Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All . . .

The rush of the holiday season is mostly past. With a 21-year-old still asleep upstairs at 11:00 in the morning, the mad dash downstairs on Christmas morning is a faint memory. These days, I enjoy the quiet. I have read the whole paper, baked a sausage and egg casserole that I prepared last night, and a cheesecake that will go to my parents' in the evening is in the oven. Ryan and I may catch Sherlock Holmes this afternoon -- if so, it will be the first time I have been to the movies since we got the big screen hi-def TV back in May (better picture, better sound, and a pause button -- can't beat it).

This was what I intended for Zoe when we went to the store to see Barry Claus last Saturday (and missed him). The antlers belonged to my grandpa (yes, I gave them to him), but usually on Christmas morning you'd just find him with the bows from all of the packages stuck to his head.

If you could use a story to warm your heart, may I suggest this one from this morning's Dayton Daily News -- It's about Joanie Leach (we used to go to church together -- she lives a couple of blocks down the street) and how her dog has helped her recover from an aneurysm and stroke that nearly killed her 2 1/2 years ago. If you love dogs, you'll love her Emma.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope you have (and have had) a joyous holiday season.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thank You Note

Yesterday was one of those "WOW!" occasions you get from time to time. Something really good happens, and all you can do is take it all in and say "Wow!"

This is what the "Wow!" was all about -- Pat Hobson treated us to lunch. All by herself. Gary told me Monday that I needed to be at the store at noon Tuesday because Pat was bringing lunch.

So I strolled in yesterday and this was the spread I saw -- and Pat made most of it. I asked her if this was how she spent her winnings from drag racing (if you don't understand why this is funny, you need to go back to a post from the end of last week).

And we dug in -- all of the employees, most of the teachers, and a few of the regulars.

This is the only way I can ever get a picture of Gary -- have to put him close to food . . .

This man has more outfits than anyone I know. For the uninitiated, this is Barry Payne. Last Saturday, he was Barry Claus. A month or two ago, he was Elvis. Rumor has it that by Spring, he may be the Easter Bunny.

Even Zoe got some attention and a nibble or two.

A simple "thanks" seems insufficient -- this was a special act of kindness by a very special friend. And we truly enjoyed it. Merry Christmas, Pat!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Barry Claus Is Coming to Town . . .

It's amazing how the "celebrities" seem to enjoy making appearances in our store. You may recall that a couple of months ago, we had "The King" for a morning in our classroom. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when Karen called me last week and said there would be a Jolly Old Elf in our store on Saturday . . .

Sure enough, on Saturday morning "Barry Claus" came strolling in our front door (we don't have a chimney) with a pack slung over his shoulder and a jolly "Ho Ho Ho!"

Kris Kringle was accompanied by "Holly", one of his elves. She bears a striking resemblance to Dawn Cutter -- must be a distant relative . . .

Karen was dressed for the occasion. She has been asking Santa for the same thing for more than ten years (a grandchild), and this year it seems that a stork will be packed aboard his sleigh.

Donna Sheetz was really excited -- for days, we heard about how she wanted to sit on Santa's lap. And of course, when dealing with adults, the Jolly Old Elf gets better payoffs . . .

Finally, the little ones were allowed to make their Christmas wishes. I had planned to get to the store with Zoe and see if she could jump up on his lap, but I spent most of Friday night ferrying my mother-in-law halfway to Maryland so my brother-in-law could get her to his house for the holidays ahead of the snowstorm. By the time we got there, Santa and his sleigh were already on their way back to the North Pole.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Put the Pedal to the Metal . . .

Anyone who frequents our store knows Pat Hobson. She is here a lot -- lends a hand when we need it, answers questions for customers, works on her own projects, and more.

This is Pat -- I took this shot at one of our Make It and Take Its at the store today. I'm learning that there are many layers to Pat -- and that she has more guts than I do. Because last weekend, Pat went drag racing at a local track. No, she didn't go to watch -- she DROVE. Apparently there is a program where you can get on the track and drive your own car.

I heard it, but I still wasn't sure if I believed it. Then I saw this . . .

Pat is in the Pontiac Grand Prix. This is my first attempt at posting a video -- so if it doesn't work, you can click on the link below.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Family Matters . . .

I got an excited call from Karen just after I got home last night. You may recall from last month that her birthday card from Scott and Alexis announced that Karen and David will become grandparents for the first time in the spring. Well, Scott called last night to announce the results from the ultrasound -- it's a boy.

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Zoe is here at the mail center with me today -- she usually comes along to keep me company if I'm the only one here. Actually, she spends most of her time staring out the front window -- and today it paid off. Yvonne Holtvogt is our UPS driver -- I have known her for years, as we used to go to the same church. Yvonne usually brings Zoe a treat on Fridays if she has a package to drop off in the morning and when she picks up our shipments in the afternoon. This morning, she didn't have any deliveries for us, but she saw Zoe looking out the window and stopped to run a treat in for her, anyway. I was so busy saying thank you that I didn't think to shoot a picture until after Yvonne (and the treat) were already gone.

As I type this, Zoe is back sitting at attention at the front window. Gotta be more treats out there somewhere . . .

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pictures Are Better Than a Note From Your Mother . . .

Charlotte Adkins has worked with us for years, first at the mail center and more recently at our retail store. About three weeks ago, she took a day off for a chance to hobnob with a celebrity and finally has evidence to prove it.

Charlotte and her son, Josh, headed for Indianapolis in the predawn hours on November 19. They wanted to meet Sarah Palin, who (if you haven't noticed) is doing a nationwide book tour. So first they stood in line at an Indy bookstore for several hours to get line tickets, and then came back in the evening to stand in line for the actual signing.

Charlotte and Josh are in the background (Josh is in the Kentucky sweatshirt). No cameras were allowed -- all of the pictures were taken by Shealah Craighead, who worked with the McCain/Palin campaign last year, used to be Laura Bush's personal photographer, and is now the official photographer of Kay Bailey Hutchinson's campaign for Governor of Texas.

Finally, it was Charlotte's turn -- and from what I've heard she could barely hide her excitement.

Looks like they got two handshakes for the price of one book . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

With Apologies to Karen Carpenter . . .

Yesterday was a yearly milestone in our part of the country -- the "first snowfall of the winter" (you'll be hearing Karen Carpenter in your head for the rest of the day -- you're welcome).

Now those of you in the south may cringe, and those of you in the north will surely roll your eyes . . .

Because this is all it amounted to -- just enough to coat the ground. I can remember when we would laugh at this. When a friend I grew up with moved to Houston back in the early 80s, he was shocked the first time they got 1/4" of snow and the entire city was paralyzed.

But we're getting that way. The snow didn't start until after 6:00 a.m. and it was unexpected (chalk up another swing and a miss for the weather weasels), so the salt trucks didn't get out until after rush hour had started and the roads were coated with ice. And around here, many people forget how to drive on ice and snow each year until they encounter it for the first time.

So the interstates were shut down and I saw several cars overturned in the ditches. And we had no heat when we arrived at the mail center. Our furnace guy was stuck in traffic on the interstate -- he said he pulled out into the grass and drove nearly six miles before he could get off. Now I'm not advocating driving off the paved highway, but we did appreciate the warmth when he finished.