Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What Residency Looks Like IV: Sunshine

Sometimes residency looks like sunlight and shadows in the hospital healing garden. My attending likes to give her teams a break once a week, so I am AWL (absent with leave) from the ICU, enjoying fresh air and the giddy feeling of being outside in the middle of a work day.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

What Residency Looks Like III: Bees and Flowers

Sometimes residency looks like an outdoor snack break in the middle of a computerized exam to clear your mind and process the death of one of your clinic patients.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Columbus: So Much Topiary!

For years now we have celebrated our anniversary with a quick trip to a local city to recreate our honeymoon. We originally spent 5 days in Denver and Estes Park, seeing the botanical garden, the art museum (I bought us t-shirts: DAM that’s great art!), and a baseball game. In Estes we hiked up a small mountain to a little lake, where a chipmunk ate out of my hand. Then we flew to Cleveland, where we picked up Michael’s car from the airport where his parents had left it for us and drove all night to get to Champaign-Urbana to move into our new apartment together. The next year we went to Chicago, then to St. Louis and Kansas City, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Madison, and Metropolis, IL. The year I got back from researching in Germany I didn’t want to see another suitcase, so we stayed home and enjoyed each other’s company in our own zipcode. One year we counted an April jaunt to San Francisco as “the trip,” and another year The Chorale’s big tour of Central Europe to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. I wanted to sail in the Greek islands for our 10th anniversary, but the timing was poor what with me getting ready to travel all over the US for residency interviews, so we saved up for The Chorale’s next tour, of Spain and Portugal. Then Dear Husband got sick last year. We moved to Pittsburgh and counted our blessings to have each other, as we celebrated our 11th, "steel anniversary" in the Steel City

This year we celebrated with a fancy dinner on Mount Washington. Then, because I was off on Labor Day, so we decided to drive 3.5 hours to the other side of Columbus for DH’s family picnic after church. The weather only got nicer the farther west we drove from the remnants of Harvey. We had a delightful party, complete with corn hole (“bags”), kids having a water fights, and throwing a baseball around. Then we hopped in the car and headed into Columbus to the Comfort Inn in the German Village neighborhood, we had a lazy night watching Daniel Craig fall in love and get his heart broken in Casino Royale and then slept in until the end-of-breakfast rush at 9am. I was disappointed that the German Village visitor center wasn’t open the next day to tell us about the brick streets and houses, so we checked out and headed to the Kelton House, a Victorian mansion that was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. Alas, all my online research had not disclosed the fact that this museum is closed on Labor Day. Also the James Thurber House and the Columbus Art Museum.

Plan B: So we took a stroll through the Old Deaf School Topiary Garden, which uses shaped yew trees to re-create the 54 human figures, 8 boats, 3 dogs, 1 monkey, and 1 cat in Georges Seurat’s post-Impressionist painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte (1884). The large photo above is from the painter's perspective marker on a little hillock; the one below is a close-up of one of the boats.

Then we ate some raspberry pie in the car, and set out for the second stop on our tour, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which had the good sense to make their employees work on Labor Day (ha!), as the parking lot and grounds were full of people out to enjoy nature. First we ogled the Dale Chihuly pieces downstairs. Then we went upstairs to find the butterflies in the South Conservatory—an appropriately tropical South Pacific room. We were just in time to watch a staffer release a batch of new young butterflies. DH’s favorite was the large black one with brilliant blue wings; it had a wingspan at least the size of one of his hands.  

After the presentation, we hurried out of the heat and humidity of the tropics…into Himalayan and American deserts. The lower level concourse was blissfully cool, and full of hands-on activities for the young and young at heart: a coloring station, a large 3-D puzzle, and this train set up. That Thomas the Tank Engine rushing in from stage right, pulling Snoopy and the dog house; on the upper track you can glimpse the orange butterfly caboose.

One of the temporary attractions this season is topiary of endangered animals, which we encountered in the various rooms and gardens, like the lion above. Then we found chairs out in the workshop, just in time for the last glass-blowing demonstration of the day. An artist narrated as she created a red flower vase; there were a variety of specimens for sale in the gift shop. That was pretty cool. There was more Chihuly glass art, of course.

Upstairs were a collection of Bonsai, many of which were at least as old as I am. This conservatory is about the size of the Phipps, but I found the signage inadequate for really learning about the plants. It is however well set up for hosting events, as long as your guests don’t find baking in the greenhouses. Maybe it’s colder at night. After two hours we had seen everything and repaired to the car for apples to tide us over until we could get to Wheeling, WV, for pizza and salad dinner. Although we did not see everything I had planned on this short trip, it was restful, which is the most important thing, and we got home in good time for me to go to bed early in advance of three weeks of 4AM wakeups.

At 3 hours from Pittsburgh, Columbus is not a bad drive away for a weekend jaunt. My impression of the city is of wide streets with little traffic. There's clearly plenty more to see and do, such as a prize-winning zoo. I expect we'll come back to get a better taste of Ohio's capital city.

