city at night

city at night

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween... sort of

It's going to be a different type of Halloween this year.  Although some cities here in Ohio have allowed "trick-or-treating" tonight, given the recent spike in new cases (Ohio has broken records the last two days) I think it would irresponsible to send one's children out.

Alejandro sent me this funny electronic greeting card with his face and mine pasted in...


Friday, October 30, 2020

A New Record


If you look at the "Blog Archive" in the right hand margin of this page, you will see listed all the posts that I have written this month, as well as the number of posts that were written in each month of 2020 and the number of entries written in each of the seven previous years that I have kept this blog.

Last year I had a record number of posts... 325.  The last few years, when I am traveling, I have been frequently writing two entries each day.   There is always so much to write about when visiting another country... the day's sightseeing, the restaurants where I have eaten, handicrafts that I have purchased, street performers, and a myriad of other little things that capture my attention when I am traveling. 

When I am staying at the apartment I rent in Mexico City, the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is turn on the laptop and write about something from the previous day.  Then I shower and dress, and have breakfast either at the apartment or at a nearby restaurant.  By that time it is 10:00 AM, rush hour has passed, and I can get on the Metrobus or subway to do my day's exploration in the city.  By late afternoon I return to the apartment, and I write another entry about my day's experiences.  Some days there is so much to write about that by the end of the week I have a backlog of a few posts waiting to be published.  On the weekends Alejandro and I are usually sightseeing in or outside of the city, and I don't have time to write on the blog.  Then I can simply go to an entry that I had already written and click on publish.  

Of course the situation changes when I return home.  Life is much more mundane and sometimes several days go by without writing anything.  

At the start of 2020 the blog continued at its usual pace while I spent most of January and February in Mexico.  Then not long after returning home this cursed pandemic began.  Travel plans were put on hold.  I thought that my blog would languish until I could once again feel safe boarding a plane.  But much to my surprise I have been writing daily... even occasionally publishing two posts per day.  Unable to travel, I have been visiting local parks, walking hiking trails and exploring neighborhoods.  Many of these excursions have been to nearby places that I had never seen before.  There were posts about my cooking experiments, gardening, home renovations, and sometimes I would let off steam with political rants.  

When I click on publish for this post, I will have reached a new record... 326 entries in 2020.  And we still have two months to go! 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Down in the Flats

I have written twice about the Towpath Trail which is being constructed along the route of the old Ohio & Erie Canal.  I have already walked two small portions of the trail.  Last week, on what might have been one of our last summery days of the year I walked along the northernmost stretch of the trail.  I returned to the Cleveland neighborhood of Tremont which is located on the opposite side of the Cuyahoga River from downtown Cleveland.  From there the trail descended into the river valley which we refer to as the Flats.

Passing over the trail is the George Voinovich Bridge which was completed in 2016 and which replaced the deteriorating Innerbelt Freeway bridge across the river.

Just beyond the span of the Voinovich Bridge are two stone pylons which are all that remain of the Central Viaduct.  It was completed in 1888 to connect the east and west sides of Cleveland.  Although it is dwarfed by the modern bridge, in its day the Central Viaduct was considered a marvel of engineering.

The trail descends to the Flats along the banks of the Cuyahoga River.  Through much of the 20th century, when Cleveland was one of the nation's leading industrial cities, the Flats were lined with factories and steel mills.  Although manufacturing has declined, much of the Flats remains an industrial area... interesting but certainly not one of the city's beauty spots.

Freighters still ply the river carrying cargos of iron ore, limestone, salt and coal.  The ships must be less than 640 feet in length to navigate the many bends in the Cuyahoga.  It is commonly thought that the name Cuyahoga comes from the Mohawk word Cayahaga which means "crooked river".  But since the Mohawks never lived in this area, that is probably false.  The origin of the word is not clear.

In order to allow ships to move along the river, many of the bridges were lift bridges in which the span raises to allow freighters to pass.  The oldest of the lift bridges was the Eagle Avenue Bridge, built in 1931.  It is no longer in use, and is permanently in the lift position.

An important high level bridge crossing the Flats is the Hope Memorial Bridge which was completed in 1932.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At either end of the bridge are sandstone pylons which feature 43 foot high, art deco carvings of winged figures, each one holding a different type of vehicle.  They are known as "The Guardians of Traffic".

