Friendship

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On my mind…

I went to my first Superbowl party this weekend, the woman who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about football. It was fun and strange, me wearing a generic orange sweater in a room full of jerseys and true sports fan garb; people who know players and statistics and care about what is happening; people who, mid-sentence, punctuate conversations with long pauses so as not to miss an important play.  We ate and ate, guts busting with tasty vittles, a.k.a. edible provisions, ha! I saw that definition when making sure I had vittles spelled properly because my checker gives it the evil red underline.

The party was at my friends Amy and Don’s house. Amy and I were on the periphery of each other’s lives from middle school forward, and most recently excellent Facebook pals. And Don was one of my dearest friends in high school. We had a free period together and would beg off to some quiet place to read and talk and share secrets. I hadn’t seen him in…I don’t even remember any more, a long time. And it was true and lovely, the old cliche about picking up where we left off, the feeling of immediate comfort in the presence of a friend. I gave him big squeezy hugs to let him know. That’s what I’m about.

The offer on the house we like was accepted, so thank you for the positive thoughts! Since it’s not our first rodeo, we are cautiously optimistic and giddy-leaning, hoping there aren’t any awful surprises once the inspection draws the curtain back on Oz. If all goes well, we close on the 29th, F A S T! Not that it wouldn’t be wonderful. The past year has been such a strange one, with us bouncing around, filmy apparitions uncertain of who and what we are sometimes. How lovely it will be to feel grounded, to make a home, to cultivate a patch of land, practically from scratch. A couple nights since, I have kept myself up late, hatching plans in my head, this tile here, that plant there, everything minimal and clean and neat and nodding toward the southwest. Yeah, that’s it.

 

And a few things, just because:

Do you know about Blank on Blank? Wonderful interviews from famous people, once thought lost, the interviews, not the people, though some are technically lost via death. Anyhoo. They are generally short and wonderfully animated. My faves include Elliott Smith, Louis Armstrong, and Robin Williams, representing wonderful ends of the artistic spectrum.

I’m missing my favorite Pittsburgh massage therapist, Angie Miller, very much as of late. We were kindred spirits and always had a magical time during our sessions. If you’re local and in need, please do yourself a favor and go, go, go!

My friend Whitney Lowe is marveously talented with clay (that’s his work up there) and has a show at the Hatton Gallery at Colorado State. What great luck to get to see him and his beautiful pieces last week! You can see the show for a bit longer, however.

 

Today, this 30th day of December, is our last in Pittsburgh. The house is sold, quiet, and for a short spell, empty. Our car is packed to the gills and ready to roll along home to Colorado. Colorado, where we were born and raised, landlocked anchor to our drifting hearts.

When we are far greyer than we are now, and reminiscing about our life, we’ll gaze at each other and say, “Do you remember that year we lived in Pennsylvania?” We’ll wonder aloud if maybe it was a wild shared dream, the two of us living in what our friends called the mansion, a century-old beauty of red brick, chock full of gleaming wood, stained glass, four fireplaces, and three stories, the top most we rarely visited, save to gaze upon and photograph the sky.

We will, always and forever, be glad for our choice, to have been courageous enough to pick up sticks and live on the other side of the continent and known yet another part of America: the undulating hills, hardwood forests, ravines and deep river valleys; the diversity, having come from the whitest city of Portland; the kind faces of generations of poverty and souls broken by back-breaking labor, giving all they had; the vast brick mansions, museums, and every last vestige of the steel age; the wretched air pollution and ridiculously high property taxes that buy virtually nothing ($7,200 on a $200,000 house!); the road trips to places we had longed to see: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, the New York and Quebec countryside.

We will smile, conjuring the streets of Bellevue: the kids of all ages at the skate park, the fabulous library, the lights at holiday time; the pitch perfect weather and four gloriously distinct seasons; the new vocabulary and that crazy Pittsburgh accent, how we drove sahth on the parkway with a bunch of nebby jagoffs to go aht dahntahn, bought groceries at the Giant Iggle, and watched the STLRS play.

We will remember surviving and thriving during a year of massive grief and wonder: a mother with breast cancer, a cousin with a cancerous brain tumor, a soul broken enough to attempt suicide, the sorrowful loss of our beloved cats and our two grandmothers; the quiet evenings of summer, lying, jubilant and awestruck, under a sky alive and shimmering with fireflies; the hills ablaze with the dazzling colors of fall; having walked and driven, mile after mile, eager and curious, to big places and small spaces, forests and towns, and gotten lost, lost, lost.

We will be glad to have learned more of our own selves, the roots we never knew we had: how living in and amongst the rolling hills and winding roads of Appalachia drove us absolutely mad, and flat cities with grid systems make us as giddy as children with a secret; how we found a gaping hole in our collective soul, one that could only be filled with the nearness of our aging family and the dreamy-big skies, sage scrubland and open spaces, and mountains, giants snow-capped and cloaked in evergreen, of the West; how there was simply no substitute for being T H E R E.

Most of all, we will be grateful to have such marvelously generous and big-hearted Pittsburgh friends: Peggy. Mike. Kristen. Patrick. Dale. Therese. Dan. Janet (times two!). Ron. Megan. Tricia. Jonathan. Andrew. Kelly. Beth. Peter. George. Jordan. Rose. The beautiful women of the Non-Native Pittsburgher Women’s Social Meetup. The Sisters at Bethany House. The creative men and women of my Writer’s Group. The kindly businessmen and women of Bellevue. The cashiers at the Whole Foods in Wexford. To all, we give our love and sincerest thanks.

It was a great and wonderful year. Here’s to an even better 2016!

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A hodge podge of photos, a pack of stray cats…

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A slow amble with friends through the Phipps twinkle lights. Singing. Sparkling conversation. Laughter. The air heady with paperwhites and orchids redolent of Christmas itself. Magic!

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Happy Cyber Monday, peeps! Say hello to my annual Thanksgiving pecan pie, perhaps the most handsome I’ve ever made, and just as tasty, too. That’s me getting ready to push it (in what look like ginormous Doc Martens – I swear I’m a 6.5!) and our other food and beverage contributions down through Brighton Heights in our wacky wagon, so called because one of the wheels requires an occasional swift kick to remain on the straight and narrow. To those observers who may have thought we were treating a swaddled baby unkindly, you’ve been informed. Kristen, our great friend and hostess extraordinaire, mixes her don’t ask don’t tell gravy, which, along with everything else, was delicious and soul-filling. In true Thanksgiving form, I ate too much and lamented the fact that my waistband was not elasticized. Maybe next year…

Friday morning

broccoli and zucchini roasted with smoked paprika and sea salt

spinach salad topped with my favorite egg, caramelized apple, and fennel

The last of the fallen leaves on our front steps.

Under beautiful skies, the wing beats of a murder of crows, and a mere twenty-four hours after Thanksgiving, we feasted, yet again, at The Penn Brewery. The pretzels and cheese were the mere tip of the German-leaning culinary iceberg…mmmm.

Oh, and in true cyber Monday fashion, the kindly folks at Block Island Organics are having a crazy good sale. Get 30% off your entire purchase through tomorrow by entering the code THANKS30.

Heck ya! A real hodge podge today, huh? Have a great week…

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