Posted by: tuulenhaiven | January 21, 2014

Trollope Explores America

While perusing the interesting Pittsburgh: A New Portrait by Franklin Toker, I came across a word sketch of the city by none other than Anthony Trollope. His abundant scribblings have been on my list for years, but aside from the excerpts that make frequent appearances on the blog Wuthering Expectations, I haven’t read any of his work. I decided to put the Pittsburgh Carnegie Library system to the test and successfully dug out a copy of Trollope’s North America, a travel log that apparently fulfilled an ambition of the author’s literary life – ‘to write a book about the United States‘. In it, he strove to present to his fellow Englishmen a view of America which (unlike other popular writings on the subject) created less laughter on one side of the Atlantic and less soreness on the other, while adding to ‘the good feeling which should exist between two nations which ought to love each other so well‘.

Anthony Trollope

In his Introduction, after proclaiming this admirable intent, he hastily adds that, of course, ‘it is very hard to write about any country a book that does not represent the country described in a more or less ridiculous point of view.‘ And ‘a writer may tell all that he sees of the beautiful; but he must also tell, if not all that he sees of the ludicrous, at any rate the most piquant part of it.‘ With his arse suitably covered, Trollope then embarks for America, arriving in Boston in early September, 1861, with plans to travel around throughout the fall and winter and return to England in the spring.

I thought I would just dip in and out of this book, reading the bits that interested me, but Trollope is an entertaining writer and I’m enjoying every step of his adventure.

From Boston (where ‘it was not the beauty of the harbour of which I thought the most; but of the tea that had been sunk there‘) to Newport, Rhode Island, he goes with his wife in tow. Newport at the end of the season is dull, and it’s overwhelming hotels (with their drawing-rooms large enough to swallow the House of Commons) depress the poor man. He is annoyed by the fully-clothed style of sea-bathing that prevails (apparently he is a skinny-dipper – ‘I own that my tastes are vulgar and perhaps indecent; but I love to jump in the deep clear sea from off a rock, and I love to be hampered by no outward impediments as I do so.’) He hardly dares to call “children” the ‘perfectly civilized and highly educated beings‘ of three or four years of age whom he encounters, gliding to the floor after excusing themselves from a dinner that they handled with ‘epicurean delicacy‘. ‘A little girl in Old England would scramble down, but little girls in New England never scramble.‘ I find these impressions of Americans hard to believe, but then I’ve never been to Newport.

Trollope cheers up when he heads to Maine. He likes Portland very much, commenting on it’s broad and well built streets, which do not run ‘in those absolutely straight parallels that are so common in American towns, and are so distressing to English eyes and English feelings.‘ The place is beautifully situated on a long promontory and is ‘so guarded and locked by islands as to form a series of salt-water lakes running round the town‘ (as I know so well!) The view from the hill called Mountjoy (‘though the obstinate Americans will write it Munjoy on their maps‘) ‘out to the harbour and beyond the harbour to the islands is, I may not say unequalled, or I shall be guilty of running into superlatives myself; but it is, in its way, equal to anything I have seen.’

View of the City of Portland, Maine, from the Harbor, a wood engraving drawn by Samuel S. Kilburn and published on September 24, 1853

The people of Portland seem more as I would expect, if the keeper of the Observatory is anything to go on – ‘He will come out in his shirt sleeves, and, like a true American, will not at first be very smooth in his courtesy; but he will wax brighter in conversation, and if not stroked the wrong way will turn out to be an uncommonly pleasant fellow. Such I believe to be the case with most of them.’

Marcus Stone’s drawing, “Trevelyan at Casalunga,” from Trollope’s He Knew He Was Right - but it could just as well be Trollope himself, taking a break during his hike up Mount Willard

Next, Trollope is surprised by the White Mountains of New Hampshire: ‘Now I would ask any of my readers who are candid enough to expose their own ignorance whether they ever heard, or at any rate whether they know any thing of the White Mountains. As regards myself I confess that the name reached my ears; that I had an indefinite idea that they formed an intermediate stage between the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghenies, and that they were inhabited either by Mormons, Indians, or simply by black bears. That there was a district in New England containing mountain scenery superior to much that is yearly crowded by tourists in Europe, that this is to be reached with ease by railways and stage-coaches, and that it is dotted with huge hotels, almost as thickly as they lie in Switzerland, I had no idea. Much of this scenery, I say, is superior to the famed and classic lands of Europe. I know nothing, for instance, on the Rhine equal to the view from Mount Willard, down the mountain pass called the Notch.‘ So there! Bully for the White Mountains!

