Monday, March 30, 2020

An International Triangle

I wrote about how I have been doing video chats with some of my cousins in Europe and with my friend Alejandro in Mexico.  Yesterday I added something new to my Skype experience.  I've talked to my cousin Brigitta in Switzerland about my travels in Mexico and about Alejandro and his family, and of course I have talked to Alejandro about my Swiss family.  On Saturday Brigitta emailed me and asked if I would like to Skype at noon on Sunday, and I said sure.  I knew that it was possible to add more people for a conference chat, but it was something that I had never done.  When I talked to Alejandro I asked him if he would like to meet one of my Swiss cousins through a video chat.  He thought it was a cool idea and agreed to go onto Skype at the same time.

Brigitta called me a little before noon, and she was with her partner Peter.  I checked to see if Alejandro was on Skype.  He was, and I added him to our conversation without much difficulty.  We had, as Peter put it, an international triangle between Switzerland, Mexico and the United States.  We probably talked for an hour.  

Skype has proven to be a great asset in easing the sense of "cabin fever" during this period of self-isolation. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

What's For Dinner?

Last week I came upon a video on YouTube on how to make "tortilla española", a very typical Spanish dish which is an egg, potato and onion omelette very similar to the Italian "frittata".  The video was done by a fellow from New Zealand who has lived in Madrid with his Spanish wife for the past eight years.  It is a rather entertaining video, especially the repartee between the husband and wife as he prepares the dish.  You can watch it HERE.

I have successfully made "tortilla española" many times.  It has long been a standby recipe to make for company.  I figured I would watch the video and see if he made it the same way that I make it.  His technique varied quite a bit from mine.  After frying the potatoes and onions, he removes the mixture from the frying pan, puts it in a bowl lined with paper towels to drain, and lets it cool down.  Then he combines the beaten eggs to the potatoes and onions and lets them sit for a half hour before cooking the omelette. I just add the fried potatoes and onions to the eggs, and immediately throw it back into the frying pan.  The one way in which my preparation differs from all recipes, is that I do not try to flip the "tortilla".  I simply put the pan under the broiler of the oven to let the top cook.

I had not made "tortilla española" for a long time, so the video inspired me to make it for dinner.  When I went to the supermarket last Wednesday I bought potatoes, the only ingredient which I did not have in the house.  Even though the New Zealander's method is more complicated, I tried his technique.  (Except for the flipping!  I refuse to do that!)

The finished product looked fine, just lightly browned on the top from the broiler.

The New Zealander says in the video that he likes his "tortilla" runny on the inside.  Well, when I cut into mine it was a bit runny.  It was tasty, but frankly I prefer the eggs to be thoroughly set.  And of all the many times that I have had "tortilla española", I do not recall ever having it runny on the inside.  I think I will just stick to my way of making it!

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Town that Sandstone Built

Last week I wrote about a walk which I took in the Mill Stream Run Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks  I mentioned Baldwin and Wallace Lakes which were originally stone quarries, part of the thriving industry that made the Ohio town of Berea the "Sandstone Capital of the World". 

Berea is a suburb to the southwest of Cleveland, and is adjacent to the suburb where I live.  It stands upon a deposit of some of the finest quality sandstone in the world, and in the late 1800s stone from the quarries was used for making grindstones and building materials.  Buildings throughout the world were built with Berea sandstone.  (Although I have never been able to verify it, I have heard that there is even a portion of the Kremlin in Moscow that was built with our sandstone.)

Last Sunday, eager to relieve the "cabin fever" I was feeling from isolating myself at home, I took a walk through the historic center of Berea and photographed some of its sandstone heritage.

Just to the south of downtown Berea is Coe Lake, which was once the largest stone quarry in the town.  It is today a pleasant city park.  Notice the blocks of sandstone decorating the shore of the lake.

The sandstone was not generally used for building private residences, but there is one house in Berea which was built entirely from our local stone.  It dates back to 1854, and today it is the headquarters and museum of the Berea Historical Society.

