How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
I love the sight of the little trick-or-treaters, or even the not-so-little ones, crowding the sidewalks, brimming with excitement, running from house to house, bringing the neighborhood to life,
I love the serious expressions on the faces of the little princesses, super-heroes, witches, ghosts, and animals and their polite, serious little voices - "say trick-or-treat," the older ones encourage their younger siblings - as they hold out their pillow cases and little plastic pumpkin buckets and ask for their treats,
I love sitting out on my front porch in the fresh fall air, and handing out treats, and I love seeing my neighbors sitting out on their porches, visiting with each other, everyone enjoying the evening;
...I've said more than once that trick-or-treating should be a Christmas afternoon tradition, as well, with the streets full of people and the neighbors out and children going from door, giving everyone something to do for the rest of the day once the presents were opened and before dinner,
I love that folks from the less-populated neighborhoods travel to my neighborhood to do their trick-or-treating; more Halloween for me!
I love that there's so little preparation, effort, or expense required, that Halloween can in truth be whipped together in no time, a costume, a couple of bags of candy, yard decorations optional, though I do enjoy and appreciate an awesome Halloween lawn extravaganza,
...as well as a simpler nod to the occasion,
...Tom and I generally trying for a modest but decent showing,
I love that Halloween is is a celebration that everyone is welcome to participate in and enjoy; that there's been no appropriation of the festivities by one religion, nationality, or persuasion; that the occasion holds no deeper significance that we must strive to pay heed to and feel guilty or uneasy about that perhaps we're not fulfilling correctly or sufficiently.
I love that Halloween carries no baggage, that it's inclusive, nondenominational, and nondiscriminatory.
Since I officially joined the Black Rose Writing Family, which is how we authors who've been published by Black Rose Writing refer to ourselves,
...I've been meeting other Black Rose authors via a Facebook page set up by our publisher so that we can communicate with each other, share questions, advice, upcoming author events, marketing opportunities, our successes, our not-so-successful outcomes, congratulate each other, console each other, encourage each other and, among all those and other benefits, learn about each other's books.
Many of the books in the Black Rose, um, stable (can I use that word? I mean, we all hope our books will be off to the races, right?) really catch the eye, with a terrific title and cover art by Black Rose cover maestro Dave King,
...and an intriguing subject or story line, such as this scary-sounding ghost story set in marijuana country.
However one of the Black Rose books I made the acquaintance of so grabbed me by its title, and the spine-tingly cover picture of an emerging alligator with its eyes calmly fixed on the beholder,
...which then made me want to take a look at the dozen sample pages of the book offered on Amazon. After which I was hooked and had to order the book. And once having started it, I couldn't put it down.
In "Less Than Human" Allen Long, now in his 60's,
...shares his honest and well-written memoir of overcoming the childhood abuse he suffered during an era when corporal punishment was considered such standard operating procedure in the raising of children that an adult's emotional dis tress and inner rage could be taken out on one's children in the name of love and with society's blessing. And to Long and his brother, though they lived in fear of a beating for the slightest childish infraction, real or imagined on their parent's part, parental beatings were just a normal part of their otherwise normal childhood in an affluent neighborhood where they were good students in a good school.
For children of Allen Long's (and my) generation, being spanked or hit with a paddle, belt, spatula, tree switch, heavy adult hand or whatever implement a parent might favor or have handy, or having one's mouth washed out with soap, one' ears boxed, or being sent to bed without supper were common punishments; and though we children didn't realize it at the time, too often these parental practices crossed over the line into abuse.
I've told a number of people of my generation about "Less Than Human."
I brought it with me to last week's meeting with my Wednesday morning Panera Posse, during which we - a diverse group of women from a variety of ethic, racial, and religious backgrounds, though more or less of the same generation and absolutely of the same political persuasion - meet for bagels, coffee, camaraderie, and to discuss everything.
