Sunday, July 31, 2022

A Gift of Art

Years ago, before I was writing this blog, I was a member of a local fine arts club, and I would participate in art shows where I would sell my paintings.  Although I have numerous pieces of my artwork hanging on the walls of my house, I also have dozens of paintings stashed away in a large storage cabinet.  I am planning on taking many of my favorite pictures to Mexico when I move, but there are many more that I need to get rid of.  I hauled them out of the cabinet and sold several at "bargain basement" prices when I had my yard sale.  I have given others as gifts to friends.  A while ago I picked out a couple of paintings to send to cousins in Europe to whom I had not already given pieces of my artwork.  The postage was exorbitant, but at least they seem to be moving in a timely manner.  I have been tracking those packages on the USPS website.  I sent them on July 22, and they have already arrived at Zurich and Oslo airports.  My cousins Walter and Hans-Peter should receive their gifts this coming week.

As I have mentioned previously, my high school friend Duffy who lives in Puerto Rico is currently up here in Ohio.  Amongst my paintings, was a large one which I did based on a photo that I took while on a trip to that island.  I had taken a whale watching cruise from the town of Rincón on the western coast of Puerto Rico.  We didn't see any whales, but we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.  That inspired a painting which I entitled "Sunset Glow - Rincón, Puerto Rico".  I asked Duffy if he would like to have it, and he was very pleased to receive it.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Lunch with Friends

Gibbs Butcher Block is a butcher shop that has been around for quite a long time in this area.  A few years ago, they opened a restaurant in one of the historic buildings in downtown Olmsted Falls.

Logically, the menu features the butcher shop's beef, bacon, sausages and Ohio chicken.  

Yesterday, I got together with two friends, fellow graduates of the Berea High School class of 1970, for lunch there.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may remember them.  Duffy lives in Puerto Rico, where he is a semi-retired immigration attorney.  He makes frequent trips home to Ohio, and he has kept the house that he inherited from his mom.  He arrived earlier this week, and he will spend nearly two months here.  Gayle still lives in Berea, within walking distance of my home.  Whenever Duffy is in town, the three of us make a point of getting together.

We had a nice lunch, and then we went over to Duffy's place, sat outside, and chatted for several hours.  We have more fun planned for today!


Friday, July 29, 2022

Breakfast Around the Corner

Prior to a trip I prefer to isolate myself for a week so that I do not come down with COVID just before I am due to travel.  My time of socializing is coming to a close.  After next Monday I plan to stay at home by myself and busy myself with working in the garden, cleaning house, and taking care of last-minute items before my departure.

My cousin Gail wanted to see me again before I leave, so we made plans to meet for breakfast yesterday.  We went to a popular eatery here in Berea, Perk Cup Cafe.  

The restaurant is not far from my house... just down to the end of my street and around the corner.  Although the morning began cloudy, the forecast did not call for any rain.  I decided to walk there, and it only took less than twenty minutes.  By the time I walked home it was a bright, sunny day.

The food at Perk Cup is good.  I had a chai latte, a cranberry scone, and a "Southwest Wrap" which is filled with chorizo, scrambled eggs and pepper jack cheese.

Gail and I had a good conversation, talking about my decision to move to Mexico, and her travel plans.  (In September she and her husband are taking a Mediterranean cruise departing from Venice and ending at Tarragona, Spain.)  She hopes to make a return visit to Mexico City after I am settled there.

My high school friend Duffy who lives in Puerto Rico recently arrived for a visit here in Ohio.  Another high school friend, Gayle (different spelling than my cousin), and I will get together with Duffy in the next couple days.  You have met both of them before on this blog, and you will see them again in my upcoming posts.  Soon after that, I will go into my self-imposed quarantine. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

No Surprise

At this point I have told all my friends and relatives about my plan to sell my house and move permanently to Mexico City sometime next year.  The reaction has been "no surprise"... well, actually, surprise that I didn't make this decision earlier.  Although they are sad to see me leave, they generally think that I am making the right choice.  Some have said that, once I have settled in down there, they will come to visit me.  So, I will continue to play "tour guide", a role that I enjoy very much.  

In less than two weeks, I leave for my usual trip in August.  My landlady, who lives in Chicago, has asked me to do some investigating on what condos in the neighborhood are selling for.  Alejandro has a friend who is a realtor, and I am going to ask him to take a look at the apartment.  He can also fill me in on the procedures of buying a home in Mexico.  I am sure that there is plenty of bureaucracy.  Since I have never moved in my entire adult life, I do not even know the "ins and outs" for selling a house up here.  Fortunately, my neighbor across the street is also a realtor, and he will handle the sale of my home.  

