Tomorrow is Turkey’s Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim where 750 athletes swim across the Bosphorus Strait spanning Europe and Asia, it is Rembrant’s birth anniversary (1606), it is the anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald (1410 Poland and Luthuania joined forces to defeat the Knights of Teutonic) and the Battle of the Marne (1918 where the American, French and Italian forces stopped the forward progress of the Germans).

Next Saturday and Sunday (July 21 & 22) will be Pittsburgh’s Vintage Grand Prix.  Outside of Monte Carlo,  we are the only city that can lay claim to true vintage street racing.  We have been doing this for over thirty years.  This is an extremely unique race, in that it is run on actual city streets, not on purpose-built tracks are in racing venues.  For instance there’s “road crowning”, normal roads are higher in the center than on the sides to promote drainage can causes a real challenge for racers.  Then there’s the 22 turns on the course (three are almost 180 degrees), there are old stone walls along the edge in places, telephone poles (telepoles) :), recessed storm drainage grates and numerous other hazards to racing makes this all the more challenging.  Admission is free for spectators to the race and various car shows.  Saturday it runs from 8:30 am until about 6 and Sunday from 7 am until around 5.  More info at their web site.

Many of you have used the intersection of I70 and I 79 down in Washington County.  I remember when they first opened it and how wrong it was designed.  I don’t remember when, but a good while ago they redesigned parts of it and it was better, but there was still one hair pin turn (at least it seemed hair pin if you were traveling 65 mph).  🙂  Well they started fixing that last part last fall and the $35M project is slated to be completed in 2014.  It will now be four lanes, two traveling straight and two using the exit.

Border collies were bred and designed to herd sheep, labs were bred and designed for water retrieval, German shepherds were bred and designed for protection.  These wonderful human companions were created by us.  The whole group referred to a Pitt Bulls were bred and designed for aggression.  Yes, humans that have murdered have been rehabilitated or “seen the light” and deserve a second chance.  Just as pitt bulls, I guess.  I’m sorry, I’ve known people that have had them for years as pets and never had a problem.  But I’ve also know of these dogs that went rouge for no known reason and mauled children.  There is a very well meaning and dedicated group dedicated to rehabilitating pit bulls out in Cranberry called Hello Bully.  Cute name.  Founded in 2005 with 125 volunteers they are selling personalized bricks to help defray the cost of the shelter.  The bricks will be used to create a patio area at the shelter and the bricks run from $50 to $500, depending on the size.

Time has done what CEO’s and other company bigwigs have tried for years to accomplish.  🙂  Evelyn Y Davis, the famous corporate heckler has retired at the age of 82.  After years of flirting and fighting with corporate VIP’s and other shareholders, she’s decided to call it quits.  Quite the colorful lady, I hope she finds her retirement as fulling as her life had been to this point.

I went to Kathleen (Flaherty) Hall’s Grand Opening of her Red Bandana Winery yesterday.  It was wonderful seeing a good friend again and quite the shindig.  She had her state senator, two state representative, two county commissioners, a professor from Clairion State University and many other dignitaries.  What a cute facility they’ve built and such a perfect setting to showcase her wonderful artwork.

Above she’s cutting the ribbon and below is a wonderful Veranda which will become legendary (if I know Kathleen) for hosting events, wine tastings and art shows.

And this was a family affair.  Her mother, Carole made the chandeliers and lamps (she’s quite the accomplished stained glass artist herself.  Unfortunately, the pictures I took of the lights didn’t turn out.  I sampled the Chambourcin red wine, I was afraid it was going to be too sweet, but it was just right for me.

Kathleen is quite the accomplished artist.  In case you don’t know, she’s the one that did all the watermark murals on the first floor of my Inn.  If you want to see more of her artwork, visit her web site Flaherty Art.

Well, the sun has come out and I’m going to go out as well  🙂  Have a great weekend,









Tomorrow is the US Senior Open Golf Championship in Lake Orion, MI, Josiah Wedgwood birth anniversary (Wedgwood pottery 1730), Henry David Thoreau’s birth anniversary (1817), it’s the anniversary of the Battle of Kursk (1943-the largest tank battle in history), Milton Berle’s birth anniversary (1908) and Buckminster Fuller’s birth anniversary (1895).

The  Japan UW Creatives is having two receptions at two distinctive examples of Japanese culture on July 25 in New York. The first reception will be at Miya Shoji’s showroom at 145 W 26th Street.  Mr. Shoji carries hand crafted furniture, tables shoji screens and tatami mats.  Then a short subway ride away participants will travel to JapaDog, a new restaurant in the Lower East side.  JapaDog is an new concept of using American hot dogs with Japanese toppings.  These Japanese hot dogs are hugely popular in Vancouver.

Kathleen Flaherty, the artist the did all the murals in my Mansion has gotten married (she’s now Kathleen Hall) and is starting up a new venture in Leeper, PA (just outside Cook’s Forest).  She’s opening The Red Bandana Winery with a grand opening Friday, July 13.   Kathleen took the name for her winery from the struggle of the miners in Appalachia from 1883 to 1919 for a decent living.  Back then, the coal companies owned everything, they even paid with their own scrip, tokens or credit.  The miners lived in houses owned by the companies, had to shop in general stores owned by the companies, everything was controlled by the companies.  To identify themselves, these “insurgents” were red bandannas.  Kathleen is going for local produced grapes (she says 20 percent of US wine comes from Pennsylvania grapes).  She is planning on experimenting with new flavors like coffee, chai tea and pumpkin.  Should be interesting.  Maybe I’ll see you Friday at her grand opening.

