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

Monday, November 27, 2017

Easing into life in Pittsburgh

4 September 2017, US Labor Day, Mount Pleasant PA USA
Returned from Minneapolis sojourn to plumbing issues at 6350, so we cut Glenn’s stay in Pittsburgh short and lengthened mine in Mount Pleasant.  Got to bring a huge basket of laundry along, so it’s been a busy weekend.  I spent some time Saturday doing laundry.  High school friend Suzie drove over from Somerset, and we went to Levin’s in Greensburg to look at chairs while Glenn smoked ribs for supper.  I made baked beans earlier (doctored up some Bush’s as I usually do), and we had fresh, locally grown corn on the cob.  Heaven.   

Tomorrow Glenn and I will go to Linn Run State Park near Ligonier to mark my late son Peter’s 45th birthday. 

5 September, my nephew Craig’s birthday too
Creek at Linn Run

7 September, Happy Birthday, Spike and Marilou
I remember this day well.  Larry and Karen’s younger son Spike was born in London when I was there on a business trip.  I took his big brother Jonah who was three to Regent’s Park Zoo on Peter’s birthday; Karen was due imminently.  I got to see Spike before I returned to Macedonia.  Now i have his bar mitzvah on next year’s calendar.  Time flies …

This is the last month of regular season baseball, and Glenn and his Uncle Victor are getting in a few games, and later in the month I’m joining them as is his daughter Michelle and her family.   Should be fun.

Last night while Glenn and Uncle Victor watched the Pirates lose, Aunt Louise and I went to dinner at Mitchell’s, our favorite spot at The Waterfront, then watched the end of the game at her house.  Nice way to spend an evening.

10 September, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh PA USA
One aspect of my Minneapolis life that I miss is all of the wonderful theater.  I had several season tickets with various friends — a good way to stay in touch, have a night out, be entertained or knocked up side of the head about some relevant issue or other.  I’m sure there is good theater here.  I just haven’t found it yet.  At the library the other day I picked up some announcements and a local City Pages to explore what’s available.  And I decided to try what I thought was a play today before it closed.  Nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

“Six A Breast” was actually a modern ballet performed by three women, and ironically all three had Minneapolis connections!  They’d lived and worked there and received grants from well known MN foundations that support the arts.  How’s that for the luck of the draw?  

While I’m not a big dance person, this was excellent.  It focused on myths and stereotypes around women.  One set of notable scenes had a woman demonstrating how to properly fold a fitted sheet.  Ladies, haven’t we all seen those videos or read those blurbs?  The last woman did what I often do, rolled it into a ball and tossed it into the cupboard.  Another set had each dancer trying to become the ideal woman — the funniest of the three kept adding layer upon layer of make up that she pulled from al large purse.  Then she pulled out and put on an “apron” that stuck out horizontally at the waist.  Lastly she pulled out a small bottle of wine and a glass, setting them on her apron/table, and with a wry smile, poured a glass.  The audience broke up laughing.

The ballet was at a theater on the North Side and being uncertain about football game traffic and parking, I tried Lyft both ways — nice.  Oh, and I signed up to volunteer at the theater.  Small theater groups from around the city use the theater which features many new plays.

12 September
Slowly but surely becoming a Pennsylvanian again. Got my driver’s license on 8/31.  Last week Glenn took me to AAA in Pittsburgh to get my license plates and apply for a new car title.  He added me to his AAA membership.  I now have a temporary title and owner’s card. Today I had the car inspected at the garage recommended by Uncle Victor.  A safety inspection and emissions inspection are required, and thankfully, my little Focus passed both.  My windshield is appropriately stickered!   

14 September
Skyped with Hala in Sandomierz today.  She’s well into her retirement and seems to be enjoying herself, finding things to do.  Actually on a farm there’s no end to things to do, even without animals.  I told her we’d see her in December for the board meeting; Glenn’s coming with me again and we’ll spend some time in Amsterdam afterwards.

Tomorrow Glenn and I are driving to Harrisburg for the day.  We’ll pick up his daughter Michelle’s birthday present from her husband — new rabbit cages, and have lunch at a restaurant that we went to last January.  Weather report is for sunny skies, a nice day for a road trip and it’s the turnpike the whole way.

