Friday, November 10, 2017

What Residency Looks Like X: The Long View

Sometimes residency looks like the vista from the clinic workroom. The foreground is a construction site, in the middle ground stands one of the 5 hospitals at which I rotate, and in the background a long train disappears around a bend in the Monongahela River. I spent the morning here in class talking about 12-step meetings and the afternoon by myself completing modules about good clinical research practices. Now I'm headed across town to the children's hospital to moonlight for a few hours in the evening. I'll never get tired of this view.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

FrDrDr Cooks Breakfast

Like many of us I suppose, I'm a creature of habit. And I am in the habit of eating yogurt with fruit and granola in the mornings for breakfast while berries are in season, and oatmeal with raisins +/- walnuts during the winter and early spring. Sundays are for pancakes with peanut butter or Nutella. But I do like to cook and am not averse to changing things up when I have the time, so during a slow overnight shift in the ICU, I looked up new breakfast recipes. I found three that I thought would fit my budget, diet, and time constraints; here's the first one.

Barley and Compote
1. Thaw bag of frozen blueberries in fridge until you have a free morning to spend 45 minutes cooking breakfast.
2. Put pot on stove. 3. Discover you have a jar of pearl couscous in the cupboard, not pearl barley.
4. Make oatmeal for breakfast.
5. Purchase pearl barley.
6. Wait for another day with a late start.
7. Bring 1 cup of pearl barley, three cups of water, and some salt to a boil. Then simmer for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
8. Simmer 1 cup of thawed blueberries, one-and-a-half tablespoons of orange juice, and one teaspoon of honey for 10 minutes to thicken it. The original recipe called for 2 teaspoons of orange zest and 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, but I did not have these available and so did not include them.
9. Spoon barley into bowl. Add some blueberry mixture. Forget to top with a quarter cup of milk and toasted almond slivers.
10. Eat.

The barley provides a not-unpleasant chewy texture like steel-cut oats. 1 cup of dry barley makes enough cooked barley for 4-6 servings. I made another bowl with pear and maple syrup, which was good. I tried again with milk, blueberries, and walnuts (no almonds in the house). Then I pretended the barley was oatmeal and used cinnamon, raisins, and brown sugar as toppings. I have a cup of dry barley left over after this experiment, and I will use it again to introduce some variety in my breakfast routine. Maybe I'll flip the script and try savory oatmeal for dinner one of these days!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Witches and Goblins and Ghosts, Oh my!

Again this year for Halloween, the Pediatric residents got together at someone's house for snacks, drinks, games, and pumpkin carving. The program donated gourds for the monthly Happy Hour, but Dear Husband and I had already picked ours from the patch, so we brought knives and spoons for the disemboweling. I used a stencil for the owl's face and then free-handed his feathers. DH free-handed his "classic" face, updated with a goatee. Other designs included a hipster pumpkin complete with thick-rimmed glasses and bushy mustache, and the face of one of our program directors, which turned out better than any of us thought it would. Unfortunately, we kept the jack-o-lanterns inside so they wouldn't get smashed overnight--but instead they succumbed to the same nasty green fungus as last year. So, no lighted jack-o-lanterns on the front porch for us tonight.

For home decorations we again went with cobwebs on the porch, a skeleton in the ivy, and a spider dangling from the lamppost. Our neighbors up the street go all out with orange lights on the porch, ghosts and witches, blinking "eye" lights in the bushes, which is my favorite touch.

As for self decorations, I rotated my five(!) pairs of Halloween earrings: spiders, a cat/witch, pumpkins, spider webs, and candy corn--the last three handmade by my friend J.R. The candy corn ones have been crowd pleasers. In Pediatrics it is de rigeur to show up on October 31 in some kind of costume, so I consulted the internet for a witty get-up and settled upon...

Those are Smarties on my pants. Get it?




I'm a "smarty pants." Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2017

How to Throw an Autumnal Party, FrDrDr Style

1. Realize you didn't fire up your charcoal grill all summer AND that you have s'mores fixings left over from someone else's party.

