Tag Archives: pittsburgh

In a deep and dark December

Mrs. Poolman and I are staying home this Christmas season. Both our children live here in town, so the most important family is right here.

This is Mrs. P’s year to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It takes a lot of the merriment out of her holiday. Unfortunately, they can’t just send those preemies and other sick babies home with their parents and tell them to bring them back on the 26th.  I’ll take care of Christmas dinner and hand her a vodka & tonic when she walks through the door around 7:30 pm Christmas evening. It won’t make up for having to work the holidays, but it will ease the unhappiness slightly.

We did make a trek north to visit some of my family in Pittsburgh earlier in the month. My father lives there, along with my youngest sister. We picked up another sister, Maggie, along the way and my brother, Dave, and his wife drove over from Mechanicsburg for the weekend. So Dad had four of his five children there for the weekend. The missing sister had visited just the week before.

We arrived in Pittsburgh just as the day-long rain was turning to sleet and ice.

This is the front of my Dad's townhouse. Brrrr!

This is the front of my Dad’s townhouse. Brrrr!

My car is not used to snow.

My car is not used to snow.

By Pennsylvania standards, this was not even a minor inconvenience, but Mrs. P and I were reminded of how happy we are to live in coastal Georgia. I am really glad that many of the people who live in the northern states enjoy it there. Otherwise, things would sure get crowded down here.

Two entertaining flicks from the my hometown

In the midst of our busy social life (note: sarcasm), Mrs. Poolman and I recently watched two decent movies at home. A bit of a surprise in both cases was that they were both shot in my hometown of Pittsburgh.

Jack_Reacher_poster“Reacher,” starring Tom Cruise, was much better than I expected it to be. The biggest surprise was that Cruise absolutely nailed the character of Jack Reacher. This was a surprise, because he doesn’t come anywhere close to fitting the physical description of Jack Reacher in the series of novels by Lee Child. In the books, Reacher is 6’4”, and we all know Tom C is about a foot shorter.

Reacher is a former Army CID officer who turned his back on conventional society when he left the Army. He drifts around the country without a home or job, but always seems to find himself in some situation that needs fixing. Reacher is extremely smart, tough and resourceful. He is very cool, in the same way that Mark Harmon plays a cool Jethro Gibbs in NCIS.

In the movie, based on the Child novel, “One Shot,” Reacher arrives in Pittsburgh to help solve the mystery surrounding a former Army sniper who shot and killed several people, apparently without rhyme or reason. Of course it turns out there was a rhyme and reason; otherwise there wouldn’t be a story.

In any case, this isn’t a flick you are going to see around Academy Awards time, but for a Saturday night rental with a bowl of popcorn, this one was pretty good.

Abduction_PosterA real surprise was “Abduction” with Taylor Lautner (Twilight series) and Lily Collins (The Blind Side.) We picked it up on Netflix last night. The main character, Nathan, discovers his childhood picture on a missing children Web site. So, of course, he and his cute neighbor, Karen (Lily Collins,) pursue it. Rather than turning into a maudlin Lifetime-network chick-flick, which we expected, a hit team shows up at his house, and the chase is on. “Hey Mrs. Poolman, look at what just happened here!”

The plot and overall story is pretty good, but it misses on some of the small points. The acting is nothing to rave about (I understand Taylor was runner-up for a worst-actor award for this movie. I’m not surprised.) , despite a decent supporting cast including Maria Bello, Jason Issac (the evil British colonel in The Patriot), Signorney Weaver and Michael Nyqvist (the Swedish version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.) We were just amazed that after swimming across a river and sleeping in the woods overnight, Taylor and Lily looked like they just walked out of make-up. Abduction 3 w But if you overlook some of the little things, you’ll find that “Abduction” is a pretty entertaining movie.

A great holiday/wedding weekend

We had a great time over Memorial Day weekend. (Yes, I am a little late catching up.) Our neice, Ellen, got married in Greenville, South Carolina. She is my middle sister’s daughter, so the event attracted a large number of my side of the family. I am the oldest of five. All are married, most with grown, or nearly grown, children. We and our cousins are spread all over the eastern half of the country. It’s been this way ever since I first moved away from Pittsburgh to Florida in 1971. While we are not geographically so close that we can call and say “Come on over for Sunday dinner,” we do have a good time when we do get together.