16 September, Happy Birthday, EFHS Class of '63

17 September, Happy Birthday, Michelle F.
Yesterday Glenn and I joined other members of the EFHS Class of ’63 in celebrating our 72nd birthdays.  This has become an annual event supplemented with the occasional lunch in between.  Donnie and Gene organized this lunch at Eagle’s Landing II, the restaurant at Rostraver Regional Airport not far from our old high school.  While that might seem an unlikely place to dine, I can assure you it isn’t.  Several years ago a friend and I asked someone to recommend a place to eat, and were directed to that one.  We figured, why not.  And found an outstanding menu, including the best coconut custard pie on earth!  

Keeping with the “good food” theme, we celebrated Glenn’s daughter Michelle’s birthday at Seven Springs, a ski resort in the nearby mountains.  They have a sumptuous buffet that includes steamed crab legs, Michelle’s favorite.  Since we had younger granddaughter Emma for the day, she joined us, and she and Sara enjoyed quality cousin time.  Both were very well behaved, and we all ate very, very well!

19 September
Glenn and Uncle Victor went to another Pirates’ game tonight.  Aunt Louise was too tired from a busy weekend to go out, so we didn’t get together.  Pirates lost again.

20 September
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins tonight.  Shanah Tovah to all of my Jewish friends. Good health, happiness, peace and prosperity in the coming year to all my friends and family of any, or no, religion.

 Today I walked over to see this incredible memorial to the Holocaust which sits on the grounds of a private school on my street.  A now retired history teacher wanted his students to understand the magnitude of that loss.  Over several years he collected pop top tabs until he had six million.  
Close up of block full of pop tabs
A school benefactor underwrote an artist to "do" something with the collection. The result is this "star of David."

21 September, Matt & Will’s wedding day
My friend Jan’s son Matt married his long time love in a civil ceremony in France where they live.  Jan, her ex, Matt’s siblings, Will’s family along with a few friends were in attendance.  

When I lived in Warsaw in the mid ‘90s, Matt spent a month with me, a break from youth hostels as he flew around the world.  More recently, a friend and I visited Matt and Will at their idyllic homestead in the Dordogne region. We spent an amazing weekend of excellent food, interesting sights and warm hospitality.  Mazel Tov to the newlyweds.

23 September
Bruce, a high school classmate and friend, was inducted into the EFHS Hall of Fame tonight.  Eileen, Suzie and I helped get the word out to other classmates, and a tableful attended.  Additionally, quite a few Greenockers were there, “kids” I haven’t seen in some time.  Lousy food, much-too-long speeches but a good chance to honor one of us and re-connect with old friends.

Friend and classmate Janet rode to the banquet with me while Suzie drove to Glenn’s, then rode with him.  She’ll spend the night here as she doesn’t want to drive back over the mountain from Mount Pleasant to Somerset late at night, and I don’t blame her.  We’ll have brunch with classmate Alana at Eagle’s Landing tomorrow on our way back to Glenn’s.

24 September
Cannot believe how busy Eagle’s Landing was today.  Luckily Suzie and I were there early.  The place was filling fast as friend/classmate Alana arrived, and by the time we left, a couple of dozen people were standing in line.  Told you the food was good (oh, and affordable too).

26 September
One of the nicest things about coming “home” to Pittsburgh is reconnecting with people from my growing up years.  Today I had lunch with two “girls” from the street where we lived:  Debbie and Linda.  I haven’t seen them in decades so we had a lot of catch up on, and we did.  More to come.

29 September, Bethesda MD
That wonderful man I love came to Squirrel Hill last night so he could drive me to the airport this morning, then return to Mount Pleasant to pack for his trip to the national rabbit show in Indianapolis.  His daughter Michelle, her husband Seth and are going too.  Since we all get back to PA next Thursday, I’m going to check out the airport bus for my homeward transport.

Aideen picked me up at Reagan, and we had lunch in Arlington on the way back to her condo.   Tonight we took her son Mickey with us to meet Inga, her beau Craig and friends Benia and Paweł for a Polish dinner in Arlington. Then I went home with Inga and Craig.

Front: Craig, Inga, Mickey
Back, Paweł, Benia, Aideen
Love Inga’s new townhouse/row house.  Not far from her old house, and a bus to the Friendship Heights Metro stops on the corner, a few steps from her door.  Inga’s hard at work updating some rooms, and although it’s way smaller than the house, it’s spacious and warm and all Inga.

