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When I am world weary and heart heavy but cannot escape this mad collection of bridges, hills, and gulches, I head to the Phipps. I wander, my fingers skimming, searching for scent, my eyes alighting and darting, delighted and eager as butterflies, from plant to plant to plant. The stubborn knots of my troubled soul are loosened by the order and wickedness of nature, where all are needed, all are beautiful, yet none are spared the end. The vanilla of orchids, the whoosh of air on silken leaves, the hum of bees and wasps, and flower after flower nodding in surrender and approval. We are one.



Saturday evening, we strolled a favorite walking route in reverse and were handsomely rewarded. The pinnacle of summer splendor, a cool breeze and everything hushed, as if the sunset tamped the sound so we might hear the wondrous whoosh of pink and orange and gold.

It is August! Summer is waning already! We have done much – hiked and wandered, completed scads of home improvements (new kitchen light fixtures, cement repair, caulking, dry rot repair, new bark mulch, painted and painted some more). There is still much to do. There is more painting, lots, ugh and drat. There will be travel to a forest (the Allegheny), a bridge (the Kinzua), and a waterfall (Niagara!), and visits to museums (the Carnegie and Mattress Factory). Guests are coming! Beth and Peter and Hazel and Martha and Alan. The room is ready. The view is splendid. There is boxed air conditioning, tested and ready.

Which reminds me, we are surviving humidity rather splendidly, sweating like the dickens more often than we’d like but only retreating to the cool comfort of the air conditioned TV room a couple of times. Tough and stubborn buggers, I like to think, though our ceiling fans whir near constantly, even while sleeping. Moving air is a marvelous thing.

The butterflies (this one a black Swallowtail), taking a line from the Beastie Boys, “Sure Shot”. They can’t and they won’t and they don’t stop!

We’ve got quite the bounty of flowers in the garden now, roses, lilies, hostas, St. John’s Wort, marigolds, Russian sage, and more. The top two are echinacea that I planted in the spring. I had never seen white before, so there was a bit of suspense about how they would actually look. I am pleased as punch with my choice. As for the blue, I can only guess that it is somehow related to spider wort (tradescantia) based on the look of the flowers and foliage. The blossoms are about the size of the tip of my thumb, so you can imagine how tiny that bee is! I also saw a large and fantastic yellow butterfly on the lilies yesterday, but, as is often the case with butterflies, it’s presence was fleeting, floating up and over the fence right after I caught a glimpse.

We got the TV room painted! It was a rather icky shade of beige before, and though it wasn’t terribly dark, it sure did make the room feel it. So we are happy and keep lingering at the threshold, pleased with our work and the color choice.

Look at that ceiling fan whirl! Never much for them, we are Pennsylvania converts, the humid air just heavy enough to make one feel the heat when the fan isn’t going. Thankfully, they are all over the house, so we haven’t had much use for a boxed air conditioner. YET.

Must dash – I’m off to hear Bach at an outdoor concert. Have a wonderful Sunday!

Up early on Friday for a hike in North Park with our friends Kristen and Patrick (Hello!). Oh my goodness, with hiking, bird watching, kayaking, places to eat, and many a lovely vista, it’s like all of my favorite parks rolled into one!

Good times on the roof of a parking garage to see Jaws! It’s bloodier and funnier than I remembered.


More fun at the Laurel Highlands Bluegrass Festival, benefiting the Ligonier Volunteer Fire Department. Friendly folks, sweet singing, and some mighty fine picking!

Throwing it back to May, with our first visit to Randyland and Max’s Allegheny Tavern. Wonderful and delicious…

And our borough’s car show. What a treat to be able to walk down the street and see so many beauties!

Hope you had a lovely holiday…




Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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