-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 |
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.
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
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.
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.
|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.
|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
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.
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.
Temps below zero again. Remind me where I live …
|Ice piling along the Allegheny River near|