Sunday, June 5, 2016

Home Sweet Home

Pittsburgh is the city of three rivers: the Monongahela, the Allegheny, and the one nobody can remember (the Ohio). We came up from the south, crossed the Monongahela, and then drove along it for a beautiful vista of our new home. On account of the triangular downtown and numerous hills, few streets here make a grid, some are marked "private," and some are actually public staircases. One of my colleagues says the city must have been designed by an angry civil engineer, because it makes so little sense. Case in point: a ridiculous number of 5-way intersections. Driving here is often improvised and not for the faint of heart. The city still feels like an experiment and not like "home" yet.

Dear Husband says the housing stock reminds him of Baltimore in the way that one block can be quite nice and the next block a row of trashy lots and boarded up houses. Only in The Burgh the third block could look positively semi-rural, with trees, brush, and an insurmountable hillside behind it. For instance, the friend of a friend's house where we stayed when we first arrived is perched on a hill with bee hives in the side "yard." (How cool is that?)

Rowhouses: not just in Baltimore.

DH and I are renting a townhouse in an eastern neighborhood called Point Breeze. (Pittsburghers take their neighborhoods so seriously that they are listed on every major street sign, and there are multipledetailed Wikipedia articles about them.) There are three schools within two blocks, as well as the Reformed Presbyterian Seminary (estb. 1810) and The Frick Art & Historical Center nearby. We are within walking distance of one edge of the 644-acre Frick Park.

Speaking of trashy neighbors, while outdoor maintenance is our responsibility for the duration of our lease, it was apparently not the responsibility of the landlord before we moved in. The cantankerous old man who lives next door actually accosted DH the day we moved in about cutting the knee-high grass in the front yard, as if that were our fault. As it is, DH's father, uncle, and cousin clipped the yard. Later my mother and I weeded the front garden bed and bought a couple hosta plants to fill in. The back bed, as you will see, is hopeless for the little time I have (here).

This is Dear Husband's view from the piano bench out the picture window to
the front porch. The fireplace is to the left, the front door and couch to the right.

This two-story townhouse with semi-finished basement and storage space in the attic is technically a little bigger than our single-level slab in Champaign, but the layout is different, with only two bedrooms instead of three. Two sets of steps lead up the front to a porch, where we've secured our patio furniture. The front door opens into DH's music salon, complete with couch for house concerts (we're already planning a holiday carol-sing) and Nancy McAleer's watercolor painting of Baltimore's Mount Vernon over the decorative fireplace.


View up the stairs with the skylight waaaay above. It's noisy when it rains.

The staircase with its narrow clearance bisects the downstairs. The built-in shelves narrow the passage so between the two rooms that the appliance delivery guys had to hoist the refrigerator OVER the newel post and banister to get the thing into the kitchen. Behind the stairs are the dining room and kitchen. With some rearranging, we've been able to get most of our downstairs furniture into the two rooms, as well as most of our knickknacks. (The rest will stay in boxes for the next move, hopefully in a year.) DH is pleased we got a half bath downstairs, for when the upstairs one is occupied.

Big, beautiful new refrigerator. :-)
Electric stove. :-(

The kitchen is large, with more cabinet space than I know what to do with. Literally. The house in Champaign had exactly one drawer (we used it for the oven mitts next to the stove). Now I've had to leave some drawers empty, because I don't have anything to put in them! And then there's the unfolding pantry. Seems like a neat idea, until you realize the cubbyholes are all different sizes, and that you have to pull out both hinged doors to get to the big shelves for flour, sugar, and the like. So I've left half the glassware packed and used some of the cupboard space for boxed dry goods for easier access.

What the what??

Downstairs is a "wet basement" that is storing what used to be in our garage. Up the stairs (that wouldn't admit the full-sized box spring [not queen-sized, full!]), the front bedroom has become combination living room and study. We left DH's big old rocking recliner on the curb in Champaign because it was broken, and it's not certain that we could get a new up the stairs, so he's using my rocker. I am unlikely to watch much television this anyway. My desk is in the basement, so I am using his. The back bedroom has a really funky shape, with closets along one wall, a recess for the bureaus on the other, and a sleeping nook in the back. The friend of a friend who viewed the place for us told me she was jealous of all the closet space, which is rare in old Pittsburgh houses.

Finally, the back porch is for storing our bicycles, the charcoal grill, and items for freecyclers to pick up. Our view isn't that great, but two doors down the neighbors have a small garden, a big dog, and a little girl, so we like to go down there to unwind in the evening.

We inherited the wind chime and hanging pot from the previous owners.
The pot is soon to have a transplanted spider plant in it.

Mermaid, butterfly, and bird (I promised it's there).

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