Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Catching up

2 July 2018, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh PA USA
Or are we in Arua, Uganda, or Rumbek, South Sudan?  I can only remember being this hot in those places.  Temps in the mid 90s with equally high humidity.  My friend Aideen returned from a trip to west Africa where it was COOLER than in Arlington VA, where she lives.  What is wrong with this picture?

3 July
The heat continues.  Enough said.

4 July, Independence Day and my brother Dan’s birthday (cousin Marsha’s too), Mount Pleasant PA
After a lazy morning in Squirrel Hill, we stopped briefly in Mount Pleasant before heading to Somerset.  Because his hot water heater is kaput, Glenn had to cancel his annual Fourth of July BBQ for a few friends and family … his older daughter offered to smoke a brisket and include us in her festivities.  We had an excellent dinner including red-white-blue mac and cheese, which looked as bad as that sounds but tasted awesome (four white cheeses in the sauce).  Granddaughter Sara made dessert — “chipwiches” ( chocolate ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies that she had made).  Sara’s becoming quite an accomplished cook thanks to a monthly cooking kit from Radish, complete with recipes, tools sized for kids, lessons on food safety and such, as well as fun activities.  She also expanding her food horizons as she makes new dishes. Radish was a birthday gift from an uncle and aunt.

Then on to the highlight of the night — fireworks.  We sat on the hillside near the Berlin middle school and watched fireworks from a few other municipalities and individuals before the Berlin extravaganza went off.  And that it was.  Not as flashy as some I’ve seen in the past but nonetheless very satisfying to this fireworks lover.

5 July
I’m pooped and Glenn is already asleep with his laptop in his lap.  Today we took care of the two younger granddaughters Emma 3 and Callie 5 month.  

Emma and I played outdoors for a while — frisbee and soccer.  The long grassy hillside is one big obstacle — neither of us likes to chase our wild throws and kicks.  Callie fussed for a bit, ate and fell asleep on Glenn’s chest.  He promptly fell asleep too, so I took a pic for Jennifer.

Glenn & Callie nap together

Tomorrow Glenn will drive me back to Squirrel Hill and take advantage of my hot water.

6 July, Squirrel Hill
Before returning here, Glenn and I walked at the Y with Donna, one of the regular early birds that Glenn walks with.  I enjoy walking with her too.  A light drizzle slightly offset the 100 percent humidity my weather app showed and we felt.  

The temps have really cooled, and I haven’t had the a/c on all day.  Hurray.  After walking up Murray Avenue a few blocks, I took a bus into the city and picked up the divorce papers for one of Glenn’s uncles (a second marriage that, like the first one, Glenn knew nothing about).  I’d ordered them on Tuesday.  Then I walked over to Burlington (formerly Burlington Coat Factory) to look for a baby present for Hala’s new granddaughter, Zosia, Marcin and Beata’s daughter who arrived yesterday.  Put together a cute size 2 outfit (I like buying things for future use) and also picked up a present for Tosia, Hala’s first granddaughter.

7 July
Weather is still comfortable.  I’ve been sleeping with the screened sliding door open.  

I took a Lyft to the New Hazlett Theater where I’m a volunteer usher.  Today it was the matinee performance of a musical, “The Bridges of Madison County.”  Didn’t even know it had been made into a musical.  Read the book, saw the movie, now I’ve seen the musical, which was quite good.  The Carnivale theater company’s singers had good, strong voices, and I’m glad I stayed to watch.  As I did, it dawned on me that the story was about timing — the timing of the meeting between Francesca and Robert was wrong, just like the timing between Glenn and me was right.

Tomorrow we’re meeting friends Gary and Johanna, new retirees, at Stone Villa Winery for some wine tasting … oh, and catching up.  We’ll set a time to play cards for another time.  

11 July
Catching up again!

Good friends, gorgeous weather, lovely wine and many tasty snacks — a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  And that we did.  It’s always fun getting together with Gary and Johanna.  The time passed way too fast.

On Monday, after our early walk, I drove home for a day of organizing for our trip to Nashville next week and my colonoscopy on Thursday.  Talked with friend Kathy.  We’ll stay with her and Chuck. Chuck’s recovery from his hip replacement is going well.  We’re hoping they both can join us in some of our adventures.  

