May 4, 2011

In spite of the fact that I believe I take crappy pictures and have a crappy camera, I am participating in MacroMay on Flickr.  It’s fun to take the extreme close-up.  Here’s one of something that’s super-easy to find all around my house.  Lego City is where it’s at.


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.

A Little Bit of Blue

April 1, 2010

Over the last few days, the nice weather has come to Northeast Ohio.  I’ve been able to get out for some hiking and been indulging in a new (since fall) interest — birding.  Here’s one of the ones I saw yesterday.

Eastern Bluebird at Frohring Meadows

This is not an April Fool.  I really have been birding, and I have been going outdoors (beyond drinking coffee al fresco at cafes).  Knitting and birding seem to me to have many similar advantages, a topic which I will explore when I have more time.  Meanwhile, it’s 9:30 AM here and it’s already well over 60 degrees.  I need to get outside.

Lunch Break

August 7, 2009

I sat on the plaza outside my office today for lunch, and for once, I had my camera. 

IMG_0754 There was a band playing for everyone.  Their name is Uncanny Xela and they played a kind of psychedelic-funk-soul-60s pop-type music.  Covering “Never Can Say Goodbye” was a good call.  Covering the Muppets Show theme was even better.

Cornhole!As usual, there were people playing cornhole on the sidewalk.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this game, it involves throwing beanbags into holes cut into wooden platforms.  It’s a lot like horseshoes, from what I can gather.  This is so Ohio.

I had a very colorful lunch.

Primary Colors

I always enjoy seeing a bicycle leaning against a tree.  So pretty.  For some reason, it makes me really happy.


And, with that, I feel the weekend has begun.  Happy Friday!

‘Tis the Season

August 22, 2008

… to be very, very lazy. About blogging, finishing knitting projects, yardwork, etc. Also, it’s the season to eat very many tomato sandwiches and enjoy fresh basil and fizzy lemonade.

We’re ready for school to start Chez Moi. To say that J is excited about starting kindergarten next week is putting it rather mildly. He also lost his first tooth this past week. As far as I am concerned, I can’t handle any more younger-son-growing-up for a while. Bye bye, baby boy.

After a few weeks of really rather lovely weather, it’s gotten hot again in Cleveland. If it’s hot where you are, here’s something refreshing. To look at, anyway.

Lunch on Coventry Road

July 11, 2008
Macs Backs Books in Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Mac's Backs Books in Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Chocolate Malt from Tommys

Chocolate Malt from Tommy's

Heights Hardware on Coventry Road

Heights Hardware on Coventry Road