Okay, so, much like last year at this time, I find myself playing catch up with tales of all the travels I was fortunate to take throughout the prior year. By no means are these ramblings meant to be douchey brags, nay, rather the means by which I recall all this fun shit before I forget how great I had it in 2013 and start bitching to Geo about how I never get to go anywhere, and then he chokes on his sammie, calls up this shite blog and throws the laptop at my ungrateful pinhead, shattering the screen in a thousand shards, which he then steps on, slicing his heels and cursing my name as he hops hither and yon, spraying blood all over our "priceless" heirlooms. Really, not the best way to procure a new computer, couch or congenial companion consideration the next time wanderlust strikes hard.
Sweet BABY JESUS I was lethargic with this blog last year!!
Well, here goes. I shall endeavor to be brief. (file under fat chance)
MARCH not only brought the Old 97's to Pittsburgh, it brought fellow fan, Leslie from the Midwest. We met through the band's website forum, and hit it off even before we met in 2012. She's a delight. extremely organized, an avid recycler and huge fan of all things flora and fauna. The day of the show, I took her to the top of Mt. Washington to show off the spectacular view of my beautiful city. (everybody say Ooooo... everybody say Aaaaa...)
|baby's first visit to the Burgh|
|best. entrance. ever.|
(via Leslie's keen eye)
|the glass castles of ppg place|
After filling our gullets, we headed to the north side to tour the National Aviary. I hadn't been there since fifth grade. So many birds. So many opportunities to be shat upon. No lie. Especially in this room.
|flying shitz alert|
We planned to go straight to dinner and the 97's show after birding, and neither of us was keen on being covered in doodoo. Mission accomplished.
|big awss roll|
The following morning we fed our hangover with a greasy spoon breakfast, replete with a cinnamon bun the size of Leslie's head, thus keeping America's diabeetus train right on track. We rounded out Leslie's visit with a frolic through the flowers at Phipps Conservatory.
|dale chihuly atrium greeting|
|another chihuly in the desert room|
|buttocks on the cactus|
|(last four beauties via Les)|
APRIL brought the first of two trips to Baltimore to visit one of my best friends and mother to my favorite toddler in my orbit. April marked sweet Melody's seventh month of existence. She was sooo much fun! Incredibly observant, smart and responsive. Oh and did I mention she reached for me and smiled her gorgeous, ginormous smile at me and can totally have a pony when she's older?
|the cutest baby on earth at 7 months|
|the cutest toddler on earth at 15 months|
By October's visit, Melody was up and running on her adorable, chubby baby legs, diving for Maggie, the dog and racing us around the house. So much personality in a tiny frame. I JUST WANT TO EAT HER UP!! Metaphorically, of course.
Between doting on MJ, Steph and I spent some time together in Baltimore. In April, we went to The American Visionary Art Museum near the Inner Harbor. Totally flipped out and funky! Crazy exhibits like a gigantic bra ball, 20 foot Divine and mirrored-covered eight foot egg spread out over three buildings and a courtyard. Also, the greatest irreverent gift shop ever. We had a fantastic time.
|big ass ball o' bras|
|wouldn't be balmer without|
a 20 foot Divine
|courtyard with egg, bird and balcony nest|
|view from the nest|
|the harbor from the nest|
|horror fetus avec cock|
(gift shop offering nightmares for free)
In October, we poodled around the neighborhood of Hampden, home of Baltimore's renown HonFest described thusly on its website:
HonFest is a local tradition. The Bawlmer term of endearment, Hon, short for Honey, embodies the warmth and affection bestowed upon our neighbors and visitors alike by historic working-women of Baltimore. HonFest is an annual celebration in honor of these women.
Since 1994, HonFest has grown from a tiny Baltimore's Best Hon pageant behind Café Hon, to a nationally recognized festival that covers four city blocks on Hampden's very own 36th Street. In recent years, the festival has been acknowledged by The New York Times, Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels, Nightly News with Brian Williams, The New York Post, Southern Living, The LA Times, HGTV, CNN, and just this April by The New Yorker.