Trollope had the great good fortune of traveling through New England in the autumn, and he recommends that others follow suit, for reasons that I can verify: ‘The great beauty of the autumn, or fall, is in the brilliant hues which are then taken by the foliage. The autumn tints are fine with us. They are lovely and bright wherever foliage and vegetation form a part of the beauty of scenery. But in no other land do they approach the brilliancy of the fall in America. The bright rose colour, the rich bronze which is almost purple in its richness, and the glorious golden yellows must be seen to be understood. By me at any rate they cannot be described.

Trollope points out that ‘The traveller who desires to tell of his experience of North America must write of people rather than of things,’ and while he despairs once again over hotels in the United States, with their waking and dining routines ruled by horrible loud gongs, and their waiters who never let your coffee cup go empty, and their utter lack of understanding when it comes to tea time…he does enjoy his ‘excellent friend Mr. Plaistead, who keeps an hotel at Jefferson.’

“Sir,” said Mr. Plaistead, “I have everything here that a man ought to want; air, sir, that ain’t to be got better nowhere; trout, chickens, beef, mutton, milk – and all for a dollar a day. A-top of that hill, sir, there’s a view that ain’t to be beaten this side of the Atlantic, or I believe the other. And an echo, sir! – We’ve an echo that comes back to us six times, sir; floating on the light wind, and wafted about from rock to rock til you would think the angels were talking to you. If I could raise that echo, sir, every day at command I’d give a thousand dollars for it. It would be worth all the money to a house like this.” And he waved his hand about from hill to hill, pointing out in graceful curves the lines which the sounds would take. Had destiny not called on Mr. Plaistead to keep an American hotel, he might have been a poet.

Dodging questions and commentary regarding the Civil War and the topic of secession from all sides, Trollope continues his journey, heading into the wilds of “the Canadas”, and there I’ve left him for the moment. He won’t reach Pittsburgh for 21 more chapters, but so long as the book holds together (it is flaking apart with dangerous enthusiasm…the original library stamp reads Aug. 31 1927…!) I believe I’ll continue along for the rest of the ride.

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | January 16, 2014

The luxury of plants and books

I began this week with a leisurely stroll through Phipps Conservatory, downing the last sweet dregs of the holiday season via the Winter Light Garden and Flower Show.

East Room, Jan. 12th 2014

The Phipps is easily one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh. It’s maze of glass houses and botanical gardens has been around since 1893, and the permanent collections (orchids, fern room, tropical forest, cacti, bonsai) are fantastically beautiful. The seasonal flower shows are suitably festive – I enjoyed the Fall Flower Show in October, with it’s millions of mums, and the Winter Show was of course overflowing with poinsettias. There are nifty glass sculptures scattered throughout the plants, some permanent and some which tag along as part of the seasonal show spectacle – “Night Magic” was the installation that accompanied the Winter Flower Show (glass mushrooms and ferns) – but I was delighted to see that my favorite “Longfellows” by Hans Godo Frabel were still in the Orchid Room (seen below, circa my October visit):

Another Longfellow - Oct. 22nd 2013

Sunday was the last night of the Winter Light Garden, which is certainly a sight not to be missed:

Winter Light Garden, Jan. 12th 2014

I splurged for a membership on my way out this time, and I have every intention of busing, biking, or walked up to the neighborhood of Oakland regularly to hang out in the Conservatory, drawing plants, sitting by the waterfall in the Tropical Forest, and reading in the Japanese Courtyard Garden. Sounds lovely, right? Come visit me, and you can come along (I got a dual membership!)

I kept to this slow, indulgent pace as I moved into the week. My two days off were spent having tea with friends, drinking cappuccinos while reading 2666 at favorite coffeeshops, walking the long way round wherever I went, and spending hours and hours poking around in bookstores. The ultimate indulgence was of course actually allowing myself to buy a few books.

