Some weeks are filled with unusual things. This week is one of those weeks. Maybe it’s connected to Daylight Savings Time, everybody feeling a little bit “off” when our internal clocks are artificially messed with. Whatever the cause there are some mighty odd things I’ve seen around town.


Let’s start with my mailbox. After years of righteous resistance I’ve become a regular shopper at Not for things I can get locally, but for things I can’t find in Walla Walla, in this instance a specific kind of protein bar and a particular brand of swimmer’s body wash.


Protein bar? Is it made out of hamburger or something?


Thankfully not, 9. It’s crunchy and a tiny bit salty and coated with dark chocolate, plus it has twelve grams of protein which is nearly one fifth of my minimum daily requirement. The body wash is a green gel, pleasantly scented with mango and lime.


Sound wonderful.


Indeed it is, Lily.


Short break to re-introduce Lily and 9. Lily is my inner 14-year-old who came to my attention July 1, 2019. 9 (my inner 9-year-old) arrived May 5, 2020. They’ve been helping me with the blog ever since.


Back to our regular story. I’ve had trouble-free deliveries from Amazon in the past, but this week my luck ran out. A shipping envelope (pictured below) appeared in my mailbox Monday afternoon:


Seen around town: in my own mailbox!


As you can see, the package had been slashed open and was tagged “received without contents.” At the Amazon website the package showed up as delivered at the same time the mail arrived. There was no mention of the package being empty at their website.


It took many query attempts at Amazon’s “help” page to find the process for reporting my missing purchase (if this ever happens to you query “empty package”). Customer service picked up in less than a minute, asked for the order numbers on the missing items, and assured me my order would be delivered the next day (though I’m guessing she meant the replacement items would be shipped the next day; as of this writing they have yet to arrive). An odd thing, possibly being resolved as I write this. But it was only the beginning of the strange things seen around town. . .


Tuesday I met a friend for dinner at a local Greek restaurant. I don’t know about Greek restaurants in general, but this one is not known for its wine selection, unusual for restaurants in the wine tourism destination of Walla Walla. The server was very young. When we asked what kind of wine was available she said they had two red wines and two white wines. What kind of red wines?


“There’s one with a screw top and one with a cork.”


My friend and I gave each other a look and managed not to laugh. We sampled both and opted for the one that tasted least like raisins (aka the one with a cork).


After dinner I did a research site visit for a book I’m working on, a trip to the local candy store at 7 PM on a Tuesday to see if the scene was as I’d imagined for my protagonist (who goes there at 7 PM on a Tuesday in mid-March).


Seen around town: jelly beans and more!


I’ve been in this establishment many times and knew I had the setting right. But I needed to know how much customer traffic, how many people were working, what kinds of things they were doing, etc. Two customers selected in-house made chocolates from the display case; a sales clerk assisted them. There were two other employees. One with a spray bottle of cleaning fluid and a cleaning rag was polishing the ice cream case. The other was packaging chocolates in cellophane sleeves in an area raised above the retail floor.


These observations were helpful. Details are critical to making a scene come alive! But what really struck me: Strawberry Fields Forever was playing over the PA and all the employees were singing along. You can, too:

So what? Everyone knows that song.

Everyone knows every Beatles song.


Yes, in 1969 where you exist, 9, and for you, Lily, in 1974. But these people were young, probably not even twenty, so they were almost surely born after the year 2000.


I took a dark chocolate bar to the sales counter and said to the clerk, “I’m amazed you all know that song.”


She smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “It’s on a loop. We hear it several times a day. Great song, though.”


Out of all the details I’d observed, the sing-along was the one that humanized the scene for me.


Heard around town. Seen around town. A missing purchase, a tart wine (with a cork!), a shop that smells like chocolate and sounds like 1967. Gems with their own stories. I haven’t even mentioned the complications of getting the battery replaced in my Subaru (that’s supposed to happen this morning at a garage where the manager’s every other phrase is “I can’t make any guarantees”).


Sometimes, you just have to roll with it.


See you around town!

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