Tonight, I headed down to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  The leaders and participants from the Capitol Reef trip got together at the planetarium.  We watched a slide show of photos that we submitted.  They looked super cool on the dome of the planetarium.  Jason also put together a bit of a show for us.  He showed us the sky as it would have been back in August and Utah if there weren’t clouds and we talked and reminisced about our trip.  I would go on another trip with Nathan, Jason and Michelle anytime.  It was fun to realize just how much I learned on the trip.  Once again, they rolled out the red carpet for us and it was great!

Sometimes I think I am addicted to knowledge.  I think my husband is rubbing off on me.  After our reunion, I attended the Frontiers of Astronomy Lecture that was held in the auditorium of the museum.   The lecture series is sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University Department of Astronomy, The Cleveland Astronomical Society and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  I had no idea what to expect.  I read the description of the lecture.

“Exploring the Extreme Universe with the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

Thurs, Oct 11, 2012; 8 pm

David J. Thompson, Ph.D., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, reveal extreme conditions in the Universe. The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has been exploring the gamma-ray sky for several years, enabling a search for powerful transients like gamma-ray bursts, novae, solar flares and flaring active galactic nuclei, as well as long-term studies including pulsars, binary systems, supernova remnants and searches for predicted sources of gamma rays such as dark matter annihilation. Dr. David Thompson will discuss results of these searches. Some results include a limit on Lorentz invariance violation derived from a gamma-ray burst, unexpected gamma-ray variability from the Crab Nebula, a huge gamma-ray structure associated with the center of our galaxy, surprising behavior from some gamma-ray binary systems, and a possible constraint on some models for dark matter.

Free and open to the public.”

After reading the above, I still had no idea what to expect.  Our reunion ended just before 8PM and reluctantly headed to the lecture.  I was shocked to see a full hall.  It wasn’t standing room only.  In actuality, there were probably 40% of the seats empty, but it was a great turnout.  I’m was amazed.  I still had no idea what I was doing there.  I don’t really know much about astronomy, let alone gamma rays.

As I sat down, I heard some folks chatting behind me about how they didn’t know anything when they started coming to these lectures.  Now after coming for a few years, many of the things discussed are familiar and after they hear about things a few times, it starts making sense.

I listened to David’s talk and watch the slides.  I’m not volunteering to teach a class on the Fermi, but I must admit that I was interested and not bored during the talk.

Thanks to Nathan and Jason for suggesting tonight for our reunion and suggesting the lecture.  I’m glad I stayed.

Taxonomy and gamma-rays in the same week, I wonder what Saturday’s docent class will bring.

 Posted by at 10:47 PM

No, I didn’t recently go to Israel to pick onions, but as you may recall, my friend recently moved there.  She sent me this post to share about onion picking.  She’s also compiling a “foodie list” of things for me to see and do when I have the opportunity to visit.

Today my family and I headed out to a field about an hour from us to pick onions. We weren’t picking for us, we were picking for a charity group that gleans fields that farmers have already picked in order to donate the food to food pantries.  The field we went to was in Nahalal (in Israel), and while it may be far from where you are, like I said, it only happens to be an hour from us. There were about 31 of us, so the crowd was sizable.


The directions were pretty simple: pick a row, pick every onion that is not rotten or too small, remove as much of the paper as you can, throw it in a bucket. They collected all the buckets and as a group we ended up filling two large crates (maybe six feet by six feet by 4 feet, but it was a guess).

We started picking around 9 a.m. when it wasn’t too hot, and kept going until 11:15 a.m. (when it was VERY HOT). The group stopped for fruit and water, and then everyone else went back to picking. My kids were done by then, and a friend of my husband who lives on the next kibbutz over heard we were around and stopped by to say hi. The group picked until about 12:15 p.m. and then everyone was done and ready to go. By the time we left a group of army recruits from the base nearby had shown up to finish the field, along with a bunch of employees from a corporate bank. They get a lot of volunteers, which is great, they have a lot of fields to cover.
Afterwards we took the bus to Tsfat, instead of home, and enjoyed dinner with a beautiful view of the Kinneret. A good day all around.  It is 7:00 p.m. as I type this and I still smell like onions. I’d never picked onions before, so it was definitely an experience. Next year I hope we get to pick something a bit more tasty and a little less smelly.

