Saturday, August 12, 2017

I Out Ran Myself!

Thursday August 10, 2017
Tonight I ran in the 16th annual Hilliard 5k Run/Walk Nite Classic which benefited the boys' and girls' cross country teams at Davidson H.S.
This was my first time running the race so I had no idea what to expect, and it's probably just as well. If I had known what the course was going to be, and the caliber of the runners, I might have backed out.
It wasn't long after the starter pistol was fired (no one does that anymore, but it sounds more official) that I was left in the dust of far superior runners - some older, some younger. That would have been enough to make the teenage Cindy soon give up from exhaustion (and probably cry out of self pity) trying to keep up with the pack. However, the middle aged Cindy remembered the fable about the tortoise and the hare, and knew that Fr. Bob was thinking about me and that my sister's neighbor, Jamie (whose son, RJ, a member of the Hilliard boys' cross country team, was also in the race) was rooting for me, so that helped give me the strength to keep on running.
I did end up passing some people, but was still at the back of the pack for most of the race. Unlike most other races I had some pretty stiff competition (including an 8 year old girl and a man pushing a twin stroller) and there were also fewer competitors (only 183 runners), so I had my work cut out for me. At the end of the day I decided not to worry about any of them and only concern myself with finishing. It was only a bonus that I achieved my own personal best of 37:53:4. I was also happy to finish before sunset and to avoid getting too many mosquito bites.
I'm glad I was able to contribute to the cross country teams, but next year I think I'll stick to attending the athletic clubs' annual flea market/yard sale. It's a lot less strenuous and a lot more fun (though there's certainly not that feeling of accomplishment afterwards).  

Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Festivals & Festivities

Friday August 4, 2017
This was the weekend of the 30th annual Dublin Irish Festival. I was eagerly anticipating it since we had such a good time last year and there were some arts and crafts classes I wanted to participate in.

Like last year, my husband and I met at the festival after I took the shuttle over (it’s convenient since we both work pretty close to the festival grounds). It was a nice sunny day, and unlike previous years not quite so hot, at least ten degrees cooler than normal I would say, though it was still a little humid. I had to keep my hair tied back since it was so windy though.

We bought dinner from a couple different food trucks and sat down to eat in one of the covered pavilions while listening to the first band warm up. When we were finished we walked over to the tent where the Finger Loop Braiding class was going to be held. Since Finger Loop braiding wasn’t Andrew’s cup of tea (and there certainly weren’t many men in the tent), he left me to it and we met up afterwards.

Although Fr. Stephen Hayes gave a decent demonstration, I’m not always that quick to pick up on things, and I was off to the side where he was giving the demo, so I didn’t exactly have a front row seat. He basically showed us how we could make a belt (or at least a long braided strand of yarn) while one of the volunteers held the other end of his loops and helped push the braidings together. You use five loops – two held on your left hand and the other three on your right hand and you turn one hand, then loop your right over your left in some sort of a sequential pattern (there are many different patterns you can do).
Still feeling a bit confused and not too bothered to make a belt, I left the tent and decided to meet up with Andrew a little bit early. Still, I guess I’m glad I attended, but there was no way I was going to get my creation done in the approximately 20 minutes we had left after Fr. Hayes was done demonstrating and explaining the procedure.

Our next activity was Irish Laughter: Comic Irish Songs, a lecture and songs sung by guitarist, singer and Greene Co. Librarian, Karl Colon.
This was the first lecture either of us had attended at the festival, and it was definitely interesting and entertaining. However, by this time in the evening the chill was definitely starting to set in since the temperature was slowly dropping down into the 60s while the wind kept up at a steady pace. Even Mr. Colon commented on it and suggested people come closer to the front and huddle to keep warm. “Who would have thought we’d ever be too cold at the Irish Festival?” he joked. [it’s notoriously hot every year.] I later found out one of the vendors sold out of all of their long sleeve hooded t-shirts, which is probably a first.

Not wishing to be a party pooper, we stayed for the last event on my list which was Irish Ghost Stories being told by the foreign born, Yvonne Healy (who was apparently reared with Irish language on an American Main Street). Andrew even bought me a cup of wine with our last three liquor tokens hoping it might help warm me up (not sure if it really helped, but definitely made me have to pee by the time I was done with it).

The two or three stories she told were really more silly than scary, but had to be age appropriate for the mixed crowd. When she was most of the way through her last story of the night a heckler started interrupting and asking her questions, which was not only rude, but surprising as I’ve never been to an event where a heckler has interrupted (except in maybe a comedy routine, but even then…).

