Friday, March 30, 2018

Eating our way through Allentown

Over Easter, My Awesome Parents (MAP) came to visit us, so we took them on a 'Burgh Bits and Bites tour of the Allentown neighborhood. No, not Allentown in eastern Pennsylvania, but the up-and-coming (maybe gentrifying) Hilltop community in southern Pittsburgh. It's currently marked by little plaster penguins by artist James Simon (Hilltop Waddle, below). The tour combined stops at food establishments as well as small businesses. It started at Breakfast at Shelly's, where we enjoyed kielbasa with sauerkraut. The little Black Market deli shares the space and provided excellent meats. I would happily drive across town to eat here again.

We also visited Work Hard Pittsburgh, a cooperative where independent artists and professionals can buy desk or conference room time, with a media studio in the basement. And an independent media organization whose name escapes me. These are the kinds of employment that are driving housing and the food industry along the main drag in the neighborhood. 

Next stop was the Black Forge heavy-metal-themed coffee shop, where they have an assortment of teas and coffees, and the blondie brownies were large and to-die-for. Then we doubled back to Leon's Caribbean Restaurant, where we admired the art on the walls but packed away the meat hot pockets for later, because we were getting full. After that was Paisano's for pizza, pizza rolls, and the curliest herb fries that no one could stop eating. On top of all that, the owner--to whom our tour guide referred as the Pizza Soup Nazi--pulled out a jar of Maraschino cherries in homemade moonshine: bam!

Because the guitar guy has gotten married and moved his shop out to his new farm, last stop was at Onion Maiden, a punk-rock vegan restaurant with an extensive menu and the most tongue-in-cheek names: we were served a bit of Kimmy Gibbler Dawg with in-house kimchi that was (I'm sorry to say) not that flavorful. However, I am looking forward to coming back for Kale 'Em All salad, Emperor Palpatots tater tot nachos, and Terrormisu (you read that right).


Needless to say, we were all stuffed and skipped dinner. Although the weather could have been nicer, this was a neat way to spend an afternoon getting to know the city better. Also, I almost lost my phone but recovered it, so there's that. We really like this tour company--having eaten our way through the Strip District--and plan to sign up for another food excursion when it warms up.

Monday, March 26, 2018

What Residency Looks Like XX: Four for Four

My residency program accepts four trainees each year, and since it's a four-year program, there are sixteen of us at any one time, plus or minus partners, children, and pets. Each June we take a "class picture" at the summer picnic. For Christmas this year I asked My Awesome Parents for a custom frame from an Etsy shop called Rustic Springs. I requested Pitt/UPMC colors of weathered navy blue on the outer frame and rustic weathered gold on the inner frame. (The Children's Hospital color is purple, which I thought would look over the top.) It's sort of like an Advent calendar for my time in residency: when I receive the final photo, we will have started our final year together. I finally got around to hanging it up and think it looks great!


Sunday, March 25, 2018

That's So Pittsburgh: Voices Raised Together

Isaiah 11:6 "...and a little child shall lead them."

Saturday, tens of thousands of us gathered in downtown Pittsburgh to rally for better gun control. It paralleled the March for Our Lives happening at the same time in Washington, D.C. We marched through the streets carrying signs and shouting slogans. Local high school students led us to Market Square, where there were speeches from politicians, teenagers, and family members of persons killed by guns. The organizers had expected 3,000 people, but news outlets estimated 30,000 activists, teachers, and families showed up to encourage each other and to make a statement with their bodies and their voices.

Here are some of the signs Dear Husband and I saw and the slogans we heard: Arms are for hugging. Tell me what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like. No more silence, end gun violence. Am I next? Vote them out! I thought you were pro-life. Dodge ball not dodge bullets. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Guns are not school supplies. We stand with Parkland. Make our schools safe again. Make Assault Guns Abolished. "There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children." ~Kofi Annan

"All Glory Laud and Honor"
All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel
and David's royal Son,
now in the Lord's name coming,
the King and Blessed One.

Sunday was Palm/Passion Sunday, when we remembered Jesus' triumphal entrance into Jerusalem at the end of his ministry and beginning of Holy Week. Although ours did not, many churches stage processions of palms (led) by the children of the Sunday School​. They are supposed to demonstrate the faith like a child. We held palms and sang "All Glory, Laud, and Honor," whose chorus impressed me today in a way I hadn't noticed before: "to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring." I couldn't help but compare the clogged streets yesterday with the throngs who are said to have greeted the Messiah. We waved paper and cardboard signs, they had palm fronds and cloaks. We shouted, "No more silence"; they cried, "Hosanna!" and "Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!" Both were seeking to change society: the one for less violence in homes and schools, the other for a violent rebellion against the Roman empire. We now know that the Son of God and the Son of Man--against all expectations--suffered at the hands of the oppressor and rose again to new life. It was an entirely different revolution than what had been anticipated. Maybe when we pray today for an end to mass shootings, the answer will be different than what we had expected, too:

