TheBurg's December issue debuted today and The Bare Wall is the subject of a feature article. The phone has been ringing off the hook; I didn't realize that there were so many avid readers although we have been advertising with the paper for a few months. Peter Durantine truly captured the essence and ambiance of the store like no other writer in our 37 years--and we've enjoyed several very good write-ups in the past. I assume the story will be available on-line at their site in the not-too-distant future and if so I will post the link for you out-of-towners . . . Placed another order for our chocolate mints; the first shipment is flying out the door. I am beginning to see the awakening of the holiday spirit . . . JJ had his first sip of (non-alcoholic) eggnog tonight. We weren't sure he would care for it, but when no one else was looking he suckered Bob into filling his little paper cup a second time . . . There are some very good buys on the soaps and lotions table thanks to our suppliers; some items are being discontinued and we are down-sizing some others. Thanks to the Euro, the French rounds have gone to $6. so we are selling out the remainder at $5 and will bring in the smaller less expensive bar . . . This picture was taken a week ago so the current stock many not be as extensive as it appears here . . . (click to enlarge) . . .
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Nice visit with Richard Hebbard on this beautiful day . . . Two tourists from Baltimore area were looking for a place to eat; thought Restaurant Row looked uninviting and a little seedy . . . My tree is up, all four feet of it. Kim and Erica next door have theirs up too. Bob decorated the courtyard and has a magic clicker to turn the lights on and off. We aren't telling JJ--he discovered the clicker at the other place and--presto--the neighbors thought Bob had installed blinking lights . . . Kevin and Kevin and Bob and Jack spent the day getting their homes ready for the Candlelight House Tour--a lot of effort but for a good cause. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 on the day of the tour, Dec. 13th. Get yours at the Bare Wall . . . The set of ceramic reindeer normally sell for $48; we are offering our last one for $32 . . .
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
A very quiet "black Friday" as is usual here. Traditionally you flock in on Saturday and Sunday of this weekend. Hopefully you will do so again. We think we are ready for you . . . Still have several Delft tiles which we have reduced to $10; some are framed for wall decor but most are suitable as trivets for hot serving dishes and plant holders . . . Yesterday's picture circa 1965: Bob Rook and I had borrowed dad's car for a few days' meandering in the Shenandoah Valley, but dad neglected to tell us that the gas gauge was erratic. We were on a lonely narrow country lane miles from anywhere when the Caddy just drifted to the side of the road. We quickly diagnosed the problem but it was almost an hour before Bob could hitch a ride with a family from New York City who was visiting relatives in the area. Another half hour and Bob returned with a grizzled and amused mountain man in a rusty pick-up; he refused our financial reward with a chuckle but got us on our way. After such a hairy adventure I think we stopped every three hours to "top off the tank" just in case . . .
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
THE HOUSE TOUR TICKETS ARRIVED LATE THIS AFTERNOON . . . Had a nice visit with Terry Robinson; we hadn't seen him for some time . . . My age is showing but I was sad to learn via the Pat-News that today's young people use Thanksgiving Eve as an excuse to get blitzed and that bars encourage them to "drink up." Maybe I am just an old-fashioned romantic, but I think of this as a time for quiet conversation with family and close friends: soft music, flickering candles, cider and gingerbread, and tantalizing aromas wafting from the kitchen with the promise of a tasty meal on the morrow. And I always envied those with a fireplace filled with crackling logs. How lonely one must be to opt for raucous music and getting blotto at such a time. I bet they are great company on the big day . . . The tile clock on an easel is one of six designs (we have one of each) for $28 . . .
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Guess it is time to remind everyone that we will be open on Sundays from noon until four between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let's hope we don't have a repeat of last year when we were robbed on one of those special days. Come keep us company . . . The British press now refers (fondly) to Susan Boyle as SuBo. If I am reading the news release correctly she sold 139,000 copies of her CD in the first few hours yesterday. Wasn't clear if that was just England or worldwide. Expected to be the biggest one-week sale of any album ever . . . The Times of London has named the French film Cache (Hidden, 2005) as the best film of the decade. Has anyone seen it? Thought perhaps it might have played at the Midtown Cinema . . . He (pictured) is not a migrant worker but JJ who labored really hard to help his dad with the yard work. His reward was a heck of a good time rolling in the leaves once the pile was assembled . . .
