March 28 – 31 – Pittsburgh

Fruit bats at National Aviary

On a whim we decided to buy tickets to see the Penguins play Chicago.  It was our last chance to see the Pens at home.  So we packed up the car and headed north.

On Friday night we had dinner at Lidia’s. The food was great. Tragically, Franco was not working so we had to muddle through on the wine selection.  We missed him.

Saturday was a free day since the game was Sunday afternoon.  It was a rainy day and Matt cannot walk far.  We did a bit of shopping in the Strip District, mostly Italian food.  We found the espresso at La Prima and it was indeed prima.  Still raining we drove over to the National Aviary.  We saw the fruit bats being fed, the penguins being fed, and the rest of the birds just hanging out doing what birds do.  It was a good way to waste an afternoon.

I am a sucker for one man shows so we bought tickets to see “An Iliad.”  It was interesting but after two glasses of wine at dinner, and in that warm dark theater, I was having trouble keeping my eyes open.   (Note to self: never eat at the restaurant in the Renaissance again).

Finally, Sunday! After brunch with Matt’s friend Cindy and her husband, we drove around my old neighborhood in Oakland.  Both apartment buildings I lived in during college were still there.  The laundromat and the bar we went to while our clothes were washing and drying was still there too.  For gosh sakes, the old Luna bar was still there.   Quite unbelievable.  Thirty years made no difference.

There was a really awesome art installation at the Carnegie Art Museum and we stopped to get a closer look:





Now the day of hockey reckoning.  We had an early dinner at Mercato, the meatball restaurant.  What a dream.  A restaurant dedicated to meatballs.  That certainly is my dream.  I am a sucker for meatballs, too.

Then on to the game.  Chicago had whipped our butts at the Winter Classic and I sure wanted revenge.  We got it.  The Pens overpowered them Hawks.  It was great to see.

The next day was opening day for the Pirates.  As we emerged from the hotel to head to Starbucks, the streets were already  crowded.  It was all we could do to behave and not go to the game.  We could have gone.  Tickets were begin scalped.  But we had to get home.  If we had stayed we would not have gotten home until very late and we had to get up for work.  Boooo.

That really hurt.  We are never good.  We always go with  the spontaneous fun, not what we “should” do.  But this time, I said no.  It was sad.  We don’t like being good.




March 22 – Redoing the Garden


And I tore it out with my bare hands! Bwahahahaha.  (and a saw and hammer and lots of karate kicks for fun)
And I tore it out with my bare hands! Bwahahahaha. (and a saw and hammer and lots of karate kicks for fun)

When we bought this house there was one big selling point: a really adorable English garden in the backyard with a picket fence, surrounded by a hedge of roses, and very neat raised beds.  Two years later we  know that the garden floods in a heavy rain.  I had rotten potatoes, rhubarb and fava beans to prove it.  The raised beds are too wide  and cannot be entirely reached from the pathways which are  too small  to stand in or to work effectively.  The roses are not disease resistant and need far more chemicals than I am willing to apply, and the fence is entirely rotten.

I decided that the location and aura were simply not conducive to my having a successful and peaceful garden, and by that I mean one that I do not swear at.  So I am ripping it out and starting over.

There will be a small frog pond to take care of the water flooding.  It will be landscaped with perennial grasses and plants and  new garden boxes, higher and narrower will be placed far from the water course.

Today I started ripping out the fence.

Lichen eating away at the fence


March 20 – Kennedy Center

Another world play at the Kennedy Center, we saw a one man puppet show titled, “Penny Plain.”

Before the show we had dinner at RIS–trout panna cotta (Lordy, that was good) chicken pistachio terrine, and homemade sauerkraut, kielbassi, and pierogis.  One of the chefs is Polish and he concocted this.  I declared it good.

Penny Plain, or as I called it, tales of the coming apocalypse, featured marionettes all handled by one man, Ronnie Burkett, a master puppeteer from Canada.  The story centered around an old woman and the residents of her boarding house in the days leading up to the end of the world, Mad-Max style.  It was an interesting story but as I watched it, I realized I really do not believe in the apocalypse.  I do not see a moment in time when the world goes mad and armed gangs roam the roads fighting over food and water.  I don’t see a time of pandemic annihilation and panic in the streets.  So while I appreciated the cast of characters, I just did not buy into the story itself.



March 16 – 17 – Snow

Seriously?  Okay.  I am sick to death of this snow thing.  We would normally have blooming forsythia and daffodils this time of year.  We got nothing.

On Sunday, the snow gave me time to putter.  I made another soup–bulgur and greens with poached eggs.  I love adding poached eggs to a dish.  Want a great salad, try an egg on top.  Sounds weird but really good.

On Monday, we woke to ten inches of snow.  I can really understand why people up north just pack it in and move south.  I just need the snow to go away now.  Matt was home sick.  I shoveled the driveway and then went up the street to cross-country ski around the football field.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and I still remember how to ski.  I made a Belgian endive, cheese and ham casserole in honor of the wintry day.


March 15

I started working on the yard today.  The previous owners had a real love of boring plants.  If the plant was green only, then they planted it.  There are hedges and bushes everywhere that do nothing.  I like bushes that do things.  They had planted some boxwood type bushes around the mail box.  I tore them out and planted heather.  Nice pink flowers in the early spring and deer do not eat them.

Matt is sick so I went to A&J’s for some soup, our new favorite comfort food.  Then we watched Nebraska, an Oscar nominated film with Bruce Dern.  I was never a big fan of his, but he did well in this movie, playing an old man who is slowly losing his memory.  He takes a road trip with his son to cash in a prize that has come in the mail.  He did not really win anything but his son cannot seem to convince him otherwise.  So off they go to collect the prize.

There are going to be a lot of movies about Alzheimer’s disease in the coming years.  Having already lived through it, I have now come out on the other side.  I can sympathize but I don’t weep any longer.

The Suit

The Kennedy Center is having a month long series  called the World Stages Festival.  We bought tickets to a few of the plays.  Tonight we saw “The Suit.”  Based on a short story by a South African writer, a man discovers his wife is having an affair.   Her lover leaves his behind suit and as punishment, her husband makes her treat the suit as an honored guest.  The suit sits down to dinner, she dances with it, they take it for a walk.  All to remind her of her infidelity.  Soon the wife comes to appreciate her husband and she seeks his forgiveness.  But he fails to recognize the change in her and he continues to torment her.

The scenery was minimalist  but the acting, particularly that of the wife was perfect.  The best part–the play was short.  A little over an hour.  And for us, that was perfect.

March 4 – Mardi Gras

Matt works on the drinks
Matt works on the drinks

We decided to have a Mardi Gras dinner this year.  We invited Armand over for chicken jambalaya, collards and king cake.  We have not seen him for a long time. He keeps us informed on how single people live.  I got a recipe from Emeril’s website for an interesting Mardi Gras drink–Cajun Storm, which was a mixture of rum, lemon juice, passion fruit juice and grenadine.  Quite tasty.

March 1 – Raclette Dinner

I have been in the mood to feed people so we had some folks over for raclette, the Swiss cheese party.  It involves melting raclette cheese and serving it with specific accoutrements such as cornichions, boiled potatoes, braesceolo, and pickled onions.  We served it with Belgian beer and Austrian wines.  Thanks for coming folks.

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