Exploring

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Up early on Friday for a hike in North Park with our friends Kristen and Patrick (Hello!). Oh my goodness, with hiking, bird watching, kayaking, places to eat, and many a lovely vista, it’s like all of my favorite parks rolled into one!

Good times on the roof of a parking garage to see Jaws! It’s bloodier and funnier than I remembered.

 

More fun at the Laurel Highlands Bluegrass Festival, benefiting the Ligonier Volunteer Fire Department. Friendly folks, sweet singing, and some mighty fine picking!

Throwing it back to May, with our first visit to Randyland and Max’s Allegheny Tavern. Wonderful and delicious…

And our borough’s car show. What a treat to be able to walk down the street and see so many beauties!

Hope you had a lovely holiday…

 

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The Fort Pitt Blockhouse, circa 1764

A walk along the Allegheny down to The Point, where two rivers (the Allegheny and Monongahela) make one (the Ohio), but they call it three. The old version of new math, perhaps?  What a fantastic day that was, with what felt like the whole of Pittsburgh out enjoying the weather. On bicycles, running, walking, strolling, kayaking, human power ruled the day!

Funny story: when we first arrived and were really and truly lost much of the time and poking fun at ourselves with whomever would listen, a sweet woman at the Home Depot told us how she and her husband, on their first adventure downtown after moving to Pittsburgh, made note of the bridge they came over, so as not to get nearly as lost when returning home. It’s yellow! They then turned to note that nearly every other bridge shared this same hue and laughed at the folly of it all.

I love the yellow bridges! Such cheer and efficiency, “I would like one million gallons of yellow number five, please.” Surely a gigantic nod to the Steelers and the Pirates, but that’s not all. Three of them are named for famous Pittsburghers: Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Carson. A baseball player, an artist, and a conservationist. Way to represent, Pittsburgh. Everyone gets a bridge!

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Sitting in the office, watching cloud after cloud canter across the blue. We’ve lived here six months, our personal clocks ticking away at intervals both fast and slow, wholly dependent upon on our moods (bewildered, happy, sad), the skies, the indolent pace of emerging spring leaves. Pittsburgh is a difficult city in winter. Not for the cold and snow and ice, no, these were reasonable, expected, and largely enjoyed. Our shock was in the lack of color in our snow covered world. Though Pittsburgh’s cloudy skies are much the same as Portland’s, it is what lies beneath that is so vastly different. Our winter rolling hills sport only the occasional evergreen and nary a fern (I miss ferns!), the majority a mass of arced bare limbs and rusty fallen leaves. The resultant landscape is hued only by what man makes, houses, cars, buildings, smoke stacks and steam, a shock to our green Pacific Northwest eyes. I had to promise the hubster that it would turn and he would marvel at the change. Thank you nature for not making a liar out of me.

Pittsburgh remains a city of navigational mysteries. The myriad hills and dales (now brilliantly dressed in every shade of green!) and the impossibility of cherished grid systems leaves me in frequent wonder at which direction I am facing. Though we are finding our way, better and more accurately with each passing day, with a car ride driven by our own sense of direction and not GPS a giddy celebration! Adding to the mystery are the curious and confounding drivers. With all the hills and densely packed neighborhoods, the majority of streets are two lanes, making turn lanes a rather unfortunate impossibility. But, thanks to the politesse of the Pittsburgh left, a flash of lights, a waved hand, or a dead stare to get moving, drivers can turn without so much as a problem the majority of the time. It is marvelous, though the feeling can be quickly dashed by the angry honks while sitting at a red light, or a car tailing wildly close and at breakneck speed before zooming past.

It’s a town that doesn’t quite know how to be, and rightly so. When the steel industry collapsed, thousands of people lost their livelihoods, and nearly 200,000 residents vanished in the ensuing decades. Pittsburghers are proud. Proud to have gotten back on their feet largely without help from the outside. Proud to have such wildly successful sports teams. Proud to have fine institutions like the Carnegie Libraries, the Phipps Conservatory (where I took today’s photos!), Heinz Hall and the Cultural District, a vibrant downtown and waterfront, so many beautiful bridges. Proud to have intact small businesses, even if the service is lousy, or in the case of restaurants, the servers are super friendly, but the food is beyond anything the worst cook you know would serve. Pittsburghers are kind and friendly and welcoming despite their wonder. Why did you move HERE?

The truth is, we are still finding out…

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Happy Monday, dear reader! Welcome to the Allegheny Observatory, part of the University of Pittsburgh, and easily seen from our guest room window. As such, we had been itching to walk there practically since moving in. It’s about an hour each way, so it’s a nice way to build up an appetite before dinner and better acquaint ourselves with the neighborhood. It’s situated in Riverview Park, though the moniker makes absolutely no sense, as we saw not one glimpse of water, save at the drinking fountain. Anyhoo, we’re hoping to take one of their free tours this summer!

We decided that the couple on the lawn is future Colleen and Greg (as they had more gery hair and wrinkles than we do). They had four kites, three of which they had going at once, before she started with the bubbles. They kissed and laughed and were quite ebullient in their happiness. The best way to be, I think!

Sunset on a recent drive home…

this was part of a sound machine!

artist unknown

Dream City Art in Wilkinsburg a couple weekends ago, with different artists studios and events open to the public. Wilkinsburg, much like areas of Pittsburgh, is a place of contrasts, with newly restored homes and businesses next door to crumbling buildings and massive piles of illegally dumped garbage. Devastated by the loss of the steel industry some thirty years ago, it is making what seems to be even slower progress than Pittsburgh to re-establish itself. There is much work to be done and ambitious people working admirably to make it happen. My hat is off to them!

We went with our friends Ron & Janet (hi!), and enjoyed taking in the work of artists keen on being part and parcel of Wilkinsburg’s renaissance. Terry Boyd makes fun to watch art with his bow and arrow(!).  James Shipman makes fantastic scupltures on Rebecca avenue (the hanging basket is his), while Dee Briggs creates her work in an old fire station. A fun afternoon of discovery!

Whoa there. I missed a whole week of blogging, wiz-bam-flash gone. The hubster was in Portland on business, and I managed to keep busy with everything under the sun that did not include logging onto a computer. It was a rather surprising turn of events, to be sure!

Life continues to roll along here, as we learn and appreciate more about our new home. I don’t know what is typical, but the weather has been quite lovely, with open windows, the most raucous thunder and lightning laden storms we’ve seen since living in Colorado, and bright sunny days to make this body grateful.

The trees are bursting and frothy with blossoms, and our sepia-hued hills will soon be green and gorgeous. We can’t wait to see full spring!

These photos, however, are the warmest welcome we can muster to a cloudy day in Lawrenceville a few weeks back. We walked our legs off and oohed and ahhed at all we hadn’t seen before. The castle-like entrance is to the Allegheny Cemetery, one of the oldest and largest in the Pittsburgh area. There’s a bakery (La Gourmandine) we must try when the line is not twenty people out the door long. We bought dreamy scented soap from a kindly lady who kept sweet kitties and a dog at the old school cool shop. That coffee is the best we have yet to find in Pittsburgh, and my heart was happy for a fancy gew-gaw on top. It’s the little things!  Frankie’s was a heady temptress, the scent of franks wafting and that terrific neon, but we were gearing up for a fabulous lunch at Marty’s. It did not disappoint.

Off I am for more learning and scheming and hoping you have a most marvelous of Tuesdays.

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