A new edifice for St. Thomas Episcopal Church was built of sandstone in 1893 when a local resident who had made a small fortune selling horses to the Union Army during the Civil War bequeathed $5000 to the church.  The church has expanded since then, but the old stone structure still used for parish activities.

At the heart of Berea is Baldwin Wallace College. (Since 2012 with the addition of graduate courses, it is officially called Baldwin Wallace University.)  The institution was founded in 1845 by John Baldwin, who was also the founder of Berea and the man who began the sandstone industry.  

(image taken from the web)

John Baldwin

His school was one of the first colleges in the country to accept students regardless of race, gender or religion  (Baldwin had not forgotten that his own mother had been denied admittance to a university because she was female.) The large number of German immigrants coming to Berea led to the establishment of German Wallace College in 1855.  Immigrants could attend classes there to learn English.  (My great grandmother from Switzerland as a young girl attended those classes.)  The two institutions were closely linked, and students at one school could attend classes at the other.  In the early 20th century, as the sandstone quarries began to go into decline, the schools were facing financial problems.  In 1917 the two colleges merged to form Baldwin Wallace College.

Baldwin Wallace is my alma mater, so it was interesting for me to wander around the campus and see the changes since I was a student there.  The campus was eerily quiet since classes have been suspended during the pandemic, and most of the students have left the residence halls.  (I saw one student, probably heading home, packing clothes into his car.)

It is not surprising that all of the older buildings at Baldwin Wallace are built of Berea sandstone.  Marting Hall, built in 1896, still houses the history and English departments.  I had many classes there since I had a history minor.

Next to Marting Hall is the college chapel.  Built in 1870, it was originally a Methodist church until it was given to the college in the 1950s.  (Baldwin Wallace was originally affiliated with the Methodist Church, but the formal affiliation ended in 2019.)

Dietsch Hall was originally built in 1899 as a women's dormitory.  If I remember correctly from my college days, it was used for administrative offices at that time.  Now it houses the foreign language department.

Kulas Hall, built in 1913, is the home of the Conservatory of Music, nationally recognized for its excellence, and famous for its annual Bach Festival, the oldest collegiate Bach festival in the country.  (Sadly, due to the pandemic, the April event will most likely be cancelled this year.)

Heading to the northern side of the campus, Carnegie Hall, built in 1882 with a grant from Andrew Carnegie, housed the education department when I was a student there.

Next to it is this building which from 1894 until 1958 served as the college library.  It is dedicated to Philura Gould Baldwin, the granddaughter of John Baldwin.  Philura was a graduate of the school and an avid collector of books.  When she died at the age of 26 of consumption, the Baldwin family donated the funds for this building with the stipulation that one white rose be presented each year in memory of Philura.  That "White Rose Ceremony" is still held today. 

(image taken from the web)

Philura Gould Baldwin

Now, the former Baldwin Library and Carnegie Hall are connected by a modern structure and they house the social science departments.

Wheeler Hall, built in 1891, holds many fond memories for me, since it used to be the location of the foreign language departments.  Now it houses the education department.

From the Baldwin Wallace campus I continued to the north side of town, to photograph one more important sandstone building, the former Berea Depot.  Today it is a restaurant and bar.  

Between 1876 and 1958 this structure was Berea's passenger and freight station.  Tons of sandstone were shipped from here daily.  It is an example of Victorian Gothic architecture, and when it was opened, one of the Cleveland newspapers called it "the finest facility outside the big cities."

That concludes our tour of the sandstone buildings of historic Berea.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Postcards from Home

My readers may remember that on my last trip to Mexico, Alejandro's 9 year old nephew, Ezra, asked me for my address so that he could write me a letter after I returned home.  (Well, he still hasn't written me a letter.)  Before I left Mexico City in February, I bought a postcard and mailed it to Ezra.  I was back home in Ohio for at least a couple of weeks before he received it.  (The card was sent from Mexico City's main post office to an address within Mexico City!)  Ezra was really thrilled to receive something in the mail, even though it took forever to arrive.

