Last week I was in the States helping my parents get ready to move house. They are moving to a smaller place so significant downsizing was required. Cleaning out the closets was not so problematic: the bridesmaid dress I wore in my sister’s wedding and the beautiful red silk mandarin gown that neither Mom nor I will ever fit into again went off to the thrift shop; my cap and gown, the little dress Mom wore to tap class when she was six and Dad’s pea coat from the navy all got a reprieve. Books and photos? Not so easy. It’s a family thing to have tons of photos adorning all available wall space (we call this the Rogue’s Gallery).The notion of decimating the Gallery (fewer walls in the new place) was highly troubling to the parents: how to choose which photos to jettison? Would their subjects be upset? It was decided that a slight reduction in the number of grandkid pix was acceptable and this cut back the photos by about 50%. Finding a similar formula for the books was less straightforward. Me: Dad, you’ve had this 600 page book on Oliver Cromwell for 30 years and you’ve never read it. You never will. Can we give it to the library? Dad: I might read it. Me: Mom, you’ve had this 600 page book on gardening for 30 years and you’ve never read it. You never will, especially since your new apartment doesn’t have a garden. Can we give it away? Mom: But your sister gave it to me for Christmas. She signed it and everything. I can’t give that away. As if this wasn’t hectic enough (and don’t even get me started on the three ribs Dad broke while carrying a box out to the garage. I don’t know how many of you have experience with cracked ribs — I have plenty but never more than one at a time. I cannot even conceive of the pain of having three broken at the same time), my parents also decided to sell their house in the mountains at the same time. I understand why — the house no longer gets enough use to justify its expense, what with taxes and trees falling onto the roof when it snows — but it’s still very sad. I have a lot of great memories of that place. So, to say goodbye, I invited my college roommates to the house for the weekend. Joanne (in DC), Andy (in Anne Arbor), Anne (in Clarksville, TN) and I (in Rome) don’t get together often enough (the last time was in Mexico about 3 1/2 years ago), but when we do it’s as if no time has passed. Or rather, it’s as if lots of time has passed — and we’ve all been through ups and downs, heartache and jubilation in the meantime — but we’ve pretty much stayed the same. Still goofballs and still (in our minds) 18. We had a fantastic time reminiscing (thanks to Andy who remembers everything) and catching up with each other.
Sadly, my beloved Jubilee Diner was closed all weekend due to a massive power outage that occurred when a truck crashed into a nearby utility pole.
But we made do. Any Martians searching for an explanation as to why over a third of Americans are obese need look no further than the Poconoes, where pretty much every available eating spot is of the hoagie/pizza/ice cream variety. This perfectly suited our plan to spend the entire weekend eating just like we did when we were in college. We did draw the line this time at cold pizza, a common breakfast item our senior year when I worked at the campus pizza agency and brought home the leftovers. We also walked around the lake, an activity that may have burned off 1% of the calories we consumed at any given meal. On Sunday, we found our way to the Hickory Valley Restaurant in Swiftwater, which dates back to 1949 and started out as an actual farm specializing in hickory-smoked ham, sausage, turkey and bacon, done the Pennsylvania Dutch way. Remember that diet I was going on some time back? I think that needs revisiting, and pronto.