Just a Bit Absurd

I’ve mentioned a few times – although I’ve tried not to belabor it – that work has been more than a little stressful and draining. I missed two weeks, I know, and I’m sorry. Two weeks ago, I had worked a lot of hours in a very short time, and I was all but useless Saturday and Sunday. Last week, I was in North Myrtle Beach. I had a post written, and intended to publish it from there, but I forgot. So, I posted it yesterday. This is the post for this weekend.

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The view from the front balcony. All rooms had a beach view. Might not be perfect, but it was a view.

I didn’t have my camera with me all the time, and there were a couple of incidents where I regretted that lack. Who, though, would think of taking the camera with them on the way to the liquor store?

It’s vacation time, and when I’m on vacation, I do enjoy an adult beverage or two. For me, it’s just something to do when I’m having fun. Not necessary, just an option. Without the Friday wine tastings at the grocery store*, it would be months between beverages.

This was a family vacation, so most of my immediate family and associated hangers-on were there. A few couldn’t make it. My younger brother was planning a trip to the liquor store, because it was far cheaper than the bar at the resort (duh), along with his girlfriend and their daughter. My father opted to join as well. It was within walking distance, and it wasn’t ridiculously hot and humid, so a walk sounded just fine. Now, I may or may not have mentioned, but my family is rather large. The immediate family et al came to around 35 people. We had five different suites in three different buildings. Three rooms in my building, on the same floor, one in the building next door, and one in a building across the street. My sister (S2†), her oldest son, his wife and their son, and her other two grandsons were in that one. She had a balcony with an ocean view, and happened to be on it when we crossed the open courtyard between building 2 and building 3. She saw us, we waived; my brother (S6) called her and let her know where we were going, and she decided to join us. Well that’s fine, we can meet her out front.

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View from the other side of the front balcony/walkway.

We get to the elevator in my building and I head up to the room. Since we’re waiting for someone else, I decide to change out of my swimsuit. While I’m gone, the youngest two sisters (S8 & 9) meet up with my father, and decide they’d like to come along as well. They just want to change, first. My father decided to wait for them. Plan to meet out front as before. No problem. Now this is getting to be a large group.

On the street-side of our building, I found my brother, his girlfriend and their daughter – in a stroller – waiting as well; S2 joined us not long after. We were just waiting for my father and the youngest two sisters. While waiting, S2 got a phone call from either S1 or S3; her grandsons were in the lobby of her building, to be picked up. Okay…so now we’re going to have two more children with us.

S2 goes off to pick up her grandsons. We wait. S6 (brother) senses his daughter getting restless, so he goes to walk her around. Now it’s just me and his girlfriend. At this point, I’m thinking this has gotten to be a much bigger event than originally planned. It had gone from just a quick run to the store to a small procession. I mention the absurdity of it all and S5’s GF humors me. She’s finding it a bit absurd herself. Little did I know…

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The beach at dawn, footprints in the wet sand as the tide goes out.

We happen to look toward the garage across the street, and see someone coming. We recognize S2, because we know what she was wearing. Then we notice S3 is leading the pack. Yes, pack. S1 was bringing up the rear, along with her stepdaughter. In between were not just two of S2’s grandsons, but the young (grand?)daughters (I didn’t ask. Meant to, just didn’t) of her current beau, S3’s son and S1’s youngest two, her granddaughter, her stepdaughter, whose name is the same as mine – that doesn’t cause any confusion – and her daughter. They’re coming along; it’s time for them to take a walk anyway. It’s only a few blocks, and they could use the walk to burn off some energy. I start laughing. Procession? This has become a parade! We now have two children in strollers, and 8 more on foot, all under the age of 10 (or maybe 12). Altogether, we end up with 10 adults, 10 children, all heading off to the liquor store. No real incidents with any of them, just a slower pace. When we crossed the street, we briefly ran into two of S1’s older daughters, D1‡ and D3, D1’s fiance and D3’s friend (no other kids her age). For some reason, they didn’t want to join us. Can’t imagine why.

Keeping everything straight? Yeah, me either. Just pretend; that’s what I do.

