Tomorrow is Peter Tchaikovsky’s birth anniversary (1840), Johnny Unitas birth anniversary (1933-born in Pittsburgh), the anniversary of the first Presidential Inaugural Ball (1789-Prez Washington) and the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania (1915).

There’s quite the trend of locals trying to save their local single screen theaters.  The Dormont’s deco Hollywood Theater is opening this weekend.  They don’t seem to have a web site yet and the article in the Trib was missing a lot of needed information (like contact phone number, hours of operation, etc).  But anyway, in celebration of re-opening, they are offering free movie screenings this weekend of a mix of classic silent films and cult classics.  Night of the Living Dead, by Pittsburgh’s George Romero, is one of the films this weekend.  The non profit Denis Theater Foundation is trying to raise $4.5M to reopen the 1930’s Denis Theater that closed 7 years ago in Mt Lebanon.  There’s The Strand in Zelienople (built in 1914 and recently reopened in 2009) and the Valley Players in Ligonier (built in 1920).  The Valley Players has survived by offering a mix of film, comedy, musical theater and musical tributes for musicians such as Johnny Cash and the Rat Pack.

There’s a new temporary bookstore over in East Liberty, called (and I love their name) Fleeting Pages.  It’s in the old Border’s bookstore and will be open Monday’s through Saturdays 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. and 10 a.m. until 7 p.m Sundays.  Jody Morrison moved back to Pittsburgh and is living in none other than Mayor John Fetterman’s Braddock.   Mayor Fetterman is the creative mayor trying to bring this formal steel town back to life  has actually made it into Wikipedia.  Jodi is trying to encourage purchasing local and unknown authors as well as other  independent book sellers like Caliban Book Shop in Oakland and Wilkinsburg and the Big Idea Bookstore in Bloomfield.  Fleeting Pages is a new trend in New York and overseas of small independent book sellers.  Go and support local and non big box. Did I say I love the name?

We’re going back to my before and after project:  here’s Bird of Paradise.  The first two pictures show the wall to wall carpet (I hate wall to wall carpet, the few times I patronize a big box hotel, I always have slippers or flip flops to walk on the carpet) and horrid wall paper.  You can also see the old gas insert I removed and replaced with a Monesson.  The chandelier is now in the middle dining room.  The next two pictures are the current room.  The floor is bamboo and drapes are these really cool tapestry tropical drapes I bought from the previous owner with birds sewn in the fabric.  If you notice that last picture, the focal point has quite a story.  When I was in Florida, I found this super cool pecky cypress door at a salvage yard.  I was building my last room, African Tulip and needed a closet, so I bought the door and framed the closet in to handle that door.   When I sold The Parador of the Palm Beaches, the buyer was going to level the property and build townhouses, so I took anything worth saving.  This door was sitting in the Ballroom up here after I moved here and wasn’t working out for anything I thought of (I still loved [love] that door).  Bird of Paradise was finished and all furnished and I was standing in the room thinking “I need a focal point over the bed”.  Guess what popped in my mind?  ………….

Well, I have a wedding tomorrow and have to go to bed, have a great night, a great weekend and happy Mother’s Day,



Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, Karl Marx birth anniversary (1818), the Kentucky Derby kicks off tomorrow with the main race on May 7 and it’s the anniversary of the stock market crash of 1893.  The stock market crash is significant to me because that was the one where Joshua Rhodes (the great industrialist that built my Inn) decided to keep his skilled workers working, even though he had no orders for the steel pipes from his new company National Tube (US Steel now owns), because he was afraid of loosing them.  Joshua paid their salaries out of his pocket until the economy recovered.

I would like to talk about something I posted last.  Before I wrote my post on Bin Laden, I did have a soul search on how I felt about it.  I don’t think we should celebrate someone else’s death.  After reading about Rashard Mendenhall’s Tweet, I’m OK with my post.  No, we shouldn’t celebrate the execution of a serial killer or any other death caused by man.  But the scale of evil Bin Laden created was not of the scale of Hitler, but the same kind of blanket evilness crossing all kinds of lines.  So I’m OK with being very happy his worldly influence is over.

The art works of Croatian immigrant Maxo Vanka can be seen this Friday and Saturday at St Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.  Vanka painted these labor, war and social justice themed religious paintings from 1937 to 1941.  The $20 donation includes viewing of the art work in the church’s sanctuary and a performance of the one hour drama “Gift to America”.   There’s also a cocktail reception and performance tomorrow starting at 6:30.  Tickets for this is $75 and all proceeds go to restoration of the paintings.  More info and reservations can be made at 412.394.3353 or the pro artists tickets or vanka murals web sites.

