THE FRICK – PITTSBURGH – Last Day to Explore Pittsburgh

The children’s playhouse on the Frick  Estate

October 28, 2019

My last day in Pittsburgh  I ventured to  The Frick – Pittsburgh.  The Frick is the  6 acre  property  of  wealthy industrialist, financier, union-buster,  art collector (and I could go on and on)  Henry Clay Frick .   Henry, his wife Adelaide and their children  lived in the 4 story family  home , referred to as  “Clayton” from  1882 – 1905.  Photos were not allowed in the restored  home but  90  percent of the interior  ( furniture, wallpaper, draperies)  were  original.  Some parts of the house  showed  a tad bit of its age,  but the guided tour by a docent was very enjoyable and  insightful as to the “guided age” and the family’s most interesting and gossip-worthy life .  The guided age was the late 19th century when there was rapid economic  growth and rapid expansion of industrialization.

Henry Clay Frick’s  collection of Chinese porcelain,  some dating back to 1662.

Besides the family mansion and  the children’s playhouse,  there is a cafe,  a small art museum ( although the  bulk of  art collection is located at the ” Frick Collection”, now an art museum but  originally the family’s  New York home) and there was a……

Greenhouse and gardens….



an Allium of some sort


Plus the Frick property had a Car and Carriage museum !

This red and blue beauty is a 1940 Bantam Roadster.  Cost $445.00  Top speed was 43 mph and could travel 60 miles on a gallon of gasoline.

Model E Towing car from 1917. A gift to the museum.

Model A Roundabout from 1901, cost was $750 and  top speed was 25 miles per hour.  This car was a gift to the museum.

Stanley Steemer Model R Roadster from 9009, cost was $1350, and it could run on kerosene or water.  The top speed was 70 miles per hour.  This car was a gift to the museum.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost from 1914 at a  cost of  $4800.  Henry  Clay Frick ordered 3 of these for family use and each was  highly customized, which could take up to 18 months in production.

Lincoln  Model K, Sport Phaeton from 1931. Cost was $ 4600. This was one of several Lincolns  that Henry Clay Frick owned during that era.

So that  wraps up my Pittsburgh Adventure.  I left Pittsburgh with fond memories and hopes to return again and see the sights that I missed.   Lastly,  I want  to mention that Pittsburgh has two clear distinctions  over any other city in the USA – it is the home of Mr. Fred Rogers and  also where Henry John Heinz invented ketchup in 1876.  Pittsburgh is home to the H. J.  Heinz Headquarters  and where you can also find  Heinz  chapstick in  4 different  flavors – ketchup, mustard, pickle and 57 sauce. Admittedly  I am a chapstick addict but, no, I could not bring myself to try any of these  flavors.

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!!






Cast  Collection in Hall of Architecture

October 20, 2019

Another one of my  explorations in Pittsburgh was at the Carnegie Natural History and Art Museum.  What a great museum!!  Here are just a few samplings of what can be enjoyed.

The museum’s  Hall of Architecture  opened in 1907 with 140 plaster casts of architectural masterpieces.  In the USA, it is the only remaining collection of its kind.  Today few casts are being made, due to the fragility of the originals and also the attitude of copying works  from the past.

Even though these are casts of the original, they were incredible to see, both in size and of  the great detail.

Conch Pearls ( the pink ones)  from  Mexico in the Hall of  Minerals and Gems.  Queen conch pearls are amount the rarest and most expensive pearls in the world.  The chances for finding a conch pearl is  1/15,000.  Even then, most are not of gem quality.

In the Hall of Mineral and Gems there are 1300 specimens from all over the world plus 500 gems, crystals and jewelry pieces.  This was my favorite part of the museum, though Bird Hall came in with a close 2nd.

From the museums’s insect collection – this monster can be found in the Philippines.  My finger is there to help give you an idea just how huge this creature is.

These Scarab beetles and a lot more assorted insects, moths and butterflies  can be found in the museum.

They  were spectacular to see up close, yet also a  little creepy.

The  leading museum’s entomologist has a mantra “there’s  never enough bugs”.   There are 30,000 drawers filled with millions of butterflies and moths alone and  approximately 11 million insects in their collection.

The museum ‘s Bird Hall features 300 taxidermy mounts  from hummingbirds to eagles.  This is an Elf Owl  which can be found in the southwestern region of the USA and in Mexico.  It is the world’s smallest owl and mostly eats insects.  The museum has a whopping  190,000 bird  specimens in its collection.

Replica of the extinct  Dodo  bird which was flightless and endemic to the island of Mauritius.

This is a Marabou, a stork that resides in Africa.

