Yes, I’m what they call a “back slider”,  I said I wasn’t listening to NPR any more, or any news station, it’s too depressing.  I was listening the other day when they were talking to Professor Andrew Ferguson, after being a Federal prosecutor for years, he now teaches law at a college, I don’t recall which.  Professor Ferguson, an African American, said part of the reason for racial divide in our court system, is the method used in jury selection.  The jury selection process uses property tax records and driver’s license records.  He said people of color have a lower percentage of home ownership and drivers licenses than white citizens.  He said the jury pool should include persons signed up for housing assistance, food assistance, etc.  Makes sense to me.

The Humane Society is having a fund raiser this Friday from noon – 3, April 7 at the location right down the street from me on Western Avenue.  And then at their East End location Sunday April 9 from 10 am till 1 pm.  They’ve partnered with Goodwill to accept donations of small stuff (no furniture).  Goodwill will be making a monetary donation to the Humane Society for items donated.

Last post I spoke about some new retails in Downtown.  I’ve spoken to the Downtown Partnership and they have spaces available, contact them if you want to open a brick and mortar store, they are looking for start ups.  And good luck.  And let me know so I can include you in a future post.

Spring has finally sprung, the tulips, daffodils and hyacinths have all started to spring.  The trees are budding out.  My playground mulch came in so I pulled the bins of elephant ears up from their hibernation in the basement.  They were so eager to be planted they had the lids on their containers pushed up.  It’s warm enough that I planted the elephant ears, they are the sickly white sprouts you see.

The playground mulch came in and Dragun dumped it in the back of my parking lot. I had to get it out of the parking lot because Pittsburgh Asphalt should be replacing my parking lot Monday.  I got all 10 yards spread around, and the Courtyard is looking so pretty.  All my other perennials are pushing their cute little heads out.

Here’s da kidz enjoying their freshly mulched yard and on squirrel patrol:

Speaking of da kidz, da gerl is showing a waist now, she’s lost a little more weight and the two to three walks a day are building lean muscles on her (and me).  🙂

I went out to Lumber Liquidators to get some more of the floor cleaner and when I walked in a guy was behind the counter and I pointed at the gallon jug and said “Can I HAVE one of those?”.  He then asked for my credit card and I said “No, you said I could HAVE it”.  He then apologized and said he was sorry but English is his second language and I said well, what is you primary language and responded “Sarcasm.”  I loved it and asked if I could use it and he sarcastically said sure.  🙂

Saturday I’m going to a Pennsylvania Resource Council class on rain barrels at fern hollow in Sewickly.  They have a whole series of them scheduled in the area for the next several months, see the link on their site.  It costs $80 and that includes a rain barrel.  This year I would like to take out four downspouts and put rain barrels on them.  It should be fairly easy where I want to start in the Courtyard.  If it goes as I hope, I should be able to remove 3/4 of the run off from my roofs and be able to water my gardens without using city water, lower water bills 🙂

That’s it for today,


First off, I would like to apologize to the weather people.  Although I didn’t discuss their reliability in my last post/rant.  🙂  Generally their forecasts are pretty accurate.  But they remind me of Rayzette she is so eager to get to the park and be off leash she drags me down the street.  She’s not being a bad gerl, just impetuous.  When challenging weather is eminent, weather persons are like her and can’t control themselves.  When I was in Florida, it’s going to be the worst hurricane ever   and this snow storm will drop lots of snow and paralyze the city.  When they gave the weather the next morning, they didn’t say we made a mistake, the weather gods sent a high pressure system that pushed the storm north and it missed us.  They said its snowing now and that was just some flurries.  Rayzette doesn’t apologize either.  🙂

The Downtown Partnership is trying something new by luring unique small stores into vacant store fronts.  Like apparel store Steel City on Smithfield Street and Moop on First Avenue a handmade handbag store that’s been selling it’s wares on line for ten years.  What the Downtown Partnership should do is coordinate with the big real estate companies for free or greatly reduced rent.  Investors buy a building downtown and it sit empty for a long time waiting on development plans, architectural drawings, city approval.  (Look how long the former Macy’s has been sitting empty).  Why not stick a small company in there with the understanding that when construction starts, or they need that space for construction, the vendor needs to move.  The Partnership would know this in advance and if the start up hasn’t gain the strength yet to afford Downtown rents, maybe find another location for them.

This caught my attention partially because I lived in Atlantic City for 10 years and also because I think a major problem in America is we don’t take responsibility for our neighborhoods, white, black, brown.  Ibn Ali Miller received recognition from the city council of Atlantic City for his bravery.  Ibn stood between two teens that were fighting at the egging on from their peers.  Ibn called out the other kids, because he lives with them and pointed out how one kid’s parents would be ashamed of his actions because they had worked so hard to try and raise their kids rightly and pointed out another kid who’s father’s in jail for life for what he did.  I don’t know if I would have been as calm and well spoken as Ibn in a similar situation.  Two funny stories of mine, when I first bought my place there was a domestic on the sidewalk in front of my house.  The two men were telling the woman why everyone hates her, it was pretty brutal, laced with profanity and loud.  Not five feet away, I called the police to report the domestic, 911 wanted descriptions and as I was giving the descriptions of the three one finally noticed I was standing there on the phone with the police and said Aw man, he’s calling the police.  They left and took their domestic out of my neighborhood.  My other neighborhood story is one day last summer I was sitting on my porch and two ladies obviously had had lunch in one of our local establishments.  As they got in their car the lady on my side put her soda can on the curb.  I said “Excuse me Miss, would you wait for just a minute while I get my car and follow you home and put that litter in the front of your home.”  She quickly retrieved the soda can and they left.  I guess they didn’t want some nut case following them home.  🙂

