Hi,

What a nice weekend.  Bill and Pam were back again brought their son Nate in to take a test for Penn Culinary School, it has a new name, but that’s where I went.  Annette & Mark, repeat friends also, came to the ‘burg to pack up the kids from school.  Dawn and Ed came by for a get away other than their normal Steelers visit.  There were several other “new” friends that came by for the first time, but when Matthew and Jana checked in, Matt told me they were here on a referral from Ernesto.  Ernesto and Jessica was one of the nicest weddings I’ve had the honor to host.  If you’ve been here, the hand carved wooden fruit on my front round dining room table is a gift from his wonderful parents.

The fund raiser for the YMCA was quite fun.  The numbers aren’t in yet, so I don’t know how much they were able to raise for their good deeds, but all the guests certainly had fun.  I know they had over a hundred guests, many I remember from last year.  Linda I did a real nice catering.  Brian O’Neil was here signing copies of his book The Paris of Appalachia, a book about Pittsburgh. A real good book.

I got the tickets for the Warhol and Carnegie Museums of Natural History, Art and Architecture yesterday.  The Carnegie sells them to me for $9 (about 1/2 off), I sell them to any of my guests for that.  So anyone booking here, just let me know that you’d like them.

Well, I guess this is going to be a short one, good night,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow the YMCA is hosting their annual fund raiser here.  This is the second year I’ve hosted it for them.  They stopped by this afternoon and pretty much have everything set up.  They’re expecting about 100 guests tomorrow.  They are having wine tastings for new and old style wines, there are about seven massive gift baskets that will be silent auctioned off and some art work.  Linda I is doing the food and there is going to be live music.  Should be pretty exciting.

Stephen started back yesterday.  During his lay off, he got into orgami somewhat and you should see the new presentation we are doing with the toilet paper.  Up until, we’ve done the traditional triangle fold on the last piece of TP.  This is the traditional presentation you see in any hotel.  Stephen does a triple fold with the end two pieces of TP making a basket.  Then with another single sheet of TP, he does a fan fold and puts it in the “basket”.  Very sharp presentation.

I use Google Analytic’s to track where my visitors to my web site come from.  I started seeing referrals from Church Photography’s web site and was wondering who that was.  Then I remember last year when Russ & Natalie got married (their wedding and reception were elsewhere, but they stayed here).  They brought in Scott Church from Lebanon, PA as their photographer.  Scott’s a nice guy and does great work.  Well, Natalie called me yesterday and Scott wants to hold a photography class here.  The people taking Scott’s class will be staying here Friday and Saturday, November 5 & 6 and will be attending lectures and then taking photos around the property.  I gave them a great price on the event space as long as any published photos are attributed to “taken at The Parador”.  It should be a lot of fun.

I finished painting all the white trim in the kitchens.  Besides being a kitchen and all the wear and tear from that, it is also the most used room.  I bring almost everything in through the kitchen, the laundry room is off the kitchen and laundry baskets bang off the doorways, everything going to or from the basement comes through there (all my little projects) banging trim-you get the idea.  The kitchen was starting to look pretty tired and it looks so pristine right now.  And the white makes everything so nice and bright.

Well, have a good night and we’ll chat again soon,

ed

Hi,

I am so excited, Stephen’s back tomorrow.  He’s my weekday housekeeper and handyman that I had to lay off in January.  He’s such a good guy, meticulous and great attitude.  He was such a help last summer and fall, my mind’s already in over drive coming up with projects for him.

I finished cleaning up Betty’s woods last week from all the winter damage and then we had that wind storm last weekend.  I hope when I go out there I don’t find another mess.  For a city guy, I certainly have cut up my fair share of trees this spring.

I had three comments for my last post, one was from Jessi right down the street at Light of Life, a great organization that helps the homeless people and abused women.  Their administrative offices are right down the street and they have an outreach for abused women in the neighborhood and you would never know these services go on here, they keep such a low profile.  And the men’s program around the block, the only way you know they are there are the guys smoking cigarettes on the sidewalk, if it wasn’t for that, you’d never know they were there either.  Not only do they do great work, they’re good neighbors.

