Monday, April 2, 2018

Pothole season has arrived

1-4 February,  Lebanon PA
My first venture to the PA State Rabbit Breeders Meeting.  Glenn’s and my main task is to keep an eye on granddaughter Sara, 5, as Glenn’s daughter Michelle had a new volunteer job.  She was the supervisor for the Youth Hall, an all day every day job.  Sara participated in several activities and is going home with a pile of certificates attesting to how her hard work paid off.  I video’d her “showmanship” presentation for Michelle; her presence was incredible and she got top grades.  And one of her photographs also won an award.

Sara waits for her

Sara's photos won ribbons too

5 February, Mount Pleasant
Took a day here to do laundry — no schlepping up and down the stairs. I’ll return to the city later today with baskets of clean clothes.  Yippee.

9 February, Squirrel Hill
Glenn found an announcement that Phipps Conservatory was having a Valentine’s dinner today and made reservations for us. We got all dressed up and arrived early enough to see most of the new exhibitions in the , Christmas was gone although many of the beautiful Chihuly glass pieces remained.  We saw some incredible Bonzai trees, many 50+ years old, as well as some gorgeous orchids.  Then into the new Cuba exhibition area where dinner was served in a perfect setting.  Only about 30 tables for two and four, beautifully set.  When Glenn looked at the menu in advance of reserving, he noted the high number of vegetarian and vegan dishes, along with carvery beef.  And he tried almost everything on the buffet … and discovered that quinoa and garlic mashed sweet potatoes are quite tasty.  The only flaw in an otherwise perfect evening was the dessert table — all of the cannoli were gone by the time we were ready for sweets.  Even without my favorite Italian dessert, it was the best Valentine’s Day ever.

Phipps Conservatory in the dark
11 February
Glenn dropped me off at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Shore for my volunteer training.  I’m an usher who hasn’t had a gig yet.  Today’s plan was that I’d call Glenn when I was done, and he’d return for me, visiting with Uncle Victor and Aunt Louise while I trained.  Funnily I was done with training before he even got to Victor’s.  It lasted about 20 minutes, only focusing on emergencies.  Afterwards, I decided to explore the area and went in search of a coffee shop, found none.  I did find a bus stop and a bus that was going downtown arrived a few minutes later.  And as that bus arrived downtown, a bus to my neighborhood arrived and I was able to catch it.  I called Glenn en route and arranged to meet him in West Homestead near Victor’s.  On the way two men around my age and seated next to me were talking about the training I’d attended and other ushering they do.  We conversed until they disembarked at the Carnegie Library in Oakland.  

While we were at Victor’s, the rains came … heavily.  But Glenn and I headed to dinner anyway, at the Hofbrauhaus on the SouthSide.  

My sweetie at Hofbrauhaus
13 February
Yesterday we got two inches of wet snow.  Today it’s sunshine and milder temps.  The evening television news featured road work that will begin shortly … shades of Minneapolis.  I noticed that pothole repairs were beginning on my street.

After a quick shopping trip, I decided to stop at Lynn’s Salon and Spa for a much-needed pedicure.  Ny dry heels have been pumiced, and my toenails are red again.  Day brightener!

14 February, Valentine’s Day, Mount Pleasant
I bought a second set of flannel sheets the other day.  Much as I love my cuddly fleece sheets, they are actually too warm already.  I decided a second set of flannel would make bed linen changing easier.  i bundled the new sheets and a basket of dirty clothes and took them with me to Glenn’s.  Makes doing laundry easier.

Glenn had agreed to watch granddaughter Sara, 5, from after school  until her dad got home from work.  And since Sara and Emma, 3, play well together, we picked up the younger granddaughter and took her to Somerset where Glenn’s older daughter Michelle and her family live.  I had lunch with our friend Suzie, also a Somerseter, while Glenn managed the girls at Michelle’s.  Later he and I took them to dinner at the cafe of Sara’s choice.  

By the time we left Somerset with Emma, the sky was black and it was drizzling.  To keep Emma awake, I initiated a game of “I spy with my little eye.”  And Emma introduced her new catch phrase, “No you don’t.”  (It had been a melodic “I got it.”)  For the better part of an hour, whenever it was my turn, Emma would say, “No you don’t,” then ask Glenn to tell that I didn’t.  But at least it kept her awake!

By the time we got back to Mount Pleasant it was rain, rain, rain.

Emma gets a haircut

15 February, Squirrel Hill
Saw in the paper today that comedian Marty Allen had died.  Not only was he originally from Pittsburgh, but he grew up practically where I live now, across from the high school.