2. Design a Facebook invitation with an appropriately autumnal graphic and invite some friends.

3. Instruct Dear Husband to purchase a gallon of​ local cider. Leave town for a long weekend.

4. Drive home in pouring rain, arriving just in time to start the coals.

5. Discover that the grill has not been cleaned after the last time you used it.

6. Learn that you do not, in fact, have a bag of charcoal in the house, and that the drug store across the street would rather sell you Christmas decorations.

7. Start heating cider on the stove.

8. Clean the grill while DH plays spooky music on the piano and you wait for someone to show up.

9. Friends arrive with fresh pumpkin bread and adult conversation.

10. Cook marshmallows in the microwave to order, topping with dark Hershey's chocolate and Honeymade Graham crackers. Enjoy the tastes of autumn!

The blog has previous enjoyed apples and pumpkin as autumnal delights!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What Residency Looks Like IX: Multitasking

Sometimes residency looks like an unexpected morning off from clinic, so you read your book for book club while squeezing in some much-needed exercise. The pediatric residents will be discussing Exit West, Mohsin Hamid's semi-realistic contemporary novel about migration, in a couple of weeks.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

What Residency Looks Like VIII: Working at Home

Residents are now required to log their "duty hours" of clinical responsibilities, but we all spend hours of unclocked time each week answering emails, preparing presentations, and studying. Sometimes residency looks like completing a required module on acid-base disturbances from the comfort of my rocking chair while enjoying the sunny view of the green and gold gingko trees on our block.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Four Trees a Jolly-Good Fellow

In March Dear Husband and I visited Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's famous creek-tottering domicile, and were so impressed by the work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, its parent organization, that we joined on the spot. I have enjoyed the flower plantings cultivated around time by the WPC and started looking for a chance to plant trees for the environment and the aesthetics. Happily for so late in October, the weather was fair on a recent Saturday, when we joined 40-50 volunteers to plant 84 trees and 125 potted plants along the North Shore of Pittsburgh. Behind us in Heinz Field were the cheers of some fan activity, while across the Allegheny River protesters could be glimpsed carrying neon signs outside Station Square. There were lots of people out walking themselves, their dogs, and/or their children; running; biking; and generally enjoying the weekend. I think at one point a parade of people on a stroke walk came by.

After a breakfast of bagels and coffee, we watched a tree-planting demonstration. The Pittsburgh Redbud Project has planted so many of its eponymous namesake that the young trees we were planting had to be shipped in from New Jersey, as none of the nurseries around here had any that were big enough. And these were deceptively heavy for saplings, requiring 3-6 people to wrestle them into their new homes. DH and I then worked with three other Pittsburghers to plant three redbuds and a hornbeam tree: Galadriel (pictured above), Gandalf, Waldo, and Louie. I wanted to continue the Lord of the Rings theme and name Waldo "Tom Bombadil," since he was going to live in the middle of a bunch of bushes (see below), but I got outvoted. Louie we named for Louis Armstrong (a horn player, get it?).

Three hours later there was pizza and cookies. We needed showers after sweating in the 70+-degree weather (it had been less than 50 degrees when we left the house that morning) and discovered aching muscles we didn't even know we had. It was good, honest, manual labor that we will likely repeat at least once a year. That's so Pittsburgh.

If you liked this post, you might like these ones about Pittsburgh's labor history or the the Frick Art Museum.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Garden of Glass

One of Dear Husband and my favorite spots in Pittsburgh is the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Their big attraction this year is SUPER. NATURAL. Glass Art by Jason Gamrath. Gamrath has created dozens of flowers out of glass and metal that are hundreds or thousands of times larger than real life. That lets us marvel at their detail even more. I first visited the exhibition one sunny spring day with J.R. Then I brought DH back in the fall for a networking event. After some hors d'oeuvres and polite talk, we toured the darkened halls that had been redecorated with mums. I've shared some pictures from both trips so you can enjoy them day and night. (Locals, the show goes on until November 5 at 11pm!)