I told the group about the book's subject matter and passed the book around for everyone to look at. All the women in the group were affected Allen Long's story,
One of the Posse members, a woman from Eritrea who was married at thirteen and has six children, three of them born in a Sudanese refugee camp, told us of a time years ago shortly after she'd arrived in this country when she spanked one of her children in a store for acting up. Another shopper chastised her for hitting her child, and though her English was not proficient, my friend understood that the woman was warning her that she could be arrested for hitting her child.
"But why can't I spank my children?" she wondered, "they're my children! I'm their mother!"
That evening when my friend's husband returned home from work she asked him if one could be arrested in this country for spanking one's children. He husband assured her that one could.
"After that," my friend told us, "I never again spanked my children."
A few days later I was telling some other friends about the book over dinner, which again sparked memories of childhood corporal punishment, one friend recalling some playmates whose parents were notorious in the neighborhood for taking a belt to their children.
Said my friend, "One of the children in that family broke away from their mother and father as adult and never again talked to their parents until their dying day because of all the beatings they suffered as a child."
I added that I bet that kind of outcome was probably unusual; that abused children nevertheless remained close to their parents even as adults, not psychologically separating their desire for their parents' love and acceptance from the abuse they suffered at their parents' hands.
There was a moment after our dinner when, as we were preparing to leave, I was standing with two of my friends.
"My father hit me too much when I was young," said one.
"Mine, too," added the other.
Considering the complex bonds of love and need between parent and child I doubt that childhood abuse will ever become the next #me too.
But it probably could.
...Continued from yesterday:
In truth the Marian Award was a pretty rare undertaking. Even back then, when both Scouting and Catholic school education were in their heyday, not many people knew what the Marian Award was, not even among my classmates at St. Christopher's and my fellow Girl Scouts.
And yet today I discovered another Marian Award Scout, my friend Mel, who wrote this reply to yesterday's post on Facebook:
This brings back memories, Patti. I also earned the Marian Award in scouting. Of the girl scouts in our small parish who started it, I was the only one who completed it. We had to meet weekly with our parish priest who guided us through it. Once I became the only one remaining, instead of me coming to church on Saturdays, Fr. Carroll came to our house to go over my journal. Then stayed to eat a home-cooked supper with our family in exchange for coming over.
My strongest memories are having to come inside at 3pm every Saturday to clean up and get ready for Father to come, when all my siblings and friends were still outside playing. I really wanted the Marian Award, but it was so hard to cut into Saturday play time. And I don't think Mom would have let me quit that far into the process anyhow. Nor Fr. Carroll, who enjoyed the food, and I secretly think stretched the process out longer than needed just to keep getting suppers. Did yours take over 2 years to complete, meeting weekly?
I have a photo somewhere from the newspaper of when I finally received the award. It was worth it.
In retrospect, I can't remember exactly how my friend Michelle and I heard of the Marian Award; however also in retrospect Michelle and I were the perfect candidates and best friends to boot, so maybe on some cosmic level this endeavor somehow found us.
I believe, though, that we might have learned about the Marian Award from another girl in our neighborhood, Phyllis, a high school girl, Senior Girl Scout and Marian Award recipient two years our senior whom both Michelle and I looked up to. I do remember that Phyllis became our unofficial mentor.
Our official mentor however - all Marian Award candidates being required to pursue the award under the guidance of a priest who regularly checked our progress, - was one of our parish priests, Father Dziadoz (pronounced Jaudice).
While my friend Mel's memories of her Marion Award meetings with her priest mentor recalled to me Michelle's and my meetings with our mentor, surely Father Dziadoz's duty as the spiritual guide and scrap-book inspector for two middle-school Girl Scouts was not nearly so pleasant an experience for him as mentoring was for Mel's priest, who was rewarded weekly for his counsel with delicious home-made suppers.
I don't know or don't remember how of all the priests in our large Philadelphia parish poor Father Dziadoz got saddled with being Michelle's and my Marion Award mentor. In truth I was slightly afraid of the man - in truth I was slightly afraid of everybody back then. In truth I'm still slightly afraid of everybody - though I wasn't the only one who was slighty - or much - afraid of Father Dziadoz. Tall, thin, and austere-looking, with steel-grey hair and a foreign accent, Fr. Dziadoz was scholarly, serious, and, as all the students at St. Chrisotpher's knew, strict, and from what I'd heard, brooked no goofing off of any stripe among the altar boys.
