Entries Tagged 'Akron Places' ↓

So Long, Farewell Akron

As the saying goes, parting is such sweet sorrow. In four more days, I will no longer be an Akronite. We’ve decided to move the big show to Kent so I can be nearer to campus for graduate school and so Dave’s commute can be accomplished on two wheels (bike) instead of four (car).

Our three years in Akron were grand. We didn’t know what to expect from the Rubber City but it offered up good times,  good friends, good neighbors, good opportunities to create community (like the Akron Writers Group), good grilled cheese at Lockview, and good squirrel and mail carrier-watching for the Girls.

I looked back at the very first Accidental Akronite post I wrote in August 2007. Some of my first discoveries in Akron remain my favorite spots, and I’ve added plenty of others to the fave list since then. Then, I wrote that moving to Akron was a happy accident — when Dave earned his PhD, we had no idea where we’d land. Akron didn’t disappoint and the city provided more than its fair share of happy accidents and happy memories. And it’s not like we’re saying goodbye to the city forever; we’ll be about 20 miles east and there’s nothing that can keep us from the grilled cheese and beer menu at Lockview Lounge.

We’ve moved ten times in our 19 years together, many of those moves to various places in Cincinnati, Chicago, and Newport, KY. When we moved to Akron we vowed not to move again…well…forever. Because, as y’all know, moving is a bitch. When we move to Kent on Friday and we’re standing between stacks of boxes, I’m sure we’ll vow to never move again…ahem…forever.

Thanks to those of you who have followed me over the past three years. It’s been a fun ride. The Accidental Akronite isn’t going away and there will be plenty of Girl Talk as Alice and Macy get settled in a new place. I just need to think of a new name (any suggestions are welcome – Accidental Kentonian doesn’t really cut it for me) and unpack our things and spend a couple of weeks stumbling upon the happy accidents of Kent.

Talk About A Britch!

Finally, mystery solved. For the three years we’ve lived here, I’ve wondered what in the hell was growing near our climbing rose bush. Its root system seemed too established to be a weed — I figured someone must have planted this on purpose before we bought the house. But what kind of sadist gardener plants a plant that bites. Yes, bites. Wrestling with this beast produced more scratches than the roses and possibly more cursing. I’d cut off a leaf or two and end up with scratches. And, and, and, that pretty purple-y flowery thing is like a set of shark’s teeth or a medieval weapon or something they used to torture martyred saints with.  I was pretty certain it was eating the rose petals for breakfast and contemplating world domination the rest of the day while it sat there and did nothing but look mean and nasty.

After a few losing battles, I decided it was best to let it grow. I avoided it. I put plenty of space between me and it. I talked to it when I was working on the roses, things like “don’t worry, I’m not getting near you,” and “my, what big teeth you have.” I even kind of wished it would die a few times. But no, as the Murphy’s Law of gardening must go if there is one: that which grows in abundance is that which you hate the most.

This week, we met with a landscape designer at our soon-to-be home in Kent. She’s sketching up some ideas for us that include a fence, maybe a patio or – Dave’s new favorite word – a pergola, and new plants versus the old hedgerow of boxwood and taxus. (Dave is gunning for a hot tub but that’s a pipe dream.  I told him we could fill up the regular tub and Alice and Macy could stir the water with spatulas but that didn’t seem to have the same peaceful effect on him as the hot tub we used on vacation did.)

The landscape designer asked me to list my floral and faunal (I just made that word up) likes and dislikes. Which made me think of the plant/beast/alien by the roses. I tried to describe it to her and she asked me to send her a photo. Lo and behold, the damn thing is actually a sought-after and prized plant in many gardens.

His name is Acanthus Spinosus, aka Bear Britches. It’s a britch, alright. A total britch. A freaking britch. The biggest britch I know! It’s an “impressive architectural herbaceous perennial,” doncha know? Oh, and it also comes with strict rules. “Once established, do not disturb roots.” Well, of course not. Because it’s a big old britch is what it is.

You can be sure I’m not disturbing any portion of Bear Britches. Though the next time it bites me, I just might bite back. Stupid britch.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Running Pants

We had the best of times, we had the worst of times. It was the age of wise cross-training, it was the age of foolishly thinking I could run a 10k on less than three hours of sleep after a night of carousing at the Southgate House, it was the epoch of belief that 26.2 miles (let’s never forget that first 18-mile training run together, shall we?) was do-able, it was the epoch of incredulity when we stepped over the finish line in less time than the previous race, it was the season of long runs no matter what the weather was, it was the spring in our steps together, it was the winter of discontented knees and cranky IT bands and other various aches and ouches healed only through rest and physical therapy, we had everything before us all those years together, we had nothing before us but more miles, we were going directly to the shoe store when our soles blew out, we were all going directly the other way the year they changed the course at that one 5k and forgot to tell us about it.