Thanks for sharing!  I can’t wait to hear about more adventures.

 Posted by at 10:17 PM

Next week will be our last pick up.  The summer season has flown by.

Here’s what we received today:


apples, butternut squash


huge kohlrabi, garlic


bell peppers, broccoli




Stephen and the kids picked 49 pounds of apples on Saturday.  I’m in the process of making applesauce.  I’ll probably add some of the apples from the share to it for variety.  I’m going to make some puree out of the butternut squash.  I’m also going to try a recipe I saw for butternut squash bean burritos.  I’ll use this recipe as a base, but I won’t be making them vegan.  I’ll use the garlic and peppers in them too.  The broccoli was a side for dinner.  All that’s left is a little bit that someone can have with lunch tomorrow.  The lettuce will make a nice salad.  It’s so fresh and crisp.  I’m going to roast the kohlrabi with some beets and radishes that I have left in the fridge.  I have a chicken thawed, so I will be turning on the over in the morning to cook a couple of meals ahead.  I’m picking up 1/2 lamb this week and need to make some freezer space.  There will be more to come on that purchase soon.


I’ve been continuing with my training to become a Cleveland Museum of Natural History docent.  I first wrote about becoming a docent a couple of weeks ago.

So far, we have covered astronomy, volcanoes, plate tectonics, earthquakes, rocks, gems, minerals, caves, Ohio geology and more.  I love this class!

We are basically getting an in depth tour all of the nooks and crannies the museum has to offer.  We are meeting many of the museum staff and educators along the way.  It’s amazing how many cool exhibits that I have just walked by in the past and never stopped to digest.

Each session we take a quiz which usually consists of a review of the previous session in the format of how we would use our knowledge with visitors.

My favorite thing so far is the rock and mineral touch cart.  As a docent, we’re able to take the carts out and use them to interact and educate visitors.  I can’t wait to practice with Nick and Sally.  I met another docent who had the cart out after our class finished with it on Saturday.  She knew all of the rocks and minerals inside and out.  She was great with the visitors.  I hope that I can schedule time to work at the cart with her soon.  As docents in training, we can learn a lot from the more experienced docents.

Next up we’ll be discussing taxonomy and climate change.  I’m excited to continue on my journey to become a docent.

 Posted by at 7:09 PM

Part of the celebrations for the West Side Market turning 100 this year included today’s festival and parade.  I had signed up to volunteer by selling soda and water.  I also was going to spend a bit of time before hand helping out Edible Cleveland.  I took the Rapid down to Ohio City.


There was a nice tone set in the station with this trio playing.  I tried to check in at the volunteer tent, but it was too early for me since my shift was 2PM and it was about noon.  I found a spot to watch the parade under cover.  Since I was not on the main street, it was not crowded at all.  I’m sure the rain also kept the crowds down.


The parade was fun to watch, but it was a bit strange too.  It definitely wasn’t your normal parade.  There was lots of people in market costumes.  The St. Ignatius band also participated.


I was surprised that the woodwinds marched.  Usually, you don’t want to get them wet and it was raining pretty hard.


Many of the stalls from the market were represented.


These blue costumes were made from recycled plastic bags.


Stilts are always fun to watch.


My favorite was the birds which also ended the parade.   The timing of the parade was a bit off.  I thought it had ended three different times before we actually saw the end go by.


I checked in with Edible Cleveland who didn’t need my assistance since it was pretty slow with the rain.  I also picked up a delicious crepe.  It was raining to hard to take photos.  I also talked to a few people selling drinks (since I was up next to do that at 2PM).  There were 7 stations set up.  They were so close together that you could see the next one down the road.  None of them were selling anything.  It just wasn’t the weather for it.  They also didn’t really have any cover.

