Sunday, September 30, 2012

All Alone In the Dark

I awoke to a beautiful, partly cloudy, chilly fall day. The first thing I did after writing in my journal this morning was call Mom. I needed to talk to someone. Trouble is, she had my sister Anny and her son Skylar with her and didn't have time. She'd call back later.

I was making Whole Grain French Toast for breakfast when Mom did call back. We talked for almost an hour and a half...but though she had good intentions, it didn't make me feel better. She wants me to call the Foot and Ankle Center and find out what's going on with them...and ask Rose to help. I don't really think legal intervention will be necessary. I don't want to make things worse than they already are. She also suggested picking up a part-time job in another store. She said she'd send money to help pay my rent. It's nice of her, but I feel guilty. I hate having to ask for money.

Mom said I need to learn how to have faith. Faith is very hard for me. I feel like nothing's been going right lately. My feet are both hurt. My uncle is dying of cancer. He's been sick for a while, but it's gotten worse in the past few months. I feel like I'm stuck, and nothing will ever, ever change. I'm stuck in a job that I hate because it makes money. I'm stuck on several stories, including two Monkees fanfics that will likely never be finished because I'm no longer interested in that fandom. I'm not good at talking to people, and I get nervous when I try to sell my abilities. I'm not even sure what abilities I have that are marketable and will make me enough money to pay my rent. And everyone keeps pointing their fingers at the economy and how hard it is for people to find jobs and why should you even bother when no one is hiring?

 We talked for so long, my French toast was very cold by the time I finally got to it. I ate it, but my heart wasn't in it. I finally decided to just head out to Oaklyn's Town Picnic despite my sore feet and worse mood. I needed some kind of a distraction, and the Picnic is free.

I was surprised when I saw barricades set up along Kendall near the Oaklyn School and Washington Terrace. There were tents set up along Kendall and the last two blocks of West Clinton, near the school and the buildings with Leo's Yum Yums and Doria's Deli, among others. The Town Picnic is normally set up behind the school, but this year, as they had with the Spring Fling, it was moved out onto the street.

The new location allowed for more activities and twice as many booths. I got to enjoy two performances by the Ovations Dance Studio on West Clinton, next-door to Phillies Phatties. The first was a creative and fun jazz/ballet routine to "This Is Halloween" from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The second about a half-hour later was a tumbling number done to a live version of "Hallelujah" by one of the performers from Studio LuLu, the crafts and music center on the first floor of the Ovations/Phillies Phatties building.

I wandered around for about an hour. It had already been going for an hour and a half when I got there. There wasn't much free food left by that point, but I did manage to get a pulled pork sandwich, a little cole slaw, a bottle of water, a banana, and a slice of cake. I watched kids play games near the music stage on the School's front lawn. I saw a booth giving out free Halloween costumes, and another signing people for flu shots at CVS. PNC Bank had a wheel; I won a Sesame Street poster and a jar opener. (I actually do need the latter - could have used it opening my new bottle of maple syrup last week.)  There was a long line of kids waiting for the fire truck rides. The Camden County's Police Department's bomb squad showed off their equipment to curious passer-by.

My favorite booth was headed by Oaklyn's Girl Scouts. A whole platoon of young ladies between 4 and pre-teens painted clay stars, gingerbread men, trees, and candy canes, then coated them with glitter. A den mother explained that the ornaments were for Oaklyn's Town Christmas Tree. The Town Christmas Tree is usually trimmed with paper decorations made by kids at the Oaklyn School, but they're easily blown away or damaged in rain and snow. I had to agree with the mother that the clay ornaments should prove to be far more weather resistant! I contributed a star with a purple center and bright red points. (It even had a little glitter - there was glitter mixed in with the purple paint.)

I headed back to my apartment after I finished my star. I went online for a little while to look up some things and check my e-mail. Rose called me around 5:30, with pretty much the same concerns as Mom. I need to start looking for a second job, not a writing job, but a retail job that uses the skills I have now and will pay the bills. I don't really want them to, but Rose insisted on Dad getting my ankle checked out tomorrow. I'd really rather just put it on ice, but I'm not going to argue with a woman who has trained to be a lawyer. I hate bothering people, especially since Rose also mentioned that Uncle Ken has taken a turn for the worse and may not last the week.

Needless to say, I was not up for making a big dinner. I tossed together some of that Knorr Chicken Stock and the leftover ham and vegetables in my refrigerator and made Ham and Veggie Soup.

Oh, and the Philadelphia Eagles seem to have had a better day than I did. They just finished pushing past division rival the New York Giants, 19-17. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Monster Mania

It was cold, cloudy, and damp when I switched on the American Top 40 this morning. Casey provided some heat as he took us to the heart of the 80s, 1985. Hits in late September of that year included "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" by John Parr, "Dress You Up" by Madonna, "Take On Me" by A-Ha, "Part Time Lover" by Stevie Wonder, "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner (from the sci-fi sequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome), "Oh Sheila" by Ready for the World, "Lonely Ol' Night" by John Cougar Melloncamp, and "Cherish" by Kool & the Gang.

You can't get much more 80s than the song at the top of the chart that week. The massive success of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" was fueled by it's "greed is good" lyrics and a landmark music video that was one of the first uses of computer graphics on television.

The gloomy weather probably kept a lot of yard sales at bay. I only saw three, and only the one on E. Oakland Avenue in Oaklyn had anything of interest. The Christmas Almanac, edited by Lena Tambori and Natasha Tambori Fried, is a collection of just about anything that you can think of that is Christmas-related and in print - information on trees, decorations, gifts, food, and where to buy them, crafts, recipes, trivia, stories, essays, songs. It's a beautiful hard-back book with gilt-edged pages, and I'm so glad I found it. There's so much information in here, I'll be looking at it until Christmas.

The Farm Market was fairly busy despite the dark clouds. Peaches are winding down, but there's plenty of fall produce replacing it. The apples have been sweet and absolutely delicious. The winter squash are firm and bright. There's still heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant out, too, far beyond their usual season, and the fall leafy greens and radishes. I ended up with spinach, tiny Gala apples, pears, long, sharp sweet potatoes from the organic booth, and my favorite little brown mushrooms from the mushroom sellers.

I also bought this year's pumpkins today, a medium-sized pie pumpkin and three little "jack" ones. One of the little pumpkins had a bumpy shape I thought was cute. I always buy my pumpkins in late September or early October and keep them out until Thanksgiving or they go bad, whichever comes first. I never carve them. I don't think I'd be any good at it, and it's nice to have them around for Thanksgiving, too.

I browsed in two more yard sales, but they were both washouts. The one in Collingswood was pretty much knick-knacks and comics. The Westmont sale claimed it was a big multi-family affair. When I arrived, I could see plenty of family, but not much more than junk. Either it was all bought before I came, or someone has a weird idea of a big sale.

Stopped at the Westmont Acme on the way home, since I was in the area anyway. I forgot canned pumpkin when I was at the Audubon Acme yesterday. I wanted to pick up a can of cranberry sauce to replace what I used last night, too. I was delighted to find bags of those flavored Jet-Puffed Marshmallows from the spring on clearance. They're long-gone from the Audubon Acme. I ended up with Cinnamon Roll and Chocolate Mint.

Went straight back to the apartment after that, and stayed there the rest of the day. Finished out the second disc of Isis while I cleaned the kitchen. This is definitely not a superhero series for action or special effects junkies, but it's enjoyable enough to look past some cheesy plots and effects that show the limits of a low-budget kids' show. The one thing I really do like about this is how it deals, even vaguely, with hot-button 70s issues like the women's movement (there's a girl mechanic who wants to be the president of the school auto club and a Hispanic girl who builds model airplanes, not to mention Andrea Thomas herself is a chemistry teacher), enviormentalism, racism, and teaching those with disabilities (the last story on the second disc involved a blind boy who was once a champion horse-back rider and is given a horse trained to deal with the blind to help him out).

If you enjoyed this series as a kid or are intrigued by the premise as I was, by all means, this is a lot of fun if you can find it and don't mind the 70s cheesiness. (The complete series set that I took out of the library looks like it's long out of print, but the first six episodes are still around on DVD.)

I switched to working on Whole Wheat Zucchini Cookies and the much darker 1931 Dracula. The title character, of course, is the famous Transylvanian nobleman (Bela Lugosi) who drains blood from his victims during the night and sleeps when the day comes. His first victim is Renfield (Dwight Frye), a mousy little fellow who is originally his solictor and becomes his slave when he drains him. After moving to London, his second victim is the lovely Lucy (Frances Dade). The third will be her friend Mina (Helen Chandler)...unless her fiancee John (David Manners), her father Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunsten), and famous vampire hunter Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) can keep her from joining Lucy and Renfield!

While slow, bloodless, and a bit stilted by today's standards, it's undeniably creepy and atmospheric. The first half with Renfield in particular makes your skin crawl. Alas, things slow down once the mad Renfield winds up in an asylum and Dracula goes after his victims in London, but it picks up in time for the finale...which quite frankly feels a little too anti-climatic for what came before it. Worth seeing for some of the spookiest cinematography of the early talkie era and of course, for Bela Lugosi's career-defining performance as the eerie Count.

Stuck with Bela Lugosi but switched to a more comic horror tale, the East Side Kids movie Spooks Run Wild, while my foot was on ice. By far the best of the two East Side Kids movies Lugosi appeared in, this is almost as creepy as Dracula, with some well-done scares for a low-budget B comedy.

Ran Scooby Doo On Zombie Island during a tasty meal of "Golden Mum Beets" (cooked shredded golden beets with butter and honey), sauteed cranberry beans, and a broiled tuna steak. The first in a long line of Scooby Doo made-for-home-entertainment films reunites the gang to help Daphne find real ghosts in the Louisiana bayous. She gets more than she bargains for when the gang encounters zombies and voodoo cat witches...and none of them are local thieves in masks.

