Saturday, June 26, 2010

duck threat


I think ducks should be required to wear warning signs around their necks.  Sure they look cute, but looks are deceiving.

Ducks are evil.

One episode of enlightenment occurred seven years ago, while I was out enjoying a pleasant canoe trip with two friends in Lake Washington during Seafair weekend.  Not only was the weather and company sublime, the scene was made that much better when the Blue Angels flew overheard in perfect formation. After an hour, we rowed in to an alcove for shade and sandwiches.  As we ate peacefully, a little duck came paddling over to us.  We each broke off a piece of bread crust and watched the duck eat with delight. He flapped his little duck wings and squawked his little duck voice.  We were enamored.

Until the duck army came.

No sooner had the bird swallowed our offerings when an entire gang of ducks came swimming towards us.  We were shocked by their size and speed, but managed to gather our wits and start rowing.  They attacked our canoe before we could get very far.  All of them tried to jump inside.  It was a moment reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

After a clamor of squawks and shrieks and oars, we got away.

The second episode of awareness happened last Thursday night. Hubby and I went to the local career center to watch a few of our young friends give 4H demonstrations.  One of the presentations, given by a youth we didn't know, was 'how to show a duck at the county fair.'  He was a polite, soft-spoken boy who handled his animal with care.  It was the duck who looked uncomfortable being presented to a room full of people (after being caged for an hour). The boy carried on and made it through his demo with a few minor distractions and giggles from the audience.

We caught up with him afterwards while waiting for the awards to be announced.  I was curious about this bird, as he was all black in color (not something I had seen before).  The boy answered my questions and was eager to pull the duck back out of its cage when I asked to pet him.  The petting went well, it was the holding that went awry. The boy offered the bird to me, and I took the bird in my arms.  I held him like a baby and coddled him, touching his little duck head and caressing his little duck feathers.  Not two minutes earlier, I had asked the boy if it hurt when his bird nipped him with it's beak and the boy said, "Not really."  So, when the duck started nipping at my hand I wasn't concerned.  And he was right, it didn't hurt.

It was when the villainous fowl turned his head and bit my chest that my opinion changed.

Ducks are dangerous.  Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

thunderstruck

© photo credit: allansgraphics.com

Northeast Ohio is known for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Lake Erie, Amish country and LeBron James.

It is also known for electrical storms.

When we moved here, I was naive to, well, pretty much everything about it, including where Ohio was on the map (don't judge).

Until three months ago, the only time I heard the Emergency Alert System was for the regular testing they played on the radio, usually interrupting my favorite song.  Here it seems to be a common part of TV and audio programming, including warning sirens in our neighborhood.  Today was no exception.

I'm starting to recognize the signs of a storm brewing, namely how the air feels.  These intense weather patterns seem to occur when it's extremely warm and humid outside, reminding me of having a fever. You feel the heat climb, then the clouds roll in, and the sky starts to twitch with a few lighting strikes here and there.. and there again. Within 20-30 minutes the wind is howling, and the fever breaks, resulting in an incredible display of light and sound.  Hubby and I've already experienced thunder claps that have literally shook us in our bed and woken us from sleep.

Apparently, businesses and homes in our neighborhood lost power today.  I was walking to my car with a full grocery cart when the rain was at its worst.  Somehow I manage to time my grocery shopping for when storms hit.  It's uncanny.  I see the signs on my way in to the store and by the time I make my exit, I'm caught in it.

I'll admit, the tornado sirens are thrilling to me.  I suppose I should learn the appropriate steps to take in the event of a storm that severe.  For now, I squeal with delight and anticipate the greatest show on earth.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

farmers market

© photo credit: countryvillagebothell.com

What is an ideal way to start the day?

I suggest a dark roast cup of coffee, and a trip to your local farmers market.  Happy for me, our community artisans gather in the townsquare on Saturday mornings from June to October to share their wares and livelihoods.

Minus the husband-wife duo singing classic rock cover songs in the gazebo (!), everything else about the scene was delightful, especially the free samples!  Homemade baked goods, organic produce, Amish cheese, honey, hemp seed products, cherry jam, goat cheese fudge, small batch coffee, olive oil, framed photography, wood carvings, crafts, and handmade potholders; it was all there.

My friend Anna and I enjoyed filling our oversized bags with bok choy, summer squash, brown rice granola bars and copper pendants, and eating a basket of cherries on our walk home.

The best compliment to our stroll was seeing two boys selling lemonade on the corner.

This is the good life.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ham loaf


© photo credit: victoriabelanger.wordpress.com

Green bean casserole and deviled eggs got their big break in this part of the country.  They became the shining stars of church potlucks and holiday dinners with their careers spanning generations.

It's been documented.

The cuisine of the midwest that never quite made it to my plate on the west coast are now showing up in various forms on menus and salad bars across Medina.  While curious dishes to me, the locals rave about them.

Here is a list I've compiled since becoming a resident: perch, deep fried green beans, raspberry fluff, Watergate salad, pickled eggs, ham loaf, sauerkraut balls, corn relish, and mush.

Did I mention all the butter I've seen?  Paula Deen would be proud.

So I'm learning.. and tasting.  Who knows? I might find new ways of spinning classic midwestern recipes or consider a Julie & Julia-type adventure like fellow west coaster Perisa Sadrzadeh.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll get used to marshmallows in my salad.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

fireflies

© photo credit: stevendavidjohnson.com

Fireflies have a reputation.

Clever little creatures who play tricks on your eyes, they bob around in the night air disguised as wisps of light.  Just when you think you see them, they disappear.  Then reappear, then disappear and appear again.  They tickle at the back of your neck baiting you to follow them.

Lucky for me, fireflies are a summer standard in the midwest. 

Lots of friends out here gasped when I told them I had never seen one before this week.  Funny how they assume fireflies are a part of everyone's childhood, just as I assume everyone's heard of lettuce wraps.

My favorite firefly moment so far was at the drive-in movie last night.  While watching a remake of The Karate Kid, I found myself distracted by the trees.  Or rather, what was hovering around the trees.  These little bugs make the air and foliage sparkle with their presence.  The best part is that they don't all glow at once, bringing the atmosphere to life with a hundred twinkle lights.

National Geographic says there are about 2,000 firefly species and their life span is two months.  Which means, I get eight more weeks of their comedy and wonder.

Friday, June 11, 2010

ice cream social


Three months ago last Saturday we moved to Medina, Ohio.

Tonight I attended my first ice cream social in the townsquare.  So very Gilmore Girls.  This event was made complete with lawn chairs, a symphony playing classic TV theme songs, dancing children, dogs and American flags.  Hubby and I enjoyed the music almost as much as we enjoyed people-watching and the company we were with.
There is something sweet about a shared moment with strangers, wouldn't you agree?  Maybe it was the pie.
Medina is quaint, but not as small-town as some of the neighboring seats (if Medina is Stars Hollow, then Valley City is Mayberry).  I know this because we have a Regal movie theatre, Old Navy, Pier 1 Imports, Starbucks and a Target with a Starbucks.

So far so good.