Edinboro December 2016

I am learning how to do Edinboro.

Please understand that Edinboro, Pa. is a rather special place for my family and I. I myself have 48 years of memories here, of some of the happiest times I ever knew. But in 1986, when my Grandpa died, Edinboro changed for everyone because his widow, my dear Granny G, made it her home, which it was from then until she died in May 2016.

So I no longer come here to visit my Granny G (except in spirit of course, which I will discuss in a bit). So this place which once held my childhood wonder with elements such as The Penny Candy Store, bike rides, sandy flip-flops, canoe excursions, and the like, is now… well…

Radiolab recently ran a story about a woman with an odd neurological condition she first noticed when she was a child. From time to time, her sense of place shifted by about 45 degrees. So for her, when this happened, nothing seemed to be in the right place. Wait, let me see if I can find it for ya.

So it feels kind of like that.

Now my theory has been that you leave Rochester Friday night after your shift. But I tried this last night, and it was no fun. First the snow made the road feel like a pool full of ball bearings. So I chickened out and left the thruway at the next exit. And promptly was met with completely stopped traffic.

I do not do well in stopped traffic.

It cleared, and then my GPS got me lost by mistaking Avenue for Road.

I finally got home and had cancelled this trip in my head before I slept. But I woke up this morning and was gung-ho.

Via this, I have concluded the move is to get home from work, go to bed, then get up early and beat feet.

Still learning.

So anyway, I am here, in our quiet lake house. I have some writing to do (Zappadan, don’tcha know). And I brought laundry. And I had a nice lunch and did some antique looking. Picked up some toiletries I had forgotten at the CVS.

Then I went to see the other piece of real estate my family owns here.

I told my Granny G about President-Elect Trump.

I told her I was sorry.

I told her we had tried.

It did not have the necromancing quality I had expected. She did not come to life and claw her way up to demand answers.

I really sort of expected her to. I mean, I even told her Trump had talked to Taiwan.

What a nitwit.

Anyway. Look out, folks. Zappadan is coming!

Grandma G’s Trademark Laugh

My Grandma G laughed a certain laugh, one without abandon and with her whole entire body, not at jokes or at funny or ironic situations, but when she was excited for you and your good news, or when she was excited to see you.

It was a laugh unique to her and I never realized while she was living how generous it was. She gave me that laugh again while she was on her second-to-last bed with a mask strapped to her face offering her body 100 percent oxygen, which her body was likely using only a fraction thereof, due to her heart not working much at all at the time.

It was about the new apartment. I had not yet moved in but the move was finally on the calendar. And she wanted every shred of news she could get out of me. And we talked about the new apartment, and she gave me that laugh and told me how excited she was about it.

I think the oxygen, while it was not actually contributing to her respiration, I think it was somehow energizing her. The nurses had to remind her not to talk too much, not to get too excited, because, you know, all that stuff uses more oxygen.

That was the last time I saw her fully cognizant. The last time, and she gave me that generous, excited-for-you laugh. I am at her house tonight, and when I walked through the door, I heard that laugh, though now only in my head.

But I heard it. I reckon I always will. I just wish I’d recognized it for what it was when she was here. That woman had pure joy for everyone in her life and was so excited about good news from them that it made her laugh better than she laughed about anything else.

Gosh she was something.

The Little House I Used To Live In

the cottage

Well, periodically.


Flip Cafe would indeed be the best cuisine in town if its chefs weren’t so darned scared of NaCl.

I ordered and omelet with something called “flip potatoes,” which is just hash browns, but they partially steam them somehow so they come out downright fluffy. Or maybe they rice them. I don’t know; there is a quality to these potatoes that are just a bit more luxurious than an eater is accustomed.

The omelet was a spinach and tomato affair topped with pepper jack cheese. It was technically excellent; fluffy, well-folded, the spinach still retained a nice bite. Not to mention: The toast is sliced from a homemade loaf.

The only thing missing was seasoning. Until I picked up the shaker, no sodium had touched my plate.

This might (and that’s a BIG might) be okay for my Mom’s dish, a little dish we like to call “Egg.” I mean, someone who orders scrambled may not be looking for a more seasoned dish and may not mind adjusting with the salt shaker if needed.

