Saturday, December 31, 2011

After a week of lackluster and disappointing sales, the holiday season came to a blazing end this afternoon, besting last December by just $95--but it was an improvement just the same. The week ahead will be devoted to inventory and several items will emerge with sale prices, so I hope you can visit soon. We might be a tad late on Wednesday; time for another doctor visit . . . Bob made a beef roast for our supper (one of my favorites) and tomorrow it will be sauerkraut and pork (one of my least favorites, but Bob likes it) . . . Our bayberry candle is burning brightly as I write, promising us wealth in the new year. We have observed this tradition for more than 25 years and the candle has yet to keep its promise . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR . . .

Friday, December 30, 2011

We will be closing at three o'clock tomorrow afternoon. Happy New Year to all our readers. Please party safely . . . Our thanks to the writer who posted a favorable review of The Bare Wall on that TripAdvisor site . . . TheBurg January edition is now available here . . . Joel Turley called to say that he has been struggling with City Hall to have a burned out street light repaired on Prince Street which runs parallel to and between North Second and Green. (It was once Love Alley.) He has received no support from the Thompson administration and Joel is now rightfully furious because the block was the target of graffiti artists last night and numerous buildings were defaced. The complaints about street light black outs and the dangers darkness engenders just continue to mount. When will Thompson "see the light" do you think? . . . The one thing that makes me happy during the week between Christmas and New Years is a CD Bob found several years back. It features two holiday shows broadcast to our troops around the world in 1945 to welcome in the year. Many of the big artists of the day--Lena Horne, Harry James, Spike Jones, Benny Goodman, etc.--are heard in some songs they made famous. One would believe that the performances are originating from military bases all across America, but in reality it was a program put together in a studio from pre-recorded music. How many of you out there remember such popular tunes as "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet" ? . . .

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A cool damp day with snow flurries kissing the evergreens in front of the store. Nothing depresses Bob faster than a flake or two . . . Started to inventory and box the Santas that failed to find a home this year. Sad little fellas . . . Closed a tad early for tonight's get-together. A couple of us have been meeting every year to pick over the leftovers from Bob's family holiday party. There is a lot to choose from this year . . . If you are a free-checking customer of Sovereign Bank you will have to make some adjustments to your account in the next few weeks; otherwise you will be charged a monthly fee of five dollars. You have several options to avoid that . . . I made my adjustments today and surprised the manager who discovered I had been a customer of the institution since 1981. It all started with First Federal which became Harris Savings which morphed into Waypoint which was bought up by Sovereign. I have one little problem with all this hocus-pocus. I owned 100 shares of the First Federal operation but every time the business changed hands my shares became fewer and fewer. Those 100 shares are now 30 or so and certainly not what they were worth years and years ago. Not everything on the market goes up regardless of what Wall Street wants us to believe. I could name one or two that went worthless while in my possession . . .

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Very windy day with trash scattering down the street and dead leaves piling up against stoop and fence . . . Closed a bit early; Bob's family assembled at his house for their annual holiday get together. A lot of good conversation and an abundance of delicious food . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Cold rain all day certainly scuttled any hope we may have had for an after-Christmas sale. Total income was $12. But we remain optimistic for the rest of the week; all seasonal merchandise will be marked down and you can make an offer on other items until our inventory is complete . . . Tried to get some help for my sinus headaches from my primary doctor but he refused assistance and suggested I see a nose and throat specialist. That seems extreme for a minor condition like I have; maybe I should find a new doctor altogether? . . . Thanks to friend Terry for the collection of fresh donuts . . . As you will notice above, we plan to be closed next Monday (another touch of retirement, perhaps!) . . . JJ gives his in-the-flesh Santa a squeeze for the Looney Tunes DVD, Barrel of Monkeys game and his I Spy book among a stack of other Christmas Eve surprises . . .

Monday, December 26, 2011


Today may have been an example of what retirement is like. (I am all for it.) Slept a bit later than usual. Had drop-in visits from Dr. Bob Coldren and Janet Reed. Took my mile walk. (Am a little out of practice; it was very exhausting. but I found my Campbell's Tomato Soup on sale at Rite-Aid--five cans for three dollars.) Had a quick cat nap. Ordered the hoagies from Ciervo's for the family Christmas party on Wednesday. Bob and I went for a drive to see Christmas lights. Nibbled at leftovers and watched two football games. This is the life despite a sinus headache . . . Had two inquiries about the figurine featured in yesterday's post. It is not from the store but is owned by Bob; Larry Kirkhuff gave it to him as a joke a few years ago . . . And here he is, smiling and embracing his notorious gumball machine. If his face looks a bit distorted it is because he is chomping on some gum . . .

Sunday, December 25, 2011


SANTA AND HIS REINDEER PARTY AFTER THE SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF THEIR ROUNDS . . . MAY YOU AND YOURS ENJOY THE HAPPIEST OF HOLIDAYS . . . MERRY CHRISTMAS . . .

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Busier than expected today. We want to thank all of you for your patronage during this season. It was most appreciated and, yes, all the real estate taxes got paid . . . Saw JJ and Cecilia tonight; they were totally wound up in expectation of Santa's visit. There was a platter of cookies for the jolly fellow and food on the lawn for the reindeer. Both loved the gifts Uncle Bob had found for them; the gumball machine came last and was a hit. (A picture is sure to appear here soon.) It will be forgotten tomorrow when the hand-held computer video game makes an appearance; JJ has been saving his pennies for that since last year . . . Bob and I hope that you and those you love have a very happy holiday . . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

A mild chill in the air did not deter those shoppers who are fast running out of time. Hosted a constant stream of patrons today which turned out to be our biggest of this season. Thank heavens Mark Stevens was here to help . . . We are opening at ten tomorrow morning and are promising to be in the store and wrapping until three o'clock at least. This is our fortieth Christmas and in the past we have been able to close as early as two p.m. or have been hard at it as late as nine thirty. Those days are over, I assure you . . . Since most of center city will be deserted the day after Christmas we have decided to give ourselves a day off. As you can see by the above streamer, we will be closed on Monday . . .

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Another slow day. I suppose the serious shoppers have already wrapped things up. Sadly that means some of our regulars won't be dropping by this year. And I had selected some things just for them . . . I did a walk-through of the store late this afternoon and was gratified to see that there are still numerous desirable items available. Don't mean to pat myself on the back, but I guess we did some smart buying this season . . . JJ and Grammy built a gingerbread house together yesterday. Today, he was invited to join some little friends for more gingerbread building. Knowing JJ, he will pass himself off as an expert architect and engineer and show the others how everything is done . . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A long and quiet morning. I might have fallen into complete despair but by late afternoon Bob was wrapping as fast as he could. Several new clients. Most welcome . . . Gee, how time flies. Eric chastised me for my recent post; he and Joanne have been married for two years . . . We are hopeful for three very busy days so please come out. Remember that we gift wrap; shop here and put it under the tree when you get home . . .

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A cold rain scuttled business, the fourth straight day of disappointing returns. The next four days better be exhausting ones . . . Mark Stevens was on hand to help again today. He is thinking of driving home to Texas this weekend despite the raging snowstorms between here and there . . . Have been scanning those lists of influential people who passed away this year. Except for Elizabeth Taylor and a few others I haven't a clue as to who these "famous" people are. I don't know whether they had an influence on my life or not. On the other hand I can name a couple of people who have left us who were of considerable importance in my life; those I will continue to miss in 2012 . . . It has been rumored that a popular restaurant on North Street is in the process of buying the bar adjacent. The rumor which was just a whisper a few weeks ago has become a roar, so perhaps there is some validity to it all . . .

Monday, December 19, 2011

Colder, overcast and damp. More seasonal, perhaps, but not very festive . . . And what is going on here? For the third straight day business was weaker than expected. Hope this isn't a week-long trend; I'm still trying to scrape together the funds for my school taxes . . . Judy Robinson drove down from Honey Grove with a bag of holiday goodies . . . There are still three dirty joke books on hand ($9.95). Same number of Internet Password address books ($7.95) . . . all remaining boxed Christmas cards have been reduced . . . "magic glasses" still available--just . . . A couple of our major customers have yet to make an appearance; hopefully we haven't lost them this year . . .

