Friday, January 28, 2011


It's been a while since the Box had a super-duper adventure, mainly because of the erratic winter weather we've been having. There have been the usual trips to church and stores, to doctor's appointments, and to the historical society for meetings.

Oh, the Box did take me and a friend, Jesse, to Dodge City restaurant (yep, you guessed it -- a western-themed restaurant with he-man dishes like chicken salad and sprouts) on Paxton Street for lunch ( I am sorry I did not take my camera so I could show you the d├ęcor) and then a quick tour of the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion, home of the Historical Society of Dauphin County.

We met while Jesse worked at the State Archives some ten years ago. Later he directed a historical society in a far-off land called Luzerne, and I wanted to show him our pride and joy. I think he found it to be a handsome and important historic house. I just wish I had been a better tour guide. I have some readin' to do!

Today I had the pleasure of picking up another friend, Michael, who edits Pennsylvania Heritage®, the magazine of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, for a lunch date. Michael worked closely with friends and colleagues Marcia and Joan, who ran the PHMC-affiliated Pennsylvania Heritage Society®, and they had not seen Michael for ages. So I arranged to get them all together.

We met at The Cellar, a sort of chic restaurant off the by-pass in Camp Hill. There's a nice atmosphere, good food, and lockers where you can keep your bottle of wine between visits. Well, we spent quite a while catching up even before we even ordered. Then, realizing the time, we quickly ordered and prayed that our meals could be served and consumed before Michael had to be back to work.

As the time approached to leave, Michael announced (rather cavalierly, I thought) that he had cancelled the meeting he had, and that gave us plenty of more time to jaw! We wrapped it up soon, though, and I whisked him back to the office, leaving Joan and Marcia to continue their daily rounds. We're all eager to meet again soon.

Heading out of town, I called Susanne and suggested we meet in a mall parking lot and ride together to the Auto Show at the State Farm Show Complex. We met and drove only a few miles, where we had the privilege of paying $8 (twice as much as the tickets cost) to park the Box in the falling snow and then walk half-way around the 1,000,000-sq. ft. exhibition hall to the main entrance. Who puts the parking lot as far from the front door as you can? 'Close enough for government work,' as the saying goes.

We hoped to find a car with three criteria -- one I could get into without breaking my neck; one with decent gas mileage (I thought cars were supposed to be getting more miles per gallon, not fewer); and one which would not break the bank.

We looked at every vehicle, and I tried on many of them for size. By the end of the day, my head was aching from banging it into car frames. I did like one $50,000 Mercedes Benz van with nine seats and a beautiful deep red paint job -- and a tall, wide door. The sporty cars always attract me, as well as things that are boxy (who knew?) and tall.

Unfortunately, until we got to the Ford Flex, which we have actually test driven at the dealership, not a single vehicle -- not one -- satisfied even the first requirement of an adequate-height opening (and the Flex just barely). Am I such a freak that NO manufacturer in the world can produce a car to fit me -- at least not since 2006, when the last original 'classic' Box was made?

We looked at the Flex for awhile and then the Volkswagen Beetle (surprisingly roomy), and finally, the Ford Transit, a European-style van that can be had as a car or a truck! With a massive openings, huge headroom, and a roomy interior, I love it! Susanne hates it! Here we go again.
We crawled back to the Box and headed to Isaac's on Linglestown Road for a bite to eat. After the meal, I enjoyed the fish tank while Susanne yukked it up with former students now working as servers. A few tender moments communing with the dessert case, and it was off down Linglestown Road and through the newly-sidewalked, -curbed and -lighted village of Linglestown. Duke of Gloucester Street on the Beaver Creek!

As we drove up to the house, we remembered that we had parked Susanne's car miles away in the shopping mall near the Farm Show Complex. Maybe we are too old and feeble-minded to drive a new car anyway!

Photos top to bottom:
1. The Box basks in the glow of the Isaac's sign.
2. Michael and Joan say farewells. Marcia was inside greeting other diners she knew.
3. Susanne checks out the Dodge Nitro, a retro-looking bad boy.
4. I liked the elegant grill on this Lincoln Continental land yacht.
5. I had the 'Shrike' at Isaac's, a restaurant where most of the sandwiches are named for birds.

 I could go for this little red number, but it would have
to have the roof down permanently.

  I think the Ford Flex looks like the Box on steroids,

They float through the water with the greatest of ease,
the fish in Isaac's tank.

Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate -- 
and no whoopie pies in sight!

White icing and nuts. That'll do!
(These two photos are largely gratuitous. Some of
our readers won't read to the end unless there is
some sort of food or pastry to be found there.
You know who you are.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Today the Box demonstrated its awesome road grip as we mushed through the 0.5 inches of snow and made our way to Market Square Church in downtown Harrisburg. Following the service, where my sister Rachel was installed as a deacon, she and I high-tailed it up Second Street to Division, and then north on Front to McDonald's near Linglestown Road.

There we wolfed down a side salad and diet Coke, the first of our attempts to shed some pounds in 2011. It was actually pretty good, although the Super Double Giant Cheese and Bacon Two-Pounder kept calling my name. Nonetheless, we escaped without bringing meat or fries to our lips.

Rachel lives on the edge of a housing development where two houses were open for inspection today. So I drove over to Enola behind her, and her husband Jack joined us in going next door to tour the houses.

Being old and feeble, we were unable to bend over to put on the blue booties they like you to wear in new houses, so the poor real estate lady had to help us. I would suggest at least one chair in the joint so people can sit down and put on the booties without balancing on our spindly old legs.

The first house was priced at $1,085,000, with local taxes set at about $12,000 a year. It was large, about 6,100 square feet, a little larger than we'd need. We briefly considered all moving in together but soon gave up that idea, figuring we'd all be in prison in six months for mutual murder.

After examining it from basement to second story, we went next door to a similar but smaller house, priced at only $945,000. It was very nice, more intimate and cozy. This could be a serious contender if we win the lottery. Maybe I should buy a ticket sometime.

This development, called Wentworth Estates, apparently spent all of its marketing budget and couldn't afford a proof-reader. Here is a sample of their website prose: "Wentworth Estates introduces luxusious country living, with breathtaking scenery and Open Spaces at teh foot of Blue Mountain. Located only 20 minutes from downtown Harrisburg and Canlisle."

Soon I was off to Hershey to hear a recital on a new organ in the Methodist Church. Amazingly, there were no parking spots in the church lot or for blocks in all directions. So I just went home instead. There will be other chances. Who knew you could still get a packed house at an organ recital!

Here are some pictures of the Two Big Houses --

Entry and step-down family room.


Dining room.

Dining area of kitchen.

The business side of the kitchen.

Spa tub and shower in master bath.

Vanities in master bath.

Steps to secret room over garage.

Jack and Rachel check out the stadium-sized basement.

The second, smaller house.

Foyer and stairs, living room to the right.
Rachel discusses the kitchen with the agent.

Entry seen from the staircase.

The family room.