Thinking About The National Aviary

Since returning to Pittsburgh we have been members of the National Aviary. It’s the largest Aviary in The United States and we are fortunate to have it in Pittsburgh. We go there often enough that I have my favorite birds and during this horrible pandemic I frequently wonder how they are doing. I can’t wait until we can venture out and visit again.

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An Aviary Moment

The National Aviary

The National Aviary

The National Aviary

Medeski, Martin and Wood Revisited

Every now and then you get lucky with tickets and performers. A hew yers ago we saw Medals, Martin and Wood at the Sherman Theather in Stroudsburg Pennsylvania and we had tickets in the front row, I have published a number of images and have one show piece entitled Bass Hands.

I took a lot of pictures that night and here are a few more from the set.

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Tales from The Oaks #1–Matinees

In 1971 I married my soulmate and next year we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. In 1972 I lost my job as a credit manager and needed to reinvent myself. I decided to pursue my dreams and bought my first Nikon F camera. While learning my new craft I still needed to earn money. So in addition to becoming a teamster and driving a Yellow Cab, I began working as a projectionist at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont Pennsylvania.

With another projectionist we worked like doctors, three days on and three days off. It was fun and awful at the same time. Enjoyable to see new movies every week but also physically strenuous work. In that era movies were exhibited using 35mm film and the light source were Simplex carbon arcs projectors. An average movie had four to seven reels. Each reel weighed about 20 pounds. As the first reel got close to the end you would fire up the carbon arc on projector 2 and changeover from projector one to projector two. Then physically mount reel #3 on the first projector and manually rewind the first reel for the next show. After two years my right arm looked like Popeye The Sailor.

One of the owners was a colossal officious jerk. He was kind of like Ted Knight in Caddyshack. Sometimes his added stress would trigger us into some nasty pranks. We had no cell phones, TV or radio. There were no laptop computers so well we invented our own humor.

Episode One…The Matinee

We hated when they decided to have Saturday matinees. The person who pulled Saturday would essentially pull a double shift. Movies would normally start on Friday’s. We had no idea what would be waiting for us, so we had to arrive early on Fridays to carry the heavy containers up the stairs. We had to inspect the movies to make sure they were intact. Sometimes they weren’t rewound, and we had to rewind them.

The worst feeling was arriving Friday night and seeing 9 film cans rather than the normal 4 or 5. It mean there was a matinee on Saturday. Eventually we convinced our idiot bosses to provide a schedule but even so you could do nothing but groan when you saw all those heavy film cases.

There was a turntable and records in the booth so we could play music through the large Voice of The Theater Speakers before the show. Our boss insisted on playing Frank Sinatra before the Kids movies on Saturday. “No sense getting them all worked up” he said with his Ted Knight smile.

So, there I was on my third Saturday in a month, my partner was on vacation. I was pissed at missing another Saturday night anyhow and certainly aggravated that I had to be there on a beautiful fall afternoon. I locked the projection booth door and put on Frank Sinatra, yah don’t want to get them worked up. Hey wait, it occurred to me, I’m up here and idiot boss is down there…hmm fuck Frank Sinatra. I began to look through the albums. Hmm the United States Military Academy Band playing John Sousa’s marches. The kids should like this, right? It’s amazing how loud those big Voice of The Theater Speakers’ can get. As the theatre filled up, I cranked up the volume. I really didn’t hear the knocking on the door. Honestly, I didn’t. I was too busy watching the manager chase after the kids that were literally jumping on and over the seats. Oh well, it’s show time, I quickly dim the lights start the projector and lastly turn down the march music.

I didn’t work many matinees after that.

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The Oaks Theatre

Pittsburgh In Monochrome

Since I am traveling virtually this year I am revisiting places I have been and editing some of my images in monochrome. I look for images where the color does not add any value to the image and then see if I can convert it effectively. Of course Pittsburgh is my home but right now I miss traveling to my favorite places. I miss the museums, The National Aviary and the Phipps. I miss being able to do street photography. Yet looking through some of my images I found a few that were worthy of converting to monochrome.

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River View

PNC Park View

Schenley Park View


Today’s Lily from our Regent Square Garden

We planted these lilies three years ago and every year the deer would come right before they bloomed and eat the bulbs. Our neighbor built a new fence making it hard for the deer to get to the lilies and finally we get to see these spectacular flowers.

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Pink Lily

Why I Hate Deer

When we moved to the Pocono Mountains we oohed and awed over the deer. Our real estate agent said you will learn to hate them. I thought I never could hate such a pretty animal. We lived backed up to the woods on a fenced acre of land and the fence and our border collie kept the deer and bear away. Still they were a nuisance and we actually had to have a deer cull every year to control the population. It wasn’t until we moved to Regent Square that I began to hate them.

Yesterday I shared an image an image of a large tiger lily. Today they are all gone as are the red ones. They come like stealth invaders at night, eat our flowers and crap on our lawn. They are bad neighbors and wish they would stay in the park. There is plenty of food in the park. In the Poconos I would shoot at them with a pellet gun to scare them off but I can’t do that here. Sure they are pretty but so are our flowers which we rarely get to see due to their insatiable appetites. I hate deer.

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The Monster Lily of Regent Square

We have had this plant for a few years. It had never bloomed. The deer would come each year and eat it. Because of my neighbor’s new fence the deer don’t hang out here anymore YAY! We have been rewarded by the largest day lily I have ever seen. It is almost 8 inches across and beautiful in its coloration.

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Monster Lily

My Virtual Vacation Day 1—Pittsburgh

We had hoped in retirement to travel the world. So far we have done a pretty good job with trips to Mexico, Hawaii, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and The Czech Republic. However the pandemic has stopped all of that for a while. So while waving for Africa, Alaska and Scandinavia our current travel is going to have to be virtual. Like all of our recent trips they begin and end in our home town of Pittsburgh.

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Pittsburgh Party Deck

Pittsburgh Sunset

Pittsburgh’s Strip District Mural

Pittsburgh Autumn

Mon View

A Walk Around Regent Square

I love living in Regent Square. It is a great diverse neighborhood with beautiful homes, great neighbors and lots of dogs. We have restaurants, bars, shops, and border the largest park in Pittsburgh. Each season is great but spring is a great time for neighbors to show off their gardens. Since we have a dog we are out twice every day walking our energetic dog. Every now and then I walk without the dog to take some pictures.

Here are a few views of some of the gardens.

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Is Myrtle a Flower or Weed?

Vinca minor is a species of flowering plant in the dogbane family, native to central and southern Europe. It is part of the Periwinkle family and also known as Myrtle. It is a fast growing vine and loves to climb so you have to be diligent in thinning and controlling it annually. In the spring you are rewarded with a carpet of beautiful blue flowers.

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