Iowa

Iowa

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Autumn

The lighting of the sun is so beautiful at this time of the year.  Driving up the street early in the morning and watching the sun reflect through the trees and make the shadows on the street is such a lovely way to start the day.
The trees are not so pretty yet.  I guess we need a frost to begin the process of turning them to their brilliant colors.  One can still hear lawnmowers cutting the grass, picking up leaves that never had a chance to turn color and preparing the gardens for winter.
The Pirates are still in the playoffs and it's both exciting and nerve wracking to watch the games.  Football has proven to not be very exciting for Pittsburgh this year.  I am a one sport person anyway, so I am focusing on the Pirates.  And Matt's hockey team also.  My brother and his wife were in last weekend, so it was family day at the hockey game.  I guess at this point they aren't really games, they are seeding tournaments.
My neighborhood is a great one to live in and the neighbors are truly nice people.  The house next to mine is going up for sale this week.  We have been pretty fortunate here to have families of all different ages move into this area.  We have newlyweds, retired folks and families with children.  So, it makes a nice blend of people.  I have heard horror stories of what can happen when this is not the case, so I think I am very fortunate.  My front door is open so the real estate lady just rang the bell and popped right in, thinking it was the one that was for sale.  On this street there are three identical houses in a row.  Can be confusing, I suppose. At least it was to the real estate agent! We also have a blend of other houses, and none of them are the same.  The house next door is a Sears home.    From 1908–1940, Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold about 70,000 - 75,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes program. Over that time Sears designed 447 different housing styles, from the elaborate multistory Ivanhoe, with its elegant French doors and art glass windows, to the simpler Goldenrod, which served as a quaint, three-room and no-bath cottage for summer vacationers (this according to their website).
I got a new phone.  It is the iPhone 4 and the reason I got that one is because it cost $.99 with my plan.  Took some time to learn how to use it, and some help from Verizon, Katie and Mike, but I think I have it down now.  It is pretty neat, but there are features that I don't like and some I still have to figure out.  The picture of Ava, the cat, is one that I took with the camera.  Not the best picture, but one that I like nonetheless.
Time to grab the Times, the Post Gazette and my latest novel.  It's a kick-back Sunday, so reading until the game comes on.  Go Bucs!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Morning in the 'Burgh

It's a cool, crisp morning here in Pittsburgh...a perfect autumn day.  Pirate baseball this afternoon, Steeler football tonight, Sunday dinner and the Laundromat.

Such an interesting study in human nature.  It's that time of the year where I do all of the heavy bed linens.  I could do them at home, but they put a burden on my washer and dryer, so with quarters in my pocket, laundry detergent and bleach in hand, I head for the local Laundromat.  Don't know why spell check capitalizes that word, but it does.

It's early on Sunday when I leave home and arrive at the facility.  Drag everything into the not so clean building (shouldn't a Laundromat be clean?).  It appears to be empty, but there are clothes in washers and dryers already.  A gentleman comes in and speaks to me.  Being a friendly kind of person, I say hello to him.  He looks vaguely familiar, and I am not privy to Laundromat etiquette, so I think this is the proper thing to do. 

He explains that he had does his wash last night.  Apparently one leaves their laundry and goes home to wait for it, then comes back later to put it in the dryer.  He fell asleep, so his laundry sat in the washer all night.  He had come in earlier to put it in the dryer and after testing it, decided it needed another six minutes to dry. 

The Laundromat has a movie running.  I'm not sure if it is the same movie or if someone switches it at will.  There is a table with magazines on it talking about the 2008 election.  And three broken chairs.  The man remarks that a girl (he is about 50) took him to see a Steve Martin movie called The Jerk.  He asked me if I though she was giving him a message.  I told him I hadn't seen the movie, so didn't feel qualified to respond.  He went on to tell me that Steve Martin used to be quite famous and asked me what my favorite movie was/is.  That's a tough one, because after I watch a movie, I forget the title immediately.  So, I told him War Horse.  He nodded, said he hadn't seen it yet. 

We seemed, at that point, to run out of chit chat, so I told him I had to go get more quarters.  When I came back, he had made a new friend and my wash was done, so it was time for the dryer.  By this time, the Laundromat was filled to capacity.  People folding laundry, people chatting with one another, just a happy, happy place to be on a Sunday morning.  A communal cleaning of clothes, if you will.  Everyone in a good mood...in part I am sure because of the Pirates win last night.  I have stopped watching the Pirates.  Too anxiety producing.  After the game on Friday night, for which I took much teasing about at work, I felt it was time again for a break.  I wish them all the best, and I hope we do it, but I just can't watch right now. 

Laundry finished, back home to enjoy the rest of the day.  Clean bedspreads, clean blankets.  I have to go to the library this afternoon .  I read my last book in record time...3 days.  One of those that I couldn't put down. 

I hope your Sunday is filled with good things to get your week off to a good start.  And thoughts to all of those in Colorado, including my nephew and his wife.  They are not affected by the floods, but to those that are, my thoughts are with you.  I cannot imagine the anguish of having your home and memories washed away. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Home From Arizona