Yesterday I drove out to Mount Pleasant in the morning for a day at Idlewild Amusement Park, a place I haven’t been to since I was a chid.  Kennywood amusement park was closer, so we always went there.  By the time I got to his house, Glenn had picked up Sara.  We picked up Emma at 12:30, and Glenn’s older daughter Michelle met us at the park.  We had a wild and wonderful day — did a few rides, spent a couple of hours in the Soak Zone, checking out various water venues.  Emma wanted to go on the tubes — a winding series of tubes not unlike a wet bobsled track, ending in a shallow pool.  She insisted she’d done it before.  So acrophobic me, grabbed a two-person tube and Emma’s hand and followed Michelle and Sara up the many wooden staircases to the launch spot.  First we had to get weighed to ensure our combined weights didn’t exceed 450 pounds.  Phew!  We made it.  I got Emma settled in front, managed to get myself in the back and off we went.  Unlike the tubes at the Bloomington MN water park where I’ve been with nephew Craig and sons, the tubes in this one were pitch black.  Emma let out a terrified scream the minute we entered.  I put my feet around her and constantly reminded her that I was there,  But she didn’t stop until we hit the pool at the bottom.  She ‘fessed up that that was her first ride.  And thanksfully when I ‘fessed up, Jennifer, her mom, took it very well. 

Sara & Emma on Idlewild Train

I drove home last night cuz today I have to do the prep for my colonoscopy.  Ah, what a fun evening this will be.  At 5, I started with the prep liquid, made with lemon-lime Gatorade per the doc’s instructions.  Tastes better than the lemonade I used five years ago.  Best thing about all this is that my appointment is early — need to be at hospital by 8:30 for 9:30 procedure.  Glenn has already arrived and will go with me tomorrow.

Speaking of my sweetie, he has had quite an eventful day.  Having done some laundry, he could hear something metallic rattling around in the dryer.  Turned out to be a single key to his house.  After much thought, he could only identify his wallet as the location of a single house key … and low and behold, there in the pocket of a pair of cargo shorts in the dryer was his wallet.  Totally destroyed from its thorough washing.  Thankfully much of its contents was plastic.  The paper money is drying on a rack.  

So off he goes to pick up something for Uncle Victor at Sears and decides to buy a wallet at BonTon since it’s having a huge going-out-of-business sale.  He buys a $50 wallet for about $16, then spies a long-sleeved dress shirt in his size.  Perhaps a bit too pinkish red but … With all the markdowns, he wasn’t sure of the final price and asked a salesperson.  Amazingly he found one who checked the price.  For $6 and change, Glenn will wear a pinkish red shirt.

12 July, Mount Pleasant
Colonoscopy day.  Got about four hours sleep last night.  Showered, dressed and off we went.  Magee-Women’s is a great hospital; I remember it well from my youth.  Although they have many male doctors and employees, my doctor was a woman and all of the nurses and aides I dealt with were women.  I liked that.  All went well.  Glenn was with me until I went in for the procedure and joined me when I was in recovery.  I’m a slow recoverer so especially good to have someone around.  The doctor removed four small polyps, now with pathology.  I’ve had them before and they’ve not been a problem.  She did recommend another colonoscopy in three years, not five.  Yuck!

Glenn went up to my apartment and got what we needed — laundry basket, homemade chicken soup, my laptop — and then we drove here.  I slept most of the afternoon, ate my soup in stages along with some gluten-free pretzel sticks and iced tea.  My no-caffeine-today headache is starting to recede.  When Glenn returned tonight from his board meeting, I sent him out for a mushroom pizza.  I was craving something with lots of favor, something that happens routinely when I’ve had gastro-intestinal issues.  In college after a stomach flu bout, I’d head for the pizza parlor.  Anyway … 

Tomorrow we have much to do to prepare for our trip to Nashville and Saturday we have Emma and Callie for the day while Jen and Alan paint the new house with help from Alan’s family.

15 July, Franklin, Tennessee
Up and out before the crack of dawn to catch our 6-ish flight.  We used my twofer tickets on Delta which meant a connection.  We traveled through Detroit — and our outgoing gate at DTW was right next to our arrival one.  Hurray!  

Arrived in Nashville on time and got our rental car, a small SUV.  Glenn brought his GPS so we got to Kathy’s without a hitch, stopping for lunch en route. 

Kathy’s never met Glenn, and I’ve never met Chuck — and we all clicked beautifully.  Glenn and Chuck started talking ancestry … and off they went.  Glenn’s already working on Chuck’s father’s family.  We practically had to drag them to dinner at a local pub.

Interestingly neither Glenn nor I had heard of the Battle of Franklin in 1864, one of the deciding battles of the American Civil War.  While we’re here, we’ll visit quite a few sites related to the battle.  It was a bloody defeat in which the South lost 12 generals: six were killed, five were wounded and one captured.

17 July
Yesterday Glenn, Kathy and I drove into Nashville to have a look-see.  Chuck is recuperating from hip replacement surgery and cannot walk that much.

