Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The View

The sideways view of life is sometimes more telling than the upright version. As it is, I have some news: The Jeep is fixed!!! Not only is it fixed, but it came in 300 bucks under the estimate. That kind of thing never happens, right? Hopefully she's good to go because we leave for Montana a week from today.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pittsburgh Passion Playoffs

Our season ended Saturday night with a gut wrenching loss to the far superior DC Divas, 27-17. And I do mean far superior. The Divas dominated the Passion this year in our two losses to them, no question about it. Best of luck to the Divas as they advance in the playoffs and take on the Boston Militia next.
I do have a few random thoughts about what the Passion needs to do to take their game to the next level against the Tier I teams in their league: Have a single head coach. I think that it's a mistake that owner/player/co-coach Teresa Conn wears three hats for the team. Owner/player is feasible, but the co-coach? I have never, ever, seen a team succeed where there was someone who second guessed the head coach. As co-coach, and owner, Conn undermines the authority and decisions of the coach. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at his worst and on crack, down on the field, deciding plays, you get the idea. I just think that it's a mistake to have two head coaches. She either takes over the coaching duties and suffers the good and bad of that, or she lets someone else take the reins and backs off.
I've been thinking about this issue a lot because of some research I've done into the other Pittsburgh pro women's football team, the WFA league Force. Given the middling success of the Force (2009 record, 2 and 6), and the force that is the Passion (2009 record 7 and 1), why would someone join the Force over the Passion? Or defect from the Passion to the Force, as star running back Torina Henley did? To quote someone other than me; Something is rotten in Denmark, if not Pittsburgh.
It'll be interesting to see exactly what happens next season with both the Passion and the Force, but with the Passion, I hope that they decide to go with a single head coach and concentrate on plugging the sieve that is the defense when anyone runs against us.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Inner World of Outliers

At some point today I finished reading/leafing through Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers". I take issue not with what he says in the book but how he says it. Do I think that some people are born in 'lucky' years where opportunity presents itself more readily? I noticed twenty-five years ago that Prince, Michael Jackson, and Madonna were all born in the summer of 1958. It's Gladwell's conclusions, or methodology that I take issue with. He cherry picks, particularly deeper into the book, where he's thin on validation of his hypothesis. Almost without exception he chooses men as subjects, and men that fall within his outliers paradigm. Some of his comparisons are infuriatingly spare on their criteria. I couldn't help but wonder if he was hellbent on justifying something in his own mind moreso than discovering a real truth.
I read Gladwell's "Blink" and "The Tipping Point", and both of those books are much better conceived and thought out than "Outliers". That might be the trouble. He wants to justify his own bit of outlier land, and the reader is led fairly far afield.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Swimming Beagle

It was a hot afternoon here today, around 88F, so MK and I walked Bela down to the creek and let her swim. She was miserable! She's a good and strong swimmer (despite the assumption that ALL dogs are good and strong swimmers, this is not the case...my brother had a yellow lab that nearly drown in a pond when he got in water where he could no longer stand and had to be rescued), but Bela really hates water. The second we got back home she rolled in the rotting carcass of a dead baby bird out in the yard to mask the scent of wet beagle. It worked, one stunk worse than the other, but you know, dog logic escapes me.


MK and I headed out to McConnells Mill State Park first thing this morning to hike the Alpha Trail and the Kildoo Loop. Afterward, on our way back to the parking area, we spotted this wild grapevine dangling down off of one of the many splintered rock formations situated throughout the park. I wondered if the vine could support my weight. When I was a kid we used to swing off wild grapevines down in the woods, but I weighed as much as a box cereal back then. Things, and waistlines, change. I'm just relieved to report that yeah, I can still swing off a vine, if I feel so inclined. MK also took a spin on it, but I shoot film and she shoots digital, so that pic is going to have to wait ;)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Free Produce

MK's condo has no yard, so we container garden on the patio. Tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, green onions, and Swiss chard are a sample of what we've got going. We also have some lemon balm growing so that we get fresh, and refreshing, tea all summer long. But the thing is, container gardening is so easy that I'm surprised that more people I know don't do it. Nothing is more fresh than picking it and taking it straight to the table. Rinse and slice, there you go. And the container takes all, and do mean ALL, of the work out of weeding. Just make sure that the plant is watered, maybe throw in a couple of MiracleGro spikes, and you're set. The plant will most likely thrive and produce.
You can do it! Bring back the Victory garden!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More Fun W/ Contrast