Tomorrow I’m having lunch with Glenn’s cousin Donald.  We may go to a winery if the weather is good.  We’re flexible.

30 September 
Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. So tonight I’ve been thinking about what I have to atone for.  I hope I’ve said “mea culpa” (or moje wina) whenever I’ve erred.  I definitely know I’m not perfect, but I don’t go around purposely hurting people.  But if I’ve done that inadvertently and thus not apologized, please tell me.  Don’t wait 17 years as one now-former friend did.

I didn't count the number of Sunday hours in September and October that Suzie and I spent at Levin Furniture in Greensburg looking for a chair, but it was more than a few.  Decision still TBD, but we both did make some purchases.

Pick a fabric, any fabric & order the chair!
October 2017
A hectic month and thus I did virtually no blogging.  Thanks to my calendar I can, however, give you the highlights.  

1 October 2017, Bethesda
The month started with a Sunday hike and winery visit with Inga and Craig, Benia and Paweł.  We brought snacks and bought wine and enjoyed a gorgeous day sitting outdoors.  Spent the rest of the week catching up with a few friends and helping Glenn’s cousin with a project.  All in all, a lovely way to start the month.  Glenn picked me up at the airport, and spent the weekend in Mount Pleasant.

7 October, Mount Pleasant
The first Saturday saw me enjoying another glorious day outdoors.  I had found an apple festival not far from Mount Pleasant, where Glenn lives.  We invited his Uncle Victor and Aunt Louise to join us at the festival for good food and shopping.  We had incredible BBQ for lunch and apple dumpling ice cream for dessert — no calories there.  Aunt Louise tried a local brewed root beer that she declared excellent.  A couple of hundred vendors were spread out across the hilly fairgrounds, mostly local artisans with good stuff for Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  Needless to say, I shopped.

9 October, Squirrel Hill
Friend Jan in Minneapolis did an e-intro for me and a friend of hers from her grad school days at Pitt.  Nymphe and I finally connected over lunch at Curry on Murray, then walked up the hill to the Manor Theater to see Victoria and Abdul, a very interesting film about Queen Victoria’s relationship with a Muslim Indian clerk who’s initially sent to London to present her with gift from the country.  Excellent film and fun meeting Nymphe of whom I hope to see more.

11 October
If you ever get a chance to see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Cancer Ward at Sloan Kettering Institute in New York City (phew!), do!  It was at the City Theater on the South Side, and I got a solo ticket to the matinee today.  Very racy occasionally but hysterical.  I know, you are wondering how female cancer can be funny, but believe, I laughed so hard I was crying.  On the way out, I can into two women that I’d been in high school with!  I actually saw Mary first at the Jewish Community Center water ex class.  She was a year ahead of me at EFHS.  Her cousin Martha, also in her class, was at the play.  Small world getting smaller.

14 October, Emma’s 3rd Birthday, Mount Pleasant
Today is Glenn’s younger granddaughter’s birthday.  Glenn and I joined her, her mom Jennifer and a friend of Jen’s at Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate.  Everyone enjoyed the games of skill and chance, collecting tickets for each win.  At the end Emma got to pick prizes and pay with the tickets.  Tomorrow her dad’s family will host a surprise party for her, and we’re invited.  Another group of new faces to remember.

15 October, Glenn’s birthday
We’re celebrating on Friday when he’s in Squirrel Hill.  Today we participated in Emma’s surprise party at her dad’s parents’ house.  A mile-high pile of presents and enough food to feed an army.
Emma & her birthday cake

19 October
The world continues to get smaller.  Today I did my free session with jamie, a trainer at the JCC.  When the training manager and I were emailing, he asked about my preferences.  I said only that the trainer realized I’m 72 not 22.  

20 October
Wow!  What a fantastic evening.  Glenn came into the city for the weekend, and we celebrated his birthday at Senti, an Italian restaurant that we sampled on our walking tour of Lawrenceville.  Outstanding food and wine, as we had expected fro our sampling.  Definitely nice not to be disappointed.  Uber drivers were on hand so we shared a bottle of wine too.  The going-home driver offered to sing Happy Birthday to Glenn, then Glenn pranked him.  The driver asked is it had been an enjoyable celebration.  With a straight face, Glenn said yes, as long as his wife didn’t find out.  We all got a good laugh.

