Christmas Back East

Pike family Christmas tree.

Kit Kat is 17 years old.

One of my favorite decorations at my parent’s house.

A giant amaryllis bulb. I cannot wait till it opens.

Presque Isle.

The is the first time in five years that we have not had a white Christmas in Erie.
We took their bed…

How my husband feels about walks.

A windy day in Pittsburgh.

Beautiful homes in Virgina Manor.

We don’t have these in Indiana. Boo!

A Trip Back to Erie Would Not Be Complete Without a Snowstorm…

I left on Wednesday morning (4:30 am is when the alarm went off) to head back to Erie to see my family and to hear Michael Pollan speak at Allegheny College (my old stomping ground) on Thursday night. When I decided to make the trek to hear Michael Pollan, I didn’t realize it would come at such a busy point in the semester. I needed the break more than I even realized at the time, and I was glad to have a change of scene for a few days. An example of how exhaustion can make you stupid came out in full force when my mom called me Tuesday morning to confirm the details of my flight. The conversation went something like this:

Mom- “I’m going to have your dad pick you up on Wednesday because I have class in the morning. OK?”

Me- “Sure…Wait. It shouldn’t matter that you have class in the morning. I’m arriving at 6:40 PM.”

Mom- “No, you’re not. The flight information you sent me says 6:40 AM.”

Me- “Are you sure? Let me check…”

Mom-“I’m pretty sure. I wrote it down.”

Me- “Oh shit…”

As you can imagine this set me into a whirlwind of panic. I had to find people to cover my classes on Wed and it put preparations for my trip into overdrive. Regardless, I got it all figured out and boarded my flight promptly at 6:25 on Wednesday morning. I arrived in Erie before noon and all was well with the world.

Michael Pollan’s lecture was very good. My mom and I sat up in the balcony in Shafer Auditorium so we could see his power point presentation. He brought up a lot of points covered in Omnivore’s Dilemma, so I was able to relate and follow his lecture fairly easily. I enjoyed his sense of humor and the way he engaged the audience. He began the lecture pulling out a double quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds and asking how much energy it took to produce this one burger. He also noted that the first student to ask a question would get the burger. Of course after hearing Michael Pollan speak about food like substances, who wants to eat McDonalds?


It started snowing Thursday night when we went down to Meadville. By the time we left Allegheny at around 9:00, the roads had deteriorated significantly. I posted some pictures of my parents house after the snow that lasted Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. And I thought I’d dodged a bullet when it didn’t storm over Christmas.

My mother’s amaryllis were in bloom while I was at home. It’s good to have fresh flowers in the house when the view out of your bedroom window looks like the picture above.

A Little Over a Month Musings…

It occurred to me the other day as I was teasing my sister about how she hasn’t updated her blog in about two months, that I have woefully neglected mine. I was doing pretty well up until we moved into our house and then Thanksgiving came and then finals and Christmas and….you get the idea.

I’m back to it now. I’m not going to apologize for my absence or say that I will post regularly from now on because I may fall into a lapse again, but for the moment I’m newly committed.

I’m currently traveling through the great state of Pennsylvania for the holidays. We were in Erie for a few days before moving onto Pittsburgh, where we will be through the new year.

Here are some recent pictures taken in Erie. I may post again while in Pittsburgh or I may wait till we return to Indy….

Thursday (Off the Radar) Musings

I’ve been off the radar since last week when classes ended for the semester. I went down to Murray (see pictures below) for graduation and my robing ceremony and then went into work on Monday to finish grading. As of last Tuesday I’m officially on my break until the summer semester begins June 1st. Tuesday I spend some time reading and writing (I drafted out two poems). Yesterday was a rainy day, so I cleaned and wrote thank you notes. Today, more reading and writing. I’m enjoying my time off. Next week I’m headed back to Erie.


One of the poems I drafted out on Tuesday was prompted by an article by Elif Bautman called “The Bells” that appeared in The New Yorker at the end of April. This is the excerpt that caught my interest:

“Defying orders that the bronze guest be silenced forever, the people of Tobolsk outfitted it with a clapper and installed it in a local belfry. Because the bell had been defended by Tsarevitch Dimitri, and was surely fond of children, a legend arose that, if you washed the clapper and collected the water in a special container, it became an elixir for curing children’s diseases.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, the science fiction writer, was perusing the Web site Scribd last month when she came across digital copies of some books that seemed quite familiar to her. No wonder. She wrote them, including a free-for-the-taking copy of one of her most enduring novels, “The Left Hand of Darkness.”

This would all sound familiar to filmmakers and musicians who fought similar battles — with varying degrees of success — over the last decade. But to authors and their publishers in the age of Kindle, it’s new and frightening territory.