Still tinkering with contrast. I'd like to get the yellow to 'pop' a little more.
Anyway, I also have to say that since MK is now officially finished with the school year, I'll be blogging less. There's just so much to do with her house, my house, the dog, the kids, leaving for vacation in a couple of weeks. Not that I spend a lot of time deciding what to blog about, because clearly I do not ;) Still, I need to pry myself away from the keyboard and engage properly in my swirling reality.
I will be still posting, just not everyday, or multiple times a day.
Have a great summer, all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sleeping With Cat and Dog

My oldest son works in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant during the dinner shift, so he gets home pretty darn late every night. By the time he's ready for bed the cat's already on his bed. Bela doesn't join them until around 7am when I let her out of her crate in my room.
What a crew ;) Obviously the cat and dog were disturbed by me taking their pic last week.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fun With Contrast

I took some really crappy pictures and I thought, HEY! ?what if I just play with them and see what I come up with! Here is contrast taken to the extreme. I think it looks kind of cheap and lazy, like something off of 'Tales From The Darkside' as opposed to something from, say, the 'Twilight Zone'. Maybe if I can coax more color out and turn more of the blue gray to dark gray...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pittsburgh Passion Game 8

The Pittsburgh Passion closed out their regular season with a squeaker win over the New York Sharks in the Big Apple on Saturday June 13, 34-33.
Bring on the post season! Good to see an on the road win against a good team, but really, I can't imagine going far in the playoffs if the defense is going to give up 5 TDs and eke out a win on a PAT.
Play tough!

Hell Breaking Loose

The Pens won the Stanley Cup, 2-1, in the 7th game against the Detroit Red Wings. This led to bedlam on the south side of Pittsburgh and some drunk rear ending my defenseless parked Jeep. Fortunately the street was full of people and one attentive woman wrote down the license plate number, which got passed on to me, and then the police. BUT the thing is, this might lead to my vehicle being totalled by the insurance company because trust me, the damage is much worse than what this photo suggests. I won't know until I get the estimate this week, but I'm really afraid that this is it for the old girl. And we just had a bunch of maintenance work done in anticipation of a vacation trip! Now, well, I just feel sick. The poor Jeep!
I've had it with the south side.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More On Bela

I think that this artist's rendering of Bela is quite spot-on. The upright flag tail, the barrel chest, the Flying Nun ears, the pleading eyes, it's all represented here in excruciating detail. Did I say excruciating? All apologies, I meant exquisite. Scrabble has scrambled me brain.
Bela continues to fight her diet tooth and nail. The couch is now a shambles. Torn up by her and duct taped by me. She's eaten some of the stuffing, probably the parts that taste most like old farts. She won't break me though! I am a strong and confident woman! I've got my eye on that one!
Sigh. We'll weigh her again tomorrow and see how close were getting to our goal of losing ten pounds.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guest Blogging

Old pic of the boys
I was asked to guest blog at N.E.O. Moms today and you can read my post here. It was exciting to write in someone else's space for a change!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fear and Worry

No one who knows me in everyday life knows that I have a blog, and it's best that way. That said, one of my oldest and dearest friends emailed late last night to inform me that she's getting a face lift this morning. Allow me a moment to boggle my mind... Ahem, I'd talked to Phyllis (certainly not her real name) about this face lift idea a couple of months ago when we were having a late lunch/early bird dinner special at Denny's. Part of my brain figured that this was a fleeting crackpot idea that would never see itself to fruition. But I should've known better when Phyllis told me that she'd been plastic surgeon shopping and found one willing to do it on the cheap. I know, !!!!!!!!
Now I'm worried. I should have been worried all along, but emotionally I have this little box where I keep all of my worry so that I can function within an acceptable level of partial delusion.
It'll be a couple of days before I can get in touch again with Phyllis, which leaves me no choice but to do that rarest of things for me: Pray.
Dear God,
Please let Phyllis survive her discount face lift.
Yours in Disbelief,
I hope that doesn't sound too flip, but I don't handle worry with much reverence. Actually I don't handle much with much reverence.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Endless Lists

Enough already! Why is it that every publication, online site, and random blog with delusions of grandeur thinks that creating a list of something is the way to go? The latest offender is The Times and their list of the greatest artists of the 20th century. I don't necessarily have a beef with any of the artists on the list, or even what order they're in, but it's really meaningless, is it not? I would put Frida Kahlo at the top, but what is that worth? How do you compare Monet and Jeff Koons anyway? I'm actually laughing to myself right now because I despise Koons' work. It's just so vapid without even a bare whiff of irony about its own vapidity. Totally worthless, imo.
And therein lies the rub. Art is subjective, all opinion, so what value does a list of great artists really hold? None, and yet I scoured the list seeing if artists that I admire were included (yes and no). So what does that say about me? I'm scrutinizing something that I don't respect in the hopes that some of my personal choices will be included and then somehow I'm validated in my opinions and tastes!

