Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Whistle A Happy Tune

Keep this surefire solution in mind if you're confronted by Halloween monsters tonight!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mama Needs A New Pair Of Shoes

Last week I retired the work shoes I've worn since I started working at my current job almost 15 months ago.  The black Mary Janes with comfy stretch microfiber tops, removable insoles, and Velcro straps that went with my 'uniform' white shirt and black pants were starting to hurt my feet.  The leather sides didn't look good even after they'd been polished, and the heels were pretty run down.

I was sad to see them go; I have trouble finding shoes that fit and these were some of the most comfortable I've ever worn.  I went to several stores looking for something I liked as well but didn't have any luck.  Last Thursday on my way home from work I stopped at the store where I bought the first pair and got another pair just like them.

The task took less than five minutes.  I didn't have to wait for assistance, and since I knew what style and size I needed the clerk only had to find one shoe box in the back.  I would have been OK just taking them without trying them on, but she insisted, so after I sat down and let her remove my old shoes she slid the new ones on my feet and tightened the straps, then told me to stand up.  When I did I was surprised how much support the new pair had.  The old ones really had worn out.

This pair of shoes was pricy, but I figured comfort is important.  Since I wore the original ones so much I decided to figure out what their "cost per wear" was.  It was hard to remember my schedule from so long ago, but I believe the first few months I worked three shifts a week. Sometime about the beginning of November 2011 my hours changed and I started working four shifts.  Last winter I sometimes swapped out my regular shoes for something that could stand up to sloppy winter weather (so I took a couple of wearings off), but I wore the shoes to a few dressy casual events and took them on vacation (so I added those wearings back on).  By my very rough calculations, those shoes had been on my feet 230 times.

Dividing the price (approximately $110 with tax) by the wearings I discovered the shoe cost per use was 48 cents. At my current rate of pay, in well less than five minutes of work I've made enough to pay for my footwear for the day.

I get a lot of value out of the shoes!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Willow Manor Ball 2012

Today is the fifth annual Willow Manor Ball.  This cyber event of the year always draws a crowd.

When I heard it was a masked ball this year, I knew just who to invite as my date, as he's quite comfortable behind a mask. However, at the last minute he stood me up...something about fighting crime.  He did promise to swing by if he got done early, though.

Without an escort I thought about staying home, but I knew quite a few of my blog friends would be there.  Besides, I already had my dress picked out.  Don't you think the dark red jersey of this Donna Karan gown coordinates well with my escort's mask?

I don't think a dress like this needs a whole lot of bling. In lieu of jewelry, I'm showcasing this gold-plated Harlequin mask covered with Swarovski crystals.

If you've never been to the Willow Manor Ball before, why don't you stop by?  Everyone is invited, and the event lasts for an entire 24 hours.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Signs Of The Season?

 I know some stores set up their Christmas departments last month, but last week a mall walker told me she'd seen trees with white lights in one of the store windows, and she started complaining about how early the decorations were coming out.  I had to agree.

Even though long sleeved shirts, fall sweaters, and coats still fill the majority of the mall's windows, there are signs that the holidays will be here soon.  Some of them are subtle...
  • The mall just announced the hours for the holiday season, starting with Black Friday and going through the end of the year.
  • A few of the women's stores have window displays of glittery festive wear.  
  • A children's store has a prominent arrangement of party dresses right as you walk in. 
  • That white-light tree, which turned out to be more like a spray than a tree, and made out of fiber optics.  (Could be holiday, could not.)
Some of the signs are more explicit...
  • The Hallmark store has nicely-piled stacks of Christmas decorations visible all across the front of the store.
  • One of the anchor stores has large decorated trees adorning the area right inside the entrance from the mall.
  • A second anchor store sports a massive decorated garland around the top of the escalator area.
 I despise the "Christmas Creep", but I know Mall Management won't consult with me.  I know that when I come into work one day after Halloween they'll be starting to put up the mall decorations.  I guess that WILL be the real sign...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Eye In The Sky

On the days that I have to be at work at 9:30 in the morning I’m a creature of habit.  I leave the house at the same time (give or take five minutes). Unless I hear about a traffic problem on the radio I take the same route, and when I get to the mall I wind my way up to the top of the parking garage and park on the right side in the first empty space.

This morning I got there with fifteen minutes to spare. I drove past three other vehicles to get to my space, and noticed there were five cars on the other side of the aisle.  All were empty; in all the months I've been parking there I've never seen any other drivers.

