It’s been a long while…yadda, yadda, yadda. I turn to politics of the land of Lebo today. Apparently I am sadly represented by pro-lifer Tim Murphey, (R-18) who has decided it is a good idea to sponsor the bill HR-3, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Mr. Murphey thinks it is time to turn back the clock to a time where to abortions were limited to the privileged few who could pay to travel far and wide for their healthcare. This bill includes restricting any federal involvement in abortions even when there is incest of a minor, when someone is drugged, or physically impaired. Nothing; no exceptions. It extends beyond restricting Medicare. It also disallows women from using their HSA’s for abortion. Somehow they seek to redefine rape to mean that of “forcible rape.” In past years, I worked as a social worker. I have worked as a rape crisis counselor, at a domestic violence shelter, and with many adolescent children who were victims of incest. I have held the hands of women who have been raped. Many of them were children, most all poor. Under this bill, they go unprotected. I cannot imagine explaining to any one of them should they become pregnant, “I am sorry, but the government feels you will have to carry this pregnancy to term unless you have the cash in hand right here, right now. There will be no help offered to you.” I would urge Mr Murphey to look any one of them in the eye and tell them straight to their face why he feels this is in their or society’s best interest! In the words of one of my wise Facebook friends: “Makes it look like the GOP has a grand plan, with this proposal dovetailing perfectly with their absurd resistance to public healthcare. Keeping people on Medicare and then controlling abortion through that plan doesn’t seem like a coincidental alignment…” I thought that the republicans were concerned with jobs and getting the economy back on track. Guess not! It looks as though they are more interested in their narrow minded self-interest of enacting draconian laws turning back the clock on women’s rights. Make no mistake; these bills seek to chip away at the hard-earned protections that women have fought for.
I urge constituents of Mr Murpehy to contact him; I did.
Phone: (412) 344-5583 Fax: (412) 429-5092;
504 Washington Rd. Pittsburgh, PA 15228).
Phone: (202) 225-2301 Fax: (202) 225-1844
322 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Hello my lost and lonely blog! Can you tell it’s wintertime in PGH? I admit to voluntarily going into hibernation through the winter and that means, I have only a few outings to report. My bathroom project consumed me through the darkest and coldest of days. Thankfully, it is now fully complete. We have three beautifully tiled, (no carpet in sight!), bathrooms with working plumbing. I have to give a major shout-out to Snyder Remodeling; these guys did amazing work! Hooray!
It has been downright cold here in the ‘burgh. While Luna forces me out to Bird Park for a daily trek, I have been mainly sticking close to home. It is a home that I am growing to love though, as daily it becomes more and more my own. We had some great friends join us from Columbus for New Year’s eve and we are fortunate that they actually enjoy re-arranging furniture and have a great eye for detail. So, thanks to Judson & Cara, my living room is looking A-plus!! The kids have ventured down into the park quite a few times for some super sledding experiences, as well as to ice skate at the Mt Lebo rink. This is where Pittsburgh has C-bus beat, hands-down! The hilly terrain makes for some killer rides!
Kevin and I did manage a recent date to the Southside, where we checked out Yo Rita. Divine is this place! I sampled the potato and the seared tuna tacos, mmmmmm! I love the tattoo insignia on the storefront window and the spare decor of the interior. The food was fresh and inventive. We will be frequent visitors I do believe!
Somehow, my hatred of winter has bonded me to some other recent transplants to the area. I have befriended a few peeps from California. We generally huddle inside over coffee and dream of warmer days. I realize that they at least have an excuse to be depressed that they have seemingly moved to the Arctic circle. I, a Midwesterner through and through, have no excuse; other than I feel I was somehow born to the wrong place. I am not winter hardy. (Are you picking up on a theme here?) Still, one cannot endlessly sit at home, lest one wish to re-enact scenes from The Shining. So, I have re-discovered the wonder of the Mt Lebanon public library. I have been devouring books and dutifully recording them in goodreads.com. The Book Cellar in the library is run by a new pal of mine and offers great selections from 50 cents to the “high-priced” $2.00. I will be assisting this Friday at their “Two-bit Sale.” You cannot beat a warm fire, a blankie, and a pile a books you purchased for 50 cents!!
