Friday, February 19, 2010


The Box has been busy these last few days, ferrying us around as we did a number of errands.

This past Wednesday, the Box chugged downtown for a meeting of the committee planning the celebration of 150 years on Market Square by the congregation of Market Square Presbyterian Church. We're planning a photo exhibit, a festival worship service, and a presentation by an expert on stained glass. She will focus on three important late 19th- and early 20th-century windows, including one by the Tiffany Studios of New York City.

We ran out of time, so we returned Thursday to choose photos for the exhibit, and I agreed to devise a means to display them on March 7 and a few Sundays after that.

My sister Rachel was there volunteering in the office, so when she was done with her chores, we went into the church and took some measurements of the Communion table. Rachel's going to make a purple Lenten hanging for the table with material I had chosen on behalf of the worship committee.

She then rushed off to the West Shore to buy the cloth (and pick up her beautiful new car). I headed north to the Giant food store on Linglestown Road to meet a friend from the church. Our mission: to purchase four tall potted palms to grace the church on Palm Sunday and then beautify the gathering space nearby for the rest of the year. It seems that we got there just in time. Although someone had told me on the phone that they had many skids of palms, there were only five for sale!

Wil and I loaded the palms into the Box and drove downtown to the church, where we placed them for their wait until they move front and center on Palm Sunday. In the evening, we both returned for choir rehearsal. A long day!

Today's activities included a trip to Lemoyne to meet Rachel and our sister-in-law Wanda for lunch. We gathered in the food court and then went our separate ways to choose a meal. Once back, there was a lot of conversation (especially among the women). After lunch there was a little shopping (Susanne is taking Lebanon bologna and scrapple to western Pennsylvania, where she will visit a college friend and her father in a nursing home). Wanda left to get an oil change, and Rachel showed me her new car.
I won't mention the iced sticky buns I bought. (They were small, miniscule really.)

After driving home to drop off Susanne and check email, I drove the Box to the local fabric store to buy some purple cloth to drape the church's cross throughout Lent and Holy Week. On the way home, I scoured the local bargain store, the famous "Ollie's: Good Stuff Cheap" for another case of delicious low-sugar apple sauce. Alas, there was none to be found, so I returned home for a quiet evening, apple sauce-less.

Since you no doubt are hankering for more photos, here they are!

Whenever I park on the roof at the garage next to the church,
I am amazed by the tallest steeple in the city. Here it looks like
the snow is higher than the church roof!

These are some of the historic photos to be displayed.

My friend Wilmer unloads one of the treasured palms from the Box.

Wanda tries on the beautiful ring Rachel gave her
as Susanne looks on.

The market floor as seen from above.

Lovely green asparagus makes me think of spring.

This coconut cake can't hold a candle to Pat Pearl's.
Pat is my son Matt's mother-in-law. Hers is to die for.

Rachel heads out to other errands while Susanne
and I browse in the antiques shop at the market.

Scrapple! Ugh. Everything but the oink!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


We were suffering from cabin fever and anxious to celebrate Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras with a traditional Pennsylvania German fastnacht, sometimes spelled fasnacht or faschnacht, a doughnut treat served traditionally on Fastnacht Day, the day before Lent starts. Fastnachts are made as a way to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat, and butter, which are traditionally not eaten during Lent.

We prevailed upon the Box to wake from his deep and chilly sleep to haul us south to Lancaster County, namely Roots' Market near Manheim. The roads were clear and dry, and it was smooth sailing all the way.

Once off the Interstate, we enjoyed a few miles' drive through the countryside, where untouched snow covered field after field of the prosperous-looking Pennsylvania German farmsteads. Several handsome old stone farmhouses stood against the snowy breezes as they have for a hundred or more years.

The Roots' parking lot was pretty full when we arrived, although the place looked quiet without all the outside vendors selling just about anything you can think of. Upon entering the market building, we bought the first fastnachts in sight -- just to be sure we got some! Then we walked throughout the market, making purchases from a number of stands. I made it my mission to photograph every fastnacht in the market and was amazed at the great variety of this traditional treat -- glazed, powdered sugar, granular sugar, and plain.

Once our shopping was completed, we decided to do a little "shunpiking" and took the long (and slow) way home though Mount Joy and Elizabethtown.

At Mount Joy, we stopped at the Wilton Armetale Factory Store. Armetale is a pewter-like metal cast into all sorts of cookware and tableware. Before we were married, we went to Doehne's Ox-Bow Shop on Progress Avenue every pay day to purchase an Armetale dinner, salad, and bread plate. We got additional pieces as wedding gifts and others at the factory store when it was in Columbia, Pa. We still have it and use it on special occasions. We were sorry to see that our pattern has been discontinued, and it was hard to resist the clearance prices for it, but we managed.

By mid-afternoon we arrived at home and "celebrated" by consuming our authentic Fastnacht Day treats -- piled high on another authentic Pennsylvania German treasure, an original 1970s Lester Breininger redware plate! Ah, life is good.

And now, the stars of the show -- each and every kind of fastnacht being sold today at Roots Market! Drooling is permitted.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Well, it's doubtful that the Box will go anywhere today, except maybe into the street while we shovel the drive. However, I think it looks pretty cool with a snazzy (and even more square) new shape created by the snow and wind!

Check out the little overhang in the back!

