Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Are the Holidays a Wind-up?

I sit this morning in the early dark drinking my strong black coffee with just enough sweetened cream to take the edge off.  I slept over seven hours which is my regular routine. While my sleep is filled with dreams these days, I do feel rested.  Hubby is still deep in slumber and will sleep closer to ten hours.  He is an energizer bunny with projects during the day and that activity coupled with his slight dementia means he will sleep through a long night.

The home across the river and a few houses up from us already has its holiday lights along the dock.  The weather has been cold for days with just enough of a breeze to make it feel much colder.  We have been putting off stringing the outside holiday lights hoping the weather will moderate somewhat.  While we have no snow and do not face the drama and hard work the folks north of us have endured, we are older and feeling it in our bones more each year.

Today I have to plan which pies I will bring to my daughter's house for Thanksgiving.  My three grandchildren and my son-in-law do not like fruit pies and so I am left to make some cloying sweet pies such as an Oreo cookie monster.  I will probably go ahead and make a key lime pie because I have a dozen kafir limes from my tree that need to be used while they are somewhat fresh.  I will also bring a side dish of sausage stuffing which they claim to like and which I make each year with Italian sausage and lots of herbs.  My daughter is ordering the rest from the local grocery.  We seem to be doing it lighter each year.

We cannot arrive the night before since my daughter has close friends that are using their guest room as a stopping place on their way north to visit their own family for the holidays.  So, we will arrive mid-morning and quickly say hello and goodbye to the guests which we know, eat our Thanksgiving dinner with the family, and then head back home mid-afternoon because my daughter and her family are then heading north for Thanksgiving with the in-laws the rest of the weekend.  My daughter's father-in-law has a form of MS which now requires he be placed in a care facility.  It is a sad time for all.  

My son and his wife are spending Thanksgiving out of state with his wife's family this year, so our long weekend will be quieter.

Ooops, my son just texted and said they may not be heading through the nasty snow to Erie after all.  Their little baby is fighting a long-term cold.  I invited them to join us at my daughter's and then come down here for the weekend where I can wait on them.  Seems everything is up in the air.  

I am an old lady and will certainly handle it all with aplomb (that is still a word, right?) as I am not going without electricity like those in Ukraine, and I am not facing grief like those who lost a child, significant other, or brother or sister in Colorado in the recent "mass shooting", and I am not spending the day in a holding shelter like so many that are homeless or those around the world who are refugees waiting for a reprieve.  I am winding up my one precious and privileged life slowly, ever so slowly.

I look for the light because the perception of where we are and who we are and where we are going is dependent upon finding light each day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

And...the Rest of the Story

My prior post on our trip to Pittsburgh provided a quick overview of a city that was once part of "America's Rust Belt". Pittsburgh was referred to as the steel city because Andrew Carnegie developed a process to make steel both durably and inexpensively.  There were many blue-collar jobs available at the turn of the 20th Century.  This is also why it was called the city of bridges which are so loved; produced through locally made steel.  

The steel industry is also why their professional football team is called the Steelers.  Along with this industrial success, there came tremendous water and air pollution.  Today the air is clear to the eye, but unseen microparticulate still causes days when breathing the air is unhealthy and they struggle to keep their air healthy.

The city has moved its economy to self-driving car manufacturing, robotics, and medical advances.

While we were there we stayed in the downtown area next to the convention center.  Our hotel was on a busy street next door to a Charter school for elementary children.  We saw them walking from one building to another on a mid-day break and all were minority children.  Full of energy.  If you want to know what a Charter School is go here.

We took an Uber to the botanical gardens on the second day and upon our return mid-afternoon, the Uber driver could not drive down the block to our hotel.  We waited a few minutes and then he made a U-Turn and went around a block to drop us off just South of our hotel.  It was only a block away, so we had no problem.

As I walked to the hotel, I saw the following:

At first, I thought someone famous must be staying at our hotel which is across the street from this news photographer.  But nope.  When I asked, it seems there had been a couple of shots fired into one of the buildings across the street.  Perhaps the building between the school and our hotel?  Needless to say the local pedestrians did not seem at all concern as they wheeled their toddler into the restaurant and we asked the policeman if we could cross the red tape into our hotel...which he let us do.  City life in America is indeed strange.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Like a Bad (But Shiny) Penny

I returned over a week ago from our Pennsylvania/Michigan car trip. The primary reason for the trip was to help my husband's stepsister celebrate her 94th birthday. They have not met face-to-face in over a decade. Blended families can be that way and since his father remarried (to my husband's mother) they spent little time growing up together. As often happens with old people, reconnection (this time hours by phone) meant they wanted to see each other as the years are getting more valuable. 

Since it was fall, I was looking forward to such a car trip and was rewarded with lovely hardwood trees and bright dry grasses and golden farm fields with traditional barns, and nice weather except for one day of rain.  

We first visited Pittsburgh for the reason that it made a nice stop on the way north.  We were there for three days.  The walk from our hotel downtown made me think that Pittsburgh was nothing but mediocre restaurants and kitschy stalls selling Steelers merchandise.  The small crowds were a bit loud and later in the day a bit drunk.  The service at the mid-cost restaurants was very good, though.  In the beginning, I was not impressed.

I was glad that I had booked a tour for each of the two full days we were there.  Driving around on our own would have meant we missed so much to say nothing of the difficulty in finding parking in a city.  The tour helped me see how rich Pittsburgh was in history and heroes.  

Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers of children's TV fame was a native and had his own statue on the river in downtown.  This was funded by Bunny Mellon of the rich Mellon family.  Bunny was a friend of his.  

We toured the city itself to learn that both sports stadiums were horseshoe shaped to allow fans to see the river as well as the game. I learned about the famous "immaculate reception" of player, Franco Harris, which helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win their first playoff game in franchise history in 1972. 

Historian, David McCullough, was also a native with a bridge dedicated in his honor.  

The city is really beautiful despite the few homeless tents along the river walk.  Two rivers come together which helped spur the city's growth in its early history when water was the primary form of transportation for moving and processing steel.  

Taken from the hilltop at the end of a cable car ride.

And then we traveled on to visit the famous Falling Waters house of Frank Lloyd Wright fame just outside the city.  I was not able to get reservations inside, but the outside was inspiring.  There is another architectural wonder, Kentuck  Nob, but that has to wait for another trip.

This is a very short version of the trip but perhaps wets your taste to travel to a smaller city that you do not know enough about and that has a reputation that is rougher than it deserves.