Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Play Ball

The Germans have gone up to watch the Clevelands play the Oaklands (apologies to Damon Runyan) on this last day of August, as their visit and summer both wane. They had a wonderful time up in Put-in-Bay last weekend and must go to the baseball game in order to get the full summer in American experience. I don't think the girls have ever seen a live major league game, but Chris has been a fan ever since he lived in San Francisco where he and Emily lived for a year before moving abroad. I expect they will busy themselves observing the behavior of the Cleveland baseball fan in order to report back to their friends in Deutschland. After all, Ohio is the ultimate American location. After all, it is the home of a whole bunch of American presidents,, being edged out in numbers by Virginia by one. Of course they have Washington and Jefferson, and we have the likes of Warren G. Harding.
I am staying home, enjoying the unnatural quiet - but I misspeak. I have the game on TV, occasionally glancing to see if I can spot the family,. They have seats in the nose bleed section, planning to move down to the good seats after  a while. I am DVR-ing it so they can scan it when they get home and see if they can find themselves. Doesn't everybody do that? Before they left, Chris asked me if I had any poster board in order to make a sign. Alas, I do not stock such material.
I shall wander out now to the kitchen for a bowl of peach ice cream. Or maybe the coffee ice cream. Or maybe a dab of both.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Visitors from Abroad

Three beautiful women and the Greek Prince Consort are currently visiting here in Kent. One is my daughter, Emily, and two are my grand daughters, Katina and Elena, and the other one my  is darling  son-in-law Chris. It's been a few years since Chris has been able to come with them., and we are so glad to see him. The girls are grown ups now and we have lively conversations. They spent the weekend in Put-in-Bay, and aren't back yet. It always amazes me that they find Lake Erie interesting, since they've been to much more glamorous spots in Europe. It's all in what you're used to and what is new to you.
The farmers' m,market Saturday was really energized by a drum group called the African Drums, made up mostly by white middle class types who have gotten the rhythm down right. Everyone was smiling and dancing around, although the vendors in their immediate vicinity must have gotten a bit tired of it after a few hours. At one produce stand, the vendor and a customer were discussing Wendell Berry, the poet, and he is a topic you would not hear at the Acme Supermarket produce section, unless someone from the English department happened to be sorting through the lettuce  and talking to him/herself.
I ran into a fellow geezer there (the Acme) the other day, and got stuck listening to a monologue, the kind  that includes things like ..."No, now that I think of it, it was in, I take that back, it was December of,  wait, it was 1998, and then we went, it wasn't then it was ..."  For about an hour this went on. I think we need to educate people to recognize that when your listeners's eyes glaze over, or they start reading the product codes on the items in their cart, that's when maybe you should shut the hell up and move on.
Well, he's a nice geezer, really quite sweet but my fake hips can take only so much standing, and my face can only look interested for a shorter amount of time.
The picture is of one of Cris' artistic creations. When he makes a dish, it is always a work of art. This is tomatoes - the kind you can only get in August in Ohio - with mozzarella, basil, garlic,chives and balsamic vinegar. It was part of our favorite summer meal: Ohio corn on the cob, Blue Lake green beans and tomatoes. And then a trip to Stoddard's for frozen custard. That night the special was coffee chocolate chip. All's right with the world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This and That

The above photo is of my father and some classmates at Auburn,  sometime around 1917 or so. They were in the ROTC, but by the time they graduated in 1920, WWI was over, so the band new first lieutenants had no war to go to . My father went up North to Holyoke MA, to intern at the Worthington Pump Co.,where he met a lovely young draftswoman (one of the first women  draftsmen, hired to replace the men who had gone off to the war) who later became my mother.My father is the one with what my sister calls the Lyle Lovett hairdo. He was quite blond and handsome, but my mother told me that she preferred dark haired men, and was not impressed when he appeared over her drafting table. He was persistant, thank goodness or I would not be here.
He used to tell us that he had at one time played the mandolin, and the picture is the proof. We all became players o ukuleles, guitars and banjos, but never heard the mandolin master, probably because we never had a mandolin handy. It would be so nice to have a time machine and drop in on those boys of yesteryear. My sister is trying to figure out what kinds of things they would have been playing. There were a lot of good songs in those days: early Irving Berlin or George M. Cohan perhaps? They are obviously having a fine time. The man to the right of Pa is  a man we called Uncle Nelson, his best friend, nicknamed "Swede." As small children,we got to know him when they were both working in New Jersey, before we moved to Atlanta. I just remember that his wife RosaNell had a great jointed, wooden  Felix the Cat doll that I very much hoped she would give me. They never had any children, so I wonder what happened to it. No doubt it will show up on "Antiques Road Show" some day and be worth a fortune.
Went to Blossom Center on Saturday night to see the Joffrey Ballet. They are just a wonder, like feathers with muscles. They did a couple of Balanchine pieces, including a traditional pas de deux from "Swan Lake," but their strength is in the contemporary dance genre, at which they are best. I noticed a peculiar positioning of the feet of the female dancers during a life: they stick their feet out in a flexed position which looks very awkward and a bit dirty. They did that in a couple the ballets, both with different choreographers. It's the opposite of pointed toes and strange.
Went to see "Midnight in Paris" again with a a friend who hadn't seen it. Still great. Also saw "The Help" last week  and wanted less of Skeeter and more of the Black women. Also I found the white Junior Leaguers pretty stereotyped as racists, in a way that was not believable. They were caricatures rather than real people, too over the top. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were brilliant. The actress who played the white trash woman was touching, and was also the same actress who played the saintly mother in "Tree of Life." which I would never have known if I hadn't looked it up on IMDB. That's versatility.
I ma re-reading "National Velvet," one of my favorite childhood books and nothing like the movie. It is so beautifully written, almost poetic, and so satisfying to a horse loving child, actually a horse loving child's dream come true. I identified with Velvet who looked nothing like Elizabeth Taylor, but like me,  wan and blond and skinny. The movie got nithing right, and was on e of my first disappointments in a movie adaptation of a book I loved. One of the major goofs was that the horse was called "The Pie" because he was a piebald horse, not the glossy brown one in the movie.  Stupid! My first copy of the  of the book was a cheap edition that had little line drawings by Enid Bagnold's daughter, graceful little drawings of horses. The edition I have now is the 50th anniversary edition, which I bought twenty some years ago, with some very fine watercolor illustrations. Doesn't really need illustrations, though, because it is a wonder of writing. I have heard good things about the book "War Horse," which is also on Broadway now with these great life size horse puppets, and is coming out in December as a film by Steven Spielberg. Sally brought the book over for me to read. It's a children's book, but she loved it, as did a friend who told me about it last winter. When I finish "National Velvet" I have a  stack of things to read. And the New Yorker, looming on a table in a 4 inch stack. Oy veh!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Pedestrian Life

