12. sign of desperation.

painted

  • Hey, look — we painted our front porch last weekend! It’s all one color now!
  • I started NaBloPoMo strong, but last week was fairly easy. With the dust-up over the uniforms, the upcoming Penn State game and our Angels, I had enough to write about to even give me a few extra posts. That momentum has waned a bit, though.
  • A bullet post is the perfect solution for waning NaBloPoMo momentum.
  • Or maybe it’s a sign of desperation. We’ll find out.
  • Something I should have written about last week when I was caught up in football and rugby: We’ve had not one but two recent resurrections of longtime Pittsburgh Blogging institutions: Sportsocracy and Have a Good Sandwich. TehJim was first, and he’s kept up regular posting since his return — I’m just hoping I can win another fantasy game or two before he decides to write about the YinzTeam Celebrity Bloggers Fantasy Football League, because I’ve been stinking up the joint. And then there’s Mr. Woycheck. I should have asked Mike what changed his mind when we were hanging out on Saturday; I didn’t, so I’ll go ahead and guess that he suffered a bit of post-Podcamp regret about shutting down the Sandwich earlier this year. Whatever the reason, I’m thrilled they’re both back.
  • Question: Should I go see Dark Star Orchestra on Thursday?
  • Ohio State’s game against Iowa is our last home game of the season, although we’ll still travel back to Columbus to watch the Michigan game at my folks’ house. But that won’t be our last college football of the season — the ‘rents are coming to Pittsburgh the weekend of December 5 so the four of us can watch Pitt play UC in what is shaping up to be the Big East championship game. I can’t speak for the others in my group, but I’ll be A) wearing Ohio State gear and B) cheering like hell for Pitt to beat the crap out of the Bearcats. Best team in Ohio, my ass.
  • I spoke to Calipanthergrl about this last night, but any Pitt tailgating tips would be both welcome and appreciated.
  • You people have been commenting like … uh … like there was a $50 iTunes gift card at stake. Keep ’em coming. We’re getting closer.
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home (plus 365).

miles

One year ago today, I arrived at our new house in Pittsburgh, to spend the night for the first time.

We had completed a nasty three-day stretch where we moved pretty much everything from our apartment in Butler to the new place, making the drive on Route 68 to I-79 to the Parkway North more times than we could count.

We weren’t quite done, and Mrs. Crappy volunteered to spend one more night in the apartment, rounding up the last of the stuff — pretty much piles of magazines, papers, loose clothing and stray books — and tossing them in the last few boxes we had. While she did that, Miles and I were to spend the night in the new place for the first time.

I arrived to find a bottle of wine from an across-the-street neighbor. I also found open wi-fi from another, unknown neighbor, which I used to post something about our first night there.

It was odd. It was a little disconcerting, for me and for Miles. But while I caught up on Twitter in an Ikea easy chair, he spent the first hour or so huddled in a corner behind me. It took him a little while, but with me as a willing escort, we were able to check out much of the house for the first time. Our ears perked at each creak we hadn’t heard before. When it finally kicked on, the furnace made some noises I hadn’t noticed; Miles was even more spooked than I was.

The next morning, I drove up to Butler to pick up Mrs. Crappy. We loaded up our cars for the last trip and left Butler for good. We’ve spent a ton of time and sweat making our house look and feel the way we want it to. There’s tons more work to do; in fact, I’m beginning to understand my friends who just laugh when I ask if they’re done working on their houses.

But that’s OK. One year later, I still think this is the best thing we’ve ever done. And it’s fine with me if the house is never quite finished — we plan on being her for a while.

It took Miles a few days, but he eventually relaxed. To him, the house feels like home.

And that’s how it feels to us as well.

23. all over again.

boxes

So on the way out of Columbus this morning, we stopped by the storage unit where we’ve been keeping a bunch of stuff since we got married nine years ago.

We checked for two reasons. First, we have to bring all that crap back to Pittsburgh sometime fairly soon, and we wanted to see exactly how much stuff we had to haul. And second, we’re hosting Thanksgiving for my parents this year, and we wanted to grab some of the dishes and other accessories we had in storage so we didn’t have to serve Thanksgiving dinner on plastic plates.

Unpacking five boxes when we got home tonight was a little like opening our wedding gifts on the night we returned from our honeymoon in Hawaii. We hadn’t seen most of this stuff since 1999, so the sense of surprise was nearly fresh.

And yes — we have at least two pizza stones.

11. …in the neighborhood.

The second part of my Neighborhoodwalk contribution: My new neighborhood, Brighton Heights and other nearby stuff. I’m cheating a little bit, as most of these pix were taken within the last few weeks. And I’m still discovering everything my new neighborhood has to offer, so I’m certain there will be more…

For the past two weeks, my drive home has been different. Instead of pointing my car up the winding country road that took me from Beaver to Butler, I head the opposite direction — literally and otherwise — down Route 65, along the Ohio River, towards the city. I go through Sewickley, where I can never seem to avoid stopping at those damn traffic lights. I pass under I-79. I drive through Ben Avon, where ancient trees have stretched their branches over the road, forming a golden canopy this time of year. There’s the Bellevue sign, inviting me to Live, Worship and Shop — and the Bellevue Beer distributor, which always looks inviting as well.

And then I hit the viaduct that divides Bellevue and Pittsburgh, and I see the sweeping view, stretching from Downtown to McKees Rocks, and all the homes and factories and that giant river in between.

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In the daylight, the view is a reminder of everything Pittsburgh is: glittering skyscrapers, giant mills and factories — some running, some not — and homes and entire neighborhoods stuck to the sides of all but the steepest hills. At night, though, it’s just breathtaking — a million points of light reflected on the surface of the river. I could be that I’ll get used to that view someday … but I think it will take a while.

* * *

3024115020_a8a38202cePittsburgh is a mix of old and new. My street, however, is mostly old. The houses, although in great shape, all seem to be in the range of 70 to 100 years old. And people like it here — the neighbor with the shortest tenure has lived here for 35 years, and Stella, the widow who lives across the street, built her home with her husband nearly 70 years ago.

Everyone knows about our house, too. Jerry, the guy who lives next door, played with the people we bought the house from when they were growing up. He hasn’t been inside for 3024114492_e1b1c6c9361several years, but he knows some of the nooks better than we do.

We were lucky to find a house on a street where things are spread out a bit — we’re not talking acreage, but as everyone else seems to, we have a nice back yard, with room for a good-sized back porch. There’s a small front porch, too — when the weather gets warm next spring, I’ll be spending a lot of time out there, talking with neighbors as they walk their dogs up the street.

We’re still learning about what there is to do around here. We probably won’t really get to enjoy that part of the experience for a few weeks, as the weekends are going to be full of tearing up carpet and other projects. However, we still have to eat — and we’ve already sampled some of what’s nearby. We’ve found a couple favorites in Bellevue already:

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A dream restaurant for a chili dog connoisseur like me. And:

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Great food. Friendly people. Cheap. Yum. And there’s a whole business district just around the corner from where we live:

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We’ve spent a little time at The Vault before we moved here; we haven’t yet sampled pizza or subs from Chubby’s. But with a name like that, how could you go wrong?

* * *

Just on the other side of the viaduct is the entrance to the McKees Rocks Bridge, a hulking blue span over the river and out of the city. Turn the other direction, and head up the hill into Brighton Heights. I take the easy left at the five-way intersection, make a couple more turns and then I can see the little light on the railing in our front yard. It’s distinctive, and it makes it easy to pick out my house in the dark.

I pull up alongside the light.

I’m home.

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