Monday, May 31, 2021

On the Triangle

The neighboring suburban community of Berea, Ohio, does not have a town square, but rather a triangle in the center of town.

I took these pictures last summer, but never posted them on the blog.  I thought they would be appropriate today on Memorial Day since the Triangle has a number monuments honoring the war dead.

The oldest monument stands at the northern angle of the Triangle and honors those who fought in the Civil War.  If you can read the inscription you will notice that it honors the soldiers and sailors from the township of Middleburg.  At that time Berea was a village within Middleburg Township which today is the cities of Berea, Middleburg Heights and Brook Park.

The monument is similar to countless Civil War memorials in small towns across the country.  I read somewhere that the Union monuments always have the statue of the soldier facing north, while the Confederate statues face south.

This small monument and antique cannon honor those who fought in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

This simple stone slab lists the names of Berea citizens who died in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  My father was among those Berea residents who served in World War II (he was injured in the Battle of the Bulge), but fortunately his name is not on the monument... or else I would not be here.

Going back chronologically, the monument has the greatest interest for me is the one which lists all of those local residents who fought in World War I.

The names of three relatives of mine appear on that list.  Edward Plau was my great uncle, a brother of my maternal grandfather.  Edward served with the American Expeditionary Forces and was discharged in 1919 with the rank of Private First Class.  Edward, whom my mother referred to as "Uncle Eddie", died long before I was born.  He survived the war, but died at the age of only thirty five from kidney disease.

There are two members of the Swiss branch of my family, the Martis.

Albert and Norman Marti were the sons of Johann Jakob Marti who was the brother of my great-grandmother.  I never knew them, but they would have been distant cousins.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Chilly and Rainy


Memorial Day weekend is upon us... a holiday honoring those who have died in war but which has morphed into the unofficial beginning of summer.   For many it is a time for cookouts and outdoor activities.  Unfortunately the "beginning of summer" here in Ohio feels more like early April.  

I was in Mexico and missed our rainy, and even snowy, April, but after my return in mid-May the weather had turned dry and unseasonably hot.  However changeable is the best word to describe Ohio weather, and Mother Nature has flipped the switch again.  The forecast calls for rain today and tomorrow with high temperatures only in the fifties.  Sunday will remain cloudy with the thermometer barely reaching sixty.  Monday will be more pleasant, dry and partly sunny with a high of 71.   We definitely were in need of rain, but it will not be a very nice weekend for those who had outdoor holiday plans.  I was going to take flowers to the cemetery and continue working in  the garden, but I guess I will spend a couple days inside.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

My Mexican Purchase

 I have an abundance of Mexican handicrafts in my home, but I still cannot resist buying more.  On my latest trip I returned to "La Ciudadela", one of the city's largest handicraft markets.  It covers an entire block and has over 200 stalls.

Admittedly, a lot of the stuff for sale there is tacky, tourist junk.  But if you know where to look, there is also some good quality merchandise.  One stall which I like sells copper items from the town of Santa Clara del Cobre in the state of Michoacán.  Since pre-Hispanic times the region was known for its coppersmiths, and today more than 80% of the town's population is involved in the trade.  The coppersmiths produce utilitarian items as well as decorative pieces.

In past visits I have stopped at this stall and purchased a number of small copper vases for myself and as gifts for friends.  On this trip I had plenty of room in my luggage, and I had a spot at home in mind, so I bought a larger piece... a very nice vase intricately etched with a floral design.  It is now sitting on top of a shelf in my living room.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

An Australian Melodrama

Some people are surprised that I still have an old-fashioned Netflix account in which DVD discs are sent to my home by mail.  Since I am also able to log into Alejandro's streaming account I am able compare the two services.  Frankly, my DVD account is far superior.  Yes, there have been a few good series on the streaming account that are not available on disc, but the library of DVD discs is enormous.  If you want old, classic movies, you are pretty much out of luck if you only have a streaming account.  The majority of what is available on streaming consists of recent series, many of them produced by Netflix themselves.  I have started a number of their series (even historical dramas, my favorite genre), and I have lost interest after a couple episodes.