Mrs. Poolman and I took off on Thursday to make it a five-day weekend. Our first big surprise was Greenville itself. It has a very cool downtown. There is a small river with a waterfall cutting right through the middle of town. My sister commented, “You know, we lived here for ten years before we even knew we had a waterfall in downtown.”

Greenville's waterfall

Greenville’s waterfall

Wedding 3w

Brother taking picture of his son and daughter-in-law.

Wedding 4w

(l-r) Girlfriend, Poolboy and Writer Princess

Wedding 5w

Nephew, Mrs. P and myself

The rest of downtown is nicely landscaped, pedestrian friendly, and full of shops and restaurants. We went sightseeing both Friday and Saturday afternoon.  We had a very nice time. Greenville, South Carolina! Who ‘da thought?

In between the scheduled functions and parties, our family had a fairly non-stop party going back at the hotel. We were all in a Holiday Inn Express. At almost any time you could wander through the lobby and find someone to visit with. Lots of fun and laughter, and a fair amount of ethanol.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law's room works just fine.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law’s room works just fine.

I guess I should show at least one picture of the couple. Here is Stan and Ellen, zoning out at the rehearsal.

We all had such a great time, we started looking around at the single children and asked “So who’s next?”

On the road again…

Mrs. Poolman and I are off for our annual (more or less) driving trip to Pittsburgh and other northern locations. We will have visited my father and youngest sister (and family) in Pittsburgh and then head over to Mechanicsburg (near Harrisburg) to meet up with my brother and his gang. We’ll be spending the Memorial Day weekend at their new beach house in Stone Harbor, NJ.

Fortunately, we’ll have a lot of activity at our Savannah house. Poolboy and GF have moved in for the week to care for house, pool and pets, and Writer Princess (daughter) will be in and out frequently.

So far the trip has gone very well. We left Sunday morning and broke the 11 hour drive into two days. We can and have done it in one day, but Mrs. P tends to get cranky on long trips.

“After eight hours in the car, just cut my throat and put me out of my misery.”

Not a lot of subtlety there.

Our overnight at a Holiday Inn in Beckley, WV was very nice. It was a new or, at least, remodeled hotel, and we were upgraded to a suite. Don’t you know that only happens when all you are looking for is just a bed for the night? Oh well.

We have spent the last couple of days visiting with family. I did take Mrs. P to lunch at two Pittsburgh traditions. Yesterday, we took Dad and my brother in law to Primanti Brothers. This is a famous sandwich shop that started in Pittsburgh’s “strip district” and has expanded to a number of suburban locations. You can always spot a Primanti Brothers sandwich. The French fries are on the sandwich, not on the side.

Today, Dad had some doctor’s appointments so Mrs. P and I were on our own. We headed out to one my favorite spots from my high school and college years,  Danny’s Parkway Pizza. This sandwich shop and pizzeria on Route 88 near South Park, invented and perfected the “hot hoagie” (sub sandwich) long before Quiznos and Subway discovered the concept. It’s a “hole in the wall” place on a busy highway, but as expected, the hoagies were great. I wonder what happened to the drive in theater that used to be next door. 🙂

We had a very nice birthday dinner for my Dad (87) at my sister’s house. Mrs. P and I provided and cooked the steaks. Everyone had a good time and Dad seemed to enjoy it. But after the all-afternoon doctor’s visit and then a family dinner, he was pretty pooped.

Tomorrow, we head to Mechanicsburg and then on to Stone Harbor.

 

 

 

A truly uncomfortable experience

My blog friend, Terri, posted a story today describing an awkward conversation with her 18-year old son about his new girlfriend. This reminded me of an incident when I was about his age that was a seriously painful experience.

The summer after my junior year in college in Florida, I returned home to Pittsburgh for my last summer at home. My only serious girlfriend in several years, “Melanie,” was left behind in Gainesville where she was taking summer classes.

About a week after getting home, I walked in the house after work. My parents were sitting in the kitchen and greeted me with:

“We’re glad you’re home. Sit down. We have something we need to discuss.”

Conversations that start that way go only downhill, and this was no exception.

“Karen, your friend from Florida, called a little while ago looking for you. She said that your girlfriend, Melanie, has a COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, and she thinks you ought to get a blood test.”

My mind wasn’t running in the gutter, so I was thinking of diseases like small pox, diphtheria, or some weird tropical thing that no one has ever heard of.

