Sam’s Art

May 6, 2011

Brain Pickings (a web site well worth reading in general) published a post recently featuring drawings by artists with autism.   Here’s something my resident artist has been working on.  Sam loves to stand at his desk, creating crayon drawings with layer upon layer of colors, numbers, and shapes.  They’re amazing, to me — a little insight into his imagination.


Slow Morning

March 8, 2011

This morning, the piano for John-John (a generous gift from my parents) is being delivered.  So — lucky me — I get a nice, unrushed start to the day.  That means I get to drink my coffee sitting down in my “knitting corner” instead of standing up in front of the bathroom sink.  I’ve taken a brief hiatus from the blanket to finish a top-down sweater I started a few weeks ago.  Spring’s coming … the birds in the yard (mostly cardinals and finches) are singing their breeding songs.  It’s nice to hear them again!

I also took the time to make the Best-Breakfast-that-Isn’t-a-Green-Smoothie.  Oatmeal is my new go-to morning meal, even when eating out.  At home, I add a spoonful of peanut butter and sliced bananas.  Reasonable people can disagree on this point, but I think PB and bananas together are heavenly.  My two most delicious discoveries of the year are avocados in smoothies (thanks, Lolly) and peanut butter in oatmeal (props to Ashley).

And, now, back to the sleeves on that sweater…

Back to the Blog

February 19, 2011

It’s been  months, but I can’t bring myself to say goodbye to blogging.  If anything, I really want to get back to it.  There are a number of things that prevent me from doing so.  The first, of course, is time.  I have a job doing electronic document review, which means that I spend my day reading emails on a monitor.  So, naturally, coming home and getting online isn’t the most appealing idea in the world.  But I really miss the community and the writing.

Another (self-created) obstacle are the related ideas that (1) all blog posts need pretty pictures and (2) I am completely incapable of taking the pretty pictures.  I have what can charitably be described as a craptastic camera, no tripod, and highly limited skill.  I love the blogs with beautiful photography (some examples: Brooklyn Tweedjust marysePosie Gets Cozy, Hello Yarn, and Smitten Kitchen), and I want to create the type of blog I like to read!

But I’m going to try to overcome these obstacles, because I so enjoy blogging as a personal journalling exercise.  And I have so many things I’d like to write about.

Like knitting, of course!  I’ve been working on a number of things, and recently finished this Breckenridge Cowl with Malabrigo Rasta.  What a yummy yarn!  I also have two sweater-type projects on the needles (three, if you count a long-hibernating bottom-up seamless yoke sweater).  Just when I think I’ve embraced the fact that I am really a Small Project Knitter, I go and start a sweater.

Other topics to come: local food, Health Month, potholder mania, my love affair with leafy greens, other people’s UFOs, and more.


August 14, 2010

…lacy cottony socks…

…no-cook dinners…

…afternoons in the backyard…

Hope you’re enjoying these high days of summer!

The Biggest Victory at Richfield Coliseum

July 25, 2010

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

— Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”

The Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio

Twenty years ago, this arena sat at the intersection of two highways between Akron and Cleveland.   It was home to the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, and the site of musical events too numerous to recount.  In 1987, probably bedecked in ruffles and paste pearls, I saw Madonna perform there.

Cuyahoga River, photo by Kevin Payravi, Wikimedia Commons

As you can see, the arena was surrounded by acres and acres of parking lot.  It sat atop a rise over the Cuyahoga River valley and was visible for miles around.  Beyond the sea of asphalt, the Coliseum was bordered by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Created in 1974 as the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, the CVNP encompasses waterfalls and forests, as well as preserving sections of the Ohio & Erie Canal towpath and historic farms.  The CVNP exists due to the tireless efforts of the citizens of northeastern Ohio, lead by Congressmen Ralph Regula and John Seiberling.  President Ford was reluctant to approve the legislation creating the park, but upon being shown a list of local supporters, reportedly said, “If I don’t sign this bill, my name will be mud in Ohio.”

Brandywine Falls, photo by Analogue Kid at Wikimedia Commons

In the early 1990s, the Gund family, who owned the basketball team, decided to build a new arena and placed it in downtown Cleveland.  This contributed significantly to the revitalization of the city, and was one of the first instances of a growing trend among professional sports organizations to relocate or improve their facilities in inner cities.  In 1994, the Cleveland Cavaliers played their last game at Richfield Coliseum, and that sounded the death knell for the arena.  Many were concerned about what would become of the site, with developers clamoring to acquire it for shopping centers, office buildings, and the like.  By 1998, sixty developers had approached the Gunds with offers to buy the property.  While the developers offered them more money, the Gunds chose to sell the site to the Trust for Public Land, and it was transferred to the National Park Service.
This week, I visited the former site of the Coliseum in Richfield, and took a picture.