Monday, November 23, 2009
Our friend Yvonne Brown was up early-early to join the queue at Barnes & Noble so we were the first on the block to have the Susan Boyle debut CD. We cannot thank Yvonne enough. The music is varied and lovely and you will probably be hearing it when you come shopping . . . The whole country has gone wild for Susan; there has been nothing like this since The Beatles came to town. If you missed the Today show as I did you can still see all the clips on MSNBC. Be prepared for the screaming mob . . . As it turns out, Jacquie was amused by my posting of her Thanksgiving adventure. She may not know much about cooking but she is a wow when it comes to selling real estate . . . Thanks to Susan Boyle I have developed an e-mail acquaintance with Paul Evangelista, a barber in a Glasgow suburb (I think). Paul has a beautiful Gentleman's Shop with deep green walls and solid wooden racks for shaving mugs. If you get up early enough (I seldom do) you can watch him at work live; otherwise check out his site--a tape plays when the shop is closed . . . http://www.evangelistas.co.uk/barbershop-webcam.htm . . .
Sunday, November 22, 2009
It seems that no one sings Over the River and Through the Woods at Thanksgiving anymore. It was a staple in my childhood although we never went "to Grandmother's House" in a sleigh , , , My father was a jeweler and gift shop owner and back then one didn't decorate in the middle of August. The shop wasn't magically transformed until we opened for business on the Friday following Thanksgiving so that day was given over to decorating in earnest. Our "dinner" was a late supper with everyone too exhausted to enjoy it properly . . . I have no great Thanksgiving tales to tell, so I am stealing one from Jacquie Kirby Hensel's monthly Re/Max newsletter. She will probably hate me for this, but it is so cute it deserves to be passed along . . . Jacquie writes: I hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving. I am not a cook!!! I don't have the time, the patience, or the knack, but the one day out of the whole year that I like to cook is Thanksgiving. I can actually make stuffing and get it in the turkey, and with Glenn Miller's and Spike's help, pull the rest of it together for a fairly festive dinner!! You'll all get a laugh out of this little story about last year. There were to be only 3 of us for dinner, so I decided that we should buy a crock pot and a little turkey breast for a change. There was a mix-up at the farmer's market, and when I looked at the turkey breast early Thursday noticed that we had been given the Henry's order, and Mrs. Henry had ordered a whopper. It looked like a very fat football!!! But it was wrapped in this nice string netting which I decided to leave on to make it easier to lift this huge breast out of the crock pot at dinnertime. I can hear you guys laughing already. The plastic smell that became more pervasive and acrid as the day wore on, I attributed to the new crock pot. I could not, however, figure out what the little popping sounds were. I know you're not supposed to take the lid off, but I couldn't stand the suspense any longer. Well the breast was growing, the RUBBER netting was disintegrating and we had dinner at TJ Rockwell's, the only restaurant open at 7:00 pm on Thanksgiving night. Hope I made you all laugh. Think of me on Thanksgiving morning when your turkey's humming along in the oven. Jacquie
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Surprisingly quiet business day when one considers that the town was jammed with people attending the holiday parade. The generous souls at St. Michael's Lutheran Church on State Street fed the chilly crowd for free . . . Paid a quick visit to the fire-pit party at Mary Ann Furedi's and Rick May's. Lots of food and drink; I suspect this will be a late-night affair . . .
Friday, November 20, 2009
Happy to report that the store is looking quite festive. The mess has been cleared away and the merchandise is decently displayed. Remember that the city's holiday parade starts tomorrow at 10 a.m. Expect traffic problems . . . Joined Facebook a few days ago and am trying to get a handle on how it works. Just the wrong time of year for me to tackle this--I don't have time to search for lost friends. Thankfully a few have found me. Somehow I already suspect that doing this blog will always come first out there in cyberspace . . .
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Very nice "do" at Victoria's tonight. She has her new digs looking lovely. This teetotaller even had a sip of wine . . . The Root Candle holiday order has arrived. Some nice scents--bayberry, balsam, candy cane. The popular two-pack makes a return at a lower price: $16.50. Each tall decorated jar burns for 50+ hours . . . Friends of the late Nick Whitmore are gathering at the Civil War Museum Saturday night from 5:30 - 10 p.m. What a wonderful remembrance; Nick was steeped in every phase of the conflict. Congratulations to those who planned this memorial . . . I bend to JJ's every whim while Bob remains aloof--NOT. Heard JJ tell his Uncle Bob last night that all the grape juice was gone and--presto--when I opened the fridge today, there was the juice. JJ also told Bob that his wasn't a real Christmas tree because it didn't have a star on top. That sent Bob to his basement, and today the family star now graces the Bare Wall tree . . .