The Pittsburgh Blues Festival at Hartwood Acres is scheduled for this July 22 through 24.  Acts include Tedeschi Trucks Band, Janiva Magness, Kelly Richey, Johnny Winter, Tommy Castro and other national as well as local artists.  Tickets are between $22 to $50 (for two nights) and more info can be found at 412.460.2583.

I don’t watch it often anymore, but I still love South Park.  Trey and Matt rang up 14 Tony nominations with their irreverent musical “The Book of Mormon”.  This is just one nomination less than the record setting 15 for “The Producers” in 2001.  🙂

If it doesn’t stop raining soon, I swear I’m going to blow my brains out.  I know I shouldn’t complain, we’re lucky we’re not in Cairo, IL, but we have averaged MAYBE one day with sun a week for the past several months.  I am sooooo tired of this over cast skies and rain.  And, with everything being so wet, they can’t clean out Lake Elizabeth so they an fill it with water and da boiz can go swimming again.  Razor’s really bummed.

Finally, construction has started on the Loft.  YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!  Chuck, the general contractor thinks he will be able to finish it in about a month and then we start on the new guest room Hibiscus.  That should also be about a month, just in time for Kenny Chesney.  I have past guests that are already asking for it.

Have a great one,



It was announced last night that Bin Laden has been killed by the US Special Forces.  From what I understand at this point, he was shot, not “taken out by a missile”.  I knew we would get him, I’m surprised it took so long, but I was very concerned that they would just blow up some compound somewhere.  That our troops actually looked him in the eye when they shot him makes me happy.  And I’m sure that he now realizes mass murderers don’t don’t go to paradise.  May he rot forever.

Tomorrow is Paranormal Day, the day for paranormal enthusiasts can get together and share their unique experiences, it is the anniversary of CBS Evening News first broadcast (1948) and it is Lumpy Rug Day-this is the day to celebrate teasing all the bigots and trigots for shoving unwelcome facts “under the rug”.  The defenders of the status quo get a new rug when they’ve shoved too many inconvenient facts “under the rug”.  🙂

The owners of Serro Scotty campers are a cult unto themselves.  Built in North Huntingdon, just off the Turnpike by the late John Serro, they are those cute little aluminum and wood bubble shaped trailers you see around.  The “convention” is next week at the Scottyland Camping Resort in Middlecreek, Somerset, PA from Thursday through Sunday.  More info can be gotten at 814.839.4084 or at their web site Serro Scotty Camper Enthusiasts, 1,400 member strong group.  Possibly more interesting than the exterior of these unique campers are what these enthusiast have done with the interiors, and they want to show them off.  🙂

OK, the secret location is out.  East End Brewery is moving out of their currently location on Susquehanna Street (4,000 square feet) to their new location on Frankstown Avenue (17,000 square feet).  And instead of renting, they are buying the new location.  I think they should have bought the old Iron City Brewery,  they probably could have gotten it for a song.  🙂  They’re pumping out around 18,000 barrels a year.  At 31 gallons per barrel, that’s quite some beer.

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia, did you know that until about a century ago, pistol dueling was an Olympic sport?

I had never considered or heard anything about this before.  Did you know America nuclear power plants’ insurance is capped at $375M?  They probably spent that in the first hour at Fukushima Daiichi power plant.  ):  Germany, the country with the strongest regulations requires each plant to be liable with ALL of it’s assets and $3.7B.  Germany had set a goal of eliminating nuclear power, prior to the Japan disaster.  I hear they are looking into how they can speed this up.

It’s our Civil War’s sesquicentennial and the Appalachian Regional Commission has designed a web site showing maps of places of interest commemorating this major American event.  The Civil War was a lot more than the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Bull Run.  There was a lot of smaller skirmishes and non battles that made us what we are and this site tries to give access to these lesser known events.  For local locations, visit the PA State Office of Tourism.

