December 6th, 2011

The Tree Is Up and Decorated and a few observations on local retail

Yesterday, I got more lights and because even at the hardware store, the strings of LED lights are surrounded by really awesome displays of trees and ornaments for them, I spent a bunch of money on things like a tree-topper, more ornaments, etc. Very fun.

R. got the lights on and I got the remaining ornaments (yesterday's acquisitions and those from an earlier run to The Paper Store) up and it is Beautiful.

I probably should be doing holiday present shopping, but instead, I've been surfing VRBO in search of a place for us to spend some time at in August. The first place was non-responsive, but the second place got right back to me and a deposit is going out in the mail this afternoon or possibly tomorrow. Turns out I'm not the only person who moved up their plan-a-summer-vacation activities up to December from August. The woman I talked to has several places and she says they are already half booked for the season.

There are other indications the local economy is going really well. There's a strip mall (Staples, Trader Joe's, Pier One are probably the anchors; smaller stores include Gymboree, EMS, Talbot's, Chico -- it's a pretty nice strip mall) near where I live which had a fair sized store (the one in the corner) that went out of business recently. Today, when I went to TJ's and Gymboree, I noticed that the space was already rented -- I don't think it was empty more than two months altho it's possible it was three. There's a Jos. A. Banks store in the spot.

Which leaves the one obviously unoccupied space in town the former gas/service station which was briefly a cafe/market. (Okay, to be fair, there's a strip mall over near Nagog, where Rugged Bear is no longer and Scupperjack's closed as well. There's a new chocolate shop that just opened, The Happy Chocolatier, and there are other restaurant in the plaza, including Crossroad's Cafe, Daniela's, Il Forno and Bickford's. Now that I think about it, it's mostly restaurants and other food purveyors over there now, with a kid's hair place and a couple other things. Altho a little surfing suggests possibly the kid's hair place moved from Nagog Park to the old Stride Rite location on Great Rd. Hmmm.)

I didn't get a look at the former Stride Rite location. I think they finally went under and that there's not a kid's hair salon there, but I'm not certain because I only saw it in passing a few weeks ago.

ETA: Okay, I just decided to do the available-space assessment a little more formally (went over to LoopNet to see what's listed). (1) There's a pizza place for sale in town, but I'm not certain which one it is. (2) That McDonald's has been empty since long before we moved into town. (3) Wow, there seems to be a [ETA further: small] chunk of office space open in Nagog and on Powdermill Road. (4) Is that the building with Vanash in it, or is that Vanash's neighbor? I'm developing a real affection for LoopNet.

Ice

No, we don't have any ice on the ground around here. It's freakishly warm still.

I watched last night's Daily Show today; the interview was with photojournalist Benjamin Lowy who seems personable, able, calm and bemused about nearly everything. One of the photos that fascinated Stewart was of a woman at a market in Afghanistan; she's holding eggs. In the background is a table with a large block of ice on it. Stewart went on for a few sentences on the subject of wow, we just don't understand that here.

On the one hand, sure: this is a great way to illustrate the issues of Not Having Electrical Power Infrastructure. On the other hand, iceboxes rather than refrigerators are In Living Memory even here in the US. Working backwards from right this instant, my friend and former next door neighbor K. bought a house in the University District back in the late 1980s. It was cheap. It was in dire shape. Until she renovated the kitchen, she was using an icebox. A real icebox -- not a cooler.

My cousin B. worked at a company that made ice and stored it in a ridiculously ancient building (for Seattle). The building was insulated as well as it could be insulated when it was built: with sawdust. It went up in a horrifying fire shortly after B. moved on to other things.

R. bought his first house in Mayberry, New Hampshire, a small town (not it's real name) on the border with Massachusetts that was renowned for having a freakishly huge building (gone long before he moved to the town, but recorded in countless photos viewable in all sorts of public facilities around town). The building was used to store the ice which was harvested from Lake P. The company which ran the operation had previously run an ice operation out of Fresh Pond.

See? I didn't even have to invoke any family stories (I grew up in a time warp, so they aren't a great argument of, hey, you should remember this because I certainly do). I haven't even dragged in WDW's Carousel of Progress, which is _still_ viewable (I inflicted it upon my mother-in-law back in November), and which _still_ depicts an ice box on the first stage. Nor have I invoked remember-all-those-ice-boxes-and-pie-safes-you-could-buy-at-antique-stores-a-few-decades-back.

Having listed off all the examples of why people _ought_ to know about ice boxes, I'm now mildly curious. I'm betting most of my readers read way too many novels set in a time of iceboxes (whether written then or later) to be ignorant of ice boxes. The interesting situation would be if any of my readers lack any familiarity with icebox as a device for keeping things cold by sticking a largish square block of ice in it, along with the day's milk, eggs and so forth. Possibly cleverly located with a door to the exterior of the house as well as the interior kitchen, to enable the milkman to deliver the milk to the coldness.

Any takers?