CVS: New hours

Starting Jan. 13, the CVS drugstore on Baltimore Pike at Bayard Road will no longer be a 24/7 operation. The store hours will be 7 a.m. to midnight every day (which I guess means 17/7). The pharmacy hours will remain the same: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

POLITICS: Not under my roof

Our hostess for Christmas Eve dinner is a laid-back, mellow woman, but all that changed when, as she was boxing up leftovers in the kitchen, she heard bits and snatches of the after-dinner grown-up conversation in the living room: words like "Congress" and "tax cuts" and "interest rates."


Conversation came to a halt. One of us feebly protested that we just talking about the stock market, but wisely we moved on to safer topics, like what cookies to leave out for Santa that evening.

MAYORS: A new house

At a Christmas Eve party we had a chance to catch up with Biff and Brenda McNeil, who recently moved from downtown West Grove to downtown Parkesburg. Biff's father, Robert, served as West Grove's mayor in the 1960s and 1970s, so it seemed like fate when the couple discovered that that their new house was formerly owned by J. William Stroup, who served five terms as Parkesburg's mayor during the same era.

"They probably knew each other!" Biff said.

CHRISTMAS: Batteries included

At one point on Christmas Day, I was watching a six-year-old maneuver a remote-controlled racecar through a set of Zoomtubes (like the old Habitrail hamster tubes). In front of the track was a battery-operated vortex (like the old Lava Lamps) that changed color every few seconds. Three battery-operated Christmas figurines would start shimmying and singing every time the little car passed them: I am not sure how many times I heard "Ice Ice Baby" in the space of a few hours.

Meanwhile, the racecar driver's little sister, dressed in a pink tutu, was holding her talking Fancy Nancy doll and pirouetting to a Nutcracker tune played on a music box inside a ceramic gingerbread house. The lights on the roof blinked in time. You guessed it: doll and music box were battery-operated.

Jokingly, I asked the parents if they have a dedicated storage drawer for batteries. As it turns out, they do, and it also contains little screwdrivers.

"Pretty much everything in our house runs on batteries," acknowledged the dad. He shops for the best price on Amazon and buys them in bulk.

"We're talking multiple times a year," added the mom.

The merry cacaphony reminded another family member of his parents' house. They are clock collectors and deliberately stagger the times so that the chimes sound consecutively throughout the house.

"It goes on for like 20 minutes," he said. "Drives me crazy!"


At a Christmas party I had a chance to talk to some folks who are upset about motorists along West Locust Lane in East Marlborough who do well over the 25-m.p.h. limit. They went to the township supervisors and learned that slowing traffic isn't as simple as just erecting a stop sign, installing speed bumps or having the police write tickets. The first two options would involve expensive traffic studies and traffic engineers to protect the township from potential lawsuits. And township police are hamstrung by the fact that state law forbids them from using radar; they can only use the older VASCAR system, which means motorists would be more likely to contest their tickets in district court (meaning expensive court time for police officers).

The neighbors aren't sure what their next step should be.

"I just want to ride bikes with the kids," said one mom, "and you can't do that."

I drove along the mile-long stretch of road to investigate and saw a "Watch Children" sign and three speed limit signs, one with a display that shows the speed you are traveling.

CAROLS: Cognitive dissonance

I know, I'm a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to Christmas songs, but some musicians are seriously misguided when they mess with the classics. On the radio I just heard a depressing version of "Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays" done in a minor key. Earlier in the week I heard a lugubrious "Joy to the World" and a presto rendition of the usually peaceful "Silent Night." Why?

GIANT: Busy shopping day

When I volunteered to bring roasted vegetables to our Christmas dinner, it didn't occur to me that, for freshness' sake, this would entail grocery shopping on one of the busiest days of the year. The Giant parking lot was jammed, and the produce section could have used someone directing traffic, but all in all my fellow shoppers seemed either festive or only slightly frazzled.

It was fun to see types of people I don't normally see in the grocery store, like a Lucius Malfoy lookalike purchasing a ham (oh, please! Lucius would doubtless send his House Elf) and a man with a gruesome neck tattoo of a skull and a dagger pondering whether to buy cream cheese or the lower-fat variant, Neufchatel.

While I was weighing the tahini options, a man with a store nametag came up to me and asked if I was finding everything OK. I told him I was and complimented him on how smoothly everything seemed to be running: all the cash registers were open and workers were busy throughout the store restocking the shelves. He thanked me and explained that he was the district manager paying a visit. Just then the store manager, wearing a headset, came rushing up and beamed when I told him I'd been saying nice things about his store to his boss. He in turn praised his hard-working associates and shared his hard-earned wisdom: the key to managing a hectic shopping day, he said, is having enough workers and enough product on hand.

Write to Tilda at Thanks!

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