Yet his stern reputation did not keep my friend and me from walking the two short blocks from my house, or one block from Michelle's, to the rectory regularly to meet with Father, alone and unsupervised. Our mothers had no concern with this arrangement; to the contrary, they were pleased that their young teen-aged daughters were spending so much time with the parish priest.
How times have changed.
In fact looking back, I doubt Father Dziadoz had any wish to see anymore of these two particular Catholic school girls than was required of him.
Remember the school girls played by Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams in "Dick?"
That was Michelle and me back then.
I recall that in addition to our regularly scheduled meetings with our mentor, Michelle and I thought nothing of dropping by the rectory unannounced of an afternoon or evening if we two 13-year-olds had some thorny theological or doctrinal question that we needed Father to unravel for us, or if we just felt like walking to the rectory and dropping in for a visit, our prerogative, we assumed, as Marian Award candidates; at least until that time one evening when we dropped in unannounced and Father received us looking tired, a bit disheveled an quite grouchy. At that moment it occurred to me for the first time that maybe we shouldn't drop by the rectory unannounced anymore.
Still, in retrospect Father Dziadoz was a cerebral, conscientious - though wildly overqualified, and, fortunately for us both, always proper - mentor to my friend and I, never once signing off on our work without checking every page, even once to my sorrow when, prior to submitting my book to the Award Committee, he corrected with a scratch-out my report on St. Patrick, whom I'd listed as being born in the fifteenth century.
But besides checking our books Father Dziadoz also asked us questions to test our understanding of the things we'd written. I remember one time when he looked over one of our pages and asked us, "You write about worshiping God. What does that word mean, to worship?"
At first neither of us had a clue what Father was asking us. "Love?" "Honor?" "Obey?" we tried.
"No," snapped Father Dziadoz to each of our tries. "The Devil does not love, honor, or obey God. but the Devil does worship God. Now what does that mean?"
Wondering for a moment if Father might not be pulling our leg - but no, Father Dziadoz did not fool around, ever - I thought about it, and then came up with a word: "To acknowledge?"
"Yes!" Father cried, "that's what worship means! To acknowledge!" Then to me he said, "Very good."
After that I felt less scared of Father Dziadoz, feeling that we now possessed some degree of intellectual collegiality, both of us knowing what "to worship" meant.
Father Dziadoz mentored Michelle and me for the seven months that it took us to complete our Marian Award requirements, and I remember that he came to our Award ceremony and that afterwards he gave each of us a dollar bill, which for years I kept tucked in the box that held my medal.
But I don't recall my relationship with Father Dziadoz continuing past the day that I received my Marian Award. I believe from then on the only time I saw him was when he said Sunday Mass. Maybe I said "hello" to him after Mass. Maybe not.
However my friend Mel's relationship with her Marion Award mentor was of quite a different nature. She continued on Facebook:
Knowing that the Marian Award only took you 7 months reinforces the idea I had that Fr Carroll stretched it out on purpose to keep getting meals at our home. Our parish was a poor Appalachian parish. His “rectory” was a one room add on to the church. His bed was also his couch. His “kitchen” was a hot plate kind of thing and a dorm fridge. My Marion Award got him 2 years of good Saturday night suppers. If he could put up with a large family of yelling kids and think of extra things I “needed” to do to earn the Award. (PS: we kept feeding him after I finished the Award)
I love Mel's sweet story about her family feeding Father Carroll and he stretching out her Marion Award requirements for two years in order to continue having Saturday supper. And I'm glad Father Carroll had Mel for a protégée, even if it subsequently took her two years to complete her Award.
If Father Carroll had had Michelle and I he, too, doubtless would have pushed us through in seven months. 😉
...Continued from yesterday:
All my recent reminiscing about my Girl Scout days jogged my memory to recall something I hadn't thought about for years, probably decades, really.
I wondered if the object in question was still in the back of the bottom dresser drawer,
...where I believed I'd assigned it a spot among the other items designated to that drawer back when we first acquired the dresser about forty years ago.