I am trying not to buy too many books off Amazon or in Barnes & Noble this year, preferring instead to explore and support my local bookstores and smaller presses. I spent two hours in Barnes & Noble on Monday night, however, making a thorough perusal of the entire selection, just to remind myself of what’s out there. I wound up purchasing one book, which was too beautiful to resist:

The blurb on the back was enough to grab me (Icelandic winter, an elusive fox, part mystery part fairy tale) but this article by A. S. Byatt, who mentions Sjón, Borges, and Calvino in the same breath, makes me feel like I’ve stumbled across a treasure. Can’t WAIT to read…

Yesterday I hiked up to the neighborhood of Bloomfield, where “bookstore row” (three bookshops within four blocks) makes me very happy. Fortunately, perhaps, for me (at least for my wallet…) only the East End Book Exchange was open. I was there for ages, found a nice heap of books that I wanted, and then had to make tough choices and whittle my pile down to only four. Things I put back were at least five Europa Editions that sounded great (and at the very least wound up on my TBR list…), a rather old Penguin Classic copy of Beowulf, Nancy Mitford’s biography of Madame de Pompadour, and a copy of Marguerite Yourcenar’s A Coin in Nine Hands (which I read in 2011 but never reviewed…silly). Obviously, this shop is well stocked. What I DID purchase was:

I haven’t read Virginia Woolf’s first novel and I’m so intrigued by the idea of it being written in a non-experimental style. And it was just so beautifully yellow, I had to have it!

I’ve never heard of J.G. Farrell or this book, but my habit of keeping an eye out for NYRB editions made me pull it off the shelf. As so often happens with these things, it sounded extremely interesting, so I kept it.

I was just thinking fondly of the sweet times in the past when I’ve succumbed to buying NYRB’s, because they ALL sound fascinating or funny…which led to a sick, sad feeling as it occurred to me how many beautiful books I gave up during my last two years of transient life. I had quite a few NYRB’s there for awhile, before I left Maine. I remember seeing A Month in the Country at my parent’s house recently, but did I leave Witch Grass in Oregon?? Boo… And whatever happened to the Open Letter Press books that I was so excited about gathering back in the spring of 2010? Oh, the agony of scattering a library to the four winds… :-(

Ah, but NOW! *gives self a shake* Now I have the joyous task of rebuilding my library. And lookit what I found:

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I mentioned recently that I wanted to read some medieval Scandinavian sagas, so when these presented themselves it seemed like fate. The shop also had Njál’s Saga, but I think these’ll be enough to start with. Between these and the Sjón book, it looks like my winter reading will be full of Icelandic chill – the perfect things to read in the Stove Room at Phipps, while warm and surrounded by earthy planty smells, and accidental impressionistic paintings…

Accidental Impressionistic Painting...? Jan. 12th 2014

More pics from the Fall and Winter Flower Shows at Phipps Conservatory can be found here.

 

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | January 6, 2014

Meet Me on the Bridge!

No, no, not that sort of bridge…

I am waiting for my copy of 2666 to arrive via post with anxious excitement, having read and thoroughly enjoyed the electronic sample chunk that Amazon provided me for free. Meanwhile, to occupy myself this evening I dipped back into the first season of Downton Abby and got pretty well hooked at last, which caused me to inhale the rest of that season and part of the second. 5 hours later, I am saturated with posh British accents and wistful piano scores and would like nothing better than to go down to the smoke-filled bar around the corner and carouse with some loud Pittsburghers – knock some sense back into my head! However, I’ve given up drinking for the month of January (whose genius idea was that?), and having a soda pop in that environment won’t really do the trick. Bollix.

Oh well. Can I talk about bridges for a bit instead? I found some pictures from an adventure with LE in November that I never added to my count. Here’s a beaut:

Fort Pitt Bridge - Nov. 18th 2013

The Fort Pitt Bridge is the first crossing of the Monongahela River, and it makes for an absolutely brilliant entry into Pittsburgh. You come zipping out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and BOOM – you’re crossing this gorgeous bowstring arch bridge and the whole downtown skyline is there to the right and the convergence of the three rivers is beneath and to the left and sometimes the sunset is out of control above you. Nicely done. If you want to experience this without visiting Pittsburgh in person (which is silly – come visit me!), watch the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower – they do this precise thing. (Be warned though: it can be an absolute horror to drive over this bridge as, inevitably, in order to get where you’re going from any direction, you will have to cross three lanes of traffic in not nearly enough time to do so…)

On that day LE and I were racing the sunset up to Mount Washington to take in the view from Grandview Ave.

