Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include the person generally seen as the inspiration for the fictional Sherlock Holmes, Joseph Bell (1837), opera icon Maria Callas (1923) and French Neo-Impresssionist Georges Seurat (1859).  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine (1823), the first artificial heart transplant (1982), abolitionist John Brownwas executed (1859), the safety razor was patented (1901) and the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction (1942).

I just weighed the sausage, she’s 78# already!

Speaking of dogs, I’ll be hosting a pet seance Saturday, January 9.  It’s a fund raiser for the Western PA Humane Society.  I’ll pass on more details as I get them.  It should be an interesting event, if nothing else.  I wonder what Razor will have to say to me.  🙂

The bald eagle re-population of our area seems to be gearing up, in addition to the pair on webcam in Hays by the Monongahela River and the pair on the hill over Harmar, there’s two more young couples that seem to be scouting the area.  One couple seems interested in the Tarentum bridge peregrine falcon nest (Eagles frequently evict falcons from their home, the larger and stronger eagles win in a close proximity fight.  Falcons are much swifter and generally win air battles if for no other reason they can escape easily.  Peregrine falcons can reach speeds of 200 mile per hour on a down hill drop).  Because of the lack of foliage, this is a good time of year for eagle watching.

On Saturday, December 12, the air side terminal will be open to non ticketed people from 10 am until 6 pm.  You will need a government issued picture ID.  They are encouraging you to pre-register at flypittsburgh.com.  There will even be free parking at their short term parking lot.  They wil be issuing a voucher at the registration.  You will enter where flyers normally enter.

I have been receiving solicitations on the phone from some company trying to get me to switch my credit card processing to them.  The calls are coming in from Pittsburgh’s 412 area code.  They are never “selling” anything, they are offering to “save me money” and other twists on trying to get me to pay them to process my credit cards.  I keep asking them to remove me from their solicitation list.  One of them lectured me with “Let me explain something to you buddy, I’m an independent business man representing this company and there’s like 500 of us”.  You’re not a business man, you sit on you butt you telemarketer.  I had a call yesterday some woman had a representative in town next week and she wanted to schedule an appointment.  It was the same company and when I told her I wasn’t interested in paying them to process my credit cards.  She said she wasn’t selling credit card processing, I called her a lying b**ch and hung up on her.  My phone immediately rang again from 917 area code and it was her saying “You sounded so professional when you answered the phone, I’m surprised you are so rude”.    I again called her a lying b**ch and added another expletive.  🙂  So they’ve figured a way to change the appearance of their area code.  Slick.

Speaking of business people, the reason folks start a business it to make money (the same reason folks take jobs), as a business  owner you have more opportunity to make more money than as an hourly or salaried employee.  (Also you take a higher risk).  I really enjoy making money and the more the merrier.  🙂  But I like to believe I make it morally.  I may make a special segment in my blog “outing” dirt bags, like the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals Martrin Shkreli, raising the price of Daraprim to $750 a pill.  I’m OK charging a premium, generally I don’t raise my rates, but require a two night minimum on select weekends.  A fifty percent increase for a drug that costs pennies to make.  Bump it up a bit, but $750 for something that takes pennies to make.  I hope anyone that purchases drugs, black lists all products from that company.

I’m so over all this hype about bacon, baondtore burgers, bacon fries, etc.  Maybe because I cook and serve it everyday.  But bacon themed and smelling underwear?  Please.  🙂

And speaking of culinary over dose, how about Piecaken, the name sounds like some Cheesey Japanese horror flick from the 60’s.  You bake a pie and then put cake batter in a pan, set the pie in the middle of it and then more cake batter and cook it.  I guess next you cut and eat it, the perfect go with a turducken.

People generally have a problems saving money.  The hardest part is getting started, once you are in a habit of putting say $20 every payday into a savings account, it gets easier and easier.  There are three new ways geared toward millennials  (my contractor that recently installed all the windows, son is about 24 and he walked in the kitchen one day and I was having trouble with my iPhone, I a said “Hey millennial can you look at this?”  He said “What’s a millennial?”.  🙂  too funny.  One of the savings programs is called Acorns,  it can be set up several ways.  One is it automatically rounds purchases up when you use the credit or debit card linked to the account.  Say you buy new shoes that cost $57.80, it automatically puts $.20 in you account, if you use the same method of payment for everything, this can start to accumulate.  You can also program it to put a certain amount of money in the Acorns account on a regular basis.  The cost is $1 a month for balances of $5k or less and .25% a year for balances over $5k.  More details on their website.    Another option id Digit, you link Digit to your checking account and it’s algorithms analyze how much you make and spend and then takes small amounts our periodically and places it in your Digit account.  They don’t charge fees for this,  But they communicate through texting and you may be charged for the texts, depending on your phone plan. More info on their website.  A third option is Stash, it links to your checking account and offers about 30 ETF’s (here’s an example of an Exchange Traded Fund). to choose from that you set how much you want to automatically have invested.  It costs $1 per month for balance under $5k and .25% per year for balances over $5k.  More info at their website.  Another fee not mentioned is they are sitting on your money and making money off it by investing your balance and not paying you interest.

That’s it for today,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the China Clipper, the trans Pacific mail flight from San Fransisco (1935), Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination (1863),On the Origin of Species was first publish (1859) and Lebanon’s Independence day.  Birth anniversaries include aviator, parachutist, adventurer Wiley Post (1898), First Lady Abigail Adams (1744), President Charles DeGaulle (1890) and female British author George Eliot (1819).

