Some Ambient Morning

Just a brief entry to report on a strange and interesting thing we encountered this morning.  It being a leisurely Sunday morning we were relaxing upstairs with our coffee and waking up gradually to our favorite Philadelphia radio station, WXPN 88.5.

I should mention that WXPN does a regular morning show on Sunday that they call Sleepy Hollow.  It’s all about quiet music to wake up to.  Earlier than that, like midnight to six A.M. or close to that, is a show called Echoes, which features all manner of new age and trance-like music.  (We rarely hear that show unless we are doing something unusual such as driving to the airport for a super-early flight.)  Generally, that stuff stops by about 6:00 and they start playing more mainstream music. read more

All Hands on Deck

I’ve been working on the rail-road!

Well not really, but I don’t know any songs about working on the deck! Plus, now you get to have the rail road song in your head all day!

Mrs. Working Stiff and I have been slaving away on a project to refinish our back deck. It has been almost exactly five years since the last time so I guess we can’t complain too much.  The phase of scraping off all the loose junk is complete.  Let me tell you, if you can avoid doing that – avoid it!  It is knuckle-scraping, back-aching, sweat-breaking, sun-baking work.  Not to mention time-taking.  Hopefully though, the result of all this hard work will be breath-taking. read more

Winter to Summer

Visiting the mall in the first week of spring

Never mind spring – welcome to summer! It was in the low 80s yesterday and I believe we are expecting around 85 on Sunday.  I guess all the Easter Eggs will be hard boiled!

Just a quick entry today because I wanted to share this picture I took just a few weeks ago in the last few days of winter. Here in the suburbs north of Philadelphia, Old Man Winter decided to give us one final smack in the face just days before the official start of spring.  Ironically, though we had been hit with “shovel-worthy” snow at least a few times throughout the winter, this storm, at the tail-end of March, was the only one for which I bothered to fire up the snow-thrower. read more

Birthday Wine in New Hope

The Working Stiff had a birthday just this past Friday, and we celebrated as well as we could, given the dreary day. We have had quite a stretch of rainy and/or cold days, with but a few breaks of sunshine.  I suppose it’s that old April showers thing, though the rainy streak does back up well into March.

At any rate, the Mrs. took a half day off from work and we decided – goll-dern the weather – lets go out! (Note that I knew a real person who used to say “goll-dern”, and variations of that, and it wasn’t me!) We set off towards New Hope, northeast of Le Chateau Working Stiff along the Delaware River. read more

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Ah yes, Christmas lights! One of those holiday things that is supposed to be fun!  I’ll admit that they are fun to look at, and I have experienced a feeling of satisfaction more than once upon completion of the annual Putting Up of The Christmas Lights.  That in itself is misleading though, because a feeling of satisfaction can rightly come after completion of any task that you really don’t want to do (or dread even), so that is a pretty low bar!  My thought there is – would it be more satisfying to dread putting up the lights and then finally vanquish them, or to relieve myself altogether of the responsibility and just not do it?  Understanding that there is a cost – one choice leaves you with pretty lights in the tree outside and the other does not.  Hmmmm – OK, it is getting deep in here!  I’d better move on and leave the Christmas light philosophy to others, lest Mrs. Working Stiff accuse me of being negative about the holidays again! read more

It Isn’t All Bad

At a time when this seemingly endless presidential election is making it look more and more each day like the destruction of the American Empire is truly at hand, I wanted to share a brief but heartwarming story.  Mrs. Working Stiff and I recently took a road trip to Raleigh, NC to spend a long weekend with my brother and his wife at their cool pad in the historic Boylan Heights neighborhood of that city.  The traffic around Baltimore and Washington D.C. is always an adventure, but aside from that – farther down the road we had a “nicer” small adventure. read more

Reflections on The Summer of Debby

My blog has to date been mostly a happy and lighthearted thing, sometimes silly and sometimes irreverent. I hope that it has been funny and entertaining at least on occasion, and – who knows – perhaps even informative. Today’s topic is much more serious for me though.  You see, my sister Debby got really sick really fast this past late spring and into the summer, passing away on August 20th just about 11 weeks or so after first going to the hospital due to various symptoms and finding out that she was seriously ill. She was sixty-eight, the oldest of my family’s generation of siblings and cousins and was too young to die.  Let me take a moment to recognize and to thank my other sister Alex, who is a nurse, and her daughter Jessica for taking such good care of Debby in her whirlwind last few months.  Their hard work and devotion made it possible for Debby to remain in her own home, surrounded by family, friends, and with her nutty little dog. read more

Portable Air Conditioner

Clematis2

After an exceedingly drizzly and cooler-than-average spring, summer suddenly arrived about a week ago in a whoosh of hot air. Here in southeast Pennsylvania we went from early spring to mid-summer like bada-bing bada-bang and let there be 90 degrees!

When the weather gets warm the thoughts of many people, including Mrs. Working Stiff, turn to air conditioning. Our house has central air of course, but while the first floor will be pretty much whatever temperature we tell the thermostat to maintain, the upstairs is another matter entirely.  A warmer matter.  Our master bedroom is fairly large and has three windows facing roughly north.  That room can really heat up over the course of a long sunny day.  We can feel the AC coming out of the registers, but simply not with enough power to really cool the room.  So, like many homes in the same development as the Chateau Working Stiff, we install a window unit for the summer.  The window unit does a pretty good job of cooling the room down for sleep-time.  Also, I’ve moved it back and forth between our third window and its winter home in the garage enough times now that it really isn’t an ordeal.  (Let’s not sugar-coat it, it’s all relative.  Anyone who has ever installed a window AC unit knows that it isn’t exactly high on the Fun-O-Meter!) read more

More Roadside Americana – The White Horse Pike

whitehorse1

Before the Atlantic City Expressway was completed in 1965, linking the Philadelphia metropolitan area at the west end with Atlantic City and the Garden State Parkway in the east, a driver wanting to make such a trip had fewer and slower choices. There were however, (and still are), two much older roads that roughly connect the Camden / Philadelphia area with the Atlantic City area.  The White Horse Pike and The Black Horse Pike are roughly parallel with the White Horse to the north of the AC Expressway and the Black Horse to the south of it.  At the eastern end where they cross the Parkway and start to find their way into Atlantic City they are about four or five miles apart, with the Expressway in between.  In the west, as all three roads approach Camden and Philadelphia, they are farther apart as they merge with various other roads and disappear into the approach to the Delaware River Bridges and other points around the big city. read more