Well it is.  I knew it would be. No surprise.  ( Spell this: ) C-O-L-D.  ( Now you can say it, altogether: ) Cold!  (That’s a neat image, dozens of folks, spread all over the country simultaneously giving a little shiver as they read “cold”, feeling a little sympathy for us recent Southerners back in the harsh northern winter.  All right, I feel a serious lack of sympathy emanating from many points back in our direction, we’ll move on.  The fall was beautiful here in the rolling hills around Pittsburgh, PA.  “Vibrant hues” may be a hackneyed phrase among the faithful leaf peepers, but for us who have been ten years in the Southlands it’s as fresh as the cold white stars falling silently in the night outside my windows.


The summer here was gorgeous, too.  No good for swimming but great for everything else.  Except it was a bit lonely.  I started a new job with an Internet startup company on May 30.  It’s called Tpresence, Inc. (http://www.tpresence.com).  We have some big ideas for the “Second Generation World Wide Web”.  It’s a good environment, but with ambitious goals.  I’m working more hours, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  I moved up here alone in May.  Left Madelyn and the kids in Alabama to sell the old homestead there.  We were in that house 10 years, 2 ˝ times as long as I ever lived in any other.  Strangely it’s been hardest on Madelyn to move – she certainly was the most vocal about wanting to make a change, but when it came to it she wanted to stay in her too-small house and near her good friends.  So she sent me ahead alone.  I lived a simple life in a studio apartment:  working, house hunting, playing a little table tennis and working.  The family joined me in early August.  Now it’s a whole new adventure.


We have a good house in a great neighborhood 15 miles north of Pittsburgh – near where I-79 and the PA Turnpike intersect.  The houses on 2 cul-de-sacs (one is ours) had a parade for Weepy’s Halloween-Birthday, followed by a picnic.  This past weekend we had a “progressive dinner”, a different course was served at each of 7 houses, it was really neat. Only adults participated, Nathaniel had baby-sitting duties over Caralyn, his first real time of that, of course we were never more than a couple houses away, cell phone in pocket.  (He’s 11, she’s 4).


We’re grateful for the neighbors, they have really made us welcome.  Good thing because it’s a bit of a bustle here.  Traffic is worse.  My commute is only 10 miles but 25-30 minutes instead of 5 minutes in Alabama.  I’ve moderated the negative impact of that by listening to “Books on Tape” regularly.  I find little time to really read more than magazines, but I’ve caught some good culture and non-fiction on audio.  I hope to post a list soon, with reviews, on my web site.  Right now I’m finally getting to “read” one of the Harry Potter books, the first one.  I recommend it for all ages.


The neighbors have really helped Madelyn.  As I said the move was rough on her and losing her dad early this year still haunts her daily.  She’s got another friend’s sister, from high school, struggling against cancer.  But Madelyn persists.  She is putting her stamp on our new house.  We got many of the floors redone – hardwood in the kitchen, ceramic tile in 2 baths and the laundry room, Berber carpet in the family room.  She’s custom painted 2 bedrooms and repainted some other walls.  Making it our new home.  For now at any rate.


Speaking of stamping, my little pistol, Caralyn The Weepy, has taken to doing a bit of it.  When things aren’t going her way she’ll give a stamp of her foot and furl her eyebrows.  I love her.  All 31 pounds.  Even her hardest stamps are hardly earth shaking, but we try to keep her in check.  She’s a stubborn pipsqueak, though.  Even when I’ve sent her to her room and come to have our little chat she’ll try to give me a little shoulder bump as she’s saying she’s sorry.  Most of the time she’s an angel.  I especially like when she gets quietly conversational when I’m putting her to bed,  “What can I think about so I can fall asleep, Daddy.”  And I give her a list of things:  playing outside, the snow, what she had for dinner.  One of her favorites lately has been the beach, thinking about the sand, the waves and building castles using the plastic buckets.  We didn’t go this past summer, she remembers from when she was 2.  Hopefully we’ll get to Va. Beach or the Jersey Shore next year.


And the move has changed Nathaniel a bit.  He’s really growing up.  Only about an inch shorter than his mom now, he took the change in schools as an opportunity to change his persona.  He’s a little more outgoing in school, talking to more kids.  His grades are staying up, with his mother’s, well, mothering.  He missed getting to play soccer this fall with the move, perhaps in the spring.


It’s easy to visit my parents from here, only about 2 and a half hours straight up I-79.  That’s nice to be able to pile in the car and go for an overnight, or even just the day.  They’ve been here, briefly, a couple times.  The kids’ great-grandmother Parker came down with my mom for an overnight.  That’s something I think both will remember.  It’s good to be nearer to family.  Mad’s siblings in PA/NJ/NY are 5 to 7 hours by car now; our sisters in Virginia are about that, too.  We’re looking forward to making trips to see all as well as some other nearby attractions.  I’m particularly anticipatory toward the in-state Mecca for chocolate lovers, Hershey!  The fresh chocolate is smooooth.  We’ll be doing some wafting (See 1995’s note).  Also Gettysburg is not too far.  I have to wink at Madelyn about going there:  ;^) .  We last visited in the summer of 1988 (I’m sure most of you can do the math).


 A little further back, twenty years ago, I finished up high school.  A good portion of my classmates and I got together this summer in honor of those 2 decades for a little reunion.  I enjoyed seeing all who were there and hearing from some who weren’t.  It felt like we were only a little older. 


Sally (our dog) is still with us.  She’s adjusting to the move. She still runs with us on the weekends and some other times with Madelyn and Caralyn.  If it it’s not too C-O-L-D.


Keep warm.  Happy Holidays,


-- Chip (cpatton@tpresence.com), Madelyn (crpatton@hiwaay.net), Nathaniel and Caralyn (http://fly.hiwaay.net/~crpatton)