And the other two comments were from people trying to get me to post a link to their web site.  Dish network again tried and some travel agency.  All they do is say something to the effect “Great blog” and then a link to their site.  Talk about cheesy attempts for free exposure………..

Talking about “cheesy attempts”, ModCloth definitely is not cheesy.  They sent me a link to their new clothing line that they shot many of the pictures here, they even named a dress after The Parador (of course that one is already sold out, did you guys have any doubts?) :)  Here’s a link to “my” dress, the Parador.  ModCloth is a Pittsburgh based clothing design and sales of retro styled woman’s clothing.  Very cool stuff, you should check them out, they only sell on line.

Kevin C was here yesterday starting work.  I don’t remember if I have talked about him or not, but he’s opening a line of charcuterie (spell check didn’t recognize that word) in the Terminal Shops I think towards the end of May.  The Terminal Shops is the old produce terminal on Smallman Street.  For those of you from Pittsburgh or familiar with The Strip, it’s that long brick building that’s anchored on the east side with Contemporary Crafts. The URA owns the building and when Apple somebody moved out (Apple delivers grocery items to offices, homes, etc-but they merged with one of my favorite stores in The Strip  Right by Nature, a local health food store with very competitive prices and Apple’s space became available), the URA is renting out stalls for local vendors.  I assume they are setting up something like The Readding Terminal in Philly, but on a smaller scale.  Anyway, Kevin needed a licensed commercial kitchen to prep all his foods and asked if he could use mine.  His hours are flexible, so he works around when I need my kitchen for breakfast.  Nice guy and seems pretty passionate about what he’s doing.  I’m glad to help out another small business, particularly a start up.  I had so many great people help me when I first opened The Parador in Florida, Wanda, Lou and Nancy come to mind immediately and maybe one day I’ll pass their stories on.  What great people and I didn’t even know them before I opened my first bed and breakfast.  By the way, charcuterie refers to people that work with meat, like pates, galantienes and different kind of dried and cured meats like gourmet prosciutto.  He’s planning on using all local and organic meats.  As Kevin progresses, he’ll be in this blog on a regular bases and when he’s ready to open, I’ll definitely give you the details.

Have a great day, it’s beautiful weather here,

ed

Hi,

It was quite the nice day today, earlier.  The Arondo Donex (the tall grasses up front by the fence) are finally poking their heads out of the mulch.  They always start late.  Also, the elephant ears also are shooting up new little leaves.  All good signs.  Many of the flowers in the other garden are springing up as well.  The hibiscus I moved over to the wall still aren’t showing any growth, it’s still early though for them.  The weather certainly changed late this afternoon.  It got very windy, gusts of heavy down pours and the temperature’s dropping.  We’re on the way from the upper 70’s to the fifties and that’s going to be the high for the next couple of days.  At least it’s not snowing and freezing, so I’m not complaining.

Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.  Allegheny West neighborhood association, the neighborhood I live in had their meeting the other day and I was in attendance.  They were all excited because they seem to have received an agreement by Allegheny Community College, North Campus not to sell parking spaces to Steeler fans on home games.  As a little back drop, Allegheny West has sued the Steelers and the Rooneys (the owners of the Steelers) on several occasions.  They hate the noise, litter, congestion and drunkenness of the fans.  I’ve heard one resident suggest that the Steelers should send their housekeeping staff after the games to clean the litter in our neighborhood.  I get more litter from McDonald’s down the street than I do from the Steeler fans.  There’s roughly 1,800 parking spots associated with CCAC, so this agreement is going to put 1,800 more people looking for parking spaces.  The Steeler home games are going to fill the stadium with 65k fans each game, if they can park in CCAC’s lots or in the neighborhoods.  I personally think it would be better to keep the fans up in those lots than driving the neighborhood streets looking for a spot.