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Which as you can see, was delightful. There are five bridges in this picture, all of which I need to investigate more thoroughly. The first one is particularly interesting – the Smithfield Street Bridge – as it is the second oldest steel bridge in the US. Going further upriver, you can see the Panhandle Bridge (brown) , the Liberty Bridge (flat), the South Tenth Street Bridge (yellow), and the Birmingham Bridge (blue arch way down the river).

Fern Hollow Bridge, Forbes Ave. - Nov. 18th 2013

Earlier that day you would have found us walking beneath this steel span. The Fern Hollow Bridge (above) won an AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction) upon completion in 1970, which probably doesn’t impress you, nor is it that pretty of a bridge, really. And yet I think it looks neat (sweet cantilever!), and it’s impact to the land around is minimal which is nice because it is part of Frick Park. The “Tranquil Trail” and the Nine Mile Run steam lie beneath it and even though Forbes Ave. is a busy road, the bridge kept the noise of traffic high above us.

I loved this bit of trail, just one corner of what is a huge regional park (561 acres). The stonework reminded me of the fabulous trails in Acadia Nat’l Park (my second home) as did this little crossing of the Nine Mile Run (below).

Nine Mile Run, Frick Park - Nov. 18th 2013

Tranquil Trail, Frick Park - Nov. 18th 2013

I can’t wait to go back here in the spring when the flowers start coming out, and the ferns that the hollow are named for are green and abundant.

*Shameless Gushing* When I came home after spending the holidays in Maine, and LE picked me up from the airport and we drove back in the dark and popped out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and BOOM – there was the Fort Pitt Bridge and downtown and the lights from the Smithfield Street Bridge shinning in the river…I felt such a rush of joy, of belonging. It’s strange and wonderful that my fondness for bridges made it so easy for me to love this city, to wrap my whole heart around it. So far the people in it are equally sturdy, if a bit quirky at times, and beautiful. Just how I like them. And…*end gush*

One last picture for you (and then for me, perhaps one more episode of Downton Abby…or two more…!)

Nov. 5th 2013

The Herr’s Island Railroad Bridge, seen from across the Allegheny River near where I work, late in November.

I really must get some snowy bridge pictures soon…

 

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | January 3, 2014

Here We Go Again…!

I began the year in Ohio, surrounded by LE’s family, amid much hullabaloo as pots and pans were banged, crackers were pulled, dogs barked, and peals of laughter disturbed the deer probably lingering at the edge of the field below the Sky Cabin.

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After this wild night, a few peaceful days were spent at the cabin. I read Dust Lands: Rebel Heart by Moira Young, lost to LE twice at Scrabble, wandered down the road to visit the neighbor’s chubby ponies, and ate the rest of the New Years Rainbow Poke Cake (there’s jello in it…!)

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The snow started to get wild yesterday afternoon, so LE and I headed down out of the hills, over the river to West Virginia (where outside Wheeling she made me sample the fabled Di Carlo’s Pizza, a decidedly odd but yummy bit of cheese and bread), and back to PA and Pittsburgh. Home sweet home.

Odd, that. I would have never dreamed that I’d call PA home – would have scoffed if someone had predicted it. Yet here I am, rapidly falling for Pittsburgh and settling in for an extended stay. LE’s original housemate moved out and I got a “downgrade” – abandoning the attic for a real room on the second floor, whoo! Check this out:

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My room of course has other walls, and they actually look cooler than this one but I am the most excited about this one. Because once I hang that art elsewhere and unpack that box and cobble together some shelves and collect ALL THE BOOKS, that wall is going to look like this:

Friends, 2014 is the year that I am allowed to start collecting books again and I can’t even tell you how wonderful that is. At the end of 2011, right before I left Maine for Oregon and beyond, I had whittled my library down to bare bones and I went on an official book-buying-ban. Living out of a duffle bag and not really working for almost two years kept both my compulsive and calculated book collecting habits in check, more-or-less, but NOW! Now I live in a fabulous row house and I have an excellent job and I’m going to stay here for a bit, so the book-buying-ban is officially off.

