G20 is starting (has started?) today. El presidente is supposed to be arriving as of a few minutes ago, if I heard right. The news radio stations are a flurry of critiques and snarky comments and Pittsburgh business hates that the entire area around the convention center where G20 meetings will be held is closed off, barricaded and guarded and everyone's lost business and money from the deal. That's not even going into the issues we're having with traffic, what with stopping it on the parkways to let delegates come rolling through the empty streets in their heavily-armored motorcades, half the downtown blocked off and several major throughways being re-routed around the city. It's a nasty mess and honestly, I'm pessimistic about the entire thing, but then I haven't been connected enough to educate myself about what's going on past listening to the radio when I can (10-minute snatches in the car)... so I can't really comment other than to report the unease that everyone else seems to be feeling, and note that the large noisy 'birds' passing by every few hours with binoculars almost certainly aimed at the area below are making me nervous, too.
The mayor has apparently declared a state of emergency as well, the effect of which is to increase police power during the summit and to limit the rights of protesters including the right to open carry a firearm without a carry permit (normally, open carry does not require a permit of any kind - only concealed carry requires the License to Carry Firearms). This means that anyone caught openly carrying a weapon without their LCTF is likely to be hauled away to the jail with the several hundred protesters who have been stuck into cells and the rather upset prisoners rousted from said cells to live in the jail gymnasiums until the summit's over. Did I mention it's a mess down here? But that's politics for ya...
In happier news, I saw two deer yesterday morning while driving to work. Came around the corner of the street that lets out of our little neighborhood, and there they were on the side of the road, looking wide-eyed and utterly confused at the amount of morning traffic, while we stared back at them equally wide-eyed at the closeness of nature. I'm 5 minutes walking distance from a major road through the South Hills and it's amazing to me still that there's a full hillside of grapevine and second-growth forest to block the noise and the exhaust fumes from the houses up here, plus deer, rabbits, groundhogs and other interesting critters wandering the brushy hills.
I think what's kept Pittsburgh green is its lack of flat space. Most cities built near water are on floodplains, from what I've seen; they naturally use every bit of ground available to them. Here where there are cliffs and steep hillsides along the three rivers and where they had to build two incline railways just to move miners and steel workers from their hilltop homes to the industry at the banks, there is still a lot of green space that has been built over, under, and around but not through. It's as though the city isn't so big after all, until you crest a hill and the illusion vanishes in the glitter of a thousand windows staring back at you from the hills. Pittsburgh is a pretty city.
In other news, Mystra the puppy (did I mention we got a lab/retriever/something else mix puppy?) is doing well. She's finally figured out how to bark and we have retaliated by telling her "good speak!" and then shutting her up by handing her a treat and praising her for being quiet. She's picking up on it fast - I hope that by next week she'll know both "speak" and "quiet" to add to sit, lay down, come, potty (only outside - she hasn't had an accident yet today!), and stay (although stay is difficult. Try asking your toddler to sit still some time!). She is also very friendly and our biggest challenge with her is getting her to recognize that not all new people want to have a puppy diving at their legs. She doesn't like to be dragged away from new friends and thinks that everyone loves her!
Lots of fun, lots of running around. My schedule was messed up due to some lack of paperwork last week on the part of the insurance company, but it's back to normal this week and I only lost a few hours so I'm not crying - yet. We'll see how much I have left over after next week's paycheck goes to rent and bills. We haven't turned the gas on since the only thing that uses it is the heat and water heater - pitcher showers with water heated on the stove work pretty well! Honestly, I'm glad we didn't have to pay gas the first few weeks here. It's allowed me to put a little bit more money toward buying things like blinds for the windows. Soon we'll be working on curtains as well! Things are coming together nicely - pictures coming soon!
That's about it - we're using Rick's phone and the tethering service that he's been paying for so that we can connect to the internet at home, but I'm going to make a library run at some point this week to return a few books and pick up some more reading. I'll say one thing - not having 'net at home has really improved my reading habits!