It was a great trip! 
Left Pittsburgh, which was somewhat crazy given that we saw a wreck that had traffic on the bridge stopped and the parkway was lined up, but we arrived and our plane took off on time.  L O N G plane ride (4+ hours).  It was 111degrees when we landed in Phoenix, so we went to the hotel.  Interestingly enough you couldn't lower the temperature in the room to less than 76. 
Headed to Flagstaff the next day and thank goodness for relatives!  She took over where I was chicken, like hiking down Walnut Canyon. Although I went on a wild jeep ride through the desert, I would have settled for the mild ride.  Hanging on for dear life, wondering on this first day of the trip, if I would ever survive for the rest of the trip. When our guide asked if we wanted to take the "safe" way back or the "wild" way back, I couldn't even speak...I thought this was the mild ride.  Noooo, everyone cheered and wanted the wild way back.  When asked about the different levels, our guide said there was a mild one, a wild one and an OMG, buckle up wild one.  I swear we were on the OMG, buckle up wild one.  All four tires were off the ground on at least two occasions. 
The train ride to the Grand Canyon was fun....well, kind of fun.  Kids said it was their least favorite part of the trip.  But doesn't everyone have to see the Canyon at least once?  Did I mention, heights are not my favorite thing?
The kids did an adventure course, so proud of them for even doing it.  Not an easy task, for sure.
The "road trips" afford me an opportunity to experience three children for a week.  Without their parents. 
It's wonderful to watch Matt tap someone on the shoulder and be on their opposite side.  Such a wonderful prank that seldom works. 
It's wonderful to see a group hug in the middle of the parking lot at Target.
It's wonderful to stand at the top of Walnut Canyon and hear Matt let out a....what?  Scream?  Wild call?  And then to hear a child next to me ask "us that a wild animal" and me respond, "no, that's Matt". 
It's wonderful to hear Katie sing show tunes non stop, morning, noon, and night.
It's wonderful to hear Alyssa and Matt giggling non stop from 6PM until midnight, and I do mean non stop.
And you know what is really wonderful?  To see three children on the bed, two on ipads and one on phone texting, doing face time, trying to help Matt set up instagram. 
Oh, and did I mention making videos?  Something about Pip.  Dragging me to be a part of it, and if they post it....well.....I think they know better.
The pillow fight on the last night has become a tradition. I think I won.
I hope road trips never end.  Although Katie begins college next fall, the kids get older, one can always hope.  They did ask where we were going next year.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

This is what showed up at Phipps on Wednesday.  She came through the door with an attitude.  She was the cutest thing ever.  I asked her mom for permission to photograph her, which she gave me. Our theme for story time was Garden Fairies, so I thought perhaps she dressed for the occasion.  Her mother explained that for her birthday party they had decided on the theme of "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  And you know, I cold see the resemblance of Audrey Hepburn!

Here we are, a week away from the road trip 2013.  It will be to Arizona.  And it really isn't a road trip, we are flying.   We had a pre-travel planning meeting on Thursday and we are all excited.  Lots to do, lots to see, so we'll keep everyone posted.

Observation.  Garbage men. The recycle truck seem to lumber down the street first, usually around 6AM.  Jokes abound between the driver and the pick up person.  Laughter.  Fun times.  So, now I am awake.  About an hour later, down comes the garbage truck.  Not sure if these are just generally angry men or if they enjoy seeing how far they can throw the empty garbage can.  Either way, they wait until they are in front of MY house to turn on the thingy that chews up the garbage, and then the throwing of cans begin.  It was suggested that the plastic liner be taken out and have that along the curb (we don't really have curbs in this neighborhood, it's just a figure of speech), but that would mean the animals would have a feast.  Just an observation.

We have this plant now at Phipps.  It's a corpse plant.  Allegedly when it blooms it smells like dead meat. Or a rotting corpse.  WHY would anyone want to see/smell this?  Apparently it was a big success in DC, but you see, in DC you could see it for free.  You have to pay here to see it.  I'll keep you posted about that one.  I won't be here for the most part, so sad......NOT.

Well, dare I say it?  For the most part, the Pirates are doing very, very well.  They are 26 games above 500, and up until last night they looked great.  We are playing the Rockies and they beat us 10-1.  That is not a typo...it is the score.  Now, Tim, I know you are working hard.  But that's not a good enough.  I know, it's probably the thin air and the trip from Pittsburgh.  Let's hope tonight is a better night for them.

The Steelers are playing tonight also.  I can't cheer for two teams at once.  I couldn't get excited for the Pirates when the Pens were playing, and I can't get excited about the Steelers now.  My cheering energy must go for the Pirates.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Beautiful Summer Day

After weeks of having the house closed up, having the air conditioner running non-stop and having horrific storms, we have today, a beautiful day.  Low humidity, sunshine and white fluffy clouds.  In fact, last night I was actually cold while sleeping.  Have you ever lay in bed uncomfortable, whether it be too cold, too hot, having to go to the bathroom, and wondered if you should do something to remedy the situation?  I do that a lot.  Last night the fan was going, the windows were wide open and at 4 AM I wondered if I should do something about the fact that I was freezing.  If I got up, would I be colder and lose the warm spot in the bed?  Would the cat think it is morning and decide to play?  Would I stub my toe or have difficulty falling back asleep?  I do this when I have to go to the bathroom.  Can I wait until the alarm goes off?  If I get up right now and race to and from the bathroom will I be able to go back to sleep?  That seems to be a big worry, and I have to admit, much of it depends on what time it is.  This morning I just curled up in a ball and fell back asleep with a wind...not breeze...coming in the window above my bed.

A few glitches with the computer.  Verizon had to come and give me a new router and fix a couple of settings. I called last week and yesterday was the soonest they could come.  They assured me they would be here between 8 AM and noon.  So, there I was, rolling out of bed at 7 to get a shower and eat some breakfast.  Waited.  Waited some more.  And more.  Tried to call them.  Push 1 for this, 2 for that, up to 8 for this and that.  Nothing about checking appointment.  There was one to cancel the appointment, but none to talk to a person....so I kept pushing "0".  Not a valid option.  After a half hour I had someone on the phone who said the repair person would be there between 2 and 3.  Fortunately, he came before that.  Words I don't want to hear...."Gee, that never happened before".  And "I never got that message before".  And I have noticed that when anyone comes to the house to repair anything they always ask "Who did this?" followed by a shaking of their head.  He told me to contact HP. 

Easier said than done.  Finally....after 1 hour on the phone I get Jim from India.  He remotely accessed my computer and fixed the glitch, but not before several problems popped up.  Had to call them again today for a different issue.  I called six different numbers and finally called the world headquarters and talked to my new bff, Julia.  She assured me she would help.  I'm waiting for a call from her.

We have become a society that cannot reach a live person to discuss a problem.  Thank goodness I am persistent....although I have about given up on the one minor glitch.  When I asked Verizon how to bypass all of the automated messages and get to a person, the tech support said I can't.  They are busy because of all the storms we have had.  I'll accept that for now, because it is true that weather has probably played a part in all of this....but the next time I will think about switching from Verizon.

The kids seem to be racing through summer.  Baseball, biking, swimming,   Phipps is extremely short handed in their guest services department, so I have been working A LOT.  Have not seen many of Matt's tournament games, which is sad.  I actually go for the refreshment stands, but don't tell Matt that.  I believe we are all looking forward to the road trip which is rapidly approaching. 