I could have gone inside and played with my phone, or joined the mall walkers, but the weather was nice and I decided to stay outside, figuring if I walked on the top level of the garage no one would see me. After locking my purse in the car I turned to the left and started walking. I stayed next to the chest-high perimeter walls, where I could look down and see the surrounding area from a new angle. Behind the mall was a row of large trees I’d never noticed before, and on the concrete underneath the trees a thick carpet of leaves had fallen. As I walked, I found parking alcoves tucked away in the far corners that I didn't even know were there.

A couple of minutes into my walk I was surprised to see a truck driving towards me.  I figured no one would notice, but hadn't counted on Security.  The mall has vehicles that slowly cruise the parking areas, looking for things and people that are out of place. Since I've NEVER seen the vehicle on the top of the garage in the morning. I suspect they’d detected something on their cameras and were investigating.

I wasn't concerned, because I know all the officers and they know me. When the truck got close enough for me to see who was in there I waved. The officer waved back, and continued on his way.   I'd lost my ambition for walking, though, and decided it was time to go inside.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Eating My Way Home

On Tuesday I get off work at five, right in the middle of rush hour.  It doesn't bother me to drive home in the mess, though, because I know Hubby Tony's gotten home first and put dinner (usually leftovers or something that just has to be microwaved) on the table.  This week, though, Tony is away on business, so I could do whatever I wanted.  After I clocked out from the Customer Service desk I went to Macy's and did some shopping, then decided to get something to eat.

When I left the mall parking lot, traffic on the Interstate was still heavy and I decided that instead of fighting it I'd stop at a nearby Whole Foods.  After checking out the options in the Prepared Foods department and salad bar, I decided to treat myself to pizza.  They had a nice selection of regular pies, but in the end I got a miniature pepperoni deep dish one.

On my way out of the store I grabbed a couple of free magazines, then sat in my car with windows rolled down and the radio on and ate.  The pizza was great...good crust, lots of pepperoni, and a nice thick layer of cheese.  It was just enough.  When I was finished I put the pizza box in a trash bag and set the bag on the floor of the passenger seat.

After the pizza was gone I read magazines for a while, then decided it was time to get back on the road.  Instead of using the highway (which would mean turning left out of the parking lot) I decided to go the other way and take Manchester Road for variety.

The traffic was light, but I was driving west and the setting sun was right at eye level;  I started thinking about where I could stop until it went down a little.  And, I was still hungry!  When I was deciding what would complement the pizza I'd had, I recalled a phone call that had come in at work yesterday.  The woman was asking about the mall's restaurants, and asked if we had a Pasta House.  (We don't).   I guess that idea had smoldered in my mind since then, because when I drove past a Pasta House my car automatically turned in.

The Pasta House Co. is a St. Louis restaurant chain that's been around since the 1970s.  They have a lot of great dishes on the menu, but no trip to Pasta House is complete without a bowl of their Special Salad.  If someone tells you they had a "Pasta House" salad you know exactly what they're talking  about...its a tasty combination of iceberg and romaine lettuce, red onion, pimientos, artichoke hearts, and Parmesan tossed in a red wine vinaigrette.

I walked up to the carryout counter and ordered a small salad to go, then asked the cashier how many people came in and ordered just one thing.  She smiled, and said it happened all the time.  It took about five minutes for my order to be ready.  I carried it out to the car, took the lid off the salad, and dug in.  The lettuce was nicely chilled, and there was just enough dressing to coat all the ingredients.  It really hit the spot!  There was also a small brown paper bag that held two dinner rolls, which I saved for tomorrow.  The carryout container and fork joined the pizza box in the trash bag.

By time I polished off the salad it was almost dark.  Again I headed west.  Since I'd already had two courses of a meal, I decided I should finish it off with dessert.  I drove past big box stores and strip malls, but I couldn't find anything that sounded good.  I was almost all the way home before I saw a FroYo frozen yogurt store.  Bingo!

 FroYo is a "by the ounce" store.  You fill a container, add toppings, then take it up to the counter where they weigh the container and tell you how much you owe.  They had a nice selection of flavors, some of which had cute Halloween names,like pomegranate bloodberry sorbert and pumpkin pie potion.  I sampled a few flavors, then chose a sorbet and a traditional yogurt.

