Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
7 of us needing dinner (my father and brother in law came in today), and me not really ready to cook for the masses.
The goal. Find a place in walking distance, as they had just been in a car for 5 hours.
Mario's? Packed. As expected.
The local diner? Closed. Unexpected.
We head to another restaurant I think my Dad will love - the "one which shall not be named" (as, once again, if you are a consistent reader here, you know all about my mechanic/trans guys blog post incident of last summer).
It took a while for the waitress to come over. I'm being gracious. We give her our drink orders.
"I'm sorry. We're out of root beer" she shares, after the kids order their drinks. Not a good start. She goes to the kitchen to make sure that this is the case.
Upon her return, which took a bit too long, she confirms that they are indeed out of root beer, and we continue the process of ordering drinks.
"I'm sorry, we don't have Sprite or 7-UP. Just Coke, Diet Coke, Gingerale, Pink Lemonade and Raspberry Iced Tea."
Um, ok. The kids order Gingerale, a few of us get some water, and there's a Diet Coke in there somewhere.
She returns with the Diet Coke and one water.
George's jaw begins to square.
She leaves and returns with the remainder of the drink order. As we order dinner, it is abundantly clear that something is just not right. She seems as flustered as we are.
"I'm sorry, we're out of meatballs."
Ok, is this a joke? How can an Italian joint run out of meatballs?
The dinner menu has antipasto salad listed. I order it.
"I'm sorry, but our deli is closed so we may not have antipasto. I'll have to check." I'm afraid for her to check, as it seems the kitchen is like a mile away. Each time she goes to check on something she doesn't return for close to 10 minutes.
Breathing. Breathing. Breathing. George's jaw locking. Locking. Locking.
The waitress shares that she is filling in for someone who had to leave early due to a family member who had an accident. We realize full well that the restaurant being out of items has NOTHING to do with her and she's just trying to keep it together. Throughout our entire time in the place she must have apologized close to 10 times. Ask my brother in law for the final figures. I think he kept count.
She reports that they DO have enough meat for the antipasto. Yeah! So, we order. The pizza take up to 25 minutes, ("I'm sorry"), so we nix that idea for the kids, as we've already been sitting there close to 20. All this time we've been struggling to find something for them on the menu. She then mentions "kid's pasta."
"Wait", I interrupt, "is there a kid's menu"? I flip the menu over and back in an attempt to find the dishes that she is verbally mentioning to me. They aren't listed anywhere as far as I can see.
"Yes. I'm sorry. He he didn't print them up."
At that point, George decides to take Zane, and himself, out for a little walk outside.
We finally get the order set. She repeats back everything. Check. All is correct. Ready to get that order into the kitchen.
As we are waiting. She returns. Again.
"I'm sorry. Our credit card machine is broken. I'm so sorry."
I'm sure the order was already in and beginning to be cooked, but there were 7 of us. My Dad was footing the bill. I was quite certain he didn't have that much cash on him. I was right. I felt badly for leaving (she had disappeared in the back again), but it was about the straw. And the camel. And the camel's aching back.
On our way out, my Dad left money for the drinks, and I flagged down another waitress and asked her to please convey to ours that we were leaving, as we needed to pay by credit card.
"You could write a check" was her response. Very friendly, but not really getting the point.
As we were leaving, our waitress came out from the back.
"He's going to try and fix the machine for you."
It was too late. My hungry family had already vacated the building.
We will call this "he", whoever the "he" is, on Monday to share our non-dining experience. We will be direct, and polite, as we convey our frustration.
China House won our business tonight. Their General Tso's chicken ROCKS THIRD STREET. (Ok, in all honesty we did have one teeny tiny issue with an egg roll, but that was quickly rectified.)
I'm sure we'll give "the one which shall not be named" another try at some point. And honestly, it's fine that there aren't a ton of choices of places at which to eat out in downtown Beaver specifically, as there are some awesome places all around us that to which we can drive (Lockhouse 6, Back Door Tavern). Plus, we are planning on curbing eating out in our budget once I get my pantry stocked.
Just wondering if tonight's experience was a fluke - a restaurant having a bad night - or does it have a bit of "small town" drizzled on top?
Anyone else have an interesting dining experience to share?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A conversation at one of these schools really stands out to me now as I begin to learn more about the history of Beaver.
I was asked by one of the teachers at a school I was observing, where I was looking to buy a house. I mentioned the address of the house we now own.
I was a bit taken back at her obvious astonishment, so I pressed her.
"Tell me what you know about the borough, and specifically the area on the 'riverside' of town."
"Well, it's just that most of the rich families live on that side of 3rd street", she answered.
"Really? Well, they better make room for the Clampett's then!"