Finished with two horror-oriented Three Stooges shorts as I cleaned up after dinner. The Curly-era "Spook Louder" has the boys defending a ray gun from spies in a haunted house...but who keeps throwing those pies? Shemp joins Larry and Moe for the 3-D "Spooks," a more typical affair that has the trio rescuing a young woman from a mad scientist.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Dry Spell

It never rained last night, nor did it rain today. It was warm, humid, and kind of cloudy when I got up, like Mother Nature couldn't make up her mind. I slept in and spent the morning reading in bed. After I finished The Clue In Blue, I had breakfast, ran more Isis, and wrapped my sore ankle with a self-stick bandage. It was past 12:30 when I finally headed out to Audubon.

I wasn't going to do the gym. Pushing my bad heel on the elliptical machine is one thing; attempting to push a swollen, twisted ankle is something else entirely. I did manage to pick up my paycheck and get a fairly large grocery shopping order done. Grabbed turkey cutlets that had a $3 manager's coupon for dinner. Restocked lime juice, Emerald Trail Mix to Go bags (were on sale and I still have those coupons that come in the boxes), I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (on a decent sale), and fruit concentrate. Oatmeal and cereal sales abounded. I love the less-sweet Quaker cereals; went with my favorite Oatmeal Squares. I was going to get the Quaker old-fashioned oatmeal...but I decided that Acme's generic brand sale was a better price for a much larger container.

My schedule next week is a bit of a surprise. I thought I put in for Wednesday through Tuesday off...but I must have wrote down the wrong numbers. I don't work again until next Friday! On one hand, it may be just as well. I'll have the time to rest my ankle, try to get a few things done around the apartment, and maybe even see if I can get away with some local fall festivities. On the other hand, it means my paycheck will be lousy, which isn't good. And when I do get back, I'll be working until 9PM on Friday and 9:30 on Saturday.

I was frustrated when I got home. I couldn't settle down, though. I still had errands to run. I had a quick lunch of Nutella and Peach Butter on multi-grain bread and an apple, then hurried off to the bank. I told the teller about how badly things have been going lately. Nothing seems to be going right. I can barely stand on my own feet without pain. I just want one thing to work out - a decent job, my feet to heal, something to work out with Uncle Ken and Dad.

Made a quick stop at CVS after I left the bank. I was hoping their ibuprofen would be cheaper, but it wasn't really that much cheaper than Acme's. Oh well, I needed it badly. I bought the smallest bottle I could get away with, a new brush (they do have good prices on brushes), and a bottle of Palmolive dishwashing liquid on sale.

The moment I got home and put everything away, I put my foot on ice and spent the next few hours watching more Isis, along with the other Roy Rogers movie. I really like Isis. It's pretty much a kid-oriented cross between the 70s Wonder Woman and The Greatest American Hero. Most of what Isis deals with is hardly government or Amazon-worthy adventure. In fact, the majority of her stories have more to do with life lessons than action (not surprising, given this show's Saturday morning origins).

My favorite was "Lucky." Lucky is a smart, older golden retriever beloved by a little boy and the high school's baseball team, who regard Lucky as their mascot and good luck charm. Sadly, Lucky dies when he dives into the ocean to retrieve a ball thrown by a teasing teenage boy and drowns. Isis rescues his master before he can be swept out with him, but she's unable to save Lucky. The poor kid is so upset, he wanders out to a dam where he used to walk his beloved pooch...but the area is about to be flooded. Isis not only has to save him again, but she must explain a few things about death and the circle of life to the grieving child.

Not only was this one of the sweetest episodes I ever saw involving a superhero, it was surprisingly upfront about Lucky's demise. Most kids' TV shows, even now, would have tried to edge around the dog's death. Isis turned it into a gentle lesson in birth, death, and grief.

Switched to Apache Rose after the first disc of Isis episodes ended. Another Roy Rogers vehicle, this one was probably even more typical of the genre than Bells of Coranado. This time, Dale is the owner of the title barge who is pursued by a Hispanic land owner. Roy is an oil driller who finds oil in the caves on the Hispanic man's land. Trouble is, first of all, there are men who want him to pay up on gambling debts, and second, his sister owns half the land and won't sell. Dale, Roy, and Roy's pals find them involved in a fairly complicated scheme to make sure the caves go into the right hands.

Same deal here as with Bells. If you enjoy the B-westerns of the 40s and 50s and/or are a Roy Rogers fan, go right ahead. This isn't the place for people looking for more complex westerns or ones set in the historical West (most of Rogers' vehicles seem to be set in modern times). If you like your westerns fun, action-packed, and with a healthy dose of music, these are really quite enjoyable.

Began the Disney Halloween specials as I made Turkey Cutlets with Mushroom-Zucchini Sauce, steamed speckled beans, and cranberry sauce for dinner. I was thrilled when Mom gave me the tapes with the Disney holiday specials my family taped off TV and cable in the late 80s last year. I watched these every Halloween for years and have missed them since I moved up here.

I'm probably not going to make it to that band concert in Collingswood tomorrow, but I think I could at least get a short bike ride and farm market run in. It's a lot easier for me to run errands on bike when my feet hurt; I don't have to push quite as hard as I do when I'm on foot.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oh Mighty Balance

I slept in this morning. Read The Clue In Blue for a while, then finished Summer Magic and watched cartoons during breakfast. I didn't get to the Oaklyn Library until around 12:30. I mainly organized their DVDs, which did need it. They've dropped the "New Releases" section as too difficult to keep up with...but someone just tossed them in any old way, and they needed to be put in the right places. The board books, as usual, weren't in great shape either.

Opted to take out two DVDs (well, one DVD and a two-disc TV show set) from Oaklyn for the first time in ages. The Lorax is my favorite Dr. Seuss book and special. I've been looking forward to seeing the movie that came out in March, but the Haddon Township Library hasn't gotten it in yet, and I can't afford to buy new releases. The Oaklyn Library had just gotten it last week. Oaklyn's had the 1975 live-action kids' TV show The Secret of Isis for ages, but I've never had the time to watch the whole thing. I wasn't around when this show was on Saturday mornings, but I love the premise - a science teacher finds a 3,000 year old medallion while on a dig that endows her with the powers of the elements and animals.

I ran the first two episodes of Isis when I got in about an hour later. Andrea Thomas (Joanna Cameron) changes into Isis to save the day and help her friends, fellow teacher Rick Mason (Brian Cutler) and student Cindy Lee (Joanna Pang). The pilot episode, involving Isis discovering the secret behind an apparent UFO invasion, was the better of the two episodes I watched today. The second, where Cindy Lee is dared to climb a fence and discovers a car-theft ring, is a little preachier and less action-packed.

I finally headed out to the Collingswood Library around quarter of 3. There was even less to do there than usual, despite it being busy with kids out of school. I did get the kids' DVDs organized. They needed it rather badly. The adults' section was also organized, though they weren't quite as bad. There was nothing to shelve upstairs. I left a little early to buy a bottle of water from WaWa for yoga class.

The Gentle Yoga class was surprisingly busy today. In fact, there were at least 9 people there, counting the substitute teacher Scott, the most I've ever seen at the 4PM class. It would seem that Yogawood has started to advertise the late afternoon classes to teachers and students looking to wind down after the busy school day. I mostly talked to teachers just out of school or college kids between classes.

Scott put everyone through the gentlest paces possible and still make people sweat. I'm glad I opted for the quieter class. My heel spur is still really sore. I called the Foot and Ankle Center earlier, and they said they are once again having problems getting paperwork back from the union and Amerihealth. It'll be a few more weeks before I get my orthopedics, so I'm going to get another injection on Tuesday afternoon.

I finally sat down on the front stoop of one of the side street buildings after class and called my sister Rose. I called her twice earlier, but never heard for her. Just as I thought, she couldn't get together with me today. She had worked all day and was tired. Plus, she'd just been at Dad's...and found out our Uncle Ken, Dad's older brother, is in the hospital again. Uncle Ken is very, very sick, and this is the second time he's been in the hospital in several weeks. He's been chair-ridden since then. I'm really worried about him.

I was going to go to Haddon Hair Designs to cheer myself up and get my hair done. The girl at the desk rather brusquely told me they were closing and didn't stay open past 6. I just went down the street to the Hair Cuttery instead, as I have the past three times I've gotten my hair cut. I didn't regret it. This time, a cute college-age girl with a perky dirty blond spiral perm did my hair. She did a fabulous job. It's a bit longer than I got in February, and layered just right. (It's not always easy to get my frizzy mop layered correctly.)

After that, I strolled around a little. I peeked in a few stores, including a small thrift shop that just opened a few weeks ago, but saw nothing I liked. I stopped at Cafe Antonio's for a quick dinner of cheese and mushroom pizza slices and a fountain Diet Pepsi. Clouds built up ominously behind me, as they had off and on all day, but it remained just humid and cool.

It happened when I was walking down Haddon Avenue, on my way to the parking lot behind the stores where my bike was locked. My right ankle turned violently. I could hear the bones. I let out a scream and almost fell, but I grabbed a black post formerly used for parking meters before Collingswood put in automatic meter machines to keep myself from going down. I could walk on it, but it hurt like hell. I stumbled into one more store before finally getting to my bike and heading out of Collingswood, dodging the late rush hour traffic.

I was originally going to just go straight home and put my ankle on ice, but my thoughts kept returning to Dad and Uncle Ken. When I got on West Clinton, I swung down Newton Avenue and over to Hillcrest instead of going straight. I'm glad I did. Dad and Jodie were the only ones home when I arrived. I had a nice talk with them about Uncle Ken and everything that's going on there over green tea and slices of Cherry Cake (Rose apparently made it, and it's incredible - she doesn't give herself enough credit for being an excellent cook) and Entermann's new Cinnamon Crunch Loaf Cake.