The Syrian refugees, quite the contention here.  I understand Americans having reservations about admitting Syrians, especially in light of what happened in Paris.  But we are a nation of immigrants, my grand parents emigrated from Germany.  We all are from somewhere else.  And lets look at Australia for a minute, it was England’s penal colony for years, where they dumped their criminals and look what it’s turned into.  Anyone being allowed to emigrate should be vetted to the best of our ability, but that doesn’t make any guarantees, we have our own brand of terrorists, look at the shootings in our neighborhoods, movie theaters, college and high school campuses.  We have no “higher” ground to stand on when we can’t even protect ourselves from ourselves.

Let me step on another soap box for a minute, they easiest way to defeat ISIS is to dry up their source of income!  That’s what the DEA and FBI tries to do with the drug cartels, etc  If ISIS didn’t have money to lure their fighters in how many Jihadists do you think they would have?  I finally heard on the news where we bombed and destroyed 160+ oil tankers.  Blow up the oil fields, processing plants, pipes, etc.  Lets see what they can do without money.   It’s estimated they rake in $3M a day from oil.  Oil is the low hanging fruit that should be easy to totally disrupt.  Other sources of income like ransoms, illegal antiquities, drugs and other forms of illicit income will be harder to strangle, but my old saying if man created it, man can change it.  And their other source of income donations from other Arab entities is something we should be able to track and take action against these sources as well.

Off my soap box, the Trib had a great article on LED lighting.  Color temperature scale is how light is measured based on color.  The scale bases it’s rank in “degrees Kelvin.  This has nothing to do with heat, just how warm or cool the light will be, the lower th K rating, the warmer the feel from the bulb, the higher the colder and bluer the light will be.  Don’t pay attention to packaging and the marketeers designation of warmer vs cooler.  Manufacturers are more and more placing the K rating on their packaging and use this number as you would for wattage equivalent for a comparison on brightness. Here’s some bench marks to keep in mind, incandescent lights have been around 2,700K, so if you want a warmer glow. Further up the scale, big box retailers generally use bulbs rated around 3,500K to 4,500K.  You can find bulbs as high as 5,000K to 6,000K which is like the color of daylight.  There is concern about bulbs this high disturbing our biorhythms.  Read the entire article for more details.

Want to do something dramatic, cheap and environmentally correct?  Start working with wooden pallets.  10001 Pallets is a website dedicated to home handyman projects using discarded pallets.  You want to steer clear of chemically treated pallets, which frequently will have an IPPC lable (International Plant Protection Convention).  A HT (heat treated) stamp is preferable.  Don’t just grab a pallet, be picky, select pallets that aren’t all beat up and splintery.  If you are selective you can find oak, hickory even cherry wood pallets.  You can create benches and tables obviously, but head boards, decorative shelves are a few of the many uses for these lowly resources.

We had our Western Pennsylvania Bed and Breakfast Association’s fall meeting last week.  At our spring meeting, Clarion River Lodge (a new member) volunteered to host our fall meeting.  The lodge is literally in the middle of nowhere.  Several of us rode together an Ryan used the GPS on his phone.  We pulled off Rt 65 on Clarion River Road.  GPS told us to turn left up Cemetery Road which we did, it took up this barely single lane road and told us to turn left on the street the Lodge was located.  We travel a couple of miles and GPS said you have arrived at your destination on the right.  The only thing on our right was a house right out of Deliverance.  There were lights on the first floor and basement.   And all kind of stuff on both the front and back porches.  I knocked on the door, hoping someone would answer and tell he where the lodge was.  I think luckily no one answered, when I saw the size 12+ boots on the porch, I thought it best to leave.  We went the other direction and found the Lodge.  There was a sign on the door that they were close and there was a for sale sign on the far side of the parking lot (right on Clarion River Road-if we had just gone straight!).  So the twelve of us went to the Sawmill Diner, very nice people.  We bought sandwiches and they not only allowed us to bring in the sides we had brought for the meeting, they also supplied us with plates and silverware.

The window project is completed!  Finally!!   Once again, Don from Action Painting did an exceptional job, painting, staining and polyurethane the windows before installation.  (If you need a great painter 412-403-6458).  Mike an crew again did a great job with the installation.  This brings me up to nearly 100 windows replaced.  This knocked out all the large windows in the Mansion and all 6 in the kitchens.  Maybe I’ll hate the winter less this year.  🙂

My fireplace company is coming by Monday to repair the two fireplaces I can’t get the remotes to work (one has the original remote from ten years ago.  I imagine I need a whole new remote assembly.

And tomorrow I start decorating for the holidays.  I wanted to get it done for Light Up Night, but the window project took priority.  The weather’s supposed to be decent this week.  I’ve put the outside garland up in bitter cold with the wind blowing in the past, that was a challenge.

This is about it for today, have a great Thanksgiving and if you are traveling, take your time and be safe,






Tomorrow is the birth day of hall of fame basketballer Phog Allen (185), poet Marianne Moore (1887), artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887) and Nazi field marshal Erwin Rommel (1891).  Tomorrow is America Recycles Day, Brazil’s Republic Day, Belgium’s Dynasty Day (celebrating their monarchy) and the Nazi Gypsy Condemnation order, ordering gypsies to concentration camps where about a half a million perished.

The holidays are rapidly approaching.  Yes, I will be decorating this week so I’m ready for Light Up Night on Friday.

Here’s some suggestions for you crafters to learn from the pros.  The Fairmont Hotel will have a ginger bread house class for adults from 6 until 8 on December 10 (cost $75) and a children’s class on December 13 from 10 am until noon (cost $59 for one adult and child and $15 for each additional child).  More details on their website.

The Frick will be having their second annual cookie decorating class on December 6 from 10 until noon (cost $30) and the same day from 1 until 4 they will have a holiday greens workshop (cost $70).  More info on their website.

The Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip will be holding a series of classes including ceramic steins November 21  from 10 am until 5 pm (Cost $120), wood turned bottle stoppers on November 29 also from 10 am until 5 pm (cost $100, holiday cards on December 9  6 to 9 pm (cost $45), plates and platters on December 12 from 10 am until 4 pm (cost $200) and slippers and mittens December 19 from 10 am until 5 pm (cost $105).  More info on their website.

The Pittsburgh Glass Center is offering on December 5 from 10 am to 4 pm a class on glass blown or infused ornaments that range from $25 to $35 and on November 21 Make it a Hot Date for $70 per couple and a Girls Night Out on December 11 for $45 for this cocktails event (probably a cash bar).  More info at their website.

Lets talk credit cards for a minute, some offer benefits many people don’t know about.  Some offer price matching, if you buy and item and find it on sale a few days or weeks later they arrange with the store to give you the difference, you need the original receipt and a copy of the sale with the date on it.  Theft and damage protection, frequently for things damaged by fire, smoke and water (usually not theft from your car).  Again you need the original receipt. Car rental insurance, generally you need to put the entire car rental on the one card (also you normal car insurance also covers rentals, so check first and don’t pay the rental company for insurance).  Frequently you credit card will offer an extended warranty for large items after the manufacturer’s warranty runs out for a year or two.  They can offer assistance on returning unused items after the store’s normal return policy, you have to pay shipping.  Read the entire article for details.

Big banks are pushing their “Rewards Card” they are sometimes referred to as Affinity Cards.  First of all, the credit card companies do not provide the bonuses, merchants pay for them through higher processing fees.  Some of these cards charge a yearly fee for the card in the neighborhood of $70.  Also, the credit card companies frequently charge a higher percentage on balances, if you have one of these cards watch this closely.  We’ve all heard about the large amounts of points needed for free travel and so many black out dates.  Many cards cancel you points if you don’t use them within the specified time period.

Good news for chickens, the $10B industry of 270 million hens is listening the people fed up with hens being confined to a pen the size of an  8 x 11 sheet of paper.  Because some of the big chains like Costco, McDonalds are trying to clean up their images, they are insisting on this.  The new “free range” concept isn’t exactly what you would imagine free range means.   As they need to replace hen raising facilities, the new concept is open barns, where the hens have free range within the barn.  But there is a down side to this form of free range, some hens are getting killed flying into beams and other obstructions and some hens are actually cannibalizing other hens. Some organic growers are actually letting the birds out in the air to forage.

Well the window project is finally well underway.  Both window seats in Chenille and Oleander were completed this past week (and the two big windows in Chenille looking our into the Courtyard.  Here’s Chenille’s window seat completed (the stained glass is out being rebuilt):


Here’s two before pictures of Oleander’s window seat windows, the four solid west facing (non opening) window and both double hung windows on either side have been replaced:



Here’s the new windows in Oleander, the stained glass just came back from being repaired.  Also, the leaded glass panel on the right was falling out of the frame when I bought The Parador and I’ve had it in storage in the basement and just got it repaired and both doors are installed:


The Sausage we are affectionately calling Rayzette because of her size.  These days I really have to look hard to distinguish the two of them when they are both out in the Courtyard.  Here’s the latest:


Funny RJ story, he still doesn’t allow squirrels in his yard. The other day I was walking over to the Office and he was accompanying me.  One of the squirrels was on the shed roof with a peanut.  When the squirrel saw RJ, he tried running away.  But he couldn’t get traction and ended up falling right in the front of RJ, luckily for the squirrel, RJ’s a good boy and comes when called.  Not before I saw in the squirrels eyes, Oh, I shouldn’t tease him by chittering at him from the tree.  The Sausage learned a new trick, she can open latched doors.  Any new construction I always use those handicapped bar door latches.  The other morning, I was awoken to the sound of metal.  When I got up, I saw her by the door.  When I went over to let her out, the door was already ajar. She’s been found several times in the Mansion, because of this, Dee has been sure the pantry door is latched and I was working with the contractors and came down the the public space on the first floor and who was out in the Mansion?  Sausage herself and Dee swears she made sure the door was latched.

The window project continues Monday, Mike assures me he will finish by week’s end.  That’s the four dining room windows, five Parlor and the front five between African Tulip and Bird of Paradise as well as the two living room windows in Allamanda.  That means all the large windows and all the kitchen windows will be replaced.  Bringing the total of replaced windows close to 100!

Well keep warm and enjoy this warmer than usual week,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the discovery of the x-ray (1895), Cortes conquered Mexico and Montana was admitted to the Union.  Birth anniversaries include author Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind (1900), Hermann Rorschach (the ink blot test founder 1884) and pioneering female war corespondent Martha Gellhorn (1908).

I just came back from the PABBI conference, PABBI is the Pennsylvania Association of Innkeepers.  It was held at State College this past Tuesday through Thursday.  We just keep growing!  Our first conference four years ago we had 60 Innkeepers and this year we had 122 Innkeepers, the pre-conference Aspiring Innkeeepers program grew to 26 aspiring Innkeepers and we had quite the cadre of excellent vendors ( growth of 53%)!

