Saturday, October 31, 2009


In a radical departure from its usual format, Where in the World Is the Box does not report on a trip, local or long-distance, but takes a moment to endorse Republican candidate for Mayor of the City of Harrisburg, Nevin Mindlin.

What, you say, a Republican? Yes, he may be from that party, but he is the best candidate for the job. He has sound experience in government policy and administration. He can get and keep a job. He can pay his bills without loans from a non-profit. And he believes in separation of church and state in the electoral process!

Normally, the Box endorses nothing but cheap gas, an occasional quart of oil, and a good car wash. But since so much of its time is spent coming and going in the city, it has a vested interest in who will do the best job. 

So, if you live in the city, vote on Tuesday, November 3, for Nevin Mindlin. And don't let the fact that his gorgeous partner is a friend of mine sway you. Do it for the city!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The day started with some volunteer time in the choir library at Market Square Church. On the way out of the garage, I stopped to take a picture of the dreary view of the Susquehanna River from the Market Square parking garage.

Then the Box and I crossed the river on the historic Market Street Bridge and turned right to go through Wormleysburg to the Summerdale Dinner further upstream.

On the way past the now-wrecked western span of the Walnut Street Bridge, I noticed that workers were beginning work on improving the appearance of the plaza at the end of the bridge. Let's hope someday the missing parts of the span will be replaced (it was destroyed by ice in a winter flood), and this new entrance will welcome people to walk across the river to City Island.

I met my sister Rachel and sister-in-law Wanda at the Summerdale Diner. They were ogling the menu and had concluded that they'd be having breakfast (although it was already 12:30 p.m.). I noticed the time because I had just looked at my watch to see if I was arriving late. Little did I know I'd have other watch options in a very short time!

Breakfast brought some scrapple, eggs, omelet, home fries, pancakes. and coffee. All very delicious. After breakfast, Wanda produced a white box (no, not a Box) and out of it came four treasures -- watches belonging to my dear brother Michael, who died two years ago.

Michael loved watches and rings! He had a number of each, some with precious gems. Wanda offered all of the watches to me, which I was happy to accept. They were all special to Mike, so they are special to me. I have one on now, as I am typing this. I was really pleased that Wanda was so thoughtful.

We had a nice conversation and helped Rachel to narrow down her choices for paint colors in her dining room (they will no doubt change several times before the job is done) and then went our separate ways: Rachel to the paint store for even more samples, Wanda to find out why her BRAKE light was on, and I home to count out my pills in my new 30 day pill box!

On Interstate 81, the Box and I came across a "descendant" of the Box -- a 2009 silver Scion. The Box kept pulling to the right for a closer look, and I think I heard him mumbling something about "all those curvy corners -- what's the matter with kids these days?!"

All in all, a pleasant and productive day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Yesterday was my birthday. Not a significant one, so I won't say which! Let's just say that a birthday cake would have provided enough candlepower to illuminate a small city for a day. It was also Matt and Marylee's wedding anniversary. Congrats to them!

Since Susanne is in San Francisco with Matt, Marylee, and Ian, I spent most of the day alone, waiting for the evening, when I was invited to dinner with some friends.

The day started with a visit to the blood lab on Linglestown Road to get checked for med levels. Almost as if it were a birthday present, there was no one else there when I arrived. Then, the stick was absolutely painless. It was all over in five minutes. A good start to the day, except for the endless snaking through roadwork in that area of Route 39. The Box handled itself admirably, I have to say.

On the way home, I drove down Front Street looking for some river views to photograph, but alas, there was nothing to be had. I rode past a lovely 1940s Colonial Revival house for sale in Montrose Park. I might buy it just because it is so cute.

Next, we stopped at Stauffer's of Kissel Hill to check out the fall decorations. Again, I was the sole customer, so I had the place to myself. I thought maybe there was going to be a surprise party for me when an armored truck arrived (to pick up all the pumpkin money?), but I was disappointed. I did enjoy taking some dandy pictures of some of the plants there.

When I got home, I planted a hydrangea and some other bushes and plants that had decorated the porch this summer. The days are getting short for planting, and I wanted to get it done when it was not raining (for a change). I removed the hoses from the new outside spigots or "bibs" and put them in the garage, along with all the tools I had been using.

The rest of the day was forgettable until Mike Deno of Copper Sun Design Group stopped by to take accurate measurements of our basement. Copper Sun is going to suggest a plan for dividing the open basement into living space and storage/laundry space. They are a great company (they built our back porch and patios), and it's always nice to see one of them here. Unfortunately, I could not talk Mike into taking some our basement junk home with him.