It seems Uncle Ken was having trouble with his bowels. Not a surprise, given he spends all day in a chair. They just decided to send him to the hospital. Dad's just as upset as Rose and me about Uncle Ken, a man who has been energetic and fun-loving all his life, being confined to a chair. It doesn't help that Dad also saw my stepmother Kaye waste away from cancer before her eventual death in 1997 and has had his own experience with cancer, not to mention Uncle Ken is his brother, and he knows him better than anyone.

I'm at home now, my ankle finally on ice. Maybe it's just as well that it's supposed to pour for a lot of tomorrow. I was going to do the usual gym-groceries-paycheck run, then spend the rest of the day doing chores around the apartment and resting my heel spur. I need my paycheck badly (not to mention my schedule for next week), but I may either cut out the gym or go easy on it. I really want to lose the weight, but my feet have enough problems as it is.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Taking the Bear Cake

I spent the morning of my first day off reading in bed. I didn't really get going until around 11, when I jumped on the bike and made my way to the Haddon Township Library. It was sunny, but a bit warmer, hazier, and very breezy. I had a pleasant ride through Newton River Park, passing many people enjoying the day - joggers, dog walkers, people out for a stroll, fellow bike riders.

As it turned out, the library had plenty of help and not a lot to do. There weren't even a lot of foreign and children's titles to pull from the adult DVDs. I mostly organized the children's DVDs and picture books and shelved what movies there were. Since I have a lot of time this week and the weather for several days is not supposed to be wonderful, I rented 8 DVDs. I ended up with two Roy Rogers vehicles, Apache Rose and Bells of Coranado, two lesser-known John Hughes comedies, Weird Science and Career Opportunities, Dracula again (I never did get to it last week), the World War II-set romance Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, more The Cat In the Hat Knows a Lot About That, and the History Channel special The Haunted History of Halloween to kick off my fall holiday season.

I'm saving my major shopping for tomorrow, so I just had lunch in Westmont Plaza. I ate at one of my favorite area restaurants, the Westmont Bagel Shop. I'm a little annoyed with them. The college students who were working there were nice, but not nearly as good at cooking or dealing with customers as the lady who owns the place. They gave me a plate of fries when I said I didn't want any, and I had to ask for a fork to go with my Veggie Quesadila.

Clouds moved in while I was on my way to WaWa for milk. By the time I was in Oaklyn, it was showering lightly. I decided that given the rain we've had on my last two days off, I'd be better off just staying home for the rest of the day and doing things around the apartment.

Ironically, it only rained once more, even lighter than the first time, for the rest of the evening. I opted to do things around the apartment and avoid the iffy weather. I baked a cake in my teddy-bear shaped pan while watching Bells of Coranado. This is the first Roy Rogers movie I've ever seen, but I suspect it's pretty typical of the genre. Rogers is called to the little town of Coranado to investigate an insurance claim that smells fishy. He pursues the electrical tower owner Bennett while romancing his secretary (Dale Evans) and discovers that a mysterious person is smuggling uranium to a foreign country. Rogers, Evans, and the other ranch hands have to find out who this person is and smash the smuggling ring!

Not bad. Like I said, if you enjoy 40s and 50s B westerns with lots of action and singing, this seems like one of the better ones. It's pretty well-written, the singing isn't too intrusive, and there's a great finale on the electrical tower.

Ran CDs while scrubbing the bathroom. It really needed it rather badly. The shower in particular was gross. I'm glad I finally got it done; I'll do the kitchen tomorrow morning.

I ran the sweet Disney live-action musical Summer Magic while making a simple dinner of ham and carrots. A lovely musical about a family from Boston moving to a small Maine town in the 1910s, this is one of Hayley Mills' several early and mid-60s Disney vehicles, and one of my favorites. (If it sounds like "Meet Me In St. Louis in New England," the screenplay was written by the same woman who did that film, Sally Benson.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Time For Vacation

Started out a sunny, windy, slightly warmer day with a run to the gym. Probably due to the nice day, it was pretty dead in there again. That, and it was past noon when I finally got there. Most people were likely at lunch. I did a decent set on the elliptical machine while watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, then all the leg apparatus work that my heel spur could handle. Not to mention, I had one more stop to make before I went home, and I had to work at 3.

Since it's on the same side of the mall as the gym, I stopped at America's Best on the way home to order my contacts. I've been putting it off because I really can't afford them. I've now been on my last pair for weeks; I can't put it off anymore. I ordered my usual three month's worth, then headed home.

I saw men in two vans removing signage and food menus from the Sonic property after I left America' Best. Sigh. I guess they really are closed for good. I'm going to miss them. They had the best fast food onion rings I ever tasted, and that awesome cherry limeade. It was nice to have the option of eating outside on a warm summer evening, too. I always thought they were popular, but, first of all, an area that can get really cold in the winter may not be the best location for a year-round outdoor restaurant. Second, they were shoved into an extremely small spot behind the wildly popular Chick Fil' A...and they obviously lacked the playground that makes them popular with families.

(I wonder what's going to happen to the Sonic property now? That little building is too small to house any normal-sized fast food restaurant. Maybe they could make it into parking lots for Chick-Fil'A and the mall?)

After I got home, I had a really quick lunch of leftovers while running cartoons and checked my e-mail, then headed off to work. Work was almost exactly the same as last night - steady during rush hour, quiet otherwise. It did pick up enough by 9:30 that a manager had to come in for me so I could leave on time. I bought eggs (on a good sale that's only this week) and today's Daily Deal, the only one this week that interested me, the 69 cent boxes of Betty Crocker cake mix. I actually have plenty in the pantry, but for that price, who can resist? I'll treat myself to a cake this week.

And I deserve a treat. Tomorrow is a normal day off. My second vacation week doesn't technically start until Thursday. It'll run until next Tuesday. It's my second of two vacation weeks, and even though I don't have the money to do any kind of traveling, I'm still looking forward to a week where I don't have to run off to work.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Getting Ready for Winter

Brrr! It was in the 60s when I woke up this morning. Perfect fall weather. I only had one window open, and it was still pleasantly chilly in my apartment. I ran cartoons in the morning before heading out to the laundromat to get this week's load done. It was fairly busy when I came in, not too bad when I left. I didn't have a really huge load to do, anyway, mostly shirts, socks, and work clothes.

Since Mother Nature's insisting that it's fall, I decided it was time to start winterizing the apartment and my wardrobe. When I got home, I sorted through the clothes that were staying out and being put away, then pulled out the seasonal clothes bin. I switched my red purse for my heavier white and blue knit one. I folded and packed any blouses and t-shirts I wouldn't need, and all but my two jean shorts. Pulled out my sweaters and jeans and heavier work pants. It was nice to see my sweaters and warm clothes again! I figure even if we have a few more warm days, they won't be warm enough for light shorts and tank tops.

I continued with my winterizing after a quick omelet for lunch. Ran Red Riding Hood as I put away the fans and dusted and covered the air conditioner. This adaptation of the famous Grimm's Fairy Tale is set in an unnamed kingdom during the medieval era. Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is betrothed to Henry, the blacksmith's son (Max Irons), but is in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Her town has long been under attack by a mysterious werewolf. The townspeople think they've killed it after it murders Henry's father and Valerie's sister. Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) says otherwise. During the night of the town's festival, the werewolf attacks...and it speaks to Valerie. With the town claiming she's a witch and even her beloved grandmother (Julie Christie) holding secrets, will Valerie be able to solve the mystery of the wolf, and decide who really owns  her heart?

Pure Twilight-esque fantasy pulp. Seyfried is fine as spirited Valerie; Oldman is suitably creepy as the wolf hunter. I also like Julie Christie as her mystical, thoughtful grandmother. The atmosphere is dark, chilly, and appropriately mysterious, and the mystery is well written. My biggest complaints are Valerie's love interests. They're interchangeable and as bland as a bowl of oatmeal. I honestly can't understand what Val sees in either of them. Chalk it up to adolescent hormones, I guess. If you like horror that isn't too bloody or the Twilight series, you'll probably enjoy one.

I ran a few Max & Ruby cartoons as I made Pumpkin Muffins, then headed off to work. Work was pretty much par for the course for this time of the month and year - steady up until around 7-7:30, quiet thereafter. I was in and out quickly.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Anything Can Happen If You Let It

The storm finally blew out late last night and took the last of the summer heat with it. The chilly, sunny morning said "fall" all over, and I loved it. It sure beats the Indian summer that's lingered the past few falls. Brunch With the Beatles celebrated the coming of fall by highlighting songs from each of the 12 original British albums, from "Please Please Me" to "The Long and Winding Road." I exchanged my usual tea for a more warming cup of home-made Hot Cocoa (with real cocoa) and Dark Chocolate Chip Pancakes.

Went through my cookbooks for baking ideas, then worked on Apple-Lemon Bars while listening to my new Disney cast albums. Ironically, the one that was the most changed from its source material, Mary Poppins, ended up being my favorite of the three. Naturally, Disney couldn't get singing penguins and flying, laughing uncles onstage. The "I Love to Laugh" number was dropped all together, as was any reference to Mrs. Banks' suffragette activities. "Supercalafragilisticexpealidotious," which was just sort of dropped into the animated sequence as a celebratory song for Mary, is now part of a fun number set in a shop where words are bought and sold. The "Jolly Holiday" park fantasy romp now animates statues instead of penguins and buskers. "Let's Go Fly a Kite" is performed by Bert and the kids instead of the Banks family in the finale.

The biggest change is that the musical has something the movie didn't bother with -  a traditional villain. Miss Andrew is a nasty old crone who was once Mr. Banks' nanny and is hired after a frustrated Mary takes off. Mary believes that Jane and Michael need to figure out some things on their own...but Miss Andrew's "Brimstone and Treacle" isn't going to help change their ways. There's also "Temper, Temper," a rather dark number where Jane and Michael's toys come to life and put them on trial for mistreating them. (This song proved to be too dark - it has apparently been replaced with a somewhat less frightening version of the same idea, "Playing the Game.")