“Really? I wonder what that is all about?”

My mother had the answer. “Obviously she has the CLAP! Have you been SLEEPING with that girl?”

A brilliant 20-year old and a master of snappy comebacks, I responded:

Ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…”

For the next several minutes, I made a concerted effort to assert my rights under the 5th amendment to avoid incriminating myself. I’m not sure I was entirely successful. I was 100% positive that whatever “communicable disease” had Melanie in its grips, it was not venereal in nature.  However, I had no objective evidence to put before my parents. (“I don’t know any Karen or Melanie, so they must have the wrong number.”) Finally, I said I needed to call someone in Florida and get to the bottom of the story.

This was at least 10 years before the first cell phones were developed and 25 years before they became as common as wristwatches. I left messages all over Gainesville, without being able to track down Karen, Melanie or anyone else who knew what was going on.

When I returned to my parents, my mother began to tell me how much she and my father had wished they had been able to sleep together before they were married. I think she wanted to put me at ease. It didn’t work. I tried prayer.

“Dear Lord, just take me now. Put an end to my misery.”

Apparently, God was taking the night off, because I remained fully alive and conscious throughout the conversation.

Eventually, with no additional information on my end and far too much information from my parents, the encounter ran out of steam.

It was several hours later when I finally received a return call from Karen.

“I’m so glad you called me back. You really need to checked out because  Melanie has….MONO!”

I was both relieved and so angry I wanted to reach through the phone and grab Karen by the throat a thousand miles away.

Melanie recovered from the mononucleosis just fine. We stayed in touch over the summer and resumed dating in the fall. We had a good laugh over it. We dated for another year and then split up. We both ended up marrying our next serious relationship and both marriages are intact today. If she reads this, I hope she gets a laugh.

I don’t know what ever happened to Karen. Let’s hope she didn’t go into the communications business.

Science Bowl, Super Bowl, halubkys and a ‘suite” upgrade

We have been busy the last few days.

On Saturday, I was a “rule judge” for a regional competition of the National Ocean Science Bowl. This was a “college bowl” type competition among high school teams, and the questions were all related to marine science. Actually, it was kind of fun. Some of the kids had really studied. The teams were allowed to protest or challenge anything they thought went against the rules, and that is where I came in. We had two interesting challenges to settle. I enjoyed it, but our moderator, who was in the middle of each challenge, was taking the whole thing much too seriously. I hope the rest of her weekend went better.

That is, I hope she wasn’t a Steeler fan. The guys in black and gold lost a close one that they could have won, with just one or two fewer turnovers. Well, they made it to the big game, which is more than all but one other team can say. Next year.

A bright spot to Sunday was Mrs. Poolman’s effort at an appropriate Steeler Super Bowl meal. No wings or pizza for this meal. She made holubkys (also called golabkys).

Halubkys

These are a ground meat mixture, wrapped in cabbage leaves and cooked with kielbasa, sauerkraut and a tomato sauce. Very Pittsburgh. Very good. Mrs. P also says, “A bit of a pain in the a__.”

Next, I was off to Atlanta for a two-day business trip. I got a nice surprise when I checked into my usual Holiday Inn. I had been upgraded to a suite.

Ain't it suite?

Actually, it’s two adjoining regular rooms, but one of them is furnished as a “living room.” Not too shabby. I guess it’s a reward for my brand loyalty. It’s too bad I’m just here by myself and don’t have anyone to enjoy it with.

Tomorrow evening, I face the “little darlin’s” of my 5th grade CCD class. Last week, we really read them the riot act about their behavior. It worked. Then again, we had only eight kids in the class. Also, some of the kids with the attention span of goldfish were not there. We’ll see how it goes. Our subject matter this week is the Ten Commandments. Last year, it took two classes to get through the single chapter because there was just so many questions and discussion. It was a lot of fun. Fingers crossed. Maybe tomorrow will also be as good.

The ‘burgh!

With the “Stillers” in the Super Bowl, I am being deluged with emails full of Pittsburgh nostalgia and trivia.

