Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Day 278- Happy Earth Day- Rachel Carson Challenge-Training Hikes- Endurance

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to try a 7.5 mile training hike for the Rachael Carson Challenge.  Rachel Carson was one of the first "nature writers" whose book, Silent Spring (1962), is credited with fueling the environmental movement. The Rachel Carson Challenge
 is a 35 mile one day hike on rugged terrain on June 23, 2018 (the longest day of the year which makes sense because you need all the daylight that you can get to finish it). Since  this  blog is all about trying new things and obtaining your personal best, I thought admitting with some trepidation, that  I would  at least attempt  the first 7.5 mile training to see if I had what it takes to endure.

  My initial reaction to this  daunting Challenge was that attempting it would be crazy because 1) I am really not in superwoman shape and 2)  walking from sun up to sun down seems a little too "Forest Gump like" to me, not  to mention feet aching, muscle burning, literally never ending.   The weekly training hikes  progressively increase in length to prepare you for the mother-lode hike.  The training hikes seem to be a better choice for me.

The Racheal Carson trail is known for its "tortuous hill climbing through primitive rugged terrain”  and there are no grading of the surfaces on the trail.  The 35 mile Challenge is meant to be a  test of endurance and an accomplishment  to be able to  finish it in one day without getting lost in the woods. 

For me finishing the  7.5 mile training hike would be just as momentous as the Challenge because I rarely hiked much until this past year. Like some other activities, I began to really enjoy walking in the woods by osmosis since this was a  repeated event with a friend but I rarely hiked farther than a few miles. This was my own personal challenge!

 I was  fearful that I would not be able to complete the training hike. I asked  everyone  I knew that remotely walked or hiked to come along but  I had no takers. I was going it alone. I felt  just like Reese Witherspoon in the movie Wild who had no outdoor experience before she set off to conquer the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail.

Crew met at the start of hike

I arrived at the meeting point to find over  50 others, some in pairs and some solo like me, ready to hike.  My nerves fueled my motor mouth which was revved up in high gear while I meet a bunch of hikers. A lot of hikers were in the same boat as me, just trying the training  to see what they could accomplish but many had finished the Challenge several times. I also learned that  today I was going to hike one of the steepest hills in the Challenge.

Goes straight down to steep valley
When they   say  that  this is a “primitive trail” they mean it. There were parts that were  mud swamps, parts that crossed over creeks and there was a hill  that produced my  outburst, “what the fudge is this” (just like Ralphie’s  “Fudge” outburst in The Christmas Story movie). The hill dropped straight down into a valley,  barren of trees to hold on to, with a long steep upward swampy climb. I was grateful that I seem to be  “the universal size of ex-wives” and thus I have been given, coats, ski equipment and more, but my best gift was the water  proof  Timberland boots on my feet that helped me tackle this hill. 

During the hike people walked with me for periods of time and then some went ahead or hung back. Fortunately,  a  spunky young woman, also going it alone, accompanied me for most of the day  and helped pace my hike. This year would be her third Challenge so I lucked out  because I am sure that I would have gotten lost without her.

My spunky hiking partner that kept me moving
I noticed that  when you walk with strangers they seem to reveal a lot about  themselves during the hike. It’s similar to strangers sitting on an airplane  who chat the entire flight never to be seen again.  My spunky hiker told me about her work, family, that she was in a mushroom identifying club  and a bird watcher.  I am really not a fan of birds but I selfishly thought that if  I kept her talking then maybe she would continue to walk with me.  She did.  I really enjoyed her company and  surprisingly learned some interesting things about the birds. It was a “win win” situation, at least it was for me.

As we came down the last hill, my spunky friend and I started to jump and high five as we had finished! She said that I "crushed it" but I think she just was trying to be nice. We finished the training in 2 hours and 55 min and I don't know if I "crushed it" but  I sure endured it. Now all I have to endure is a few aches and pains.  

 If you want to try to endure it with me, the next training hike (8.5 miles) is on April 29th.   Who knows maybe  I  will tackle the  Challenge next year!

Spiritual Reflection
More than that, we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produced endurance.
(Romans 5:3)

Other Sources
Rachael Carson Challange

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Day 277 Carnegie Science Center's Rangos Giant Cinema-Hollywood Experiences and 3D Films-Immersive

*The Carnegie Science Center’s Rangos Giant Cinema is literally a giant theater. They have started evening movies or “Hollywood Experiences” and also have 3D educational films. I recently viewed the  80’s icon Prince film, Purple Rain  as part of the Hollywood Experiences and the 3D Amazon Adventure  that chronicles Henry Bates’ 11 year exploration of the Amazon rain forest. I have not viewed a movie on this mega  screen in many years but  was excited for an immersive experience!
Purple Rain  
As a huge Prince fan and back in the day, a wanna be groupie, I recalled that his performances were always than life. A giant screen with high tech sound is the perfect place to experience a little,or should I say, gigantic Prince!

