I'm retiring this blog and starting a new one. Details soon! My last post on this blog is for this year's Halloween.
Every year, my family in Monongahela spends months decorating their property with displays for Halloween. It started small, as something to get trick-or-treaters down to the dead-end part of the street where they live. It's evolved over the years, and this year they set up more than 70 displays! At night, with hundreds of lights, fog machines, and creepy music, it's really something to see.
Osaka Castle Park is filled with stray cats, but they run from me when I call them. I wondered if it was because I wasn't speaking their language, so I asked some Japanese people here at the hotel how I say "here kitty kitty" in Japanese. They looked at me like I was crazy. Then they laughed (politely of course--everyone is exceptionally polite here). Then they said that no one does that here.
Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I realize I was the only person in the park (and there are many early morning exercisers there) calling to the cats. If I was a crazy cat lady back home, I'm sure people really think I'm crazy here!
Osaka Castle Park, adjacent to my hotel, is huge and filled with walking paths meandering through pretty gardens. This morning I took a walk through at sunrise. There were a lot of elderly people doing a tai-chi-type dance right in front of the castle, and others praying at shrines and temples. Later in the day I went back and saw more of the park. Here are a few photos; see more on my Flickr page.
Despite the flight being long, it was probably the best flight I ever had because I was in first and business class. I'm spoiled for life. I never knew they treat first class passengers like royalty. I was treated to hot washcloths to wipe my hands; unlimited wine with lunch; really good food; frequent snacks; constant drink refills; a goodie bag with lotion, a toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs, and an eye mask; comfy socks and slippers; and seats that recline the whole way. Nice!
I also saw four good movies: Star Trek (I've never seen the TV show, but I enjoyed the movie), Easy Virtue, The Soloist, and the funniest movie I've seen in a long time, The Hangover. I laughed the whole way through--absolutely hilarious!
When I wasn't eating, sippin' on gin and juice, or watching movies, I had a good book to read, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. So, the flight was much better than I expected!
This photo is the view of Osaka Castle from my hotel window. The grounds are adjacent to the hotel. I didn't sleep much on the plane, and with the time difference, I was getting in at about 4 a.m. East Coast time. So I had the strength to only take this photo, and then I crashed into bed immediately.
Of course, I woke up at 1 a.m. wondering when it would be OK to get out of bed and managed to lay there until about 4 a.m. So here I am. I have some things to do for work today, but I hope to see some sights too. The conference starts Wednesday, but our main day of preparation is tomorrow. More later!
Last summer when Elsie came to live with us, two very strange things happened in our house over a few weeks. They were definitely caused by a ghost or something supernatural--no doubt! My mom thought maybe it was the ghost of Zephyr, whose ashes sit in an urn on my bedroom dresser. Zephyr was our first cat and was awesome. He was never very happy about other cats that came to live with us. Maybe Zephyr was upset that I brought another cat into the house. Maybe. After those two things happened, nothing happened again...
...Until this morning. I was in the kitchen and heard a crazy loud thud and looked down the hall to see Grubble sailing through the air, over the stair banister, and into the dining room. He hadn't leaped--his body was going sideways. I ran in to see if he was OK. He was, but was very obviously bewildered and slunk around for some time looking up the stairs as if to see what the hell happened. Could the ghost of Zephyr be back, upset now that we have Rasputin? I hope not...I still love Zephyr and think about him often. Photo, one of my favorites of Zephyr, from Dave. Blog post title stolen from a new song by Jason Lytle, Ghost of My Old Dog.
After watching Rick Sebak's fantastic new show Right Beside the River on WQED (about places and things beside our rivers), we decided to take a trip 40 miles northeast from Pittsburgh to Vandergrift. Situated on the Kiskiminetas (Kiski) River, Vandergrift had the largest sheet steel mill in the world in the early 20th century. In 1895, Apollo Iron and Steel decided that providing their workers with good housing and a good community would make them more loyal and productive, so they hired the same architect who designed New York City's Central Park, Olmsted, to design a new town called Vandergrift. Today there are still a number of businesses in its business district (our favorite was a magic store), but it was nearly deserted when we were there--likely because everyone was at the Labor Day celebration at a nearby park.After Vandergrift, we decided to check out Crooked Creek Lake Park, a dam, lake, and park built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as one of 16 flood control projects in their Pittsburgh district. This is Tunnelville Beach, which was surprisingly empty for a holiday weekend. Heading back, we stopped briefly in Ford City. It was a cute little town with a shady public park, a biking trail next to a huge abandoned mill, and this mostly intact Mail Pouch ad painted on the side of a building.
This Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Union Project, local folks will be selling their handmade wares at Crafts N'At. Should be awesome! I hope to come home with some cool new stuff and to meet all the nice folks I've talked with on Twitter.
The North Side. That's what I found out last night from a bunch of North Siders who were out at The Park House celebrating someone's (Daniel...?) birthday. They were a lot of fun. Randi (sp?) told me: "If you remember only one thing from tonight, remember this: The North Side is where the love is." I remembered!
D asked me if I wanted to do more Rumple Minze shots tonight. He's so funny.
Friday we went to see Great Lake Swimmers play a free show at Schenley Plaza in Oakland. It was good--would have been great if it weren't for all the little kids running around. Not a fan of romper-room settings.Saturday we went to the Sprout Fund's Hothouse in Bakery Square....where we had to wait in line for food and drink along with the other 3,000 people there. Ugh. (I wasn't the only one complaining.) By the end of the night, we could go right up and get drinks--but at that point, the only thing left was spiced rum. Here's me in my dress I bought in San Francisco with Kate.Sunday our families came over to our house to see our new garden. We cooked out, then they sang happy birthday to me. Dave posted a great photo of our nephew Justin here.
Sprout Fund's Hothouse event is this Saturday. This will be my first time, and I'm dragging Dave with me. I'm looking forward to the event itself and also seeing a lot of friends. Tickets include unlimited food and drinks all through the event, a bunch of bands, and Sprout-supported community-based projects. I planned on wearing my teetering platform heels with my vintage dress I bought with Kate in San Francisco, but a note on the website advises to "wear sensible shoes." The heels are not so sensible, but I can't exactly wear flip-flops with the dress. Time to raid my shoe stash!
This week I went to a friend's house for dinner after work, so I drove in. This is the view of backed-up traffic on Fifth Avenue right before the intersection with Penn Avenue. Driving to and from work in rush hour traffic seems like a particularly awful form of self-torture. Why do people do it? I'm happy I don't. My bus/bike combo commute suits me just fine. The bike ride home is fun, it takes 15 minutes less time than riding the bus home, and I don't have to deal with traffic like this.
Rasputin goes to the Animal Rescue League Wednesday night for adoption. You can see that he is extremely attached to me. He came in as a hissing, growling stray, likely with little contact with people. He's such a sweetheart now. I want to keep him so much my heart aches when I think about having to take him in. But...if he's gone from a semi-feral into this sweet lovey-dovey guy, then I guess my job as a foster mom is done...and he needs to go to his permanent home. But it won't be easy to give him up.
I love festivals. We go to the North Side Summer Celebration every year at St. Boniface Church (right beside 279 North). There's standard carnival food mixed in with buttery dough-and-cabbage treats like pierogies and haluski, delicous home-baked desserts that cost next to nothing, games, rides, raffles, slots, and entertainment (Johnny Halo and the Angels...every single year!) More than that, I love the down-home, community feel. This past weekend was perfect weather for the festival. In this photo, you can see Downtown in the distance.