Archive for May, 2007
Fourteen years ago, Rev. David Bahr the pastor of Archwood United Church of Christ and his congregation started a food drive with an unusual twist during the annual Archwood Avenue Garage Sale. Reverend Dave with the help of Fire Company #20 entered the steeple of his church high above the treetops on Archwood Avenue vowing to remain until the church steps were filled with food items for the needy. The yearly food drive is a tradition in our neighborhood with many people dropping off foodstuffs before venturing down the street in search of bargains.
Over the years the scenario has changed, David is no longer lifted into the steeple by Ladder Truck #20 and he no longer remains in the steeple for the entire time it takes to gather the food. The youth group has enthusiastically taken over some of that duty as well as the hardier members of the congregation. The filling of the steps has changed to numbers of pounds of food with the amount being stretched each year to a bit larger number. If you have ever entered the church located at 2800 Archwood Avenue, you are aware of how massive those steps are.
But some things remain the same, Reverend Bahr will kick off the steeple vigil and the food drive will continue until the two ton goal is met. Many years ago, one of the organizers told me that rice, flour and sugar help the poundage rise quickly as do canned goods. Each person’s donation is weighed and added to the pounds amid applause and cheers.
The Archwood Avenue Garage Sale happens twice a year on the first weekend in June and September. June is the kick-off sale and usually has great participation and lots of good “stuff” for sale. This year a lot of neighbors who do not live on Archwood will also be joining the sale either by teaming with an Archwood Avenue seller or branching out onto their own streets with signs showing the way. So if you are a garage sale aficianado or if you are just looking for something just a bit different to do on a Saturday, please stop by. Don’t forget to add a few pounds to your grocery cart this week so that you can stop of at 2800 Archwood Avenue and support the United Church of Christ with their food drive that benefits Brookside Center.
Brooklyn Centre held its first Fresh Stop last Thursday at Art House. The tomatoes at the West Side Market last week smelled freshpicked and ripe. Memorial Day is behind us. Planting flowers and vegetables is always associated with this holiday because I spent hours with my parents and extended family planting an acre of vegetables that fed us all for the summer and beyond with my mother’s canning skills. All of these thoughts brought me back to our conversation with Maurice Small on Meet.The.Bloggers at Gypsy Beans on the first day of spring and his question to all of us “”what did you eat today?” Many of us answered the question literally but Maurice wanted us to dig much deeper into the question and explore where the food came from, who grew it, how did it get to us, and much more.
One of my favorite summer meals is fresh corn on the cob and tomatoes from the garden. Not only because it was good food, but my cousins and aunts and uncles seemed to have a imbedded homing device and there were always extra chairs pulled up to the table on those days. If it was June, we had strawberry shortcake for dessert. If it was July, we had blackberry shortcake or cobbler. If it was August, we had peach cobbler. We as a rule did not have dessert with dinner but my mother always baked a shortcake or cobbler on the nights we had corn on the cob and tomatoes. I have great memories of those meals since I was the picker of the fruit, corn, and tomatoes from the garden. I had a connection to food that I miss more in the summer than any other time of year. Funny, how perception changes over the years. I have pushed to the back of my memory the hours spent sweating in the hot, hot sun pulling weeds and hoeing between rows deciding instead to remember the fruits of those labors and the fun that we had eating the harvest.
The farther I get from the years at home, the harder it is for me to remember what month means what produce when prices are cheaper and food tastes it best. So wasn’t I pleasantly suprprised when my Heinen’s Aisles magazine came in the mail with this tidbit placed in its pages:
Approximate starting times for local harvets
June: Strawberries, lettuces, root veggies, green onions, onions, cabbage
July: blackberries, sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, beans, pickles. eggplant
August: peaches, honeyrocks, watermelons, pumpkins, apples, pears, cider
Heinen’s buys local produce from many area farmers and also has an organic section, but the best organic grocery store in my book is Mustard Seed Market and Cafe located in Solon and Montrose. Both of these locally owned businesses that employ our friends and neighbors are worth a look. Do not buy into the idea that they are more expensive than other stores in the area. The quality of the food bought certainly outweighs the quantity bought elsewhere. To eat healthy is not expensive when you buy in season for produce and all stores have sales. And, those of you who do not take advantage of the West Side Market and their prices are missing a golden opportunity. When my daughter and her husband come home from Knoxville, the first stop on the itinerary is the West Side Market. They marvel at the abundance, the diversity and the reasonable prices of the food.