And yes, there it was still, stuffed behind some clothes and wrapped in a plastic bag: My Marian Award book.
The Marian Award was - and perhaps still is - a religious award that Catholic pre-teen and teen-aged Girl Scouts could attain and was meant to be the representation of a girl's personal expression of her devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, who in the Catholic religion also carries many titles, among them the Blessed Mother, Blessed Virgin, and Our Lady.
There were a number of requirements that had to be fulfilled on the road to the Marian Award, such as doing volunteer work,
...writing several book reports on the lives of saints,
(I nearly had an anxiety attack because the priest who checked over my book, a priest's approval of one's book being required prior to submission, scratched out a mistake I'd made and corrected it. I feared the disfigurement of this page would cause my book to be rejected by the Marian Award Committee, whom I was told would reject a girl's book for the slightest imperfection in neatness or penmanship).
...looking into religious vocations available to young women,
...fulfilling prayer and devotional requirements,
...with the commitment to regularly check the Catholic Standard and Times for updates on movie ratings.
A candidate for the Marian Award was required to know the major precepts of Catholic doctrine,
(My mother, a wonderful artist, drew this rosary in pastels for me. This was the only parental help I received with the construction of my book).
...the Holy Days of Obligation,
...and the feast days honoring the Blessed Virgin.
There were also requirements on one's knowledge of the precepts of Girl Scouting,
...and proper behavior in general.
And, after one had completed all the previous requisites, one was required to compose an essay summarizing one's experience of working on the Marian Award.
All of the above requirements along with some others as well had to be written up in an album which was expected to be meticulously and decoratively scrap booked. My friend Michelle and I who worked on the Marian Award together, and ultimately received it together,
...used to talk about rumors we'd heard of girls whose books had been rejected and were, thus, denied the Marian Award.
The thought of being rejected for the Marian Award occasionally filled me with dread, though in truth I didn't dwell on that thought during the better part of the year that I worked on my requirements and assembled my book. I began my book when I was still twelve years old in September of my eighth grade at St. Christopher's school and submitted it to The Committee when all my requirements were completed and duly written up, I believe the following March.
During that time period I worked on my Marian Award book almost every day, oh, so carefully penning each letter of each word, as my normal handwriting at that time of my life was generally considered substandard by my teachers. I crumpled up and threw away more than one sheet that I believed didn't look nice enough to be accepted by whoever it was that did the accepting and rejecting.
Then, having submitted our books, it was weeks of waiting until the moment that our books were returned to us, a heart-stopping moment, for Michelle and I knew that tucked inside each of our books was a note telling us whether we'd been accepted or rejected.
Michelle and I were presented our Marian Awards along with all the other Award recipients at special Holy Hour.
And now, the memories gleaned, inspected, and found good, I guess I'll just carefully re-wrap my Marian Award book and return it to its place at the back of the drawer.
...Continued from yesterday:
As I recall, being a Girl Scout throughout my middle-school and most of my high school years did not loom for large for me at the time. Not like school did, or my social life or lack thereof did; not like being in the school play did or like being on the high school basketball team surely would have had I made the team, which I didn't; not like having or lacking a date for a school dance did, a date being a necessary accoutrement for entrance to a dance back in those days; and not as did the insecurity and social anxiety and discomfort in my own skin that formed the overarching narrative of my teenage years without my even realizing it at the time.
My parents didn't encourage me to stay in Girl Scouts so that I could list this activity on my college resumé; I didn't mention on my college application that I'd been a Girl Scout for five years.
No, Girl Scouting was just something I liked and felt good about doing, once a week putting on my uniform - a hunter green skirt, white blouse, badge sash and snappy green beret when I was a Cadet scout in middle school and a military-style green skirt and blouse topped by a garrison cap when I was a Senior scout in high school - then walking to or being dropped off at the nearby Methodist church with my two besties, Susan, here when we were in college,
...and Michelle, here at my mother's 90th birthday celebration.
(Alas, I have no photos of Susan, Michelle and I back in our Girl Scout glory days, people back then not snapping photos as profligately as we do - or at least I do - nowadays).
