House Concert

From tonight's Son of Laughter concert

From tonight’s Son of Laughter concert

I went to a Holloway House Concert tonight. They’re evidently cool enough that the musicians in Nashville who come to play at them talk about them in hushed tones to one another. It’s true. One of them told me. When she agreed to come, her musician friends said to her, “Oh, they’re so great. I love doing Holloway House Concerts.”

The Holloways are friends who live 40 minutes or so from me, who regularly open their home to host musicians for small concerts in their living room. Anywhere from 20-40 people show up and sit at the feet of an artist for an hour or so, listening to their songs and hearing their stories.

My first-ever house show was at the Holloways’ home—over a year ago. It was Nick Flora. I’d never been to a house concert and never heard of Nick Flora, but my friend Julie invited me along and so I went…and discovered the delightful combination of a great artist in a personal venue.

I went to my second-ever house concert a week later. It was also Nick Flora.

At my first-ever house show with other Rabbit Roomers.

At my first-ever house show with other Rabbit Roomers.

For the first concert, I’d been down visiting Julie in Charlotte for a week while I was still living up in Pennsylvania. I tweeted something about coming from Philly for the concert and Nick tweeted back something like, “You do know I’m coming there in a week, right?”

It was good news. ‘Cause I had a blast at the house concert and decided I liked this guy’s music. So the next Saturday, back in Philly, I dragged Tim and Jon and Gabe and Dan along with me to hear him again. There were less than ten people there that night; I’m glad I brought half the crowd. We sat around and talked and I was right and Nick was wrong about what Irish twins are, and then Nick played and we all fell in love with The Re-Introduction of Nick Flora.

We got into the car to leave and stuck the CD into the player. Tim wanted to hear “Lost at Sea” another time, so I skipped ahead and we swam in the waltz.

We rose to the surface for days off down under
Boys on the town with the world on our shoulders
War was the word none of us dared to speak
It felt good to be
Lost at sea

Alone, the sun woke me a quarter past noon
Face caked with sand and one sopping shoe
I stumbled ‘round Sydney and into the embassy
I gave them my name, they gave me the news

All my friend’s secrets and all of my clothes
Were buried alive 90 miles off the coast
I was too drunk to hear when the call crashed the party
and suddenly
we were lost at sea

The Purse

This afternoon, on the way back from lunch, I tossed my purse on the back seat of the car next to Kim. She glanced down at it and said, “I like your purse! That’s cute!”

I laughed, because when I think about that purse—in any sense other than to pick it up and carry it around with me—I immediately think of the afternoon I bought it.

I realized when I packed up my apartment in Philly that not only did I seem to have a hard time throwing away or donating old purses (there was a drawer full of them), I also seemed to be stuck in a rut. When I pulled them all out of the drawer and set them out next to each other, I saw the truth: I only purchased small black purses. I had six of them in that drawer.

I decided early in the summer, after I’d moved down here to Charlotte, that it was time to get a new purse, and that I should break out of my rut.

I went to Target and perused the purse racks. I found a style I liked, but struggled with the choice of brown or blue/grey. Uncertain, I pulled out my phone to text my style gurus, Saritha and Christine for their advice.

My phone did not want to send a picture text from inside the bowels of Target, so I had the bright idea to see if I could hop onto the wifi and send my query as a Facebook message.

I got on, and began typing each name and then selecting them from the auto-fill list to indicate the recipients of the message. Then I entered my query and photo:

“Seriously considering breaking out of my ‘black purse’ norm. The question now is: brown or grey?

(And no, the coral one in the back is not on contention).”


I pressed “Send.”

And then I realized I’d autofilled Chris Slaten rather than Christine.

conversation one

An hour later, I got this response from Chris:

conversation twoIt really could have been so much worse.


When Your Tuque Falls in the Curry

The full title of this piece—which, sadly, wouldn’t fit very well—is:
When Your Tuque Falls in the Curry:
And Other Problems of Using Your Laundry as an Outdoor Fridge

-The Annals of a Philly Winter-

Our laundry facilities are in a lean-to by the side of the kitchen that doubles as an entryway to the apartment. It is completely un-insulated and it has two windows and a storm door. So, heat: no.

These facts are unhelpful in the deepest, coldest days of winter when the water line to the washer freezes and you’re stuck, unable to launder your clothing. There’s a space heater in there for just such moments. Sadly, I have a tendency to forget that until after I’ve discovered the frozen water line again.

However, the lack of heat is quite helpful on those late fall/early winter days around the Thanksgiving and Christmas when the temperature outdoors is cool and the kitchen is filled to brimming with good things to eat. Hello extra fridge space!