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Crisp and mostly sunny but a lot less busy than expected. While Bob and I labored at ground level The Kid was high atop the Empire State Building. Cannot wait to hear what he thought of that experience . . . Happy first wedding anniversary to Joanne and Eric . . . Last night's party was spectacular. Our thanks to the hosts: Kevin and Kevin, Mary Ann and Rick, Jim and Keith and Mary and Lennie. The food and decorations were outstanding . . . A friend who must remain nameless suffered a tragedy yesterday. He had just finished decorating his huge tree when he decided it needed to be moved just a nudge; well, he nudged it, a leg on the stand snapped, and the whole thing collapsed across the floor. Our sympathies . . . We may have solved a two-year mystery involving our readership. I have often mentioned that we were Googled by people across Europe and Asia and I speculated that they weren't at all interested in The Bare Wall. Well, it appears I was probably right. In some circles the "tbw" apparently stands for TeenBoyWorld and will lead to what I assume to be a porno site or something close to it. A mention of this site popped up yesterday in my Google statistics . . .

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The day was virtually a repeat of yesterday--busy early and late with a lapse in the afternoon. But that gave us a little time to visit with JJ, Cecilia and the parents. The kids are getting impatient with the holiday season; they are ready for Santa . . . Bob and I are weary but we are heading out for a brief appearance at a holiday party which several neighborhood hosts are sponsoring . . . hoping for a little action tomorrow from one till four . . .

Friday, December 16, 2011

Busy morning and evening with a breather in mid-afternoon. Thanks for coming out. This has really been a fun season for us . . . Fudge joins our list of "sold outs" . . . Cannot help but notice that you are not buying those decorative crystals for the dinner table as heavily as you did last year . . . What we assume to be our last shipment before Christmas has been inventoried and is now on the shelves. A neat painted brass magnifier in the shape of a peacock would look great and be useful on any desk ($22) . . . a small brass cat pin cushion ($14) and a decorative but playable wood and brass tic-tac-toe game . . . more brass "good luck" and "new house" crickets, now $13. The nickel-plated ones that looked like silver have been discontinued . . . Jigsaw puzzles, anyone? Those are moving slowly this year . . .

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Another busy day despite some occasional sprinkles. It is so gratifying to have on hand just the thing someone wanted and the fact that they learned about it from your advertisement in TheBurg makes it even more worthwhile . . . Mark Stevens helped with the patrons; we sent Bob off to do some of his Christmas shopping. He is still looking for special presents for the kids--JJ, Cecilia, Sabrina, Felix and Annalise. Candidly, I think he just enjoys trying out all those toys. I never imaged that we would spend so many of our "golden age" hours worrying about little youngsters. But it is fun, I will admit . . . Part of my Amazon shipment came today and I listened to Susan Boyle's latest album. I cannot be as ecstatic as many of her fans; far as I am concerned she still hasn't produced the music she is capable of. But I am glad she has set the world on its ear and has earned millions. The latest effort is not selling quite as well as those in the past, I read. Wish I could program a Broadway album for her. Incidentally, the Autumn Leaves tune on this album is not the song we are familiar with . . . Hope you like our newly painted sign. One certainly cannot miss it as they drive down Green Street . . .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What a delightful morning! Frank Hummert and a dozen or so other retired teachers came shopping at The Bare Wall before touring the Governor's Mansion and having lunch at the Chicago Grille. Bob especially enjoyed waiting on them, being a retired teacher himself . . . Thanks to our neighbor Eric our sign is back in place and looking spiffy after a masterful refurbishment. We cannot congratulate him enough. This calls for a major act of gratitude on our part . . . You were warned: this afternoon one customer came in and swept up all our remaining bayberry candle pairs. They join the mints, canal houses and white snowflakes that once graced the archway and window on our "sold out" list . . . I cannot vouch for this story myself, but---an acquaintance who works half a year at a gift shop in Maine told me that his store sells more Root Candles than any other in the nation. He has been to the factory in Ohio and did I know?--Root candles are the tapers of choice at the White House . . .

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another busy day at The Bare Wall. We certainly are grateful for the business but it must be said that renewing acquaintances with so many is a delight. And I am happy that you approve of our enlarged and enhanced group of offerings this year . . . I apologize to you who missed out but I am happy to report that our supply of Christmas mints has been sold out . . . Three boxes of peanut butter fudge remain ($10) . . . Our thanks to Jeanette Krebs, an editor of the Patriot-News who was in touch several times today. She is trying to figure out why my post on PennLive was removed and where it is hiding out in cyberspace. I told her not to worry but to ask her writers to occasionally remember that The Bare Wall exists and that a mention now and then would be appreciated. She promised to do so . . . Each evening while Bob prepares dinner I relax with my Yule Log DVD, watching the flames and listening to the music. Remarkable how soothing that can be for me . . .

Monday, December 12, 2011

Think I made personal history today--it appears I was censored by the Patriot-News. A story lamenting the loss of small business downtown appeared on Saturday in the newspaper (I didn't see it then) and was repeated on PennLive. I mentioned in the comments section that the paper might want to note that The Bare Wall was having its 40th Christmas season; I also pointed out (graciously) that the paper frequently forgets our gallery when discussing downtown venues. My comment was "up" for a while but then mysteriously disappeared. I filed a complaint with the editor and she did respond, saying that she could not explain its removal. Oh, well, it made for a cute story to amuse our clients today . . . We did not sell many tickets for the house tour this year so I was glad to hear that HHA sold more than 900. That translates into more than $14,000 for the organization and it can use it . . . I feel a bit sorry for our angels and Santas this season. No one wants to give them a home, it seems. (So I put the angels on sale!) Snowmen, on the other hand, are being adopted left and right . . .

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nice crisp sunny day and quite busy at the store. I was told by several persons that the Candlelight House Tour was very pleasant and studded with properties not featured before. But no one expected to be bodily scanned before being allowed into the Governor's Mansion . . . Ordered the kid's gumball machine from Amazon this morning and got a "your item has been shipped" notification early this afternoon. Guess they really are geared up for the season . . . Despite the stress we have all felt this year everyone seems to be in a good mood and looking forward to friends and family at the holiday season . . . Only fifteen pairs of bayberry candles left . . .

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weary tonight after a very busy day. Thanks to all who came and patiently waited as Bob gift-wrapped their packages. Will hope to see some of you tomorrow as you embark on the Historic Harrisburg Candlelight House Tour . . .

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wonderfully busy today--there must be a holiday in the offing. Sold several pieces of the new pottery and the bells from Maine have arrived . . . We have sold our line of adult cards for thirty-some years; these are far less popular than they once were, and I assume that the Internet might be partly to blame. We have been advised that the costs of these cards will jump dramatically after the first of the year so we have decided to discontinue the line once our current stock is exhausted . . . The kid came to visit this afternoon and assured me, after consulting Amazon.com, that he was certainly worth the $60 we might have to spend to satisfy his desire for a gumball machine and its refills . . . He has his own folder on the computer desktop and loves playing his "Mario" games which can give me a headache. I threatened to remove the game from his folder after the holiday, but it was an empty threat. "That's okay, Uncle Ronn. I'll just Google it and find out where to get it." This from a five-year-old . . . Casinos in Vegas take bets on all sorts of things; I think our local one should accept bets on when the Pat-News will issue a front page without Sandusky on it . . . Everyone in the area is invited to the Salvation Army at Green and Cumberland Streets for a Christmas breakfast from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. No excuse to be alone and lonely on this holiday; friendship awaits . . .

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The anticipated snow failed to materialize but the Bill Campbell pottery did. Some really beautiful pieces for you collectors . . . The midtown carolers are out on the streets as I write; I can hear their songs. They have a crisp evening for their stroll. Bob corrects me on yesterday's post. The carolers did their visits by phone a few years ago because of heavy rains, not cold as I had reported . . . Got our greens up around the door today but wondered where the shoppers were. It was very quiet in the store . . . I have to thank Joyce Reiner for her thoughtfulness. After reading yesterday's post she brought me a hang-on-the-wall gumball machine that was intended for her family room but never used. It was still in its original packaging and had never been opened. Unfortunately it was not what the kid had in mind but I certainly want to thank Joyce for thinking of us and offering the item for free . . .

