Monday, August 31, 2020

Teaching Memories

Does anyone here remember the ditto machines (properly called "spirit duplicators") that teachers used back in the 70s to run off worksheets and tests? 

As I was cleaning out my attic I came upon a notebook filled with "spirit masters" that I used in my early years of teaching Spanish at the junior high level.  After years of sitting in a hot attic, the masters have bled together, but I couldn't resist tearing a few out of the notebook, taking photos of them, and sharing them with you.  I admit immodestly that I was rather impressed with the amount of time that I took drawing these pictures.

Now, after a lot more experience and traveling, I see some mistakes or words that I might have taught differently.  For example, galoshes (wow! that's an old-fashioned word I don't think anyone uses anymore) are "chanclos", not "chanclas".  A "chancla", at least in Mexico, is a flip-flop or slipper.  Also, in Mexico the word for glasses is "lentes" instead of "gafas".  ("Gafas" are more commonly used in Spain.) In Mexico a jacket is more commonly called a "chamarra" rather than a "chaqueta".

I could have added a few more words here, such as "codo" (elbow) and "rodilla" (knee).

These pictures really gave me a chuckle.  I certainly wasn't lacking in imagination

Look at some of these characters!

I think the cook was a disciple of Julia Child... "and let's add a little more wine."

There is a lot of detail in this picture!

I still had the worksheet that went along with this picture.  There were a whole bunch of questions such as "Who is dancing?", "Who is singing?" and "Who is the movie star?"

Get a load of that movie star!

I also found a worksheet that I used to use when we were studying food vocabulary.  It was called "La Carta Loca"... The Crazy Menu.  The students had to find the words that did not belong on the restaurant menu.  For example...

Jugo de naranja
Dos huevos con pulgas
Té o Café

(Orange juice
Two eggs with fleas
Tea or Coffee)


Sopa de cejas
Papas fritas
Helado con frutas

(Eyebrow soup
French fries
Ice cream with fruit)


Arroz con pollo
Ensalada de frutas
Batido de lágrimas

(Chicken and rice
Fruit salad
Milkshake of tears)

😀 Buen provecho... Bon Appetit 😀 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Truth Above Lies

The following editorial recently appeared in our local newspaper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer.  It was written by Brent Larkin who was the Plain Dealer's editorial director from 1991 until his retirement in 2009.  I thought it was an excellent summation of the current situation.

CLEVELAND -- Five little words, one gigantic lie.

“I alone can fix it,” Donald Trump promised on that night in Cleveland four years ago, as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination.

But President Trump doesn’t fix things. He breaks them. Give him four more years, and he’ll break America.

In Cleveland, Trump ranted about “poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad.”

He sang that same song Thursday night, again claiming his party’s nomination -- this time, on the South Lawn of the White House.

But the grievances Trump complains about now are happening on his watch.

Nevertheless, Trump and his shameless enablers somehow think they can trick voters into ignoring reality by convincing them Joe Biden is a hybrid version of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

If they succeed, it will rank as the greatest political swindle in the history of presidential elections.

The contrast between Trump and Biden could not be more striking. Biden may not be an ideal choice for president, but he possesses all the essential human qualities Trump lacks and will never have – notably, compassion, a conscience and an awareness that truth matters.

Now, as the campaign heads into the final nine weeks, Biden’s lead is comfortable, not insurmountable. And the just-concluded convention made clear that Trump’s two-part comeback plan involves persuading all voters Trump’s coronavirus leadership has saved lives, and convincing white suburbanites that Biden’s election would wreck their lives.

The second part -- regarding Biden -- might work with sustained misleading salesmanship from the Trump campaign.

The first part can’t, because it requires selling Americans on what surely ranks as one of the biggest lies ever told.

With polls showing that a majority of voters are appalled by Trump’s epic leadership failure in combating the coronavirus, a significant portion of every night at the convention was devoted to depicting his efforts related to the virus as herculean, perhaps one of the great success stories in human history.

Never mind that this president downplayed the deadly dangers for months, suggesting the virus would “disappear” when the weather warmed. Never mind that he seemed to lose all interest in the hard work of leading, instead abdicating the fight to the governors. Never mind he promoted witch doctor cures and repeatedly lied about testing.

As George Packer wrote in a brilliant June 2020 piece in The Atlantic, “Every morning in the endless month of March, Americans woke up to find themselves citizens of a failed state.”

Now, in late August, they still do.

The virus claimed 4,027 lives during the four-day convention, based on data derived from ongoing tracking of cases by The New York Times. Health agencies and states reported 169,550 new cases. By Election Day, the U.S. death count will have soared past 200,000.

Here’s a number almost as scary: A CBS News/YouGov poll taken in late August found 57 percent of registered Republican voters believe the number of coronavirus deaths is acceptable.

Wonder how they would explain that to the friends and families of the more than 180,000 Americans no longer living.

