Tuesday, September 15, 2009

here kitty kitty

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!

Monday, September 14, 2009

osaka castle park

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.

i'm in osaka

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!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the ghost of my old cat

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.

Monday, September 7, 2009

trip to vandergrift, ford city, and crooked creek

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.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

look what i bought at crafts n'at!

I got lots of very cool handmade stuff from super nice local folks at Crafts N'At, organized by the Pittsburgh Craft Collective. Really, I could have bought something from every single vendor.

Earrings from Rockyn Robyn.Screenprinted tee and screenprinted notebook from Garbella.Framed fabric from The Point Needlecraft and Fabric Arts.Bag from Jilsy Designs.
It occurred to me only after I got home that everything I bought either had birds, flowers, or both!

Friday, September 4, 2009

crafts n'at

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.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

i kept him

And I love him.

where the love is

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.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

it's my birthday!

Today I'm 36!

It sounds old, but I've never been happier. I wouldn't go back to my 20s for anything. I think this is why I'm so happy: [archived, condensed version...too long before!]

1. I don't have children. I prefer my kids to be of the furry, four-legged type. To each her own!

2. My life with Dave is still fun. It's like we're still dating after 10+ years.

3. I'm helping animals. Now I just need to get Dave to agree to let me rescue some goats and chickens and have them as backyard pets, and I'll be good to go.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

over the weekend

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.