Then at the meetings we'd hang out with the other girls and laugh and do whatever else we did.
As for what we actually did at the meetings besides hanging out and laughing, I guess I don't remember all that much anymore. But I do have a couple of salient Girl Scout memories, among them the Girl Scout meeting at which I received my introduction to a particular fact of life of which up until then I'd never had even the vaguest inkling.
I was in eighth grade at the time and several of us in the troop were working on a puppet show. I'd written the script, a condensed translation of the opera "La Bohème" (when I was young my father used to listen to opera constantly, hence so did we all in my family, by default) and we were sitting around a table making our puppet versions of Mimi, Rudolpho, Musetta and Marcello.
For some reason one of the girls said to another, "Oh, you are such a queer!" to which the girl responded, "No, you're a queer!" Then soon we all were having a fine time laughing and saying to one another, "You're a queer!" "No, you're a queer!" "No, you're a queer!"
Over to our table strode our troop leader, one of the girls' mothers, looking so disapprovingly that we all quickly shut up. I thought we were in trouble for calling each other names, though in truth there was no meanness involved.
However our troop leader wasn't angry, just very serious. "Do you girls know what that word you're calling each other means?"
We all giggled with embarrassment. "You know, like, a drip?" one of us asked. "A weirdo?" suggested another. "A square? An oddball?" somebody else offered.
"No," said our troop leader, still deathly serious, "it means a man who dresses like a woman or a woman who dresses like a man."
Our troop leader's revelation left all of us in stunned silence. I for one sat trying to visualize a man dressing like a woman or a woman dressing like a man, wondering why any man or woman would want to so dress, but surmising from our leader's tone that such an act was a very grave offense indeed, though I had no idea why, except that doing so would be pretty, well, queer.
In any case, I never called anyone a queer after that though it was some time until all the blanks in my troop leader's spare and misinformed lesson on the diversity of human gender orientation were filled in for me.
As for our puppet show, on performance night I was in such a state of anxious fear that my play might receive critical derision that I pretended to be sick and poor Michelle had to use both hands playing both her character and mine.
Later that evening I wanted to kick myself when Michelle called to inform me the show had been a great hit.
Oy, what's with those Boy Scouts? First they acknowledge the presence of gays, then they let the trans kids in, now they're opening their dens to (gasp) girls!
Though the official Boy Scout mantra regarding this change is that the organization wants to give girls the opportunity to do the neat things that boys do in Boy Scouts instead of the girly things that girls do in Girl Scouts, the unofficial subtext appears to be that the Boy Scouts' membership ― and subsequently income ― has been on a downward slide over the past few decades and recruiting girls is a Hail Mary to hopefully boost the organization's numbers.
At this point the policy for allowing girls into the Cub Scouts and later Boy Scouts is that, while the girls will be technically part of the Boy Scouts, their dens will be segregated from the boys and will be led by female leaders.
So apparently the dens will still be groups of girls led by women doing the girly things that girls do. Except that instead of the Girl Scouts getting the membership of these girls, Boy Scouts will get it.
Sure sounds like a hostile take-over to me. Not to mention that it will likely create a situation for the girl Scouts in which they will be considered the "B" team to the boys' "A" team. Which I guess will be good training for the world these girls will face as adult women.
And BTW, does anyone else find it un petit peu obnoxious that the subtle assumption in our society among many is that what boys do is always better than what girls do, so that girls should be encouraged to abandon their dolls, princess gear and Girl Scouting and take up toy trucks, Star Wars figurines and Boy Scouting? I mean, why shouldn't boys likewise be encouraged to play with Barbies and lobby to join Girl Scouts?
Get my point?
All right, in truth I don't seriously have a problem with who joins what. As long as the kids are happy, as was my daughter Theresa ― who wanted nothing to do with Daisies or Brownies ― when she was allowed to be part of her brother's Cub Scout den,
...which she was allowed to do only because her dad was the Den Leader.
But then Theresa actually participated with the Cub Scouts and was not segregated into a girls' auxiliary, as will be the girls who will join the Cub Scouts.