The other two shows are less successful in transforming their stories for a different medium. Little Mermaid was just ok. It pretty much stuck to the movie up through the last 20 minutes or so; Eric's near-marriage to Ursula was replaced by a "princess contest," not unlike the "Princesses on Parade" number from The Swan Princess. Ursula also had an Ethel Merman-style number, "I Want the Good Times Back," that didn't really match the tone of the rest of the show or film score.

Beauty and the Beast is the darkest, in tone and material. It also seems to have had the least added to it for the stage. One of the new songs is actually my favorite of any of the "added material" for the three musicals. Tim Rice wrote the lyrics for a searing ballad to deepen the character of the Beast, "If I Can't Love Her." Frequent stage villain Terrance Mann (he sings Chauvelain in my original Broadway cast CD of The Scarlet Pimpernel) performs it with incredible intensity.

I went for a really quick walk after pulling the cookies out of the oven. It was an absolutely amazing early fall day. The sun was shining, and it was much cooler than yesterday, without any humidity. I'm so glad it feels like fall. The trees are just starting to show the barest hint of changing colors. There's asters and mums in every garden. Tomato vines are laden with the last fruit of the season; late summer roses show off their soft glow in ornamental bushes. I went down to the boat landing on Goff Avenue and back. The view was amazing. You could see the Ben Franklin Bridge as clear as you could through a telescope.

Had a quick chat with Mom when I got in. She has no problems with me staying up here for my vacation. For one thing, the nice weather seems to have encouraged people to head south. She went into Cape May today for a walk around...and found it was so busy, she could only remain for 45 minutes before wanting to go home and avoid the crowd. She's happily preparing surprises for her grandsons and CARE packages for my brother in the Navy.

The Eagles game was in full swing by the time I made it to work. It was steady when I got in, but it died very quickly, and in fact was dead as a doornail for most of the night. Ironic, considering the game was terrible. The Eagles played badly and lost to the Cardinals 27-6. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Wonderful World of Make Believe

Started the morning with this week's episode of the American Top 40. Casey flew ahead a year to 1980, as disco faded and country, hard rock, soul, and British supergroups took over. Hits from that week included the title song from Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra, "I'm Alright" from Caddyshack by Kenny Loggins, the title song from Fame by Irene Cara, "Give Me the Night" by George Benson, "Drivin' My Life Away" by Eddie Rabbit, "All Out of Love" by Air Supply, and "You'll Accompany Me" by Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band. Diana Ross had the #1 hit that week, one of her biggest solo smashes, the bouncy dance tune "Upside Down."

I headed out as soon as "Upside Down" ended. It was a gorgeous day for a farm market/yard sale run. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and while it was a bit warmer than it has been, it wasn't horrible for the time of year, probably in the upper 70s-lower 80s. The heavy breeze kept it from feeling much worse.

My first stop was a corker. The church next to the Oaklyn Post Office was having an indoor-outdoor rummage sale to fund their missionary trip to Africa. The had a particularly awesome collection of children's books, CDs, and DVDs. I ended up with:

Two books for my nephews, a collection of Mickey Mouse stories and the classic early Bernstein Bears tale The Bike Lesson.

Two animated DVDs, both holiday-related: Max & Ruby's Halloween and Tom & Jerry Tales: Vol. One, which seems to be a holiday-themed set for their most recent show.

Two books from the Dear America series, one about the daughter of a Tory (loyal to the British king) family in 1774, the other about a girl who witnessed the building of the railroads out west in 1869.

My best finds (and probably my favorite finds of the day) were four Disney CDs. Three were cast albums for stage adaptations of their properties - the long-running hit Beauty and the Beast, the still-running Mary Poppins, and The Little Mermaid, which wasn't nearly as well-received as the other two but has some interesting-sounding new music. Also picked up The Best of Schoolhouse Rock. I'd love to get a set with all the songs, but until I can find it, this collection of three or four songs from each of the five Rock shorts collections will do.

There was a great little yard sale in Collingswood on my way to the farm market, too. I think I've found good things from them before. I grabbed another book for my nephews and another DVD, Mickey Saves Santa, the Christmas special for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Next stop was the Farm Market. Peaches, nectarines, and cucumbers are just about done. Pumpkins, winter squash, gourds, and beans of all kinds abound. I didn't really need a whole lot today. I mostly wanted fruit. Ended up with those sweet little Gala apples, pears, speckled beans, and zucchini.

I spent the next three hours riding all over Audubon, from the farm market all the way up to a block from King's Highway. Actually, my finds in Audubon were disappointing for most of the morning. The one sale that listed American Girl items had sold out by the time I made it over there at 10:30. Almost everyone else seemed to be selling junk, cheap recent kids' toys, baby items, sports memorabilia, and children's clothes. The furniture that interested me was too expensive.

My persistence paid off. I finally hit two big record sales on Washington Terrace, ironically just a few blocks from the big record sale I found there in early April. One woman was selling her grandparents' old records. A middle-aged man on the next block over was clearing out his collection. Between the two of them, I ended up with:

Johnny Mathis - The Wonderful World of Make Believe

John Fogerty - Centerfield

Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy - Favorites In Hi-Fi

Greatest hits collections for Petula Clark and The Captain & Tennille

Frank Sinatra - The World We Knew, Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits Vol. 2

Home for Christmas, a three-record Columbia holiday set with a lovely cover depicting a snowy New England farm and sled scene

I finally headed home after picking up the records. I wanted to save some money for later in the week, and I was starved. I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast! I was too tired when I finally got in to have more than cereal for lunch as I ran the Mickey Saves Santa DVD. In the title holiday special, Mickey and Donald have to rescue Santa when he's stranded on Mistletoe Mountain. Mickey enjoys it, but greedy Donald has to be constantly reminded to behave. Goofy and Mickey return a baby bird to its mother in "Goofy's Bird." My favorite was "Mickey Go-Seek." Donald and Mickey are playing hide and seek. Mickey has to find his feathered friend...but Don's found an awful good hiding place! He enlists the help of the other Disney crew members, Toodles, and the audience to help lead him to Donald.

I worked on adding my new finds to my inventory for a while. It was supposed to rain after 2PM...but it was still sunny by 4:30, though also windier and a bit more humid and hazy. I took advantage of Mother Nature's continuing good mood to pick up sticks in the yard and go for a quick walk down to the school. I wasn't the only one, either. There were lots of people out and about today. Kids rode their bikes. Adults chatted on their porches. A mother giggled with her toddler daughter by the jungle gym in the playground, while a gaggle of pre-teen boys played tag by the swings.

When I got home, I made Chicken with Mushroom Sauce and Speckled Beans and smashed sweet potatoes for dinner while watching Harvey. James Stewart is kindly drunk Elwood P. Dowd in this adaptation of the Pulitzer-prize-winning hit play. Dowd's best friend is an invisible six-foot rabbit named Harvey. Neither he nor the regulars in his favorite bars see anything wrong with this, but it causes no end of consternation to his flustered sister Veta Louise (Josephine Hull) and her daughter, the latter of whom continuously sees suitors chased away by her uncle and his unusual pal. Veta is so hysterical when she finally decides to have Elwood committed that the sanitarium tries to lock her up instead. Everyone in Elwood's household and the sanitarium finally learn a lesson about being crazy when the sanitarium's owner goes missing.

A sweet, thoughtful comedy along the same lines as Miracle On 34th Street and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Like those earlier movies, this one also deals with a man considered crazy by some and just a sweet guy with a good imagination by others, the importance of fantasy, and how people can help others, if they just take the time to listen to them. James Stewart is sweet and wonderful as gentle Dowd; Josephine Hull (of the original Broadway cast and Arsenic and Old Lace) won an Oscar as the fed-up Veta Louise.

I felt a distinct sense of deja-vu when the rain finally arrived around 7:30...and once again, when it rained, it poured like mad. It's thunderstormed off and on for the rest of the evening, though it seems to be off right now.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Almost Autumn

I'm so proud of myself. I awoke earlier than usual so I could get a lot done today, starting with a gym run. I've been doing the elliptical machine during both of my gym runs, instead of the bike. It takes off twice as many calories as the bike does, especially given I ride my bike every day. I watched Let's Make a Deal and worked up quite a sweat. Had a nice session on the arm machines, too. I arrived at quarter after 10 and must have just missed a class. It was busier than it has been when I came in, quiet when I left.

The college student at the front desk at the Acme said I'd just missed the morning crowd there. Good. I was able to pick up my two vacation paychecks and do my grocery shopping with no trouble. I didn't have a really huge order, anyway. Brown sugar, milk, and peanut butter were the main things. Fruit concentrate and the Emerald Trail Mix bags were on good sales. I bought two of each. Decided it would be cheaper to buy cheese at the Acme on sale than at the Farm Market. (Not to mention, I intend to check out Audubon's Town-Wide Yard Sale tomorrow and won't be going home right away.) Grabbed a ham steak that was on sale and a package of multi-grain bakery bread that you could just stick in the oven and bake (the latter was half-off; supposedly, the bakery had overstocked and needed to clear some items out). 

When I got home, I made Scrambled Eggs with late-summer vegetables and Muenster Cheese for lunch, then went back out again. I still had some errands and things to do. I never got to the Oaklyn Library last week, so that was my first stop. I'm guessing no one touched the DVDs last week. The adult's and children's shelves were a mess. The board books needed to be worked on, too.

Since I was in the neighborhood anyway, after I left the library I rode over to the bank. I had two paychecks to deposit, and part of my rent is still due. The bank was having their "70s Day"; I gave my money to a teller in a dye-dye blouse, long dangling feather earrings, bell bottoms, and long, straight hair held down by a narrow headband.

I dropped by Uncle Ken's on my way home. I needed to pick up the pan from the Apple Spice Cake I brought to the football party on Sunday. I got to say "hi" to Dolores really quick. She was making a late lunch for her and Uncle Ken. Dad and Jodie were apparently down in Cape May, visiting friends.