Soon after Mike left, the Box and I headed  into the city to dine as guest of two of our best friends, Guy and Lindsay. I enjoyed a few minutes at their posh Capitol-area home, and then we headed for Scott's Grille on Locust Street.

I had a delicious house salad, followed by Parmesan-encrusted chicken breast, pan-roasted potatoes, and sugar peas. There was so much food that I took some home and enjoyed it for dinner tonight. That's me on the left, Guy in the center, and Lindsay on the right.

Coffee and conversation finished the evening. We walked back to the car, parked near the Capitol, and tried to leave quietly so we did not wake the lady sleeping nearby on the sidewalk.

Once home, I indulged in a piece of birthday sugar-free fat-free chocolate cream pie. I listened to voice mail and found birthday greetings from Sarah, Cole, and Chloe, and opened some very nice cards in the day's mail. Happy birthday to me!

Here are some additional photos from my day:

No one here but the Box.

Ah, here comes my birthday surprise -- the armored truck.

Pink kale.

Flowering indoor plant.

Pumpkins ready for carving.

White kale.

Kale and posies.


Sunset over Wesley Drive.

Beautiful apples at Guy and Lindsay's.

The Box parked near the State Capitol.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I should have known better. We're trying to choose some fixtures for our master bathroom, including a new vanity and sink. I am drawn to those sinks which are a bowl sitting on top of a counter. Of course, the counter must be as high up as possible. I am so tired of bending over the sink until my back hurts!

So, I headed to a bathroom and kitchen supply house near Camp Hill because they have a good selection. So good, in fact, that making a choice will be very difficult. Naturally, it's all high-end stuff, and being a good Scotsman (some of the time) I like to find something that does not make my wallet scream when I open it.

I guess I will head to Lowe's and see if they have something similar but made for the masses.

While I was over in Camp Hill, I realized I was only a block away from Rolling Green Cemetery, where all of the Robinsons are interred. Well, not all of us. Some of us are still living.

It was a beautiful fall day, and some of the trees have turned a beautiful red-orange color. Rolling Green was one of the earliest cemeteries to be created in the "memorial park" concept, so I enjoyed a ride through the park-like setting (all of the markers are bronze and lie flat on the ground) until I arrived at the famous Block F.

My Uncle Hale bought all of the lots on behalf of the family way back in 1929 when it opened. I remember seeing the original deed, which clearly stated that black people were not to be admitted. Thank heaven we have made some progress in that area.

They were primo spots then, right near the large fountain that sprayed water up in the air while it played pleasant music. Now it is silent and filled with soil and shrubs. No water. No music. Not so primo.

Still, it's a pretty place, in the center of the cemetery so that most of the outside world disappears when you are there. I had to leave the Box along the lane and walk down to visit the family and take some documentary pictures of the markers.

Do you remember the old saying that, if you have a sudden shiver, someone has stepped on your grave? It did not work today. I stepped all over mine, casting a wide shadow, and Susanne's, too, and nary a shiver. If we end up there, Susanne and I will have to be planted head to head. Hmmm, we have never seen eye to eye in life; how will we manage for eternity?

After enjoying more of the scenery, I headed home by way of routes 11/15 up the western side of the Susquehanna River. At West Fairview, I stopped at my favorite spot along the river.

It's a boat launching site, right where the Conodoguinet Creek empties into the river. The creek was flowing strongly today. Seagulls and egrets were floating around, and the city looked nice in the late afternoon sun.

I passed St. Mark's Lutheran Church in West Fairview. I have always been crazy for its Victorian wedding cake steeple. I'd love to find a spot where I could photograph the church with the river and city skyline behind it.

Continuing up 11/15, I passed the famous Enola train yards, where there was considerable activity with trains moving here and there, headed for I-81 and home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


We've been thinking about redecorating our master bedroom and bath. After all, it's been nearly 20 years since we moved in, and we bought the furniture in 1971. Do you think we got our money's worth?
We've looked all over for some new furniture, and today I went back to a store in Annville for another look and to get some prices. What attracted me there is the fact that the furniture is made right here in south central Pennsylvania, not in China or Viet Nam.
Anyway, on the way back, the Box and I stopped outside Palmyra at Bindnagle Lutheran Church, a delightful brick church built in 1803 by a Pennsylvania German congregation. The interior is virtually unchanged since its construction. The nearby cemetery contains fine examples of early grave markers. I had the pleasure of attending a service there one Sunday last summer.