The first tome I gathered into my bookish nest this year is Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. It is winging it’s way to me as I write, and I am excited and terrified to finally read it. Way back at the start of my book blogging adventure, when I met a handful of bloggers I would come to respect and adore, they were almost all involved in a group read of 2666. I have kicked myself repeatedly for not joining in then, but now I have a second chance to brave this book in good company. Richard of Caravana de recuerdos (and The Wolves, still my favorite book “club” ever) is hosting a readalong of 2666 during Jan. and Feb. of this year, as part of his greater 2014 Caravana de recuerdos Ibero-American Readalong. My fellow adventurers look like the sort who will be able to stand beside me and watch my back (here we go again Frances and Bellezza, and I can’t wait to talk books with ya Miguel!) As for Bolaño himself, he is always an interesting challenge, and this book is well known for being…a handful. I can’t wait! More companions are always desired, so if you’re hearing about this for the first time and want to join, pop over to Richard’s blog and give a shout.

It’s the time of year when everyone is updating their TBR list with the fresh crop of recommendations gleaned from other bloggers’ “Year End Wrap-Up” posts, resetting their GoodReads Reading Challenge goal for 2014, and kicking their year off properly by promising to read excessively and blog like a champ. And I’m right there with them!

2666 will dominate my January reading, but I’ve also got a history/portrait of Pittsburgh to dip into, and a handful of YA books I’ve been meaning to inhale for months (Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, the entire King of Atolia series just so that I can enjoy the last book with the others fresh on my mind…)

And since today is J. R. R. Tolkien’s birthday, to celebrate I used up a Christmas gift certificate and got myself the Kindle edition of Tales from the Perilous Realm, which combines Tolkien’s four novellas (Farmer Giles of Ham, Leaf by Niggle, Smith of Wootton Major, and Roverandom) and one book of poems (The Adventures of Tom Bombadil) – most of which I have not read. I am considering tagging along with Amateur Reader (of Wuthering Expectations) for a bit as he spends the year chasing Scandinavian literature, considering that so much of Tolkien’s myth-building is rooted in medieval sagas. After reading this new volume of Tolkien’s I’ll have more-or-less gone through his entire body of work, just in time for a re-read of LOTR – it’s been a couple of years! At present though, I’m a Tolkien fan who doesn’t have a good excuse  (as Amateur Reader suggested) so I guess it’s time I read an Icelandic saga. But should it be Grettir’s, or Egil’s, or Njál’s…? Guess I’ll see what I can find – time for the original Carnegie Library and it’s brothers and sisters to prove themselves!

Meanwhile…

I took on the sunny, freezing day this morning (9 degrees plus wind chill!) and went out for a ramble in Allegheny Cemetery.

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And now I’m hungry. I think I’ll go make cheesy biscuits and tea. Cheerio!

 

 

 

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | December 31, 2013

One Last Thing

DSC09942I finally made it back to Maine, where I spent a lovely Christmas with my family. It had been almost two years since I saw my sisters or the Atlantic ocean. Plenty of laughter and hugs and crisp salty air put a few pieces of my heart back together.

It was rather odd to fly away from Maine at the end of my visit, but I was very happy to return to Pittsburgh (in time to watch the Steelers play at home for the last time this season!). Two days at work, just to confuse me, and then this afternoon my friend LE and I will head to Ohio to a little cabin in the hills to find the beginning of 2014.

Insert: promises about better blogging, intentions regarding reviewing more books, warning about lots of picture to follow, etc. etc., you know the drill. Nevermind that. Happy New Year!

 

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | November 13, 2013

Hellishly Late Halloween Crafts and Such

159So NEXT year, when you want to make Halloweenie decor out of scraps of paper, refer to this post (as I accidentally tripped and kicked “the ball” into a dusty corner where it lay forgotten until now…)

I had fun on Halloween, between entertaining friends and giving out candy to appropriately cute rug-rats, folding some spooky origami. Thusly:

167I folded quite a few bats, but this one was the most complex. I found the directions through a favorite crafty blog that I’ve mentioned here before – How About Orange. Her bat came out closer to the original, designed by Protogenius. At a certain point (possibly due to my consumption of several autumnal beers) I got lost and just fudged the rest. Here are some far simpler bats:

158Oh, and my one lonely pumpkin. Directions for the bats can be found here, and for the pumpkin here. That skelital hand you see was my masterpiece of the evening. It was designed by Jeremy Shafer, and I followed this video, with surprisingly good results.

