Sunday, January 11, 2009

Things We Love About Hill Country...Continued

5. The Pittsburgh Penguins. And not just because we love men with high, round asses or because we never understood the appeal of a full set of pearly whites when a quick stick and a surprising puck bounce are just as important...but because this is the first group sport that we actually understand. Okay. So we didn't beat the Canadiens that cheery, boozy night in the 'burgh. But it was a hell of a good time. Especially the drinking-followed-by-urinating-in-the-parking-lot part. And eating nachos with fluorescent cheese and slimy jalapenos. Oh, and popcorn. Lots of popcorn. Followed by Tums.

4. The discovery that the Western-Hill-Country-of-Pennsylvania isn't really in the East Coast at all. Its feet are firmly planted in the Midwest. Thus the homemade strawberry jam at breakfast and the multiple applications of cabbage and sauerkraut. Plus, the Wall of Ketchup at the local Giant Eagle...Impressive. No fig balsamic reductions here. No quail eggs riding high atop entrees. No Pinot Noir. Just good home cooking. Which brings me to...

3. Kielbasa. The official meat of Steel Town. At least three local butchers make their own. Richly spiced and lightly smoked. Nothing like the Hillshire Farms crap we're stuck with in Fish Town.

2. Pigs in a blanket (here in the West we call them stuffed cabbage) What can I say? Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Never get enough pigs. Even my mom wants the recipe. And she's a Mexican with a Grudge. Could this be the way to bring the Moms together? World peace through pigs? The end of Global Warming? The beginning of a Croatian/Polish/Mexican coalition? Sounds, beige. A new kind of Mafia? Dios Mio!

1. Home with the Ranger Fam. A question that has haunted us ever since we pulled out of Albuquerque in our fast car, headed for God Knows Where, hungry for change, feeling adrift yet weighted down by 54 pairs of shoes in the trunk. "What makes a place home?" Is it where you were born and raised? Is it where your parents live? Is it the town or city or farm where you filled a photo album full of snaps and stories? Is it your spouse and children? What if you don't have a spouse or children?

Or can be at home in more than one place. Maybe the ties that bind aren't ties at all. Not to history. Or memory. Not necessarily to folks with the same last name. Maybe you know you're home when you're not doing anything the least bit impressive and that feels just right.

Like when you lay on the sofa with a book and blanket in the middle of the day, hair matted, feet stinky. It's sunny outside and you really should be doing something productive, but hey, there's a dog snoring nearby and in the refrigerator...pork products. And a yet-to-be-finished bottle of red.

Yeah...for was good to be home.

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