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Learned this morning that a major computer malfunction at Campbell Studios has delayed delivery of our new pots. We are now promised they will be in hand by Friday at the latest . . . The expected new barbershop at North and North Second appears to be open now . . . Neighbors called to inform me of several incidents in and near the parking lot in the 200 block of Briggs Street that required police and/or ambulance service. All occurred in the last ten days. Best to be very alert when traversing that area although, to be honest, the whole midtown area seems to be at risk these days . . . Today's rain might give way to snow overnight. I wonder if we might blame Betty Holmboe and her gang of carolers for the change. Seems like they always get bad weather for their Christmas caroling evening. Why just a few years ago it was so cold that they sat in Betty's living room and did their singing for selected neighbors by telephone! . . . the kid wants a gumball machine for his Christmas present. What I see on Amazon that appears worthwhile isn't cheap. (But the kid will undoubtedly get whatever it costs; he has his two godfathers buffaloed). Should any of you have had experience with these gadgets, please let us know. Otherwise I will simply have to go by the Amazon reviews . . .

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Warm rain all day. Bob spent his morning in Millersburg decorating family graves for the holiday. Our expected delivery of pottery from Bill Campbell studios did not materialize . . . Midtown residents can look forward to a serenade on Thursday evening as those musical or not so musical gather to tour the area with their annual carol sing. All are invited to participate; gather at 1618 Green around seven o'clock . . . Ron Hinkle's glass kisses have proved to be quite popular. Still have a selection of fifteen or so at $7 each . . .

Monday, December 5, 2011


A nice visit with Melissa Herman, up from Maryland for a dental appointment . . . Candlelight House Tour tickets moving slowly at the moment. Nice weather in store for the weekend we are told . . . Those of you with special orders for ship's bells or the "big bonger" Cape Cod bell can expect a call from me at the end of the week according to the team in Maine that makes them . . . The burned out street lights all over the city enhance the lighted Christmas decorations around doors and in windows; just the same I would rather the safety I feel with the street lights ablaze . . . This month's advertisement in TheBurg has stimulated a lot of response. Hope that continues through December . . .

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Great weather. Bob's weekend with his club brothers was a great success and several of them came shopping today as did a pleasant couple from Halifax . . . A customer e-mailed to report that our freezer bags for carrying cold bottles to and from an event ($7.50) are selling at an up-scale Camp Hill store for $10.75 . . . And you saw them here first . . .

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Clear and seasonal today but the downtown area was unusually quiet. Entertained fewer shoppers than expected but ended up with a lot of items on layaway for pickup later in the week. Please remember we will be here on Sunday. Come keep us company . . .

Friday, December 2, 2011

I am saddened to report the passing of Rhea Maff of North Street. She and her late husband Ed were stalwarts in the neighborhood for forty years. Our condolences to all the family members . . . The December issue of TheBurg is now available at The Bare Wall . . . Checked with Alan Peters in California and was pleased to learn that the high winds that are menacing the state have spared the fruit trees which we featured here earlier this week . . . Bob's club brothers are gathering for their annual holiday dinner and gift exchange this weekend. Mark Stevens will be on hand to help me in the shop tomorrow . . .

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It is that time of year again when I begin to nag you about your bayberry candles for New Year's Eve. Don't be left out, buy now. $7 a pair . . . ABC TV is promoting a "buy American" effort this holiday season. Supposedly, we will spend $700 for gifts this year and if we spend just $64 for things made in America we will create at least 200,000 jobs. Perhaps The Bare Wall has an unfair advantage since we deal primarily in handcrafted gifts, but you certainly could find your quota of Made in America gifts here. Pottery, jewelry, candles, candies, bookends and soaps and lotions are just some of the items. Of course, we also have our share of foreign goods . . . Now that we are using those new bulbs, driving hybrid cars and so many businesses have cut back on manufacturing, etc., I am wondering just how much this activity has cut back on oil imports. Haven't seen any figures recently . . .

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Harrisburg resident David Shall, internationally recognized for his origami designs, is offering the last few copies of his book for $16.50, autographed. These designs for folded paper are aimed at an adult craftsman and are anything but "basic" in this craft. This "special interest" volume should provide a nice challenge and can be very rewarding when the folder is able to duplicate the item . . . Received our new shipment of crystal-laden earrings from Christine Keller of Buckhannon, West Virginia, today. These original designs combine sterling silver, vintage glass beads and crystals for a dressy bling; sure to please and just $26 . . . bargain hunters should remember to check out our "flea market" shelves in the center room. We are keeping these restocked as items are carried off . . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rain finally arrived and so did the colder weather. Certainly killed business today . . . Rick May and Kevins Sheets and Hancock heard gun shots at Green and Forster last night. Two young blacks were seen fleeing down the street but seemed to be pulling a prank rather than threatening anyone. The police department says it has added patrols to the Midtown area to combat the recent muggings and car break-ins . . . Doc says my major complaints are under control with the possible exception of the sinus headaches . . . Big shipment of new Bill Campbell pottery is expected shortly . . .

Monday, November 28, 2011


Another gorgeous day; this cannot last, unfortunately . . . loved Deb Hershey's post that I saw on Facebook this morning: "Every other car within a mile has either a dead deer or a pine tree strapped to its hood." 'Tis the season , I fear . . . Tickets for the Historic Harrisburg Candlelight House Tour have arrived; $15. The tour is quite different from ones that have preceded it so I will be interested to see your reaction. There are only a few houses but for the most part they are clustered in the vicinity of Green and Peffer Streets. You will be able to walk to most venues once you park the car. (John Harris Mansion is an exception.) . . . It appears that someone is opening a new eatery at North Second and Harris where so many other restaurants have gone before. Cannot get any reliable info just yet . . . Off to the doctor tomorrow morning; maybe another chapter in this on-going saga. Boring . . . Do not be alarmed if you pass by and notice that the sign is no longer in place. Our neighbor is refurbishing it for us; we are still at the same old spot 39 years later . . . We owe a "thank you" to TheBurg. The crew promoted last Saturday's Shop Small Business national campaign on their web page and used the "funky" Bare Wall as a local venue that deserves support. The item was illustrated with a picture of Bob and me that appeared in the paper a couple of years ago. (So don't come looking for those items pictured since they may not be available any longer.) . . .

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Another beautiful day. It seemed that everyone, Bob included, was outside and working on his holiday display. I can tell right now that several of these will be spectacular when they are finished . . . the Battisti household harvested their Christmas tree today and we had to slip over this evening to take a look at the decorations. JJ showed us the elf high on a shelf in the kitchen who reports directly to Santa if JJ or Cecilia don't behave . . . this was our first Sunday opening of the season; we had some visitors and worked diligently at enhancing our own decorations in the store. Looking better each day . . . Had an e-mail from Alan Peters in Palm Springs. He sent along some pictures of his "winter garden in the desert." The mouth-watering produce will be ready for eating come January . . .

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pleasant day with warm temperatures. This was the day of a national promotion urging people to shop at the small businesses in town. Several of you did and we thank you. Remember that we will be open tomorrow (Sunday) from one until four . . .

Friday, November 25, 2011

Beautiful weather. Normally Black Friday is a slow time at The Bare Wall, but not today. It was exciting to be so busy, to see so many of you. I was especially pleased that so many of our new items found a place on your holiday lists . . . Among all my maladies aforementioned we might add another; I stubbed my toe Monday evening and the damage was painful. I might even have broken it . . . Neighbors are seeking info on the auto parked in the 200 block of Briggs; its back window was broken out in the last day or two . . . Yesterday's picture was a repeat from two years ago but it still commanded a fair amount of response. It was taken in the early '60s in the Shenandoah Valley. My companion, the late Bob Rook, and I had borrowed my dad's car for the trip. Unfortunately, dad did not tell us that the gas gauge was inaccurate and somewhere in the backwoods of West Virginia we ran out of gas. Bob hitched a ride with a large family visiting the area from New York City and while I waited he located a small garage whose owner came to our rescue. It was our favorite memory of the trip despite the Skyline Drive . . .

