Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Photo of the Day: Lunch is served, with a little guilt & pepper

Here’s a recent lunch I had at the Senior Center.  A steakburger, diced potatoes, cantaloupe and “broccoli slaw”.   I’ve never eaten or heard of broccoli slaw before, and I can’t say I loved it, but it DID taste very healthy.  And the steakburger was delicious.

In fact, that burger was probably in my top ten list of all-time favorite burgers, it was that good.  And trust me, I’ve eaten a LOT of burgers in my lifetime! 

The Center has lunches Mon-Fri, I usually attend a couple of them.  Last week my first lunch was a spicy sausage sandwich with peppers, cooked spinach with sliced onions, a watermelon salad with feta cheese crumbles and butterscotch cake.  I announced it was the best lunch I’d ever eaten there, and they seemed to get a big kick out of that.  (I think they included my comment on a feedback form.)  I meant what I said! 

My second lunch (on Friday) was grilled salmon, roll & butter, a “rice & carrot” bake, tomato bisque soup and chopped melon for dessert.  I was taken aback, it was restaurant quality, all of it.  And no lie, the best soup I’ve ever eaten.  Many people said the same and asked for seconds & thirds.

Lunches are free, if you’re over 60 years old, a registered member of the center and you let them know a minimum of 2 days in advance.  We get a lunch menu on the first of every month.

A $3.00 contribution is suggested if you want to donate, but it’s not required.  No one has ever asked me to, but there’s only been 2-3 times I didn’t donate to the “lunch box”, a small wooden box with a lock outside the dining room.  (The lunches are funded by the Pa Dept of Aging & state lottery, our donations go towards the center.)

To be very honest, it was a real adjustment for me at the start, going there alone to attend these lunches.  I have more than enough money to eat at local restaurants, and these meals feel close to handouts.  What would my dad say?

But my reasons for going weren’t to save a buck; it was loneliness plain & simple.  And now that I’ve made some friends there, I can appreciate the lunches for their nutrition.

I just have to watch the sweets.  A couple weeks ago, I went to Courtney’s office after lunch to talk about an upcoming outing.  When I returned to my seat in the dining room, most of the people had left, but one of the ladies left these candies with my keys and papers. 

Why did she do that?  Well, I am the Casanova of California Avenue!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Photo of the Day: When every hour is golden, time is on your side

Isn’t this a nice wall clock?  It’s 10” wide by 13” in length, I found it on Etsy for $65.00.  It’s a very heavy cut steel, with a brushed gold finish.  When I first got it, I worried it was too “glam” for my bachelor digs, it didn’t seem to go with anything.  But it does—it’s the same gold finish as the floor strips that separate my various rooms.  That’s good enough for me.

This is going to sound mental, but this wall beside the dining room window has been driving me a little crazy for a few years.  Everything I got to hang there just felt wrong.  A square of red glaze ceramic, a small framed art print, a half “wall pot” for succulents…

The last thing I hung here was a small framed mirror that forced me to look at my chubby, tired face everytime I went into the kitchen to feed myself.  No!  And then I found this—modern, minimalist, functional.  I like looking at it from my livingroom sofa.

It’s a bit more subtle without the camera’s flash

After hanging it (and convincing myself I liked it), I went down the hall to see if my friend/neighbor Pearl wanted to come up and have a look.  She had the laundry room door open, and was standing there folding her bloomers.

When I asked if she’d like to come up and see it, she said “Oh I’m too tired.  Why don’t you bring it down to me.”   I said “No!  Besides, you were supposed to come up and see the new artwork in my bedroom two months ago and I’m still waiting.”

She said “Why don’t you go ask your precious Maureen?  I’m sure she’ll dash right up there!”   I said “Fine, I will.”

I love Maureen.  She’s 83 years young, has a neat, trim figure.  She’s always dressed like she’s ready to meet friends at the country club for a round of golf and drinks—and SHE HAS THE PRETTIEST APARTMENT IN THE BUILDING.

I don’t mean pretty as in frills and lace; her place is decorated in a smart, fashionable style.  When she moved in last year, she didn’t like the wood parquet flooring throughout and had Molyneaux come in and lay down carpet.  But NOT wall to wall; it has a perfect 3” gap from the walls, even in the nooks & crannys.  Her place—I love it.

(Here’s the one thing that creeps me out a little; from the neck up, she looks like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.  She wears a lot of pancake on her face, and paints her cheeks with too much rouge.  Still, once you get to know her--she’s a super nice person.)

So I head downstairs, knocked on her door—she was just leaving to go to Mass.  But she said she had time so she rode the elevator with me back upstairs to check out the clock.  She said “Sweet Mary, Doug!  I love it!  And this whole apartment—it’s the nicest man’s apartment in the building!”   Well, she didn’t have to go that far…

But who am I to say she’s wrong? ;^) 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Photo of the Day: This family tree is growing, and with a few surprises

While waiting for the DNA results from the sample I mailed to on August 12 (I wrote about here), I thought I’d go on the free portion of their website and get my family tree started.  Just my siblings and parents, maybe include my paternal grandmother.