I had forgotten how much Prince exuded sexuality and how much I had missed listening to his music. On this powerful screen, I was fully immersed in his performance. Just like I had always wanted to be, I was at the club as Prince sang, "I Would Die for You", "I'm A Star" "Purple Rain" and More!

Amazon Adventure
The Amazon Adventure is a 3D movie that chronicles Henry Bates’ 11 year exploration of the Amazon rain forest. I was surprised to learn that this man spent his life studying the changes in animal species. This adventure was an amazing story of perseverance and dedication.

In 3D, the butterflies few near and the foliage was almost touchable. The movie takes you to the tropical world of the Amazon, absorbing you into Bates' story and wonders of the rainforest.

The Science Center is not just for kids. The 3D movies educate as they mesmerize and the evening "Hollywood Experience" gives some iconic/cult movies a new twist. 

 I will keep the Rangos Giant Cinema in my survival tool box as an enjoyable immersive experience in cinematography. For tickets  of upcoming movies go to

* Blog integrity requires me to admit that I am reposting this post from April 17 because I somehow deleted it due to my lack of computer knowledge.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Day 276- Midtown Men with Pittsburgh Symphony POPS-Nostalgic Night

I have recently made the Pittsburgh Symphony part of my empty-nest repertoire (Day 266 and especially the POPS, that pair an array of artist  with our Grammy award winning Pittsburgh Symphony (Day 229). The Midtown Men are four original cast members from the hit Broadway show Jersey Boys. I was excited  to experience a little Four Seasons, Beatles, Motown, and more, as they harmonized, accompanied by our fantastic symphony.  This was a nostalgic night through the 60’s.

The Midtown Men, dressing alike in tailored dinner jackets and stepping in unison, exuded the class, sophistication, and  charm, of  the 1960’s  rock decade. Opening with Get Ready (Temptations), this foursome energized the room with their infectious smiles and dancing that continued throughout their show (preview here).

Michael Longoria, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, and J. Robert Spencer brought the signature  sound  of The Four Seasons to the stage as they performed Dawn, Big Girls Don't Cry/Sherry, and Can't Take My Eyes Off of You . These classics  all sounded so much bigger and bolder accompanied by the symphony under the direction of Todd Ellison.

The Midtown Men gave us some Beatles (Can't Buy Me Love,, Happy Together, In My Life), a little 60’s psychedelic sound (California Dreaming, Time of the Season, For What It’s Worth) and a medley of Motown. These four men  traded taking the lead vocal as the others  injected   potent harmonies. Combined with the  full sound of the symphony, they took us back to the “greatest decade in rock n’ roll.” -Oh What A Night -a nostalgic night!

(Midtown Men with  Pittsburgh Symphony at Heinz Hall runs April 13-15, 2018. For tickets go to Don't miss the next POPS, May 11-13, 2018, Love-Lust & Rock n' Roll. )

Monday, April 9, 2018

Day 275 Mummenchanz-Imaginative Swiss Theater Troup

My blog inspiration book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book recommends that we “use [our] imagination”.  Mummenchanz is an imaginative Swiss theater troupe  that really thinks outside of the box. I saw them once in the 1980’s and I was amazed with their ability to use ordinary objects in very extraordinary ways. It was a visual explosion of acrobatics, mime, imagery, puppets, lights, props and more.  I have waited three decades to see them again and I could not wait to experience their recent Pittsburgh show, You and Me.


 Mummenchanz  has the ability to entertain and make you laugh as they push the limits of creativity. A towel attached to a mask was crinkled into varied facial expressions. A floor to ceiling  fabric balloon was pulled inward to smile, to frown and to come alive.  Rectangular  blocks formed two “beings” that interacted and belonged together.  It’s like using a common sock to make a puppet but Mummenchanz makes things come to life in such  inventive ways.      

The show had  vignettes of action that told mini stories. I particularly enjoyed how they used  long fabric and black-lights to mimic the ocean and added props for exotic creatures. Mime techniques of  rapid movements and pauses conveyed playfulness and even impatience in some of these creatures.  Violins with painted eyes were used as masks and produced audience  laughter as the violins interacted as a couple.