Our little family has been in the spirit of celebrating the holidays in our new home and seeing the sights and sounds of PGH. Here is a sad little pictorial tour thus far. I say “sad” because my dutiful camera had a run in with a ceramic tile floor. I thought I had it fixed, but later realized that it was sadly on life support. We bid adieu just today. So, I apologize in advance for the state of my photography, but I couldn’t resist trying to eke out a few more photos while I wait for my new camera. You can almost see the devolution of my camera as time goes on. Sigh.
There is a lot to do during the holidays in PGH. Our season began early when the kids and I headed uptown Mt. Lebo for Light Up Night. We sipped hot cocoa while Bitsy and Bella (the horses) pulled us on a carriage on a tour of Washington Rd. while we awaited the Lebo tree lighting. There we took in a holiday bell concert and watched Santa roar in a fire truck. Phipps Conservatory stays open until 10 PM to display their holiday foliage and decor. We were lucky to arrive on a night when they offered free samplings of the Nutcracker. Last night, we attempted to ice skate downtown at PPG place, but the two hour line was a deterrent for my non-winter-hardy brood. Instead, we took in the Columbus Blue Jackets/Penguins game from inside the warmth of Primantis while viewing the holiday display at Market Square. (We had an interesting debate as to whom we should root for!)
Today we went to the Holiday Open House of the Nationality rooms at the Cathedral of Learning, which is the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh. If you ever get a chance to view these rooms, take it, especially during a guided tour. The Cathedral is home to 27 Nationality Rooms, twenty-five of which are working classrooms, on the first and third floors. Each nationality room is designed to celebrate a different culture that had an influence on Pittsburgh’s growth, depicting an era prior to 1787 which is year of the University’s founding. Each of the rooms was decorated for the open house to represent a holiday tradition for that particular culture. Visitors were treated to a costumed guide within each room who explained details of the room’s origin and information about the holiday. For instance, we learned about Kwanza, the origin of the Christmas tree, and Chinese New year. There were also continuous dancing exhibitions in the main hall, as well as many food and craft vendors. Ethan enjoyed a samosa while watching an Irish Step dance. Ava sampled Chinese fried rice after taking a lesson in Japanese origami. I dined on some Iranian cuisine amidst a traditional Greek folk dance. Ah, multi-culturalism. This beat sitting home watching Steelers football, hands-down! Sadly, this was the day my camera flat-lined completely, so I was unable to capture the magnificence of the rooms. I did snap some pics on my meager little cell phone.
No matter which holiday you choose to celebrate, I wish you all the wonder and joy of the season! Stay out of the malls and explore instead!
I am getting a little slower with my blogging. The contractor is due to come any day now to update our bathrooms and I have been scurrying about in an attempt to gather the needed materials. I am still woefully behind. It would be easier if we were doing a complete gut of the bathrooms, but we are attempting to save the glass tile that is already here and is original to the house. These tiles are no where to be found. I bought some at Construction Junction, which is a totally fabulous and environmentally friendly re-sale store. It is a huge warehouse filled with antique fixtures, old tile, hardware, marble counter tops, etc. However, they have miserable lighting in these cavernous warehouses. I thought the tile I purchased was the creamy white that we have in one of the baths. Nope; it is a very light gray. Such a subtle difference, but held next to one another, clearly different. At any rate, these are the wondrous things that have been occupying my brain lately.
