Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why I Like Working at Yankee Candle....

When I filled out the application I was unemployed and figured it would be nice to get out of the house and earn a little money during the holidays. It was between Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works (torn between candles and lotion). Yankee Candle won out.

One of the nice things about retail positions is that they tend not to require a lot of brain power (except for dealing with the technology that is the modern day computerized cash register). Hence, it’s easy to build your self-confidence without taking on too many difficult tasks.

One of my managers, Ted, compliments me almost daily saying he is proud of me, even when I make mistakes (usually minor). I love this about him. Too bad none of my other bosses (elsewhere) do that, but I guess one shouldn’t typically express much in the way of praise. Unless you get reprimanded for a screw-up I suppose it’s safe to assume you’re doing a good job.

I love helping the customers find the perfect candle. Okay, so candles aren’t going to solve all the world’s problems, if they help make someone’s day, then I’m glad I could help with that. Most of the customers are pretty nice and grateful for your help and a few even thank you too.

The customers can make or break your day and some are definitely more memorable than others. My favorite customer, thus far, was Mr. O. He and his wife came in one Friday afternoon with their miniature Chihuahua curled up sleeping in her carrying case. Mr. O and his wife proceeded to select half a dozen tumbler candles and decided to personalize them with photos. I think that’s the biggest order Yankee Candle has received this season.

Anyway, Mr. O was a larger-than-life presence in his over-caffeinated Ray Ban-wearing state. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the photos he selected for the candles were selfies he took posing in front of a mirror – one in a public restroom. They were hilarious, and he was so unabashed about it. In the hour or so he spent in our store he managed to win everyone over and started his own unofficial fan  club. We were all quite sad to see him, his wife, and Lola (?) their dog leave.

It goes without saying that if I didn’t like candles I wouldn’t have wanted to work in a candle store. Yankee Candles may cost more than their brethren, but they’re also far superior in quality. They sell a lot of candles because of three things I’ve observed about the candles: They usually smell like the description (and you don’t have to hover over the candle to pick up the scent); they have creative and memorable names for the scents (Cozy by the Fire, Storm Watch, Autumn in the Park, etc.), and they have really pretty pictures on the candles. The name and picture gets you to pick up the candle, but the scent sells it. By the way, my favorite scents are all food-related (Buttercream, Vanilla Cupcake, Café Al Fresco), though aren’t necessarily the ones I own personally (Balsam Cedar, Hot Buttered Rum, Honey Clementine, etc.).

I genuinely like my coworkers and the managers, who are very reasonable to work for. Even though I could care less about all the financial details (like what target we need to hit by the end of the day as compared to the previous year), I am goal-orientated enough to care just a little about achieving my sales target for the day. Last night I made half my goal in one transaction when an elderly lady bought almost $300 worth of candles and accessories. My coworker helped her out by carrying the lady’s bags to her SUV.

Although I really don’t like being a salesman, I have discovered I have a certain talent for it and am proud of all the sales I’ve made for the company. To date, I've sold three (3) personalized candles and am really proud of that (technically I've sold four, but because I had trouble printing out the label for the fourth one my boss took credit for that one).

At any rate, it’s been a pretty positive experience and I’m glad to have had it.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


My husband, Andrew and I recently visited central Ohio’s newest branch of Ikea which is in Columbus not too far from our Polaris Shopping Center and Tanger Outlet (so really the ideal location). We had planned to have dinner there on our way home, but wasn’t sure if we’d be shopping. However, as we arrived around 4:30pm, it was still a bit early to eat, and Andrew seemed happy to have a browse, so I never say no to that!

I’ve been to many different Ikeas throughout the years and I think my first visit was to the Bristol store in the UK. It goes without saying that almost everyone I know of my generation owns at least one piece of furniture from Ikea. If you don’t, you need to get to a store and pick yourself up a Poang chair ($99). We have two and love them both. They’re comfy and come in lots of different colors (both the pads and the wood frame). Last Christmas I picked up new cushions for one of ours and they’ve been very useful (they’re a dark gray, so doesn’t show stains like the cream colored one did).