An omelet, however, sigh. A little snowing of kosher salt sometime during the cooking would have been helpful.

Despite this overlooked detail, it is safe to say the best plate in the ‘boro these days is Flip. My new goal is to try its lunch offerings.


It was a nice visit, a fine way to cap off my summer. I got to see Auntie and Uncle from Big Bear and got marched all around and up and down the Lake by my Mom. Got to see my Gramma to boot, and I finally got the friggin’ Roku set up for her. Now she can watch Frasier to her heart’s content.

We also took part in the human tradition of driving up to a rock in the ground with a person’s name on it and saying nice things about that person.

the cottage

Yeah, that was a pretty nice week.

I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together

(I thought before that I knew how to use the iPhone’s panoramic lens. I didn’t. Until today. I was holding the phone incorrectly! This is pretty much the full view from the back deck of where I get to stay in Edinboro. This image is clickable to a larger view. Just click on it!)

The great musical movement that partially was born in my high school a generation behind me was called Devo.

That of my era was called The Twist-Offs.

It was fun to go to a Twist-Offs show and jump up and down a lot. They made music that was excellent for jumping up and down. But not only was it good for jumping up and down. It was good music. Well-considered arrangements. Horns. And actually thoughtful, imaginative lyrics. I am a Twist-Offs EVANGELIST. And if I still lived in Kent those boys would have had to put up with my funny face and my set list thefts now for decades. I think they play periodically in Northeast Ohio, but these guys had a real live indie record deal. I even heard one of their songs played as background during MTV’s The Real World once.

Anyway, I think they were playing KentFest once or something, and they were handing out some tchotchkes. These:

Get it?

I owned two of these. One was orange, and that one I made the mistake of using as a keychain. The band’s logo wore off. Luckily, my Dear Mother was in possession of this one all these years, and it has remained unblemished. She released it into my possession today, along with a boss collection of 45s (including some old joints from Illinois Jaquet and other Apollo artists, records I’ve been hunting down for years) and a rather interesting edition of the Akron-Beacon Journal from May 24, 1970 that I may mine for blog entries later.

So Mama brought me a treasure chest to Edinboro. Thanks Mama.


Speaking of legends who attended the same high school as did I, John Uhrich was and is one of the best drawers with whom I have shaken hands. You should visit his blog, Duck-Duck-Gorilla. The guy has apparently just started drawing comic strips to “brush up on [his] digital inking skills.” (Cough HUMBLEBRAG) Watch out, Pastis!


Edinboro needs cuisine. Badly.

This is the Sunset Grill at the Edinboro Lake Resort. As you can see, it does what it says on the tin.

Serves sammiches in baskets with chips. Which is fine, and the sammiches are good, but one would think the food could match the stellar ambiance. Still. I love this place.

The Crossroads Dinor has dropped the “Dinor” and seems to do everything it can to shy away from being a diner although it has the diner car. Oh to walk in there and be able to order an open faced roast beef sammich with fries flooded with gravy. But that ain’t on the menu.

No shit on a shingle for you.

And you don’t want these fries. The place prides itself on fresh-cut fries, but they don’t really know how to cook them.

My suspicion is that they’re circumventing the step of soaking the taters first to leech out some of the starch. These fries are rubbery and weird.

Get the applesauce instead.

The best meal out of the week so far has been at the Empty Keg. Burger. Steak fries, probably from Ore-Ida. Which were delicious.

And, where they served me a true Iron City beer:

Okay, it was a Sierra Nevada. But I have to wonder how many of these glasses walk out of the place under somebody’s jacket.

I said best meal “so far.” We have yet to enjoy my departure breakfast at Flip. That my friends is the finest food in town. Can’t wait.

(When Flip Cafe was opening, my then nearly 90-year-old Grandma DID A SOMERSAULT IN THE AIR in the middle of the sidewalk when we discovered it. She really did. I watched her do it. She jumped up in the air, kicked her legs around, and landed on her feet, and then she gave out this sort of guttural “WHOOP!” Because, you see, her Dad’s nickname all his life, or at least as long as I knew him, was “Flip.”

Okay, she didn’t really do that. But she sure was excited about that particular serendipity.)


