So Long, and thanks for all the Mice

I have an excuse for not writing, and I trust the companion piece I’ll post later tonight as a separate page, will allay the irritation some blog readers have expressed at my long delay.

Primarily, the last two weeks have been spent appreciating the children–or more accurately, their absence–during their annual trek to grandmother’s house. (which is, oddly enough, over the river and through the woods in South Carolina. Seriously.) I had an agenda; several, actually, though Carol at A Different Nest and the Cabana Boy had perhaps the healthier attitude, which was to kick back. Ha! Fooled them, says I!

So, yes, we weeded the garden, and tended the influx of Japanese beetles. We mowed the yard. We cleaned–interminably–children’s rooms, clutter and closets and winnowed and sorted and threw out, threw out, threw OUT. We saw two movies without a babysitter! We stayed out late! We read books in peace. We got medieval for a day. We saw a play, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) which I reviewed for the local paper. This in addition to the regular work schedule, which was taken somewhat lazily while there was time to refresh.

But the best part was our reward, wherein we took a trip to the Culinary Academy at Punxsutawney, PA. They have a great program where members of the public and even parents can come for a formal multi-course meal prepared as it would be at the Four Seasons or the Biltmore, served in black tux apron and white gloves. K reserved a table for us, and we enjoyed an assortment of fancy feasts, straight through from lobster ravioli, ciabatta bread with mediterranean butter (butter whipped with some dried tomatoes and fresh basil and oregano–to DIE for!), veal and pork medallions, to the bananas foster or creme caramel with hazelnut cappuchino. The food was amazing, but even better was watching K in her element. She has so clearly found her niche, and she was confident, well-liked by peers and competent. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I found myself wiping away proud tears, seeing she’s grown into a young woman of skill. Watch out, Top Chef--K is coming!

From there, we headed west for an evening in Pittsburgh. I’ve always liked this city, and riding the T downtown for a walk among the skyscrapers as the sun wound down was fabulous. We weren’t sure where to eat, but we came across Primanti Brothers, a Pittsburgh fixture. For the uninitiated, the Primanti Bros. sandwiches come with coleslaw, slice of tomato and fries ON THE SANDWICH, melted together with cheese. Can you say dining heaven twice in one day? I can. Then a ride back up the Incline with a final stop in Oakland by the University of Pittsburgh for some Sumatran coffee and a killer blackberry scone.

In the morning, we took our time and cruised the bookstores off East Carson Street, where one of my novel manuscripts is set. The visit brought back memories of time spent in Pittsburgh as I researched my lady attorney and her knight errant, a police lieutenant, dealing with a city councilman with a secret to hide. I got the book, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, as people always ask if I’ve read that when I tell them I’ve written something post-apocalyptic. We meant to hit the Andy Warhol Museum, but frankly we were just having fun lazing. So we gave up and headed south.

Our destination was the New River Falls Lodge , a B&B on the New River just outside Beckley, WV. The Cabana Boy booked us the Riverview room at a price that compared with any hotel in the area, though as it turned out, our room became the whole building, as no other guests booked for the weekend. Everything was high-end, executed perfectly and delightful. Our host, Paul, was accommodating in every way. Canoes and rowboats were part of the experience, so the Cabana Boy and I braved the river, though not the rapids, and spent some time by the nightly bonfire on the river’s edge.

Friday morning, we went for a short drive to Sandstone Falls, a national park area, and this is the subject of my new page here. Incredible, incredible day. The woods, the water, the wildlife–a definite recharge. Topped off with some together time, we felt satisfied at last.

Saturday, of course, back to reality. We met the MIL in Beckley, and came home with the children. They were happy to see us, and vice versa, and we had an easy trip home. The oddest occurrence was coming downstairs this morning to find a window screen pushed loose, a small shelf of antique pitchers all over the floor, the mulch bucket dumped and chicken bones chewed, and the cat food bag ravaged. Clearly one of the feral cats from the neighborhood had discovered the loose screen and come in to get something to eat. He was gone when we got up, but right on the kitchen windowsill was a dead mouse.

You’re welcome, cat. And next time you jump up to come through the screen, I want to be watching when you hit the glass. Oh, yes I do.

6 thoughts on “So Long, and thanks for all the Mice

  1. Great end to the time flying solo! i love Pittsburgh! hosted an international conference there, and had to spend lots of time exploring the city – it’s fabulous! After looking at your photos, the trip to New River is now on my short list of “things to do” as well!

    Woo hoo! will make sure the storm doors are closed before i leave…

  2. exciting, but the birds still take the prize in my book

    Not everyone has birds falling out of their ceiling. It’s what makes us special.

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