Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Treat yourself at Dairy Queen, you say? Don't mind if I do."
We're working on our basement and garage, getting rid of stuff we should have dumped years ago. Among these treasures were years of cancelled checks and old tax forms. Susanne was particularly interested in shredding these precious documents.

We hauled them out the basement door and up the hill to the Box. As I drove away, I could hear Susanne telling me to treat myself at Dairy Queen. Unexpected, by what the heck? I do as I am told.

Mr. Box and I headed to the Dauphin County recycling facility on South 19th Street in Harrisburg to have the records turned into little illegible strips of paper.

We drove around I-81 to the Walnut Street exit and stopped at DQ. Wow! What an array of treats. I had a small malted shake, something I have not had for a couple of years. It was pretty good, but not as good as the one in my memory from Stoudt's ice cream shop on Radnor Street when I was a kid.

Perhaps the perfect house.
When parking, I noticed the little Cape Cod house across the street. I have admired its clean lines and modest size for many years, imagining how proud the first owners must have been to move into it. Now it's largely unchanged but a commercial building, next to ye olde KFC.

I continued down the road to Progress Avenue, turned left, then drove the length of that street until reaching Paxtang. I went through the intersection at Derry Street, past the Rutherford Spring House, and under I-83 to Paxton Street. Right turn, and soon I was at 19th Street.

But not before spotting some unusual or amusing things on the way. At the corner where there is a McDonald's and a Sheetz (you know where I mean -- there's a Dunkin' Donuts on the third corner -- no going hungry here!) there were two men yelling at passers-by, "Revelation! Revelation! Revelation!" One held a sign telling me I didn't have to go to hell. These might have been Presbyterian missionaries, although I doubt it.

At the next corner I spotted a sort of sandwich board placed near the curb by the beauty supply store in a little strip mall. If you believe the sign, the store was offering hair, wigs, and "variety jewerly," which I took to mean Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Or maybe it is a new adverb I haven't heard of yet.

The recycling center was located to the rear of the infamous city incinerator. I wound my way past a huge pile of ash, representing millions of things roasted in the past, following a truck loaded sky-high and headed for the driveway into the dumping facility. Finally I saw the ubiquitous recycle logo and headed toward that building.

Entering, I was greeted by an anemic electronic bell on the door that alerted Matt, the recycling specialist. He opened an account for me, and we talked about what things required payment. Shredding was one of the services that costs money ($5 for a box about the size copy paper comes in), electronics (someone has to remove toxic parts), and refrigerators with freon. "Oh, those we just push over a stream bank," I said. Matt did not smile.

I paid the fee and drove around back where two eager (really!) county employees hustled the papers from the Box into a shredder at the far side of the room. I was allowed to come in and watch. I had imagined they would throw in the whole bag, but instead they had to break into each one and feed the documents on a small conveyor belt into the hungry blades of the shredder. Watch video here.

Anything that was too thick they tore into smaller pieces. They also removed the metal parts of hanging file folders. That surprised me; I thought they might reject them.

After a few minutes the bag inside the shredder was full. The men went around the back and extracted the bag, plopping it on the floor. A lot of our financial lives reduced to confetti!

As I drove out of the facility, I came across a long row of dumpsters, each one labeled with what material could be placed there. Gee, those who recycle on their own really have some sorting to do. In our township, we are permitted to mix everything and the sorting is done by others.

Glad the my task was done, I headed home, back out Paxton, turning left to
Derry, hoping to see that someone had opened the shutters on the old spring house so I could take a nice picture (they hadn't), and then right onto Derry. The historical marker for Paxton Presbyterian Church reminded me of that gorgeous little gem of 18th century architecture, so I drove up the hill and took some pictures to add to the others I have stuffed into my external hard drive.

Like that little Cape Cod near the Dairy Queen, Paxton Church is neat and clean, with spare lines, classic in its symmetry, and old as all get-out.

Our financial lives heading for death by shredder.

Into the monster's open jaws they go.

So many dumpsters, so little time.

Paxton Presbyterian Church, founded 1732.

A simple entrance.

To the left, a 20th century addition.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


You can imagine how surprised I was when my son Matt and his wife Marylee invited me to come today to the office of the Keelty Company, a home builder in Maryland. They wanted me to "advise" them on their choices of finishes for a home they're going to build just a few miles away from their current house.

I say surprised because adult offspring rarely want or need their old man's advice. Naturally, Matt and Marylee knew about my impeccable sense of style, unerring good taste, and incredible sensitivity for color and texture. That all goes without saying. Could that really be why they invited me?

I asked the Box that very question as we crossed the Susquehanna River and began our trek south on I-83 to Padonia Road in Timonium. It was a nice, trouble-free drive, and the office of the builder was easy to find. Just as the Box rolled into its parking space, M&M drove up in their own car and parked beside us.

We met the builder's representative, a lovely young lady bearing a pile of paperwork -- lists of options, some choices already made, and samples of carpets, cabinets, stone facing, and so forth.

The office was in a condominium building, and the model condo was just across the hall. We walked over there to see the granite countertops M&M had chosen earlier and the kitchen island with its raised dining section. It was a very beautiful color to match the cabinets they had chosen earlier. We also looked at plumbing fixtures for kitchen and baths and tried out the sample shower. Matt was sure to point out that the shower head had to be six inches higher than normal in order to accommodate his height.

This lead to a discussion of other options where height was a concern, such as vanities and even toilets. Thank heaven builders and manufacturers are responding and providing building materials for taller people. Now if they took a look at doorway and closet height, we'd feel even more comfortable. Oh yeah, and hanging light fixtures!

It turns out that M&M had made and continued to be making excellent choices in what promises to be a beautiful home for themselves and one their son Ian will remember growing up in. They chose a well-located lot in a development that backs up onto a state park, insuring that it will not be further developed. You can see the floorplan here. They chose a warm looking stone façade, beautiful dark wood floors, soft neutral carpeting, and gleaming metal plumbing fixtures.

Still to come are lighting fixtures, including one to hang in the two-story foyer. My suggestion that they abandon the two-story aspect and join the two bedrooms on either side of the air space in the upper part of the foyer was rejected. A shame. I had my eye on that "suite" for my old age! Check out the floor plan, and you will see what I mean.

After the orgy of choices, we headed for a nearby restaurant, where I treated the soon-to-be-brand-new-house-owners to some drinks, appetizers, and entrées. It was a lot of fun, and I was grateful to have been invited to participate in this ritual.

Keelty is the name of the builder. Forge Meadows
is the name of the development in Perry Hall.

Here is the site plan. Matt and Marylee chose a lot
near to but not in the cul-de-sac.

This is a model of their home that is located in another
development by the same builder.

Checking the wooden floor M&M chose against carpet samples.

Sign, sign, sign!

The granite for the kitchen counters and the island
looks beautiful with the gleaming stainless steel sink.

Here's how the kitchen island will look from the cook's side!

M&M chose these elegantly simple polished nickel knobs
for their cabinetry.

Taking a closer look at options for bathroom vanity tops.

This is faux stone for the façade of the new house.

M&M discuss their choice of homesite with a salesperson.

Looking over the details is something at which
Marylee excels. Matt seems to be saying, 
"Point that thing somewhere else, dad!"

Sign some more!

Looking satisfied, Matt enjoys his brew at a nearby restaurant.

Marylee chose a nice red wine to celebrate.

I ordered this sizzling burger and crisp fries. Dee-lish!

Matt ordered this doohickey filled with shrimp (I think).

Always wiser than the boys, Marylee chose this tasty
yet healthier salad with round brown things in it.