Thursday, December 23, 2010

love in the hood

love in the hood
Originally uploaded by foto fledgling
At the beginning of both November and December I was away on business for what seemed like a significant amount of time away. Particularly in November when I was in Colorado for nearly 10 days. At one point in my life I called it home... but hadn't done so for many years: as I feel more like I "grew up" in Seattle and had come to call that home. Towards the end of my visit I was really missing what has become home now - Pittsburgh, PA and my family and friends here.

Talking with my dad last night about home, and what that means to each of us... I realized I really do feel so at home in Pittsburgh. I'm not sure what that's about, but it is true. I've spoken on this blog before about how this place reminds me of various aspects of my life and maybe that's why it's been so easy for me to settle in here.

Regardless, after having gone away during such a hectic time of year... I am so glad I get to come home to here!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

returning to the sea

It's been awhile since I've seen the Pacific. It was a magical site. I've missed the cycle of the tides.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

no traditions yet

Last year we didn't leave our house, guests and the food came to us. This year we were the guests at other people's house and the food was already there.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Living Life in the city

It has been far too long since I blogged, but I have a good excuse... we moved into Pittsburgh proper and have been busy ever since. This is what I imagined our life would be like when we moved to Pittsburgh, and it is absolutely wonderful. It's a cool little neighborhood on the east side with lots of old brick houses, and tons of trees.

After some hiccups getting the kid into a new school, she is settling in quite nicely. From what I can tell the kids mostly are interested in learning and the teachers spend less time yelling and breaking up fights and more time teaching. She's made some friends, and the best part is she gets a bus pass for the Pittsburgh Public Transit system, which means she also has some self mobility on the weekends.

The kid and I have started doing yoga at a friend's local yoga studio and loving it. There are sidewalks for walking; although the dog does prefer her grassy yard to walking, but sometimes we manage to drag her out.

A few of my friends are within a mile and it's been nice to spend more time being social (I became a bit of a recluse living all the way out in the woods).

The husband LOVES his garage and his commute and since "his girls" are both much happier being in the city it just makes his life easier.

Our landlord left behind a garden, and we enjoyed the bounty for the remainder of the season.

I just can't say enough good stuff about it. Oh yeah... and we have an actual guest room, so feel free to come visit, and hang with us on our fabulous porch.

Monday, September 20, 2010

a bit bumpy

bumpy august
Originally uploaded by foto fledgling
August was not exactly smooth, September has certainly been less bumpy... so looking forward to October.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

creepy crawlies

Some of the bugs around here are just your average every day run of the mill bugs... but it seems to me that more often than not, the bugs are outrageously buggy....

little old grasshopper

every day 8" earthworm

kinda even maybe pretty

no fun walking into the bathroom to find this

just the shell (the bugs that leave these make a very LOUD NOISE for hours)

slippery salamander


Friday, July 23, 2010

Dancing screaming itching squealing fevered...

Feeling hot hot hot!!!

Last summer when we moved here it was actually chilly for a few weeks (60s). While Seattle was having a heat wave (100 degree weather for several days)... I was wearing sweatshirts here. In August of 2009 it started to warm up a bit and we got a little taste of a "normal" Pittsburgh summer, warmish days and high humidity, but nothing that was extraordinarily unbearable. This summer... we've already had one Weather Alert for extreme heat conditions, and this weekend there is another one.

While I typically prefer being warm, I don't know that I am mentally prepared for roasting like a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Monday, July 5, 2010

lifetimes have been lived...

since this!

A year ago we pulled up to the In-Law's house:
  • U-Haul et al.
  • Voluntarily Unemployed (I've since had three jobs and he has had two, the kids even had a few: sewing, and cat sitting)
  • Homeless (we remedied that quickly, thankfully)
  • and some (okay, who are we kidding A LOT) of uncertainty

Certainly there are some things I would have had happen differently, but all in all NO REGRETS.

Viewing my life through my lens over the last 12 months, I am happy to see that there was lots of love: we connected with each other as a family, connected with old friends, made new friends, and spent a lot of time hanging out with family (one of the reasons we moved here). Explored a lot: both the city, and the surrounding countryside. Experienced some classic Pittsburgh: a hockey game in the Igloo, Kennywood, the Andy Warhol Museum (which on a tangent: I experienced more art here then I did in the last 5 years I lived in Seattle). And otherwise, despite the uncertainty of it all, managed to make it through our first year in tact and mostly happy.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

past present future in less then 2 minutes....

