Tuesday, September 19, 2017


My writing dry spell continues.  So I must impose upon my dear readers this preservation of what my husband calls The Family Anals, that is, various conversations recorded for Common Household Posterity. 

* * * * * *

I was impressed when Younger Daughter effortlessly used the word “epistolary” in reference to an English paper she wrote about an epistolary novel.  But my husband hadn’t heard it yet, and I wanted her to impress him, so I prompted her.
Me, to Younger Daughter:  Use the word “epistolary” in a sentence.
YD, taken off guard: Um, “The novel was written in epistolary format.”
Husband, solemnly: “He carried an epistolary on each hip as he strode into battle. He was ready….
YD:  Ready to write letters!
Husband: He fired off six words before anyone could blink an eye!  “It was the best of times.”
YD:  “It was the worst of times,” they fired back!
Husband:  The bullets were filled with wit.

* * * * * *

Me:  I think YD is dissecting a pig today.  A fetal pig.
Husband:  It’s going to be a cutting edge day.
Me: I think you can save the Dad jokes for when the kids are here.

* * * * * *

Husband, trying to impress the kids with how hard it was for us in our college days:  We had to write before writing was even invented.  I had to use a typewriter that didn’t even plug in.

* * * * * *

Husband, reading the newspaper:  Here’s one thing I find difficult to believe.
Me, bursting out laughing:  Just one thing?

* * * * * *

YD: What if there was a service to help super-villains get vengeance?
Husband: What if Superman could hire a hit man?
Me:  You are NOT helping to restore my faith in the universe.

* * * * * *

September 8th, in the morning, we are getting ready for work.  In the past ten days the United States has endured several massive hurricanes in the south and horrendous wildfires in the west.
Me:  In addition to all the other crap going on, there has been a large earthquake in Mexico this morning.   It’s time to start wondering if Armageddon is coming.
Husband:  Well, at least Son finished his college education before it gets here.
Me, looking in my underwear drawer:  At least I got all my bras washed in time.
Husband:  Yes.  So you can stand before the Angel Gabriel in a clean bra.

* * * * * *

Me, reading The Jewish Chronicle weekly newspaper:  The ceremony of redemption of the firstborn donkey will be performed at the Hillel Academy.
Husband:  They better leave my ass alone.

* * * * * *

Husband is hunting through the newspaper for news about the state going broke.   He says, “I don’t see anything in here about the state budget… unless you count the obituaries.”

* * * * * *

That last one just about says it all.  The state budget is dead, once again. Our main empty-nest activity is reading the newspaper aloud to each other. The civilized world itself seems to be hurtling downhill.   We’d better be praying hard to redeem our asses. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Field

In memory.

The September 11th memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Recognition of Flight 77 at  Pentagon

The field

Recognition of Flight 175 at 2 World Trade Center

In memory of two precious children
Dana Falkenberg and Zoe Falkenberg
and their father Charlie Falkenberg,
husband of Leslie Whittington
who all gave their lives that day
on Flight 77 at the Pentagon.
All friends of my brother.

In memory of Leslie Whittington,
wife of Charlie Falkenberg and
mother of Dana Falkenberg and Zoe Falkenberg

Love must prevail, somehow.
Photos taken in April 2017.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Today the Common Household Husband and I crossed the river into town and ate food.  But not just any food.  We went on a food tour in Lawrenceville, a section of Pittsburgh with a history. 

Burgh Bits and Bites began the tour by handing us
a bottle of water - an excellent way to start.

We started at Salonika, a Greek grocery store/caterer at 35th and Smallman St. We had a tasting of bruschetta, some deliciously creamy feta on greens, and true Greek yogurt with honey.  There were huge vats of olives and olive oil in this place.  The décor was gritty, the hosts were welcoming, and I felt right at home.

Fortified, we sauntered up to Butler Street.  We passed by a building that back in 1888 used to be the stable for a mortuary.  It is now the upscale home for architect and design firms. There is a restaurant where the mortuary used to be.  Regentrification has plusses and minuses in this neighborhood.  But our tour was about food, not economics or politics so just put regentrification angst right out of your mind.  
Click to enlarge so you can see the horsehead,
which commemorates the horse-drawn
hearses that used to be in this building.

Design group does good works, in a
regentrified sort of way.
We passed a building that used to be the bath house for all the steel mill workers.  It dates to the early 20th Century.  Workers paid a nickel for a shower, and a dime for a bath.  Women and children of the working class usually could afford to bathe only once a week, and shared the bath water with the rest of the family.  Hearing this did not deter us from enjoying our next tasting.

I think the word “tasting” is a regentrified word.