Furthermore, on my DVD account I have found a couple of excellent foreign television series that are not available on the streaming service.  I wrote last year about the superb series "A French Village", which follows the lives of the residents of a fictitious French town during the years of the Nazi occupation.  Right now I am watching an Australian TV series which premiered in 2013 called "A Place to Call Home".

(Image taken from the web)

It takes place in a rural town in Australia during the 1950s.  The protagonist, nurse Sarah Adams, has returned to Australia after spending twenty years in Europe.  She finds employment in the local hospital.  There she butts heads with Elizabeth Bligh, the matriarch of the town's richest and most prominent family.  Sarah is very secretive about her years in Europe, and there are skeletons in the family closet which Elizabeth is hiding.

It is, I suppose a soap opera, but a very well done soap opera.  The production values are high; it seems to authentically recreate the Australia of that era.  Although none of the actors are known to me, they are all excellent.  I am coming to the end of the first season (there are six seasons in all), and I am hooked on the intriguing story line.

If you can find this series, I highly recommend it! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

More Iris

 More iris have burst into bloom since I posted a picture last week of the first to open.

There are two clumps of white bearded iris.


This beautiful plant was given to me a few years ago by my friend Frank.  This year it has eight stalks full of buds.

I have lots of Siberian iris which have smaller, more delicate blossoms.  The funny thing is that I don't remember having any white Siberian iris in previous years!

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Piece of the School

Last year I wrote several posts about the demolition of my old "alma mater", Berea High School.  While I was in Mexico this spring, bricks from the demolished building were offered free to the public.  My friend Gayle, a member of my high school class, picked up a brick for herself, and got one for me.  The brick appears to be from the original part of the building, dating back to 1928.  I set the brick in my garden.

 To the left, is a brick from my old elementary school which was torn down in 2009.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Volcano I Didn't See

 During the five weeks that I was in Mexico City, I never once saw the volcano Popocátepetl which looms to the southeast of the city.  However, I found some more pictures from the Mexican webcams site in the past few days...

"Popo" wreathed in clouds and with a dusting of snow.
The rainy season seems to have started early this year, and at that elevation the precipitation falls as snow.

At the same time, from a different angle, "Popo" silhouetted against the sky at sunset.

From the city of Puebla, on the other side of the mountains from Mexico City.

And here is one I found this morning, with even more snow.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Faces of Van Gogh

 Here are some more photos from the Van Gogh show that Alejandro and I attended in Mexico City a couple weeks ago.  Van Gogh did many self portraits, and these are images of that brilliant but troubled artist.

Alejandro poses with Vincent at the entrance to the show.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Visiting Vincent

 At the end of my pre-pandemic trip to Mexico City in February of 2020, a show entitled "Van Gogh Live" was opening for a run of several months.  A large, temporary structure had been erected in one of the city's parks for the show, and within images of the artist's paintings were projected all around.  I already had my airline tickets to return to Mexico in April, so Alejandro bought tickets for us to attend at that time.  Of course the pandemic changed everything.  I would not return to Mexico for over a year, and the show closed down for a time.  It eventually reopened with safety measures in place, and Alejandro rescheduled the tickets and went with his sister and nephew.  

On my recent trip I realized that the show was still running, and I asked Alejandro if he would like to go again.  So, on my last weekend in Mexico City, we went to "Van Gogh Live".  It was quite an impressive experience.  You stand or sit in this large space, while on all sides (and even on the floor) there are constantly changing images spanning his entire career, from his early artistic works in his native Netherlands, to his time in Paris, to his most productive years in Arles and his final year in Saint-Rémy.  

Here are some photos and video clips that I took of the show...

Before entering the hall, there is a life-size, three dimensional recreation of his famous painting of his room in Arles.

The show has toured the world, and in September it will be coming to Cleveland.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

April Showers Bring May Flowers

This April Ohio had an abundance of rain (and even snow), but I was in Mexico.  Since I returned, the weather has been dry and sunny, and there are a variety of May flowers in my garden.

The azaleas are in full bloom.

 The first of the iris has opened.

The flowers on the creeping phlox, however, are a bit sparse.

Lilies of the Valley


The buds on the lilac bushes are starting to open.

Cranesbill geranium

The first two flowers on my clump of early-blooming daylilies appeared.