Music was coming from virtually every bar and restaurant in town … and many are owned by well-known country singers.  We checked out Tootsies where I’m told virtually every country star played before making it.  After a couple of hours of walking and a trip through the Johnny Cash Museum, we stopped at Ole Red, a new venue owned by Blake Shelton.  We had Nashville nachos and biscuits while we listened to an up-and-coming group, the Mobile Homeboys.  I’m not a big country music fan but thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Grand Ole Opry was high on Glenn’s must-see list and an evening that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Two of the headliners were oldies that I recognized, Bill Anderson and Ricky Skaggs.  A third, Bobby Bare, was familiar to the others as were some of the groups.  Very well organized — because it was Tuesday, each group was allotted three songs (usually it’s two).   

Glenn, Kathy & Chuck at Grand Ole Opry

In between all of this, Glenn and Chuck continue to work on the Chuck’s family tree.  Glenn’s taken it back to the 17th Century unofficially.  Now he’s trying to verify things.

18 July
After breakfast at Loveless Cafe, we spent the day driving along the Natchez Trace.  We stopped in several small towns along the way as well as the site where Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis & Clark fame, died in 1809.  The replica of the tiny inn where he either was murdered or committed suicide had just closed, but the park ranger spent about 45 minutes talking with us.  Lewis’ grave, along with almost 100 others, is there.  

19 July, Lynchburg TN
Home of the Jack Daniels Distillery and Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House and Restaurant. Jack Daniels is the oldest registered distillery in the US, 1866.  Miss Mary’s opened in 1908 and the boarding house was run by her until she died in 1983.

What a day we have had.  We left Kathy and Chuck after breakfast and set out for Lynchburg.  We had a lunch reservation for 1:30 and thought we might get in a tour at JD before that, and if not, afterwards  We were able to tour before lunch, a non-sampling one (waaay too early for that).

Some interesting history about JD that we didn’t know.  Jasper “Jack” Daniels learned how to make whiskey from the slave of a Lutheran minister.  The minister, Dan Call, not only preached on Sunday but had a general store and distillery.  Nearest Green, the slave, operated the distillery and took 10-year-old Jack, who worked in the store, under his wing.  This was all pre-Civil War.  After the war, Call’s congregation took exception to his whiskey enterprise.  He sold it to Jack who took Nearest, now a free man, as his head (master) distiller.  Since then, a member of Nearest’s family has always worked at the distillery … and Jack’s too.

Ironically JD is in a dry county.  You can’t buy a drink or a bottle anywhere other than samples on the distillery tours and commemorative bottles only at the distillery gift shop.

Interestingly reviews of Miss Mary Bobo’s that we found were somewhat mixed.  Our reviews will be five-star across the board.  You dine family style, and our group was about 14 plus a docent.  A young woman and her daughter who’d been in our JD tour group were with our lunch group, joined by the husband/father who’d done a tasting tour.  The couple across from us is from Savannah, and the wife said she was familiar with the work of an artist there who’s married to one of my late son Peter’s high school friends.  In fact, I was at their wedding.  All in all, we had a chatty, upbeat group and enjoyed the camaraderie and the Southern style food. Our mains were fried catfish and BBQ’d ribs, both good but the ribs were excellent.  A big hit with everyone was the fried apples with a splash of JD.  I think our waitress brought three refills!  That dish and deep fried okra bites are staples of the meals.

After all that food, we needed some steps despite the heat.  We walked over to the town square, found the “hardware” store and picked up a few JD gifts.  

20 July, East of Knoxville, TN
9 pm and it’s still 86F outside.  Just another day in Tennessee.

After Lynchburg, we drove over to Sewanee: The University of the South where my friend Aideen did her bachelor’s degree.  She’s the university’s most vocal fan.  We drove through the campus — as gorgeous as described and very un-Southern, a campus of stone Gothic-style buildings in a wooded acreage.  Had Glenn take my picture in front of the chapel and texted it to her.  We stopped at the university inn where there was no room although we did find cold wine and beer.  

We stayed overnight between Jasper and Kimball, then set out early today for Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls.  We missed the turn for the incline, which ended up being good.  We had thought it went to Ruby Falls, but it actually goes all the way up to the Lookout Mountain.  We stopped at Ruby Falls but didn’t take the tour — it would take more than an hour and the line was really long.  We drove up to Lookout Mountain — what a view. 