The evening ended for some reason with me describing to my Mom and Grandma the famous incident on The Carol Burnett Show with Tim Conway and the elephant story. I can’t do it justice, so here, go see for yourself.

Thus, the title of this blog entry.

I’m sure I’m not done documenting my last summer trek to Lakeside of the year.

Gosh I need to moisturize.

Ah! Leah!

I think I was 14 the summer I was Heather’s boyfriend for like a day.

13? I don’t know. It was just at that age at which I was surging with that wicked new chemistry, when nothing occupied my every waking thought, action, statement, or deed except for wanting to be with a person of the opposite sex. I am amazed that any other information of any kind ever made it into my brain at that time. Such miraculous computers we carry around on our shoulders.

Heather had her look together. Her most astonishing feature was her piercing blue eyes, which she had already learned to accentuate nicely. She had kind of a schnoz, but I was into that. Her hair was bleached and blown out, she was tanned, and she wore this fur stole and somehow pulled it off even in a little lake resort town in the middle of summer. She looked like she’d feel soft, and she wore lip gloss really well.

I remember seeing a movie with a group back when the Mall had a theater, and I remember that she had to tell me to put my arm around her.

(To paraphrase, right then and there, I should have known I was through.)

A few days later or at least what seems like it in my memory, she was hanging with another kid, a dude who was taller, cooler, better lookin’ than I. I remember one awkward afternoon hanging out at the picnic tables by the Lake, her friend Leah and I making awkward conversation, and Heather and her new friend canoodling. I was raging.

Leah wasn’t Heather. Her hair was brown and curly and she wore glasses. She dressed in black mostly. She had acne. I knew she liked me. But I wasn’t remotely interested in her, and I was pretty busy being angry and hurt about the situation going on in front of my eyes, too much so to exercise the opportunity to get to know Leah.

But Leah liked Prince.

She was a real fan, too. Like, she was an early adopter. I don’t even know if 1999 was out at the time. Certainly “When Doves Cry” was way in the back of the way way back of The Vault. Leah was talking about what a great album Dirty Mind was, and I had no freakin’ clue what she was talking about.

Now, it’s 30 years since “Purple Rain,” and that post is making the rounds on Facebook. I haven’t thought of Leah in a long time, but today, when I saw the Facebook post about that milestone making the rounds, the synapses just connected. And my brain scolded me fiercely.

You really should have gotten to know Leah, dude.

Heather was such a pill.


While I’m on rememborating things (hey. look at that. I just invented a word.), today is likely the anniversary of the time I got to shake Arlo Guthrie’s hand. And Studs Terkel’s. And Pete Seeger’s. And Josh White Jr.’s. Not much of a story to it, really; Dear Old Dad had me for the summer and we went to a free concert in D.C. to remember the birthday of one Woody Guthrie. At the break I used the fact that I was a kid to sneak back and meet me some celebrities (the backstage was not walled off, exactly).

I asked Arlo to play “City of New Orleans” (my knowledge of him and/or Woody was pretty much relegated to Arlo’s Hobo’s Lullaby album at the time), but he said the show was for his Dad’s music. I did get an autograph from Studs, including the famous “take it easy, but take it.”

I had no idea what that meant.

Anyway. I think Woody Guthrie’s birthday is worth rememborating every year. The man did, after all, write the song that really should be the national anthem, after all.

Kidding.


In Other News

“This is how you play tennis without the net.”


Edinboro May-June 2014, Part One

ABC News Radio was just doing a brief story on the new exclusion of American writers from the high school curriculum. The news reader referred to “Harper Lee and his ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.'” Good idea, this excluding American authors from a kid’s reading list. #harperleeisabroadyoumoron

But this weekend is about the wedding. My cousin who was in my childhood kind of a sister, well, her daughter is getting married, so that means a drive to west Pennsylvania.

My first stop rolling into town was the world-famous Edinboro Hotel. I had put off lunch in the interest of getting to have a nosh downtown before showing up at the house. Something light. Chicken fingers. And the barkeep brought popcorn.

Edinboro is quiet and you can see the stars, and from my Gramma’s howse you can see the lake, and it’s pretty. So tomorrow there is a wedding and I have to sleep trying to be used to all this quiet.