Pirates are doing well.  Grilli is hurt.  He is the closing pitcher, and seems to be a really neat person.  I hope it isn't serious and that he gets back to the ballgame.  I see that they are again having a drug investigation on players.  Maybe I am na├»ve, but I don't think this has touched the Pirates.  I think if I heard of any of them taking performance enhancing drugs I would be very disappointed.  And I know there are those that say "everyone" does it, but I don't (1) think that is true and (2) think that is an excuse to do it.

Well, I am headed to the back yard to sit under the tree with my book and enjoy the wonderful weather. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Finally!

Change is hard for me.  Very hard.  I would rather put up with something that barely works than get something new that I have to learn.  Such is the case with computers.

I have an older computer, probably seven or eight years old.  Was spiffy when I got it, but lately it has not been the best.  Kept freezing up, had to start it with the recovery disk, just wasn't something I had any fun with anymore. So, for the past.....oh, I don't know....two years(?) I have been perseverating about a new one.  I have everyone's opinion and have made my head spin when I tried to sort it out.  Then, one day recently, I read that Windows 7 was going to be discontinued in August and no computers would be sold with Windows 7 after December.  After reading and hearing about all the problems with Windows 8, I thought do it now or be sorry.  So, here I am typing on my new HP Pavilion computer.  Jerry, the set up man, came today, put it all together, and although I am on a learning curve, I think this just might work.

Yesterday as I sat at the podium at Phipps, Mark, Curt and I began to talk. Curt was looking for a new pillow because he had a stiff neck.  Remember when you could go into a store and just buy a pillow?  No more.  I have tried many different kinds.  I have one for sleeping on your side.  That worked for a while.  You had to buy two for the price of one...$60.  I didn't want two, wasn't even sure I wanted one.  So I asked...I don't want two, so can I have one for $30?  No, you have to buy two or pay $60.  This was at Kohls.  I found a woman looking at the same pillow, so we bought two and each paid $30.  That pillow was good for awhile, but when I wanted to sleep on my stomach, it was a problem.  Foam or feather, though I'm not sure what kind of feathers they are.  Foam gets hot, so I went with feathers.  Paid a lot again.  Within six months it was flat.  I put it in the dryer to try to fluff it.  Nope, didn't work.  Ended up at K-Mart and bought one for $10.  If necessary, I'll replace it every six months.  What ever happened to a good pillow?????

Wonderful fourth of July.  Had to work, but went to Linda and Scott's for dinner.  Scott grilled burgers and everyone was there.  Had a wonderful time playing yard games, eating, watching fireworks and watching Scott, Matt and Mike so excited about setting off the legal ones in the back yard.  A great night for all, I think.

Remembering things about my childhood.  Remember hot summer nights when you would sleep on the porch?  I do.  I remember window fans when we had no air conditioning. Did you ever ride a bicycle down a hill and feel the wind on a hot summer day?  And the Goodie Bar man and the sweet sound of his music.  Doors unlocked and left open all night.  Gone are the days!

Alyssa went to see One Direction last night with Cheryl's daughter, Sam.  Matt had a semi-final tournament ball game.  They lost that tournament.  Katie had to work, but she is getting ready for her performance in West Side Story.  Soon after that will be another road trip, this year to the Grand Canyon.  Getting so excited...even going on a smooth rafting trip.

And the good news?  This computer has run an ongoing spell check! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday NIght

I am excited...it doesn't take much.
I worked today.  Saw some weddings, a bridal shower.  Again, amazed by the footwear of women.  I watch The View.  Yes, I know, shocking, isn't it?  I am so tired of Barbara Walters, can she just retire right now? I realize that she broke some "glass ceilings"  for women, but she is pathetic right now.  She looks fragile, forgets what she is talking about.  But I digress.  One of the discussions was about women's shoes.  Did you know that the average amount of time a woman can wear the dress shoes that are out there today is 15 minutes?  Yes, 15 minutes.  I'm sure I mentioned my sprained ankle, for which Scott did nothing to help me.  In fact, he turned away from me, leaving me to twist my ankle and turn it a very ugly color.  Again, I digress.  So, when women come into Phipps in these incredible shoes the events staff warn them.  This is an old building with uneven pathways.  Be careful.  Most go in with these shoes and leave carrying them and going barefoot.  And to watch them walk is interesting to say the least.  But I have to say, the shoes I had on when I sprained my ankle were very comfortable.  Katie and I share them...aren't they pretty?  Well, I hope to post a picture, but I am in the break in the hockey game, so we shall see.
I came home from work, listening to the Pirates on the radio (we lost in the 11th inning), watched the game when I got home, then turned to the hockey game.  And exciting Saturday night, can I just say that?  And the hockey game is going into overtimes, just as Steve predicted.  I also shined my shoes.  This, as pitiful as it may seem, was a very relaxing night for me.
Oh, yes, and Matt got called up for a pony league game (insert neighing).  He did well, it seems.  If he makes a lot of money playing baseball, will he reimburse me for road trips?  I think I mentioned that he brought up on a road trip...."What will we do when Mia dies?  Oh, wait, by that time Katie will be driving".  Sigh of relief from the back seat.  Me, going to my happy place.  Group hugs all around.
Plumbing.  Let's discuss that one.  Doing the laundry, water backs up in sewer line.  It has happened before, but plunging has corrected the problem.  Not so this time.  Liquid plumber.  No good.  Let's move to the big guns...ok, wrong phrase...move to the ultimate solution...the snake.  Finally released the plug (tree limbs are a pain) and now all is fixed.
Okay, about time for the next period in hockey.  I want the Blackhawks to win.  They have a neat logo.  That's what it comes down to. 
Did I mention that Katie got a job?  She did.  I'm not allowed to say where or post it on facebook or get the blimp that is in town to hang a banner.  Kids.
By the way, they used to have spell check on here, and apparently they don't anymore.  I don't proof well and where is Linda when I need her?  After this is posted, she will tell me what I missed.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

People

No, I am not going to break into a song.  The picture is one that I took at Phipps today.  A man brought his parents to Phipps and they parents walked along the paths together hand in hand.  They smiled, they spoke to people, but they also sat on the bench in the Sepentine room and watched.  They watched as the families came from the butterfly room, with excited children, and yes, excited parents.  They smiled, they nudged each other.  And as the woman looked tired, the husband reached over and took her hand in his and stroked it lovingly.  And as you can see in the picture, he became tired and as their son took her hand, she gently took her husband's hand and led him along.  It's one of the wonderful things about working at Phipps.  It allows one to observe.  It allows one to see the joy through a child's eye.  It's showing them the wonder of a butterfly emerging and flying for the first time, often from their own finger.

