Archive for the 'Duncannon' Category

Slice of Life: a spider’s feast

Slice of Life

On Tuesdays, participating bloggers share a “slice of life” and post the link at Two Writing Teachers.

I wrote this one in the fall of 2012 while living in Duncannon, Pennsylvania.

The spiders thrive here because of the river’s bounty of bugs to munch. I not only cohabitate with spiders, but I routinely clean dead insects from the floor, bookshelves, heaters and window sills. The spiders come in all sizes, like the 2-millimeter arachnid dangling lazily by the board game shelf right now, or the inch-long ones that scuttle across the floor. There’s one that’s been in the accordion folds of the air conditioner for weeks. I guess it’s dead but I thought I already cleaned that exact same kind from that spot.

The outdoor stairway to my apartment wears robes of cobwebs. The other day there was a bug’s corpse that was almost as long as my hand, lying supine by the mailboxes. It had wings like a cape and large antennae protruding from its head. It repulsed me. It was the miniature image of what could be a human-sized bug in a horror movie.

Susquehanna from Duncannon

The proximity of the Susquehanna River is the only reasonable explanation I could come up with for the number of spiders living in my Duncannon apartment.

Photo of the Day: Saturday night in Duncannon

Shermanata Grange Square Dance

Shermanata Grange holds a square dance on the second and fourth Staurday of non-summer months.

Shermanata Grange Square Dance

Duncannon, PA. January 2013

Shermanata Grange Square Dance

Duncannon, PA. January 2013

I took these photos to accompany an article I wrote about the Grange in Perry County.

Happy New Year!

Duncannon sled drop

Celebrating the arrival of 2013 with Duncannon’s 13th annual sled drop!

Friday 5: Things that made me smile in 2012

1. A People’s Choir

A People’s Choir is a monthly group sing-a-long hosted by The Delicious, an artist collective based in Portland, Oregon. I had the joy of participating in their Valentine’s session while visiting my sister in the Northwest. Who could stop themselves from smiling while belting out “You Can’t Hurry Love” with twenty other people?

Paige and Decoteau

Paige and Decoteau, two of the organizers of A People’s Choir. Portland, Oregon. February 2012

2. My lizard

I got a leopard gecko this year and I’ve quickly become one of those people who likes to talk about her pet even though it probably doesn’t interest most people. He’s difficult to get quality pictures of and even if I could, it wouldn’t capture one of his best features: sticky gecko feet!

3. Running to “Shake It Out” by Florence + the Machine

You can’t top the lyrics, “And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off” for a break-up song, but beyond that, I love the feeling of these beats with my feet hitting concrete.

July in Duncannon

My town and running grounds. Duncannon, PA. July 2012

4. Seasons changing

Whether it was the appearance of glimmering lightning bugs in summer, a painter’s palette splashed across the mountains in autumn, or the more recent snow-sprinkled arrival of winter, Perry County has been a wonderful place to watch Mother Nature do her thing.

Perry County foliage

Perry County foliage, October 2012

Snow day

Little Juniata Creek on a snowy day. Duncannon, PA. December 2012

5. Positive reminders

Small affirmations of the beauty of life arrived in many forms—handwritten letters from a friend, artwork from a local business, or the messages on Yogi tea:

Positive reminder

So what about you? What made you smile in 2012?

Perry County Convos: Hunting Season

Today I saw a guy driving a black truck with side panels that matched his camouflage hunting jacket. I see camo often enough here that for the first time in my 25 years I realized the (obvious?) fact that hunting camo looks different from military camo. Think forest pattern vs. G.I. Joe. After seeing the pick-up truck today, I recalled a conversation I heard a few weeks back while waiting in the check-out at Duncannon’s family-owned grocery store.

Cashier: Did he get a buck?

Customer: Yeah, but no points.

Cashier: That’s okay, you can’t eat the antlers!

Halloween Greetings

Happy Halloween, from me in Pennsylvania to you, wherever you may be.

Halloween in Duncannon

The most decked out house in Duncannon. The elderly owner, Jane, invites trick-or-treaters and their parents on a walk-through every year. She also decorates her house for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Ronald Reagan’s birthday. October 2012

Perry County Convos: The Best Fudge

I’m sitting in the Duncannon borough office for a special borough council meeting about police. The other attendees are the police chief, the assistant chief, and several old men from the borough council and the neighboring township’s board of supervisors. One man is walking around recording people’s names. He reaches the white-haired couple who walked in last. The husband tells the man his own name and then his wife’s name. Then he adds, “And she makes the best fudge in the whole county!”

Perry County foliage

Fall foliage in Wheatfield Township. October 2012

Characters along the way

I don’t have a great desire to be a novelist, but as I do my job as a small-town reporter I am building a brain bank of book-ready characters. I collect people’s idiosyncrasies and mannerisms in my mind like a button collector collects…well, buttons.

I also felt this way when I worked for my brother at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Perhaps I should start a consulting business in which I share the characters I’ve met throughout the country/world with aspiring authors.

Marlene Carrier, a.k.a. The Button Lady

Marlene Carrier, age 78, introduced herself to me as “The Button Lady.” Her son, who is now 54, started collecting buttons when Barry Goldwater ran for president. Marlene starting making buttons when her friend Tom Ridge ran for Pennsylvania governor. She sells political buttons at fairs and Republican State Committee events. She’s even had some in the Smithsonian museum. “I’ve done it all in politics but this is the most fun,” Marlene told me. Photo taken at National Night Out in Duncannon, Aug. 2012.


1-D Diversity: What the Huffington Post story leaves out

Last week Huffington Post put out an article declaring the 10 “most and least diverse cities” in the U.S., based on research from Brown University.

In a country where diversity is, on the surface, an honored value, the implied message from this article is that more diverse cities are better. The problem is that the “most and least diverse” labels are one-dimensional: the only measure is how many people of different races live in those cities.

Racial percentages don’t tell you anything about the way people actually interact. Washington, D.C., where I went to college is number 4 on the most diverse list. D.C. is also the most segregated city I’ve been to. You can track the dividing line between white and non-white neighborhoods by riding a cross-city bus or Metro and seeing where skin colors swap.

What’s more, racial composition is only one of many measures of diversity. A significant omission from the picture of these “most and least diverse” cities is any information about class and economics. Is the gap between rich and poor any bigger or smaller in less diverse cities?

Take West Virginia, for example. It has 4 cities on the list of least diverse cities, but WV is also one of the poorest states in the country. What is the concentration of wealth in its cities, and how does that compare to the rural areas?

As my friend Emily, a WV native, put it:

WV is famously ‘not diverse’ in the sense that it’s about 96% white. But that means that people don’t really think about things like, where do black people and immigrants live? Because they tend to be stratified in urban centers. Or, what is the class makeup of these cities or the places around them? Or, where do people who live there come from?…So this ‘diversity’ thing tends to mask or erase other kinds of differentiation that might be more powerful in various settings.

I like racial diversity (and so does Emily). I like that when I go to Harrisburg or Philly, I interact with people of color, because it doesn’t happen much at home. That doesn’t make Duncannon a bad place, though—it has its positive and negative cultural characteristics like anywhere else. And for me, understanding who has power and who doesn’t is much more useful than simply calculating proportions of people by race when trying to understand the dynamics of a place.

Fall is coming…

3B ice cream

3B Ice Cream shop. Duncannon, PA

You know autumn will soon pay a visit to Central PA when pumpkin treats start popping up at local eateries.

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