Friday, December 21, 2012

Women's Cooperatives

While in Morocco, we saw lots of Women's Cooperative businesses. Although citizens do enjoy a good quality of life, there doesn't seem to be any provision for the assistance of folks who are on the fringes of self-sufficiency, such as disabled or widowed people.
Most of the people on our tour were women and everyone seemed to really want to support these cooperatives. While bargaining for the best prices is part of the fun of shopping in Morocco, nobody bargained too forcefully at the ladies co-ops.
Call me suspicious, but when we went to a place where Berber rugs are made, I got a little suspicious of the Women's Cooperative schtick. See, the men did all the talking. The men did all the bargaining. The men had all the contact with people. Meanwhile, the ladies were sitting in the corner, behind a loom, unsmiling. (See her behind the loom?)
Frankly, I wasn't even expecting to SEE a man in the women's co-op; I'm sure they don't work there for free. Besides, if I were a Muslim selling goods to westerners, I think that "Women's Cooperative" would be a perfect marketing term . . .

Monday, December 10, 2012

Medinas in Morocco

In a number of cities, the oldest part of town is a walled fortification called a medina. Medinas have narrow, twisting “roads” which were designed to confuse and slow invaders. You can’t help but get lost in a medina; it’s part of the charm. This is an overview of the medina in the city of Fes. This medina, from the 9th Century, was my favorite part of the trip.
Most of the medinas have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Despite the tourists, preservation societies, and media coverage, life in the medinas is much like it was a thousand years ago.
You never know what you will see in a medina. Here, a man carries his “groceries” through the streets.
A medina resident takes his bread to the community oven for baking.
Musicians in the medina.

A square within the medina.
Some medina streets are jammed with people. Others are nearly deserted.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Moroccan Culture

Well, Sarge & I are back from Morocco. I think I was in awe the entire time.
Seven of the ten days in Morocco were part of a tour, for which we had a local guide. Mohamed is from a remote mountain village in the Middle Atlas Mountains. He is divorced, a dedicated father and a practicing Muslim. Despite his interaction with people from around the globe, his life is still a simple, rural mountain life; he washes his clothes in the river and is in great physical condition (despite his claim that “I want to be fat”). Mohamed’s assistance was invaluable, but the best part was having someone to question about cultural differences. Here are some that stood out for me:
Blondes – The men in Morocco were fascinated by blondes, regardless of their level of attractiveness. Blonde women ARE attractive, period. Mohamed elaborated further when I asked him if Moroccan women resented blonde women because of this. He said that it wasn’t a reflection of how attractive the men think Moroccan women are; they just want something different. He also readily admitted that most Moroccan men don’t want to marry a blonde; they just want to “be with her.” He shared his translation of a Berber saying which states that if you eat couscous and more couscous and more couscous, eventually you will get bored with couscous.
AIDS – I asked Mohamed if AIDS was a problem in Northern Africa. He replied that, “In my village, they don’t really believe in that.” As we talked more, I realized that this was a literal statement; they don’t believe that AIDS exists. They think it’s a big sham. It also became clear that Mohamed shared this view. He said he had never seen evidence of AIDS; nobody in his village (which is small and remote) had ever tested positive, so it must not exist.
Wedding rituals - Mohamed relayed that it’s important in his culture to marry a virgin the first time you marry. After the first wedding, it doesn’t matter, but the first wedding should be to a virgin. He told about the tradition in which the new couple show a cloth stained with the bride’s virginal blood to the family, the wedding guests, and the community. To everyone, in other worlds. He also said, “When there is no blood, there is problem.” It seems, though, that it’s just the tradition that is important, not necessarily the virginity. As Mohamed said, “But, if you have nice husband, you can kill a chicken.”
US Congress - Mohamed was talking about President Obama, for whom we heard endless praise in Morocco. He said that it seemed that Obama hadn't been able to solve our country's problems. I explained a little about our two-party system and the Congressional gridlock it has created and how this limits a President's ability to implement plans. Mohamed immediately determined a reason: "That's because your Congress is all Jews."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Winter Preparations