Needless to say I was glad when her last story was over and we could head back to Andrew’s car and warm up on the way home. We both agreed we definitely would have had a better time had we both dressed warmer (I wanted my fleece jacket, hat, and scarf).

Saturday August 5, 2017
Irish Festival, Day 2….

Today on the agenda was a Celtic Knot coaster class being held at noon in the same tent as last night’s Finger Loop Braiding. Having gotten a good nine hours of sleep, I felt well rested and ready to take on the world, so I was looking forward to having more success with this class. However, I guess I overestimated my ability to follow instructions by studying a series of photos. A kindly gentleman sitting near me (who was apparently a Boy Scout troop leader) tried to help me out with the first series of instructions, but gave up when it came time to do the whole procedure a second time, which is how you get the multiple layers for the knot. The instructor, Ms. Nancy Flynn suggested taping down our piece of cord and making smallish loops since your coaster can only be so big before it’s not a coaster anymore.

While trying to follow along with the pictures I had flashbacks to doing the same thing about a year ago when Andrew and I were trying to make origami cranes. I got as far as about three or four pictures before I was lost, while Andrew slowly proceeded onward and created a pretty nice crane that he took home and still has displayed on a shelf in his room.

Later in the evening Andrew and I were watching “The Great British Bake-off” when their technical challenge was to create a “jumble” consisting of two different biscuits (cookies) in the shape of two different Celtic knots, which everyone totally struggled with (one baker got points off for not leaving any gaps between the knots).  I could definitely sympathize!

Needless to say I failed again and sadly just brought home a strand of rope. “That’s one expensive piece of string,” Andrew commented (since admission for that 45 min cost me $10). The lady sitting to my right, who told me she is does editing and proofreading for a living (too bad I didn’t get a chance to ask her more about that) said she has an easier time with words than pictures. “Me too,” I agreed. She grabbed her piece of string and left before I did, so I wasn’t the only one who called it a day on that project. I might have stayed longer and tried it again, but I was short on time since Andrew was picking me up to take me to his company picnic at the Columbus Zoo (and food was only going to be out for perhaps an hour or so).

Leading Edje Summer Picnic at the Columbus Zoo…

Having just been to the Toronto Zoo less than a month ago, neither of us were really that excited by another visit to the zoo, but not wishing to be antisocial and skip yet another company event (it’s been y-e-a-r-s since we’ve attended a company picnic), we headed over in good spirits (even after having to park about a half mile away). Upon arriving we helped ourselves to the buffet of potato salad, hot dogs/sausages, pulled pork, bags of potato chips and bags of cookies (I saw another company had an ice cream cart which I would have liked to have helped myself to). After eating (we were pretty much the last ones to arrive) and chatting briefly with some of his coworkers and Joelle, one of the founders of the company, we headed out to see which animals were out.

Looking at the map we decided to head to Asia. Our first stop was to see which baby animals were on display. We lucked out and saw a couple sleepy Geoffroy cats.
According to Wikipedia, “Geoffroy's cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) is a wild cat native to the southern and central regions of South America. It is about the size of a domestic cat.  The Geoffroy's cat is about the size of a domestic cat, but has numerous black spots and dark bands on the cheeks, head and neck as well as on the tail and limbs. The background colour of its fur varies from a brownish-yellow coat in the northern part of its range to a more grayish coat in the south. The underbelly hair is cream-coloured or even white. The backs of the ears are black with white spots. Black individuals are common.”

Definitely the most unusual creature we saw all day was a golden Labrador in a pen with a couple mixed breed foxes(?) of some sort.

All three seemed to be friends and played together in this rather large enclosure. If I had to guess I’d say this enclosure was/is also home to a Rhinoceros or perhaps a Hippopotamus, neither of which we saw.

The funniest site we saw was a pile of cats, literally, in the pen that houses a lion and several members of its pride, most of which were sleeping overlapping each other on the roof of their pen.

That’s not something I can imagine house cats ever doing, unless maybe they’re still kittens, or perhaps members of the same litter.

Hence, even though we were prepared for a pretty routine day at the zoo, we still saw a couple unusual things, so it was definitely worth a visit. Also, it was a nice day to be out since the temperature & humidity was similar to the previous day, so not a scorching summer day (which probably explains why it was so crowded).

All in all a pretty fun and busy weekend. Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Saturday in Prison...

