Pittsburgh, New York and a New Harmsen.
Since Doug and Steph had spent the 2011 Christmas season working in Denver, we decided to make a short visit to Pittsburgh in February when he was there on stage in As You Like It, and at the same time get together with our friends Rolf and Magda Loeber*. The two days traveling and four days in Pittsburgh in retrospect seem like a long vacation, not just because we packed a lot in, but also because the unplanned events. As You Like It was splendid, partly because Doug's acting (of course). Seeing the same play several times is very different from seeing the same movie again, because the different cast and directing make it exciting and a bit different, even when you know what is going to unfold. And then, Rolf and Magda did their hospitality thing so well that we once again fell in love with Pittsburgh. At previous visits we had missed the Carnegie Museum of Art. This time Rolf took us, and it was terrific. Even before we got in, ascending a long glazed-in walkway leads past a wonderful sculpture by Aristide Maillol, called simply 'Nuit'. I think we saw it at its best in the falling snow.
Photo credit Rolf Loeber
But the highlight of our time there was related neither to Shakespeare nor to all the Pittsburgh outings. It was what happened when Steph came for a couple of days from New York to see Doug on stage and overlap with our visit. We were sitting in Doug's temporary flat when he stood up, looked at us, and said: ”Mom and Dad, Steph and I have something to tell you........we are pregnant.” In that instant, our entire concept of the rest of our lives was changed.
How much it was changed started to become obvious when we traveled to New York on September first, two days after the birth of our granddaughter Gwendolyn.
Photo credit Christa Scott-Reed
We stayed for two months, living in a sublet, four blocks away from the happy family. Our apartment was on the fifth floor of a large solidly built old-fashioned building – we discovered that in New York that means: no elevator. We got our exercise taking many trips from our flat to their's: down five flights, two blocks uphill, two blocks downhill and three flights up. And that, needless to say, was only one way. But it was so great to be able to see little Gwen develop from a just-born to a smiling baby who obviously recognized us (or may be not so obviously). We baby-sat, cooked dinner for the parents (Doug had a full-time job, and Steph had a difficult delivery, needing the two months we were there to fully recover), went for walks in Tryon Park and ran errands.
Of course, we did some other things in New York, and made side trips to Cortlandt Manor and Long Island to get together with friends, and ended our stay in the big apple with a bang, enduring Hurricane Sandy, hunkered down in our little flat, listening to the fury of the elements.
Photo credit Douglas Harmsen
Now back at home we miss our little Gwen, but Steph sends the more recent pictures of our granddaughter every couple of days. The picture above was taken the day after the February 8th snowstorm (Gwen was just over 5 months old). And we are going for another week to New York in March and then, they are planning to come here for a few days in late April, when Doug has a week off teaching.
* Rolf and Magda became our friends decades ago when they were at Queens. They are both research psychologists, and lovers of art. They payed us a return visit in July.