On Sunday, we were to have seven people for dinner. Due to a snowstorm and horrid road conditions (and, if you were to believe headlines at, all kinds of impending doom), we only had three of us. There’s lots of leftover curry. I just set the pot out on the dryer and voila, it’s chilled. Today for lunch I took a ladle to it, dipped, and poured over my bowl of rice, microwaved and had deliciousness.

But I dripped. And I didn’t clean it up immediately. Little did I know the impact that one small lapse in judgment would have….


On Sunday, we got more snow in four hours than we had all of last winter. The winter before, it had snowed on October 26. That’s it. I think. I vaguely recall another snowstorm that I missed ‘cause I was out in Lancaster, but suffice it to say we’ve been in a bit of a snow drought these past two winters.

This week has been working to make up for it. Philly/NJ had eight inches Sunday (to our 4” up here) and today we’re looking at 4”-6”.

Here’s the thing about Philly snow, though: it’s wet. There’s almost no getting around it. You know that lovely, dry, squeaky stuff from Michigan and Alaska? The kind you can just sweep away with a broom? A rarity here.

So this afternoon I went out to shovel. I swept the wet piles off the car and then took the shovel to the drive, lifting with my knees the whole(ish) way through. (We won’t talk about how my back hurts right now).


Snow BWI live on a tiny street. Most of the houses on it were built 50-300 years before the advent of cars. You can fit two cars side by side, but, well, y’know.

So it’s a one way street.

But here’s the other thing about those houses built 300 years before the advent of cars: nobody was thinking about parking lots and garages. I look at the houses on my street and wonder where on earth they put the horses. They must have had carriage houses somewhere else, ’cause I can’t find ’em.

One would think, with this tiny street and no real parking options, that shoveling would be easy, right? But here’s the thing: one small truck plows one single lane. That’s it. And it’s on the far side of the narrow little street from my driveway. So my drive, filled as it is with a vehicle, with only about four feet between my back bumper and the street, takes on another 8-12 feet of length in its shoveling needs. Lovely.


Then there’s the fact that there’s nowhere really to put the snow. Directly in front of my car is a wooden deck. Beside it, a 3-foot by 4-foot garden bed, and then of course, the 1-foot easement across the street—another 12 feet away. It’s always an adventure figuring the best ways to pile snow into our miniscule snow piling spaces. 4”-6” is nothing. I’ve cleared over a foot into those spots.

But all this is hard work. And with the temperature just barely hovering around freezing (that’s 32 degrees Fahrenheit for you Americans, and zero Celsius for everybody else), you get hot pretty quickly—all that lifting with (sort of) the knees and pushing across the street and piling snow (and the leaves under it) in precarious mountains.

So even when you think ahead, and you only wear one layer under your coat, you still get hot pretty quickly.

I bundled myself up: Columbia jacket, water-resistant lined pants, ear bags (or “ears,” as I call them), gloves, and hat. And 20 minutes in, I was starting to overheat.

I know what to do first in that situation. It’s why I wear both the ears and the hat: remove the tuque.

I set down the shovel, go to the storm door, open it, pull off my hat, and toss it in, aiming for an empty spot on the dryer.


I now have a woolen tuque with curry on it, friends.

I wish…

I wish I could say I had this delightful day wandering the streets of the City and topped it all with finding the perfect gift.

But, in reality, as most trips to the City do, it actually looked a lot like this:
And that perfect gift? The almost perfect one I found was about twice what I’d budgeted…so that won’t work.
But, after all, I can say the day was nice.

Apartments, Storms, Power Outages, and Syllabi

Well, I found an apartment. It’s the downstairs of a neat old house in Newtown. And I love that concept. The house is on a little V of land between State St. (the main st. of Newtown) and Court, a residential street which goes off at an angle. Means that there’s traffic out almost every window, but since it’s Newtown, most everything rolls up by 7 PM. Anywhere I go is going to feel noisy after my current apartment; I figure I’ll get used to it. The apartment is the bottom floor of the house, and the top two floors are a separate apartment (a little larger). I had originally looked at both, and liked the idea of either, though the upstairs is probably more than I need, and therefore more than I need to spend. There’s a patio/deck out the back, fenced in, for outside-ness, and then, of course, all of Newtown for walking and exploration. I love both the main street and the surrounding neighborhoods there, so I look forward to lots of walks. Right across Court St. is the Friend’s Meetinghouse, with a big hedged lawn, that Chuck, the owner of house, said they often went over and used when they wanted grass space.