I got in around 10 after 2. That gave me enough time to get together the rest of the rent, change into my uniform, and bake that loaf of bread. I dropped off the rent at my landlord's, then headed to work. Work was pretty much the same as the rest of the week, on-and-off busy all night. Other than a few annoying customers, there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

While I'm a little annoyed with having to work until 9 and 9:30 Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I have Wednesday off...and then, vacation! My second week off should run from Thursday through next Tuesday. As I mentioned in some earlier posts, I'm just going to stay here this year. I don't have the money for traveling, and I could use a week to myself.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Balance and My Sister

The day didn't begin well. I was awaken by the sound of the garbage truck picking up the trash...and realized I'd forgotten to take out mine. Then I was almost late for yoga class. Rose called just as we were settling into meditation. Could we switch the location from Collingswood to the Treehouse Cafe in Audubon? Fine...but I had a hard time getting back into class after her call.We worked on balance poses in class. I'm just not good with balancing. I'm better than I was, but I'm still not flexible.

There was absolutely nothing going on at the Collingswood Library, either. They already had a college student working on the DVDs. I shelved one DVD downstairs and three nonfiction books upstairs. I read a few more books, but it's just as well that I had to leave early to ride over to Audubon. As it turned out, the county was finally repairing the long-degraded wood around the train tracks on Merchant Avenue. That meant that I had to go around and down to Pine and back; thankfully, Rose was waiting for me when I arrived.

After all that, I did have a pleasant chat and lunch with my sister. She had a turkey sandwich and a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I had "Popeye's Chicken" (chicken, spinach, and red peppers) and a Gingerbread Italian Soda. (I was too hot from my ride for lattes!) We talked about everything going on at Uncle Ken's, the Secret Santa we hope to do with the Cape May side of the family this Christmas to simplify the holidays over there, my financial problems, and Rose's desire to get Khai into a program to help him with his speech. I told Rose about staying here for my vacation and what I hoped to do during it. We're going to attempt to get together again during Collingswood's big shopping night on the 27th.

(It's probably just as well that we weren't able to get together on Tuesday. The storm would have made that impossible. Rose said she had to run out in the rain to get things for dinner and wound up walking through a cold grocery store soaked and freezing.)

After I left Rose, I decided I had enough money left for a treat. I headed across the street to Desserts By Design. I bought a Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake and had a nice, long chat with the owner. I told her about my family, and we discussed the changing economy and how difficult it's been for a lot of people to cope with these changes. Many people in this area are determined to cling to the way things have always been...even if those way no longer work in the modern world.

We talked for so long, I ended up riding home and having my cupcake there. I did have enough time to do a few things around the apartment. I paged through the grocery store flyers and made my list for the Acme tomorrow. I swept the porch. It needed it badly after the storm. I did the dishes and tidied up a few things.

Work was busy when I came in, fairly quiet after rush hour ended. For once, we had so much help, I was able to spend most of the second half of my night shelving candy. There were no problems beyond a few annoying customers (and one WIC family who were confused by their checks), and I was in and out quickly after picking up contact lens solution and the Progresso's Vegetable Soup that's on sale. (I love their Hearty Tomato, which is full of big tomato pieces and makes a great sauce for meat.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nautical Nonsense

After last night's monsoon, I was delighted to see the sunlight streaming through my window this morning. It was so chilly in my apartment, I was perfectly happy curled under my blue and tan comforter, surrounded by stuffed animals. There weren't even any puddles left on my porch...though there was a lot of sticks and debris.

I ran swashbuckler-themed cartoons and shorts in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day as I had breakfast. In the Looney Tunes favorite "Buccaneer Bunny," Yosemite Sam is a pirate who tries to bury his treasure in Bugs' rabbit  hole. When Bugs turns up with the loot, he attempts to keep him from revealing the location. Mickey Mouse contends with modern pirate Peg-Leg Pete and rescues damsel in distress Minnie in the rare Disney black-and-white adventure "Shanghaied." The Three Stooges find themselves back in the ages of pirates and fair damsels in fancy gowns. It may take more than their famous "Maharaja" skit to keep from ending up burned on the stake in "Three Little Pirates."

Headed to the gym as the Stooges were ending. Once again, it wasn't busy. There were a few people on treadmills, and only one other woman lifting weights. I watched the local news and CBS' Talk Philly while working up a good sweat on the elliptical machine. It was getting late at that point, so I made my leg weight machine workout quick.

Went straight home for lunch and The Pirates of Penzance. This is the 1983 film adaptation of the hit Broadway revival of one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most beloved light operas. Yes, this is a light opera, almost entirely sung, and it's filmed as something of a stage show...but the cast is having such a great time, you won't mind. Kevin Kline, Rex Smith, and Linda Rondstat reprise their stage roles as the Pirate King, Fredrick, and Mabel. Angela Landsbury comes on board as Fredrick's devoted nurse.

Work was surprisingly on-and-off busy for the middle of the week and month. It was still so busy when I left, a manager had to come in for me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Before the Rains Came

I awoke to a dark, cloudy, humid morning. My porch was wet but not soaked. It seemed like it had rained overnight, but not for a while. I figured it was safe to continue with today's errands, especially as I had DVDs to return. I made a very quick stop at the Oakyn Post Office to finally send out the payment for last month's doctor's appointment, then rode across a damp and largely deserted Newton River Park to the Haddon Township Library.

Between the weather and this being Storybook Hour day, Haddon Township was quite busy when I came in. Another volunteer had largely taken care of the DVDs, but more came in as I worked on organizing the children's titles. I pulled a lot of children's and foreign titles out of the adult DVD section, too. I ended up taking out five DVDs, two horror-oriented (this winter's Red Riding Hood and the original 1931 Dracula), two comedies on men behaving silly (Harvey and The Hangover), and Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, one of the many direct-to-video sequals Disney did in the 90s and early 2000s.

It was still just cloudy and humid as I went across the street to the Westmont Plaza. I wanted to check out Super Fresh's chicken sale. The Acme hasn't had a decent chicken sale in weeks. I ended up with a pack of legs, a pack of thin chicken breasts, and a small hoagie for a quick lunch when I got in. I also made a really fast stop at Dollar Tree for sponges.

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home, baking Nutella Bars and watching cartoons. Rose and I never went out. She got called into work. I almost kind of expected this. It's not the first time she's had to cancel or cut back on plans we've made because of work or sudden engagements. She's just so darn busy! She said she'd get together with me for lunch on Thursday.

I decided to try to lower the huge pile of videos to dub on the table that holds the TV and VCR. I was grateful that The Swan Princess worked. This has been a favorite of mine ever since Mom rented it from our local video store around 1995. All of us kids watched it with Mom, and we all fell in love with it.

It's (very) loosely based after Swan Lake. Princess Odette (voice of Michelle Nicastro) and Prince Derek (Howard McGillin) are expected from birth to marry, but they can't stand each other as children. When Odette grows up to become a beauty, Derek is smitten. Odette's not your typical animated heroine; when Derek comments that he wants to marry her because she's beautiful, her reply is "And what else?" His "What else is there?" just makes her realize that he only sees her as a pretty face and nothing more. She and her father are run off the road on the way back to their kingdom by the evil wizard Rothbart (Jack Palance), who kills the king and turns Odette into a swan. The rather dim Derek is determined to find Odette no matter what, even as his mother (Sandy Duncan) plans the balls to end all balls and Rothbart plans to marry her himself.

An underated gem from the 90s animation boom. Apparently, stiff competition killed this movie's chances at the box office, making it a huge flop on first release. It would finally be redeemed by home video and cable and became something of a cult favorite, enough to warrant three direct-to-home-entertainment sequels (one with a Christmas theme apparently being released this year in time for the holidays).

Odette, her three goofy animal friends, and some gorgeous animation are the highlights. Odette's three pals - Puffin the militant Irish bird, Speed the sweet-natured turtle, and Jean-Bob, the snooty frog who thinks he's a prince - are a riot. The musical numbers are enjoyably over-the-top, more so than the Disney movies from this era. Check out the Busby Berkley-inspired "Princesses On Parade" at the ball and the opening "This Is My Idea" sequence that charmingly depicts how Odette and Derek grow from annoyed antagonists to forever lovers.

Moved on to Yogi's Great Escape next. Yogi and Boo Boo have a very busy spring when they awaken to find three adorable and very hungry cubs on their doorstep, and Ranger Smith gives them the bad news that Jellystone Park is closing. Determined to stay out of the zoo, the five bears run from forest to Wild West to a haunted showboat in a bayou to a carnival to the city, encountering Hanna-Barbara-loving kids and more HB funny animal characters (including Quick Draw McGraw, Wally Gator, and Snagglepuss) on the way. Dogging the bears are Ranger Smith and Trapper and Flapper, a pair of very talkative trappers who can supposedly sniff out anything, bears included.

It's all great fun if you're a fan of the HB funny animals, especially Yogi. While the cubs don't really add much to the proceedings, Yogi and Boo Boo have some really amusing gags, including convincing a couple of kids that they're aliens and evading Quick Draw, who mistakes them for bandits. The movie is currently available on the Warner Archives as part of their Hanna Barbara Collection.

(Speaking of the Warner Archives, they finally released the last two only-on-video MacDonald/Eddy films, Girl of the Golden West and New Moon, today. While I dubbed these two last year, I am glad that they're all out now. How about some solo efforts next, hmm? His Let Freedom Ring or The Chocolate Soldier, or her Three Daring Daughters or The Merry Widow? )

Finished up the night with Flounder Dijon, pasta and Cinderella II. As with Belle's Magical World, it's a collection of three short episodes with a book-themed wrap-around sequence. In the first segment, Cinderella's first duty at the palace is to hold a royal banquet. She wants things to be bright and simple, but her new lady-in-waiting Prudence insists that that simply isn't how things are done. Cinderella finally decides that she'd rather do things her way. The second story has Jaq wanting to become human to help Cinderella with preparations for the Spring Festival. The third focuses on one of Cinderella's stepsisters Anastasia. She's fallen for a sweet baker in town, but not only is Lady Tremaine still obsessed with her daughters finding a rich husband, but Anastasia thinks she's rather plain and awkward. Cinderella helps her sister with a makeover...and both learn that true beauty really comes from the heart.