Well, that’s about it for today, I’m going watch the Penguins beat the Senator’s butts and work on the manuscript.

ed

Good Morning,

It’s only been about twelve hours and I’m posting again, impressed?  :)  I had a great idea this morning.  While reading the paper, there was an article about up coming concerts at Station Square’s amphitheater, Fort Pitt museum reopening and Old Economy Village reopening.  I was about to clip the articles out and put the articles on the dining room hutch where I usually put info like that for guests to peruse and thought “Why not blog it so someone can plan on attending one of these things ahead of time.”

So here we go, click on this hyperlink for Station Square’s summer concert series schedule.  Several of our local museums closed over the state budget crisis this past winter.  The Ft Pitt Museum and Blockhouse is reopening Saturday, now under the Heinz History Center.  The museum is open daily (I’m not sure about Mondays, most PGH museums are closed Mondays) from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Tickets are $5 for adults, the blockhouse is where the French and British battled over control of the three rivers at the point, a nice place to have a picnic right in Point State Park.  This Saturday and Sunday, they are running a shuttle between Ft Pitt and the History center and one price gets you in both (I think the History Center is more expensive, so I’m not sure what the price will be.  Either way, it’s a bargain.)

Also reopening this weekend is Old Economy Village in Ambridge.  This was the third and final home for the German Lutheran Separatists, America’s most successful communal group of it’s time.  It was founded in 1824 and ran until the commune was dissolved in 1905.  A non profit volunteer group, Friends of Old Economy Village has taken over the operation (the State still owns the property).  They are opening this Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.  They have a grand reopening special admission price of just ten cents, you can’t beat that.

One final thought for today, my blog’s been up since mid February.  I know some people read it because when some guests have checked in, they commented on it and then there was that lady that sent me an E-mail about a good dog trainer she knows when I was whining about RJ’s behavior.  Readers can place a comment on my posts, if they like.  The only two comments I received was from Dish Network when I was talking about my problems with my televisions and how my installer for DirecTV fixed things.  Two separate comments on two separate days saying my post on DirecTV was good and then a link to Dish.  You can’t post a comment to the blog without coping one of those security squiggly lines.  So it had to be a real person and not a bot.  I find it interesting the Dish would have someone mining the Internet looking for blogs that they can comment on and hopefully the blogger will post their comments with a link to their web site.

Well, have a great day.  I’m going to spend some time working on the manuscript and then walk over and see my friend Jeff at the Inn on the Mexican War Streets.  We’ve been chatting about the lack of support from our local casino and the arrangement I have with the Carnegie Museum.  And, I’m getting quite good at doing these hyperlinks.  I don’t know if anyone noticed how much cleaner they are now.  And I now do it with just a few key strokes, it used to be a bit of a project to include them for you.

ed

Hi,

It’s been a few days, again.  The flowers are definitely showing their heads these days.  I transplanted those super cool, cold hardy hibiscus from by the trellis to over at the wall by the water feature.  I haven’t seen any green there yet.  They do normally come up a little later than the other plants, I hope they’re OK.

I heard from my college friends, Dave and Claire, they’re planning a trip here the first week in May.  They’ve been living in Angola Africa for the last three years.  I usually get to see them once a year when they make their trip back to the states.  Always great to see them and great stories of safaris and other exotic trips.

I went to the Western PA bed and breakfast association www.westernpabandb.com.  There’s over two dozen members, mostly from north western PA and eastern Ohio.  I’m the farthest south.  We talked about recruiting more members for the Pittsburgh area and even south into Greene county so we cover the entire western portion of PA.  They, we, are creating an association Facebook page and then we all become fans of that and fans of each other.  They had James from www.bryanserver.com stop by to talk about social networking.  We also talked about cost effective ways to get our association better known.  Many thanx to our host, Rose from Chapel Valley Estate Bed and Breakfast www.chapelvalleyestate.com.  A very nice Inn with a wonderful country setting just past historic New Castle.  If Rose’s breakfast are anything like the lunch she served us, it’s a winner.  :)