I’ve been diligently working on converting Chenille and Oleander from full/double beds to kings without loosing the Victorian look.  Kings are much more popular than fulls,  I’ve had several guests comment when entering the room, Oh, I didn’t realize the bed was only a full, not complaining, just observing and they ended up being very happy.  Many people don’t read the full (pun intended) description and miss that the bed is just a full.  They are busy looking at how attractive the rooms are.  So what I decided to do is remove the side rails and foot boards, put them in the basement labeled in case someone wants to put them back together.  And attach the headboards to the wall.  Since a king is wider than a full, to keep that from being too noticeable, I draped lace to give a visual break.  The first one I did was Oleander.  Since the wall behind the headboard is brick, as is most of my interior (and exterior) walls, I had to drill into the brick and put wooden plugs held with Liquid Nails.  I put two eyelets just below the top of the headboard and tied picture hanging wire between them and lifted the head board onto the hook to keep it from being top heavy.  I put two plugs low so I could put lag screws through the base and not be visible without moving the bed. good friend Kerry that owns KS Kennedy Floral and Gourmet right down the street did the lace in Oleander, he has a much better flare than I.  Here’s the new Oleander:

There was some challenges with Chenille.  Towards the left of the bed, there was stairs that went up to what is now African Tulip when I bought the place.  We took the stairs out and used that space and part of the old maid’s closet to create African Tulip’s bathroom and ended up framing the wall out to close out the door that had lead to the stairs.  I wanted the hook that would hold the top of the bed tight into one of the studs, which sort of set the bed off center and to add to that, I couldn’t cover the sprinkler head, so that’s why the lace is a bit off.  I had to finish both rooms, they are sold tonight.  I’ve been looking at it a bit and might change things around this week, Chenille is empty most of this week.  Might be a new picture next post.

One more thing I’d like to talk about is cleaning my laminate bamboo floors.  When I had them installed, I was told to just use water, not chemical cleaners.  They’ve been streaky since.  I saw Lumber Liquidators has a laminate cleaning system.  We’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and it really works.  There’s applicator sort of like a big Swifter that you spray the cleaner on the applicator (not directly on the floor) and then apply to the floor.  Chenille, my most popular room (the one with the most traffic) was the worst and we started with that one.  It is totally amazing.  I love it when I find a product that lives up to what it’s supposed to do.  Here’s the cleaning solution:


That’s it for now, enjoy this spring like weather we’re having,



One of my winter projects is giving the radiator in Chenille a fresh coat of paint and when I looked at the feet on the tub, I realized it was time for them as well.  I cleaned them up and when I went to paint them realized it’s not a claw foot tub but a fish foot tub:

Chenille & Oleander are my two most Victorian guest rooms.  A common complaint is they only have a full sized bed in them.  So I decided to make them kings, they didn’t have king beds in the Victorian era, so this took a little creativity.  I took Oleander’s bed apart and had my nephew hold the head board while I brought down the king bed from Lady Palm, right up the stairs.  It looked OK, so I’ve attached the head board to the wall and the new king bed arrives Friday from the Original Mattress Factory, I love their beds.  Also, they are delivering the king for Chenille and I’ll store that in the Ballroom until I get Chenille’s head board attached to the wall next week, second time should go smoothly next week.  I’ll post pictures on my next blog, Roy Engelbrecht my fabulous photographer will stop by shortly and take good pictures for my website.  I’ll store the side rails and foot boards in the basement, in case someone wants to put them back.

My campaign for 2020 is picking up a little steam.  I’ve never met Mike, he booked a room and sent me an email about my blog and asked about my campaign.  Here’s what he said:

I will be sure to check out the blog, but apparently the way to get elected president is to spout lies, engage a foreign power to interfere in the election and be a billionaire game show host.  I think you will start this Quixotic quest way behind the eight ball.   Perhaps you would consider hiring illegal immigrants to work on the Inn and stiff them on their wages to build your resume!


Speaking of civility, I went to a local watering hole and ran into Ed, I’ve known him for almost 10 years and John, I’ve known him for a few months.  This was shortly after Donald Trump claimed President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower in NYC.  It was on the news and I mentioned that I could support Donald Trump more if he quit just making these accusations with nothing to support them.  I meant it as a basically innocent observation.  I wasn’t condemning the man, just saying if he knows something, why not share it.  The two of them jumped on me with a ton of acrimony “That’s what’s wrong with American, no one is giving him a chance.”  Honestly, I’m trying.  I for one believe the generals know more about ISIS than he does, contrary to his campaign rhetoric.  I just waved my hands and went back to my wine.  Why even bother with someone that can’t be civil and have a civil conversation?

