Obviously, tomorrow is All Fools Day, also the anniversary of the first large bridge built over the Neponset River in 1634, Lon Chaney’s birth anniversary (1883), cigarette advertising was banned in 1970, William Harvey’s birth anniversary (1578-he was the first to discover the mechanics of blood flow), Iran commemorates the approval of their Islamic constitution, and the US Air Force Academy was established in 1954.

The Whole Foods store on Perry Highway in McCandless is now scheduled to open in May.  They’ve had several planning and land-use issue that needed to be cleared up that caused the delay in opening.  This 33,000 square foot store will be in the Wexford Plaza.

What’s up with Penn Hills High School?  They expelled a student for having school issued blunt scissors in his backpack.  The administration was changing it from a three day suspension to a week before they decided enough was enough.

Gallery 709 Penn Avenue is featuring Caravan:Paintings by Melissa Kuntz.  This chair of Clarion University’s art department uses the mid twentieth century style known as precision ism, in which the real world is transcribed into flat planes of cool color and solid, sometimes overwhelming shapes.  This works great with her subject matter, old time RV’s and classic mid century signs.  I love that retro 50’s and 60’s look.  (Don’t get nervous, even though I love it, I won’t be working it into The Parador).  🙂  The Ohio River Antique Mall on route 65 is a frequent stop of mine and they have a room dedicated to Formica tables, vinyl covered chairs, lava lamps, etc.  I always check it out.  The gallery is open 11 a. until 6 pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. until 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays and 11 am until 5 Sundays.  More info at Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, there web site or 412.456.6666.

I plead guilty.  I was pulled over by a Virginia State Trooper for going 80 mph in a 70 mph zone.  Mildly in my defense, it was five in the morning and it was just me and the big truckers on I77, but I was wrong-I admit it.  That is my first moving violation in years.  Since then, I have received five solicitations from different Virginia attorneys.  I called them all and they all had the same spiel.  They could get my moving violation down graded to an equipment malfunction violation.  I had nothing wrong with my car.  I admitted to them and the officer that I was speeding.  The law firms all say it doesn’t matter.  They will keep me from getting the four points.  All five attorneys charge a $135 fee and the traffic ticket goes up from $121 to $189.  What a racket.  The attorney’s have easy money and the state of Virginia gets an extra $68 in ticket fees.  Yes, I’m guilty twice, because I went for the non moving violation.  🙂

As I’ve said, I’m getting addicted to Mexico’s Day of the Dead.  This is a blend of the Mayan festival celebrating past loved ones and the Spanish/Catholic All Souls Day.  Mary J Andrade wrote several books on Dia de los Muertos and I ordered one on line.  I waited and waited and then sent her an E-mail asking about it.  She asked where I had ordered it and I forwarded my confirmation.  She told me she would mail it the next day.  When it arrived, there were two books.  She sent another book of hers because she felt bad about the mix up.  I love businesses doing “the right thing.”  By the way, I’m looking for a book with a lot of images of Dia de los Muertos art.  Mary’s book has great pictures and narrative, but very few pictures of the artwork famous for this holiday.

Speaking of doing the right thing, that contractor that cemented my Veranda bid the work to include a footer.  When they did the demo, they found a footer right where it should be.  So Rich DiBucci pointed that out (many contractors would pretend they didn’t see it and try and get away with the original bid).  He offered to reduce the bid, add the flagstone accents or other options we may have.  I love businesses doing “the right thing”.  If I double book a room and have to have a guest move, I take care of it.  If there’s no water because of a main break, I take care of their bill.

I’ve complained about big oil and the record profits they consistently post year after year.  We’re talking PROFITS in the BILLIONS of dollars.  The senate just blocked an effort by the Obama administration to cancel their tax breaks by a 51 – 47 vote.  I just spent time on line trying to find out which senators voted against this effort to no avail.  I don’t know if it’s too early for the votes to be published or if it’s part of them somehow hiding the shameful thing they did.  If any of you fine the roll call and see how our Pennsylvania senators voted, please let me know.  I would love to publish their names and I definitely would never vote for those persons again.