Aiming for mid- to late August for moving in. I’ll miss being where I am now (in terms of setting, and comfortableness of the people), but I won’t miss how far away it is from everything! I’m looking forward to avoiding the turnpike. Currently I’m spending almost $20 a week in tolls alone.

PBU is on a four-day work week over the summer, so I’m basically working Monday through Thursday, and taking Fridays off. So yesterday was the “end” of an extremely long week. Here’s hoping when Lisa’s back in place things will settle into some sort of routine. Pretty much the entire department will be completely new. Good things and bad things about that. It means that we won’t be stepping on toes when we say, “no, we’re not doing things that way anymore,” but it also means that there’s no one around who knows what’s been done and whether or not it’s worked…guess we’ll have to find out the hard way.

It was my intention to do some writing last night, and maybe watch an episode of something off of Hulu, but as I ate dinner, the heavens opened, and I set my computer aside to watch the storm. I closed up all my windows and the rain came down like a waterfall. Fascinated, I changed into clothes that could get wet and stepped out the door. I was hot and sticky (yesterday was a truly Philly summer day), and figured I would probably need to take a shower to cool down anyway, so I might as well let the rain soak me. Within a minute I was absolutely drenched, and at about the two-minute mark I was cold. That and the sporadic lightning encouraged me to go indoors again, so I went in, dried off, and changed. I walked through the living room with the wet clothes to take them to the laundry, and somewhere between the living room and when I entered the laundry, the power went off. Suddenly my evening plans changed – no computer (or, very little since I didn’t want to use up the battery and I couldn’t get online), limited phone use (again to save the battery), and no lights…I pulled out a book and used the daylight while it lasted and then a flashlight for a little while before sleep overcame me – got more than halfway through.

After the rain stopped, around 8 o’clock, Chris (my landlady) hopped into her car to go get Bill (her husband) from the train station. He was coming home from a business trip. About 10 minutes later she was back, there were two trees down at the end of our road, and she couldn’t get out. She ran into a neighbor whose son was bringing him back from the end of the road in a golf cart and he had gotten home from work after the trees fell, so his car was parked on the far side. He agreed to go get Bill, and a bit later Bill was delivered safely home by golf cart.

The power was out all night, and Bill pulled out the generator early this morning to cool down our refrigerators for a few hours. The road got cleared by about 8:30 AM, so I came on over to Starbucks for a while. I have a syllabus to finish and had planned to work on it here anyway, just now I do it out of necessity. That said, I should probably stop writing this note and get cracking on that…it’s due by the end of the day. Hopefully the power at home will be restored rapidly. This time it seems to just be a downed line, whereas when it was out the other year the entire transformer had gotten struck by lightning…here’s to less than two days without power!

The Random and Ridiculous

I’ve come to the conclusion over the years, that to survive in this world you have to have a healthy sense of humor about its foibles and ridiculousness. Here’s a few things I’ve found funny in the last week.

There are still political signs in people’s yards. Seriously? I mean, the election was four months ago! If your sign’s for Obama, well, people, he’s in office – get over yourselves! If your sign’s for McCain, um, he lost, it’s done, no changing it now. And, if you’re the one random person on Bethelehem Pike that still has a Hillary sign in your yard, give it up! She was out of the running almost a year ago!

On Tuesday, I went to IHOP to celebrate the National Day of Pancakes (and Fat Tuesday, of course) with a free short stack. There was a woman at a table near us who called over the waitress and informed her that the bacon she had was not turkey bacon, but was pork. The waitress assured her it was turkey, but when the woman wouldn’t believe, took it away and brought her new turkey bacon. A few minutes later one of the cooks came by and the woman caught his attention and asked him what brand the turkey bacon was, because it tasted like pork. Really? Isn’t the whole point of turkey bacon to taste like real bacon? So why are you complaining when it does?

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I’m pretty sure three quarters of the penitents went to Mass and then came to Starbucks afterward and stood in line for their lattes and mochas with ashen crosses marked on their foreheads. Here’s my question: if they came straight from Mass to Starbucks, what are they giving up for Lent?

This morning we had a customer tell us (as she ordered an apple fritter) that Starbucks food was horrible, because (and this is a direct quote), “I mean, even my dog will eat it.” Right, ’cause dogs have really discerning palates. She then proceeded to inform us that we should get our food from some bakery in downtown Philly which, “isn’t as good as it used to be because the new owner is all about profits and is cutting corners on making stuff.” Uh, so why would we want to get food there?

I have also concluded that I want to create a sitcom set in a coffee shop. That’s my new goal in life.