Tomorrow is independence day for much of Central America: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua all in 1821 from Spain.  Greenpeace was founded in 1971, birth anniversaries include Agath Christie (1890), Fay Wray (1907) and William Taft (1857).  It is also the anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham that killed four young girls (1963).

The Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens out in Oakdale is kind of open.  It officially opens next spring, but they have areas that are pretty much finished that they are offering sneak previews.  Much of this 460 acre garden is reclaimed strip mines.  They are dividing the space into various “gardens”, the first one they are working on is Appalachian Plateau.  This 60 acre site already has a pond so fouled with mine acid drainage, even mosquitoes wouldn’t breed there.  This first section will not have just native plants to our area.  They plan to have plants and trees from Europe and Asia also that will be closely monitored to ensure they do not become invasive.  142 year old barn will become the Bayer Welcome Center and a place for classes and social events.  They are planning on spending $30M over 30 years to bring this up to speed.  They are located at next to Settlers Cabin Park.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.444.4464.

Jenn Morris has started a campaign to recycle something that’s in abundance but is not easily recycled.  She founded Cork PGH that collects those pesky wine corks.  (I save mine in a drawer until I find some artist looking for them).  In eight months, Jenn amassed 140,000 corks-enough to fill two pick-up trucks from landfills.  She has collection sites at The Pittsburgh Public Market, Carlo’s Wine Garage, Glades Pike Winery and Eclipse.  (Whole Foods has their own cork recycling program).  She’s hoping to get restaurants caught up in the program and keep even more out of landfills.  You go girl.  🙂

I’ve talked about the food truck plying the streets in the past.  I found some more.  The Polish Pierogi Truck can be found at the Whitehall Farmers Market on Mondays, Tarentum Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays, Greentree Farmer’s Market on Thursdays and Mt Lebanon Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.  More info on the web site of this New Kensington based traveling truck (they also sell pierogis from their web site).  Dozen Bakeshop that specializes in cupcakes started over in the West End, but closed that store to open stores in Lawrenceville and Oakland.  They now have a dessert truck that travels around special events.  More info on their web site.  Moonlite Express does a pseudo-Asian take just off CMU campus on the corner of Margaret Morrison Street and Forbes Avenue.  Besides it being one of the most colorful trucks in Pittsburgh, you will find da ‘burg influenced Asian food like Kielbasa and Kraut fried rice.  🙂  My last find is PGH Taco Truck.  James Rich fell in love with the concept of food trucks after working on the Burrito Buggy outside Ohio University’s campus.  He’s brought the concept of upscale tacos to the streets of PGH with locally sourced and fifty percent of his menu is vegetarian friendly.  Because of the PGH City ordinance that food trucks can only be parked for 30 minutes on the street, he advertises his locations by Twitter.  Check them all out.  Van Appetit (get it?  Bon Appetit-I slay me sometimes).  🙂

Bugs, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has more bugs than you can shake a stick at.  With The Parador Inn being a corporate sponsor, I get to go to behind the  scenes events.  I think I talked about it after attending a presentation by the bug people at the museum.  They have roughly 11M bugs categorized, labeled and many on display.  THEY HAVE AROUND 20M MORE IN STORAGE!  During the tour, Curator John Rawlins explained the entomology has a lot of fans.  When a professor of entomology, or some other bug professional passes away, what does the widow/widower do with the collection?  It ends up being donated to The Carnegie.  The presentation probably is one of those things that will remain with me the rest of my life.  I’m still not in love with bugs, but certainly have a greater appreciation for them after that.  Curator Rawlins has teamed up with a group of professors and students at CMU’s School of Design and they created a new exhibit to teach, engage in and easy to understand style.  They have also recruited famous bugs like Z from Antz, Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web, Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio and the Honey Nut Cheerios bee.  Sounds like a pretty cool presentation.

Well, that’s about it for now.  Enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend’s supposed to have,


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