Sunday we’ll go to a retirement party for our friend Gary.  He’s half of Gary and Johanna whom I met in Poland and Glenn knows through his work with 4-H and the Extension Service.  Johanna will continue to work full time, so a return trip to Poland, as we’ve all discussed, won’t be for a while.

25 October, Suzi turns 72!
To be celebrated on 5 November with The Capital Steps and dinner at The Melting Pot, as planned by my sweetie.

Glenn & I a year ago ... and now
26 October, Mount Pleasant
Halloween comes early in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania.  Glenn picked me up yesterday, and we had dinner in town for a birth day celebration.  Tonight we met our high school friend Suzie in Somerset for an early dinner before we all went off to grandchildrens’ Halloween parades.  

Berlin, where Glenn’s daughter Michelle and her family live, has a huge Halloween parade with prizes and goodie bags, then a few hours of “Halloweening” in the town.  Sara’s costume was incredible — her dad made her a jewelry box and she was the ballerina on top.  An amazing number of kids trudging through the not-terribly-well-light streets after treats.  Sara got quite a haul before she pooped out; she’s only 5 1/2 and probably walked a few miles in her box.

Sara, the ballerina on the jewelry box
29 October
Another Halloween … this time in Mount Pleasant on a rainy, chilly day.  Glenn doesn’t usually hand out treats, but I love this holiday.  (As a kid, I never had birthday parties; my mom didn’t believe in them.  But I did get to host a Halloween party many years.)  

As hand outs, Glenn bought an assortment of one-serving bags of chips.  More than a dozen neighborhood kids braved the weather to our door, zombies and princesses and football players and one little cowgirl, granddaughter #2, Emma, who stayed to play for a while, along with her parents, Jennifer and Allen.
Cowgirl Emma

31 October, real Halloween in Squirrel Hill
Pumpkins courtesy of Oscar
who lives near Zurich
Drove over to the Waterfront tonight and saw lots of lit-up houses and costumed kids walking along Beechwood Boulevard.  Had forgotten today is Halloween.  Nice to see so many homes welcoming kids.

5 November
Driving into Pittsburgh today to celebrate my birthday, Glenn gave me the best present ever — he said we should go to Italy for a month this summer!  Yaaaaay.  Now we’re off to The Melting Pot and the Capital Steps.

11 November, Minneapolis
Argh!  I am so behind in blogging and posting that I think I’ll wait and post just before we leave for Poland.  We’ll attend my December board meeting in Sandomierz, then we’ll stay in Amsterdam with Ana and Art for a few days.  I’m so excited.

To recap — my birthday celebration on 5 November was a 10, an A+, a night to remember.  I haven’t had fondue since Switzerland in the ‘80s.  The Melting Pot does a delicious job, just way too much food.  The cheese fondue was superb, the meal/seafood/veggies delicious, and the dark chocolate with pineapple, marshmallows and such to die for.  And the Capital Steps were in rare form.  I wish I could remember all of their hilarious skits, and the closing Lirty Diars was as funny as I recall from the old tapes.  In short, a perfect birthday celebration.  Thank you, Glenn.

Saw a few snowflakes in Squirrel Hill on Election Day, 7 November.  I didn’t vote since I know nothing about the candidates.  Next year …

Met with an insurance agent about my Medicare Advantage plans here.  And had a lovely early dinner with Uncle Victor and Aunt Louise; they have embraced me as family.  We went to Falce’s, an old fashioned cafe that we all love — comfort food at a very reasonable price.  Victor and I had the liver and onions, mmmm good; my once a year dive into one of my favorite meals (no comments please).  

18 November
Recap of whirlwind week in Minneapolis — wonderful “homecoming” and reconnecting with family and old friends.  Dinner, opera and B&B with Janet and Ed, water ex and coffee with the Swimmin’ Women of the Y, early morning lake walk with Linda and later lunch complete with piña colada cake (!), lunch with Sabrina, coffee with my first Minneapolis boss Roland and his wife Merle, trip to Northfield for lunch with Lois, and dinner with friend Marilyn (sorry to miss Jan who was sick).

