Friday, September 28, 2018

Bonsai Show

HT to my friend David Kordalski for suggesting I blog about the Cleveland Bonsai Club’s Fall Show this weekend at Rockefeller Park.

And thanks to all of you for coming back after my tease in Tuesday’s post. I have never attended this show nor had I heard of the Cleveland Bonsai Club until David mentioned it. Turns out the club, founded in 1956, is “the oldest, continuous, English-speaking Bonsai club in the United States.”

So obviously I’m no bonsai expert. But I can tell you that admission to the show is free, although donations are accepted. If you go, you’ll learn how bonsai trees are selected, potted, wired, trimmed and cared for. And if that knowledge inspires you, you’ll be able to buy trees and supplies right there.

I’m not sure I’m going to the show, but something intrigued me as I read about it. Bonsai trees apparently are hard to kill. I have a long record of involuntary plantslaughter, so maybe a bonsai could be my rehab project.

The show is taking place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Rockefeller Park Gardens and Greenhouse, 750 East 88th St. Besides seeing the bonsai trees, you can visit the beautiful gardens and greenhouse at no charge. Parking is free, too.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Dog Walk

Until now, all of my blog posts have featured things I’ve done and places I’ve gone. I’m switching things up this week by featuring two free events happening this weekend. The first one is a dog walk Sunday morning at Edgewater Park. Come back to the blog Friday to learn about the other.

The 2-mile dog walk takes place from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Dogs and their people are to meet in the Upper Edgewater parking lot of the Cleveland Metroparks’ Lakefront Reservation.

One of the great things about walking as exercise is you don’t need any special equipment. And for this walk, you don’t even need a dog! As a human who loves dogs (including Charlie here) but doesn’t have one, I think it’s important to let dogless walkers know they can join the pack.

But if you’re too self-conscious to show up without a dog, you still have time to adopt one from a local shelter or rescue organization. Then you can walk together in some of the other Metroparks reservations, too.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Solstice Steps

I’ll keep this post short because, as you’ve heard, one picture is worth a thousand words. These photos depict a pleasant activity that doesn’t cost a thing: watching the sunset from the Solstice Steps in Lakewood Park at Belle and Lake avenues.

The steps opened about three years ago, but I made my first trip last week at the suggestion of my friend Maureen. Moe, who lives about 25 miles away, had already been there. I live less than 5 miles away and don’t know why I didn’t go before this.

Your experience will vary, depending on the weather, time of year and number of people there. The evening we went was cloudy, but Moe and I liked the effect of the white clouds against the sunset’s light orange and finally brilliant orange colors. We each had brought a light jacket and we needed them on this mid-September evening, when the sun set at 7:44 p.m.

There is a big celebration at the park each year on the summer solstice with food and entertainment; keep that in mind for next June. But you can visit the park and the steps all year. It’s always cooler by the lake – sometimes extremely cold – so dress accordingly.

Presumably, you could watch the sunrise from the steps as well. I’m rarely awake at sunrise, but I’d love to see your photos if you go then.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

At the Movies

Netflix is a popular option for watching classic and fairly recent movies at home or wherever you and your mobile devices go. But don’t you still like to go to the movies now and then? I know I do. Sometimes I’m eager to see a new release, and sometimes I just need an outing.

Movie theaters have become much more comfortable in recent years. Stadium seating was a welcome addition in the 1990s, and now you can sit back and relax in a reclining seat while you watch a film.

I don’t go to the movies as often as I used to because it’s become too expensive. Two full-price tickets cost more than some of Netflix’s monthly plans. And that’s not including concessions.

Northeast Ohio theater chains offer some discounts that could help you (and me) go to the movies more often. Cleveland Cinemas, for example, offers Bargain Monday, when tickets are $5 all day. The deal also includes discounts on concessions. The eight Cleveland Cinemas theaters include the Cedar Lee in Cleveland Heights and the Capitol in Cleveland’s Gordon Square neighborhood, two theaters that often show movies that don’t play anywhere else. The chain also offers a free rewards program with perks including a bonus bargain day on Tuesday.

AMC Theatres has $5 Ticket Tuesdays, but you have be an AMC Stubs member to get the discount. It’s free to join, though. You also can get the Cameo Combo on Tuesdays, which is a ticket plus popcorn and a Coca-Cola for $10 plus tax. I couldn’t find information about what size popcorn and Coke you get, but I’m guessing they’re small.

Regal Cinemas has an app that provides monthly coupons. The deal for September is 15 percent off a large popcorn-and-drink combo. You also can join the Regal Crown Club for more discounts. Ticket prices vary, depending on time of day and theater. I found matinee tickets for as low as $6.64 and evening tickets exceeding $12.

