Saturday, September 06, 2008

this old house

This sprawling brick house in the countryside outside Pittsburgh is where we spent the Labor Day weekend with the Patient's sister, Judy, and brother-in-law, Dwight, and their younger son, his other sister, Jane, his niece and her husband. Eight in all. The original house was built in the 1920's by Dwight's father and is where he was raised. It is a big, comfortable house with rooms meandering off here and there, up and down. Even with eight of us there was still plenty of elbow room. Judy is a fabulous cook with, unfortunately for her, a tiny kitchen. Nonetheless she and Jane turned out wonderful meals eaten around a big dining table that accommodated us all.

We drove from Columbus on Saturday; it's about a 3 1/2 hr. trip. I have never been to Pittsburgh and the first sight of it took my breath away. It sits at the confluence of three rivers, the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio. From the west, you drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel out into the brilliant sunshine and there, spread before you, is the glittering city surrounded by blue water. Wow-za! There are bridges everywhere, two giant sports stadiums (the Pirates and the Steelers), old brick houses next to steel and glass high rises. There are also two "incline" trolley systems - like funiculars or cable cars - to take passengers from the "lower" city up to Mount Washington.

On Sunday the two sisters and I went on a shopping trip so I could find some battery-operated paper lanterns to hang on umbrella ribs and from trees in the garden. I saw them on Judy's front deck and decided I just HAD to have some. We were successful in our hunt and I came away with a dozen, some for here, some for the beach. When they arrive I will put up a picture of them. After that little score we drove down to the waterfront in Pittsburgh called The Strip.

Great ethnic markets, bakeries, a really good kitchen equipment store (think Sur La Table), restaurants.

Then it was back home for a big family dinner out on the decks. We were joined by Judy's oldest son and his wife. The big announcement was that they are expecting their first child in February. Much cheering and delight. We sat in the cool of the evening telling family stories, talking about politics (9 to 1 was the line-up!), child-bearing (of course), enjoying the fellowship. This is a family group - youngest was 25, oldest was 74 - who truly enjoy being together.

Monday morning we returned to Pittsburgh to get ready to fly back to California on Wednesday. It was a very good visit on all accounts. And we'll do it again next year, God willing.


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