I had a phone call earlier last week, this lady that promotes urban walking tours asked if they could stop by my place on Sunday (yesterday) for a quick peak at my place and if I could give them some history, they’d appreciate it.  Well it rained all morning and early afternoon yesterday and I kind of figured they canceled and never called me.  Well, right around noon, forty some people (with umbrellas) showed up at my door.  Between Mr. Rhodes design of the Mansion and my furniture placement, it’s very easy to have a flow of people come through.  So they filed through, I gave a short speak on the history of the Mansion and myself and they then asked to see the Ballroom.  So we went back there and then they were off.  A very nice group of people, particularly since they were trudging through the rain.  🙂

Have a great day and keep dry,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of Bugs Bunny’s debut (1941), the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and Muhammad Ali was stripped of his title (1967) for refusing the draft.  It is also Walprugis Night, St Walprugis of Germany was the protectoress against magic and Beltane Night one of the Greater Sabbats of the Wiccan year.

Is this royal wedding ever going to be over?  I am so tired of all of it and all the hype associated with.  I do find it kind of funny that the medias seem to be interested in interviewing anyone that has somewhat of an British accent, no matter how fake it sounds.  I also heard an interview with the woman with a “British Accent” advising on how to make a British breakfast with all of these non British food items (actually some seemed kind of odd for any ethnicity to serve for breakfast.)

My man, Greg Mortenson (of the Central Asia Institute) was on 60 Minutes a week ago, well, actually they did a special on him.  There were several detractors they interviewed, including author John Krakauer, one of Mortenson’s past donors and friends.  If you’ve read either Three Cups of Tea or Stones into Schools, Mortenson says he has no organizational skills, repeatedly.  Is he accurate that they built ten schools or six, I don’t care.  I have been know to embellish to make a story more interesting.  I don’t lie.  Is he as savvy at controlling his donations as my other favorite, Brother’s Brother is, no.  Do I care, no.  Generally, I do like 60 Minutes, but I did notice that every person they interviewed gave a negative response to Mortenson.  In a fair and unbiased segment, you would think someone would have been interviewed that had a positive response.  This may shock some of you, but I am not perfect.  Neither is Greg Mortenson.  Is he working in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet?  Is it critical for children in this poverty ridden area of the world get educated so they are not targets of extremists?  Who else is going to do this?  I think my opinion on these three questions is pretty obvious.

The City of Clairton has kicked a community out reach program and boxing club out of the building they’ve leased to the Western PA Police Athletic League because the Athletic League supposedly hasn’t kept up with their end of the bargain like maintaining the building and paying rent since 2007.  They also claim that the little building runs utilities of $1,500 a month.  My first point is who’s minding the store and let someone use the building for four years without paying rent?  My second point is who’s minding the store and not monitoring the upkeep of property the City owns?  My third point is who’s minding the store if a little structure like this building is running utilities to the tune of $1,500 a month?  I would think the City of Clairton is negligent, before and now.  And, with all the crime problems in Clairton, having a boxing club and community out reach program for disadvantaged and disenfranchised youth would be something the City should be looking into to keep running some way.  I would imagine if someone “minded the store”, they could figure out a way to keep a solution for this to keep these viable options open for kids.  I’m not saying create an “authority” that can tax and spend money.  When I was a teen, we did bake sales, hoagie sales, care washes, etc and bought a building and renovated it into a teen center.

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my.  Gargoyles are attacking Pittsburgh.  The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation offers walking tours of the City’s Gargoyles and Architecture Monday through Fridays from 9:15 until 11:15.  Tours begin and end at Station Square (the train station the builder of my house built).  Call Karen for details at 412.471.5808 ext 527.

Some depressing news about the Strip District, Right by Nature is closing down tomorrow.  I thought since joining forces with Good Apples, LLC, I thought they were doing pretty good.  Good Apples had over 40,000 accounts for food delivery!  I know Cafe Mocha was purchasing 2,500 sandwiches, salads and wraps weekly, not bad for one customer.

It’s supposed to be a wonderful weekend, enjoy,



Yesterday was the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the finding of our Biological Clock Gene (1994) that controls our daily cycles of sleeping and waking called  circadian rhythm.  Mussolini was executed on this day (1945), the anniversary of the first Space Tourist, US business person Dennis Tito went up in the Soyuz  TM in 2001 (reportedly he paid the Russians $20 for the ride-wow).

So much for the reliability of the weather persons.  It was supposed to be torrential down pours for the last two days.  Monday I did about 3/4 of my mulch and yesterday I finished up and raised the stepping stones in the one garden.  It did pour for a brief period late yesterday afternoon, but that was maybe an hour.  Here’s a picture of the gardens this morning.  They look so nice and fresh after a loooong cold winter.  I’m in flip flops today.  🙂

I was nice an warm, so I got a bag full of tennis balls and took da boiz down to Lake Elizabeth for a swim.  There was no water in the lake.  ):  I hope they fill it up soon.  Razor was all confused, he knew where he was, but every time he went to the edge, there was no water.  Poor guy.