We drove on toward Pigeon Forge, home of all things Dolly.  We arrived at Dollywood at 5 pm, paid $15 for parking and took the tram to the ticket office.  Thankfully the ticket seller told us  before we bought tickets that all but two of the shows were over.  Two tickets would be almost $150; we decided against staying.  Back onto the park train to our car, then on to search for a hotel room and a sit down place to relax and eat.  No room at the inns in Pigeon Forge, so we ventured toward the highway — taking the “scenic route.”  The receptionist at this Holiday Inn Express recommended Aubrey’s across the street, which proved to be a great choice for our relaxed meal.

21 July, Franklin TN
Before returning to Franklin, we drove to Pigeon Forge, which reminded Glenn of the Las Vegas Strip — one long roadway with neon signs announcing hotels, museums and other attractions, restaurants, fast food places.  We saw King Kong climbing the Empire State Building, sharks swimming out of a billboard, an upside down museum building.  Wonder why we didn’t stop?

On to Gatlinburg where we parked and walked.  Yes, it’s full of tourists and tourist attractions, but you can tell it’s also a real town.  My parents took my son and his school friend to the World’s Fair in Knoxville decades ago and made a side trip to Gatlinburg.  It was a bit more “real town” then from their descriptions.  The boys especially loved riding the gondola to the mountain top (without acrophobic gramma, of course).

Shortly after arriving, we saw a sign for an artisan and craft show and decided to venture that way.  Since the main street traffic lights are numbered, the directions were to walk to light #8, turn left and go another couple of blocks to the convention center.  Worked like a charm.  The place was packed and we didn’t have time to see it all, but we did have time to buy a few things.  Glenn bought a special bread knife that he’s anxious to try out.  I picked up a few gifts.

A PA friend had told Glenn about the Bush’s Baked Beans factory, museum and cafe which wasn’t too far from Pigeon Forge, so off we went for lunch.  The long wait was well worth it — I had THE best coconut cream pie I’ve ever had, including Mom’s.  We shared a slice and brought a second back with us.

22 July, Nashville International Airport
Breakfast this morning included the incredibly sweet, ripe cantaloup and watermelon we all had bought on Wednesday from an Amish woman.  She was selling along the road from her buggy, horse tied under a nearby tree and child playing at her feet.  The melons were perfect, not an ounce of green on the cantaloup, and both juicy.  Glenn and I laughed as we both salted ours — something most people don’t but a habit learned from our mothers.

After breakfast, Kathy, Glenn and I drove over to a nearby park that was a key site in the Battle of Franklin.  One hundred years ago the hillside would’ve provided an excellent view of the surrounding countryside.  We’d previously visited Carter House where bullet holes are still visible on some of the buildings.  Three Carter sons took part in the bloody five-hour battle fought on and around this land and their farm.

Under a threat of rain, we said goodbye to Kathy and Chuck.  We’ll get to return the hospitality when they come to Pittsburgh, which they’ve agreed to do.  This was a great trip — so much more than I’d expected because I didn’t think about being in the heart of the Civil War.  Plus it’s always great when one’s sweetie plays well with the sweetie of a good friend.
Chuck & Glenn relax
before we depart

The rain started though not too hard.  We got gas, drove around the airport construction twice  before finding “rental car return” and arrived at our gate in plenty of time.  On to Atlanta, then Pittsburgh — in our upgraded seats.

29 July, Pittsburgh
Been a lazy and busy week.  On Tuesday Glenn was in Harrisburg with his daughter Michelle for 4-H State Days — and their team won the state Rabbit Bowl championship.  Lots of happy faces after that as the team didn’t feel very strong going into the competition.

I headed over to Pitt for the next phase of the sleep study I’m doing — lab work.  Although I take a bus to Oakland where Pitt is, I usually walk home.  This time I took a different street down the hill from Western Psych where the study group is.  Like my mother before me, I always stop to read historical markers and one on a nearby building noted that Standard Chemical, the first commercial producer of radium, had been in that location.  Marie Składowska-Curie, discoverer of radium, had visited in 1921 and been given a one gram sample for her research and an honorary degree from Pitt.  Learn something new every day.

On Wednesday Glenn came into town and we met high school classmate Gene and his wife Sandy for lunch in the Strip District.  Gene’s family is from a town near Florence, Italy, and they’re planning a trip in the fall and wanted to hear about ours. I promised to send brochures and such that I had from our visit to Florence last year.  Enjoyed seeing them and we plan to arrange another get together.  Nice to have some couples to socialize with.

Thursday I ushered for the Hatch theater in Allegheny Center.  Tiny theater in hard-to-find location among small businesses and offices.  The play “Gloria” was about an office shooting, before and after.  Interesting, disturbing, another new theater experience.