What is one of the most fun (and also annoying) parts of visiting Ikea is going room to room, a bit like Herrod’s in London. It’s time-consuming, but kind of fun to imagine yourself living in that space. Now, I’m not someone who desires to own every last thing Ikea sells, preferring to collect pieces from thrift stores and antique shops (and Target if I’m honest) to create my own unique collection. However, if given a chance to spend a night in Ikea, I would absolutely jump at the chance. It’s only too bad none of the plumbing is hooked up because that would make for an absolutely perfect experience.

There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies, “The 500 Days of Summer” where a young couple spend the day at Ikea joking around pretending they live there.

There’s also a book set in an Ikea store called Horrorstör. According to

“A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom. It’s “a treat for fans of The Evil Dead or Zombieland, complete with affordable solutions for better living.”—Kirkus Reviews

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.”

I think what I like most about some of the spaces, especially this time of year (I seem to go either in the summer or fall), is the coziness of the rooms. As more and more people embrace the whole tiny house movement, maybe this will be the size of rooms in the future. Anyway, as I was walking around I gathered inspiration and hope to try and liven things up a bit around our house (hopefully using some of what we already have to keep the shopping trips to a minimum).

By the way, their signature meatball meal is definitely worth getting. You get like a dozen meatballs, mashed potatoes, a side of veggies, and a scoop of Lingonberries. It’s always quite filling, though we usually power through so we can get dessert. This time we shared a small pink marzipan covered pastry of some sort.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Review of "Wonderstruck"

I went to see this movie on Wednesday to escape the smell of paint fumes (our basement had just been painted top to bottom) and the gray, dreary, weather was a perfect excuse to escape reality for a couple hours. It was just me and one other lady,* so we pretty much had a private showing. I only wish I was sociable enough to approach her and sit next to her, but movie watching can be such a solo activity.

“Wonderstruck” is another Brian Selznick (“Hugo”) masterpiece. The movie was about young Ben, circa 1978 and young Rose circa early 20th century (just before movies added sound) and how their worlds eventually collide in New York City.

The official summary says this: “Ben and Rose are children from two different eras who secretly wish that their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he's never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue and Rose reads an enticing headline, they both set out on epic quests to find what they're missing.”

I had read that this movie hired a lot of deaf actors, which was part of the appeal, and a few of the non-deaf actors also learned some ASL as well, some of which I could follow. The  movie had the same sense of whimsy and childhood innocence as “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” (though, to be honest, I think I much prefer “Hugo Cabret”) and I could definitely recommend it, though I thought it was frustrating trying to read lips in all the scenes involving young Rose getting yelled at by thoughtless hearing adults. I guess I can better sympathize with how truly deaf people must feel a lot of the time (I am hard of hearing, but not that severely).

* We chatted afterwards and she said she had once taken an ASL class as well (at OSU I think) and was now a retired office worker. Although she didn’t much care for the ending, she said she’s a big fan of Brian Selznick and had the record containing the kids choir recording of “Ground Control to Major Tom” which was played while the credits rolled.

Monday, November 13, 2017

review of "The Florida Project"

The colorfulness of this film is somewhat reminiscent of Wes Anderson, but the plot is more like a reality show.

The movie is set in Orlando, not far from Disney World in the “less desirable” part of the city. There are two hotels – one called Future World (with a scaled down rocket near the sign)
and the other called (something like) Disney Village? (painted entirely in lavender).

“The Florida Project” is a glimpse into the lives of three children (all around 7 or 8 years old): Moonee (who lives in Disney Village), Scooty (who lives in the apartment below Moonee), and Jancey (a new friend who lives at Future World) as they spend their summer vacation doing what children do – sharing an ice cream cone, sitting in the shade trying to keep cool, and occasionally wreaking havoc on the other tenants.

William Dafoe is the hotel manager, Bobby, who seems to have a soft spot for the children. There’s a cute scene in the movie trailer where Bobby allows Moonee and Scooty to share an ice cream cone inside the lobby until one of them drips some on the floor. Bobby isn’t always so tolerant of the tenants’ misdeeds and has to call the police when an unusual amount of visitors are seen coming from some of the rooms (drugs, prostitution, etc.).

Almost everyone can recall the carefree days of their youth and how they spent their summer vacation, but most of us didn’t get up to the shenanigans of these three kids (spoiler alert – a felony is committed in a very big way).