All I know is people don lofty, neon Marge Simpson wigs and dress in outrageous outfits and glasses. Sign me up!! Hmmmm... I getting a germ of an idea about when to visit Balmer this year, Hon.
|we're all set for june, hon|
MAY's vacation week embodied a couple little trips. The first was a quick jaunt to St. Louis for, you guessed it, an Old 97's concert with Leslie and Wende. They were opening for Drive-By Truckers on this leg of the tour. Weird. They still played nearly 90 minutes straight through and were done by 9:30, freeing us all up to party with Murry and Ken on the awesome roof of the Moonrise Hotel next to the venue.
|moonrise hotel lounge|
|a chijuly in the lobby!|
it's all classy and shit
|wende and les photobombed by a random guy named walter|
|afternoon cocktails on the roof |
these ladies get me
|the moonrise rooftop|
|the arch in the distance from the rooftop|
The neighborhood has a lovely college town atmosphere. There are cool little shops, eateries and some funky art. It was also a breeze to get to and from the airport via train, thanks to Leslie's excellent planning skills. Leslie and I also played touristas and took the ride to the top of the Arch.
|from a helluva high vantage point|
|the aforementioned helluva high vantage point|
everywhere we looked
|street fashion art|
|funky totems behind the pageant|
This was the first time I visited St. Louis. I liked it, or at least this area. Plus who wouldn't have fun with these chicas and a 97's show, right?
(May part two)
My sisters and I took Big Mar to visit her last remaining sister in Geneseo, Illinois on a trip we dubbed the Travelling Sisterhood. We all flew on Southwest to Midway, picked up a BIGASS vehicle and drove the three hours to Aunt Elsie's.
|ginormous ozone killa|
My Aunt is amazing. She'll turn 90 this April, lives on her own, doesn't need a cane or walker, still drives an incredible 20+ year old jazzy Chrysler with a dashboard gear shift, is sharp as a tack, is completely ruthless in a game of cards, and she beat Cancer's ass. She's like a fucking Super Hero of Aging.
|the ladies, chillin'|
|a touching farewell|
hopefully not the last
She lives in a beautiful little midwestern town not far from the Mississippi, where everybody knows everybody else and there's one main street down the center. Having spent her entire adult life away from Pittsburgh, we didn't have many opportunities to visit with her or our uncle in the past. This trip was a wonderful chance for all of us to get to know Aunt Elsie better. The harsher truth to this journey is it may have been the last time Big Mar and her sister would ever see each other. It's an unsettling thought to ponder, never seeing ones sister again. To be an age where this hug may be your last... Let's hope not.
AUGUST included a trip to Bethany Beach with my good friend from steel drums, Sheila. Sheila is one of the coolest people I know. She's hip, artsy, and fun as hell. I love her kids, too. They're just as cool as she is. Oh, and did I mention she built her own deck at their beach house? She's a regular Rosie the Riveter, Dude! I'm greatly impressed by this because of my complete fear of power tools. And math.
|Rosie, proudly showcasing her deck|
Aaanywho... she invited me out to their place for a couple of days. Just us girls. We crabbed at Little Assawoman Bay (Bigga Assawoman welcomed, too), drank beach rum drinks (the greatest mango/coconut rum concoction created), ate, beached, drank, shopped, drank, beached, etc. etc. etc. rinse and repeat.
|fish head love|
|in crabbing, size matters|
these bad boys meet the muster
|keeping the important consumables fresh|
(is there any doubt why i like her?)
(now there's NO doubt why i love her)
|sun, surf, sippy|
best reward for a morning crabbing fest
|two days' bounty crab boil|
a lot of work for the meat, but good company and red wine help
I learned more about the private parts of crabs over those two days than I ever thought possible, or wanted to. I never dreamed part of my dinner prep would consist of being all up in some crab's vagina. HaHaHa! Ewwww...
|a crab rocket|
if you know what i mean
And then this happened.
A lot. And at completely random times, including 10:30 at night. The first time it went off, I was in bed. HOLY HELL that was loud as F**K!! The siren pole is roughly three doors down. There seemed to be no rhyme nor reason for it. No set times. No set purpose, unless you count being an asshole as a purpose, then goal met. The more it went off, the more we laughed about it. I'm sure the beach drinks had something to do with that. :)
I had a blast on our first road trip together. Hopefully we can put that trip on repeat this summer. :)
|HOLY HELL the approach is freaking close|
to these homes
|cool periodic table menu board|
|wednesday night improv|
|and he professes to be my friend...|
We did some commando sight seeing during my brief visit, grabbing a delicious breakfast pastry (carb) at a city eatery, Flour to start the ball rolling.
|swanky-ass rice krispie treats for $100|
|this made me LOL for real|
We walked through a gorgeous park whose name I've forgotten, strolled through Harvard where we noshed on a nutella, banana and strawberry crepe (more carb by-product) from a food truck in the coolest square replete with giant bean bags, stopped in the only Curious George dedicated store in 'Merica, scaled Beacon Hill to
(hold on to your eyeballs. barrage of photos upcoming...)
