Even the next block over can be an adventure - Troublesome Creek that winds through Hindman, Kentucky is where my adventure began

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Seasons of Yolanda: Tales of a Traveling Writer on Facebook

If there's any reason at all one needs to continue to write and travel, this is it. As I created this PowerPoint as a tribute to Yolanda Steiman, a friend and member of Company of Writers, a writers group I also belong to, I was struck by how much traveling and writing add depth and breadth to one's life. Also, what genius can be found in Facebook. All the text was culled from Yolanda's Facebook pages starting with the year before she died and ending with her last entry. Several of the photos were taken by her husband or Yolanda. Some were culled from Flickr.

You'll see one slide that has all the people who commented on Yolanda's Facebook pages during the year after she died. (She died last October.) My word, Yolanda, you sure touched a lot of people and brought the world together in an special way. Poland, Japan, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio--that's some of the world I enjoyed by savoring the flavors of your life. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yon: A Gambian Correlleware Story: Holding on and Letting Go

With the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps kicking off in October in Ann Arbor, Michigan, my Peace Corps days in The Gambia have been in my thoughts. This past spring, when I took a class at Ohio State University on digital storytelling, a certain Correlleware mug and Nescafe came to mind. If anyone is interested in what a Peace Corps experience is like, the mug is a metaphor. Watch. You'll see.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hither: Gay Pride Parades

Each year, I go to the Gay Pride Parade to join in. Usually, I'm with the Human Rights Campaign. I love being one of the holders of the gigantic banner, particularly when we do a pinwheel--running in a circle in the middle of the street.

Yesterday, however, I couldn't find the Human Rights campaign, but I did find Greg Phelps, my generous friend who was in the parade with his art car, THAT CAR. It was great fun passing out Greg's postcards to parade watchers and waving a rainbow flag that I bought from a vendor.

Last year for Gadling, I wrote a post about Gay Pride Parades around the world. The Gay Pride Parade in NYC is next week during New York Pride.

If you have a chance to go to a pride parade, do. They are family friendly, joyful and welcoming. They even put up with those folks on the sidelines who hold up signs that say things like "You're going to hell." Interesting. During the entire parade, I felt like I was in heaven.

View from Greg's car looking towards downtown Columbus

*photo credits: Both pictures taken by Greg Phelps

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hither: Enjoy the flowers. They didn't plant themselves

After reading an email message about the 50 volunteers who showed up to plant flowers in Goodall Park near the Short North and Victorian Village in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend, I thought about all the flowers I've seen in public and private parks around the world.

All those flower beds bursting with color were planted by someone. Sure, some could have been planted by people hired to do so, but how many gardens were beautified by folks using their green thumb purely for the fun and generosity of it in order to create a multicolored world for all of us to enjoy? These are the days where their handiwork is in full bloom.

Looking at flower beds of the present, particularly those in people's yards, reminds me of flower beds of my past. My favorite flower beds were the ones my grandparents planted--mostly my grandfather, in their yard in Dayton, Kentucky.

The phlox growing in my backyard are offspring of those. One of my aunts gave me some plants from her yard that came from the flower bed near my grandparents' woodpile--the one I use to climb on in order to swing off it while hanging onto a rope swing.

The first photo is by juliejordanscott and the second is by Atilin

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Yon: Does Peace Corps service justify a cruise when it comes to carbon footprints?

Ever since I lived in West Africa, The Gambia for two years without any running water, electricity or a vehicle, except for a bicycle that was useless on the soft dirt roads that surrounded my village, I've wondered if I gained a bit of wiggle room in the environmentally friendly travel department.

Surely that MSC Musica cruise I took from Venice to Greece with my kids last summer was something I earned on those nights when I put a damp wash cloth on my torso in an attempt to fall asleep--or fantasized about putting lettuce leaves on my face (no kidding) to combat the parched dustiness of the dry season. 