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A brief sunny start turned brisk and blustery. We waved goodbye as others left town. It was a low-key start to the long holiday weekend. But the kids came for a visit later in the day--the first we had seen them in over a week. Both were talkative and animated. JJ already has plans for his Christmas gifts and we are awaiting his list; it sounds like it might be a long one. Bob made our Thanksgiving dinner tonight--ham, Cope's corn and potatoes with pumpkin pie to follow. Tomorrow he will join family and I will laze, the last free moment before the retail season begins for us. Parades, football and catnaps . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This blog is beginning to read like the New England Journal of Medicine. I spent the morning with Mr. Jones at the Cummings Clinic to address my various ailments which you have been reading about here. Got an antibiotic for the cough and a syrup to soothe the throat. The eye irritation requires drops several times a day while awake and it was decided that an ear irrigation might help. One side of the head cooperated but the other did not; apparently a jackhammer would not release the wax, so we got a nightly ear drop that supposedly will loosen the blob within the week. During the latter procedure my eardrum was buffeted so often that I became quite unstable so we had to give that up for a few days. I now have a schedule of pills, drops, and syrups that even Einstein would have trouble juggling. Got back to the store to entertain Joyce Reiner but once Bob arrived he allowed me a long afternoon nap . . . the day was ugly with a chill rain raging almost constantly. Made me think how much JJ must have enjoyed playing checkers in Florida . . .

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gray and rainy. Finally decided to seek a doctor's thoughts on this cough. Will see what happens tomorrow morning at nine a.m. . . . City public works had a great idea when they restructured the pickup days for trash when holidays intervened. Today was the first test of the new process and, sadly, it didn't work out . . .

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spent the day in bed trying to rehydrate my body. JJ wanted to come for a visit this afternoon but I turned him down. I must be sick.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

JJ and Cecilia are back from a Florida Keys vacation where they enjoyed swimming with dolphins . . . We finally tried the Soup Spot about which we had heard good things. The Potato and Leek offering was superior though, as Bob said, for what we paid for our two small servings he could have fed the whole neighborhood as he often does . . . I nursed my cold and slept the day away while Bob entertained the few who st opped in after the holiday parade . . . It was reported that a chipmunk scurried across the lawn in front of Old Main at Penn State this afternoon. The Patriot-News has not yet published its in-depth analysis of this meaningful event, as far as I know . . .

Friday, November 18, 2011


Spent the whole night hacking away. There were times when I was sure I was dying and other times that I wished I was. Poor Bob got almost no sleep at all despite the fact that our rooms are at opposite ends of the house. Bob was sure that there must be a magic elixir to shut me up so he forced some Cherry Herring on me; hadn't had that since this sixties or seventies. Well, it was tasty but it didn't work . . . I opened this morning and was happy to see Larry Valerio who popped in for a couple of boxes of mints . . . Once Bob arrived I went to bed and slept for four hours while he sold up a storm; thanks to all you patrons . . . These medicines and our brains work in wondrous ways. All afternoon I dreamed of Occupy Harrisburg storming the GOP offices in the Capitol and making quite a mess to protest the idiotic reapportionment that has been proposed. So I was amazed to learn when I awoke that the group had indeed protested at the hearing on the hill the afternoon. They were a lot more gentle than I had pictured in my dream, however . . . And then I learned that the mayor had evicted them from their encampment in River Park. Pat Buchanan says the Occupy movement will end badly . . . I am thinking that a good riot might not be lost on the politicians, but I am too old to carry a sign. Haven't done that since I picketed Nixon back in '54 or so . . . A few years back a growing church in need of greater space tried to buy this well maintained but abandoned building. The city refused to sell, saying they were keeping it to be used as an adjunct to the Fire Museum. Well, quite obviously that plan did not work out and now it is a blight on the neighborhood . . .

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Our popular holiday mints are back in stock just in time for you to give as a hostess gift on Thanksgiving Day. This year the box sells for $16 and several have already flown out the door. There are 24 boxes left. Also available is the peanut butter fudge which you seemed to like last year. Have eight boxes left at $10 . . . those TV ads by the petroleum industry lauding Sen. Pat Toomey certainly make it appear that he is firmly in their pocket; were I a politician I would ask them not to be so blatant in broadcasting this news . . . Received a message from Michelle Hollis telling me that her neighborhood has labored for months to have the street lamp at Union and Susquehanna repaired. Finally, a city worker informed them that the mayor has not set aside any funds to repair any street lights so we will just have to learn to live in the dark. Unfortunately, most of us have been "in the dark" for this whole administration . . . Sadly, it is necessary to mention the passing of Hu Peterson who, with wife Mary, once lived in the yellow house opposite The Bare Wall. Hu is a notable in some circles for a very special reason. The Historic Harrisburg Association went through a destructive schism many years ago when the membership wanted to join the battle to save the State Theatre and the firm hand of the president, Marianne Faust, refused to entertain the notion since her husband was city planner and the Swenson administration wanted the building to come down. Hundreds abandoned HHA and it seemed destined for extinction. However Hu took a major leadership role with Neal and Roseanne McGee and later Tom Leonard and Janet Day to bring the group back into prominence. I don't believe it ever achieved the membership it once had, but had these people not put heart and soul into the effort we wouldn't be having an annual Candlelight House Tour today. And so we remember Hu Peterson who could be difficult at times but who stuck firmly to his vision . . .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Of course Tammy Evans did not return my phone call today but I see that my check has been cashed by the city so I assume (a great mistake, perhaps) that I am back in the good graces of city hall and that my water will continue to flow . . . We now have two street lights on our block that do not function. Calls to the city for repairs have gone unheeded. If one were to take an early evening stroll around town one would find dozens of lights no longer in service. Public Works cannot be so busy that they must ignore these safety features . . . Have that cough/cold that is going around and spent most of the afternoon in bed. Am looking forward to a big bowl of chili which Bob has cooked up--just the right thing for a stormy fall evening . . . It is beginning to appear that there was a rush to judgment in the Penn State scandal. When we first read the grand jury report I said to my neighbor that the incident which brought down the hierarchy was based on the unsupported testimony of one guy; suppose he wasn't telling the truth? My neighbor said I read too many Agatha Christie novels . . . well, now that "witness" is changing his story and the alleged victim reportedly has denied that the incident ever occurred. Curiouser and curiouser . . . If things turn out to be different than what they now appear, the PSU trustees, the Governor and especially the Pat-News will have a tasty plate of crow. However, the accused will have to be found guilty if only to save these famous faces. (And I do think he is culpable of something.) . . . Funny that the newspaper hasn't the resources to report the petty crimes in the city but it has very deep pockets when it comes to this scandal. Pulitzer anyone? . . . Well, one might say that this home owner uptown has given notice, not that it will do much for him in court . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Last week I received a notice by mail that my water bill was in arrears and that the water would be shut off as of a certain date. I called Tammy Evans at city hall as the letter instructed, and when my call wasn't returned I assumed that my check had already been processed. But Monday morning I found a message posted on the door to The Bare Wall again threatening to disconnect my water. Again I called this Tammy Evans and she answered; her solution was to refer me to the treasurer's office. I called there and, of course, had to leave a message that wasn't returned. Today I am still in limbo so I again called Ms. Evans and got the answering machine. Of course my call was not returned. So I have no idea what my standing is at city hall and apparently no one in employ there could give a hoot. The checks which were mailed out at the same time have already cleared the bank but, folks, this happened to me once before and at that time I found the office was over two weeks behind in processing the mail. If anyone knows this Tammy Evans, please ask her to get on the ball and assure her that I am good for whatever I owe . . . P.S. We are talking about less than one hundred dollars . . . If you, by chance, lived at the Governor's Residence, this is the sunset over the Susquehanna that you could enjoy each night . . .