I did get one small break from bathroom repair bliss last Friday when one of my BFF’s came for a PGH visit. Ms. Carrie and famille ventured down from Cleveland for 24 hours. I love my Carrie and the fun she brings with her! We packed it all in too. I took the kids, all 5 of them, to Ava’s school carnival, Markham Magic. The kids had fun running from classroom to classroom playing “educational” games, such as sinking a piece of faux poo in an inflatable toilet, and getting sugared up. Once returned, we all dined on take out from Sesame Inn, (just like old times, our Chinese take out nights!) Finally the grown ups got a chance to step out to the Saloon in uptown Mt. Lebanon. This place was packed; “I had no idea people actually went out after dark anymore!” Of course, they all were between the ages of 21 and 31, it appeared. We quickly located the senior section to the back of the room and had a blast attempting to relive our youth. The next morning, Carrie and I walked while I decided that they needed to experience a Primanti’s Bros. sandwich. Since they had to leave in late afternoon, I didn’t think heading to the Strip on busy Saturday was such a great idea. I thought I’d seen one located in South Side Works and found what I thought was the area’s Primanti Bros on my GPS, whose name is Stella. We all loaded up in two vehicles: four adults, five children and one dog, (yes, even the dog came along!) If you’ve ever attempted to coordinate these types of trips, you’ll know what a production this can be. Well, Stella got us to the South Side ok. This is where things got tricky however, as the streets start going every which way and that and I can never tell exactly which one she intends for us to travel. Of course, I chose the incorrect avenue. She is really quite snippy when this occurs. At this point the girls start complaining about how hungry they are and that the trip is taking too long. “Whining always makes these outings so much more fun!” We turned around several times before I located a Primanti Bros Blues Cafe. Hmmm…this seemed a bit off. I peered inside to note two hipsters drinking only beer and no food. I looked back at our brood and calculated that this was the wrong one. So back to the car. I re-programmed Stella to take us to the next closest Primanti Bros; it did state it was only 1.2 miles. We drove off following her lead. Stella announced “Arriving at destination.” in her best haughty British accent. Yet somehow we were in an alley in downtown PGH with nary a restaurant nearby. The phone kept ringing from the grouchy men behind us and the girls kept whining. Pressure was mounting. Finally I answered the phone to be told that the boys were truly car sick and needed to stop at once. OK already! I noted we were next to Station Square somehow; so we crossed the bridge and alit there. Now, I think at one time Station Square was a cool place to hang out. Nowadays, it appears to me to be a bit of a tourist trap. Well……my friends never got their Primanti’s sandwich, but instead drove to the ‘burg to eat at a Hard Rock Cafe. I promised them if they’d come back, I’d take them to an Applebees!
P.S. I realize now that we were at the correct South Side location and that it is not just a bar and does serve food. Whoops! Sorry!
The past two days have been fall break for Ethan and Ava. This is good as I think we need to spend some time detoxing from our trick-or-treat sugar high. The weather has turned downright chilly and we even saw some frost early Monday morning. I don’t think I am ready for this. I fear these Pittsburgh winters I keep hearing about. You know, the one that afforded us an entire new slate roof on our home due to the fact that last winter took the former one down completely. YIKES!
The kids and I decided to pay a visit to the National Aviary, which is located on the North Shore. It is surrounded by a beautiful area that is the Allegheny Community College. The buildings have this incredible Gothic architecture. Nearby are the Mexican War Streets. The row houses are incredible. The Aviary is a sweet place. We took in a great bird show, where they featured birds from around the world and regions of the US. They ended the program with a short video that portrayed the haunting photography and images of oil-soaked gulls in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. There was not a dry eye in the place.
Today is election day. It was my first time voting as a Pennsylvanian. I felt very out of my element as the names and politics are as yet unfamiliar to me. I have been an active campaign volunteer in Ohio for many years and knew my way around local and state politics fairly well. Some noted differences here were that PA does not allow early voting or “no excuse” absentee voting. I also observed politicking right up to the entry of the polling stations. This was formerly a no-no in Ohio, (they may have changed this by now.) I don’t mind the campaigning and chuckled to hear the impassioned arguments ensuing right outside the poll on Ava’s school playground. Yet, I can see how it’d be a major turn-off for some and intimidating for others. I think the rule of distance is a good one overall. I also never received my “I voted today” sticker. Come again!?! This is like a gold star for grown-ups! At any rate, I awarded myself my own reward when I returned home and pinched a Reese cup from the kid’s Halloween stash.