Saturday July 29, 2017

Today Andrew and I met a couple friends at the Mansfield Reformatory (famous for its starring role in the 1994 film, “The Shawshank Redemption.” My friends had already been there, but neither Andrew, nor I had ever been there.

We were blessed with a lovely day with all sunshine and big, puffy clouds and not too hot with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. Being a weekend it was quite busy, so even though we wanted to get booked onto a 1pm tour, we ended up having to wait until 2pm and our only option for tours was the History Meets Hollywood Tour:

History Meets Hollywood Tour 
Explore the past through this unique tour, which takes guests on a journey
through both the historical timeline of the prison and the equally iconic, fictional
story of inmate Andy Dufresne from the 1994 film, Shawshank Redemption. This
tour also includes information on the warden’s living quarters and several other
films and music videos filmed onsite.

If we ever visit again we hope to go on the Inmate Tour.

Inmate Tour 
Real-Life behind bars may be difficult to understand unless you have lived it.
Such is the case for tour guide, Michael Humphrey, who spent 14 months here in
the late 1960’s. Walk through the prison as Michael leads you through a normal
day for an inmate and hear stories that stick with Michael all these years later.

Since that wasn’t an option yesterday, I settled for buying from the gift shop, Inmates Speak Out: Stories, thoughts, ideas & plots conceived by those who lived, worked and died behind the walls.

Our young tour guide, Emily Smith, was an excellent guide who you can tell absolutely loves her job and is good at it. Due to having such a large group (though this may be normal anyway), we also had a “pusher” (wearing a “trustee” hat) whose job it was to make sure we all stayed with our tour and didn’t try to lock each other inside any of the cells. Of course this has happened before, which is the reason for their strict rules and procedures. In the event of an accidental lock-in, a locksmith from Columbus is called and the guilty party pays “bail” to get out (not really, bail, but it sounds funnier).

The other strict rule is to not take any photos out of the rear windows of the (minimum) security prison behind the reformatory. It’s a federal offense and not something to easily talk your way out of. Good to know. Note to self, no photos out the back window.

There’s one room on the inside of the building which has no windows since it is literally in the middle of the building. We were lead inside and told it was haunted, and then our guide asked for a volunteer to sit on the chair in the middle of the room. My friend’s husband, Jay, volunteered for this responsibility, after which the lights were turned out to see if anything happened. Nothing did, but Jay swears he sensed some paranormal activity of some sort or the other. We’re all pretty skeptical, though I have no doubt some people have experienced genuine paranormal activity, but those things seem to typically happen after dark, rather than in broad daylight, so I didn’t really expect anything other worldly to happen.

Just to provide a little timeline, the prison closed down in 1990 and the film crew for “Shawshank Redemption” arrived shortly thereafter to film their movie, which was released in 1994. Since then the building has fallen into disrepair with more peeling paint than a Sherwin Williams warehouse.
I was almost surprised so many people brought their children since lead paint is more harmful to young ones than we adults. As tourism increases and donations roll in, the building is slowly being restored a room at a time and is looking pretty good, though there’s still a long way to go. Sadly all the outbuildings you see in the film (like the laundry, wood shop, etc.) are long gone. It’s only the Castle structure that remains standing (which is still pretty magnificent looking from the outside).

Probably the biggest difference on the inside of the prison in contrast to what you see in “Shawshank,” is the fact that there’s only cells on one side of each block. There aren’t any wings where they face each other. I believe this is probably true of most prisons and I think that’s the case at Alcatraz too. They didn’t want prisoners to have face-to-face contact being across the way from each other, and I can totally understand the logic behind that decision.

My only complaint is not feeling like we had enough time to really explore this massive prison. A self-guided tour was included with the price of admission, but we didn’t really have time for much wandering around afterwards since the prison is supposed to close at 4pm and we had to head anyway. We probably could have walked around in the hour we had to kill before our tour started, but Andrew figured it would probably be a bit monotonous if we did that, and we agreed (but had we known how big the building was and how long our tour lasted we probably should have at least looked in a few rooms). All four of us agreed it might be worth a visit again someday (maybe at Halloween for the ghost tour?), and certainly the city of Mansfield in all its yesteryear glory.

Bonus story: Andrew and I were killing time waiting for our friends to arrive (they had a bit longer of a drive coming down from Northeast Ohio) and happened to stop in at the Squirrel’s Den in downtown Mansfield. I saw some postcards in the window, so I suggested we pop in and pick up a couple since they were likely to be cheaper than at the reformatory (they were, by half).

