Bits & Pieces: Ice Cream

(New Baltimore Ice Cream. Photo by Robin. 2007)

It’s going to get terribly hot here in Sabbaticalville today. In the 90’s. That means it will be over 100 in this apartment which seems to collect all the heat from the building and move into the apartment around 3:00 in the afternoon, staying until long after we’ve gone to bed.

M and I are heading into Philadelphia this evening to meet up with some friends and have dinner at the Jamaican Jerk Hut, a little center city place that has a garden where you can sit outside, eat, and pretend you’re in the tropics. The heat, I’m sure, will add to the atmosphere.

One of those friends is visiting from England. She got married last year (with not one but two weddings and three receptions!) and this will be our first meeting with her husband. I’m excited and looking forward to it. I could almost ignore the fact that it will be a very hot day. I will also be meeting the husband of another friend for the first time. This must be Meeting the Husbands Day. I’m also excited about that.

I’m just one excited woman today.

The heat and the mention of ice cream (way up above) remind me of the time I treated M the Younger to ice cream when it was about 97 degrees outside. He ordered black raspberry ice cream in a waffle cone. Turns out the waffle cone was HUGE and held about a half gallon of ice cream. Try eating that much ice cream in that kind of heat. It was a toss-up as to who would win: the heat or M the Younger. The poor guy was eating it as fast as he could and the ice cream was melting at a slightly higher rate than he could eat it. A small crowd (ok, it was one or two people) gathered to watch.

Somehow, he managed to finish it without losing too much ice cream to the heat and the sidewalk. I think he ate it in about five minutes and I was surprised he didn’t develop a good case of brain freeze.

I told this story to M the Younger’s girlfriend while we were eating our ice cream during our last visit to New Baltimore. It was a cloudy day and we were rained on towards the end of eating our ice cream. They don’t serve half a gallon of ice cream in their small cones at New Baltimore, but it is a goodly amount. I can’t imagine ordering the large. Or the medium, for that matter.

Bits & Pieces: What a difference

View of the pond in April:

View of the pond, a month later, over Memorial Day weekend:

(Photos by Robin. 2007)

I forgot to take a photo right before we left to come back to Sabbaticalville. I wish I had because everything was looking much better after all the work M the Elder did around the property. Plus a good rainfall greened things up even more.

It’s really heating up in Sabbaticalville. The high is supposed to be around 90 today. We’ve rigged up the small window fan in the bedroom doorway in order to move the air conditioned air out into the living areas. So far, it seems to be working.

I caught a cold while we were home. I got hit with full-blown symptoms on Monday morning. It’s been steadily getting worse and I’m feeling pretty miserable. Having a cold is bad enough. Having a cold during a heatwave really sucks.

Bits & Pieces: Food

(Photo by Robin. May 2007)

We’re back in Sabbaticalville where the apartment did a fine job of heating up while we were gone. It was stifling in here. Thankfully it cooled off a little overnight and it’s not nearly so bad.

I uploaded all the photos I took on our trip home. Rather than hit you with them all at once, I thought I’d do a few small entries.

On our way home to the Bogs we stopped in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania for lunch. If you ever find yourself in Centre Hall, stop by the Whistle Stop Restaurant. It’s a cute little place that serves great food. The restaurant is housed in a Victorian train station built in 1884. They serve traditional fare (steaks, seafood, etc.) along with chef-inspired specials (such as yummy black bean cakes with a fresh salsa). The service is good and I’m told they have fantastic, made-from-scratch desserts. I can’t vouch for the desserts because I’m always too full to have dessert. Someday I may start my meal with dessert so I can be too full for the main course.

During the warmer months, the Whistle Stop has a covered (and screened-in) porch where you can sit and enjoy the breeze. Since it was such a nice day, M and I did just that. He had a vegetarian melt (mushrooms and artichoke hearts covered with melted cheese on some sort of hearty bread). I had their lunch special, a prime-rib french dip sandwich. Both lunches were excellent.

It doesn’t appear that the Whistle Stop has their own website so I’ll leave you with their address and phone number:

Whistle Stop Restaurant
104 E. Wilson St.
Centre Hall, PA 16828
(814) 364-2544

Who needs a gym …

… when you’ve got a yard? Or, more precisely, when you’re got 8 acres of property that needs to be cared for?

Holy Hannah, I’m tired. M the Elder and I have been outside for a few hours this morning, doing manual labor. My arms feel like rubber. I don’t believe I could lift the hoe one more time even if someone offered me a great sum of money to do so. I might could do it to save a life, but not for much less than that.

I’ve spent most of my time out there weeding around the lavender I planted last year. There are only five lavender plants. There must have been a million weeds. Not good odds for the lavender. Most of the weeds consisted of crab crass and man oh man, is that stuff hard to pull. Hence the hoe. It’s an old, heavy hoe. Works like a charm but it’s hard on the arms.

My knees aren’t used to all this kneeling. My thighs and other lower extremities aren’t used to all this squatting. I’m going to be feeling this tomorrow. It’s a good thing I’ll be spending most of the day riding in the car.

I’m taking a bit of a break right now. Drowning myself in iced tea and cooling off in the air conditioning. M is on a mission to pick up some mulch from the back of the property where we keep the mulch pile. I’m hoping it will take him a while to get there and back. I’m in no hurry to go back out there. Manual labor is HARD.

(Note to self: Stop whining about it. It’s probably a better workout than you get at the gym.)

The deerflies are out and about. That always makes for great fun (and great welts). Fortunately there aren’t many of them out there yet. Plus they’re very slow movers. Easy to swat and kill. I can’t say I feel bad about killing them. Their bites really hurt and I’m obviously allergic. You should see the way I swell up when one of them sinks their fangs into me.

