Monday, September 27, 2010

James A. Garfield National Historic Site

After braces, since we were in Mentor and had Bastian with us for the ride, I thought we'd stop at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. This would be, of course, very "educational" and a productive use of my time, not to mention a nice pat-on-the-back for me as a mother. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

In the end, I held the most interest about President Garfield and his former home. The children picked up little bits and got to complete activities to try for Junior Ranger-ship, which also held little interest for them. They did it anyway.President Garfield served the second shortest term as president, since he was assassinated less than a year into his term. From what I got, his presidency wasn't even controversial. He was simply shot by a rival who lived a very similar life, entering into politics under similar circumstances, and then got royally ticked off when Garfield passed him over for an ambassador appointment. He lived for a month, gradually ailing from the wound before succumbing to death. His last letter was to his mother in an attempt to offer comfort to her. He's buried near our house, actually.

The boys favorite of the whole tour was I think the table with inlaid abalone depicting a spider and its web in the library. Photos were not allowed indoors. Garfield's widow came into some money after his death from another relative (presidents weren't bagillionaires in those days, as they are now), which she used to add onto the house. Interesting to all of us, she included a safe room in these additions, which looks like a primitive panic room, essentially.
The boys just happily crossed off items on their Junior Ranger bingo which I helped them to find in the house and grounds.
Just outside the library window was a European Weeping Beech tree which the rangers believed was planted by Garfield's wife, Lucretia.
Aleks decided the low branches were ideal for climbing. Alas, he fell out, adding a nice fat bruise to his lower back to his day's pain. Shortly after, I administered Tylenol to him for the pressure from his new braces, which aided the fall as well. I'm always reminding him how the authorities at varying places are going to yell at me for allowing him to create such a liability. He ignores me, not understanding my big words.
In the gift shop, the children finished the required activities to be appointed National Park Service Junior Rangers. The ranger there had them raise their right hands and recite the Junior Ranger pledge. Aleks objected to the last bit of the Junior Ranger pledge which had him promising to visit other National Historic Sites and get involved in Junior Ranger programs there. He was not about that type of long term commitment. I offered a philosophical exemption to the Ranger about just that line and she agreed that he could get his certificate and badge anyway. We also both assured him that it was a promise to try and not really a commitment. This didn't really seem to matter to him. He still wouldn't say it.

Bastian tried on a Union hat and had me photo him in front of this miniature of the Civil War Battle of Shiloh. Garfield, you see, was a Major General in the United States Army at the time and fought there. Bastian just wanted to wear the hat. I at least insisted he try the Union and not the Confederate hat on. Important details, don't you know.


Joy of joys, Aleks' poor mouth had further work done on it. We found out a week previous at an orthodontic check-up that due to the way that his upper front tooth was growing in, steps had to be taken pronto to ensure some sort of symmetry. Thus, the first of many braces were applied. Only four were added this first go-round. Aleks was cooperative as always while we were at the orthodontist and did not dread visiting in the first place, but afterward expressed discomfort and even a bit of depression over the new appliance. Late in the evening, he tearfully told me that he wished to be normal, to have a normal childhood, a normal mouth, and a normal nose. I held him and assured him best I could that he was in fact normal, that all children struggle at some point or another, that it does indeed suck, that it could be worse, and that since the day he was born I've wanted nothing more for him than to take away all his added discomfort, all the extra pain he must bear as the result of his birth defect. Then I confessed that I could not. Then we looked on the bright side some more to temper our admittances of complete suckage.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jack Jack in the Garden

We watch Jack on occasion. On this particular occasion, we were making more tomato sauce since the first batch came out all spicy and the second batch came out all small. Well, those two reasons and because we had more tomatoes. So we sent Jack and Bastian out to pick the necessary oregano and basil as well as any other tomatoes ready for saucin' from the garden. We also discovered some bell peppers ready for pickin' which we added to the sauce.While in the garden, I noticed my broccoli plants had finally sprouted florets. I'm hoping that cold-weather-ness is acceptable enough to maintain growing and we get something resembling edible from this.

A nice little haul...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moonlit Equinox Walk

After the early evening equinox walk, Jon took off for his movie night and I took the kids out for a moonlit walk. This was the first time since 1991 that there was a full moon on the equinox. So very exciting.

It was also our friend Chauncy's birthday and as we were out walking, we noticed him out on his balcony, celebrating. So the boys and I stood on the sidewalk and sang Happy Birthday to him. They then invited us up for cider, which the boys jumped right on. I got to partake in a glass of wine while the boys entertained the grown-up boys. Then it was back home and off to bed!

Fall Equinox Hike

In honor of the first day of Autumn, we took a walk in the woods. Jon wanted to go to this place around the corner from us where John Rockefeller's house used to stand. We started off into the woods. Aleks was none too happy about it, initially, though he'd come willingly. We looked for the beginning autumnal changes of color. I had never seen rainbow colored berries before.
I'd seen red, however.

This metropark is sort of in the middle of a poor section of town, so the paths were littered with garbage and things were less kept than the suburban metroparks. There was also curious evidence of past industry.

The space changed as we went onward, off the path...

Jon showed the boys slate and taught them to break it in their hands or by throwing it on the ground. Then he decided to scale the incline to see where it would lead.
Then he called for us to follow, as he discovered something.
Initially, I thought it a carriage house for the property. Later, a sign revealed it to be a blacksmith's.
you can just see Bastian's wee over-exposed face through the hole.

There was tons of broken glass and garbage. It was clear people had come here for decades to drink and hang out.
A trail led away from the blacksmith's (revealing the sign revealing what the building had been) and I spied this sign in the grass. It reads, "Caution: Coyote Family in this area." Sweet. Aleks was nervous about this, but I assured him we were okay as we moved out into the open park towards the actual location of the Rockefeller estate.

The mansion burnt down long ago and nothing remains but the space.
There are benches to see all the way to the lake from.
And a huge sledding hill.

From this perch, you can see right to where the first standard oil refinery stood. Those smokestacks are a power plant though. I had a dream about them once, staring from a similar spot down toward the lake (hidden by smog here).

Then we headed back home for dinner.
Bastian wanted to be carried, however.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lego man on the Side of the Road

After Aleks' orthodontist check-up, where we found out he needed braces in a week, we spied this lego man in the front yard of a law office. There seemed to be lots of smallish, uninteresting, and largely bad sculptural pieces lining the sidewalks in the area. This was the absolutely most fascinating, so we pulled in the driveway and took a closer look.


The head.
Wearing silly bands on its wrist...

Obi Wan Butt.

Top o' the head.