The cruise did give me pause when I heard about how much gas the ship burned as it made its way around the Mediterranean, but, man was that cruise the finest time ever. Let's not think about the gasoline, shall we?

Let's think of those days when my carbon footprint was about the size of my left little toe. Not my big toe. My little toe. I'd say between the Peace Corps and that cruise, I'm still not even. You see, I think there's another cruise with my name on it.

*The MSC Musica is the ship in the background taken on the banks of the Grand Canal Venice. To leave Venice, the ship goes through the Grand Canal first. I took this photo the day after our ship returned and the next cruise was heading out. We were walking near St. Mark's Square when we saw the ship pass.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hither: High School performances give big bang for the buck

If there's any hope to be seen in the world, it's in a high school auditorium during a student production. Seriously. Fortunately, this is a joy any traveler can experience.

This past Friday night, I spent three hours in utter joy at the Ft. Hayes Performing Arts High School's spring dance performance. My daughter wasn't dancing, but was in charge of  the lighting. This lighting gig of hers has put me in the audience of the school's production of "West Side Story," "You Can't Take it With You," "The Odd Couple" and two dance performances.

There's an earnestness about high school students who walk out onto a stage and claim their right to be watched and applauded-- whether the person is particularly talented or not-- that brings out the best in people. In the case of what I've seen at Ft. Hayes productions, talent is served up in large portions. (Not to mention dedicated teachers who rally their charges to put forth their best.)

Typically, audiences are filled with the performers' parents and friends, but if you're looking for a way to feel good about the world for not a lot of money, consider checking out your local schools this spring to see what's on the schedule.

As an indication about just how good Ft. Hayes' dance performance was, consider this. My 8-year-old son sat through 3 hours without wanting to go home.

We planned to stay for just the first half, but by intermission, both of us were ready for more. There was no way I was going to miss a single second.

Ft. Hayes is a Columbus City magnet school for the arts, by the way. Students from all over Columbus attend. This is not the only school with magnificient performances. Last year, the audience at Eastmoor Academy's production of "Dream Girls" gave the girl playing Effie a spontaneous standing ovation before she finished the last note of "And I'm Telling You, I'm not Going."

*The photo is from the Ben Evans Recreation Program Collection of the Seattle Municipal Archives

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Yon: Photo From Elsewhere

Lady Expat, aka Nancie, has been living in South Korea for nine years, an experience that was supposed to last only one. I know how that goes. She's been teaching at the university level, traveling and  taking wonderful photographs to beat the band.

I used several of Lady Expat's shots for Photo of the Day picks when I wrote for Gadling. This photo of cherry blossoms in Korea is one of her latest gems. The blossoms reminded me of my quest to view redbuds in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky as a motivator to head there in celebration of spring.

Check out more of Lady Expat's lush and lovely work on Flickr and at her personal blog, Budget Travelers Sandbox.

If you have a picture from Yon, point me towards it. I'd love to promote your work.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hither: Refreshing drink discovery: ice water with cucumber slices

At the launch party for the magazine Edible Columbus, held at The Hills Market in Columbus last night, my thirst was quenched by a drink I kept downing. Sure, the wine spritzer type libation was splendid, but the ice water with slices of cucumber floating on the surface was sublime.

So simple and so wonderful. It was so good that I bought a cucumber on the way home to make my own.

Cucumbers are just  that type of vegetable that says "refreshing." Pair slices with water and what a concept. Along with this heaven in a short plastic glass, I found stimulating conversation and other palate pleasing food. More on food later, but for now, let's stick with the water.

Here's how to make it: Get an aesthetically pleasing clear glass pitcher. Fill with water. Add ice cubes. Thinly slice cucumbers, but not so thin that they get flabby (leave the skins on). Add cucumber slices to the water--just enough that they float on top.

By the way, Edible Columbus will be a magazine and a website to follow. As I talked about food with several attendees, we all agreed that Columbus is filled with great food and wish the Editor-in-Chief, Tricia Wheeler well. She's off to a great, delicious start.