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Victoria Zellers back from St. Thomas; was tempted to post her picture with a colorful Caribbean cocktail but decided to be a gentleman . . . You will remember my dismay at the loss of trees on Briggs Street a few weeks ago. Well, Chris Lingus has informed me that his family has replaced the diseased one they had removed. "October Glory" the new one is called . . . Bob was amused by my post yesterday. He recalls that when "we became rich enough to afford the plastic ones" he and his brothers burned down the old cardboard Christmas village (outside, I hope). It took all of 37 seconds, Bob said. Now, he says, those old glittered houses from the fifties go for $20 to $30 apiece at public auctions . . . talked to my sister by phone a bit later and mentioned the fact. "Those old things," she said. "There's still a big box of them in the cellar." Guess she could retire from Wal-Mart if she could find the right buyer . . . Today's photo is a collection of Bill Campbell pottery. Sorry I forgot to remove the price stickers before making this snap . . .
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The goat milk lotions arrived today. Some goods at very nice prices--hand cream for just $5.50 unboxed (regularly $7.50). Combined with the French soap close-outs that arrived last week this makes for a very interesting and economic cosmetics offering . . . Bob Coldren and Jack Barnett are planning their decorations for the Candlelight House Tour. Over the years they have assembled quite a collection of lighted houses--enough to duplicate all of London, I suspect, complete with trees, vehicles and people. They cannot utilize all of them; not enough space. Bob is selecting some not seen by friends and neighbors for a few seasons for this year's street scape . . . the discussion led us back to our childhood when one bought tiny paper houses for under the tree--25-cents at G. C. Murphy's 5 & 10. Getting the light bulbs to stay inside with a minimum of exposed wire was a chore and a disaster if one used "series" lights (one goes out, they all go out). Designing and constructing our family panorama was always my job, and if you click on the picture you will see that I missed my calling as an urban planner . . .
Monday, November 16, 2009
I apologise to all of you who responded to the Historic Harrisburg Association mailing and came today to purchase tickets for the Candlelight House Tour. The tickets have not yet arrived, but be assured I will blog the fact the minute they do . . . cannot believe that the state government is gutting the Historical and Museum Commission after it decimated and practically destroyed the State Library. The library lost half its workers, the commission over a third. Surely there are other places to look for cuts; our educational and cultural heritage should come first at all costs. These moves do not bode well for Governor Rendell's place in history, and the candidates for his office had better offer to repair the damage pronto if they want my vote . . . Every young fellow should have a dog. Mine was a mutt named Mike. We were devoted to each other. Every holiday season we would scale the ridge behind our home and descend into the valley to gather greens and stems of red berries to decorate the house. Mike made the first half of the journey with no problem, but being a small pooch he found the return up the mountain daunting. He would collapse on the trail, a little smile on his face (no kidding) and wait for me to kneel. Then he would wiggle his way into the game pouch on the back of my red Woolrich hunting jacket and hitch a ride the rest of the way . . . I guess he felt betrayed when I went off to Juniata College. Mom said Mike trotted outside to tinkle one morning and never came back . . . (click to enlarge)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I was saddened to hear that Larry Kirkhuff"s mother, Ginny, passed away early this morning. She was 98 . . . Just learned that there was considerable street vandalism Friday night in the area of Mangi Qui on North Street. Plants destroyed, urns smashed . . . There was a pleasant essay by a Widener professor in the Pat-News today; discussed books that featured young people growing into adulthood. Spotlighted To Kill a Mockingbird among others . . . Have a cute story about Harper Lee and her prize-winning book that made the publishing business rounds in the late sixties. May or may not be true, so perhaps I am perpetuating a myth. Anyway, it was rumored that the initial manuscript was a series of short stories that publisher J. P. Lippincott & Company wanted framed into a novel. Ms. Lee apparently worked with editors in the company's downtown Philadelphia offices, sweating through a hot summer of preparation. The book went on to be a sensation and Lippincott's only volume to reach Number One on best seller lists. When she returned a year or so later, she discovered that all the offices had since been air conditioned. "Oh," she cooed in her best Southern drawl, "did I do that?" . . . Ms. Lee made several false starts but never wrote another book. A close childhood friend of Truman Capote, she did contribute (uncredited) to Capote's In Cold Blood . . .
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Ty Cowell back in the state to visit family and make some presentations at his old school. He and Pam are enjoying their new digs in St. Augustine, Fla., and have become dedicated beachcombers. They have amassed a huge collection of fossilized sharks teeth dating back a million years . . . Authoring a popular site has put friends on the defensive when we are talking. Can't tell you how often the conversation begins: "Now this is not for the blog, but have you heard . . ." I don't get as much juicy gossip as I once did . . . Bob's tree is gorgeous and loaded with a ton of new ornaments but it doesn't photograph all that well. You will just have to come and see for yourself . . .