I made a joke about it, but I was really confused (or "infused") as Zane puts it. The house we were looking at then, and now own, is really old. In fact, there were several much nicer newer homes and brand new constructions we could have looked at in Brighton Township, only we wanted the whole "Main Street, USA" feel to where we settled. And now, come to think of it, after the loss we took on our home, we probably couldn't have afforded the newer homes anyway! East Second Street had the location we wanted and the price tag we could afford. So, the whole "rich" label was lost on me. Our house was cheap. Our house is old. Our house needs work.
It's got good bones. But we've only got one bathroom and somehow we've misplaced that enormous deck and media room. Sure, I'd love those things (and a master bath), but there was no way we could afford it.
Having lived here a week, I have now heard the term "cake-eater" several times in reference to those who lived in Beaver (and specifically the river side of 3rd Street) back in the steel mill days.
Beaver, and specifically river side, was not where the actual blue collar steelworkers lived, but rather the steel management. It's been said, that if a steelworker's son was seeing a girl from Beaver, he was "taking up with cake-eater's".
And I'm the "cake-eater"?
Twinkies, maybe. Or Ding Dongs. Little Debbie Snack Cake, anyone?
Well, if this is the case, then I take milk with my tea, and these days I take my cake sugar-free. (Yeah, I'm off sugar again, and I'm grumpy).
Watch out for my raised pinky! And go finish my laundry!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
This evening, we learned that a house for sale up the street which is deserted and unlocked had seen many private viewings by those in the neighborhood, due to its uninhibited access. The house, built just after the turn of the century (not this one) has 13 rooms, and was probably something to boast about 100 years ago. Not so, today.
Sadly, this place, which no doubt was quite the gem in its day as evidenced by some beautiful stained glass and unbelievable wood moldings, has been left to decay. The house which at some point was divided into 3 apartments was just littered with forgotten belongings.
Strewn about the place were old records, antique buttons, a few stuffed toys, various pieces of furniture, tired and worn curtains, and even a few handbags which looked to be quite ancient, although I was afraid to touch anything to make certain. The road map of the place could cause anyone to get lost, and doors opening to dark descents lead down to what I could only assume were the old servants quarters (very Upstairs, Downstairs).
So what do you do when you have just moved to a new town, to which your son is still getting adjusted, it's getting to be dusk, and the neighbors mention that the door to the place is unlocked?
You do what any responsible parent would do and take your children, and some neighborhood children who have befriended your children and who have already seen the inside of the place and swear that it's haunted, as they once saw a used pickle jar levitating in one of the three kitchens, into the house.
You impress upon your children not to fall into any holes, or put their hands through the walls (for you could see through from room to room in some places), or to touch anything. Most importantly, you make sure you've got every child accounted for at all times. You clutch your son's hand who repeatedly states that the joint is creepy, while trying to dispel the haunted house rantings of the other neighborhood kids who are still going on and on about the levitating pickle jar.
For the remainder of our evening, Zane talked and talked about the "mystery house" and how he never wanted to visit it again.
Hey, we do adventure around here, and tonight, this was one. We paid for it with some bedtime issues, and in fact, I just halted production of this post for a bit as Zane woke up screaming in fear. Both kids are sleeping in their rooms with lights on and doors open.
Really patting myself on the back for this one.
I'm bringing my Mom to see the place tomorrow. She will be awed by the old house. It is a shame that it has gone the road of disrepair. It needs someone with a ton of dough to come and save it. I hate to see such a historic structure wither and fade and would have loved to see it back in its day.
Harper and Zane, however, never want to step foot inside of it, or around it, or north, south, east, or west of it ever again. Whether day or night.
The whole episode felt very movie-like to me.
My kids just haven't seen those movies. Yet.
Only Beaver's gazebo isn't a structure from the town's earlier years, nor was its construction planned by the city. Nope. Our gazebo was built specifically for the movie Gung Ho.
See, director Ron Howard needed to do some filming and Beaver provided the perfect quintessential small town. Only it was missing a gazebo.
So tonight, we ate ice cream on that gazebo, on which Obama also stood while visiting Beaver on the campaign trail, as the smell of funnel cakes, candy apples, cotton candy, and the smoke from carny cigarettes filled the night air.
Today was my most favorite day in Beaver to date. And by "to date", I mean, one week.
It began with a trip to Capo's in New Brighton to see if we could find a vanity for my bedroom. Our bathroom is tight. It would be better for the entire family if Mom could just do her whole beauty thing somewhere other than in the crowded bathroom. I can dig that. Someday, (after we're done paying for our new appliances), we'll begin talking about putting in a second bathroom, but for now, this one is it. So, in the interim, to alleviate the traffic jam in one of the most coveted rooms in the house, we began shopping for a vanity for my bedroom, at which I could Mary Kay myself up the way I like without having to be all speedy. Sometimes a girl just likes to sit and take time on herself, you know?
