Dude, I went out of town for a bit.
Those last couple weeks of August and early September, I was in either Ephrata, Pennsylvania or the Bay Area. (You may have noticed that I get to the Bay Area as often as I can.)
My brother and I were off to PA to see the relatives. Ephrata is a tiny town (by my urban/suburban standards) with a tiny little main street and lots of horse & buggies. You see, it's in Pennsylvania Dutch country, which means Amish. The surrounding towns have names like Intercourse, Paradise, Virginville and Blueball (my brother and I were very sad to learn the Blueball Hotel had been torn down). The grocery store by my aunt and uncle's house is have paved for cars and half hitching posts for horses.
We spent most of our time with relatives, but did have one particularly interesting afternoon at a big weekly flea market which features Amish food (baked goods, jams, etc) and the regular cheapie t-shirts and stuff, as well as a section for animals. Evidently there are livestock auctions earlier in the day, and at the end of the day when we were there, you could have your choice of available chickens, quails, pigeons, geese, doves, hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs. My brother and I have a particular fondness for bunnies and guinea pigs as we've owned both. Most of these animals were crammed by the dozens in cages (the birds) and cardboard boxes (the rodents) so we'd open them up and have a look. I spotted a guinea pig on the bottom of the pile that looked like one we used to have, so I reached in to give it a pet when the other 5 or so scurried off, kicking this one wildly in the process. It didn't budge. Revealed, I noticed it was pretty dead. I went to tell the kid who seemed to be running the show at the moment, but he just sort of shrugged while the little kids nearby ran to check out the dead thing in the box. Guinea pigs aren't the brightest creatures on the planet, and it's more than possible the others smothered it. But still... Well, my brother took plenty of pictures and we're liberal california folk, so those pictures will make it into the right hands.
It just reminded me that there are alot more than just miles separating us from the folks in that small town.
I did enjoy the homemade ice cream (made from real Amish cows!)and whoopie pies - the pumpkin ones will leave a permanent mark on my taste buds, in the best way.
And I did enjoy my relatives an awful lot too.
Then a quick trip to the Bay to see a couple long lost friends and have lots of time doing boring girl stuff, like shopping and eating and chatting. Although it was definitely not boring, especially if you knew us girls.
So I'm back and settled in, and promise to be "regular."