For the third time tonight I carried my food out to the car and ate it there.  However, this time it was completely dark.  In order to have enough light to eat by I had to move my car from the spot right in front of the store to a spot halfway down the parking lot next to a street light.  I parked the car, turned off the motor, and dug into my cold, creamy goodness.

When I finished,  I crumbled up the container and threw it in the bag with the remains of my other food.  My trip home had taken three times as long as it usually does, but since there was no one waiting for me that was OK.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Not Traditional, But Still Good!

Earlier in the month I pulled out my tomato plants and was left with a large quantity of bite-sized green tomatoes.  I put them in a bowl on top of the refrigerator, and every couple of days I've been removing the fruits as they turn red.  They make a great addition to my lunch.

There was more than five pounds of green fruit, though, so I also investigated options for cooking with them. Fried green tomatoes are always tasty, but I couldn't figure out a way to do it with my tiny ones.  A Google search turned up recipes for various types of salsa, pickles, and relish, as well as sauces, soups, cakes, and pies sweet and savory.  One interesting idea was to substitute green tomatoes for tomatillos in a stew dish.  The fruits are different species, and have a slightly different texture and taste, but several Websites offered suggestions for minimizing the differences.  I decided to give it a try.

Son Donald was coming today for a Sunday visit. He usually cooks dinner with Hubby Tony, but this morning I sent him a message letting him know he was teaming up with me today to make Chile Verde. We came up with our own recipe, which incorporated the best parts of four different ones. It started with a Boston Butt roast cut into chunks, browned in olive oil, then simmered for two hours in a sauce containing green tomatoes, onions, two types of hot peppers, lots of garlic, cilantro, oregano, and chicken broth.

The finished product, which we served with tortillas, Spanish rice, succotash, and steamed zucchini:

This dish turned out to be a keeper!  We ate until we were full, and there was plenty for leftovers.   As an added bonus, the recipe called for 2 pounds of tomatoes, which turned out to be all the green ones in the bowl (and a couple that were a quarter of the way to ripe). Mission Use Up Green Tomatoes accomplished!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


When I did my original "new thing a day" project in 2008 I kept a spreadsheet with the things I'd done and ideas for others I wanted to do. I completed a good portion of the list before the year was over, but some of the activities had to wait until the time was right. Like today, when Hubby Tony and I navigated our way through a corn maze.

A corn maze is just what it sounds like--a maze cut out of a corn field. Several weeks ago I bought a Groupon for Brookdale Farms that gave us admission to their maze and a couple of launches with a pumpkin slingshot.  Our plan was to go today, but when we woke up in the morning it was gloomy and we second guessed our decision. At lunchtime, though, the sun came out and the sky turned blue. A perfect day for an outdoor adventure.

The farm was in Eureka, about 25 minutes from the house; we took a scenic route and enjoyed the stunning fall colors along the winding roads.  Even though the parking lot was jammed there was no line at the admission booth.  It didn't take us long to turn the Groupon in for wristbands and tickets for the slingshot.

We decided to tackle the maze first.  According to their Website, the corn maze is the largest in St. Louis.  We walked up to the path that had been cut in the middle of the large expanse of corn plants and started our adventure.

It didn't take me long to feel lost.  As we navigated through the maze we turned right every chance we got, but a lot of the turns ended up as dead ends and we had to double back.  There were signs tucked in here and there that helped break the monotony of the corn stalks-and let us know we hadn't walked by that place before.  Some of the signs had educational facts about corn and some of them featured "corn-y" jokes.  We passed quite a few groups of people (several of them more than once). Everyone looked like they were having a good time.

After we finished the maze we took a shuttle bus to the pumpkin slingshot area.  We turned our tickets in and picked our ammunition from a large box of softball-sized pumpkins.   There were two slingshots, and each had several people waiting in line, but I used my waiting time to figure out the most effective way to send the pumpkin flying.  When we got to the front of the line, Tony and I took turns fitting a pumpkin into the pocket, then pulling it back and letting go.  It was very satisfying to watch the small pumpkin arc up and away.  One of the pumpkins we picked had seen better days, and it was cool to watch it break into pieces as it hit the ground.

After we finished shooting our pumpkins we caught the shuttle bus back to the main area.  We got in line for a short hayride, but passed on the pony rides and hay jump.  On the way back to the car we walked through the small petting zoo  where I scratched an inquisitive goat between its horns and crouched down to admire a large rooster.