At almost 1:45PM, I checked in with the volunteer tent and asked them if they were going to keep all of the stations.  They didn’t really know yet.  I told them that it wasn’t a good use of my time and I’d gladly stay if they had something to keep me busy.  I ended up bailing.

I wasn’t cold the entire time I was at the festival, but I got chilled on the way home on the rapid.  I enjoyed a nice shower and a hot beverage when I got home.

The festival was nicely done with vendors, food trucks, the market open on Sunday, etc.  The rain just made it a light turnout and kind of miserable.

Although I don’t visit the market often, I’m glad that we have it in Cleveland.  100 Years is awesome!

 Posted by at 8:28 PM

Today I took Nick and Sally to Eddy’s Fruit Farm in Chesterland to pick apples. We met a friend of Nick’s there, as well as his parents and grandmother. I enjoyed meeting them, and it turns out that his Dad and I have some links via my alma mater.

In any event, the purpose of the day was apples. As Lyn may have mentioned, the tree fruit crop this year was hurt badly by this spring’s weather. Some U-pick farms don’t have picking at all this year, while others, like Eddy’s, are open for picking fewer days than usual. That said, the picking was great today. The trees were laden with ripe apples. Here and there they were even bunched like grapes down a heavily-bent branch.

As usual, the picking on the low branches wasn’t very good near the entrance. There were still some to get up high (I’m over six feet tall, which helps) and, of course, the farthest corner of the orchard is always the least-picked.

We started with Golden Delicious. Nick spent some time picking with his friend, while Sally picked with me. She was full of giggles when she picked one apple and had the other one come along for the ride.

There was a chilly breeze blowing despite the sunny day, and Sally was cold. Worse, she was missing her nap, so she soon asked to ride in the stroller. A few minutes later, she asked, “Daddy, can I pick from the stroller?”  I found a low-hanging branch and let her try. After she picked two of the four apples on that branch, she was done and ready to nestle under her blanket. We switched to picking some kind of red apple, and Nick decided to give one a try. It disappeared quickly, so it must be good.


We picked 49 pounds of apples, which comes to about a bushel and a quarter. I was impressed with our haul until Lyn told me it took 21 pounds of apples to can 7 quarts of applesauce. Ah, well, I can pat myself on the back for hauling all 49 pounds to the car while pushing a stroller and conversing with an inquisitive Nick. Yes, there are special skills daddies develop.

All in all, it was a good outing. We left a few apples on the trees, but if you go, be sure to call first to check hours and availability.


Today was a rainy, but very green pick up.  We haven’t seen this much green since the spring.


Here’s what we were expecting to receive this week:

  • 1 lb. city chicken (cubed Berkshire pork)
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 bunch turnips
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • A handful Croatian peppers
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 bunch mustard greens
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian Sausage
  • Approx. 1 lb. onions
  • 8 oz. piece smoked cheddar cheese

We actually had our choice of the city chicken or a pork tenderloin.  We haven’t had tenderloin in ages and I had never had city chicken.  I ended up buying one as an extra.  The Italian sausage I cooked up to go with some pasta for dinner tonight.


Turnips are hard for me, but I’ve been perusing some new recipes.  Cabbage is always welcome in our house.  I’ll probably make unstuffed cabbage this week.


Local broccoli is one of my favorites.  It will probably be part of tomorrow’s dinner.  I’ll use the peppers in quiche or chili this week.


I’m going to prep the greens by sautéing all of them in the morning.  That way they will be easy to add to quiche, eggs or other dishes throughout the week.


I’ll probably include the onion when I sauté.


The smoked cheddar will go into quiche or perhaps some butternut squash burritos that I was just reading about.  We ate most of the cauliflower at dinner tonight.  The left over will be part of lunch tomorrow.


I love winter squash, but spaghetti squash is not my favorite.  I must research a new way to prepare it.  We are still finishing up our last two.


I missed apples this week.  Hopefully, Stephen will be taking the kids picking tomorrow and we can make some applesauce this week.  Last year, we canned many quarts and still didn’t have enough to get through the winter months.