I think I said in my last blog, I’ve pretty much quit listening to NPR, I just don’t want to hear this stuff constantly.  I now listen to the local oldies station in the kitchen when I’m working on breakfast. A lot less stressful.  I was listening to them the other day and they were addressing how America has lost faith in our institutions.  It is true, it’s not just the “fake” news on Face Book and other outlets.  We’re tired of people lying to us.  It’s bad enough listening to criminals deny that they did wrong, like former Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley just pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the Jerry Sandusky case.  Spanier’s the one that should be nailed to the wall.  The DA seems to have emails that incriminate him about his knowledge of the atrocities of Sandusky and turned his back on those children.  PWSA has denied for months that there’s lead in our water and it turns out we do, not to the extent of Flint, MI, but of significant levels that it’s harmful to our children.  Maybe if we put some of these “public servants” in jail, others might wise up?  They are making six figures to run our water system safely.  Maybe because I make so many mistakes, I don’t have problem apologizing for them and what can we do to make this better?  I went to Wikipedia to look up some of our more famous federal scandals like Watergate, the Iran Contra scandal the ATF attempt to track gun sales that ended up putting guns in the hands of drug gangs and how the ATF tried throwing smoke and mirrors up to hide behind. and the list was so huge, I stopped.  We’ve had some scandals in print media like Roger Ailes and his inappropriate conduct at Fox & CNN and the attempt’s to cover it up.  When you bring in religious corruption like the Catholic church trying to cover up sex abuse by it’s priests, there’s not much left for us to believe in.   OK, I’ll stop now, I’m depressing myself.  🙂

We didn’t get the snow Armageddon the weather people were predicting , they could just say, we miscalled it, the system we expected to drop 1 – 3″ in Pittsburgh slipped by us last night, instead they were saying this morning, it’s snowing now, never acknowledging they errored.   It’s OK weather guys, I’ve made bad calls in the past.  So to end this post on a big lighter note, here’s Fester shivering in the cold (I can always tell fat Fester from the slim teenager Lester):

I wasn’t totally accurate when I spoke of the gerl’s weight loss.  She went down from 93# to 88.3# not an even 88#  I just weighted her after two more weeks and she’s 88.1#  So she’s still going in the right direction.  We’re calling her the green bean queen, she likes the title.  🙂

Have a good one and keep warm,




I’ve received a number of responses on my candidacy for 2020.  My favorite was from Tony & Sue in State College:

“So we have read your blog. Sue and I will vote for you. You invited suggestions, I’m no Kelly Ann Conway but I encourage you to consider this advice.

The platform is sound but needs to appeal to a broader base. Consider proposing a ban on gay, gun toting, illegal immigrants, ethnic Asian, female Muslims that have crossed the Mexican border and are seeking employment in the fracking industry.

This should provide momentum in establishing a grass roots campaign.”

It’s worked in the past, I’d say.  🙂

My first change on my platform is to properly regulate PACs.  PACs can no longer hide behind fluffy names like “Americans for democracy” or other generic terms.  If big money is going to try and sway voters, they need to be required to list in order of magnitude of support who is paying for this.  I am seeing a lot of ads on radio time pushing for de-regulation of the clean air act from a PAC.  I’m OK with them soliciting this, just tell me who you are.

I traditionally have had NPR on my kitchen radio while I work on breakfast.  I am so tired of listening to “fake” news, the war by the press for countering claims with facts, attendance at inaugurations and how the regular press distorted pictures (I’ve seen aerial pictures of 2017, 2015, 2011 and 2007).  I now listen to 3ws oldies station in the morning before I turn my Reggae on.

We had a tragedy at The Parador, Ester seems to have gotten hit by a car.  Fester and Lester have been wearing these very cute black arm bands.

Speaking animals, my “fat” gerl has been on a diet since topping 93#.  We go for at least two walks a day (all three of us) and three weeks ago, I cut back on her dog food and substituted green beans.  I took her to the Humane Society yesterday for an accurate reading.  She’s down to 88#!  She’ll be ready for the summer bikini season.  I told her if she make 84# or lower, I will take her to a shop and she can pick out any bikini she wants.