*first photo by Rick Beddie who has this nifty website rhoek.com
*small cucumber by hagit

Friday, April 2, 2010

Yon: Kentucky State Parks are Travel Gems

Lately, I've been busy writing posts on state parks for Uptake.com. Since Kentucky is part of my stomping ground, I took on three of them--John James Audubon State Park, Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park and Natural Bridge. Add these to the post I wrote on Mammoth Cave for a bit of an overview of what Kentucky has to offer.

All this writing about Kentucky State Parks gave me a hankering to head to Kentucky. Natural Bridge and Ft. Boonesborough, here I come. Both places will be my 8 year-old son's version of heaven. He's a wonderful traveling companion and up for anything, particularly if a gift shop is involved. Kentucky State Park gift shops will not disappoint.

Luckily for me, I found out about a lodging deal that the Kentucky State Park system if offering from now through May 27 and again from August 15 to September 30. Rooms, excluding Friday and Saturday nights, are $59.95 plus tax. That's a considerable bargain. Our AAA rate was going to be $95. Here's the post about the deals.

If you live anywhere near Kentucky, don't miss out on a bargain. You won't be disappointed. A state park resort stay is simple, casual and a sort of down home fun you won't easily find elsewhere. Plus, the lodge dining room food is excellent and affordable. Ohh, I hope hush puppies and catfish are on the menu.

The photo of the child is of my daughter when she was about 4 years-old standing on top of Natural Bridge. We were on a short jaunt to Hindman, Kentucky and stopped by here for a quick look see.

This photo was taken by james.thompson.

(The photo of the warbler was taken by Birdfreak.com)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hither: Oscar hoopla in Columbus

I'm a fan of Oscar hoopla. Yesterday (on Sunday), for the 4th year in a row, my name and picture were in the Columbus Dispatch to prove it. As a member of CAMPP (Columbus Academy of Motion Picture Pickers) I've seen all the nominated movies in the top categories and have given my take on who should win. My quote about Colin Firth was included.

This year there was not one particular movie that made me say to someone, "You have to see this movie." That's not exactly true. I did say that about The Messenger--- and The Hangover.

The other movie not to miss is The Road. I loved it. Alas, it was not even on the Oscar list. Sure it's a depressing movie, but oh, so poignant.

Last night my friends and I had a grand time at the Oscar Red Carpet Bash at the Drexel Theater. Two of us won trivia questions for prizes. As one of my friends said at the event, "It feels like being there" --meaning at the actual ceremony.

My favorite line from the award speeches was from the guy who told any kids watching at home, "Creativity is not a waste of time." Or something like that.

Photo: from the Columbus Dispatch. I'm the second row on the end (on the right)

My quote, in case you can't find it in the article:

"Firth embodied what happens to a person when quiet grief and dispair have nowhere to go."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Yon: Huguette Clark's life is an absorbing tale

I imagine Huguette Clark will stay with me today as I go about my business. The daughter of William Andrews Clark, one of the Copper Kings of Butte, Montana, has an interesting tale.

There's something alluring about a recluse, particularly a rich one. Clark, unlike Howard Hughes, is not refusing to cut her fingernails or keeping her urine in jars. She just has not been seen for a long while. Plus, the properties she owns are over the top in elegance, are immaculate... and vacant. Each are for sale.

Ever since 1963, Huguette, who grew up wealthy and has stayed that way, has not been adding in many details to the thread of what she has been up to all these years. She's 103 years old, but no one hears from her except for her lawyer.

Reading about Huguette's past, her robber baron dad, and the properties connected with her, connected me with our family's trips to Montana and New Canaan, CT. William Clark started out panning for gold at Bannack in Montana. We were just there last summer swatting at mosquitos. I wrote about this former mining town, now ghost town for Gadling. To read, click here.

His former home is now a museum and bed and breakfast in Butte, Montana, another place I've been to and written about.