Part two of the Trump comeback plan requires the campaign to depict Biden as a dangerous radical whose socialistic policies would forever destroy the American way of life. Its central premise is that when rioters are done burning the nation’s big cities, those black and brown people are headed to the suburbs. They will overrun neighborhoods. Crime will rise and property values will plummet.

It’s dark. It’s dystopian. It’s dangerous. And it might work, causing the race to tighten.

Thirty-six Augusts ago, I was on the convention floor in sweltering Dallas when Ronald Reagan accepted the GOP’s nomination for a second term with a sunny and optimistic prognosis of a nation whose “heart is full … her future bright.” The upbeat tone that night resulted in Reagan’s “morning in America” ad, widely considered on of the best television spots ever produced.

Fast forward to that night four years ago in Quicken Loans Arena, when, as Trump stood smiling and smirking, obscene and ignorant roars of “Lock her up” cascaded from the crowd, echoing off the ceiling where the Cavaliers championship banner hung.

In class and character, the Republican Party of 1984 bore little resemblance to Trump’s Republican Party of 2016 and 2020. Trump’s ominous warning this time was little different than his message of 2016.

“Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our future,” he warned Thursday night.

The worst president in history wants to take us back to the future.

If we let him, this won’t end well.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Rainy Days

It's been a long time since we have had heavy rains that flood the street and form swamps in the back yards.  We have had a fairly dry summer, and I have had to water the garden frequently.  Then starting a few days ago we had some decent rain showers, and yesterday it rained cats and dogs all morning.  

From the way that the rain came in waves of heavy downpours I thought that perhaps we were experiencing the fringes of what is left of Hurricane Laura.  But I looked at the weather radar, and it appeared to be a different system.  The weather reports made no mention of the former hurricane being the cause of our rain.

In the afternoon there was a lull and even some sunshine.  But then in late afternoon the rain began again, at times heavy, and lasted until around 9:00 P.M.  We had more than 3 inches of rain in total.

Well, I don't think I will have to water the garden for a few days!

Grandparents' Day

Yesterday was Grandparents' Day (Dia de los abuelos) in Mexico.  Alejandro told me that the day used to be observed on a Sunday, but now it is always celebrated on August 28th.  In honor of the day, Alejandro went out and bought his father (Ezra's grandfather) a scrumptious-looking cake... a white cake topped with fruit and coffee-flavored meringue.


Happy Grandparents' Day, Pedro!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Hopefully Soon!

 Here's another picture that Alejandro sent me.  This one really made me laugh!

Pick a Color

Several days ago I stopped at a nearby paint store to grab some paint chip strips in order to decide on the colors for the spare bedroom which I am having renovated.  I wanted something in the family of tan, brown or gold.  I wanted one somewhat darker color for an accent wall and for the woodwork and a lighter color for the other three walls and the ceiling.  I had lots of possible combinations from which to choose.

I am hiring a friend of mine to paint the room.  Yesterday he came over to discuss the project with me.  Since I am mildly color blind, I wanted his opinion on color choice.  He picked out two colors, and they look good to me.

The winners are...

Wilmington Tan and Hepplewhite Ivory

He will return on Monday to begin painting.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Mailing It In

"Herr Pendejo" rants, with no evidence whatsoever, that voting by mail will result in massive voter fraud.  He is not only a liar, but a hypocrite, since he himself has cast absentee ballots.  I intend to exercise the privilege given by the state of Ohio to all registered voters to mail in my ballot.

Before this year's pandemic, I had never voted by mail.  This year's spring primary was the first time I had ever done so.  Since 2014 I have been in Mexico in November, and for the midterm and Presidential elections I have gone to the county board of elections to personally cast my ballot early.  

This year, even though it is most likely that I will not go to Mexico in November, I have no desire to stand in line to vote in person at my polling station.  Last week I went to the board of elections website and requested an application to vote by mail.  A few days later I received that application.

Yesterday I filled out the application.  However, rather than mail it in, I drove to the board of elections headquarters in downtown Cleveland and put it in the drop-box behind the building.  "Herr Pendejo" would love to eviscerate the U.S. Postal System in order to suppress the vote.  So in October I will once again bypass the post office, and take by ballot directly to the drop-box.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Greetings from 1959

 I have made a small start at a gargantuan task... cleaning out the attic.  My goal is to go through one box each day, and dump most of the contents in the garbage.  Of course, such a task takes one down memory lane.

In one box I found a half dozen postcards from San Francisco, California.  They most certainly date back to 1959 when my mother took me on a trip West.  Disneyland had opened a few years before, and I had been bugging my parents to take me there.  My dad only had one week of vacation time, and my mom was afraid of flying.  So she took her inheritance from her parents, and she and I went to California by train on the Santa Fe Super Chief.  We saw the sights in Los Angeles including three days at Disneyland.  We then took the train up the California coast to San Francisco where we spent several days.  