Well, July was just so hot that I couldn't get it together enough to update this blog. John put an air conditioner in the living room, which helped to cool things off in the afternoon, and another one in my bedroom, which cooled things off at night. I have never done heat well, even though I spent my childhood in the South. As a child, though, going swimming as much as possible and playing in the hose and just playing led me to ignore the heat. It wasn't until we moved to Ohio that I became aware of how disgusting summer could be. Ohio has miserable summers because of the humidity and there weren't any public pools where we could cool off when we first moved up here. Of course this summer was worse than most, so I spent most of July in a stupor. Now it's August with the cool nights and brilliantly sunny days with a touch of cool in the mornings.
The big news in my life is that I have to give up driving. I can't pass the reading portion of the drivers' exam that you have to take to renew the license. In spite of the treatments, the macular degeneration has progressed to that point, so I am now a pedestrian. We do have a door to door bus service, but you have to call three days ahead of time to book it, which takes all the spontaneity out of going places. I love to drive. I love to just get into the car and head out to wherever all by myself. And then there's the practicality of being able to run to the store, the bank, the movies and museums or the post office when you need to. I am going to miss that. I'm a believer in the adage "He travels the fastest who travels alone," something I like to do. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Had an exciting week-end. First, on Saturday, the ATT Uverse, system, which runs my TV, computer and phone conked out. The mo st important of these services is my phone, especially since the next day was my birthday and I knew family would be calling and I had no way of letting them know that I had no phone. I called ATT on my cell phone and they promised that someone would be out to fix it that afternoon between 12 and four. Well, of course that didn't happen; they would be here around 6:30 the tech said later. I had an important event Saturday night. I had won a very nice evening at Blossom Music Center with a free dinner (with Bob Conrad, the guy who owns the best classical music station in the U.S. of A., WCLV in Cleveland), plus parking in the close in lot, which means you can park only steps from the restaurant and the pavilion. It turned out that they could do it early Sunday morning, so that took care of that. I could do without the computer and TV for a few hours, but not he phone. The problem is that no one knows my cell phone number, including me, so I would be incommunicado without my land line.
The evening at Blossom was lovely. John went with me, having driven up from Athens County, and Bob Conrad introduced me to the other winners as "Mary Lu Walker's sister," since he features her frequently on his nationally syndicated Weekend Radio program. (See your local listings for day and time.) He is a charming man and a great host. The concert featured Russian music and a marvelous pianist who played the hell out of a Prokofiev concerto whole clad in a stunning viviid red evening gown. John had already bought tickets for next week's Joffrey Ballet concert for my birthday, so we had this as an extra treat.On my actual birthday we had dinner at the Pufferbelly with Sally and Cynthia.
Yesterday some friends and I went to see "The Help." We went to the early  matinee ($5 tickets and free popcorn) and the theater was packed. There was some problem with the projector during the last 15 minutes, so we all got free passes as we left. It was a good movie, with some fine performances. A couple of fiends tried to go last night, but found that the theater was sold out. My favorite film for the summer is still "Midnight in Paris." which I think I'll go see again. I have a couple of friends who haven't seen it yet, and it's playing up in Cleveland at the Cedar Lee, where all the good movies come, so I think I can wangle a ride. My brother Mike wondered if there were any Morgan Freemans in this area who would drive Miss G. around. If only.