Mash Up - Please stay tuned for our latest development

We have some plans in place for an awsome supper club extravaganza. Stay tuned.


Animal, Vegetable and a Day Off

Indulging my Slow Living side, I find myself at 10:30 in the morning, still in my pajamas, sitting alongside Rosie the Cat, reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's an uncharacteristically sunny day in Pittsburgh, and my apartment gets fabulous morning light. I highly recommend this book by Barbara Kingsolver.

M and I have made some choices about food and living habits in an attempt to be more healthy for our bodies and less harmful for our planet. But around every corner appears another environmental dilemna. We've been eating vegan for a while, but if we aren't careful about buying local, our grocery bags might as well be filled with oil, for all the energy spent on transporting out-of-season, organic produce from California to Pittsburgh. I started to be much more aware of recycling all newspaper, plastics 1-5, glass, cans, and metal containers, but it would be even better to reuse these items a few times first, before recycling. M and I are aiming for a car-free life, but yesterday, while fixing up an old bike, I had to use mineral spirits to get the chain clean (Simple Green wasn't going to cut it), but how am I supposed to get rid of that? And is pouring it down the toilet a more serious pollution sin that driving my car to dispose of it at the Home Depot? Hmmm...decisions, decisions.


Splish Splash

Happy Spring! Pittsburgh had quite a bit of rain this week. In kindergarten, we read lots of books about spring activities, which mainly seemed to focus on animals jumping on puddles. So, I should not have been surprised when my favorite bus line friend, whose hand I was holding to keep him from impulsively rushing out into the street and getting crushed by a school bus, spotted a puddle and did a flying leap into it, creating a large splash that soaked my shoes and pants.

In other cute kid news, we started the bug unit in science. This involved all the primary teachers receiving boxes marked "perishable" that contained hundreds of squirmy little insects like meal worms. Mmmmm. Needless to say, some of them were feeling a bit squeamish about this. But the kids absolutely love it. Yesterday, two little boys, as they arrived at school, announced that they had worms in their pockets, that they found in the cemetary. But the best part was when they pulled out special presents for their teachers (cookies) from the same pockets. Thanks, kids!


THIS must be the solution....

McKeesport plans to lure prospective homeowners to the area of White Oak by changing the name of the school district. But a rose by any other name....well, you know what I mean.

This is an interesting example that draws out the complexities of education reform. The Mon Valley in general has experienced a decline in population, increase in poverty, loss of jobs, crumbling of the infrastructure and in the cases of Duquesne and McKeesport, some rather scandalous education problems. But what happens in our schools is directly related to things that happen in our communities: property value, crime, taxes, transportation, population shifts, jobs. You cannot adjust one without affecting the others.

I can see where they got this idea. Most people sort of raise their eyebrow and give a nervous cough when I tell them I work in McKeesport. And Penn State recently changed its campus name from McKeesport to Greater Allegheny. But McKeesport, a town that has historical significance for the entire region, not to mention its recreation possibilities with the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail rolling right through it along its rivers, will not be built up by pretending that it's not McKeesport anymore!

This sort of happened with the Friendship neighborhood of Pittsburgh's East End, in the nineties. Not wanting to be identified with East Liberty or Garfield, the neighborhood association pushed for its own borders and name, and the area is indeed experience quite a rebirth.


Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

On Thursday night, we went to the Byham Theater to see the taping of the NPR radio quiz show, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me. Pricey, but worth it. I have not laughed that hard in a long time. They air it on Saturday, so if you tune in, you may be able to hear me.


Drumming, Chanting at the Warhol Museum

Several years ago, packed in a tiny, Central Phoenix music venue, I stood entranced by the drumming and chanting and noodling and jamming of the Akron/Family. I was pretty excited when I found out they were coming to Pittsburgh. In the much more sterile environment of the theater at the Andy Warhol Museum, the Akron/Family seemed to have a little more trouble drumming up audience participation, at least for the first half of the show. Perhaps they were distracted by the giant newborn baby, resting upstairs, glistening with afterbirth. But everybody was into it by the end, and I came away equally excited by the discovery of Megafaun, who played along with them. I do have to say that the sound in the Warhol theater is excellent, but I am not a fan of the seats, especially for shows that start so much earlier than my bedtime. (When I go to something like, say, my brother's band that won't even start playing until midnight, I have to sit down while enjoying the music.) But the opening band went on precisely at 8, and the entire show was over before 11, stopped rather unnaturally by museum staff who turned on the lights before there was even an encore. Oh well, the show still rocked, and I definitely plan to see these guys again.


Happy Springer Day

One Year Ago Today...
I had just spent the day climbing Springer Mountain and was lying shivering, but too exhausted to care, in a tiny purple and green tent right next to Stover Creek. We ate chili for dinner and crawled into bed around 6 pm, as it was getting dark and very cold and we were not sure what thru-hikers were supposed to do in the evenings. I was wondering if the pain radiating through my body was normal, or at least average, or if this venture might actually kill me, and now was the time to turn back. Then I fell asleep.

Alone in my apartment listening to records and feeling very much at peace with myself. The weather was suddenly and unseasonably warm, and earlier, I wandered down Liberty Avenue to Crazy Mocha. My brother just happened to be coming down the street at that exact time, so we had a cup of coffee together. That's what I love about the living in the city....the possibity of just Running Into Someone and grabbing a cup of coffee is very good. M is away in Boston on business, and I'm sure he is learning all kinds of interesting things about coding. I miss him, but we are sort of cosmically connected now, after walking all that way in each other's shoes, so it doesn't feel scary or weird like it once did.

Ahoy, matey!

Today, while waiting for the bus, one of my most challenging kindergarteners climbed up a few stairs, brought his hand to his forehead and intensely glared out over the cafeteria. I thought he was saluting, or perhaps about to take a dive. I went over to him and resisted the urge to yell.

"Ahoy, matey!" he said.

Ahh, he was pretending to be on a boat.

"Ahoy!" I replied, "Are we anywhere near land, captain?"

He squinted his eyes and gave the cafeteria another hard look.

"No," he said, "Not yet."

He looked a bit worried to be so far out at sea.

"You better check in the crew," I told him, "They're getting restless."

"Arrrhhh," he said, as he wandered back to the line.

He is much better behaved as a captain. The only trouble we had until the bus came was when he refused to put on his backpack. ("This is not a backpack, this is my steering wheel!")


Potluck Parties and Why You Should Have One

1. Convenience - you do not have to wait for a national holiday or your birthday, you can hold it any time.
2. Inspiration - it gives you a reason to sample new foods and exchange recipes.
3. No pressure - many parties held today require the purchase of cookware, jewelry, etc., but a potluck is free of order forms and the hard sell.
4. Communion - it is good to break bread with friends.
5. Sobriety - easier to avoid drinking too much or at all, when there is good food to eat.
6. Beauty - a table laden with colorful foods is a sight to behold.
7. Leftovers - people will leave all kinds of stuff at your house.
8. Housecleaning - it's a good excuse to do a thorough one before your guests arrive, and as long as you keep up with the dishes, your house will be just as clean when they leave.
9. Introductions - it's a comfortable way to invite new people.
10. Friendship - never put off spending time with friends and family. Life is precious, and life goes on for a limited amount of time for each of us.