Maybe we all need to ask the question that Maurice Small ponders “what did you eat today?”
A friend just sent me this video called A compilation of women in art click here to watch it. It is amazing! As I watched it, I wondered about the creative mind that had this idea and how was the video crafted so that each woman’s face transforms into the next seamlessly.. Art continues to reach new heights and new forms, but for someone to meld the two into one was a great artistic moment in my view.
And then, as women are wont to do. My mind jumped from this artistic piece to the beauty of the internet. I would never have stumbled upon this work of art on my own, but thanks to my friend who shared what she had received it from her friend, we all were able to share in the moment. Embrace the Third Wave. We will achieve and experience more than our minds can hold.
Each year one of our neighbors, Rick Nicholson, gathers a group of us from the neighborhood together at a small burial ground to commemorate Memorial Day. Amid the hubbub of all of the weekend activities we gather together in this small unobtrusive graveyard surrounded by war veterans dating back as far as the Revoltionary War, to pause and remember the reason for this holiday.
Last year, Ruth Ketteringham, ninety-nine years young and our neighborhood historian, gave what was her last public appearance and speech. She likened each of us there as a drop of water starting as a rain drop and ending in the ocean and repeating the cycle all over again. She told us that we needed to have the faith and hope of those raindrops that continue to fall and shape the hills and valleys of our world because each of us if we have the fortitude and the determination can learn from our ancestors and make this a better world if only we never give up.
So, again a group of us will gather there for a moment of reflection and remember those who have sacrificed their lives to make us free and understand that we have been given a huge responsibility to honor their lives and sacrifices by remenbering them beyond a holiday and making them proud of their fellow Americans by acting with integrity and grace in dealing with all peoples of our nation and our world.
If you have a few minutes to spare, please join us. Here are the details.
Join us for a service at the historic Brooklyn Centre Burying Ground also known as Denison Cemetery to honor our military veterans.
11:00 a.m. Monday May 28th, 2007
Meet at the Broolyn Centre Burying Ground (Denison Cemetery) located on Garden Avenue East of Pearl rouad behind Aldi’s.
This cemetery had its first burial in 1823 and was deeded The Brooklyn Centre Burying Ground i 1835. Many war veterans, starting with the Revolutionary War, are buried in this local historic cemetery.
for more information or questions, call Rick Nicholson, Brooklyn Centre Historical Society at 216-398-1494.
When I was a kid there was this song called “High Hopes”. We sang it in choir; we played it in band. I think it was a Frank Sinatra song. Anyway, I think a bunch of my neighbors and me felt like that little ant on Saturday. We got up early and tackled the trash on Denison Avenue. We stopped at about one o’clock when we just didn’t have much gumption any more, but we surveyed our work of mowing, weedwhacking, edging and trash picking and we felt a sense of accomplishment.
And then, this OOPS! happened or was it an OOPS! A few months ago our councilman put out a list of houses that had been condemned in our neighborhood and put on the city’s demolition list. He asked for input to set priorities. High on our list of our priorities is a burn out on West 38th street that has been there waiting for demolition for eighteen months. The house was on the list when the moritorium for lack of money was instituted. Turns out that now that there is money, it is necessary to start from square one.