As for New Canaan, another location of Hugeutte's property, I have been to this town where the wealthiest people in the U.S. live and written about it as well.

Huegette Clark's story is one that alludes to nothing gold can stay, particularly for a person who doesn't seem interested in what gold can do.

A big thanks to Bill Dedman who was attracted to Huegette's story enough to write about her. His work has made my day more interesting. Clicking through the photos and Dedman's words on msnbc.com is story-telling at its finest.

Photo by harold.lloyd (won't somebody think of the bokeh?)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hither: Women of the World Poetry Slam

The third annual Women of the World Poetry Slam is coming to Columbus, Ohio. This means the best of the best women poets--72 in all from across the U.S. and a few from other countries--will be saying their piece at various venues throughout the city from March 10-13. The best who do the best will win prizes.

If you think you may have a poet in you, there are sessions for you to test your poetic mettle. From the event descriptions, it sounds as though there will be poetry to match anyone's tastes thoughout each day. Women who will be competing must have been a top contender in a poetry slam elsewhere.

The best 12 women will compete in the finals at the gorgeous Lincoln Theater.

Rose Smith, a wonderful woman and poet connected to the Pudding House in Central Ohio and a frequent contributor at the Monday night Poetry Forum at the Rumba Cafe, extoled the wonders of this must-see event. Rose is also one of the poets who is participating.

From what I can tell, the $50 pass that will get you into all venues, as well as, the party after the winners have been declared, is a deal.

For any information you need, here's the link to the Women of the World Poetry Slam website.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yon: Amazing Race Elimination Station

The Amazing Race's Elimination Station may not give one a million dollars, but its brand of vacation time is sweet. Sure, what a shame to not win the dough, but how can staying at a hacienda or luxury guest house in another country be a failure? How can that not make a person feel a little pleased? I'd be pleased. I'd be pleased to even get on the Amazing Race. It's not easy.

This season's Amazing Race eliminated teams were sent to a resort location in Mexico to await for the winning team to get the big hurrahs, applause and the wealth. At this point in the airing of this season's episodes, two teams have made it to the elimination station so far--a married couple who were high school sweethearts and a grandmother and grandaughter. The grandmother is 71 which is a big plug for anyone who is an older traveler looking for an unusual adventure. Both teams are a pleasure to watch. Up beat.

Now they can enjoy each other's company and soak in the nuances of one place instead of barreling in a frenzy through a bit of the world, probably not remember specifics all that well--kind of like getting married and inviting oodles of guests. The experience is a blur.

As far as the beauty of the Elimination Station goes, when do we get a chance in life to hang out in a gorgeous house and day trip on someone else's dime? Soak it in losing teams; soak it in.

To see the Elimination Station, click here. I wonder who will end up here next?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yon: Cleveland's a miserable city? Hardly

This past week Forbes list of miserable cities came out. Cleveland is # 1. Seriously? Harumph!

Did the writer of this article ever go to Cleveland? Yeah, yeah, so what if Cleveland has been referred to as "Mistake on the Lake" in its past. But there is so much more in Cleveland than the Browns' abysmal showing in the football arena and the Indians lackluster attempts at baseball.

Cleveland fills out the quality of majestic grandness---if you ignore the fact that on the weekend much of downtown looks abandoned. Euclid Ave. is so sad to walk down then. There are such gorgeous building facades but no one around to enjoy them.

I know this because a few years ago, I thought it would be a swell idea to do a six-mile walking tour taking in downtown Cleveland with my husband and two kids. One of them still in a stroller. We started and ended at Tower City. Why the walk? Cleveland had been named as one the top 10 cities for walking and I wanted to find out why. Turns out, the distinction has to do with the number of walking paths through the metropark nicknamed the "Emerald Necklace"--or something like that. Downtown has nothing to do with it.

Still, Cleveland is an eye candy feast if you like architecture. Consider all that Cleveland has to offer and you'll find plenty of reasons not to be misearble if you go there.