One of them, Jay Sethi, a retired Indian surgeon, his company J & S International hires people in the Himalayas to make detailed textiles.  He has rugs, chair covers, pillow slips and other textile items.  They are hand made and provide income for some of the poorest in the world.  I picked up 9 pillow covers at just $8 a piece.  Here they are:



As everyone knows, the United States is finally implementing the chip card process.  I have received threatening letters from Heartland (my current credit card processor) that I needed a chip capable credit card processing machine for months.  I called Heartland four months ago inquiring about getting a chip capable machine.  I initially was told they did not have one for the lodging industry, they would contact me when they got one.  I contacted Heartland again and was told they were getting ones that would work in the lodging industry and would contact me when they came in.  I called a third time with the same result.  There was several credit card processor represented at our conference, because of my frustration with Heartland, I spoke with two processors.  The third processor was Blue Pay, you may remember me complaining about Blue Pay three years ago.  They had assured me they had lower processing fees than Heartland.  When I went to switch processors, Blue Pay reprogrammed my machine and it would not would not work.  The phone number for support they gave me was for credit authorization and those folks didn’t have a phone number for technical support over the weekend.  So I was stuck writing down credit card numbers to process Monday.  When I attempted to reach my rep, he didn’t answer his phone (he always did immediately when trying to get me to switch).  And he didn’t return my voice mails.  I ended up cancelling the contract and went back to Heartland.  Blue Pay had reprogrammed my credit card machine for their system.  And they put something in my machine that Heartland couldn’t over ride.  I ended up needing to buy a new machine.  Obviously, I’m not interested in dealing with them.  I ended up talking to Tom Weiskotten who has chip ready machines and clearly showed me how his fees were going to be less than Heartland.

Another big change for me will be my on-line reservation system.  I’ve used Webervations since I opened up heer, customer service does not exist in that company.  They are extremely cheap, $150 a year.  May on line reservation systems charge that or more per month.  That was the main reason I have stayed with them.  You get what you pay for in life,  I used them to securely receive credit card information and contact information I needed to process a reservation.  The other ones do all that and then have a data base of all your guests information and you can use that much as I use ACT, another large an unresponsive company.  I would take the information from Webervations manually move it into ACT and then keep track of my guests.  With these newer systems all that is done with their system.  And (this is a big AND) they open the door to what we refer to as OTA (online travel agents ie Expedia, Booking.com, etc).  I can open my rooms to these venues when I feel like it.  They have recently lowered their fees from 25 – 30% of the sale to 15%.  So I go in and can close my inventory to them whenever I want.  Like weekends, holiday, Steeler home games, etc.  There’s no sense paying 15% commission when I am going to already sell out any way.

I do love getting away and meeting with other Innkeepers, it’s to the point that I am friends with most of the attendees.  There is so much to learn and share.  Not to mention I got to hang with my good friends Tony & Sue that live in State College.

Enjoy your weekend,



Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Erie Canal (1825), it’s Austria’s National Day, the gun fight at the OK Corral (1881) and it is the Islamic feast of the sacrafice-Eid-al-Adha.  Birth anniversaries include French revolutionary war hero Georges Danton (1759), renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (1911) and composer Domenic Scarlatti (1685).

Back in the late 1940’s and early 50’s the government had a surplus of parachutes and Idaho had a surplus of beavers in certain parts of the state and wanted to move them to remote areas of the state.  And so the the game commission came up with a novel solution, they devised a Beaver Drop.  🙂

A lot of the subscription services are blaming the new chip embedded credit cards for sharp decline in membership.  Places like Netflix, dating sites, etc.  That is a common occurrence when credit cards are renewed with a new expiration date.  But there are so many cards being re-issued because of the chip technology, it’s a lot more than normal.

Hewlett-Packard, Dell,Lenovo are teaming with Microsoft  to launch a $70M ad campaign encouraging PC and laptop users to buy newer versions.  The laptop and PC segment has been falling steadily over the last number of years as people switch to smart phone and notebooks for their computing needs.

It’s a busy time of year for North Hills Community Outreach.  They are having their yearly coat drive through the end of October.  Coats donated need to be serviceable, no broken zippers, ripped or torn coats can be accepted.  For the first time they have partnered with Dutch Girls Cleaners on McKnight Road.  Dutch Girls is offering to clean any coat donated in need of cleaning.  They are more interested in functional coats like ski jackets, more than fashionable long coats.  Most needed are adult XL and XXL.  Last year they collected 2,000 coats and jackets that helped 345 families. They are also collecting non perishable foods for Thanksgiving Dinners, anything you might find at a Thanksgiving dinner is needed.  Like canned cranberries, vegetables, powdered potatoes, etc They helped 800 families in need last year and the drive lasts through November 13.  Provided meals to 800 meals last year to families in need.  Also, so they don’t get bored, they are running a toy drive.  🙂  November 11 through December 11.  They are looking for unwrapped toys for tots through high school age.  More info at their website or by calling 412-487-6316.  You can also use that phone number to register to receive a coat, Thanksgiving dinner or toys.

Penn Forest Cemetery has new staff members.  Penn Forest is that green cemetery in Penn Hills, they’ve hired goats to keep the weeds at bay.  They will cordon off areas of the cemetery  and let the goats do their thing.  And get this, they’ve hired a director of security for the goats, a donkey will travel with the goats to keep predators at bay.  🙂    And as an added benefit, both landscapers and security guard will leave behind complimentary fertilizer.  🙂

There’s an interesting Government Accounting Office website that highlights art the government owns and where it is.  You can do a search by location or by artist.  Kind of an interesting site to browse.