Capo's is one of those places that reminds me a bit of Sanford and Son, only it's heavy on furniture. There are rows down which one can not even walk, and then there are the shelves stacked with old trinkets. It's pretty incredible. I did not find my vanity (although I've got a good bite on one through Craig's List), but I did get an incredibly modern reading chair for under Harper's loft at just $10 (which was a surprise find in a place filled with pieces from the 1930's).
We then dropped some goods at the local thrift store and checked out the local market - which I LOVED! I can't stand huge supermarkets. My options here are Giant Eagle ($$$), Walmart (I have Walmart issues), Aldi (I'm down with Aldi), and a few other choices. However, today, I decided to check out the small store on 3rd. I adored it. Best find? The Amish chicken. Produce? Not great - but I intend to hit the Farmer's Market for that. The people were nice, the selection was fine and the variety was just enough.
After that stop, we hit the local consignment store, which ROCKS. My mom and I will totally be hitting that place on Saturday after I treat her to a mani and I get a much needed pedi. She's working her tail off at my house right now. She deserves all the specialty coffee drinks and manicures she desires.
Got home, called over to our neighbor, a delightful 6th grader, and took a nice walk with her and the kids to the library. I love our library. While the kids searched the entire place (literally every shelf high and low) for the "mystery book of the week" which was wrapped and tied with ribbons, I got our library cards, and also signed up Harper and Zane for the reading games. Here, they win "book buck's" for reading over the summer. They collect these bucks to redeem for prizes at the "store". The best part? Harper has signed up to read stories to Ishtar, a working black lab. The library offers the opportunity for kids to read to three working dogs. Harper chose to read to Ishtar on two dates. She gets to choose the books and Ishtar will sit at her feet while she reads. Um, how excited do you think Harper is about this?
The remainder of the night was spent at the town carnival, chatting with neighbors (who brought rice crispy treats), and reading to the kids on the porch.
What deserves a post of its very own is the adventure we took in an old house that is up for sale down our block. Victorian. 14 bedrooms. Holes in the porch. Very Boo Radley, or original Nancy Drew. We learned that it is always unlocked so we ventured in with the kids . . . spooky? I should say so. It's a wonder the kids even fell sleep tonight.
Stay tuned . . .
Monday, June 22, 2009
Or. The catch-all space.
Our home was built in 1909, so we have closets from, well, 1909. They are not large. They are the complete opposite of a walk-in. One closet, in our guest room, is not even deep enough for one to hang shirts. It was 1909 - a time of wardrobes and huge dressers.
We have no dressers.
We do have Ikea wardrobes. We're soooo 1900's. In a Swedish kind of way.
Due to storage limitations in our closets we have chosen to keep our wardrobe boxes from the move to house all our winter clothing in Attic #2. We'll upgrade from corrugated cardboard hanging boxes to sturdier hanging wardrobes at some point, in order to provide better protection for our clothing, but for the time being this arrangement will work.
Attic #2 is also the lucky home for banker boxes filled with files, art boxes containing years of Harper and Zane's work, boxes filled with stuff from my theater days, boxes from college, luggage, what we like to call "keep for memory" boxes, etc.
We also have a coal storage room in the basement, which we aren't using for coal. That room also has stuff. Lots of stuff.
Stuff we don't need on a daily basis. And perhaps will never need. Stuff that just stresses me out.
Makes me wonder if I would have noticed had these items gotten damaged or lost during the move. It's funny to see what I've chosen to keep on the main living areas of the house and what items haven't made the cut and thus remain in boxes in their new home in Attic #2 and the basement. It's that stuff in particular that is driving me crazy.
It's incredible how stressful our "stuff" can be. We've always been purgers. If we haven't used it or needed it during the year, we give it away. I filled an entire box of clothes this week alone to take to our local thrift store - and that's AFTER filling a few bags and boxes before we even left Evanston.
I can't wait to get my hands on Attic #2, organizing it into sections for each member of the family, purging items that are just completely unnecessary and creating a space to hold items that rotate in and out throughout the year.
Of course I need to wait on this project until I, Mom, am completely unpacked, which I'm not. I also have a home office set up, a laundry room to rearrange, and the family room/toy area to get up and running.
Then, and only then, will I tackle door number two.
I hate knowing that it's there. Untidy. In disarray. So right now I choose to close the door and ignore its presence. Give it a good dose of denial.
Hmm. I think I just stumbled opon a metaphor which carries weighty spiritual significance. Care to comment on that?
