By Alyce Wilson
December 1, 2006 - Holly and Coffee
Saturday after Thanksgiving was a relaxing day for The Gryphon and I, the only full day we spent with my family that I didn't have to work. My dad, however, did, and while he was doing his morning rounds, The Gryphon and I drove to the next town to do a little Christmas shopping and get some coffee.
First, we drove all over town, looking for a coffee shop, with no success. Then The Gryphon, with his sharp eye, spotted a coffee shop that had opened up in a former dry cleaner's, on a street parallel to the main street.
We parked in the municipal lot, walked over to the coffee shop and ordered some fat free lattes. It was located in the student district for the local university, so it's probably more crowded when classes are in session. Since it was a holiday, it was just us, a single dad with two little kids, and a family in the back room.
Somehow, a funny poster called the Periodic Table of Coffee got us talking about, and critiquing the various Star Trek series.
When we'd finished our coffees, it was window shopping time. The first store that really caught my interest was one I hadn't noticed before, in the same space that used to be a really great book store. This was a place that sold both antique and new items with a classic feel.
The jewelry caught my eye right away, and the newer pieces were reasonably priced. After looking through it, I chose one necklace and one pair of earrings. The store owner asked us if we'd seen downstairs, so we had her hold the jewelry for me and checked it out.
Downstairs was primarily clothing and furniture, both vintage and new. The clothing, though, didn't interest me. Most of it looked like clothing that would interest an affluent, middle aged woman, very matronly. That's actually what most of the clothing stores are like in that town, which is the local college town. I don't know how they make any sales. I suppose that some people working at the university would like such clothing, but the students certainly wouldn't be interested.
When I went back upstairs to pay for my jewelry, a small crowd of shoppers had gathered to look at the jewelry. Strangely enough, there was no actual cash register; the store owner just marked prices down on a receipt and figured the math in her head. Just ahead of me, a man in his 50s purchased a fur collar, saying it would be a good "first gift" for somebody. I'm guessing it's a future daughter-in-law, because I can't imagine him giving it to a baby.
Next, we stopped in a little book store that's opened next to the art supply store my mom frequents. There's no telling how long they'll stay in business, since mom and pop book stores have been having a lot of trouble competing with chains and with online retail. I spoke to the clerk to find out about the possibility of them shelving some of my poetry chapbooks. She gave me the owners name and told me to talk to him but assured me they often stock books by local authors.
We browsed next in a home decor store run by an interior decorator that featured a lot of bright, artsy pieces. We liked the store but couldn't pick any specific gifts for anyone. Still, it's a promising store, and I might stop back in there when I pick up my glasses in a couple weeks.
Then we visited one of my old favorites, a store featuring Celtic art from Ireland and the U.S. They always have lovely handmade gifts. While we didn't purchase anything, we found some beautiful champagne flutes made by a local artisan. We'll contact her and order some for our wedding with our wedding colors.
By then, it was getting close to lunchtime, so we checked out a restaurant I hadn't seen before. It has a Spanish theme to it and serves all of its dishes as small appetizers, so that you have to order two or three. The Gryphon and I ordered four and split them. We had a chicken dish, artichoke hearts, veggie crepes and a fourth item I forget.
While the food was good, it ends up being a little pricey for most people in that area. Only people associated with the university, or parents of university students, are likely to find it appealing. I can't see too many students, even the more affluent ones, willing to pay $8.95 for something that won't even fill them up.
We had a little time left before we had to head back to Dad's, so we visited one more store, a card store that's an old favorite of mine. We bought a small present for someone in there.
Then it was late, so we headed back to the car and drove back to my Dad's place. My mom had been talking about making a trip to a craft store, and I was going to go with her, but when I called she said she wasn't going. Instead, she was going to work on a Christmas gift for my niece and then washing her car. We were all going to get together for dinner at 6.
At first I wasn't going to go over, but then I started to think about the fact that Mom goes to bed early, so if I wanted to see her it should probably be in the afternoon. I called her back and offered to help her wash her car, and I changed into some clothes I didn't mind getting a little wet.
When I drove over, she was working on the gift. I had brought with me some jeans I bought recently in Marshall's. They're 8L, because they didn't have an 8 regular and I liked the cut. I asked Mom if she could hem them. I tried them on, and she measured where how far to bring them up. Then she put pins all the way around at that height, hemming it by hand. The whole process took about an hour.
It didn't take us long to wash her car. She didn't have nozzle on the hose, so it was a little hard to get the water where I wanted it. But we got it scrubbed down and removed the worst of the bird detritus that had accumulated when she'd parked under a tree at Dad's for Thanksgiving.
We had about an hour before we were meeting for dinner, so I drove back to my Dad's to change.
As it turns out, Dad had forgotten to make reservations, and the hostess at the restaurant gave us a hard time because they had a large party coming. But they did finally manage to seat us in the back. The Gryphon thought that the hostess was particularly rude, but I told him that it wasn't unusual behavior for Central Pennsylvania. I don't know why, but people are frequently very brusque and tactless, even when they're in the service industry.
I ordered scallops with vegetables and a salad, and was pleased with it. For dessert, The Gryphon and I split a piece of chocolate cake.
I was right to think that Mom wouldn't hang out long after dinner. She came up to Dad's place just long enough to pick up some dishes that had been used for Thanksgiving and were now clean.
The Gryphon, Dad and I hung out, watching some TV, while I made a holly wreath out of the clippings we'd received from the Methodist Church member. It turned out pretty attractive, considering I had no idea what I was doing (see above). We found a place for it in the waiting room of his office.
On Sunday, I knew we wouldn't get to see my Dad for long, since we were going to get on the road by noon. He goes to church in the morning and then makes his rounds at the hospital. I got up early and sat in the living room reading until he was up and had breakfast with him. The Gryphon joined us, as well. It was good to spend some more time together before we left.
After Dad went to church, The Gryphon and I got showered and packed, then took Una for one more walk around the neighborhood. This time, I took my camera and snapped pictures of some interesting things, such as a big holly tree.
The Gryphon snapped a nice photo of me and Una in a little downtown park. He couldn't get Una to look at the camera, though, because she was too distracted by parishioners leaving the Methodist Church across the street.
Before getting on the road, we took the car through an automatic car wash, which got it nice and sparkly. The traffic was pretty good on the way home; nothing like what we'd encountered on Wednesday.
When we got back, we had a little time to relax before driving to the Marathon Grill at 40th Street for dinner. Afterwards, I dropped The Gryphon off at his meeting of the Philadelphia Area Gaming Enthusiasts (PAGE).
I took the
needed time at home to get caught up on some personal projects. Our kitty,
Luke, was thrilled to see me and wanted to sit in my lap almost the entire
time I was working at the computer.
2006 by Alyce Wilson