The sign reads: "What if these kids are the answer to your thoughts & prayers? Are you listening??"
(We did not see this sign at our march, but it has been making the rounds on the interwebs.
This image from the Democratic Underground.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What Residency Looks Like XIX: Sweet Moments

Sometimes residency looks like an ice cream sundae made with whatever ice cream hasn't melted by the time you arrive to the good-bye party after long call and sign out. It's been a busy three days, what with a new team on Monday morning, outpatient clinic Monday afternoon, >1 hour of note writing Monday evening, and two long, busy days in the short-stay unit at the children's hospital complicated by snow delays and personal crises affecting team members. Tuesday I needed help, waited too long to ask for it, and felt like I needed a drink by the time I got home. Wednesday I asked for help early, got it, and felt like celebrating when I got off.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Florida Spring Break: Largo & Clearwater

On our fifth and final day of vacation, we drove an hour to Indian Rocks Beach on the recommendation of a friend. The beach itself was beautiful, but the weather was not, being 60 degrees and windy. (Nevertheless, this did not stop two older couples in bathing suits and sweatshirts, who set up chairs and an umbrella a little ways from us. The friend explained that, "Every day is a beach day in Florida.") We stayed a few minutes to enjoy the vista but quickly moved on to our next stop, the Florida Botanical Gardens. Entrance to their 30 acres is free, but it was still rather early in the year to see much growing. I decided that if we lived in a warmer climate, I would want dwarf palmetto and red shrimp plants in my garden.

It's a pineapple plant!

Although there wasn't too much growing, the physical structures were interesting, including this gazebo in the Wedding Garden, with "Love is the flower of life. D.H. Lawrence" inscribed on the patio. There was also a little stone chaise lounge in the Jazz Garden, where I imagine someone could pop in their ear buds and unwind to the sounds of saxophones and double bass.

A pleasant bonus was discovering the Heritage Village, a collection of structures (homes, schools, shops) all moved from various locations around Central Florida to this "village." Some have exhibits inside, like this Gulf of Mexico Sponge Company shack, while others offer tours. There was a little white clapboard Methodist Church that had once been picked up by a hurricane and deposited some distance away on its property, facing a different direction. The congregation just left it that way!

Finally, we drove over to Spectrum Field in Clearwater to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a better game than the Blue Jays vs Orioles, and "our" team won. For this game I had purchased us outfield "seats" on the berm, where we settled in the grass with other couples and families. Unfortunately, it was sunny to the point of being uncomfortable where we were, but it was chilly in the shade. I ended up getting sunburned. Afterward, we dropped off our rental car at the airport and settled in for a couple hours to wait for our flight. FrDrDr slept most of the way. We landed at midnight.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Florida Spring Break: Sarasota

Our fourth day of vacation we drove an hour south to Sarasota to take in a spring training baseball game. I was so excited to be in the company of fellow O's fanatics, in what is said to be one of the nicest Grapefruit League stadiums. Although the temps had been in the 80s the whole month of February, as soon as we arrived, they dived to 60-70s for highs. Thursday it barely reached 70 while we sat in the shade in 17 mph winds. It was one of our less enjoyable games, made more so by the fact that the Birds didn't do anything exciting until the bottom of the 9th inning, at which point the stadium was half empty, and their defeat was already assured. Dear Husband ate a "jumbo" dog for lunch, which he pronounced decent. I splurged on a $13 crab cake sandwich. The crab cake was respectable, but it was served with the most anemic slice of tomato I have ever seen, on a thoroughly uninspired cheap plain roll. The lemon ice was good and not too big (the ones they sell at the Pittsburgh park say "4 servings" on them!).

After the game we tootled over to the Ringling Estate in time for an early dinner and the $15-ticket discount at 5pm. We thought to get a hot meal at the restaurant but were turned away although there were many empty tables, because they had future reservations. So we settled for sharing a sandwich, a cookie, and a root beer from the cafe.

Although I wanted to ogle the Roaring Twenties mansion Ca'd'Zan (House of John) that John and Mable Ringling had built in 1924-1926, we only had 3 hours, so we focused on the Circus Museum. (They have a very large Museum of Art, but we were arted-out [see Sarasota 1 and 2]). Dear Husband's favorite part was Howard Tibbals' miniature model circus that he has built by hand over decades. Ringling wouldn't let him use the name, so he called it "Howard Brothers Circus."

Here is an aerialist lined up with her spangled horses, waiting to parade into the ring.

The circus's caged animals amounted to a rolling zoo.

This is an over-heard view from the second floor of the circus grounds.

There was an older circus that had inspired Tibbals. This is a shot of one of the decorated elephants.

There were also artifacts, video footage, and activities for kids (and the young at heart).

The entranceway was overseen by an enormous circus mural.