I had a dispute with Direct TV, they have raised my rate every year since I signed up with them when I move up here in 2005.  Before that, I signed up with them in 1995 when I first move to Lake Worth and lived in my private residence on Lake Osborne Road and worked as the Food & Beverage Director of the Palm Beach Ocean Front Hilton.  When I opened The Parador Inn of the Palm Beaches, I moved Direct TV over to my new Inn on S Federal Highway.  So actually, I’ve been a customer of theirs for over 20 years.  They have raised my rates between $2 and $9.  This year’s increase was $8.60 yearly.  I called to complain and the woman I spoke with was very sympathetic, but could do nothing.  She referred me to the Customer Loyalty department.  I explained to the gentleman that they shouldn’t raise my rate every year.  He said all companies do that.  I said “No, I’ve only raised my rates once in ten years.”  He countered that most companies do and I could see I was going now where with him and told him good bye.  Direct TV always sends an evaluation form via email after you interact with them.  I gave a very negative review and they called me the same day.  This gentleman I spoke with listened to all I had to say.  I asked him how much money does Direct TV spend on advertising trying to recruit new customers, he said he didn’t know.  I said I figured that, but they should develop a customer loyalty program to retain current customers.  When you have someone for 10 years, cap an increase to a set amount and when someone goes over 20 they should be grandfathered into their latest rate.  What does it cost to keep me as a customer, it should be negligible.  Yes, increases are necessary, but not increases just for increases sake.  I also pointed out my “endorsement” I give them by having the Direct TV logo come up every time my guests turn on a TV.  I have over 3,000 guests visit my Inn every year and don’t charge Direct TV for my implied endorsement.  For what it’s worth, he said I made good points and he would pass my ideas on to the appropriate people

Obviously, we’ve had an extremely warm winter, so far.  A couple of weeks ago we had a very heavy snow storm, the weight of the snow was very heavy, we didn’t get that much snow.

I wasn’t too happy with these arborvitaes, they were tall and spindly.  I was thinking of taking them out anyway.  They were blocking too much light out of the Parlor and Allamanda.  So I cut the bottom branches off so the weight would continue to pull the roots out.  They are now gone:

See how tall and spindly the Arborvitae is next to the yellow bay window.

I should have a new parking lot next month, I’m so excited.  They are going to dig the old one out, excavate to a proper depth, put a liner down, larger aggregate base topped with smaller aggregate and then pave it and do the top, and stripe it.

Also, Window MIke was over Sunday and took measurements to replace the six windows in the Loft (my space) that my become the new Ruellia, my first first floor guest room.  More to come on this.

Have a great day,



I want to be one of the first to announce my intention to run for president of the United States in 2020.  I thought I should announce my platform straight up.  I don’t think I have a chance in hell to gain any traction in this.  But if you read the following and have experience as a campaign manager and think I make sense, please contact me.  I’m not looking for donations, nor even supporters at this point.  That will come in the future, if you are interested.

I’ve tried to list my platform by things I find most important first and the things not as urgent later on.

#1  Eliminate the Electoral College for a primer on the Electoral College please follow this link.  If you remember high school civics class, our founding fathers were so brilliant, I think they were probably the same aliens that taught the Egyptians how to build the pyramids.  I had forgot a lot of what I learned in civics class until recently with things that occurred with President Obama and now Trump.  As the news outlets have talked about the brilliance of our Constitution, I am in aware of how brilliant our founding fathers were.  At our nation’s founding, most Americans had never attended formal schooling and couldn’t read and write.  This is the reason the Electoral College was formed.  We could debate how well our school system is, but by far most Americans can read a newspaper, watch the news on whatever devise they are comfortable with and be informed.

#2 Eliminate PACs, corporations are not persons and have no right influencing our electoral process.

#3 Fund job growth by moving subsidies from fossil fuel interests to renewable.  China is bragging they intend to be the largest solar producer in the world, we need to take this advantage.

#4 Create jobs by stimulus geared towards water and sewerage replacement instead of roads.  Make local agencies create 50 year replacement plans to qualify for infrastructure grants, so we don’t again get our basic necessity water and sewage so severely compromised again.

#5 Take subsidies from for profit rail lines and put that money towards road and bridge replacement.  Separate for profit rail line designation from commuter rail.

#6 Prohibit drug manufacturers from trying to tell doctors how to do their jobs through demand pull advertising.

#7 Free four year college degrees for students that maintain a 3.0 GPA

#8  Eliminate capital punishment.  Besides killing someone is wrong and much of the world has already done this.  The cost for special housing on death row and the legal costs are two other reasons.  Substitute life in prison without the possibility for parole.

#9 All federal agencies will be required to reduce their budget by 10% each year through efficiencies, not service reductions.  Things like Allegheny County Community College has less enrollment than in the past.  Instead of paying for the up keep for the unused Visual Arts building on the corner of Galveston and Lincoln Avenues, they leased the property to the Pittsburgh Police Department as their new training facility.  If we force agencies to think like a business, (I turn my heat down to 50 degrees when I don’t have guests.  I’m comfortable at that temperature with my long sleeved t shirt and hoodie and save money on my heating bill.)

This is my initial platform, if you have any suggestions or want to suggest additional planks, please email me at

Thanx and have a great day,


Hi Guys,

Sorry, I hit Publish meaning to hit Preview before finishing up.

I was working on a post I was going to post this past weekend and then Trump signed his executive order banning Muslims from seven countries and the more I thought about this, the more I felt I needed to respond.  Let me start I did not vote for Trump, nor did I support Clinton.  I didn’t like Trump’s racist and inflammatory statements.  I never considered him very smart.  He won the election legally and I was resigned to accept him.

I agree with a lot of what he says, government is  way too big and unyielding and needs to be downsized.  I think we need increased homeland security.  I was hoping he would surround himself with intelligent advisors that could influence a  rational decisions  instead of all of his unsubstantiated stances during his campaign.