So, New York City, 2013 has come and gone.  I knew it was going to rain, so rain ponchos became standard.  Forgot the umbrella, however.  Scott drove us the the Megabus stop and we arrived an hour early so we could get the front seats on the second level of the bus.  And we did.  Somewhere along Route 22 it began...that pesky rain.  And it continued....however, it stopped long enought to load the crew at State College.  And when we arrived at the rest stop...well, that was an experience.  Our driver became frustrated and pulled onto the grass and told us to hurry, we had 20 minutes.  The women began to take over the men's room...that's all I'll say.

Hard rain began about 30 minutes outside of NYC, and all I could think was how would we ever get from the bus stop to the hotel.  Fortunately, the rain stopped long enough for us to get our suitcases and get a cab.  And the hotel sold me an umbrella.  Which was a good thing. 

We unpacked and decided to go for a walk to stretch our legs a bit.  Can you say monsoon?  I don't actually know the definition of a monsoon, suffice to say that Linda's umbrella was blowing inside out, the rain came down horizontally and the street was flooded in a matter of 10 minutes.  Matt loved it.  Stood in the rain as we huddled attempting to keep dry.  Matt only had one pair of shoes...can you say boys and puddles?  So, we headed back to the hotel and as we reached the door, the rain let up, so off we went for yet another try..

We made it to Ellen's Startdust Diner.  What a wonderful experience!  Waitstaff singing to us, us singing with them, decent food and a great way to forget about the rain...until we left the diner.  Back to the hotel for what else?  Swimming.

Katie visited colleges, Matt came to the Sony Tech Center, we saw Newsies and Blue Man Group.  We paid an exorbitant amount for a cab back to the hotel after Newsies just to get out of the rain.  We took the subway to Blue Man Group thanks to the expertise of Linda. 

The Holland Tunnel was closed due to the rain, it came down in droves.  Umbrellas, ponchos, wet shoes on the air conditioner, being blown dry with the hair dryer.  Matt to NHL store, Katie to SoHo for shopping, Katie exploring the city on her own, swimming in the pool at the hotel....it was a good trip.  It really was.  The sun came out Sunday as we left the city.  Of course.

Came home to have Peppi's again, this time with Tammi.  Always good to catch up with her and feed my face.  Back to Phipss, baseball and hockey.  Pens lost, Pirates lose and win.  I hope the Pens win tomorrow.  Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Time Flies

When I was fifteen, I wanted to be sixteen. It took forever, that year between.
When I was eighteen, I wanted to be twenty-one. It took forever.  FOREVER.  Then the day arrived and fially, I was twenty-one.  And I thought to myself....is this it? Really?
We are getting ready for our annual trip to New York City.  I begin planning this trip and the road trip in January.  I kept thinking it was so far in the future.  It isn't.  It is here.  We leave on Thursday.
So, at what age does time seem to fly by without telling us?  At what age do we look in the mirror and are hit with the realization that we look old...if not old, older? 
I color my hair.  Have been doing it for years.  I read an article yesterday on botox.  I think rather than getting botox I will buy a can of spakle and fill in the lines. 
Makeup.  I never used to wear it.  I remember sitting in Tammi's office with Linda and them saying I should try it.  Years ago.  Now I feel naked without it. 
Age has its benefits, I am told.  People show you respect.  No, they don't.  Well, I guess some do, but most do not.  And on my facebook page it shows a picture of Barbara Walters with the comment "Is 60 the new 30?"  Of course it isn't.  Stupid question.  And Barbara Walters doesn't even look 60, which she shouldn't since she is over 80.  80.  My gosh, that souds old.  But then there was a time when 30 sounded old. 
So, here we are, about to head to NYC.  Going to see "Newsie" and Blue Man Group.  Katie is going to visit collegs.  See what I mean...Katie is going to see colleges.  *Sigh*.
I sit here typing, avoiding packing.  Because I have plenty of time, don't I?
Pens lost Sunday night in double overtime.  It is a sad day when they lost a 2-1 lead in the last 28 seconds of the game.  They play again tomorrow, and probably while I am in NY.
Matt had a game winning hit tonight.  Tie game in the sixth, two outs, two men on base.  Hit the ball to left field.  One player crossed home plate and everyone left the field.  WAIT A MINUTE....can't they at least run the bases?
OK, so do I pack?  Do I watch the Pirates?  Do I read my newest Baldacci book?  Or do I just watch HGTV?  So many decisions.
Have a great Tuesday and enjoy your week.  Tim, root as loudly as you can tomorrow night, I want a win.  After all, it is all about me.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sometimes...