Marty’s Market is slated to open this Saturday in the site of the former Right by Nature  on Smallman in the Strip (by the Cork Factory Apartments).  Navy Reserve Lieutenant Commander Regina Koetters already has opened the coffee bar and cafe.  She’s planning on being open from 11 am until 7 pm Mondays through Fridays and 9 am until 7 pm Saturdays and Sundays.  She’s striving for locally grown produce and chemically free meats.  I think being open until 7 will help, since most of the rest of the Strip closes around 3 pm, she will be the “only game in town”.  With all the people living down there (the Cork Factory has run close to 100% occupancy since opening, they are building new units as we speak, the Otto Milk condo across from it does well), I think she has a shot at succeeding.  I think it’s a great location for a grocery store, particularly a green one.

In 1978, the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad’s Pittsburgh station opened to the public as The Grand ConcourseStation Square is the rest of his terminal complex.  This was the train station of a Joshua Rhodes, the builder of my Inn.  Today, the P & L E train station in Beaver is in the process of becoming public space.  The Beaver Area Heritage Foundation has acquired the building and their first project will be to repair the slate roof to stop the water damage in the station.  They intend to turn the station itself into a venture for events, classes, community events.  They intend to use the out buildings as there working and storing spaces.  The Beaver station is a fine example of Romanesque style.  It even has a lot of it’s original architecturals like many stained glass windows.  (As a side note on Joshua Rhodes, I cooked in the Grand Concourse in the 1990’s and now I own his home).  🙂

In 2007, at the age of eight, Tyler Kautzman of McCandless decided he wanted to do something for our troops over seas.  He and his classmates collected 400 pounds of supplies and hooked up the Yellow Ribbon Girls of Ellwood City.  These ladies are like a clearing house for sending things to our troupes overseas.  Yellow Ribbon also sends school supplies to schools and orphanages in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Tyler met and befriended Army Staff Sargent Ed Greiner, formerly from Ross Township.  Griener was in Pittsburgh and stopped to visit Tyler in 2007 to thank him and visited his school.  They have been pen pals since.  Griener passed away earlier this year in a motorcycle accident outside Ft Bragg, NC while awaiting redeployment to Afghanistan.  Tyler and his mother have organized a 5K memorial run/walk on July 29 starting at 7:30, the actual race will be beginning at 9 at the North Park Boat House.  There’s a $25 entrance fee that goes to the Yellow Ribbon Girls.  More info at the 5K site.

Thank you PennFuture, at last someone is standing up to the Buncher group and the city kowtowing to them.  The city’s letting them tear down 1/3 or the Terminal building so it’s easier access to their private/for profit development off 17th Street, instead of making them put the entrance at 15th Street which is already there and doesn’t need to destroy a building I (and you) own.  The city and the URA are giving lavishing grants ($15M from the URA) and loans on Buncher to assist this development, did I mention this is a private/for profit endeavour?  (They are also seeking %50M Tax Incremental Financing-TIF).  I am so tired of the city giving away my Igloo (and yours) so the Penguins can build a new arena that we subsidized and they are going to make a fortune developing the old site.  Just as the Steelers are making a fortune redeveloping with smaller development than Alco had proposed at the bargain basement prices given to the Steelers.  Did I mention I have to have nine parking spaces for my Inn because I have nine guest rooms.  The Steelers are controlling surface lots and making money off of them.  They haven’t been forced to build a parking garage for their 65,000 fans (the garage that was finally build was build buy the Stadium Authority and the URA and is run by Alco Parking.

We’ll talk soon,



It’s been a full week since my last post.  Another lost housekeeper, gang busting business and heat (and broken AC-now repaired) are what I’m blaming.  Yesterday was the anniversary of the Homestead Riots, where the steel workers finally had enough with the steel magnates.  Maybe the 99% should learn a lesson from the past.  The Occupy movement has had good ideas, but no cohesion.  This excess of the banks is really riling me.  It’s just one heinous act of greed after another.  Sorry,  tomorrow is the anniversary of the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia (1776), Billy Eckstine’s birth anniversary (1914), Nelson Rockefeller’s birth anniversary (1908), war hero Jean Moulin’s death anniversary (1943), the King of Jukebox Louis Jordan’s birth anniversary (jazz pioneer, band leader 1908) and the Ziegfeld Follies anniversary (1907).

I don’t blame the companies, I blame our government.  Chesapeake Energy has averaged paying one percent of it’s cumulative pretax profits (this in a country with a 35% corporate income tax rate) over it’s twenty-three year history.  Add to this an average 2.1 percent paid by Southwestern Energy and 5.3 percent by EQT, we could really balance our federal budget and cut the deficit if these mega companies ponied up what they legitimately owe and we cut the millions in tax breaks to the oil giants.

While I’m on a rant, I can’t idly sit by with a new figure I just found out about Port Authority.  Come this September, because of  their legacy costs, one current employee will need to support two retired employees.  This is outrageous.  Since moving back to Pittsburgh, I keep hearing about this study and that study Port Authority paid for.  One of these studies was over two hundred thousand dollars last year that basically said to simplify things get rid of the letters after the numbers.  Manchester (the bus in front of my Inn) magically became just 18 (instead of the 16D it was).  Didn’t they have studies done each time they negotiated a contract?  I’m so furious, I think County Executive Rich Fitzgerald shouldn’t just fire Steve Bland, put should press criminal charges against him.

Two years ago, Janice Parks from YMWAHA brought eight of Gee’s Bend quilters to Pittsburgh for a show at the New Hazlett Theater.  These amazing women stayed at The Parador during their show.  What a great group, and what a wonderful story behind Gee’s Bend.  YHWAHA is an organization that strives to get inner city youths focused in healthy directions, like quilting.  Janice was the founder of this great organization and has recently retired.  She is such a dynamo, she’s one of those people that speak what they see and I certainly enjoy that.  🙂  Eric Asongwed is Janice’s successor, he his some big shoes to fill, I’m sure he’s up to it and I wish him the best of luck.