Low on EVERYONE’s list was a double on Riverside Avenue. The house looked pretty rough from the outside, but the inside had original woodwork and beautiful hardwood floors. We wanted very much to see someone buy this house and lovingly restore it to its rightful place as a beautiful example of turn of the centruy architecture. Three weeks ago, we heard that it happened. A man who owned other property in the neighborhood bought it out of foreclosure. Our councilman called the proper city officials to tell them that the house had been purchased and that it should be taken off the demolition list. His assistant also sent a follow-up email.
Saturday the house was demolished. Not the burnout, but the one purchased. Tim and I happened to drive by as the demolition was taking place. We insisted there must be some mistake. They insisted they had all the proper paperwork, and the city inspectiors had just left the scene. It turns out we were both right. A terrible mistake had happened, and they indeed did have the proper paperwork. The demolition company won the bid on Wednesday. They were told by the city to get all proper permits as soon as possible and see that the house came down.
A month ago, a demolition in our neighborhood made the news because a house in an historic district had been demolished without being taken through the review process demanded when a house is in an historic district. We were told that an investigation would be made on how this happened so that it wouldn’t happen again. We have never heard any results from that “investigation”. Now, we have another house demolished across the street from the historic district. But, we continue to wait for a burned out house one house removed from the historic district to be torn down. So here is what we have in the first settlement West of the Cuyahoga River. A vacant lot within the historic district, another vacant lot across the street from the historic district, and a burned out shell one house away from the historic district and, the loss of a bridge which was the last of its kind in America due to neglect and lack of maintenance for thirty years.
So these are my questions for the City of Cleveland. How historic do you consider Brooklyn Centre? How commited are you to preserving our part of the rich heritage of this city’s growth? How historic do you think we look to the outside world? What is our guarantee that you will not continue to attack us? What do you intend to do to make sure that this “mistakes” stop happening? And why, should any of us continue to trust you?
Today, I don’t feel like the ant that pulled down the rubber tree plants. I feel more like the ant whose home is destroyed by the little child stomping on the ant hill not knowing that it is someone’s home.
I had to chuckle when I read about the kids in Gahanna placing a Big Boy likeness on the roof of their school. When reading about the forklift and manpower needed to rescue Big Boy from his perch and return him to his rightful place, I couldn’t help but wonder how those kids got him up there. They certainly didn’t have access to the equipment that took him down.
And then, I remembered the senior prank of 1968 and how the adults in our lives hadn’t a clue as to how a bunch of us plunked down a boulder that easily weighed who knows how much in the middle of the grassy oval encircled by our high school drive. I wasn’t involved in the placing of the rock, but my best friend Beth and I had a ringside seat as to what transpired later.
When we arrived at school that day, we were greeted by this purple behemoth outside the school doors. Everyone was wondering how in the world it got there and who had put it there. We, in the senior class, of course, suspected the usual gang of players, Mike, Barney, Charlie, Zarlengo, and a girl named Stan. Our class was always into equal opportunity. But, back to my ringside seat to the unfolding show. Beth and I had a class on the first floor at eye level with the oval. It was called Home Management or something like that and was for students that had all the credits they needed to graduate but wanted another “A’ under their belts. Needless to say, boredom was the word of the day.
So when Beth nudged me, I immediately turned my head to see what had caught her attention. Lo and behold, there was our esteemed principal, “Howie” as we so affectionately called him when he was not in earshot, circling the huge boulder warily. To this day, I can see him gingerly eyeing that rock up and down, but I still have no clue as to why he would up and kick something so hard and with such vehemence. It was like he wanted it to sail into the sky, so he wouldn’t have to deal with it any more. Obviously, he thought it was one of the papier mache “rocks” that had been showing up everywhere inside the school.
