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Sometimes I question my choice of middle name for that pooch of ours. Beulah is meaningful, but JOY, now that would really nail it! Our girl such a joy-filled creature! Saying good morning: wiggle, wiggle, wiggles of joy. Coming home from the store: wiggle, wiggle, wiggles of joy. Walking? Oh my heavens the JOY of walking! The JOY of eating, and cuddling, and licking, and running, and playing, too. She brings it out in us, too.

I bought her a new collar (the other got sprayed by a skunk – not fun!!). Neon pink with reflective bones, eek! Also, new socks for winter weather, and damn if they don’t look like she’s wearing high heels! The silliness. And how cute she looks in her little coat, too!

A beautiful day in the neighborhood…

Our nephew came down to see us this past weekend, but I didn’t get a picture – rats! We had a grand time of hiking and eating and talking and eating some more. Ms. Juni B. enjoyed her first meal inside at a restaurant – Pub Dog, if you don’t know it. It is the first in the country to allow pets at the table indoors. Though the food was quite tasty, it was a bit of sensory overload – dog sniffs and food sniffs and so many people, too!

A trip down the Rabbit Hole after seeing the highly anticipated (at least for us) Blade Runner 2049, both of which we rather liked. Get the Chicken and Biscuit and the Tweedle Bee. Yessirrreee!

Oh, and almost mandatory photo of Pike’s Peak. Lovely from every angle, that one…

Woke up to that sliver of moon this morning, peering just above the trees.

Some little one is a sad, sad camper this morning, having left a rather sporty jacket and these two dolls at the park.

And finally, what kind of a duck are YOU?

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Thursday evening, our inaugural fire, now that we’ve got the basement space all kitted out. It was cozy and lovely, the hubster saving his best smile of the day for me before playing a little ditty on the piano. I love this house, how, with each passing day, it feels more and more like home.

Friday evening we went downtown, had dinner at our favorite burger place (Bingo!), wandered, bought treats, and sipped coffee, all the while watching Colorado Springs stroll by in shirtsleeves, the last bit of warmth before the snow fell.

We woke up to single digit temperatures and my favorite hush and sparkle of snow, the kind that squeaks underfoot.

I made green chile (awww, sweet Paris) and margaritas, a mighty fine way to keep the chill at bay. Snug as bugs and happy as clams.

Happy Sunday!

Quebec City! We arrived at sunset, after a long day of travel. The skies were crystal in their clarity and the air bracing, but I was sweating, nervous over the fact that we got stuck in traffic and our phones don’t work in Canada. Surprise! Oof. Many thanks to the kindness of strangers, we made a call at a local restaurant to connect, just five minutes late, with our weekend landlord. The world is good, and so were our lodgings.

It was a short walk to cobbled streets and every manner of wonder, a sculpture or two or a dozen, and a fabulous public market. These are our breakfast provisions for the duration of our stay in Quebec City, black pepper smoked mackerel, tart crisp apples, a wild mushroom quiche, and ground cherries. Do you know them? They taste like an apple kissed a cherry, with the the look and texture of an orange tomato under that lovely husk. Delicious! Not wanting to leave any local stone unturned, we also bought nougat, more hard cider than we ought, and maple butter, velvety sweet goodness.

It is a marvelous place, a time capsule from the late 1600’s opened anew each day. When I began studying French in seventh grade, my text book had a photo of the Chateau Frontenac on the cover, and young me had many a fantasy about what it would be like when I saw it in person for the first time. Friends, none of them was as joyous as rounding that corner and having my thirteen year old self gasping from my fourty-four year old lungs before squealing at the hubster, “There it is!” Of course I got teary at the silly sentimentality of it all. Dreams come true.

A delectable lunch at Cochon Dingue, poutine for the hubster, and a seafood gratin in the cutest cast iron pan for me. Don’t my arms look long?

Shazama-bama diggity-pop! I love my life!

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Happy Monday from a stop at Blackbird Distillery in Brookville on our way to the Kinzua Bridge this past Friday. It’s a blink and you might miss the turn (we did the first time by) but definitely worth the trip. What a hoot! The man in charge was utterly hilarious and highly knowledgeable about every product Blackbird makes and sells, which includes moonshine in a myriad varieties, sauces, pickles, smoked meats, cheese, and more. Everything we tried was terrific. We came home with a t-shirt for the hubster, a bottle of the Lemon Drop Corn Shine (delicious!), beef jerky, and the best jar of pickles since moving to Pennsylvania. Spicy!

