Checked my phone to see when Amanda was arriving. Seems she'd be an hour late, so I went online. Sent an inquiry about an apartment in Collingswood that looks to be very similar to the one I just lost in Audubon. Alas, it's also slightly more expensive, but it's something. Very similar house, about a decade older. Put in a request to see another one in Audubon that was listed as pending. I figured if it was still up there, it was worth trying.
Amanda knocked on my door around quarter of 12. We headed out after I grabbed my purse and coat. Amanda is an old friend of mine from college, and my only college friend who has stayed close to me for 20 years. We always get together about three weeks before Christmas, and have since we roomed together during our second year in college.
This year, we felt confident enough to go slightly further afield for lunch. Good thing she wanted breakfast for lunch, because I'd planned on us eating at the Legacy Diner on the White Horse Pike. It's in a straight line from Oaklyn and has plenty of parking. We did have to park in the back, and the main dining room was relatively busy, but they got us a both on the other side pretty fast.
They seem to have returned to more-or-less their previous menu. Amanda had hash browns and a "Sunrise Quesadilla" with eggs and vegetables. I had two big coconut-pineapple pancakes. Considering the size and richness of those pancakes, I'm glad I ordered the short stack! We admired the holiday artwork painted on the windows as I explained my troubles with the family and apartment-hunting.
After lunch, we backtracked to Oaklyn for coffee and hot chocolate. Amanda loves coffee, and since I paid for lunch, she paid for our drinks at Common Grounds Coffee House. She had peppermint mocha. I went with a plain hot chocolate. They were really busy for them, with almost every table taken by someone on a laptop or chatting with a friend.
We weren't planning on spending time at my apartment with everything going on there, so we exchanged gifts at Common Grounds. She loved the Peanuts coffee cup and stuffed Snoopy I gave her. She gave me candy cane-scented lotion and hand soap, a fancy hand-made bar of soap, a cane-shaped container of Hershey's candy-coated chocolate drops, boxes of peppermint and Sleepytime Vanilla tea, and a cute Hallmark ornament of a gray and white kitten with a cookie in its mouth.
Though we were still full from lunch, she apparently saw or heard a commercial for The Puddin' Palace and wanted to try it. It took a while for her to decide, but she finally decided it would be easier to carry the "grab and go" parfaits in plastic containers with lids home. She chose a strawberry for her dad and a chocolate for her.
Went for a walk around the neighborhood after lunch. Normally, we'd go to my place and decorate the tree, but I'm not going to be able to decorate for Christmas this year. Took her down to the school yard along the lake, which doubles as the town park. Noticed they're finally dredging the lake and they built a new playground for little guys next to the school (which was fenced in and we couldn't get to). Headed back up Clinton to the library, then past that and down Newton Avenue.
Amanda told me all about her newest job. She finally got tired of dealing with sick animals at the vet clinic and went back to teaching. What she found is probably perfect for her - teaching a kindergarten class at a small private academy just outside of Vineland. While she does admit she knows little about technology and the challenges of remote teaching, she otherwise sounds like she's having a great time with her kids. Her school even took their kids apple picking at the same farm (or one close to the same) as we went to back in September.
She also told me why she still lives at home. Her new job actually earns slightly less money, and she really wants a place on her own. As regular readers may have noticed, those can be pretty expensive. And unlike me, she's still paying off college debts.
Was finally dropped at home around 3:30. Spent the next few hours looking for apartments online, then working on writing. Bill the White Rabbit and several flowers explain why they're terrified of the Jabberwock. It's a huge, dragon-like creature with sharp teeth and scales that can devour a man or rabbit whole. It lives in Limbo, a desolate place where nothing grows and time stands still.
They want to figure out who is thumping into the garden, but they can't get to them. Richard finally shows them how - by walking away from the figure. That does the trick. The "figure" is Fannie Flagg dressed as a very well-endowed red chess piece. Seems she knows Richard, and she's concerned about what her guardian is doing to the land...
Broke for dinner at quarter of 7. Watched The Care Bears Nutcracker while I had leftovers for dinner and lemon-ginger tea with ginger molasses cookies for dessert, then while packing art supplies and videos. This hour-long special was apparently intended to be a full-length movie, but got scaled back to a TV show when Care Bears In Wonderland flopped. This time, Anna is the little blonde girl the Care Bears and Cousins journey with across a fantasy landscape. They're searching for the magic ring that will end the rule of the wicked Vizier. Anna makes friends with an amnesiac nutcracker, while her little brother and Baby Hugs and Tugs stow away for adventure.
Finished the night after a shower with Annie Live! I go further into last night's version of the beloved 1977 Broadway show at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.