Sunday, December 30, 2007

You wanna go where everybody knows your name...

The Christmas rush is over, most of the wrapping paper is picked up and it's that easy time before the New Year sets in and chills us all with a sense of unwanted responsibility. A perfect time for filling the hours by sharing a cup with friends, and in Marcellus, NY, there are fewer friendlier confines for doing just that than the old Alvord House, or the new Daniel's Grill. The Alvord House is run by the Dillon family, whose ancestors have kept a public house on that very site for nearly 200 years. Many a weary traveler has refreshed himself at their doors, and the Halls are no exception. Fridays are Mr. H's favorite night to grace the dining room; early enough to indulge in the shrimp boat special and still move on before the crowds assemble for the Blue Grass concert at the American Legion Post next door. When Mrs. Hall is at the helm, the Cadillac is generally to be found in the parking lot of Daniel's Grill. More urban and upscale, yet intimate enough to enchant, Daniel's boasts a kitchen run by the former chef of the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles. Daniel's carries Mrs. H's particular brand of Scotch, by the owner's request, and the Halls are often seen quaffing a bracer or two, in tuxedo and gown, before retiring to home. Happily, both these fine establishments are just staggering distance from Penguin Hall.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Slamming into the future, face backwards

Penguin Hall is sporting a new look these days with the addition of some well-placed pieces of new leather and old accessories. Mid-century post modern, as it is commonly called in the décor business, is very au courant; and Penguin Hall is in the forefront of the movement. Whether one purchases these items in a trés trendy boutique for an exorbitant amount, or still, (by virtue of the previous owner’s own laziness about clearing things out every 20 or 30 years, whether they need to or not), actually owns the pieces, is of no importance. There they are, happily on display, and as the song goes; everything old is new again.

“(Watch that you don’t) Deck the Halls”!

With the heavenly aroma of sauerkraut soup still wafting in the air and visions of electronic mayhem dancing in their heads, the little ones reluctantly slipped off to bed. A (very) brief time later, they came down again, yelling and laughing, tearing up the house and generally having the time of their lives. After all, what says Merry Christmas more than chocolate, tinsel and lots of plastic-y guns and ammo? That pretty much sums things up at Penguin Hall.
If sometime in the near future Central New York is overrun with aliens, mutants or zombies that have 1) an overwhelming zeal to conquer Earth (a near constant, so far as can be discerned from recent media); and 2) an unfortunate allergic reaction to Nerf™ material- well, then Penguin Hall will be the last bastion of society. If it glows, pops, whirrs, emits beams of light and/or lazers, and poses a significant threat to life and limb- there’s a good chance it’s under the tree, or worse yet, in the possession of one of the younger, less reliable inhabitants or visitors of Penguin Hall. One can hope for peace on earth, but you can bet the farm on pieces of earth; -usually on the carpet or the couch, or anything that is supposed to remain in a pristine state.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Get the kids off the streets and clear the road!

Master Ian has his learner’s permit and he’s working on getting his twenty hours to qualify for the driver’s test. No street will be safe for the next six months. Ian has a fine driving record behind the wheels of the yard tractor and ATV, so general opinion around Penguin Hall is that he will present less of a threat to the wheeling public than say, that retired couple down the block that has refused to acknowledge the presence of the recent stop sign in our neighborhood. Ian studied hard for the written portion of the test and passed with a solid 100%. There is no doubt that he will be as diligent or more, about the requirements of the driving portion. Mr. Hall was overheard to say, “Keep yer eyes on the road and the tank filled up. Remember, as long as the wing’s not on fire and the cockpit’s not full of smoke, everything will be fine.” Sound advice.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oh, look honey; it snowed...(again)

Schools closed, cars slid down the expressway and the kids cheered again- more snow! The warm beckoning open spaces of the grocery store and the mall now hide shyly behind huge snow fortresses. Time to curl up in front of the fireplace with a good book and a friend or two and wile away the evening. And that's just what goes on at Penguin Hall- Chris, Colleen and Ian bask in the glow of an old-fashioned easy-log from the supermarket in the family room. Meanwhile, Syracuse leads the pack in the race for the Golden Snowball ( and Marcellus does its part by pulling in another 15" just this weekend. As they say at Merriam-Webster, (in the vernacular of the new word-of-the-year) "w00t!"
Christmas is a festive time; the cocktail party at the crematorium, the parties at the Knights of Columbus and the Masons, and this Friday, the highlight of the week: the customer appreciation bash at John's Auto and Body in Solvay, NY. Southern Comfort and buffalo wings mulled in the perfume of motor oil and axle grease- it brings to mind a picture out of Dickens to be sure. John himself will be waiting for us under the mistletoe and the El Camino up on the hoist. A Merry Christmas, indeed!

Mr. and Mrs. H. enjoyed lunch at that famous central NY eatery, Doc's "Little Gem" Diner today, and were happily surprised to find out that Doc is offering a Christmas dinner of his own. Doc suffered a setback recently; the 24 hour diner had been open for over 40 years without cessation. A fire just after Labor Day forced Doc to shut down for repairs- but it had been so long without closing no keys could be found to lock the doors! Syracuse insomniacs rejoice now, however, because Doc is up and running again, albeit on a reduced schedule. He closes briefly Sunday nights, one supposes just to check the locks and make sure the lights can actually shut off, if necessary. Happy Holidays to Doc and all his crew at the Little Gem, where it's always 68 degrees and fluorescent.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

According to Andy "WarHall"

Bowing to that true barometer of fame "Google", Penguin Hall now officially stands, if not in the spotlight of the Fifteen Minute Famous, then on the periphery. It is no longer necessary to go to Blog Search, then carefully spell out and frame your query to join us. The Gentle Reader need only bring up Google, type in Penguin Hall Monitor (sans quotation marks!) and effortlessly enter our happy realm.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's On!!!

Ah, Winter! Central New York has donned it's snowy white blanket again and all of Marcellus is transformed into a living Christmas card. Penguin Hall is aglow with the holiday spirit; Masters Chris and Ian have set up the trees around the house and placed several trains a-running. All bets are up and prayers to the Snow Gods are the order of business amongst the little ones; yesterday was a snow day for Marcellus schools on account of the 14" snowfall. That puts the Syracuse area in the lead for the coveted Golden Snowball Award! The active weather system in place so far bodes well for a white Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed and your toddies hot and close at hand, as the Monitor watches the weekly totals! (To follow along, go to

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