Relaxed in Mount Pleasant on Friday and Saturday and returned to Squirrel Hill this morning.  I’m ushering at New Hazlett tonight.

Wow!  Am I glad that I volunteered to usher tonight.  The production was The Wiz, an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz with an all black cast.  In 1978 when it came out, I took my son to see the film, which had an all-star cast:  Diana Ross as Dorothy, Lena Horn as Glinda the good witch, Michael Jackson as Scarecrow and Richard Pryor as the wizard.  The Alumni Theater Company’s production was spectacular, and the cast included many high-school-aged members.  The young woman who sang Dorothy had a magical voice, and her three traveling buddies were wonderfully spot on.  Alas, no Toto.  The house was sold out and had been sold out for the matinee as well.  

"The Wiz" at New Hazlett Theater
30 July
One of my two friends named Jan Frisch picked me up this morning; this one was a high school classmate, and we were driving to Somerset to have lunch at Suzie’s.  Janet K. was joining us.  Suzie had quite a snack-salad-sandwich-dessert spread prepared for enjoying amidst the catching up.  Jan and her husband are moving to Florida full time come September, so we’re hoping to have another girls’ lunch before that.  

31 July
Great way to end the month — with a mani-pedi this afternoon at the salon down the street and now enjoying the sound of a good thunderstorm.

3 September 2018, Mount Pleasant PA USA
August went by in a flash.  And that’s how I’ll deal with it today!

On the first, Glenn and I enjoyed a night of Pirates’ baseball with his Uncle Victor and Aunt Louise, although the home team lost.

Great night for a ballgame
Then my first Westmoreland County Extension Service annual picnic in a county park.  Really nice evening of good food — potluck sides and desserts plus pulled pork, corn on the cob, baked beans. 

The following week I took my car in for its annual inspection.  PA requires both an annual mechanical inspection and emissions inspection, which I had last September.  Since I was a few hundred miles overdue for an oil change, I decided to get the inspections over with at the same time.  All’s well.  In fact, I didn’t need the emissions certification — I hadn’t driven 5000 miles in the previous year!  The garage owner did recommend new rear tires.  Said he’d never said it before to anyone, but he detected a bit of dry rot in mine — safe for inspection but bearing a watchful eye.  They are originals when I bought the car in August 2010.  On returning from MN, I headed for Costco and had two new rear tires installed.

Ah, yes, I flew to MN for a couple of weeks of McVisits, as my friend Marilyn dubbed my trips back when I lived/worked overseas.  And it’s true.  I have so many folks to see in MN that it tends to be one lunch, dinner or coffee per friend and that’s it.  I was on hand to celebrate the August birthdays — my sister Barbara’s, my niece Tomery’s and Christopher’s sweetie Jen’s.  We had an excellent dinner at Mercury, chosen by our restaurant maven Barbara.  She and I also did dinner at Mercy, another of her favorites.  Unfortunately I had to miss Hagen Day at the Lake with niece Michelle, her husband Jon and all the Hagens.  I love that Michelle and Jon have taken over this tradition that I kind of started with Hagen gatherings at Janet and Ed’s cabin years ago.  I did get to see Craig and family for a day at the Sculpture Garden, including rooftop golf.  And Michelle and I brunched at the Hen House and bought “Eat Cake for Breakfast” tee-shirts.

Look what was parked across the street
from my sister's condo building
Back in PA in time to spend a couple of days at the Westmoreland Fair where, while I was gone, Glenn had been busy with set up and then the actual fair.  Picked up granddaughter Emma for a day at the fair.  She had a great time and fell asleep on the ride home.  I especially wanted to attend the annual 4-H Auction which always has some great items.  And this year one was from Jennerstown Speedway — a chance to ride in the pace car, wave the green ‘start’ flag and some tickets, hats etc.  I really wanted that — it just looked like fun the night we were there.  So, when the suggested opening bid was $100, I put up our paddle … and no one upped me!  It’s for next year and Sara said she wants to ride with me.  I’ve told her that’s dependent on her behavior.    

Sara & Emma at fair
Ended the month back here in Mount Pleasant for the long Labor Day weekend.   Glenn had asked for help cleaning out the bedroom that the kids’ use.  He was going to take down the crib (he has another portable one), and that means more room.  We’ll look for a dresser for the space.  We spent the day pulling clothes, boxes, toys, papers and notebooks, and you name it from drawers, the closet, under the bed — and sorting for “save” and charity donations.  The non-Glenn save piles were all over the living room for his daughters to check what they wanted before it was boxes and out. 

