Sunday, August 17, 2014

Home again

A successful road trip has ended. 

The van worked out well.  Matt was co-pilot (and a fine one he was), Katie had the middle seat and Alyssa stretched out in the third seat.  Pillows and blankets all through the car.  Favorite expressions--"Did someone say music???", "So, it's raining, so what, who cares", "Mia, quit swerving the car",  "Is this a tornado?".  Ran into really frightening weather in Ohio.  I know you are not supposed to pull over when there is wind, rain, hail, winds that are blowing the van all over the road, but boy, I was tempted.  Smooth sailing after the storm passed until we got outside Chicago, where there were "traffic incidences" and backups galore.  Took us 45 minutes to go 4 miles, and by that time, we were all tired.

Not to worry, arrived in Iowa City at the exact same time as Rob, Anna and Mara, the Cedar Rapids component.  All weariness was forgotten as the kids played cards while brother, sister-in-law and Mia shared a bottle (or two) of wine.  Kids all had a sleepover and the next day was filled with shopping, relaxing and dinner with the cousins, courtesy of Rob and Lisa. 

We left Iowa and traveled east to Cedar Point, Sandusky where we met with Marci, Mike and Zach for a fun day at Cedar Point.  Such laughter as we drove back to the hotel, waving at strangers, being silly as only one can after a long, long day.

Went to Amish country in Berlin, Ohio.  That was a bust for the kids, but I sure had fun walking through the town, looking in the shops.

Back home to drop off the van and pick up my car to go to the farm.  Mr. and Mrs. Miller were welcoming as always.  However, Mrs. Miller's breakfasts aren't quite the way I remember.  In fact, we wondered how we could avoid breakfast the second day, as on the first, food was placed in napkins by a certain child and left to feed the multitude of kittens.  Some, less than a week old, were found in the bushes snuggled up to mom. 

Onto Altoona for a baseball game with the Curves.  On the way to Altoona, engine light came on in a raging rain in the mountains.  Matt and Katie's response?  "Our engine light has been on for years."  No consolation as I called my mechanic who said if it starts blinking, it's trouble.  Otherwise, just bring it in when you get home. Sure.  Will do.

Game was good until the two hour storm delay.  Notice I said storm.  Not rain, storm.  Lightening, thunder, downpour that flooded the field.  Beautiful ballpark.  But by this time this lady was exhausted.  Twenty-two hundred miles of driving did me in!

It was a safe trip and oh, so much fun.  Matt, the co-pilot, and I discussed in the pouring down rain from Altoona to Pittsburgh that next year would be back to Chicago.  And no, I am never, ever driving on a road trip again.  Of course at the end of the road trip next year I will say I am never, ever flying again.

Road trip----success, but oh, so good to be back home again!  But already planning for next one!

On another note, today was a celebration of summer with everyone.  Brunch at the Grand Concourse and lots of picture taking.  Memories of our Sunday dinners with Mary Rose joining us.  She and Katie off to college next weekend.  Sad, but happy.  Time passes so quickly.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Busy Week

Where did July go?  Who hid it?  Seems like yesterday was the fourth of July and tomorrow is August 1.  Is it true that the older you get the faster time flies, or is it just because I cannot remember what day it is anyway?  I have grave difficulty with my work schedule.  Some days I think I don't have to work and am reminded that my calendar shows me at work.  How can that be, I ask you? 

I gathered together things for the road trip.  Fellow knit witter, Amy, brought me two books to read.  Reading is one of my favorite escapes.  Wine would be the other.  Put them together and I am one happy camper. 

Found the Easy Pass.  Found the tickets for the Altoona Curves game.  Found that I had made a reservation for the wrong night in Altoona and went to change it.  The hotel is booked.  Two other ones were also.  So, it's going to be the Comfort Inn.  And I am a little worried.  First of all, WHY are three hotels booked on a Tuesday night, and second, the reservationist sounded ecstatic that I was booking a room.  Always a dangerous sign.  But they have a pool and a free breakfast, which always makes us happy.

I rented a van for the Iowa trip.  Wasn't going to.  But at the last (well, not the last) minute that we couldn't fit kids AND food in the car.  Matt refused to go in the trunk so we could have food, so it was decided by me to rent the van.  Katie was a little disappointed because she can't drive the rental, but I assured her that the second leg of the trip to the farm and east, we would come by and drive my car and she could drive that part of the trip. 