This reminds me of the time when I lived in Nashville and went down to the Ochee (where they held the Olympics in 1994 (?).  I had been down there with friends white water rafting while living there.  This was one of the many times I had quit smoking cigarettes and thought this would be a great work out.  So I loaded Jessie in the Saturn and we took off for the three hour jaunt down to the Ochee.  When we got there, Don’s Used Kayak Emporium was closed!  So I went to this little store across the street to see what was up and the clerk looked at me like I was from Mars (or up North) and said “It’s Monday”.  I said “Yea ………”  And he looked at me even more incredulous and said “The river’s closed”.  I just started laughing, thinking he was pulling me leg.  This time he looked at me with a little more empathy and said that TVA owns the river and they close the water off every Monday to fill the dam.  Still not sure if he was pulling my leg, so we drove down to the river and sure enough, it was just this little creek.  It was totally amazing.  They totally created this river for the Olympics, the same river my friends from the Crowne Plaza and myself battled a couple of months before was just a Disneyland attraction.

Well, our next tour is going to be African Tulip.  If you look at the first image in the left corner, that door (which isn’t well lit) was stairs going down into the Chenille guest room.  I closed the door into Chenille off and we took the stairs out and added a floor level with African Tulip, then added space from your left (which was the old maid’s closet) to make a new bathroom.  You can see in the second image the wooden dressing table.  That was a closet that went down to the lower level.  When deciding the use for that space, I thought why not keep the upper part of the closet and turn it into a dressing/make up area.  For some reason, my camera is not picking up the true color on the walls, they are a terracotta red, not as orangy as the second two images are projecting.  And actually, I just went to my web site and the pictures there also aren’t true.  Hmmm.

Enjoy this morning while we have sun light, Go Pens,



Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of both Justice William Brennan (1906) and Ella Fitzgerald (1917).  It is Italy’s liberation from German (1945), it is the day when the American Army met the Russian Army near Lechwitz (1945) and it is the first anniversary of a state requiring license plates on automobiles in New York (1901).

I learned several new things on the Internet recently.  First, did you know Sarah Palin created a Facebook page under a fictitious name with the sole purpose of complimenting her official page.  And got caught.  🙂

Watch out fellow bloggers, there’s a group out there that deliberately go to newspapers and buy the copy rights for their verbiage and images for the sole purpose (I used those two words twice here) of trolling the Net and finding bloggers that used the newspaper’s images or text and sue them for copy right infringement.  Big and small blogs, we are all game for them and their entire existence is to make money off of us.  This lawsuit factory has been under increasing pressure from free speech proponents, here’s a link to newspapers Righthaven have under contract so you can watch your sources.  I generally use the Tribune Review for most of my source for local activities.  But I just take the basic information and represent it in a new form with a link to the organization I am speaking about.  Their lawyers have non disclosure clauses in all the suites, but some figures have come out.  It seems the smaller bloggers that have settled are in the lower thousands of dollars, who knows what the big national bloggers are paying.

Google’s having a fight with a new Internet segment based on “want to know” searches.  The Internet is saturated with users seeking knowledge that a whole new industry has grown up, informational farms.  There’s a number of sites out there that pay people to write “how to”s from $2 to $8 per entry.  They then combine all these snippets on a site and find advertisers that relate to these individual snippets and pair them.  Think query “how do I remove a stain in my carpet” with an ad by a carpet shampoo product.  Obviously, at $2 to $8 a snippet, there’s not a lot of research into the answer.

There’s a new exhibit around the corner at Artists Image Resource at 518 Foreland Street.  It’s called Rethinking Pittsburgh’s Industrial Legacy and is open Tuesday through Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. through May 7 and admission is free.  There’s a piece called Homestead Robot by Matthew Bucholz creates a futuristic robot inflicting havoc in Homestead during the 1892 strike.  All the exhibits don’t explore just the past.  Patricia Bellan-Gillen explores why fracking should be eyed suspiciously.  There’s also some vintage lithographs and one dry point made around the turn of the 19th/20th depicting the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the Johnstown Flood and others.