Adventures With Parents Who Are Armed

So, the other day I stopped to see my parents because they like seeing me and shit. The next thing I know I'm being led around back to Dad's massive burn pile. Once every five years Dad and one of my brothers throw a match on it and all of that yard and tree litter goes up in flames. Exciting stuff, unless the wind picks up. But that's beside the point. Thrown atop the pile was a six foot black rat snake with most of its head blown off. Of course I still had to poke it with a stick to make sure that it was really dead, all dead, completely dead. You know how reptiles can survive without a head or a body. At least I've heard tell of that sort of zombiesque phenomena. This snake was 100% dead. Once we established absolute death, Cree and I started examining it more closely. What remained of its head revealed that it died a violent death when Dad shot it. Other than that, there wasn't much left to do but heave it back on the burn pile and marvel and how much snakes, even expired ones, creep me out. Still, Dad was so dang proud of himself for killing it. He was sitting on the porch waiting to shoot the chipmunks that are digging through Mom's flower garden when BLAM.
End of story.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Peeker

Bela peeking from the second floor, trying to figure out where the puppy was lurking.

Pittsburgh Passion Game 7

Saturday June 6, 2009
Benjamin Johnston Memorial Stadium
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh Passion v. Philadelphia Firebirds
Final score: 53-0

Moving in retrograde, the Pittsburgh Passion traveled left to right to take on the Philadelphia Firebirds in the City of Brotherly Love. I like Philadelphia, the city. How could I not? It houses the best museum in the world!
The Passion are closing out their regular season schedule on the road, and first up was a stop just this side of Camden, New Jersey.
The Passion won the coin toss and elected to receive. Jenine Suprano fielded the ball and then handed it off to a racing Shawna Rouse who ran it back 85 yards for a touchdown. Only problem was there was a holding call on the run back, so the Passion were backed up to their own 41 yard line. Under Horton the offense moved progressively down the field, culminating in a 15 yard TD dash by Amanda Haeg. Regular kicker Lauren Bracco didn't make the trip, so back up kicker Autumn Dillaman was pressed into duty, missing the PAT. Passion led 6-0.
On the Passions next possession they took over on their own 16 yard line. Horton threw a razor sharp dart to Jenine Suprano who then romped the remaining field for an 84 yard touchdown pass play! Dillaman's PAT good this time, Passion up 13-0.
The Firebirds drove the ball down the field on their next ups, ultimately stalling out at the Passion 28 when the defense turned stingy. Passion took over on downs. Horton orchestrated another drive toward the opposing endzone, resulting in a 12 yard TD pass to tight end Autumn Dillaman, who then missed the PAT. Passion 19-0.
After defensive back Sharon Vasquez picked off the Firebirds QB, the Passion took over on the Philadelphia 24. Janice Masters replaced regular QB starter Lisa Horton and promptly set about the task of engineering her own scoring drive. Three running plays and two incomplete passes late, Masters hooked up with Jen Moody for an 8 yard touchdown toss. Kick good, Passion ahead 26-0.
Once more the Passion defense holds, and after a punt and hefty run back, the Passion set up shop on the Firebirds' 29 yard line. Three running plays later Masters throws a 13 yard TD strike to Kate Sullivan. PAT good, Passion 33-0.
End of First Half
To open the 3rd Quarter the Firebirds mishandled the kick off and ended up on their own 8 yard line. Then, retaining possession of a fumble and a loss of seven yards, they were backed up on their own goal line when they were forced to punt. A short punt followed, fielded by upman blocker and defensive stand out linebacker, Trumane Rogers, who ran the punt back unmolested for an 18 yard touchdown!
Missed point after, Passion 39-0.
Later TDs were also tallied by fullback Lori Burkholder and fellow running back Emily Marek for a game ending score of 53-0. Another impressive outing for the Passion! Great defensive night for Rogers and Vasquez, with Beth Amato once again proving steady.
The Passion have improved their regular season record to 6-1, trailing only the DC Divas (7-0) in the IWFL Mid-Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. We're in a sweet position to win a wildcard play-off berth and we can seal the deal next week with a win at New York against the always tough Sharks.
You can listen to Pittsburgh Passion games, either home or away here.
The Divas are intimidating, and handed us our solitary loss this year, but I'd like the chance to avenge that loss in the post season!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fun With Contrast

Police Station #7 Pre-demolition.