 The show is really “creativity on steroids” but it is not a “big production”.  The performance was a bit too intimate for the space of  the Byham theater in the absence of  music or sound effects but in any venue, Mummenchanz still  remains a unique imaginative experience!   
(watch  You and Me here).

Go  for other events sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Spiritual Reflection 
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

April Preview of Events

Potted Potter –Byham Theater- Friday April 27 to April 29, 2018 

I always loved reading the Harry Potter books to my son. So many of my adults friends ran to get the first additions of each book enjoying  the magical world of the Potter series. Potted Potter is a parody that covers all 7 books in 70 minutes! This should be a cleaver adventure of laughs based on these beloved books.   

Join me at the Byham on a whimsical parody for Potter buffs of all ages.     For tickets go to

Blog Post to Follow 

Word Play- April 13 and 14, 2018- Bricolage Theater

The Bricolage Theater  is synonymous  with “adventurous theater”.  It  is a forum were art can be  pushed to new limits.   In the show WordPlay, actors, writers, and just ordinary people, tell their own stories with the injection of music.  This is grown- up storytelling with literally a spin as a  DJ spins real-time soundtracks during the dialogue. This should be an intimate experience as  these strangers  share their  lives.   

Join me for the creativity and intimacy of  WordPlay at the Bricolage Theater on Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh. For tickets go to 
Blog Post to Follow 

Midtown Men with the Pittsburgh Symphony- April 13 and 15, 2018-Heinz Hall

The Midtown Men are four original cast members from the hit Broadway show Jersey Boys.  They bring the music and style of the 1960’s to the stage. I can’t wait to experience a little Beach Boys, Beatles, Motown, and more, as they harmonize with  our award winning  Pittsburgh Symphony.  This should be a nostalgic night through the 60’s! (preview here)

Join me for a  little 60's nostalgia with the Midtown Men and the Pittsburgh Symphony at Heinz Hall. For tickets go to
Blog Post to Follow 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Day 274 Good Friday Stations- Revisit to St Anthony's Chapel -Troy Hill

On this Good Friday I am re-posting  the Station of the Cross experience at St. Anthony's Chapel. I revisited this Chapel again last week. The beauty of trying and sharing new things is the discovery of "new likes" on this journey.

During  this  Easter season, I venture to the little chapel in Troy Hill that I discovered last summer (see Day 35 )  and experience the Stations of the Cross. I have been to the stations of the cross, (the telling of the story to Calvary),  but it was a new experience at St. Anthony's Chapel  with life sized sculptures.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Day 273-Rent-PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh-Power of Love

Rent in 1996  was one of the first rock operas to hit Broadway. It chronicles an unforgettable and inspiring year  of seven poverty struck artists in a NYC Greenwich Village flat determined to follow their dreams (art for art’s sake) but  they can’t  pay  the  rent.  Being a practical person, my first thought about this plot was “get a job, so you can pay the rent” but, when I first experienced this  show, I  became immersed in the music. This rock opera  emulates the power to overcome adversity in the shadow of  HIV/AIDS with diverse forms of love.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Day 272- Pittsburgh Opera-Moby Dick-A Powerful Tale, A Powerful American Opera

I have recently added the Pittsburgh Opera to my empty- nest repertoire but I have only experienced one other American Opera (see Day 212 Summer King). Moby-Dick  is an American opera with music by Jake Heggie and lyrics by Gene Scheer.  It is based on the classic novel by Herman Melville. I have to admit that I never  read the book but I know the story of  Captain Ahab’s feverish pursuit of the great white whale that took his leg. It's the story of the whale’s defeat of  man. I was excited to see if the musical strength of the predominately male cast would match the power of this man versus beast story in this Pittsburgh Primer of Moby-Dick.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Day 271- Heisenberg-Pittsburgh Public Theater-Unpredictable Romance/Predictable Needs -O’Reilly Theater


 Heisenberg is a romantic comedy named after physicist Werner Heisenberg who pioneered the “Uncertainty Principle”- a particle’s position and momentum can  not be  measured at the same time.  The play applies this scientific unpredictability to the development of a relationship between a spirited 40 something year old American woman, Georgie Burns, and a 75 year old Irishman, Alex Priest. Heisenberg, by Simon Stephens, reminds us that although relationships may be unpredictable, human needs are the same at any age.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 270 Pittsburgh Opera Fashion Event “A Song of Thrones”-Medieval Meets Modern

The recent Pittsburgh Opera Fashion Event, "A Song of Thrones” featured some of their ornate operatic  costumes in conjunction with fashions by Diana Misetic of Shadyside fashion studio and boutique, Little Black Dress. What I enjoy most about the opera experience is that it’s  an extravagant production of set, costumes, and of course sound.  Mixing the pageantry of  the opera with  fashion is a dramatic way to display clothing. Since the theme for this fashion show was based on the epic television series “Game of Thrones,” the experience was a dramatic mixing of medieval and modern worlds.   