This movie has always gotten some very nasty reviews. It simply cannot live up to it's beloved predecessor or the well-regarded Cinderella III: A Twist In Time. Though the animation was too simple, even below the Beauty and the Beast movies, I ultimately thought it was kind of cute. I especially enjoyed Anastasia's tale. She ended up looking a bit like a chubby-cheeked Ariel, and I'm glad she got the baker in the end. Not too bad if your little girls are fans of Cinderella in particular or the Disney Princess line in general. Completely unnecessary for anyone else.

Oh, and it did finally rain around 6PM...and when it rained, it monsooned. The rain was so heavy, I was afraid I'd have to start building an ark. The heavy winds blew it into my apartment. I briefly closed the windows at one point. It finally slowed down around 7:30 and was only heard from once since.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Change In Plans, Change In Weather

It was still gorgeous when I awoke this morning. I was finishing The Merry Wives of Maggody when I heard a phone call. I was quite happy to hear not yet another spiel for an electric company, but my sister Rose. I haven't seen her since she dropped the fish from my stepdad off at my apartment. She asked me if I wanted to get together with her tomorrow for tea at one of the tea shops in Collingswood, despite the threat of storms. I said "Sure, why not?" I haven't had a good chat with her since the incident at Wegman's in June.

When I finally put the book down, I dressed, had cereal and a nectarine for breakfast, and watched The Penniless Princess one more time before it goes back tomorrow. After the Veggietales story ended, I rounded up my laundry for this week's laundromat run. There were a few people when I came in, but by the time my fairly large load was in the dryer, it was just me and the new Jeff Probst talk show on TV.

Ran the other Angelina Ballerina DVD as I folded and put away my laundry when I got in. This one is a series of episodes that's probably closer to the show's actual format on TV. Every story has the mouselings learning new kinds of dance, from disco to jazz to tap and hip hop. My favorites had Alice learning slinky jazz moves to conquer her "tummy butterflies," Gracie discovering that even the most renown magicians and tap dancers need to practice their basic steps, and Ms. Mimi explaining to the kids that it takes a lot of hard work to get a dance routine down.

I put on two Dr. Seuss specials while I had an omelet with leftover summer vegetables for lunch. Dr. Seuss On the Loose is a collection of three short Seuss tales. Green Eggs and Ham is the best-known, but I prefer The Sneeches. The Sneeches are yellow bird-like creatures who live on the beaches. The Sneeches who have green stars on their stomachs snub those without them...until a con-artist inventor and his machines teaches both groups a lesson in equality.

The Hoober Bloob Highway is an odd one. The theme is simple, but profound - what makes us human? How do we learn to be a human being? Mr. Hoober Bloob, who "trains" infants for their upcoming life, introduces his newest charge to the ins and outs of what makes us who we are. One of the simplest and most creative Seuss specials, with some enjoyable music as well - I like "It's Fun to Be a Human."

Work was surprisingly on-and-off busy for the middle of the month. Maybe this week's Daily Deals - a new big sale every day - had something to do with it. Green Giant canned veggies were the big sale. Yuck! I avoid canned veggies, except for tomatoes to use in sauces. Betty Crocker cake mixes are also on a pretty decent sale. I bought a Spice Cake Mix to replace what I used for the Apple Spice Cake yesterday. Thankfully, there were no major problems, and I was in and out.

And I have come to the conclusion that Mom is right. As much as I enjoy having my parents to myself, I simply cannot afford traveling right now. I'm not going to be able to go down to the Shore when my second vacation starts next week.

I've already been looking around for other things to do. Oaklyn is having its town picnic early this year, on September 30th. It'll be nice to actually be able to enjoy it without rushing to work later. There's a high school marching band concert at the Collingswood High School outdoor stadium that benefits their marching band on the 29th; that might be fun, and the money goes to the kids. 

And while it's not raining now, to my knowledge, there were dark clouds on the horizon when I was riding home...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Football Playtime

Started off another day of glorious, mid-70s weather with a plate of Carrot Pancakes and Brunch With the Beatles. The theme was "Beatles Solo Songs, 1971-1981." Paul McCartney had hits alone and with Wings, including my favorite "Live and Let Die." I'm fondest of some of George's later music, including the bouncy "All Those Years Ago." Though John had some hits in the early 70s, including "Imagine," my favorites came from his 1980 comeback, "Woman," "Just Like Starting Over," and "Watching the Wheels." Ringo seemed to do best with novelty numbers like "The No No Song," dance numbers like "Oh My My," and remakes of rock hits like "You're Sixteen." I tried calling Mom during the show, but I didn't get her; she was probably out running errands before the Eagles-Ravens game.

Speaking of the game, I was able to whip together an Apple Spice Cake by adding buttermilk, applesauce, egg whites, a whole egg, apple juice, and spices to the Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix. I don't really like using cake mixes. I only bake with them when I have to put together something quickly for a crowd. I read The Merry Wives of Maggody while the cake was in the oven. The moment it was cool enough, I put a cover on it, set it in my bike basket, and rode over to Uncle Ken's house to watch the game.

I didn't actually end up seeing much of the game. My cousin Samantha and her husband David are clearing out the garage that Uncle Ken and his son Mark used to rent as an office. I played with Samantha's 6-year-old daughter Faith to keep her out of her parents' hair. We had a lot of fun together, pretending to be the powerful Red Knight (Faith, of course) and the mercenary Green Knight (me). We rode our imaginary horses across the countryside (the front lawn), first looking for magical stones that would turn the world colorful, then avoiding lions in Africa. (We got there by plane. Horses and all. Faith insisted on that.) When we came back from Africa, we helped a group of newly born foals looking for their parents.

Good thing Faith was finally getting tired out by quarter after 2. I had to leave for work right as the first half of the game ended. Work wasn't nearly as much fun. Once again, there were lots of cranky people, and it didn't help that I was rather worn out myself from running around with Faith. I made up for it by treating myself to today's Daily Deal, Bryers' ice cream for $1.88. They make the best cherry vanilla ice cream around. It's my favorite flavor in the world, along with Edy's Pumpkin.

I did finally get a hold of Mom when I got home. She helped me finally figure out a budget. What I found didn't make me very happy. When I subtract everything I pay for in a month from what I make per month, it leaves me with a measly $180 for expenses. I don't know how I'm going to live on that. I have no idea of what to do. While I'm looking forward to visiting Mom and Dad on my vacation in a week and a half, I don't think I have the money to even afford bus and train fare.

Oh, and I was right...again. The Eagles, who were once again behind during much of the first half, managed to come back during the second to win by the skin of their teeth for the second time in two weeks, 24-23. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Bonanza

Started off another incredibly gorgeous late summer morning with the American Top 40. Casey made his third return to 1979 in as many months as disco, ballads, jazz, and R&B ruled the airwaves. Hits in mid-September of that year included "Goodbye Stranger" by Supertramp, "Lonesome Loser" by the Little River Band, the title song from The Main Event by Barbara Streisand, "Let's Go" by the Cars, "Mama Can't Buy You Love" by Elton John, "After the Love Has Gone" by Earth, Wind, and Fire, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band, and "Rise" by Herb Alpert.

That week's #1 song would, in fact, eventually wind up as the biggest hit of the year - "My Sharona" by the Knack.

Unlike last week, there were plenty of things going on around the area. The big event in Oaklyn was the fall version of the Oaklyn Library's annual Flea Market and Book Sale. I was disappointed to see only a few flea market tables by the library...but one of them was my friend Cassandra selling her books. I got to say "hi" to her and touch base. She's been busy with her books and her sons, which is why I haven't gotten together with her again. I've been thinking of e-mailing her for a while now.

The book sale was much better. I ended up with four books and four videos. Three of the books were biographies on Joan Blondell (Center Stage Fancy), Louise Brooks (Lulu In Hollywood), and George M. Cohan (The Man Who Owns Broadway). The fourth book was a novel, Maiden Voyage, about a flapper in 1924 who inherits her father's shipping and cruise line and has to oversee the first trip across the Atlantic of it's newest vessel. The videos were Little Big Man, The Swan Princess, Memphis Belle, and another serial, Zorro's Black Whip.

Checked out a couple of other yard sales in the Oaklyn area as I headed to the Farm Market. There was nothing of interest at the sale on Newton Avenue near the library. I did better at the back of Oaklawn Avenue. They had a small pile of records. I came up with the soundtrack from the original That's Entertainment.

The Farm Market was the next stop. Needless to say, thanks to the weather, it was packed there today with people buying produce for birthday parties, football parties tomorrow, and impromptu barbecues. There were also more dogs there than I've seen in weeks, including a cute little terrier who reminded me of Linda Young's dog Willow and a handsome, fluffy old collie who patiently allowed young children to pet him. I finally ended up with nectarines (the peaches were rather sour last week), tiny Gala apples, carrots, and corn.

I rode around for an hour looking for a yard sale that was supposed to be on Breslin Avenue in Haddon Township, but I just could not find it. I did find one on Cuthbert Road across the street from the Shamrock Deli. They had paperbacks from the 70s and 80s, vintage kids' books, and some neat animated videos for sale, among other things. I ended up with two videos (Yogi's Great Escape and the 80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Easter special) and three kids' books. The latter were the first three titles in the Connie Blair mystery series from 1948, The Clue In Blue, Riddle In Red, and Puzzle In Purple. It looks like a Nancy Drew imitation with a somewhat more mature heroine (she's an up-and-coming advertising exec, from what I've read on the back covers).

I was so thirsty, I stopped to grab a fountain iced tea at WaWa before heading home. I had a quick leftovers lunch and spent the rest of the day trying to figure out a budget. I got everything added together, but the same thing confused me as last month. When I tried to divide 24 by 1000,  (which I figure is about what I make in a month), I just get decimals...and moving those decimals around only reveals that I don't make much money.

