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Tuesday, December 9, 2003

You might catch me complaining about crowds and cash shortages and commercialization, but don't mistake that for anything more than my everyday grumpiness. I might be a grouch, but I'm not a Grinch. The Scrooge I identify with is the one at the end of the story.

I'm telling you this because I had to remind myself today. Several times, in fact.

The air was cold and the sky was gray as I set out on my errands this morning. I can always tell it's going to be a high-volume traffic day if there's more than one other car on my street. Today I actually had to wait before I could pull out of my driveway. And then I had to follow a Pontiac down the road to the stop sign. Imagine!

That wasn't how I lost my good cheer, though. Sure I grumbled. I might even have uttered a mild oath, but nothing with "bah" or "humbug" in it, I swear. I mean, I promise.

The gas station was jammed up and I had to wait there, but I tried not to mind. Someone was taking up two spaces in the supermarket parking lot, but I just moved on to a slightly less convenient spot without too much of a fuss. There was the usual cart congestion inside the store, but I patiently waited for the man who couldn't decide which kind of sea salt to get, fine or coarse, to move on.

Okay, I really didn't wait patiently for him. I turned my cart around and shopped in another aisle until he was gone. But you get my point.

My plan had been to go to the post office first, before the gas station and the market, because I knew I'd have to stand in line and I didn't want to stand in line for an hour while my parsley wilted in the trunk. But the Ion was low on fuel, so that became my priority and the post office moved to the bottom of the list.

I just wouldn't wait if the line was too long. I'd come back tomorrow, or next year, to collect whatever it was they were holding. They'd stuck a yellow card in my mailbox yesterday, when I was truly short of time (it being a Monday and all), but the card didn't indicate what it was they had for me. I suspected it was a legal notice from one of our suppliers, and I knew that could wait.

Imagine (imagine!) my shock when I saw that today's line reached barely to the door. I was aghast with the sheer joy of it. Here was a bit of serendipity I hadn't expected (not to be redundant or repetitive or anything).

That's when things started to go wrong, and I had to work to stay cheery. Only two of the three stations were open, but that didn't bother me because the line was short. It wasn't long before I noticed that I was still standing just outside the door. The line hadn't moved at all.

The clerk at the first window was selling a money order, which always takes a little extra time. The couple at the second window seemed to be asking the clerk to help them wrap two large, heavy boxes for shipping. And he seemed to be accommodating them. They also needed help with the address labels, and they couldn't for the life of them figure out whether to send the boxes parcel post or first class. It had to be explained to them two or three times before they grasped that arcane concept and made a choice. I have no idea what the choice was because I was barely conscious by then.

But then I made myself remember. This is the holiday season and I was lucky to be even that close to the head of the line. Instead of stewing and fretting and muttering under my breath, I began noticing the other people in line. The best news was that nobody else had large, unwrapped bundles, so the line would be moving more quickly. Small children were dancing about, making most of the adults smile. Some of us even nodded and shrugged at each other. That almost passes for a party on a dismal December day at the post office.

Once the line started moving, I got to the window quickly. The all-important package was the license plate for Tim's new truck. I have to turn right around and mail it on to him. I think I'll wait until January, though. No use chancing another trip to the post office before then. I've worked too hard to keep my jolly mood. There's no use pushing my luck.

5 December 2003

Cat sleeping in the yard.

As I said, I left the house on a cold, dark morning, but at least it was dry. While I was in the post office it started to rain. By the time I got out of the post office it was pouring, and (not being prepared) I got soaked through. It took me a while to recover, once I got home — just about as long as it takes to drink a cup of cocoa. But at least my parsley didn't wilt.

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It wasn't raining quite as hard when I walked out to the mailbox this afternoon. There were 20 to 25 quail in the drive, and I thought they were going to walk ahead of me all the way to the road, but suddenly they took flight. Half a second later about as many on the other side of the fence that lines the driveway flew off in the same direction. I've never seen that many quail at one time, much less all in the air together. It was beautiful, actually.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Slosh
"And yes, the amaryllis is finally opening up, after two years of dawdling."

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