I sure hope this election goes better than predicted. I wonder if folks recall that the last time a Democrat was president, (Bill Clinton), and the GOP took over the house, they shut down the government entirely. I am fairly certain that the tea partiers will be nothing but obstructionists, (they have ran on this promise after all.) This time, however, our country can ill afford inaction. Yes, I am showing my politics here…..it is my blog, afterall. My philosophies are probably far more left than most people would suspect. But, I recognize that most of the country is moderate. I think the middle is good. My mantra is, “there is happiness in the middle.” This applies to about anything you do in life, I think. I am a Liberal. (I never really understood why this is a bad word. I am proud of it. If you’re a conservative, then that is your thing. In general, no one thinks of this word as a pejorative.) The reason I vote this way is that I feel that just because something is good for me or my family, does not make it necessarily good for all. Others may require different strategies to achieve quality of life. It’s Jon Stewart’s analogy of a traffic jam, “you go, then I go.” When we allow different pieces to achieve success, we become stronger and better as a whole. Taking down different groups to promote one’s own self-interests exclusively only results in weakness in the end. Anyway, this is my ever so humble opinion. I promise to step off my soap box and return to the normally scheduled program in the future. Happy voting day and good luck Ohio and Pennsylvania! I am rooting for you both.
Halloween weekend came to Mt. Lebanon. Like Bexley, it is a community that likes to celebrate the holiday. Ava had her party at Markham elementary. There were no costumes or candy there, however. (Wha!?!) Ethan, being in middle school, did not have Halloween school celebrations. Though, they did celebrate the end of their WWII unit with a day of games, costumes and treats designed around the time period. I assisted here by pouring gobs of soda, (specifically Cherry Coke, which was an invention of the time), for the sixth grade. The kids looked amazing in their 1940′s period costumes while they jammed out to “This Land is Your Land” and the like. Ethan made himself a naval officer and looked brilliant!
Saturday, we headed uptown for the Halloween parade. Luna dressed for the occasion and though her dignity may not have been held intact, she received much attention and compliments. The parade was fabulous, complete with marching bands, costumed firemen, and Girl Scouts. Even Santa Claus himself made an appearance. I must say, he threw out the best candy which I quickly appropriated for myself, claiming the “mom tax.” We ran into many neighbors, the sun was shining, and we even hit an estate sale on the walk home. We nabbed a great old metal flower stand for $15.00. We ended our day by heading out to South Side. We drove down Carson Street and passed by a very cool area complete with many restaurants, bars, antique shops and galleries. There were many college aged students out and about, dressed in vampy looking costumes. This area was hopping. We’d intended to go to Fat Heads, which serves up a great microbrew. Yet, those pesky young folks in their barely-there Halloween costumes and public drunkenness deterred us. I sighed over our youth passed by, wishing we could partake, but I think that day has passed now with two kids in tow. Instead we drove further east to the South Side Works area, which is an Easton-like shopping mecca. We dined at Emilianos Mexican Bar and Grill. We shopped at H & M, REI, and Joseph Beth Book Co.
Halloween day arrived. Allow me a brief aside to state how excited I am to actually celebrate Halloween on it’s actual date. Central Ohio celebrates only on a weekday and NEVER on Halloween. Their reasoning is never to conflict with OSU football and to avoid crime, which never really made sense to me. Also, Mt Lebanon times trick-or-treat to occur in darkness. This never happened in Bexley. I love the new/old rules. Ethan, dressed as the Charley Brown ghost, headed out first to meet up with two neighbor boys to scour the area streets for all things good and sugary. Next, Ava’s new BFF from class arrived. She, her friend and her dad vacated the house to fill their bags as well. In my old neighborhood, we dressed up, we shared a few libations while handing out gobs of candy. I got costumed up and prepped with my annual traditional batch of vegetarian chili and a glass of vino. However, trick or treat, Mt, Lebo style was a bit of a bust for me. While the rest of the city is running out of candy and whooping it up, I sat here with me, myself and I. There were no neighbors in sight. I soon realized why. My doorbell rang all of three times and once was my son wanting me to let him in. I soon felt very ridiculous in my witchy get-up and drink in hand, all alone. I do mourn the times spent with my old pals on Dale and our wine-soaked Halloween fest. Such a pity. Next year, I am going out with the kids, whether they like it or not!