Early morning Lake Harriet walk with Linda

An earlier walk in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh

lso, a fun afternoon at the newly reopened Children’ Museum and dinner at St. Paul landmark Mickey’s Diner with nephew Craig and his son Alijah; meeting with Ben, my financial planner; catching up with Dr. Brown, CNP Lydia, Office Manager Barb and Dr. Gary (oh, and having my annual physical exams and a dental check too);  dropping off no-long-needed business clothes at Dress for Success with Janet’s help, meeting with Kamal, a grad student and colleague of a former client of mine (Kamal wants to develop a project in Somalia for his grad school), researching and buying a new dishwasher for my condo (thank you, sister Barbara, for your patience).
Alijah & his tower at
Minnesota Children's Museum

Craig & Alijah enjoy burgers
at Mickey's Diner

And finally tonight a glorious dinner with Barbara, her kids and their sweeties.  That last dinner was at a new spot that Barbara suggested, Porter & Smith, which I heartily recommend.  Barbara and I both bought $50 Groupons which they honored by giving us two separate checks for three people each.  Thank you, P&S.  Tomorrow morning bright and early Janet will drive me back to MSP and my flight home.

Barbara, Chris, Jen

Tomery & Clint

Oh, the every-five-years colonoscopy that created the need for a trip at this particular time — it was cancelled.  They forgot to schedule an anesthesiologist and were unable to reschedule the procedure with one for this week.  So, I’ll need to find a gastroenterologist in Pgh soon.

19 November, Squirrel Hill
Home again, home again.  

Bike rack in Squirrel Hill
My wonderful sweetie was right there waiting for me when I arrived in baggage claim.  We stopped in the Strip District to pick up a few things — poultry scissors and hazelnut coffee beans to be precise — and had brunch.  Then home for a disaster …

Glenn’s tablet wasn’t working so I offered him my laptop … except that I couldn’t find it.  And then I realized that I didn’t have it.  I’d left it in the seat pocket on my flight from MSP today.  I’d been working the Sunday NY Times crossword, then it was time to land, and I stowed it … and totally forgot it when the bell chimed that passengers could get up and out.

You may have heard me screaming “Representative” to assorted computer-generated “Help” voices.  Finally reached a real person, Elizabeth, who called PIT and got the skinny on Lost and Found.  Long story short, no real news.  But Glenn offered to drive me to the airport to see if the laptop was at the Ticket Counter (per the helpful human, that’s where lost items end up at 8 pm).  We did that with no luck.  I will call again tomorrow, scream “Representative” a few more times and see if the laptop turns up.  In the meantime I changed a few key passwords to online accounts.  Nightmare.  So much for getting a good night’s sleep.

20 November
There is a Goddess and she loves me.  Sleepless night.  Glenn left to help Victor with something and called me when he finished.  Hearing the distress in my voice, he offered another trek to the airport.  Off we went, another explanation to a ticket agent, a check of the locked storage place, and out the agent came with my laptop!  Now I can get on with life …

It’s snowing  A really lovely snowfall is visible outside my living room window.  Lots of big fluffy flakes.  I love it!

21 November
Know how you see all those folks, young yes but older too, walking down the street, eyes down reading or watching something on their mobile phones?  Well, today I walked down my street with my head down too … reading a snail mail letter.  A lovely note from Jan’s son Matt and his hubby Will thanking me for the wedding present.

Busy day getting ready for travel.  When Glenn and I leave for Poland and Amsterdam on Tuesday, I won’t be back here until mid December.  I’ll leave for 10 days in DC two days after we return from overseas.  I know, you know, I love to travel anywhere anytime.  But this winter’s schedule is a bit much even for me!  

I spent much of today getting organized for both trips plus Thanksgiving in Mount Pleasant … doing laundry (down the stairs, up the stairs, repeat often), select and pack clothes/boots/shoes for Poland, Amsterdam and DC, find three kinds of money, Mickey’s presents and my travel kit (pills, cosmetics etc.) … and I returned to my regular exercise regime.  Today was Silver Sneakers Circuit, a 45-minute work out that’s lot tougher than you think.  I walked home down Shady Avenue, a roller coaster-style street, and passed a handful of pre-school teachers with their flock of toddlers.  We were all smiling as the kids gleefully kicked through the leaves.

22 November, 54th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination
To all my NU and EFHS friends — and others of a certain age — where were you when you learned the president ha been shot?  I know you remember, we all do.  I was crossing Sheridan Road in Evanston IL.  A classmate Ann and I were returning to our dorm after our 12 o’clock freshman English class.  We heard passing mumbles, thought it was a joke and didn’t take it seriously until we got back to Willard Hall and saw the newscasts.

