Blog #144




Summit County Fair


   We went to the Summit County Fair today; the fair grounds are less than two miles away.  Note to self; don't go again.  The entry fee was reasonable; $5 for ages eight on up; younger children are free.  Rides, food and games were all outrageously expensive; we didn't spend another dime.  I really question the price strategy behind three dollar games.  There were hundreds of people at the fair and I never saw a person play a single game.  I know that even a cheapskate like me would be tempted to play a few games if they were only 50 cents.  I would guess that they would easily increase their sales ten fold or more if their prices were reasonable.  Their only increase in cost would be in prizes; which are pretty inexpensive wholesale and probably rarely earned.  The rides also were three dollars each or unlimited riding from 5:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. for $10.  So our family of five could ride on a few junky carnival rides for $50, or, we could all ride from 5:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. at Geauga Lake Amusement Park, on their fantastic rides, for $60...  Once again this is a no brainer and I think their greed caused them to miss their price mark.  Food was about twice as expensive as it should have been.  I took the family to Dairy Queen afterwards. 

We did look at the farm animals on display.


We apparently walked in on a Sheep Klux Klan meeting.


Daddy and daughters


We attended a free magic show; Britta and Svea assisted the magician in one trick.


Svea was chosen for the last trick-levitation.


Here they are with the magician.


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Blog #143



Bill Recounts his Military Experiences During WWII


   Last night the entire family attended the World War II Korean War Roundtable meeting; Papa was the featured speaker.  He did a very nice job and covered a unique topic.  Since Bill was the speaker, we left early.  Detours upon detours turned a 25 minute drive into a 45 minute drive.  I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation to accompany Bill's talk.  Technical glitches pushed my "all ready" time right up to the last minute.  Svea did a nice job of filming Papa's talk with a digital camcorder.  The tape, however, was rough and jumpy in many places.  I prompt Bill to tell his stories quite regularly, so I know them all pretty well.  The highlight for me was during the questions and answer session when Army Air Corps veteran, John Collett, commented that he was a gunnery student at Bill's air base in Las Vegas/Indian Springs.  Bill told of an incident were his wingman collided with a B-17; only the tail gunner in the B-17 survived.  John Collett was there and remembered that incident. 

   A 37 minute edited copy of Bill's talk can be downloaded from our movie page.  The tape had many glitches, please bear with these skips.  The medium size version is 113 megabytes; this is quite a large file but I've found that the movie will start playing in less than a minute through a broadband connection.  If you have a slow connect you may want to opt for the tiny 160 resolution file, it's quality is pretty low but it's only 14 MB.



Bill and John Collett exchange stories.


Attendees view Bill's display of artifacts, books and a model of his plane.


Joan's Latest Art tile Project:

(Polymer Clay)

She has discovered that she could use acrylic paint over stamped white clay.  Some of the brighter tiles below are the painted ones.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  

   Joan and I finished book seven this week and enjoyed it greatly.  It's a great book and answers many questions.  We both are a bit sad that the series is over.


Hall Family Website hallbuzz.com


Blog #142

Joan & David


   We, too, joined the ranks of the thousands of fans all around the world by participating in a Harry Potter Final Book Release Festival. The Hall family, along with several thousand of our closest friends journeyed to Hudson, Ohio to celebrate this momentous event. Hudson is a small historic town about ten miles north of Tallmadge. It has beautiful century homes as well as McMansions for the nouveau riche. In the center of town is a square with shops and restaurants surrounding it. It is lovely and quaint. They also have a small “old fashioned” bookstore (ie..not a huge chain store like Borders or Barnes and Noble) which over the years has held a small release party for the Harry Potter books. This year however, they had the whole town participating. Streets were closed down, shops changed their signs to have a Harry Potter theme, and restaurants had “magical” menus.  People were encouraged to dress in costume, which our girls did with glee. Even though Brigitta has never read a Harry Potter book or seen a film, she was glad to dress the part of a Hogwarts’ student along with her sister.  Sometimes it is fun to be “in with the crowd”, but that crown brings with it long lines for EVERYTHING! There were many events, like the Hogwarts’ Sorting Hat or the wand making that had over a two hour wait to participate. We found a few things, like the lightning bolt tattoos, that had no waiting and chose those instead. Mostly we enjoyed walking around, taking in the carnival-like atmosphere and seeing adults as well as children dressed in their finest Harry Potter costumes.