We had our neighborhood association meeting here at the Parador with Allegheny West www.alleghenywest.org.  We’ve had our differences in the past (a subject for future posts), but they are my neighborhood association and like to keep informed about what’s happening in my neighborhood.  I generally try to make most meetings and went over to Calvary Methodist Church, where the meetings are held.   The president, John M broke his collar bone yesterday riding his bike and no one else had a key, so we met here.  There was a fair amount of good information, but of course, they had to continue their assault on the Steelers.  This time, as is their current normal, it’s parking.  Eight days out of the year, we have a Steeler game.  I don’t understand why they hate the Steelers like they do, a limited days in the Fall and Winter we have some excitement here and the neighborhood organization hates it.   The Steelers were here at Three Rivers Stadium (the stadium before Heinz Field)  before just about anyone currently in the neighborhood was here.  Why would you move to a location that has something offensive to you and hope it goes away?

Good night,

ed

Hi,

I had lunch yesterday with Judy from The Carnegie Museums www.carnegiemuseums.org yesterday at The Warhol www.warhol.org. Judy is in charge of corporate sponsorship for the Carnegies.  We had a great conversation about The Parador, naturally, but also what she’s doing to promote the Carnegies and why.  Lunch was pleasant, they had pretty much ran out of sandwiches, but the quiche was good.  After wards, we went up to the fifth floor to see Bunny Yeager’s show.  Bunny’s in her 90’s now, but was one of the early Playboy Bunnies and an amazing woman.  When you go in the gallery at the end left side of the floor, there’s a series of photographs of stunning women.  Some in bathing suites, some in high end fashion outfits, most were blond, some where brunette.  I was thinking that they all looked a lot alike, that Bunny had very specific taste in what she wanted to photograph.  We asked the attendant outside the room about the photos and she explained they were all of Bunny over the years.  Dah me.  Bunny would make her own outfits, set the scene, set the lighting, position the camera and then have the photographer snap the picture.  Pretty amazing.

Vera from Office Depot called me this morning.  She gave me the most sincere apology I think I have ever gotten.  She has worked extensively to correct the error and I am thoroughly impressed.  It seems she has tracked down all the places my name had been given to and had my name removed.  She asked for my patience until the end of May to be sure I don’t get any more unwanted mail because of Office Depot.  I am certainly impressed and Office Depot now has a loyal customer.

I went to LMS Greenhouse and Nursery Tuesday to get my Jack’s fertilizer.  Jack’s is the best water soluble fertilizer available to the general public.  LMS is in Allison Park, which is a bit of a trip from here.  I’ve gotten my Jack’s from them in the past, but never really paid a lot of attention to what they carry.  They have a great selection of tropicals, some are hybrids you can leave out all year, some you have to bring in when it gets cold.  All look very healthy.  One of the things I like about them, they have large specimens for people that want instant gratification (that’s me frequently :) ), and you pay the price for LMS growning them.  Or, if you are frugal (which is me frequently :) ), they have smaller versions at very affordable prices.  One of my happy scores was a small elk horn fern.  I had this gorgeous specimen in Florida that I brought up here and ended up killing.  I think I’ll do OK with this guy now.  When I first moved back up here, there was so much going on that I didn’t give the plants the attention they deserved.  I also lost this fantastic pony tail palm from my poor tending.  The two pony tails I have now are not as unique as the triple trunk specimen I moved up here with, but I love them the same.

Madona and Danny were here about a month or so ago and when she got home, she sent two toys for da boiz and a plaque for me.  Well, RJ has fallen in love with this toy that is three cloth rings put together like a chain.  The the fool plays with that one a lot and when he has the end link in his mouth (as apposed to the center one), the other end drags on the floor.  Well, he’ll step in it and it will be caught on his leg.  He can’t figure out how to solve the problem, so he just hobbles around like that.  Of course his rude dad, just laughs at him.