Soon after returning home, I bought a couple of Ohio postcards to send him.  I sent one at the end of February, and he received it yesterday.  The postcard had been written before the current crisis, and Ezra excitedly said to his uncle, "He's still coming to visit us in April!"  Alejandro had to explain to him that the plans had changed since the card was sent.

Today I made out the other postcard and sent it to Ezra.  (The card, pictured above, is of Marblehead Lighthouse.  It is the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, and it is located about an hour from where I live.)

I needed to buy a stamp for the card.  (Postage costs $1.20, far more than the postcard cost.)  Since it was a mild, sunny day I decided to walk to the post office.  Although we are under stay-at-home orders in Ohio, we are allowed to go outside for exercise, be it walking, jogging, running or bicycling, as long as we keep our distance from others.  Fortunately, when I entered the post office the customers were all keeping the recommended distance from each other.

My walk was 4.7 miles round trip, so I got my exercise for today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Skyping Away

I have mentioned before that when it comes to modern technology and social media, I am a dinosaur.  It is indeed a wonder that I have a blog.

I have used Skype before but not in the last several years.  Today I used it more than I ever have in my entire life.  

A few days ago my cousin Brigitta in Switzerland emailed me, and asked me if we could have a video chat via WhatsApp.  I told her that I don't have a smart phone so I don't have WhatsApp.  However, I told her that I do have Skype on my laptop.  Yesterday she wrote that she had tried to reach me on Skype but that she could not get through.  I went to the laptop and turned on Skype, but since I had not used it for so long it needed to be updated.  In the process of updating I somehow ended up creating a new account, so I had to give Brigitta my new Skype name.  While I was at it, I sent emails to cousins in Norway and England asking if they would be interested in setting up a time to do a video chat.

Last night I was streaming a Netflix movie from my laptop to the TV when my friend Alejandro called.  I mentioned that I had updated Skype, and I asked if he wanted to try it out.  So we both went onto Skype, and it worked.  

This morning I had emails from all three cousins, and they all wanted to chat with me via Skype.  My cousin Brigitta and I made plans to Skype at 1:00 this afternoon (6:00 PM in Switzerland).  My cousin Kevin, who lives outside of London, and I made plans to chat at 3:00 PM (7:00 PM in England).  Then I emailed my cousin Hans Peter in Norway, and he quickly answered, "I'll call in fifteen minutes."  So I turned on the laptop (my desktop does not have a built in microphone) and went to Skype.  At the agreed time Hans Peter called, but I didn't hear any ringing.  When I saw that I had missed his call, I immediately called him back, and we were connected.  He could see and hear me, but, although I could see him, I couldn't hear him.

He couldn't figure out what was wrong.  While he was fiddling with the adjustments, I talked to him and he typed messages back to me.  He asked me if the problem was on my end, and I told him that I had no problems last night Skyping with Alejandro.  After a while we gave up, and Hans Peter said he would call again when he had figured out the problem.

Shortly afterward I realized that the problem was indeed on my end.  Since my laptop is connected to the TV, the audio is coming through the television.  I did not have the TV turned on when Hans Peter called.  I sent a message to Hans Peter and told him that the problem was solved, and that we could talk later.  It was nearly 2:00, and Brigitta would soon be calling.

With the TV turned on, Brigitta and I had no problem at all.  We had a nice, long conversation.  Fortunately, the family in Switzerland is well.  The pandemic is quite bad there. Only essential businesses are open, and people are expected to isolate themselves.

After talking with Brigitta, I called Hans Peter back, and this time we had no problem communicating.  The situation is the same as in Switzerland, but he and his family are fine.