I should’ve known better; after just a few entries on my part, Ancestry began throwing so many suggestions at me that it grew into this in one night.  Some of these names I haven’t heard or seen in many years, like my Grandma Morris’ dad, Justus Temple.  He died in 1970, but I can still remember meeting him in the late 1960s and the way my grandma looked at him.  She adored him. 

And I didn’t know my great GREAT grandfather’s name was Benjamin Franklin.. Temple!

I discovered a sad, eerie coincidence with my maternal great grandfather, John “Hoot” Clark (who I never met); he died from burns he suffered after falling against a stove.  His wife Phoebe’s maiden name?  Burns.

I think what struck me more than anything was seeing a copy of the April 1950 census.  It shows my dad being age 12, living with his parents and five brothers & sisters.  That same census shows my mom as being only 9, living with her mom & stepdad, and younger sister.

In just 8 years time, the summer of 1958, those two would be marrying, and the birth of their first son (my older brother Duke) in May 1959. 

Here’s another coincidence; it’s around 9pm as I type this, I was going to end this brief post with a lament that Ancestry has yet to get back to me with an acknowledgement they received my sample.  It’s been 10-11 days, how long does it take?

But just moments after closing this post, an email popped up from them; my sample has been received. Yes!  Now the waiting game can really begin.  I swear, it’s like being a kid again and waiting for my birthday to get here.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

The lobster roll & the take-charge guy (who isn’t really a take-charge guy)

A couple days ago, the senior center had an outing scheduled for Redfin Blues, a seafood restaurant on the waterfront, on the North Shore.  We were told to show up at the center early, as a lot of people were going and there’d probably be two shuttles.

I looked at the online menu the night before, and noted something at the bottom:  “No separate checks will be written for groups of 10 or more people, the total will be divided equally on debit/credit cards used for payment.  NO EXCEPTIONS.”

When I got to the center and asked how many were going, they said around 20.  I told them what it said on the menu about groups of 10 or more, and several people spoke right up, saying that wouldn’t do.  The center said “No worries, you’ll get separate checks!”

Nope!  More on that later.

I rode on the second shuttle (you didn’t get to choose) and sat in the far back.  A tall black woman (Janet) sat across the aisle from me and shouted “We got ourselves a man on here!  We got ourselves a man!”

Midway there, one of the ladies in the front said “Who wants to hear a dirty joke?”  A chorus of women’s voices shouted yes, and the first woman said “Lorena Bobbitt remarried and decided to chop off her second’s husband doodle too.  But she missed and only cut his thigh.  So instead of being charged with a felony, what was she charged with?  A miss-da-weiner.  Get it?  Not a misdemeanor, a miss-da-weiner!”   The women on the shuttle cackled with laughter, and Janet shouted “I don’t think Mister Man liked that!  Did you think that was funny Mister Man?”  

I wondered how things were on that first shuttle.

When we got there, we formed a long line outside and a young man & woman (both with ponytails) asked how many.  When someone in our group said 17, they told us they had a firm “one check only” rule.  A couple of the ladies in line said “Oh no…”  so I said “No no—NO.  We five in the back are a separate table.”

The young man said “Okay, but that still leaves a dozen.”  I said “The 5 women IN FRONT of us are a separate table too.  Don’t move any tables together.”   

After we were seated, one of the ladies (Elaine, who I really like) said “Doug, thank you for being our take-charge guy!”  I told her she was welcome, but I wondered why no one else spoke up?  A few minutes later my friend Pearl came over and said “I wanted to sit with Elaine, but you have me at that table with 7 people!” 

I told Pearl she was free to move to any table she wanted, hasn’t she done this before?  She said “Yes but you’re the take-charge guy.”   No—I wasn’t!

Anyway, a few more pictures; here’s the main dining area, right on the river.

Some of the diners arrived by boat.  I left my private yacht at home.

My lunch, a lobster roll & fries.  After taking a bite, I guess I made a face (it was fishier than expected) because my friend Eva said “You should only order those in Maine.”  It was alright!

“Doug, are you still hungry?  I can’t eat this fish and don’t want to take it home, I have a half reuben waiting for me!”   (Thanks Eva, I do love beer-battered cod!)
And finally, my friend Pearl (on the left in the red dress) and Elaine go for a walk on the bicycle path after our meal.  I really do like that Elaine, I hope we see her again.

Next week we’re going to the Oakmont Bakery & Cafe, I was told it’s the cleanest place to eat in the city and to bring my sweet tooth.  But on September 23rd the center is taking a road trip to someplace REALLY special.  I can’t wait to share it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Extra! After 35 years, the Chopper-Upper Killer has finally been found!