Over the years, putting the gardens in the Courtyard to bed for the winter has been quite the chore and I’m getting pretty efficient at this task.  🙂  I remember digging the elephant ears’ tubers out in the mud right before a hard frost.  There was the year da boiz broke my hand and Dee & Taymar had to help me cut down the Arondo donex and it was bitter cold.  Then there was getting rid of all that vegetation.  The elephant ears and grasses are to much for my little Courtyard to be able to compost.   The city wouldn’t take it.   I ended up using my good friend Jeff that owns Peppi’s and would put limited amount of vegetation in his dumpster.  I’m not particularly comfortable putting vegetation in the garbage stream.  Last year, I talked about hooking up with those great people at the Western PA Conservancy, I know them.  I sponsor a garden at the corner of Brighton Road and California Avenue.  I knew at this time of year, they were dismantling most of their gardens and I’ve seen their pick up trucks loaded with plants they’ve taken out of the various gardens and knew they had to have a big composting program somewhere.  So I called my contact and inquired if I could put my vegetation in their composting pile.  The answer was yes.  I had the vegetation in the back of my pick up, he offered to transfer it to his truck and then take me up to show where their composting was right up Brighton Road.The last few days I’ve been dismantling the gardens and piling it in the truck.  In one fell swoop I was able to get rid of the vegetation.  Here’s before:P1000832


Here’s the Courtyard stripped and inspected by da kidz:



And here’s the tubers ready for their sleep in the basement over the winter:


Generally I replant the elephant ears later April, if you would like some, just bring a tub (with a lid) and visit me before later April. I always have a tub extra after planting them.  And I put tubers in cardboard boxes with a sign Free Elephant Ears.  They are usually gone the same day.  When my nephew Michael and myself cut the silver birch down a couple of weeks ago, we cut the l tree into fireplace sized logs with a sign Free Firewood, they were gone in two days. I will probably cut the Maiden Hair Grasses in half this spring (that’s the grasses on the far side of the water feature.  If you want some of them, just let me know.

Here’s a pic of the Maiden Hair:


That’s it for today, enjoy your weekend,



Sorry folks, I told this to publish on Monday and it didn’t.

Birth anniversaries include black American naval aviator Jesse Brown (1926), on the edge comedian Lenny Bruce (1925), former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925), French actor Yves Montand (1921) and Revolutionary War Heroine Molly Pitcher (1754).  It’s the anniversary of the authorization of the US Navy (1775) and in Burundi, Assassintion of the Hero of the Nation, Prince Louis Rwagasore (1961).

Gilfilan Farm will hold it’s second holiday antique show through October 15.  It runs from 10 am until 4 pm in the white barn.  The farm house will only be open for tours through scheduling by calling 412-835-2050 or by e-mailing the president of the Upper St Clair Historical Society at president@hsusc.org.  Gilifan Farm is one of the original farms of the area that eventually became Upper St Clair.

Jane has been visiting from Florida several times a year, Jim her friend has given me several original pieces of art work that hang in a grouping on the second floor landing.  One is of the old fire truck that used to be in the Commons for kids to play on another is of a small house in the Mexican War Streets and the third is of a whale playing in the ocean:


Appearantly, Jane’s sister Louise Leak was an accomplished artist, most notably for her work on etching print blocks.  Louise passed away forty years ago and they recently found a number of her print blocks.  Jane presented me with one titled The Table Room:


The picture’s black and white with so much detail, very talented!

City of Asylum recently closed on the old Masonic Temple on North Avenue (two doors down from the Garden Theater).  They plan on starting a $10M renovation immediately.  CA, in case you are not familiar with them house dissident authors and poets, mostly of Asian origin.  CA own several shot gun houses in the Mexican War Streets, one of the houses has a poem in Chinese written on the outside of the house, something to check out if you are walking in the area of the Mattress Factory and Randyland.  Up until now, they have hosted their readings and other events any where they could.  Now with the first floor becoming Alphabet City, they will have a permanent venue and coffee & gift shops in one location.

Pittsburgh’s Dirty Dozen Bike Race is about a month out, November 28.  The Dirty Dozen is actually 13 of the city’s steepest streets, including Canton in Beechview.  Canton has the steepest grade of any paved street in the world, the Guinness Book of Records lists a street in New Zealand, because it is longer.  (I think NZ’s street is 34% and Canton is 37%).  Actually they could hold the entire race in Beechview, there are so many super steep streets over there.  I go there often because that’s where my Mom lives and I scare her by driving down some of them.  🙂  Go to their website if you would like to register to participate.  It’s also a great excuse to go out and get some fresh air and cheer the participants on.

Rayzette is fully recovered from her being spayed.  Day one she slept the rest of the day, day two I took the cone off so she could eat breakfast and then again so she could eat lunch.  I left the cone off after she ate and watched her closely.  She started licking the incision and the cone went back on her.  I after dinner, I left the cone off and watched her for hours and she had learned the cone was related to licking the incision.  And she has a ravenous appetite.  🙂  She’s 62# and climbing, RJ’s 84#.  She doesn’t look like a puppy any more, she just looks like a super cuter small lab.  Here’s my little girl hanging out with her big brother:


Take care and enjoy this nice weather we’re having,



Tomorrow is the anniversary of one of debut of my most favorite TV shows Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969), Chief Joseph’s surrender (1877), the accident at the Enrico Fermi Atomic Power Plant at Monroe, MI (1966) and it is Portugal’s Republic Day.  Birth anniversaries include 21st President Chester Arthur (1829), three stooges actor Larry Fine (1902) and film pioneer Louis Lumiere (1864).

It’s that time of year to be scary (no comments on my cooking).  🙂  They are having their yearly living dead festival in Evans City, where much of Night of the Living Dead was shot next weekend.  Be careful of using the link livingdeatweeken.com, I was there and was going to put a hyperlink to it, but there seems to be some malware in it.  Included in the festivities will be a dedication of a permanent marker on the site of the farm house from the movie.  And of course the Living Dead Museum will have activities.  They are planning on having a number of cast members from the original movie and others that worked the classic film give autographs and insider information.