Nick has been taking swim lessons for a while now.  There was a several week break in the summer, but today was the first day of a new session.  Sally is also finally old enough.  Well she is almost old enough, but since her birthday is next month, we thought we would try it.  Both kids were super excited today.  Sally packed her swim bag this morning 8 full hours before we needed it.


Sally loves her “swim bag” and made sure to hold on to it and the elevator.  Nick forgot his goggles and borrowed the yellow ones from Sally.  His lesson was first, so Sally spent some time in Kid Kare before her lesson.  That worked great since then I didn’t have to watch her on the pool deck during Nick’s lesson.


Nick’s lesson was mostly a review of past skills.  He did well and still loves the water.  Sally couldn’t nap today since she was so wound up.  I was just hoping she would actually like the lesson since she was so keyed up.


She couldn’t be happier.  I’m glad she was so comfortable in the water without me.


There were 5 kids and 2 instructors in her class.  The instructors trade off and work one on one and in groups with the kids.  She was really relaxed.


She even liked it on her back.


These dumbbells are used to help them float while they move their hands to swim.


I think our first lesson was a huge success.  I just hope that next week comes with an afternoon nap first.

 Posted by at 8:11 PM

The end of September brought us to Farmpark, one of our favorite family places, once again. This time was for the Fall Harvest Festival and Antique Tractor and Farm Engine Show, which is a bit of a mouthful, but lots of fun.

It was a grey day that threatened rain, but we went anyway. Right when we walked in the door, Nick and Sally found the Western Reserve Spinners and Weavers Guild practicing their craft. The ladies of the guild were friendly and patient and had just the right touch answering Nick and Sally’s questions, or in at least one case, just keeping on spinning as Nick inspected the wheel from all angles. I thought it was very nice that they were perfectly happy to stop their craft to answer questions from our two little ones. The weaver answered particularly many questions, and showed Nick and Sally all about her loom and the patterned weave she was making.

We went outdoors next, and saw quite a few fascinating tractors and other machines. I think I enjoyed this part the most, though Nick found some interesting things to look at, too. Sally quickly saw enough tractors and machines and preferred to stay comfortably cozy.

Farmpark had a corn maze to explore, but for the little ones, they also had a straw bale maze. Sally was hesitant, but Nick ran right in. Soon she saw the fun he was having and decided to dive in and had fun, too.


It was lunchtime, a very important time of the day for two young ones (and their father), so I tried to hustle them to the car. But no, they saw the woodcarver and had to stop. I’m glad we did. He was every bit as wonderful with them as the spinners and weavers were, and patiently explained what he was doing and let Nick and Sally touch anything they wanted except his blades, which he kept a little less obvious than safer things. Sally was tired and started out watching from her stroller, but soon she wanted to get into the action as well.


He explained to them that they could carve, too. My protective instincts got a little worried, but he soon explained to them (and to me?) that the chips he cut off with his knife were the same thing as the dust from sandpaper, and that sandpaper was like thousands of tiny knives that they could carve with. They jumped at the opportunity to participate and soon were discovering how sandpaper turns rough wood into smooth.

By then we were well into lunchtime. My plan for our grumbellies having collapsed, I invited Nick and Sally to lunch in Farmpark’s cafe. That’s a rare treat in our frugal family. Just to make it better, we sat next to some good friends that our family knows well. It took a few reminders to get all the kids to eat instead of playing. We went home tired, fed, and sleepy. It was another great day at Lake Farmpark.



Our CSA pick up was smooth today.

Here’s what we received:


Red Russian kale, romaine lettuce


Garlic, bell peppers


Apples, butternut squash


I feel like the share is a bit light this week.  The lettuce will go into salads.  We’ll use some peppers for snacking.  I’ll chop the garlic and use it with the kale.  The apples will be for snacking and oatmeal.  I’m going to use some squash for soup and roast the rest as cubes.  (I have two of them in our kitchen right now).

I’ve been extra busy the last couple of weeks.  I’m anxious to get back to cooking more.