They re-did the gardens in front of the Children’s Museum and a piece of art work is pretty cool (literally).  🙂  Ned Kahn created the “Cloud Arbor”, which is nine metal poles that periodically spray a fine mist you can cool off in.  This vast expanse 65% of neglected concrete now has open space and the 20 trees have been replaced with 100 trees, 200 shrubs and 5,000 flowers and is 70% grass.

And the best part is the way they designed it, they can easily reconnect East Ohio Street with West Ohio Street.  🙂  A biggie with me.  Live concerts in the park presented by the Allegheny City Society will feature the Ortner Roberts Duo on July 17 and August 7 and the Allegheny Brass Band will perform on August 21.  Show times are from 7 – 8:30 pm.

Lots of live music on the Northside these days.  I’ve talked about the nice job the folks are doing at James Street with their food, service and live jazz Thursdays through Sundays.  The Elks Club on Cedar features the Pittsburgh Banjo Club on Wednesday nights at 9 pm, they also feature Dixie Doc and the Pittsburgh Dixieland All-Stars and other musical groups.  Their calendar of events is a bit spotty.  The Park House (the first licensed bar in Pittsburgh) on East Ohio Street features Bluegrass on Wednesdays starting at 9 pm.  Riverview Park will be hosting live outdoor music Saturday evenings from 7 – 8:30 through August 25 followed by family friendly movies beginning at dusk.  Musicians George Heid III, Mark Lucas, Poogie Bell, Cecil Brooks II, Mark Strickland, Eric Johnson and Sean Jones will be performing.

The Lost Lady Bug Project is seeking volunteers to seek out ladybugs, take their pictures and send the pictures to be classified.  Apparently the 9 spotted, 2 spotted and transverse ladybugs (our native ladybugs) have all but disappeared over the past thirty years.  The seven spotted and the multicolored Asian ladybugs are filling in the gaps.  The native ladybugs aren’t all gone, not surprisingly they found a bunch at an organic farm in New York (the nine spotted ladybug is New York’s state insect).  The Ladybug Project is trying to assess the population still around and looking for groups or individuals to take pictures and give a count of how many you find, in your garden, in the wild, where ever so the can get a handle on their populations.  If you are so inclined, snap a couple of pics and send to their web site.

Have a great weekend and keep hydrated,




Is the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburgh (1863), the 150th anniversary of the IRS (1862), Princess Di’s birth anniversary (1961), the first photograph used in a newspaper (a man only known as Thubault took pictures of the Parisian riots of 1848), the first US postage stamps (1847), the first US Zoo (1874 Philadelphia), Mammoth Cave National Park was founded (1941), Medicare’s anniversary (1968) and zip codes were inaugurated (1963).

It’s been a fairly hectic week.  I let my new housekeeper go.  Since starting, I’ve had problems getting him to finish jobs.  I had him clean the deck and then I had to wind up the hose after he left, I had him wash and clean the truck, he didn’t clean the windows, I repeatedly pointed out that he wouldn’t have the bed spreads even and level (one side longer than the other or it wasn’t an even length to the floor along one side).   His last shift, he mopped around the dog’s beds, didn’t oil the grill after cleaning it, didn’t clean the edges around it and and at one point when I came in, he was just rinsing glassware from a guest room instead of using hot soapy water.  After he left, I found the two glasses he was rinsing out in the drainer, but the other dirty dishes were still in the sink.  So when he came in the other day, I sat him down and told him I thought I was going to have to let him go.  I wasn’t set on canning him, but obviously the possibility was there.  I wanted to see how he would react.  He said “I have been working slow trying to get more hours and because of that he wasn’t ‘in the zone'”.  #1 he admitted he was milking the job.  #2 he said because he was working slow, he couldn’t focus on details.  Seems to me that should cause the opposite.  Anyway, he’s no longer here and I’ve been the second housekeeper.  Marsha starts Monday.  🙂

Sometimes I feel the opposite of Ziggy, totally “picked on”.  We’ll leave computers and my steep learning curve on them (not to mention two hours by me and four by a computer tech to install a new WiFi compatible printer) out of this conversation.  I found a tumbler I liked by Arco Roc, a nice six ounce is perfect for a bathroom.  They’ve discontinued it, the ones I’ve been using for the past couple of years are eight ounces.  When I was open in Florida, my starter course was homemade bread, fresh fruit, coffee/tea and orange juice.  My first winter up here, serving fresh fruit was out of the question.  So I started serving parfaits made of low fat vanilla yogurt, granola and diced fresh fruit.  In the winter, I could count on pears, apples, etc.  I bought a case of Libbey 5112 parfait glasses and they’ve lasted five years.  I have my 25 on the shelf in the Pantry and I’m down to one left in the case in the basement.  So I went to Penn Fixture first to order another case and they said Libbey no longer makes them.  I went to Restaurant Depot, they even sent me a copy of Libbey’s e-mail to them stating that they discontinued parfait glasses in 2009.  These iconic footed glasses have been around longer than I’ve been in hospitality.  Libbey was the only one to make them.  There is nothing out there that has the same appearance.  So I’m back to using e-Bay to stock up.

Rain Barrels on Parade is a project to increase awareness of keeping rainwater out of our storm and sewer water systems.  Ten local artsts have decorated a rain barrel making it a piece of art and they are scattered around the city in places like the Children’s Museum, Schenley Plaza and the US Steel Plaza lobby.  They are planning on auctioning these rain barrels off at the end of the summer as a fund raiser.  This project is being coordinated with the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association and the Clean Rivers Campaign.  They are trying to tie this in with ALCOSAN’s consent decree with the DEP to clean up our waterways by shifting some of the focus from infrastructure to more sustainable living choices.

How about the Elon Musk?  He’s the guy behind the guy behind the Eagle rocket that hooked up with the space station last month, he’s also the guy behind Tesla Motors, the makers of luxury electric vehicles.  They are built on a lotus chassis, 265 miles to a charge and he’s sold 2,300 of them at $109,000 a clip.  He’s the founder of paypal and sold it to E-bay for a healthy profit.  Instead of retiring into obscurity like so many of his other high tech pioneers, he’s decided to challenge himself.  Pretty cool.