When does my world revolve around food?  Always.  Kate and I had lunch at Peppi's.  Cheese fries, the best in the world. Burgers on a hoagie bun. The best.  Tammi and I eat there as do Kate and I.  It is a message at 8 AM...Peppi's?  Lunch?  Makes my day.  And having to talk Kate into Penn Avenue on as opposed to North Side one.  Pros and Cons?  North Side, cleaner, more tables.  Cons:  Have to pay cash.  When did that begin?  I never carry cash.  When we ordered and they told us cash, Kate and I are digging in our pockets for money.  We had to give up the fries that day.  Sad.  Penn Avenue..well, let me just say it has the feel of a diner.  Not so clean (and there were not wood shavings in your hoagie, Kate), air conditioner blasting, even in the winter, limited seating...Pros...free parking, ambiance.  Food.  Love to plan around lunch or dinner with my friends.  There is something about food and sharing laughter and fun.  I love it.
Had fun with the kids, individually. Alyssa, Matt and Katie.  Matt had a really good game...in two innings, 2 hits, 6 strike outs.  How much better can it be?
This weather is incredible.  Sunny, 75 degrees, a little rain. I love it.  I love the trees being green, the grass sparkling in the morning dew. The angle of the sun at sunset. 
OK, let's talk about the Pens. They are ahead by one game.  Last night they won 4-0.  They played well,  I won't talk about the game before that.  Even with a lead of 4, at the last two minutes of the game I was biting my nails (not really, that would ruin my polish).  I talked to my friend, Carolyn, yesterday.  She has season tickets and said IF they make the next round she will see about selling us her seats. 
Wednesday is story time at Phipps.  I love seeing these kids.  Is there anything more wonderful than a little girl dressed up and looking pleased with the way she looks? Actually, is there anything better than anyone looking pleased with the way they look?  Can I just say again...women coming into Phipps, extremely short dresses, spikey heels, pulling bottom of dress down, top of dress up, wobbling on heels?  Do you really think it looks attractive? And how about the women who come in with flip flops and formal dress only to change into heels?  Hello?  You look ridiculous. You really do. 
We are crazy busy with schools and tours.  And can I just say, there are the school kids who are loud, rude and obnoxious.  Then today we had a group that was 32 seven and eight year old that were amazing.  Polite, quiet and such a pleasure to be around.  I love the kids, I really do, but there are some who are so obnoxious that are so hard with whom to connect.
Katie is in Tarzan this week and next.  If you are here in Pittsburgh and have a chance to go see it, please do so.  It should be amazing.
Time to clean the house.  By the way, I have begun to kill the stink bugs.  No more nice guy here.  No more opening the window and shouting "be free".  The one who buzzed my head the other night did it.  No more nice guy.  Sorry to my animal rights friends...it was one of them who said...."KILL THEM".  I did, and I am not sad about it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I believe...

I like yard art. I am told that is what my snowman is. Tempting fate can be a scary thing. Several years ago I put on my front door a spring wreath at the end of March. We got six inches of snow the next day. This year I put the wreath on the door on April 1. We got more snow after that.

So, you see, I am a little hesitant to take the snowman into the basement until next winter. But, I think I may do it today. The tulips are out (my food for the deer), the grass has been cut, so I guess I am safe. *fingers crossed...do people still do that?*
I have finished my book from the library, just in time. In my email today is a notice from the library that the book is due on May 2. There is anticipation when nearing the end of a book to see what happens and if your guess was right, but for me there is also sadness. I'm not sure I can explain it, but the pleasure of reading it is no longer there. I am currently reading books by David Baldacci. Also one by John Grisham about baseball called "Joe Calico". Just started that one last night.
Baldacci was featured on NPR. Apparently, his latest book was being reviewed. He was said to be a Washington insider and used his knowledge to write about mysteries using that knowledge. It sounded interesting, so I researched him and found a list of books he has written. His first book was "Absolute Power". That book was later made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood, one of my favorite actors. When finding an author I think I might like, I always read the books in order. So, I read Absolute Power and loved it. I remembered watching the movie, also.
Went back to his website and printed out a list of his books in order. I read the second one which I didn't like very much, but his third one, "The Winner" was excellent. So my day today will include a trip to the library to get his next book. Excitement abounds.
We went to see Matt's baseball game last week. I took my winter jacket, my chair and my blanket. All were needed, and in fact, I had to share my blanket. Didn't take my wallet since I didn't think the refreshment stand would be open, but it was, and I ended up looking longingly at the dogs and nachos. Speaking of dogs, there was a beautiful goldendoodle and a rottie there. Both very well behaved.
Oh...the game. Well, Matt's team was a bit off for several innings. Matt got a hit to third and was thrown out at first, he got a walk and a hit, I think. He played left field for he first three innings, and was called in to pitch in the fourth. His team was quite behind, but at the end of it all, they only lost by one run. Thawing out took a bit of time, but I am ready for the next game.
I am someone who will always work. For me, it provides structure to my life as well as a connection to people. I still have friends that I see from my job with the county. Linda M. and I had lunch last week, and I have lunch with my old unit on a semi-regular basis. As well as Michele B., Tammi and Kate. And of course, Tom. Tom was a supervisor when I started with the county. We later became friends and have dinner monthly. His wife used to take in stray rescue dogs and at one time I believe they had four dogs and three cats. They have the sweetest pit bull, Bella, now with one other dog. Slowing down on the number of pets. All of these people are who I consider my friends and I always look forward to seeing them.
At Phipps, we have a really nice group of people, old and young and everything in between. What I have noticed about the young people is that for many of them, their pay is pocket change and not something to be taken seriously. One man flies paper airplanes across the welcome center, writes notes to those working right beside him and spends an inordinate amount of time on facebook. Others fail to come in or call off, they just don't show up for work. I've worked with many young college/just out of college young people, but Phipps seems to be unique in this sense. Perhaps because they are still in school and haven't yet developed a work ethic...I don't know. For the most part, the people that I work with are conscientious, hard working and a lot of fun. Tonight I have dinner with a group of them. Have you noticed that food is the common thread in my keeping in touch with people????
Speaking of food, I should wander to the kitchen and get some breakfast before heading to the library. I'll finish my Grisham book fairly quickly and move on to the next Baldacci novel.
Almost forgot...Pens play Islanders in the playoffs, beginning on Wednesday. According to what I have read, they have never beat them in the playoffs, so I am a little nervous.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Things That Mark Spring