Our little troop walked through groups of people dining at restaurants along the way. The general reaction was amusement when they realized the size of our little parade. On the way back, we walked down the other side of the street, and through different crowds eating outside. S1’s D3 and friend saw us and joined us again, briefly. She wanted to show us her henna tattoo. It was nice. Got smudged, though. It was a little crowded, you know.

We crossed the street and crossed again, passing a little amusement area, with rides and an arcade. The rides weren’t open yet, but we paused to see how much it would be, since it was in walking distance, and would give the kids something fun to do. It was suddenly rather quiet, and we began looking around, realizing for the first time that my brother, his GF and their daughter, along with all of the walking children, had wandered off. We knew they wouldn’t come to any harm with him, but we were kinda wanting to know where they were. As we passed the arcade, we see is GF poke her head around and wave us on. He’d taken them to the arcade and given them all tokens; they were playing Skeeball when we found them. That was the point when I regretted not having my camera with me.

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Shortly after sunrise. I watched the sun creep up over the buildings. Got a nice series of shots, too.

We stayed a little longer. One of my other siblings got the kids started on a claw machine. The oldest one was rather adept, so she played it for them. There were rubber balls in the machine, and it wouldn’t do but that every kid had one. As I understand it, they went back a couple days later.

Finally, each kid not in a stroller played Skeeball at least once, and each kid, even the ones in the strollers, had a new ball to play with. At last our parade was ready to move on. We marched back, having to rescue a few balls in the process, with one child-induced casualty (she chewed the ball and made a hole – it deflated), and one ball that made it across the street. I got that one. The cars on the road were nice enough to stop for me while I went after it. No one ran into the street, although a few were horsecollared to keep them from doing it. Grab what you can.

That was…an experience.

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*I go for the company; the wine is incidental. Well, the first time it was for the wine. Oh, and the food. The woman who runs the tasting I attend is also a chef, and she tries out recipes to match the wines.

†S2 = sibling 2. I’ve found a numbering system to be more useful. I can number by sisters and brothers, or just number the total. I’m sibling 4 regardless how it’s counted.

‡D1 – descendant 1, her oldest. She has five of them. Four of them came on the trip, three are under 18.

Photo Review…

Evening, y’all. It’s late, I’m tired. I haven’t slept well in weeks, so I’m finding it hard to come up with topics for Wednesday. The writing prompts are available, but it’s almost 11, and I need to make myself put my head down for the night. So, here are a few pictures from last weekend,and […]

Three Years

Today is March first, meteorological spring. Tonight, we should get one of the worst storms of the astronomical (until the vernal equinox) winter. At last check, it would start off with rain, then freezing rain, then by morning, it should start to snow. Could be interesting going to church tomorrow, assuming I do. I meant to get some ice melter yesterday, payday, but I realized I needed to check my account, first. There’s a bill I have to pay that should be gone in the next six months. Until then, well, it’s going to be very tight. Kinda broke already, and March has the added bonus of my insurance bill and water bill both due. Yay. No idea where that’s going to come from. Oh, and another art show at work. I need to work on my portfolio and exposure. I have permission to use portraits from a couple of sessions I’ve done as examples, so that’s good. Just need to finish editing one of them. It’s from November. I’d edited quite a few photos, but not the way I’d like. I have been learning more and more about my editing program, and I think I can make them better. I’ll keep the original edits – I like to be able to compare, see if maybe I liked my original edit better. Happens sometimes.

Leaving Colorado
US 24, leaving Colorado Springs, shot from the car. No, I wasn’t driving.

February was a long month for me. So many things going on, things that just weren’t fun, things at work, things at home. March might be a little better, aside from the aforementioned money thing.When I woke up this morning, though, I wasn’t thinking about that so much as what I would write about today. It’s always a bit of a challenge, which is why I found that writing prompts website. It serves a couple of functions – one, it gives me a topic when I’m stumped, and two, some of those prompts force me to be creative, something I’ve not been particularly good at for years.

