I think not.

In my Cancerian-paranoia, I’ve kept this close to the vest. There is a friend here or there I may have confessed to. But you must be truly trustworthy to know this secret. You know the kind of friend I mean. Friends who aren’t liars, but could tell a whopper without flinching if you needed them to. Like in a case of life or death. Or at least hiding a big surprise from someone. You know, like that. Before listening to true crime podcasts, I would have said friends who would help hide a dead body. But I’ve discovered that happens way too often to be funny anymore.

My forever hair stylist (how does she put up with me?) and friend Dawn is one of those people. She would hide a surprise party, or if it were for a noble cause, a dead body. A couple of Januarys ago, I invited Dawn on an adventure to the Phipps Conservatory. She thought it would be a nice, warm place to go on a cold Pittsburgh day. Then I handed her a couple of little items to tuck into her pockets.

We were covert.

Does the Phipps even have security cameras? Perhaps tucked into the Chihuly glass displayed here and there? Maybe in the top of a tree gazing down on visitors? Being a law-abiding citizen, I don’t often worry about whether or not I’m being spied on. Or didn’t used to.

This Dinosaur Thing is Not My Fault

Oakland’s Phipps Conservatory is one of Pittsburgh’s best places to visit. It, and the Heinz History Center are the two memberships we renew. What’s better than orchids in the darkness of a gray dead in mid-winter? Okay, yeah, orchids in Hawaii, but that isn’t always possible.

The permanent exhibits are enjoyable—the Desert Room where the views change seasonally because, duh, they’re plants. I like the one holding a sign, “I’m not dead, I’m dormant.” I feel that way most Februaries. Or the amazing colors of the Broderie Ladies where they are ready for a wedding or a holiday. But I’m drawn to the South Conservatory where there is often a display so imaginative as to be, well, beyond my imagination. This room evolves over the year with new themes displaying new plants and decorations. The best display ever was the year the dinosaurs came to town. 

T-Rex raiding a store, twins playing tennis, a rascal making off with honey bee boxes, a vegetarian dinosaur stealing vegetables! What pizzaz! We went twice to laugh with delight at the dino-escapades.

Then they were gone. 

Occasionally, we might see a tiny vignette tucked here or there, but never again a full-fledged dinosaur invasion of da’burgh.


I Went to a Dollar Store

Come on, admit it. You roam around there, don’t you? There could be some funny little thing in aisle twelve. Or a book for a buck in row 14. Perhaps you nab a wine glass for porch-drinking with “Diva,” splayed across it. I haven’t been one, but I could be. You never know. This time, though, it a bag of dinosaurs leaped off the shelf into my basket. Just leaped. What’s a woman to do?

I hadda. Sometimes we’re compelled to act by the acorn of a planted idea. Like the eight year old yesterday who thought riding his younger sibling’s plastic toy car down the street was a great idea. Legs splayed wide because he was too big for it, he thought that hill was grand fun. Until. Plastic car, open legs, light post … need I say more?

Such were the dinosaurs coming home with a 50+ year old woman. I simply hadda. (Safer than me riding the kid next door’s skateboard, right?)

It Was Time to Visit the Phipps Again

I tucked a dinosaur into my pocket. Would I? Really? Could I do such a thing? What about those cameras? I’m not into vandalism of any kind. Is this vandalism? What trouble could a person be in for adding to a display rather than snipping a flower to take home? I’ll sit here, just so, for a moment. Slip my hand into my pocket, pull out a brachiosaurus, sorta set him here, casually saunter away.

Making it out of the facility alive emboldened me. I took one dino each time. Never being stopped at the door (going in or out), encouraged me to include Dawn in my nefarious act.

Giggling like four year olds, we placed our dinosaurs and scooted off.

Seeing her last month for my summer haircut, we bemoaned each having only one dinosaur left.

My Birthday Came

 Sixty-two seemed a somber number to me. Why? Who knows? Not traveling since December of 2019? Filing for social security? (Who me? How’d that happen? Didn’t my mom do that the other day? How can I be this old?) Whatever it was, I found myself feeling a bit blue.

An unexpected gift came from a cousin—something that cheered me immensely.

Then, an Amazon package. Had I ordered myself a gift and forgotten? I have done that for Christmases in the past. Yep, buy something in May, wrap it, and put it with the Christmas stuff. By December, I’ve quite often forgotten what I’ve stashed there! So, that would be fun, wouldn’t it? I ripped the distinctive envelope open and before I even read the note, I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. 

It was a bag of dinosaurs!

OMG, Dawn!

Oh my dino!

The instigator had been instigated against. Bravo! Perfect! Can’t wait to get back to the Phipps! Heck, why limit myself? Can’t wait to start leaving dinosaurs anywhere! 


I am fully aware that the Phipps may have an expert SEO staff member performing key-word searches. They may find me. I’m ready to face the consequences. But first the authorities will have to break through the line of dinosaurs protecting me.