By Harry Funk
Two weeks after his second COVID-19 vaccination, my friend Mike celebrated by flying to Las Vegas.
And boy, were his arms tired.
Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
But Mike did fly, in a way. He told us about his experience on the Super-Hero Zoom – yes, there’s a different kind of Zoom – riding a zip line one-third of a mile above Vegas’ Fremont Street, Clark-Kent-alter-ego style.
Now, there’s an adventure.
My first post-vaccination foray beyond the South Hills took me all the way to Hopewell Township, Washington County, and Joe Hamm’s Daffodil Hortus.
I know what you’re thinking. Wow, Harry. You sure are walking on the wild side.
Well, I did learn a lot about daffodils during my visit, including the fact that there are about 28,999 more varieties than the standard yellow one that looks kind of like a trumpet. And anyone who wants the flowers for, say, a Mother’s Day bouquet had better do so before their season ends in early May.
But what brought me to Joe’s enclosed garden, as “hortus” means in its Biblical context, was a request to do something I hadn’t done since college:
Since joining the journalistic profession in 1985, I’ve asked questions of thousands of folks while scribbling in a notebook or more recently – I really can’t read my handwriting anymore – letting my digital recorder do the work.
So when Rachael Rennebeck and John Chamberlin invited me as a guest on their YaJagoff!™ Podcast, I figured, that sounds like fun.
And it was.
John and Rachael co-founded a marketing company called YaJagoff Media LLC, ingeniously integrating a healthy dose of Pittsburghese into their promotional endeavors, one of which is an interview show recorded at various locations around the region.
Acting on the recommendation of Pittsburgh gardening personality Doug Oster, the YaJagoff crew ventured out to the country to learn more about Joe and his, uh, perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes.
While they were at it, Rachael and John also interviewed Doug, who emphasizes organic gardening as a healthy approach for everyone involved. Then it was my turn to take the microphone.
It certainly wasn’t to talk about gardening. Whatever is the opposite of green, that’s the kind of thumb I have.
Rachael, as it turns out, is a self-professed “journalism junkie” who worked in the Fourth Estate prior to going into YaJagoffing. I had gotten to know her and John through the intersection of our jobs, and they suggested me joining them on their podcast someday.
So here I was, the camera – well, smartphone – on me, hoping I didn’t clam up like Ralph Kramden on the “Chef of the Future” commercial.
Just kidding. If you know me, you know I like to talk. And having the opportunity to answer questions about myself, instead of the other way around, turned out to be quite the revelatory experience.
For example, there’s my “origin story,” of sorts:
“I liked to write when I was a kid. Then I had a journalism teacher in high school who was really good-looking, Mrs. Hull.”
What I mostly talked about with John and Rachael involved the changes I’ve seen in the past three-and-a-half decades, some for the best, some not so wonderful. And I did get to chat a bit about my nonprofessional self, including my fondness for music, with me managing to put in a plug for the Grateful Dead.
The interview wrapped up with me finishing the prompt, “April showers bring …”
I already had heard Joe and Doug give gardening-related replies, so I had time to work on mine:
“The Pirates losing in the rain!”
Yeah, I know what all you diehard Pittsburgh baseball fans would like to call me:
Visit www.yajagoff.com to hear the podcast and get a taste of a whole lotta Pittsburgh.