This morning marks an anniversary – three years ago, I moved back to Ohio from Colorado. I’ve mentioned before, if not here then in my old blog, and certainly in real life, that at some point, I knew I would return. As much as I wanted to get away, I also wanted to be home. I made a trip back on average once every couple of years. Maybe just for a long weekend, but I did. Even when I really couldn’t afford it. I needed the visit. Moving back, however, was not under the most auspicious circumstances. I’ve mentioned that before, too. Instead of coming back on my own terms, I had to be fetched like a naughty child who finally has to face the music. It wasn’t the best feeling. I was pretty miserable for a while. Nothing but an added burden, nothing of my own to bring to the table.

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No idea what this white flower is, only that it was pretty.

My first couple of months back, I stayed with my father and stepmother. After twenty years of living alone, it wasn’t easy. Fortunately, one of my sisters had a house that various family members had used off and on for the last several years. It was empty and available. Needed a little work. My father, stepmother, sister and I worked together to make it livable. Doors were replaced, cabinets installed, along with a sink (that I helped connect – that was cool), some drywall installed, and a bit of painting done. Three years later, the main room still isn’t finished. Don’t really have a good reason for that. Right now, between my feet (plantar fasciitis – wear shoes that fit and support, people) and my knees, climbing up on a ladder is not particularly comfortable anymore. That means there are things that have to be done outside that I can’t do. I have to pay someone to mow my lawn, since I don’t have a working lawnmower – there’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s the main point – and I have no garden to speak of. Gardening was never really my thing anyway. I like the results, and love the smell of rich soil, just not the actual gardening.

South Gateway and Pikes Peak
My anti-social mountain – Pikes Peak behind South Gateway at Garden of the Gods

For over a year, I couldn’t find a job. Well, I had some things to resolve first anyway, specifically health things, things I couldn’t get addressed in Colorado. It’s a beautiful state, but if you’re broke and ill, there’s really nothing there for you. Meanwhile, there was a clinic just two blocks away from where I am now; I didn’t even need to worry about coming up with gas money to get there. I did find a temporary job, giving me a couple bucks here and there. Enough to drive to the grocery store, at least. To get to the nearest one without a car, I would have to walk a mile (measured it) to the bus stop, then ride the bus for another mile or two, get off, and walk another half-mile to get to Walmart. What that means is in the summer, frozen food is pretty much out of the question. The nearest grocery store as the crow flies would require walking that mile to the bus stop (there’s a closer one, but not for the bus I need), then transferring to another bus, after walking another half mile or mile, and paying extra because it goes outside of the city. Food desert. Still, I managed. After getting the health squared away, I finally found something I couldn’t find for years in Colorado – a steady income. Home just over a year and I was working again. Relief. At the end of March, I’ll have been with my current employer for over two years as a temp and a permanent employee. Finally able to pay my own bills. Well, until one of the old ones I couldn’t pay for years caught up with me anyway. Six months. Or less.

Three years ago, I left Colorado and came home. Miserable as I was at the time, as much as I miss seeing my anti-social mountain every day, and being with my Colorado friends, it was a good thing for me.

En Hiver

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Andre FLanagan, along W Elm in Over-the-Rhine

I missed Saturday. I know. I didn’t have time. I’ve not really been able to get to sleep at a decent hour unless I’m completely exhausted. That might happen tonight. It doesn’t matter what time I put my head down, either; I just can’t really sleep. This time of year is always a little on the tough side for me, between weather and other events. I spend a lot of energy just working on doing what needs to be done. I washed my dishes today, so I was pretty excited about that. Even the really big ones, the stock pot and the 13″ casserole dish. Over my three-day weekend, I had other plans, things I was going to do. I did one of those things I planned. Fortunately, that one thing was wash dishes. I did another thing I planned that I forgot I planned, though – went out shooting† with a friend.

I wasn’t sure what was actually going to happen Saturday morning when I left for work that Friday. I just knew I was looking forward to not having to get up. Again, rough time of year. I made a date, though, and frankly, I really needed to leave the house and spend time with another human being. Best to do that with a human being you actually want to spend time with, don’t you think?

