Cascade Park

Cascade Park

Thursday, December 3, 2020

From the Middle Ages

When I last left you at the Cleveland Museum of Art, I had shown you items from the period that we often call the Dark Ages, the centuries after the fall of Rome when barbarian tribes swept across Western Europe.  Later, from the years 1050 to 1350, Europe experienced a building boom as churches, cathedrals and monasteries were built.  At first they were constructed in the Romanesque style and then in the soaring Gothic style.  As trade once again grew and the economy stabilized, art become more sophisticated.  The greatest patron of the arts was the Church, and the vast majority of art was religious.  The wealthy also commissioned devotional art for their own private use.

As we pass through the museum's medieval galleries, here is a small sampling from the collection...

In Romanesque churches, the capitals (that piece of stone which sits atop a column) were often decoratively sculpted, sometimes with themes from the Bible.  This capital dates from around 1125, and comes from a church in central France.  It portrays the story of Daniel in the lion's den.

These wooden statues of the mourning Virgin and St. John come from a church in Spain and date from around 1250.  The statues which decorated the interiors and exteriors of churches, be they of wood or of stone, were almost always painted.  You can still see some of the paint on these.

A wood sculpture of the Virgin and Child from 12th century France.

These incomplete but beautifully expressive angels are examples of the High Gothic style of 13th century France.  They probably come from Reims, which, being a cathedral town, was a center for sculptor's workshops.

This limestone head of an apostle would have been part of a life-sized figure decorating the exterior of a church.  It dates from around 1325 and is probably from Toulouse, France.

This box of gilded copper and cloisonné enamel is a a pyx, a receptacle for holding the consecrated host.  It is from 12th century Germany.  The central scene of the Crucifixion is flanked by Old Testament scenes of Abel's sacrifice of sheep and Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac.


This statue of the Virgin and Child is from the late 1200s and comes from the Meuse Valley in present day Belgium.  The settings around the Virgin's neck and along the edge of her cloak show that this would have originally been decorated with gemstones.

This portable altar from around 1200 comes from Cologne, Germany.  The figures are carved from walrus ivory which would have been brought to Germany via trades routes with Norway.

This ivory triptych with scenes from the life of the Virgin is from 14th century France or Austria.

This cross from the late12th century is an example of the enamel work for which the city of Limoges, France, was famous.  It is considered one of the finest surviving pieces of its kind.

Also from Limoges is this portion of a 13th century box which once held relics of the martyred St. Thomas Becket.  Becket, the English Archbishop of Canterbury, clashed with King Henry II over the privileges of the Church.  A group of the King's men assassinated Becket inside Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.  He was canonized three years later.  The enamel work portrays the Crucifixion to the left and the murder of the Archbishop to the right.

Not all medieval art was religious in nature.  These ivory panels from 14th century France once decorated a large box.  The pictures depict scenes of chivalry.  (Notice the jousting tournament in the middle panel.)

There are more medieval treasures to show you in future posts.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Snowy Dawn

It continued to snow after I wrote yesterday's post.  We received several more inches of snow.  This was the view from my bedroom window when I woke up this morning.

The snow looks pretty.  When I sent pictures to my Mexican friends yesterday, Alejandro's sister responded that it looked like something out of a movie.  However only after it has melted will we know the full extent of the damage to trees and shrubberies done by this wet, heavy snowfall.

Yesterday I posted a picture of the large tree branch that was bent to the ground in my back yard.  Upon closer inspection I can see that the branch is partially broken.  If I were twenty years younger, I might have tackled the job myself, but when the snow melts later this week, I am going to call professionals to take care of it.

Looking across the street it appears that a neighbor lost an entire tree.

Now, if you will excuse me, I must go outside and brush away the snow from the gutters before it forms damaging ice dams.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Welcome to December!

Yesterday, the last day of November, we had rain all day, and yard started to flood as it always does when we have heavy rain.  Overnight the temperature dropped, and the rain turned to snow.  This is what I woke up to this morning...

Judging from the snow piled on the table on the patio, we had 7.5 inches of snow (19 cm.). We are supposed to have some more snow this morning with a total of 10 inches forecast.  It was a heavy wet snow, the kind that sticks to all the branches.  It's pretty to look at, but that kind of snow can be problematic.  As you see in the third picture, a large branch from one of my trees in the back yard is weighted down all the way to the ground.  Hopefully, when the snow melts, the branch will rise back into place.  When I drove (very slowly!) to the supermarket this morning, I noticed a number of large branches had broken along my street.  The electric and telephone wires are weighted down also, but fortunately none of them in the neighborhood have broken.  I certainly don't want another 25 hour power outage like the one we had a couple weeks ago!

Monday, November 30, 2020

Cleveland's Haunted House

Back in early November when I took a drive to Wendy Park, I also drove through Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood to snap a few photos of one of the neighborhood's most famous... or infamous... landmarks, the Franklin Castle.  The 19th century mansion has been called "the most haunted house in Ohio".

