Tomorrow is Gloria Steinem’s birthday (1935), sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s birth anniversary (1867-he created the sculptures on Mt. Rushmore), Pecan Day, the anniversary of George Washington planting at Mt. Vernon-some are still living (1775), Greek Independence Day (from the Ottoman Empire in 1829) and the Rome Executions anniversary where the Nazi’s executed 300 priests, woman, Jews and two fourteen year old boys (1944) in retaliation for 33 German soldiers killed by Italian partisans.

The Western Pennsyvlvania Conservancy is quite the organization.  We all see the signs around town in the gardens they maintain, but there’s a lot behind the scenes.  A staff of six coordinate the planting and upkeep of around 140 public gardens as far east as Harrisburg.  They organize around 13,000 volunteers to help beautify the public space.  They design gardens based on the natural conditions, some areas have a lot of road salt like along major highways, some locations are more windy or drier than others.    They also need to assign tasks based on the volunteers.  The planters right outside the Squirrel Hill Tunnels are considered too dangerous for volunteers, so staff plant those areas.  Apparently begonias, though hearty, break easily and the are considered off  limits for volunteer children.  Lynn McGuire-Olzak says she doesn’t want children frustrated with their first stint at volunteerism.  Last year they had 214 school groups and 201 corporate groups.  36 corporate sponsors, the Regional Asset District, the city of Pittsburgh and various foundations fund their $400,000 effort.  More info at their web site, by calling 412.586.2324 or e-mailing Lynn at lolzak@paconserve.org.

Well, we have a bit of a reprieve.  The FAA has postponed ruling on permitting the use of cell phone on airplanes.  OMG, what a nightmare that could be.  Can you imagine being stuck between two gabbers?  Only in my worst nightmare.

I’m becoming obsessive with the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead.  I really am becoming a fan of their art. Myra asked for a close of my Día de los Muertos Senoras.

There’s a exhibit The Gallery on 43rd Street in Lawrenceville through April 28 by Mike Egan.  Although there’s no reference to Day of the Dead, his artwork certainly is reminiscent of some of the images I’ve seen.  I just bought a book on line for images of various Mexican artists featuring these themes.  The gallery is open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.  As anyone that’s seen my tissue boxes, I’m no artist.  But I find painting rudimentary images of fishes on one, birds on another, etc to be fun.  I need images that are not too complex (some may call my “artwork” cartoons and I’m fine with that).  Day of the Dead is going to be my next tissue box.

The famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band is playing at Manchester Craftsman’s Guild  one show tonight at 8 p.m. and one Sunday at 2:30 p.m.  Tickets are $57.50 for Saturday and $52.50 for Sunday.  I didn’t know they were founded in 1961 by a couple from Pottstown that moved to New Orleans after Allen and Sandra Jaffe fell in love with the city while serving in the Navy.  In 1961 they moved to New Orleans and opened Preservation Hall, as a gallery, music and social site.  Because they have been around for fifty years, their musicians range in age from their 30’s to their 80’s.  Well worth the trip to see them if you have the time.  More info at Manchester’s web site or by calling 412.322.0800.

HUGE, the Veranda is a central part of The Parador.  During decent weather, everyone loves to hang out there (I spend most of my free time there).  The shabby contractor that did a lot of the work when I bought this place did a shabby job installing the composite decking, surprise surprise.  He talked me into buying TimberTrex, a Trex knockoff.  Right after it was installed, I dropped a potato chip on it and the grease from the chip stained the deck.  He talked me into running the boards lengthwise to cut down on costs.  The water didn’t run off the sides of the deck, every time I cleaned it, I had to push the dirty water the length of the deck.  The structure below the decking was not done properly and the posts were pushing the decking down and cracking it.  I could go on…..  So I hired DiBucci and Sons to concrete it.  Typical me, they weren’t the cheapest, nor the most expensive.  (He was close to half the highest bid).   I feel  they  definitely gave me the best work I could have gotten.  I wanted the durability of cement, but not the look of a new sidewalk.  Options had been stamping or staining.  Although I really like both techniques, I didn’t feel they would be right.  Rick suggested “exposed aggregate”.  A process where they pour and work the concrete and then take a power washer and hose off loose cement exposing the aggregate.  Awesome.  The cement looks like it’s fifty years old (I say that in a nice way).  He also suggested placing random flag stone in it.  I can’t be happier with their workmanship AND their professional attitude and attention to detail.

This picture really doesn’t do it justice.  You can see several of the random placement of flagstone Rich worked into the concrete.  The picture below is a close up of the exposed agregate finish he suggested.  The Veranda floor looks like it’s been there fifty years.  I love it:

Mark your calendars, The Pittsburgh Marathon is scheduled for Sunday May 6, the early runners usually come past my front porch around 8.  More info at their web site.  On May 11, Three Rivers Rowing Association is having a free learn to row in their indoor tanks at their Millvale Boathouse from 6-7:30 pm and from 7:30-9 pm.  Space it limited.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.231.8772.  Then on May 19, The Venture Outdoors Festival will run from 11 am until 6 pm at Point State Park.  There will be a climbing wall, fishing, kayaking, dragon boating, yoga, biking and more.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.255.0564.

Lets take a walk, The North Shore Trail.  This one of the most used trails in the city and right down from me.  It is shared by bikers, joggers, walkers, runners, skaters and anyother form on on land movement.  🙂  Currently it runs from Washington Landing on the Allegheny down to the River’s Casino.  Besides great architectural and city views, when the weather’s nice you see all the boaters and kayakers enjoying the river.  You also walk, run, bike, etc past the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, Mr. Rogers’ statue among other points of interest.  If you are interested in kayaking, Kayak Pittsburgh is located under the 6th Street Bridge (Roberto Clemente Bridge).

Let’s take a walk, next up is Riverview Park on top of the hill behind me.  The park was donated to the City of Allegheny in 1894 and is around 287 acres, it is also home to Pitt’s Observatory.  The park was designed to be walked around.  The easiest trail is the Observatory Trail that pretty much stays on top of the hill and about a half mile loop through the park.  The Riverview Trail loop is about two miles and it does some small grades up and down.  The biggest challenge is the Wissahickton Trail, also two miles up and down the hills.  This trail includes Archery Trail, Riverview Drive and the Bob Harvey Trail.

My final walk (and this may be a final walk) the the FIVE mile walk up Fineview Stairs.  Yes, these stairs wander FIVE miles up to Fineview from behind Allegheny General Hospital.  The Raising Main is the final and steepest of the assortment of stairs in the climb.  The Raising Main is the equivalent of climbing a 17 story building.  I’m exhausted just writing about this.

Well, that’s it for today, enjoy your weekend,


  • Wow! The Day of the Dead ladies are really ‘something else’! I never would have guessed that’s what they looked like. Thanks for taking the time to post those pictures Ed.

    Oh, oh, oh. Absolutley LOVE ther veranda. Wow. That is perfect.

  • Jennifer Evans |

    Loved the Day of the Dead ladies in our room! They were great roommates. Thanks for a wonderful weekend 🙂

  • Thanx, quite the change. RJ is still a wild man. 🙂

  • Sharon Guinaugh |

    Love your new Veranda! We spent a lot of time there when we visited… playing with the dogs, enjoying the landscaping and smoking cigars. It was beautiful then and even more so now.

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