Regatta entertainment on Point State Park’s Main Stage includes Sunday, Kiger Band (classic country and rock) 12:45 pm, Bishop Clay Band (alternative rock) at 2 pm,  Abbamania (ABBA tribute band) 8 p.m.  All four nights the Point Skate Park will be open from noon until 9 pm, this is ice skating on an artificial ice rink.  Sandcastle’s sand sculpture competition starts Sunday, they make some massive creations in Point State Park.  Live music at the Main Stage on Tuesday will include Delaney (rock n roll) at noon, Jamie Bruno (Pittsburgh’s own country and western performer) at 2:45 pm and Verna’s Steel Drum band  5:40 and 6:30 pm and Ernie Fields at 8 pm.  Each day at 9:30 will feature Lasertainment on the Main Stage.  On Tuesday, live music on the Main Stage will be Nomad at noon, Jamie Bruno at 2:50, Music From Another Room at 4:30 and the Beach Party Boys tribute band at 8 pm.  Live music on the Main Stage on Tuesday will include From Another Room at noon, Verna’s Steel Drum Band at 2:1 and 4:10, Bishop Clay will be back at 6 pm and the Air National Guard Band at 8:15.  Across the river at River’s Casino’s Amphitheatre America will play at 8 pm.

River activities on Sunday include the P-1 Superstock Powerboat Racing on the Allegheny Time Trials at 2 pm, Qualifiers at 4 pm and Finals at 7 pm.  On Monday P-1 Superstock Powerboat Racing will feature for the first time v-hulled, dual engine offshore boats on the Allegheny with Time Trials again at 4 pm, Qualifiers at 5 pm and Finals at 7:05.  Tuesday’s water line up include a free tour of a Titanic life boat from 9 am until 2 on the Northshore, Beaverland Must Skis precision skiing on the Allegheny at 3:30, 5:30 and 8 pm.  Not on the water, but bikester Mike Steidley will perform radical bike maneuvers in Point State Park at 5:30 and 7 pm.  And Salute to Speed Powerboat Superleague North American Championships on the Allegheny with Time Trials at 4 pm, Qualifiers at 5 pm and Finals at 7:05.  Finally on Wednesday is the famous Anything That Floats on the Allegheny starting at 10 am.  Beaverland Must Skis will be back with shows at 1:30, 3:30, 6, 8 pm.  The Dragon Boat Races  will be on the Allegheny at 8 pm.  Mike Streidley also is giving more performances at 3, 4:30, 6 and 7:30 pm.  The Salute to Speed P-2 Powerboat Superleague North American Championships  will compete with muscles unleashed on the Allegheny with Time Trials at 2 pm, Qualifiers at 4:30 and Finals at 7.  The the wrap up will be Flashes of Freedom Fireworks Fantasia at the Golden Triangle starting at 9:35.

Have a great and safe fourth of July,



Tomorrow is the Berlin Airlift anniversary (19448), China’s Machua Day- the celebration of the expulsion of the Dutch in 1622, Jack Dempsey’s birth anniverary (11895), the 65th anniversary of a UFO siting in Mt Raineir (u figure the math 🙂 ). Mick Fleetwood’s birth anniverary (1942).

Kevin Sousa, of Salt of the Earth, Union Pig & Chicken and Station Street Hot Dogs is venturing into Braddock with his next venue.  He’s opening a fairly casual daytime eatery and more upscale in the evenings.  He’s also offering Braddock residents with up to 50% discount with ID.  He hopes to open Magarac (named after the imaginary steelworker fold hero Joe Magarac) sometime next year in the old Cuda’s Italian Market on Braddock Avenue.  This will be the first real restaurant in Braddock since UPMC closed it’s doors last year.  For a steel city themed restaurant, Kevin should visit my friend’s Blue Dust over in West Homestead on Amity Street, if he hasn’t already.  And he’s planning on moving there.  Mayor Fedderman must have really impressed the Sousa family.  🙂

The Frick in Point Breeze is hosting Three Centuries of Printmaking through September 2.  Normal business hours of10 am until 5 pm Tuesdays through Sundays and is included with the general admission.  Some of the pieces on display are from as far back as the 17th century and many of from the Frick’s private collection.  They exhibit various printmaking techniques and processes while framing the work chronologically withing the confines of art history.  One of the techniques is chromolithograph, invented in Germany, where they use a series of carefully registered stones and they must individually print for each color they required.  The two framed pictures in my front hallway uses a similar technique.  They depict festivals, wars, religious activities, social events all manor of activities. More info by calling 412.371.0600 or at their web site.

I love Puerto Rico.  Back in the sixties, they had some money to invest in their economy.  Instead of giving one of the largest companies in energy, Shell, $1.67B to build a plant that may or may not create worthwhile jobs, they decided to give out low cost loans and grants to small businesses to open lodging establishments around the island.  Last count I heard they had over 120 Paradors (guess where I got my name?).  🙂  After the housing crisis collapsed the US mainland housing market and folks weren’t buying second vacation homes, Puerto Rico was faced with a huge housing glut.  No, they didn’t bail out big banks, try and force big mortgagors to fairly foreclose on only properties that truly deserved to be foreclosed on.  Nope.  The passed legislation that anyone buying a new home does not have to pay capital gains taxes when the house is sold.  Transfer fees were reduced for existing houses and eliminated for new housing, benefiting both buyers and sellers.  For the first five years, the  buyer does not pay property taxes.  If it is purchased to be a rental unit, the rental income is tax free for ten years.  Guess what, they have practically eliminated their housing glut.

