Monthly Archives: March 2009

My 20th floor neighborhood

Despite the fact that I’ve lived in my apartment building for seven years, I realized recently that I’ve never allowed myself to feel totally comfortable in the community of the building. In the beginning, it was because I was so much younger than the other people living around me (in some cases fifty or sixty years younger). Later, I kept myself a little removed, thinking that I couldn’t possibly be there more than another year and so why should I get involved or get to know people. While I longed for the kind of neighborhood community that my friends who lived in houses enjoyed, I was in denial that I could have anything like it in my Center City highrise, because how could we commune when no one had a garden to tend or kids to watch play?

I’ve only recently realized that my time in William Penn House is far from over and that it might actually be good to really start getting to know my neighbors more and become a bit more active in the life of the building. When Scott and I had his birthday/engagement party back in February, I put a note in the hallway by the elevators, inviting my fellow floormates to drop by. Several did, delighted to have been invited. A few weeks ago, it was time to pick floor representatives. For the first time ever, I attended the small meeting held in front of the elevators (all the better to catch people as they came and went) during which the floor reps were picked. When Lucille asked who would be willing to do it, I raised my hand and said, “I think it’s my turn.”

Everyone was happy to let me have a go at it and so now, June from down the hall and I take turns picking up and distributing notices about water shut-offs and monthly newsletters.

I’ve also found that I’ve been more interested in chatting with my neighbors than ever before, offering jars of jam to a couple of people here and there (I’m experiencing something of a glut now that my canning blog is well under way) and saying sure when Charlie asks for a favor.

What I’ve realized from all this is that I kept myself removed from the community of the building because I had it in my head that it wasn’t the neighborhood experience I wanted (wishing for a house and all). However, as I’ve gotten more comfortable with the idea of being in the apartment for the unknown future, I’m understanding that the neighborhood was here all along.

Breathlessly Catching Up

My parents' Joy of Cooking
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of motion and activity, in which I wake up each morning, trying to orient myself to the ways in which life is different from how it was the day before.

Two Saturdays ago, Scott and I were waiting in the parking garage, planning on driving to the Bridge (a movie theater in University City) to see Watchmen, when Sabu, the garage’s weekend manager came over to us and said, “Something’s happened to your car, you’re not going to be able to take it out tonight.” He walked us over to another car and drove up to the third floor. My car was sitting there, the right front tire bent at a sickly angle and a big, crunchy dent over the wheel well. Nearly two weeks later it is still there (a myriad of miscommunications and generalized incompetence). I’m hoping to finally get it towed today and find out whether it will be fixable or if it will be declared “totaled” by the garage’s insurance company.

My sister has been on the east coast for the last several weeks (she’s up in Vermont now, and is currently on the cover of a Vermont newspaper, in the buff). Last week, she and her traveling companion Rebecca were driving from Anapolis to Scranton, PA, when she called. They were going to be passing through Philly right around dinnertime. Could they stop by? Having never lived in the same city as my sister during our adult years, it was an unparalleled delight to have her simply drop by for dinner.

Last Friday was my final day at Slashfood, and while the leaving was hard, I’ve been quite shocked at how little I actually miss it. Being relieved of responsibility for the day-to-day operations has been liberating. I’ve been reading at night before I go to bed, instead of frantically writing posts and checking to ensure that posts are queued to appear come morning.

I’ve launched my own little food blog, called Food in Jars. I’m quite excited about it, and plan to post at least one canning/pickling/preserving project a week, along with some other posts about cookbooks, jars and tangentally-related food news. I’ll also be giving away one jar of everything I make.

Fork You Live is cooking with beer this Saturday!

Tonight marks the beginning of the second annual Philly Beer Week and so we’ve turned Fork You Live this Saturday over to the theme of beer. We’ll be making a beer-braised brisket (I’ll make one ahead of time, so that there will be plenty for tasting), ale-braised cabbage (with caraway seeds and a bit of honey for sweetness) and some dill and beer muffins (because who doesn’t like a savory muffin!). If you’re looking for something fresh for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner (it is possible, after all these years, to get tired of corned beef) come get inspired by brisket and braised cabbage.

As always, festivities will be starting at 2 pm at Foster’s Homeware, 399 Market Street.

Twenty-one years

Several times today, I’ve found myself in conversations with people in which we exclaim over the fact that today is the first day of March (and it’s coming in like a lion here in Philly, with 8 to 10 inches of snow expected in the next 12 hours). However, it wasn’t until this evening that I realized that it wasn’t just the first day of March, it was also the 21st anniversary of my family’s move to Portland.

I remember the day we left LA quite clearly, as we packed up our 1986 Subaru and headed north out of Southern California. My sister and I fought over the amount of space the other was taking up in the backseat, and I traced our route on a map.

The drive took two days, and so we stayed in a motel someplace in the Northern California mountains. I remember my dad carefully cleaning the backseat windows before we pulled out, saying, “we’re going to be traveling through some beautiful country today, and I want to make sure you guys can see it.”

While I haven’t lived in Portland in more than seven years, I still call it home. I feel so grateful that I had the good fortune to grow up in such a wonderful city.