As we drove out of the parking lot I realized that there are only a few perfect fall days each year, and I was glad I spent this one the way I did.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Turn Left, Turn Right

On my day off today I went to pick up the first of the fundraising calendars for a group I belong to.  The printer we're using is just two miles away from to the mall where I work, and it would have been nice to take care of it yesterday after my shift.  However, you can't do it until the printer says they're ready, so today it was.

After taking care of my morning commitments and meeting Hubby Tony for lunch, I got on the Interstate, drove east, and exited at the same place I always do.  However, at the bottom of the ramp instead of turning left to go to the mall I turned right.  I felt like I was playing hooky--instead of the business casual clothes I wear to work, I had on jeans, tennis shoes, and no makeup.  The skies were predominantly gray, but there were a few patches of sunshine peeking through.  Traffic moved smoothly.  I made every stop light.  There was a series of great songs on the radio, and I sang along as I drove.

At the printers I picked up two boxes of calendars; the group has a meeting tomorrow, and I wanted to have some to distribute.  Next, I drove to a nearby grocery store to get some meat from dinner.  When I was deciding which pork roast to buy my phone buzzed, indicating I had a text.

It was from my boss.  Because of a scheduling snafu the person who was supposed to be there at noon hadn't shown up.  Was I available to come in?  I called his phone, got the voice mail, and told him to call me.  Ten seconds later the call came in.  He repeated his request.

I explained I'd just bought meat that needed to be cooked, so I'd have to decline.  After I hung up, though, I started feeling guilty.  Without backup, he'd be working more than eight hours by himself, with no way to leave the Customer Service desk for lunch or a break.  What if the tables were turned, and I was stuck there?   Besides, it never hurts to beef up the good boss karma.  As I was mulling my decision over, another text came in, this time sent to the entire staff.  Anyone who could get there by 2:00 (effectively working four hours) would be paid for the entire six hour shift.  After a little more thought I decided to save the cooking for the weekend.  I sent a text back to the boss and told him I'd do it.

I drove home, quickly changed my clothes and fed the cats, and retraced my route back towards the mall.  This time, though, the skies were dreary and a sporadic drizzle fell.  I got stuck behind  one slow car after another, and there was nothing good on the radio.  When I got off the highway, I automatically got in the left turn lane and turned towards the mall.  Just like a normal day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Out Of The Gutter

Fall weather is always interesting.  Two weeks ago we turned on the furnace.  Late last week things warmed up and we turned it off, and yesterday it was nice enough to open a few windows.  This afternoon we're supposed to get rain and cooler weather.  Before the inclement weather hit, I decided a little outdoor maintenance was in order.  The main task was the seasonal cleaning of the gutters.

Our neighbors have a locust tree planted outside their front door, and several more surrounding the deck in the back.  After many years, they're now much taller than their two story house. The trees turn a lovely golden yellow at the end of the season, but their compound leaves are a pain to deal with.  When they fall off the tree the tiny leaflets come off the stalk and end up everywhere. For the past few weeks we've been tracking them into the house. They also end up in the gutters, so  every spring and fall I give the easy-to-access gutters a good cleaning.

Our house is a typical two story,  and because of the architecture it's possible to get to the front gutters by climbing out a front bedroom window and sitting down on the porch roof. The roof has a slight slope, but as long as you pay attention to what you're doing it's OK   The gutters on the north side can be accessed by climbing out another bedroom window and using the kitchen roof.  (The back of the house has a walkout basement, so the gutters are effectively three stories up.  I tend to ignore them.)

After breakfast I gathered my supplies...a large plastic kitchen spoon to scoop the leaves into piles and a bucket to hold them.  First stop was the front porch.  I took out the screen from the window, carefully crawled through, then cautiously shuffled over to the edge and squatted down to survey the downspout area.  As I suspected, it was clogged with a large pile of leaflets and a few stalks. Since it hasn't rained in a while the pile was dry and easy to scoop up. I threw the debris into a bucket.

I could see a fine layer of leaves scattered along the length of the gutter, so I stood up and shuffled over to the far end where I carefully used the spoon to gather the leaves into piles for easier removal.   The shingles that overhang the gutters have rough edges and are hard on your hands, but I always forget to bring gloves until I'm up on the roof and it's too late.  I was able to clean about two feet of gutter at a time, then had to scoot over to a new section.  The project took about fifteen minutes, and when I was done the bucket was half full of debris.  I climbed back through the window, closed everything up, and moved to the next area.