Yesterday (Sunday) we went to Kennywood Park, a huge amusement park that has changed and not changed since our days of annual school picnics there.  “We” included both of Glenn’s daughters and their daughters:  Michelle and Sara, Jennifer, Emma and Callie.
Emma, Callie & Sara at Kennywood
Hot day, long lines but what a great time.  The little girls had fun on most of the rides.  Sara wasn’t as happy on the roller coasters as her mom, a coaster lover, had hoped, and Emma didn’t want to do the Pittsburgh Splash again with me despite the heat.  But everyone was happy and exhausted when we decamped for home.

Today (Labor Day) my friend Darryn from St. Paul and his family are coming over.  Darryn and I trained for our first marathons in the same ALARC class.  Darryn, wife Kim and kids Chase and Ella are in Pittsburgh looking at Carnegie Mellon as a possible university for Chase. 
Darryn, Kim, Ella & Chase
atop Mount Washington
A good fit — he’s an accomplished musician and thespian; I’ve seen his recitals and productions over the years.  Chase is also considering my alma mater, Northwestern, so I have a slight bias in that direction.  Glenn and I are taking them to Primanti’s for supper tonight.

5 September, my late son Peter’s and nephew Craig’s birthday
Busy day with Callie, Jen’s eight-month-old.  Her sitter crapped out on her with a phone call on Labor Day!  Jen has a new place arranged, but Callie cannot start until next Monday.  So for three days Glenn and I have Callie; Emma is in preschool this  year and will switch to the one that takes Callie on Monday.

After picking up Callie at 7 am, we drove her with us to Linn Run State Park, my spiritual home and where I need to be on days like this.  Erosion in the creek was quite extensive, the result of all the rain in spring and early summer.  Otherwise the area by the spring was as beautiful and serene as ever.  From there, we went to breakfast at a cafe near Ligonier.  Callie in her carrier was our table centerpiece, the best one in the place according to our waitress.  Then we ran errands for Glenn, then drove into the city so I could get mail and all the fresh veggies in my refrigerator.  We stopped to introduce Victor and Louise to Callie.  Finally got home at 3:30, and our charge was a real trooper.

6 September
I had Callie alone today as Glenn was helping to move equipment for Saturday’s rabbit show.  She was her usual pleasant self. 

Callie at almost 9 months
By the time Jen arrived, I was too pooped to return to Pittsburgh so decided to stay over.  Glenn will be surprised when he gets home.

8 September, Pittsburgh 
Of course I had to forget something important when I left Glenn’s yesterday — the charger and cord to my laptop.  Thankfully it had an 80 percent charge and I have an iPad.  Glenn can bring it with him tomorrow.  We’re taking Sara to see Aladdin at a matinee at the Benedum Theater downtown.  Her mom is looking forward to a whole “me day” as Sara will stay with Glenn tonight after their rabbit show today.  

When I got back, it took three trips from/to car to unload laundry etc.  Then a wee break before grocery shopping.  I fixed a salad with shrimp to take with me to the theater.  Like before, I took the bus, then ate supper in a nearby park.  The play/modern ballet was Shomer, about the person who sits with a corpse all night in traditional Judaism.  Quite well done although some of the dance sequences in particular didn’t resonate with me.  But that’s why I volunteer at The New Hazlett — lots of new stuff.

Because the production was only an hour, I finished at shortly after 9 and decided to take the bus home.  Walked across the bridge and after a bit of wandering in the dark (lots of people around — ball game, Friday night etc.), i caught a 61C homeward.  Busy night as my bus goes through Oakland, home of many universities including Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, and my neighborhood is full of students.  Got the only “seniors” seat next to a man who was confused about his stop.  He showed me his state ID, and the address was in Duquesne, quite a distance from my stop.  I asked the driver to alert him to his stop.  She said he’d ridden her bus before and she’d take care of that.  We really do have nice bus drivers here — as I exited, she was talking to her supervisor about making sure someone was at his stop to help him get home!

Today — very wet and rainy.  Slept until after 7, then laid in bed ’til 9.  Heaven.  Now to get moving and start to run errands and go to a movie.

9 September
Well, decided on a lazy day of binge watching TV and reading rather than go out in the driving rain yesterday.  But today it was a must … and for a good reason.  Glenn and I took Sara to see Aladdin at the Benedum Center downtown.  Rain didn’t dampen the good time.  Although we were up in the “nose bleeds” of tier two, we had good sight lines.  The production was incredible — the genie stole the show, IMHO.  The staging was incredible, especially the scene in Act II when Aladdin and Jasmine go out the huge round window onto a magic carpet and fly away.  