Knit Wits had lunch at Max's Allegheny Tavern on Tuesday.  Was a really good lunch.  I used to work on the North Side of Pittsburgh, and it was nice to be back on the old stomping grounds.  A few more drug dealers, a few more boarded homes, but all in all, it is the same.  Come to think of it, I have worked in some really unusual parts of the city. I truly love Pittsburgh, I love the energy, the neighborhoods and the different ethnicity of all of the people.

Pirates.  Oh, my, awful game yesterday.  When they play badly, they really do it right.  I watched in horror as Snider began to walk to third...WALK, and was tagged out.  Sanchez, who was on third, for some reason thought he could make it to home.  Nope.  He was also tagged out.  We lost the game, needless to say.  However, they are still OUR Pirates and we will continue to root for them. 

The track is becoming more and more crowded.  Cross country track team warming up by running a mile, peppy little cheerleaders practicing with their cute little pom poms.  I can deal with them.  I cannot deal with the runner who run four abreast and force everyone to run around them.  Because they surely don't run fast.  And not that I do, but they talk and as they do they weave back and forth, so when one tries to go to the left of the group, the one person wanders into that lane.  I guess I should go earlier.

My tattoo has healed quite nicely.  I'm not sure what the policy at work is about them, so I haven't worn a shirt or blouse yet that shows it, although I have showed it to people.  It didn't hurt much at all.  Katie went with me and offered to hold my hand, a very sweet gesture that I didn't need.  I was glad she went with me though. 

Later that day we went to a park by the river to learn to meditate with my friend, Linda.  A really super person.  I couldn't go last week and amazingly, I forgot this week.  I hope to go back after the road trip.  It was pretty amazing.

Well, I have to get ready for work.  I am working and I want to do some shopping before I begin.  So, off I go.  Look for posts from the road trip.  Cannot wait to see the Iowa clan!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dreary Monday in the 'Burgh

Well, the white elephant from the garage sale may be leaving my house today.  Someone is interested in the bookshelf and said she would be here today for it.  She came last night to see it.  Hoping she comes, I am anxious to get rid of it and finish decorating the room.
There are a few things that annoy me.  Let me share them with you. 
Men who spit.  I am on the track this morning, and three elderly gentlemen were in front of me, taking up three lanes of the track.  Actually, one of them was bobbing and weaving between two lanes.  That's okay, I understand balance problems.  As I am contemplating how to get around him and his bobbing and weaving, he spits.  On the track.  You know how they do it, they make an inordinate amount of noise and then spit.  Disgusting.  I remember when I first began to run in the mid 80"s.  I met a woman named Narda.  I really loved her.  She was a steady runner who maintained her pace throughout the run.  I ran one of my first races with her.  She kept me from sprinting, walking, sprinting by keeping me on a pace.  She told me of a man who was in front of her when he spit, it landed on her.  She said she tried to stop herself, but she yelled at him for over a mile.  Stop spitting.  I don't do it, why do men feel a need to do it?
Radios in cars at full blast.  I admit, if my windows are down, my radio is louder than when I am stopped.  BUT, when I am stopped, the radio immediately is turned down.  Not the car next to me, they have obnoxious music turned up so that five people behind them can hear it.  I sit and debate whether I should put on opera and outblast them.  I grip the steering wheel and toss them a dirty look, wondering if they are going to pull a gun from the glove compartment. (Someone I used to work with did that...he pulled a gun and aimed it at someone in the car next to him. Crazy idiot.)  So, I hope that the light turns quickly and he can make his jack rabbit start and pull out way ahead of my little, slow car.
People who interrupt.  There is a new person at work.  Seems nice enough, I guess, although Mary said the new person makes her twitch.  While waiting on a customer this woman will shove me aside so she can look for a coupon.  She will interrupt my conversation with a customer to ask a complicated question and it seems difficult for her to wait until I am finished with my customer.  She doesn't make me twitch....yet.
Road  trip is coming up rapidly.  Cannot wait to see the Iowa gang and it will be good to get to the farm again.  Cedar Point is on the way home, and Matt is quite excited about the coasters there.  I'm not.  But then the road trip is about spending time with Alyssa, Matt and Katie and that's the best thing in the whole world!!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Here We Go Again