Friday, November 13, 2009
Spent the day developing more holiday spirit. Bob decorated his tree and after a few hours agreed with JJ: "This is boring." We have a lot more ornaments this year than we have had in a decade, I think. We are scrambling for places to display them . . . Have already started to worry; you are buying up the coffee collection faster than I anticipated. Should I order more? . . . Best news on this Friday the 13th is that we sold the beautiful spice cabinet which freed up a lot of much-needed space . . .
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Post number 145 . . . the store is a complete mess as we go about the decorating. Bob bought a larger tree since we have so many more ornaments this year. Hoped JJ would get a kick out of helping, but he hung just one ornament before declaring "This is boring. I would rather we color." He and Uncle Bob are striving to outdo Rembrandt . . . Carol Bostian and Ernie Kepner braved the general wreckage to do some shopping . . . My intended tongue-in-cheek posting of an old Army picture generated more e-mails than anything I have ever written. Guess I will do a little essay on my Ft. Knox adventures one of these days . . . The little guy pictured wants to remind you to come for boxed Christmas cards while there is an ample selection . . .
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Veteran's Day . . . and who is that chow-hound? A six-months'-wonder at Ft. Knox, Ky., in 1960 and a tank gunner, no less . . . Quiet day but with a nice visit from Terry Sneed and Richard Williams . . . Bob on the ladder decking the halls while I continually shift the merchandise and hope there is a place for everything that is here or expected. As most of you know, we pre-wrap a lot of things so I started that this morning . . . The late Howard Spitalny, a Bon-Ton buyer and exec, gave us the same advice every year: Stack it high and watch it fly . . . well, it is stacking, but I recently checked my credit card balances and all I can say is: It had better fly soon . . .
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Well, we had the leaves nicely stacked in the street so the city could cart them off, but as usual and despite our signs some horse's head parked illegally and our block didn't get totally clean. I have said it before--fines for such parking should be doubled at least. That is one tax I would be happy to see council impose . . . Bob spent the day cleaning up the leaves and other fall decor in the shop; the holly and poinsettias will be making an appearance in the next several days . . . I placed a last-before-Christmas order with Root Candles. New scents for the season and dinner tapers for the table . . . The tug-o'-war bookends are among the most popular designs ever forged. Heavy metal, $84 . . . (click to enlarge) . . .
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sad to hear that Robert's Flowers, Second and South Streets, is going out of business. One less retail outlet in center city and there aren't that many of us left. Businesses feed off one another; the loss of one hurts us all. Robert's had a good relationship with Glitz and Glitter when it was across the street. It was torn down for a hotel that never materialized . . . There have been several vehicle break-ins in the area of Green and Harris. Bob awoke this morning to find a vandalized car in front of his house. We repeat the oft-stated warning: don't leave anything in the car that can be viewed from outside. Even a closed paper bag hiding its contents can be tempting . . . And another warning for drivers especially at this time of year: never park on piles of leaves assembled for pick-up; your warm muffler can ignite the pile and imperil your vehicle . . .
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Dizzy, sinus-y headache all day. Did boring paperwork . . . Bob did my laundry . . . Our "best buddy" has been sick all weekend, a real concern these days but his doctors say it is "just something that is going around" . . . most of us have the Weather Bug on our computers, but if you are into weather you might find more info than you can use at www.wunderground.com/US/Pa/Harrisburg.html . . . provides long-range predictions and a lot of stuff I don't even understand . . . (UPDATE at 6:30 p.m.--visit from JJ; danced on the furniture, stood on his head, played on the computer, demanded orange juice and wrestled Uncle Bob. Rapid recovery, our worry wasted--thank heavens!)
Saturday, November 7, 2009
It was "Old Home Week" at the Harris Street Church spaghetti dinner tonight. So many familiar faces that I couldn't begin to name them all. Food was fine and Cecilia and I had a good time drumming on the table with our spoons . . . Artist and former Harrisburger John Fischer, now living in Philly. was visiting in town today. He is still painting and sells prints of his works on the net these days. You can access his work at http://www.johnfischer.etsy.com/ . . .
Friday, November 6, 2009
Our holiday shipment of Bennington soy aromatheraphy jar candles arrived today. Price is still $14.50 and there are 24 blends that burn up to 70 hours. If you have a favorite, call or e-mail us to reserve yours . . . Dr. Coldren remembers Goldsmith Furniture for its exceptional customer service and asked if I also recalled the now-departed Earley's of Carlisle (I didn't). However this talk did awaken memories of the unfortunately named Burns Furniture which was just off the square on South Second. It was destroyed by fire one night and the flames were so hot they reportedly set off sprinklers in the motel across the street. How's that for your "wake-up" call, Madam? . . . Forgot to mention that I had fifteen seconds of fame in the October 9th issue of the Central Penn Business Journal. Nothing worth researching, but there was a picture of The Bare Wall sign just over my shoulder . . . A lot of you were amused by my fascination with the Susan Boyle saga. (She is the Scots singer who became a YouTube sensation when she appeared on Britain's Got Talent.) Well, I won't say that I get the last laugh, but I am happy to report that her debut CD is due later this month and it has become the biggest pre-ordered item in the history of Amazon.com . . .
