Friday, October 22, 2010

Rollin' In It

This is my joint.

I've never been a St. Arbuck's girl.  Sure, I'll go in for a cup if I'm meeting friends, or on a long road trip, but it has never been my coffee shop of choice.  See, it's hard to go from years of this, to mass marketing.

Now, when I need "my time",  I go here.

When we first visited Beaver TWO YEARS ago - wow - we walked into Kolache and I knew instantly that IF George took the job at Four Mile, living within walking distance of this place would be a non-negotiable.  For Beaver was pretty much "country" compared to what I'd know for 40 years of my life. The ability to walk to Cafe Kolache would be a necessary part of my adapting to a new community.

My mom sauntered up to the counter and ask the owner what it was like living in Beaver.  I gave her a light shove to say "SHUT-UP" for we had the kids with us at the time, and they thought we were on a spontaneous vacation in Pittsburgh Beaver.  What Hugh didn't know at the time, was that we were casing the town, while the church was casing us.  My Mom just about blew our cover.

Just the mere presence of Cafe Kolache gave me comfort on that trip, for I knew I was potentially facing a huge life change.  As silly as it sounds, a local coffee shop would offer me some sense of the familiar.

Flash forward TWO YEARS later.  After a year of having a son still in half-day pre-school for our first year in Beaver, he is now at school full-time three days a week.  Thus, I FINALLY have the time to return to the "days of my youth" (or rather, the days of my young married life) when I would spend every morning at the coffee shop that George managed while in seminary.

I have been waiting for this season of my life to arrive.

I saunter in, sometimes in a foul mood if the morning routine didn't go so well around the house, get a cuppa, exchange banter with the staff, grab my seat, and begin to write.  I sip some soup, order some rolls, and chit chat with other customers.  My favorite day to date:  busting out to "You Keep Me Hangin' On" with a few others as it came over the radio.  The "Oooh's" were particularly delightful.

I really like this place.  Can you tell?

So when Kolache called ME yesterday to see if I wanted a few dozen rolls because they'd baked too many that day, I knew.

They like me.  They really like me.

I gladly accepted and arranged to get the yummy loot after picking up Zane at school.  No, they weren't free (and I wouldn't dream of just taking them), and yet, they came with something more important.

The offer of those rolls signifies that Kolache has indeed become, as my son puts it, "mommy's special place."

Thanks Kristi and Hugh.  For you didn't know back in October of 2008 that the shop made an enormous impression on me.  It has taken me a year to finally make coming in every week a habit.  It's hilarious when I realize that you've seen "all of me": pre-workout, post-workout (sorry - I stink), dressed in actual clothes and NOT wearing a bandana, laughing with my children, frustrated with my children, talking with girlfriends, writing, stumped, angry with George, or just enjoying some time out with the entire family all together.

You've even seen me without my wallet - and you fed me anyway!

I'm rollin' in small town love.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Bandana: Even the Younger Set Can't Resist

"Mommy, there's this girl and I think she's cute."


"Really, Zane?"

Sayitisn'tso, sayitisn'tso, sayitisn'tso!

"Yes, she's so pretty.  She has dark hair.  And she wears a headband.  A blue one.  With flowers."

"Oh.  Is she in your class?"

This isn't happening.

"Mommy!  Look in the mirror!  Don't you get it?"

I happened to be wearing one of my eye-catching bandanas.  In dark blue.  With small flowers sprinkled throughout the pattern.

Phew. Ok, back to one. All good.

My Bandana: Catching the Eye of Cute, Older Men Everywhere

Before I begin, I MUST HAVE this bandana.  Or one like it.

I already have several bandanas.

But none with BLING.

My first glimpse of a bedazzled bandana came during Season One of The Gilmore Girls, only I wasn't as bandana-crazy as I am now.  In the episode, Lorelai wore one like this.

I need one.

It's funny.  I started wearing bandana's when my short hair would get too bushy and I couldn't afford a cut.  I moved on to using them when I didn't wash my hair.  Now, it's a sign that I am either going to work out, or have recently finished (showered, hopefully) and rather than do the whole "hair thing", I simply tie one of these gizmos on and run out the door.