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I had also found a book at my local library written by a Pittsburgh native who has been folding paper since he was 3 years old. Scott Wasserman Stern started writing Outside the Box Origami when he was 14, and his enthusiastic Introduction put a big smile on my face. His simple skull model (seen above) was fun to make, and although I couldn’t produce his fantastic ghost model that night, I did make a pretty nice elephant a few days later.

169It now lives on the mantel, along with a few paper flowers that I folded using directions from Origami Flowers by Soonboke Smith.

168A different sort of paper craft was called for as the first few days of November rolled by. One of the pleasures of moving to a new place is exploring a new library and finding nifty books to draw inspiration from. Mexican Papercutting by Kathleen Trenchard found its way to me just in time for Day of the Dead, and I enjoyed learning about the history and practice of papel picado, and of course had to grab some tiny scissors and try my hand at a design.

photoI cut this out of a square of origami paper, instead of a stack of tissue paper (as is traditional), and used scissors and not (as I was fascinated to learn) a large selection of chisels and a hammer. However, having spent much of the year with a timberframing chisel in my hands, it seems like a natural progression to combine an old passion with this new one and learn how to cut paper with one…!

In the last few days I’ve turned from paper to fabric and have picked up some sewing (clothing related) and started dreaming of making a quilt. As the temperatures dip round here and the first snow falls (yesterday!) I am happy to embrace cozy projects and cups of tea and episodes of Deadwood.

My recent (at last!) foray into the world of The Game of Thrones has also inspired me to brush up on European history, so I think the coming months will find me engrosed in some hefty, dusty tomes. Any suggestions?

What are your winter plots and passions?

View from my bathroom window yesterday

View from my bathroom window yesterday

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | November 4, 2013

Autumn in Allegheny Cemetery

I had almost given up on what I’ve been calling a “proper autumn”, as October came to a swift close and the trees around the city were still green or going straight to brown. Where was the fabulous fall foliage I had so eagerly anticipated when I moved back east? Here and there a maple was turning orange, but where was the glorious explosion of color that I remembered?

Of course, I sort of forgot that Pittsburgh lies significantly south of Bar Harbor, ME. The trees weren’t taking their own sweet time dressing for the party, nor were they intent on arriving fashionably late – they were just carrying on as they were meant to, and when they peaked it was at precisely the right time, and rather suddenly.

On Oct. 30th a friend and I were talking about how the trees still hadn’t really turned, and then the very next day we found ourselves exploring Allegheny Cemetery amid a riot of fantastic fall foliage. Overnight some giant hand slopped orange and red and yellow paint on maple and oak alike – party dresses indeed. The trees spun their skirts and sent color careening, and my friend and I gleefully ran among them, joining the dance.

Halloween Wanderings - Oct. 31st 2013

Halloween is a grand day for visiting a cemetery that is old and drenched in history, and I’ve never enjoyed a graveyard more. I (perhaps morbidly) have started to think of the place as my backyard, since one corner of it lies only moments from my house. It is huge, covering 300 acres, with large parts of it still undeveloped. There are bits of woodland in it, open fields, at least one cave, lots of little hills and hollows, a deer population, and a huge variety of plant life (native and imported). Deep inside it the noise of the city fades and you can believe you are far away in the wilds somewhere.

Oh, and of course there are an overwhelming amount of interesting tombstones, mausoleums, monuments, obelisks, and even a few sarcophagi. Most of the famous family names associated with Pittsburgh are represented, as well as such notables as actress Lillian Russell, and Stephen C. Foster, the “Father of American Music” (he penned songs like Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races, and Beautiful Dreamer).

That day my friend and I were more interested in the trees than in the long dead, although I couldn’t resist at least one attempt to visit the underworld.

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To no avail though – the Wharton mausoleum was thoroughly locked up.

It was overcast and threatening rain, which only made trees like the oak near the Moorhead mausoleum look even more vibrant.