I turned the furnace temp down today because it’s been way too warm in the apartment.  And it’s still pretty darned cold outside.  I’ve decided that it is well insulated.  Not only does it stay warm, but despite hardwood floors, my footfalls haven’t led to ceiling banging by my downstairs neighbor.

In addition to my Senior Circuit class, I walked a couple miles on treadmill, then went to a neighborhood shoe store that’s having a big sale.  I tried on several pairs of shoes but ended up buying a new pair of tall leather boots.  My jeans easily fit inside (hurray), and the sales woman water proof sprayed them for me (double hurray).

Tonight Glenn and I are going to see Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat performed by the high school drama program at the Jewish Community Center. Glenn arrives shortly so it’s off to get ready.

Rain, rain, rain.  It was pouring when we left for the JCC and when we exited a few hours later.   But in between, we enjoyed a spectacular production of Joseph from our reserved seats in the center of the front row!  The costumes were incredibly well done, vibrant colors, very professional looking.  The songs, the choreography, the amazing energy — definitely worth the standing ovation they company received.  The kids are high schoolers from all over the city who worked on the production of a month, making the professionalism all the more surprising.  Saw cast at Eat N Park where we went for coffee; gave them kudos.  They were still hyped.

17 February, Mount Pleasant, 10th anniversary of Kosovo’s independence
I was living and working in Pristina when Kosovo celebrated the first anniversary of its independence.  Pretty peaceful celebration as I recall.  I was also in South Sudan when that country celebrated its first anniversary of independence.  Unfortunately things are not going well there at all; civil war, continued corruption, massive emigration to Uganda and Kenya, severe food shortages.  I fear for the folks who worked for our project.

Closer to home, it’s snowing here — 3 inches by morning is forecast.  Then temps will be in the 70s.  Go figure. We’re indoors, staying warm and dry, and I”m making muffins.
Snowfall is interfering with Glenn’s satellite TV reception.  We’re watching old movies on the DVR as streaming won’t work.
View from Glenn's living room

18 February, Squirrel Hill
Returned to the city after a mall walk.  Snow is melting — hurray.  Time to catch up with far off friends via Skype — Jean in Eugene, Oregon, and Violane in Vienna, Austria.

20 February
Sunshine!!! And warm enough to sit on my deck and read for an hour.  Heaven.  Plus Glenn’s arriving shortly.

22 February, Alexandria VA
We left midday to drive to the DC area to see my niece Dyana and assorted DC friends.  We’re staying here with Glenn’s cousin Donald.  Tonight we three had dinner with friends Inga and Craig at an Asian restaurant in Bethesda.  Dyana arrives late Saturday night and is staying at a hotel near Pentagon City.

US Olympic Women’s Hockey team took gold by finally beating Canada.  Yeah, women.  And quite a few MN players in the mix.  OT and shoot out

Just learned that Anna Mae died.  She was my ex’s aunt, the youngest of my mother in law’s sisters and a lovely lady.  Last time I saw her, she was planning a train trip to her daughter’s in Montana, something she’d done before.  She told me how much she enjoyed talking to the young men who were working in the western ND oil fields, hearing their stories.  Oh, and she was still in her own house where she said climbing a few stairs helped keep her fit.  The remaining sister Caroline will be 100 in March.  She and I had some good times together.

23 February
Another rainy day. Glenn and I went to National Harbor, a good place to walk, lots of spots to stop for coffee.  The National Rifle Association convention was just finishing its annual convention at the hotel-convention center complex  No comment. 

Beach sculpture, tour boat and ferris wheel
at National Harbor
Tonight we had dinner with Donald at a local cafe.  We had tried for Rosa Mexicano in National Harbor but it had a long waiting list.  Arranged to meet Dyana for brunch tomorrow.

24 February
Dreary day.  We picked up Dyana for brunch at very interesting restaurant in Shirlington.  Dyana’s a vegetarian.  The menu at Poets and Busboys had an especially nice spread of vegetarian and vegan options that actually sounded tasty.  But they also had bacon which satisfied Glenn’s meat need.  No reservations and although large, the place was packed.  Glenn was looking for parking while Dyana and I went to the cafe.  One ramp’s retail parking spots were all taken, so Glenn drove to the other.  We stopped him as he came by to say we had another 30 minutes to wait.  Dyana looks and sounds great, making decisions about her future.