They announced the winners of the annual Peeps Contest in the Tribune Review and showed their winners in yesterday’s paper.  Once again, Pittsburgh’s creative juices were running high.  Check them out with the link  above.

Thanx and Happy Easter,



Lots of anniversaries tomorrow.  It is the anniversary of the first public broadcast of a movie at Koster & Bials Music Hall in NYC (1896), the opening of the first public school in America (Boston’s Latin School  1635), the anniversary of England’s patron saint, St George the dragon slayer (303) and the bird and death anniversary of William Shakespeare (1564 and 1616 respectively).

I’ve been reading Onward, the book by Howard Schultz about his company Starbucks.  I should be a loyal fan of Starbucks, they do a lot of very good things.  We both buy fair trade, organic coffees; we both believe  in being responsible in dealing with the environment; be both believe in treating our employees well.  We do have so much in common and there’s a lot in the book that really has impressed me.  Like in 2008, three years after Katrina, Starbucks decided to hold their convention in New Orleans to help the city.  One amazing thing was in the program for all 10,000 attendees was they had to donate five hours community service.  When Starbucks approached the city leaders ahead of the conference, the city said they didn’t have the ability or equipment to hand all that help.  So Starbucks got with them and arranged projects and matched groups to do the projects and brought two trucks of equipment to supplement the tools the city had on hand.  50,000 hours community service is a lot more than impressive.  But reading this book, it seems a bit too “Ooh Soo” for me.  Maybe I’m just cold, but Howard would agonize for days/weeks over issues.  To me, I make a decision and move on.  I think where my problem is is why I left the corporate world.  When I would go to those sessions for “team building”, creating “mission statements”, etc I never felt the people were real about it.  Particularly the bosses pushing it.  They displayed the enthusiasm appropriate for the task, but I always had a sneaking feeling that they were playing the corporate game to appease human resources.  I do respect Starbucks, but I guess them and me are different animals.  🙂

I keep loosing my news sources.  Last year, BBC quit broadcasting their news at 10 p.m.  Particularly on the longer days, I’m seldom around a TV when they broadcast at 7 p.m.  I went to their web site and complained, and a few weeks later they started rebroadcasting at 10.  (I don’t take credit for that, I’m assuming a lot of people complained).  Then BBC dropped the 10 p.m. broadcast again and it’s never been back on.  So when I could, I’d watch their 7 p.m. broadcast.  In my truck, I listen to the NPR station WYEP.  They used to broadcast NPR news on the hours.  They stopped about six months ago and I have to remember to watch the clock to switch stations to WDUQ to hear the news on the hour.  Now BBC has stopped broadcasting news all together.  They said it was going on local PBS stations.  WQED doesn’t broadcast it.  I’m so disappointed.

Continuing with my tour of The Parador’s before and afters, this guest room is Chenille.  The ceiling is one of the four ‘cut and paste’ Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper ceilings Joedda, the previous owner installed.  I hate wall to wall carpeting, it never seems clean to me.  So I ripped that blue stuff out and installed bamboo flooring.  Those heavy drapes that could be used to close off that window seat are very old tapestry drapes with birds on them.  I moved them to the Bird of Paradise guest room.  They are very heavy and very old.  They are moving their way up the priority ladder to have them rebuilt (new backings and a more appropriate way to hang them).

The opening for the fireplace is very narrow, it was originally a gas fireplace.  All my fireplaces were re-piped for safety and the only new  gas insert that would fit in the narrow opening was a self contained unit.  It does have “logs” in it, but it’s not as realistic looking as the other Monesson fireplace inserts.  I do watch television, but hate it.  Generally, I have tried to hide the TV’s in cabinetry.  There was no place to put an armoire in this room, so I thought why not make it so obvious that it goes away.  So I took the mirror out of the mantle piece and got a large flat screen television that was the same size to replace the mirror.  It actually works, you don’t really notice it.  I sell Chenille more than any other guest room and it only has a full sized bed in it.  I thought it would be a popular room, but was surprised how often it’s the first one sold.

It really has an incredible bathroom.  I believe that sink and claw foot tub are original to the house.  Note the Dresden blue sink bowl.  Also, note the brass water controls for the tub.  What you can’t see is the tub has a “gravity stopper”.  Between the hot and cold water faucets, there is a brass knob that you twist and it drops down to plug the tub up so you can take a bath.  The shower is one of those circular curtain rods in the center of the tub.  Cute, but not the most effective way to shower.

