2015 winter

Trees and time

There is nothing quite like working among trees in the dead of winter. We walk, my sons and I, through the dense forest of white pine. The only sounds are the muted swoosh of the wind and the occasional snap of a twig underfoot on the soft, pine- needle floor. The boys are home for …

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Stocks & Pedestal

In mid October, the Carnegie Science Center unveiled an extensive survey of local parents, educators and businesses on their attitudes about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.Funded by Chevron and Nova Chemicals, the survey revealed that business leaders and educators are well aware of STEM’s importance in meeting Pittsburgh’s future workforce needs and improving …

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McLay, Johnston, King, Maziarz, Gillespie, McGovern, Lau

Cameron McLay is Pittsburgh’s chief of police. He comes to Pittsburgh from Madison, Wis., where he served as a leadership development consultant for the International Association of Chiefs of Police after retiring from his career as a captain of the Madison Police. McLay has a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Colorado State University and …

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Ted Pappas, Impresario

How did I find myself in Pittsburgh? That’s a complicated question. I was born in Tampa to Greek immigrant parents, so my first few years were spent in Florida surrounded by a very Greek community. (There are more Greeks there than you might think.) Then we moved to Gary, Ind., where my father worked as …

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The art of contrition

There once was a “golden age” in sport, the glorious time of Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey and all the rest. Today, we are in the Mea Culpa Age, in which frolicsome, rich athletes turn to passionate, broad-spectrum apologies, seeking forgiveness for such foibles as juicing, gun-toting, wife-beating and the like. Great penitents such as …

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The road back

Jennifer Matesa, a writer living in Friendship, was a well-dressed, middle-class junkie. She didn’t score from shady dealers in back alleys, though. Her supplier was the pharmaceutical industry. Starting about 10 years ago, this self-described “white soccer mom” got hooked on pain-killers after seeking legitimate treatment for chronic pain. Vulnerable from a family history of …

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Wintering in Pittsburgh

It may be funny to think of Pittsburgh in the same geographic thought as, say, Miami, but for dark-eyed juncos, which spend many months to our north, we’re all sand and sunsets. Juncos “fly south to winter in our north, so making a sort of Florida of our best blizzards,” wrote Robert Francis, disciple of …

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Bon Bouquet

As last year’s polar vortex blew in its snow dumps and sub-zero temps, I huddled inside by the wood-burning stove. When the spring thaw came and I ventured out into the crispy, frosted mornings, I was reminded that nothing is forever. My lavender plants were toast, along with the tarragon and sage. I expected the …

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Korea Garden

Seok Kun Han was born in the mountains of South Korea as the Korean War recovery had begun. It was a time of great hardship, and his family suffered as much as any. In those tough times, it was great luck to get hired as a delivery boy for a local kitchen, working for a …

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A new front door

Nestled comfortably at the intersection of Schenley Park and the Junction Hollow Railway, at the border of Oakland and Squirrel Hill, the campus of Carnegie Mellon University could appear as a serene grove of academia, where eminent professors and industrious students perambulate through green spaces from one building to the next. In fact, a remarkably …

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A house well traveled

“I think I’m an old soul,” laughs the owner of the 1920s brick residence that commands a leafy corner lot in Squirrel Hill. She is one of Pittsburgh’s most stylish women, and those who don’t know her may be surprised that behind her trendy exterior lies an appreciation for all things antique, eccentric and whimsical. …

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Robert Qualters: When Retrospection Gets Personal

As we get older, as age begins to play tricks with our memories, as our surroundings change and the immediately familiar becomes obliterated, we come to rely on simple strategies like keeping a photograph album or simply hanging on to significant things. Many artists make memory their stock-in-trade, not simply as documentation, but rather by …

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Nature’s shape shifter

Pennsylvania stands near the center center of an intriguing and complex natural phenomenon. Across the recent span of roughly three decades, coyotes have exploited every available habitat here, from remote woods of the Allegheny National Forest to Pittsburgh’s urban fringe, while carving out a still-evolving ecological niche. All but unheard-of before 1980, coyotes now live …

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Destination unknown

When I say I’m new to Pittsburgh, the questions start. Oh, for work? Does your husband have family here? Neither is true for me, and I tend to pause and say, “Well, this city is the reason that we moved here.” If they leave too long of a gap, I always give in and say, …

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Giddy up, let’s go!

Horse-drawn sleigh rides. These icons of old-fashioned winter are lauded in carols and featured in Currier and Ives lithographs. And a great one is available just northeast of Kittanning, in Cowansville. Denise and Flavius Brinsfield grew up with a love of horses. Denise enjoyed an equine way of life, both riding and driving horses. Flavius …

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The Battle for Cleaner Energy

For two days this past summer, the streets around the William S. Moorhead Federal Building, downtown, were ringed with cops and jammed with largely orderly protestors, some in camouflage, others in tie-dyed T-shirts. They were drawn, as they had been at other cities around the country, to make their voices heard on the U.S. Environmental …

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A lens on life

1. An old woman is seated in an upright armchair in a sparely furnished room. 2. A slightly younger man in a suit approaches from a room beyond. He is not perfectly in focus. She does not appear to be aware of him. 3. The man seems to pause and fixes his attention on the …

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Chronicling the courthouse

In January of 2013, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article mentioned money being raised to restore the circa 1888 Allegheny County Courthouse to its former glory. Designed by architect H.H. Richardson, who died in 1886 at the age of 48 and never got to see his masterpiece completed, the building is considered to be one of the …

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Sticks & bones

I walk along the green grated fence at Frick Park scavenging for tennis balls that found their way to the soft slopes of clay and into the dew covered grass and clover. I smile as I spot each ball, then capture it in the ball shagger. Breathing in the morning’s cool breeze, I delight in …

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Pass the adrenaline, please

You might be tempted to call 911. It’s 2 a.m. and a 40-something woman sitting in her Prius in a public parking lot is pounding her fists on the steering wheel and bellowing to an invisible companion. I confess to being that woman, co-owner of a bakery on one of the biggest days of the …

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As Boomers Age

In a few decades, the rest of America will be as gray as Allegheny County, which not long ago stood as one of the oldest counties in the nation. But it won’t be due to a local surge of youth. Aging Baby Boomers, in fact, are driving the county’s older adult population to new heights. …

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Rethinking Depression

Growing up in New Castle, Brenda Weingartner, 53, was a teenager when she had her first of many bouts with depression. “Back then, my parents didn’t have a good understanding of mental illness and what to do for it,” she said. “My mother’s suggestion was to go talk to the minister. That was her generation’s …

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