The section section of roof isn't as steep, but it's harder to climb out the window.  This bedroom has a casement window with a crank-out sash that's higher and smaller then the other rooms.  I've done it many times before, though, so it only took a couple of minutes before I was outside.  I repeated the cleaning process from one end of the roof to the other, then went inside.  My bucket was now three quarters of the way full.

Even if I wanted to clean the last set of gutters we don't have a ladder tall enough, so all I could do is hope they weren't too dirty.  When I started my job the sun was in and out of the clouds, but by time I finished the wind was picking up and sky was looking pretty grey. I'm glad I remembered to do this project now, and not after it gets cold.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pillow Inspiration

Several months ago I made a new duvet cover for the master bedroom by reducing a King sized one down to to fit my Full bed.  I like the way it turned out, but the light, airy pattern and clear colors didn't look right as the days got shorter and the temperature started dropping.  It was time to find another cover for the bed.

Besides, I always look forward to getting out the silk throw pillow covers we brought home from our trip to China in 2005. They coordinated with the old, departed winter duvet cover; the current one didn't go with them.

The pillow covers became the foundation for a color scheme for the new bedding, which complicated the search.  It was hard enough finding something I liked the first time, but that time my options were wide open.  This second time was really a challenge.  However I enjoy a good hunt so I was up to it.

It took several weeks, but one day I was at the St. Vincent de Paul store and hit the jackpot...a bag containing a duvet cover, shams, and a pair of valences for $10.  Everything had been handmade from a heavy toile fabric (Waverly "Sunset Boulevard", according to the information on the selvidge) and looked like it was in great shape.

I didn't know if Hubby Tony would think the pattern was too feminine.  It had a rosy taupe background with accents of green, dark pink, and brown, and a pattern of pen and ink palm trees, flower bushes, and images of Old Hollywood along with the names of cities in the area.  However, since the green matched the color of the pillow and he'd actually been to many of the cities, he pronounced it acceptable.

According to the label on the bag, the duvet cover was king-sized, so I expected another sewing project.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out they'd mislabeled things, and the cover was the perfect size.

The finished product (along with cat accessory):

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Not So GRRRRR!!!

On Monday I discovered that my kitchen computer wouldn't start, and there were some very important files on it I needed to finish a fundraising calendar.

When I discovered the problem I sent an panicky email to Bill, a friend/computer guru who built the computer for us several years ago.  Hubby Tony was nice enough to take the computer tower to Bill's during lunch, and Tuesday night when I was out running errands I got a call from Bill.  He told me he'd started working on the computer, asked which files I needed to complete my project, then emailed them to me; they were waiting in my Inbox when I got home.

As I suspected, once I had the files the changes to the document the printer had asked for didn't take long to complete.  I sent the revised files to the committee one last time, then (with fingers crossed)  submitted them to the printer first thing on Wednesday.  I talked to him later in the morning, and he said everything looked good and he should be able to have the project done by the target date of next weekend.

There are no coincidences in life.  Tuesday morning, when I didn't know how things would all work out, I read the day's page from this year's calendar.  It said:
When you don't know what to do, pray.
A good reminder.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


When I open the mall Customer Service desk my shift starts at 9:30, but since I have to leave home at the tail end of rush hour I build a cushion into my commute time and usually get there about 15 minutes early. I fill up the extra time by using the wifi hotspot in the center of the mall to check my email, Facebook, and all things Internet.

Today at 9:15 I was logging in when two teenage girls (who looked like they might be 15 or 16) came up to me. The conversation went like this:
TEENAGE GIRLS: "What time do the mall stores open?" 
ME: "10:00, except for the Apple store, St. Louis Bread Company, and Starbucks."
At this they looked moderately annoyed.
ME: "What are you shopping for at the mall today?" 
TG: "Homecoming dresses." 
ME:  "Cool!  Where do you go to school?" 
They seemed not to want to give me an answer, and it occurred to me that today WAS a school day. I thought about it, realized there was an off-site store nearby that might have what they were looking for, and offered to look up that store’s hours. While I was searching on my phone, one of the girls spoke up…
TG: "We ARE planning on going to school today!" 
ME: "After you get a homecoming dress?"
TG: "Yes".  
Sadly, the off-site store also opened at 10:00. I remember from my high school days how long it took to find just the right dress; I wonder if those girls WILL make it to any of their classes today.