In addition to all the scare houses out there, there’s a number haunted tours.  In the City of Monogahela there’s a Candlelight Ghost Walk at 7:15 on the weekends of 10/16 &17 and then 10/ 23 & 24.  They are guided tours where the docent tells you stories of why certain houses are believed to be haunted.  More info by calling 724-258-6432 or visiting their website.  Out in Brownsville the Nemacolin Castle will have tours most weekend evenings during the month of October, more info 724-785-6882.  You go through the mansion in the dark with just lanterns.  Brackenridge Heights Golf Course will have ghost tours October 10 & 23 of areas known as hot spots.  The most famous ghost is Leo, a former employee.  This public golf course was private and exclusive in it’s heydays.  More info at their webs site or by calling  724-226-0955. Out in Fayette County there’s the Smock Heritage Museum, formerly known as a company story has a number of ghosts are said to be in residence.  They are only have tours from 5 pm  until midnight, October 10.  These guided tours take about 30 minutes.  More info at 724-570-3258.  Another  haunted tour include Haunted Pittsburgh which starts at the City County Building 7 pm Fridays, more info at their website.

The recreations of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria are docked down at Station Square until October 12.  Tickets are $7 & $8 for self guided tours and they run from 9 am until 6 pm.  More info at their website.

I talked about E-Cycling Recyling in Pine several years ago, Jenn Carr was collecting old TVs, and other electronics and then selling them to eloop in plum.  She’s no longer accepting these things, but eloop is still in business.

Faros Properties from New York relatively recently bought the old Allegheny Center Mall, 1.2 million square foot complex and is in the process of turning it into Nova, a tech friendly facility.  I believe they are the same group that last year bought the high rise apparments in the mall area and turned the 40% occupancy to 100% with waiting lists.  Nova will be hosting a big Maker Faire with over 200 inventors, crafters and tech enthusiasts. next weekend October 10 & 11.  Maker Faires is an international movement.

The California Girls were in again for another visit.  They are such nice ladies, and poor Nancy suffered the entire week they visited with gall stones.  But she kept up the happy face and was always such a pleasure to be around.  They left Thursday and before they left they went down to see Kerry at KS Kennedy Distinctive Floral and Gourmet and ordered flowers for all of us.  And you can see one of my Halloween decorations sneaking into the picture.  🙂


Enjoy this sunny fall day,



Tomorrow is world rabies day and Cabrillo Day (commemorating the discovery of California by the Europeans (1542).  Birth anniversaries include international actor Marcello Mastroianni (1924), European boxer Max Schmeling (1905),TV variety show pioneer Ed Sullivan (1901) and in Taiwan it is celebrated Confucius’s birthday and teachers day (he was born around 551 BC).

The National Aviary has added a garden gift shop right at the main entrance.  This is a separate shop from the gift shop by the entrance from the parking lot.  Both are run by the Aviary, not some outside vendor renting space.  In keeping with their mission, the items are nature inspired gifts.  The shop is open from 10 am until 5 pm and you don’t have to buy an admission tickets to visit it, just like the the other shop.

Really, the attorney for the latest Plum teacher being investigated for having sex with a minor made a statement that the 15 year old girl iniated the sexual encounter.  A 29 year old adult was influenced into a relationship with by a 15 year old child?  I think that attorney should be looked at.

Maybe there’s hope for us, Peanut Corporation of America’s owner Stewart Parnell just received a 28 year jail sentence for knowingly shipping salmonella tainted peanut butter.  We need jail time to strike home to corporate America to reign in the corporate greed.  Corporate executives make so much money, that even if their company doesn’t actually pay the fines, it means nothing to them.  9 people died and over 700 got sick.  I bet if a few of our banking executives got jail time, it would slow down on their corporate malfeasance.

Yes, I’m a boring person (I seldom go out), but these independent movie houses are now starting to serve craft beers at their concession stands.  It adds another layer to their offerings like I think it was the Hollywood Theater in Dormont that had a spaghetti dinner included in the price of admission for their recent spaghetti western series.  Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville has several beers on tap and it’s next door to another venture of theirs Atlas Bottle Works next door, you can walk over to Atlas select from 500 bottles available and walk right back into the theater with it.  The Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill also offers adult beverages.

The Montgomery Homestead Inn on the Appalachian Trail had a surprise the morning of May 16.  Several FBI agents showed up in the door with a picture of James Hammes, a regular at her Inn and known only as Bismarck.  Hammes had been up and down the Trail and is accused of embezzling $9M from his Ohio employer.  I think he always paid with cash.  🙂

This week my little girl is getting spayed, I’ve been a mess over this.  Unfortunately for sanity at The Parador Inn, it has to be done.  Here’s the latest picture of her with her, as yet, big brother.  I almost had to cut her choker off her she’s growing so fast.  She has mainly her adult teeth now.


The moon is going to be closest to earth tonight than it will be for the next 33 years this super moon eclipse is not going to be easily seen, because our weather calls for mostly cloudy.  In the chance of a break in the clouds, you should poke your head out every now and then to see this if possible.

Short post for today,



Jumping ahead, Wednesday will be the first day of fall.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the creation of the Postmaster General (1789), it’s Mali’s Independence day, it is Mabon one of the lesser Sabbats of the Wiccan year, the start of the Iran-Iraq war (1980), Italo Marchiony invented and eventually patented the cone for ice cream cones (1903), it is Elephant Appreciation Day

The reason for the Trump phenomenon is we as a nation are tired of the lies and graft in our country.  Chris Christie privatized the New Jersey lottery and the UK company, Northstar, running it was paid $100M last year.  Their performance has been so bad that NJ can cancel the contract.  (this is the same company Tom Corbett wanted to bring into Pennsylvania).  Northstar hired Christie’s communications chief from his campaign staff at a tune of $450,000!  As just one example, every time we turn around, we’re getting fleeced by one of  our entrenched politicians.