Coliseum Grasslands, Richfield, Ohio

A visitor to the area would never guess that the concrete and glass behemoth pictured above stood here.  The meadow has never been mowed, and it’s filled with hundreds of grasses and other plants.  I went there to watch birds.  In particular, I was looking for this bird.  This is a Henslow’s Sparrow.

Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii)

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America describes the bird as “uncommon, local, and declining.  Restricted to damp grassy meadows with old matted vegetation and a variety of weeds and other groundcover.  Solitary and very secretive; difficult to see except when singing … Song a dry, insect-like, feeble hiccup.”  Because it prefers this particular type of habitat, and such meadows are harder and harder to find, the population of Henslow’s Sparrows has been steadily dropping.

My friend and I arrived at the Coliseum grasslands around 7:00 PM, right after a sudden drenching rain.  We waded through waist-high grasses and wildflowers, listening intently for the sparrow’s song.  It didn’t take long to hear what Sibley called an insect-like hiccup, and persistent following the song led us to see a little juvenile, perched atop a stalk of grass.  We did find several other Henslow’s Sparrows that night, along with Bobolinks, the famously shy Sedge Wren, and many other birds.

I was filled with amazement that what is now home to an uncommon bird so finicky about its habitat, not two decades ago was a monument to Americans’ love for commercial spectacle on a grand scale and their ability to get there by automobile.  While I watch and worry about what will become of the Gulf, all covered in sludge, it was balm for the soul to see the tangible results of human intervention in our environment come to something so very, very, very good.  If you worry about our planet, if you fear for the loss of wild places, if you despair at human exploitation of our Mother Earth … think of the efforts of concerned citizens, the generosity of a wealthy family, and the dedication of a few public servants.  Think of an asphalt parking lot that is now a meadow in Ohio.  Think of the Henslow’s Sparrow, and reflect that sometimes the good guys win.

More Summer Diversions

June 20, 2010

Here’s some of what’s been going on the last few weeks…  Lots of eating of quiescently frozen delights, for starters.  This is John enjoying chocolate gelato from Presti’s, which is my very favorite Italian bakery in Cleveland.  (This is saying something, because there are a LOT of them to choose from here.)  I also had the opportunity to try Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream recently (more on my trip to Columbus below), and I was blown away.  Goat Cheese with Tart Red Cherries, I love you so.

Gardening continues.  The radishes and carrots appear to be a bust, but I am incredibly hopeful about beans, tomatoes, and bell peppers.  The best I can say for the broccoli and Swiss chard is that I am cautiously optimistic.

I am still doing lots of library visits and reading.  One of the best things I have discovered of late is Goodreads, a kind of Ravelry for book lovers.  (Thank you so much, Becky!)  My to-read list is definitely more varied and interesting now.   In particular, I’ve been shamelessly stalking Lolly and Minty for their recent reads.  If you are on Goodreads, please send me a friend request!  I am Laura Brodbeck there.  If you’re not, and you love books, sign up!  It’s great fun.

Last Monday, I got to spend one incredibly hectic half a day at the yarn market at TNNA.  It was super super fun and inspiring, but I must admit, it and the drive from Cleveland left me a little dazed.  I did get to meet up very briefly with the awesome Elinor (who had B and Baby U in tow — both totally adorable), met and chatted briefly with Ysolda Teague and tried not to make a total ass of myself, had a lovely time visiting the Kelbourne Woolens booth (Kate and Courtney were both incredibly friendly), and helpfully pointed the Boss at the Yarn Shop in the direction of the Pagewood Farm booth (yay!).  I am really excited about Ysolda’s new book, Little Red in the City, and saw a beautiful mock-up of one of the patterns.  I am telling you, she has left no stone unturned.  These patterns look to me to have thought of everything that a knitter would need to know while working them.  Also, I love Kelbourne Woolens’ new fall cardigan collection, especially Winthrop.  That would make such a great sweater for a class.

As for my own knitting, it’s all about socks!  Maybe Elinor’s contest reignited my interest.  Maybe it’s just summer and I desperately need small projects.  But this is going to be my Summer of Socks, yes, it is.


June 3, 2010

I’m having a really hard time getting motivated today.  I can’t seem to get out of my chair.

It seems like a good day to stare at the roses …

… or watch a mourning dove plop down on the driveway for a spell …

… see if I can catch this gnome moving out of the corner of my eye …

… contemplate weighty questions …

… or just admire my new tablecloth.

Partial list of places I need to go today: grocery store, post office, website with information about forming a limited liability company.

Partial list of places I want to go today: back to sleep, a lawn chair with iced tea and a good book, possibly for a stroll at the local nature center.

Yep.  It’s summer.