Thursday, November 5, 2009
A raw day with no customers, and we are so eager to show off all the new stuff. Slowly but surely our holiday offerings are emerging from the closets. Lots of new soaps and lotions are en route even as I write . . . Lee Spitalny has reminded me of yet another game with apples that we played as children. The fruit was suspended above us on strings and we stood on stools, hands behind the back, and tried to trap the goodies with our teeth. Not so easy as it sounds, and more than a few of us fell off the stool. Break an arm playing one game or drown playing the other. How did we ever live to tell the tale? . . . Despite her loss I want to congratulate Bridget Montgomery on her campaign to become a Dauphin County Common Pleas judge. Bridget has been a long-time customer and I worked with her mother, Malie, for many years at the State Library . . . Had a high-spirited phone call from John Goldsmith today. He is really enjoying his new life as a condo owner in Palm Springs, California. The complex is teeming with social life--a party almost every night. John sent numerous pictures of his new environment, all just ten feet or less from his front door. I chose the one with flowers (of course) with the pool in the background . . . And speaking of John, are there readers who remember Goldsmith's Furniture Store on Market Square? It was THE PLACE for home decor with a host of designers to help with the selection. John, Scott Geiger and Glenn Lyons are names which come to mind . . . and John, you never did find me that apple green ripcord bedspread that I wanted some thirty years ago . . .
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Election Day over, the results being absorbed. The city strangely quiet as if in a coma. Many find the character and ability of the new mayor suspect and life seems to have stumbled to a halt temporarily. The prophecies of doom could be self-fulfilling if the paralysis continues for long . . . we must remember that we have an able-bodied council to direct and oversee accountability and other highly-qualified persons in our government who can intercede when necessary . . . we all expect confrontation, I guess, and with a decade or so of it nationally we are all tired and short-tempered . . . Jacquie Kirby Hensel in today for her annual cartload of Christmas cards . . . Joe Theurer is 86 today . . . congratulations to Jon Carfagno who got enough write-in votes to become Judge of Elections in our ward . . . Pictured: a sample of our Thanksgiving cards . . . This Saturday, 4-7 p.m., Harris Street Methodist Church is holding a spaghetti supper to benefit its food pantry . . .
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Election Day. I am posting before the polls close so that my elation/dismay doesn't color this entry . . . Got a sneak peek at Ken Frew's book on Harrisburg architecture. Beautiful and elegant. A twenty-year effort, Ken says, not entirely joking. He can be proud of his accomplishment. Pricey, but I suspect it is worth it. Loads of photos . . . Our popular holiday mints arrived today. Priced at $15 per box this year. A great hostess gift and so yummy you will want one for yourself. Very pretty (click to enlarge). Because of the uncertain economy we cut our initial order by half; give us a call or e-mail to reserve yours. I still have time to order more if the demand warrants . . .
Monday, November 2, 2009
Down with the Halloween cards, up with the Thanksgiving ones (and some Christmas). Suddenly time is on a tear and we'll be hearing there are just so many shopping days left before Santa arrives. I am not yet ready for this . . . Since you seem to prefer the larger sized bottle of goat milk lotion with a pump, we are discontinuing the purse sized 2 oz. bottles. Those that are left are on sale for $2.50 at the check-out counter. The larger bottles will be here shortly . . . Please vote tomorrow for whomever you wish, but vote. Thank heavens this signals an end to mail box clutter; hopefully the jumble of signs littering the streets will disappear as well . . .
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Back to standard time; dark at five p.m. We will all be in a funk for a while until we become accustomed to it . . . Mary, Chris and Mom Lingus have shared their bounty. After an iffy summer the fig tree burst forth with fruit and they shared with us . . . Eric has posted a really fine review of Harrisburg's mayoral campaign (link at left); too bad that so few people will get to read it. This is the kind of review we had expected from the Pat-News editorial board . . . St. Michael's Church, our local polling place, will be offering soup and baked goods for take-away on Tuesday . . . If you are getting a last look at fall foliage in Mt. Gretna, Eric Battisti's Taxi Service is the way to go--environmentally friendly and cheap according to JJ . . . (click to enlarge) . . .