Dog Sitting

Meet Maddie, the Wheaton Terrier that MK's niece adopted a couple of weeks ago. Mk and I will be dog-sitting Maddie this weekend while the owners are away. Maddie is a piddler. A piddler is a dog that gets so excited when someone comes to the house that they release the contents of their bladder. Yes, they spray pee with abandon and disregard, but not without unbridled glee, so there's that.
Bela and Maddie get along brilliantly, which was not a given considering that Bela prefers the company of cats to that of other dogs. It's true. When we first got Bela she was seven weeks old and we brought her home, where she immediately bonded with our cat, Whitey. Whitey's famous in our neighborhood for a couple of reasons: He'll shamelessly roll on the sidewalk out front, exposing his tender underbelly to passersby in the hopes that someone will pet him, and he's always filthy, given his penchant for rubbing himself on the undercarriages of parked cars. Once last summer he had a black grease streak running from his head down the length of him that made him look like a reverse skunk. And he hardly ever grooms himself. Like I said, he's always filthy.
There's a black cat down the street from MK's place that begs passersby to pet her as well, and before we got Bela we'd stop and pet Black Whitey (that's what we call her because she reminds us of Whitey, only Black, and less obviously filthy, and we don't know her real name). Black Whitey hisses at Bela when she sees us coming, and Bela wags her tail so hard that her ass end helicopters off the ground. She loves that cat! Other dogs Bela's less thrilled with, and will often ignore them or openly avoid them. Which is why it's such a relief that she likes Maddie. Those two will be spending a lot of time together and its best that they get along.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nothing But Bad Hair Days

The other day I went to get my hairs cut and drove along this very same road, which looks different now from the then.
Anyway, I get fewer haircuts per year than any other woman I know. Not only that, if I can manage it, I'll press MK or my sister into cutting my hair, just so that I get it done for free, regardless of what it looks like once they've had a go at it. And despite all of this, my mother still insists that I'm picky about my hair. The only time I ever gave a crap about my hair was the time I shaved my head back in '87. All of the sudden I cared about hair. Having no hair can do that to you. I hate irony.
So, imagine my shock when I wiped the shower steam off the mirror this morning and finally noticed that the stylist gave me a bad haircut. Yes, it took me two days to notice. I've got hair wings flying out at my ears. The stylist is one of my sisters-in-law, and I should've suspected that she'd be distracted while cutting my hair because when I got to her hair lair my sister was there and so was Angela, both hepped up on coffee, chattering nonstop, everyone trying to one-up each other on rotten kid stories. I kept quiet because my kids aren't rotten. I was a rotten kid, but everybody already knows that. And now I've got this freaky 'do perched on my head like a bird. A frightened bird with its wings flapping. I'm going to have to put product in it, or see if MK can fix it. I might try to fix it, but all I have here are kitchen shears. Eh, that'll work.
Anyone have a really horrible haircut story?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dame's Rockets May 2009

The very first flowers I picked and presented to MK were a bunch of Dame's Rockets growing along side the Connoquenessing Creek (don't even bother trying to pronounce that name). Ever since then I find myself photographing them all the time, even though I have plenty of good shots of them already and really don't need anymore. Still, they remind me of her, as do the pics. Hardly the most romantic flower, but there you have it.