Which is my segway into what I really wanted to talk about, my hero John Feterman, the mayor of Braddock for the last almost ten years.  After graduating from Harvard, he took a position in Braddock through Americorps and fell in love with the gritty town and has been there since.  He threw his hat in the ring to represent us replacing Senator Pat Toomey (an entrenched politician) and running against two other entrenched politicians Governor Wolf’s ex-chief of staff Katie McGinty and former congressman Joe Sestak.  His website is johnfetterman.com. I spoke of John’s wife Gisel that started that food pantry app in my last blog post, goodness runs in the family.  🙂

Bruce Klein has his tradtional Halloween seasonal show at Photo Antiquities right over on E Ohio Street across the park from me.  Spirits Good and Evil and Vintage Mug Shots is a look at post mortem photographs.  Last year he specialized in child post mortem photos, this year he has not limit on age.  When someone passed away, the family would hire a photographer to capture an image of the deceased (sometimes with his/her eyes closed as if sleeping and sometimes with the eyes propped open).

To continue with the day bed saga, I took the broken springs over to John Groll Ornamental Ironworks to get it repaired.   John has done a fair amount of work here.  Initially he repaired the big fence in front of my Inn.  Basic repairs and then he got the gate to work.  He has since been back to do the handicap railings going into the Ballroom and along the Veranda.  Also, to get my Certificate of Occupancy to open, the City wanted a railing to the front porch from the parking lot.  John made one that matches the railings from the sidewalk up to the front door. He does nice work and is reasonably priced.  John’s shop is on Beck’s Run Road and I pulled in his lot, pulled the broken spring out of the back of my Prius.  A I entered the shop, John wasn’t there, but his staff member took one look at what I had and somewhat sneered “We don’t work on stuff like that”.  He then did a double take and asked if I wasn’t the guy that owns The Parador.  He has been here a couple of times for installation work on the railings.  And said, “Give me about ten minutes and I’ll fix it for you.”  It’s great being local and known, getting the cheapest price is not as important as finding someone that charges a reasonable price and build a relationship with them, it pays off in the long run.

Speaking of work at The Parador, we ordered 35 more replacement windows.  They will be installed the last week in October, hopefully I will see a significant reduction in my gas bills this winter (and reduced electric next summer for cooling.  This will finish all the large windows and the ones in the kitchens and laundry room.

Here’s the latest picture of Rayzette, she’s getting so big, I almost had to cut her latest choker off.  She’s growing so fast,and has anenormous appetite.  🙂P1000816

I have changed the occupancy for all the guest rooms, they are all now double occupancy, even the suites.  This weekend I’m serving 23 guests breakfast Sunday and Monday, that’ one of the reasons I quit doing weddings, logistically it’ too difficult.  The only time I run into this anymore is on Steeler home game weekends. And I always sell out for Heinz Field events, I would be more inclined to let extra persons in the suites on other days.  I had someone reserve four rooms  and then dropped it down to two, squeezing three people into one room and I’m left with two empty rooms Friday night  I was able to sell the two rooms Saturday night.  They cancelled the two rooms just before the two week cut off for cancellations, so they avoided the normal deposit they would be charged.  I easily could have sold those rooms if they hadn’t been blocked for months

Speaking of guests, I love my guests.  There are as in anything, some difficult ones and people that don’t read my Confirmation that has gotten me in trouble on on-line travels sites with negative reviews because people think lodging, 24 hour front desk.  Two nights ago I had two back to back phone calls at 1:30 in the morning.  When I pointed out to the one lady she was calling a Bed and Breakfast at 1:30 am where the cook/owner gets up at 5:30 am.  And she told me I didn’t have to be snippy with her.  David & Veronica were just here and brought me a bottle of wine a big ball for RJ and a small ball for Rayzette and two braided wrist bands for Dee & Taymar.  Speaking of Taymar (Taymar is Dee’s son and he’s working here helping out mainly with breakfast ).  He’s such a nice kid, I use him as my front man and generally I plate the breakfast and he delivers it to the guests.  I was so cute a couple of weeks ago, breakfast was basically finished and I was working on the computer when a guest walked in the kitchen and wanted to give him a tip for being so nice.  He was beaming, it was so cute.  I’m used to repeat guests doing random acts of kindness  Two weeks ago, I had first time guests from mid state New York. And they brought a sampling basket of what the area is known for.  It’s like when I waited tables and guests would leave 20% instead of the standard 15%.  It’s not the money, it’s that someone appreciates what we do. I definately am not soliciting gifts (a review would be nice though)  🙂  Thank you all my wonderful guests.