All that being said, I am in truth a fan of both Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting. I was a Girl Scout, and loved being a Girl Scout, until the middle of my junior year in high school when I quit only because the girls who stayed in Scouting to the Senior level were expected to start taking on leadership roles on a larger scale, which was what all my Scout friends were doing and what I didn't feel like doing.
I'm also the mother of a former Boy Scout,
...I'm an Eagle Scout Mom,
...though these days, the Scoutmaster having stepped down a step, I continue to be the Assistant Scoutmaster's wife.
I used to be a music merit badge counselor and I used to write little plays for Den Leader Tom's Cub Scout pack to perform, such as "The Terrible Pirates of Piccadilly," in which Den Leader Tom played the role of Maybelle, who was rescued from the Pirates by the Brave Scout.
So here are my views, as a former Girl Scout, Eagle Scout Mom, and Scoutmaster's wife:
From my experience the truest thing I've ever heard said about Scouting, be it of the Boy or Girl variety, was in a statement from Lisa Margosian, a Girl Scout official who defended Girl Scouting as a "safe space" for girls. This is what Girl Scouting really was for me. Aside from all the enjoyable activities, the camaraderie, the mastery of indoor and outdoor skills, feelings of accomplishment, and the other things I picked up from Scouting, I believe that for me Girl Scouts was first and foremost a safe space through my adolescent and early teen years to be my dorky little self, to step off the Peer Group Expressway once a week and during camping weekends, a space in which I could laugh and be silly and goofy and young and uncool and accepted and accepting without fear of being dorky and silly and goofy and young and uncool and unaccepted. In the world I had to try to fit in. In Girl Scouts I just did fit in. Because most of the girls in Scouting back then were like me, traveling in the slow lane of the Peer Group Expressway; and in Girl Scouts that was a comfortable lane to be in.
The least true thing I've heard said about Scouting was in a statement by a Boy Scout official who claimed that Boy Scouting developed "outstanding leadership skills and organization."
I believe it is a myth that Boy Scouting develops discipline and leadership in boys who don't necessarily come by those characteristics naturally. What Scouting does offer boys is enjoyable activities, camaraderie, mastery of indoor and outdoor skills, feelings of accomplishment, and, first and foremost, a safe space in which to laugh and be dorky and silly and goofy and young and uncool and accepted; a place where it's okay to be comfortable traveling in the slow lane of the Peer Group Expressway.
To each Scout their safe space, wherever that may be.
Yesterday afternoon Tom and I drove to Cincinnati to visit my daughter and her wife, Callie,
...for the occasion of Callie's 30th birthday, already celebrated earlier in the day with flowers and chocolates from Theresa.
Theresa had to work, Callie had the day off, so the plan was that that Callie and I would go shopping, Tom would go visit some friends in the city, and we'd meet up with Theresa for dinner.
Though I immediately found a pin-striped shirt which I thought might be the perfect mix of casual and ( a little) serious,
...Callie was having only medium luck in Women's,
...she being more of a tall, lanky gal.
Callie found a sales associate passing by of whom she asked which department might be her best bet to find some longer-cut tops.
From out of nowhere (well, not exactly from out of nowhere, I suppose), I felt a slight flutter of anxiety - perhaps a rising-up of the genetically innate protective mother-hen instinct - which quickly dispersed when the lady explained with a smile that she was in jewelry but told us not to go away while she called someone from Women's. My slight anxiety flutter returned while we waited for the Women's salesperson and I thought, I hope it's a woman and she's nice.
But what will I do if he or she is not nice? I'm not sure I even verbalized the question to myself, however I - again, instinctively - reached into my purse, and put my hand on my concealed carry, deciding to shoot - and then blog about - anybody who dropped any offense on my chick.
But my anxiety was again for naught. We were approached by a friendly young saleslady who, in answer to Callie's inquiry, looked her over and said, "You're probably a 0X."
0X? I wondered.
Turns out 0X is for someone who's somewhere on the plus-spectrum, but neither exactly an XL nor a 1X.