Friday, March 9, 2018

Day 269- Waitress- Pittsburgh Broadway Series-Savor the Flavors

The musical Waitress,  similar to this blog,  is about a  woman’s  life journey.  Unlike me, who struggles with cooking and baking, Jenna is an expert pie baker who used this delicious skill to cope with a burnt life in a small town.  Jenna and her two friends, Becky and Dawn, are waitresses who through friendship and love eventually  savor the flavors of a better life (culinary puns are intended).   

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Day 268 Bodyguard-Pittsburgh Broadway Series-Punches With Music and Suspense

The musical, The Bodyguard, is based on the iconic 1992 movie with the same name that skyrocketed Whitney Huston's career. The movie was packed with record billboard hits: So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My love, and the song that always gives me goose bumps- I Will Always Love You.   Who can forget the romance between singing superstar, Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) and Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner), who was the former secret service agent  hired as Marron’s bodyguard to protect her from an obsessed stalker/assassin. It was a thriller and a love story. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Day 267-Pittsburgh Ballet-Swan Lake-Masterful, Classical, Beautiful –A Fairy Tale

My blog inspiration book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book” reminds us to “Take in some culture once in awhile”. There is nothing more cultural than the  ballet Swan Lake. In fact, this love story is the pinnacle of classical ballet with the demanding technique of the dance for the principle dancer  who takes on the roles of both  Odette (White Swan) and Odile (Black Swan). With the  additional pairing of  Tchaikovsky’s  score which was performed  live by the  PBT Orchestra, this was a masterful performance!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Day 266 Dave Bennett -“From Swing to Rock” with Pittsburgh Symphony POPS-Musical Journey

Dave Bennett, Multi-talented repertoire

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra collaborated with  Dave Bennett to bring the  legendary  swing sound of Benny Goodman and the rock n’ roll sounds of   Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Johnny Cash to Heinz Hall  in the show “From Swing to Rock”this weekend.  Dave Bennett, a self-taught jazz clarinet player, also played the electric guitar, piano, drums and sang, taking everyone on a musical journey with the Grammy winning Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Sarah Hicks.
Sarah Hicks

Dave Bennett with his multi-talented repertoire had the audience on a musical ride from the 1930's big band swing era to the 1950's rock n' roll beginnings. Opening with "In the Mood", he played the clarinet in the famous Benny Goodman style. He then slid into a "Swing Medley" adding five more big band favorites with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “Serenade in Blue” with the  full sounding orchestra  was “dreamy” but during most of this set, I wanted to jump up and do a jitterbug. I joined many in the audience who were tapping their feet and bobbing to this music.     
Bennett playing Jerry Lee Lewis Medley with PSO
Then Dave Bennett transitioned into  piano playing  Jerry Lee Lewis with a medley of six songs which ended with “Whole Lot of Shakin Going On”.  He injected  energetic key pounding adding his foot to the keys, which is characteristic  of “wild man” Lewis!

It was a fun ride.  Bennett even produced that smooth low tone “Elvis voice” with his  guitar riffs  which made the Elvis Medley from “Heart Break Hotel” to  “"Blue Suede Shoes" bounce. He then cruised into “Love Me Tender” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” which was impressive with the added symphonic sound.  

In the second half, there was a  Johnny Cash set and Bennett performed his original “Lonesome Highway” . The jazzy "Wichita Lineman" allowed his band to jam  and then “Sing Sing Sing”  gave us all a little more big band sound near the conclusion of the show both of which are on  Bennett's new CD, Blood Moon.

Sarah Hicks was wonderful to watch as she conducted the PSO down this musical  highway.   Bennett  and his jazz band with the Pittsburgh Symphony gave us a  fantastic whimsical  musical journey from swing to rock n’ roll!