Here are 10 of them.

1.  Terrific food--whether you're aim is elegant eats  or ethnic fare there is plenty to satisfy. Cleveland is an artist's palate in the culinary arts. Michael Symon's restaurant Lolita in the Tremont District and Sokolowski's Univerersity Inn, also in Tremont, are two suggestions on the spectrum from elegant to ethnic. Sokolowski's, opened in 1923 has authentic Polish fare. This is a perfect place for families who are hungry. Very hungry. I had pizza and more at Lolita.

2. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame--Head here with at least a half a day to spend. I've been here several times and never grow bored. The building is magnificient. Taking in the music at the listening station is a treat. It's odd to see how some of ones life has already made it into a museum as having historic significance.

3. Great Lakes Science Center--Quite well done and splashy in its offerings. Stellar exhibits come here from time to time. It's next door to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

4. A trip on the Goodtime III, the tour boat that heads up the Cuyahoga River. This is an excellent way to hear about Cleveland's history while learning about the various bridges made to move in order to let ships pass through.

5. Cleveland Museum of Art--I can't say enough just how wonderful this museum is. Recently rennovated, the museum showcases some of the very best of our world's art. Plus, the main museum is free. There is admission to special exhibits.

6. Like the art museum, Cleveland Botanical Gardens is located at University Circle, the part of Cleveland that was once home to Cleveland's weathy folk.The botanical garden has a  green house that is a perfect respite from any weather that might be happening outside.

7. Westside Market--Yum, yum and yum. This historic market is a jewel of a building as well as housing a visual and taste bud delight. We've spent hours here tasting various foods that had their beginnings in other parts  the world.

8. Lake Erie--Come on. How can you not be in awe of this magnificient body of water? I've never taken a boat ride out on the lake, but it is on my things to do list. For those of you who like to scuba dive, you can scuba dive in the lake as well.

9. Terminal Tower at Tower City--This used to be the 2nd tallest building in the world before Sears Tower surpassed its height. The atrium is a gorgeous tribute to Art Deco.

10. Murray Hill, also referred to as Little Italy--For anyone interested in galleries and interesting shops, Murray Hill is a concentration of fun and unusual places to browse and buy.

Photo 1: laszlo-photo
Photo 2: edseloh
Photo 3: Yvonne in Willowick, Ohio
Photo 4: dougtone

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yon: Adriana Trigiani, featured speaker at the Thurber House

If there's one writer who is an expert at hither and yon, it's Adriana Trigiani. I inhaled Big Stone Gap and headed straight to its sequels.

As a person with roots in Appalachia, I could easily switch in my mother's hometown with Trigiani's creation.

Her version of Appalachia is a refreshing change from the fare that usually gets the press. You know--the broken down cars and refrigerators outside in the yard version.

Tonight, Columbus, Ohio book lovers are getting a treat thanks to the Thurber House. Trigiani is the featured speaker as part of the Thurber House's Evening with Author's Series.

Somewhere in between the years I spent living in Taiwan, India and back in Ohio, Trigiani has been busy writing. The woman churns out books. My word, I have a lot of reading to do!

Meeting her will be a welcome reprieve from these days of socked in from the snow.

hither: Snow makes traveling difficult

When sidestreets look more like the grooves of the tracks of a kiddie ride at an amusement park, there isn't much point in trying to go far. Eating, though, can call one to points beyond the front door. That's what happened at our house.

Yesterday, come dinner time, we headed to a charity event where we ate spaghetti for a cause. The proceeds will send high schoolers to Louisiana in March to help rehab houses.

This photo is from last year's big snow. I imagine that Greg Phelp's art car looks the same this year. If you're ever in Columbus, Ohio look for it. Phelp's car frequents ComFest and Hot Times has been in the Doo Dah Parade. Plus, Phelps drives it wherever he goes. [photo by That Car]