Let’s Paws: Away, and missing that special pet?

pittsburgh edie 1Meet Edie, the mascot at the Fairmont hotel in Pittsburgh. Or, to use her formal title, “Canine Ambassador.”

pittsburgh edie tail

Look closely at this boxer/lab mix and you’ll see her tail is bent. Apparently this rescue pooch was hit by a car as a pup and that’s the way it healed. Fortunately, so did she.

Edie — named for Edie Sedgwick, close gal pal of one of Pittsburgh’s most famous natives, Andy Warhol  – began her schooling as a service dog. She was a little too gregarious and not serious enough for the gig, so she flunked her way into the hospitality industry.


pittsburgh edie better

A much better fit for this laid-back, human-loving canine. She’ll take you for a stroll around downtown Pittsburgh, or is happy to hang out when you feel like taking a meeting break.

Edie is a reminder that the Fairmont is a pet-friendly hotel.

pittsburg edie better card

 She also has her own email and Facebook page.

Of course the Fairmont’s not the only hotel chain to do this. (Here’s another I found in Florida.) Lots of places have mascots. And here’s even more info.

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If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping over in your favorite store

And here I thought my stay in an art gallery was exotic.

The folks at Airbnb are going one better. Publicity stunt, and apparently only one night, but still IKEA. (This is a good or bad thing, depending on whether you love or loathe the place.)

It would be nice if the restaurant were open all night.

Mitch and Ginger in chair and light display inspired by IKEA catalogue.

Mitch and Ginger in chair and light display inspired by IKEA catalogue.

Not only do I shop IKEA for their furniture that sometimes looks better than it holds up (maybe the assembler’s to blame — it wasn’t me; I’m not good with anything involving more than one part, like drawers.)

But I confess, I actually like their Swedish meatballs and chocolate.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever stayed? I’d like to know.


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Cool place to stay: Where B&B means bed and beer

If you know anything about me, it’s that chocolate is my vice.

Everything I learned about beer was gleaned while living in Australia, where they take their brew very seriously. I could never keep up. It’s a safe bet even infants there can drink me under the table. And that’s perfectly fine. To be honest, I don’t like the taste, and would rather save the calories for hot fudge.

But I’d been hearing a lot about a relatively new cool place to stay. Cool because it’s the brainchild of the folks that brought the nation DogfishHead craft beer.

Craft is buzz for specially concocted. Experimental. In other words, not your father’s — or even necessarily your neighbor’s — beer.

Dogfish’s motto is “off-centered ales for off-centered people.” Anything with natural origins is fair game, including, raisins, maple syrup, and according to this surprisingly riveting interview with the founder, human saliva.

Here’s more gag-inducing detail.

Their Namaste brew caught the attention of this yogi. Hints of lemongrass and coriander. Hmmmm. A little natural high along with the alcoholic one?

Lest you think this is all impossibly pretentious hipster schtick, the founder insists the gimmicks actually taste swell. And that’s why enthusiasts like the stuff.

What’s it up against? The beer industry in general. Microbreweries, the little guys, are said to be a small part of the overall market. And there are hundreds of them vying for tastebuds. Sobering stats.

Dogfish is apparently spreading like the contents of an overturned beer bottle. Thirty states, says the founder. And raking in the millions.

Not exactly Anheuser-Busch. But not bad for a company that started less than a decade ago by a young guy studying creative writing at Columbia University who liked tinkering with a home brewing kit.

Which brings us to Delaware, where Dogfish is made. The southern part of the state that hugs a bay and the Atlantic Ocean is home to the brewery; a brew pub where you can eat and drink; and now, an inn close to all that action.

The Dogfish Inn is in Lewes. Clever choice. Place has been popular for a long time. There’s a lot of history, along with proximity to a state park along the water that’s been in vogue since the days of William Penn. You know you’re in Delaware because the park sports a meeting center named for VP and favorite son Biden.

inn -- exterior

Back to the inn. At first glance,  I thought: Since when does a place that looks like a gussied-up budget motel have the audacity to call itself an inn? With a hoity-toity price tag to match?


I soon ate, or should I say, drank my words, when I took a closer look. Pretty classy.

The happening design is straight outta Brooklyn. With name-brand mattresses and blankets.

inn--boat art

 Local art.


inn--beach chair

A nifty place for all your gear.

inn--soap sink

Soap made with beer.