The  humorous side of the museum also has a display  of birds that went on to become famously portrayed on television, such as the cartoon character Tweety Bird,  who was a canary.

The Roadrunner  also reached stardom in  the cartoon  ” The Roadrunner” show.

A moose resides in the Hall of North American Wildlife along with 22 more dioramas depicting different  wildlife  in their natural habitat.

Zebras and more  reside in the African Wildlife section of the museum , in another 11 dioramas.

Striped deer can originally  be found in Africa.

This guy  was soooo lifelike,  my spine tingled  as I walked past. .

On the artsy side of the museum…..

“Bathers with Crab” by  Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1899

I failed to get the name of this piece but it was my favorite so included it anyway.

Ending  on  a work  of art guaranteed to make you smile, is  this contemporary  piece of  a  giant frog relaxing on carpet,  who, by the way,  occupied an entire room to himself.

There was much more to be seen at the museum but I simply ran out of time before I could see it all.

In memory of all the creatures that passed so that we could  continue to observe and learn…..

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”    Hunter S. Thompson

Hope you enjoyed!!!

Thanks for reading!



Wanderings in Pittsburgh

Downtown city of  Pittsburgh as seen from the top  observation deck of the Duquesne Incline.

October 5, 2019

Pittsburgh is  a very walkable,  though sometimes,  hilly city.   It sits at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.  There are 446 bridges connecting the city.  Of the 4 bridges I used in my wanderings, crossing the bridges on foot was easy and safe.  .

There are easy-to-find paved footpaths that lead you up, over and off the bridges safely.

Along the rivers’ edge, there are also wonderful paved  walking/biking paths, places where you can dock your boat and many parks, memorials, art , places to eat and touristy sights close by.

One such spot was the “Water Steps” fountain, which I was told is a popular place to sit by or sit in,  relax, let your kids and/or dogs play in and soak in the beautiful cityscape/ waterscape..   It is made up of 500 sandstone  blocks and 1000 smaller blocks and is 40 feet wide.   As you can see the water had already been drained for the coming winter but  I still enjoyed sitting for a bit and reveling in this beautiful, peaceful setting as I was falling in the love with this incredible city.

I also took  pleasure in a Gateway Clipper boat ride  to see the sights of Pittsburgh by water.   The  commentator was interesting and entertaining with many funny stories and tidbits  about the city.

I meandered through RandyLand, the quirky and  free, outdoor, public colorful art displays.  Randy Gilson bought some property and land with a credit card in 1995. As his story goes -” he would wait tables  and  then come home and paint  to bring happiness to his neighborhood.”  Much of his art work is  created with  repurposed items.

Did I mention it was quirky and colorful?

I am not sure if this is part of Randyland but it was located across the street.

I also explored the Mexican War Streets in Pittsburgh.  It is a historical area with 18th century  restored row houses, gardens, alleyways and lots of personality.

The streets were named from people and places of the Mexican-American War

I also passed by to admire the alluring architecture of  Carnegie  Hall.

A photo does not do justice to this gorgeous mural I discovered in my travels by foot.

This is the  Duquesne Incline.   Pittsburgh was at one time home to 23 inclines built into the hillsides.  Today only 2 remain – the Duquesne  Incline and the Monongahela Incline. Today they are largely ( no pun intended) used by tourists  but  still some use as needed transportation.

Going up……..I bravely rode the Duquesne Incline which has been operating since 1877.   It is 800 feet long, 400 feet in height and inclines at a 30 degree angle.  It moves very, very slowly and has a lot of creaking noises.

The cable  cars are not the original but they are still a century old.  From inside the top station, you can view the machinery  while it operates.

Going down gave me just as much reason to hold my breathe and renew my faith in God as going up.

All of the above was done in one day of exploring by foot, with time to spare.


“Blessed are the curious for they will have adventures.”

by Lovelle Drachman


Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!







Victoria Crowned Pigeon

October 5, 2019

The National Aviary is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and if you love birds, this is a must see!!!  THIS is what truly brought me to Pittsburgh and it was wonderful!  It is the largest aviary in the USA.  There are 200 different species and over 500 total birds.  They also have a sloth but, admittedly, the Aviary staff  say he mostly stays hidden and sleeps a lot .  I did not see him  even though a docent tried to point out his only visible leg to me in a tree.

Ninety-nine percent of the birds are  contained in recreated natural habitats  for the birds  who come from all over the world.  The habitats are divided up with a wetlands, grasslands, rainforest, and  penquin point   enclosures  and the birds are free flying so you can observe and enjoy as long as you would like to.   Some of the birds  clearly had no fear of humans and came to  sit right beside  me or stand as my feet.   I tried my best to identify each bird, yet still remain a mystery.