In the second building they keep old circus cars and cages, the tools that were used behind the scenes to repair everything, and the Ringlings' private railroad cars, which are FAN-cy. There was also a half-hour video about how the Ringlings struck it rich and moved from small-town Wisconsin to the Florida Gulf Coast, but we didn't have enough time to watch it. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

St. Petersburg, Part the Second

After thoroughly stuffing our eyeballs with glass art at the Imagine Museum (click for post), we enjoyed a delicious hot lunch at a Venezuelan cafe before attempting to find parking for our second attraction, the Dali Museum. It turns out the course of this weekend's Formula 1 grand prix runs right by the museum, whose parking garage is being used to house all the trailers, so we wandered around 1st Avenue South before encountering 2nd Avenue North East and the free parking. The website I found via the museum's Facebook promised a "Dali Trolley," but we had to settle for a shuttle bus.

The museum itself began as the personal collection of Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, who developed a friendly patronage with Salvador (1904-1989) and Gala Dali (1894-1982). After 40 years of private enjoyment, the Morses donated it to St. Petersburg, which wanted to host a new museum. The first building opened in 1982. The new building--with an undulating geodesic glass and steel dome protruding through 18-inch-thick hurricane-proof concrete walls--opened in 2011. At its heart is a spirally concrete staircase that captures the mathematical, natural, and whimsical characteristics of so much of Dali's art.

Our first task was to secure "golden tickets" to the Dreams of Dali virtual reality exhibit by staking out the booth on the 3rd floor. The museum has taken Dali's Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus” and made a 3-minute audiovisual experience. You put on glasses and headphones and explore the painting, which includes "Easter eggs" from his other works, while a soundtrack plays. It was pretty neat. What you see is projected on a large flat screen tv for the people waiting in line to enjoy. We snapped pics of each other (below). Afterward, we found the original painting in the gallery, and I was somewhat surprised to discover that its mood is possibly more hopeful. I guess because it's a "dreamscape" the video is cast in dark, noir-ish tones, but the central hue of the painting is orangish, although of dusk or dawn it's hard to say.

I got a free audio guide to listen to clips about the architecture. We walked the labyrinth in the Avant-garden (ha!) outside. We followed a docent around the special exhibit on Marcel Duchamp and Dali and were surprised to learn that Duchamp's famous urinal was "created" in 1917. By the time we found The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory--Dali's famous "melty clocks" painting--we were tired of walking and more than happy to get back to the shuttle stop and our rental car. Unenthused about a 1.5-hour commute through rushhour traffic home (twice what our morning trip had taken), we stopped for ice cream at a mom-and-pop stand before driving the last 45 minutes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

St. Petersburgh, Part the First

The last three days of vacation were devoted to  a variety of day trips. On Wednesday, we took a day trip to St. Petersburg to visit two art museums, one new and the other established. The first was the Imagine Museum, opened just two months ago and still a work in progress with the labeling. (You didn't have to be a Grammar Nazi like me to notice all the misplaced or missing commas, but it helped.) Imagine Museum is an entire museum dedicated to the American art glass movement since the 1960s. The museum name reflects their out-sized institutional goals (complete with "inspiring" quotations on the gallery walls), but it has a truly impressive collection. I've shared some of our favorites with you.

Martin Lipofsky (1938-2016), "Seattle Series #2" (1990) 

Mark Peiser (1988- ), "Etude Tableau #6" (2015) 

Dale Chihuly (1941- ), "7-part Seaform Set" (1997)

 Daniel Dailey (1947- ), "Erudite" (2011)
We decided this "erudite" fellow was an undergraduate student wearing golden talismans from his classes: an Erlenmeyer flask for Chemistry, a hieroglyph for Egyptian history, what may have been a guitar fret, and maybe a pipe for blowing glass-?

Toots Zynsky (1951- ),  Tempestoso (2016) and ?
These were some of our favorite pieces. The sheets of glass are made of thin filaments fused together. The one on the left looks like both a whale's tail and the splash it might leave.

Jon Kuhn (1949- ), "Harvest Sun"[?]
Most of the pictures I took of the labels didn't come out, but I think I got the title correct.

This was one of our favorite pieces, because of the way that the clear glass flower stands out among the other colors and forms. I wish the label hadn't come out fuzzy.

This is part of a larger piece called "White Bamboo Wall" (2016) by Barbara Moore (1960- ). 
It combines both bamboo and orchids in such a way that I could look it at every day.

Shelley Muzylowski Allen, "Toward the East" (2016) 

 Eric Hilton (1927- ) and James Allen, "Dancing Cells" (2016)
This is a multimedia exhibit of glass, mirrors, and a video projected onto embedded screens.

Vivian Wang, "Cat" (2016)
This was one of DH's favorite pieces.

Rear: Kathleen Mulcahy (1952- ), "Eclipse" (2016)
Front: Brent Kee Young (1946- ), "Cubism V aka Western Tribute...
Aries, from the Matrix Series" (2016)

Me + crab, Me = satisfied (Yelp: 11 Chicks)