Every now and then I have an urge to become healthy.  Not often, mind you, but sometimes. 
I am back to the track again.  Early in the morning.  Walking, walking, walking.  I am told that if you do something for twenty-one days in succession it becomes a habit.  Day three. As soon as I roll out of bed, I begin. 
I don't have a cute running outfit.  Today it was a t-shirt with a butterfly on the front that changes color when the sun hits it.  A baseball cap from the 2002 Olympics and an old pair of shorts.  Not the cool running shorts, a pair of plaid (yes, plaid, want to make an issue of it?) Bermuda shorts.
I have a play list on my phone and I must appear odd as I walk to the beat of the music, almost dancing.  There is a song that Katie told me about.  It's called Girls Chase Boys.  A catchy tune.  Linda and I danced around the camp fire to it the other night.  I'm pretty sure Katie and Scott were not laughing at us, just laughing with us.  I digress.
An interesting group at the track.  I am amazed at people who are there.  People of all ages, people of all degrees of health.  There are some that are doing it for rehab, some who are doing it for weight loss and some for a marathon.  I am guessing, but that seems to be the group.  Oh, yes, and those darn young kids that  must be on cross country.  They look fit and young and able to run forever.
So I am not going to measure distance.  I am going to walk/jog and whine until the playlist on my iPhone is complete.  OK, so I cheated this morning, I skipped Coldplay so I could go home and eat
I am getting a tattoo.  Next week.  I am so excited.  I have thought about this numerous times over the years and I am just going to do it.  I know, marking my body with permanent ink is something that can never be changed and I will regret it the day it is completed.  I don't care!  There are those who think it is neat and those that think I am crazy.  (We won't even go there).  But I am going to do it and I'll post a picture once it is finished.  Hopefully, I won't get blood poisoning or some other horrible complication.
I had a really good sales day at Macy's the other day.  Met my goal by 308%.  The next day?  Began at -98%.  People tend to buy lots of stuff, take it home, try it on (sometimes wearing it), then bringing it back to the store for a refund.  We have an amazing return policy, can you tell?  It's okay, I almost made up the -98%.  Almost.
Had lunch with my friends, Mark and Abby yesterday.  Mark and I worked together at Phipps and over the years I have enjoyed the company of Mark and his wife.  His daughter, Jennifer, lives in NYC and when we went there for Katie's auditions we met her and had a delightful time passing the stressful time with her.  Abby and I have decided we will drive up to NYC to see Katie and Jennifer once Katie is settled.
Well, time to grab some breakfast and head to Macy's.  If you return things today, make sure you didn't buy them from me.  But look me up.  It's always fun to see a familiar face.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garage Sales

I don't much like them.  Never go to them.  Fight my way up and down crowded streets trying to get to where I am going. 
Guess who is having a garage sale????  Yes, the second one ever.  Dragging things from the attic, from the closets, from the basement.  Ginger's husband helping to price them.  A neighbor joining in the event.  Ahhh, yes, a garage sale. 
I have no idea of what things are worth.  To me, they are worth nothing, which is why I am getting rid of them.  There was an offer put in for the bookshelves.  Again, for me, I just wanted to be rid of them, but everyone at Matt's game said "nooooo, way too low".  So, I said a different price and never heard back.  Go with your gut, that's what I say.  Now I will probably have to pay to have them taken!
Alyssa had basketball camp this week.  I was able to transport.  Now, I am amazed that someone can go into a setting as large as this one was and just join in the group.  I have a very difficult time walking into a place that is new and assimilating myself, whether it be a work situation or a social situation.  Alyssa carried herself with such poise.  She confided to me that she knew no one and yet she stood up straight (something I have a hard time doing in the best of times), and seemed to have a great time learning techniques.
I am having a difficult time realizing that Tuesday is July1.  I know, as we get older, time goes quickly.  Katie will be leaving for Marymount next month, Matt has already had hockey stuff, road trip is rapidly approaching.  Iowa, here we come, squished into my little car, singing, poking, laughing, screaming out state names as we cross borders.  Crossing the mighty Mississippi and cheering wildly as we enter Iowa...only 60 more miles!!!!  And so looking forward to the farm.  A peaceful final (well, almost final) stop.  Nine days on the road.  Hmmm.  In that small car.  Hmmm. 
I wonder if leaving home is harder on the leaver or the left behinds.  As I recall, it was an adventure.  New horizons, new life.  I remember the first time I came home and realized that my mother looked older.  I wonder if I had anything to do with that? 
With Katie off to school, the separation has already begun for everyone.  I remember learning in social work that when someone leaves a unit, whether it be family or friends, a void is left and there is a scramble to regroup and assume new roles.  It's exciting to see one grow and mature, but hard too.  Matt is already taking over her bedroom and making plans on putting his own touch on it.  He also has agreed to take the mega bus to NYC to pick her up from breaks.  This give me an excuse to take long weekends and visit NYC.  And Katie gets to fulfill a dream that she has had for many years, to go to school in the Big Apple.  At her choral concert I bawled like a baby during the last number as the group said goodbye to the school.  Mary Rose leaned over and said "It's okay, we'll get you a megabus pass to go visit".  And she isn't even my kid!  Love Mary Rose!
Well, back to the darn garage sale.  If you have a need for giant wine glasses, or perhaps a bean bag chair.  How about a VCR that won't play DVD's, only tapes?  Make an offer.  This time I will go with my gut, baseball fans be damned.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