Saturday dawns, and I rise a couple hours after that, something not all that common for me, actually.  I’m usually up before eight on Saturday mornings. Sunday mornings, might go all the way to 8:30 if I’m tired. This past Saturday, it was almost 9:30. That’s practically the middle of the morning! Which is kinda weird to say, actually, when I remember that I’m not really a morning person; not sure when that changed. Before I remembered my plans for that day, I intended to stay in bed and only get out to use the bathroom and eat.‡ Instead, I had to bathe and eat and put on clothes suitable for wearing in public. In January. One of the coldest Januarys in decades. And I was going to be spending hours outside. In the cold. I don’t like being cold. I’m cold right now, and I’m not too thrilled with it. I’ll live.

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Since 1852

When the temperature reached the double-digits a little after eleven, and after I ran a couple errands, my friend picked me up, and off we went. We started off with a place I’ve never been, a place I should have been years before, as a Cincinnati native, but never had – Findlay Market. An important landmark in town, this is where the Reds Opening Day Parade begins. It’s where people came with their parents and grandparents, and got special cookies or had lunch with freshly-sliced ham, spent the day browsing the different stalls inside and out in the spring and summer, meeting up with friends for years. My mother was from Indiana, so it wasn’t part of her childhood, therefore it wasn’t part of mine. I was an adult before I ever had goetta, for crying out loud! At least that I remember.

Anyway, I put on my four layers (wait, lemme count again – five layers), and off we went. It took a minute or two to find a place to park, until we just parked in a lot. Walking down West Elm, to the western entrance of the market, we paused to visit with Andre Flanagan. He’s a fixture there every Saturday and Sunday, he said, out there singing for his supper. The cup in front of him helps him get by. It’s not much, but it could make the difference. He’s not begging, though; when we got out of the car, a little better than a block away, I could hear his voice echoing between the buildings. It was hard to miss. Not trained, but that doesn’t matter – it’s a good voice, and it’s a voice that believes what it sings. Andre will perform any number of hymns for you. And if you want, he’ll even give you a little sermon. In my brief visit with him, there was nothing but love in his conversation. Maybe I didn’t completely agree with everything he said, but he did have something to say, and he charmed nearly everyone walking by.

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Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices

Once I’d lost feeling in my fingers, we walked into the market proper. Well, eventually; had to stand outside and take a few pictures from there, too, just to get the lay of the land. Remember, I’d never been there before. The first thing I noticed was the crowd. I figured there would be a lot of people, but maybe not so many, since it was so cold. And honestly, for the time of day, maybe it wasn’t that crowded. I really didn’t know what to expect. To the right, a little gelato stand, with a line. This is Ohio – it’s never too cold for ice cream. To the left, a spice merchant, with a counter covered with jars full of various exotic aromas. A little further in, there were butchers and bakers. The candlestick makers were in a different part of the market, one of the outer inside stalls. I walked up and down the main building, trying to remember not to stop in the middle of the narrow aisle, or at least, get out of the way. I didn’t buy much while I was there, I was there to look. I was thirsty, so I got a bottle of water, and there was a honey stall where I bought ten honey straws. Some were flavored with fruit, others were flavored by where the bees got the nectar. I couldn’t help myself, either – I bought a teeny honey bear with wild flower honey. Very good, I’ve never had anything like it. The honey straws didn’t last the night. Three of them were gone before we got back to the car.

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Future magnolia blossoms

We left the market after not quite two hours – since that was all we had at the lot – and headed for somewhere else. I suggested Eden Park, since I wanted to see what I could do with snow pictures. It was cold, so the snow we got hadn’t melted, but it was also overcast – more snow was due. We did wander a little bit, get some shots of the gazebo by mirror lake, and made our way to the magnolia garden. I thought we might try the overlook, but we needed to go back to the car and drive. The walk back from there would have been exhausting. Unfortunately, Krohn Conservatory was open, so parking along the street was non-existent, and the road around the twin lakes was closed. Not sure why, but it probably was because of the recent weather. It was cold and I was tired and sore, and we were hungry, so we went out to have a bite to eat. IHOP. One with a good soundtrack.