Friday, August 25, 2017

That's So Pittsburgh: Summer Fridays at the Frick

Third time's a charm: we finally made it to Summer Fridays at the Frick. The first time we tried to go, it started raining as soon as we walked out of the house. The second time I wanted to hear a friend play with his band, but I had worked a night shift and ended up sleeping the day and evening away. This was probably our last chance to attend, so we packed up some wine, pizzelles from the Bloomfield Little Italy Days, and our old lawn chairs that suffered more from the mice in our old garage than we ever used them and walked over to the Frick mansion. We passed up the food trucks selling burgers, pizza, tacos, and ice cream and set up on the edge of the big lawn, where families and couples were picnicking. Although the band was set up on the adjacent lawn, they were loud enough to hear but not so loud that we couldn't think or talk. I found it mete that the performers were a rock band called The Optimists. If we had not gotten cold--the temperature was only 70 when the sun was up--we might have visited the Frick Art Museum, which has a new exhibit since the time we visit in the spring.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What Residency Looks Like II: Better Train Your Dragon!

This is my dragon, a special (=expensive) dictation mic that helps me prepare notes more quickly than typing. Except when it's misbehaving, which can be frequently, and then notes take longer because you have to laboriously fix the typos (speakos?) instead of just fluently typing a note (with abbreviations and half sentences). No joke, they have you sign up for a class to train your dragon by reading pre-set texts so that it understands your inflection and pronunciation.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

That's So Pittsburgh: Labor History

On Thursday night this week, after I got off of work and we had dinner at home, Dear Husband and I drove to the historic Pump House on the Waterfront in the south of Pittsburgh, where we joined the Battle of Homestead Foundation to watch an old black-and-white movie and talk about the class and steel industry in Pittsburgh. The Battle of Homestead was an actual shootout between members of a labor union and some Pinkerton's men on the Monongahela River on July 6, 1892. It was one of many violent clashes during the period before labor unions were legalized and recognized as a legitimate form of organization. Three unionists and seven anti unionists were dead at the end of the day. That strike at Henry Clay Frick's factory was unfortunately eventually broken. The BHF was founded to foster the history of Pittsburgh's working classes and industrial mills. The movie we watched was The Valley of Decision, which was originally the number two best-selling fiction book in the United States in the year 1942. It stars a very young and handsome Gregory Peck and a darling Greer Garson. Unfortunately the Irish accents were thick and neither the movie sound nor the speakers were very good, so it was a little bit like watching a silent film, as neither of us understood more than 50% of what was said. But we generally got the gist of what was going on: the spunky daughter of a mill worker crippled by an accident goes to work as a maid in the home of the mill owner. Of course she falls in love with the dashing oldest son, but can their relationship survive the class war of late-19th century Pittsburgh? Before the movie, a couple of labor history and movie aficionados spoke briefly about the organization, the book by Marcia Davenport, and the movie, which was once described in a newspaper review as "the Gone With the Wind of Pittsburgh." There was supposed to be a discussion afterwards too, and we were easily the two youngest people in the room of 30-40, but it was 9:30 at that point, and I needed to get home to go to bed for a day of work in the morning. Nevertheless, the movie was well acted, and free, so it was a nice date night.

You might like other That's So Pittsburgh moments, like eating in the Strip District.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Happy 12th Anniversary: It's not all roses

I took Dear Husband to Altius for our 12th wedding anniversary. The evening did not start out well. I had just gotten up from a nap after my first 24-hour shift and hastily gotten dressed in the new frock DH had bought me for my birthday, but once in the car and running 10 minutes late, I discovered I had neglected to put on a slip and decided I didn't like the jewelry ​I had picked out (remembered the silk, forgot my pearls [traditional 12th anniversary gifts]). We pulled up for valet parking, and as I stepped into the restaurant, I broke a heel in front of everyone. After we ordered, DH decided to give me his anniversary card early, because of the message: it not all been roses, but we've walked the path together. We opened our other cards and decorated the windowsill with them, just like we did in his hospital rooms.

In our corner seat, we had an excellent view of the Three Rivers Regatta and the speed boat finals happening at the Point. That's what DH is paying attention to instead of his steak. (Isn't he handsome?) Behind him you can see the observation deck for the Duquesne Incline, from which the shorts-clad sightseers were watching us as well as the race.

The food was fancy: watermelon salad (above) and scallops for me, steak for the Mister. Our meal also came with two amuse bouches, unlimited bread with spreads, and two little dessert bites to take home with us. Like most fine restaurants, when we didn't have room to order a full dessert, they offered us a small complimentary​ one. The price is high enough that we will only eat dinner here for special occasions, but maybe we'll come back sooner to try their deconstructed desserts.

Over dinner, we tried to remember all the places we've gone to celebrate our anniversaries: Chicago, St. Louis/Kansas City, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Madison, San Francisco, Metropolis, and (over the coming Labor Day Weekend) Columbus. On occasion life has been too hectic for us to get out of town, but we do always try to dress up and eat good food in honor of another year as husband and wife. For instance, last year we celebrated our eleventh/steel anniversary at the Steel City restaurant named Eleven. Because, how could we not?