The stained glass windows are not original (the leaded glass windows in the bathroom are), the stained glass was installed by Joedda in the 90’s, they are her design.

Have a great holiday weekend,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of America’s longest peaceful diplomatic relationship partner, Netherlands (1782).  Tragedies of Branch Davidian fire in Waco, TX (1993), the explosion on the USS Iowa off the coast of Puerto Rico (1989) and the Oklahoma City bombing (1995).

This weekend I got the water feature in the Courtyard all cleaned up and filled with fresh water.  After getting it all set, I turned it off for the weekend because of all the wind we’ve been having.  It will be great having the sound of water again in the Courtyard.  Warm weather’s close.  🙂

I was in my photo album and decided to really bore you with some before and afters.  I wasn’t real good at getting a good set of before pictures.  Bougainvillea was one where I never even got a picture of what turned into the bedroom.  When I bought the Inn, Bougainvillea was an odd space.  Two rooms in the back, over the kitchen.  There is a door from the Veranda and one from the kitchen that lead to the stairs that go up to the second and third floor rooms.  The stairs go up to a room with a fireplace and then there’s an old narrow curving staircase going up to the third floor room.  That room had an old marble sink.  There was space on the opposite side of the bedroom wall that had a shower.  No toilet.  There was enough room in the “shower room” to move the sink, add a toilet and make a decent sized shower.  Viola, I have a guest room that’s a townhouse with a full private bath.  The first picture is the living room when I bought the property.  The second picture is how I first set up the living room.  At the time, it was the most logical set up to me.  I never liked it because the fireplace was at the opposite corner of the room from the couch.  If you look in the third picture, it shows a large hutch, this fabulous piece of furniture was always on the long wall to your right, next to the fireplace.  I never cared much for this guest room and it didn’t sell often.  The first thing I did was I had my good friend Lisa from Fabled Table, whose also a seamstress, make those white curtains you see in the third picture.  I love them.  They’re a thick white cotton with pineapples in the pattern and were designed by Tommy Bahama.  That certainly changed the tone of the room.  But the couch was still far from the fireplace.  I love light and hated the idea of giving up a window, but that’s what I finally did.  I took the shears and drapes off the window behind the couch and painted the window trim to match the walls.  I slid the big hutch over in front of the window.  The window just “went away”.  And it really didn’t affect the amount of light in the room.  There’s three east facing windows that bring a lot of light in.  So now I was free to move the couch where ever I wanted.  My four suites all have sleep sofas in their living rooms.  They are Sealy, but they are still sleep sofas and I do get complaints on their comfort level.  (or lack there of).  🙂  So I bit the bullet and went out and purchased a day bed.  Twin bed that you sit on and a twin bed trundle underneath.  The trundle is much easier to raise than opening a sleep sofa and MUCH more comfortable.  The mattresses I got, as all my mattresses, from Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory.  And it’s angled in front of the fireplace and television, which you can see from the fourth picture.  The next picture shows the two narrow closets I spoke about in the past where I took the doors off, cleaned them up and made them into bookcases.  You can see part of one of them through the living room’s door.  The bathroom picture shows the sink, the toilet and shower are to your left.  It’s not a large bath, but it works.

Another problem I had with this room is it had a full sized bed.  I could hear it in people’s voice when it was the last room available (and it always was the last room sold), “I’ll have to call you back”.  I knew they wouldn’t.  It’s sort of a shame, the bed had this old Victorian frame I got in high school and have had since.  So I bit the bullet here as well and took the bed out and got a queen (I could have squeezed a king, but I prefer not to have my rooms too tight).  On a bright note, the bed found a very good home.  My friends Myra, Phil and Alex that are opening The Stone Manse Inn outside of Harrisburg bought it.  So it has a great home.  Their web site was supposed to open Friday, but apparently they ran into some problems.  Check the link in a few days.  It is a fabulous property and they will do a great job as Innkeepers.  If you notice the wall piece above and behind the bed, there’s a story there.  When I opened my first Inn in South Florida, I had half the monthly income I had in bills monthly.  So I worked full time at a restaurant on Palm Beach Island called Cuchina del Arte.  Fairly ritzy place a man that ended up being a good friend of mine owned.  Henry, if you, Susan and Austin are ever in PGH, please look me up.  On the restaurant’s walls were three similar creations that came from Palm Beach Floral. They were larger than mine and had more on them than mine, but they all cost over $3,000.  When I heard that, I went out into the woods where there was a bamboo stand I knew of, chopped some dead bamboo down and created my own for a lot less the $3k.  🙂  A final note on the bedroom, those hanging ceramic lamps on either side of the bed came from my first property.  They were in a room at The Seawulf Inn, which became The Parador of the Palm Beaches.

