Tomorrow is the official Blame Someone Else Day, traditionally the first Friday 13 of the year, Horatio Alger’s birth anniversary famed for writing over 100 popular books touting frugality, honesty and hard work, Alfred Fuller’s birth anniversary (1885-Fuller brushes), Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison concert (1968), New Years Day for the old Julian Calendar and Tyvendedagen in Norway (also Tjugondag Knut in Sweden)-the traditional end of Christmas holidays after 24 days.

There’s a hidden gem (actually there’s many hidden gems) in Pittsburgh most people aren’t aware of.  Chatham Village up on Mt Washington was built in the early thirties as a show case of how urban planning could create distinctive housing that was aesthetically pleasing, structurally sound and affordable.  These are all townhouses that they planned around the advent of cars, but as cars being of secondary importance to living.  Many modern housing projects have garages as a prominent feature in front of the homes.  Some of the 197 town homes have integrated garages, but these are set back into the structure under a porch so they are basically unnoticeable.  Or they have parking lots that are tucked away behind landscaping so you don’t notice the cars.  There’s actually only one road that goes through the development, all other roads just enter from the outside and end abruptly before coming in too far.  The brick, limestone and slate townhouses are nestled in extensive landscaping featuring large mature trees, smaller decorative shrubs and flowers that are timed to bloom throughout the spring, summer and fall.  The amazing thing is this was developed on some of Pittsburgh’s steep slope real estate and the designers took that into account and you don’t really notice it.  Angelique Bamberg, an instructor of historic preservation a Pitt has published a book “Chatham Village: Pittsburgh’s Garden City” last year through University of Pittsburgh Press, $29.95.  Very interesting in details and pictures, both current and historic.

As a side note (or I guess in this case a bottom note)  :), Chatham University is totally unrelated to Chatham Village.  The name Chatham, that you see all around Pittsburgh is used to honor William Pitt, the First Earl of Chatham and he’s namesake of the City of Pittsburgh.  It’s much like in a hundred years from now and people see Menzer Blvd, the University of Menzer, the Cathedral of Menzer and the soon to be started The Mall at Menzer will be famous reflections of one of Pittburgh’s famous.  🙂

Before I send money to a charity, first they need to peak my interest.  Once they do that, I go to one of those charity ranking sites on the Internet, like Charity Navigator.  What brought this up is I noticed the Hatian Health Foundation.  For $150, you can buy a Haitian family a goat.  I don’t know what happened to all that money that was pledged to Haiti since the devastating earth quakes two years ago.  But the are still a mess down there.  Goats will eat most anything and are easy to care for.  They would provide milk (and cheese) for a family down there.  It may be a little help, but the big help doesn’t seem to be working.  And I checked their score, 92.9% of their proceeds goes to their mission.  (as a comparison Brother’s Brother sends 99.7% of donated money to their mission.

Since they are predicting winter to finally strike this evening, thought I’d keep the theme going.  Tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday is Somerset’s 17th Annual Fire and Ice Festival.  They have ice sculptures, fire rings on the street!, fire works, kettle corn, vendor and activities for kids and adults.  Many of the ice sculptures are made by Pittsburgh’s ice artists Joe & Mike Mastro of Mastro’s Gourmet Quaility Ice on Polish Hill.  The Mastro brothers supply 60 ice sculptures for the Somerst event.  More info by visiting their web site or calling 814.443.1748.  Next weekend is the 21st Annual Ligonier Ice Fest.  Ligonier’s Fest is on the streets around the diamond on January 21 and 22.  Jeannette ice artist Ernie DiMartino and staff at DiMartino Ice Company will create around 20 sculptures for this event.  They sponsor kids crafts, wine tasting, hot soups, arts, crafts and entertainment for the adults at the Ligonier Theater on January 21.  More info and reservations for the adult Chill Chaser can be had by calling 724.238.4200 or by visiting their web site.

There’s an exhibit at The Box Heart Gallery 4523 Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield through February 4.  It’s their 11th annual Art Inter/National and hours are 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesdays, an hour earlier Wednesdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Sundays.  Of the 500 pieces submitted, gallery owners selected 25 pieces by 20 artists for this year’s show.  These international artists defy logic with the creations.  Katerina Bodrunova’s “Marionette Spectacle. I act Apptence” has repeated images of a woman walking down a hill toward a cliff where she meets her lover that is standing perpendicular to the cliff.  Anna Berndtson’s Dream Sky is a brass fawcett spewing smoke and liquid, contrary to common logic.  Richard Elaver’s 3-D print Tendrils is hard to decipher if it’s real or imagined.  He used computer graphics and algorithms to simulate natural forms.  A more conventional appearing piece is Irina Dorofeeva’s silk painting Winter.  Made from one piece of silk and then hand dyed to create a moody winter landscape.  More info at their web site or by calling 412.687.8858.

That’s about it for today.  I hope you have you snow shovels brushed off and mittens warming.  They are predicting winter is to strike this evening through tomorrow.

Keep warm,


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