Colin and his girlfriend should be arriving shortly, they are my only check-ins today.  (Colin used to live over in the Mexican War Streets, he moved back to NJ and is in for a visit).  After that, I’m headed out to Betty’s for our weekly visit, I’m bringing a roasted chicken and she’s happy.  :)

The Parador Inn of Pittsburgh now has a face book page, if anyone wants to become a fan.

I’ll ramble again soon,

ed

Good Morning,

Northside was really jumping yesterday afternoon.  The Pirates got 39,000 fans for their season opener.  There was cars and people everywhere.  And they won.

My head’s peeling.  When I was out at Betty’s on Thursday cutting up the fallen trees, I did take a bandanna, but had it wrapped as a sweat band instead of a head covering.  The trees in her woods just have buds, not leaves yet, so I was in the sun all afternoon.  You’d think at this point in my life, I’d have learned my lesson by now.

Lisa and Mike stopped by Sunday with the newly covered cushions for the Veranda wicker furniture.  The old fabric really wasn’t worn that bad, but it was a light color and really showed the dirt.  Besides them being all fresh and new, I like this pattern better than that tan with palm trees.  This fabric is black with tropical flowers and I think it fits the wicker furniture better.

Update on Office Depot.  When I called Vera, the customer service rep, last Thursday, she said Office Depot does not sell or share their mailing lists.  I faxed her a cover letter and copies of the two solicitations I received from the Pittsburgh Business Times and USPS with Allan G’s name on top, just as Office Depots catalogs were.  She called me back this morning to let me know that she was wrong, Office Depot does “rent” (was the word she used?) their mailing lists.  She apologized and claimed they have stopped this practice.  I told her that after a year of trying to get my address removed from their mailing list, in good faith, that they now had sold my name to others was just unacceptable.  What I want, is for Office Depot to get my name off these mailing lists, this is the only acceptable solution.  I am in this annoying position because of Office Depot’s initial incompetence and then greed.  If I receive another solicitation addressed to Alan G, I will pursue all avenues I can find to complain about Office Depot.  First of all will be a follow up to the Palm Beach County BBB (where Office Depot’s headquartered) and I believe the FTC is one venue I can pursue.  I’ll have to look into what other grief I can cause them.  As you can tell from past posts and this one, I hate corporate America and and their greed.  How we have just become statistics to them and how they tout in their ads how special we are to them.  Yet as they get bigger and bigger and turn more things over to automated systems, we end up on mailing lists and have to fight for over a year to be removed.  Yes, I’m ranting, I’m sorry.

I finally sent Jerry L an E-mail over the weekend.  Any of you that stayed at The Parador of the Palm Beaches, would remember Jerry as my Manager/Housekeeper.  Jerry was great.  We really haven’t kept in touch (my fault) since.  When I left, he took over managing the property for the new owner that was running it as short term stays, which meant intransigents which meant drugs.  (Not all intransigents are druggies, but you need to manage your property to keep that element out and the new owner was just concerned with the revenue, not the quality of renters).  So I hooked Jerry up with an acquaintance of mine that was running a motel up in West Palm.  My first two trips to Florida after moving back up here, I stayed at Sam’s place, but Jerry had already quit with no notice, I just had Sam’s side.  The motel was fairly rough, but my first year down there Sam told me of his plans and showed me how he was trying to clean the place up (so he said).  My second year down there, the place as so bad that when I came back to Pittsburgh, I put all my possessions I had with me down there in the Loft and fumigated them for bugs.  A couple of months later, friends of mine from the Mad Hatter bar in Lake Worth (where I used to tend bar) sent me an article about how the West Palm police had permanently closed the place because of drugs and prostitution.   In my E-mail to Jerry I passed this on to him.  He hadn’t heard and was glad for the update and then filled me in on his side of the story.  Always get both sides of the story.  I was surprised that Jerry would quit with no notice, but people do what they feel they must.  After hearing Jerry’s side, I’m surprised he put up with it as long as he did.  In his E-mail, he spoke of coming to Pittsburgh for a visit this summer to see the New Parador, I hope he makes it.  He was always a good guy and good friend, the best kind of employee anyone could ask for.