Shortly after talking with him, I got a phone call from Alejandro in Mexico.  He said he needed to connect with me on Skype.  So I turned the laptop back on, and his call came through.  His nephew Ezra had a question about his English homework.  Classes have been cancelled down there, but the students are still receiving homework assignments online.  Alejandro aimed the camera on a page of Ezra's English workbook.  The exercise was a crossword puzzle that he was not able to complete.  I realized that the problem was that for one of the clues, he had filled in "swimwear" instead of "swimsuit".  From there everything else fit in.  Alejandro said that we would Skype again at 9:00 tonight (7:00 in Mexico).

It was then time to wait for the 3:00 PM call from Kevin. Kevin was using his business laptop and his business version of Skype.  He sent me an email with a link to connect to that since it is totally different from what I have.  At 3:00 I clicked on the link and i had to wait and download the business version.  We finally connected, and I had a good chat with him too.  The family is all well, but they too are largely confined to the house. 

So I have been socializing all day, without disregarding the concept of social distancing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Slogging through Wagner

A couple posts ago I wrote that the Metropolitan Opera is streaming free telecasts of old performances for stay-at-home audiences.  The operas I saw last week were all enjoyable.  

After "The Daughter of the Regiment" (which I wrote about) I saw another Donizetti opera, "Lucia di Lammermoor", on Saturday evening.  That was excellent and very dramatic.  The famous "mad scene" in which Lucia comes out in her blood-stained wedding dress after murdering the man she was forced to marry was really gripping.  I had never seen any works of Donizetti before, but after seeing his most famous comedy and his most famous tragedy, I must say that I like him. 

The next night I watched "Eugene Onegin" by Tchaikovsky.  I had seen a simulcast of that opera some years ago in a movie theater.  Tchaikovsky is one of my favorite orchestral composers, and this opera has a rather interesting story line.  (Naive Tatiana, a girl from the sticks, falls for a worldly nobleman, Eugene Onegin.  Onegin rejects her love.  Years later, Tatiana has married well, and is a glamorous princess.  When Onegin sees her, he is smitten, but virtuous Tatiana, even though she still has feelings for him, rebuffs his advances.)  This production was different from the one I had seen before.  The designer used very stark, minimalist sets which I did not care for.  Nevertheless, the story and the fine singing held my interest.

(image taken from the web)

Monday night's opera was Richard Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde".  I like the instrumental music from Wagner's operas, but listening to his complete operas is another thing.  I once started to watch on PBS one of his works from the "Ring Cycle", but  I didn't get very far.  In spite of that, I decided to give Wagner another try last night.  Jeez, the opera is four hours long!  I slogged my way through Acts I and II, and I forced myself to finish with Act III today.  It was a rather painful experience.

First of all, I hated the modern stage settings and costumes.  I realize that it is trendy to update classic operas and plays into present-day settings.  For some productions it works.  But this story centers around a magical love potion in a mythical medieval world.  A modern update just seems ludicrous.  The stage settings were all very dark and industrial.  The ship in which Tristan and Isolde are sailing across the sea looks like the hold of some grim cargo ship carrying toxic waste.  The costumes are equally dark.  You would think that an Irish princess on her way to marry the King of Cornwall would not be dressed so frumpily.

(image taken from the web)

In the first act Isolde's singing is the stereotypical shrieking that you associate with Wagnerian female vocalists.  In the second act the music is sweeter and more melodic, but the two of them go on and on and on about how it is "only in the long night of death that they can be eternally united."  I guess that's why the settings and costumes are all so dark.  This is morbidly depressing, and nobody has even died yet!  The final act contains the famous "Liebestod" (Love Death) which as an orchestral work is gorgeous... but it's less gorgeous with Isolde's wailing.  After four hours I just wanted it to be over.  

Guess what?  This whole week is going to be devoted to Wagner.  Good grief!  The next four nights are going to be the four operas that make up his "Ring Cycle".  The whole thing lasts about 15 hours in total.  I am going to pass.  I might try watching the last two nights of "Wagner Week"... "Die Meistersinger" (the only comic opera that he wrote) and "Tannhäuser".  Looking at the pictures on the website at least these two have traditional stage settings and costumes.