Kayak Pittsburgh, a division of Venture Outdoors is adding kayak and bike rentals at the Millvale Riverfront Park (It already rents these at North Park and under the 6th Street Bridge, here on the Northside).  Starting May 26, from 11 a.m. until dusk weekdays (an hour earlier on weekends) single kayaks will be $15 an hour, double kayaks $20 and $8 for bicycles.

For those of you out in Westmoreland County, Westmoreland Cleanways are offering a backyard composting workshop at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at St Vincent College on April 14 from 10 am until noon.  Also from 9 am until 11:30 am on May 12 at Oak Hollow Park in North Huntingdon and June 9 at the Westmoreland Conservation District headquarters on Donohoe Road in Greensburg.  Cost is $10.  Registration deadline is one week prior to each workshop, or until it is filled.  More info at their web site or by calling 724.836.4129.  By the way, my composting turned out great this year.  As I compost throughout the year, I don’t get much heat in my bin.  It’s fairly warm down deep, but no heat anywhere close to the surface.  I understand that if you can get more heat, it breaks everything down quicker.  If anyone has a suggestion, let me know.  The bottom line, my gardens are happy.  Two years ago, it was the sea oats that tried taking my gardens over.  That spring I had tons of seedlings I had to weed before spreading my compost and then remulching.  (I got rid of the sea oats).  This year it was the scallions.  And they were a real PIA.  The seedlings’ stalk gets real thin before the bulb.  So it took a concerted effort to dig them up.  This year I’m going with container herbs.  🙂

The above picture shows the newly planted elephant ears.  As usual, I had a lot of extra elephant ear tubers.  So I put them in cardboard boxes on my front steps with a sign “Free Elephant Ears” and they were gone in the morning.  This year I had to divide the maiden hair grasses by the water feature (I need to do this every three years) and did the same thing.  They also were gone in the morning.

The above picture is the scene of the scallion carnage 🙂  Also, missing are the pygmy bamboo.  There are two types of bamboo, trailers and bunchers.  The bunchers are non invasive, they grow outward in a bunch.  The trailers grow by sending their roots out and new bamboo sprout everywhere from their roots.  I had the pygmies in five gallon containers buried in the garden.  They escaped from the containers, so before they got out of hand, I removed them.  I pulled the pygmy bamboo out yesterday and put them on my front step.  They are still there this morning.  I don’t know if the rain last night kept people in, or if others are scared of the bamboo also.

And finally the beach.

The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation has a series of tours.  The first is a bus tour on April 14 of Glenshaw highlighting the recently renovated 1883 Isaac Lightner House with summer kitchen and spring house, the 1885 Glenshaw Presbyterian Church, the public library and the 127 year old former train station turned private home, the Joseph L Kirk house (I think he was James Kirk’s grandfather 🙂 ).  Future tours are May 5 Historic Waynesburg Bus Tour, the May 19 Modernism Downtown Walking Tour, the June 24 Shadyside Walking Tour, the September 8 Dormont Walking Tour, the September 15 Behind the Scenes Heinz History Center Tour and finally the October 20 tour will be the Brierly/Berndtson House Tour.  More info at their web site or by calling Mary Lu at 412.471.5808, ext 527.

Finally, Pittsburgh is getting the compressed natural gas vehicle, the Honda Civic Natural Gas (formerly called the Civi GX).  Washington Honda will be carrying them starting later this spring.  This vehicle has been around since 1989 and is mainly used as a commercial fleet vehicle.  It is expected to cost about $26k as compared to the regular Civic’s price of $20k.  At $1.85 per gallon equivalent (compare to gasoline I saw today at $3.99 on McKnight Road), it may be a wise investment.  The Natural Gas version gets similar mileage (38 mpg vs 39 mpg).  There’s already an EQT station on Smallman in the Strip and at Giant Eagle in Crafton.  Waste Management is building a station out in Chartiers.  So the stations are slowly coming around.

Well, that’s about it for today,


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