We’re thinking about going for a swim in the pond later. I left my bathing suit in Sabbaticalville, having taken it with me the last time we made a trip home. I’m not sure what I’ll wear to swim in. Armor, maybe. I’ve seen a few snapping turtles hanging around the pond. Have you ever taken a good look at the jaws of a snapper? I wouldn’t want one of those attached to any part of me.

Maybe I’ll just watch M while he swims.

We had a lovely dinner with M the Younger and his girlfriend last night. After dinner we went to New Baltimore for ice cream. They make their own ice cream at the ice cream shack in New Baltimore. Good stuff. After we returned home, we watched “Arrested Development” (one of the pharmacists I worked with loaned it to me and the kids wanted to watch it) for a little while. Then M the Younger and Girlfriend made cookies. The triple chocolate fudge brownies and the ice cream from New Baltimore were not enough, I suppose. It’s a wonder they didn’t go into sugar shock.

It’s darkening up out there. Looks like it might storm again. I’d better get outside and grab the laundry off the clothesline. It’s been so warm and windy today that it’s likely dry by now.

Ugh. Too late. The rain is pouring down upon us. That’s what I get for blogging instead of working.

My new word of the day (brought to me by my intelligent husband):  Petrichor.  I didn’t know there was a word for that.


A storm is rolling through, thunder rumbling and lightning flashing. Given how low the pond is, I’d say it’s going to need to rain for a while to make up for the precipitation deficit. The birds seem to be enjoying the wet weather, playing and preening in the rain.

M has finished mowing about half of the property. I’m sure this rain will have the grass sprouting to new heights overnight. We’re both going out to do some hard labor tomorrow. I’ve been cleaning house (again!) while M has been working outside. Now that the house is cleaned as good as it’s gonna be for now, I can go out and help M with the yard work.

M the Younger and his girlfriend will be joining us for dinner tonight. We’re grilling tuna steaks (with blackened seasoning and a lime-soy sauce). I’ve made all sorts of salads to go with it (coleslaw, potato salad, and a pasta salad).

I was hoping we’d somehow fit in a visit with the Exquisite Emma and her parents but it doesn’t look like it’s meant to be. They’re in Michigan, visiting with Emma’s other set of grandparents, and won’t be back until Monday. We’re heading back to Sabbaticalville on Monday.

The lightning is putting on an awesome show right now. A little too close for comfort. Time for me to shut down the computer.

The hair is OK

The New Girl did ok. I washed, dryed and styled my hair this morning and found it was not the disaster I feared it might be. All I need now are some purple highlights and life will be good.

Lesson learned. No more hair cuts by the New Girl. Any New Girl. Like Alto2 who commented on my last entry, I learned that lesson a long time ago when it comes to medical care. But I have had my hair cut and styled by a New Girl before and it was a good experience. Based on that, I was willing to give this newest New Girl a try. I might be getting too old and too picky to give the next New Girl the benefit of the doubt. A bad hair cut/style is not an easy thing to live with, even if it isn’t the end of the world.

My thanks to those of you out there who did a little rain dance. The rain arrived today. We had a few showers early in the afternoon. There’s a nice, steady rain coming down now. It’s part of a cold front bringing cooler temperatures. It’ll be nice to get out of the high 80’s – low 90’s.

I went for a walk around the pond today. It’s a jungle out there, rain or no rain. I took lots of photos, but won’t be able to post any until we’re back in Sabbaticalville. I forgot to bring the doohickey that hooks up the camera with the computer in order to upload the pictures.

M the Younger has been keeping up with things outside as best he can, but it really requires daily work by more than one person to truly keep up with it all. I expect to become even more involved with outdoor work when our sabbatical adventures are over and we move back. Our visits to Longwood Gardens have given me lots of ideas. Ambitious ideas that will need to be toned down since I don’t have a large staff to help me transform some of the land into a marvelous garden.

I should wrap this up. I’ve been sitting here staring out the window, watching the raindrops on the water and the fog gathering and drifting across the pond. It’s quite a mesmerizing sight. I’d show it to you, but… you know… I forgot to bring the doohickey with me.

Spotted out front this evening, on the ground under one of the maples:

The Common or Northern Flicker.   Photo borrowed from All About Birds (where you’ll also find a description).

All about me

Today was a Me Day.

I went into town (because we live out in the country here in the Bogs) for a hair cut and pedicure.

I had my first pedicure (and manicure) one or two years ago (my memory is failing me this evening as to whether it was a year or two ago). It’s true. I made it through over 40 years of life without once indulging in a pedicure. It’s not that I didn’t want a pedicure. I didn’t want to go by myself the first time. I’m weird that way, not being sure of the proper protocol for things like pedicures, manicures, waxes, and the like.

I’m not a very girly girl. Never have been.

But I did enjoy that first pedicure (which included a hot rock massage). Enough that after all the walking I’ve been doing to get myself healthy and back in shape, I felt I deserved to indulge once again. I’ve walked over 350 miles so far this year. My feet were in need of some pampering. Desperate need.

My second pedicure was not as good as the first (no hot rock massage), but my feet are feeling smooth, colorful, and happy this evening. I went with a wild and bright color. My toenails are practically glowing. The color is a bit like this:

(Photo by Robin. 2007)

Only brighter. And maybe pinker.

As for my new hair cut, I’m not sure I want to talk about that just yet.  Let’s just say I allowed the New Girl to cut my hair and that may have been a huge mistake.  I’m waiting to see how things wash out and dry in the morning, hoping that what looks like a bad cut may in fact be a bad blow-dry.

Otherwise, I’m going back for repairs tomorrow.

It’s still hot as Hades.  It was near 90 and hazy.  We need some rain here in the Bogs.  I’d like to ask all of my readers to do a little rain dance for us.  The trees could use a good soaking.