The house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built between 1881 and 1883 on Franklin Boulevard for Hannes Tiedemann, a wealthy German immigrant, and his family.  In 1891 his fourteen year old daughter daughter died of complications from diabetes.  Just a few weeks later his elderly mother died.  In the next three years three more of his children reportedly died.  Supposedly to assuage his wife's grief over these tragedies, Tiedemann had extensive additions to the house built, including a fourth floor ballroom and turrets with gargoyles which gave the mansion its castle-like appearance.    In 1895 Tiedemann's fifty-seven year old wife died, and a year later he sold the house.  In 1908 Tiedemann died.

Unfounded rumors swirled around Hannes Tiedemann... that he had murdered his wife (he married a much younger woman shortly after his first wife's death)... that he hung his mentally-ill niece from the ceiling rafters (or was she really his illegitimate daughter?)... that he killed a servant with whom he was having an affair.

Between 1921 and 1968 the castle housed a German cultural organization.  Stories of espionage and more murders were invented.

In 1968 the mansion was purchased by the Romano family.  They reported numerous sightings of ghosts, and unexplained noises.  They even asked a priest to exorcise the house.  He refused to do so, but supposedly told them that he felt an evil presence and that they should move.  

In 1974 the Romanos sold the house.  The subsequent owner gave haunted house tours.

In 1984 the house was bought by Michael DeVinko, the last husband of Judy Garland.  He spent a fortune renovating the castle and even tracked down some of original furnishings.  He sold the house in 1994.  There have been numerous owners since then, and it is now owned by a recording company.

The stories of ghosts include the sound of a crying baby, and a woman dressed in black who appears in the upper window of the front turret.  While many of the tales surrounding Franklin Castle are surely the product of gossip and overactive imaginations, it's interesting to ponder if this old mansion is indeed inhabited by unhappy spirits. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Early Lights

I can remember as a child looking out the window to see who was the first neighbor to turn on their Christmas lights.  Once I saw a house lit up I would ask my mother, "Can we turn our lights on?"  She would respond with something like, "No, it's still too early.  Christmas isn't until two more weeks."

Now as soon as Thanksgiving is over the holiday lights appear.  In fact this year, a few people turned on their lights even before Thanksgiving!

Yesterday I ventured out into the cold, moonlit night and took a short walk down the street.  Here are a few of the Christmas decorations in the neighborhood...



I have written several posts documenting the demolition of my alma mater, Berea High School.  In the last post that I wrote about it, work was underway to tear down the oldest section of the building which was built in the late 1920s.  

My friend Gayle, who graduated with me in the BHS Class of 1970, told me that she had driven by and that nothing was left but the chimney.

Yesterday was a sunny day, so I decided to get some exercise and walk the two miles to the site of my old school.   I found that, yes indeed, except for several piles of rubble and the chimney of the boiler room, there was nothing left of Berea High (or Berea-Midpark High, as it was called after it was consolidated with the other high school in our school district).


Behind the chimney stands the new high school.

The demolition zone is surrounded by a chain link fence.  (These photos were taken through the holes in the fence.)  However, when Gayle passed by here, one of the entrance gates was open.  Someone had driven in and was taking some bricks from the pile of rubble, and Gayle followed suit.  She grabbed four bricks and put them in her car.  Yet another person arrived and was about to do the same, but a worker arrived and told them that they had to leave.  However, Gayle already had her memento of our alma mater.

Looking at the pile, I am wondering if some of the lighter colored pieces might be of Berea sandstone, which was also used in the construction of the original building.  I would have loved to have a piece of sandstone.  However, even if the gate had been open, it would have been a bit more exercise than I would care to attempt, walking home two miles, lugging a chunk of sandstone!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

A Trip to the Post Office

Shortly after Thanksgiving I always take a time-consuming trip to the post office.  I have my Christmas cards all made out, and I also have calendars that I send as gifts to my European cousins.  I have to buy stamps, domestic and international postage, and put them on all the cards.  I put the calendars into large, padded envelopes which the post office sells, and address them all.  Then the postal employee hands me customs declaration forms for each calendar which I have to fill out.  I end up spending a good portion of the morning at the post office.

With the pandemic I was not looking forward to spending so much time in a busy and relatively small, indoor space.  I bought all my stamps ahead of time and had the cards all ready to send.  I told my friend Gayle about how it takes me forever at post office each year to get everything done.  She said that at her post office the customs forms are sitting out at a counter.  On her next trip there she picked up a bunch of them for me and dropped them off at my house.  On Thanksgiving evening I filled out the form for each of the six calendars I was going to send.  Another step completed ahead of time.

On Friday morning I donned my face mask and a face shield and took my cards, calendars and customs forms to my local post office.  I arrived at 8:30 A.M. when it opens.  I found the padded envelopes that fit my calendars... fortunately there were just six left... and addressed them.  After finishing that there was still no line of customers, and I went right up to the clerk.  He then began a laborious process for each calendar.  He weighed it, printed off the postage sticker, typed in all the customs information, printed off another sticker, separated the multi-copy customs forms... one copy is retained by the post office and I keep one copy... and then  put the remaining copies in a clear, plastic envelope which is taped to the front of the package.  The total bill was quite hefty and I paid with my credit card.  There were no other clerks available to wait on customers.  I felt guilty because by the time my transaction was completed there was a line going out the door.  Even with the preparations that I had done ahead of time, I had spent an hour in the post office.