A soggy trail

It hasn’t rained appreciably in two days, but jeez, the river is running high. My shoes got soaked plowing through the water on the trail near Waterworks with Offspring No. 2. Lindsey had had enough by the time we got to the Waterworks park and yet more flooding. Half the grounds were under water today.

Lindsey says she's had enough on the trail today.

The fish have wandered a bit beyond the usual river banks.

The pickinick tables are surrounded by water and filthy geese.

More filthy geese.

Lindsey surveys the situation.

A river runs over its banks.




On the Towpath near Brecksville

It’s been a while since I’ve been on this stretch of the Towpath, so some of it seemed new to me. A lot of critters were out that day, taking advantage of the warm, sunny conditions. Birds, turtle, baby turtles, baby snakes. Before the latest round of monsoons moved in.

A finch, if I'm not mistaken (I am not a bird expert; I could very well be mistaken.) It sat still long enough for me to snap it. Lotsa birds in the Cuyahoga River Valley.

This baby snake was only a few inches long, working its way across the Towpath trail.

A medium-size turtle is wandering the Towpath.

A turtle in the hand is worth two in the pond. Or something like that.

A snapping turtle, about the same size as the other one, but 10 times uglier and meaner. I ain't touching that thing! As the mom said in "Shaun of the Dead," "They're a bit bitey!"

Unlike the other frogs in the marshy canal, this bullfrog didn't bolt until I got closer.

Candidate for Ugliest Baby on the Planet.

Snapping turtle are without a doubt among the ugliest critters on this planet. Right up there with Tasmanian devils and honey badgers. (Naughty language alert on this link.) Curiously, the ugliest critters tend to be the meanest and orneriest.

A higher caliber of bum

Have you noticed a dramatic uptick in the number of panhandlers on the street corners in and around Akron lately?

I sneak a shot of one of the apparently growing number of panhandling homeless people in Akron.

You find them stationed at the off ramps from Route 8 near downtown and the University of Akron, and you see them now in Fairlawn on Medina Road. In Fairlawn! The signage is familiar: corrugated cardboard usually in black marker, homeless, desperate for work, often veterans. And something I rarely ever saw before, women are panhandling with signs and so forth.

They’re too desperate to care about the shame or embarrassment of being seen by someone who might know them.

I look away, I avoid eye contact. And at times I feel perilously close to finding myself in a situation not much better than theirs.

A photo display of homeless people was a popular (and cliched) subject for college photographers of a certain era, so I don’t want to get too crazy about photographing these poor schlubs. I look at them and think to myself, “There but for the grace of God …”

Something else about these homeless panhandlers. Some of them look like they’re new to the business. The Nouveau Broke. The ones who, like many of us, have worked and worked for years and suddenly find themselves shit outta luck. I try to keep the profanity on my blog to a minimum, but sometimes other words fail to convey the situation. Yeah, there’s always going to be a substantial portion of homeless people with mental illness, substance abuse issues and other stuff going on. But some of these people, clearly, are different.

They don’t belong there.

They’re a higher caliber of bum.

There’s a lot of that going on around here.

And yeah, it bothers the hell out of me.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

Word on the street is that the world is coming to an end. It starts at exactly 6 p.m. Saturday. Apparently 6 p.m. Saturday means your particular local time. So it’s kind of like Santa Claus on the NORAD, it kind of follows the generally accepted time zones, and presumably knows daylight saving time from standard time.

Pretty slick, considering this stuff is supposed to be based on the writings of folks who didn’t even know the Earth was a sphere!

One of the many cool things about Patch.com is that we have a fair amount of editorial freedom. Patch recognizes that while death and taxes are inevitable parts of life, they aren’t everything about life. So when the opportunity comes along to have a little levity with “news,” we can take advantage of that. So off to the mean streets of Fairlawn I ventured, seeking the reactions of local folks on the news of impending doom this Saturday, with the coming Rapture. (Follow this link for a few classic music videos by Blondie, R.E.M. and Prince if nothing else.)

Here is one outtake of video that didn’t make the cut, mainly because the interviewee got kind of squirrelly. It happens.

We have tackled far more serious matters, including the death of Osama bin Laden and local issues such as the Walmart tiff.

But it’s stuff like this that gets people talking.

And with that in mind, we present a poll:

The kids are alright

Apologies to The Who.

While I was out and about looking for evidence of excessive rain (Just open your eyes, ya big dummy!), I ran across a few random sights I thought worth snapping. The wet spring story will be appearing later this week at Patch. But now, a few mostly unrelated images. The purple flowers and the goats were in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the azaleas are in my front yard.

Ooh, look at the pretty flower.


Act like you've seen a goat before!

These Azaleas are in peak blossom in my front yard.

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

Billy the kid.

An island retreat, Part V

May 14, 2011

Well, I didn’t sleep so well last night after all. I tossed and turned for a while, read The Iliad for a while – and may I say, if The Iliad doesn’t make you sleepy at some point, you ain’t tired. The frogs sang, then an owl hooted. Who, who, hoo-hoo-hoo. I finally did drop off at about 4:30 or so, after a few unsuccessful, brief nod-offs.

I had hoped to catch a spectacular sunrise at 6. Instead it was foggy and overcast. Though I tried to be quiet, Natalie heard me, which touched off a slowly building chain reaction of activity. We have pancakes and were working on projects by 7:30. My first job was to spackle  the second bathroom wall, which had a partially completed repair. The repair was uneven and in a corner, which makes it even more challenging. I don’t claim to be a drywall or spackle expert, but I can handle filling a simple crack or nail hole. This was more like troweling in enough spackle to open a freeway ramp in two directions. So it’s a work in progress. The cool, damp air slowed the drying time as well.