We moved on to Senti, an Italian restaurant on Butler Street.  The decor was the opposite of Salonika’s – white and metallic, spotless and sharp.  We each got our own delicious cheese ball, served on a spoon.  I could never hope to cook such a thing at home.
The Almond Joy Cupcake
Immediately following the cheese ball came the cupcake, at a bakery called Bella Christie.  Aside from cupcakes, they have $8 milkshakes, served in these cups that are encrusted with cookies and candy.  The goodies are glued on with icing, so it’s all edible.  Oh, America! Could one person possibly consume so much sugar and not suffer from it?
Sweet-encrusted milkshake cups

Then to the Borelli Edwards art gallery, where there were many excellent paintings of Pittsburgh scenes.  Plus a really large dog: a live, barking one.  I liked the paintings, but not the dog.  The woman showing us around the gallery seemed warm and genuine.  I got the sense that she might not mind too much having riffraff like me come in to look around without any intention of actually buying art.  Except there is a dog.
No photos allowed inside the gallery.  There was some cool
art work in there.
Next came Frankie’s which has a total of four things on its menu: meatballs, kielbasa, hot dogs, and hot sausages.  The hot dogs are foot-longs. We had a tasting of hot sausage on a bun with onions.  Very pleasant people work there.  I can judge this after interacting with them for ten seconds.
Straight from the 1970s, outside and in.
Moving on to Pastitsio’s, another Greek place.  We had spanakopita, which was my favorite food of the day.  We sat in a delightful patio, in the shade of the buildings next door. 
Pastitsio menu.  

The lovely, shady patio

And on to Franktuary for some fried pierogies, filled with cheese and potato, with sour cream on the side.  Pierogies are a Pittsburgh specialty, but they are not my favorite.  Love of pierogies is probably the dividing line between a true ‘Burgher and a pretender like me.  Franktuary gets its décor from a church that closed down.  They also serve franks (obviously) and poutine here, and have a lengthy beer list.
See, even the door at Franktuary is churchy-shaped!

A sacred object in Pittsburgh: the pierogi

The tour guide took us into an antique shop, but I couldn’t stay in there – too sneezy.

Our final stop was at Matteo’s, which served us penne with vodka cream sauce.  This was my husband’s favorite of the tour.  They used real heavy cream in that sauce.  Delicioso.  While we ate, the guide told us about Mr. Rogers' connection to Lawrenceville, and about the Arsenal explosion during the Civil War.

We also appreciated the large glass of cold water served by Matteo's.  
Matteo's restaurant special menu.
Sorry it's blurry.

We waddled to our car, drove home and took a long nap.  I rejoice that I do not have to cook dinner, because we are too stuffed to eat anything else today.

Thus through food I found it possible to forget my weltschmerz (a word which I thank smalltownme for teaching me) for a little while.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Hopeful Sign

An encouraging thing happened to me on Friday.  You can read about it here at this link.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Light of Learning

On Saturday we took advantage of a gorgeous day to walk around Younger Daughter’s future home starting in mid-August: The University of Pittsburgh, fondly known to us as Pitt.

Our purpose: to find the location of all of YD’s classes.  My discovery: Pitt has loads of light fixtures.  My camera thought they were interesting.

A few blocks away from the center of campus

From the bottom of the steps on Forbes, heading up to Holland dorm and Litchfield Towers dorms.

Pitt is a vertical campus.  At the center of campus is the Cathedral ofLearning.  My daughter informs me that “everyone calls it Cathy”.  But I shall call it “Hogwarts.”

WHY is there this little traffic light on the sidewalk
outside the Cathedral of Learning?!

A suitably ancient looking light fixture outside the Cathedral

See - when you go inside, you can tell
 it's really Hogwarts. 

Light fixtures of the Cathedral of Learning Commons Room

The Cathedral of Learning has these “nationality rooms" which are each decorated in the style of a particular nationality. My daughter is going to have a class in The Austrian Room, with these light fixtures!  Just try and concentrate on academics in there, surrounded by all that Austrian glam. 

Chandeliers in the Austrian Room

Outside the Cathedral of Learning

Natural light fixture in the sky

Now we head over to Clapp Hall, where most of the biology classes are.
Regal-looking light fixture outside Clapp Hall

Inside Clapp Hall, the light fixtures are more modern-like.
That's the Common Household Husband and Younger Daughter,
making a rare appearance on the blog.

I forget where this one is. SOOO many light fixtures!

Outside Alumni Hall

A different sort of light

At the front door of Alumni Hall
This might not be an actual light fixture.
We decided to call it
"The Sphere of Influence".

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, and lamp post

Lamp posts on the plaza outside Litchfield Towers

The pedestrian bridge over Forbes Avenue

And finally, the "Forbes Digital Plaza".  I think this looks
more interesting at night, and at Christmas.

Lucem Accepimus, Lucem Demus – “We received light, let us give light”   is the motto of my high school (the oldest extant public all-girls high school in the United States). 

I think that motto could also apply to this campus. 

May the light of knowledge carry YD forward.