This postcard of one of the famous San Francisco cable cars is still in pretty good condition.

The next time that I send a postcard to Ezra, I will send him this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Big Quarry

Yesterday I wrote that much of Berea's fashionable south side was razed in the late 1800s to make way for more sandstone quarries, the economic lifeblood of the town in those days.  After photographing a few of the remaining century houses I walked over to the quarry that displaced much of the town.  Today it is a lake, Coe Lake, and it is the centerpiece of a city park located just to the south of downtown Berea.  A gazebo and a picnic pavilion stand near the shore.

But Coe Lake extends considerably beyond that area.  I would bet that there are a few Berea residents who do not know just how large the lake is.  This was, after all, the "Big Quarry" in an era when Berea supplied sandstone to the world.

A pedestrian bridge crosses the lake to the opposite shore.

In 2009, with the help of a couple of science teachers from Berea High School, a nature trail and outdoor classroom were created on the other side of the lake.

A small meadow is planted with native prairie grasses and wildflowers.

There are informative signs telling the history and ecology of the region, and signs identify some of the species of trees along the trail.

I managed to capture a photo of this chipmunk before he scurried away.

During the summer the lake is home to ducks and Canadian geese.

I don't know what kind of aquatic bird this is, but he was feeding on fish in the lake.

Many 19th century gems of architecture were probably lost to the digging of the quarries, but Berea now has a lovely gem of a park and lake.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Century Houses

After visiting Beyer's Pond on Friday, my drive home took me through the southern end of the city of Berea, along South Rocky River Drive... which used to be known as Main Street.  This area was once where the richest families of Berea lived, and it was also the location of Baldwin University, the precursor of present-day Baldwin Wallace University.  Berea's source of wealth was its stone quarries which produced high quality sandstone that was exported around the world.  The south side was known as the "Lord's side" of town... as opposed to the north side where the quarry workers lived.  But then in the late 1800s, it was discovered that much of the "Lord's side" sat upon another bed of sandstone.  Many of the homes, businesses and institutions (including Baldwin University) were razed to dig more quarries.

Only a few old homes along South Rocky River Drive survived the quarry mania.  I parked my car and walked around to take some photos of those fine old houses.

This house was once the home of John Wheeler, the first president of Baldwin University.  It is still a private residence and is on National Register of Historic Places

The most impressive of the remaining century houses is this mansion which was built by George Whitney, the owner of one of the quarries.  It dates back to the 1870s and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cupola and decorative cornice of the house
The story goes that Whitney had several trees cut down so that he could watch his quarry workers from the cupola.

While doing some research on the Whitney House, I learned that there had been a fire in 1991.  Afterwards the house was carefully restored.  I was also surprised to discover that the house is now an Airbnb rental.  Here are a few pictures of the interior from the listing.


The entire four bedroom house rents for $300 per night.  If you had a group of friends or family members splitting the cost, that really is quite a bargain.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

A Lake and a Pond

 One small silver lining of the dreadful pandemic through which we are living is that I have explored some places close to home that I did not even know existed.  When I have the need to get out of the house I will look at Google Maps and discover someplace for a bit of local sightseeing.  Last Friday was one such day.

We are very fortunate here to have the Cleveland Metroparks system, the "Emerald Necklace" of more than 23,000 acres of nature preserves that encircle Cleveland.  On Friday I drove a short distance to the neighboring suburb of Middleburg Height to the Lake Isaac Reservation.  

Lake Isaac is what geologists refer to as a "kettle lake", a lake that was scooped out by glaciers during the Ice Age.  It is a sanctuary for waterfowl, although on this particular day I only saw one aquatic bird... some type of crane I would assume.

I have stopped at Lake Isaac a number of times.  In fact I wrote about it some time ago on this blog.  Several years ago when Alejandro was up here visiting we hiked the Lake to Lake Trail which extends more than two miles from Lake Isaac to Lake Abram, another kettle lake.  However, this time I was going to walk a trail that I had never taken before, the Lake Isaac Trail, which forms a 1.2 mile loop behind the lake.

Although the trail does not offer any views of the lake, it is a pleasant walk through woodlands and meadows.

At one point the trail passes a murky, algae-covered wetland, a reminder that, when the first settlers came here in the early 1800s, much of the region was an unhealthy, malarial swamp.  Although I did not see any, I heard plenty of frogs croaking their love songs as I passed by.

After completing the loop trail, I got in the car and drove a very short distance to another tract of land that belongs to the park system.   I did not know that this preserve, Beyer's Pond, even existed.

A short walk along a trail led me to a tiny pond encircled with cattails.

"This is it?" I thought.  "It looked bigger on the map."  But then I continued just a few feet beyond, and I came to Beyer's Pond.  Actually I would call it a small lake, rather than a pond.

The shallow edges of the pond are covered with water lilies.  Some of them were in bloom.

It was a tranquil, relaxing escape on a beautiful summer day.