Eric wanted to paint behind the “terlet” in bathroom #1, so I pulled out the tank part, leaving the bottom half and the yucky business alone (TMI? Maybe so).

Natalie asked every 10 minutes or so when she could go to the beach.

We worked on converting an old Victorian dresser into a vanity for bathroom #1. (See Working’ the Pelee Shrimp Shack) Y & E had a granite (I think it’s granite; they kept referring to it as marble, but it looks and fells like granite to me – whatever, it’s lovely) counter top that they had custom cut to accommodate a sink and faucet. The tricky part was gluing the top of the sink bowl to fit the opening on the underside of the stone top (as opposed a top-mount sink typical of say, a stainless steel sink).

I cut (after measuring several times holes in the top and back of the dresser/vanity go give the sink and plumbing works adequate room for installation. Luckily, those cutouts didn’t have to be pretty – nobody will see that part. But the countertop/sink and the wall repairs in bathroom #2 will be seen, so they have to look decent.


We took a spin around the island and shot some pix, then dropped of Y & E and set out for a bit more while Y & E prepared dinner. See some of the pix below! Even the simplest spaghetti and toasted bread with garlic powder and grated Parmesan cheese tastes great at Pelee. I can’t explain, it just does.

Eric and Natalie and the foggy beach.

A merry band of Pelee Shrimp Shack shooters.

Sidebar: My many references to the “Pelee Shrimp Shack” are an homage of sorts to the 1996 Tom Hanks Movie, That Thing You Do. Set in 1964, it’s about a one-hit-wonder band, The Wonders, who climb the charts with their big pop hit and tour the country. They make an appearance in a low-budget beach movie as Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters. That is an especially goofy scene in a fun movie. Check out this video.

Natalie hooked a, um, hook, er, lure.

Natalie at play.

Is this where Hitchcock filmed "Psycho"?

Wish I'd gotten here in the morning when the fog was thick and close to the ground/water.

Some of the lighthouse timbers are really deteriorating.

Mother and daughter.

Natalie and her dandelion. Or "dent de lion."

An interesting flower at Lake Henry, near the lighthouse.

The legendary Stoneman of Pelee Island.

The legendary Stoneman.

Little Stoneman.

A whole village of Stonemen/women/kids.

The equally legendary Shoe Tree.

The equally legendary Shoe Tree.

If you need some ice skates in a pinch ...

Ye Olde Log Cabin

Ye Olde Log Cabin Wheels.

The wind had picked up in the afternoon, denying me a chance to get a photo of the lighthouse shrouded in fog. Instead it was just a kind of overcast background. Ho-hum.

The wind-whipped fire burned hot and fast. The temperature dropped rapidly Saturday evening.

I'm playing with fire.

Eric built a fire as the wind grew, and the wind-blown flames grew into a hot, fast-burning fire. As the fire burned, it looked like a storm might be moving in, so we dowsed the fire and returned to a few humiliating games of euchre before giving up. We were all so tired we laughed at our stupid mistakes. Mamoo (my grandmother) would have been aghast.

OK, now I’m tired. Maybe I can really sleep tonight.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

I slept much better last night. The wind blew, and rain moved in – not that I noticed till morning. Another non-sunrise.

The lake had transformed overnight, from Lake Placid to Lake Fury, in less than 12 hours.

The lake was a tad more boisterous on Sunday.

Eric was out in the rain drilling drain holes in the deck wherever puddles collected.

After breakfast – pancakes again! – we finished what we could. The throne in bathroom #1 is once again fully functioning. The sink and stone were still curing. The glue needs at least 48 hours to set properly, we learned. Plus the cool, humid air slowed the curing even more. Eric didn’t want to chance ruining it just to put it all together earlier rather than later. No hurry, right? We’re on Pelee Time. So it sits for two weeks. But it should be awesome when it’s finished. Better than anything I have!

This is the first time I’ve arrived at Pelee on a bright, calm Friday and left on a blustery, wet Sunday. Usually it’s the other way around.

It got rather cool overnight. Space heaters kept the individual rooms warm, but the open space was chilly this morning. Good thing the coffee is hot.

Now that the doors have been hung, we’re really not roughing it at all now. The bugs aren’t even out yet. I don’t think I’ve been bitten once.

I was hoping to catch a dramatic photo of a fog-shrouded lighthouse yesterday, but by the time we got around to it, the wind had just begun to rise and the fog was starting to dissipate. Bummer. So we visited the Stoneman. We noticed quite a brood of little stonemen (and women and children, I suppose). “It’s a long winter,” Eric quipped. Quite the quipper, he is.


Well, a change of plans.

The plane isn’t flying out this morning and may not fly at all. * Eric’s truck doesn’t have a child seat or we’d all go through Leamington. We worried that customs would demand a child seat. So contingency Plan B – Yvonne would ride back with Eric and moi, and Grammy and Natalie would (hope to) catch the next flight out today or Monday. Yvonne needed to get back to work, and Grammy and Natalie could stay another day without difficulty.

Yvonne wasn’t thrilled with the arrangement, but felt she didn’t have much choice given the weather and circumstances.

* – The ferries and flights to Sandusky were all canceled on Sunday, so Grammy and Nat-Nat caught a plane on Monday, and had a car waiting at the airport. End of drama.