What was one of the first controversies of his administration?  The candidate with “small hands”  🙂 became president and was upset with the reported size of the crowd at his inauguration.  Typical, he claimed it was the largest crowd ever at an inauguration.  When people disagreed with him, and showed pictures of his crowd compared to President Obama’s first and second inaugurations, he claimed it was the angle of the photograph.  When they showed aerial photographs of the inaugurations, he then claimed it was the white covering the Park Service put down to protect the grass.  He then said it was the first time they put the white covering down.  When the news media produced photos from both President Obama’s inaugurations showing white ground covers, he never backed down.  I don’t recall if it was one of his major spokespersons Kellyanne  Conway or press secretary Spicer that dismissed the discrepancy as an alternative opinion.  I’m not interested in a president that lives in an alternative reality.  They never addressed the information retrieved from Washington’s Metro system for the 2017 inaugaration of 193,000.  At President Obama’s first inauguration had 513,000 Metro riders by 11 am, at President Obama’s second inauguration there was 317,000 riders by 11 am.  Even President Bush’s second inauguration there was 197,000 by 11 am.  Maybe a couple thousand of Trump’s attendees all arrived by limousine?  🙂

Trump’s press secretary Spicer said the murder in Quebec was why Trump instituted the Muslim ban, did Spicer fail to notice it was a white guy that murdered Muslims?

Trump announced his ban on immigration from the seven Muslim countries on Friday.  I didn’t like it, first of all, I like diversity.  It didn’t seem right and after all the uproar over the weekend I learned how poorly thought out this executive order was.  What about residents with green cards?  And others already vetted?  Possibly the worst part are the people in those countries that have risked their lives and the lives of their families to assist our war effort as translators, drivers, etc. that were offered visas to enter our country for their service.  This is something I have been watching a good bit lately.  There’s been a number of service members going to bat for Iraqis that they worked with trying to get their visa.  Like Ali & Karim.    In 2008  Congress enacted a special visa program for these locals that assisted our efforts because of the severe threat to them for assisting the American.

This is my biggest fear of Trump, emotional, non thought out actions.  A good thing I’m seeing is when Trump does one of his faux pas and the media responds, there’s a major up tick.  After reporting one of Trump’s faux pas the New York Times got their biggest subscription increase in years as did another main stream media publication.  Since Friday, the ACLU has had more people sign up with them as well.  I love the response by so many Americans taking to the airports and elsewhere expressing support for our fellow humans the Muslims.

I’m not particularly friendly when outside, I pretty much mind my own business, like when I take da kidz for their walks.  But since this divisive presidential campaign, I have made a concerted effort to speak to people that look different than I do.  Please join me, maybe even come up with some snappy moniker and hash tag.  Start a movement like Give Peace a Chance, Just Say No, Black Lives Matter, etc.

To end this post on a more positive note:

I went over to visit my neighbors Paula and Lenny last night.  Paula complained about Ester.  They have two outdoor cats and leave the outer front door open so the cats have some shelter.  That’s where they feed and leave water for the cats.  Paula went out one evening to check on the cats, Missy the submissive female was just sitting there watching Ester eat the cat food, even Timothy Socks, the aggressive male was just watching.  Paula recognized my fat girl (not Rayzette, but Ester my other fat girl).  Speaking of fat girls, I took Rayzette down to the Humane Society to weigh her.  The diet is helping, she’s dropped from 93# to 92.6#.  We obviously have some work to do yet.

Nice things happening in the neighborhood.  In addition to both halves of the duplex across the street having new owners and are in the process of being remodeled.  Arlen moved City Books from Southside right down the street to Galveston and is doing well there, at least with me.  I get all my books there.  They are finishing up with the artist’s studio in the old Bey Flower Shop, my side of the street just past Carmi.  Some developer bought both the Shamrock (nuisance bar) four doors down from me and Duke’s, a quiet bar around the corner on Allegheny.  The down side is I will be loosing Carmi, the best soul food in the city.  I hear Carlene & Mike have lined up a new location.  I looked at Duke’s with Jeff from Peppi’s thinking of maybe doing a joint effort there.  I don’t recall what he was asking for it, but it was a great deal.  It included the liquor and restaurant licenses and 5 apartments upstairs.  Everything was pretty rough, but the five apartments upstairs were basically just rooms for rent.  If you combined and remodeled them you could easily get 2 -3 decent apartments and local rents are running around $1,000/month.  So $2,000 to $3,000 monthly income could really help cover the mortgage and renovations.  Duke’s is not in Allegheny West, it’s in Manchester.  Allegheny West has Benjamins & the Modern Cafe as local watering holes.  The Mexican War Streets has the Monterrey Pub as their local stop.  Manchester does not have a local watering hole.  So if they do a decent job, they have a lot of potential.  Duke’s doesn’t need to be a gut job, there’s some cute things they could keep and mainly open it up a bit (for one thing I would do is un-brick the curved windows to let some good light in.

Speaking of food and books, City of Asylum (whom I love) just opened their restaurant Casellua.  It’s a wine, cheese and small plates style.