Northeast Ohio also offers a moviegoing experience you can’t find in many places anymore: the drive-in theater. The Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In Theatre in North Ridgeville is open from early April until late September. Ticket prices are $10 for everyone 12 and older, $5 for kids 4 to 11 and free for those 3 and younger. Neither the tickets nor the concessions are great bargains, but the drive-in is a unique way to watch a first-run movie. And sometimes the Aut-O-Rama shows two first-run movies as a double feature. That's a good deal if you're up for spending that much time in your car. Interestingly, you're not allowed to bring in your own food. I don't know how strictly this rule is enforced, but the website says, "Violators will be ejected with NO refund."

Friday, September 14, 2018


That’s the acronym for the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland.

The museum is at 11400 Euclid Ave., in a cool neighborhood called Uptown (seen here from inside the museum). Its four floors feature changing exhibitions that catch your eye and make you think. At least that’s been my experience. Its website has information about current and upcoming exhibits.

I haven’t visited MOCA with any children, but I’ve noticed there is a space for kids to make art if they’re more interested in doing than looking. That’s a great idea. It keeps them from getting bored and – who knows – might be helping to mold some artists of the future.

Speaking of kids, everyone 18 and younger is admitted free, so MOCA is an affordable family activity. The highest admission fee is $9.50, but there are ways to get a break. The easiest is to visit on the first Saturday of the month, when everyone is admitted free. If you’re not sure whether contemporary art is your thing, this is a low-risk way to check it out. I’ve gone to MOCA on a few first Saturdays and it was busy but not overly crowded. If you want to make more of a commitment while still saving money, you can buy a membership.

MOCA also is one of the institutions included in the Circle Pass discount. More about that in a future post.

Getting there: There are on-street and off-street parking options near the museum, at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road The meters are for two hours, and I learned the hard way that they mean it. The first time I visited MOCA, I returned to my parking space a few blocks away eight minutes late and found a $25 ticket on my windshield.

On subsequent visits, I have taken RTA. I ride the Red Line from the Triskett rapid station on the West Side, where I buy an all-day pass ($5.50 at this writing) that’s good until 3 a.m. the next day. I can take the Red Line to the Little Italy station, then walk about four blocks up Mayfield to the museum. But last time I visited MOCA, the Red Line was having problems, so my friend  Tonya and I got off at Tower City, walked outside to Public Square and got on the Health Line, the bus that runs down the center of Euclid Avenue. No extra charge, thanks to our all-day passes. We got off just one block east of the museum. Pretty convenient, and no worries about parking tickets.

While you’re in the neighborhood, walk a couple of blocks east to the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Gallery at 11610 Euclid Ave. The art school’s gallery is showing a free exhibit called The Great Lakes Research as part of FRONT International through Oct. 7. It also offers other free exhibits featuring professional and student artists throughout the year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Emerald Necklace

This is a nickname for the Cleveland Metroparks, a jewel of a resource that wraps around our region. It includes 18 reservations in Cuyahoga and Lake counties where you can walk, hike, run or bike along 300 miles of trails. Nature-inspired artwork like the piece shown here decorates the Canalway Nature Center in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.

Unlike many of our National Parks, the Cleveland Metroparks have free admission. My favorite thing to do in the Metroparks is to walk on the paved trails, in all seasons. I most often walk in the Rocky River Reservation because it’s closest to home, but occasionally I walk in the other reservations for a change of scenery. The differences among them are remarkable.

Even though summer is winding down, there’s still time to complete the Trail Challenge. The challenge is to complete at least 10 of 25 trails before Dec. 31. The trails differ in length and difficulty, but there’s no need to be a hero. You can walk 10 of the “easy” trails and still complete the challenge. You choose how much of a challenge you want to take on. Speaking of which, have any of you climbed the Fort Hill stairs near the Rocky River Nature Center? I haven’t, but it’s a goal.

If you’re not interested in competing, you can use the trails at your leisure. You also can picnic, golf, fish, kayak, try stand-up paddleboarding and go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or tobogganing, weather permitting. The parks also offer great opportunities for picture taking and bird watching. Some activities do require a charge, so check the website for details about what interests you.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo also is part of the system. Most days the zoo charges admission, but residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township are admitted free on Mondays (excluding holidays). There are other ways to save on admission, too. For you hardy souls, admission is half-price when the temperature is below 32 degrees. I haven’t taken advantage of that discount, but it’s probably a good option if you don’t like crowds. One caveat: Not all the animals can be out in cold weather.