Each year, the junior class sponsors the Junior Senior prom. This year’s class theme was “Subterranean Gardens” Hence, the dayglo “rock” garden throughout the school. I always wondered if the sophomore class was irreparably harmed by having to wear those caveman outfits. The junior class sponsored and paid for the prom and banquet, the sophomores served as the waitstaff for the banquet and the seniors reaped the rewards of having done it the year before for that senior class. It fostered a sense of community and collaboration that I think is missing today with these “over the top” expensive things we call “proms” . But, I digress. Maybe some day I will relate how the banner from “Riverboat Rhapsody” showed up at our tenth year reunion and how it has made it to every class reunion since that one. But, right now, back to the school prinicipal hopping around the oval holding his foot and howling in pain. By this time, everyone in our class had abandoned their seats and stood looking out onto the scene aghast knowing that our class will again know his wrath.
We realized that there was no sense in denying that members of the senior class had been involved because scrawled across the face of the rock was the phrase “Class of ’68”. What we didn’t know was Barney had taken care of damage control. We had had a love-hate relationship with our principal since we were freshmen and it had only been getting worse as graduation loomed closer. He would be glad to see the doors close on our class, but no more than we would be glad to be shed of him and his arcane rules and regulations that we never seemed to be able to get right. For instance, what is so wrong with adding a rock in a grassy oval that earlier that week had nothing but grass and a mud hole where the rock now sat. A lot of schools have rocks that rival schools paint and classes paint, and back and forth and on and on.
But, no. Not for our school. Nothing new and different and certainly not something that our class would leave behind as a gift. Not fifteen minutes later, he was on the PA system vowing to find those responsible and demanding others to turn them or the senior class would pay for the damage done. As far as we could see there was no damage except to his ego, and that was his own fault. Barney was the only one of us who kept his cool during this tirade. Apparantly, he had known we would need some press about the event if they were going to stay in school and the rest of us were not going to have to pay for the removal of the rock, essentially, cancelling our Senior Party. The press heeded Barney’s call and The Daily Record photographer arrived in the nick of time.
Each year the senior class gives a gift to the school in appreciation of our education and years at the institution. Our class had given our “senior” gift when we were freshman along with the other three classes that year. We bought the sign that sits in front of the school. Each year, the principal suggested we buy something else for the school. I had been the class treasurer our freshman year and was the one who always piped up at class meetings that we had already given our “senior” gift. One year we gave in and bought “lounge” furniture for the lobby hoping to keep the rest of our money for a Senior Class Party. Who knew that the rock that had nestled quite comfortably in a creek bed would serve as probably the greatest gift we could have given to our school.
Nearly forty years later, “grunk” still sits where he was placed in 1968. Over the years, benches and a brick paths have joined him as well as trees, shrubs, and flowers. And, periodically, another school sneaks in and splashes him with their colors, but it isn’t long before he returns to his bright purple color. And so, he stands as a reminder to adults who deal with teenagers that sometimes it is okay to reconsider the “rules” and the “order” that is needed because you may just create a bond that survives across the years, and what some considered a “prank” just might be come a “tradition”.
Yesterday Christine came by for a cup of coffee, and this is how the conversation started. “I thought my pharmacy bag seemed awfully light when I picked it up.” Over the years, she and I have formed this little charade on how we handle these conversations about Medicaid. It’s kind of like a comedian and his straight man trying to make it in The Berkshires while knowing that the material just isn’t too funny. But how else do you deal with this reality played over and over and over? So knowing my part well, I ask “Why was it so light?” And her reply, “Medicaid has disallowed four of my medications.” The straight man had no line to deliver. She asked me, “What am I to do now?” The straight man still didn’t know what to say, so she said “Punt?” Christine said, “I’m not ready to do that.”
I knew that but I truly am out of options of what to say. I don’t know how many times her doctor can act more like a magician than a physician and pull a rabbit out of her hat finding another medication, a new combination that works, a referral to a specialist that turns into a miracle too good to believe. We hear story after story of the doctors who scam Medicaid for millions of dollars, but we seldom hear of the doctors that still take Medicaid patients and work through and around a bureaucratic system that has long forgotten why it was formed but rather is more interested in its own survival than for the vulnerable people it was formed to serve. These doctors are unsung heroes.
