Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hello Columbus

Sunday, August 31, 2014
Butterfly on Chihuly Glass Flower
Today was one of those very full and very wonderful days—very little was planned in advance, but it all worked out so perfectly. The one thing that *was* planned for today was brunch—Gary and Jan’s daughter Julie, her husband Paul, and their adorable 4-1/2 year old son Kyle joined us so that Joey and I could see Julie again and meet her family. Joey had especially bought some magic tricks to entertain Kyle. In addition, while I was shopping for gifts in Marshall, I’d found a place which sold our very favorite Folkmanis Puppets, which Joey collects in his “kids room” in his office. We found the Horned Owl (swiveling head and blinking eyes) which Joe has been searching for for several years, plus a grizzly bear and a large ostrich. So when the kids all arrived at Gary and Jan’s house, the puppets broke the ice, and then Joey did a few tricks to entertain all of us.

Brunch included a yummy breakfast casserole and Gary’s Belgian waffles, and we were all pretty stuffed by the time Kyle was ready for a nap. Gary, Jan, Joe and I decided to take Cassie for a walk so we could see their neighborhood. It reminded me a lot of our part of Highland Park, but even more charming, I think. There were so many houses from the turn of the (last) century, and each one was distinctive and different. Delaware is the home of the Little Brown Jug, one of the races in the "Triple Crown for harness racing, which takes place at the Delaware County Fairgrounds every September, and it would be great to be back next weekend, when Jan tells me there is a parade of horses down the streets which we just walked through. We chatted as we walked, and although it had been raining very hard in the morning while we had brunch, it had cleared up to be a lovely day.

After our walk, we said goodbye to the “kids” (Kyle was still napping at the house), and went into Columbus to visit the Franklin Park Conservatory ( http://www.fpconservatory.org/ ) and Botanical Gardens. I should say that we have never been to Columbus, and being the fact that it is the home of the dreaded Ohio State Buckeyes, we felt a little ambivalent about it. Gary and Jan, however, are devoted Buckeye fans (and Gary has been diligently influencing Kyle, who is now a little Buckeye also, much to the chagrin of Paul, a Michigan fan!) So we agreed to a détente on the subject of football, and I embraced the opportunity to see what Columbus was like.

The Conservatory was absolutely wonderful, and a perfect place to go on an overcast afternoon. Once inside, we started out in the butterfly observatory—we were fascinated by the vivid blues and reds on some of the wings. After that, we wandered through the conservatory, admiring all the plants in the Palm Room, the Desert Room, the Rainforest, the Bonzai room, and all the other micro-environments which were created inside the classic 1895 conservatory. The entire building was enhanced by glass flowers and embellishments by Dale Chihuly. In the end, they had to throw us out because they were closing up the building.

From there, we went to a part of the city known as German Village. This very old part of Columbus has brick houses, brick streets and sidewalks, and charming homes, businesses and restaurants. Our first stop there was the Book Loft(http://www.bookloft.com/), a fabulous independent bookstore with 32 rooms of books—they had to give us a map to find our way around, because all the rooms were like a small maze covering two floors and four wings. Somehow, Gary and Jan got out without finding anything they couldn’t live without, but when we all met up at the door, I had bought two books (one was a gift, though), and Joey had bought no fewer than three new cookbooks!

From the Book Loft, we walked to the Old Mohawk, a German Village neighborhood pub which began as a Prohibition-era speakeasy, according to the menu. My quesadilla was fantastic, and the others’ food looked great too. Lots of atmosphere and a great way to finish up our day, as we reminisced about restaurants we used to eat at in Chapel Hill about 35 (gulp!) years ago.

As we wandered back to our car (we needed a GPS to find our way through the streets of German Village), I suddenly thought of asking about Graeter’s. I have heard raves about Graeter’s ice cream for years, from everyone (i.e. Rabbis I Have Known) who spent any time in Cincinnati, or Ohio for that matter. It turned out that there was a Graeter’s on the way back to Delaware, so that was where we stopped for dessert. Gary explained that they are famous for their “chip” ice cream—that their chocolate chips are something special. I held on to my Michigan State hat firmly as I ordered the “Buckeye Blitz”—chocolate ice cream with peanut butter balls and chocolate chips. TOUCHDOWN! It was simply fabulous ice cream, and worth every calorie (although of course, when you are visiting friends after many years, there ARE no calories!) After that, stuffed and exhausted, we drove back home and said goodnight very quickly—we were all looking forward to bed after a very full, and very special, day.

Now… for those wondering, where are the photos of the gorgeous butterflies and flowers and glass sculptures…. It seems I left my camera in Gary’s car when we got home that night. So my photos will have to be added after I get home (that's why I added a link). I had none on my phone camera, because the battery kept dying, I had forgotten to recharge it the night before. Sooooo…. No photos for the blog, and from now on, all photos will come from either my back-up point-and-shoot camera, or my phone. The latter is really quite good, but I anticipate missing my zoom lens before this trip is over. But the bottom line is, no photos today!

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