25 February
Yet another dreary day so we were lazy.  After coffee at Donald’s house, we drove over to a nearby shopping center for an outdoor walk.  We stopped at a few shops along the way, but sidewalks all around the place made for an easy walk.  Then lunch at a nearby restaurant.  Tonight we’re having dinner with Dyana and Donald if he’s available.  Then on Tuesday, back to Pennsylvania.

28 February, shortest month is over
Back to Squirrel Hill and whatever March offers — more snow? more rain? spring?  Well, not the last.  Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow earlier in the month.

March roars in like a lion

1 March 2018, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA USA
What a way to start the month.  A therapeutic massage.  I’m so glad I started these.  They are really helping my achy joints.

3 March
My turn to host pinocle.  Gary, Johanna, Glenn and I play about once a month now.  I’m learning pretty quickly.  And once again the women won.  It was a reverse of the 2016 election.  Although the guys had more points, we won the last hand, so they couldn’t win the game.  A new wrinkle to the game that I just learned.

Since my small apartment meant we had to play on the dining room table, I opted for pizza at Mineo’s on Murrray for dinner.  We walked to and fro in cool, dry evening.  and I stumbled on a bad piece of sidewalk, poor lighting and talking contributed.  I landed flat on my stomach with only a sore right hand and two very small knee scrapes.  Could’ve been worse.

7 March, Mount Pleasant PA
Spent early days of week getting ready for Minnesota trip and came to Glenn’s tonight.  He’ll take me to airport tomorrow morning.  Although it’s farther to the airport from here, it’s actually easier because my noonish flight would mean rush hour traffic if we left from Squirrel Hill.  From here, it’s interstate all the way and we bypass  the downtown and Fort Pitt tunnel traffic back ups.  

8 March, Minneapolis MN
Here i am in Minneapolis.  Uneventful trip.  Nice to have been upgraded to first but I closed my eyes as we took off and half dozed the whole way.  i was up before dawn.  After picking up a rental car, I drove straight to Northfield to see my friend Lois, 92.  She looks and sounds good.  She had acupuncture today for the first time, to try to alleviate some of her knee pain.  Then on to Janet and Ed’s where i’ll stay until Saturday afternoon.  Ed had a delicious dinner in the works when I arrived, and Thom has made macaroons for dessert.

Snow is everywhere:
Janet & Ed's back deck

9 March
I was up early for 7:15 am water ex with Andrew and a few the Y’s Swimmin’ Women.  Always been one of my favorite classes — kind of a yoga-Pilates session in shallow water.  The lunch with friends Jan and Sue from my St. Paul days. Sue recently returned from a long trip and cruise to Australia and surrounds.  She is slowly healing from the loss of Nancy.

Late dinner at Monte Carlo with Judy from grad school.  She requested a quiet table, and since the Monte Carlo has several dining areas, that was possible … until they seated a long table full of exuberant women in the same small room.  The women were quite loud but seemed to be having a ball, so no complaint from us.

10 March
Today was the memorial for Ted, my friend and former consultant.  I sat with Patrick, a St. Paul Companies friend.  Ted’s health had deteriorated over the last three years but his demise was still a shock.  I had talked to his wife Mary just a few weeks ago since I hadn’t heard anything from Ted in a long, long time.  We’d agreed that the three of us would meet when I came to MN.

Ted was the poster boy for the voracious reader, lifelong learner, curiosity personified.  The three friends and his daughter Christine gave testimony to that in their eulogies — and I got to put faces to the names I saw Ted’s “clipping service” emails on which he’d bcc me (and I’ll bet others).

This was the first time I’d met Christine, although I’d heard much about her.  She went to my alma mater Northwestern.  Today she was wearing an amber pendant that i’d picked out for her years ago, and she remembered me for that.  When Ted came to Warsaw to train my trainers, I took him to Kraków where we picked out amber jewelry for the women in his life (Mary, Christine, his mom and Mary’s mom).  Mary liked the jewelry so well that she asked me to buy amber jewelry for them a few more times.  

Tonight I’m having dinner at new restaurant with sister.

11 March
Busy day — early breakfast with friend Susan followed by coffee with friend and condo neighbor Maryanne.  Great to catch up with both.  I miss them a lot.  Tonight it’s dinner with family — niece Michelle’s in town and Jodi, Gary and daughters will also join us.

Walked by Westminster Church's
spectacular new building
Our newest granddaughter Callie Sue was baptized today.  Unfortunately the date was set after I bought my Minnesota ticket so I couldn't attend.  But her big sister Emma and cousin Sara were among the family members who were there.