Twice a year, Medicaid revisits the approved drug list for the patients under their care. In January, these very drugs now pulled off the list were put on the approved list. Doctors breathed a sigh of relief and began prescribing them for patients that needed these drugs for a better quality of life. Now, five months later, the drugs are gone, the patients have lost faith and neither have any hope for an answer coming from a huge bureaucratic mess.
You see, I think that the problem is that late last year, a new use for Cymbalta was found. It not only was a useful medication for depression, but it was found that it also helped people with extreme nerve pain. This fact would open the door for doctors to prescribe the drug to people with neurological disorders, neuropathy from diabetes, and other conditions. The other medications I didn’t even try to figure out the why or wherefore. It boggles my mind when I hear people my age talking about “Medicaid ” planning for their parents. I can only assume that they have had no firsthand knowledge on working with this agency. Single-payer insurance plan for the nation! I can think of nothing more horrific if it turns out to be administered like Medicaid has been for the poor. I realize there are no easy answers for any of these things, but I can only believe if we try to switch our thinking from a sickness viewpoint to one of wellness, we may begin to turn this elephant around. Christine feels that had she had more preventative care when she was a child that her illness would not be as advanced today. That may or may not be the case and in regards to her, we will never know, but don’t the children of today deserve a better outlook, and how can promoting good health be wrong?
So yesterday was a day that was pretty bleak, but today was a day that again saw Christine looking for answers on how to cope with the extreme nerve pain that would make a lesser person knuckle under. Her latest goal is to score a muscle stimulating machine she was denied last January, causing the doctor to prescribe medication to cope with the pain rather than muscle stimulation. So, she asks me, the straight man, what do I think? Do I think that we can find a way to get one? And me, who am I to rain on her parade? I say, “yeah, yeah, we could try that.”
My first post in over a month appears not on this blog, but here.
I guess pushing a broom at Broadway Clean Sweep cleared those cobwebs from mind and cleared the way for me to start writing on this space again. You see it hasn’t been a matter of not having anything to write about but having too much to write about. Tim tells me to write quickly and briefly but those of you who visit here know that ain’t this girl’s style. When I’ve got a subject I want to write about, I get into it.
But really it just got down to why I blog and what is a blogger. Ever since that question appeared somewhere and everyone was trying to define it, I haven’t written anything here. Now, why would that be? I’ve thought about it long and hard. Many of us are or want to be journalists or we just love to write. In another time, our families would have found a stack of letters from another who like us wanted to put our thoughts to paper to make them clearer, to make them focused, and to make sure that we were true to ourselves. Many of us want to speak our minds uninteruppted. Many of us our passionate about issues or a particular cause. Many of us want to promote Cleveland to show the world just how wonderful this place is, and the list goes on and on.
But then, that brought me back to me. Who am I and why do I blog? I blog because I love to write. I have loved to write since I was small, but then I went to college I let a writing professor tell me that I was a terrible writer. For years, I let that man’s opinion color my judgment and didn’t pick up a pen. But now, I know that his opinion doesn’t matter, and I can do anything I want. I may not be famous. I may not be quoted years after my death, but if I enjoy putting my thoughts down on a computer, then I should do it. I’ve never really ever done this for anyone but me, but somehow I let a question that shouldn’t have mattered become the elephant in the room.
So here is what a blogger is to me. A blogger is someone who logs the things that are important in his or her life. I chronicle community happenings. I write my opinion about articles in the Plain Dealer. I reminisce about my childhood. I write about issues that I feel need clarification in my mind. Today I realized that it’s not important if this blog isn’t perfect. If it isn’t something that someone else will find interesting or important. I do hope that people stop by and read it or leave a comment, but I realized I do this for me in the hopes that someone else will share their opinions and experience with me, but if they don’t that is okay too. Because I have done what I wanted to do.
And isn’t that what it is all about being true to yourself and doing the things in your time that you want to do?