Yep, this is the headline I’m envisioning in 6-8 weeks time.

If you’re wondering what I’m even talking about, I just mailed a tube of my saliva (ugh, gross) to to get my DNA analyzed.

I figure with my luck, I’ll have a one-in-a-zillion chromosomal matchup with some crazy-ass serial killer who disappeared in 1989—and be mistaken for him when I come along, with my crazy-ass spit.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t even want to do this.  I already figured because Dad married and had six kids (with my very white mom) that my heritage would be a mix of Irish, German and whatever else Mom was along with my dad’s Native American warrior blood.

But one sibling (who shall remain nameless) has been wrestling with a couple questions for some time now, and rankling (rankle: cause annoyance that persists) another sibling in the process.

The first sibling has been into this whole genealogy thing for awhile, unfortunately he/she is the only one of us to have submitted their DNA to sites like  And only one cousin (on our dad’s side) has done the same.

So, in an effort to quell these frustrations I decided to submit my own and hopefully clear up any mysteries afoot.

It cost $110.00.  $99 for the Ancestry DNA kit, and $11.00 for the shipping costs—for a box the size of 2 playing cards.  It took forever to get here too, because it supposedly got lost in the UPS-USPS transfer. 

In the meantime, the greedy good folks at Ancestry are hounding me to sign up for one of their membership services so I can… what?  Learn that Darla Stooley from Poughkeepsie, NY and I can trace our lineage back to the same Hiram Morris who worked as a bookkeeper for the King Arthur Flour Company in 1881?   

Douglas, check out these memberships!

  • U.S. Discovery Membership: For $24.99 per month (or $21.99 if you commit to six months), you get access to all U.S. records.
  • World Explorer Membership: For $39.99 per month (or $32.99 if you commit to six months), you get access to global records.
  • All Access Membership: For $59.99 per month (or $49.99 if you commit to six months), you get access to all of Ancestry’s records as well as access to, an extensive online database of newspapers, and, a historical military records website.


Has anyone else done this?  If so, are you glad you did?  Before sending my DNA sample back, I had to “activate” my kit which included letting them know if I wanted to keep the results private or go public and how much so.  I did authorize them to put it in the national database and share it with anyone with any kind of match, so we’ll see.

As much as I admire the science behind it all (and the good it’s done for so many) I can’t help but wonder about the can of worms that stuff like this might open.  Oh well—I’m guessing that by early October I’ll know more.  To be continued…

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Photo of the Day: It’s Saturday morning and the race is on

I think I’m going to start a new Blog category titled ‘Photo of the Day’, when I have a photo I want to share but little else to go with it.  Isn’t this a nice picture?  Last night I went to bed an hour later than usual, but was feeling a bit chilly so I turned off the AC and opened my bedroom window instead.

A little before 7am I awoke to the sound of chatter outside (and below); I don’t know why, but I jumped out of bed, tugged on my treadmill shorts, patted down my bed-head, slipped on my sandals & grabbed my phone, went outside and snapped this photo.

(An hour later when the race began, this street would be filled top to bottom with runners & walkers.)

I asked a couple firemen and a local policeman what the race was for, they were all apologetic and said they didn’t know, were just told to be here.  I told them they had nothing to be sorry for, I live here and was clueless.  I walked up the street (in my bedclothes no less) and asked one of the runners.  He said it was to raise money for the North Hills Community Outreach, a faith-based organization that helps the poor and runs a year-round food pantry.

I said “Aw, how nice—where’s the North Hills Community Outreach located?”  He said “Er… at the Greenstone Methodist Church.  We’re standing in front of it.”

Well, I just thought it was a nice view of the street I live on, with the sunrise and all.  I love my neighborhood, and living in the city.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Love Thy Neighbor: What would you do?

I have a real dilemma here, in my apartment building.  My next door neighbor Lonnie, who has lived beside me for 6 1/2 years, is moving out August 31.

Is it his choice?  No.  A month or two ago, Steiner Realty (our landlord) threw down the gauntlet and informed Lonnie they wouldn’t be renewing his lease, which expires August 31. 

Do I want him to go?  No.  Lonnie is quiet, keeps to himself, goes to bed early, gets up and leaves at 5am everyday.  He’s a 40 year old black male, a custodian at Pitt University.  I’m lucky to have him as my “next door”, I know several tenants here who are miserable because of noisy or bothersome next-doors (the other side of their livingroom wall).  

I admit I’m thinking of myself here; God knows who could move in there next.  Ten years ago, my last apartment in the city, when my friend & next door Rich bought a townhome and moved out, a gay couple moved in and made life a living hell for a year until they were finally told to leave.  I blogged about it enough and am surprised I didn’t murder the pair.  (You think I’m kidding, don’t you…)

Anyway, Lonnie says Steiner didn’t give him a reason why, but I’m guessing I know.  For one, he doesn’t have his rent “auto-paid” from a bank account like the rest of us.  He doesn’t HAVE a bank account, so he puts an envelope filled with cash in the Steiner business box on the first floor every month. 

