Monthly Archives: April 2008

Early fall in late April

Last week, the weather in Philadelphia achieved that Spring ideal. It was bright, sunny and warm and the air made no demands. It gave people the ability to slough off extra layers and walk outside with appreciation in place of the regular disinterest or irritation. Over the weekend, our climate perfection slipped away and, after a day of soaking rain yesterday, this morning dawned feeling decidedly more like early October than the last days of April.

As I walked to work, the cool air and cloud-filtered light took me back to elementary school, on those first fall mornings when it was starting to get a little chilly outside and the warmth of the classroom came as welcome relief from the brisk, damp air of the playground. Crossing the street, I felt totally awash in nostalgia for the easy days (although I would have denied the assertion of ease back then) of 3rd or 4th grade.

Voting and purging the rolls

There are many things that nearly never change in my apartment building.  Bud has been at the front desk since 1982, the steps leading up to the pool have always been painted a watery turquoise color and the same five people have staffed the community room polling place for every election since I’ve been voting here.

Although I don’t know any of these poll volunteers by name (unless you participate in building activities, it’s hard to learn names around here), we know each other by sight and, though it took them several years to warm up to me, we’ve gotten to the point where they recognize me as someone who belongs and so they are quite friendly when I show up and sign in. Because I was there during the middle of the day, there wasn’t much of a rush, however, the couple of people in line ahead of me were in their nineties and so took an inordinately long time voting.

During the wait, we started to chat about the turnout and the number of people who were registered in the building.  Apparently, there are more than 600 people on the books for our precinct, but nearly 100 of them aren’t eligible to vote because they’ve either moved or died.  People stay on the books for years after they’ve died, because there’s no good system to purge their names from the polls.  We checked to see if my grandparents were still on the books, but they had been removed.  However, my Aunt Flora, who died nearly two years ago, was still registered to vote (the potential for corruption is fairly huge here, especially since they weren’t asking for identification when people checked in).  They were ridiculously pleased to remove her name from the books and to have a reason to mark down next to why she could be deleted from the rolls.

When I finally got my turn in the voting booth, I stood there for a moment before starting to push buttons.  While I miss the ease of Oregon’s absentee ballots, there is something satisfying and connecting about going to a polling place and casting my vote behind a little blue curtain.  I was fairly satisfied with the results of the election, although I was surprised, based mostly on the favorable and energetic reception that Barack Obama got when he was in town, that Hillary Clinton won by such a large margin.  It will be interesting to see how things turn out.

5K runs, stomach flues and new garbage disposals

Scott with Mayor Nutter

Saturday morning, Scott and I got up bright and early and walked over to the Art Museum.  He, along with a bunch of our other friends, had signed up to run in the Clean Air 5K.  It was his first time running outside since high school, so it was something of a big deal.  He finished it in good time, although he continues to claim that the entire thing was miserable.  However, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of doing it again, so it couldn’t have been that bad.  He topped the whole thing off by stalking and then meeting the mayor.

The rest of the weekend was equally good, with a trip to Whole Foods, a visit to the library’s used book store, a family Seder and some Fork You filming with Thad and Angie.

Things took a dire turn for the unpleasant when we both woke up on Monday morning with the stomach flu.  We both slept nearly all day yesterday, although I spent a few more hours out of bed than Scott did.  My cousin Amy stopped by with Pepto Bismol and ginger ale, but didn’t get close.

Today has been better, although very low energy.  I managed to get downstairs to vote (I love the fact that my precinct is in the building) and also headed over to the front desk to report that the garbage disposal was leaking water under my sink every time I ran it.  Emilio came up to check it out and said, “It looks like it’s time to get you a new one.”  So he spent half an hour under my sink, replacing the disposal (he didn’t leave me with a new self-service wrenchette, I hope my old one fits).

Now I’m just trying to get myself back together after two days of two strange days of being under the weather.  Heading back to work on a Wednesday is going to feel sort of strange.

Shades of lilac, lavender and aubergine

There is a woman in my apartment building who only dresses in shades of purple and lavender.  She has smooth, white hair, that she always pulls back into a neat twist and whenever she plans on actually leaving the building, she wears a hat (wool in the winter and straw in the summer) and short gloves.  Of course, her accessories are always in varying hues of aubergine.

This morning, as I was leaving for work, she was sitting on the bench near the back door of the building.  Her shoes were sensible, low-heeled pumps, in a deep, reddish purple.  Her handbag, the short strap of which was tucked into the crook of her arm, was a light lilac.  The predicted 75 degree weather had her wearing her straw hat, and even the frames of her sunglasses were a purple-y pink.