Tomorrow’s a big day.  I bought a scale at Bed Bath & Beyond yesterday, the first I’ve owned in decades.  I usually gauge my weight by how my clothes fit and don’t weigh myself.  I agree that weight is just a number.  But I’ve gained too much since I moved despite regular exercise.  My clothes are too snug … and I have a winter wardrobe to get out soon.  I can’t afford a new one!  So I joined Weight Watchers, motivated by my friend Mary from my St. Paul Companies’ days.  Three months to get me started.

10 September
Another rainy day.  Ran errands, including finally getting a new battery for my iPhone.  Big thanks to my sister for sending me the link to that said new batteries were only $29.  The Apple Store in Shadyside was great — friendly, quick.  I went to lunch while I waited … and the rain subsided.  Also wandered around to see what’s where.

11 September, another day that shall live in infamy
Always think of my bestie from grad school Jean on this day as I was visiting her in San Francisco when her sister in Minneapolis awoke us with the news.  A day that changed everyone’s lives.  

Johanna came in from Latrobe today.  Gary is fishing in Canada with other family members.  So a girls’ day in the city.  We visited the Frick Collection — art gallery, auto museum, conservatory and grounds — and had a lovely lunch in the cafe there.  Then we went on a search for a Hindu temple that we both have seen numerous times driving east on the Parkway.  We guessed at the exit and actually found a sign, then another.  We were on the wrong side of the freeway going down a very long, steep hill — then another sign and an underpass and winding up the other side to the S.V. Temple. 

S.V. Temple
We parked and went into the reception area, saying we’d like to see the temple.  We took our shoes off as requested, then walked upstairs to see the temple.  I’m thinking a holy day must be coming as several men were unloading boxes of golden items, and along one wall we saw boxes and boxes of green bananas with a “do not touch” sign.  No idea the significance of bananas in Hinduism (must google).  I wish we could’ve had a guide to understand better what we were seeing in terms of the grottos and statues. But I’m so glad we were able to find and visit.

12 September
Glenn’s coming in tonight.  He spent the day baking his pie for the Berlin (PA) Fair this weekend.  His daughter Michelle has entered as well.  She swore me to secrecy last week, then told him yesterday.

13 September
Ever heard about “ground bees?”  I hadn’t until I was stung by five or six of them this morning.  Guess all the rain has driven them out of their underground homes. Apparently Glenn stirred up a nest when he put my laundry basket into the back of his car (backed against a grassy slope).  He got into his side, and by the time I got to mine, a swarm entered the car with me.  And took some very painful bites out of my left foot and arm and right hand.  You can actually see the holes from the bites.  My foot and hand still hurt.  I called the landlord right away to alert him; hopefully he’s take care of the problem.  My friend Linda in Minneapolis posted on Facebook that something took a painful bite out of her leg — probably a ground bee.

14 September
Still in pain from the bites — and itching.  Argh.  Hope water ex will help today.

Later, Mount Pleasant
Still itching.  Got some Benedryl.  Fingers crossed.

Met Suzie for lunch as she drove from The Township (Elizabeth Twp. where we grew up) and her home in Somerset.  She enjoyed the peel-and-eat shrimp that I love at Leo’s; I got a salad with chicken breast, fries on the side for Suzie not Suzi.  I am being faithful to my Weight Watchers’ regime, and I think I’m making progress.

15 September
Whew!  Being a gramma can be hard work but is always lots of fun.  Glenn and I had Emma and Callie from midday afternoon until their bedtime today while Jen and Alan went to a wedding.  Unfortunately Callie — smiley, happy Callie — has a cold and is miserable.  We did our best to help her be comfortable.  Emma also wasn’t feeling too well and was fussy and hang-y, rather than emptying the toy box.  When Callie settled on my chest, Emma climbed up to snuggle too.  They napped for more than an hour, and I watched cartoons (the remote was too far away and Glenn was preoccupied).  

Tomorrow we’re going to Stahlstown for flax scutching.  

17 September, Squirrel Hill
So, flax scutching.  It’s the third step in the traditional process for turning flax into linen thread.  The first two steps break down the hard stems.  Then a sheaf is laid over an upright piece of wood and hit with a wooden paddle — the blows are downward to help remove the stem and free up the fiber inside.  I’m hoping the video I took with my phone can be inserted, and you can see for yourself.  The only other part of the process that has an interesting name is “heckling,” and I don’t think they wanted a heckling festival.  

Flax scutching

We watched a demonstration of the whole process, including the weaving of linen.  One of the presenters wore a 50-year-old shirt made of leather (yoke and shoulders) and linen woven from local flax.  A British encampment was part of the event — about eight pup tents plus a series of  demonstrations of ancillary services that the camp would have to include — candle maker, doctor, armorer, cook, midwife (wives often followed camps) and such.  Every so often they shot off an old cannon, spewing cotton wadding instead of shot.  Across the path was a colonists’ camp with tents and a fire!  Reenactment of a battle with native Americans was to take place later; we didn’t stay.

