Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Weekend of August 14-16, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015
Friday night we had a family get together that included pretty much everyone sans a cousin who was out of town and my brother who lives in Northeast Ohio. Still, even without them there were still over a dozen of us, and it certainly took some coordination to pull it all off. I am grateful to my parents for paying for all the food, my sister for selecting the burgers from wherever it is she gets them, and my husband for slaving over a hot grill while I tended the corn on the cob (none of which I could actually eat because of my braces).

Looking back on it now I think I can safely say a good time was had by all, and I was thanked repeatedly for hosting the party, which was really no big deal. We should make it an annual event, like we do at Christmas, and perhaps take turns hosting it between the four of us who live in the greater Columbus area. I will certainly bring that up for discussion later…

Saturday, August 15, 2015
Today was our seventeenth anniversary. No, I don’t know what one gets on the seventeenth, and we usually don’t exchange presents. I did, however, purchase (from the $50 my mom gave us) a cute little cartoon-like character that was created by a local artist in Springfield. I saw it for sale at Café Mundo when we went to lunch there. I decided to call him Felix and he currently sits on the shelf above our kitchen sink.

After spending most of the morning chatting in our kitchen, we decided to head out to Springfield to visit the infamous American folk art site, Hartman Rock-Garden. The garden was created in 1932 by Harry George “Ben” Hartman after he was laid off from his job during the Great Depression. I had first read about it in my Weird Ohio book and the August issue of Ohio magazine has an article highlighting it.

I figured since it was free and open dawn to dusk, and not too far away (perhaps an hour’s drive), it would be the perfect activity for the five of us (my parents, my uncle, my husband, and myself). Although it wasn’t as big as I thought, it was just the right size to spend an hour or so, and there’s certainly a lot of detail, so it’s easy to miss something if you don’t look closely. There were a few other people while we were there, so it’s definitely a popular tourist attraction. I’m not sure what was my favorite part, but the concrete pond (which he built first) was quite lovely.
Since it was already midday we decided to head downtown for some lunch at Café Mundo, which Andrew and I had previously visited after a recommendation from my artist friend, Amy. Although my dad isn’t much of a sandwich person, he, and everyone else seemed to enjoy their selections, and some of us shared a strawberry smoothie which was less creamy and more fruity than some I’ve had.

Andrew and I had glimpsed an interesting looking mural on the side of the YMCA building, so we decided to go over and check it out. It’s called “Upward Through the Storm” and was sponsored by Project Jericho. Here’s a link to an article about it:
Our next stop of the day was Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westcott House, which everyone but my uncle had already been to, but we all decided to go again. Unfortunately there was a large tour group (that had been bussed in) ahead of us, so we either had an hour wait or an option to skip it, so we skipped it. There was a lady in the gift shop who was a member of the FLW Foundation and kept trying to convince us to tour it. We told her we had already been through it and weren’t that impressed having been to Taliesan West, the Roby House, Falling Water, etc.

A gift shop employee mentioned the Solar House, which is owned by the foundation, was open for free tours and was only just a little ways down the road, so we all headed over there. It turned out to be way more impressive than Frank’s house!

The solar house is 1000 square feet and was transported to the site in two halves. It has an open floor plan with a single bedroom and bathroom. We were quite intrigued by the rubber-matte like solar tiles since we were expecting them to be heavy like glass, which is what you usually see. These are apparently lighter weight and easier to install [there’s a photo illustrating the point that even a female student can lift them]. The glass is triple paned, which is a bit of overkill for Ohio, but perfect for Alaska the docent told us. Also, there’s underfloor heating, which I think is geothermal, but not absolutely sure. Here’s a link to info. about the house:
My uncle said he could definitely see himself living quite happily in something like that, and being that he lives in California, where solar houses are probably more of a reality than here in Ohio, I could totally see that too. I like the idea, but I don’t think there’s any way my husband and I could peacefully coexist in only 1000 square feet (unless there’s loads of outdoor space to get away from each other).

I really enjoyed getting to see the Solar House. I love unplanned activities as they sometimes make for the best memories. Also, it felt a bit like being part of “House Hunters.” It made me dream of what life would be like if I was more of a minimalist (one can dream….).

Sunday, August 16, 2015
Today on the agenda was a visit to President Harding’s house in Marion (which is about an hour due north of Columbus). Russ wanted to be able to tick off another house on his list of Ohio Presidents’ Homes having already seen Garfield’s in Mentor, and McKinley’s in Canton. All that’s left is President Hayes’ house in Fremont and President Taft’s birthplace in Cincinnati.

It was an easy drive through a mostly rural area, which Ohio seems to largely be made up of with smatterings of little towns and villages here and there with the occasional big city.

Though we drove separately (since my parents and uncle were heading straight home up north afterwards), we were surprised that my parents managed to arrive only minutes after we did. Hence, we timed it right for getting on the next tour. Our small group (perhaps a dozen or so of us) met on the front porch where our guide gave us a quick rundown of the rules (no photography inside and of course no touching anything) and what our itinerary would include before giving us the history of President Harding. Though Harding was a Republican, our Democratic family did our best not to show our political leanings.

There were certainly a lot of interesting objects in the house and our guide said only about 3000 of the 5000 in their collection can only be out at one time. The rest are stored in the attic. I liked the lamps and the elephant collection, and the quilt on their son’s bed.

Some parts of the house are still undergoing restoration – like the kitchen and dining room where part of the wall has been torn away to reveal where a staircase once existed I think. Water damage is evident upstairs where the wallpaper has bubbled. Our guide said the leaky roof has been repaired, but other work needs to be done before the repair can be made. Most of the house is in pretty good shape for being over 100 years old, and it’s an enjoyable enough tour, and quite affordable (it was only $30 for the five of us).

Since the Harding monument was only a mile and a half away, we decided to visit before heading home. We noticed the monument is surrounded on all sides by cemeteries (but bisected by a couple roads), which I wish we had had time to look around inside, but maybe on another visit? The monument was pretty impressive with large marble stairs to the top (which of course we climbed). Also, there were lots of big puffy clouds, so it was a good day to take pictures.

That concludes our very busy weekend. Hoping for a quiet week and upcoming weekend. Have a good week everyone!

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