I've gotten eye rolls, stares, snickers, and glares.  I'm not sure why it causes such a commotion.

One afternoon, while sitting in MY seat at Kolache, for yes, I deem it so - now that I am in a season of my life where I can actually hang out there alone - ("this is Mommy's special place", states my son), a darling older man struck up a conversation with me.

"I like that bandana."

"You do?  Really?"

"Yes.  It's unique.  I like it."  Pause.  "Whatcha' doing there?"

I proceeded to share with him that I was writing my piece for Pittsburgh Mom.

He shared with me that prior to retirement he had thoroughly loved his job as an accountant.  He had some advice for me.

"Do what you love."

"Sir, I'm trying. I'm sincerely trying."

We bumped into each other again at Kolache yesterday, me donning yet another bandana, and he, playfully pointing it out to me.

And then, today, at the seafood counter in Giant Eagle, there he was.

"Bandana girl!"


We laughed, shook hands and exchanged names.  His?  George.

"Perhaps one day you'll actually get to see my hair done up all special."

"I always see you in athletic-wear, do you work out?"

"What? (the bandana) Oh, yes. I've not worked out yet today, but I will."

We parted ways and met up AGAIN in the check-out.  Here, I learned more about him.  Married 50 years and celebrating with his family this weekend.  Greek descent.  Works out at the YMCA.

"Listen, marriage is only good if both are working at it.  It's up.  It's down.  It takes sacrifice.  It's not always a piece of cake."

I told him that we would be celebrating 20 years in September.

"I wish you 30 more glorious years!"

Just a "chance" meeting, over a worn piece of colorful fabric that I frequently strap to my  head.

I'm sure I'll talk with George some more in the near future.  And maybe, for a laugh, I'll hand him a new bandana to give his wife, since he finds my look so fetching.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Entering Running Hibernation Now

It's time once again for this fair-weathered runner to hang up her old-school Saucony's until Spring.

I know, for you die-hards, this is a bit early.  But, for me, it's just about the time every year that I run my big race, and then, sink into the chilly weather by refusing to run in cold temperatures.  Ok, maybe I'll do a 3 mile run here and there, but it won't be consistent, I will not be training for anything specific, and, well, I may not like it!

Nope, time for me to return to my basement gym for another round of a terrific program called ChaLEAN Extreme - the program I credit for getting me back into shape this year.

If you would like to read up about my recent half-marathon - my Personal Best half-marathon - you can skip over to Cuppa Fit to hear how it went today.  Which, in one word, was GREAT.  Although I use quite a bit more words in my post over there.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mom Mumbles and Zane Can't Hear

"Look babe.  There are some Amish boys fixing the roof of that house."


"There.  Look up.  See them?  The Amish on the roof?"


"Zane, seriously, how can you not see them?  They are all dressed alike down to the hats."

"I see the boys in the hats. I don't see the fish on the roof."

"No!  Not FISH.  Amish.  A-MISH.  There are AMISH on the roof."

Either I need to enunciate or my kid needs his ears checked.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pittsburgh International Airport: WIN

It's a 15 minute drive.

Parking is cheap.

It's beautiful inside.  Quiet.  Almost too quiet for an airport.

Not once have I encountered THAT cop - come on Chicago, you know the kind.  Those at Midway and O'Hare who yell and scream at you to keep moving as you drive up to Arrivals to collect your peeps, thus forcing you to drive around again even if you spot your party at the exit door struggling with their luggage.

No, this is the Pittsburgh International Airport.  Do you know it?

The one, where a TSA official will walk your husband to a mailing kiosk to mail home the Leatherman tool that he told you, his wife, he had removed from his bag before heading to the airport.

TSA:  "Sir, is this your bag?"

Wife: "Geez, George, you just lost another Leatherman.  I'm not buying you another one."

TSA:  "No way.  This is too nice to pitch.  Let's get this mailed home for you."

Wife:  (Silence.  Jaw dropped.  I know, crazy, right?)

The one, where that same TSA official will then escort your husband back through security past all the other people standing in line.

It has the best customer service I've ever experienced in an airport.  Oh, yes it does.