You, my most favorite running shorts of all time, got me through it.

A couple of weeks ago, I officially retired the running shorts that I have had since I ran my first marathon in 2000. I was 30 years old then which means my beloved shorts have traveled with me for 13 years. Oh, the miles and terrain we covered together. These suckers ran in Ohio, Kentucky, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, and, of course, Ireland.  They stuck with me through 5ks and 10ks and training runs and short jaunts around the block and the dreaded but necessary evenings of hill work and speed work. On nights when I knew we’d be out late and the next morning’s run would come far too early, I’d put these shorts next to the bed as incentive to get up and get out the door. Talk about the perfect girlfriend – these pants never complained, they never groaned about carrying the additional junk in my trunk and abdomen after an exceptionally decadent weekend of eating and drinking, they never gossiped with my other shorts (at least not that I know about), they were always there when I needed them most. This was a relationship of unconditional love, people.

I’m sure my shorts hold no sort of world record for the years of use and miles they’ve traveled — if you spend enough time at local races, you see all sorts of shabby lucky t-shirts, safety-pinned shorts, and duct-taped shoes that probably date back to Pheidippides and his Spartan friends.

But these shorts were my talisman. I had other pairs but when it came to race day – marathon, 5k, or 10k – I almost always grabbed my blue buddies. I wasn’t really sure how to honor and celebrate them properly. I didn’t want to cremate them. God only knows what nasty sort of toxic cocktail that would cause. Washing them in Sports Wash couldn’t even cut through the Eau de Sweaty. I didn’t want to keep them in the drawer with my other running shorts. That felt sort of insulting. What if all the younger running pants and skorts made fun of the old gal? And there was no way I could give them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Quite frankly, no one, including me, should be seen wearing these things. So I had a private ceremony in the bedroom. Now they’re tucked away with all of my race numbers and my first pair of marathon shoes (Saucony Rides, thank you), and various and slightly horrifying finish line photos of me in my blue shorts where I look more like Lucille Ball throwing my arms and legs forward in a desperate attemtp to stop the pies coming down the factory line than I do the legendary, perfect-form Steve Prefontaines or Roger Bannisters of the running world.

It’s bittersweet to retire these traveling pants. The bitter part of me feels like I’m saying goodbye to more than a decade of good running, when I was faster and had less scars on my knees than I do now.  What if retiring these pants means my running days are over? Nah, the sweet part of me says. This means it’s time to select the heir apparent. Maybe it’s my navy blue skort with the turquoise stripe or my green and white dotted shorts. The sweet part of me says it’s time to take all of them out for a run and see who wins. I might not be running as much as I used to and my old shorts might not be traveling with me anymore, but surely there’s still a little bit of luck and determination in my drawers to keep me going.

St. Joseph, Part Deux (or Deus Ex Machina)

If you need to catch yourself up on the story of St. Joseph, click here for Part 1.

When we last left our fearless patron saint of home selling, he was buried in our front yard upside down, feet facing the house. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them, and that’s how St. Joseph rolls when you’re trying to sell your home. But we weren’t having much luck. The house had been on the market for a couple of months and the showings were as thin as Sarah Jessica Parker’s legs. The only side benefit was that our house was much cleaner and uncluttered than usual; we could actually see the top of the dining room table and we were folding our laundry on a regular basis.

 I got to wondering whether our St. Joe had enough mojo for a second sale. He’d been buried once in Newport, KY and did his job within a week. Maybe we’d eeked out all of his sales power and he didn’t have anything left for us. I checked various websites and stories about burying St. Joseph. There’s even a book about St. Joseph’s real estate prowess. I mean, if you grew up Catholic, you almost feel guitly if you don’t give Joe a fighting chance. However, the articles are missing one key point — none of them included instructions on resurrection and reburial for another sale. Can you re-use Joe? The only instructions I could find stated that, after you sell your home, you dig him up and put him in a place of honor in your new home. Which we had done, the shelf in the dining room cabinet above the bourbon bottles being his honorable residence for the past three years.

My superstitions and conspiracy theories kicked in and I decided that old Joe is a one-job patron saint. After he’s placed above the bourbon bottles, he shouldn’t be called into service a second time. I did what I always do when I’m seeking advice of the spiritual or instinctive nature – I called my mom. We don’t call her intuitive gut instincts “witchy” for nothing. I explained the situation and asked her to send me a new statue; my theory being that she had bought us the first one and we needed that same spirit for our second one.