It's not often that all three girls pose well for pictures; we included all three posed pictures that turned out well.




A typical crowd at the festival


This stilt walker had a fantastic costume and really stood out in the crowd.


Annika made friends with an enchanted bear.




Afterward we walked to an ice cream shop.


Pittsburg Zoo

   On Thursday, we decided to take a small road trip. I love spontaneous adventures and on this day, ours was to Pittsburgh. We decided to visit the zoo and aquarium since they are a reciprocal zoo to our Akron Zoo (so we got in free.) I had done a bit of online research on the city, printed maps, etc. the night before, packed lunch in the morning and we were off. Unfortunately, the drive over was rainy. When I say rainy, I mean heavy downpours combined with thick foggy mists. I felt bad for David, but he drove well and we arrived safely to our destination. At the zoo, the rain had stopped and we had a cloudy, muggy, yet enjoyable time. The Pittsburgh Zoo had many of the same animals as the Akron Zoo, but there were some, like elephants, rhinos, and zebras that were new to the girls. We all agreed the aquarium was the most interesting. I think this was the girls’ first aquarium and they are ready for a return visit. One word of advice, if you have a nose….avoid the Monkey House. That place is in need of a good ventilation system.


Even the lion is preening for the picture.


The girls got to touch a constrictor snake and a hissing cockroach.


We have given Svea and Brigitta our old digital cameras so they can try their hand at photography.  Both girls brought them along to the zoo and this was one of Brigitta's best shots.


Our lunch companion.


Svea taking pictures at the aquarium.


This is the picture Svea was taking above.  Not a bad job through the glass with an old obsolete camera.


Another one of Svea's pictures.


And a third Svea picture.


The aquarium had a crawl through stingray viewing tank. Each of the three girls made two trips through the tunnel.


Cool tree growing in the aquarium.


Waiting for the sled dogs...


Here polar bear, polar bear, polar bear.


Watching a seal glide overhead was thrilling for the girls.


Pittsburg - Downtown

  After a nice zoo visit we spent less than two hours driving around the Pittsburg downtown area.  This was long enough for me to determine that I really like Pittsburg; the city is hilly, intersects three major rivers and the geography has forced some interesting roads and architecture.  Mostly, I like the great vistas, which are very hard to find in the Akron area.

(Click any of the next four pictures to view in 1024x768 resolution)

At a lookout on the Mt. Washington side of Pittsburgh.


Views form the lookout.




Good fences make good neighbors.

Interesting row house in Mt. Washington.  Notice the For Sale sign on the bottom left window; this would explain the new windows, roofing and paint on only HALF of the house.


* Note: Papa will be the main speaker at the World War II – Korean War Roundtable meeting this Thursday night at 6:45


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Blog #141




Third Annual Backyard Bash

   We held our third annual backyard barbeque last night.  Eight backyards connect on our block, this year we added a few fun features.  Instead of barbequing, everyone brought appetizers, casseroles and desserts.  It was a feast!  We had the bubble pool, Air Jumper and for the first time - games.

* Thanks to Jennifer Grimm for several of the pictures posted below!

The setting. 


The girls loved eating in the rowboat.


They enjoy any bit of novelty.


Harriette, Joan and Marie Zivick


Nana and the girls


   Our first event was a "Silly Hat Lawn Tractor Race".  Racers had to don a silly hat and race their lawn tractors around a course stretching through three yards.  I came in dead last. Chris, in the middle, came in first.  We actually think he throttled down that John Deere just to make the competition more fair.


Chris throttled back just enough to give Dan hope.


Jeff's not racing, he's running from "The Mob".


The second event was a PowerWheels kiddy car race.  Ours came in last.  I think I see a trend here!


Before it rained, we managed to get in a sack race.  The rain held out almost to the end of the party.  The rain was welcomed, however, our lawns are dry and dying.