Moorhead Mausoleum - Oct. 31st 2013

Halloween Wanderings - Oct. 31st 2013

Somber, or spooky things were discovered (as is fitting in a cemetery) as well as cheery things like bright-eyed deer hoping for apples.

Civil War veterans - Oct. 31st 2013

The final resting place of Civil War veterans.

Halloween Wanderings - Oct. 31st 2013

An old monument, the names almost entirely obscured.

Cemetery Deer - Oct. 31st 2013

We encountered an older fellow who told us the deer would practically eat out of our hands if we brought apples – but we left the feeding up to him!

The rain started spitting, our camera batteries died or ran out of space for more pictures, and lunch was calling, so my friend and I finally left. She made me swear to return the following day for what promised to be sunny pictures, and I obeyed. November 1st in Allegheny Cemetery was lacking in melancholy, but I can’t imagine the ghosts or anyone else minded.

Nov. 1st 2013

Nov. 1st 2013

Nov. 1st 2013

Wow. Right?

I can only imagine what wonders ice and snow will work on the cemetery! The winter will be a good time to research more of the history of the place and the folks buried there as well. I plan to enjoy my “backyard” thoroughly, and respectfully, for a good long while.

For more of my cemetery explorations check out Cemetarrying: In Search of Yourcenar, and this post which touches on the strange cemeteries in New Orleans. 

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | November 1, 2013

Counting Bridges

No need to picture sheep when I have trouble sleeping – I need only to start trying to list the bridges I’ve seen in Pittsburgh thus far. I don’t usually have any trouble falling asleep though. My days are wonderfully full and I am pleasantly tired come eveing. When I am not working at Marty’s Market (where I have been premoted to cafe supervisor…!) I walk for miles all over the city, seeking out new coffee shops and bars and places to eat pierogies at, getting lost in Phipps Conservatory and Allegheny Cemetery, and of course keeping an eye out for bridges.

16th St. Bridge - Oct. 21st 2013

Already mentioned here, the 16th St Bridge on a recent sunny day.

Veterans Bridge - Oct. 21st 2013

Not terribly exciting – the Veterans Bridge is the 6th crossing on the Allegheny River and carries I-579 over.

4 bridges - Oct. 21st 2013

There are four bridges here, with the Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge leading the pack (5th crossing of this river). Completed in 1904, it’s the bridge my Amtrak train and I pulled into town via 5 weeks ago.

Roberto Clemente Bridge and company - Oct. 21st 2013

I left Three Sisters behind in Oregon – snow covered mountains – only to find myself in the company of a new trio of Sisters. These three nearly identical bridges share the name, but have their own names as well. From forground to background these are the Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Carson bridges – the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th crossings of the Allegheny River. They are self-anchored suspension bridges, were completed in the 20s, and were the first ones of this style built in the US (and are the only such trio in this country).

Oct. 26th 2013

Pretty nice, huh?

Fort Duquesne Bridge - Oct. 21st 2013

The Fort Duquesne Bridge, first crossing of the Allegheny River, was built in the 1960s. It is notorious for being the “Bridge to Nowhere” because for years, due to issues with aquiring right-of-ways, it lacked it’s north side ramps and ended in mid-air…! It now successfully lifts I-279 across the river and allows fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers to get to Heinz Stadium (seen below the bridge span here) on time for home games (GO STEELERS!)

Point State Park Fountain - Oct. 21st 2013

Here’s a palate cleanser – the fountain in Point State Park. The park lies at the point of Pittsburgh’s “Golden Triangle” and at the confluence of the three rivers (Allegheny, Monongahela, an Ohio). The 150 ft. fountain pulls water from an underground aquifer, part of an ancient water channel that is now filled with sand and gravel. A good case can be made for called the fountain Pittsburgh’s fourth river though!