Anyway, the discovery of Kohl's 0X turned out to be a "Eureka" for Callie,
...who found several nice-fitting pieces.
I meanwhile, waited outside Callie's changing room, hand on my concealed carry, should some potentially unenlightened dressing room attendant feel the need to mix it up.
Which none did. Once again, the scenario I'd imagined in my mind stayed in my mind, even a little later while Callie chatted with the friendly young Kohl's check-out lady, and when she went to the pretzel stand at the food court to buy us a snack.
So it was all good, as it continued to be when we met up with Tom and Theresa for dinner at a great restaurant called Firebirds,
...where friendly servers serve up delicious, done-to-perfection wood-fire-grilled fare, as was the salmon with Parmesan mashed potatoes that Tom and Theresa ordered,
...and the sirloin that Callie and I ordered, Callie's with the Parmesan potatoes and a side of grilled shrimp,
....mine with steak fries.
After dinner we returned to Theresa and Callie's for cake and ice cream.
And I made a wish for her, too.
A couple of weeks ago on a nice Friday afternoon I got yet another bee in my bonnet, this particular one buzzing the idea from my bonnet to my brain that instead of driving the 1.6 miles from my house to the YMCA I should rather ride my bike, thus getting the benefit of a double work out.
So I did.
I arrived at the Y, chained my bike to the bike rack and was heading for the building when a woman who looked about my age who was also walking towards the building gestured towards my bike and asked me, "Is that your bike?"
I told her that it was, to which she replied, "Oh, it looks just like the bikes we used to buy the kids when they were young. Those were some great bikes. They just never wear out, do they?"
I do believe the lady was just being pleasant and complementary, but her observation left me feeling suddenly self-conscious about my bike, which is indeed an old bike.
A neighbor gave the bike to Tom about 25 years ago,
So, yes, it's an old bike,
...but, as the lady pointed out, it still works fine, at least for my purposes.
Still, I'm not used to people making comments about the state of my bike, and I don't know why the observation of a complete stranger should concern me, but for some reason it did, a little, because after she noticed my bike it struck me that she must have also noticed the old length of hardware-store chain and the padlock that secured my old bike to the rack.
Then my newly-acquired self-consciousness about my bike spread to my standard-operating work-out clothes: an old Mickey Mouse shirt with bleach stains,
...and my old baggy, spotty, faded, frayed-at-the-edges shorts.
I'll bet that lady thinks I'm strange, I thought, a real clinical cheapskate with my ancient rusty bike and post-thrift-store gym clothes.
But then why, I continued soliliquizing as I hit the eliptical, defending myself against, well, myself, should I go out and invest in a new Schwinn and coordinated Lululemons when, dang it, this old stuff still works?
This is a question I've grappled with before. Half of me would like to replace our kitchen cabinets, installed in 1972 when the house was built,
...the bedrooms' furniture, most of the pieces family hand-me-downs born prior to the second half of the last century,
...all the floor models, warehouse bargains, thrift-store and second-hand pieces that fill our house,
...while the other half of me thinks, But what for? all of that old stuff still functions perfectly well.
My husband Tom once said to me, "I used to think you were cheaper than me, but now I know you're not cheap, you just don't give a s**t.
Tom's observation is not completely on the mark. I do give s**ts, but selectively.
While one hand has pinched pennies, the other has spent lavishly, on musical instruments,
.top-of-the-line strings and piano teachers,
When I returned home from the gym I told Tom about the comment the lady had made about my bike and how funny it had made me feel.
"So why don't you go out and buy yourself a new bike?" he said.
I looked over my old bike and sighed. "Nah, this one still works fine."
...Continued from yesterday:
On Saturday morning we checked out of the Marriott Residence and drove to Rocky River, another of Cleveland's lake shore suburbs, to visit our nephew Jason,
...who was batching it with the poochies (and two kitties, who refused to pose for the shot) while his wife Rachel was out for the day.
After our visit with Jason we headed back to the city for a visit to Cleveland's West Side Market, a massive food market dating from the turn of the 20th Century.