While we were paying for our purchases (including a bag of chocolate popcorn that Andrew had chosen) I happened to notice a yellowed article on the wall behind the cash register. The article ( was all about President Obama’s visit in 2012 while he was campaigning for re-election. The owner, LaDonna Secrist, who was interviewed for the article and the one checking out our items, told us all about it. I felt a little bad that we couldn’t stay to talk longer. Ms. Secrist was as kind as could be, like everyone (one of the employees at Doc’s Deli) we met in Mansfield who asked us if we were visiting for the day. Mansfield may have seen better days, but the people who still live there have a lot of spunk and spirit. If we ever get back for a return visit I hope to stop in for another tasty sandwich from Doc’s Deli (the cure for the common sandwich) and then some chocolate for dessert at the Squirrel’s Den (and further investigate the story behind the name as illustrated by some photos on the wall behind the counter).

All in all a great day and a nice visit with our friends. Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Movies Weekend

Sunday July 23, 2017
You might say this weekend was a bit of an escapist weekend – escaping into other times and places via the movies (and even VR [virtual reality] when I donned the headset & had a quick visit to Hawaii and London’s Tower Bridge briefly).

Friday night we attended the annual silent movie screening at the Ohio Theatre with musical accompaniment on the “Mighty Morton” organ by Clark Wilson (now in his 26th year of playing the organ for all the CAPA summer films).

The movie was, “The Freshman” (1925) directed by Fred Newmeyer starring Harold Lloyd (playing college freshman, Harold Lamb) and Jobyna Ralston as his college crush, Peggy. I have to say I was absolutely blown away by this film. The movie is a bit dated in a lot of ways, but the premise of being a college freshman and trying to fit in on campus hasn’t changed. Although “The Freshman” is categorized as a “sports movie,” and is apparently on ESPN’s top ten list of best sports films, I wouldn’t have necessarily classified it as such. It’s first and foremost, a comedy with some drama, and a bit of sports thrown in (much like “The Blind Side”). My favorite line from the movie was “Tate College: a big football stadium with a little college attached.” Hmmm, wonder what university that reminds me of…..

However you describe it, it’s a great film, and one I’d happily see again and again (and hopefully will be able to in the next few years as his library is slowly being converted to Blu-ray).

Both before and after the movie we were treated to a Q & A session with Clark Wilson interviewing Suzanne Lloyd, Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter (heiress and executor of his archives) who also brought some home movies (with musical accompaniment) to show the audience. Among other things Ms. Lloyd said a print of one of his earlier silent movies (on nitrate) was recently discovered (in someone’s attic or basement perhaps?) and is currently being restored, which is pretty exciting when you consider how few (like 80%) of movies made on nitrate (highly flammable!) still exist today.*

*If you want to learn more about that aspect of the movie business, the critically acclaimed Italian film, “Cinema Paradiso” can teach you all about the early days of cinema from a projectionist’s point of view.

Someone asked what it was like having Harold Lloyd as a grandpa. Being so young, he was just “grandpa” to her, and she knew he worked for the shriners (doing charity work), but that was about it. Someone else asked if they had a lot of famous people over at their house, to which she answered, “Robert Wagner, Debbie Reynolds (who was like a second mom to her), and Jack Lemmon (amongst others), who often slept on their couch and was eventually gifted their beach house.

My favorite story was Ms. Lloyd relating how as a teenager she got to see the Beatles perform at the Hollywood Bowl and meet them afterwards. As gobsmacked as she was meeting them, they were even more in awe of her because she was related to Harold Lloyd (I can just imagine John or Paul saying, “Do you know who your granddad is? Harold F*&ing Lloyd!”).

Though it was a long evening stretching to about three hours, it’s been a few years (at least since we got to meet Richard Linklater after a screening of “Boyhood” at the Wexner Center) since I’ve enjoyed myself that much at the movies.

On Sunday afternoon we returned to the Ohio Theatre to see a matiness of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Reflecting on it afterwards I pondered the question of whether or not race relations have improved  across the country (amongst other issues), I have to say, perhaps not. It’s a shame that 50+ years later these things still happen, and will probably continue to happen. Books will be written about it and movies made, but doubtful any will ever compare to Ms. Lee’s poignant story about the Finch children and their wise old dad, Atticus. No one will ever forget their reaction when Scout sees Boo Radley up close for the first time. I break out into tears every time. That moment has got to be on a Top Ten List somewhere.

Thanks to TCM (and dvds/Blu-rays) we can enjoy these films into perpetuity, which is something I am eternally grateful for.

I hope everyone has a great last week of July.