One of the things we've been meaning to do since we moved here is visit a place called Kennywood. Of course because he had been there when he was a kid, the huz wanted to take both the kid and I; but as teens are wont to do, she went ahead without us. Instead going with her friends on the designated day for her school. So after we shipped her off to visit in Seattle and we went on a day date.

It was nostalgic for him, and fun for me (I heart roller coasters). Unfortunately we were too early to ride the newest one which opened a few days after we went; but it will be nicely broken in by the time we try it out. Can't wait to go back with the kid.... now that I've gotten familiar we can better prepare. The pics are all with my new phone, I was sc'red to take the big kahuna camera, but there is always next time.

Jack Rabbit in action, or what I could see of it...

the second dip of the Phantom's Revenge, which goes under the Thunder Bolt

The Phantom's Revenge, I made Michael ride it twice!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

reminders of a childhood spent in the south

  • the weight of air
  • the colorful song birds
  • the way the grass smells after a blistering hot day, and then a good down pour
  • the storms
  • the fireflies (which are not that easy to capture on video, but I tried)

very short and you have to look closely, they are brief little flashes of light...

longer, but right off the bat there is one that flashed right before me...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

remaining vestige of Seattle life

I haven't changed my cell phone number yet (it's nearly been a year since we arrived). I've had plenty of opportunity, but I'm reluctant to let it go. I'm sure if I dug deep I could determine the cause of this hesitation; but the basic fact is: in a toddler tantrum kind of way... "I don' wanna!"

It's driving the hubby mad. I keep telling him, "You can change your number, I DON'T CARE, but I'm not ready to change mine." He hasn't changed his either. He's the one with the 412 tattoo, not me.

I have wondered if cell phones were as prolific then as they are now, would I have hung on to my Colorado area code when I moved around way back when I was moving around a lot? I think it's interesting that both Michael and I grew up in certain area codes, his was 412, mine was 303 (but neither of those cover the areas where we grew up in any longer, they have since incorporated new area codes....)

I even got a new phone (I think I had my Blackberry the longest I've ever had any phone) recently, and yet it still has my good ol' 206 digits! Maybe when it's been two years!

Friday, June 11, 2010


We were very fortunate to get to visit one of the most famous American homes,
"Fallingwater" .
It was AAA-maZing!!!

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one;
stronger than magician ever spoke,
or spirit ever answered to,
in the strongest conjuration.

Charles Dickens

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

more validation, justification, whatever you want to call it...

"People know that Pittsburgh is a really great place for families because of safety, schools and the arts." says Wendy Hermann, director of student services for master's programs at Carnegie Mellon University. "I see students wanting that whether they're married or not. They see staying in Pittsburgh as way to say that's the kind of lifestyle they're looking forward to."

America's Best Places to Raise a Family

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Seattle Love for Pittsburgh...

I was doing my usual clicking around on the interwebulars this morning and came across a blog from one of the Seattle weeklies and came across a bit about a Pittsburgh food place. I am super excited now, because my dear friend Monica, who is a foodie, will be visiting me at the end of July. I think we should check this out:

Seattle Weekly Voracious

"But really, it's the small, strange details that really give a place (and a scene) character. And now, Pittsburgh has this: Conflict Kitchen, a restaurant (well, a hole-in-the-wall, really--a literal hole in a wall) that serves, on a rotating basis, only foods from places where the U.S. is currently having a war. Or maybe threatening to have a war, considering that it opened and is going through its first iteration as an Iranian restaurant and, unless I missed something on CNN this morning, I don't believe we are currently in a shooting war with Iran.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Strange fascination fascinating me

Ah, changes are taking the pace I'm going through


Turn and face the strange


Oh, look out, you rock and rollers


Turn and face the strange


Pretty soon now, you're gonna get older

Time may change me, but I can't trace time

I said that time may change me, but I can't trace time

David Bowie

Obviously there has been a tremendous amount of change in our lives over the past year; and this past weekend was no exception.