The National Park Service has free entrance fees through April 24.  This includes Harper’s Ferry Park at the confluence of the Potomac & Shenandoah Rivers.

Did you know the Allegheny Arsenal was one of the principle arsenals for the Union Army during the Civil War?  It cover 38 acres in Lawrenceville and had a terrible accident, that was never fully explained, that killed 78 people.  There has been an online exhibit to the National Archives in Philadelphia.  It got very little press (page three of the Pittsburgh papers) because it happened the same day as the battle of Antietam (the single bloodiest day of combat in American history.

I’ll be featuring another room soon, enjoy your day,



Kind of scary with the anniversary of the BP Oil disaster approaching (April 20), tomorrow, April 17 is the anniversary of the Texas City Disaster.  In 1947, a French owned tanker carrying ammonium nitrate was docked when a fire was discovered smoldering in it’s hold.  The Texas City Fire Department arrived to put it out when it exploded killing all the firemen and all the on lookers.  The fire spread to  various pipe lines leading into the city basically burning it to the ground.  Officially 576 people perished, some estimates at lease 100 more died.  On a brighter note, tomorrow is Charlie Chaplin’s birth anniversary (1889), Henry Mancini’s (1924) and Peter Ustinov (1921).

You don’t change the stripes on a tiger.  Michael P Carlow, the thief that destroyed Iron City Brewing, Clark Candy and City Pride Bakery (City Pride was the worst, it was a bakery that already had gone through bankruptcy and was brought back to life with an employee buy out).  He did his time in jail, got out a few years ago and goes right back to his old tricks.  Him and housemate Elizabeth Jones got caught stealing money and trying to hide it from the government to cover the $6 million he owes them.

A new artisan bakery recently opened on Commercial Avenue in Aspinwall.  It’s called Bella Christie and Lil’ Z’s Sweet Boutique.  Trying to fit in with the health trend, instead of making those huge pastries you find in many coffee shops, etc, they’re making smaller sized pastries.  I know I for one never buy one of those huge pastries because I feel compelled to eat it all.  So I just don’t buy one.  Smaller sized pastries would definitely appeal to me.  And they do real cutsie things like a platter of sushi that’s actually a cake and of course they have to have the cake that’s a Steeler helmet.  Visit their web site to see how bright and creative their creations are; better yet, visit them.

Local beader Sherry Serafini co-published a book on beading that’s on sale now “Beading Across America”.  There were about 30 contributing beaders to the book.  Sherry’s made one of a kind pieces for celebrities like Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Steven Taylor of Aerosmith and professional golfer Michelle Wie.  The reason this article caught my eye is I have a hysterical story about a beading workshop that was held at my South Florida property.  But I can’t publish it here, it would not be appropriate for some of my more genteel readers.  🙂

I spoke of this awhile back, Dargate Auction Galleries finally finished moving into their new location, the old St Mark Slavish Roman Catholic church in McKees Rocks.  They have 15,000 square feet of space and it’s handicapped accessible.  The reason I’m writing about this now is I just found out they’re having the last day of their first sale tomorrow.  It starts a 1 p.m. (so they don’t disturb the church services next door).

It’s was going to be a slow day, so Derronda and Taymar and myself planned on going out to South Park to see the buffalo (they’ve never seen the buffalo).  The sun actually came out this morning.  Of course by the time we got out there, it was pouring.  I tried driving up the side road that goes past there pen and couldn’t see them.  So we parked on the other side where you climb up that long and steep hill (in the pouring rain) to see them from up above and they must have been in the barn.  Bummer.

Keep dry,


Happy Tax Day,

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (would this be related to tax day :)) and the anniversary of the discovery of a new solar system (1999).  These three planets circle Upsilon Andromedae which is visible with the naked eye.  Neighbors?

I’m not as sharp as I once was (no smart remarks there) and am dealing with my 80+ year old mother.  Luckily, her health is in good shape and her mind is OK.  But she definitely has limitations on both issues.  I agree we need to deal with the social security, medicaid and medicare issues.  But a voucher system where our seniors are going to have to make decisions on buying private medical insurance?   OMG, I can’t figure out a health plan for myself.  What a wide open scam fest they are creating.  It’s like all those predatory insurance policies you see on TV sponsored by AARP.  AARP (the supposed champion of the seniors) makes the majority of their money off fees for these policies.  It has some people so incensed, that they are talking about denying their tax exempt status.