I've been busy painting the house, swimming, getting the yard items in the barn, showing my empty apartment and prepping for the Morocco trip.
I did, though, get in a little cruise time, when I found this cool hornet's nest. I've always wanted one, and I finally found one that was accessible. I haven't decided what to do with it, mind you . . .
So, check out the red siding behind the nest. Before and after shots to come!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The latest thing to grab my fancy is three-way bridges. In a lot of places, these are called a tridge. I don’t know how I learned about them, but now I want to visit as many as I can.
There are a couple of pedestrian tridges very near to me. The first one is in Depot Town, the old city center of Ypsilanti, MI. Depot Town is a trendy, historical district. I once took an architectural tour of this area for an arts class; it was amazing. This bridge leads from both banks of the Huron River to Frog Island, where lots events are held during Depot Town festivals. The bird’s-eye view is thanks to the driving bridge that crosses the river just overhead.
The second picture is in Brighton, MI, which has experienced a tremendous population explosion over the last decade. It’s an upscale destination town, so there are lots of pedestrian areas. This tridge crosses a pond, right in the center of downtown, so it sees a lot of traffic.
I have another tridge to visist soon, in Midland, MI. The one I’m really looking forward to, though, is in Zanesville, OH. It’s a driving tridge!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I’ve been a terrible slacker with updates, I know. I don’t know what I do with my time, but it sure disappears quickly!
Last weekend, I taught my landlord class in Cincinnati again. Since I’ve tried to slow down on the number of schools where it’s offered, UC is the only non-local one that’s still a regular, every semester. It’s also the only 4-year institution where it’s offered, so the school is kind of special to me.
I really love Cinci! Since my hometown had a population of about a thousand, a city the size of Cinci seems so electric! Besides that, the city’s German roots are still evident, it’s very hilly so the city seems on display for you, and the Ohio River running through the center is intriguing. Here's a shot of one of the many river crossings, the Roebling Bridge; it was designed by the same man who designed the Brooklyn Bridge.
The people are really friendly here, too. After class, one of the attendees took me to a food truck festival. That's my idea of heaven!
I admit, though, I don’t care for Cincinnati-style chili . . . How about you?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weekend Ride

I like to ride around. Seriously, this is almost a hobby for me and I've been doing it since my sister (who turned 50 this year) first got her drivers license. I just get a kick out of heading out to see whatever is in my path.
Here are a few pics of what I found over the weekend.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Frolicking In The River

Sometimes, the experience is worth sitting in the pouring rain . . .

Monday, September 17, 2012


I've had some major work taking place at the house. The other day, I came home from work to find this monster in my yard. I'm having the broken drainage pipe that runs from the house to the ditch (did you know that was legal??) replaced.
For the last few years, the crawl space has been flooding. It has been a total pain to pump it out, particularly when the power goes out.
Hopefully, though, that is behind me. It sure was a big job, just for one little pipe . . .

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I have a new project. I'm working my way through a 7-step Beginners' Cheesemaking Class. This is an actual course with a syllabus. It was created by a chemistry professor from the University of Cincinnati (where I teach my landlord class!). After designing the course, Dr. Frankhauser posted it online! (Don't ya just love the internet?)
I'm taking advantage of his generosity and beginning the course this weekend. Each step is designed to teach you the skills you'll need for the next step and it starts with yogurt.
If I make a mess, I'll post the pictures. If you'd like to try this yourself, you can find Dr. Frankhauser's course at:

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Cats?

Early this summer, a kitten showed up at my house, with no mother to be seen. She was about 6 – 7 weeks old, too young to take care of herself. So, my housemate and I started scrambling an egg for her every morning; there’s no telling what else my roommate was giving her, but the cat really trusts her now.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve already done the feral/stray cat thing in my yard. I’ve spent lots of time and money feeding and fixing animals, taming and finding homes for any litters and agonizing over their illnesses and disappearances. The reason I have 6 cats in the house is because I don’t want to deal with a herd of them outside anymore. But, what can you do when a little one shows up?
So, my housemate named the kitty Frisky and she’s nearly an adult, now. She’s really only tame to one person, though, and I haven’t decided what to do with her when winter comes. I have an elderly cat inside that’s dying right now, and it seems unfair to make her adjust to a newcomer at this point in her life. Sigh . . .
But, wait – there’s more! Look what showed up two weeks ago. And just for good measure, fate made sure that I was unable to turn a blind eye by having them wander in at an even younger age than Frisky; they were about a month old. Now, at near 6 weeks, I can tell that there’s one male and one female. On top of that, the neighbor just spotted another coyote in the woods behind our houses, so I can't leave them outside.
Guess who's getting scrambled eggs now? Yep, they’re living on my porch and will probably become inside cats . . . As much as I don't want more cats and hate to see more strays born, it's such a joy to be around them at this age.
Got any suggestions for names for pure black cats of either gender?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Siena Heights University