Friday, February 5, 2010


Its address is Palmyra, but the newish Farmstead Farmer's Market is nearer to Grantville, at the intersection of Routes 22 and 743. Susanne had gone out there yesterday and told me about a furniture maker who had a stand there.

Anticipating a ton of snow starting tonight and being snowbound tomorrow, I decided to ask the Box for a ride out there this afternoon to see the furniture and whatever other goodies were to be found.

There's a nice old barn near the road, and two new buildings further back. Everything was very neat and clean, and there was a nice mix of food and non-food items.

There were several nice pieces of furniture. We're always looking for more storage, so who knows? I had a nice conversation with a "plain" man from the Shippensburg area. Fortunately for him, he was already planning to stay over with a friend tonight and won't need to brave the snow.

He had some nice wide pieces with shelves and cupboards, as well as a cool kitchen island with stools. He also had the cutest little girl in a pink dress, doing what all kids do to keep busy while they are "helping" mom and dad at work.
Other stands offered coffees of all sorts; wines; baked goods, including a chocolate shoofly pie that I could have sold for a fortune in New Brighton, Pa.; handmade potato chips, and rice krispie treats and Oreos covered with chocolate; bulk foods, and even treats for pets. (I started to wish I were a dog!) There was even a stand with a very large selection of Polish pottery, a very colorful type of folk art from the old country.

As I left the market, a lady in a Honda Civic told me that her cousin has an xB and liked it. I think the Box blinked his parking lights in appreciation.

Garlic Onion potato chips were calling to me!

Whoopie pies and other goodies from Lancaster County.

Bulk foods look tempting.

Woof! Woof! Me want a treat!

Polish pottery gleams in the light.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Overnight, two or three inches of snow accumulated on the Box, but that was not enough to keep that intrepid little vehicle from heading over to Camp Hill Presbyterian Church to hear Eric Riley play the new organ there.

"You hear Eric every Sunday, don't you?" you're thinking. Well, yes, and it's great. But sometimes you like to actually get out of the organ and sit back a bit to enjoy a new perspective. Besides, I had heard the new organ only once, and I knew Eric would put it through its paces. No disappointment there.

Eric played Phillips' setting of Engelberg, Bach's Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C Major, Partita on 'Nun lasst uns Gott' by Lubeck, and Marcel Dupré's Prelude and Fugue in G Minor. The ending of this last piece can be heard in the video clip below.

Eric has been at Market Square since 2007. He has advanced degrees, has won organ competitions, and has performed five times in Europe. Eric sometimes plays organ with the Harrisburg Symphony in the Forum auditorium in Harrisburg.

There was a nice contingent of people from Market Square Church (they can't get enough, either), and the crowd totaled around 125. Not bad for a snowy Wednesday.

In addition to fine playing, the audience was treated to enlightening (and humorous) remarks about each piece of music. These comments allowed the listener to appreciate what was being played as we listened for the various aspects of the music that Eric described.

I was worried for Eric's safety at the end of the concert as the crowd rose to its feet, roared its approval, and began to surge forward to meet the guy who made so much music. But then I realized that it would be hard to get our walkers out of the pews fast enough to rush him.

Finally, I was pleased to sit with Mme Riley, Christine, who was kind enough to join me in the pew so I would not be all alone. A generous gesture very much appreciated.

Fugue in g minor - Marcel Dupré

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


"The community of West Reading is experiencing a transformation resulting from the growth of the Penn Avenue shopping district and the expansion of its larger companies and institutions. Over 35 new retail and restaurant businesses have opened on Penn Avenue since 1999." These words online and a suggestion from friends sent us to Penn Avenue today to see what all the excitement is about!

The Box is piling on the miles these days. We headed east on I-78, then south toward Reading. It was a pleasant day for a ride through the countryside. We passed the Vanity Fair outlets and found a parking spot on Penn Avenue in the very block we wanted to visit. The spot was so big that we could have parked a second Box in there! And no meters!

We checked out Papillon, a French brasserie, and found it to be way too expensive for a quick lunch. So we hustled across the street to Bistro 614, a very smart move! The place was empty because we were too late for the lunch crowd and too early for dinner. Susanne had a portabello mushroom sandwich and the house salad. I had a roast turkey sandwich and the salad. They were exellent and quite satisfying. The staff was pleasant and engaged us in conversation. Stop there if you get a chance.

After lunch, we walked down the street, toward downtown with the famous Pagoda visible in the distance. We visited a candy shop (alas, no Zipf's chocolates there); an antiques, gifts, and framing shop; a consignment shop with all sorts in interesting "stuff" for your home and yard; and the Baldwin Brass Center, where they sell their own product and other upscale home furnishings.

As daylight dimmed, we headed a few blocks to the Reading Public Museum to browse in the museum store. It's a very good museum, and we will come back to see the exhibits one of these days.

On the way home, the Box made a quick right turn west of Ephrata into a 55+ community called Home Towne Square. Spiffy Craftsman-style homes on nice flat lots were very attractive. We plan to return to see the model and imagine the good life in a retirement village!

The bar at Bistro 614.
This row of historic homes now houses
a restaurant, antiques shops, and other businesses.

Shoo! offers some weird footware --
Sarah might like it!

These bike trail markers grace the lamp-posts
on Penn Avenue.
Susanne's mother worked
at the Berkshire mill.

Model home at Home Town Square for Old (Rich) Folks.