Sunday Routine — in the PA burbs

Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday Edition
Currents section
May 21, 2017

By Kathryn Taylor

Readers of the Sunday New York Times know that a staple of the Metropolitan section is “Sunday Routine.” This column features notable New Yorkers sharing how they spend their Sundays. Actors and architects. Chefs and chief executives. Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur “genius grant” recipients. After years of reading the column, I’ve noticed a familiar pattern. It turns out that my husband Jon and I spend our Sundays just like these New Yorkers do!

Kind of …

Everyone (including us) starts by sleeping in and then competing for sections of the newspapers over breakfast. After that, they like to exercise. Biking is popular (see actor Josh Charles), as are personal-trainer visits. We like to exercise, too. We do stair-climbing. On our own stairs.

Jon starts in the kitchen doing the dishes, then heads up to his desk on the second floor. (Once a month he first does strength-training by going to the Acme to get 25-pound boxes of kitty litter to carry back and forth from the car.) We both go up and down three flights of stairs several times: down to the basement to clean kitty litter pans, up to the third-floor file cabinet to get checks to pay bills down at my computer in the kitchen, up to the second floor to put laundry in, down to the kitchen to answer emails, up to the second floor to take laundry out, down to the kitchen to get fresh coffee. Before we know it, it’s lunchtime. (Jon checks the Health Data program on his iPhone: eight flights!)

Many New Yorkers have a relaxed lunch in, sometimes with wine from a private collection. Jon and I have lunch in, too, minus the wine from any collection. But we do have a treat with lunch, a game we call “find the beep.” Something in our kitchen has been making that electronic sound that usually signals the cake is done or a battery is dying in some gadget somewhere. The beeping has been going on for weeks, every 15 minutes on the :04’s and :09’s. During lunch, we hop up on the :03’s and :08’s to stake out spots in hopes of capturing the location. When we stand by the microwave, it’s coming from the oven timer. When we stand by the oven, it’s coming from the refrigerator. And when we stand by the refrigerator, it’s coming from the basement door (which is not in the least electronic). We’ve checked batteries in smoke detectors. We’ve opened drawers to peer at old cameras. We’ve pried the back off the programmable thermostat. This search could go on for hours, but we limit the game to Sunday lunches.

Following lunch, it’s time for excursions. Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel and his wife Denise, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University, usually do a museum visit. Jon and I usually do the grocery shopping. Here Jon and I split up. Jon heads to the Swarthmore Co-op. He likes to catch up with his favorite clerk. She recently remodeled her kitchen, and her mother has moved in with her. I go to Wolff’s Apple House in Media. I like to pick up a couple of containers of their tuna salad and egg salad that Jon and I use to make our lunches during the week.

After their excursion, the Kandels go home to take a stroll through Riverside Park. They discuss their research projects and give each other advice. Jon and I also go for strolls on Sunday afternoons. After taking out the compost, we walk down the street and over the SEPTA train tracks to skirt the recently cleaned-up Furness Park. We cross Providence Road and pass through the parking lot of Wallingford’s commercial center: a strip building that houses a dry cleaner, a post office, and a Pantry One. We also give each other advice. Should Jon buy a new pack of boxer shorts? Should I find a new place to get my hair cut since my guy never gets it right?

Sunday dinner is always with family and friends, whether it’s grabbing a craft pizza without cheese (again, see Josh Charles) or sitting down at the dining room table at 7 for a formal meal.

We are in the “sit down at 7” camp. I heat up a Griggstown Farm chicken potpie. Jon unscrews the top of the wine bottle and pours a glass for each of us. We sit on stools at our kitchen island. With my computer screen between our plates, I open up Skype. Sometimes we Skype with our son Jay in Brooklyn. He and Erica have adopted a kitten named Rusty, and we like to see Rusty playing with the fancy toys they’ve gotten for him. Sometimes we Skype with our daughter Annie, doing her fourth-year med school rotations in Maine. She misses her old cat Felix, and we hoist Felix up to the screen so she can talk to him.

I admit to a bit of a difference after dinner. Many of these folks head to their studies to work for a couple more hours. Caryl Stern, president of Unicef USA, troubleshoots world crises until midnight. Jon and I head to the couch in front of the television and turn on Masterpiece Theatre. We promptly fall asleep and wake up in time to catch the credits. Then we turn off the lights and go to bed.

And that’s “Sunday Routine,” Wallingford-style.


The workout sans trainer


A treasure from the post-lunch excursions


Dinner and a show