Cynthia Shaffer is running a art show at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Swickely from June 30 through July 28.  There are twenty some pieces selected for the show and they all have to be make of natural items or images of nature.  In the Belly of the Beast is the center’s first wild animal themed show.  One of the pieces in the show by Cynthia is a picture of her mom’s crabby cat hissing with four toy army men super imposed in front that looks like they are dancing.  Pretty funny.  More info at her web site, Sweetwater’s site or by calling 412.741.4405.

72 outlet Eat’n Park’s opening a new restaurant concept.   The first Hello Bistro just opened in Oakland on Forbes.  You order at a counter when you enter and have seat.  Servers deliver your food to you and do normal wait staff stuff.  They are having an oversized salad bar that you can be served at with things like chicken and steak.  They are also serving beer and wine for the first time in a concept restaurant.  This first restaurant will be open 7 am until 10 pm daily.  They are continuing their “family friendly” theme with very affordable prices.  In case you aren’t aware, they don’t just do that 24 hour Denny’s kind of restaurant.  They also operate The Porch (the new restaurant in Schenley Plaza) and Six Penn Kitchen in the Cultural District.  I kind of like them, they put some honest effort in buying local and a lot of green efforts.

The Fein Art Gallery here on the Northside has a new exhibit by Jeff Outlaw, Making Silly Faces at Girls through July 27.  Jeff’s watercolors are whimsical and sometimes a bit grafic.  Obiviously a fun showing.  It is at 519 East Ohio Street.  More info at Jeff’s or Fein’s web sites or by calling 412.321.6816.

Enjoy the Regatta,



Tomorrow’s the Summer Solstice and the Wiccan Lesser Sabbats, the anniversary of Lizzie Borden’s verdict (“not guilty” 1893), the film Jaws was released (1975), the Ed Sullivan Show was introduced (1948), Audie Murphy’s birth anniversary (1924) and West Virginia was admitted to the Union (1863).

The two window seats in Chenille and Oleander are west facing and really absorb afternoon heat (not to mention brightness).  Two years ago, I got vertical blinds from justblinds.com, you get what you pay for.  They lasted a year and a half and then really trashed out.  I found Grabber through Costco and bought wooden vertical blinds from them.  This American company has been custom making blinds since 1939, they originate in Wisconsin, but have expanded and are actually here in Pennsylvania now.  I just installed them yesterday and here’s the brown ones for Oleander:

And white for Chenille:

They both have a strength and quality I didn’t find with justforblinds.  The construction is so much better, as you can see in the next picture.  For the valence, they routed out a hole down the center of the valence (the lower image) that you slide a triangle kind of plastic fastener that hen slides down the valence clip:

Already today, with the blinds closed, you can feel the difference in temperature from these blinds keeping the hot sun out.  My one complaint is the interface between Graber and Costco is really a messed up thing.  You will need to contact Graber to help you work through it.  Speaking of Costco, there was recently an article in the newspaper about how poorly their web presence is.  I’ll vouch for that.  🙂  They apparently packaged one of the blinds before it thoroughly dried because when I went to hang the blind, two were mildly stuck together.  I sent Graber an e-mail this morning and they have already responded with this was unacceptable and they offered to make a whole new blind to replace this one.  I love companies that stand by their product.

Summer’s here and so are the garden tours.  The Academy Hill Garden Tour in Greensburg will be from 10 am until 3 pm on June 23.  This self guided tour will showcase eight to ten gardens and light refreshments will be served.  More info or advance tickets are available by calling Janet McNeel at 724.8343424 ( I didn’t put a link in to the Greensburg Garden Club because when I went there, it said there were no events on June 23-how stupid is that?).  Tour starts in this historic district in front of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.  The 60th Murrysville Garden Club tour will be also on June 23 from 9 am until 2 pm.  Advance tickets are $10 and at the door will be$15 at the Morninglory Shop at 4542 William Penn Highway, Murrysville and at the Toll House 5313 W Pike Street, Export.  Seven Mt Lebanon gardens will be on their “gentlemen gardeners” tour on July 8 from noon until 5 pm.  Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door for this tour at the Mt Lebanon Public Library on Castle Shannon Blvd (tour starts at the library as well).  There will be a garden reception the evening before in the library’s courtyard for $30.  More info at their web site.  Pittsburgh’s Botanical Garden is hosting their Town and Country Tour through 15 private gardens, proceeds to benefit their ambitious 640 acre site near Oakdale where they are creating natural Western Pennsylvania gardens/wild life areas.  The first phase is to open this coming September 13 which I will cover as we get closer, but mark it on your calendar.  They are planning a $30M project over the next 30 years to develop the entire site.  This year’s tour will be in and around Shadyside from 9 am until 5 pm.  There is a $50 self guided tour and a $130 tour with lunch and transportation.  More info at 412.444.4464 or their web site.

The Three Rivers Regatta is expanding to five days this year, kicking off Friday, June 30 and running through Wednesday, July 4.  There’s going to be more free concerts, boat races and other activities to fill in the time.  They are ging to have outdoor ice skating at Point State Park (they are calling it Point Skate Park) 🙂 in a 40 x 100 foot non frozen skating rink made of synthetic material that mimics ice.  Also new this year will be Lasertainment, laser light shows choreographed to music.  And the P-1 Superstock Championship Series (which normally is held in the ocean) will be making it’s Regatta debut.  The US Marine Drum and Bugle Corps will perform on July 1, the Beach Boys on July 3 and America on July 4.  All activities are free.

Have  a great day and week,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Twelveth Amendment to the Constitution  (1804 when we lost the ability to directly elect our President), Arkansas was admitted to the Union (1836), the Magna Carta Day (1215), the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established (1934) and for you procrastinators the dead line for your quarterly estimated federal income tax is due.  🙂

My sister Sue brought Betty and her two friends from GRADE school over to the Inn for lunch yesterday!  I don’t know if Pennsylvania was a state back then.  🙂  (Betty doesn’t use the Internet, I’m safe).  🙂  It was very cool to see them interact and how lucid all of there memories were from 70+ years ago.  Thanx for visiting Marge and Jeannie (I’m assuming they don’t do Internet either-they do  both have cell phones, so you never know).  Betty’s in the middle.

