Monday, December 01, 2003

Thanksgiving in the Steel City

We spent our Thanksgiving weekend in Pittsburgh. Dean and I lived there for four years in the early 1980's and have lots of good memories of the town. Since Dean's friend, Mike, has a sister in Pittsburgh who always "has" Thanksgiving, we decided to tag along with him and his family. Actually, we were invited for the past few years, and finally accepted this time.

Clare and Andrew had never really been there. We had visited the outskirts on the way to Illinois a few times when we stopped and went to Kennywood (to tire the children out).

We started off at Mike's sister's house in Squirrel Hill. Ginny and Harold have twin daughters, Rachel and Laurel, both in their first year of college. Rachel is a violinist and Laurel is an aspiring film maker. Harold plays English Horn for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Ginny is Production Art Coordinator for PPG in their self-named building.

Also at dinner were Mike, Maria and their two boys, Harold's parents, a neighbor and Kris, a friend of Rachel and Laurel. Kris was on the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine in September. All in all, it was a pleasant evening. It is always a little awkward when dining with strangers, but the Smoliars are a friendly and unassuming bunch and we are good friends with Mike and Maria.

Checking into the hotel was interesting. The valet, Clarence, was in a foul mood and yelled at Dean for driving around a car. I asked him what his problem was, and he informed me he was in a bad mood because it was Thanksgiving and he was working and someone had scraped a car up by driving around it. I tried to be nice, but he was not in the mood. I ended up complaining about him and the lack of a second Sponge Bob toy set in our room. I wonder what will come of it, if anything.

On Friday we went to the Phipps conservatory and the Carnegie Museum. Then we went to the Elbow Room for lunch in our old neighborhood and drove around our old haunts. Clare kept saying, "Mom and Dad are traveling down Memory Lane again."

Driving past our old apartment was a low point. The house is in disrepair, with brown stains down the middle of the front of the house. The College Inn is shut down, so it is possible something is up with the family. Gus's was also shut down, suddenly, as told to us by our waiter. He thinks someone in the family died.

Saturday we went to the Strip District, a neighborhood where we used to do our shopping. I heard it had changed, but was pleasantly surprised to still see the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in business. We had a hearty and delicious breakfast at DeLuca's where signs boast of "Pittsburgh's Best Breakfast". We bought about 3 lb of cheese and twice as much pasta. Andrew found some Steeler's gear.

Then we headed back to Squirrel Hill and to the Frick Art Center. We had hoped to go into the house, but it was booked through the evening. Mrs. Frick was still alive when we lived in Pittsburgh, so this was not an option then.

Then we went to Homewood Cemetfry and drove around the grounds. On a nicer day we would have gotten out and walked, but it was very cold. After the drive drove home to Bethesda.

We will definitely go back to Pittsburgh someday soon, most likely in the summer so we can go to Kennywood and the new Sandcastle attraction.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Don't Throw Jesus Away!

When I was young, my grandmother gave me a framed print of Jesus. I think it hung in my bedroom for a while, and I have kept it since then, even though my faith has wanned a bit. I gave it to my daughter who had it hanging on her bed for a while, then it ended up on the floor of her room with everhthing else.

We have been working on organizing her room and came across Jesus. My daughter, for some reason, decided to take the print of Jesus downstairs, and dropped it on the dinning room floor. Since this was from the 1950's it was not made of plastic, but glass. The glass shattered and left large jagged pieces in the frame. I tried to remove the pieces over the trash can in the kitchen. My daughter came in and cried, "Mom! Don't throw Jesus away!" I assured her that I was just making Jesus safe for her to carry around. She recalled the time it fell from her wall and hit her on the head and was glad that the glass didn't break then.

My husband came in and wondered why I was throwing Jesus away. I explained the situation to him and he said that now was the time I discover the thousands of dollars my grandmother had hidden under the print. (He is a fan of the television series, Beyond Belief).

My son, walking through the kitchen was attracted to the glass shards in the waste basket, but also had a comment, "Mom, don't throw Jesus away."

I wondered if it would have been better had I just thrown Jesus away and gone about my business. My answer came seconds later in the form of a splinter of glass in the index finger of my left hand...Yep, I should have thrown Jesus away.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


Once again I have been outbid for the book A Candle in her Room on eBay. I read this book several times as a young girl and had forgotten the name, but the plot stayed with me. It is about an evil doll named Dido that haunts three generations of girls in one family. I finally found out the name because I was searching for information about the singer "Dido". I found a web page that described the book, and realized it was the one I had been looking for.

I think I have tried to bid on this book 5 times now and each time I am outbid. I really don't want to spend more than $20 on it, including shipping, but it looks like I am going to have to if I really want to own it. Actually if I could just find it in a library I could just read it and be happy. It might not be the same any more, I mean it might not effect me the same way as it did as a child.

What bothers me about the bidders on eBay is that I am wondering if they want the book for personal reasons or because they know they might be able to sell it for a lot more. Not that it makes a difference, but it seems so mercenary if that is the case.

Monday, November 03, 2003

This weekend we had a pleasant time visiting with Dean's sister's son, Chris and his wife, Sheri, who drove up to Bethesda from Gainesville, Florida on Saturday. Unfortunately they could only stay Saturday night and had to leave at 4 on Sunday as they had plans to meet up with friends in Charlottesville, Virginia. Chris is applying to medical schools and today he has an interview with UVA in Charlottesville which is about two hours from our house.

Since Chris and Sheri live in Florida, they don't get a chance to see the Autumn colors that we take for granted in the northern states. We planned on driving to Sugarloaf Mountain and hiking. Clare must have had too much Halloween candy because she complained of a stomach ache. I was forced to remain home with her, while Dean and Andrew went with our visitors. They came back all tired out, so I think they had a good time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Was supposed to go to a reception for the volunteers of the Library of Congress today at 2:00 but since Dean is out of town, I felt uncomfortable not being here when the kids got home. I hope they get a lot of people there, not that my absence will be noticed.

Worked on the plans for the web design club I am leading at Pyle on Wednesday afternoons. I am creating a web page so students who don't come each week can keep up. Having fun doing it too. I hope the club is a success. I miss working with students.

I am about to continue on my never ending quest for organization around the house. Working on the attic today. Have been lax in the past two days about housework.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Today was Columbus Day (Observed). It was also visiting day in Montgomery County Public Schools. Dean spent the first hour and a half or so with Clare at Pyle. I went to Andrew's Social Studies (or was it Science?) class where the students were building structures out of drinking straws and paperclips. Andrew's group had the tallest structure (the objective for the class). I felt a lot better about his (very young) teacher after seeing her in action.

The plan was that I would go to Bradley Hills and Dean would go to Pyle, but Dean showed up at Bradley Hills at math time and encouraged me to go to Pyle because it would make Clare happy. I did and it turns out that Dean was right. Clare was happy that I showed up. I got to observe her in art (she seemed lonely and sad) and in math where she seemed to be distracted.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

It has been a while once again. One of these days I will do this on a regular basis, but not quite yet.

It looks like Blogger has provided us freeloaders with new tools. I will have to check that out too.

Lately I have been encouraged to write from a number of sources, even my own husband. I guess I should follow the advice so as not to die without having tried.