That's Some Horse

On the back of this picture in a hand I don't recognize is written "McCall". Taken in the early to mid 1920s, this picture was with a group taken when my grandfather was still attending Evans City (PA) High School. Oh, and that's not my grandfather in the picture. I have no idea what the "McCall" on the back denotes since it's not a family name in our tree.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pittsburgh Passion Game 6

May 30, 2009, Saturday 7pm, Wexford, PA, Newman Stadium
Pittsburgh Passion versus Connecticut Crushers
The firmament was naught but a sea of crystalline cerulean as the gridiron warriors suited up to wage unrestrained battle. For one team this would prove to be a field of dreams, and for the other a lea of boundless sorrows. Who might emerge the victor? Vanquishing their foe with merciless ferocity? Only time and fate could dictate that eternal mystery.
The Passion won the coin toss and elected to receive. The gathered throng waited in baited anticipation as the cruelly spike booted kicker unleashed a torrent of fury and menace upon the unsuspecting ball!
OK, enough of the over blown prose. I don't think that I can sustain it anyway. Not while watching tv while I write this.
After the kickoff Lisa Horton and the Passion took over play at their own 47yd line. On the first play from scrimmage Jen Hoffman scampered for 42 yrds to the Connecticut 11. Definitely this was a harbinger of things to come as on third and five QB Lisa Horton tossed a TD pass to #1 Wilma Walton in the endzone. At 13:22 of the 1st Quarter passion went up 7-0 and never, ever looked back.
The most exciting play of the night, in a night of various exciting plays, came about on the Passion's second possession. On the first play after the punt, Horton handed off to Haeg, who pitched the ball back to Horton and threw a zipline pass to Suprano racing down the right side of the field for a 60 yd TD. Classic hook and ladder play executed to perfection! I was jumping around so wildly that I almost lost my pen. At 11:48 of the 1st Quarter Passion up 14-0.
Other scores: Bracco 9 yd TD run at 8:05 of the 1st Quarter, missed extra point, 20-0
71 yd TD run by Amanda Haeg at 3:18 of the 1st Quarter, 27-0
14 yd TD QB keeper run Lisa Horton, 1:26 of the 1st Quarter, 34-0
81 yd TD pass from Horton to Lori Johnsom, 9:21 of the 2nd Quarter, 41-0
82 yd TD pass from Horton to Lori Johnsom, 0:40 of the 2nd Quarter, 48-0
Brevard picks off Connecticut with two seconds left and Horton takes a knee to end the half.
The second half saw four more unanswered TDs being tallied by the passion for a final score of 76-0. Honestly, I've never witnessed a game like this, on any level. Anyone who thinks that Horton is not the best QB in the league has never seen this woman throw a ball. Even with a bum knee she throws the ball like a laser, down field, waaaaaaay down field, almost unfailingly hitting her chosen receiver in stride. I know that too much of the attention usually gets paid to the QB, so allow me to recognize Lori Johnson, Wilma Walton, Amanda Haeg and Jenine Suprano on offense who all deserve special kudos for jobs well done. Great game!
On the defensive side stellar games were had by Michelle Brevard, Jo Jo Warner, and Peru Barber. They held the Crushers scoreless despite being on the field for extended periods of time.
This wraps up the regular season home games for the Pittsburgh Passion. They take on the Philadelphia Firebirds on June 6 and the New York Sharks on June 13, both away games. After that we'll hopefully be going to the playoffs. MK and I will be there!

Niagara Falls, Old Timey

My mother gave me a slew of photographs that were taken by her father. Among them was this shot at Niagara Falls, in front of the Bridal Falls, I believe. There's no longer a walkway there, probably for insurance reasons. Insurance reasons is nothing but a killjoy, if you ask me.
I'm guessing that this would've been in the late 1920s, judging from the pictures that have my grandfather and his car in them. Probably right before the stock market crashed and ushered in the Great Depression. He would've been a late teen, or possibly twenty. Kaufman, my grandfather, was quite a character. He said whatever he was thinking, come hell or high water. Maybe he had Tourrettes, who knows. Probably he had it, what with the facial tics and clicking sounds he made all of the time. Still, he loved his wife and his daughters to no end, and they loved him in return. He thought that my grandmother was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen and he'd tell the story over and over of how he'd first spotted her when they were children. He was at his Aunt's house in Renfrew and he saw a little Italian girl playing in the yard across the street. He said that he never forgot her and when they met years later and he made the connection of who she was, he pursued her like the end of times. They were married for 30yrs before grandma died of cancer, and he never remarried. He kept pictures of her all over his place, and he had three subsrciptions to Playboy (he gave one to the garbage man, one to my cousin, and the other he kept). Must've worked for him because he outlived her by almost forty years.
Heh, Kaufman, he told me on my 18th birthday that if I didn't find a fellow to settle down with I'd be an old maid. I laughed and said that there are worse things.