Callie Sue

Sara, 5, and Emma, 3

12 March
The move to PA has caused me to look at my will and “estate,” such as it is.  Inheritance laws are very different in MN and PA, so I had to do some planning.  I met this morning with the lawyer who’s drafting the documents for me.

Then off to a late lunch with Marilou at Blvd in St. Louis Park.  Marilou loves her new job. Phew.  She and our friend Randy leave for Vietnam in a couple of weeks; Randy’s going on to China.  

13 March
Do you get the feeling the food figures largely in my visits?  Today it was lunch with friend Marilyn. When I used to return to MN from overseas, Marilyn dubbed them McVisits — a good descriptor.  Tonight I’m having dinner with my sister; I’ve been staying with her since Saturday.  She’ll go with me to return the rental car to the airport,  then deliver me to Janet and Ed’s.  Janet will take me to the airport tomorrow morning.  Oh, I forgot laptop at Barbara’s.  It’s probably getting a complex because I keep forgetting it.

14 March, Mount Pleasant
Home again.  Glenn picked me up at the airport, and we went straight to Somerset to stay with granddaughter Sara until her dad gets home from work.  Glenn’s daughter Michelle is in Indiana on business.  We had a a bit of play time, Sara did her homework, then we took her to dinner (broccoli cheese soup for her, salads for us).  She went to bed without incident.  It snowed steadily in Somerset from early evening, but Glenn’s careful driver and the turnpike is well maintained … and by the time we got to Mount Pleasant, no snow!

18 March

Daddy's yahrzeit meant a trip to
my spiritual home, Linn Run State Park.

20 March, Squirrel Hill
First day of spring … ugly skies and snow flurries.  Rain sprinkles first then, it looked like a salt shaker was upended.  

21 March
5+ inches of snow.   
View from my living room window

The television news showed some kids at Point Park.  They’re from Jamaica  and were seeing snow for first time.  They had such fun making snow angels, throwing snow balls.  Nice to see people happy with the snowfall.

Glenn drove in this afternoon as tomorrow we have lunch with Uncle Victor and Aunt Louise.  They want us to meet friends of theirs. Also Glenn wants to go to courthouse to look for a marriage license of one of his uncles; in doing ancestry work, he discovered this uncle had been married twice, not once.

24 March, March for Our Lives in Pittsburgh and around the world
Because I’d committed to ushering at the New Hazlett Theater today, I couldn’t attend the march although several of my water ex friends were going.  I’m really impressed with what the Parkland High School kids have initiated, shades of the anti-war movement of the ‘60s.  Maybe they too can get something done.

At the theater, a dance company was performing three short ballets for kids.  Then all of the children in the audience were invited to learn a few dance moves

Interactive theater
25 March
Penguins hockey game with Glenn and our friend Suzie.  The game was a nail biter, but the Pens won in overtime.  We had dinner at Margaritta’s in Mount Pleasant.

Suzi & Suzie at the Pens' game

26 March
Glenn and I walked at Westmoreland Mall this morning, then made a trip to DeLallos Italian Market for vittles for the holidays.  We checked out separately and had identical totals, $25.56.  Time to play the lottery!  I took a bus back to the city, first try at this — clean, comfy Greyhound-type bus, free to seniors like me, and I got off near Carnegie Mellon and caught the bus to my place.  Easy peasy.  Will definitely use again.

27 March, Squirrel Hill
Rain, rain, rain.  I’m getting tired of this.  Trudged up to the JCC for exercise, then took a bus downtown to Allegheny County Courthouse.  Glenn’s uncle’ divorce decree had arrived from the archives.  On the way back I stopped for lunch at a newish Thai cafe on Forbes.  Worth another trip.  Then had a mani-pedi at the salon on my street.  Tonight is laundry night — 

28 March
Bob, an old friend and former consultant to my aid projects, e-troduced me to Rouzbeh, a friend from his work in Afghanistan.  Rouzbeh and I had been trying to get together and finally settled on coffee today.  He, his wife and three children joined me at Panera in the WaterFront.  They have settled in Brentwood, a lovely suburb across the river and over the hills from where I live.  I really enjoyed meeting them, and we’ll plan some activities when the weather is nicer.  

31 March, Mount Pleasant
Skies cleared yesterday for a while but it got cold.  I know, it’s March.  But I am so ready for winter to be over.  