Monday, November 14, 2011


Mary Ann Furedi and Rick May back from a vacation in the Finger Lakes region . . . John Wesley informed me today that our neighborhood is being vandalized by people looking for metal to sell. Specifically, they are breaking off the outdoor spigots for the couple of pennies the brass might bring. Unfortunately, if you have not turned off the water inside you may find that the broken pipe will flood your basement. Take a moment and give the valve a twist if you are vulnerable . . . I am a teetotaller but I mentioned to a group today that I was quite taken by those "most interesting man in the world" commercials though I didn't know the name of the brand. After Googling the slogan Stay thirsty my friend we discovered that it was a Mexican brew called Dos Equis (Two X-es, in translation). But the big surprise was that these advertisements have an international following and you can see most of them on YouTube! . . . Is this derelict vehicle on Peffer Street really smiling or have I been watching the movie Cars too often? . . .

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Took a long walk through some uptown neighborhoods this morning. Bright sun and gentle breezes made it oh so pleasant. The convenience store opposite the Governor's Mansion at North Second and Maclay is fast taking shape. Would expect an opening announcement in the not too distant future . . . Finished my John Buchan novel Huntingtower, catnapped and watched Bob decorating our Christmas tree in the family room. The tree, a formal one, is already up in the living room but this one is bedecked with "cute-sy" ornaments that Bob has collected over the years. Seems to me that we are pushing the season a bit, but there is still a lot of decorating to be done in the house (and at the store also, I might add) . . . I have been meaning to share several photos with you and they are stacking up. This one shows Mt. Gretna in the October snowstorm and comes to us courtesy of Eric Battisti . . .

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pleasant Saturday but not as busy as we might have expected. We made our goal, nonetheless. I watched Penn State lose its game with Nebraska while working on a jigsaw. Bob and Angela Lawson went off to the theater tonight so I am enjoying still more sports. Otherwise, a quiet day on the news front . . .

Friday, November 11, 2011


Surprisingly busy on this holiday Friday. Expected everyone to be elsewhere for this long weekend. A nice visit from Richard Williams and Terry Sneed who are almost neighbors at Bob's house and yet I hadn't seen them on any of my walks this summer . . . Piccola plans to retire from politics; I wonder if he isn't at least a little embarrassed by the gerrymandering caper that was done to favor him. It must be obvious by now that no one--including the Republicans affected--was happy with this maneuver . . . At Penn State these days it is all about football and not about the victims who suffered. We have a distorted sense of values--and unfortunately that surfaces all too frequently in our society . . . This "traditional" musical jewelry box is a beauty and plays I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (or a Chopin piece, if you prefer). Sells for $75 . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wet day but you kept on shopping. Thanks so much. And you still have two more days to take advantage of our anniversary sale. Please come by. And we do apologize--the sale was more than half over before we realized we hadn't set up for our usual drawing for gift certificates. We will make it up to you somehow, I promise . . . Had a pleasant but all too brief visit with Bob's friend, Frank McLaughin from Arizona. He is here visiting friends and family . . . Well, Joe is out but the Patriot-News keeps churning the waters. I can only assume that the team is hoping for a Pulitzer. It almost seems that the point of this investigation has been placed on the back burner while we deal with its more important aspect--Penn State football . . .

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great fall day above the averages. Things predicted to deteriorate beginning tomorrow . . . For those of you out of the area: the city council incumbents who are flirting with bankruptcy won yesterday's election in a landslide. The GOP reportedly spent more than $20,000 in an effort to unseat them. Personally, I believe the Republicans had a real chance this time around but they squandered it badly by merely blaming others for the city's distress but not offering their own solution to the problems. We all want answers and the three contenders simply parroted Mayor Thompson in finding fault with others . . . The Penn State scandal continues to simmer and reportedly Paterno has offered to resign at the end of the season; others believe he should be gone immediately. Stay tuned . . . Happy to report that the Internet Password and Address book is back in print and we received twelve copies today. Grab yours for $7.95 . . .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day, warm and sunny. I was number 44 around ten a.m. which wasn't particularly good as turn-outs go. The big question--will city council incumbents be re-elected. Unfortunately I have to post before we know that answer . . . Am already tired of the tempest at Penn State which seems to be titillating the news media in a tabloid fashion. Apparently Coach Paterno is apt to resign in the near future, but nothing is certain. Some of the info released thus far in this child molestation case seems suspect. Someone alleges improper activity in the shower room and passes it up the chain of command, but, it turns out, there is no known victim. What kind of evidence is this? . . . I will assure you of one thing: if, as in the Catholic Church scandal, money suddenly becomes available, there will be dozens coming forward with their own stories of being touched inappropriately . . .

Monday, November 7, 2011

It is getting to be a weekly event--an auto accident at Green and Forster. I do not know who was at fault (the burgundy car on the right was also involved) but as far as I know no one was hurt. The other car had a lot of front-end damage as well. It occurred about one o'clock this afternoon . . . Bob and I did not attend JJ's final soccer game on Friday evening but according to proud poppa Eric we missed an exceptional contest. JJ's group beat a much better team 5-3 and JJ scored three goals. Have we been spared? 'Fraid not. The whole thing is on video and JJ is eager to share it . . . Lindsay Mills e-mailed a list of activities taking place at St. Michael's Lutheran Church on State Street. The first takes place tomorrow--the annual soup-by-the-quart and bake sale in conjunction with Election Day (the church is a polling place). Saturday the congregation will be holding open house for all those attending the holiday parade. We are invited to stop by for soup, a hot dog or hot drink and to warm ourselves . . . The popular $1 chocolate patties in six flavors are again available for the holidays as are living hand-decorated wreaths which sell for $12 . . .

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eastern Standard Time has arrived and we had darkness for dinner. Otherwise it has been a low-key day--slept late, bundled up and sat in the sun to read, watched some TV and napped. Called around in search of some news to report, but all seems calm within my realm. Now contemplating a new order for Campbell pottery and looking forward to the warmer week. Our sale continues, so we hope to see some more of you . . .

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Very VERY busy day and the weather cooperated beautifully. Claire, Caitlin and Ernest Pennington in town from Dayton, Ohio, and with goodies in hand as usual . . . We were happy to debut the twenty-one new pieces of pottery by Steve Day and were eager to see the reaction. Well, we got a big surprise, needless to say. This picture was taken before opening this morning; by closing we had already sold five pieces, so what I am showing here may no longer be available. Clearly will have to restock but when one is working with craftsmen there can be a generous lag time since not all can afford to carry a large inventory on their shelves . . . Am prepared to suffer some minor depression until I get accustomed to standard time again . . . And I really must note the passing of Andy Rooney; his commentaries will be fondly remembered, even the pointedly nasty ones . . .

Friday, November 4, 2011


Leo the Painter came down Green Street on his mobile lift this afternoon and pulled onto the sidewalk in front of the Hill residence opposite The Bare Wall. He attracted a lot of attention from passers-by but I guessed the reason before it became evident. Amy and Doug have been trying to get a large chest of drawers to the second floor all summer without success; Too big for the stairwell and earlier attempts to lift it up the front of the building with slings was unsuccessful. It took Doug and Leo (Amy supervising) only a few moments to whisk the piece of furniture up to the second floor balcony . . . The new pottery from Berks County arrived this afternoon and both Bob and I find it different and attractive. Plan to have pictures for you soon . . . It was a sunny but breezy day. The trees on Forster Street were almost denuded . . .

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Bright fall day closing with a graying November sky. Will be in a depressed mode for a week after we adjust our clocks this Sunday . . . Very little else to report at this time. Shoppers still taking advantage of our sale prices and finding a lot of new product to amuse them . . . We are anticipating some new Pennsylvania made pottery later this week or early next; it will be quite different than what we already have on the shelves . . . This is another of the new music boxes and suitable for a man's collection. Plays America the Beautiful and sells for $55 . . .

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Boxed Christmas cards were on the menu for shoppers today. It was brisk but beautiful. We attended JJ's soccer game this evening. Don't know what they will do once the clocks are turned back this weekend. It will be much too dark as the schedule now stands. The opponent female coach asked me to step back from the playing area because I was soooo tall that I might inhibit her little players; well, she was as broad in the beam as I am tall, so I wondered if maybe she didn't intimidate our players. Watching her bend for the ball was not a pretty sight . . . Have a nice selection of Thanksgiving Day cards . . . The creation of a gerrymandered new district for Senator Piccola is a travesty and so un-American that I am ready to march on the Capitol and advocate violence. How can any thoughtful politician vote in support of it? I believe everyone should withhold his vote for any GOP candidate in protest regardless of the office he is seeking. And why haven't we heard even a whimper from any Republican on this matter? . . . This musical jewelry box has a well-appointed interior and is just one of several in our new collection. It plays Fascination and sells for $75 . . .

