I happen to be currently stationed in what I am convinced is The Parade Capital of the World. Easter? Parade. October? Parade. Winter is coming? Parade. We've just been recognised officially as the Parade Capital of the World? Parade, and make it a bloody good one, because that funny little town three miles west of here is sort of catching up on us, and this is too good a title to let go.
Last Saturday, as it was the first in December, was the date of the December Celebration Parade or something. My library had a vehicle and trailer-full-of-decorations in the parade, so I was excited to see that, and my brother was doing a baked goods fundraiser for his boy SCOUT troop, so we were going to be downtown anyway.
Regarding the library decorations: This is fantastic. On Thursday I came into work and walked round to the back room to write in my hours. But I thought for a moment that I'd taken a wrong turn, because I seemed to have ended up somewhere in the Arctic Circle (North Pole Christmas Headquarters, to be precise). There were wrapped boxes piled for miles* against one wall and they looked very, very festive. I was pleased. (I think they might have looked even better against the wall than they did when they were actually on the vehicle!)
Regarding the baked goods fundraiser: crowded, busy, jam-packed full of people. We were trying to fit a lot of sugar-crazed people into a very small Historic Building, so there was a bit of a mad rush for a while. Luckily, we were able to slip off partway through and walk to the coffee-shop, where we got some steamy peppermint mochas.
After that we went back to the Historic Building to pick up a friend who wanted to come with us on the next part of our adventure. Along the way we popped into a small Historic Chapel and listened to a quartet playing a Christmas song. It was rather good, we agreed, as we dematerialised from the building and went to collect Coming-Along Friend.
The next part of our adventure consisted of going to see THE INSIDE OF A VICTORIAN HOME, WHICH WAS DECORATED IN ALL ITS SPLENDOUR FOR CHRISTMAS. But there will be more on that later. During the walk there, my dad (who had not previously obtained coffee) went into the town's other coffee-shop to get a drink for himself. Noticing the lovely piano that was just SITTING THERE IN THE COFFEE-SHOP, I immediately sat down at it and started in on Karl Jenkins' Palladio.
I realise, as I write this, that that must have been my first public performance, but I thought nothing of it at the time. It was not at all uncomfortable sitting there in that strange new coffee-shop playing that strange new piano which I'd never touched before. It went fairly well, except for the part where I suddenly forgot which keys were which and found it difficult to continue the song. (I think our own house-piano has keys which are about a centimetre wider than most, which apparently matters in a ridiculously large way when one is trying to know where everything is.) On the way out I was complimented by a random stranger, which might have made me happier than it should have done.
When we got to the AMAZING VICTORIAN HOME, there was a huge dog in the driveway. It was about the size of a small bear, I think. Upon further inquiry I learned that it was a Leonberger - I'd read about them and seen pictures but until then I hadn't known how absolutely massive they were. That was brilliant.**
The inside of the house was spectacular. It had lots and lots of very small rooms, including a wee little kitchen (with authentic Victorian electric refrigerator), a wee little sitting-room (with authentic Victorian flatscreen telly), and spectacular bathroom (with authentic Victorian almost-clawfoot bathtub, for real). There is a turret room in this house, but you are not allowed to visit it (presumably because nobody would ever leave the turret room once they got in).
After skipping giddily past the Best Garage Ever? (a barn with huge sliding doors which would have comfortably housed an entire armada of Minis) and down the gentle but still exciting hill, we were directly across the street from the new antiques shop in town, which I absolutely must visit as soon as they are open next (Tuesday, argh). We did look in the windows, though: ooh. Wonderful beautiful things. I cannot wait to look through it properly.
*Not actually miles.
**His name was Bentley.