Drinking

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Thursday evening, our inaugural fire, now that we’ve got the basement space all kitted out. It was cozy and lovely, the hubster saving his best smile of the day for me before playing a little ditty on the piano. I love this house, how, with each passing day, it feels more and more like home.

Friday evening we went downtown, had dinner at our favorite burger place (Bingo!), wandered, bought treats, and sipped coffee, all the while watching Colorado Springs stroll by in shirtsleeves, the last bit of warmth before the snow fell.

We woke up to single digit temperatures and my favorite hush and sparkle of snow, the kind that squeaks underfoot.

I made green chile (awww, sweet Paris) and margaritas, a mighty fine way to keep the chill at bay. Snug as bugs and happy as clams.

Happy Sunday!

Quebec City! We arrived at sunset, after a long day of travel. The skies were crystal in their clarity and the air bracing, but I was sweating, nervous over the fact that we got stuck in traffic and our phones don’t work in Canada. Surprise! Oof. Many thanks to the kindness of strangers, we made a call at a local restaurant to connect, just five minutes late, with our weekend landlord. The world is good, and so were our lodgings.

It was a short walk to cobbled streets and every manner of wonder, a sculpture or two or a dozen, and a fabulous public market. These are our breakfast provisions for the duration of our stay in Quebec City, black pepper smoked mackerel, tart crisp apples, a wild mushroom quiche, and ground cherries. Do you know them? They taste like an apple kissed a cherry, with the the look and texture of an orange tomato under that lovely husk. Delicious! Not wanting to leave any local stone unturned, we also bought nougat, more hard cider than we ought, and maple butter, velvety sweet goodness.

It is a marvelous place, a time capsule from the late 1600’s opened anew each day. When I began studying French in seventh grade, my text book had a photo of the Chateau Frontenac on the cover, and young me had many a fantasy about what it would be like when I saw it in person for the first time. Friends, none of them was as joyous as rounding that corner and having my thirteen year old self gasping from my fourty-four year old lungs before squealing at the hubster, “There it is!” Of course I got teary at the silly sentimentality of it all. Dreams come true.

A delectable lunch at Cochon Dingue, poutine for the hubster, and a seafood gratin in the cutest cast iron pan for me. Don’t my arms look long?

Shazama-bama diggity-pop! I love my life!

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Happy Monday from a stop at Blackbird Distillery in Brookville on our way to the Kinzua Bridge this past Friday. It’s a blink and you might miss the turn (we did the first time by) but definitely worth the trip. What a hoot! The man in charge was utterly hilarious and highly knowledgeable about every product Blackbird makes and sells, which includes moonshine in a myriad varieties, sauces, pickles, smoked meats, cheese, and more. Everything we tried was terrific. We came home with a t-shirt for the hubster, a bottle of the Lemon Drop Corn Shine (delicious!), beef jerky, and the best jar of pickles since moving to Pennsylvania. Spicy!

When it was built in 1882, the Kinzua was the tallest railroad bridge in the world. Though it only held that title for two years, it remained in commercial service for another 77, and later became part of the state park that bears its name. In a rather unfortunate turn, much of the bridge was destroyed by a tornado during restoration work in July of 2003, the twisted remains more akin to toothpicks than steel and a heady reminder of the fierce power of nature. At 301 feet, it’s a looong way down from what is now called the skywalk. Though I do not consider myself to be afraid of heights, it took all the courage I could muster to walk across the glass viewing panels. Eek!

Oh, and should you make the trip, be sure to stop by Stroup’s Maple Syrup, just down the road apiece from the park entrance. Harvested and processed right there! If you are lucky, you’ll be greeted by Skippy the Jack Russell Terrier, who very much likes pets from strangers.

The beautiful light in and around what might be the the handsomest cabin in the woods, and the sad source of our misses. Part of the Gateway Lodge, we’d planned on staying two nights and breakfasting at their cozy restaurant. Our first disappointment arrived when we learned at check-in that the lodge and its restaurant would be closed for a private party the whole of the weekend. Well, bummer, but we’re easy going and not about to let that get us down, and the cabin has a kitchen, so we’ll buy some breakfast provisions at the cute market down the way. Problem solved. Then came the unfortunate assault when we opened the cabin door. Mildew, potent and unpleasant. We opened windows, built a fire, and sat on the porch sipping our newly purchased shine to give it time. The sad truth was that nothing we could do would get rid of the odor or our disappointment. So we got a refund (which they were very kindly about) and drove home.

Thankfully it was only a couple of hours away and during the dreamy hours of the setting sun. And then a strange apparition, the glow of row upon row of tents, hundreds, maybe even thousands of them, right off the highway, like something out of a dream. We wondered and speculated at the largeness of it. What could it be? Our answer would have to wait for an internet connection.