Schenley Bridge - Oct. 22n 2013

Pittsburgh’s bridges don’t just cross rivers. Due to the hilly nature of the land some of the bridges leap across gultches, flying high above ravines filled with roads and rails. Schenley Bridge has been getting folks across Junction Hollow since 1897. People get their knowledge on in the Cathedral of Learning (seen center-top), part of the mass of university buildings in the neighborhood of Oakland, then pop over Schenley Bridge to visit Phipps Conservatory or Schenley Park, leaving (apparently) a love padlock hanging on the bridge fence…

Love padlocks on the Schenley Bridge - Oct. 22n 2013

Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge (seen from the Schenley Bridge) - Oct. 22n 2013

Seen here from the Schenley Bridge, the Charles Anderson Memorial Bridge tosses the Blvd of the Allies across another part of Junction Hollow and is another access point for Schenley Park. It’s from the 1940s, and employs a pretty nifty design – the Wichert Self-Adjusting Truss. I wont bother explaining that – if you’re feeling nerdy enough, here’re the dets.

Okay, only two more for today!

28th St. Bridge - Nov. 1st 2013

The 28th St. Bridge crosses a few railroad tracks and a busway and a road and…a parking lot. It’s a cute little bridge that provides access to the neighborhood of Polish Hill, and has been doing so since 1931. I walked across it yesterday, hiked all the way up Polish Hill and beyond (more on that another time!) and then came down and crossed those same tracks and roads and busways and a community football and baseball field, via the Bloomfield Bridge.

On the Bloomfield Bridge - Nov. 1st 2013

I haven’t found a place to take a decent picture of the actual bridge yet (and besides, it’s just a boring steel girder thing from 1986) but the view from there is pretty nice in all directions. This is looking through the fence toward the Strip District and North Shore.

On the Bloomfield Bridge - Nov. 1st 2013

And this is looking toward East Liberty, with another view of the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland.

All right, enough for today! Next time I write it’ll be to report on some of the places I’ve been to and things I’ve seen after crossing all those bridges. But now it’s about time for me to go to sleep, and like I said, I won’t need any sheep to help me drift off…!

(Speaking of counting, I believe that’s 16 bridges I’ve documented here – out of 446 or so…? Hoo boy.)

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween Hooligans!

Alleghany Cemetary, Pittsburgh, PA

Alleghany Cemetary, Pittsburgh, PA

I hope wherever fate has flung you today, you’re getting up to mischief – and if you encounter the unexpected on All Hallows Eve be polite, but show those spooks a good time.  They only get to come through once a year!

Posted by: tuulenhaiven | October 14, 2013

High Point, PA

Now that I’m working, a day off is a special thing – doubly so when it coincides with the day off of a friend. What grand adventure can be cooked up in a hurry? Well, yesterday afternoon you would have found my friend and I on PA’s highest point.

View from the tower on Mount Davis - Oct. 13th 2013

Of course, where I just moved from (the Cascade Range in OR), the passes were at 3,000 ft or higher, and I lived at 3,623 ft – so Mount Davis’ 3,213 ft didn’t impress. Without the observation tower you wouldn’t even get much of a view from this gentle crest, a hump along the 30-mile ridge line known as Negro Mountain.

The view of the surrounding PA countryside with it’s crazy-quilt of woods and farmland, autumn touched, was limited by fog and rain clouds yesterday, to my mild disappointment. I’ll have to go back someday for a proper panorama.

I was thoroughly satisfied with the several miles of Forbes State Forest that my friend and I hiked round in, however. There were big ol’ glacier-smoothed boulders strewn liberally about, lots of odd mushrooms, and plenty of fall foliage. I picked up the leaves of a dozen or more types of deciduous trees, to ID and then press and save for future crafty projects – finding the best ones was every bit as fun as beach combing…!

IMG_3387

Happy Sarah

Mount Davis - Oct. 13th 2013

Leaves, leaves, glorious leaves

Mount Davis - Oct. 13th 2013

This boulder wants to fist-bump you!

Ah, that's better - Mount Davis - Oct. 13th 2013

Like I said – weird mushrooms. These eyeballs were begging for the rest of their face

Mount Davis - Oct. 13th 2013

It was nice to get out of the city for a day, and a pleasure to knock an easy high point off my list. I’m not much of a “highpointer”, with only 4 notches on my record (Mount Katahdin, ME/Guadalupe Peak, TX/Spruce Knob, WV/Mount Davis, PA) but any start is a good one. I’ve got many more high point hikes in my future, and plenty more lovely, rainy, autumn days. And I’ll be back to Mount Davis in the spring to see the rhododendron and mountain laurel in bloom!

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