We had Easter dinner with Glenn’s daughters and granddaughters today.  Glenn smoked a pork butt and made a “gob cake” (local specialty). Nicer weather, sunny but still too chilly to have an outdoor Easter Egg hunt for the granddaughters.  I made mac and cheese and a salad.  We got six extra large plastic eggs and filled three each with non-candy treats for Sara, 5, and Emma, 3.  Glenn hid them around the living room.  A kids’ clothing store at Westmoreland Mall was closing  and prices were ridiculously low (“nothing more than $2.49),  so we went wild getting the girls summer clothes.  I rolled each piece in tissue paper, secured one end with ribbon and set them in a big basket that their moms can use later.  Should’ve taken a picture when I was done … and while Sara and Emma tore into the baskets.  When everyone left, Glenn and I flaked out on the couch for a while, then started clean up.  Great ending to a passable month.

Ready for spring

Sunday, February 11, 2018

-20 Wind Chill: Am I back in Minnesota?

Start Rynek in Sandomierz, ready for Christmas
1 December 2017, Sandomierz, Poland
As the month of November ended, off we went to Poland for the semi-annual board meeting.  I’m so glad Glenn decided to come along again.  After the meeting, we’ll spend three nights in Amsterdam, sightseeing and visiting with friends Ana and Art.

Our flights to DTW, AMS and WAW on 28-29 November went smoothly.  Long layover in DTW gave us more than enough time to eat and walk and check emails.  AMS was a shorter layover but moved efficiently.  In Warsaw, we waited for Steve, the other US-based  board member, then Piotr, our driver from the Center, took us all first to Piaseczno.  We all found Boleslawiec pottery pieces to buy (no surprise there!), then on to Hala’s farm near Sandomierz.  

We three stayed in Hala’s bed-and-breakfast house.  She had dinner ready for us, and Michal had a variety of his delicious homemade fruit liqueurs for us to sample, which we did.  Thankfully all we needed to do was walk next door and navigate upstairs.  

Yesterday afternoon we moved to Hotel Basztowy, and I had my semi-annual mani-pedi at Nefertiti salon.  Dinner was at the hotel with arriving board members.  

Today the board visited the food incubator that the Center helped establish in Dwikozy.  Exciting to see it up and running although it’s capacity is quite small.  We sampled some of its wares.  Formal board meeting tomorrow — our first with the new director, Anna.

Marta & Tosia at dinner

3 December, Amsterdam, Holland
Per usual, we spent last night at the Marriott Courtyard right across the street from Chopin Airport because I had booked us on the 6 am flight to AMS. Friend Ana picked us up and we got a view of the newly opened parking ramp at Schiphol — lots of space for cars and bicycles.  

Ana had arranged for us to use a friend’s flat since Art’s daughter is temporarily bunking in their spare room.  It’s closer to the city, very near a canal and main street in a lovely residential area.  She took us there and helped schlepp our suitcases up to the first floor (second in the US).  We had put some of our unnecessary bags into a big locker at the airport, and when we saw the stairs to our new digs, we were VERY grateful.  

After we had time to refresh, Ana and her husband Art picked us up for an afternoon at the Rijksmuseum and dinner at their place.  We only had time for one floor where most of the Old Masters are displayed.  One of the greatest new features since the renovation of the museum is the information sheets on the most famous pieces.  Each sheet identifies details in the painting related to the technique, history etc., and they’re available in four or five languages.  They are all published in a book which we bought for Glenn’s uncle and aunt.

Looking down, staircase to our flat
in AMS
6 December
On Monday we walked over to the main street near the flat and had a light breakfast at Bagels & Beans, a local chain of coffee shops; I had stopped at one last December when I made a wrong turn and needed wi-fi.  Good coffee and bagels.  We decided to walk toward the town center and take a canal boat ride.  We stopped at a pharmacy to get some lozenges for Glenn’s sore throat, and on the way home stopped at the same spot for some cough syrup.  He’s feeling much better.  The canal tour in a covered canal boat was just the thing; got to see quite a bit of the city and get some additional history.  Tuesday, after breakfast again at Bagels & Beans, we enjoyed an afternoon “windmill tour.”  The quite-lovely bus took us to a town with working windmills, and we saw flaxseed oil being made under windmill power.  We also visited a bakery that made those delicious caramel filled Dutch waffle cookies, a cheese maker and a wooden shoe maker.  At one point we went by boat over a fresh water lake that was created to manage flooding; a dike was built and over time rainwater replaced sea water.  Amazing.