Also, Pittsburgh is joining the latest craze food halls.  The new owners of Oxford Centre are getting ready to open Oxford Market.  Food Halls are like food courts in malls, but definitely upscale from the fast food malls have.  They will be similar to Smallman Galley in the Strip, but much bigger.  The concept started in San Fransisco with the Ferry Building and moved to NYC and other major cities.  There’s close to 100 food halls, I spoke about the trend about a year ago.  If you missed or forgot that post, the Post Gazette article I linked Oxford Market does a nice job of explaining the trend.

That it for today,



Just got back from Lake Worth, Florida.  Had a wonderful week.  Stayed at The Mango Inn.  Chet & Staff do a nice job. Friendly staff, clean rooms & grounds, excellent breakfasts.  Since they don’t offer breakfast until 8 (same as me)  🙂 and I get up early, I would walk over to the beach and get a coffee at Benny’s on the Beach, drink it, read my book and watch the sun rise.  I took a picture each morning, here’s two of my favorites:

And another:

What a great way to start a day.  🙂

I had about a dozen friends on my dance card for lunch, dinner or cocktails up in the Lake Worth/West Palm area.  John is an architect/interior designer that stayed with me when I first opened.  He came down from Manhattan to work on Nancy’s new West Palm residence and we’ve stayed in touch.  He now lives in Ft Lauderdale.  My suggestion was we go to Monkey Jungle, one of my favorites down in South Florida.  Turns out he hates monkeys and wanted to go to John Deering’s Vizcaya in South Miami.  It was something always on my list but never made it.  It turned out to be such a great choice.  I loved it, here’s the front:

They built a barge as a breaker to protect the mansion:

Originally there was a pergola on the one end.  When he had parties, they would shuttle the guests out on a gondola.

I’ve often seen things called a casino, I always assumed it meant a gambling hall, I guess I assumed that because of the years I worked at the Atlantic City casinos.  In Italian, it can also mean small room or brothel 🙂  Vizcaya also has a casino, small room.  Mr. Deering seemed to love coral rock, you find it everywhere.  Here’s his casino from the outside:

This inside picture shows some of his use of coral rock:

And this picture shows some detail work in the original orchid garden:

I was planning on returning today, Monday, January 23.  It’s just over an 18 hour drive and initially planned get up early this morning and drive up.  Sunday was my free day and thought I’d drive half way, pull over for awhile, watch the Steelers in some hotel.  I drove through all that nasty weather the South had on Sunday, every five minutes they had tornado warnings break into the radio.  I got into Virginia, grabbed a bite, got a second wind and decided to push on through and listen to the game on the radio, maybe stop at a bar in Beckley and watch the last quarter.  I heard the first two quarters then went through the tunnels on I77 and lost that station.  Apparently, the Steelers aren’t real popular in southern WV, couldn’t find another station strong enough to hear well.  I was arriving close to Bekley when Roethlisberger threw the interception and I decided why waste my time.  Got in around 2 am safe and sound to the great joy of da kidz, they were dancing and jumping.  Dogs always make you feel special.

That’s it today guys,




We are in PIttsburgh’s Restaurant Week, a great time to check out new dining options.  There’s a lot of great restaurants participating.

This Saturday City Books, right down the street from me is hosting Kyle Simpson Jazz Collective from 7:30 – 8:30.  I love having Arlen in our neighborhood, she’s such a pleasure.

Speaking of books, City of Asylum’s book store in their multipurpose venue Alphabet City opens January 28.  Finally, something’s happening in the Garden Block.  Like Arlen, if you want a non Barnes and Noble or Amazon experience, check these folks out.  We have a lot of great non profits over here like City of Asylum and Brother’s Brother, one of my favorite charities.  Brother’s Brother has one of the hightest percentages of money raised going to their cause, not overhead, like the ASPCA.  Who has those heart wrenching TV ads, but most of the funds they raise goes to salaries and executive offices.  Brother’s Brother’s executive offices looks like you are walking into a 1960’s stylish office that’s been in use for over 60 years. It’s pretty funny.

I was almost victim of a phone scam.  Thursday before New Years Eve weekend (and the final Steeler’s regular season home game of the season) I received a call from an Unavailable phone number (red flag #1), but not a restricted number.  Dee was off and I had rooms I needed cleaned and was busy getting ready for the weekend.  He identified himself as a Duquesne Light technician giving me his required courtesy call that my electricity was scheduled to be disconnected that day for non payment.  When I explained I was current and should have cancelled checks (he said, he’s just a technician and if I wanted to discuss this, I needed to call this 800 phone numbe)r.  I called it and it was answered “Thank you for calling Duquesne Light.”  I told him about the previous call and he asked some information to identify the account.  He said my account was not current and he quoted a number similar to one of my recent bills. I’ve had a problem with Duquesne in the past where I switched Home Depot’s check in their envelope and their check in Home Depot’s envelope.  Duquesne returned HD’s check and HD cashed theirs.  So when Duquesne called me over that, we did a ACH (where you give them the routing number of your checking account and you approve the transaction).  He was giving me pressure to settle up right away to keep my electric from being turned off.  Being suspicious, I offered my credit card number (very safe, I have USAA and they are awesome).  He said the money wouldn’t hit Duquesne’s coffers in time, it would be at least a day and once the shut off was scheduled, payment had to be received that day.  (Red flag #3)  I then offered an ACH transaction, he said no for the same reason (red flag #4).  He wanted me to remit payment through green dot money pak instant pay.  I had never heard of this. He explained how it works. (red flag #5) I had the cash and was considering it.  He identified the Right Aid right down on Brighton Avenue had a Green Dot machine.  I went down there with lots of doubts.  I walked in and Nicole was working, I sort of know her from going in there.  I asked her how the machine worked.  She asked me why and I told her, she just smiled and said it’s a scam.  You gotta love Nicole.  I tried to tip her for being the last piece in my doubts and she refused, saying she could loose her job for accepting a tip.  I mailed her a thank you.