This week the Box took no trips to exotic destinations like New Brighton but proved its usefulness by hauling me yesterday to the annual book sale of the East Shore Area Public Library.
Since the library building is undergoing renovations, the sale was held in a strip mall in Susquehanna Township. There were thousands of books donated by friends of the library, and some deaccessioned from the library's collection. There were also CDs, DVDs, and those video dinosaurs, VCRs, with old movies no one watched the first time around.

Outside, boxes held a couple hundred "free" books. Boy, that is the end of the line for them. I felt sort of sorry knowing that the city incinerator would be the next stop for them. Still, I could not bring myself to bring one home, since there was absolutely nothing that interested me.
Susanne did her civic duty by working several hours at the sale, straightening books on the tables so that the titles were always visible for a quick scan. Of course, she came home with a nice stack of books.

I had to refuse Susanne's invitation to get a bite to eat because I was heading to the State Farm Show Building on North Cameron Street in Harrisburg to meet a friend recently retired from PennDOT. We had the usual "hot dog basket" from the lunch wagon (PennDOT folks working on the road call it the "roach coach") and then strolled along the two rows of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, cheese, flowers, and baked goods.

There I saw something I had never seen before -- orange cauliflower, which I later learned has been propogated from a single mutant plant found in a cauliflower field in Canada. Just right for your Hallowe'en dips!

Friday, October 9, 2009


On Tuesday of this week, the Box and I set out for New Brighton, Pa., to see Sarah, Cole, and Chloe, and to attend Cole's first-of-twelve Back to School night at New Brighton Elementary School. Susanne stayed home so that she could go to Baltimore on Thursday and Friday to babysit grandchild number three, Ian.

Sarah had prepared her Meemaw's famous and oft-served "Chicken Divan," which I put in the oven when I arrived. It was delicious. We scarfed it down and hurried off to Back to School night, but only after packing the Box into the neighbors' driveway full of vehicles (arranged in order of who leaves for work first). It was street cleaning night in New Brighton!

When we got there, the parking lot was crowded, and there was a long line of people waiting to be admitted. We visited Cole's classroom, saw his desk -- they should bronze it when he's done, and keep it in storage for the Cole A. Darnley Presidential Library -- his papers on the board, and his teacher.

The school is interesting in that it is pretty much an open concept, with four classrooms surrounded by half walls in a "unit." The school is built into a hillside overlooking fashionable downtown New Brighton, so it is on several levels as the hill descends. We saw the library, the music room, and the gym. Up and down the steps!

As a reward for all that hard work, we treated ourselves to some of Hank's famous frozen custard. Hank's is to be featured on the WQED-TV documentary “Eat Pennsylvania 2: The Second Course with Dave and Dave.” So is Café Kolache in Beaver. More on that later.

Speaking of downtown New Brighton, it really is looking good since new sidewalks were installed and trees planted in the main shopping area. There are a number of attractive old commercial buildings, and this new work makes for a pleasant atmosphere. There's lot of free parking available, too.

On Wednesday, Sarah went off to work and the kids to school. I slept in a bit, and then went over to FedEx in Moon Township to see where Sarah works and to take her to lunch. I picked her up, and we went to that gourmet chicken place, Chik-Fill-A, up the hill toward all the malls at Robinson Township. We had a nice meal, talked about Cole's teacher's evaluation, and did some people-watching.

Back at FedEx, I was really impressed with the beautiful plantings outside and the modern architecture of the building. I was photographed for a visitor's pass, and then Sarah took me on a little tour of the building. She showed me the dramatic glass-walled dining area for the employees and endless rows of conference rooms.

I had the pleasure of meeting the team of gorgeous women with whom Sarah works most closely. (They must separate them out from the general population to keep the other women from getting jealous.) They agreed with Sarah that she looks "just like" me. I hope I do not live long enough to see this old mug on her. I visited Sarah's colorful -- and neat -- cubicle, also known as the Cole and Chloe Photo Gallery.

Soon Sarah had to get back to work, so I left, and the Box and I drove over to IKEA to see all the new junk they have for you to assemble. It's always fun to follow the arrows on the floor and see where you'll end up. It was such a long walk that on my way out I bought some foot massage cream. I hope it does not smell like lingenberries!

After work, Sarah picked me up, and we headed for Eat 'n Park in Monaca, where Sarah had the most luscious blueberry pancakes, Chloe had macaroni and cheese, and Cole had spaghetti. I talked the kitchen into making a "Rachel" sandwich from their "Reuben." They had done it before, and it was quite good. The kids each got two Smiley cookies, one regular and one Stillers cookie.

Back home, after baths and pajamas, the kids opened a sack of goodies from their Aunt Rachel, including some cool clothing, a game, and a book. Then it was off to bed.

