Yes, I've been off the grid for the past ten days, on vacation, visiting family and friends in Pittsburgh.
No, I don't feel particularly responsible to tell anyone I was doing this in a public forum. In fact, all those continual posts I see from people saying "Hey, I'm at the beach this week" or "Hey, I'm at the local Starbucks!" is sort like saying "Hey, my house is empty and I won't be home for a while!"
Of course, when I DO leave for an extended period, I leave the lights on a timer, and my personal bodyguard, Steve "The Crusher" Miller comes in to make sure the dobermans (Hannibal and Lector) are properly fed and any stray trespassers are given proper rites and their scant remains buried in the back yard behind the shed.
But anyway, Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh itself was beautiful in May, ranging between heavy lightning-sparked downpours and warm cloudless blue days (and yeah, I have a little sunburn for a long walk without a proper hat). The trees have unfurled in a cascade of green shades, and the city's age works to its advantage - many of the trees planted decades ago now grace the area with the thick verdant cover. It remains a very green city.
The city itself (was in Downtown (correct pronunciation - Dahn-TAHN) picking up a nephew to take him to lunch) is pretty much pedestrian-based, and all they really have to do is shut down the side streets to all by delivery vans and it would be an effective walker's utopia. Part of that is the nature of 'Burghers themselves - if your vehicle is not physically in the crosswalk AT THAT SECOND, they feel they have right of way. It makes for an interesting experience.
As I mentioned I spent the week visiting family and friends. My nuclear family still all lives in the Greater Pittsburgh area, along with people I've known since high school. My parents are both, in the parlance, "getting up there" in years, but my father can still bid (and make) a three no trump bid at bridge. Yes, we played cards and the Lovely Bride and I did a little planting and we got the entire extended clan (including a married niece now living in Baltimore) got together on the Sunday before we came back.
And there were more sobering parts. My brother-in-law's brother-in-law passed on. As did the Lovely Bride's best friend's husband. And a lot of things I remember just aren't there anymore. At least I can say I caught a movie at the Galleria (we saw Iron Man 2) before they shut that down.
On the other hand, I managed to get back together with two of my groomsmen from my wedding for a gaming evening, and found another interesting new game - Draken, which is worth playing.
And now I'm back in the Seattle area, and recovering from the transit (Air Tran, by the way - Formerly Valujet - not a bad operation. The planes were not stuffed, and the gate crew seems to have their act together (if not the front desk)). So we may pick this up again and have a few more things to say.
Last Chance to See - So, today begins the last week for the TOLKIEN: MAKER OF MIDDLE-EARTH exhibit at the Bodleian. So if you're able to go and hadn't made up yr mind, it's now...
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