I wonder if she has always dressed like this, declaring when she was 15 that purple was going to be her signature color.  Or was it a trait that she affected when she got older, desiring a way to make dolling herself up an easier proposition.  When her children and grandchild shop for her, do they only buy gifts in shades of purple?  Does she ever long to switch it up and wear bright red or electric blue instead?

As I walked to work this morning, I pondered colors.  My wardrobe is an assortment of black and denim, occasionally punctuated by a pair of red shoes, or rare foray into the world of creams and greens.  I like color, but prefer to make it an accent rather than the whole look.  This is one of the ways I take after my grandma Tutu, she spent her life in blacks and navys, occasionally pulling in a bit of red or animal print and setting the whole thing off with heavy gold jewelry and leather handbags.

When Tutu died, I dressed for her funeral service as if I were her.  I wore a black sweater, with one of her gold pins secured at the point of the V.  I carried her leopard print purse, wore black heels, red lipstick and dark sunglasses.  I wonder if when this woman dies (I am not wishing her gone, just acknowledging that death comes for everyone), people will wear purple for her.

Quick Fork: Pop, pop, pop!

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For those of us who grew up with air poppers or microwave popcorn, making popcorn on the stove top is something of a foreign concept.  However, it far tastier than the other stuff and, in the case of microwave popcorn, comes without the crappy chemical toppings.  You can top your stove top popcorn with whatever you’d like.  In this case, we chose the classic butter and salt combination, but I am also partial to a sprinkling of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or a bit of Parmesan cheese.

Go forth and popcorn!

Yoga class

Last week, I bought a two-week trial membership at a local yoga studio, just to check things out.  I’ve been saying for years that I wanted to be taking yoga classes, but I always was able to find an excuse that kept me away (not enough money, not enough time, the studio is intimidating, it’s not what I’m looking for right now).  I took yoga for several years during high school and for a semester in college, in order to eke out the single last credit that I needed to graduate.

Thanks to an informal buddy system I’ve set up with Roz, I’ve now gone to class three times in the last week.  It’s ranged from fairly doable (my body remembered more than my mind did) to seriously challenging.  I went to a class tonight that was tough.  My the pessimistic side of my brain kept talking at me, saying things like, “What are you doing here?” and “Do you realize you’re the worst in the room?”  But I kept at it, and at the end of the hour and a half, I realized that I had made it and that I hadn’t done too terribly bad.  My body is exhausted now, in that buzzing, exerted sort of way.  Despite that, I feel great, just for having done it.

Newly Cohabitating and Fork You Live

Scott and I just can’t stop churning out these web-based products for your enjoyment (we hope you’re amused by us). We’ve now recorded two episodes of a little audio podcast that we’re calling “Newly Cohabitating” and it’s mildly entertaining. Check out Episode 1 and Episode 2.

We’re also filming another Fork You Live at Foster’s Homeware (399 Market Street) this Saturday at 2 pm. This time, we’re making eggs (an egg bake, a frittata and a curried egg salad, to be exact). If you happen to be in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, you should come out (let us know you’re coming here). As with all episodes of Fork You Live, when we’re done filming, you get to taste what we made.

Self-service wrenchette

self-service wrenchette

A couple of days ago, my garbage disposal stopped working. This is not the first time that this disposal stopped spinning suddenly. When you have 40+ year old appliances, you come to expect outages now and then. In fact, one of the perks of my apartment building is that there’s an entire staff of guys who are paid to be around and fix things when needed. However, the last time my gb went down, it took Emilio all of three minutes to fix it. And it cost me $20.

So when it stopped working this time, I figured that I would try to fix it myself. I poked around under my sink for awhile and didn’t find much. I called Scott in and made him get down on the kitchen floor for a look (he was so thrilled at this turn of events). Then we turned to the internet, and thanks to a little sleuthing on Scott’s part, we were able to find trouble-shooting instructions for our In-Sink-Erator Badger 1. Apparently these devices have not changed much in the last forty years.

Unfortunately, the repair required a particular tool, called the Self-Service Wrenchette, that was provided with the disposal. I found an allen wrench, but it didn’t do the job. Scott returned to the tool drawer, poked around a little bit and came back to the kitchen, holding a small tool and said, “Your propensity for keeping everything has paid off once again.”

Yep, he was holding the Self-Service Wrenchette that originally came with disposal 42 years ago. However, I can take no credit for this one, as all applause goes to my grandparents, from whom I learned my retention skills.

A few twists and turns, and the garbage disposal was working like new. I discovered an olive pit that had gotten stuck under one of the blades and was holding up the works. Hooray for fixing things yourself!