Excellent meals at very different eateries each day:  Monday at a pub-style place where I’d eaten with Ana and Art before and Tuesday at a very tony prix fixe spot (I had the fish as my main, Glenn had the quail).  

Today we again had breakfast at Bagels & Beans, and the waiter said, “Your usual?”  We’d ordered the same things both previous visits.  We agreed but told him we’re returning home today.

Soon we’ll settle into our exit row seats on the flight back to Detroit, then onto Pittsburgh.  I try to book early enough to get those seats on the transAtlantic legs without having to pay extra.  We retrieved our stored baggage after a short detour due to using the wrong elevator.  

8 December, Arlington VA USA
Quick turnaround in Pittsburgh as I’m taking care of Mickey for a week while Aideen goes to a ‘stan on business.  Glenn took me to the airport and will drive to DC when it’s time for me to return.

Mickey’s really taken to spoken Latin and vocal music, and we have a few dates on the calendar for those.  First one was tonight, his school chorus’ holiday event.  Tomorrow he’s carpooling to a spoken Latin competition in DC.

9 December
Well, Mickey’s team won an award at the Latin competition.  Unfortunately the company that made the plaques used the wrong medallion. The Latin groups’ plaques have a Kung Fu symbol on them.
Mickey & his Latin Club's plaque; he made
the gingerbread house at Inga's

10 December
Lunch with BAH friend Maury at a Korean quick food spot in McLean.  Always fun catching up with her.  Con all with my new lawyer, Karen, about setting up a Revocable Trust in lieu of the will that I know have.  And pick up and feed Mickey so he’s ready for his carpool to fencing lessons.  He does have some eclectic tastes!

11 December, Hanukkah starts tonight
Lunch with Peace Corps friend Larry.  Yes, I do a lot of lunches when I’m here.  Since Mickey’s in school all way, it’s a good way to catch up with DC-area friends.  Tomorrow it’s lunch with Alfreda who has retired and moved to Penn Square.  And Thursday Peggy and I will dine at our usual place, Lauriol.  I met Alfreda while we were both working in Macedonia, and Peggy was a freelance reporter in Poland when I lived there.  I love that we can keep in contact via email and Facebook in between lunch visits.

16 December
Thursday Mickey and I drove over to Bethesda to see Inga and Craig.  The girls were home:  Frankie from university, and  Tosia who’s in high school now.  Tomek and his son were there too.  Creative Inga bought gingerbread house kits which she and the kids put together.  Then some of us went to dinner.  Fun evening.

Friday afternoon Glenn arrived and stopped by on his way to his cousin’s where he’ll stay.  He called later to say it took almost two hours to get from Arlington to Alexandria and less than four from Pittsburgh to Arlington.

Today I roused Mickey very early, and we took a Lyft to Arlington Cemetery to help put wreaths on the graves.  Tens of thousands turned out to help, and we had to exit the car on the bridge just before the cemetery road.  Finding Glenn and his cousin was like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack, but after many cell phone calls, we finally connected.  We four walked into the cemetery, located a truck with wreaths (everyone received one), then found graves on which to leave them.  We also stopped to see my friend John.
Friend John's wreath at Arlington

17 December, Mount Pleasant PA
Glenn and I took Aideen, Mickey and Glenn’s cousin Donald to lunch before taking off for Mount Pleasant.  It was a relatively easy drive homeward — sunshine and clean roads.

20 December, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh PA
Drove back to the township today to put flowers on Mom and Dad’s grave (Daddy was cremated so they share one place).  Then joined Glenn and his younger granddaughter Emma at the home of childhood neighbors of Glenn’s family, Skip and Joy.  Emma was a bit clingy at first.  Joy brought some treats, and i sat at the dining room table with Emma while she enjoyed a cookie and sipped milk from a glass (not a sippy cup).  Then she discovered the ‘saloon” door between the kitchen and a hallway.  For the rest of our visit, she walked in a circle so she could swing through those doors.

22 December, Mom’s yahrzeit and Jan F’s birthday

23 December, Mount Pleasant
The holiday eating has started.  Today we stopped for tea at high school friend Suzie’s in Somerset, then over to Glenn’s older daughter’s to drop off unnecessary rabbit food … a ruse to get her husband Seth’s surprise Christmas gift there.  The huge tool box stand has been at Glenn’s; too big to hide easily.  Unfortunately Seth came down with the flu and wasn’t at work, complicating the best laid plans for getting it into the house, wrapped and under the tree.  I talked with Seth while Glenn and Michelle moved the gift and rabbit food into the garage.  Glenn tripped over and fell into a garbage can full of rabbit food.

