Friday, September 23, 2016

u no who u r

You start in earnest right after the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Once you see Santa arrive the season officially begins.

Of course, you were forced to start in September when the stores began mixing Christmas decorations in with the Back-to-School supplies. In October, you complained about the shining bulbs next to the Jack-o-Lanterns, red, blinking Rudolph noses in the same bin as green, warty witch beaks. November required that you stick your fingers in your ears as “Jingle Bells” clanged in your head and “Twas the Night Before Christmas” saw sixty sunsets.

Once you digest your turkey and purge all of that pumpkin pie, your good humor returns. Black Friday holds no shopping excitement for you. Instead, you have permission to sing hymns and carols at the top of your lungs. Your Christmas playlist is set on a loop, the same songs, sung by different artists, repeat repeatedly, but now they make you happy instead of making you want to barf.

You bring out the seventeen plastic bins containing all of the items that make the holiday special. You find the reindeer mantel hooks, place them on the ledge in the kitchen and attached the personalized stockings: the Grinch, Pink Princess, Mickey Mouse and the green, sequinned butterfly. The white ceramic angels, singing and playing instruments that you inherited from your mother and that made their appearances in your life every year of your life, get hidden a bit so they don’t get accidentally knocked over and broken.

The tree doesn’t get put up until the third Sunday of Advent. It really shouldn’t be until Christmas Eve morning but that’s too radically different from what everyone else is doing, so you bend a bit. You have also caved when it comes to live versus artificial. Falling needles make too much of a mess - you can never remember to put water in the stand so real trees dry out too quickly. Plus, spending all day searching for the perfect tree in lawn and garden store lots was never much fun for you. Some traditions deserve to die.

Each ornament you take from the boxes remind you of something. Decorating the tree takes you all day long. You have to find the perfect branch to put each on. You step back, assess, move, repeat. You take a break, have a hot chocolate (with a touch of liqueur because you’re an adult now and you can) then finish up with the little strawberries your mother gave you when you were in college. You spend the rest of the night, clicker in hand, flicking the tree lights on and off. You like the white fairy lights.

The manager goes under the tree. You plug the bulb that represents The Star into the tree lights. Mary and Joseph and the Angel Gabriel kneel around the empty crib, waiting, like you until the Baby Jesus miraculously arrives. Baby Jesus gets hidden in a cabinet until the bell rings. (Did you know bells ring when babies are born?) You put the cow, donkey and sheep in their stalls and you line up the three Wise Men from East to West. You place the shepherds randomly, so they, too, can keep watch.

Now, you wait until January sixth to take it all down and put it all away until next year.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

built like a brick house

Lancaster, PA, (pronounced LANK-aster with the middle part distinct yet said together by the locals) was originally called Hickory Town and is one of the oldest inland cities in the United States. The center of town, a single block of mostly brick buildings, is formed by King Street, Queen Street, Orange Street and Prince Street. These names hearken back to a time when we were still The Colonies.


The corner of King Street and Queen Street forms the bottom left corner of The Box, a square circle with a monument in the middle.



There is parking on the edges of the streets but those spaces were quickly taken. I parked in one of the convenient parking lots in the middle of the block. The price for my short Sunday stay was $6.00 for less than two hours.

I parked, grabbed my Shunk backpack filled with my iPad and notebook along with my camera and phone and headed for King Street where I picked one of the many restaurants in the area to have brunch.

I immediately found Steinman Park, a hidden garden created by the surrounding buildings. It’s a brick courtyard with outdoor seating for eating called The Pressroom. A beautiful fountain formed the base end with a bar off to the side. The fountain end had raised bar tables, the area closest to the entrance had regular height tables.




 When I got there around eleven am, only one outdoor table was occupied. I took pictures, found a table right near the fountain and settled in. I ordered a virgin Bloody Mary and coffee and Scallops and CornedBeef with a Poached Egg to eat (they forgot the corned beef, but I didn’t notice until I wrote this.) They were playing 70’s and 80’s music at just the right sound level. My Bloody Mary tasted like a shrimp cocktail. Perfect amount of horseradish.




Kevin, my waiter/bartender, was friendly, efficient and attentive without hovering.

After dining, I walked around the block filled with quaint shops and plenty of eateries.






Lancaster is definitely worth a re-visit. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

it happened in the blink of an eye


The bell on the microwave dinged. The light went out and the humming of the motor stopped. Jason pressed the button on the bottom, right, front of the oven, depressed it into the plastic and metal box. The machine slid across the grey, laminate counter. It stopped when it reached the back wall, chipping the natural stone tile. The door popped open.
Jason reached in with his left hand and grabbed the plastic bag containing his mixed vegetables.  He pinched the hot, air bloated sack with pointer finger and thumb. He pulled on it, bringing it out. It hung in the air for a second. A burning sensation reached the pain center of his brain. Jason shook his hand. The packet of scorching pre-processed produce flew across the kitchen, landing six feet away in front of the brushed aluminum refrigerator.
Blowing on his fingers, he walked across the green, tile floor and grabbed a pear and apple decorated towel hanging from the oven’s handle. He bent and picked up his so-called healthy diet items with a swaddled right hand.
Using his teeth, he ripped a corner of the food pouch. The escaping steam scalded his lips and cheek. He dropped the open bag. Various vegetables of equal size but in assorted colors reminiscent of Autumn rolled and tumbled across the floor. Jason cursed. He stepped forward to wipe up the mess. His naked foot landed on some peas and carrots, smooshed them into a slippery mess, lubricating the space between skin and floor.
He flew backwards, flapped his arms, cracked the end of an ulna on a sharp corner, smacked his skull on the metal handle of a strawberry blonde cabinet, and landed on his sweat pants covered bony ass. Jason laid on the floor and stared at his knotty pine paneled ceiling. His stomach growled.