I went to work depressed. Work didn't make me feel better. It was busy for most of the night, and there were quite a few annoying people, including one of those ladies who gives 600 orders on how to bag, then holds up the lines by rearranging everything. I know they don't mean to be rude, but why can't they either do it away from the register, or just leave it alone? I did what they wanted. And she put back a quarter of her order! It was so busy, I didn't get my break until quarter of 6...and I got off at 7.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jump Into the Gym

I woke up late and didn't get to much besides the usual Friday morning gym run and errands. The gym was totally empty when I arrived around noon. There was one other woman on the treadmill, the girl behind the counter, and that was it. By the time I was working on my arms, even the lady on the treadmill had left. It was just too beautiful of a day for people to be exercising indoors.

The Acme wasn't much busier. I didn't need a lot of groceries, either. It was mostly small things or things that I had put off. Eggs was the main things. My brown eggs were on sale. Ran out of maple syrup a while back, but the Acme was out of their cheapest real maple syrup (which is on a par with Super Fresh's best price in a larger bottle) last week. I also needed to replace whole wheat tortillas, fruit concentrate, and parchment paper. Grabbed the Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal, a favorite of mine that's seldom on sale. I took advantage of the last of their back-to-school sales to grab a new pair of scissors for paper. My old pair's cheap and have been around for a while.

I was so late getting in, I had just enough time to run home, put my groceries away, have a quick leftovers lunch, and run to the bank. I still didn't have enough to cover my full rent, even with my Labor Day paycheck. I'll give Andrew 400 tomorrow, then the rest next week after I get my vacation paychecks.

I ran several cast albums with western themes throughout the day. Big River was Roger Miller's 1985 Broadway adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Tom Sawyer is a film musical version of the novel of that title from the early 70s with songs by the Sherman Brothers. Jodie Foster is Becky Thatcher; the late Celeste Holm is Aunt Polly. Shenendoah was one of the big hit Broadway musicals of the mid-70s, with John Cullum winning a Tony as the head of a Virginia mountain family trying to keep his kinfolk out of the Civil War.

Big River was my favorite of the trio. Miller's music sounds the most like country, and thus, the closest to the hearts of Huck and Jim. Tom Sawyer is the lightest and very Sherman Brothers, with cute numbers for Tom, Huck, and their pals ("Gratification," "Freebootin'") that use the Shermans' fondness for made-up words. Shenandoah is the darkest, and though its sound is more Broadway than western, it does have some really gorgeous music - my favorite was the ballad "Violets and Silverbells." Cullum also has two extended "Meditations" that sound very Rogers-and-Hammerstein.

Work was almost exactly the same as yesterday - busy during rush hour, quiet the moment the traffic on the Black Horse Pike calmed down. My schedule for next week promises pretty much more of the same, thankfully with no hours after 8PM this time and Tuesday and next Saturday off.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Balance Outdoors

The beautiful weather continues. It was even a bit chilly when I rode down to Collingswood for this week's yoga class. We concentrated on squats, pigeon, and the "bow" pose (lay on your stomach and grab your feet) pose. Not my best pose, and neither my sore digits nor my heel spur helped matters. I did what I could. (At least I could get on my stomach. Karin can't really join us for stomach poses anymore. She's in her second trimester, and her pregnancy is really showing.)

The Collingswood Library was even less busy than Yogawood. I organized the children's DVD shelves and shelved a few non-fiction books. That was all. I spent 20 minutes paging through magazines. I was there for less than an hour.

For once, I had enough money left by the end of the week to treat myself to a nice little lunch. I stopped at Doria's Deli for a turkey and provolone hoagie and a Diet Cherry Pepsi. The Dorias have been friends of Uncle Ken's for years. Mrs. Doria asked how he was; I told her about him being in a wheelchair now. She said to say that she and her husband say "hi."

Spent the rest of the afternoon at home. After lunch, I decided I might as well take advantage of the weather to do some more outdoor fall cleaning. I started with scrubbing the deck chairs. They were really gross. The pieces of once-white plastic were covered in cobwebs and dirt. I really need new ones - or better yet, real metal or wood deck furniture. Not only have I not had the money, I really can't get them home on my bike.

Figured while I had everything out, I might as well get the trash and recycling canisters clean, too. I did them in May, before Lauren visited. Decided to scrub them and my bike one more time before it gets too cold to use the hose. Trouble is, I completely forgot that Andrew and his relatives removed the leaves from near the back steps under my porch. The hose made the ground very muddy and messy! I had to wipe the darn trash cans off again when I got upstairs. All the mosquitoes didn't help, either. I feel like one big mosquito bite.

I listened to some of my operetta CDs while making a Peach Almond Cake (with honey and fruit concentrate instead of granulated sugar). One of my earliest CD finds was Little Mary Sunshine, an adorable 1959 off-Broadway spoof of operetta and 20s and 30s musical comedy. I picked up the original Capitol release in the mid-late 90s from a (now defunct) music store in North Cape May, and I've loved it ever since. Eileen Brennan (of Clue and Last Picture Show, among others) is the sweet title character, who owns an inn in the Colorado Rockies. John McMartin is her beloved Captain of the Rangers. There's Mary's maid, mischievous Nancy (Elmarie Wendel), five young ladies from a finishing school, a wistful opera diva, his men, and an evil (and non-PC) Indian to contend with as well. DRG apparently re-released it a few years ago, and it's available for download at Amazon as well.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - busy during rush hour, quiet otherwise. Once again, I was in and out with no problems.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Perfect Weather

The glorious weather continues. It was a teeny bit warmer, but nothing out of the ordinary for the time of year. No humidity, not even any clouds in the radiant blue sky. No wonder it was pretty much quiet anywhere that was indoors. There were a few people on the cardio machines in the gym this morning as I watched The Price Is Right. By the time I'd moved on to working on my legs, there was barely a soul in the place.

I went home, got a few things organized, had leftovers for lunch...then went right back out to work. Work wasn't much busier. It's the middle of the week and the middle of a month that, once you get past Labor Day, isn't traditionally busy for us except on football Sundays. Work was steady during rush hour, dead otherwise. I was in and out with no problems.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Girls Rule!

I awoke to another absolutely gorgeous day. It was just 69 degrees in my apartment this morning when I checked the thermometer. Good thing I pulled out the heavier comforter yesterday! It felt so wonderfully pleasant, seeing sunshine and blue skies out my window and feeling nice and comfortable in my room, especially after the hot and humid summer.

Spent the remaining morning putting my my general fall decorations. I've cleared a lot of decorations out in the past year or so and don't have as many as I used to, but that's not entirely a bad thing. I've debated dropping the old cardboard leaves for the windows in the recycling for several years. I bought them from the Acme the first year I lived here. While I do like them, they're up from September through Thanksgiving. Not only do they get a beating, but they attract the condensation that tends to run on the windows on chilly fall mornings. It's time I went to Party Fair or looked around for something similar, maybe even a bit smaller.

Didn't get to the Haddon Township Library until around 1. It was a perfect day for a ride across Newton River Park. Everything is so much greener and prettier than it was this time last month, before the storms came. I passed another woman on a bike, an elderly couple out for a stroll, another enjoying a picnic lunch on a bench, and a man with his cute German Shepard puppy.

The library was surprisingly busy for such a nice day. I had a lot of DVDs to shelve and organize, both in the children's and adult's sections. There were far fewer children's books. I only had maybe ten of those to shelve. Older kids are back in school; the parents of younger ones are probably encouraging them to play outside more often, now that Mother Nature is behaving herself.

I did find three DVDs of interest. It's supposed to be too nice all week to be sitting around, watching long melodramas and action films, but they had a few new girl-oriented animated shows I couldn't resist. Found two sets of the 2009 CGI revamp of Angelina Ballerina and the most recent Veggietales episode The Penniless Princess, their take on one of my favorite childhood stories, A Little Princess.

Last week, I received a menu in the mail from Pizza Villa, a pizzeria on the White Horse Pike across from WaWa on the border of Haddon Township and Oaklyn. I thought I'd try them out. While the business itself is new, the location is not. There's been at least four or five pizza parlors in that building in the seven years since I moved here, but I never actually tried any of them. It was about 2PM when I arrived, and other than one elderly woman watching America's Funniest Home Videos on Comedy Central and the man who runs the place, the small, maple-colored room was deserted. I had two huge slices of cheese and mushroom pizza. They were delicious, with nice, crispy crust and lots of cheese. The price was good too, no more expensive than Capitol Pizza down the street. I'll have to return there whenever I'm in the area and feel like pizza.

I made a quick stop at WaWa for milk after lunch, then headed home. I've been wanting to get the raking done for a while, especially after my next-door-neighbor Richard did his lawn. The front yard was still fairly covered with gray leaves leftover from summer. I could see the first golden leaves of the fall as well. For once, the side path leading up to my apartment was actually messier than the front yard, which had been done by Andrew and his family in early July. Despite the mosquitoes eating me alive, I managed to get the entire yard done in an hour and a half. The weather was perfect for yard work. Richard agreed with me - I saw him washing his van as I did the side path.

My cookie tin has been empty for a while. I made Whole Wheat-Carrot-Chocolate Chip Cookies while running The Penniless Princess. I've had an off-and-on affiliation with Veggietales over the years. They're a long-running series of CGI animated cartoons featuring fruit and vegetables retelling biblical stories, often while parodying a famous book or popular film. Some of their spoofs are creative and hilarious...but they can just as often lapse into preachiness.

While not exactly a spoof, Penniless Princess isn't too bad moral-wise. In fact, it's one of the more accurate adaptations of A Little Princess I've see on-screen, more than many live-action versions. Wealthy Sara Crewe (a broccoli stalk?) is determined to stay a princess no matter what, just like her gentle father (Larry the Cucumber) wanted her to. When her father dies and she loses her money, she struggles to stay kind to everyone around her, even nasty Miss Minchin. Thanks to a pair of French peas and their poodle puppy and a kindly asparagus stalk (Archibald Asparagus), Sara and her friends Becky (Laura Carrot) and Ermengarde (Libby Asparagus) learn that a person's worth isn't in what they own, but what's in their heart.