I called Duquesne Light and they confirmed my account was current and they were aware of this scam and had a warning on their website.  She told me I should do a police report, which I did.  I spoke with Jeff that owns Peppis right down the street and he said they tried him twice.

I called WTAE news and they came out to do a story

I had a phone call last week from “Duquesne Light”, saying I was scheduled for a shut off that day.  I told her they had tried this a week ago and then I told her unpleasant things about her mother.


Want to do something unusual?  Hollow Oak Land Trust is hosting an Owl Prowl January 18.  You traipse through the woods with the executive director of the Trust and Robert Mulvhill, omitholgist at the National Aviary.  They will have an owl caller.  You walk along with him, turn the lights out and he calls the owls.  When they approach, you can turn your lights on to see them.  The event is free, but you have to be a member to go, it costs $20 a year and I assume you would be able to go on their annual salamander crawl in the spring, kind of a two for one.  🙂  More info at their website or by calling them at 412-417-5825.

When I came out of the office this morning at 5:30 to take da kidz for their walk, I heard some load rantings coming from the west.  I thought some drunk was rambling on over around the 7/11.  When I came into the dining room, he sounded close, I made da kidz STAY and opened the side door he was sitting on the rocking chair giving a profanity laced tirade about the heroin addiction problem.  I had guests in the room right over it, Chenille.  I told him he was on private property and I wanted him to leave.  He just looked at me.  I told him I had two very large dogs behind the door that it would be legal for me to sic them on him since he was on private property.  (What I didn’t say was the attack would probably include wiggling butts and licks.  🙂 ).  911 knows me, when I gave the address of the “emergency”, the lady said The Parador?.  I said yes.

Gotta run, take care,


Hi All,

Wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

A couple of my latest projects.  I stripped the canvas off an old steamer trunk (if you’ve been here, you could have seen several others that I have already done)  Here’s my latest as a coffee table in Bromeliad:

My mom lives in a senior apartment building with 51 units.  She wanted to give all her fellow residents a gift, so I made 51 Chris Mouses:

When I was executive steward at Resorts in Atlantic City, I made these for all my dishwashers, the first Christmas I was there.  I made 125 and did I get some strange looks when I gave them their pay check and a Chris Mouse.  It was pretty funny.

I frequent the Ohio River Blvd Antique Mall and find some great finds.  Usually they are reasonably priced.  This lamp was a steal at $3.00:

The radiator saga is finally at an end, a year ago I wanted to replace those huge radiators in African Tulip and Bird of Paradise.  I got two from Construction Junction and the staff at CJ said they could be used with either steam or hot water heat (I have hot water).    After stripping them and repainting them last winter, my plumber said they could only be used with a steam system.  So I got two more  and cleaned them up and repainted them.  You can sort of see one behind the table with the lamp on it above in Bird of Paradise.  The other was installed in African Tulip:

This is what it replaced in African Tulip:

So cute and compact.

I finally found an electrician I think I like.  He’s got the lights on my sign out front working again (that was a challenge, because the whole thing’s custom and welded together).  And he fixed the light over the back gate that’s been broken for a while working again.  He’s coming back next week to maybe finally install the LED light I have for the telephone pole in the back of the parking lot (or telly pole in Pittsburghese) and some small projects with securely mounting some receptacles around the Inn and things like that.

Speaking of electricians, sort of, I had security cameras installed this summer.  I have some difficulty accessing the system from the desk top in the Office (I think my security for my computer keeps kicking the plug in out) and when I’m here, my iPhone doesn’t like it.  The iPhone works fine when I’m away from here.  And the surface pro (I hate) works fine with the cameras.

I have been thinking of stopping sending printed holiday cards.  It’s a lot of work cleaning up my data base to send to the printer.  There’s just over 5,000.  The expense of postage is pretty big, the printing of the cards is fairly reasonable.  There’s getting the picture for the front, which is usually fun.  Then all the cards I get back from the post office.  I guess 200 out of 5,000 isn’t bad.    By far most of the returned cards are people that haven’t visited in five years or more (my assumption is they moved without a forwarding address).  My photographer Roy Engelbrecht is absolutely amazing.  I’m adding a page to my website Holidays, I have pictures I’ve taken which gives an idea of the festive look, but his are absolutely amazing. He was up last week taking pictures of my decorations.  While here he told me his thoughts for next year’s card.  I don’t know how he’s going to pull it off, but if he can, it will be the most memorable card.