Not bad.

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†You should know by now, I’m shooting with a camera
‡Did that Sunday

Tourist At Home

Let me show you around my city.

Watching
At the monument to The Black Brigade, in Smale Riverfront Park.

In 1862,  early in the War Between the States (“Civil War” just doesn’t fit), the mayor of Cincinnati declared martial law. Free black men were forcibly removed from their homes, from their families, and from their jobs, and marched to a fort in northern Kentucky, where they were to work on the fortifications intended to keep the Confederates from coming onto Cincinnati’s banks. For these men, this treatment wouldn’t have been any worse had the Confederates managed to take over Cincinnati.

Union General Lew Wallace heard of the way these men were treated. He was disgusted, and commissioned Judge William Dickson, putting him in charge of the Black Brigade. The first thing he did was send the men home, and ASK them to come, if they chose to volunteer – just like the white citizens of Cincinnati. The turnout the next day was nearly double the conscripted number. Amazing what a difference being treated with respect can make.

Water Plus Boy
Warm day, little boy, and jets of water coming from the ground. Inevitable.

So there’s this new park in downtown Cincinnati, Smale Riverfront Park. The city is trying to take back downtown, and one of the ways they’re doing that is by improving the waterfront, so people would want to go down there. Part of the waterfront includes both Great American Ball Park, and Paul Brown Stadium, both open to the river, and a newer development called The Banks. Right on the river, though, on the part that floods with some degree of regularity, are the parks.

It started innocently enough, with the Serpentine Wall, a long stretch of concrete along the banks of the Ohio, sloping up from the river in a series of giant steps. There are also steps that are more closely-spaced, so you don’t have to pull a hamstring to climb up there. The biggest event involving the wall is the annual WEBN Fireworks (yes, it deserves the capital) – now called Riverfest – Labor Day weekend. Because people get there hours before the actual show, and sit and wait on the ground, it got a bit ugly, especially if someone encroached on the space you’ve saved. No alcohol is served anymore. Got ugly. You can get a beer or other adult beverage at the myriad church festivals around town, and I think you can at KidsFest too. Just not Riverfest.

Along the Wall
Serpentine Wall along the Ohio

Yeatman’s Cove and Sawyer Point were further developed, to become a place where people came for festivals and concerts. At some point when I was in high school – I think 1987 (yes, I’m getting old) – the P&G Pavilion was opened. I was there, along with a slew of other P&G brats (Procter & Gamble was founded in Cincinnati, and still has more power than anyone is willing to admit). Can’t for the life of me remember what we saw. But I remember when the Party in the Park kicked off. Free concerts of bands that are no longer popular, but usually still pretty good, and occasionally, bands that ARE extremely popular.

After the dedication of the P&G Pavilion, there were further developments within that area, referred to as Bicentennial Commons. See, Cincinnati was officially founded in 1788. And in 1988, we celebrated the bicentennial. It was a huge deal. There were fireworks shot from the three tallest buildings downtown, that could be seen for miles in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, the Tall Stacks event which celebrated our history as a major port city during the days of the steamboats, and this new park. With a huge controversy.

Water Cannon
At Yeatman’s Cove. Used to be a wading pool, now just fountains, but they are still for playing.

The city of Cincinnati has many nicknames. Three of the most famous ones are The Blue Chip city, for the number of corporate headquarters that (used to be) we have. Then there’s the Queen City, which has a number of sources, including the Queen of the Ohio, Queen of the Midwest, stuff like that. Yeah, we were the first gateway to the west, St Louis! And the one most derogatory, the one we’ve chosen to take back and make our own, Porkopolis. Before the railroad, we were the center of meat processing, particularly famous for pork processing, which, incidentally, is what brought James Procter and William Gamble to town. One made soap, one made candles. Both used pigs to do it. Well, parts of pigs.