There are some things that occur every year that mark spring in my life.
The first is the Boston Marathon.  Many years ago, you had to qualify to run in the marathon.  It's one of the reasons I couldn't run it, I was too slow.  Now it has become and event for the family to do together, if not to run together, to stand on the sidelines and cheer.
This year tragedy marred the marathon.  Something that has been a time honored tradition in Boston will never be exactly the same again.  But we are a resilient group, we humans.  And it will be run again.  No one person or group of people can keep us down.  We have survived much in the past years, and that is the point, we have survived and become closer and more determined than ever.  I think I was most touched by the gentleman who said at 78 years old, the shock threw him to the ground.  He got up, finished the race, and then said he would not be running again.  Thoughts and prayers to all those affected by this horrible act.
For many this has been an awful winter and spring.  There have been hurricanes, blizzards, floods and tornadoes.  While violent weather will continue, there are signs that we are moving into springtime.
The daffodils that I bought at the bulb sale at Phipps are blooming.  The magnolia is in full bloom.  I ran out last night to get pictures before the thunderstorm.  Matt is starting baseball.  These are the signs that tell me, yes, spring is here.
I went with Linda and the kids to get new cell phones last week.  I looked but decided to keep my "dumb" phone instead of getting a "smart" phone.  Katie's phone had been dropped and wasn't working at all, and since she got her driver's license, she needs a working phone in case of an emergency. (I say that because their cars are...hmmm...shall we say, old?)
We drive to the Verizon store and didn't even have to wait.  Why?  Because we arrived at 6:00 while everyone was eating dinner except us.  I'll call the poor salesperson Amanda, because neither Linda nor I can remember her name for sure.  Amanda had lovely long, reddish blond hair.  Very nice lady.  It's extremely difficult to listen to all the plans, all the phones, the switching of people from one plan to another, choosing a phone, choosing the accessories.  Do you want a home charger, a car charger, combination of the two?  Do you want a protective cover because if you don't get one your million dollar phone will die if you drop it and you'll have to get a new one, but if you get insurance, the phone will be covered and the insurance is only a few added dollars...you won't even notice it on your bill.  Took us two and a half hours.  The worst part?  I missed The Middle, one of my favorite television show.  And it was the season finale.  As Amanda was packing the two bags full of phones, accessories (not included) Linda suggested we have a glass of wine and that Amanda have a bottle of wine all to herself.  I think she probably did.  I don't know why these phone plans have to be so difficult.  2G worth of data is this much and to add data would be this much unless you go with the family share plan, but if you go with the data share plan this will occur and you phone will stop working if you sneeze.  Oh, and there is no need to to give us your phones, they are worthless.  I'm glad I have a dumb phone.
The walking has been going fairly well.  I went to the track yesterday amongst all the 13-14 year old.  I got on the track and started in Lane 6, which is where I always start.  I noticed the coach at the other end of the track waving to me, so I waved back.  He waved again, a little more frantically.  A cute little girl came up to me and said he was waving me out of Lane 6 and could I please move to Lane 3 because they were having timed runs.  I smiled and said of course.  Felt like a fool.  Later I lapped this charming little girl and heard her say that so and so was a f**** b*** and a liar.  This cute little girl with a pony tail actually said that!  Oh, my!  I had to finish the lap and leave.  And it was her fault that I lost count of laps, so I may not have done the full three miles. 
Guess I should head down there now.  School is out and the coach probably won't be waving madly. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Perhaps Spring?

I don't want to get too excited, but it's 78 degrees here and sunny...it's been a nice few days.  Which brings me to thinking of clothes.  I began trying on clothes from last summer, and, oh my.  Which sent me back to the track.  Loaded up tunes on my ipod...Salisbury (Uriah Heep), Radioactive (Imagine Dragons), and The Black Pearl (Klaus Badelt) to name a few.  DROVE to the track to begin.  It's pretty crowded, lots of people walking trying to get back in shape, and then the show offs running the track.  I can't believe that Linda  and I used to run as much as we did, sometimes 8-10 miles.  Sick.   Oh, well, one must begin somewhere. I found the first few days are the hardest, now I actually look forward to it.  There is a man and his son in front of me walking.  I watch them, as I do with anyone in front of me.  They are talking and actually seem to be enjoying each other as they walk.  Later a woman (I assume the mom) join them and the man jogs a few laps while the mother and son walk.  The thing that struck me was that both adults seem to enjoy being with the son and talking with him...and they were there the whole time I was.
There was a woman on crutches, said she was doing it so she didn't gain too much weight while she had her cast on her leg.  Broke it in the last storm we had on the ice.  She was slow, but boy, she kept it up.
Always enjoy seeing people trying...no matter what, out there trying.  It's nice.  Scott is working out at the gym everyday now...and eating healthier.  Said he feels much better now...Go Scott!
Today there were gym classes on the track.  They were seventh and eighth graders, an awkward age group in terms of size.  There was one boy who was close to six foot, another beside him who was lucky to be five foot.  Chatting away as they ran the track.  Same with the girls, although the difference was not so prominent.  Girls giggling, boys bumping into them and elbowing each other when a cute girl passes them.  I do not want to be that age again!
I am stalled with the spring cleaning.  Just can't get motivated again.  The kitchen is daunting.  I baked a cherry pie (Sarah Lee) a few months ago.  Somehow, and I can't imagine how, it slid and spilled all over the oven door and the bottom  of the oven.  I tried, I really did, try to get it all cleaned up.  Boy, what a smokey, smelly mess until it all burned on.  And can we talk about the refrigerator?  Perhaps we shouldn't.  There is a bottle of wine in there that was a gift when I left my last job.  Does wine stay good forever?  I'm afraid to try it.  And the door of the refrig is full of things that have expired.  Who ever knew Ketchup expired?  Katie, that's who.  Someday the kitchen will be cleaned.  But it will just get dirty again.  So, maybe I just will ignore it.
There is a flu bug going around.  So far as I have counted, six people in four days are hurling all over Phipps.  In addition, one person had a seizure and another two fainted.  Welcome to Phipps.  And of course, there is a new bird flu.  It's been on the national news.  I don't get flu shots.  Seems like they weren't too effective this winter anyway.  So, if I get the flu, so be it.  Not that I will like it, but it seems like there is always a shot to prevent something, and I am very cautious about getting shots.  Years ago I fell, and when I went to the ER they wanted to give me a tetanus shot.  I declined.  They were appalled.  I never got lockjaw.
The Pens have clinched a playoff spot.  Pirates are struggling right now, but they will come back.  Tonight it is a Pens/Bucs night on TV, in addition to NCIS and NCIS LA...oh my gosh, what to watch?
I am going to enjoy the warm, sunny weather while it is here.  We are supposed to get some thunderstorms later in the week.  Ahhh, I love spring! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April Fool

