Pretty notebooks of all sizes.

Boxes of crayons and markers and colored pencils.

Sticky notepads and glue sticks.

Calendars and planners . . .

OH MY!

For an office supply junkie like myself, this time of year is better than Christmas when walking into area stores. Aisles and aisles of school supplies welcome you as you enter the shopping centers. Even though I am a long way from being in school, it is the perfect opportunity to stock up on notebooks and pens and other supplies I use at home and at work.

I have a specific soft spot for pretty notebooks. I prefer the smaller ones for taking notes during interviews and meetings and find a wide variety of designs if I buy them at this time of year.

I picked up several during a recent shopping trip as well as some sticky notes, a note pad and some brightly-colored recipe cards that I use for important messages, ads and other memos I need to find on my always-cluttered desk.

During my recent perusal of the school supply aisle, I was struck by the selection of decorations one can buy to decorate school lockers. It reminded me of our shelving units we created for our own lockers and the various ways we tried to make our lockers more efficient and more attractive.

I have to say, I loved my locker - well, as much as one can love a locker! I had three shelves, each covered in a pink shelf paper and adorned with a strip of lace across the front, attached with my handy-dandy glue gun. I had a magnetic mirror on my locker door as well as a few photos in pink magnetic frames.

I stuck my purse and bag into the top shelf and had a pink pencil cup (also adorned with lace) on the second shelf along with some small note pads, office supplies and a basket full of make-up, hair brush and hair accessories.

The third shelf was filled with my textbooks and notebooks for my classes, organized from first hour to seventh hour.

Finally, at the bottom, I stuffed my winter coat underneath the shelves.

It was as organized as I could make it and I was proud of the pretty pink patterns and lace that I had incorporated into it. It was a small home away from home in its own way.

So, while going through the aisles of school supplies, I was dreaming of what I could have done with that locker if I would have had access to the small chandeliers, rhinestone frames and exquisite "blinged-out" accessories.

I wonder if I could make a living as an interior designer for lockers? Hmm, I guess I'd better keep my day job, huh?

I do envy the variety of school supplies available to students these days. We always used the plain Mead spiral notebooks that were about 11 cents a piece during back to school sales. (Yes, I'm that old.) My sister, brother and I usually, each got a box of crayons or markers, a few folders and whatever else was on our supply list. Since Dad had the lumberyard, we had a never-ending supply of pens and pencils and I remember sharing handfuls of these with my friends.

I really love the organizers that are available to students these days. I, myself, use a student planner that follows the school year instead of one that begins and ends in January. For some reason, my own schedule at the newspaper seems to fit better with the school year rather than the calendar year. I think it's because of all the stories and coverage we do that is associated with the area school districts.

I don't, however, use a calendar that is broken down into classes for obvious reasons, but there are so many options available that I can find just the right one. I prefer one that has monthly pages in the front and then each week over the span of two pages, broken down into the seven days. Of course, it also has to have the "extras" such as contact pages, birthday pages and stickers for special events and appointments.

Hello, my name is Melissa and I'm obsessed with office supplies. Does that make me a nerd? If so, I'm really OK with that.

A special thank you

Over the past several weeks I have received many cards, phone calls and visits from my readers, expressing condolences for the loss of my cat, Beast. Each one was cherished and I want those of you who reached out to know how much those expressions of concern and sympathy have meant to me.

The cards and the words written in them touched me greatly. I did not know that card companies made sympathy cards for pet owners, but I do now and each one was wonderful and appreciated.

For those who called or stopped by, thank you for listening as I reminisced a bit about Beast and the special moments we shared. And thank you to all those who shared their own stories of losing a pet and the understanding that came with them.

The new cats are already deeply ingrained in my heart, but I still catch myself getting teary-eyed over silly things that remind me of Beast. However, those moments do occur less and less often as Alice and Jasper make me smile and laugh at their antics. The memories of Beast and his personality quirks are now more likely to make me smile as I see the two kittens mimicking some of the traits that made him so endearing.

Thank you again, to everyone for their care and concern. It was very much appreciated.