The Pennsic War. A large living history group, gathering annually in numbers around the 10,000 mark, entirely dedicated to the Middle Ages “as they ought to have been.” Everyone in period attire, with battles and other challenges and the earning of war points. It all sounds quite interesting and organized, the Renaissance Fair on steroids, but, sadly, an entirely private event. The only method for observing is to become a member. Wait, I found a video. Fascinating!

 Yet another dazzler at the butterfly bush! A Monarch, I think.

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Marvelous light of spring and new wingback chairs, I love their acid green, tall backed comfort, perfect for reading and nodding off. There’s a new lamp on the way, a replacement for the one on the right, which will be quite at home in the T.V. room. Then, and only then, will it be ready for your eyes. The dining room fixture is new and  already well loved. The table, our first piece of grown-up newlywed furniture, and thusly clocking in at more than twenty years old, was a desk for ages but is a table once again. Shuffle-shuffle-shuffle. Let’s make the most of what we have, shall we? One fine breezy day, we will open the windows and paint the walls that perfect shade of white.

 

Spring is on the verge, with budding trees and blossoming crocus and snowdrops, too. Our first Pittsburgh spring! So often, I think of how improbable this all was one year ago. Pittsburgh and a 109 year old house, my Grandmother gone, the cats too, how quickly a life can change!

Strolling the South Side Flats yesterday afternoon. A precocious teen, spying the hubster’s rather fashionable spectacles, asked, “Are you a hipster?” We laughed, and I said that we’re probably far too old and nerdy for such declarations, before discussing cameras and skateboards and money, and he wished us a blessed day. These are the moments that enrich our lives.

The bright sun belies a bitterly cold wind. We walked quickly, hands deep in our pockets, wishing for warmth in between a fabulous lunch at La Palapa and treats at The Milkshake Factory. Zooming off to our next destination, we played what the hubster and I not-so-fondly call the Pittsburgh Slalom, a.k.a. dodging pot holes. Jeepers!

Greetings from Mt. Washington! My Grandma Frances lived in Pittsburgh as a girl and relayed such fantastical tales of the funicular and uber-super steep hills that they screamed fiction. Even these photos do such little justice to the city’s rolling and rollicking hills. Alas, you truly have to visit to believe it (our guest room will be ready soon!). Grandma lived somewhere near the Duquesne (dew-cane) Incline, and I cannot help but look for traces of her as I wander the nearby streets, decades and decades after her departure. Was this her church? Did she live in this house? Did she scramble, bare-legged and laughing, up this old tree? I don’t suppose I will ever know, which saddens me some.

Our neighborhood lies just beyond the top most bridge in the photo above. And in the photo just above that, on the left, is the PPG Building (Philip Johnson, Architect), my favorite in the Pittsburgh skyline, just in case you were wondering.

More marvelous murals to add to my collection and a sharp-edged building, too, circa 1893. The history in this town!

See you later, alligator. Don’t be an April fool…

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Friendship Way, 1998

Cork Marcheschi, Neon Sculptor

Zaharakos, largely unchanged since 1900, with stunning woodwork and marble, is the coolest ice cream parlor I have ever visited. Not only do they have delicious treats, a cherry float and hot fudge sundae for us, but they are also a museum dedicated to the mostly lost art of ice cream parlors. Utterly unique and wonderful with super friendly staff, this place is fun for the entire family.

Bartholomew County Courthouse, 1874

Isaac Hodgson, Architect

The Commons pictured in the foreground, 2011

Koetter Kim & Associates, Architects

Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans, 1997

Thompson and Rose, Architects

Bring a tissue, friends. The monument has excerpts and entire letters written by fallen personnel carved into the stone.

Republic Newspaper, 1971

Myron Goldsmith, Architect

Columbus City Hall, 1981

Edward Charles Bassett, Architect

Bartholomew County Jail, 1990

Don M. Hisaka, Architect

Miller House, 1957

Eero Saarinen, Architect

Dan Kiley, Landscape Architect

Here we are. This is the house that gleefully sent me down the Columbus, Indiana architecture rabbit hole. Beautiful. The only way to see it is to take a tour, and, rather unfortunately, they do not allow any photographs of the interior, so if you would like a glimpse and don’t have time for a journey to Columbus, watch this short video. If you’re still intrigued and would like a more comprehensive look at the house, J. Irwin Miller, and the history of Columbus in regards to its marvelous buildings, here’s another video. As for the house, believe me when I say that it is an awe to behold and well worth the price of admission.

St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, 2002

William Browne, Jr. and Steven R. Ristling, Architects

North Christian Church, 1964

Eero Saarinen

Parkside Elementary School, 1962

Norman Fletcher, Architect

First Baptist Church, 1965

Harry Weese, Architect

After a long day of walking and photographing, and walking and photographing some more, our reward was a beyond delicious meal at the Henry Social Club. Everything was superb. We chatted it up with our neighbors; they shared their bread with us; and we discovered how small the world is when we realized we’d lived near each other decades apart.

Next up, Cincinnati!

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