When discussing the film afterwards, my husband and I were hesitant to say we “enjoyed” the film, though there are certainly some enjoyable moments. At times you just want to slap Moonee’s mother as it’s difficult to sympathize with her.
You have to feel for her kid who lives a life of both financial and moral poverty, and who will probably grow up to be just like her mother.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Highlights of the Last Week of Oct / Early Nov...

Meeting a veteran who had a ‘colleague’ of some notoriety…

I’ve been helping to serve lunch at the Upper Arlington Senior Center every Wednesday for the past five to six weeks. On my first day I met a WWII veteran by the name of John (97). I’ll never forget what he said to me, “You join our union and I’ll protect you.” Yes, a little quirky I know, but I thought it was sweet. Every week I watched as he always sat at the same table in the same seat. [It wasn’t until I had worked there a few weeks before I noticed the table was reserved for veterans.] He was always surrounded by fellow veterans (and fans?). I once overheard them talking about their experiences during the war “…landing on the island…” “…the food was horrible…” etc. One of the other lunch ladies told me he was a code breaker during the war. Since Wednesday was going to be my last time volunteering I finally struck up the courage to ask him about it. We didn’t talk long (I had to get back to washing dishes), but what he told me really surprised me and I only wish we had had more time to chat.

I told him I heard that he was a code breaker during the war. He confirmed that, and said he was in charge of a set of troops under President Roosevelt, and is the last survivor of the 25 under his command. What really wowed and amazed me was when he told me HE KNEW ALAN TURING!!! Being a code breaker during the war perhaps it was a given, but I was still really, really impressed! He said the subject of Alan’s sexuality was never discussed as it was an off limits topic, and that Alan was an absolute genius.

John also said he had the highest respect for all the 18 and 19 year old women (who Churchill had recruited from Oxford and Cambridge) who worked at Bletchley Park during the war not being able to tell their friends and family what they were doing for the war effort. As a code breaker himself, he too was leading a double life using a government created lie to successfully deceive his own family and friends. One of those lies was how he lost his right eye (he has a false eye). I’m not sure what really happened, but as far as friends and family were concerned it involved an accident on the shooting range. He said they all had to be trained on how to use various weapons should the situation ever arise that they would need to call on their expertise.

Finally getting to volunteer at a library…

I am now one step closer to my dream of someday working in a library (for pay) after finally getting to do my first shift of volunteering at the Grandview Heights Public Library. I’ve been assigned to the Young Adult section downstairs which is divided into two halves – one side for all the young readers (board books and some chapter books) and the other half for adolescents and teens.

My assignment was to see how many of the books I could locate from the lengthy Pull List (books reserved by library patrons) and put them on the cart I was pushing around. It took Rachel, one of the library employees, about 40 minutes to give me a proper orientation, so I lost a bit of time to that. However, I still managed to find most of the books (though I stayed a bit past my scheduled time), which impressed both Rachel and myself. The only section I didn’t get to was the picture books, which aren’t shelved with as much precision as the longer ones which get filed by the Dewey Decimal system. Hopefully next week I can actually complete the list.

Date night on Saturday (taking advantage of the extra hour and unseasonal temperature)…

This was one of those spontaneous evenings where I suggested we go out because it was too warm to stay home and I had some Graeters (ice cream) coupons burning a hole in my pocket. Hence, after dinner Andrew and I drove over and used our ‘Buy one sundae, get one free’ coupon. He got the 1870 special (a tiny choc bundt cake topped with a scoop of black raspberry choc chip ice cream and whipped cream with chocolate sauce drizzled over top)
and I got the Pumpkin sundae (a small piece of pumpkin cake with a scoop of pumpkin ice cream and whipped cream on top with butterscotch sauce drizzled over top).
We both polished them off with no problem and then went across the street to Half Price Books to look for any bargains (or at least I did as I headed for the clearance section). A dozen books and a CD or 2 later we staggered out with our overflowing book bag.

After we got home Andrew put the headset on me so I could try virtual ping pong. It’s every bit as difficult as playing it for real since I suck at ping pong. However, I love the décor of the studio apartment the ping pong table is situated in.
You can click around to see the apartment from different vantage points, which is super cool, but you have to stop yourself from trying to lean or sit on non-existent furniture. At one point I clicked and I was literally standing on top of a thin beam looking down at the apartment from above. That was a little scary, but I knew it wasn’t real.

We ended the evening by watching the second episode of “Stranger Things” on Netflix.