Pillared Crescent
I love the idea of being a “tourist in your home town.” There are so many things that we take for granted and don’t bother to really see.
While Adrian isn’t my hometown, it’s certainly familiar. On my last trip there, I visited the campus of Siena Heights University, a little Catholic school. Campuses are often so pretty and the religious ones really dress things up, it seems.
The school houses a cemetery, where you'll find this gorgeous Pieta:
A mesmerizing labyrinth:
Walking the Labrynth
The campus has different little pockets of beauty and solitude.
Pretty little garden:
A peaceful place to rest:
This would be a great place to bring a picnic and spend an afternoon!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Community Spirit

Aren’t small towns great? An event can include everyone in town, if they want. I recently went to a fair in Pemberville, Ohio, population 1371 (how’d you like to be the ONE registered sex offender there?). There was also a parade through town; apparently anyone can participate, including political candidates, anyone who can tack some fake turf to a wagon, and those Shriners in their crazy hats and tiny cars.
Flying batons -
Flying Batons
All the downtown merchants had specials. Because the fairgrounds is right next to the American Legion, they offer great food selections, which is a big money-maker for them.
Girls ready for the parade -
Old men ready for the parade -
Old Men
And, of course, the midway -
Duck Pond
Ferris Wheel
Berry Go Round

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Broom Maker

Brooms Sign
You know those cool, old general stores that you can rarely find anymore? The kind where you can still purchase yesteryear items like meat grinders, tin campwear, lye soap and linseed oil? They’re usually in an old Main Street store front, with squeaking wooden floors and high tin ceilings. Well, I found an amazing one in Victor, Colorado. The proprietors were, by trade, broom makers. I’ve never met a broom maker, although my great-grandfather did it as a sideline for extra income.
These folks, just a solitary couple, make brooms using 18th Century equipment, in the traditional fashion. The machine she is using is pedal-powered, like an old sewing machine! They are also tinsmiths and candle makers, among other things.
Broom Maker2
Note the sign behind her, which reads: "You live in a $300,000 house and you have a PLASTIC broom?"
Look at the impressive broom collection they have!
Broom Collection
You can order from them through their web site at Turns out, the lady is originally from Michigan!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


A cousin got married this past weekend in the Denver area, so I spent a long weekend there. It was great to see the family and to meet those I'd never seen.
I haven't been to Colorado since I was a kid and the trip just whetted my appetite for more of the Centennial State. My favorite thing about the city is probably how easy it is to bike there. I would love to have that many bicycle paths near me!
Outside the city, of course, there's the scenery.
Gorgeous red outcroppings:
The city of Golden from Lookout Mountain:
More formations:
Old Colorado healing springs:
I'm ready to go back!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bikes in the Barn

I have 7 bicycles. I guess I’m a bit of a pack rat. I decided that some of them have to go, starting with the oldest. Here’s how that played out:
The silver bike is an old Raleigh Boardwalk (not the fold-able type) from the 60’s. My hubby worked at the Toledo Zoo and there were three of them which hung for years in the Medic’s Office there. He bought two of them. They are heavy and durable. I fully intended to sell them, but when I cleaned them up, I found the Toledo Zoological Society tag on them and started thinking about their “local historical prominence.”
Zoo Plate
I know it’s crazy, but I really have a thing about local items. I like thinking about what happened decades and centuries ago on the very ground on which I now walk. Again, I know that it’s crazy!
See, Toledo’s zoo is a tremendous source of local pride. It’s one of the best in the nation. And Butch was proud to work there. It’s fun to think about some veterinarian zipping around the 74-acre zoo on these bikes, with the big basket full of medication and supplies. And I think it’s neat that they were preserved because someone hung them on a wall. So, I’ve decided that I can’t sell them.
Then, there’s the red Huffy, another solid, weighty bicycle from that era. This is my bike of choice right now, although the chrome is really rusty. I love riding this bike because you sit up so straight and tall, which isn’t the case with any of the bikes I’ve ridden in the last 15 years. It’s been an adjustment getting back on a fixed-gear, I’ll tell you.
I can’t sell the Huffy, either. See, Huffy bicycles were made in Dayton, Ohio. That’s pretty close to here, ya know?