|emerging from a hole in the ground|
|some big ass center city park|
|he's classy and shit|
|the three stooges law firm on the third floor|
|i'm curious... about the prizes|
|looks like george is curious|
about other things besides the man
in the yellow hat
|ten...ten tablets of cyanide|
|as close as I'll ever get to passing through the gates of Harvard|
|students chilling in the lawn|
|daaaaamn. there's actually ivy at ivy league schools|
|can you see why we're friends?|
|comfy bean bags strewn about|
|higher learning, yo|
|always good advice|
|the state house|
|the patron saint of working girls|
|this bit never gets old|
|the fencing around this church has|
become a memorial to the
victims of the marathon bombing
|for fans of Boston Legal|
sadly, no Denny Crane sighting
|christian science church compound|
|aaaa OOO gaaa|
(get it... the light pole looks like a cartoon ogler... no. bite me)
|fiber art displays|
|just a couple of asshats|
how many beers and brats can you shovel in your gob?
|there is an inordinate love of sausage in this place|
(sadly, that's NOT a euphemism)
|bringing the Buccos along for the ride|
|for the love of jehovah, i hope he lost a bet|
This ballpark is old school, yo! Smaller than I expected, putting the fans super close to the bullpen and players. There are support poles all throughout obstructing the view for a number of seats. A major flashback to our old Forbes Field back in the Stone Age. They have a jumbo tron, but the score is still changed by hand by a wee man behind the wall in center field.
|bailing early to get a jump on that triple bypass|
Afterwards, we stuffed our maws with copious amounts of barbecue, beans, mac 'n cheese and booze because, you know, we hadn't eaten enough meat and carbs to shorten our lives from heart disease and the Diabetus.
We did manage to squeeze in a buttery lobstah lunch near the harbor before heading to the airport.
|does this sum up bahstan, or what|
*Side note: Throughout the course of my stay, we rode on every flippin' trolley line but one, a private car booked using Jimmy's iPhone and a train with the quintessential Bostonian conductor... a fair-skinned redhead with a burly build and wicked accent. I have to admit, he was manly and kinda hawt. MeeeOW.
Jimmy was a terrific tour guide, host and shenanigans cohort. Miss you forevah, Bubbe. Next time, let's go to the cape!
November was a major Old 97's meet up in Chicago. The Windy City was the first metropolis to embrace the 97's way back when, even before they made it big in their hometown of Dallas. I've been wanting to experience a show here for quite awhile. It's one of their favorite places to play, and I've heard tales of their epic performances there, especially the Vic.
Four of us flew in from Pittsburgh, four traveled from the Midwest and two lived outside of the city. We stayed at a cute hotel called the Majestic nestled in a lovely residential neighborhood, a block from the lake, and a short cab ride from the venue situated near Wrigley Field.
|chi-town from the el|
|of course there would be a Miller's Pub|
|wende and leslie post pre-game|
|annie, tracey, cindy and wende|
|sheri and flat sarah|
|les and flat sarah|
|everyone, including the lone y chromosome, Bert|
|everyone, with a side of Murry|
The show was horrible.
PFFT...HAHAHAHA! Yeah, right. It was outstanding, as all of their shows are. Crazy energy from these gents. Non-stop dancing and singing from our front row perch. Murry even dedicated a song to Yoko, completely making her trip. And like every show, it ended too soon.
Aaaaaa, but for once, we stuck around for an extra day to bum around the Windy City. We hit up Millennium Park and took far too many photos of the ridiculously irresistible Bean, stumbled upon a cool light exhibit at the library, walk around Navy Pier and sipped cocktails and watched a most gorgeous sunset from atop the John Hancock building.
(brace yourself...i blogged up another crapton of photos all over your shoes)
|it is ridiculous how happy this makes a person|
|view from laying underneath the bean|
it's inner badger
|noreen, bert, les, yoko and the city skyline|
seriously. this thing is waaay too cool
(see what i did there?)
|dahlia lama glass block art|
|our album cover|
|one bit of the view from millennium park|
|part of a light exhibit at the library across from the park|
|YMCA or YOLO|
|i heart her|
|yankee hotel foxtrot|
(wilco cover reference)
|arcing fluids inside navy pier|
|john hancock building|
|the navy pier from the ladies room|
|one of the most gorgeous sunsets i've witnessed|
Hell, we even saw Josh Ritter at Midway.
|swear to god that's him|
Chicago is one of those rare big cities that acts like a small town. There was no dirt, grime or litter anywhere and everyone we encountered, even the CTA employees, could not have been any nicer or more helpful to us. I mean, unbelievably super sweet! I guess this is what people are talking about when they refer to the Midwest friendly factor. A great town filled with fabulous people. I look forward to going back to experience more of Chicago with these wonderful people, but in a warmer season next time.