As I drove up the street yesterday, there was a small girl.  She was about 5 or 6 years old and cute as a button.  She waved at me as I drove past and I waved back.  She put her hand over her mouth and giggled.
As a child, I went to visit my grandmother and aunt and uncle for a week each summer.  They lived on a busy boulevard.  The girl (whose name I cannot remember) who lived behind them and I would play frequently.  One of the games that we played was to play in the front yard and when we saw a certain color of car we would stand and wave furiously to see if they would wave back.  Many did, much to our delight.  We would giggle, turn cartwheels, roll down the grassy front yard and do it all over again.  Such a simple pleasure.  I can remember the smell of the grass, I can see the cars driving by and hear the giggles.  At night we would catch lightening bugs in a jar, much to the chagrin of my aunt, who said it was cruel.  We would put leaves in the jar, a stick or two and punch holes in the lid so they could live forever.  They never did, of course.  But her early admonishments stay with me yet today.  I don't catch them anymore and anything in a confined area bothers me.
Yesterday with camera in hand I went to the zoo.  Never again!  I always thought it was small when I visited as a child.  It isn't.  It is a lot of walking on asphalt, up hills with screaming kids all around.  But I wanted to get a picture for my 2015 calendar, so camera in hand, I wandered through.  I was watching the tiger and realized he was pacing.  Just back and forth.  Pacing.  We have what is considered to be a "good" zoo.  Natural habitat as much as possible.  Gone are the cages.  But you know, as I looked at the tiger I thought about the lightening bugs in a jar.  
Last year on the road trip we went to a wild animal park.  You drove through it and the animals had a lot more space to run around.  That seemed different somehow.  I guess the thing that bothered me was the tiger pacing.  In a small area.  No more zoo for me.
I did notice as I left that the parents and kids arriving were full of energy, laughing, riding the carouselThe further they got into the zoo, the crankier they became.  Children wanting to be carried (I did also want to be carried), wanting food and drink along the way, parents cajoling them, promises of food at home that costs much less. 
One time when visiting an amusement park a father could be heard to say "You WILL have a good time, damn it, now quit crying".  Yup, memories!
As adults, we attempt to create happy memories for children in our lives.  I certainly do with the road trip every summer.  I wonder what memory will stand out for the three kids I drag along?  Please kids, I do hope it will be something other than me backing into the hot tub with my camera. 
What are your memories of childhood?  I hope you have some really good ones.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday afternoon