Row Row Row My Girls

I took the girls out for a windy row today.  We went to my island and I let Svea and Brigitta get out and walk around, one at a time.  They were delighted to stand in the middle of the lake.  The Cannon conked out on me; fortunately Svea brought her camera.

The edge of the island can be seen in the right hand corner.


Svea took this one.


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Blog #140



Well it's about time!

(Long time no blog)

Relatively quiet Independence Day for us.  We attended the Stow Fourth of July Parade and went to the Kent Fireworks display on July seventh.


Britta, Anni and Svea dancing to The Nutcracker.


Annika first attempt at finger-painting


Our new bedroom closet

   Our bedroom, which is no bigger than a typical child's bedroom, was very cramped for closet space.  We had talked about adding another closet for years.  In December we drew up plans and constructed what would be Joan's closet.  I would inherit the original closet.  This closet consumes a 28" by eight foot section of our room.  It has two sliding doors that open to clothing rods and one swinging door that reveals six two foot by two foot shelves.  It is very efficient and holds a season of Joan's clothes very well.  We also built a 15 shelf shoe rack at the end.  We finished 90% of the project within two weeks.  Two of the doors were left overs and the sliding hardware came from a garage sale.  The entire project cost less than $200.

   The last element, a 10" by 8' vertical illuminated rice paper light we finally revisited and finished  last week.  I also finished rebuilding the portion of the reed roofing that was displaced when we started the project.


Doors closed.  Behind the paper are a white strand of rope light as well as a softer blue strand of lights.  Both sets are on timers. Because this is a long evening exposure, the light column appears brighter than normal.


Doors open -  Note the hand painted dragonfly wax resist batik on the light.


The shoe shelf - The light sticks out five inches past the shoe shelf.  This hides the shoes from every portion of the room except in front of the original closet.


Another recent addition is this garage sale flat screen monitor.  I built a computer rack into the rafters below our room.  Bill's old obsolete PC now lives on that rack and holds a few thousand family pictures.  A tap of the mouse on the nightstand starts the screensaver and gives us an hour long slideshow when we go to bed, or when we wake up.  Placing the PC downstairs not only un-clutters our room, but it removes the fan and hard drive noise that accompanies the computer.  Joan transferred her mp3 library to this machine so we also have much of our favorite music on demand.  We've discussed using Outlook as a music alarm clock.


An evening at the park

   Last Thursday we took the girls to a local park that has a "roller slide".  I brought the camera.







Brigitta again


Svea poses


Annika framed by tubes


Svea framed by cubes


Britta framed by a slide


Svea framed by a tube


Annika and Svea "flying".


Girls in a tree.  The middle trunk of this three trunked monster had been removed, providing a perfect perch for the three.


Three in a tree from the left


Father and daughters feeding ducks.  A kind old man gave us a loaf of bread.


Morning Paddle

   I've managed to get up and over to Mogadore by the break of dawn a few times this month.  I'm not used to seeing the morning mist, low sun and still air; it's quite nice.  Paddling uses arms and torso; I can only deliver so much power through my arms over a period of time.  My hands actually are a limiting factor.  I'm pretty sure that I have arthritis in all of my knuckles and I have a tendon problem in my palms and thumbs.  I tend to blister if I paddle too much as well.  Six miles in an hour seems to be a real barrier for me.



   I've also been biking regularly; running not so much.  When it comes to burning calories per hour I think I get the most bang for the buck bicycling.  My regular bike route is a 17 miles circuit that takes me through parts of six local cities.  My mountain bike is about 15 years old and was a great bike for it's day and Alaskan trails.  In Hawaii, I found myself on roads much more than trails and bought a pair of hybrid road/trail tires.  They increased my speed greatly on pavement.  In Ohio, I find myself on pavement almost all the time.  Yesterday I bough another mountain bike at a garage sale.  I only paid $5 for it and I'm wondering if it's not a better bike than my old one.  One feature that it has that I'm not crazy about is aggressive knobby tires.  It feels very slow; I think the tires suck a lot of energy.  Tire friction and rider position/air drag are the two big consumers of bicycling energy.  I'm wondering how much I can expect from a Mountain bike...  I've never had a true "road" bike in my adult life and am contemplating buying a reasonably priced used one. 


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