A morning of last minute packing and organizing for my coming trips, housekeeping duties — trash and recycling taken out, dishwasher filled and run, bedsheets changed, laundry basket filled.  Then a relaxing lunch at Ramen House with high school friend Janet (I think my address has more Janets than any other woman’s name!).  This Janet has excellent taste in coats; she was wearing a Burberry coat in light green just like mine in dark blue.  Haven’t seen Janet for about a month so it was good to catch up.  Then I went off to Costco for gasoline and a big bouquet of flowers for Jennifer who’s fixing breakfast tomorrow — French toast an BYOC (bring your own coffee).  

23 November, Mount Pleasant, Happy Thanksgiving
Today and every day I am thankful for family and friends.  I could not have had this adventurous life without your love and support.  And now I have added Glenn and his family to the mix.  And the adventure continues.

Great nieces Hazel & Ruby sent a pic for the holiday

This morning Glenn and I joined daughter Jennifer and her family for breakfast.  Jen made cinnamon French toast with a little help from Emma who hates French toast but loves “cakes,” as her mom calls it. Alan fried pile of bacon and sausage.  And we all ate well.

Back here, it’s been a lazy day.  I took a two-hour nap while Glenn continued to prep for Saturday’s turkey dinner with daughter Michelle and her family.  Tonight we had Glenn’s special air-fried Buffalo wings for dinner, and i’m hoping for a few homemade ladilocks later for dessert.  Glenn and Michelle with a bit of help from Sara made 260 mini ladilocks last weekend (oh, that doesn’t count those eaten during construction).  

24 November
It’s almost midnight.  Glenn’s napping on the sofa (a nightly ritual), Sara’s asleep in a spare bedroom and I’m ready to hit the hay.  We’re pooped.  

No kindergarten today for Sara although both of her parents ha to work.  So we volunteered to take Emma too.  She’s always asking to play with her cousin.  They really were pretty good, played well until supper time.  Then, adventurers that we are, we took them out to eat.

Emma after a hard day of play

Sara as Princess Popi (sp?)

Valley Dairy is a nice family restaurant that we like and good for kids’ messes and noise.  They ate well and got the promised sundaes for dessert.  Back at Glenn’s, they played for a bit, then Glenn had to take Emma home.  He told Sara to pick up the toys and Emma chimed in, “I want to help.”  She who was “too sad” to help her mom clean up toys a while back.  And help she did.  Needless to say, I called Jennifer to tell her, and we had a good laugh.

Sara and I changed into sleepwear and watched two animated specials, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the new Troll Holiday.  Then it was off to bed for her.  And not long after, off to bed for me.

25 November
Five stuffed people relaxing after Glenn’s incredible turkey dinner.  He spatchcocked the bird, which meant less cooking time, and dry brined it, which meant a very moist and tasty bird.  Michelle made dynamite cranberry sauce; I definitely need that recipe.  And she made a surprise dessert — Twix cake — that was also a hit.  

26 November
Prepping for our trip to Poland and Amsterdam, departure from Mount Pleasant at the crack of dawn on Tuesday.  I am determined we’ll back efficiently and so far have all of Glenn’s needs in his usual carryon suitcase.  Ok, he’s not happy about wearing his sport coat on the plane, but it fits nicely in the overhead bin with his computer case.  And I may snuggle under his winter jacket as my coat isn’t as roomy.  

27 November
We walked at the Y again this morning, finished our packing/re-packing as well as laundry/last-minute-stuff, then lunch at Panera, a trip to Target for me to buy Christmas gift cards and finally the car wash.  My car’s first wash since the move; it’ll stay at Glenn’s while we’re overseas and while I’m in DC.  Now Glenn’s at his Extension Board meeting and I’ll post this in a minute.  Tomorrow we leave for Detroit, Amsterdam, Warsaw and final destination, Sandomierz.  

I’ll sign of with this from Thrillist ( :

“If you were born in 1945...
The BIGGEST song was "Rum and Coca-Cola" performed by the Andrew Sisters and "Till the End of Time" performed by Perry Como, which were both the No. 1 song in the country for 10 weeks.

“But the best song was "This Land is Your Land" performed by Woody Guthrie. Maybe America was humming along to the sounds of the Andrews Sisters and Perry Como at the time, but this confrontational folk song pointed towards a musical revolution to come.”