A close up of one of the carvings from a photograph on one of the informative signs along the trail.

A photo of stonemasons who worked on the carvings.

I thought that the bridge was named after the famous comedian Bob Hope who grew up in Cleveland.  In fact, it is named after his father, William Henry Hope, a stonemason who worked on the bridge.

From the trail I had interesting perspectives of downtown Cleveland located on the eastern bluff of the river.

As I have mentioned  before, the iconic Terminal Tower was the second tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930.

The Towpath Trail ended, however I continued walking through the Flats.  (I believe that there are plans to continue the Trail a bit farther to Lake Erie at the mouth of the Cuyahoga.)

On the bluff above the river, the old Warehouse District has seen old buildings renovated and new structures built.  These are all condos and apartments for people moving back into downtown Cleveland.

The lower end of the Flats has had an up and down and up again history as an entertainment district.  In the 80s and 90s the Flats had the highest concentration of bars in the Midwest.  The era of drunken revelry came to end after some shootings in the district.  The bars closed down and the area became a ghost town.  However in recent years the Flats are reviving again with the emphasis on riverfront dining more than bars.

Across the river is the Jacob's Pavilion, a 5000 seat concert venue.

I ended my hike at Settlers Landing Park, a green space located where surveyor Moses Cleaveland landed in 1796.

Cleaveland and his party from the Connecticut Land Company set up their camp here.  They climbed the bluff, and plotted out a townsite with a New England design centered around a Public Square.  The settlement was to be called Capital Town, but instead (with a misspelling of his name) came to named after its founder.  Cleaveland then returned to Connecticut and never came back to Ohio.  The next year, another Connecticut native, Lorenzo Carter, bought a plot of land and became the first resident of what would become Cleveland, Ohio.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Pan de Muerto

One of many reasons that I love being in Mexico at this time of year is the "pan de muerto" (bread of the dead) that is sold in every bakery and even in supermarkets through October and much of November.  The round loaves of sweet bread have dough crossbones baked on the top and are sprinkled with sugar.  Not only do the Mexicans consume the "pan of muerto", but they also place a loaf on the "ofrendas", the altars they set up in their homes in memory of departed loved ones. 

Sadly I am stuck here in Ohio this year.  Earlier in October I went to the Mexican supermarket in Cleveland, but their bakery was not yet making "pan de muerto".  This week I returned, and they finally had it. I bought three of them.

As soon as I took this photo, I had to try one.  I was not expecting it to be as scrumptious as the bread from one little neighborhood bakery in Mexico City where they fill the bread with "dulce de leche" (sweetened condensed milk cooked down to a thick caramel).  But this was not even as good as what I buy at the Superama supermarket near the apartment that I rent down there.  It was very dry.  I will not feel compelled to drive back and buy some more before the season is over.  Oh well, I will just have to wait until next year to enjoy the real thing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

More Signs

A few days ago I posted a some photos of political signs that my cousin had found on the internet.  Here are some that I found...

Monday, October 26, 2020

Blooming Again

 This is the second year in a row that my iris has bloomed again in the autumn.  In fact it might have even more flowers than it did in the springtime.  This picture was taken more than a week ago, but even now, as we near the end of October and the weather grows chillier, it still has blossoms and even buds.  It might still be blooming for Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Day of the Dead... Online

 The festivities which mark the Day of the Dead in Mexico have been cancelled in Mexico City (and I suppose the rest of the country).  There will be no parades, nor will there be an enormous "ofrenda" (altar in memory of the dead) on the main plaza.  For the last several years the "Mexicráneos"... large skull sculptures, each one decorated by different artists... have graced the main boulevard, el Paseo de la Reforma, at this time of year.  The city put them out on display but after a short time they were removed because they were attracting such large crowds.

Another new tradition which began five years ago was a children's play called "Los Cuentos de la Catrina" (The Stories of the Catrina) which has been presented on stage in a Mexico City theater.  (If you have read my posts on the Day of the Dead from past years you know that La Catrina is an elegantly dressed female skeleton that has become an icon for this time of year.)  Alas, the stage theaters in Mexico City are closed, but "Los Cuentos de la Catrina" is being presented online.  Alejandro's sister sent me an email with a "virtual ticket" to watch last night´s performance.