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Low-key day. Got the tooth restored to my dental plate. Ordered our signature green gift wrap for the holiday season. Continued to explore the closets for Santas and other Christmas related merchandise. Still a lot to bring forth and share with you . . . Visited the Battistis in Camp Hill after we closed. JJ should be watching his new collection of Tom and Jerry cartoons as I write. He promises to call with his review . . . Traffic to the West Shore is clogged at five fifteen, if you didn't know. We were parallel to some lady in her Jag who talked on her cell for the whole trip up the hill; I expected a fender bender any moment for she clearly wasn't paying much attention to the road . . . JJ's knowledge surprises sometimes. He dug in my coat pocket for a Tootsie Roll and came out with a quarter that had some ships on it. "Those must be the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria," he said. Now where did that come from? . . . Google provides me with lots of info about this blog, more than how many visitors we have and from where. Key words entered for information often led to the diary--bare wall, barewall blog, tbw, etc. Also, those who have been mentioned might also surface if someone is blogging for their info. We don't mention names, but there have been quite a few personal inquiries about people in the neighborhood recently. Of course, we aren't told who made them . . .

Monday, October 31, 2011

Many ghosts and goblins are prowling the Harrisburg streets tonight. All seem to be enjoying their Halloween celebration. Most of the snow that fell this weekend has disappeared though there are still wet sidewalks . . . The Mechanicsburg weather site mentioned yesterday is being managed by pharmacist Ed Maff . . . Spent the day ordering gift wrap supplies and boxes for the store. Unfortunately, wrapping paper no longer comes in the thirty inch width we have been used to for nearly forty years, so if the box is over-sized the paper will have to be pieced from now on . . . You are beginning to respond to the sale cards that finally got into the mail. Thanks. Remember you still have nearly two weeks to save . . .

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Took a quick jaunt around the neighborhood this morning. Snow melting was already in progress and I saw more squishy pumpkins in one hour than I had seen in my seventy-five years. Several smaller limbs had broken off various trees but I saw no major destruction . . . Spent most of the day cat-napping in front of the TV and am now feeling guilty . . . Bob did what he could to prepare for fall and winter. The big spider plants that graced his front porch all summer were taken down and offered to any passer-by for free; both walked away when we weren't looking. The hibiscus plant which he harassed all summer because it wouldn't bloom got chopped up and stuffed into a garbage bag . . . Those of you living in the Mechanicsburg area now have a new eye on the weather. You can get your current stats at http://www.wunderground.com/webcams/ed2kayak/1/show.html . . . Not sure that I am to reveal who is maintaining the site; will check further and let you know . . .

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Closed in the midst of the snow storm at one o'clock anticipating an afternoon of football. Got home to find that there was a power outage uptown. Sabrina and Felix thought that was neat since Uncle Bob had put a small safety lantern in their trick-or-treat buckets and now they had light when no one else did . . . Power came back on at three-thirty and just in time for the Penn State game . . . The Weather Channel heart throb Jim Cantore was broadcasting from the Capitol in Harrisburg; Mayor Thompson promised him she had everything under control . . . TheBurg for November is now available. Hope all readers notice our ad . . .

Friday, October 28, 2011


A belated happy birthday to Ann Duncan of Beavercreek, Ohio. I missed it by two days Ann always comes shopping at The Bare Wall when visiting her parents, Yvonne and Wes Brown, in Mechanicsburg . . . Today was my day at the hospital and in general it went well. It is practically my second home these days and I was pleased and surprised at the number of nurses and other personnel who greeted me by name. The stent to the kidney was repaired without having to go in through my back and it was performed by Dr. Edwards, my first encounter with him. At our initial interview he noticed I was working English Cryptic Puzzles from The Daily Telegraph; he raised an eyebrow and began to speak and it was immediately evident that he was a Brit. From the Lake District, it turns out, and since I am an Anglophile of sorts we had a jolly long-winded conversation that probably put the hospital schedule a half hour behind . . . All this was followed by the bad news. I came home starved and gulped the salad Bob had waiting for me. Looking for a sweet to compliment it, my eye fell on the aforementioned caramel popcorn. Seconds later I bit down on an unpopped kernel and broke a tooth off my dental plate. Hasten in to talk with a good-looking Hillbilly . . . Snow is predicted for tomorrow so Bob brought up the shovels in the hopes that they would scare it off . . . I am promoting this cookbook for holiday giving. It has recipes but is really a history of American food through the 1900s. It tells when some of our basic dishes were first introduced and what and when kitchen appliances were introduced. It is a wonderful compliment to the other two histories of the century that I told you about earlier--Christmas Memories and Twentieth Century Memories . .

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Went trick-or-treating with JJ and Cecilia in Camp Hill tonight. The weather was misty and raw but the kids didn't seem to notice; unlike previous years when JJ admired the decorations but ignored the treats he eagerly filled his basket and absolutely refused to share anything with me. What a difference a year makes . . . I was somewhat surprised to see so many older kids in the crowds that thronged the streets . . . Bob and I shared some cake with the family in honor of Sarah Battisti whose birthday is tomorrow . . . I will be mostly on my own tomorrow at the hospital; the last time Bob went with me and in effect wasted several hours just sitting. He plans to keep the store open for as long as possible (closing only to pick me up after the procedure); frankly, we can use the income . . . The post cards announcing the sale are finally in the mail. If you don't get one you are not on our mailing list. Send us an e-mail and we will add your name . . . It is not too early to plan some of your holiday baking (using our cookie cutters, of course) so you might enjoy our Cookies for Santa book, just $12.95 . . .

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


As I feared, the visit with Dr. Dowling was a harbinger of unpleasant things to come. The x-rays showed that the stent at the kidney may indeed have slipped, so it is back to surgery on Friday--arrive at eleven for a one o'clock appointment. This will be the fourth time in a little over two months that I have been on the table for this same procedure to save a kidney. My mental state definitely is deteriorating . . . surprise: the post card announcing the sale is at the printer! As you can see from the above, the dates of the anniversary celebration have been extended . . . This trivet has a pithy saying and a cork backing; should be a hit at your next wine tasting. Three on hand, $13 each . . .

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My thanks to Lelia and Tyler Simmons for the caramel popcorn . . . "IT" hit the fan this afternoon. All that stuff we had on order just poured off the UPS truck. What fun trying to find a place for it all--music boxes, children's books, cookbooks, ship's bells. Still a lot of reorganization to do before it is properly displayed . . . The golfer bookends pictured on the blog recently have already been sold . . . A car break-in on Prince Street (also known as Love Alley) may have been facilitated by the fact that our city public works department had not gotten around to replacing the burned out street light despite several calls from residents . . . Saw Doctor Dowling this morning for a little chat and check up. There is a possibility that the stent to my kidney may have been dislodged; had an x-ray to make the determination but the doc hasn't gotten back to me yet. Oh, please, not another trip to the operating room. I've got too much to take care of--still haven't mailed those pesky post card announcing our anniversary sale. At this rate the markdowns will continue until Thanksgiving! . . .

Monday, October 24, 2011


A quiet day on the storefront. Continued to dig through the closets for items I may have forgotten about. We have received so much merchandise lately that I fear much of it may have been misplaced . . . Loved the story in today's newspaper; just how stupid can our politicians get. Around the world those Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are calling for a more level playing field and fewer perks for the rich. But up on the Hill our politicos want to remove any sales tax from repair and purchase of private airplanes--sure, there is one in every garage and we will all benefit from this exemption. Ha! . . . the sentinels on Forster Street continue to don coats of fall colors . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2011


A foggy morning, almost spooky since I encountered no one on my walk. The day brightened considerably later . . . Answer to yesterday's trivia question was Niagara Falls and several e-mailed with that response . . . Second Street was closed about one p.m. for an hour or so at Calder because of a fire at the laundromat there. I looked through the window and it appeared that a blaze may have broken out in a dryer . . . What is left of me is seventy-five today and I thank all of you who sent me goodies and well-wishes. Bob made me a strip steak and pineapple upside down cake. Sarah Battisti of Camp Hill will celebrate her birth date on Friday and our friend John Goldsmith in Palm Springs will party on Saturday . . . Have my next consultation with the doctor on Tuesday. Please, no more scans for the immediate future . . . Still have not mailed the anniversary sale cards so I suspect we will extend the discount period for another week . . . This cheese tray has a condiment bowl and magnetic strip to hold the various utensils. Very handsome addition to your party buffet. $32 . . .