Monday, October 8, 2012


A group I belong to puts together a thought-of-the-day calendar as a fundraiser, and this year I'm heading up the calendar committee.  For the past four weeks we've been exchanging emails.  Last week I designed the final document and sent it to the printer.

I got a message from him today that I needed to make a few changes before he could do the job.  The changes sounded easy, and I figured I could take care of it in 30 minutes.

However, when I got home tonight my kitchen computer (the one that has all the calendar files on its hard drive) wouldn't turn on!

I sent an SOS email to my computer guy, and another to the calendar committee asking if anyone had the last version of the document I sent.  Hopefully one of those will pan out.  Either way, it's going to take me longer than 30 minutes to finish this project.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Over And Above?

A middle-aged man came up to the Customer Service desk and asked me if we had a Victoria’s Secret store. (We do. Doesn’t every mall?) I pointed him in the right direction, and then, looking uncomfortable, he asked if we had any other lingerie shops. (We don’t, but the anchor stores all have departments. I showed him where each was on a mall map.)

As he got ready to walk away, he told me he was looking for an item for his daughter. I said he was a VERY GOOD father to do that. He replied he had no choice; he was a single parent!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


This morning I was going to take a walk in the neighborhood. However, I didn't realize it was raining; when I stepped outside there was a light mist coming down, which was enough to make me change my plans.

In retrospect, though, all I would have had to do is look at my hair in the mirror. It's always a good barometer of the humidity in the air:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Float or sink

Last night I started putting the garden to bed for the year, removing plants and cleaning things up.

Back in the spring I planted a couple of pepper plants and a variety of tomatoes.   As they started growing I placed a stake next to each, and trained the plants onto the supports. However, when the summer heat wave hit I wasn't as diligent.  Now the plants were sprawled all over each other, and it was hard to tell where one stopped and another one started.  I was confident there weren't going to be any more vine-ripened fruits this year.

Nothing beats a ripe red tomato from the garden, but I always manage to find a use for the end-of-the-season green ones, too.  They go into a large bowl on top of the refrigerator, where some of them will turn red. The ones that don't eventually go into the bag in the freezer for making stock.

I began my cleanup job on the far right side of the bed.  The first plant held a few large green fruits.  I took them off, tossed them in a  bucket, then pulled up the plant.  Took less than five minutes. The next two plants, however, had dozens of small grape fruits.  I began removing them one at a time, decided that would take forever, and pulled the bunches off in clumps.  They, too, went in the bucket, as did the rest of the tomatoes I came across and a couple of green peppers.  I kept going until our "green" recycling can was completely full.  The majority of the job was done, and the rest will wait until next week, when the trash has been picked up and the can emptied.

When I was finished the three-gallon bucket was half filled with unripe tomatoes.  I brought the bucket into the kitchen and removed innumerable green star-shaped sepals, then ran water into the bucket to clean the fruits.  After the bucket was full, I noticed that some of the tomatoes were floating, and others were at the bottom.  Surely that had to mean something.  A quick Google search gave me the answer...Green tomatoes sink. Ripe (or I guess in my case, partially ripe) tomatoes float.

Now I know.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fly! Fly! Fly!

Another Monday, another day at the mall Customer Service desk.  My shift starts at 9:30; I left the house at 8:50, and arrived at the mall parking garage 25 minutes later.  I wound my way up to the top level, and parked by the door that's closest to the desk.

The large, four-level garage has several access points into the mall.  Every access has stairways and elevators that run from the street up to the fourth floor.  The top of the stairwells have glass windows all around and a glass door.  It's hard to see inside when you're walking up to the door, but that's usually not a problem.  Today, however, I opened the door and came eye-to-eye with a bird.

I think it was a sparrow, but it was moving too fast to be sure.  I'm guessing it came in on one of the lower levels, got confused, and flew up.  It must have been sitting on the trash can next to the elevator, but when I opened the door it flew right at me.  I don't know who was more surprised!   I jumped and gave a little shriek (which must have looked hilarious on the security cameras).  The bird quickly changed course and flew up to the very top of the stairwell, where it perched on a tiny ledge and stared at me.  As I walked farther in, it took flight again and disappeared down the stairwell on the other side of the elevator.

Logically I knew the bird couldn't do anything to me, but my adrenaline was working better than my logic was.  I was afraid to walk down the stairs in case I ran into the bird again.  In the fourteen months I've worked at the mall I've never used the elevator, which is very slow, but today I decided it was worth the wait...