Speaking of Betty, they are finding paintings in European caves from 30,000 years ago that seem to be made like cartoon cels to be viewed one after the other that with flickering torch light make the animals appear to move.  They did four legged creatures as well as birds flying.  The little clip by Marc Azema I believe he took the individual frames and speeded things up.

Doctor Kerr settled in Oakmont and in 1897, built a Queen Anne style home and office at 402 Delaware Avenue.  He passed away in 1931 and his daughter, Virginia, lived in the house until she passed away in 1994 and willed the home to the city of Oakmont.  It was never “modernized” or seriously updated, so it was pretty much like it was when the Kerr family lived in it.  There was no endowment to keep the house up, so borough officials used grant money to stablize it and do some restoration.  Docents lead tours on Saturdays of the 14 room house, and several rooms of the basement which included the laundry room, root and coal cellars and their maid Daisy’s bathroom.  These tours are given from 10 am until 2 pm on Saturdays, adult admission is $8.  To celebrate their ten years as a museum, the Kerr Museum is hosting free tours next Saturday (June 23), Victorian era games, ragtime music, a barber shop quartet, children’s crafts, complimentary refreshments and even a pie contest.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.826.9295.

As reported here several months ago, Fresh Market out of Greensboro, NC is progressing on the corner of Connor and Washington Roads (across from the Galleria in Mt. Lebanon).  The township gave them the green light on their plans, it’s now up to Penn Dot to OK the design to enter on to Connor Road (they are making the four entrances into two and you won’t be able to make a left turn from the lot during busy times.  This upscale food retailer will be joining The Uncommon Market on top of the hill, Trader Joe’s farther south and there’s talk of Whole Foods locating in the area as well.  Speaking of healthy food, Marty’s Market is well underway down in the Strip.  That’s where that other natural foods market was in front of the Cork Factory.  Hopefully this will be better run and be successful.  I believe the owner is a female Vet embarking on her first business.  Good luck to you.  🙂

Penn Hills Arts Festival for the Visual and Performing Arts is coming up (July 20 & 21) at the William E Anderson Library on Stotler Road.  The festival will be featuring a juried art exhibit, live entertainment, food refreshments and children’s activities.  They are also looking for more artists to enter, you must be registered by July 2.  The fee for two works of are for submission is $20 for adults, $5 students 16 – 18 and $1 for kids under 16 (pretty cool there).  There’s a fair amount of restrictions/requirements (ways to hang pictures, etc), so if you are thinking of entering call Jani Pfeifer at 412.793.8302 or Deb Hardy at 412.241.2718.

For you South Hills people, I don’t know if you’ve been down Weyman Road just past Provost in awhile, but that old junk yard that’s been an eyesore for years is pretty much gone.  Whitehall Borough is in the process of changing the zoning to make that area light commercial.  Whatever they allow in there, it will be a huge improvement over that rusted fence, falling down building and rusted car carcases that’s been there forever.

Are you up for free outdoor Harry Potter Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II?  It will be shown Friday (June 15) at Arsenal Park (39th and Butler Streets Lawrenceville), Saturday at Grandview Park Bailey Avenue in Mt Washington and Riverview Park, Observatory Hill.  More info at City Parks or by calling 412.422.6426.

Pittsburgh artist Miller McCormick has a different slant on things.  He uses an outdated scanner/copier, light table, and ink printing overlays to create pretty unique images that are whimsical and challenge conventional image making that blurs the lines between digital construction and handcraft.  His works are on display at The Gallery 4 through the rest of the month at 406 S Highland Avenue, Shadyside from 1 pm until 8 pm Tuesdays through Fridays (thank you Gallery 4 for making your hours so easy to quote-you must be a blog follower of mine.)  🙂  More info at 412.363.5050 or their web site.

Enjoy this wonderful weather and great weekend,



Tomorrow is both Russia and the Philippines Independence Days, it is the birth anniversary of Anne Frank, Baseball’s first Perfect Game (the pitcher did not allow a single opposition player to reach first base) [1880], the National Baseball Hall of Fame was established (9139) and it is the anniversary of President Reagan’s Tear Down This Wall speech.

I read a fun, brainless book and then one that I can learn something from.  My latest brainiac book was The Quest by Pulitzer Award winner Daniel Yergin.  Big book, 800 plus pages that does a real good job of taking energy issues apart and gives a great understanding of past, present and future issues associated with energy usage.  Through conservation and other energy saving measures, we have reduce our consumption by 40%, yet our overall consumption has grown 50% (I’m making these numbers up, but they are fairly close to what he quoted).  The reason is there’s more of us using energy and our forms of energy has increase so much (computers, smart phones, big TV’s etc).  He really does  a nice job dissecting the issues and explaining them.  I highly recommend it.

For those of you west of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River, if you have some free time, they are having a clean up drive next Saturday starting around 8 am.  They are starting at the Groveton Boat Club in Coraopolis/Groveton on Elizabeth Street in Robinson call 412.264.6776 or 412.523.9366 for more info.  They are starting from the Glenwillard Boat Club in Crescent at 400-448 Ferry Street, more info at 724.272.1777.  The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commision at 304 East Beaver Street, more info at 724.396.0653.  The Fish and Boat Commission in Leetsdale at the end of Petrun Road, more info at 724.624.4521.  The Monaca Pumphouse Park in Monaca, more info at 724.775.9600.  The Blockhouse Run North in New Brighton off Route 18 opposite the the New Brighton sewage treatment plant at the end of Third Avenue, more info at 724.624.4962.  And finally the boat dock near Ferry Road and the Shippingport power plant.  These Sweeps have been very successful in the past, 21,000 volunteers have collected 20,000 tons of debris.

