Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And they took the top off of the mountain

Every Monday morning I get up at 5 AM and start the drive up Route 10 to Central Pennsylvania. Route 10 takes me through the rolling hills of southern Chester County farms and Amish country to Morgantown, where I pick up Interstate 196 to Reading , then turn northwards on Route 61. Route 61 follows the Schuylkill River out of the farmlands and into the heavily forested mountains. It is a beautiful drive which makes me understand the reason that this state was called Penn’s Wood. That is -until I get to Schuylkill Haven (home of the Schuylkill Haven Hurricanes, winners of the1991 Pennsylvania High School football championship, as the shabby billboard on the mountain proudly proclaims) where coal country begins.

Then the towering thickly wooded mountains give way to a succession of dreary little towns that seem suspended in time except for the never-ending succession of MacDonald’s, Pizza Huts, Burger Kings, Dunkin Donuts, local diners and second-hand furniture stores. As I drive north the mountainsides are increasingly scarred by barren swathes of black, littered with coal, where only small sickly scrubby trees survive - the victims of strip mining. When there is a major storm, these shallow-rooted trees topple over. For me it all culminates north of the mining town of St Claire at the Coal Creek Mall where a Wal Mart superstore sits in side of a scarred mountain that is has been mined down so far that the top is gone.

That’s the first 90 miles of my trip north.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Electric City

I have spent more time in Scranton than I really wanted to because one of my company’s divisions is located there. Scranton has recently been made famous by “The Office” and Hilary’s recent rediscovery of her NEPA roots. My company is located in the building made famous by The Office and has a name that is suspiciously similar. Local rumor has it that there are employees leaking tidbits of information that turn up in story lines, and indeed the few times I tuned in, I recognized a few.
I wish the real building were as nice as the one depicted on TV. The reality is that the building environment is a challenge to its occupants, ranging from persistent roof leaks and flooding (one morning I walked into Creative to see that they had sensibly positioned umbrellas over their PC’s to ward off the steady drip of water) to an almost complete lack of climate control. I am on the divisional distribution list and, as I sit comfortably in one of our other divisions, regularly see the broadcast emails that proclaim that the air- conditioning should be repaired shortly (after a week in the high 80’s) and in the mean time, HR has purchased portable air conditioners and positioned them strategically around the building. Unfortunately they forgot that these have to be vented , so someone’s office had to be selected as the recipient of the hot air. A couple of years ago after the heat had still not appeared by late November, the company discovered that when the city of Scranton discontinued the hot steam heating that it provided to the city, the landlord had neglected to provide an alternative. Northeastern PA is located in the Pocono mountains and is not exactly balmy in the winter. The first winter I worked for the company I was stuck there for 2 weeks in January and the outside temperature didn’t break 12 degrees.
So now you have the inside scoop.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

WOW Colors

To share with Ash - from August Harpers Bazaar. Love these colors and they match my new sheets!

Happy BD Takes 3 &4

Yesterday Harold took me out to the Farmhouse for my Birthday dinner. The weather was uncharacteristically pleasant and breezy for late July so we sat out outside where I enjoyed fresh rainbow trout crusted with Pistachios and indulged in a piece of cheesecake for dessert. Got a lovely deep turquoise Zuni bracelet from him.
Today I raced down to open Ash’s mystery box that has been sitting in my office for a week. She gave me a lovely Liberty duvet cover and pillowcases that we had been drooling over last May and we talked about her biking/hiking trip to the Lake Country when I called her to thank her.

Since the weather has been so lovely and balmy, and it is my birthday after all, violent thunderstorms and hail ripped through the area around 1:30. Can’t have a weather-neutral day for a Leo’s birthday! I dashed out to the deck and turned the table upside down and hauled the dripping chairs into the sun room. Last time we had weather like this, the table slammed into the siding and punctured a hole in it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yin Yang

Two parts of me, sometimes locked in combat. One is the executive, technology architect, leader, highly organized, practical, politically astute, equally at ease determining requirements for manufacturing data collection and moving entire companies to enterprise systems. The other is the artist, sometime dancer (poor feet), romantic, jam and pie-maker, gardener, designer, music-lover. My staff is always surprised when bits of this side are revealed. “How do you get time to do all this?” Not very well right now. Living in a hotel four days a week gives me three evenings at home – the first of which starts when I arrive late after a 3 hour drive and the third of which ends early because I have to get up at 5 the next morning for my 3 hour drive back to work, my office and the blandness of the hotel in central Pennsylvania. Once I thought I had enough time for both, now I feel I might have sacrificed the artist. As my daughter gets older I can see that she has inherited these two parts of me. She is one of the few people who understand my struggle – once because she loved me, now because she feels the duality herself. I hope she can have it all.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Take 2

Paul made me a lovely, though somewhat over-rich birthday lunch this afternoon. Lobster Crepes with Asparagus and Champagne; Blueberry Trifle for dessert; swimming in between courses. My husband was sure that Paul has AC; but of course he doesn't so we all sweated gently in the 95+ heat. Paul is leaving on Tuesday in his little red Miata to visit his brother in Iowa, then on to visit his mother in Wisconsin and finally catching up with John in Aspen for a concert series; then the two of them head back with to the Poconos for a party. Whew! John tells me that July 27th is a big religious holiday for Russian Orthodox so that's why he can't leave with Paul, and that's also why we celebrated my birthday early. Now to pack and get ready to make my weekly pilgrimage to Central PA. Talked to Ashley at Chloe Alberry- envy her and SJ who are headed to the cool Lake country for five days of biking. BTW, Take 1 was at my brother's house last week.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hot hot hot birthday weather

Sometime I will tell why this blog is called lost in Scranton but not today.
It is hot hot hot birthday weather even though my birthday isn't until next week. I have always hated that my birthday occurs during my least favorite time of year, when I don't feel like eating a lovely rich birthday dinner, but the advent of air conditioning has made it more bearable. Living outside of Philadelphis when I was a child, my brother and I slept in the basement in the summer with fans blowing across our sweaty bodies and I will never forget the sweltering summers I spent in my late teens on the lower east side of manhatten. Tomorrow my friend Paul is cooking lobster for me and we will swim in his pool. Lovely.
It is also easy to eat local in July with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, basil and spearmint from my garden and just picked silver queen corn and delicious tiny golden plums from the Amish market. My garden has a sign that my daughter and I made for our old house when she was about 10. Years later she went back and stole it back for my garden in our new house.