Andeon cock of the rock

Marianas fruit dove

Snowy egret

Golden breasted starling

White-eared catbird

Superb Sparrow

Purple throated fruitcrow

Burrowing Owl  – about 7 inches tall

I think this is a screech owl

Green singing finch

Red siskin

Shaft tailed finch

Turquoise Tanager

Western Kingbird

Owl finch


Guam kingfisher

Very curious bird

Roseate Spoonbill

Scarlet-headed blackbird

Guira cuckoo

Brown pelican

Venezuelan Troupial

White crested laughing thrush


Tawny frogmouth

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!




September  30 , 2019

Recently I spend a long weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I needed just one more get-away before winter.   Pittsburgh has an endless list of things to see and do and  sounded like a great adventure!!   One of the tempting attractions that lead me to Pittsburgh was the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  Phipps was a gift to the city of Pittsburgh in 1893 from Henry W. Phipps.  It has nine display rooms and was built at a cost of $100,000.   Along with regular  displays, in particular, Phipps had a limited time exhibit , Van Gogh in Bloom display, where  a few of Van Gogh paintings  have been recreated with flowers, plants and props.  The following were my favorites…

Van Gogh in Bloom

“Self Portrait with Straw Hat”

Van Gogh’s ” Houses at Auvers”

“The Red Vineyards Near Arles” painting

There was also an exhibit  “Tropical Forest Cuba”.

The entrance to Phipps is impressive as well.

Phipps also had several Chihuly glass art pieces scattered through out the gardens.

Chuhily art “Paintbrushes”

“Macchia bowls”


Hans Godo Frabel’s  glass frog was another glass art piece.

Also  these “Blue Pitcher Plants” ” by Jason Gamrath…

and Gamrath’s  “Orchid Blooms”

Phipps  has a separate  Orchid Room ……

Plus a   Desert Room……

And a children’s play area.

Here are a few samples of the remaining gardens…..

Best Lovely My Small Garden Quotes Collections – House and Garden (borrowed from the Internet)

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!

Stay tuned for more from Pittsburgh!










June 16, 2019

Spring bursting out of the ugly winter is  always nice to enjoy, even if the  shots are just a tad late. The tulips  and cherry trees blooms are gone for now, but here is your chance to enjoy them again. These photos were taken at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.


cherry tree blossoms

red bud tree  and the green pop of spring coming out of the neighboring  tree

more tulips leaning in the gentle breeze

deep inside an iris

Spring yellow forsythia bushes  encourage the winter dormant trees to wake up ( in honor of my Mom who loved forsythia and our entire front yard was lined with them – friends and family would drive by every spring just to see their  spectacular  beauty, even after long after my Mom was gone.

I love those blooming cherry trees against the blue sky !

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!


“Renew your passions daily.

Time is the only thief you can’t get justice against.”

Terri Guillemets, quote collector







June 12, 2019

For  5 glorious  days I had an eastern  bluebird pair  perching  about  my backyard and checking out my bluebird house.  I understand it is not always easy picking out a new home  and in the end, to my great disappointment,  they  moved on.    These  bluebirds  were the first  in my yard since I moved into this house  6 years ago so it was quite a treat.

In the past my bluebird house has always had Eurasian Sparrows as  residents,  and although the  sparrows  still come to my feeders, they did not move back into the house.  That along with  the bluebird rejection, I am  looking  into an upgrade.   While looking online, I have noticed many manufactures do not go by the specified house size and hole size that works best for attracting  certain birds.  So if you are trying to attract a certain bird, make sure you are investing in the correct size for the bird residents that you want.  It also always nice if you can easily open the box  to clean it out before  each  spring and your  new home hunters.

male eastern bluebird

the male trying to spruce up the place

water is a good way to attract birds into your yard

this is the female blue bird

female blue bird

“Until your spread your wings, you have no idea how far you can fly.”    Napoleon

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!!








Lithuanian Food

June 2, 2019

My last day in Vilnius I walked all over –   enjoying the beautiful city,  soaking in the perfect weather  and  the positive spirit of the families, couples and individuals who were outside.   Here are the tidbits I reflected upon……

The stunning architecture.

The interesting cafes  and  just to be  clear – this is not a cafe where you can bring your own cat,  and they do not  serve cat on the menu.  It is just a  place where you can dine and enjoy the company of their 25 cats who live there.

The quiet side streets.

The specialty foods

The bikes for rent or….

if you are more of a scooter person, there are scooters for rent.

The interesting statues

Grocery stores are always an adventure.

There are also some Art Nouveau buildings  to  be found in Vilnius.

The Baltic States also have their own fast food chain called Hesberger, which when I tested it out, tasted very similar to the USA’s Burger King.