Speaking of our clean city, I had Betty on Thursday.  We did lunch, she hung with me as I did my errands and then came over to hang out at the Inn during the afternoon.  After dinner, I told her we were going to do an “adventure”.  Instead of driving her over to her apartment in Beechview, we took the “T” (it stops right outside her apartment).  It was cool to see her be amazed at the “T” as it went under Downtown and then up the hill to her apartment.  I rode the “T” back Downtown and got off to check out the Arts Festival.  This time I saw three leather craft persons (I bought a wallet I was looking for) and saw at least five wood workers.  (I guest the Arts Festival read my last post).  🙂  If they are still listening to me, big suggestion is to set up the vendor booths so you can walk down one side and then walk up another side seamlessly.  People miss a lot of the vendors because they miss a turn.

I listen to NPR almost exclusively between DUQ and YEP.  Saturday mornings I’ve always enjoyed the rantings of Ray and Tom Magliozzi, Click and Clack on Car Talk.  The last of their live shows will be in September, they will be retiring after that.  They’ve been on the radio for 35 years!  NPR will continue Car Talk after their retirement with archived shows.  I won’t be as fresh, but should still be pretty funny.

Every spring I buy lady bugs and let them loose in my yard to control aphids from Gardner’s Supply Company.  They also carry Praying Mantid’s egg cases.  You can hatch them right in you garden.  Nice way to keep bugs in check without chemicals.

I drove past UPMC’s new hospital in Monroeville last week.  What a bunch of BS, it’s huge, it’s expensive and we have to pay for it.  Did you know in America, we pay $8,000 per person per year on health care?  Most other industrialized nations pay less than $5,000.  And this extra $3,000 doesn’t get our health care any better.  We don’t live longer than other industrialized countries and we don’t have better daily health.  This $250 million facility was only built to compete with Forbes Regional, the West Penn hospital.  It’s like UPMC’s bitter battle now with Highmark because they are buying West Penn.  This “non-profit” barely eeks out the 2% free charitable care they are required by law to provide.

One more rant, then I’ll leave you in peace.  🙂  I’ve been off and on the fence with our new governor.  I’m way off the fence now.  It sort of started with Governor Shapp who provided a $70 million incentive to VW to build a manufacturing plant in West Moreland.  They used up their incentives and closed.  We then ponied up to give Sony millions in incentives for the same space.  Governor Ridge gave $227 million to Kvaerner shipyard in Philly.  Now Governor Corbett is proposing up to $1.7BILLION for the cracker plant out in Beaver.  The current owner of the property, who polluted it, has in the bill of sale that he does not have to clean up the brownfield.  We do.

My good friends from State College, Tony and Sue are flying out of Pittsburgh tomorrow to meet up with their daughter that’s studing film in Canada and so they are spending the night here.  Dave and Claire, who also went to Penn State are  coming over for the evening.  So we’ll sit around and BS in the wee hours (probably around 10 for me).  🙂

Have a great week,




Tomorrow is the anniversary of D-Day (1944), the first drive-in movie opened in Camden, NJ (1933), Nathan Hale’s birth anniversary (1755), Susan B Anthony was fined for voting (1872), the Security and Exchange Commission was created in 1934 and it is the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Memphis  by the Confederates.

I had Sheila & Dave’s wedding last weekend, great people and event.  Dave’s parents are very much into history and antiques.  When Holly & John arrived, we walked around the Mansion again and they pointed out the light fixture in the dining room of the sheppard boy and dog (possibly my favorite piece in the entire Mansion).  They said it was a Moreau and sure enough it is, it’s even labeled right in the front:

And as we were walking around, they pointed out the clock on the dining room mantle that looks like Lady Liberty and said that it looks like a Moreau.  Actually it’s a Ansonia Clock, they were manufactured in New York and Connecticut.

Finally, they’ve found a way to recycle Styrofoam.  You can always recycle the “peanuts” at any shipping company like Fedex/Kinkos.  But the Styrofoam that packages electronics, etc have had to go into the land fills and they last there basically forever there.  Antracite Recycling in Scranton has been recycling paper cardboard and other items.  They found and purchased a used “de-densifier” for $64,000 in Maine and recently installed it in their junk yard.  It shreds the Styrofoam and then forms “logs” that can be stacked and shipped.  The process can take a trailer full of loose Styrofoam and stack these “logs” on a single pallet.  They are currently selling this recycled product to Dart Container Company.  Dart can de-densify the Styrofoam logs, process it into the cups and containers they are known for.  I saves them from buying the raw products (chemical and petroleum products) and manufacturing Styrofoam from scratch.

Ex State Senator Jane Orie was sentenced to two to ten years in jail for her convictions on corruption.  I really hate to see anyone go to jail, but when you have no remorse or admit that you did something wrong, I’d be OK with the jail terms being doubled.  This goes for Vince Fumo, Mike Veon, John Perzel, Bill DeWeese and Brett Freese as well.  In the past year as I’ve watched these trials, convictions and sentencing; I was hoping to see someone of them to actually do the right thing and apologize for their wrong doing.  Nope, and if Orie’s attorney doesn’t stop throwing feces on the wall hoping something will stick by accusing District Attorney Zappala’s office of using family feuds behind the prosecution of Orie, I might be tempted to throw some feces at him.  (Just kidding, don’t call the cops and accuse me of being a terrorist.)  🙂  Even Judge Manning was disgusted with the corruption and read her the riot act at sentencing.  Maybe all this jail time and forfeiture of pensions may make them think twice about using the public office they’ve been entrusted with for their personal benefit.