It was gorgeous this morning when I got up, all bright and sunny and sixty degrees.  It’s just got all overcast.  That’s OK, I don’t have any gardening to do today, so if it stays like this, it will encourage me to finish my Office project.  This weekend I purged my files, I don’t need warranties on appliances I had in Florida, nor do I need instructional newspaper articles on how to grow palm trees.  I would like to finish this so I can have a clear and uncluttered desk and get back to the manuscript.  Maybe this is just an excuse to put it off further, but I don’t think so.  When I was last working on the manuscript, I kept seeing the piles of paper on my desk and would get distracted.  I probably have the smallest pile of pending issues I have had in over a year.

Darn, I thought this was going to be just a short three liner post.  Have a great day all,

ed

Hi,

Well, I’m tired, sore and my bald head is sun burnt.  Went out to Betty’s today and almost finished cleaning up the woods from all the snow storm damage.  Anyone know someone that wants firewood?  Most of it’s cherry and there’s some big logs and a lot of smaller.  I then took her out to South Park’s Club House for some artery clogging deep fried fish sandwich and French fries.  All and all a pleasant afternoon and evening.

I finished the book, Stones into Classrooms.  A very good book, this is the third book I’ve read in the past few months on Afghanistan.  Those people’s culture is so different, I find it very intriguing to learn about.  Generally all we Americans know is the atrocities carried in the newspapers.  Greg not only gets into how important relationships are over there (more so than here), but also gets into how the different tribes and regions customs are so different.  Yet within their local codes and customs, they understand each other and know how to get along.  This is so different from the dynamics between the Sunnis and the Shiites in Iraq (not necessarily a good or bad thing).  He also describes the tribe that live in the highest habitable (if this word really describes the harshness of this area)  area of Afghanistan next to China and in the Himalayas.  Possibly the most interesting part of the book, for me.

Well, as I said, I’m sore, tired and sun burnt.

good night,

ed

Hi,

What a beautiful day.  Started fairly chilly, in the 30’s but officially hit sixty six degrees, but was over seventy by my thermostat.

Yesterday and today I finished up the Courtyard.  The gardens are all weeded and mulched.  The elephant ears are planted.  The water feature is cleaned and up and running.  It’s so cool to walk out into the courtyard and hear the water.  The buds on the white lilac tree have grown noticeably since Sunday.

Modcloth www.modcloth.com was here today to do their photo shoot for a new retro line of clothes they are debuting.    Very nice people, lots of pictures.  The outfits they were shooting were very cool also.  They were taking shots on the Veranda, in front of the Carriage House and even on the beach.  I look forward to when they post them to see how the backdrops (my spaces) look hopefully accentuating the outfits.

Spent some time sitting on the front porch reading my book, Turning Stones into Schools, by Greg Mortenson.  It is so nice to be able to sit on the porch again.  With as much as I love the Courtyard and hanging out on the Veranda, I also love sitting on the front porch watching the street traffic and seeing friends and neighbors you don’t see anywhere as much in the winter.  And speaking of Turning Stones into Schools, it’s a great book for anyone.  It about the Central Asia Institute (CAI) and their goal of stopping fanaticism by education.  They have been building schools in the remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  They’ve built schools in the heart of the Taliban controlled areas and extremely remote locations in the Himalayan mountains.  And they are focused on educating girls, because under the Taliban, girls have been pretty much forbidden to receive education.  What I found most interesting is how Greg describes the inner relationships that are important in those cultures.  His enthusiasm is contagious also.

Tomorrow is Soup Night at Calvary Methodist Church, my good friend Lisa from Fabled Table www.fabledtable.com runs it.  She’s a great cook (chef) and they offer tasty inexpensive food.  It’s from five p.m. until seven p.m. if anyone local reads this.

I think that’s about it for today,

ed