The good news is that next week's schedule includes some more appealing works by Verdi and Rossini.  (I look forward to "The Barber of Seville".)  

Monday, March 23, 2020

It's Happened Before

We are not the first ones to live in a time of pandemic.  Our great grandparents went through the 1918 -1920 influenza epidemic erroneously known as the "Spanish Flu".  During that period it is thought that perhaps one quarter of the planet's population was infected. Estimates of the death toll vary widely, from 17 million to 50 million.  Hopefully our current pandemic will not last as long, nor will it take as many lives.

A friend sent an email with this letter that was written by author F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I thought that it was worth sharing.  There are some interesting parallels with our time, and the letter ends with a note of hope.

Dearest Rosemary,
It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter.
Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so.
At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.
The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.
You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. Weep for the damned eventualities this future brings.
The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand.
In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.
Faithfully yours,
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Night ( and a Morning) at the Opera

I am not a big opera buff, but I do enjoy many of the well-known operas such as "Aida" and "Carmen".  My exposure to live opera is very limited.  Back when I was a kid, back in the days when the Metropolitan Opera used to come on tour to Cleveland, my mother took me to a couple performances, and in college I saw a couple works staged by the music conservatory at my college.  Later the Metropolitan Opera began screening live performances at movie theaters.  I went to several of those with an older friend who was a fan.  (Sadly she has passed away.)

Yesterday I was looking at a blog called Countdown to Mexico.  The author's latest entry deals with activities to do at home now that so many of us are not leaving the house.  She included a link to the Metropolitan Opera's website.  Due to the fact that the Met has canceled the remainder of its season due to the pandemic, they are now offering free streams of operas from the past.  Each evening at 6:30 P.M. a new opera is available for twenty four hours.

Last night's opera was "La Fille du Régiment" ("The Daughter of the Regiment"), a comic opera written in French by the Italian composer Donizetti in 1840.

(image taken from the web)

The tale revolves around Marie, a young woman who, when she was an orphaned babe, was taken in and cared for by a regiment of French soldiers.  She vowed that one day she would marry one of the soldiers of the regiment, but then she falls in love with a young Swiss fellow named Tonio.  (Luciano Pavarotti first became a star playing the role of Tonio.)  The plot is a piece of fluff, and there is more slapstick comedy than you would expect from opera.  The lead singers were excellent.  Marie was played by French soprano Natalie Dessay, and Tonio was played by Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez.

(image taken from the web)

I watched the first act of the opera last night and the concluding second act this morning.

If you enjoy opera (or if you want to see if you might like opera) here is the link...

Metropolitan Opera

And by the way, there are English subtitles, so that you can follow along with the story.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to watch tonight´s offering, another Donizetti opera, "Lucia di Lammermoor".

Friday, March 20, 2020


If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I take three or four trips to Mexico City each year, and that I spend four or five months down there.  Even though I returned home just a month ago, I was scheduled to return in April.  About a week ago, I wrote on this blog that, although I had some concerns, I was far from the point where I was planning to cancel my trip.  

Events have changed dramatically in that week.  Here in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where I live, we have gone from three confirmed cases to fifty three.  Schools, restaurants and bars have been closed in the entire state, and all large gatherings are prohibited.  I am in semi-isolation, leaving the house only when necessary.  

In the entire nation of Mexico there were only eight confirmed cases a week ago, and four of those had already recovered.  Now there are 113 active cases, and the country has recorded its first death.  Tomorrow all schools will be closed, and the Secretary of Health said that by the end of the month the virus will be an epidemic.  

Several days ago I had sadly resigned myself to the fact that the trip was not going to happen.  Finally, last night I went to the United Airlines website to cancel my flight.  I had already been notified by United that my itinerary had been changed.  You may remember that I was supposed to fly from Cleveland to Newark, but I suspected that the flight would be cancelled since there were only eleven seats booked on a large 737 jet.  They switched me instead to a flight to Houston.  But it didn't matter.  I cancelled my reservation.  Actually I should say that I changed my reservation.  Without any penalty I was able switch the April trip for reservations for my usual visit in October / November, and I still have my tickets for my trip in August.  (I certainly hope that this crisis has abated by then!  If not I will probably be ready for the looney bin!)