Anyway, in 2000, we had the first Big Pig Gig, where a bunch of large statues of pigs were given (sold?) to various organizations for them to decorate, and display all around downtown. Some of them had wings. There were some very creative designs. When the event was over, the pigs were given to their new owners, the companies and individuals who bought them. There are pigs on rooftops and pigs in parks, pigs in museums and performance halls, one decorated as a hockey player, stationed by the coliseum where our hockey team plays, and even a wing-ed pig in a guilded cage in a strip-mall parking lot. There was another Big Pig Gig, although less big, in 2012, with new pigs. Again, some really incredible designs. Going back a little further, to 1998, there was the first Flying Pig Marathon. It is, by the way, a Boston Marathon qualifier. It is also brutal. People say Ohio is flat. They haven’t been here. Or most of the rest of southern Ohio for that matter.

When Pigs Fly
When Pigs Fly

But back before 1988, such things were considered ridiculous and insulting. And yet…when it came time to decide on how to celebrate the history of our city, the noble pig was brought up. Well, of course, we need to do something, sure, sure. Maybe something subtle, hidden in a corner somewhere. Except – there was another faction that wanted the pigs to be prominent. Not just prominent, but brightly decorated. Bright pink pigs with vivid red wings, perched atop the steamer smokestacks which are placed along a model of the Ohio river. The model is atop an arch that serves as a gateway to the rest of the Commons. Just beyond that arch, there’s a pole with an ark atop it, and just a little below, a large stick in a notch on the pole, marking the highest the Ohio River has been since this area was inhabited by Europeans. That was 1937. Sixty years later, we had another monumental flood. It didn’t reach that high point, but it did get pretty high.

So anyway, no real surprise, but there was quite a bit of opposition to the pink pigs with red wings, to the pigs perched on pipes, and to the pigs having wings in the first place. As you can see, though, some of those objections were overruled.

I love the four pigs on the smokestacks. I liked the idea of pink pigs with red wings at the time. I’ve matured a bit since then; I’m kinda glad they lost that one.

Busy, busy

Mother’s Day weekend was particularly rough for me this year, not really sure why. I was glad my choir wasn’t singing in church that day, because I’m not sure I’d have been able to get through it. For those who’ve lost parents, you know some years are better than others, and there isn’t always an obvious reason why. I had a birthday later that week, and a celebration at my sister’s house, at work, and with my father and stepmother. We went to Skyline and Star Trek. They weren’t impressed. With Star Trek, that is; they go to Skyline all the time. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was worn out.

Ault Park
More green, bigger trees, greater variety than in Colorado

The next week was a short week for me; I had that Friday off. A friend was visiting from Colorado, and I was off to pick her up from the airport. Because of the jet lag, I kept our plans for the rest of that day simple and easy. I had to get home to get fitted for my knee brace. It was a little large, but the next size down was too small. I don’t know if it’s stretched or I’ve shrunk a little (really hope the latter), but my brace is now very much too big. Still helps, though.

After getting fitted, I drove us to a couple parks in town. Ault Park first, then a brief run through Eden Park. There’s a bit more green here than in Colorado, particularly this time of year, so Ault Park didn’t disappoint.

Memorial Day Weekend is when the summer really kicks off here. Yes, I know summer’s official start is in June. Beside the point. The first major festival of the season – Taste of Cincinnati, once the largest such festival in the country, happens that weekend, and has for the last 35 years. Six blocks of food booths, four different live-music venues, and beer, always beer. Taste of Cincinnati is about food. And lots and lots of walking. So, the brace came just in time.

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Departing from Newport, Kentucky, the 45-minute tour gives a bit of history for both sides of the Ohio River.

First, we did another touristy thing – we rode the ducks. It was entertaining listening to the visitors from all over the place – including Bavaria. Learned an alternate word for goodbye – Tschüs. They weren’t the first, but the Germans, particularly from Bavaria, were the biggest immigrant group to move here. Can’t speak German to save my life, but I can pronounce the heck out of it. Years of vocal training probably helped. Neither here nor there. Tschüs is pronounced chuuss, approximately. Less formal than auf weidersehen, anyway.