The West Side Market is located in the heart of a hip West Side neighborhood called Ohio City
The West Side Market was also crowded with Saturday shoppers,
...and many attractive - and some unusual - wares,
...including the most gorgeous breads and pastries.
Above the market area was a place where shoppers could take a break, sit and have a snack while watching the activity below.
Leading up to one shop called Steve's Gyros was a line that snaked all the way back to the one of the entrances.
"Why is this line so long?" asked one shopper.
"Because this place has the best gyros in the world," replied another.
...where vendors offered the most beautiful-looking fruits, vegetables and flowers.
After our tour of the market we decided to seek lunch in the surrounding environs, where we came across an interesting-looking sub shop called Dave's, which claimed to have the best subs in Cleveland.
Our subs were good, Tom's Cordon Bleu,
...and my Vegetarian,
...and the fries were very good, nice and hot and crispy,
....though we were skeptical about the claim of these fitting the genre of the best subs in Cleveland. Maybe we're just too big of Subway fans. Tom and I do love our Subway subs.
After lunch we drove back towards downtown Cleveland to have a look at The Flats, an area along the Cuyahoga River that used to be the industrial heart of Cleveland,
...but that in more recent years has become an area of gentrification with a lively night-life scene.
Then our visit to Cleveland was over and we headed back to Columbus.
...Continued from yesterday:
Friday morning, the day of our foray from the suburbs of Cleveland to actual Cleveland, the sky was overcast and the forecast was for rain.
...but no problem, we'd brought our rain gear, and in any case the first Cleveland sight we planned to see was of the indoor variety, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
We found a place to park a few blocks away,
...and by the time we reached the building I'd already learned several things:
1. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has a beautiful location next door to the Cleveland Browns' stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center.
2. Both it and the Browns' stadium overlook Lake Erie.
3. Behind the buildings there's a scenic walkway along the Lake, which I would have liked to stroll if the weather had been nicer.
4. The pavement in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame offers a spectacular view of the Cleveland skyline.
5. Cleveland, Ohio, is the birthplace of Rock & Roll.
Which I guess explains why the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland, something I always wondered about along with wondering why it was built in the first place; I mean, Rock & Roll being more of an auditory or audio-visual medium as opposed to something anyone would be interested in experiencing inside a museum.
However on this Friday morning there were quite a few visitors besides us obviously interested in the museum experience of Rock & Roll, most of whom appeared to be within our age demographic.
...though my favorite exhibit was a half-hour film showing some old "Bandstand" footage.
After our visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Tom asked if I would like to go to the art museum next. I told him, no, I would prefer to ignore the misty drizzle and walk from the lakefront to downtown just to what there was to see, and so we did.
Just as we were deciding it was about time for lunch we came upon a place called Wahlburgers, with a cheery electric green interior,
...which we learned, soon after entering, was owned by the Wahlburg - as in Mark and Donnie - family.
...while I had an outstanding portobello sandwich, .consisting of a big portobello on the bottom covered by a layer of little mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheese.
The french fries, on the other hand, were kind of cold and mushy. The Wahlburg brothers need to put their heads together and do something about the fries.
After lunch we walked to Public Square,
Then we walked some more around the town,
...the interior of which was a beautiful architectural arcade.
After we left The Arcade we walked around until we came to another arcade, the Euclid Arcade, inside of which was some pretty mural work,
So we stopped in to check out the wares.
Tom swears this was the best chocolate-covered vanilla creme-filled donut he's ever had in his life. (Which is saying a lot, considering how old we are and how many donuts we've consumed so far).
And while I couldn't swear that my jelly donut was the best I've ever had in my whole life, well, it was one darned good donut.
Then we resumed our walking and began to notice that the streets were becoming more crowded with folks dressed in Cleveland Indians gear.
...heading towards the Indians' stadium, getting an early start on that evening's game.
Meanwhile our final destination of the day was the Cleveland theater district known as Playhouse Square, over the official entrance to which hangs a piece of street art known as the Chandelier (this we learned from the donut store manager Giovanni).
Then we headed back through town to the lakefront where our car was parked,
Cleveland is awesome. Who knew?
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
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The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.