As I was telling the story to a friend of ours how I had decided to name my daughter (in her presence), I mentioned one of the other names I had considered… and without hesitation she said something like, “I really like that name, can I change my name?”; and similarly without hesitation I said, "If you're really serious and want to change your name then sure I suppose you can change your name."

Just as I understood that our choice to uproot our lives and relocate with no job prospects, no housing, and (if I were being honest) no real sense of what it meant to do what it was we were doing would be LOADED with implications, FRAUGHT with challenges, and otherwise not something to be taken lightly, this choice too will carry its own burdens.

I can only hope that just as our true friends loved and encouraged us through this process so will the people in her life. Already there are those who are fighting it, turning heads and whispering doubt, but more importantly there are those who are lifting her up, loving her no less (maybe more) and saying, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

For the last 14 years I have been blessed to know you as my daughter and for the next 14 and beyond I will be just as proud to know you as Lincoln Huntyr Griffin.

Monday, May 3, 2010

leaving for the first time

Today I am leaving Pittsburgh for the first time since we moved here. This will be strange for me on many levels:
  • The last time I flew into and out of the Pittsburgh airport I did not yet reside here.
  • I normally travel by plane at least twice a year, but I haven't traveled at all in the past year (the last time I flew was last May) except to move here (which I don't really consider traveling) and to run up to Maine to pick HFG up.
  • It will be strange to fly back home from where I am going, and not be flying back to Seattle, but instead flying back to the 'Burgh.
This too will eventually feel normal, I am sure.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

childhood is calling...

There are several places I like to go when I visit my home town. I am sure any one reading this has places in the souls of their childhoods that to them are magical and when you think of them your toes tingle and your heart smiles.

Of course, the huz has his, and it has become our defacto outdoors destination since we've been here. I've been there a few times and I can definitely see the allure it holds; I can only imagine what it must have been like for a boy and his friends to essentially have this place as their back yard.

I will admit though, that I am looking forward to exploring other places: Falling Water, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpieces. We have plans to visit when one of my favorite Seattle people comes to town (all around fun times); there is at least one Great Lakes less then a day's drive away... and the Appalachian trail isn't too terribly far either... SUMMER = Outdoors, YAY!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

got puck?

I don't recall when I fell in love with the greatest game on ice; sports were not exactly big in my house growing up, and Colorado didn't have a pro team at the time, but some where along the line I became CRAZY for Gretzky, that little black puck, and the sound of two grown men bashing each other into the boards.

Due to limited
hockey viewing access, I boxed up my little winter sport passion and tucked it away. Until... May 13, 2009; I was in DC for my work conference. While out and about one evening I walked past the Verizon Center, where a critical hockey game was going on between the Penguins and the Capitals (it in fact was the deciding game in the Penguins moving on to the final series and winning the Stanley Cup). I came back to my hotel room and called Michael.

me: "Um... Pittsburgh has a professional hockey team..."
him: "Yeah? [sarcastically] the Penguins, they're owned by Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby is their cap't... blah, blah, blah"me: "I guess I wasn't really aware of that. "
him: "Are you really into hockey?"
me: "YES, pretty much the best spectator sport ever"
anyways, you get the idea. I think that had one of us not loved hockey, this past 7 months would have been even more challenging. There are a lot of games, and we are both dedicated watchers. I would even go so far as to call it date night for us. We take our place on the couch, the surround sound is turned up, the reminder is set to FSN Pittsburgh for Hockey Night. To be honest, I would go so far as to say that hockey is probably, if not the #1, at least the top three, common interests we have with the same intensity [maybe because he is a guy, and has just that much more testosterone, he likes it a little more].

So we love hockey, and in Pittsburgh the only kinda hockey there is = Penguins' hockey & and Penguins hockey is some seriously AWESOME hockey. The history of hockey in this town goes back to the late 19th century; that vein runs deep. It is a story rich with rewards and wrought with regrets, ups and downs, fall behinds and come backs... a story I can certainly relate to. A story that is now interwoven with my story.Though one thing that might not be in Pittsburgh much longer is the Igloo, the home of the Penguins for the last 40 some odd years. (Once upon a time it opened up, I can only imagine how heavenly that would have been... I digress). I didn't really imagine that we might get to see a game in the Igloo, since this was the last season the Penguins would be playing there... but after some serious persistence and sacrifice, I convinced a coworker to sell me two tickets for one of the last home games.... needless to say, that was at the top of the best moments we've had since moving to Pittsburgh, hands down. I actually giggled for the first 1/2 hour we were there. I will even go so far as to say it was up there with seeing Madonna at the Pepsi Center in Denver (and those of you who know me, know how big a deal that is). Some of the reasons for the amazing-ness of it all:

  • We had fantastic seats (despite the height we were at) right behind the visiting team's goal.
  • The game ended in a shoot out, more bang for your buck.
  • Michael and I experienced a timeless Pittsburgh "thing" together.
  • The team we were watching are at the top of their game and just might pull off the ultimate and keep the cup one more year.
I will be sad to see the season end, but the timing couldn't be more perfect... summer has arrived: there are lots of parks to walk, trails to explore, camping spots to find, BBQs to attend and have, and outside fun... and when it's raining outside, I will always have the photos:

UPDATE: April 2014, it appears embedded slideshow is broken, 
here is a link to the photo set:

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I have several posts churning around up there in my gray matter... but I've been a bit busy, and distracted, and caught up in my own whirl wind of life and what not. Of the more important commitments, school has been tops on the list. I was thrilled when I actually got an A on my mid-term. An A in math! Me... getting an A in math! I strutted my stuff over that one a little bit.

While I am very much looking forward to the end of the class... I will miss some very specific things..
  • My teacher, Mister O. , he has taught me more then just "Arithmetic Fundamentals".
  • My table neighbor, Miss. Cunningham (she is solid, I truly LOVE her).
  • The guard and the janitor postin' up at the door, always with a helpful hand and kind greeting.
  • I will even miss the hooligans and fooligans (inside and out)
  • but most of all......

I will miss the LIGHT... that shines in through the shades, that illuminates the hallways of a school, that settles on the desks before the end of day, that emanates from humans sharing knowledge....

lucky am I to share in that tradition.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Blog!!!

A year ago I decided to document this journey of uprooting our lives from the Pacific North West and transplanting us in the not quite Mid-Atlantic, not quite mid-West.

I am grateful that I've made the effort to document every aspect from saying goodbye to long time friends, and the life we've known for so long to saying hello to family and making new friends, and creating a life for us here. Time has flown by so quickly and so much has happened. Emotionally it has been such a roller coaster ride: the sadness of leaving friends, to the excitement of making new ones. The fear of leaving a job I love and worrying about finding a new one, to the joy of being offered a dream job at the one place I wanted to work in Pittsburgh. The anxiety of HFG's transition, and how she was going to handle all of it, to the pride and amazement that she has managed to make the Honor Roll not once, but twice; make friends, and also continue to love her parents not hate them for taking her away.

We have 4 months to go until the one year anniversary of being in Pittsburgh, but I don't think our journey will end there. I look forward to writing about it, and sharing it with whomever finds my story on the interwebs; so that the next time I wonder what the heck we have gotten ourselves into I have documentation that everything happens for a reason and usually turns out for the best.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

old habits in a new place

When we lived in Seattle we would go to various parks throughout the city, usually Sunday afternoons, consistently. I think since we've moved here we've only gone a small number of times.

Today the whole family ventured out... and although the paths were covered in snow, and we ended up mostly walking in the road, it was nice to get out, get some fresh air, and practice something familiar.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

digging out...

After a few weeks of settling into a routine post-holiday chaos I started a new job. Two weeks later I started school and ummm... considering how much change we've adjusted to in the last six months... honestly I was exhausted.

I really love my new job, I can't say enough good things about it. I couldn't even compare it to my last job in any way, because in nearly every way the new job is fabulous and the previous one was not at all. But it is a new job and it has it's learning curve.

And school... although I am not exactly fond of the subject, Arithmetic Fundamentals; I am exceptionally fond of my teacher, Mr. O. Mr O has been teaching since before my mom was born. He doesn't have a gigundo wrinkle down the middle of his forehead, no he calls it "his dimple"... I am grateful for this opportunity and experience, and it is wearing me out.