December. Geo and I made our usual trek across the Commonwealth to my sister's home in New Jersey. The journey became hideous two-thirds of the way there when we encountered a giant snow storm. It was so hideous, even I-78 in Jersey was practically EMPTY of cars. That is never the case on a Saturday in Jersey. EVER. The accumulation was roughly eight inches. Beautiful, but JESUS! It couldn't wait until AFTER we arrived??!?
Aaaanywho, we ventured into NYC to brunch at a terrific little place down 9th avenue from my nephew called Alfie's. Very festive and amazing Bloody Marys. Yowza!
|the family that orders extra olives together stays together|
|festive holiday cheer to go with the festive holiday cheer|
I love hanging out with my kin. We always have a blast with them. They are so groovy.
As luck would have it, Mr. Miller was playing in the city AND near my brother's house that week. Geo and I decided to stay over in SoHo after his show at the Winery. He did a Christmas program with Janeane Garofalo, Todd Barry and Nicole Atkins performing between his mini sets. It was fun enough. Different. The comedians were entertaining, but truth be told, I prefer him solo without sharing the stage.
News Flash- I love New York. You never know what you're going to see on the streets.
|Nikki Minaj delivers|
We were having breakfast at the Hudson Diner, when Geo looks at me and says, "Hey, turn around. isn't that the guy from show with the newspaper?"
Always Mrs. Subtle, my head snapped around like I had been punched in the head by Mike Tyson. And lo, sitting a mere two tables away was...
KYLE F***ING CHANDLER!!!
HOLY HELL he is GORGEOUS!! His hair was a hot mess from his knit cap, but who gives a flying figlet! It worked for him. The scruffy beard, the big, cable knit sweater, the sexy lines around his chocolate brown eyes on that fabulous face,.. It ALL worked for him.
And that voice. Like velvet. Mmmm..Mmm! Damn near kick started my retired ovaries.
Being the greatest husband alive, Geo prodded me to go over and say hello. But get this... I couldn't do it. What. the HELL. I generally have balls big enough to approach anyone, but I couldn't pull the trigger on this one even when his female companion went to the ladies room. All I could muster was to sneak a pic through the window. Pussy.
|swear to god that's the velvet voiced honey and his hat hair|
Mid week we drove north to visit my brother in New Paltz, AKA land of the huge-ass snowfall. They had over a foot of the white shit with more on the way. ACK.
|bro and his better half|
micro brews and winter do mix
|the year of never ending snow|
After shopping at the little boutique shops in town and putting away some beer at the local microbrewery, my sister-in-law, Leslie and I decided to embrace the winter and sled ride down their back hill. The snow was so deep, we thought it would take a while to make a track on the plastic toboggans.
We flew down that bad boy with Otto, the maniac Lab, in pursuit. Did I mention there is a creek at the bottom? Yeah. Needless to say, I bailed at the bottom, giving Otto the opportunity to snatch up my toboggan and run like hell.
I eventually wrestled it from his not-so-vice like grip, and took off on another run. This time the jerk muscled me off the sled and commandeered it for himself, only he freaked out when it moved and just started chewing on it. He eventually calmed his ass down so we could make a handful of runs. I haven't gone sled riding in ages. I had forgotten how fun it is. It's also exhausting. Goddamn, I'm out of shape.
On the way back to New Jersey, we decided to stop in Beacon, NY. It's a really cool little artsy town with a glass blowing shop, Christmas store, Pop Art and comics shop, antiques store and an eclectic tchotchke store.
|irreverence. it's what's for christmas|
And it also has a wall covered with this horrifying crap.
|what's worse than clowns|
toddler clowns packing heat
|what fresh hell is this?|
Ain't nobody got time for those nightmares.
Whew. Thank the baby Jesus this monkey posting is finally off my back. I think I used up my entire monthly allotment of storage space with this singular pile of dookey. Blah. I'm too tapped out to close in a clever manner, so your on your own on that front. Have at it. I'm going to take a nap.