And coffee blended with malted barley, served in the adjoining cottage. But be advised you can’t get an actual beer here — though you’re more than welcome to bring some back from the brewery or a retail shop.

inn--city lights books

You can also curl up with a good book from the cottage library, curated by famed indie bookstore City Lights of San Francisco.

inn--dog bark

 The Dogfish Inn is also dog-friendly.


Innkeeper Andrew Greeley, who hails from Golden, Colorado — Coors Country — says the founder often stops by, and hangs around the fire pit with guests.

Worth the price of admission right there, I’d think, if you happen to be a Dogfish enthusiast.

Here are some other beer-themed places to vacation in the U.S. And abroad.

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Ultimate cool place to stay: an art gallery

It’s not quite a night at the museum, but it may be the closest thing: spending the night in an art gallery.

You don’t need to be a celebrity or performance artist. There are a couple venues out there (and many more that I may not know about) for us ordinary folk.

gallery exterior

gallery walken

Was in St. Petersburg, Florida, this past week and decided to give this photography studio a shot. I was told I was only the second person to try it out and lodging was still in the “experimental” stage.

gallery konica and me

One look at the official greeter, a rescue dog named — what else — Konica — and I was in. I would have gladly cuddled with her in her beanbag chair the entire stay.

gallery deflated mattress

Waiting with big smile and air mattress at the ready was the photog-in-residence, Clinton Lee.

I started to get deflated when I saw said air mattress without any air. I’ve only camped once in my life, in the Australian outback, and I expected that to be rough. Besides, that outdoors was free. This experience was costing me 65 bucks a night.


gallery bed and living space

It turned out to be one of the most-comfy mattresses ever. No kidding.

gallery rest of living space

And here’s the rest of the living space. Not your typical hotel room, for sure.

Clinton is an area native. He does a lot of weddings, but here’s the neat part — they’re all over the world. I never thought wedding pictures were high art, but he has a way of making them so — and I’m not just saying that because he’s a really nice guy.

That pays the bills and gives him tons of contacts. The rest of the photos are random shots from here and there: his true passion.

gallery trashed house

gallery times square

gallery nude other

There was also a big workspace. And a little fridge, stocked with juices. A thoughtful touch was a bottle of water on my pillow every night. A must after a day in the sauna that is St. Pete in summer.

Nighty night. Curtains drawn across entrance for privacy.

Nighty night. Curtains drawn across entrance for privacy.

 All the eye candy made up for one big shortfall: a place to bathe.

gallery bathroom

There was a half bath in the back. But no shower. I had to coordinate with Clinton to use the shower in the apartment he shares with his roommate. Fortunately, it was just above the studio. (There are also pay washing machines in the building.)

It was a tad inconvenient, but the shower was clean, with plenty of hot water.

Clinton realizes that’s a big drawback, and is thinking about getting a portable shower for the gallery. Until he does, that’s the setup.

Being that I was camping out at a business establishment, I couldn’t lounge around in my jammies for too long, like I could in a strictly private room. Texting helped keep me and my host on schedule.

gallery computer workspace

But I had the workspace to myself all day long. Breaks were a blast.

gallery tricycle

gallery me and konica hugging

I spent three great nights there. A much longer stay might have been trying, given some of the limitations. It was one of the more memorable places I’ve ever stayed. Your tolerance may vary.

Here’s a few others. And according to this article, a Parisian bookstore has apparently allowed sleepovers in the past, but check to make sure. And if you know of any more places, let me know.


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Who I’m sleeping with tonight

gallery dog sprinklesMeet Konica, proprietress of an art gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s my digs for the next couple days while I continue The Great Condo Search. One of the neatest lodging experiences I’ve ever had.

Back with the scoop (as opposed to the pooper scooper) a little later.


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Planet Lippstone winds up in another galaxy

OK, I’m a slacker, but I have a couple reasons. They may not be good ones, but …

For the last few weeks, Planet Lippstone’s been sidelined by some technical and personal difficulties. Lost a bit of content, and have learned the hard lesson about backing up.

Plus The Great Condo Search  hijacked me once again. What can I say? Any homebuyer knows it’s tough trying to find the perfect little place in an imperfect world.

But that search has taken me to more interesting places, which I can’t wait to write about.

Back soon.



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Eats: You call that Jewish deli? Oy vey.

Heaven, also know as Ben's Deli, Boca Raton, FL.

Heaven, also know as Ben’s Deli, Boca Raton, FL.

As much as us traditional Jewish deli (i.e., old) fans want things to stay the same, time marches on.

