Monday, December 21, 2015

The First Day of Winter

It was still kind of sunny out when I got up this morning. I began the day with The Year Without a Santa Claus as I ate breakfast. Santa gets a cold and doesn't want to leave his bed. He doesn't think there's any Christmas spirit or goodwill left in the world. Mrs. Claus sends two elves and a reindeer down to the green American south to show him otherwise. What she didn't count on was the interference of the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser, who control the temperatures and are perpetually attacking one another!

Headed out to the laundromat after The Year Without a Santa Claus ended. It was busy, but not annoyingly so. I read The House Without a Christmas Tree and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and half-listened to Rachel Ray and The View. Even with towels used to cool the cookies and put under the Molasses roll-outs to keep them from making a mess, I still didn't have a big load. I was in and out in less than an hour.

As soon as I got in, I put the clothes away, then went right back out. I wanted to volunteer at both libraries and run a few errands. Started with dropping the Cranberry Bread and the rent at the McHughs' house next-door. I always give them bread for helping me out throughout the year.

Next stop was the Oaklyn Library. They were having a visit from what looked like one of the special ed schools. While the kids enjoyed their books, I organized DVDs and took a look at the kids' section. Other than the class, there wasn't a lot going on there. I was in and out in a half-hour.

The other reason I left fast was I was hungry as heck. Time for lunch at Jalapeno's Grill, a few blocks down from the Oaklyn Library on the White Horse Pike. It was past 12:30, and they were very busy for them, with a family, several groups of college students and their parents, and a noisy group of kids from one of the local Catholic high schools. (I saw a bunch of kids in black watch plaid uniforms.) I treated myself to some tasty shrimp quesadillas. The Spanish rice and refried beans that came with it weren't nearly as good. They really should have had more help. They only had one waitress dealing with the lunch rush customers and the school kids. (Although, ironically, service was actually a bit faster than usual.)

Made a few very quick stops at Dollar Tree and Tuesday Morning after lunch. I was hoping to find more cookie and cake boxes. Nope. No luck with either. Dollar Tree just had bags; Tuesday Morning just had boxes. I moved on.

The Haddon Township Library wasn't much busier than the Oaklyn Library. I did the usual things. I shelved DVDs. Couldn't fit a couple of kids' S and D titles and adult S and N titles. Put away new releases and audio discs. They had Christmas treats in the back. I got to try chocolate-covered sandwich cookies. I really liked the white-chocolate-covered spice cookies...but the mint wasn't bad, either. I didn't take out any DVDs for the same reason as last week - I don't know if I'll be able to volunteer next week, and I have plenty of movies to watch at home.

Went home across Newton Lake Park. It was cloudy, windy, and a little chilly but not cold by this point. Despite the weather, I saw quite a few people out for a stroll, along with several flocks of ducks and Canadian geese poking around for a snack.

Got right into writing when I arrived home. The kids are looking for Scott in the forest when they're attacked by Living Trees. Scott appears and tries to rescue them, but they capture him, too. They pick them up and are about to feed them to the trolls when a plump gypsy woman named Floretta (Eugenia) arrives. She produces a match and sets it on fire...which frightens the Trees enough to release their prisoners. She leads the trio to her gypsy camp.

After I got off, I made the Red Velvet Cupcakes and threw together a Chicken Vegetable Soup from canned chicken and veggies I had in the fridge. Watched It's a Wonderful Life while I baked and cooked. George Bailey (James Stewart) has spent his whole life helping the small town he lives in via his family's loan business. When his uncle (Thomas Mitchell) loses a huge sum of money on Christmas Eve, he's in despair and is about to commit suicide when a sweet old man (Henry Travers) jumps first. He rescues him and discovers he's Clarence, his guardian angel who has watched him all his life. When he complains and wishes he'd never been born, Clarence grants him his wish...and he discovers just how big of an impact he's had on the town.

I love this movie and find it sweet and uplifting...except for the last 20 minutes, which scared me so much, I was 12 before I would watch it straight through. I know it's not everyone's cup of Christmas tea, especially if they don't agree with Frank Capra's pro-small town, pro-small business sentiments. If you can handle the sentiment and those dark 20 minutes, this is one of my favorite classic Christmas films.

Finished out the night with a short but much-needed bath. I listened to my New Age CD A Winter's Night in honor of the Winter Solstice and the first day of winter while reading Christmas books. Ahh. So warm and relaxing. I have no idea when I'll get another chance for a bath, but I'm glad I took one today.

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