So here I am adjusting to all of that, and still trying to do all the things I did before, being a mom and a wife, having a dog, grocery shopping, laundry, mail, sleeping... and out of nowhere (and I mean NO WHERE)... Western Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic is WALLOPED by the "4th largest snow storm on record in ALL the years that they have been keeping a record of snow storms. No freaking joke... I went to bed on Friday nite (Feb. 5th) with the little shiny flurries beginning to fall, and woke up the next morning with easily a foot of snow outside my front door, which was after the snow had started to stick. Within the next 48 hours Pittsburgh was under a 36" blanket of snow (in some parts). We lost power sometime late Friday nite, until the crazy eyes on our Wii remote controller charger woke me up around 5:30 Sunday morning. We cooked food on the camping stove, and listened to the Pen's game on the radio, then spent Saturday night downstairs so that we could be in front of the fireplace (always a fantastic feature in any home).

It was fun, sort of. Obviously we were overjoyed to have the electricity back on for at least one of the days we were home, there were chores that needing to be done after all. Unfortunately we were also unable to go anywhere, there would be no plowing our street for a few days. Thanks to the large evergreen tree attempting to mate with some wires and a telephone pole at the wrong end of our cul-de-sac.

HFG who had gone for a sleep-over down the street on Friday nite, finally made her way home on Sunday afternoon (that house had not lost power) to happily find no school on Monday. Ultimately I hadn't needed to contact my manger earlier on Sunday to notify her of my inability to leave my house on Monday, since in an unprecedented move work was closed for three days! The city was in total chaos, obviously we weren't the only ones with power out and snow filled streets in the area.

So although I didn't have school or work... I found it hard to resist the urge to hibernate, unless I was out shoveling out a path for the dog.

Several things I've said to describe the experience of being stranded in your own home during severe winter weather include:

  • It's like having an avalanche envelop an entire metropolitan area.

  • A few times I've experienced disorienting snow blindness.

  • Didn't you just shovel five minutes ago?

  • Didn't I just shovel five minutes ago?
  • Oh, is it snowing? I hadn't noticed because it just blends with the rest of the mile high snow piles.

So here we are nearly two weeks into some sort of snow flurry activity (either because it was actually falling from the sky, or the high winds were just blowing it around); and they are predicting measurable snow precipitation for the next week at least.

me + shovel = constant companions.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

disconnectedly connected

Recently my mom sent me an article about undivided attention vs. on-line attention (especially as it pertains to parenting and the younger generations). Shortly thereafter I had some experiences both online and off that were reflective of the points made in the article.

The thing is I will admit to being a bit of a computer junkie, with a focus on being on-line: Flickr, Facebook, Blogging, emailing, news, woot, chatting. Interestingly enough, two of the people I do connect with through the aforementioned mechanisms is my mother (she did email me an article I am blogging about), as well as my daughter (Facebook a little, email, chat some, blogging occasionally). I started to worry about my ability to connect with others and listen to them... and consciously listen...

In the past week on several occasions during my bus commute I was sitting next to someone who by all appearances wouldn't have much of anything in common with me... but in fact after engaging with them I inevitably found something we could both understand: an emotion, a place, a perception. And these commonalities weren't just your average everyday sort of commonalities, but themes that have run deep through out my life. It was fulfilling, and serendipitous to say the least.
Concurrently there have been some instances where someone thought we had a connection and we don't, both on-line and off. These moments were fraught with anxiety.

I think I've processed the uncomfortable moments and made peace with them; but those moments that were good, and powerful... those are the connections I am going to continue to plug into: on-line and off.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

six months in....

I can say there are some things I may have done differently if I had been given the choice; but everything happens for a reason.

I would have gladly gone without the last three months professionaly; but it is what it is and I will acknowledge I learned a thing or two through that experience. Now though, I am going to get back on track and begin the business of doing what I said I wanted to do; working back at the University of Pittsburgh will help out with that.

I would not change where we live, I am still happy with our living quarters. Other than no garage, it's durn near perfect. for now anyways. I am looking forward to spring... I am pretty sure there will be lots of chirping in the trees all around.

HFG continues to do as well if not better then any 14 1/2 yr. old I've ever known; who was ripped from their life and everything they've mostly ever known.

The huz is who he always is... the rock; with mad skillz in the kitchen. Thank heavens for him.

The dog still loves the yard, and is happy as ever.

As much as I am trying to be in the moment, I admit to wondering what the next six months will be like.... and where we will be on the one year anniversary of arriving home.