These blue ones are pitcher plants. They're usually reddish, but Gamrath made them blue for the details. Left during the day, below at night, with big pink mums and mist for ambiance. DH liked these glass-plants best, and I think this is my favorite photo.

The main atrium has enormous orchids scattered throughout. Below you can see the same pink orchids in the spring and the fall. What I liked about my spring day trip was getting to see the details on the reverse of the petals through the glass conservatory walls while walking in the outdoor gardens.

Can you believe those orchids are taller than you? The perspective really makes you feel like a bug in a terrarium, doesn't it?

Here are yellow orchids at night and my least favorite flowers, spiky blue "racer" orchids that look alien. The Venus fly trap below was actually my second least favorite display piece, because I don't think the metal stems marry well with the glass heads.

Above left is the French garden, full of mums. I just wish they would better light that far alcove for night photography. To the right is a tall, glass corpse flower that smells A LOT better than the Phipps's real corpse flowers, Barbara and Romero, named for characters in Night of the Living Dead, which was filmed outside Pittsburgh. Finally, below is an enormous lotus flower with metal petals and glass stamens set in a reflecting pool.

If you liked this post, check out this post about Columbus's botanic garden and Pittsburgh's second botanic garden.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What Residency Looks Like VII: Stress Relief

Sometimes residency looks like a bubble bath and a new German novel to soak away seven weeks of ICU: long days, longer nights, fumbled presentations to attendings, heart-felt conversations with families, children who don't get better, watching people die, and generally feeling like I was practicing beyond my knowledge and/or competency. Yes, I learned a lot. But tonight I will let it digest subconsciously under the scent of a citrus-coconut candle.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall Tastes like Pumpkin and Apples

It's fall! Around here that means crisp apples, pumpkin cookies, hot cider, and Halloween decorations. Every year I bake 1-2 batches of pumpkin cookies from The Official Millbrook 1010/Greg 1010 Cookbook, compiled by my college "suities" E.F., C.M., and I. (One of three extant copies pictured at left.) The original recipe calls for icing, but I find them sweet enough. Instead, I add raisins. The texture is spongy and cake-like, and they taste particularly good warm, with hot apple cider from a local orchard. Here's how to make the cookies:

First, take out the butter! It never fails that I sift the dry ingredients and then pull rock-hard butter out of the fridge. Or worse, like today, discover that we are out of the creamy yellow stuff and have to send Dear Husband to the Co-op. He wants to bake Kirchenkuchen next week, so he was going to need some anyway. (Fall tastes like plums, pears, and cherry pie/cake to him.)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp cinnamon (be generous!), 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp salt.

Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar. Add 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg, and 1 can pumpkin, which DH sweetly bought for me without my asking, because he knew it was in season.

Mix wet and dry ingredients. Add raisins to taste. Drop on a cookie sheet with a spoon and bake for 15-20 minutes. You know the cookies are done when they are slightly tacky on top. Cool on a rack. They keep well in the refrigerator and can be frozen for later. Heat 10-15 seconds in the microwave before enjoying with the fall-themed beverage of your choice.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What Residency Looks Like VI: W-w-w-white out!

In the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU, pronounced "pick you"), these are the tools of my trade as a resident:
  • A stethoscope and alcohol wipes with which to clean it between patients, although this was really only useful for consults in the emergency room, as each patient in the PICU has their own disposable yellow plastic stethoscope. Nobody cleans it between users.
  • Water bottle: hydration, hydration, hydration!
  • Keyboard = germ-infested portal to the electronic medical record. Since I started working in the hospital (and came down with gastroenteritis in my first month), I will not eat without washing my hands with soap and water. I touch as little of my food with my hands as possible, going to far as to eat snack mix with a spoon and my sandwich or chips out of the bag "like a horse" (according to my coworkers).
  • "Pickle phone" aka short-range wireless phone so I can always be reached no matter where I am in the hospital or unit (including, you know, ... the loo).
  • Rounding sheets onto which to copy overnight events, vital signs, ventilator settings, laboratory and imaging results, fluid balance, medications, consults to call, consultants' recommendations, something resembling a treatment plan, and a to-do list marked by open squares that I shade in like a bowling score card depending on how close to done the task is.
  • Pen, pencil, and white out for fixing mistakes before copying the sheet for the attending and for whiting out today's details so the sheet can be copied and used for several days if the basic information does not change. The resident's personal bottle of white out may be disappearing from the PICU, as the unit transitions to a computerized rounding sheet that requires three clicks and then *poof*. Or rather *print*. No more two hours scribing information that is often out of date by the time it is presented on rounds. Unfortunately, the rounding sheets are still in beta, and I have no more scheduled PICU rotations for the rest of residency (!).

