Thursday, June 30, 2011


I love fireflies.  Right now, I'm sitting in the back yard.  It's dusk, we have a large fire of deadwood going, marshmallows roasting, and the fireflies are dancing.  They're far too beautiful to capture on film and too smart to be captured by the bellowing frogs.  Yes, it's an enchanted evening.  Summer magic, you might call it.  I wish everyone could be here, enjoying this loveliness.

Chagrin Falls

I'm in Chagrin Falls.  I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that Ohio has its wealthy pockets, but it was one (see stereotypes and travel experiences).  This little town (I really mean 'little') boasts lush, substantial yards, boutique shopping, and one of the friendliest dry-cleaning services I've ever encountered.

Free advertising: If you're ever in the Chagrin Falls neck of the woods and you have dry-cleaning, go to Fussy Cleaners.  They're friendly, quick, and green.  Don't believe me?  Check it out:

Anyhow, they'll help you, they'll compliment you, and they'll get your clothes lookin' sharp.  Go there.

So Chagrin Falls is an amusing heap of Americana.  It's tiny, it's rural, and it's rich.  What does that mean?  Lots of American flags.  And a Starbuck's.  Of course, the Starbuck's here is about 15 feet away from the astrologer.  You can get your Starbuck's and your Star Chart within ten minutes!  That's efficiency, people.

I have to give a nod to my first Ohio dining experience.  Christopher and I went for some nosh at a little place called Yours Truly.  The interior was the bizarre mix of classy hardwood and grandma's wallpaper, playing early 90's pop.  Despite that, the people were extremely friendly and the food excellent.  We both had fresh-squeezed orange juice and I enjoyed a lovely veggie omelet with the absolute best hashbrowns I've ever had.  Kudos to Yours Truly!

After lunch, we wandered around, buying a shirt for Christopher at J. DiBlasi's and being amused by the town triangle.  Yep, it's that small.  They couldn't accommodate a fourth side.  Our afternoon concluded with a quick run to the Giant Eagle (which isn't) for some groceries of the fruit and dairy varieties.  Although it doesn't measure up to its name in size and granduer, the Giant Eagle has a fantastic selection of fruits and vegetables and resembles a Whole Foods more than the Mad Ox I recall from my visit to Texas at 11 years old.  Thank goodness.

It was back to the house after the groceries.  And to my second evening in the Sinclair House...

Why the bookcase?

If you're wondering why I chose the bookcase as a background for the blog, here's the answer.  There's a pretty stellar bookcase in the house I'm staying in.  Two, actually.  If you want to be technical.  Anyhow, there you have it.

First Impressions

Here is some photo representation of my first impressions.

 Nearly 7:00 p.m., nearly 80 degrees.  Yes, please!!

Brick road!  They still exist and are in regular use!  Wonder what it'd feel like to ride my motorcycle over it...

Getting there - surprise!

Christopher and I got to our plane with as much ease as afforded by air travel.  We settled in, both ready to sleep for the first leg of the trip and were nodding off before lift-off.  Exciting stuff, I know.  

But wait!  There's more!    

Minutes before the plane began its descent, still groggy from my airborne nap and mostly only conscious of the sweet, autistic young man next to me getting both excited and nervous to be landing soon, a hand waved in front of me.  Yes, for an instant I thought, "jeez, what is your problem?"  And then I looked up to see the smiling face of a colleague from work.  With all evidence of my intelligence, I loudly exclaimed, "It is you!"  

Go ahead, chuckle.  It was one of my more brilliant moments, I know.

I’d seen a familiar profile boarding but had no confirming view of its owner.  How fun and unexpected to see Jeff P. on the same plane!  He and his family were connecting to a different state, but we found enough time to wish one another well on our respective travels and come to a consensus that his (Jeff's) son won the comfortable travel attire contest.  Truly.  If I were 20 years younger I would have asked to swap.  Or contrived to steal them.  Bon voyage, Jeff & Family!

After that excitement, and a satisfactory-if-salty stop at Chili's Too, we were on our second plane and headed straight for Cleveland.  Oh, Oh!  I forgot to tell you!  Candy vending machines at the airport (at least in Minneapolis) will let you use your credit card!  Yeah, baby!  Charge that Three Musketeers and get your flying on!  
We arrived with no trouble in our 26-seater tin can.  As we circled Cleveland and a portion of Lake Erie a couple times, in another stroke of brilliance, I felt an uncontrollable urge to exclaim that Google Maps had really prepared me to recognize Cleveland from the air.  Thank you for flying, your pilot has been Captain Obvious.  

Ugh! Starting with the wrong mind-set.

I'm facing the upcoming trip to Ohio.  Yes, facing.  I’ve never been in Ohio and I’m realizing I don’t have the best opinions - how narrow-minded of me.  Bad traveler, bad!  I’m trying to remind myself that all I’ve got in my pocket are stereotypes and a few unfortunate experiences from traveling abroad and witnessing the reason foreigners often disdain Americans.  So if you have something good to say about Ohio, I'm all ears.