We have been having some wonderful weather on the weekends here in the 'burgh.  Today there are clear blue skies, warm sun and a few fluffy while clouds.  Sitting by my window reading my book as the street takes on a carnival atmosphere with a street sale.  There will be one here at this house in July with one of the neighbors.  I just couldn't get things together yet.
Odd how when you mention a garage sale to people they become interested in what you have to sell.  Lots.  And lots.  Dishes, linens, odds and ends, bookcases, clocks, radios, cd players (does anyone even use cd players anymore?), exercise tapes (does anyone even have a tape player besides me?) and various other "junk".  Oh, yes, tires and a lawnmower.  I haven't even begun in the attic or basement. 
Interesting people come to shop at Macy's.  There are the older women with all their coupons.  And I do mean all.  They sift through them, looking for the best bargain, wait for all the sales.  I like these women.  They are interesting, as they talk about their "bargains".  There are the women who drag their husbands or young children.  The husbands lie and say they look wonderful, just so they can get home to their ballgames/beer/golf games or whatever interests them, which shopping does not.
Babies are cute.  I love making them laugh.  Their chubby faces and toothless grins.  Mom can shop till she drops and these kids are so much fun for me.
I recently had a man come in with his wife and 20 something daughter.  HE enjoyed shopping.  They all had armloads of clothes and after the mom and daughter went in to try things on, he continued picking things up for them to try.  They ended up spending over $500, and he made use of every single coupon he had.  And they still spent that much.  His name was Mark and he was a delight to help.
I spilled the secret of the road trip to the kids and they are delighted.  Matt, who has never been big on amusement parks, is tremendously excited about Cedar Point.  And all are looking forward to the farm and seeing the Millers again.  Such a peaceful place to be, even with the scary pictures in the bedrooms.  The gathering of eggs, the daily hay ride, the goat on the slide.  Ahhh, good times with wonderful food.  The breakfast is prepared in part the night before and the rest in the wee hours of the morning.  Everyone gathers around two large tables and plans for the day.  People from all over the country.  And many from Canada also.  At night we all sit on the porch and talk about our day past and day coming.  It's a wonderful tradition and everyone at the farm is amazed that Katie, Matt and Alyssa still enjoy it.
Well, back to my book and the sounds of a Saturday afternoon with children playing, lawnmowers going and the aroma of freshly cut grass.  Life is good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


It was nice to hear the rain last night.  We didn't have the storms here, just some thunder and a nice steady rain. 
Yesterday the Knitwits had a birthday luncheon.  Sara hosted it and it was wonderful.  Women sharing food and wine, laughter and good times.  A truly remarkable group, patient and willing to help one another with knitting, even those of us who have to start over making socks...what....4 times?  It doesn't matter though, it is the idea of getting together and talking about everything, from religion to politics to The Good Wife.  Fun honored to be a part of the group.
Baseball, proms, Kennywood, field trips and graduation.  It's that time of the year.  Pirates struggling.  I keep thinking they will pick up the pace, but Matt tells me it isn't going to be a good year.  Surely wasn't for hockey!
Still trying to get the foot back to normal.  Hurts, but not as much.  I will not go that odd doctor again though.  Very odd. 
I am loving my job at Macy's.  I am able to meet all kinds of interesting people, some who are shopping for a happy event and some who are shopping for a not so happy event.  Here is one complaint I hear on a regular basis....why are all clothes  for summer sleeveless?  I do not know of any woman over 35 that will wear sleeveless.  OK, Michelle Obama does and she looks wonderful.  One person, that's it.  Seriously, is it so women will have to buy something to wear over the sleeveless dress?  Shrugs, as they are called, cost half as much as the dress.  Perhaps that is the plan.  At any rate, women complain, shop for an hour and complain again.  I don't blame them.  I only wear sleeveless when the heat index is at 95 for over a week.  At that point  I care not what I look like, sitting on an open field watching Matt play baseball demands comfort.
I seem to have a problem with time and work.  They switch our hours daily, which is confusing to this lady (I know, it doesn't take much to confuse me).  The good thing is that it only takes me ten minutes to get to work and when I think I need to be there at 8:45 instead of 9:45 I just pretend that I wanted to do a dry run as I foolishly walk into an empty store and sneak back out and go home and wait for an hour.
Speaking of which, I haven't been to his game yet.  These games now don't have food, which is a big draw for me.  Nachos and baseball go so well together.  Throw in a hot dog and it is pure delight.  I miss hearing Terri yell, but someone will take over that job...just not as well as Terri.
Today I begin at 9:45....I think.  It's now 8:30 which gives me time to eat and knit.  Have a good day, and stay tuned for the saga of new televisions.