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Kristine Knows Her Frick

It is 17 degrees outside. It is very gray and very windy and everything is frozen. Which would inspire most people to look out the window and say, “Um, no thanks,” but not the trio from Madison, Wisconsin. “It’s like spring!” they say, all smiles and giggles and oblivious to the cold. It’s their last …

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Kim Keeps the Coffee Coming

None of the regulars are here yet. Like the Daves: Candy Man Dave and Home Depot Dave and Eyeglass Dave. None of the Riches, either. Except for one of them. He’s sitting at a window booth and is about to get a fresh cup of coffee and a plate filled with two eggs sunny side …

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‘Crack-A-Lacking’ for a Living

There’s a banana pumpkin scented candle flickering on the front desk. It’s a nice scent. Very deceiving. As if something yummy and caloric just popped out of Betty Crocker’s personal oven. Then, there’s the sign on the window welcoming walk-ins and talking about things like headaches and low back pain and shoulder and arm pain …

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The Mail’s Man in Munhall

It’s three o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and there are people coming into the post office on Main Street with letters to mail and packages to ship and books of stamps to buy and not one of them can resist the candy. Cinnamon drops and peppermints and, “Oh, is that butterscotch? I’ll take two,” sitting …

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The 96th Birthday

Grandma is being really nice about the birthday cake you insisted on baking from scratch for her 96th birthday. Because it’s a little … dense for something that was supposed to very light and airy and angel food cakey. “This is why normal people just buy the Betty Crocker and be done with it,” howls …

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Seamstress to the Stars

There are fittings on Thursday. Eight costumes still left to make and only two weeks to make them before the first dress rehearsal for The Great Gatsby. And Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre costume designer Janet Campbell is calm. Totally calm, actually. Not a hair out of place. Looking amazingly pulled together, as if the only thing …

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The Man Who Was Too Nice to be a Car Salesman

Mark just got his desk back. It’s a nice spot in the showroom of Ron Lewis Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Cranberry. Right next to the doors. Right in front of the nearly floor to ceiling windows, where outside there is a shiny red Jeep next to other shiny cars and trucks and SUVs that …

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Abby’s World of Cut and Curl

Yesterday was crazy. Like, insanely crazy. Flat irons straightening and curling irons curling and shears cutting and the coloring and shampooing and highlighting. All—day—long. “My bun started off here,” Abby Fitzer laughs, pointing to her head, “And as the day went on, it just started to flop around a bit so that it eventually ended …

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Mary and the Laundromutt

Right now, Rudy the Doodle is on the grooming table. Mary is giving him the Full Groom. “Everything,” she says, snipping away at his curly, toffee colored fur with a pair of Japanese shears, which are also her favorite kind. Snip. Snip. Snip. “Hair trimmed.” Snip. Snip. “Combed his head.” Snip. Snip. “Did his nails …

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A Barbershop That’s Hair-Raising

It’s 10:30 on a Saturday morning, there are already four guys waiting in line for a haircut, and no one knows where Tony is. “He’s not here?” Dante Folino Gallo asks, holding the door open for his father, Salvatore, who uses a walker to shuffle past a towering, 40-year-old Schefflera plant, a millennial buried in …

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Anne and the Album

She could sit here all day, really. On the upholstered, wooden chair without wheels that she’ll push from keyboard to keyboard while she’s creating songs in the studio she has set up in her living room. It’s a sunken space with hardwood floors and a wood beam ceiling, anchored by a stone fireplace that feels …

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Relentless Russ and the Virtue of a Work Ethic

Russ has been at the gym for like, 31 years. “Since 1987,” he says. White New Balance sneakers. Red track suit jacket with the words PERSONAL TRAINER written across the back. Handing people the kettle bells and the medicine balls and the 10-pound weights and the resistance bands and asking for one, come on, just …

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Ten Minutes of Lovely

“Okay, so I’ll do two hundred of the Hey Rosemary,” Samantha says, tying a white, plastic apron around her waist before opening two, overflowing three-ring binders. “Wait… three hundred Hey Rosemary. We are really low on Hey Rosemary. I need to make Lady Macbeth again… and I’m out of Gertrude! I’m completely out of Gertrude!” …

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The Singing Barista

No one complains when they come into Jitters Café in Shadyside for their frappuccinos and cappuccinos and caffeinated hot/iced whatevers and barista Liz starts singing. Deas Vail, Mew, Jon Bellion, Issues…artists with melodic vocals that she can harmonize with while she’s working behind the counter, pouring things like Lavender White Mochas and Gingerbread Chai Lattes …

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Bob and Fritz Together

Fritz is wearing a contraption. Two black, rubber wheels attached to a harness that allows him to bark and roll and bark and roll his way across the grass. He’s been wearing it for four years. Ever since he jumped and missed and fell off one of the concrete steps in the back yard. “Well,” …

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Rocky’s World Behind the Diner Counter

Where’s Apollo Creed? Oh, hardy, har, har. Like he hasn’t heard that one like, ten thousand times before. “I also get a lot of ‘Yo, Adrian!’” Rocky says from behind the counter of his corner diner in Bloomfield. The counter is short. Really short. Not even waist-high short. “About four and a half feet tall,” …

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Donna’s Dream and a Life of Roller Skating

Donna’s knee has been bothering her lately. Which is why she isn’t lacing up her white roller skates right now, the pair her late husband bought for her in 1963 for, geez, it must have been five hundred dollars. The same pair she was wearing 10 years ago when she was 71 and broke her …

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An Antique Point of View

Someday, Jim Barricella will retire from antiquing. Well, maybe not retire literally, but definitely do something else with his life. Something other than the never-ending hours he spends at his antique shop, Off the Avenue. If someone bought the place, Jim would set up a booth and stick some antiques in there. No worry. None …

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Nate and His Bees

The bees arrived yesterday, via Two Day Priority, from an apiary in Ohio. Three pounds of them. Five thousand bees and one queen buzzing around in a wooden crate made of scrap wood kinda stapled together. There are screens on either side so that you can actually see the bees. And hear them. All 5,001 …

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The Gowns She’s Known

There’s less than a month left to liquidate, oh geez, like, 1,000 gowns. Rows and rows of them. Satin and lace all hanging pretty in clear garment bags with a hand-written tag attached: 60% off! “You can get a twelve hundred dollar gown for five hundred dollars,” says Mary. “That’s a good deal.” One thousand …

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Trading Licks with Dave: The Wisdom from a Lifetime of Music

“You want a speedball?” Dave asks. “No, not that,” he adds, laughing at the blank stares. “Not coke and Quaaludes like they used to offer us in L.A. Espresso and wine. One of my clients got me this espresso machine. Fun. Oh man, have you heard of this? Beaver Valley Blend. Amazing. Really, really smooth.” …

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Market Square Frankie Sings His Song of Life

The stroller is one of those sporty, three-wheeled versions, the kind that athletic moms like to push around suburban neighborhoods while huffing out a cardio burn. This one is parked in a crosswalk, about two feet from the curb, right on the corner of Market and Fifth in the shadow of the Fairmont Hotel. In …

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