When it was built in 1882, the Kinzua was the tallest railroad bridge in the world. Though it only held that title for two years, it remained in commercial service for another 77, and later became part of the state park that bears its name. In a rather unfortunate turn, much of the bridge was destroyed by a tornado during restoration work in July of 2003, the twisted remains more akin to toothpicks than steel and a heady reminder of the fierce power of nature. At 301 feet, it’s a looong way down from what is now called the skywalk. Though I do not consider myself to be afraid of heights, it took all the courage I could muster to walk across the glass viewing panels. Eek!

Oh, and should you make the trip, be sure to stop by Stroup’s Maple Syrup, just down the road apiece from the park entrance. Harvested and processed right there! If you are lucky, you’ll be greeted by Skippy the Jack Russell Terrier, who very much likes pets from strangers.

The beautiful light in and around what might be the the handsomest cabin in the woods, and the sad source of our misses. Part of the Gateway Lodge, we’d planned on staying two nights and breakfasting at their cozy restaurant. Our first disappointment arrived when we learned at check-in that the lodge and its restaurant would be closed for a private party the whole of the weekend. Well, bummer, but we’re easy going and not about to let that get us down, and the cabin has a kitchen, so we’ll buy some breakfast provisions at the cute market down the way. Problem solved. Then came the unfortunate assault when we opened the cabin door. Mildew, potent and unpleasant. We opened windows, built a fire, and sat on the porch sipping our newly purchased shine to give it time. The sad truth was that nothing we could do would get rid of the odor or our disappointment. So we got a refund (which they were very kindly about) and drove home.

Thankfully it was only a couple of hours away and during the dreamy hours of the setting sun. And then a strange apparition, the glow of row upon row of tents, hundreds, maybe even thousands of them, right off the highway, like something out of a dream. We wondered and speculated at the largeness of it. What could it be? Our answer would have to wait for an internet connection.

The Pennsic War. A large living history group, gathering annually in numbers around the 10,000 mark, entirely dedicated to the Middle Ages “as they ought to have been.” Everyone in period attire, with battles and other challenges and the earning of war points. It all sounds quite interesting and organized, the Renaissance Fair on steroids, but, sadly, an entirely private event. The only method for observing is to become a member. Wait, I found a video. Fascinating!

 Yet another dazzler at the butterfly bush! A Monarch, I think.

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Marvelous light of spring and new wingback chairs, I love their acid green, tall backed comfort, perfect for reading and nodding off. There’s a new lamp on the way, a replacement for the one on the right, which will be quite at home in the T.V. room. Then, and only then, will it be ready for your eyes. The dining room fixture is new and  already well loved. The table, our first piece of grown-up newlywed furniture, and thusly clocking in at more than twenty years old, was a desk for ages but is a table once again. Shuffle-shuffle-shuffle. Let’s make the most of what we have, shall we? One fine breezy day, we will open the windows and paint the walls that perfect shade of white.

 

Spring is on the verge, with budding trees and blossoming crocus and snowdrops, too. Our first Pittsburgh spring! So often, I think of how improbable this all was one year ago. Pittsburgh and a 109 year old house, my Grandmother gone, the cats too, how quickly a life can change!

Strolling the South Side Flats yesterday afternoon. A precocious teen, spying the hubster’s rather fashionable spectacles, asked, “Are you a hipster?” We laughed, and I said that we’re probably far too old and nerdy for such declarations, before discussing cameras and skateboards and money, and he wished us a blessed day. These are the moments that enrich our lives.

The bright sun belies a bitterly cold wind. We walked quickly, hands deep in our pockets, wishing for warmth in between a fabulous lunch at La Palapa and treats at The Milkshake Factory. Zooming off to our next destination, we played what the hubster and I not-so-fondly call the Pittsburgh Slalom, a.k.a. dodging pot holes. Jeepers!

Greetings from Mt. Washington! My Grandma Frances lived in Pittsburgh as a girl and relayed such fantastical tales of the funicular and uber-super steep hills that they screamed fiction. Even these photos do such little justice to the city’s rolling and rollicking hills. Alas, you truly have to visit to believe it (our guest room will be ready soon!). Grandma lived somewhere near the Duquesne (dew-cane) Incline, and I cannot help but look for traces of her as I wander the nearby streets, decades and decades after her departure. Was this her church? Did she live in this house? Did she scramble, bare-legged and laughing, up this old tree? I don’t suppose I will ever know, which saddens me some.

Our neighborhood lies just beyond the top most bridge in the photo above. And in the photo just above that, on the left, is the PPG Building (Philip Johnson, Architect), my favorite in the Pittsburgh skyline, just in case you were wondering.

More marvelous murals to add to my collection and a sharp-edged building, too, circa 1893. The history in this town!

See you later, alligator. Don’t be an April fool…

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