Fellow-blogger Barbara from San Miguel has given me the names of a couple of reliable movers to ship my stuff from Ohio to Mexico.  Since the owners of the condo are leaving all the furniture in place, I will not have to transport that much.  The furnishings in the condo are very lovely, but, still, I am going to want to make the place my own.  I asked my landlady if it would be presumptuous on my part to start bringing down some things.  She said of course not.  So, I have packed in my suitcases some smaller handicrafts, artwork, photos, and articles of clothing that I want to keep.  As far as clothing goes, I already have plenty down there.  I have donated six big bags of clothing to Goodwill, and there will eventually be much more to donate as I get rid of stuff in my closet.  As I wrap up some treasured Mexican handicrafts, I find it amusing that they are making the journey back to Mexico.  I have my flight reservations for the trips that I always take in October / November and January / February.  By that time, I should be able to transport most of the little things.  Every time I walk through my house, I am making mental notes of what I want to take down there.  

I am still very anxious about this big move, but I am beginning to feel as if everything will fall in place. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Staying Negative

This past week I had an unusually busy social schedule.  Over the last five days I had small get-togethers with friends and relatives, and I was out at restaurants with them each day.  Unlike most people here in Ohio, I have continued to wear a facemask whenever I go into a store.  However, they have not figured out a way to wear a mask while eating at a restaurant!

I still had four of the home-testing kits that were offered for free by the government, and two of them were going to expire next month.  So, last night I decided that after my social whirlwind I should test myself again.  Fortunately, I was still negative. 

Each kit contains two tests, so I will test myself again tonight.  I will use the other kit that expires soon before I go into a week of self-isolation prior to my August trip to Mexico.

I recently read an article saying that at this point at least sixty percent of the U.S. population has had COVID.  That might be accurate.  I did a count in my head of friends, neighbors and relatives here in Ohio, and a slight majority of them have had the virus.  Despite all the traveling I do, and in spite of my recent spate of social activity, I have managed to remain negative...  knocking wood and fingers crossed! 

Saturday, July 23, 2022


As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the reasons that I want to move is that I feel like a slave to my garden.  And, I should add, I am tired of constantly battling the deer that pass through my yard every night.  I went too long without spraying the garden with deer repellent, and the other day I found that the buds on the day lilies that had not yet bloomed had all been eaten.  Nothing was left but the stalks.

Very discouraging!  Well, I won't have to worry about deer when I move to the condo in Mexico City.  My garden will consist of potted plants on the balcony.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

"Ridding Out"

"Ridding out"... it's certainly not proper grammar, and I cannot even find any reference to it as a colloquial expression.  Maybe it's just something my family used to say to refer to clearing unwanted stuff out of the house.  "I'm ridding out the closet."  "I need to rid out the kitchen cabinets." 

Well, since I made my decision to move to Mexico, I have certainly done by share of "ridding out".  Once a month our garbage service does a bulk pickup, and that day for July is today.  So, earlier this week I attacked the garage.  Now, mind you, I am not the kind of person that has so much junk in the garage that the car will not fit inside.  But I pulled the car out and started piling up all the stuff that needed to go in the middle. Yesterday evening I hauled it out to the curb, and it is quite a pile of junk.

In future months I will need to take advantage of the bulk pickup day to "rid out" the back storage shed and (I shudder to think of it) the attic! 


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Aboard the "William G. Mather"

 As mentioned at the end of my last post, on my trip downtown last Thursday, I decided to visit a Cleveland attraction which I had not seen before... the lake freighter "William G. Mather".

This ship was launched in 1925 and continued in service until 1980.  It carried iron ore, coal and stone to ports throughout the Great Lakes.  It was the flagship of the Cleveland Cliffs Company and was named in honor of the company's founder and president, William Gwinn Mather.  It is over 600 feet long, and for a time it was the largest freighter on the Great Lakes.  However, by today's standards it is relatively small.

In 1987 the idle ship was donated to the Great Lakes Historical Society for restoration and preservation.  In 1990 it was moved to Cleveland's North Coast Harbor.  It was acquired by the Great Lakes Science Center and is today a museum.

A typical cabin for the members of the crew

The captain, of course, had much more spacious and comfortable quarters.

There were also a number of staterooms for guests traveling on the freighter.  

Guests would include company executives, politicians, corporate clients, honored employees, and William G. Mather himself.

The guests' lounge 

The guests' dining room

The galley, where meals were prepared

The Pilot House from where the ship was steered and navigated

The Windlass Room from where the anchors were raised and lowered

The enormous Engine Room deep in the heart of the ship
Here a steam turbine provided the freighter's propulsion as well as heat, electricity and water.

The Main Deck of the ship
The eighteen hatches gave access to the cargo holds, each more than thirty feet deep.

A view of the Cleveland skyline from the deck

It's amazing how you can live your entire life in a city and not visit many of the attractions it has to offer.  I thoroughly enjoyed touring the "William G. Mather".  Before I move to Mexico, I really should see some more of the sights which my hometown has to offer.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

On the Waterfront

 As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I decided to take a short walk from downtown Cleveland to the lakeshore at the East Ninth Street Pier, an area known as the North Coast Harbor.

A view of downtown Cleveland as I head toward the lake
You can see the City Hall, and behind it the Key Tower, the city's tallest building.

