Whimsy

Those who shun the whimsy of things will experience rigor mortis before death.

Tom Robbins

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My Favorite Dictator

Ukraine

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Our friend Ron in Wales

Good day to you, dear reader! What’s shakin’? The hubster and I got our Pennsylvania drivers licenses today, making us one step closer to being official Yinzers! We just need license plates and library cards to seal the deal, at least in my eyes. Soon!

We continue to enjoy our time and make our way in the Burgh, learning the bends in the road and the wonky ways of our old house. There remain fewer and fewer boxes to unpack and sort, and, delight of delights, a new living room sofa and bedroom set arriving tomorrow morning. We spent the past two weeks on a mattress on the floor, which is cool if you’re Japanese or in college, but not for this couple of Yinzers in transition.

And to today’s photos at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, at 535 feet, it’s the second tallest Gothic building in the world. Made of Indiana Limestone and boasting more than 2,000 rooms and windows, it makes a heart grateful for fine architecture and wealthy industrialists of the early 20th century. It is also quite unique in that it houses 29 Nationality Rooms, donated by the various ethnic groups that built the city of Pittsburgh. Just another feather in this city’s awesome cap, I think.

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Andy Warhol and Andrew Carnegie get dolled up. I love it!

At long last, for those who have been asking, pictures of Pittsburgh! Now that my computer has been unearthed, though it remains completely surrounded by other boxes of things I probably don’t really need but still desperately need to unpack, there will be more photos. I shall do my damnedest to keep yinz in the photo loop. Yinz? Yeah, using a little Pittsburghese, recently voted the ugliest accent in America. I kid you not. Anyhoo, yinz means you, and our best guess to the origin is that it’s an abbreviation of Pennsylvanian? Yin? Plural Yinz? Search me.

But, I digress. Pittsburgh, goll-ee how, is a beauty! We chose well, my friends, very well. There is spectacular art and architecture, a preponderance of it, all around the city. The city of neighborhoods, but more specifically (and why), the city of…H I L L S, mega-super hills that are difficult to fathom until witnessed live and in-person, the variety of which children draw when asked to render a rolling countryside, though maybe a little steeper, a lot steeper in many cases. It makes a grid system virtually impossible, on the whole, save in the pockets nestled in between. I am grateful to have made purchase in one of those pockets, on a generally flat stretch of land, though from the windows at the top of the house I can spy other hills and towers and observe the most glorious of sunrises and sunsets with very little obstruction. A win, win.

People love the Steelers here, as would be expected, but maybe not quite as I expected, with entire families kitted out in head-to-toe Steelers gear nearly everywhere I turn. The shoes aren’t an anomaly, just the churchy version of fandom. It’s a different world.

And, yet, it isn’t. It’s cloudy and a river city. People here are much like Portlanders, super crafty (The Handmade Arcade!), and go-out-of-your-way friendly. There are many beards and fine restaurants and tattoos, though Portland has infinitely more of the latter, and Pittsburgh has a heck of a lot more diners. The coffee here is not at all like Stumptown, which saddens me some, but with an actual Stumptown coming soon, I shan’t have to worry about that for long.

Eric, the Primanti’s photo is just for you, so everyone else, avert your eyes. You saw nothing! Ha. Primanti’s is famous for a sandwich that is piled high with coleslaw and fries. I know, it sounds weird, but it’s actually quite tasty and convenient. The burrito of sandwiches, maybe?

Oh, and this final photo? This is primarily for my Colorado peeps, but anyone who understands food nostalgia will appreciate it, too. This Grinch pastry is a dead ringer, flavor wise, for the frogs the King Soopers bakery made when I was a kid – a white cake with white frosting of the shortening, not butter, variety, glazed with fondant. It will make your teeth hurt in a good way. I have been wishing for something like it since they ceased production when I was ten. These were the ultimate store bought treat for a child of little means. I would search the day old shelf (the only shelf we we ever bought from, as it was half price) and be positively giddy when the neon frosting showed itself. My ebullience at today’s discovery, I am certain, was an exact match to those childhood days when there were exactly four frogs, and I didn’t have to share one with my siblings. “Buddy! These are like the frogs! Oh my goodness, I haven’t had one since I was ten!” Now, I know when others are chuckling at my expense, but I was happy to oblige both the hubster and the woman behind the counter. That my friends, is the power of food.

 

 

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Noisy

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment is it perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Max Ehrmann

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Good evening, Pittsburgh! I am here, in permanent fashion, at last! Bone tired from unpacking, fresh from a row in the basement, bowl of cereal and handful of almonds devoured, stinky and deserving a bath, but eager to post is how I am. I have missed this space, brain sputtering before sending my fingers racing. I made do with my phone while dealing with the pressing matters of unpacking the essentials and shopping for yet more, oh, and getting lost. Again and again. New territory. New me, I hope, of a fashion, anyway. But, not yet.

First, the road. The glorious road to our new home. I shed many a tear on it; sometimes joyously, in light of what lay ahead; sometimes sadly, for what cannot be recovered, for what is past; oftentimes for the simple beauty of place – earth, river, sky; of being present and privileged with breath, a beating heart, and love.

Our travels took us through Denver and our first homes, then Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, nearly the whole of Interstate 70, our family of three rolling along, sometimes quietly, sometimes in raucous laughter punctuated by meows, oftentimes singing, Elton John and America and Radiohead, The Doors. Glad of heart for our gumption and bravery to drive 2,713 miles(!) and start anew, for the kindness of strangers, for gas stations, hotels, the blessings of sunshine and frost, for the world that is.

 

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