Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Volcano Addict

Regular readers of this blog know that since I cannot travel in the foreseeable future, I have been frequently looking at webcams of Mexico.  In addition to viewing Mexico City, I also have a fascination with the webcams of the volcano Popocatépetl.  I look to see whether or not it is obscured in clouds, if it has any snow on its peak, and if it is fuming.

This morning there was a very clear view of the mountain from the town of Amecameca, which is located about 38 miles from Mexico City.

There is also a webcam in the town of Tianguismanalco, and in the past couple days I have found some excellent pictures of "Popo" from there.  I had to search on Google Maps to see where Tianguismanalco is located.  It is on the other side of the mountain from Mexico City in the state of Puebla.  It is located on the border of Popo-Izta National Park.

As you can see, the volcano's summit currently is covered in white.  At that elevation (over 17,000 feet above sea level) the precipitation of the summer rainy season falls as snow.


I especially like this view from a couple days ago with the mountain rising above a layer of clouds.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Irresponsibles

(image taken from the web)

Every time I hear the whiners complaining that wearing a mask is an infringement on their liberty, my blood boils.  Freedom is never absolute; it is always coupled with responsibility.  Freedom of speech ends when one incites panic or violence.  Freedom of religion does not give one license to go on a religious "jihad".   I should not have to worry about catching a potentially lethal virus because some idiot doesn't want to cover his / her face.  

Up to forty percent of all infections are spread by people who are asymptomatic or who have not yet displayed symptoms.  While they proudly go around uncovered, they could be spreading the virus to others, including vulnerable loved ones.  

Most European countries have brought their numbers down while in the U.S. the cases are spiking again.  Although here in Ohio it is not nearly as bad as in the sun-belt hot spots, we are seeing an alarming increase.  And, NO, medical experts are in agreement that the surge is NOT simply due to increased testing.

I wonder how these cry-babies would have survived in earlier eras.  The sacrifice of wearing a face mask is nothing compared to what their grandparents endured during World War II or the Great Depression!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Green Concert

Here is a news story which you might not have seen last week.  I thought it was quite cool.

The "Gran Teatre del Liceu", Barcelona's magnificent opera and concert hall, has been closed since March when the pandemic began to ravage Spain.  Last Monday it reopened for a performance by a string quartet.  It was a full house, but there was nary a human in the audience.  Every seat was occupied by a house plant.  The plants will be given as  "thank you" gifts to Barcelona's health care workers.

(image taken from the web)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

In the Garden

July is usually when my garden looks its best, and as we come to the end of June there are more and more plants blossoming.

Daisies by the birdbath

Purple loosestrife 

The delicate blossoms of the filipendula

Hostas are grown primarily as foliage plants, but some varieties have attractive flowers too.

The cheerful coreopsis is just beginning to bloom.

The German bearded iris and the Siberian iris have already bloomed.
Now it is the turn for the Japanese iris.

The flower box behind my bedroom that I plant with annuals is filling in nicely.

I like the variety of petunias known as "superpetunias" because they bloom prolifically, they do not become straggly, and they do not require deadheading. 

The miniature dahlias have also begun to bloom. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

More on the Earthquake

Two days ago I wrote about the 7.4 earthquake which hit Mexico on Wednesday.  The epicenter was in the Pacific off the coast of the state of Oaxaca near the resort of Huatulco.  The quake was strongly felt in Mexico City, but Oaxaca suffered the most death, injury, and damage.  It will probably be some time before the full extent of the quake's effects will be known since Oaxaca is a mountainous state with many remote villages, some of them now cut off from the outside by landslides

There were at least ten deaths reported in the state, and fifteen people have been reported  missing.  More than 2000 homes suffered damage of some sort.  Numerous schools, churches, and hospitals were affected. All but one hospital continues to function.  A fire broke out at an oil refinery, but that was put out by firemen.  Landslides blocked numerous mountain roads, including three federal highways.  The federal highways have all been reopened, but some minor roads remain blocked.  Damage was reported to historical monuments and to a few of the state's many archaeological sites.