See, when you inadevertantly leave your dog-sitter with the key to the church, rather than your home, causing her to have to crawl in your back window, which, thankfully, hadn't been locked like every other window, you need someone like the American Airline attendant who sealed it in an envelope and ran it from the gate back down to the ticket counter for pick-up by a very good friend, who then delivered it to the dog sitter.

Phew.  Catch that?

Yes, while going through security, with a sharp object and a highly suspicious kid wearing a cast who had to be placed in the glass box until she could be cleared, the phone rang alerting us that we had locked our dog-sitter out of the house.

As we  brainstormed fought about the situation (how could you give her the wrong key?), my husband came up with the brilliant idea of mailing the key back to the house.  Ok, but it was Saturday.  The key would arrive Monday - the day we got home.

Until, brilliance.  George informed the attendant at the gate that this was an emergency, and that attendant took the key and personally delivered it to the ticket counter until it could be retrieved.

I don't think that would happen at a larger airport.  Plus, I'd never ask a friend to just take a quick jaunt over to O'Hare to pick up a key - for such a thing doesn't exist.  That quick jaunt could take up to an hour - both ways - even though we live just about the same distance to PIT as we once did to ORD.

Had we been at Midway?  Forget it.  The dog would survive from Saturday-Monday.  She's a dog.

My carpet?

Not so much.  Would have been a great excuse to finally rip it up and get that hard wood floor.

Pittsburgh International Airport:  Epic WIN.


For more Atkins Airport Fun, read this old post from 2008.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Opportunities to Give

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about giving that came from an overflowing heart of thankfulness.

It was a pretty organic post - meaning, God had tipped me off to something, and I was called to listen and act, rather than ponder.  He was clear on his desire for me.  So, in response, I did what I always do.

I wrote about it.

I won't rehash all I wrote.  You can read it here.

Since that time, I have been playing around with a system to enable me to keep track of my goal of giving something away every day.

As my goal didn't necessarily have to do with de-cluttering my house, as much as it had to do with my giving to others out of their need (both in terms of actual possessions, abilities, and time), I still needed to find a way to track myself, without being self-glorifying in the process by sharing details. 

A friend turned me on to Don't Break the Chain.  A site offering a chart(s) for tracking daily progress on a particular goal(s).  Complete your goal for the day, check it off.  If the goal isn't completed for the day, don't check it off.  Simple.  To the point.  No detailing the who, what, when, where, why, or how's of the goal, but rather, just one question:  Did you get _________ done today?  This has worked great for me.

I'm not going to be legalistic about this.  In fact, I've missed 4 days of giving over the last 15 days.  It's not like at the end of the day I will be knocking on my neighbor's door begging, "Please take this shirt.  I don't  care that it's not your style or size. I don't wear it any longer and you MUST LET ME GIVE IT TO YOU!"

Instead, I've been asking God to open my eyes to need, and to respond.

One of the ways He does this is through Freecycle.  Emails come to my box daily with needs that people have for this, that, and the other.  This morning before church, I checked my Freecycle emails to find a struggling family needing an appliance of which I have two.  We haven't been using one of them to capacity, and this family couldn't afford one, so, no brainer.  Off it's going.

It's funny, and sad, that at times we view ministry as having to be some BIG THING, when there are "small" needs all around us.  Giving a meal, babysitting for a friend, passing on clothing and games, a drive home, a grocery run, and offering a big ticket appliance are just a few ways we can serve others.

Ok, yeah, I've now revealed at least one item that I've been prompted to pass along this week . . . don't get used to it.

Keep your eyes and ears open this week.  And when you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to give, don't hesitate. 

Warning:  it won't always be easy.  It won't always be convenient.  And, oops, yeah, it will call for a little sacrifice on your part.

Join me?

Jr. Philosopher

Zane's thoughts on "nothing":

"It is impossible to do nothing.  Even if you are sitting still in a chair, you are doing something."

This is actually a rather deep thought.

Is is really possible to do nothing? 

You know, "What are you doing today?"


"It's Sunday.  I'm looking forward to doing nothing today."

Is that possible?

Not according to my son.

Chew on that while you do nothing today.  Doh!  That would mean you are doing something . . .