The greenery is well blended in with  the neighborhoods.

BTW  the Energizer Bunny’s  cousin  resides here.

The old with the new all works well together.

Lastly, the history-making  landmarks –  this is the reported  spot , translated as “miracle”,  where the  human chain linking Vilnius, (Lithuania),  Riga (Latvia) and Tallinn  (Estonia) started in 1989.  The history making event  has become known as ” The Baltic  Way”.   It was a peaceful, political demonstration  where approximately 2 million people  joined hands  thru the Baltic capitals, a distance of 420 miles.  The event was designed to gain global attention that the Baltic States wanted independence from their Soviet Occupation.  Within 7 months, Lithuania was the first of  the 3  to gain their independence.  In 1991, Latvia and Estonia gained their independence also.

The Baltic Way (photo taken from Google)

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading and traveling along with me!

“The most beautiful in the world is, of course, the world itself.” -Wallace Stevens






Orthodox Church of St. Paraskeva

June 1, 2019

Vilnius has  LOTS of churches.   Church steeples can be seen, in one direction or another, on every  street you  walk down. Visitors are welcome in all churches and free of charge to see inside.   During the time  of 1940 – 1991 when the Baltic States were under  Soviet  Occupation, private churches were ordered  to be shut down.  Most were then used for other Soviet purposes.  After 1991, when the Baltic States  regained their independence, the churches were returned to the appropriate religion and  most were restored and reopened.   Here are a few of the churches I visited……..

Vilnius Cathedral, the main basilica in the city, was  built in the 18th century.  It  is well known for it’s  St. Casimir  Chapel and  crypt that contains the remains of 2 Grand Dukes.

The  domed ceiling of St. Casimir’s Chapel is  intricately  beautiful.

Vilnius Cathedral and Belfry.

St Johns Church, located on the Vilnius University campus, was  originally built in  1426,  reconstructed  in 1749 and  more structures were added  on in the 19th century.

Gates of Dawn, the last standing of 5 – 16th century gate to Old Town……

houses the “Chapel of Mary, Mother of Mercy” and a painting of  the  Madonna.  It is a  site of  prayer and pilgrimage and thought to bring about  miracles.

The Gothic  Church of St. Anne was built with red brick  in 1500.

The Bernadine Church is located directly  behind St. Anne’s.

Church  of St. Anne’s alter.

Bernadine’s Church was built in 1525, and  in  1770’s  wooden alters and confessionals were added to the interior,  some of which still remain.

St Casimir’s Church has an especially beautiful interior.

The domed ceiling over the alter.

St. Casimir’s alter

Bird of the day – a white stork.  This  is from the day I arrived in Vilnius from Riga via a bus.   Along the way I kept noticing a stork or two  pecking around in the farmer’s  fields.   I stopped counting after I saw 20 of them, but of all the photos I took (from a moving bus) this was the best photo of the bunch.

Storks winter in Africa and then migrate to parts of Europe, including the Baltic States for breeding. They  build  a large stick nest , sometimes as large as 6 feet in diameter, which can last for years.  They return to the same nest year after year, although do not necessarily mate for life.

Storks are a sign of good luck and fertility , therefore farmers welcome them to their property and sometimes mount a wooden wagon wheel on a post to aid in the stork’s nest building.

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!


Day Trip to TRAKAI ISLAND CASTLE in Lithuania

Trakai Island Castle

June 1, 2019

I am now in my final Baltic city, Vilnius, Lithuania, before heading back home in a few days.  Vilnius is a beautiful city  that I have fallen in love with, but today, I took a day trip to Trakai, a town about 40 minutes outside of Vilnius.   The Trakai Castle, which sits on an island  in Lake Galve,  was my destination,  The castle was first built in the 14th century but then destroyed in 1655 by a Russian invasion.  Then the  Soviet’s approved the reconstruction of  the  Castle and it was  completed  in 1987.

The inside of the  castle walls.

I didn’t expect the castle to be this fancy.


There was also a room with about 100 pipes on display.

There are lots of steps to climb!

This is the  (now dry) moat between the defensive wall and the castle.

The lake  is also a popular recreation  area for many Lithuanians.   If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent by the hour.

Or get a beverage…

There are also Karaite  colorful wooden houses  that line the streets  on one side of the lake.  Karaites are a small religious faith .   Their iconic three-windowed  homes  are a part of their heritage.  Their houses are built so that three windows always face the street. One window is for God, one is for the Grand Duke, and one if for family and friends and look like….

Many has cute little  gardens.  It was a fun day and the weather was beautiful!

Bird of the day….

Mama Duck and her babies.  She actually had a lot of babies  but most were hiding in the reeds.

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!





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