Friday, August 16, 2013

West Virginia!

On another glorious August day, we traveled to West Virginia, to my in-laws' beautiful hill to celebrate (a few days later) my husband's birthday. There, we visited the graves of our beloved Puerto Rican satos, Rusty and Geni, who are buried at the spot they liked the most on a hill they loved to visit (and where they lived for the first several months we first moved to Ohio into a tiny apartment that only accepted cats). This walnut tree grew, unbidden, on the same spot and now provides lovely shade to my much-missed old doggies.

Visiting "The Hill" is always a treat, especially since my mother-in-law always has something interesting to show, especially if it's a flower or a plant. This time, there were these strange gourds, which appear to be pretty much purpose-less.

My father-in-law always treats to lunch, so we went to a local place across the river, back in Ohio, but before we stopped at a market to get some fresh Ohio corn. It's white corn and that'll be dinner tonight, which we're anticipating will be delicious. At the market, I saw these huge tomatoes (about the size of a small canteloupe!) and just had to take a picture.

After lunch, we all gathered to celebrate my husband's birthday, with a scrumptious cake and ice cream.

On the way back home, later the afternoon, the late summer sky was lit up in blue laced by gossamer clouds.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Festival Latino!

Every year my husband and I make a point of attending the Festival Latino, which has quickly become one of the most important Latin@ festivals on this side of the charco. It used to be in June and now it's in August, which tends to mean that it's impossibly hot and drippy when we go. But this August has been unlike any I remember while living in Ohio because the temperatures have been so nice (more June-like and even premonitory of fall, which I'm in no hurry to get to).

The highlight for me of going to the Festival Latino in Columbus is finding one of the several kiosks of Puerto Rican food and getting myself some typical fare, especially my favorites, the alcapurrias, plantain and yautía (taro root) fritters filled with savory beef.

This year, I got two huge (if pretty ugly-looking) alcapurrias at one kiosk after procuring them at two others and being told (to my dismay) that they were already sold out. My husband, meanwhile, had some arroz con gandules and habichuelas (not very good ones at that), and tostones, or fried plantains.

The crowning event of this year's festival was Rubén Blades, who is a pretty big star in salsa music and who, it appears, visited Columbus for the first time ever, brought here (I'm sure for a pretty penny) by Honda, which sponsored the festival. One of the things that makes this festival unique is that it's free and open to the public, especially to families.

Blades played some of his classics, music that I grew up listening to, and it was great to see what an enthusiastic crowd he played to, even after he was (prima donna like) late by 45 minutes.

The food, the music, the people wearing Puerto Rico-flag shirts and dresses and shorts, everyone speaking Spanish or Spanglish, and the hermandad of the Latin@s during the festival make it a treat each year. Sated after my two huge alcapurrias I now can wait until next summer for another treat. Boricua soy, aunque naciera en la luna.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A good day for a ride

Friday, August 9, 2013

Late summer sights

Summer, always too soon, comes to an end. In exactly 10 days, I'll be back at my small college on the hill for a faculty retreat, and then the week after for Orientation activities, and then the week after that classes begin. The break always feels like it ends way too quickly but more so this summer for me because I worked a lot of the time. Still, it's a privilege to have so much time off at any point and still have a job so there's no complaining.

I love summer in Ohio, especially the treats it yields of peaches, cherries, corn, tomatoes, and all the other fresh wonders we can get at different farmers' or fruit markets. It's a real treat. The sights are also lovely, especially when the grass is verdant and the hay bales are ready, like this field near my small college on the hill. I drive by this place day in, and day out, but recently I decided to stop and take the picture. The photograph doesn't do it justice but at least it gives a bit of a sense of the beautiful sights of summer in Ohio.

In other exciting news, the work I did this summer will go to help cover the costs of partially remodeling our old kitchen, and we chose this granite for our new countertops. I've heard that granite is no longer considered au courant but we certainly don't care. It's lovely and it will replace old and warped formica so it'll be, for us, a huge improvement.

The apples, which are fall's gift in Ohio, are not in season but there are early apples that did make for a good pie. The peppers are all from our vegetable garden, and the peach cobblers are also staples in our house in late summer.

But the best thing about summer is the slow pace of the warm, sunny days, when not much happens. Those are the days when Lizzy and Chiquita take advantage of the comfy couch and nap the day away. An example I try to follow, now and then, whenever I can.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A visit to the Ohio State Fair!

On the last day of the state fair, dear friends and their luminous children made my day by meeting me there. I love the fair and, in years past, while I was studying at OSU, my dear friend and I would make it a point to go see the butter cow. But it's been years since I've been to the fair so I made it my purpose to return this summer, even if it meant going by myself (not my husband's cup of tea).

The day was glory (the weather was so good this year that the fair broke attendance records nearing almost 1 million visitors!), and I took in all the sights, sounds, and smells of the fair, which was made even more special because I got to see it through the eyes of my friends' excited boys.

The butter cow (and her calf) are two of the main attractions at the Ohio State Fair, and they didn't disappoint this year. The entire display, which includes a sculpture of the state youth choir, all made of butter, takes about 2,000 pounds!

Even though one of my favorite places in Puerto Rico is the Horned Dorset Primavera, which my family used to stay in back when it first opened and was affordable (it is now way beyond everyone we know), I didn't know what a horned Dorset looked like. Well, I found them at the fair!

The boys enjoyed the petting zoo, where they got to feed African pygmy goats, and the merry-go-round, which I adored as a child and still love even though I don't get to ride the horses anymore.

The boys also loved the giant pumpkin display and the funicular, or lift, which took us back from the end of the fair to the start.

Even though I "showed restraint," as my husband would say, and only had cotton candy (none of the fried fair food that makes the experience famous), I had to take this aerial picture of the donut burgers being sold at the fair. I can deal with fried cheese and elephant ears but definitely not donuts and hamburger. Yuck.

All in all, it was a wonderful day and I was so grateful to my friends that they included me in the loving circle of their little family. The boys call me "titi Ivonne" and it reminds me of warmly remembered times when my beautiful nieces and nephews, now all teenagers and young adults, were little kids. They always made being an aunt such great fun.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Walking in Memphis

My husband and I spent the last four days in Memphis, TN, visiting with my brother and his lovely family. On a radiant day on Thursday, we went peach picking, which I'd never done before. Other than the errant horse fly, the outing was fun and we came home with a good crop of white peaches.

My brother also picked some delicious nectarines, which, along with the apples and blueberries we bought at the orchard store, made for quite the bounty.

With the peaches, my talented niece learned to make a cobbler on Thursday and then an apple pie on Friday. Both were delicious although we all agreed that the white peaches were not as sweet as the yellow ones so we're going to stick to those for pie making in the future.

Also on Friday, after lunching at Gus's Fried Chicken, our very favorite, we went to the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum in Memphis, which was very interesting and educational for everyone. The magnolia tree in front of the house, which served as a refuge for escaped slaves, is hundreds of years old.

The visit to my brother's was wonderful and spending time with him and his family was a great bonus in a summer that has, up until now, been mostly work, work, work and little play.

Today, I'm back home but with no scheduled trips to my small college on the hill over the next two weeks. I'm definitely going to make the most of the unscripted time before it all revs up again on the week of August 19 when I'm already scheduled up there for four of the seven days. Classes begin anew on August 29, which seems much too soon.

Here's hoping that my short time off doesn't fly away too quickly!