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» Friday, December 18, 2015A Christmas Stroll
"On the first day of freedom, my schedule gave to me..."
Don't have to be back to work until January 4. Yayyy.
So I'd originally planned to bake today. But it's supposed to be only in the 40s today and warmer by next week. As far as I'm concerned, walking in 60 degree weather is as bad as swimming in 40 degree weather. Who wants to walk when it's warm? And cold the way it's cold today—stuck on 45°F with a brisk wind—also means I can't open the back door when the kitchen's too hot because Snowy might get a draft.
It was a strange morning. I woke about 5:38 to use the bathroom. Funny, James wasn't in bed, and he wasn't in the bathroom. I remembered him moving around earlier, and I wondered if he had woken up thinking the alarm had rung and had already gone off to work! No, turned out he was in the spare room sitting up wrapped in a blanket. His nose was completely clogged and he hadn't slept a wink because he couldn't breathe. I propped him up on pillows and went back to bed; I couldn't sleep and neither could he, so he came back to bed and we lifted the head of the bed up. I reset my alarm, but it still rang at the original time. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep after 5:38.
The rest of the day went better. I had breakfast and walked Tucker, and left James to get some more sleep (he did) and lucked out finding a parking space right on the Square. They have a "ice rink" there this year and people were lined up for it. The bandstand is filled with a giant nativity scene, sponsored by a local Christian group, and the Christmas tree and the gazebo are covered with crimson bows and green garland.
I stopped at the Antique Store/audiophile store first. Luke the white standard poodle was in this morning and he came to greet me. They don't usually decorate but I enjoyed poking around the books and old items, including a big tall Victrola cabinet and at least two stolid little cube-shaped Brownie Hawkeye cameras, which is what we had when I was a little girl (although I can't remember if we had the flashgun, too).
Then I walked directly down to Dupre's Antiques. This used to be a big hardware and feed store until the early-80s, when it closed. They still have a wall of advertisements and waybills in one corner. It's filled with little booths of various antiques from knicknacks to china to framed art to old furniture. At Christmastime they pull out all the antique Christmas items (and some new ones, too) and dress the store. Sometimes it's a decorated tree, sometimes it's just the simplest things: a few ornaments in a bowl, or a string of lights, or some garland. I always love to see it, since after Christmas everything goes back to being mundane. They had a big hand-carved rocking horse (not an antique, but a beauty!) in front. I spent most of my time there.
Next I walked down past Hemingways (where I had lunch two weeks ago) and the new Italian restaurant and the ballet school to The Keeping Room, which sells spices, soup mixes, grains ground at Nora Mill, aprons, and other cooking items. I tried some flavored olive oils and balsamics and rubs (the lemon balsamic was absolutely wonderful), but they were very expensive. From there I walked the third side of the Square. Ducked into Sweetcakes, which is a bakery. and even they didn't have gingerbread boys! Stopped at the Christmas Shoppe (which is a real Christmas store, not a cheat like the "Christmas Tree Shops" which sell pool crap in the summer) to look at all the different ornaments. They have different football teams, colleges, and then the blown glass made by Radko and Olde Fashioned Christmas (we have several ornaments from the latter that we got at the National Christmas Museum, including St. Nicholas, St. Francis, and a grandfather clock).
But no gingerbread boys.
Crossed through Glover Park to get a closer look at the stage, the tree, the gazebo, and the ice rink (which was being re-groomed), and then finally went back to the Local Exchange (which is a store—duh—that sells local products). Found some yummy Italian-seasoned pretzels and bought a large cookie for James and I to split. Stopped next door at the Corner Shoppe (the British store) to see what goodies they had; she'd just received a big shipment of Doctor Who datebooks and what looked like Downton Abbey datebooks, too.
Finally I stopped at the Australian Bakery Cafe, where I bought two chocolate shortbread cookies and asked about gingerbread. They're getting some Monday, they said. Damn.
I got back to the car with minutes to spare (it's only two hours free parking) and went to the closest place I could think of with a public bathroom, the library. I checked out the Christmas books and the history books, plus the books they keep for sale. I was quite tempted by an entire set of the Little Colonel books, but instead I went to Dunkin Donuts and bought a grilled cheese sandwich. I ate in the car and spent the entire time tossing bits of bread crust out to the sparrows and watching the leaves. They were driven about by the brisk wind and almost looked like little birds flying themselves as they swept by or described little circles against the pavement.
From there I went on to the Cobb Antique Market near the Big Chicken. This is also decorated for Christmas, some booths more than others. This place has a lot of furniture as compared to Dupre's, from little bookcases to some really huge sideboards. I was particularly enchanted with one small four-shelf bookcase with two shelves with doors. One of the doors revealed an old radio set!
I was particularly tickled that they had no less than three glass-fronted mahogany secretaries just like the one my godmother used to have—it made me a little melancholy. I would have loved to have taken home a bunch of their furniture. They had a wonderful coat tree that actually would have fit in the foyer—but the price on it definitely wouldn't have fit my budget! In fact, any of the mahogany secretaries were cheaper than this coat tree! Then there was the IBM Selectric (once the superstar of office technology), a creaky old Underwood portable, the collection of books in one booth that included The Rover Boys, old hair dryer chairs from a 1950s hairdresser, lovely hutches lined with old china, Fiestaware, ruby glass, china shepherdesses that wouldn't have been out of place on Ma Ingall's whatnot, vintage signs and photographs, old Christmas costume jewelry, and more.
By now it was after three and I was very, very sleepy. I drove home dodging school buses and the worst Friday afternoon traffic ever to find out James had gotten a little more sleep, and took a nap myself.
For supper we went to Shane's barbecue and damn near froze to death. Really. It's winter and I expect it to be cold out. It was very crisp and nice today for walking, and pretty cold tonight with the wind sending icy fingers down your neck. However, when you're sitting in a restaurant eating dinner you want it to be comfortable. Not hot, not stuffy warm...but not ice cold, either. It was really miserable trying to eat and keep warm at the same time, and the food got cold almost immediately. They've also remodeled and put these hideously bright can lights overhead. Not very cozy anymore.
Thankfully, our other stop, Barnes & Noble, was nice and warm. Looked around but decided to save our coupons and go into Buckhead to see if there were any better choices. I noticed there's another book out by John Barrowman and his sister, and I'm strangely temped by Rainbow Rowell's Carry On. (This book has a odd history. Rowell wrote a novel called Fangirl about twin sisters who go off to college. Cath and Wren have always been close and write fanfiction in the universe of the Simon Snow books (similar to Harry Potter, with a wizardry school) in which Simon and his "best enemy" Baz are the main characters. Wren turns wild child at college and gets drunk all the time, but Cath eventually comes out of her shell thanks to her long-suffering roommate and a cute guy, but at first takes refuge in her Simon/Baz fanfic. Rowell was so intrigued by the fanfiction world she made up that she wrote her own Simon and Baz book).
Anyway, out of Claritin, so must go to Costco tomorrow. Costco the Saturday before Christmas. Aieeee.