Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A Small Step

Progress on the spare bedroom that I am renovating is going more slowly than I had hoped.  A week ago, someone from the flooring store came and took measurements, and gave me a price.  Installing the laminate flooring will just be a one day job, and I thought that by this time the floor would be done.  However, they have to order the flooring, and they have other jobs to do ahead of me.  It might be early November before it is installed.

I also took three pieces of artwork, two of which I bought in Mexico some years ago, to a framing shop.  I wanted to hang them in this room when I eventually renovated it, and they have been sitting in a closet all this time.  It will be a while before those are finished.

The only small progress that I have made is in finding new valences to hang at the windows. I wanted a shade of brown to contrast with the ivory and tan walls.  I didn't want anything frilly or fancy... just simple valences that would hang from the curtain rods that I have.  I went to a nearby mall (the first time that I had gone inside a mall since the beginning of the pandemic), and found nothing.  Only one of the three department stores, Penny's, even carried curtains.  I went online and could find nothing in the style or color I wanted.

Finally I went to a "Bed, Bath and Beyond", perhaps the most logical choice.  The one nearest me had closed down, and I hadn't realized that it had been replaced by another one at a different location.  They had a number of valences, but I was hoping for one in a darker shade of brown.  I settled for a set in a shade called "linen", but I think that it turned looking pretty good in the room.

I still have to get blinds to cover the rest of window for privacy.  I will probably go today to a nearby store to inquire about ordering custom-made blinds.

By the way, you also see in the photo a couple of plants which I brought in from the patio.  I am going to see if I have any success in overwintering the elephant ear and the rex begonia.  Since they are both shade plants they should be able to deal with minimal sunlight.  In fact, I have read that the rex begonia is often grown as a houseplant. 


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Rescheduling Game

During this pandemic, United Airlines has allowed customers to reschedule their flights without any penalty, and that's the game that I have been playing since March.

I usually travel four times a year to Mexico...  January / February, April, August, and October / November.  When I last returned from Mexico in February, shortly before the pandemic began in earnest, I already had my flight reservations for the April and August trips.  I had taken advantage of some good prices and had booked far in advance.  By late March it was obvious that my April trip was impossible, and I rescheduled it for the trip that I always take around the Day of the Dead with a departure date of October 14th.  My plans to be in Mexico for my birthday in August also collapsed.  That trip was rescheduled for winter of 2021.  

Yesterday I went to the United Airlines website and played the rescheduling game again.  My upcoming October / November reservations have been switched to April, 2021.  

I have doubts that my winter trip, beginning on January 12th, will occur.  However, I hope that by April the situation will have improved sufficiently, and that there will be a vaccine, so that I can finally return to Mexico. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

On the Waterfront

Last Thursday I visited another local park which I had never seen before... the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve.  This piece of land took form as a landfill where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dumped sediment from dredging the port of Cleveland along the Cuyahoga River.

 This aerial photo from 1979 shows how an area of the lake was walled off to be used as an area for dumping sediment.

After the landfill operations ceased, nature took over on the eight acres of newly created land.  It was noted that more than 280 species of birds frequented the area, many of them migratory birds using the former landfill as a stopover.  In 2011, the Port Authority of Cleveland designated the site as a nature preserve, and the following year it was opened to the public.  The area is fenced off, and visitors enter through a turn style gate.

Looking at the map at the entrance, I decided that I would walk the 1.6 mile Perimeter Loop Trail which would give me views of Lake Erie.

Naturalists have striven to maintain the preserve with native species of plants and to remove non-native, invasive species.

Soon the lakefront came into sight.

Nearby is the Gordon Park Marina, and in the distance you can see the skyline of downtown Cleveland.

Pleasure craft returning to the marina

Other than the trails, some trail signs and a few benches, the area is left in its natural state.  However at one edge of the preserve this deck has been built from which you can enjoy the view.

Zooming in with my camera on the Cleveland skyline

I continue my walk around the preserve.

Some people who are not familiar with the Great Lakes Region are surprised by how large the lakes are.  You cannot see across them to the opposite shore.  Some years ago when my cousins from England came for a visit, they referred to Lake Erie as "the sea".   Fifty seven miles to the north is the shoreline of Canada.

As I near the end of my circular hike, I have views of the lakefront looking in the opposite direction.

You can see some of the shoreline mansions of the village of Bratenahl, an affluent suburb which is surrounded by Cleveland on three sides.

One of the small silver linings of this terrible pandemic is that, since I am unable to travel, I am visiting nearby places that I had not seen before.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

An Unpleasant Surprise

On Friday evening I was invited by Duffy to his mom's house for wine and cheese.  It was a small outdoor gathering of high school classmates (there were just seven of us).   It was warm enough that even after sunset we were comfortable sitting outside.  

It was a pleasant get-together, but when I returned home a less than pleasant surprise awaited me.  My garage door would not open.  I left the car parked in the driveway, went into the house, and entered the garage through the kitchen.  I saw what the problem was.  A cable on one side of the door had snapped, and the spring was dangling.  

On Saturday morning I called a garage door repair company, but they will not get back to me until Monday.  I guess I am rather lucky that the cable snapped when I closed the door AFTER leaving the garage.  Otherwise, my car would have been stuck inside.  I would not have been able to go to the get-together or anywhere else this weekend.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Another Park, Another Hike

Here in the Cleveland area we are very fortunate to have our excellent Metroparks system, the "Emerald Necklace" of parks which encircle Greater Cleveland.  But I have discovered that neighboring Lorain County also has a very nice Metropark system.