On Thursday morning, there was the familiar routine of getting the kids ready for school and Sarah ready for work. Once they had all left, I packed my bags, retrieved the Box from its spot at the rear of the driveway, and headed for Beaver, where I had an appointment to see a condominium at Elysium on the Park.

A very nice agent named Karen Lee Hutman showed me three condos, both two- and three-bedroom models, on the park side, and on the court side. They were all beautiful, each with different features I liked. It would be a wonderful place to live, and we think that Beaver is a beautiful town, a real piece of Americana. And, the Box loved the heated underground garage! Not only that, but Karen complimented the Box on its lovely straight-line design. No wonder she is a top seller!

Before leaving town, I stopped at Café Kolache and had a breakast kolache, a somewhat sweet bun filled with sausage, cheese, and egg. They're really delicious, as are the fruit-filled ones we had on another occasion.

Finally, we headed north through Beaver Falls, passing Oram's Donut Shop (so tempted to stop!) to the Pennsylvania Turnpike for the trip home. The Box hummed all the way past Pittsburgh to Irwin, where we exited to make a short visit to the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg.

This is a very fine collection of painting and sculpture, as well as some furniture and decorative arts, much of it from western Pennsylvania artists. I enjoyed the permanent exhibits as well as several temporary ones on various themes. The museum store was attractive and tempting.

We braved the fallout from high-speed trucks to stop along the turnpike to take photos of fall foliage in the Laurel Highlands and my favorite farm near Somerset, and then headed home again to Harrisburg.

We're parked in the driveway until Susanne comes home Friday night, when the Box, newly washed by an overnight rain, will be relegated to the street.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


The Box had a busy day today. At 9:50 a.m., we drove downtown to Market Square Church for an early choir rehearsal. The choir sang in a new formation in a new place, so everyone was a little on edge. I'm anxious to see what the director has to say about the performance. Most of the choir members felt much better about it after church!

Then my sister Rachel and I headed north for lunch at our usual place with the big yellow arches. This was followed by a ride out Linglestown Road in search of yet one more stop on the "parade of homes."

At dinner time, I was proud to pull the Box up in front of our friends' home off Union Deposit Road to take them to Hoolihan's in Hershey. Ken and Maryann Albert are always fun to be with. We don't see each other that often, so it's non-stop catching up on each other's families over a nice meal.
Apparently, the chef was not sure the chicken in my sandwich was deceased, so he stabbed it one more time before serving.

The sun was setting when we got there, and it was dark when we left, passing several vehicles from the Hershey Antique Auto Show. I think I heard the Box chuckle at those old fashioned squarish cars with no curves.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


With Susanne off to Woolrich, Pa., to shop with her mother and sister, the Box and I chugged over to the Estates of Forest Hills to see the châteaux américains featured in the local "parade of homes."

It was a beautiful autumn day, so the place was crowded with people ogling these palatial homes, ranging in price from $550,000 to more than a million dollars. What always strikes me is the extra rooms and spaces for which there seems to be little need. I heard a lot of people asking, "What is this for?" I even overheard a child ask, "Is this a room?"

Then there were the usual odd features, like those huge windows over the front doors with a sill below them that you could never reach to dust. On the second story of one house there was a smaller window that had a rounded top, a lamp hanging from the top of the window, an electric candle in the window, and a semi-circular hole in the floor in front of it, fenced off by a metal railing. I guess you'd have to leap from the railing over the hole to get to the window to wash it or change the light bulbs.

I was particularly interested in the wood trim in the rooms. Some of it was quite beautiful and lavish. We dream of having little windows and built-in bookshelves surrounding the faux fireplace in our living room, and at least two of the houses had this feature. Both were very attractive. One was actually the second floor family room, because, you see, one is never enough.

I also took note of bathroom floors, showers, and vanities. I liked the vanities that were taller than standard and had a sink that sat on top of the counter, so that there is not so much bending over for a tired old back. All of the houses had spacious bathrooms. Interestingly, I don't recall a lot of whirlpool tubs. Instead, in the master bedrooms there were large showers with beautiful tile work and shower heads galore. Simpler showers and tub/shower combinations were found in the "lesser" bedrooms.

In this development, most of the houses have a "European" flair, even some castle-like turrets, steep roofs, and lots of added patina to make them look older. I saw one "Georgian" house (at the top of this entry) and one other grey stone house that looked vaguely "early American."

When I got back to our rather modest home in its modest neighborhood, I appreciated our house even more than usual. No useless spaces, no gaudy finishes, no two-story entry.

I parked the Box in front of my sister-in-law's new GMC vehicle and when stepping back, a Biblical reference came to mind: "But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17)