While I claim Pittsburgh as my home town, and cheer for the Steelers, I actually only lived there full-time for four years, and that ended 40 years ago. My parents were deep-rooted Pittsburghers. (I’d call them “yinzers”, except my father would never forgive me and my mother would come back from the grave and haunt me.) However, my life from earliest memory until high school was spent in Wheeling, W.Va.  — about an hour’s drive down the road. We moved to the South Hills the summer before my 10th grade. I left Pittsburgh for the University of Florida after my freshman year in college and never moved back except for two college-summers and visits.

A beautiful photo of "The Point" by Jennifer Yang.

All the same, I can still relate to many of these “You know you are from Pittsburgh if…” statements that my sister sent me.

Yunz is from the Picksburgh area or maybe you grew up there if:

1. You didn’t have a spring break in high school.

2. You walk carefully when it is “slippy” outside.

3. You often go down to the “crick.” (Lots of “cricks” in West Virginia too.)

4. You’ve told your children to “red up” their rooms. (I actually caught myself using this term the other day.)

5. You can remember telling your little brother/sister to stop being so “nebby.”

6. You’ve gotten hurt by falling into a “jaggerbush.”

7. Your mother or grandmother has been seen wearing a “babushka” on her head. (I don’t think so. Wrong ethnic group.)

8. You’ve “worshed” the clothes. (Never. My mother would have killed me.)

9. I ask you to hand me one of those “Gum-Bands” an’ you actually know what I’m talking about.

10. You know you can’t drive too fast on the back roads, because of the deer.

11. You know Beaver Valley, Turtle Crick, Mars, Slippery Rock, Greentree and New Castle are names of towns. And you’ve been to most, if not all, of them.

12. A girl walks up to three of her girl friends and says, “HEY,YENZ GUYS!”

13. You hear “you guyses” and don’t think twice. Example: “you guyses hause is nice.”

14. You know the three rivers by name and under stand that “The Point” isn’t just on a writing instrument.

15. Someone refers to “The Mon” or “The Yough” and you know exactly what they’re talking about.

16. You remember the blizzard of 1993 (or 1976, or 1950, or 1939, or…) and remember not being able to go outside because the snow was over your head and you would have suffocated.

17. Someone starts the chant, “Here we go Still-ers!” and you join in — in the proper cadence, waving the appropriately colored towel.

18. Bob Prince and “There’s a bug loose on the rug.” hold special meaning for you. (And you remember exactly where you were when Bill Mazeroski hit the walk-off homer to win the 1960 World Series.)

19. You’ve either eaten a Farkleberry Tart or know someone who has. (???)

20. You drink pop, eat hoagies, love perogies and one of your favorite sandwiches actually has coleslaw and French fries ON it. (I remember using the term “pop” when I went to Florida and no one knew what I was talking about. They called it “Coke or something.”)

21. You know what a “still mill” is.

22. You expect temps in the winter to be record-breaking cold and temps in the summer to be record-breaking hot.

23. You know what Eat ‘N Park is and frequently ate breakfast there at 2:00 AM after the bar closed and made fun of people.

24. You order “dippy eggs” in a restaurant and get exactly what you wanted.

25. You spent your summers, or a school picnic at Luna Park, Kennywood, Westview, Sand Castle or Idlewild.

26. You’ve been to the Braun’s Bread Plant or Story Book Forest for a school field trip. We went to the Heinz plant and the Isaly’s plant for Cub Scouts.

27. “Chipped ham” was always in your refrigerator when you was growin’ up. (Didn’t everyone have it?)

28. You refuse to buy any condiments besides Heinz unless a Pittsburgh athlete’s picture is on the side of the container.

29. When you call the dog or the kids you shout, “Kum-mere” and they come. (I’m afraid I’m guilty of this one.)

30. Franco, Roberto, and Mario don’t need last names and you can recite their exploits by heart.

31. Food at a wedding reception consists of rigatoni, stuffed cabbage, sauerkraut and polska kielbasa.

Boogers, babies and scarey nuns

It’s been awhile since my last post, so I guess I’d better get to it.

It wasn’t such a great year for my Florida Gator football team, but my pro team, the “Stillers” are making up for it. Ya gotta love the way they manhandled the Jets in the first half last night. Too bad they cruised in the second half and let the Jet’s make it a close game. There were many highlights of the game, but the most amazing clip was a lowlight. Here is Jets QB Marc Sanchez with back up QB Mark Brunnell.

That’s classy!