I am feeling quite depressed, but I suppose that is a feeling I share with much of the planet's population right now.  I had already packed my carry-on, filled with gifts to take to my friends in Mexico, including everything needed for an Easter egg hunt for Alejandro's nephew.

Well, my "Mexican family" will have to wait for their gifts, and I suppose we can have an Easter egg hunt even if it's not Easter.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Another Walk in the Park

Last week I wrote that since my local recreation center is closed due to the pandemic, I got some exercise by taking a long walk in the Cleveland Metroparks.  Last Friday I hiked a section of the Rocky River Reservation.  Just to the south of that is another reservation which forms another gem in the "Emerald Necklace" that encircles Cleveland.  On Monday I went to the Mill Stream Reservation for another walk in the park.

The Mill Stream Run Reservation, which continues to follow the course of the Rocky River, passes through the Cleveland suburbs of Berea, Middleburg Heights and Strongsville.  It is also a very short drive from my home.  I parked my car at the northern end of Baldwin Lake.  There is a small, man-made waterfall where a dam had been built.

Baldwin Lake was originally a stone quarry.  There is not much left of the lake as it has over the years filled in with sediments where grasses and reeds now grow.  But I can remember open lake here when I was a boy.

Across the road from Baldwin Lake is Wallace Lake.  This lake has not filled in.  At one end of the lake is an area where swimming is allowed in the summer.

Wallace Lake was also a stone quarry.  The town of Berea was once the center of an important sandstone quarrying industry.  The stone underlying this area is some of the best quality sandstone in the world.  Berea sandstone was used for making grindstones and for construction.  In the late 1800s, 93% of the grindstones in the world came from Berea, and buildings all over the world, including the Canadian Parliament, were built from Berea sandstone.  Four hundred tons of stone were shipped from here every day.  The quarries employed more than 500 men, including my great-great grandfather, who came here from Switzerland.  By 1934. because of diminishing demand, the last of the Berea quarries was closed.  In 1937 the Cleveland Metroparks purchased the property encompassing Baldwin and Wallace Lakes.

Canadian geese by Wallace Lake.

I continued along the reservation's all-purpose trail through the neighboring suburbs of Middleburg Height and Strongsville.  In a couple of months this will be the leafy, green forest that gives the park system its nickname of the "Emerald Necklace"

In Strongsville I came to this this covered bridge.  It was built in 1983, but it is in the style of the covered bridges that were popular in many parts of the U.S. in the nineteenth century.

This humorous sign on the bridge is something that you might have seen back in the 1800s.

"Five dollars fine for driving more than twelve horses, mules, or cattle at any one time or for leading any beast faster than a walk on or across this bridge."

At that point I turned back.  I could have gone farther, but the skies were growing cloudy, and I did not want to be caught in the rain.  I returned to my car after a round-trip walk of around four miles.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I Don't Have to Vote Today

I do not particularly care for the Republican Governor of Ohio, Michael DeWine, but I must give him kudos for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.  Even before Ohio had recorded its first confirmed case of the virus he had cancelled events that would have attracted visitors from across the country.  He ordered all public and private schools to shut down beginning this week, and Sunday he ordered all restaurants and bars to close their doors except for carryout orders.

Today the Ohio primary was scheduled to take place.  I had not voted early or filed an absentee ballot because I did not have any trips scheduled for March.  Now that Ohio has 50 confirmed cases with 24 of them in my county, I was debating whether or not I should vote today.  Then yesterday the governor asked for a delay of the primary.  I was happy to hear that.  But then the news came that a Court of Appeals judge in Columbus had denied the request.   