Below are a some photos which I found on the website Oaxaca Día a Día


Thursday, June 25, 2020


I wrote earlier that I am having new siding put on my house,  It has been a slow process since there is only one guy, Mike, on the project along with his assistant, a high school student.  In the first two weeks they took off the old siding, and put on new insulation and new soffits.  Because the insulation was thicker than what I had before, they also had to frame the windows and doors to make everything even.  

Last Friday the assistant called in sick, because he had a fever.  Obviously both Mike and I were concerned.  The assistant called to say that he had taken the test for the coronavirus and was waiting for the results.  Monday and Tuesday were both rainy days, so no one showed up to work.  Yesterday Mike arrived bright and early.  His assistant had tested negative, thank goodness... a big relief to both of us.  However, the doctor said that he should take another day off from work.

I had some errands to run, including my first trip to the bank since the pandemic started.  My nearby branch has been closed... even the drive-through window... since late March.  The nearest branch that had a drive-through window open is about five miles away.  To be honest, I had never in my life used a drive-through window at the bank.  I was a little concerned whether I would know how to use it if it were one of these new-fangled setups with pneumatic tubes in which you place your deposit.  Fortunately, it was old-school... an actual window with a teller.  However, the line up of cars was very long.  It waited fifty minutes in line!

When I finally got home, I was surprised to see that there was an additional guy from the company, and that they had finally begun work on the siding!  By the end of the day they had done the side of the garage and much of the back of the house.

This morning the assistant has returned to work.  I suspect that they will still be working all of next week.  After the siding is completed they still have to put up new gutters and downspouts.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A Famous Alumnus

Last Saturday, after taking a nostalgic walk around my old, soon to be demolished, high school, I paused at the stadium of Baldwin Wallace University which is next door to the high school.  After high school I obtained my bachelor's degree from Baldwin Wallace.  I had not been in the stadium since my college commencement ceremony.  

In front of the stadium I saw a statue which I not seen before.  I honored one of Baldwin Wallace's famous graduates, Harrison Dillard.

Dillard was an African-American, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio.  He received a scholarship to Baldwin Wallace where he majored in economics.  His college studies were interrupted when he was drafted during World War II.  He fought with an all black infantry unit in Italy.  After the war he returned to Baldwin Wallace and excelled in athletics.  While a college student, he participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London where he won two gold medals.  Four years later he won two more gold medals at the Olympic games in Helsinki.  He was the only man in Olympic history to win gold in both the 100 meter sprint and the 110 meter hurdles.  At the time of his death last year, the 96 year old Dillard was the oldest living U.S. Olympic gold medalist.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


This morning Mexico was hit by a 7.4 earthquake centered off the Pacific coast of the southern state of Oaxaca.  I had not even heard about it until Alejandro called me from Mexico City early this afternoon to let me know that he and the family are OK and that there was no damage to their home.  The warning alarm went off about ninety seconds before the quake hit, and they had time to evacuate the house and wait on the street until it was over.  There was some damage and at least one death in the state of Oaxaca.  At this point there are no reports of deaths, injuries or collapsed buildings in Mexico City.  However, even though they are hundreds of miles away from the epicenter, they felt it very strongly. 

These two short videos were taken in Mexico City and sent to Alejandro.  They look rather scary.


UPDATE - The death toll now stands at four in the state of Oaxaca, and there is extensive damage.  In Mexico City two people were injured, and more than thirty buildings were damaged.

Bye Bye Alma Mater

Back when the pandemic first started, I was taking long walks for exercise and to get out of the house.  (I wrote about a number of those walks on the blog.)  However, once I began working in earnest on my garden, those walks stopped.  After working for as long as six hours in the garden, I did not have the time or the inclination to go walking.  

Now that the major work of the garden is completed, I decided on Saturday to walk to Berea High School, the school from which I graduated fifty years ago.  I wanted to take some photos of it because sometime this summer my old "alma mater" is going to be torn down.  Construction is nearly complete on a new building behind the old one.  Depending on the status of the pandemic, it will open its doors for the new school year in August.

A couple weeks ago the building was open to give the public one final look inside.  The number of people allowed in the building at one time was limited, and the visitors had to follow a strictly set route.  Face masks and social distancing were, of course, required.  I decided not to attend.  I preferred to remember the inside of the building from the tour that we had five years ago as a part of our previous class reunion.  But I did want to walk around the outside of the building by myself one last time and say good bye.