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Brisk and gloomy day with the sun breaking through momentarily a little after five . . . Just read that Santorum pledges to fight same sex marriage if he is nominated and elected to the presidency. He will also outlaw any form of contraception, or so he says. This definitely is the silly season . . . Bob and I were looking seriously at the Republican candidates for city council and were giving them every consideration, but today we received a mailing from them blaming the "gang of four" for the city's financial condition. Well, that sunk their ship so far as we are concerned; another Linda "blame game" group is something we do not need these days . . . Asked Eric W. a trivia question today: Which US landmark is forever moving backward? His response: The Supreme Court. He might have a point. Do you know the answer? . . . This set of bookends is the perfect gift for the serious golfer. The pieces are quite heavy and sell for $55 . . .

Friday, October 21, 2011


JJ's soccer game was the best this season even though we lost. The kids on both teams were really into the action and so were the friends and parents on the sidelines. Hopping up and down did help us to keep warm. Got quite nippy and there was a wind. The last few minutes were played in near darkness . . . City Hall announced today that the holiday parade has been cancelled because the Parks Department head didn't find enough sponsors. Her handmaidens are just as incompetent as the mayor, it seems. Might not have fire works for New Year's Eve, it was stated. This after turning our Fourth of July celebration into a fiasco and Kipona into a pale shadow of its former self. We sorely miss Mayor Reed despite his couple of missteps . . . Have you noticed how most rosebushes have lost their leaves and a few canes have become tall and spindly with one last determined bloom on top? Guess this is the "last rose of summer" we have all heard about. This one is on North Second Street . . .

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Forgot to mention last night that the East Shore Public Library book sale began today and continues through Saturday, so grab some bargains to fill your long winter evenings. So many people are "going electronic" with their reading that the paper book is probably in peril. Bob jokes that in the future one will point to a couple of these devices on the shelf and announce that his library now contains ten thousand volumes. That makes me wonder: are the bookends I am selling about to become collectible antiques? . . . Root Candles arrived today in time for you to stock up during the anniversary sale . . . Read today that a group has plans to turn a major part of Reservoir Park into a farm to raise vegetables and chickens. Apparently there are some members of city council that are taking this suggestion seriously! Maybe not a bad idea if council can sell produce and eggs to fight the financial shortfall we are facing. Would Piccola approve, I wonder. But then, can you imagine attending MacBeth at Shakespeare in the Park with chickens cackling in the background, competing with the cackling witches . . . This big pumpkin and bales of straw welcome you to the Governor's Mansion this fall but no word yet as to whether or not the Corbetts will be greeting trick-or-treaters. The Rendells were wonderful neighbors to those living in the area . . .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Gray, rainy and turning colder, almost raw. That certainly brought our flourishing business to a halt today. No, I didn't go for my customary mile walk . . . Received a new shipment of wine-related items today: a new cork cage/bottle holder in the shape of a woman's boot ($27.50); glittery gold stars confetti to scatter on your festive table ($2.25 pkg.); our popular cheese server with magnetic strip to hold the utensils and a condiment dish ($32); cocktail napkins with a poinsettia motif ($3 pkg.) and on and on . . . It is Wednesday night so JJ's soccer coaches are determined to hold a practice; unfortunately there was quite a downpour here at five thirty p.m. . . . The setting sun on Peffer Street highlights the already fading fall foliage. Too bad that the office folks across the street don't hide their dumpster in the parking lot behind the bushes. Such a small gesture would make the neighborhood even more attractive . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Another beautiful day, but the last for a while if we are to believe the weathermen. The store was very busy; I am so happy that you are taking advantage of our sale prices . . . I did slip away for a bit to view the Earl Blust painting exhibit at the Whitaker Center. I am sorry I hadn't gone earlier because it was well worth seeing and I would have promoted it more in the blog. The show ends Friday, but if you have a moment, do slip into the lobby. There is no charge . . . Another new shipment of merchandise has arrived. Last year we had great success with a little gift book called Christmas Memories which selected a highlight of every year in the century; (do you know when Rudolph debuted or when White Christmas was first performed?). We have more of those in stock and also a new companion piece called 20th Century Memories, which highlights an event or two in every year. I haven't had a chance to explore it, but Bob says this is a marvelous gift book for older people--the older, the better. Both sell for $12.95 (and are eligible for the 10% discount during the sale, of course) . . . These pumpkins are adult works (you don't let the little ones go at it with the knife) but one is already getting squishy and is not apt to make it to Halloween, I am informed . . .

Monday, October 17, 2011


Another beautiful day . . . New shipment of note cards, boxed Christmas cards and some real crazy Halloween cards. Still a nice selection for this spooky holiday . . . Enough of you have requested them so today I placed an order for those popular holiday specs; slip them on and look at the lights on the Christmas tree (or any others, for that matter) and you suddenly see an elf, Santa, snowflake, star or snowman. As I recall these sell for $2 each or 3/$5. Delivery expected by the end of the week . . . Fall decorations are popping up on just about every lawn in the suburbs. I don't think these are intended to be Cecilia and JJ but they are in Grandpa Tom's yard . . . David Hoffman back from a visit with relatives in Texas. He drove all the way . . .

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A beautiful fall day, possibly the nicest this season. Bright sun and breezy. I took two long walks today . . . Thanks to Guy Kehler for the floral arrangement. It will look great in the store during our anniversary sale . . . Lindsay Mills is celebrating his birthday on Tuesday and Bob's niece, Trisha Boyer, celebrates Thursday . . . I think I could be a supporter of Occupy Wall Street if I could only figure out what they stand for and what they want exactly. I am frequently suspicious of those who join these movements because I am not sure that they practice what they preach. Would be interesting to know how many of these people shop at Wal-Mart and Target rather than at their local mom and pop stores, for instance . . . But I am pretty sure I know what those Tea Party people want, and I certainly don't want to be a party to that . . . I keep thinking of them as The Enemy Within . . .

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Thanks to Rick May who ran interference with Verizon for me this afternoon I am now back on the Internet and able to read my e-mails. Apparently Verizon is having problems in our area. A neighbor's telephone called 911 on its own which brought a response from the police department. Curiouser and curiouser--but then this is the month of ghosts and ghouls . . . Received a new shipment of glass earrings and necklaces from Fred Imhoff this morning. Beautiful. The set sells for $70 but of course you can save 10% for the next two weeks . . . Fall has touched the trees on Forster Street, but one of them seems to be pushing the season. It is wearing red before its sisters . . .

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another dreary day of clouds and rain. I braved the downpour to open the leaf-filled drain at the end of our block . . . The expected shipments of new merchandise failed to arrive . . . Got a late afternoon call from Verizon saying that my Internet line was fixed; it wasn't so I called the number that they provided. That took me to India on a terrible connection; I asked the fellow if he could get someone on another line who might speak English with less of an accent, which was almost impossible to decipher. He was deeply offended and when I asked for a supervisor he said there were none available. I couldn't help but think of that credit card commercial where the callers get stuck with "Peggy." (I assume you all have seen those.) . . . Called Verizon tech support and after some pleasant moments with an English-speaking girl I was informed that the phone call I had received must have been in error because my "problem" was still "ticketed" which meant that no one had tackled it yet. But the good news: the "ticket" said the problem had to be cleared up by Saturday at five p.m. . . . We shall see . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Friends gathered this evening to remember Jon Carfagno; I had told you about his passing several days ago. There were fun moments and sober ones befitting Jon's personality. He cannot be replaced . . . Spent nearly an hour with Verizon this morning. I do not have Internet access on all channels and I do NOT have e-mail capability at this time. The lad who worked with me admitted that the problem seems to be "in house" (his "house" not mine) and that it might take seventy-two hours for them to sort out the problem. Oh, boy, just what I needed. If the postings on this blog suddenly stop for a time or two you will know why . . .