I went to the Western Pennsylvania Bed and Breakfast Association bi-annual meeting Tuesday at The Dream Horse Guesthouse in Kinsman, OH (Northeastern corner).  Allan and Catherine were excellent hosts and they made this great homemade soup for lunch.  The pressure’s on me, I’ll be hosting our next meeting in November.  🙂  We had a guest speaker on social media and I did learn a few points.  But overall I was fairly disappointed in her presentation.  She seemed to be pushing Google Adwords and Facebook paid for ads to increase your ranking and Internet presence.  I’m far from an expert, but #1 I never spend money if I can help it.  There are enough times you have to spend money, I agree that you need to spend money to create a web presence.  We’re not nail salons or tire stores marketing to a local market, where print advertising makes sense.  Our market in global and we are totally dependent on the Internet.  Spend the money on your web site making sure it is organically correct, #1 priority.  Grab your Google Places and your Google Maps listing and claim it.  Make sure it is accurate and move on.  Create a personal Facebook page (you have to do this in order to create a business page), create a Linked-in profile and do profiles for Yahoo, Yelp, Mantra and any other Internet site you can find.  This is all free and when everything points back to your web site this creates legitimacy with the spiders doing your rankings.  Get your web master to embed a blog in your web site (be careful, some blog formats are not in your web site, they just appear to be.  That does you no good for rankings and legitimacy)  Blog regularly (at least once a week) and get your blog tied to your business Facebook page.  This is important for a number of reasons.  I makes you a person, it makes your Inn something people can relate to.  Make fun posts, add pictures, talk about local attractions and time sensitive events (a really cool concert is next week for example).  Talk about things even locals don’t know about like the Bayernhof Museum in O’Hara.  (A millionaire from the turn of the 19/20 century who was obsessed with automatons and it’s a very interesting place.)  You nail salons can talk about the latest nail techniques and add pictures. Now you have the nuts and bolts in place of your free advertising campaign.  Lets move on.  As an Innkeeper (or any other business owner), you need to maintain a database of past customers, friends and associates.  In your data base you should have contact phone numbers, snail mail addresses and e-mail addresses.  Use this valuable resource to increase your legitimacy on Facebook.  Don’t be rude, but send an e-mail to past guests/customers inviting them to become your friends on Facebook.  Let them know that your blog is now there and besides having information there for events they may be interested in, you’re going to run specials that only people that are Fans of your business will be eligible for.  (I just got my blog on my Facebook page, so this is an upcoming project.  I have over 2,000 people in my data base-this is going to be a project).  Go into your other social media accounts like Linked-in and optimize your presence in each.  These are the things I think she should have been addressing.  In fact, I’m thinking of offering my own seminar when they come down to my Inn in November on Social Media.  🙂

The Mattress Factory has a new exhibit running through July 24 “Gestures 15: An Exhibition of Small Site-Specific Works”.  There’s Stephanie Mayer-Staley’s “(In)-Between” a piece that she uses bamboo sticks and rubber bands.  There’s Garry Pyles “There’s a black cloud But, we make the weather …….” made of stainless-steel and encaustic wax.  Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso began Cubism at the turn of the century, Robert Propst was credited with creating the first office cubical in 1967 and Erno Rubik created Rubik’s Cube in 1974.  That is why they are featured in Chris Craychee’s “X3: Cubic Influences on Western Culture and the Collective Unconscious 1637-1995” (Kind of a long title).  🙂  Kind of a thought provoking exhibit.  Normal Mattress Factory hours and prices apply.

Norma Rees, a volunteer for the National Wildlife Federation will present “Developing a Healthy Backyard Habitat” for birds at the Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley (they seem to be more active this year) on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.  Tickets are $20 and you can register at 412.741.6136 or e-mail to fhnc@verizon.net.

Finally, tomorrow, Doug Oster, Emmy Winner, KDKA radio host of  “Organic Gardener’s Radio Show” and Post-Gazette’s author of “The Back Yard Gardener” will be giving a two hour lecture on native and pest free gardening at Phipps.  It starts at two p.m., costs $15 and more info is at WYEP’ s web site.

Enjoy today, it’s supposed to start raining tonight and continue throughout the weekend,