The story reminded me a little bit of Dicken's "A Christmas Carol".  The stressed-out parents of a modern Mexican family are too busy to bother with observing the Day of the Dead.  That night La Catrina and her supernatural companions arrive and teach them the importance of family, traditions, childhood dreams and remembering departed loved ones.

It was a cute production, and I am glad that they were able to continue on with that tradition.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Signs of the Times

 A few days ago my cousin Gail sent me photos of a bunch of political signs that she found on the internet.  Here are a few of them...

Friday, October 23, 2020

Into the Gorge

I have mentioned here numerous times the Cleveland Metroparks, a wonderful system of natural areas which encircle Greater Cleveland.  One park which I had never visited was the Bedford Reservation which follows a section of Tinker's Creek.  Last Friday was a pleasant autumn day, so I decided to take another one of my local tourism excursions.

The park is traversed by the Gorge Parkway, and there are several places to pull off the road and enjoy the scenic beauty.  The first was the Gorge Overlook.  Tinker's Creek was named after Joseph Tinker, a member of the 1796 surveying team of Moses Cleaveland, the founder of the city of Cleveland.  It flows 28 miles through Portage, Summit, and Cuyahoga Counties before emptying into the Cuyahoga River.  In this section of its course it has carved out a gorge which has been designated by the Department of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark.

The view from the overlook is pleasant, although you cannot see the creek for all the trees.

Farther along the parkway is another parking lot from which you can take a short trail to visit Bridal Veil Falls.

A series of wooden stairs take you into the Gorge.

At the bottom, there is a small cascade along a stream that flows into Tinker's Creek.

 The trail continues across the bridge, and you come to a second, larger section of the falls.

I finished my excursion at Viaduct Park.  Another trail leads down into the gorge.

Long before you can see it, you can hear the Great Falls of Tinker's Creek...

It may not be Niagara Falls, but it was a scenic conclusion to my visit to the Bedford Reservation. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Peanutty Good

In Mexico "enfrijoladas" are enchiladas covered in sauce made from pureed black beans.  "Entomatadas" are enchiladas bathed in a tomato sauce.  A few days ago, Alejandro told me that they had "pollo encacahuatado", chicken in peanut sauce, for dinner.  That sounded good.  At my local supermarket I can buy a jar of Thai peanut sauce which I use for my version of "pad Thai", but I asked him how to make a Mexican peanut sauce.  He told me the ingredients... but no measurements... that are thrown together in a blender.

Yesterday I attempted to make a sauce for "pollo encacahuatado".  You are supposed to use fresh tomatoes roasted on a grill, but since tomatoes from the produce section of the supermarkets up here are lacking in flavor, I bought a can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes.  With the large can of tomatoes that I bought I ended up doing two batches, and I put some in the freezer.

In the blender I simply combined chicken broth, roasted tomatoes, one chipotle pepper for each batch, a quarter of an onion which I lightly charred in a dry frying pan, and some minced garlic.  I added peanuts until I attained the consistency that I wanted.  I used unsalted peanuts, but at the end I needed to add salt to taste.

The result was a thick sauce still with a few pieces of peanut.  (Alejandro said that it should be slightly chunky.) 

It was really tasty with just a small kick from the chipotle peppers.  I had to restrain myself from continuing to "taste test" it or there wouldn't be any left!  It is usually served over whole chicken pieces, but I put it over shredded chicken with rice.

"¡Muy rico!"  Delicious!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Follow-up to Yesterday's Post

Yesterday when I wrote about the piñatas in the image of "Herr Pendejo" that were made in Mexico, my former student Meredith commented and joked that those could become Mexico's biggest export.

After reading her comment, I did a bit of investigating on the internet this morning, and I found a website called "piñ".   The company is based in El Paso, Texas and has a factory in Mexico.  They have six different piñata designs of the "pendejo".  But guess what?  They are all out of stock!

(all images taken from the internet)


But never fear.  You can order your piñata from a company called Aztec Imports on Amazon.

Although I don't know if the piñatas are made in Mexico, you can also find some on Etsy.

You can help the Mexican economy and at the same time relieve some of your election-time, pandemic stress!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

"Pendejo" Smashing

 My cousin Gail recently sent me this image...

Actually, the Mexicans have been producing piñatas with the likeness of "Herr Pendejo" for quite some time.  Back in 2015 at the beginning of his presidential campaign, when he said that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists, those piñatas became very popular south of the border.

(images taken from the web)