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Although I most certainly don't find my world lonely. Nor will I be taking that midnight train anywhere (and yes, we are near the train - just one part of the "Sounds of Beaver" collection).
Where to start. Where to start. Do I backtrack and recount the difficulties that just mounted and grew over these last few months? Do I seriously want to go backwards and emotionally unravel the difficulty that was our journey to Beaver?
Sure I'll make comment here and there about the events that added to what George and I seriously consider the most difficult time we've ever experienced in our 18 years of marriage, but to give that pain the spotlight of an entire post? No way. Move over, crap. Good riddance. My father described it best, "Your experience was due to a horrible recession and really weird people."
As usual. Sigh.
For my debut post from my third floor office in Beaver (MINE! ALL MINE!), I decided just to take the easy road and give you some initial impressions from my first 5 days here:
- Yes. It does feel a bit like Mayberry. And I mean that in the most heartfelt way. I'm not poking fun. Beaver does have that Mayberry feel. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.
- On day one, with moving van out front, we had two girls come over and introduce themselves, met the Sr. Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Beaver who lives two doors down, (not to be confused for Four Mile Presbyterian where George is on staff), received a plate of cookies from our neighbors across the street, a hanging flower basket, and were greeted by pretty much every person who either walked or drove up the street. Friendly? Um, yeah.
- I learned that I probably need to take "unplugged retreats" now and then, as having 4 days of no internet proved to be a fantastic form of relaxation.
- There is a thrift store and consignment shop on the main street, which, by the way, is called Third Street - for future reference. A portion of it is pictured above. You know me and secondhand stores. I've already visited.
- Everyone at my new bank is super helpful and friendly. I can't leave Chase fast enough. The hassles they put me through in order to notarize my power of attorney document prior to closing and their inability to help me with some funds that needed to be wired (long story - not worthy of a post), had me itching to find a new bank. Immediately. No Chase in this town.
- 12:44 AM. There goes the train.
- The siren for the Volunteer Firemen had George thinking there was a tornado. So funny. He made us all run to the basement. According to our neighbors, it will go off whenever there is a fire in the area. And as they shared, "If it continues to run, this signals that the nuclear plant has had a problem. At that point you might has well just sit on your porch and have a beer." Yikes.
- Harper. Tennis Camp. New town. Knowing nobody. Not a problem. Won a tournament at the end of the week. She is absolutely comfortable here.
- Zane. Not as comfortable. Asks when we are going home. He is, as he puts it, "infused" (confused). My hunch was correct that we completely underestimated how he would react to the move. So today, we took some empty boxes and created a little town on the porch. Then we played with clay and bubbles, and anything that would bring out giggles.
- My plumber? A gem of a guy. After installing our hot water heater, he offered to go and pick up our water softener (yup, we need one of those) that I purchased if I wouldn't fit it in my car. Service, people. The service is incredible.
- Mario's. Brick oven pizza's, antipasto, gelato. A block and a half from the house. Need I say more?
- Cafe Kolache. Locally owned coffeehouse. Free wireless. Next door to Mario's.
- The gem of my week? AK Nahaus. Hands down, by far, the BEST appliance store I have ever visited. I was told to purchase my washer and dryer (and anything else I needed) from this family owned business. Prices? Great. Service? Unlike I have ever experienced. Anywhere. My words won't do this place justice. But I'll try.
So, I walk in with the kids. I share that we just moved to Beaver. The kids are invited over to the flat screens for some Spongebob. I am walked around the store by the owner. The owner, who after helping me choose my appliances calls his other location so I can pick up a split box spring (ours wouldn't make it up the staircase). We get my order squared away before I drive to the next location where the sales associate who the owner called is waiting for me. The prices are so amazing that I decide to retire our 18 year old mattress and purchase a new one as a surprise for George for Father's Day.
The owner then stops by the house after work to measure for a new stove (ours doesn't work) and to insure that the washer and dryer can make it down our side stairs. We sit and chat for awhile. I actually offer him a slice a pie that someone brought us. I mention that our TV was broken in transit. He offers us to loan us one off the floor until we can afford a new one.
House calls? Loaner TV's? Plumbers offering to pick up items at Sears?
Where am I?
1:00 AM train just went by.
Time to crawl into my new bed.
Tomorrow's post: my own Brady Bunch episode . . .
Friday, June 5, 2009
This is the HP Mini Vivienne Tam Edition from Intel. And you could win one. Free.
Here's what HP's own website has to say about this dandy little accessory:
Tired of sacrificing glamour for digital accessories? Now you can have both: fashion and cool technology. HP and Vivienne Tam present the world's first designer digital clutch: the Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition.
Read more it here.
Leave a comment about it here.
Blog about it and leave a separate comment at the link above and that makes two chances to win.
I'm entering. No doubt.