We once thought any deviations from plain or marble bagels or potato or kasha knishes were an abomination. Still are, in my book.

Now I see a spinoff of one of my favorite places, Russ & Daughters on NY’s Lower East Side, is offering halvah ice cream with salted caramel.

I only take my halvah whole, and chocolate-covered. A Planet Lippstone tradition that goes back to Daddy Lippstone. But guess I shouldn’t knock it until I’ve tried it.

So here are some cool-sounding places to try the latest in Jewish deli, if you can stomach it. And as the famous saying goes, You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy.

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Let’s Paws 2: Clearly not cut out to be a service dog

Like every doggie mom, I confess: I look at noble and selfless service dogs like Liz and sometimes wonder: Why can’t my pet be like that? Even a little?

Ginger bed

It’s clearly not in our dachshund Ginger’s genes. Oh, she’s a service dog, all right. She’s the one being waited on.

Regular dog food? Maybe one bite, and then the snout turns up and she saunters away. Feh. Believe me, we’ve tried everything short of chewing it for her.

And I’d like to say it’s because she’s so old and finicky. But truth is, she’s always been this way.

I’ve written about her a lot. The short version: Found out I-95 in North Carolina as a pup. Doesn’t play well with other dogs, to say the least. Doesn’t like everyone. We don’t know if she was abandoned or bolted, but either one is feasible, given her temperament.

Now that she’s almost 17 and has advancing kidney disease (I thought she was older, but was wrong), she’s mellowed a lot — but still is the neighborhood loudmouth. Which, as one of our awfully nice neighbors recently said, is good. All that barking shows she’s still kickin’.

We do what we can. Because of her kidneys, she has to go out constantly. (Mitch has the night shift; lucky guy.)

Hand-feed her sliced turkey. Give her fortune cookies, her fave snack.

Ginger fortune cookies

The good folks at our local Chinese restaurant are now used to me coming in and asking for a ton at a time. I’ve explained to them that theirs are better — the ones you buy in the supermarket are too hard for her to chew. (Her stuffed toys have more teeth at this point.)

Ginger IV

And because she runs the risk of dehydration from her kidney disease, we give her fluids under the skin twice a week. Actually, Mitch does it because I’m too squeamish, so I’m there to hold her in place.

She also gets Pepcid twice a day for her constantly gurgling stomach. And meds for high blood pressure.


We’re happy to wait on our lady of leisure. What we get in return are kisses, snuggles and (what appear to be) looks of contentment. Like she can’t believe her good fortune with us, her fourth family.

And that’s enough for us.


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Let’s Paws: A dog’s devotion on Memorial Day, and every day

A young man with his whole life ahead of him. Then, Iraq.

He’s left with a broken mind and body, as well as a broken marriage. His law degree is of no use because he can’t use that part of his head.

At 33, he has to move back in with his parents, who help him pull through — and also help him with his daily round of 21 pills he says he needs to survive.

Feeling useless and depressed, he meets Liz, who only has eyes for him, and makes him feel like a whole person again.

Read on.


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Bacteria on a plane. This is no movie.

Airplanes are full of germs. Now there’s a surprise. Pack scads of humans into a bus with wings, and what would you expect?

We already know airplane bathrooms are the worst. Do you wipe down the sink and counter as a “courtesy to the next passenger”, as the friendly signs often suggest? I don’t.

And by the end of a long flight, with overflowing trash receptacles and slimy sink, I can’t wait to get in and get out. I’m not about to start cleaning; let’s face it, it wouldn’t matter anyway.

But this story goes into a lot more specific detail about what could be lurking around your seat. A little MRSA with your inflight magazine? How about a dash of E. coli with the pretzels and that Coca-Cola Classic?

We also know how thorough the “cleaning” is between flights. When there are delays, as is often the case, who’s got time to really do anything?

Not the best way to go through life.

Not the best way to go through life.

I’ve been traveling longer than some airlines have been in business, and I’m happy to say I’ve never gotten sick from a flight.

I do realize the scary thing about germs now is that they’ve evolved to super-nasty status, and MRSA is fairly common and nothing to laugh about.

The risk on a plane, in my mind? About the same as everywhere else. Don’t lick the tray table or the armrest. Hose yourself down with body wash, if it’ll make you feel better. Keep your hands away from your face.

You could always wear gloves all the time. And not leave the house.

Seriously, as with everything else in life, use some common sense, try not to worry, and enjoy yourself.


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