Very sweet. I like how they included segments from the book that other versions often overlook, such as Sara giving the street urchin (Junior Asparagus) the buns from the bakery, or the three vegetable-girls' attempts to conjure up "magic" in the attic with their imaginations. Boys may want to wait for the next Veggietales episode coming out in October (the DVD's previews indicate that it'll be a spoof of The Avengers); for girls, this delightful musical is a lot of fun, especially if they're familiar with Veggietales and/or the source material.

Switched to Angelina Ballerina: Making Our Dreams Come True The Movie while making Salmon with Chinese beans, tomatoes, and peppers in Lemon Sauce and deliciously sweet corn-on-the-cob for dinner. Everybody's favorite British rodent dancer is now enrolled in the Camembert Academy, a much larger general arts school in her home town of Chipping Cheddar. She and her best friend Alice have been joined by French dancer Gracie, jazzy Americans Vicki and JZ, and Hispanic pianist Marco, along with their teacher Miss Mimi. Angelina hasn't changed much, though. She's still determined to become a star, no matter what. When she wins a chance to join a prestigious ballet academy and become a prima ballerina, she's excited at first...until she realizes she'll have to leave her family, friends, and especially her beloved little sister Polly.

On one hand, this was pretty much just a clip-show special, with scenes from other episodes tied into a rather obvious plot. If you've seen the other episodes, this one probably isn't necessary unless your little girl is a big Angelina fan. This was my introduction to the new series, so it was less of a problem for me.

I was especially delighted with the depiction of the charming relationship between Angelina and Polly. Polly is now about five-ish, and she adores Angelina and looks up to her in every way possible. Angelina, for her part, enjoys her little sister's company and loves teaching her new dance steps. Those two have come very far from the days of Polly's birth, when Angelina threw a fit over Polly getting more attention. I almost never see such a positive depiction of sisterhood in animation, and I really loved it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Welcome to the Sunshine

The weather was even more gorgeous today than yesterday, if that's possible. I had the windows open all night and was freezing cold when I awoke this morning! There were a few clouds in the sky, but they were white and poofy, like sweet little lambs instead of the menacing dark masses they were last week.

I slept late and didn't get much chance to do anything besides the laundry. I slept so late that I didn't make it to the laundromat until ten minutes to 1. It was quite busy, with several families and a few young men getting clothes and linens done. I was also doing linens, which meant it took me a little longer than usual to get my load in and out. I wasn't home until well past 2.

After I got in, I put everything away, organized my linens, had leftovers while watching cartoons, and headed for work. Work was a pain for such a short session. There were quite a few obnoxious people. One woman put up such a fuss about her daughter's 3-subject notebooks not coming out the right price, we gave them to her for a dollar despite them not being the right notebooks...and the two customers behind her fussed at ME because the manager and I gave her something for cheap that wasn't the right thing. I pointed out that she wouldn't have listened if I explained that it wasn't right. She would have just kept fussing. It's not worth holding up the line over a bunch of sheets of paper.

Later in the night, a younger woman with a child came into my line with two WIC checks. She was new and wasn't sure what size to get or what item really worked, and apparently, they don't explain it very well in the pamphlets for new customers. Once again, we had to hold up a long line while chasing the things she needed.

On the other hand, I did discover that one of the middle-aged women who usually work the morning shifts had gotten tired of mornings and actually requested to work at nights, which may explain why I got earlier hours this week.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Football?

I couldn't believe my eyes when I awoke this morning. Last night's rain and humidity had been replaced by glorious sunlight streaming through my bedroom window. It was so cool outside, I no longer needed the air conditioner or the fans. I opened the windows the moment I could and let the wonderful, warm-but-not hot air in.

Ran the second half of Brunch With the Beatles as I made Apple Cinnamon Pancakes for breakfast; I thought they were appropriate for a day that felt more like fall than late summer. The movie and album Help! were in the spotlight today, highlighting the hits "Yesterday," "Ticket to Ride," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," and the title song, along with one that I like from Ringo that was cut from the album, "If Ya Got Trouble."

I called Mom after I finished my pancakes. She was getting ready for the Eagles game and didn't have the chance to talk for long. I told her about my improved hours and the beautiful weather. I also explained that I finally called the Foot & Ankle Center the other day. It seems they finally got through to the insurance company, and my orthopedics will be on their way in a week to ten days.

Called Dad after I got off the phone with Mom. I had debated whether or not to watch the first Eagles game of the season against the Browns at Uncle Ken's house. Uncle Ken is very sick, and I wasn't sure if he'd be up to it. Dad said they "weren't doing much" and "were only having a couple of people over"...but I know how that goes in this family. I finally decided it was too nice to hang around inside by myself and headed over there around 1:30.

I was right. When I arrived, my cousin Samantha, her husband David, and their children Faith, Ethan, and Matt (and a friend of Matt's) were already there, along with a few friends of my uncle's, my stepsister Jessa, and Dad and Jodie. There was plenty of food, too, most of it with a south-of-the-border theme. I watched the game while nibbling on tortilla chips and bean dip. When I wasn't having a snack, I followed Faith, Ethan, and his friend around outside. I think they were supposed to be playing tag. Faith claimed I had magical powers that could randomly unfreeze her when she was caught by her brother. Hey, if that's what the kid wants to think... ;)

I had a quick lunch of tacos on soft tortillas (the hard shells tend to fall apart) before hurrying off to work. Probably thanks to the Eagles and Phillies games, it wasn't too bad. It was steady when I came in at 3; quieted down around 6:30, and was dead when I left at 7.

The Eagles didn't play very well in their season opener against the lousy Browns, but they apparently did (barely) pull off a 17-16 win. 

The Phillies did far better, steamrolling the Colorado Rockies 7-2. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Bring On the Rain...Eventually

Started out a cloudy, humid morning with this week's American Top 40. Early September 1983 was in the spotlight as New Wave, pop, and electronica ruled the airwaves. Hits from the beginning of the fall of that year included "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)" by the Eurythmics, "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, "Human Nature" by Michael Jackson, "Puttin' On the Ritz" by Taco, "Fascination" by The Human League, "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats, "Tell Her About It" by Billy Joel, and "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" by Culture Club. That week's #1 song was the second to emerge from the Flashdance soundtrack, "Maniac" by Michael Sembello.

Between the weather and being dead tired from staying up late with Lauren last night, I wasn't out for long this morning. I made a quick stop at a very quiet bank to deposit my (small) paycheck, then headed straight for the Farm Market.

The two blocks were busy with people trying to pick up their produce and start their end-of-the-summer barbecues before Mother Nature got started with the storms. We're coming off of the summer harvest; the fall harvest is just debuting. Between the two, there's so much to choose from! Plums were gone, but there's still plenty of small apples and peaches. I also grabbed golden beets, a head of baby bok choy, a little round lavender eggplant (easier to deal with than the huge, dark purple ones), mushrooms, Chinese beans, and two ears of corn.

There were two yard sales posted at Craigslist today for this area, but they were both busts. I rode to Oriental Avenue in Collingswood not far from Jody's house, then all the way over to Audubon Park. Neither had anything remotely interesting. I was hot and sweaty, and the humidity was getting worse, despite some really nice, cool wind. I just rode home around quarter of 11, far earlier than usual.

When I got in, I was so hot and worn out, I spent an hour finishing Elegy For Eddie after I put away my farm market purchases. When I got bored, I had a lunch of leftover chicken legs and sauteed summer vegetables. I finished The Count of Monte Cristo as I ate, then ran the Peanuts special There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown. Despite the title and it being an extra on the Paramount A Charlie Brown Valentine DVD, it really has more to do with school than romance. Charlie Brown, Sally, Snoopy, Peppermint Patty, and Marcie somehow manage to mistake a grocery store for an art museum while on a school trip. (You'd think their teachers would keep better track of them!)

Since the sun had come out, I decided to go for a short walk to WaWa, just for something to do. Despite the iffy weather and the stifling heat and humidity, there were quite a few people out and about, mowing lawns and tending to gardens that were flourishing far more than they were at this time last month. Kids rode on their bikes, shot basketballs, and sold Yankee Candles for school functions door-to-door. Parents took younger children for walks or stroller rides. I picked up a French Vanilla Cappuccino to wake me up and a pretzel at WaWa, then took the long way home in the neighborhood behind the school.

I came home so sweaty, I decided I was in for the day, sun or no sun. I spent the rest of the evening doing things around the apartment, mainly dusting. I haven't had a good dusting session in ages. I dusted under everything, from books to dolls to the Star Wars action figures. Cleared out a lot more stuff I didn't want, notably the Star Wars Scrapbook my grandmother gave me, several Monkees books I'm no longer interested in, and one more porcelain doll. I've always liked Lisa, a sweet school girl with thick wire glasses who sits at a wooden desk and has her own wood books. Her face is cute under those glasses. Thing is, that desk is a pain to dust under and takes up far too much room. As with my other large porcelain dolls, she'd be better off with someone who can really take care of her.

I was so involved in my cleaning and reading, I didn't notice until around 5 that the sky had gotten far darker, and the sun was gone. The rain that everyone fussed about all week finally began around 5:30, as I was working on the stand-alone closets that the collectible dolls and bears sit on. For once, everyone was worried for a good reason. When Mother Nature started, she went all out. It came down cats, dogs, and chickens, and has poured on and off for the rest of the night.

Made Tuna Steak, leeks, and zucchini with Yogurt-Dill Sauce as I ran the Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarves during dinner. History aside, Snow White has never been my favorite Disney animated film, but I thought the dark, spooky atmosphere would be appropriate for a rainy night.