I will definitely keep the Pittsburgh Symphony POPS 2017-2018 season in my survival tool box. I am looking forward to  Midtown Men, with the  four original Broadway singers  from Jersey Boys, continuing the musical journey  through the 60’s with this  Grammy winning Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Spiritual Reflection
And the priest said to them,"Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord"  (Judges 18:6)

Other Sources
Wichita Lineman

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Day 265 Multiple Choice Events at Wilson Center- (Meetings) Anthony Hamliton, Experimental Dance

Movement  performed to the sound of 64 miniature robotic devices that  produce  rhythms for the  show Meetings is definitely thinking outside the box which is just what Austrian choreographer, Anthony Hamilton is known for, and is  just what this blog is all about.  I was excited to experience Hamiton's collaboration with dancer, composer and sound engineer, Alisdair Macindoe, which brought  a unique performance duo for  another Multiple Choice Event to the August Wilson Center. I was ready for Meetings, my first  “experimental dance/sound instillation” experience!  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

March/February Preview of Events and Posts

Since this blog is  all about keeping a forward trajectory in midst of change and reaching your personal best, I wanted to preview some of my planned experiences in  the hope  that it will inspire some to join in. As Dale Carnegie once said, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." Let's all get busy!

RENT-PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh-March 27-April 1, 2018- Heinz Hall 

Rent  is a 1996 rock musical about poverty struck artists living in a NYC Greenwich Village flat who are determined to follow their  dreams but  have problems paying the  rent.  Being of a practical mind, my first thought about this  plot was, “get a job so you can pay the rent”.  After experiencing the show  several years ago, I was hooked by the fantastic music that emulates the power of love.  Rent chronicles an unforgettable  and inspiring  year of  these individuals in the shadow of  HIV/AIDS .  

Join me and experience the power of  love in all forms in this rock musical at the Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh. For tickets go to

RUSH: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is sponsoring $25.00  tickets on a first come in- person bases  2 hours before the show at the Heinz Hall box office.   Tickets for the RUSH are  for the  first three rows of the orchestra section available for cash only and  limited to two tickets per person

Blog Post to Here 

Pittsburgh Opera -Moby-Dick - March 17, 20 23, 25, 2018- Benedum Center

I have recently added the Pittsburgh Opera to my empty- nest repertoire but I have only experienced one American Opera (see Day 212 Summer King). Moby-Dick  is an American opera with music by Jake Heggie and lyrics by Gene Scheer .  It is based on the classic novel by Herman Melville. With the strong male cast  and a story that  chronicles  Captain Ahab’s feverish pursuit of the great white whale that previously took his leg, this should be a powerful musical night!  

Join me and experience this Pittsburgh premier of the American Opera Moby-Dick at the Benedum Center March 17,20,23,25, 2018. For tickets go

 Blog Post to Follow

Pittsburgh Opera Fashion show-“ Songs of Thrones”- March 19, 2016-Opera Headquarters, Strip District 

The Pittsburgh Opera Fashion Show, "Songs of Thrones"  is going to feature some of their ornate costumes in conjunction with fashions by Diana Misetic of Shadyside fashion studio and boutique, Little Black Dress. How fun to mix the pageantry of operatic fashions with life fashions!  I have never watched the epic series “Game of Thrones” but know that it has medieval  plot. I can’t wait to see how they combine the past with the present in this night of song and fashion.

There will also be resident opera artist molding the costumes from the vault, hair and make up styling by Studio Booth, and jewelry designed pieces for the show and for purchase by artist Deborah Phillips and Murial Spitz.  

Join me and support the Pittsburgh Opera at this evening of  fun and fashion with a medieval twist at  at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters in the Strip District. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres  are at 6:30 with the show  at 7:30.  For tickets  click here

Blog Post here

Heisenberg, March 8 to April 8, 2018 Pittsburgh Public Theater

It’s always fun to laugh at romance and Heisenberg  is a romantic comedy named after physicist, Werner Heisenberg that pioneered the  “Uncertainty Principle”- that  particles position and momentum  can not be  measured at the same time.  The play applies this scientific unpredictability to a relationship between a spirited 40 something year old American women and a 75 year old Irishman.  I can’t wait to see the stages of this seemly mismatched relationship  as it is performed in the round with the audience on all sides.

Join me for a little Irish/American unpredictable romance in Heisenberg at the Pittsburgh Public Theater.  For tickets go to

Blog Post to here

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Day 264- Pittsburgh Broadway Series, Wicked The Musical-Friendship and Love in a Mysterious World

Even as an adult I loved the mysterious land of Oz in the movie The Wizard of Oz. The musical, Wickedtells us more about this world. It’s the story about a woman born with green skin who is misunderstood and labeled because of her appearance. She becomes the Wicked Witch of the West but as a young girl she had a beautiful popular friend, Glinda, the Good Witch. Wicked is an adventure about political struggles, social injustice, but mostly, friendship and  love in this mysterious world.