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do you know anything about voodoo? My neighbor is very curious. He opened the door this morning and found a neat pile of rice on his stoop. At first he thought it was probably a thoughtless leftover from a Chinese dinner that someone simply tossed away; but wait--this was uncooked rice, and so neatly displayed. This must be a meaningful deposit, but what? Anyone out there want to take a stab at this? . . . Brian MacLeod has been reporting that our street light is out for a couple of weeks; thus far nothing has been done so he asked neighbors to join in the protest.
The darkness could have helped in the theft of the Hill porch table and chairs over the weekend, so I called the emergency number posted on the pole this morning. Well, folks, it turns out that the city no longer has a maintenance contract with that particular firm and though it promises to pass the word of outage along, there is no way to be sure that the message got through. Should you have any street lamp problems and live in the city, you should report same to the Public Works department at 236-4802 . . . Today's big news from city hall concerns the poll taken by a local television station and what the figures might mean. I was one of those called in this survey that sought to judge public opinion on the city debt. I voted for bankruptcy since those whose judgement I trust seem to support that option, but apparently we are in the minority there. Some of the questions were a bit difficult to answer since the choices overlapped--the bankruptcy issue and the mayor/council cooperative endeavor were the possible answers to the same question . . .

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The green ash tree on Green Street that normally bursts into glorious golden foliage about this time disappointed this year. The leaves turned quickly and became little brown curls that littered cars and sidewalks. And, of course, this being street cleaning week, one driver failed to move his vehicle which left us with a mess to clean up. I swear, if the city wants money, these failure-to-move people should be fined fifty dollars or so; that should be a cure, though I did see that the floor of this particular vehicle was already littered with parking tickets presumably unpaid . . . placed several more orders for merchandise today--the shop will be bulging if all this stuff ever arrives. Our anniversary sale begins in just a few days and we still haven't mailed our postcards yet. Please spread the word and come yourself to save . . .

Monday, October 10, 2011


Another beautiful day and a happy one for state workers since the Capital complex was closed for the Columbus Day holiday. About the only sad soul this morning was our neighbor Sabrina who had to go to kindergarten to make up for a day lost during the flood (if I understood correctly). Mom, dad and brother Felix had the day off . . . That pesky squirrel was still in the vicinity this morning and threatening to raise havoc inside The Bare Wall since we wanted to let the doors hang open to benefit from the warmth outside. Enter Eric W., the great white hunter, who, with his trusty trap, soon was carting the quarrelsome beast back to Capitol Park. But when Eric returned home there sat another (?) member of the species in his back yard. Surely not the same one, but who knows . . . Thought this entry on Kelker Street was festively dressed for fall; there are several such throughout the area. Nice to see . . .

Sunday, October 9, 2011

An absolutely beautiful day--in the high seventies on October 9. The streets were busy with strollers enjoying a summer's day. Doug and Amy Hill in the 700 block of Green would have liked to share dinner on the porch as they had all summer but unfortunately someone stole their table and chairs overnight. Our neighborhood is besieged by thieves these days . . . It was a hard sell but I finally got JJ to loan me his Story of Robin Hood and Treasure Island DVDs. But only for five days; he wants them back by Friday . . . Bob's weekend with his club brothers was a nice event; the food at the Raddison was excellent, he reported . . .

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On a great day like today we normally would have had all the doors hanging open with the hope of warming up the inside. Unfortunately we were being visited by a pesky squirrel (probably from Capitol Park) who was determined to get inside. He twice got into the vestibule and was not at all frightened when we lunged in his direction; rather he was looking for a treat . . . Members of Bob's men's club are in town to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its founding with a big "do" at the Radisson. Fortunately for us some of the boys put shopping at The Bare Wall on their weekend itinerary. Even if they had not come it would have been a busy day; Yvonne and her daughters Ann and Claire from Ohio came to visit as did several locals from the neighborhood. I am just sorry that so many orders that are in transit have yet to arrive . . . Penn State's football team surprised everyone (except Joe?) by beating Iowa . . .

Friday, October 7, 2011

Because this is a holiday weekend, JJ did not have a soccer game tonight. Never thought I would miss the game, but I do. The Bare Wall will be open Monday, incidentally . . . The Hodge Podgery shop on North Third is now closed. The space that housed The Brass Monkey tattoo parlor on North Street will soon welcome a barber shop . . . Please note that there was a comment posted on Wednesday's entry; have no idea what it means. This obviously belongs somewhere else . . . Tried twice today to photograph a Halloween display in the 200 block of Cumberland, but it just didn't work out. Three properties have gone together to produce a haunted house theme. Neat . . . This certainly is a month for birthdays. Hope I have all these dates right: Ed Marsico Sr., 8th; Joel Turley, 10th; Chris Lingus, 11th; Suzi Marsico, 18th; The Bare Wall and me, 23rd . . . If there are corrections or additions, please e-mail me; address on the left . . .

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I have recently mentioned the theft of garbage cans on North Street and a planter from Janet Foreman’s stoop on Green Street. Today I received a detailed message from Michelle Hollis in the 900 block of Susquehanna (slightly edited): Not only is Der Maennerchor experiencing theft in the midtown area, we did as well. I came home from work Tuesday night to find my beautiful flower pots GONE! Left in the wake were the bushes and some of the flowers and other plants, just sitting on the sidewalk. The bricks and rocks that were in the bottom of the pots were clearly dumped out by the thief before SHE absconded with the pots . . . You ask, how do I know it was a she? Well, one of the construction workers working at the neighbors spotted the senior and witnessed the crime. She dumped the contents and loaded up pots into an awaiting shopping cart that was abandoned over the weekend in a nearby parking lot. The cart came all the way from Dollar General (Cameron Street perhaps?). Anyway, the construction guy just watched and took no action. I have a few choice words for him . . . Kudos to the Harrisburg Police. Two young officers arrived within 10 minutes of my call. They took the information, I e-mailed some before and after photos to them and they cautioned us not to confront the thief should we find the pots . . . Oh, and did I mention granny was wearing a….wait for it….hoodie. Why is there always a hoodie involved??? . . .

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A belated happy birthday to Jason Hess, our neighbor and acting city solicitor; he celebrated yesterday . . . JJ and I paid an Internet visit to Amazon.com and after some exploration settled on a two-disc set of Tom & Jerry. Bugs Bunny was in the running, but only briefly. I also wanted to order JJ the old 1950s Treasure Island and explained that it was about a young boy with a treasure map and pirates; he wasn't convinced at first and asked to look at the cover. Once he saw it, the DVD was a "go." Hopefully I'll get the loan of it at some point . . . Neighbor Betty Holmboe tried out the new Cribari's Restaurant in the space that once housed Nonna's on Reily Street opposite the Midtown Cinema. She gave it a good review and said it would be a nice addition to the area that also boasts Brothers' Pizza, Ciervo's and Breads and Spreads . . .

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A TERRIBLE LOSS
Bob and I were saddened to learn this morning that our close friend Jon Carfagno had passed away overnight. I was devastated, actually. Jon was my confidant who shared all my secrets for years; we talked on the phone a couple of times a week. He always was there for me with marvelous advice--although I didn't always follow it . . . We had met under peculiar circumstances maybe fifteen years ago. There was a motor accident on Briggs Street one night and a large pickup truck was damaged. It was clearly not driveable. The policeman wanted to leave the info on the windshield but I said that whoever owned it would come in the morning expecting to go to work; if the cop would give me the address I would go talk to the owner. That led me to Jon's companion, Larry Kirkhuff, and I gave him the bad news . . . Jon was well known to everyone throughout the neighborhood, but possibly not by name. He and Larry had a beautiful dog, Bear, who we in the area adopted as our mascot. Everyone loved Bear and a few of us even noticed that there was a young chap on the other end of the leash--Jon. Bear lived for a dozen years and passed away about three years ago . . . Every voter in our ward got to see Jon at least twice a year since he ran the balloting at St. Michael's Church . . . This will be a difficult loss for many of us. Jon will be hard to replace in our lives . . .