A funeral, a plumbing disaster, and a minor fire...

It's been a heck of a week. We had airport duty last weekend and spent some lovely time on the Parkway West, shuttling relatives who were in for Grandma's funeral. Soon after my sister arrived, so did the plumber, to unclog our bathroom sink. Unclog it he did, but the pipe broke in the process. Just to make sure that the pipe was really broken, he ran gallons and gallons of water into the sink, until it began pouring down through the living room ceiling, right on the head of my poor, jet-lagged sister, while I shrieked, "it's dripping, it's dripping!!!"

All week, we had to brush our teeth in the bathtub, because the plumber could not return until Friday. To fix the pipe, he had to cut through the living room ceiling and the bedroom wall. And plumbers only break walls, they don't fix them. All you experienced homeowners probably knew this already, but it was news to me. Once everything was hooked up again, he discovered that the pipe Was Still Clogged. He snaked the pipe again, luckily not busting anything in the process, but he did issue an ominous warning..."I got through this time, but I hit something that scares me." Hmmm. So, we might be going ahead and replacing that bathroom sooner rather than later.

After I let the plumber out, I heard Megan in the kitchen shouting "my toast is on fire!" Well, not really shouting, she was remarkably calm. However, her toast really was engulfed in flames. If you ever find yourself in this situation, do not blow on the toast, it will not make the flames go out. It is also not the best time to realize that you do not have a fire extinguisher. Luckily, Megan is brave, and she picked up the whole flaming unit and carried it outside into the driveway, where it would not catch anything else on fire. I have blackened many a piece of toast over the years, but never have I seen bread burn like this. Very strange.

Here's to hoping the next week is not as exciting.


Rest in peace, Gram...

My grandma, Norine McKinley Benzenhoefer, died early Saturday morning after a long illness. She followed this blog closely, and when I visited her last week she asked me what my latest posts have been about. This post is for you, Gram!

I grew up five doors down from my grandparents, and their kitchen table was often a destination to stave off summer boredom. When I think of Grandma twenty years ago, I imagine her drinking tea, with a blue Salada label, the kind that has a little fortune on the back. If I was lucky, she might offer me an oatmeal cookie or a Nilla wafer.

My Gram was never what I would call a "touchy-feely" type, in fact I don't remember ever hugging her until after she got sick, although I know that I must have. But she always asked about what I was doing, and better yet, listened to everything I had to say. She told me about her childhood, which I found fascinating, especially after I moved to Bloomfield, where she had grown up. She told me about her father's dogs, and what it was like when her sisters were small, and all about going to Catholic school (we graduated from the same all-girls, Catholic high school system).

Since M and I moved back to Pittsburgh, Grandma periodically called us to see if we needed furniture. I now have my Grandpa's recliner chair in my living room, along with his reading lamp, and a strange set of golf themed high-ball glasses. I often read at night in her original rocking chair, the first one she had with the low back, that she told me, "wasn't so good for rocking babies", something she spent a good many years doing with five children. She made Grandpa get her a new one with a high back, so she could have something to rest her head against. These are treasured possessions for M and I.

My Grandma showed me what I'm going to look like when I'm old, which I realized when she gave me a framed photo of herself, my mother and me on my wedding day, and it was like looking at one person at three ages. I never thought we looked that much alike, but in that photo, the jaw line, and the eyes are what really makes it.

When I was ten or so, my mom and aunts made me put on her wedding dress for their anniversary party. I know for a fact I could never get into that today...she was tiny back then!

Grandma was pretty tech-savvy for her age, and we exchanged a lot of emails over the years. At first, they made me laugh, because she would write in all lower case letters and keep it very short...like a telegraph. But recently, they grew longer. We "swapped prayers" - her idea - when we were closing on our house and she had a big doctor's visit on the same day. She always, always complained about winter weather, and I think heaven for her will look like the sunny days of late May, when it isn't too hot, but there is absolutely no danger of snow.

Grandma taught me to knit and to crochet, and she passed along her old needles to me. Cousins, if you want a knitting lesson, come on over!


Park Place Supper Club

Last night we attended the Park Place Supper Club and ate way too much delicious food. Emphasis on the way too much and the good. And I decided that I am in love with my neighborhood. I liked it well enough before...you can't beat having the Co-op across the street, Frick Park down the way, easy access to the Parkway, and six bus lines to Oakland. But throw in friendly neighbors who are fantastic cooks, and you have me sold. It's always good to be sold on a neighborhood where you already own a house.

It's also a really different feeling to know I'm going to be here for a long time. Especially in the past few years, we've had the experience of moving frequently (sometimes as frequently as every night!). It's kind of nice to watch the sun come up every morning in the same place.


Steeler Nation

First, a "woo-hoo!" Then, a "shame on you!"

The frenzy of football excitement culminated to hurricane proportions during the last five minutes of the Super Bowl. We shouted. We waved towels. We lit the rally candle, and performed all kinds of superstitious rituals. We ate black and gold food. I have to admit that I did not follow the Steelers much before I moved to Phoenix. Although, I do remember watching Super Bowl XXX with my Grandpa and Aunt DC and my cousins. And my father claims that I participated in the Super Bowl XIII celebrations in utero. In any event, my social life for the last five months or so, has largely revolved around football. So, it's kind of sad to see all these empty Sundays laid out in front of me. But the celebration is not over yet...Mayor SteelerStahl is hosting a parade after all. And apparently jerseys and super bowl t-shirts will be acceptable business attire for the next week or so.

Now, for the admonishment. Shame on you, Pitt students for breaking down the bus stop on the corner of Forbes and Bigelow. Shame on you for smashing up Hillman Library. Shame on you for destroying every bit of landscaping around the Union and
And don't you dare call yourselves part of the Steeler Nation. Youths in other countries hold demonstrations like this when ousting murderous dictators. It is a game. Drink some beer and wave a towel. Take your shirt off and paint your chest. I personally think that Chancellor Nordenberg could send a very strong message by expelling every single student who was arrested on Sunday night. Although, universities are shameless money making ventures, so it is unlikely that any tuition-paying student will be kicked out. But I digress.

Anyway, the point is, it's been great fun watching this team play this year, and nice to be in the city of champions once again.