3Library on the MountIn this time I would walk up the street to the local library. This helped to save money on books and CDs and DVDs. The Mount Lebanon library and the Squirrel Hill library and the Oakland Main library were my favorites in the city although there were other good ones like the one on Mount Washington and the ones in Lawrenceville and Pleasant Hills as well. The sidewalks this time of year were covered in white snow and green rocksalt and there were long thick patches of pure ice. The Mount Lebanon library had tall glass windows jutting over red brick and on the inside the lobby ceiling was a light grey-white wood. I enjoyed walking up to the top parking lot and in through that entrance as local painters and photographs would showcase their work on the ramp that led down to the main part of the library. Sometimes a renowned writer like Joyce Carol Oates would give a book reading or hold a book signing but these kinds of events seemed to be on weekends that I was out of town. The staff at the library was pleasant and helpful and they seemed to be happier than the folks working jobs in regular places like the grocery or the auto-repair shop.
Not that there weren’t happy folks in these places–there were–the library folks seemed more cheerful. I had some books to pick up that were being held behind the counter on the shelving built into the wall so I pulled my charcoal colored Carnegie Library Card out of my wallet and handed it to the book barista which they would then turn into a pile of books. On Writing and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running were the two books that I was the most excited to read so I read them first. There was also a happy-looking older woman working behind the counter and she asked me for my address as my library card was at the time where the address needed to be verified. “Have you moved?” she asked. “Yes, now I live in the square of the apartment buildings down by the pizzeria and the nice restaurant across the street from it,” I said and then I gave her my new address so that she could update it in the system.
“My apartment is fifty feet from the pizza place. It’s within wafting distance” I said. She smiled and gave a small laugh and it felt good to make someone laugh even if it was a small laugh.”Do you ever eat at the pizza place?” she asked.
“Sometimes,” I said. “Sometimes my partner and I will go and have plain cheese slices or an Italian hoagie and I will unscrew the cap of the parmiasiano and will dump mounds of it onto my slices which will make them saltier. And there is also Il Piz across the street on the other side of the nice restaurant and we will sometimes go there and have the PEI mussels–which stands for Prince Edward Island mussels which are caught in Canada off the coast of Nova Scotia–and brick oven pizza. They flash cook the pizzas over there as the fire in the brick oven is so hot they place the uncooked pizza near the fire for ten seconds which is how they do it in Italy they say. They say they get all their ingredients from Italy even the spicy sausages.
My favorite dish was the impepata di cozze which were fresh mussels steamed in nothing but their own juices and pepper and lemon. The mussels were salty and sweet and I would dip my pizza crust and bread into the lemon pepper mussel sauce remaining on my plate. I thought of how mussels take two years to grow before they are harvested and I daydreamed of caging wild mussels in the sea.My Mount Lebanon apartment was small but comfortable and it had a drawer built into one of the walls with an open area built into the wall above it.
This I suspected was where the telephone would have been placed as this apartment had been built in the 1920s and was considered pre-war. The northern window, in the living room, looked out onto a row of apartment buildings and then onto the trolley line and farther still you could see the faint green slopes of the cemetery. I had stock photos hanging on the walls but my partner, being a photographer, wanted me very much to replace these generic images of the beach or of sunset or the moon or a boat in water. So she purchased some Jackson Pollock prints and had them framed and they are still leaning against the walls in the living room and bedroom as we had not yet made the time to hammer the nails. Plus I was going to be moving soon and it did not seem to make sense to hang the pictures at this point in time.
I had plans to throw out the stock photos when I moved and to hang the Pollocks in the next flat. Another reason, perhaps, that we had not yet hung the pour paintings was that we had watched the biopic about Jackson Pollock and had learned what a brutal and unlikeable man he was and that he had been responsible for a person’s death.I told my partner that I was in a reading mood.”Let’s walk to Orbis Caffe and have lattes and artichoke quiches,” she said.”That sounds like an excellent idea,” I said.”And then after that we can walk down by Bird Park where we had brie, baguettes, and strawberry jam last summertime.””Yes, let’s.””We can bring a water bottle full of gin and tonic with us, too.””Even better.”