Saturday, December 12, 2009



At the moment there is an orgy of decoration going on! You may remember that early in October last year Joanie had that awful fall and ended up with a broken knee and a wrist in plaster; as a result last year’s decorations were somewhat minimal. But this year she is making up for lost time! The porch lights were switched on Thanksgiving evening and now there are decorations strewn all over the living room carpet. The rule this year appears to be that it if it’s not moving then decorate it!! Tinker was having his usual afternoon nap and almost got festooned with a string of lights, well no, that’s a joke actually, but the way things are you never know! Seriously though, Joanie just loves her decorations and will more than make up for last years shortfall.


Jimmy arrived with his pickup this morning and took us to the tree farm. Evidently to produce a six foot tree involves a twelve year cycle from planting to harvesting; the recent wet summer has caused a considerable amount of root rot thus affecting the final product, however the lady with whom I spoke did not seem too worried. Our tree was loaded onto the truck, and (surprise surprise) Joanie immediately started with the decorations the instant it was placed on it’s stand once bought indoors!


The tree decoration was completed this morning, and very nice it looks too. Just to add to the atmosphere it is snowing as I write this. However it is not forecast to last very long and next week is forecast to be sunny and dry.


Joanie had to go to the hospital yesterday for some tests which she passed OK. The reason I raise this matter is so as to say a little about American hospitals. Lehigh Valley Hospital, on the outskirts of Allentown and about 45 minutes drive, is the main general hospital for North East Pennsylvania. The complex is vast, it must be around five or six times the size of the Conquest. There are many buildings, some going up ten floors and it has the capacity to handle every conceivable case or emergency; most road accident victims are firstly taken to the local hospital here in Pottsville and, when stabilised, flown by helicopter to Lehigh for further treatment.

Upon arrival at the main entrance you find a valet parking service, this is completely free. You simply wait a few moments until one of the Staff comes over with your ticket and he then parks your car in a specially designated secure area. There is every conceivable facility within the hospital, a very large cafeteria serving anything from burgers to chop suey, a very comprehensive gift shop and a general store. Of course the medical facilities are second to none, and if you are only in for some tests, you are hooked up to one of those bleeping monitors. All the bed bays have televisions and there is a very high nurse/patient ratio.

Upon leaving the hospital you hand the parking ticket to a staff member who walks to the parking area and brings your car back to the main entrance. After having been accustomed to those horrendous parking charges at the Conquest, this is indeed a luxury!

We are experiencing the first really cold snap of the winter with temperatures down in single figures(F not C) in some places. Earlier this week a very large storm crossed the country from Northern California to Maine. We were lucky with only minimal snowfall, but the past two days the wind of around 30 mph has been a real killer. But today the wind has gone and we have wall to wall sunshine but still with sub zero temperatures.

Well that’s if for this time



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

7th November

We were invited to a kids birthday party this afternoon. Derrick, next door, was two and another boy was ten. So the Mums decided to have a joint party in a local clubroom. This led to my first encounter with something called a “Pinyada” which is yet another American custom which I had not previously witnessed. The Pinyada is a cardboard box model of some character or other, (in this case it was Spongebob) they are sold in the supermarkets and are then filled with sweets and suspended from either the ceiling or a tree depending on the time of year. Each guest strikes it in turn with a stout stick until it breaks and all the sweets fall out onto the ground. There is then a mad scramble to pick up as many sweets as possible. Evidently this replaces our custom of having “Goodie Bags” to take home after the party.


26th November

Today has been Thanksgiving. It has been a very good day, we watched Macy’s parade on TV in New York in the morning. I think this is about far as can be gone for sheer American showmanship. The parade lasted for two and a half hours and the main feature was, as always, the enormous balloons of various characters, Kermit, Snoopy, Mickey Mouse and a host of other favourites and in addition it featured excerpts from the many shows currently running on Broadway. This parade has been held, with the exception of the war years, for eighty four years. It ended with the arrival of Santa on his sledge. There were also several college marching bands which came from all over the country, from Florida to California and including one from here in Pennsylvania. For lunch we went to Jimmy’s (he’s the one living closeby). It was a smaller than usual gathering, just close family, not because Jimmy is anti social in any way but his table is not sufficiently large to accommodate the extended family. We had the traditional meal of turkey, mashed potato, cranberry, corn and oysters (these Joanie always prepares herself). I drove over with her sitting next to me holding the precious dish in her lap! Tomorrow is “Black Friday” (I told you about this last year) I think it is all getting rather silly, some stores are starting the pre-Christmas sales at 3am! Even the local Salvation Army charity shop is opening at 8 instead of the usual time of 10! Anyway, that’s it for another year, now we have Christmas in less than a month which will be held at Linda’s. The house is of sufficient size for the extended family so I should think there will be about twenty five. Of course on Christmas Eve everyone comes here to Pottsville (another family tradition) for the exchange of gifts. Joanie prepares a lovely table of snacks for the occasion. The next event will be the collection of the Tree which is scheduled early next month when Jimmy comes over with his pickup and takes us to the farm to choose one.

28th November

Well Thanksgiving is over for another year, and I feel that I never want to see turkey ever again! The early morning shopping was something of a success, some people had been queuing since the previous afternoon Today two things took place, this afternoon we went over to help with the decoration of the church. This is something that Joanie loves doing (the porch is all up and illuminated already). I have to admit it was a lot of fun and halfway through we had a break for pizza. Last year we simply could not walk down the garden to the garage due to all the ice and did not make it to the Christmas Eve service. We are hoping this will not happen this year. This evening was the switching on of the lights in Garfield Square. Guess what came before this? Yes the fire trucks with all lights and sirens blazing. Right at the end of the parade was Pottsville’s very own vintage fire truck which, in addition to carrying the winter carnival queen and princesses also carried old Santa himself. Yes, over here the Christmas holiday season is now well under way.

Next summer it is my intention to get the firetrucks on video so you will be able to see for yourselves!

Until next time


pic#1 Vintage fire truck with Santa

pic#2 crib by war memorial