Is this the year my adopted Northside explodes?  It’s long over due.  Some New York company bought the high rise apartments a couple of years ago down around the old Allegheny Center Mall, that were running around 50% occupancy and they now have 100% occupancy and waiting lists. I believe it’s the same company that bought the old Allegheny Center Mall recently and is in the process of turning it into a business incubator for small technology companies.  One of the companies that regularly send Eileen to me Matrix will be moving into there next spring.  I hear they are putting a fitness center in there as well as a Star Bucks and other trendy options the techies look for at much more affordable rent rates than Bakery Square out in East Liberty. Not to mention the convenience of walking Downtown, which you can’t from Bakery Square out in East Liberty.  Some developer bought the Workman’s Bank on East Ohio Street and a number of parcels next to it and are planning on building 140 room hotel, retail and restaurants (the anchor will be a restaurant on the first floor of the bank).  There’s talk that some developer is finally interested in the Garden Theater block and wants to build a seven story structure behind it for apartments.  Personally, I think their plan is hideous, a seven story structure in an area that’s three stories.  And they seem only interested in keeping the facade of the old buildings next to the Garden Theater.  Although I don’t like the look of what they want to do, just to get something moving there, I will refrain from complaining too much.  What I have an issue with is they were talking about was trying to get a variance for parking they would normally be required to have.  Parking on the Northside is already at a premium.  This is what good planning needs to address, it will only get worse as time goes by. Closer to my Inn, some developer recently purchased the Guchert Building on the corner of North Avenue and Brighton Road for $1M, I believe it’s going to be residential, it’s a really big building I’m sure they will be able to get at least forty units in it.  The Hipwell site is home to Smart Solution on the first floor and they are planning and slowly working on residential on the second and third floors.  It looks like Andrew is starting site preparation for the next phase of his  Brighton Beech condo development, the condo’s they shot Abduction the move with Jason Lautner in it were he was the son of some government agents and they tried to keep him from the evil agents.  Not adding to housing growth, Dawar has located on Allegheny Avenue a couple of years ago (behind the fast food restaurants where Gourmet USA used to be a big desert company).  Dawar make and create special adaptations of touch screen technologies.

There’s going to be a rally against animal cuelty at the Humane Society at 10 am on October 17 with state senator Dom Costa as host.


Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of Revolutionary War statesman Carter Braxton (1736), evolutionary biologist Jay Gould (1955) Baseballer legend Roger Maris (1934) and fashion designer Elsa Schaparelli (1890). Not much on other annviersaries so TV’s Gunsmoke first air in 1995 and the X-File 1993.

It’s funny watching my not so little girl (she’s 50# now).  🙂  Follow in RJ’s footsteps, tearing up my garden as he did as a pup an now she’s kitchen surfing. For those of you without a puppy and a big kitchen where she can get a running start, she runs from one end of the kitchen to the rend other and jumps on one of their beds and “surfs” across the tile floor.  I remember when RJ figured that one out.  She also “surfs” on the throw rug.  Here’s my big girl:


She doesn’t look much like a puppy anymore, does she?

Progressive insurance has had it’s “safe driver” option for awhile now.  It’s a program where the insured agrees to put a devise in their car that monitors driving behavior.  Not a terrible thing, on some levels.  Allstate has applied for a patent for their version which will also monitor  BA levels (not necessarily a bad thing), disttracted driving due to phone calls, etc (will they be recording the conversations?) and other drivers around that vehicle.  And in the patent application, they admit they intend to use the data collected and sell it like Google mining your e-mails.  A terrible thing.  Where will big companies go next with spying on us?

Here’s the  cutest reggae video ever Reggea Shark.

Very scary, a family in Armstrong County had their WiFi hacked and lost control of their computer, TV and iPhone since they were all part of the WiFi system.  He/She also took control of the webcam and was watching them.  Besides everything else, he taunted them saying he saw their daughter in pajamas watching TV in the other room, luckily he/she had access to their bank account and only took a small amount of money.

PA Sales tax is 6%, Allegheny County collects and additional 1%, part of which goes to the Regional Asset District or RAD.  Which supports non profits.  Attractions that receive RAD money are required to open their doors to the public for free each year. The Carnegie Museums of Natural History Art and Architecture is offering free admission Sunday, September 20,  Soldiers and Sailors Hall will have free admission Monday September 21.  Phipps Conservatory will have free admission Sunday, September 27. The Warhol and Children’s Museum‘s free day will be also on Sunday, September 27.  Go to RAD’s site for a complete listing of all the organizations offering a free admission day, There’ s a lot more than the biggies I just listed .

Besides the headlines grabbing Exxon oil spill when their pipe burst in Montana under the Yellowstone River. In the North Dakota leg of the Yellowstone River nearly 1M gallons of brine killed countless water life in 2006.  And they spent $2M on clean up.  The problem with brine (the waste from fracking either the oil companies using it to crack the shale rock or it comes up with the oil because it’s naturally occurring down there.The brine is much more salty than sea water and it kills plants and trees that can’t flee from it. And with oil you can see it and there’s microbes in the soil that will actually eat it.  (I’m not minimizing the effects, I’m just saying the threat from brine spills is significantly worse.)  What got my goat was the cavalier attitude of the Independent Petroleum Association spokeswoman Katie Brown said “In an industrial society, you are going to have spills”.  I guess with that logic, with the use of nuclear power, we are going to have melt downs?

I have worked around restaurants most of my life and seen chef’s send out free food often, sometimes it’s a sampling for a regular guest, sometimes it’s trying out new recipes to see the results.  It’s becoming a trend in some local restaurants to do it on a regular basis  with everyone depending on how much time the kitchen has.  These “small bites” have an actual name I just learned Amuse-Bouche pronounced amuse boosh). Several local restaurants that seem to be doing this on a regular basis include Monterrey Bay Fish Grotto, Altius on Mt Washington, Spoon, Paris 66 and the Twisted Frenchman.

This refugee crisis in Europe is mind blowing.  It speaks volumes of the governance of their home countries.  But if you want to emigrate to a western country, you need to accept our morals and values.  I’m OK if you want to wear a burka around your neighborhood, or shopping, going to attractions etc.  But if our law for identification says a face picture is needed and you don’t want to do that, go back to the country you fled.  This last comment is from the movement in France this past summer where Muslim woman were organizing to fight the law banning head scarfs in photo ID pictures.

That’s enough rambling for one day, enjoy the break in our heat wave, that starts tomorrow 🙂