18 September, Squirrel Hill
Mani-pedi today.  I’m getting spoiled but Lynn’s Salon down the street costs about the same as my gal in Poland!  

21 September, Mount Pleasant

EFHS Class of '63 -- 55th Reunion Group
And a good time was had by all — or at least it seemed so.  Tonight Glenn, Suzie and I drove together to our 55th high school class reunion.  We were sure what to expect as it seemed response was slow.  About 50 classmates, spouses and guests attended, and we had a great time.  A DJ played the music of our high school days, and a bunch of us sang karaoke.  I hope I can add the video to the blog.

Tomorrow I’m helping Glenn and his daughter Michelle at the Westmoreland Small Animal Fair .  They didn’t get enough volunteers, so I’m going to administer the knowledge test.  Easy peasy as I’ll have an answer sheet for scoring.  Should be fun.  We had hoped to join classmates at a winery in late afternoon, but Michelle asked us to keep Sara for her.  

23 September, Squirrel Hill
Dear me, what a day.  Johanna and Gary came into the city; Glenn was already here.  Johanna had gotten info and tickets about a distillery in Sewickley, a suburb, and suggested some restaurants.  We had brunch at Lola on the North Side, a cute, small cafe with a limited but delicious brunch menu.  I thought it was the one suggested by Johanna.  Not.  She had suggested Lula.  After the distillery, we drove to find Lula, and it was closed.  Good thing we hadn’t set our hearts on that.  Another time.

McLaughlin Distillery was nothing like we expected.  Didn’t think it’d be ala Jack Daniels, but it was quite mini.  Basically a big house converted into a distillery.  They make whiskey, vodka and moonshine!  Before touring the tiny distillery, we were given some history and samples.  Although our ticket included a certain amount, the staff said we could taste as many as we wanted.  And we all had a great time tasting.  The flavored moonshines were quite interesting  Pumpkin Pie was heated and topped with whipping cream.  Good but not good enough.  I bought three that we’d tasted: Apple Pie for Glenn, Chocolate for me and Jalapeño as a gift.  The chocolate is in the ‘frig to be brought out as an ice cream topping.  It’s a decadent dark chocolate flavor.  Glenn may add some of the Apple Pie in his next pie.  And the Jalapeño is definitely hot.  I also tried Dill Pickle, yuk. The whiskey was quite nice, but we rarely drink hard liquor.  

28 September, Mount Pleasant
Glenn couldn’t come into town because he was on call to pick up Emma and/or Callie in case their temperatures rose.  (Jen was in audit meetings all day.)  And I ate something mid week that didn’t sit well with my gastro-intestinal system.  So I had to “suffer” alone, which wasn’t such a bad idea.  But at Glenn’s tonight I had a big bowl of his homemade chicken soup along with a big serving of TLC.

Tomorrow we’re going to Michelle’s so Glenn can help her decide which rabbit(s) to take to the national show in Springfield next month, and he’ll compete with Sara on breed ID as prep for the show.  Michelle offered to make lamb if we’d stay for dinner (her husband doesn’t like lamb, so she always needs company to make it).  But with my tummy only just settling down, we had to decline dinner.

30 September
Last night we went to the Mount Pleasant Ethnic and Glass Festival, an annual event that we missed last year.  Mount Pleasant, like many Western Pennsylvania towns was settled mainly by immigrants from eastern and southern Europe — cheap labor for the mines, mills and factories.  So the festival had lots of foods from Italy, Poland and such as well as local wines and brews.  And this used to be a hub for glass production because of the availability of glass-quality sand.  (Lenox still has a company store/warehouse nearby.)  Lots of artisan glass on sale at the festival as well as other hand crafts.  We picked up a few stocking stuffers.  We also visited two wooden buildings from the early days that are now museums under the local historical society

The festival was really crowded, much to Glenn’s surprise, with families, millenials, oldsters all eating, browsing, buying, listening.  Three different music stages.  We spent our time at the one by the Geary historical marker listening to Wee Jams, a local rock group of oldsters singing oldies.  They were backed by four horns as well as the usual keyboard, guitar and drums.  Nice was to finish the evening.

FYI, John H. Geary, elected first mayor of San Francisco in 1850, was from Mount Pleasant.  He was also a governor of Pennsylvania after serving as a Union general in the Civil War.

Pittsburgh at night from Mount Washington

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