Monday, March 10, 2008
Which reminds me...
Aimee at Aimee's Petite Maison is doing a fun and generous giveaway for a Solay Salt Lamp. All you have to do to get into the running is post a comment on her blog by March 17th stating why you'd like to win it.
I commented half jokingly that living in Pittsburgh, I could use some negative ion cleansed air.
Half joking... Which reminded me that I've been intending for a while to blog something about the soot covering our house.
Native Pittsburgh-ers like to talk about how much cleaner Pittsburgh is now that the steel industry has largely been replaced with medical industry. Uh huh... Pittsburgh still ranks number two in the nation for worst air quality. You may have come a long way, baby - but there's still a long way to go.
Which brings me, finally,back around to the topic at hand. Our sooty stones. Which I love. Decades of soot and crap have fallen out of the sky and covered our sandstone (limestone?) with a patina that ranges from lightish gray on the more protected areas, to a deep velvety black on the more exposed areas. It's given the facade an almost verigated appearance.
One of our neighbors, and a couple of co-workers, noticing that we are "fixer-uppers" have suggested that we have our stones cleaned. We're about as receptive to this suggestion as we were to the mover who suggested we enclose our front porch to increase our first floor living space. No.Freaking.Way.
I don't care how many buildings downtown have been given a "new lease on life" after having their grimy history sandblasted or power-washed away. It's not like we have some weird love of grime. But, we do have a love and respect for history. I know this house wasn't built to look this way, that the steel mills down the river changed it from it's original and intended form, but neither of us want to "restore" this aspect of the house.
It's late and I'm not even sure how to articulate my feeling about this but I hope I can make it make sense to someone besides DH that the sooty layer on our house should remain, like a testament to what made this city what it was. Like a tribute to the men and women who lived and toiled in this gray polluted city where the mills followed the men home from work, covering their homes, their gardens, and their families with black reminders of the blast furnaces. Where no shopkeeper or executive could find complete exclusion from the price being paid by the men in the mills. To enjoy the commerce, to profit in this economy they too would have to bear the stains of the product making it all possible.
In our basement we have what is commonly referred to (at least by local realtors) as a "Pittsburgh Potty". Most older working class houses here seem to be equipped with at least a toilet in the basement. Ours has a shower as well. We've been told that these were considered a necessity earlier in the 20th century. So that the men, returning home after working a hot, dangerous, back breaking twelve hour shift, covered with soot and scale could clean up and change their clothes in the basement so as not to ruin the family floors and furniture.
So, no... we're not going to come to this town like a couple of johnny-come-lately carpetbaggers and wash what are now "our" stones squeaky clean like nothing ever happened here. It would feel disrespectful, I think. Besides, to our eyes they're lovely just the way they are.