Tomorrow night Glenn and I will host his traditional dinner for Michelle and her family.  Jen who is nine months pregnant doesn’t feel up to a lot of traipsing around, so we will have Christmas morning breakfast at her house.  Christmas dinner is at Michelle’s and I hear she’s making three different kinds of meat.  And just before going to Deep Creek, we’re having dinner with friends Gary and Johanna whom I met in Poland and Glenn met through the Extension Service.  Not sure any of my jeans will fit come the new year.

Christmas Eve & Day
Sara & Emma try out their
new clog slippers from Holland

Can't see the kids for the gift wrap!

Sara, ready to open gifts

29 December, Deep Creek MD
Like last year, we’re joining my Polish friends from DC-area for New Year’s here.  Besides the three couples (Inga and Craig, Benia and Paweł, Monika and Sylwek), Craig’s son and Monika and Sylwek’s daughters are with us.  Benia’s twins will arrive later.

Much bigger house than last year — four bedrooms en suite plus an extra and some rollaway beds.  A huge main floor common space for meals and gatherings.  Downstairs there’s a pool table and beanbag toss game.  The jigsaw puzzle is out and getting a lot of groans.  Took two hours just to put together the outer edge. And of course enough food to feed an army and plenty of libations too.  A good time will be had by all.

Glenn, Inga, Craig & Benia taking a break

Snowbirds in Deep Creek

31 December, New Year’s Eve
The jigsaw puzzle is done!  And we’re all dressed and ready to celebrate the new year.

1 January 2018, Happy New Year
Last year brought lots of changes, like a whole new life with Glenn “living together apart.”  I wonder what this one will bring (besides a baby sister for Emma)?  Whatever it is, it’s full of possibilities and I’m ready to explore them — and I think Glenn is too!

3 January, Pittsburgh
Phipps Conservatory in Oakland has a marvelous holiday flower show that I haven’t seen since high school.  Glenn’s Uncle Victor and Aunt Louise invited us to join them today, and we spent a couple of hours wandering through the beautiful exhibits.

Glenn & Victor at Phipps

One of many Phipps displays

5 January, Has hell frozen over?
In all the years I previously lived in PA full time (17+) and part time (college) and visited (the rest of the time until last August), I could count on ONE HAND the number of cars that have crossed the double white line in a Pennsylvania highway tunnel.  We understood how dangerous even a fender-benders accident in a two-lane, no berm tunnel of any length can be.  Since moving here, I’ve seen a couple more … and today we saw two cars pass in two tunnels within a few minutes of each other.  I do believe hell may have frozen over.

Actually, although hell probably hasn’t frozen, PA sure is getting colder.  Good thing I lived in MN for so long; I have a coat for every temperature.  My long down-filled coat and tall boots are getting quite a work out already.  Can’t believe the temps and wind chills numbers we’re seeing.  Ouch.

6 January, Harrisburg PA
Glenn and I drove here yesterday to bring his apple pie to the state competition at the annual Pennsylvania State Farm Show.  That’s Pennsylvania’s equivalent to a state fair, but it’s in January and needless to say, indoors (albeit not exactly a warm indoors).
No state fair anywhere is
complete without a
butter sculpture

After we arrived yesterday, we went to Appalachian Brewery for a late lunch/early dinner.  And we had their famous and fabulous homemade potato chips with blue cheese and balsamic reduction.  Heaven.  At Glenn’s request, I posted a photo on Facebook. His daughter Michelle, who loves this dish, reacted as Glenn predicted, and our friend Suzie opined that she’d love a batch.  So I suggested we lunch at the same spot today and take two orders back with us, one for each of them.  Unfortunately Glenn’s pie wasn’t received as well as the chips were.  Since he didn’t make the cut, we left for home early and had time to make our special deliveries.
Homemade chips with blue
cheese & balsamic reduction

10 January, Somerset PA
Michelle’s husband’s grandfather passed away, and Glenn and I attended the service today.  He was a well known pastor in this area, and the visitation was very well attended.  I had met Roger several times, and he was a kind soul, generous of spirit, a lovely man.  I’m glad I was able to visit his family and honor his memory.

11 January, Squirrel Hill
Met with my new doctor today.  I like her a lot.  We had a good conversation, and she wrote an order for my colonoscopy with a couple of recommended docs.  And she’s within a long walk from my apartment.