Berea High School was founded in 1882, but the building that we know opened in 1928.  It was quite an elegant work of architecture, and it was known as the "million dollar high school".  Here is a picture that I found on the internet of the building as it originally looked.

Over the years, several additions were built, and in the year that I entered Berea High as a sophomore, there was a brand new classroom wing across the front of the building.

I always disliked that new addition.  It hid the beautiful architecture of the original building, and the tower which used to stand over the main entrance stuck up like a sore thumb above the modern section.

On the front of the addition there is a sculpture known as the "Tree of Knowledge".  It was rather controversial at the time of construction because of its expense.  It was done by a noted local artist, Robert Fillous, and is considered an important piece of mid-twentieth century sculpture.

The sculpture is still generating controversy.  The school board is debating what to do with it.  Moving it to the façade of the new building will cost an exorbitant amount which the school district does not have... but to simply destroy a valuable piece of art is a dreadful option also.

Toward the bottom of the sculpture there are images representing different courses of study.  Notice how birds have built their nest behind the palette representing art.

Above the courses of study is a map of Berea with the Rocky River and the Metropark bisecting the city.

There are also images representing nearby landmarks such as Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the NASA Research Center.

Of the original building, only the west side is still visible.  You can appreciate the beauty of its decorative brickwork.  It reminds me a bit of the Moorish architecture of Spain.

I tried looking through some of the classroom windows, but either the blinds were drawn or the rooms were too dark.  I did manage to get a few pictures of the interior peering through windows or doors.  

Here is the cafeteria.  All of the school dances were also held there, including the senior prom.  That was long before it became "de rigueur" to spend big bucks for some fancy party venue for the prom. 

           The corridor between the cafeteria and the gymnasium and swimming pool areas.

A hallway in the old part of the building.  The red tiles are the original flooring from 1928.

How time has flown!  It seems like yesterday when I was walking these corridors, hurrying between classes!

The Berea School District includes not just Berea, but also the neighboring communities of Middleburg Heights and Brook Park and a small portion of Olmsted Falls where I live.  As the "baby boomer" generation reached their teens, it was necessary to build another high school for the district.  In 1962 Midpark High School was built to serve students in Middleburg Heights and Brook Park.  The two schools were bitter sports rivals.  In 2013 Midpark High School was closed due to declining enrollment, and Berea High School became the consolidated Berea-Midpark High School.

Behind the high school, on what used to be practice fields, the new Berea-Midpark High School is nearing completion.

But, frankly, the new building does not have the character that the 1928 high school had.

Hail to thee, Berea High!
All our trust in thee will lie.
True to thee we'll always be,
Steadfast through eternity!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Pad Thai Revisited

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my unsuccessful attempt to replicate Alejandro's recipe for "pad Thai".  The jar of sweet and sour sauce that I used was simply not a good substitute for the tamarind syrup which he uses as the base for his sauce.

On my last trip to the supermarket I noticed that they had Thai peanut sauce as well as rice noodles.  So I decided to give it another try.


The result was still not exactly like Alejandro's "pad Thai" nor like the "pad Thai" that I have had in restaurants.  However, this was much tastier than my previous attempt.  It was also much spicier.  If I make it again... and I probably will... I will not bother adding a couple of chopped jalapeños to the stir fried vegetables.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Fern Corner

Quite a few years ago I bought several ostrich ferns to plant in my garden.  I didn't realize how quickly they multiply.  Now I have ferns everywhere... well, at least in all the shadier spots of my garden.  For the last several years I have been transplanting ferns that are encroaching on other plants.  I have been putting them behind the storage shed.  There wasn't anything there before, but now there is a bed of ferns that increases in size each year.  I transplanted at least a half dozen ferns there this spring.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

The City at Night

Here are some more pictures of Mexico City which I took from Webcams de México.

Although downtown remains almost a ghost town, the city is still lovely at night.

The buildings around the main plaza, the Zócalo, are still illuminated.  From left to right you see the Cathedral, the National Palace and the City Hall.

The Monument to the Mexican Revolution

Looking west from the observation deck of the Latin American Tower.  The Alameda Park is directly below.

Longing to be able to travel to Mexico again!