Follow by Email

Friday, January 24, 2020

Happy Chinese New Year

So you thought the New Year’s celebrations were over, huh? Not so fast. 

Chinese New Year is being celebrated this weekend and Feb. 1 in Cleveland’s Asiatown. This is the year of the rat.

Tonight’s Kwan Lion dance performance at Li Wah restaurant is sold out, but all are invited to a free, all-day Chinese New Year celebration Saturday at Asia Plaza, 2999 Payne Ave. It will begin at 10 a.m. and include several dance performances, music and a Tai Chi demonstration before it wraps up at 6 p.m.

The Kwan Family Lion Dance performances on Saturday and Sunday night at Li Wah are also sold out. However, there are two more chances to see the performance, both on Feb. 1.

Seating will be first come first served for the first one, which begins at 11 a.m. As of this writing, space is still available for the second performance, which begins at 7 p.m. Reservations are required. Call Li Wah at 216-696-6556.

The video here shows a Kwan Family Lion Dance performance at Cleveland's Asian Festival in 2017.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Getting Out

There are two approaches you can take to get through winter: Stay indoors as much as possible or go outside and embrace it. I tend to take the first approach, but even I occasionally venture outdoors to look for an upside to the season.

Saturday in Vermilion there will be an opportunity to enjoy what winter has to offer. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Vermilion River Reservation, Lorain County Metro Parks is holding Winter Days. (The event is only one day despite its name.)

The lineup of activities includes meeting sled dogs, taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride and watching cooking and ice-carving demonstrations. Most of the activities are free, although donations will be accepted for some. Free s’mores will be first-come first-served and food and hot beverages will be for sale.
Photo by Larisa Koshkina

As I write this, the weather forecast is calling for a high of 40 degrees Saturday. That’s considerably warmer than Greater Cleveland has been since last weekend and might be enough to lure even the reluctant outside.

Friday, January 17, 2020


Monday is a federal holiday that celebrates the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. If you have the day off, you can find numerous ways to observe the day CLE on the Cheap style.

The local celebration actually begins today with a free program at Case Western Reserve University. The 2020 MLK Convocation takes place from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School and a leading authority on racial justice in America, will speak on race education. One caveat: Advance registration is required, so check whether tickets are still available before you go.

On Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m., the Baseball Heritage Museum will present “Crossing the Line: The Reintegration of Major League Baseball. The free program will highlight MLB pioneers (and Hall of Famers) Jackie Robinson and the Indians’ Larry Doby and how their progress inspired King and influenced the Civil Rights movement. You can register here.

The museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. There will be activities for kids and information about King’s connection to baseball. Admission is free. Register here.

Also Monday, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood is offering free admission and a daylong celebration. The Rev. Otis Moss Jr. will deliver a sermon and be interviewed in the morning. Registration is recommended. In the afternoon, the Evelyn Wright Quartet will perform and there will be a documentary film screening of “Soundtrack for a Revolution: Freedom Songs from the Civil Rights era.” Visitors can tour the museum’s galleries and enjoy crafts and activities between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

University Circle is holding a daylong celebration on Monday as well. Among the highlights are free admission to all the museums, including the Cleveland Museum of Art (which is always free but usually closed on Mondays), free ice skating and free performances by the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus at Severance Hall.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is offering free admission plus live performances and film screenings in a day devoted to King’s legacy. Next door, the Great Lakes Science Center is waiving admission fees and putting on special programming.

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is offering discounted admission in exchange for donations to the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland Inc. A “Search for Greatness” scavenger hunt will highlight African Americans who were influential in the fields of marine science and scuba diving.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Good Day for Chili

Photo by Circe Denyer

What are you doing for lunch Friday? If you’re craving some cold-weather food, here’s an idea. Head to the Rocky River Senior Center for the 5th Annual Chili Cook Off.

For $6 ($5 if you live in Rocky River), you’ll get 10 to 12 small tastings of homemade chili, warm cornbread, a beverage and warm Ghirardelli brownies for dessert. The event takes place from noon to 3 p.m. at the senior center, 21014 Hilliard Blvd. That’s on the City Hall campus at Wagar Road and Hilliard.

Not only will you get to taste the chili, you’ll get to judge it in a contest. The “Top Chef” will win $50 and the second- and third-place finishers will win undisclosed prizes.

Tickets for what organizers are calling “the hottest event of the year” will be sold at the door. The event page on Facebook doesn’t mention whether the ticket price includes antacid tablets. But if you’re planning to try a dozen kinds of chili, you might want to bring your own. 

Proceeds will benefit Rocky River Transportation. The senior center offers transportation for Rocky River residents from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Magazines at Your Fingertips

A selection of Reader's Digests that can be read online or downloaded using Flipster.
I was visiting a friend in New Orleans about a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina when one of her magazines arrived in the mail. You’d have thought it was Christmas, her birthday and the day she won the lottery all in one.

It turns out this was the first time since the hurricane that her mail had included a magazine. In fact, there were still many days when she didn’t get any mail. Holding that magazine was a simple pleasure and a symbol of normalcy.

My own magazine subscriptions became casualties of self-imposed budget cuts a few years ago. I was thinking the other day about how much I miss the ritual of pulling a new issue out of the mailbox and settling down to read it.   

The ritual is different now, but I can still read some of my favorite magazines, thanks to my library cards. Yes, I have several cards. As I wrote in this post, they’re available in the library and online. What I’ve found, though, is the newest issues are rarely available.

I just learned about a program called Flipster that provides free access to digital magazines through libraries. It works on computers and mobile devices and has an app that allows you to download magazines to read offline. The app also lets you search for participating libraries.

Westlake Porter Public Library is one of them. You can access Flipster through the library’s website. Sign in using your library card number and you’ll see a list of categories. Magazines that focus on news, entertainment, sports, cooking and travel are among the selections. Best of all, the latest issues are available, along with older ones.

I haven’t tried the app yet, but the desktop version is easy to use. And you can’t beat the price.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Happily Silent

Welcome to 2020!

Winter is not my favorite season, but it’s not all bad. Cold and snow put in me in the mood to curl up with a good book. My library accounts provide unlimited access to free books — print, electronic and audio — and my Amazon Prime membership includes two free ebooks each month. Plus, I received a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday in November that is letting me add to my own library at no cost.

Reading is a solitary pursuit, if I don’t count the cat who’s often on my lap. But I recently learned about an event that combines that solitary pursuit with socialization. Silent Book Club takes place next Tuesday, Jan. 14, at The Bookshop in Lakewood. The Madison Avenue independent bookstore likens the event to an Introvert Happy Hour.

Talk about a no-pressure atmosphere! You read what you want and you don’t have to tell anyone what it is. You don’t even have to talk to anyone. The event begins at 6 p.m. and includes coffee, a silent reading hour and 30 minutes of optional socializing. The only rule seems to be silencing your phone during reading time.

Silent Happy Hour is BYOB (Bring Your Own Book), but the store is offering 10% off used books purchased between 7:30 and 8 p.m., when the event concludes.

If cabin fever is making you want to get out, but you’re not in the mood to socialize, this could be the answer. The Bookshop in Lakewood is at 15230 Madison Ave. and it has a resident cat.