Da kidz aren’t terrorizing Lester, Ester & Fester’s son.  He was sitting up on the shelf eating his peanuts with my nut cases jumping up and down barking at him, unfazed.  The squirrels and birds had a good Christmas breakfast this morning.

So I wanted to get a blog out wishing everyone happy and safe holidays,




Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include poet, playwright, Nobel Prize winner TS Eliot (1888), composer George Gershwin (1898), Shamu (1985) and Johnny Appleseed (1774).  The first televised presidential debate between JF Kennedy and Richard Nixon (1960).  The West Side Story premiered on Broadway (1957).

It’s been a busy summer, great guests and now that fall is almost with us, weekdays are slowing down and I should finally be able to get some time to devote to my long delayed blog.

I had my 10th anniversary party in July, which was a great success, with many friends, business associates, neighbors and past guests.  My friend Ed Cyphers of Sounds Like Fun DJ service spun tunes in the Court Yard while pianist Kyle Uricchio had so much fun in the Parlor, he was supposed to play for two hours and ended up playing all four hours.  He plays contemporary piano and vocal performance for live entertainment and ambiance.  You can contact him through his email, or call him at 412-715-7433 to inquire about a booking. I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t mention my very dear friends Lisa & Mike from Fabled Table catering large and small events.  To say their food was spectacular would be an understatement.  My nephews Joseph and Michael provided valet service and cousin Jeannie’s daughter and friend were the bartenders.  My friends from college that still live in State College came down a day early and were extremely helpful with fine tuning the finishing touches, I would have been lost without them.  A funny story, my sister Susan wanted to make desserts.  So she made tons of individual cheese cakes, I had hundreds left over and was talking to my friends Lenny & Paula across the street and they suggested giving them to Judge, a friend of theirs that lives in senior housing in East Liberty.  So we packaged them up and Judge put them in the day room, by the time he came downstairs from helping one his mobility challenged friends, the cheese cakes were basically all gone.  They made a lot of old people’s day.  🙂

This summer’s projects included finally hanging the refinished bottom shutters in the Parlor.  I fixed the roof leak from the parking lot porch, did plaster repairs in both the main staircase and Ruellia’s staircase.  I wire brushed, scraped and painted the iron fence across the front.  Last fall’s window replacement is still paying off, last summer’s AC ran $1,700; this summer was warmer and my largest bill was under $1,000.  The next project I need to accomplish soon is cleaning up and painting the two new radiators for African Tulip and Bird of Paradise before the weather changes and I have to turn the heat on.  There were two huge radiators in both rooms.  The one in African Tulip was actually leaning in to the room away from the wall.  I thought the weight was causing problems with the floor joists.  Actually it was compressing the quarter sawn oak flooring.  If you read my blog this past spring, I complained that I had gone out to Construction Junction and told they guy out there that I needed two smaller hot water radiators (I knew there’s a difference between hot water radiators and steam radiators-some are interchangeable-most steam radiators only have an inlet, not an outlet.  This I learned after cleaning them up and had John come out to install them.  He pointed out that those radiators only had the one outlet and could only be used with a steam system.  So all that work was in vain.)  The Construction Junction guy told me those radiators would work either system.  Wrong!  I got two hot water radiators, now and need to get them cleaned up and painted before turning the heat on.  Here’s my next project:


I also cleaned up the deck in the beach and re stained it.  Although I didn’t do it, I had cameras installed.  I’m sitting here with the camera in the parking lot on and can see when guests arrive ahead of time.  I hung Edison lights in the Courtyard for the anniversary party along the Courtyard wall and across the Loft in the Carriage House and like them so much, I’ve kept them up:


They look kind of blurry in this picture, but very cool in real life.  Paula across the street likes the lights so much that she thinks I run them across the front of the Ballroom at the end of the parking lot.  Unfortunately, electricity is not readily available there.  I will look into changing that.  (I have two more strings in the basement).

This month, the Oxford English Dictionary added the Pittsburgh term jagoff to the dictionary!  Although I seldom use the word, I love it.  I can be a derogatory term for just about anyone one or anything without being really offensive.

I’m adding a new page to my website, ticket swap.  I have a lot of guests that have season tickets for the Steelers and don’t want or can’t attend all the games.  Instead of going through Ticket Stub or one of those on line agencies with the seller and buyer both paying high fees.  You can post the tickets on my site with contact info with no fees.  🙂  Nick’s setting this up for Steelers, Penguins and Pitt tickets.

I thought Ester & Fester gave Lester a sibling, I’ve been seeing this little waving over the grass.  I finally got a good look at the little one, it wasn’t a baby squirrel.  It’s chipmunk, I did a Face Book contest, name the newest at the Parador and Maureen Kowlski suggested Jester.  So here’s two pictures of Jester, it’s so cute:



That’s it for today, enjoy the break in the heat until we start  complaining about the cold (I’ll be the first one there)  🙂