I went to bed wondering if I could time my trip to the polling place so that there would not be a crowd of voters.  I thought about setting the alarm to get up and vote when the polls open at 6:30, but I thought that many others might have the same idea and that many people on their way to work vote early in the morning.  I decided that the best time might be mid-morning.

I got up this morning at my usual time and checked the internet to see if their had been any developments through the night.  Indeed there had been.  Late last night the Director of the Department of Health declared a health emergency and stated that the polls must not open.  The Supreme Court of Ohio issued a last minute ruling upholding the postponement of the Ohio Primary.  Since senior citizens are the ones who are most likely to vote, and they are also the ones most vulnerable to the virus, it is a wise decision.

I can stay home today!


Saturday, March 14, 2020

A New Recipe

I stumbled upon a recipe video on YouTube which sounded good and which I tried out yesterday.  Here is the link if you want to watch the video for making CREAMY AVOCADO TUNA SALAD.  This recipe is healthier than regular tuna salad because, instead of using mayonnaise, a ripe avocado is smashed and incorporated into the mixture.

The chef (who is also a dietician) gave some interesting nutritional information which I did not know.  She said that when you buy cans of tuna, you should always buy the chunk light tuna rather than the white albacore tuna.  Although albacore is more expensive, it is also a fish that lives longer.  Thus there is more mercury in its flesh than the other varieties of tuna which have shorter lives.

Also she said that cilantro is an excellent herb which clears toxins such as heavy metals out of the bloodstream.  Some people don't like cilantro, but I do.  However, I rarely buy it.  It's one of those things where the bunches they sell in the supermarket are too big for the small amount that you need, and it rots before you use it all.  However, I went ahead and bought a bunch the other day when I was shopping for the ingredients. 

Here is what the finished product looked like.  I admit that it doesn't look especially appetizing.

I tasted it, and it was just OK.  So I added an additional heavy squirt of Dijon mustard and a good sprinkling of hot paprika and mixed it in.  That gave it the extra oomph to make it tastier.  With that little addition it is something that I would make again.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Since I Can't Go to the Gym...

I have been faithfully going each weekday to the local recreation center where I have been putting in an hour and a half workout each day.   There have been very few people there the last several days, so, as long as they had disinfectant spray for the exercise machines, I did not feel that it was a hotbed of contagion.  Today, however, when I drove there shortly before noon, and saw only a couple of cars in the parking lot, I knew it was closed.  Nevertheless, I parked the car, and went to read the sign on the door.  The rec center will be closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Since it was a nice, sunny day I decided that I would get my exercise by taking a walk in the Cleveland Metroparks.  The Metroparks, often referred to as "The Emerald Necklace" are a series of parks that encircle much of Greater Cleveland and which cover over 23,000 acres.  I drove to the Rocky River Reservation which is just 1.5 miles from my house.

I parked my car at the overlook of Berea Falls, near the southern entrance to the reservation.

From there I followed the all-purpose trail (for walkers, joggers and bikers) which heads north through the reservation for more than 13 miles almost to the shore of Lake Erie.  

Of course the trees are not yet in leaf.  In a couple months this will be a beautiful, green forest.  I did hear some song birds and some croaking frogs, so spring is on the way.

The path follows the course of the Rocky River.  We always refer to it as the Rocky River, I suppose to distinguish it from the Cleveland suburb of Rocky River which is located by the river's mouth on the shore of Lake Erie.  The river was rather swollen, and you don't see the rocks which give it its name.

This small lake is known as the Lagoon.

A boggy area next to the Lagoon.

Every March there is a "maple sugaring" event in the park.  The maple trees are tapped, the sap is collected, and it is boiled down into maple syrup.  I wonder if the event will be held this weekend since the governor has prohibited any gathering of more than 100 people.

After an hour of walking, I reached the area known as Cedar Point (not to be confused with the famous amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio).  Here cliffs of shale tower over the river.  On top of the cliffs there are traces of ancient earthworks which were built by Native Americans.

I then headed back to the car.  My two hour walk was a round trip of six miles, so I guess I made up for not going to the gym.