This has always been one of my favorite days.  The past couple of years, I have laid low.  Let me share what happened this year that made me laugh as I lay in bed at midnight.
Matt told what he did and it still make me laugh.  You know what Oreo cookies are, right?  Well, so does Matt.  He took apart an oreo cookie and carefully put some toothpaste int he cookie.  He then put it back together again and put it back in the package.
At some point Mippy took the cookie, dunked it in her milk and took a bite.  Matt (and Katie) looking on.  Mippy hesitated, looked at the cookie, then dunked it again and took another bit.  SHE ATE THE WHOLE THING.
When questioned about this...her response?  "I thought I bought the mint oreo's".  When questioned about the consistency she replied "I dunked it". 
WAY TO GO MATT!  You are my hero, following in my footsteps.
I don't know which was my finest hour.  Was it the police knocking on Scott's door telling him his dog barked too loudly?  (Oscar doesn't really bark).
Was it having Bruce call Scott at work pretending to be the doctor telling Scott that Mippy was having twins when she was pregnant with Matt?
For Scott, was it putting the "For Sale" sign in my front yard?
I think that was his ONLY good one.  There were some other feeble attempts, but not as successful as mine.
On a sad note...Pens have lost two in a row.  Badly.  I know, Steve tells me they will succeed and I hope he is correct.  Matt and Scott went to game on Saturday, thanks to Carolyn, and saw them win 15 in a row.  They were bound to lose, and it's okay.  It was a good game that they saw, though Sydney lost some teeth and got a fractured jaw.  Get well, Syd, feel beter.
On a happy note...Pirates won. Nice steal of second, Cutch.  Matt and Scott went to opening day...I hear all they did was eat, cheer, eat and freeze. 
Spring is coming, I know it is.  Please come.  Snow squalls again today.  Darn. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter

When did Easter become Christmas?  When did it become necessary to buy Easter "gifts"? 
I remember Easter as a child.  We got a bunch of dyed eggs that sat in a basket for a week.  Each day we would take one or two, crack the shell and eat the egg.  Never refrigerated them, just left them in the basket on the table.  I don't remember ever getting sick from them.
And we got an Easter "outfit".  We would go to church, go to Phipps Conservatory, have our picture taken and have leg of lamb for dinner with mint sauce.  And asparagus. 
Tonight while watching television Toys R Us advertised a great selection of toys for Easter.  REALLY?  And not your cheap dollar store toys.  Video games, cars that you can ride in, play stations, etc.
And let's talk about Easter "outfits".  They have been advertised for weeks.  A woman who came to Phipps said to me, when talking about the snow we have had, "At least I don't have to buy a new outfit for Easter". 
This is what we have become.  Or is it that we have always been that person?  A new outfit to welcome spring, or a day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ?  Originally it was a pagan celebration of renewal and rebirth.  Celebrated in the early spring, it honored the pagan Saxon goddess Eastre.  So, over time it has evolved, and today we celebrate by buying presents for the children. 
When the kids were young, we had Easter egg hunts in the backyard.  Alyssa, Matt and Katie would take a basket and hunt for the eggs.  They were plastic and had money in them.  Yes, the true spirit of Easter.  It was fun, though.
I honor Easter as I do all holidays.  To me, it is a time to be with family and to eat.  Both, equally important.
Linda is cooking Easter dinner, thank goodness. I volunteered to work at Phipps.  We had an Easter bunny at Phipps last year.  Michelle was the bunny and I led her around.  Children react in different ways to the bunny.  Some hugged her, some were frightened, one little child in her mother's arms getting a picture taken, hit the bunny in the head, grabbed the bunny's ear and twisted the head.  Michelle tells me the head is quite heavy.  Almost knocked her over while the mother was smiling into the camera and ignoring the child.  Michelle won't be the bunny this year...has family commitments.
Well, Happy Easter, Happy Passover.  I must think about gifts for Easter.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Good News, Bad News

First the good news...the Pens won extending their winning streak to 11 games. I know they will lose at some point, but it's so exciting watching them.  Crosby is amazing.  I know there are those in the rest of the country who do not like him, but he is truly amazing and I am so glad he plays for the Penguins. 
Ummm, let's see.  Other good news.  Hmmm, the weather...NOT.  BUT it can't last forever, right?  Come to Phipps and see the beautiful spring show.
Now, onto things that I cannot let go without comment.
A baby being shot in the face while in their stroller. 
Our police chief being indicted by a federal grand jury.
A man disconnecting his gas stove line and causing an explosion that put at risk everyone in the building.
There are many things in our city of which we can be proud.
The Pittsburgh Symphony
The Pittsburgh Ballet
Our wonderful neighborhoods
Our beautiful skyline
Mario Lemauix
Charlie Batch
And then the politics.  Our mayor who uses city funds to pay for a bodyguard on St. Patrick's day while he drinks in a bar.  Way to go, Luke.  And I'm sure there will be more to hear about our mayor in weeks to come.
A police chief forced to retire because of his theft
And can I just say how appalled I am about this poor baby?  Who shoots a baby in a stroller?  Who does that?
I care about a baby who has no chance, who depends on a mother who was shot and had to watch her baby die.
I am trying to focus on the good.  It is hard.
I posted this on my facebook page in January.  For those of you who have already read it, please be patient.

I have been thinking a lot about this gun control issue and I have a few things I would like to say about it for those of you who care what I think (and this will be the last post I make about this.)... that said this will be long so be warned. here goes. Guns are controversial... always have been. Probably always will be. I am not willing, as so many are, to invoke the founding fathers support for gun ownership to address the current issues at hand. While it is true that (almost universally) the founding fathers supported a well armed population this has to be viewed in context. Please bear with me. I do not make the argument that the founders only meant militia, nor do I believe that, like many liberals have stated, the founders couldn't have anticipated the weaponry available in modern times. Weapons technology was advancing long before the time of the US revolution and I have to imagine that our founding fathers expected further advancement. What I do believe is that at the time of the 2nd amendment there was a fear that our government could revert to one of tyrannical tendencies A well armed populace was seen as a deterrent to this. This was the reality of their time. What they also understood was that times, worries, and cultures change. Thus they (not without debate) included an avenue for change within the constitution in the amendment process.
or not we need to be protected from our own government. (for those of you who believe we need to be armed with assault weapons to actually protect ourselves from our own government I don't know what to say... I believe that is paranoid at best, and I"m sure you believe me to be naive... we will have to agree to disagree. Today we face questions of how to deal with the mentally ill, what weapons should and shouldn't be permitted within the civilian population, and how do we stem the tide of the seeming endless mass shootings we experience in this country. The knee jerk reaction from the left is ban guns in one way or another, the knee jerk reaction from the right has been to arm school employees or place armed guards in Schools ( a strange reaction from a group often concerned with spending and government overreach... Armed government employees in every school?? Really?) The truth is somewhere in between here and we need to be willing to have this discussion somehow because obviously stripping everyone of all their guns is not feasible, nor is armed school guards... I for one think that civilian access to semi-automatic weapons is senseless. If we, as a society, every get to the point where we need this as a true defense we have already lost the battle... but I think it is long past time we got over the rhetoric, man up, and sat at the table to have this discussion. All the name calling and idealistic stalemates make us all look damn foolish.
Forgive the rant...or not.  It's been a day of news that makes me ill.  I never intended my posts to be political or anything other than something to make you smile.
But, I cannot smile when this kind of craziness goes on and it is ignored. 
Tomorrow brings hope that the world will be better for all of us. 
Peace.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cats

I don't know when I first took a liking to cats.  As a child I always thought cat people were boring. 

