Settling in

(Christmas parade as viewed from our apartment window. December 1, 2006)

Well, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Where to start?

On 1 December, M the Elder and I made our move to Pennsylvania without incident. The drive out took about 7½ hours. We arrived in town around 6:30pm, just in time for the town’s annual Christmas parade (an event we were unaware of until we arrived to find it getting ready to happen). The road to our apartment was blocked off. Fortunately for us, there was a nice policeman standing by the barrier and when we told him we’d just arrived from the Bogs of Ohio with some of our worldly goods taking up almost every available space in the car, ready to be moved into the new apartment, he let us through. Maybe he felt sorry for us, seeing us all scrunched into the car like that, worldly goods packing us into what little space was left available after we crammed it all into our small car. Maybe he was just a nice fellow. Either way, we had the whole blocked-off street pretty much to ourselves which made the move somewhat easier, and our first official welcome (from the nice policeman).

We also had the pleasure of watching the parade once the rain let up. Yep, rain. Shortly after we parked the car on the sidewalk and got ready to start hauling, it poured. And poured. The lovely folks of this lovely town gathered on the streets, ready to watch the parade, dashed away, dashed away, dashed away all. The rain stopped a little while later, the people came back, and the parade went on, Santa and all. We had managed to stay ahead of that storm front all day on our drive out here. It didn’t take long for it to catch up to us.

Our apartment is located in the heart of a nice little college town. There are lots of shops and restaurants as well as plenty of traffic, people, and noise. I’m having a little trouble getting used to the noise, especially the loud drunks out and about in the middle of the night. A good dose of winter ought to calm some of that down. It reminds me a little of living in London, all this noise and revelry. I think we’ll have lots of fun here.

The apartment building we’re living in has a club room with a business set-up (computer, printer, fax, etc.), a giant screen television (for those football nights), and pool tables. There is also an exercise room with a lot of different types of exercise equipment. The club room and the exercise room are free of charge (or part of the rent, if you want to look at it that way) to residents. There’s also a garden/patio on the second floor which I hope to take advantage of when the weather is nice.

M the Elder and I have been using the exercise room regularly. I think it’s helping with my back pain and sciatica. That may be wishful thinking on my part, but reality is really just a matter of perception, isn’t it? As long as I think it’s doing me good, it will do me good. Honestly, it feels great to put my body in motion again. The weight machines are perfect for me as they are set up in such a way as to support the back while working out a specific muscle group.

I’m going to be one very buff lady when we move back to the Bogs next year.

We’ve been exploring the neighborhood as much as we can with me hobbling around a bit like a crippled old lady. There are some nice pubs nearby and we’re slowly becoming familiar with the weekday specials so we know which day of the week to go to which pub for the best deal on a pint. Across the street from us is the Iron Hill Brewery, a microbrewery that’s a little on the steep side of things in terms of pricing unless you go at the right time (happy hour, for instance). We ate at an Iron Hill Brewery when visiting Newark, Delaware while looking for an apartment. The food was excellent. We haven’t yet tried anything other than beer at our local one, but since it’s a chain, I’m fairly certain it will be just as good.

On Pearl Harbor Day I celebrated another birthday. M the Elder asked what I’d like to do for my birthday dinner and I surprised him by being a cheap date. No fancy dinners for me. Nope. I wanted a hoagie (for more info on hoagies, see Wikipedia’s entry here where you’ll find a link to this interesting article if you’re not already sated with hoagie info) and a beer. We managed to be here almost a full week without having a hoagie. My birthday was a good time to have our first since moving back east. We’d spent our first week eating very healthy food and it was time for some artery-clogging, blood pressure-raising, hoagie goodness.

I’m happy to announce that I managed to pick out a good hoagie shop on my very first try. Having plenty of time to fill throughout my weekdays now that I’m not working, I take strolls around the neighborhood. One day, around noon, I turned down North Church Street to see a line of workers going into Benny’s Pizzeria, coming out with what looked like hoagies. Sure smelled like good hoagies to me. The great thing about Benny’s is that they make a pure Italian hoagie. They don’t try to fancy it up and go gourmet. It’s just a straight shooting Italian hoagie — ham, cappicola, salami, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped onions, oregano, oil and vinegar. Yum. They also use the correct hot peppers. That’s very important to a good hoagie. Banana peppers are okay in a pinch. Jalapenos don’t belong on an Italian hoagie, I don’t care what anyone says. The perfect peppers are chopped cherry peppers.

It was delicious and went well with the Herr’s potato chips and birch beer. Turning 48 and getting that much closer to 50 isn’t so bad when you can go back to your childhood for a little while.

It made me feel right at home again. I practically grew up on hoagies and birch beer. It’s a good thing I moved away at a young age or I’d have turned into a hoagie by now. Or dropped dead from a heart attack.

The next treat will have to be a cheesesteak, of course. In the meantime, we’ve gone back to the usual healthy and vegetarian meals.

That’s about it from our home away from the Bogs for now. I hear it snowed in the Bogs a few days ago. They got about 6 inches. That’s nothing for a place known to get about 100 inches of snow per winter. It was also kind of late for a first snowfall. I’m a little sorry I missed it. I enjoy snow.

On your birthday, it is advisable that you don’t sing, “Happy Birthday,” but instead you sing, “Happy Continuation Day.” You have been here, you don’t know since when. You have never been born and you are not going to die, because to die means from someone you suddenly became no one. From something, you suddenly became nothing. Nothing is like that. Even when you burn a piece of cloth, it will not become nothing. It will become the heat that penetrates into the cosmos. It will become smoke that rises into the sky to become part of a cloud. It will become some ash that falls to the ground that may manifest tomorrow as a leaf, a blade of grass, or a flower. So there is only continuation.

— Thich Nhat Hanh (from his book “Going Home”)


Last week’s Photo Friday theme was Stillness.

Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen — that stillness becomes a radiance. ~~ Morgan Freeman

I could have found some prettier photos of water or flowers or the still flame of a candle, but this was a photo I took yesterday afternoon when the sun was shining in through the windows of the apartment and the world seemed still for just a brief moment of time. We’re now living in the heart of a very busy little town and that sense of stillness was a gift that I enjoyed and very much appreciated.

The near stillness recalls what is forgotten, extinct angels. ~~ Georg Trakl