Sometimes he’s late with his rent and is fined $50.00 for it, but fights it half the time.  Also, he somehow wound up with bedbugs a couple times.  Steiner had to hire special exterminators to go after those terrible critters in his unit, at premium expense.  (I think it was around $860.00 for 3-4 visits.)

They tried to bill Lonnie for half of it, but he refused and said that was part of his rent.  (It’s difficult to reason with Lonnie, his thinking can be a bit off-kilter; he’s not quite a special needs person, but close.  Like one of those head injury cases.)

Here’s the thing:  Lonnie WANTS to move.  He’s talked about it since the day I met him, his one bedroom apartment wasn’t big enough, he wanted two.  He can’t AFFORD a two bedroom, at least in our neighborhood, but he still wants one nonetheless.

At the same time, he lives paycheck to paycheck and has no real savings.  Does he not get that his next landlord is going to expect first & last month’s rent, and a hefty security deposit?  He’s close to his mom (who lives in Georgia), maybe she would help with that.

But it’s already August 10 and he’s only seen ONE apartment.  He says he passed on it as it was on the third floor and the building had no elevator.  (At the same time, he told me he refuses to live on the ground floor.)  This guy is doomed.

I’m sharing all this here because something happened at the senior center recently.  A lawyer from Neighborhood Legal Services was there giving a talk, explaining senior’s rights and such.  When it was over, I approached her and told her Lonnie’s story.  She said “Your landlord has the right not to renew his lease—BUT UNLESS HE’S A DANGER TO OTHERS IN THE BUILDING, they can’t force him out on the street if he chooses to stay and fight it.  It could take months.”

She said that tenants have a lot of rights in Pennsylvania, and if Lonnie wanted her help it would take little effort on her part to keep him in his apartment.  She then added her services were free for most and gave me her business card.

What do I do?  Do I pass this card along to Lonnie and wish him luck?  I know one thing—if I swear Lonnie to secrecy, and to not tell Steiner this business card came from me, I AM 100% CERTAIN HE’S GOING TO TELL THEM IT CAME FROM ME.

And the last thing I want is Steiner telling ME next March they’ve decided not to renew my lease.  So… what do I do?  Should I mind my own business and hope for a happy ending for all?  Or let him know he has options and risk Steiner’s ire?  Hmm.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Haunting old places: so this must be what a ghost feels like…

Recently, thanks to the internet, Zillow & a bored but inquisitive mind, I came across something I’ve wondered about but haven’t seen in thirty years.  

My first real apartment in the city that I got on February 1, 1989.  I wasn’t quite the hermit I am now, I was in my twenties, dated a bit and family visited on the weekends.

And then on the first Friday in August 1994, I came home from work to find a Sheriff’s notice on the front door.  The owner of the building, delinquent in his taxes and with a stack of unpaid gas, water, trash & sewage bills, had deserted the property. 

We (myself and 2 other tenants) had 60 days to vacate the premises.  I honestly cried like a big baby, I lived there 5 1/2 years and loved my place.

I eventually moved to a neighborhood closer to downtown, and in the 30 years I’ve been gone, have looked at old photos on occasion and wondered what happened to the place after I was booted to the curb.  And now I know.

The building from the outside, 1989.  It had an insurance office and two apartments above.  (I was on the second floor, in the rear.)

  And how it looks in 2023.  (Pretty much the same, a bit scruffier.)
My living room in 1991, and my friend Rebecca dropping by for a visit.  To the left of the double bookcases was my kitchen.  To the right, my laundry room & bathroom.
And here’s that same room in 2023.  It’s a woman’s place now, and boy does this lady decorate.
Here’s the wall with my couch, in 1990.  That was my first girlfriend in Pittsburgh, Rossi.
Here’s that same wall now, 30 years later.  By the way, do you see that framed photo collage by the current tenant’s front door?
I had a collage by that front door 30 years earlier.  Here’s a pic from 1991, with my sisters Courtney & Donda-Lin.
Here’s my sister Shawn in August 1993, celebrating her 30th birthday.  I baked her that cake, y’know!
That same kitchen, 30 years later.
  Here’s a boring pic of my boring bedroom in 1990…
And here’s Miss Modern Day’s bedroom in 2023.  I am impressed.
I don’t have any photos of my bathroom back in the day, but I recognize this layout like I’d been in here yesterday. 
Finally, here’s the laundry room now, and how it was in 1993.  (That’s me, smoking a cigarette out the window.) 
Well, not everything changed in 30 years—in the current (first) photo, that’s my same linoleum floor!