Perhaps it is when I first saw Cats in New York.  It was after a long day in a long week...four shows in five days, and Cats was the last one to see.  Almost didn't go...that's how tired I was.

I had no idea of what to expect, and was I ever pleasantly surprised.  Such a delightful show!  The fact that we had almost front row seats helped, for sure. 

It was soon after that that I acquired Abby.  Abby had a sad demise.  She overdosed on catnip at Christmas.  Who knew?  Abby was also traumatized by the Old English Sheepdog, Molly.  Abby made the mistake of sneaking up behind Molly while Molly was eating.  Molly, never known to be violent before, grabbed the cat by the head and tossed her across the room, which necessitated an emergency visit to the vet.  $463 later Abby was home with the vet's advice to never let her near Molly when Molly was eating.  A trick in and of itself, let me tell you. 

Molly and Abby went on to be best friends, never again to squabble, but the injury to Abby's head may have impacted on her early demise.

Ava was allegedly found on the streets of Pittsburgh.  A trainee of mine found her and brought her to me in my office.  She was dirty, tiny and not well cared for.  A trip to the vet's, a bath and spaying brought her back to my abode where she rules the house.

I believe each cat has a very distinctive personality.  Ava likes to have her back scratched.  She actually comes when you call her....well, most of the time.  She has arthritis and takes dasquin every day, but is otherwise pretty healthy.  She sits on the chair opposite me while I eat my breakfast, and I find myself telling her of interesting parts to my book or articles in the newspaper.  She cocks her head to one side and appears to be listening. 

Ava is not a good mouser.  She is not quick, very slow to be honest.  And she chases them into a corner of the closet and when the mouse leaves, Ava stays, still looking around wondering "what happened".  And we have already discussed stink bugs.

Cats are delightful.  They require little care, are clean, funny to a fault, leaping from pillar to post, racing around, chasing light beams reflected from the crystal in the sunlight.  Ava is an indoor cat...I fear the outdoors for her.  But when she does escape...she panics.  (She has not been declawed in case she does get outside)  She looks around, whines loudly and kind of chatters with her teeth.  I think she is glad when I finally am able to corral her into the house again.

Yes, I have turned into a cat person.  Would love to get a dog again, and probably will some day, but for now, Ava is a joy to have and I have become one of those boring cat people.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Back Again

Hello Again!

I have been on hiatus, but now I am back.  I have been on facebook and have enjoyed that venue, but this allows me to post more at length about issues and my life.

So much has been going on since I last posted, which was about a year ago.

The road trip was the best ever, I think.  We drove to Chicago in the pouring rain for most of the way.  Actually had to pull over several times due to the horizontal rain.  We sailed along until we hit about 20 miles from the city, then hit the wall.  I think there were 15 lanes of traffic going the same way.  Okay, I am lying...but at least 6 and none of them moving.  By this time I was exhausted, as were Sprout, Monkeyboy and Bean.  Monkeyboy (who shall now be known as Matt) took lots of pictures, Sprout (now known as Alyssa) and Bean (now known as Katie) were sleeping/talking/singing (much to my chagrin). 

Finally arrived in Chi Town and pulled up to the door of the hotel.  Exhausted.  Unloaded the van and just wanted to collapse.  Once we got to our room there were cookies and milk for the kids and I, of course, unloaded the wine.  We all became rejuvenated and set out for dinner.

It was a great trip, saw so much and had more than enough to keep us occupied and then some.  Kids got up early and went to the gym while I slept.  After five days we headed to Iowa and the family there. 

Saw Anna, Clare, Maura, Rob and Lisa....as well as my brother and sister-in-law and their child.  What a great time we had there, although Katie had a cold which she shared with me.  I was sick on the last day in Iowa, but was still glad to see Rob and Lisa and the kids. 

Alyssa appeared in a concert at Christmas and looked wonderful.  Her mom has been in and out of the hospital, but seems to be doing pretty well.  Matt just finished hockey season, and excelled as usual.  Katie had the lead in Cinderella and has been in most of the productions of Pittsburgh Musical Theater. 

The snow this year has been incredible.  Not much except for the day after Christmas and this month.  We have all been fairly healthy.

Stink bugs have reappeared after hibernating all winter.  For those of you not in Pittsburgh, these stupid bugs were brought here to get rid of small bugs that looked like ladybugs.  These look like half dead beetles.  Ava, the hunter cat, just looks at them.  It is as if to say..."hey, they are stink bugs....if I kill them, I will stink."  There are many different ways to get rid of them...some flush, some throw outside and kill, some just scream and call for help.  I do all three.

The storm door doesn't shut.  I only mention this because when the sinkhole appeared in Florida, one station said that the first sign that your house would collapse was when the doors didn't close.  Just a heads up.  And I certainly hope the door doesn't collapse...I am in the process of spring cleaning.  Finishing up the living room.  It's always slow at Phipps this time of the year, so I use it to clean...fool that I am.  I cleaned out the desk in the living room.   Do you know how long it takes to shred checks and bank statements from 1998 to 2006?  A very long time....let me tell you.  Found mounds of great pictures and have been posting them on facebook.

OK, this is a new beginning on here and I'll see how it goes. 

Let me know of any suggestions or that this is even being read.  I'll post the link on facebook, and try to re-connect with those folks who read it before.  If no success...I'll quit!  I have to figure everything out again, so be patient, my friends.