I went to the Arts Festival Sunday.  They always have too much pottery.  Don’t get me wrong, I like pottery and find some pretty unique and interesting.  But there always seems to be an overabundance of potters represented.  I didn’t see one leather worker and just one or two wood workers.  I did find a lady, Debbie Houser of Personal Etchings, working with lexan creating various forms of night lights.  The etched lexan is placed over a light source that illuminates the lexan.  I bought two for night lights in Ruellia and Bromeliad:

I do have a minor problem with them.  The lexan base sits on top of the wooden light base.  This may be OK in a personal residence, but with the wear and tear in an Inn, I want to cut out the light hole a bit wider so the lexan base nestles in the wooden base instead of on it.  This will make it more stable.  Minor problem.  They really look cool in the dark.

Have a great day,



Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include Walt Whitman (1819), Prince Rainier of Monaco (1923), Prtricia Harris (1924), Don Ameche (1908) and Norman Vincent Peale (1898).   It is also the anniversary of the Johnstown Flood (they have had many, but the one in 1889 was so destructive that it was used as a national term to describe horrible destruction for years.  2,300 people perished, thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed and over 800 unidentified people were buried in a common grave.)

The county has had ten years to prepare a county wide re-assessment.  When the reassessed values for businesses when out in January, initially we the tax payers had two weeks to file an appeal.  The assessment is riddled with errors, some extremely gross and should have been obvious to a casual observer (like a building that had burnt to the ground years previous).  The county is now bogged down with 103,776 formal appeals (including mine).  They wanted to double my property taxes to $30,000-which I consider excessive.

Walldogs is a group of artists trying to revive or at least keep that art of outdoor wall art for advertising alive.  They started in 1993.  They are a group of artists that started meeting yearly in the summer to do multiple projects in a certain town, and kibitz with other artists and learn from each other (somewhat like an Innkeeper’s conference) :).  This year’s project in in Plymouth, Wis.  160 artists will converge and create 21 murals.  The town persons will provide lodging and a brigade of women get up at 6 am to prepare breakfast and then lunch for the artists at St John Lutheran Church.  Some residents research archives to find appropriate images of past wall art.  Pretty cool.  More info at their web site.

Brighton Heights Citizen Federation is having their 8th Annual Walking Chocolate Tour.  Starting at the Kaut House on the corner of Flemming & Termon Avenues on Sunday, June 6.  Tickets are $9 through June 9 and $15 the day of the tour.  You can purchase tickets at the Federation’s web site through PayPal.  More info at their web site or e-mail brightonheights@yahoo.com.

Clique Vodka, headquartered in the Strip since 2007, is having a major expansion.  They have been servicing Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia since 2010.  They are expanding into India this year.  Many vodka producers are introducing new premium and ultra premium brands, where as Clique is targeting a well made, moderate priced vodka targeting the younger 20’s & 30’s age groups.  Clique, Premier Innovations Group, takes a Latvian vodka and packages and markets it.  A lot like what Sidney Frank did with Grey Goose and then sold it to Bacardi for $2BILLION in 2004 after only doing the same thing for eight years.  Wow!  More info at their web site.

Gary Luther of Greensburg has been collecting pedal pushers (those toy cars, not girls shorts), 🙂 kiddie cars, junior autos since 1996.    His collection has gotten so out of hand, he solved the over crowding of his his by buying a small building in his neighborhood that he’s converted into his own “museum” and work shop.  He has over 75 pedal cars, 150 tricycles, 40 wagons and two dozen scooters.  Although his “museum” is not open to the public, he is showing his collections at The Lincoln Highway Experience Museum at 3435 Route 30 East in Unity, Westmoreland County next Sunday at 2 pm.  Admission’s $10 and you need to preregister.  More info at their web site or by calling 724.879.4241.

I am currently reading Quest by Daniel Yergin and I am totally en rapped with it.  Big book (800 total pages), relatively small print, few pictures and I am ravenous with it.  I will finish it by early next week, if not the weekend.   You know how some words are hard to translate from one language to another?  Mottainai is a Japanese word that someone asked it’s meaning awhile ago after seeing Americans at Christmas just bunch up wrapping paper and throwing it away.  The Japanese ended up having a forum to translate it into English.  What they came up with was “too good to waste”.  I think that speaks volumes about recycling.  I need to learn how to pronounce it.

It looks like Buncher is still getting away with destroying 1/3 of the Terminal Building on Smallman Street.  That is so depressing and wrong.  Their latest PR to justify this disgusting destruction of our heritage is they are planning on building 750 new housing units back there.  This road they insist on building will connect 17th Street and by proxy Liberty and Penn to their new housing and retail units that they will sell for a profit.  I still adamantly feel they should develop 15th Street which already exists, just before the Terminal Building next to Lydia’s.  They were before the Planning Commission the other day and were tooting their own horn about what wonderful developers they are and what an asset they are to the city.  This road that requires the destruction of 1/3 of the Terminal Building will stop before the jogging/bike trail along the river.  Oh My, what civic minded developers.  They are not going to allow users of this new road to run over joggers while traveling down a road that has to stop anyway because there’s a river.  Oh yea, these civic minded developers are going to build a 1,000 car parking garage under the Vet’s Bridge.  What else can they put there, another Hyatt, oops :).

There’s a once in our life time celestial event occurring next Tuesday.  It’s called the Transit of Venus and Venus will totally eclipse the sun around five pm our time.  Now this is series stuff, don’t go looking at it with your naked eyes.  This event occurs twice over eight years every 100 years, so see it Tuesday or you loose (unless you plan on living to be 100+) :).  The Carnegie Science Center is hosting public viewing in the fifth floor observatory, the Buhl Planetarium.  They will have telescopes with solar filters for safe viewing (I assume you will need to buy their regular admission).  (I’m not including a link to the Science Center out of protest.  If they are going to have a calendar of events, lets keep it up to date.  There’s really no info on their web site about this event that I could find).  The Observatory at Riverview Park will not be hosting any kind of an event because of their location with the park’s trees will block the view.

Beautiful day today and will be tomorrow, enjoy,