Located at the North Coast Harbor is an attraction which has put Cleveland on the tourist map, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cleveland was chosen as the site for the Hall of Fame because it was a Cleveland disc jockey who first popularized the term "rock and roll" in the early 1950s.  The museum draws tourists to Cleveland from all over the country and other nations.  I had never been there until my cousins from England came for a visit and wanted to see it.

Behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a private marina.

A pedestrian drawbridge crosses the entrance to the marina, and it is raised whenever a pleasure craft enters or leaves the marina.

The pier is the home of a Cleveland tradition, the Goodtime cruise ship.  The boat takes visitors on sightseeing excursions along the Lake Erie shoreline and up the Cuyahoga River.  This is the third incarnation of the ship.  I can remember taking the original boat on a field trip when I was in elementary school.

Beyond the marina is a small lakefront park named after George Voinovich, mayor of Cleveland in the 1980s.

That is not the opposite shoreline that you see running across the horizon.  It is the break wall of Cleveland harbor.  Lake Erie is the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world, and you cannot see Canada, more than fifty miles away on the other side.

A new addition to the area (at least it wasn't here the last time I was here) is a restaurant which serves "modern Mexican" food... in other words, probably fancy, high-priced food that bears a slight resemblance to authentic Mexican cuisine.  

I considered giving it a try, but it was very crowded.  I asked how long the wait would be, and when the hostess said forty-five minutes, I thought, "Forget it.  I'll cook dinner when I get home."

Voinovich Park also has one of the "Cleveland script signs" that are located at various photogenic spots in the city.  I had to wait a little while to get of picture without people posing in front of it.

Permanently docked nearby is the William G. Mather, a Great Lakes ore freighter built in 1925.

The historic ship is now a museum.  I had never been there, so I decided to tour it.  That will be the topic of my next blog post.

Friday, July 15, 2022

A Trip Downtown

 Like most suburban residents, I rarely go to downtown Cleveland.  However, I needed to get some documents from Cleveland City Hall.  So yesterday I drove to the Brook Park station of the Rapid Transit (about a fifteen-minute drive from home) and took the train downtown.  When the Rapid Transit was opened in the 1950s, Cleveland was the first city in North America with direct train service from downtown to an airport.

The train took me to the Tower City Station which is located on the former site of Cleveland's old Union Terminal.  Passenger train service to Cleveland eventually dwindled to a couple of Amtrak routes, and a new Amtrak station was built near the lake shore.  The former terminal was converted into a shopping mall which opened in 1990.  Unfortunately, the mall has not fared well, and many of the shops are empty.

You exit the Tower City complex onto Cleveland's Public Square, which has been the heart of the city since the original street plan when the city was founded in 1796.  Here we see the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument which honors Ohioans who fought in the Civil War.  In the background is one of the city's most iconic landmarks, the Terminal Tower.  This 52-story office tower was built atop the Union Terminal.  When it opened in 1927, it was the second tallest building in the world, and until 1964 it remained the tallest building in North America outside of New York City.  

On the opposite side of Public Square is the Key Tower.  Built in 1991, it is the tallest building in Ohio.

A new feature on the square is this fountain, where children (and even some adults) enjoy splashing around on a summer day.

On the north side of the square is a statue of Tom Johnson, the progressive mayor of Cleveland from 1901 until 1909.  He was called "the best mayor of the best governed city in the United States".  In the background is the Old Stone Church.  This Presbyterian Church, built in 1855, is the oldest building on the square.

In 1879, Cleveland became the first city in the world with electric streetlights.  One of those original lamps remains on a corner facing the square.


One of Tom Johnson's accomplishments as mayor was the Group Plan of 1903, a city beautification plan that created a park (The Mall) extending toward the lake.  The park was to be surrounded by public buildings in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. One of those buildings is the Cuyahoga County Courthouse.

On the other side of The Mall is the Cleveland City Hall, my destination.

The interior of City Hall

A recent addition to the buildings around The Mall is a rather impressive Hilton Hotel.

 Looking from The Mall back toward Public Square.  (You can see the Terminal Tower peeking out just to the right of the Key Tower.)

Unfortunately (in my opinion) the continuous green swath of The Mall was broken with the construction of a new convention center in 2013.  Behind it is the Public Auditorium, a neo-classical structure that was part of the Group Plan.  I still remember going there as a child with my mother to the Home and Garden Show.  And later, when I was a college student, the Spanish Department organized a trip to see the Ballet Folklórico de México performing in the Music Hall within the auditorium.

Looking northward toward the lake from The Mall, you can see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (to the right) and the Great Lakes Science Center (to the left).

To the west of those buildings is the Cleveland Browns Stadium.  In the lower right you also see the small Cleveland Amtrak Station.  Quite a sorry building compared to Cleveland's once grand Union Terminal.

It was a beautiful summer day, and I had finished my business at City Hall, so I decided to take a walk to the lakefront.  But that will be the subject of my next post.