Showcase Showdown prize packages.

I was delighted to see a treat in my mailbox when I arrived. The two Three Stooges Collection sets I picked up on eBay last week had arrived! I found Volume 5 and 6 with free shipping from a seller in Florida. Volume 5 features the final Curly shorts, where he was sick leading up to a nasty stroke that finally forced him into retirement. The second half of that volume and Volume 6 brought his and Moe's older brother Shemp back into the fold as his replacement following a successful solo career in shorts at MGM and elsewhere.

While a lot of people insist that all of this shows, in truth, none of of the turmoil is really that visible on screen. Since fans online seem divided on the Stooges' historical shorts, I decided to give them a little love this afternoon as I put my laundry away and ate leftovers for lunch. "Fiddlers Three" and "Squareheads of the Round Table" give Moe, Shemp, and Larry a chance to rescue fair princesses in a medieval setting that's pretty well-done for low-budget short subjects. The spooky "The Hot Scots," where the Stooges have to solve a mystery in a Scottish castle, is even better.

Curly rejoined Larry and Moe for the western "The Three Troubledoers" and the horror spoof "A Bird In the Hand." "Three Troubledoers" brings the trio to the aid of pretty Nell (perpetual Stooge damsel in distress Christine MacEntyre) when bandit Blackie kidnaps her father and uses him to blackmail Nell into marriage. "Bird In the Hand" has the Stooges as incompetant wallpaper hangers who run afoul of a mad scientist. He wants to transfer a human brain to his gorilla's head...and decides that Curly's is the perfect specimen! (And other than Curly talks a bit slower and "Woo woos" less, I really couldn't tell he was that sick.)

Work was busy for most of the evening, right up until shortly before I left. It's the beginning of the month, with all the fun that implies, and we're getting close to one of the major holidays of the summer. Thankfully, other than getting tired, I really didn't run into too many problems. I was in and out.