View of Kentucky from the Freedom Center
View of the Roebling bridge and Covington, Kentucky from the Freedom Center

Next, to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, back on the other side of the river, just across the Roebling bridge. Finally, up the hill to Taste of Cincinnati, where we ate a few horribly fattening things and fought crowds. By then, we were a bit too tired to sit and listen to any of the bands. Sad, really. I usually spend hours there doing just that. The food and beverages are secondary.

I did a bit of driving around town, showing some of the best places to be. Even went up to Mt Adams, and a parking lot near Rookwood Pottery. Great views of the eastern side of downtown from there. I don’t really remember what we did after. Probably headed back to recover from being on our feet all day.

Krohn Conservatory Butterfly Show
One of the few butterflies that held still long enough for me to capture it

Sunday, there was the Butterfly Show at Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park. Krohn was packed. Holiday weekend, so I wasn’t too surprised, even though I hadn’t seen it that crowded before. Again, I blame the gorgeous weather. No real time to linger like I’ve done in the past, because of the crowd and the heat. I did manage to get a few interesting shots, though, and even had a few hitchhikers on me.

After, we headed for the art museum. By that point, after walking around Krohn, and walking back to the car, and still not completely recovered from Saturday, when we drove up to the art museum, we paid for parking. It’s not a long walk from the little lot just outside of the museum, but it was only $4, and we were worn out. Blew through that pretty quickly, then off to dinner at Skyline. Seriously, try it. Make a chili dip, with Skyline, cream cheese and regular cheese. It’s awesome.

They could have been pink with red wings, y’know.

After Skyline, I found our way to Mt Echo park in the western part of the city. Not an easy thing to do, since the route I know is no longer there. Something about the bridge being unsafe and likely to collapse any moment. It’s being replaced. Mt. Echo is a great place to get a view of the city’s skyline. After a while there, we wandered downtown to  Bicentennial Commons to walk along the river. At that point, I’m not really sure how we were both upright, frankly, let alone how I was still able to drive. Stick shift – I need both legs and both arms.

Then we were hungry again and headed for Outback, the one national chain we patronized the whole weekend. It was nearly 8, so no trouble getting a seat; we only had to wait 15 minutes. My food was just fine, but her steak was incorrect not once, but twice. The first time, her steak was medium-rare like mine. She prefers it medium-well. The waiter took it back and brought out another about ten minutes later. This one is best described as a charcoal briquette. I wanted to go back and find the chef, tell him to get over himself and learn to cook properly. But no, the waiter, then the manager, talked her into giving it one more try. They also took it off the bill. That helped, that they tried to make it right.

Cincinnati Zoo
Manatee swimming

Monday, the zoo. Once the second-best zoo in the country, behind San Diego, we’ve dropped on the list a bit. Not because the zoo couldn’t keep up, but because others made many improvements of their own. I don’t know if it made a difference, but although Monday was a holiday, I assumed there would be fewer people just because there would still be those who had to work. There was also a threat of thunderstorms that never materialized. If attendance was down, I can’t imagine how busy it was Saturday and Sunday.

We were there for quite some time, on the warmest day of the weekend. We left about an hour before closing, so we beat the crowd. We had a great, shaded, parking spot near the pedestrian bridge from the zoo, too, so we didn’t have far to walk, something becoming more and more important each day. I’d planned to go to Spring Grove Cemetery after the zoo, but it was after five. I drove around the city a bit, showing parts I hadn’t shown her before, until finally, I decided I would show her the outside at the least.

2012-11-11 Spring Grove 138a1
Spring Grove in the fall

What I didn’t consider was the day – it was Memorial Day, and this was a cemetery with veterans from wars from the Revolutionary War (transferred from another location) to present. It was open late.

We drove around a bit, seeing the beautiful landscaping Spring Grove is famous for. I pointed out notable headstones (McAlpin, Shillito, Pogue – all former department stores, for instance), and the ones in German, which I find fascinating, but didn’t seem to be of particular interest to my friend. She took pictures of some of the chapels, mausoleums, and the more intricate headstones and monuments, mostly from the car. It really was a long weekend of walking.

That’s pretty much why I didn’t post last week, and the two weeks prior to that. In case you were wondering.