*     *     *     *

Mrs. Poolman called me from her work last Friday and asked me if we had any plans for that evening. Our friend Liz’s husband needed to be out at a work function and she was looking for help with their five-month old twin daughters. Apparently the evening is their grumpy time and it’s a two-person job to get them settled for bed. I went over after work and Mrs. P joined us when she got off. The girls are too cute! We had a fun time.

*    *    *    *

I just finished a book that is very non-typical for me – “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard. It was recommended to me by my sister-in-law. It is a non-fiction “memoir” of the author’s childhood. In truth, the only thing I found interesting was the setting, the Point Breeze-Frick Park section of Pittsburgh. I’m not that familiar with that neighborhood, but I knew my Dad grew up near there. When I told him about it, I asked if he was familiar with St. Bedes school, which was on the same block as the author’s first home. It turned out that Dad actually went to St. Bedes, although about 20 years earlier than the time the author described.

I related one amusing scene in the book where the author describes being terrified of the St. Bedes’ nuns when she saw them on the street in their old-style black habits. My dad’s comment:

“I knew those nuns well, and they terrified me too!”

I was a pretty good bargain…if I say so myself

My father was cleaning out some old file boxes and came across some interesting stuff. He sent me a few hospital records from when I was born. (That’s 58 years ago!) It included the discharge bill for my mother and me. In the world of today’s price of health care, some of the charges are amazing.

  • Six days of a hospital room for my mother – $78
  • Six days of nursery stay for me — $15
  • Delivery room charge — $10
  • Diaper service – $2.40

The entire bill, less the doctor’s fee, came to $132.02

Mrs. Poolman laughed her head off. She was especially tickled by one of the itemized charges.

Circumcision — $5

As a neonatal ICU nurse, she has scrubbed in on more than her share of these “delicate” procedures. Her thoughts?

“Pretty good job for five bucks.”

A trip home to the ‘burgh

I have been out of the loop for about the last week. I’m just now getting back to the normal routine.

Mrs. Poolman and I drove to Pittsburgh late last week to visit with my Dad, youngest sister and a multitude of nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. Even my brother drove in from the other end of the state for a few days.

We had a very nice time, but it was very busy. Mrs. P absolutely hates spending more than eight hours in a car. (“After eight hours, I’m just ready to cut my throat just to get it over with.” That makes a terrible mess, and you never get the smell out of the upholstery.) So we split up the drive both going and returning.

Our first stop was the Holiday Inn in Oak Hill, West Virginia. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were very pleasantly surprised. We ended up being upgraded to a suite-style room that was gigantic. We were tired, so we just ate in the hotel restaurant, and it was also good, and not just by Holiday Inn standards.

We got into the ‘burgh early Friday afternoon. I went to a Pirates game that evening with Dad, my brother in law and nephew while Mrs. P hung out with youngest sister and visited. I haven’t followed the Pirates since I was a child, but I know they aren’t the most successful team in baseball. They didn’t surprise anyone Friday night, loosing to the Rockies. But it was still a great experience to watch the game in the very nice PNC Park.

A good time was had by all.

On Saturday, my Dad hosted a party at my sister’s house. This is most uncharacteristic of him. I’m not sure about the motivation. In any case, he invited a bunch of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc; ordered ribs, wings, etc from some local restaurants; and put on a very nice party. Several of my cousins in the Pittsburgh area came with their families. There were a ton of kids. Everyone had a great time.

One of my cousins and his wife adopted a child from Guatemala about a year and a half ago. They live in the DC area, but came into town for the weekend. We had not seen little Anna before this weekend. She is a gas. She is three years old and very full of herself. She pretty much has all her cousins (all older, 6-18 years old) wrapped around her finger. The kid has it licked. Apparently, she has been totally absorbed into that large Irish-Polish family. Very cute.

We drove back to Savannah Sunday afternoon and Monday, again spending the night on the road. I turned it right around and hit the road for two days in Atlanta Tuesday and Wednesday. This morning I felt a little like I had “been rode hard and put up wet.” I had spent four to seven hours behind the wheel during six of the past seven days. I guess I piled it on by mowing the lawn and cleaning the pool and back yard when I got back to Savannah yesterday evening.  I’m turning into a wimp in my old age.

We have nothing big planned for this weekend, and I think we’ll keep it that way. I need to catch up on bills, laundry, and a little chillin’. The pool and a lounge chair are screaming my name.