If you also find tools and technology interesting, check out this post about bathrooms, this one on toadstools, or this one about everyday things in Germany.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What Residency Looks Like V: Sustenance II

Sometimes residency looks like the breakfast sandwiches your fellow or attending buys the team after an overnight shift so that you all will make to morning sign out without eating each other.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

That's So Pittsburgh: a metal reminder of bygone days

While walking back to our car in East Liberty after lunch on my day off, I looked down and noticed this bronze plaque set in the sidewalk. An object that dimly recalls the glory days of manufacturing in the Allegheny River Valley, it's from The Wadsworth Stone & Paving Company, Pittsburgh, PA. The name of the firm rises with the sun between two mountains. Other such markers are extant in the city: Father Pitt found one in Squirrel Hill, and kb412 found one on Mount Washington. According to a history by J. Richard Bowersox that I found online, the Wadsworth Company was incorporated in 1892, worked Kentucky rock from 1903 to 1917, and then was folded into the Kentucky Rock Asphalt Company. I hadn't realized that rock quarrying was a big industry in Kentucky in the early 20th century. The Pittsburgh City Photographer collection at the University of Pittsburgh has a photo of one of the local production sites in Larimer from 1911.

Know what else you can find in East Liberty? Motor Square Garden.

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?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

That's So Pittsburgh: The Pirates Parrot

That's so Pittsburgh: the Pirates Parrot sat at the end of our row, two rows from the visitors' dugout on the third-base side of PNC Park. Next he hopped up on the dugout, "danced" for us by wiggling his ample bum, refused to let a fan take a picture with his head in the parrot's mouth, and promptly melted into a puddle in the 90+-degree heat. At his feet you can see the two boogie boards covered in black tape that he uses like a flip cell phone.

Other TSPGH moments you might enjoy: Mrs. T's pierogies racing on the Jumbotron and Steelers swag spotted in our neighborhood.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

That's So Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

After church on Sunday, My Awesome Parents (MAP), Dear Husband (DH), and I (FrDrDr) drove a little ways southwest of the city to the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. I had chanced upon a Groupon for reduced entry and happily snatched it up. On the way, we were treated to a hawk standing at the side of the road, just hanging out in the sun.

The decent-sized parking lot was relatively full, which suggests that the PBG is more popular than I had thought, not having heard of it the first year we lived in the city. There are many picnic tables set up under a big white awning next to a few kiddy games and a port-a-pot, but no trash cans: PBG asks that visitors haul out their garbage with them.

We enjoyed a delectable picnic at a table under an awning and then crossed the road to the gardens. Opened in 2011, the PBG is a work in progress on reclaimed land from a coal mine in Settler's Cabin Park. They have a formal garden for weddings and parties; a dogwood meadow with gazebo and birdhouses; a lotus and lily pond; and a couple of wooded trails. A "senses" garden is under construction. The trees provided welcome relief from the hot afternoon sun, and we were tickled to find the activity spaces set up for the young and young at heart: a hermit hut, a bookworm glen, and an enormous bird nest. There are also newspaper mailboxes in front of certain trees that let you guess the year the tree was planted and then tell you what was happening in the world that year.

I don't imagine that we will visit as often at the Phipps Conservatory, but we will definitely be back to discover what else they have done, built, and planted.

That's So Pittsburgh (TSPGH) has also visited Kennywood Amusement Park and The Strip District.