This past week I took an outing to another one of the Lorain County parks.  A short ride on the Ohio Turnpike took me to the city of Elyria, and from there I drove to the Black River Reservation.  The Black River flows twelve miles from Elyria northward to the city of Lorain where it empties into Lake Erie.

I was going to walk the three mile long Bridgeway Trail.

The trail is paved and level.  It's a very easy, pleasant hike.

I soon came to the first of two bridges which give the trail its name.

From the bridge I could look down on the Black River and its shale cliffs.

High above is an abandoned railway trestle.  It was built in 1906 by the Lorain and West Virginia Railroad and hauled coal and iron ore to the steel mills in the city of Lorain.

The second of the two bridges is actually a double bridge which zig-zags from one side of the river to the other and back again.

While I was walking the trail I almost stepped on this small snake.  It's not a very good place for it to sun itself since I doubt if bicyclists on the path would even notice it.  Squish! 

From the main trail, there was a sign pointing to an unpaved loop path called the Waterfall Trail.  Of course, I had to check it out.

The waterfall was more impressive than I was expecting.  It was perhaps about thirty feet high.  However, the overlook did not provide a very good view since there were so many trees in the way.  I could see that there were people down there, so I left the trail and tried to find a path to the falls.  I had to jump across a couple rivulets, but I reached a better location for photographs.

Unfortunately I had forgotten the route I took to get to the falls, and when I headed back to the trail, I sank into some mud.

See the lengths to which I will go to get some good photos for my readers!

In spite of that, the waterfalls were an unexpected bonus to a pleasant hike along the Black River.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Taming the Monster

Although the temperature here in northern Ohio is forecast to reach 83F by Sunday, we are now officially in autumn.  It is time to begin doing autumn chores, one of those being to bring in the houseplants which had spent the summer outside.

The toughest part of that chore is to bring in the rubber tree plant which in the twenty eight years which I have had it has grown into a monster.  Each summer it grows a little bit bigger.  I have to drag it in and out of the house, and when it's inside it seems to take up half of my bedroom.

If it weren't a tropical plant, I would it outside and let it grow into an enormous tree as it does in Mexico.  I love my rubber tree, and I love how it has grown over the years, but I decided that enough was enough.  I took the clippers to it.  I did not clip its height at all, but I did trim off many of the outspreading branches.

It may not look that much smaller in the photo, but I had reduced its width considerably.  It still has to be dragged inside, but once it was in my room the difference was dramatic.

It is still a large and impressive plant, but it no longer seems to be threatening to take over the entire room like something from "The Little Shop of Horrors".  I even have room to place a couple of smaller potted plants next to it.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

A Cleveland Gem (Part Two)

Yesterday I wrote about Cleveland's Cultural Gardens.  Now I will cross the boulevard and visit the gardens on the other side of the parkway as I walk back to my car.

The Russian Garden (2018) is still a work in progress, but so far it is quite disappointing.  Think of all the great writers and composers who came from Russia...  Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, just to name a few.  All that the garden has at this point is a bust of the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

The Serbian Garden (2008) has a path lined with busts of famous Serbs.  The best known to people in the U.S. is Nikola Tesla.  

There is also an image of the country's patron saint, St. Sava.

The rather forlorn Romanian Garden (1967) contains only a bronze statue of George Enescu, the country's most famous composer.  Plans are underway for further development of the garden.

The African American Garden (2016) is still under construction.  The garden climbs the hillside.

At the top of the hill is a structure which represents the slave trade and the castles along the west coast of Africa from which captives were shipped to the New World.  

The walls of polished black granite represent the apprehension the slaves must have felt as they passed through the corridors of the castles, and the sandstone portal is called the "Doorway of No Return".

The Ukrainian Garden (1940) contains statues and busts of famous people.  The central statue is of a 19th century poet, feminist, and political activist who used the pseudonym of Lesya Ukrainka because the Russian Empire prohibited publications in the Ukrainian language.

The Latvian Garden (2006) contains sculptures carved from granite boulders from Latvia.  The archway represents the passage of immigrants from Latvia to the United States.

The Estonian Garden (1966) centers around an abstract carving done by architect Herk Visnapuu, a graduate of Ohio's Oberlin College.  The flame represents the Estonians' desire for independence at a time when it was still a part of the Soviet Union.  The inscription from an Estonian poem says, "The time will come when all torches will burst into flame at both ends."

The Finnish Garden (1958) includes a bust of one of my favorite composers, Jean Sibelius.

As you enter the India Garden (2005) you will notice that the stones of the walkway are inscribed with the word "Welcome" in fifteen of India's major languages.

The most prominent feature is a large statue of Mahatma Gandhi who led the non-violent struggle for India's independence from Britain.

Finally, the Lebanese Garden, which, although it was approved in 2012, is still in its early stages.  Young cedar trees will eventually form a grove.  Lebanon has been famous for its cedar forests since Biblical times.

That completes my tour of the Cultural Gardens.  Looking at its website, I see that there were a few gardens which I missed, but I covered most of them.   The gardens are an often overlooked gem of Cleveland.  You must really get out of your car and explore them on foot to truly appreciate them.