13 January, Mount Pleasant PA
Drove up here yesterday and today Glenn and I met friend Suzie, his daughter Michelle and granddaughter Sara at the Fire & Ice Festival in Somerset where the others live.  The temps were single digit, but we all dressed for the day.  An ice rink with artificial ice was a popular spot for local youth hockey enthusiasts, including Suzie’s younger grandson Henry.  He took part in a shots-on-the-net game and did quite well.  I told him that when he started playing, I’d come to watch and cheer.  i kinda miss all those youth hockey games — good way to get rid of any frustrations in the old days.

We went to a chili competition for an early supper.  A dozen or so local restaurants and others prepared their own versions of the hearty winter dish, beans and/or meat, spicy or not.  Suzie, Glenn and I sampled several, then voted on our favorite.  

16 January, Squirrel Hill
So, I spent some time today with Apple Support.  My Apple TV wouldn’t work.  I recharged the remote for a while (remember when I learned last year that it needed recharging?), but that didn’t help.  I called tech support, and the helpful fellow suggested I leave the remote plugged in and charging for at least four hours, and he’d order a call back.  As promised, I got a call back, this one from a young woman who offered some other suggestions since the recharging did nothing to change things.  Then she put me on hold (i chose classical music this time) and went to find a consult.  While holding, I decided to check plug ins one more time … and accidentally unplugged my whole system: TV, cable, Apple TV.  It had almost rebooted when the tech returned.   i asked her to wait until it finished.  And when it did, the Apple TV worked just fine.  Reminded me of something my sister always asked when I’d call her for help — have you rebooted the system?  

21 January, Mount Pleasant, Happy birthday, Seth … and Callie Sue
Glenn’s daughter Jen alerted him that she was starting to have regular labor pains and going in to the hospital, so we drove back to Mount Pleasant around midnight.  Then in the early morning hours she asked him to come to the hospital.  He and her mother in law Rhonda were with her until it was time to deliver, then her husband Alan took over solo.  Early afternoon I returned to the hospital with Glenn to meet Callie and congratulate her parents.  Big sister Emma arrived shortly after, climbed on the bed to join her mom and new sister.  

Pappy & his newest granddaughter
Emma holds her new sister while
mom and dad smile on
Jen & Callie Sue
Today is also Michelle’s husband Seth’s birthday.  

22 January, Happy birthday, Jen G.
Glenn’s younger daughter turns 30 today. 

I had lunch with friend Janet at a hole-in-the-wall Japanese-Korean cafe near Mount Lebanon.  Food was quite good and cheap, company fantastic.  Because of Callie’s birth, I wasn’t at the Women’s March in downtown Pittsburgh on Sunday, as planned.  But Janet went and said it was a huge success.

23 January, Squirrel Hill
Tonight I attended a volunteer recognition event “Night of a Thousand Stars” at New Hazlett Theater where I’m going to be a volunteer usher.  Got dressed up and took a Lyft to and fro.  I told the organizer that I felt a little like a fraud since I hadn’t done any work yet, but I found, neither had others that I met.  Met some new and interesting people that I look forward to seeing when we actually do volunteer.

25 January
Glenn, Uncle Victor and i saw an exciting hockey game tonight as the Pens beat the Minnesota Wild in a game was shouldn’t have ended in such a close score.  During the first two periods, the Pens were on fire and it seemed the Wild were phoning it in.  Then the Wild caught fire and almost won.  

28 January, Mount Pleasant
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  And she’ll take some too.  Glenn and I hosted Johanna and Gary today for pinocle and dinner.  They were all very patient with this new player, and — ta duh — Team Girls beat Team Boys.  We’re going to give them a chance to redeem themselves in a month or so.  

Yesterday Glenn and I went to the AAA Travel & Tourism Fair at the convention center in Pittsburgh.  Picked up some good ideas for things to do, bought some kind of expensive (but extremely delicious) garlic-parmesan popcorn and got AAA Visa cards … and a $5 hard-sided carry-on size suitcase.  We used my GroupOn at Social in Bakery Square for an early dinner.  Nice way to spend a rainy, ugly day.

30 January, Squirrel Hill
Lots of snow today but that doesn’t stop us intrepid EFHS Class of ’63 grads.  More than a dozen classmates and a couple of spouses got together for lunch at Driscoll’s in the township. The flu did stop a few, including Suzie.  We outlined our 55th class reunion which will be in September and generally did the catch-up thing.  

 31 January
Temps below zero again.  Remind me where I live …

Ice piling along the Allegheny River near
Golden Triangle