Once the new Joe arrived, Dave and I waited for the few days or torrential rain to pass and got the un-burial tools out of the garage. We had marked old Joe’s spot with a paint stick. I dug through the mulch and hit Joe’s feet. I pulled him out of the hole and held him up.

“This is not good,” Dave said when he looked at the statue and we realized our old Joe had no head. “Did he have a head when we buried him?”

Yes, I said. He most certainly had a head. I backed away from the hole a bit. Who knew what was down there. It could’ve been the Queen of Hearts chopping off saint heads or a killer mole or some sort of spider or snake that thrived on plastic St. Joe statues. Regardless, headless Joe didn’t seem like a good omen. Dave dug around for the head but it was nowhere to be found. I was convinced it was in the belly of some beast we didn’t want to unearth so we covered up the hole and chose a different, hopefully safer, spot for our new head-in-tact Joe.

Unlike the first time, we maintained a somber, respectful, and reverent tone to our burial – also, a bit of a fearful tone given that our old Joe had been decapitated. I didn’t shout “buy this house” or “sell this freaking joint, Joe.” I didn’t rush through the prayer that is conveniently included on the pamphlet in the box. Dave gently placed Joe six to twelve inches in the ground per the instructions as I said the prayer. Alice and Macy were also present, watching from the screen door and wondering if perhaps we were burying some type of food item or tennis ball that belonged to them.

In literary terms, I was hoping for a little bit of deus ex machina in our plot line. In plain English, it means “god from the machine” and it’s a big no-no in writing. You’ve read the stories before. The characters are in heaps of trouble and all of the sudden, the problem is suddenly solved by the intervention of some new character or object. A gun suddenly appears for the protagonist to kill the villain. The bad girl gets hit by lightning at just the right moment. The main character gets hit by a car because the writer wasn’t sure how else to get out of the corner she’d backed herself into – see Jodi Picoult, a writer I love to loathe. So there I was in my front yard, waiting and wishing for St. Joe to intervene and produce a buyer for our house to release us from this complicated plot we had thrown ourselves into. To hell with literary rules, I would gladly take a wee bit of god from the machine, especially since we were apparently living on top of some devilish head-eating monster.

And here’s the thing: 24 hours later, we received a call from our realtor. A couple wanted to see the house. Coincidence? Spooky? Flukey? We like to think new Joe, who has a good head on his shoulders, helped the cause.

We move on July 2.

I Have Met The Enemy And It Is…The Summer Dress

It all started with an invitation to my nephew’s afternoon wedding in June and a trip to the dark corners of my closet, also known as the Land of Dresses Worn Only For Weddings and Funerals. I flipped on the closet light and parted the tangle of hangers until I reached the dresses. There, among a few old skirts I used to wear to work when I worked in an office, were my measley options: a black cocktail dress with the halter top and rhinestone embellishments, a black short-sleeved dress with an empire waist, two sweater dresses purchased from Macy’s junior department during a too ridiculous to pass up sale, and the black and white geometric print dress that I’ve worn to every social engagement for the past four years (if you don’t believe me, I have photos to prove it).

This. Will. Not. Do.

Firstly, black doesn’t necessarily bring to mind afternoon wedding bells and gazebos and a fresh breeze wafting through the shellaqued hair of the bridesmaids. Black is okey-dokey for funerals and banquets but I was seeing florals and flounce and fiercely fabulous summer sundresses. I own neither the former nor the latter. Oooh, how exciting! An excuse to shop! Certainly my mother (grandmother of the groom) isn’t going to want me to wear black to this wedding. And certainly my sister Chris (aka Sissy and mother of groom) isn’t going to want me to wear something that is better suited to martinis and disco balls. I mean, I already ruined her wedding with an unfortunate incident that involved a champagne fountain. This could be my redemption song…sans the puking.

So off I went to my most favorite of favorite..albeit egregiously expensive…places — Anthropologie. I can’t afford more than a headband on clearance there but I had been given a $100 gift certificate at work as a thank you to suffering through an egregiously painful project. I figured that would take the edge off the sticker shock. When I walked in, I picked up every dress available.

They were all adorable on the hanger and they had equally adorable names. There was the Impressionist’s Dream, the Things & Joys, the Chocolate Chip, I could love any of them or all of them, except for the one that had a lobster-print design. I’m just not your coast of Maine kind of girl but I could hear my mom’s voice saying, “try it on just for me” so I pulled it from the rack anyway. Surely one of the 16 I had carried into the dressing room would be the “it” dress for me.

Nada. Nunca. Not a thing worked. For some, the color was all wrong. Does anyone look absolutely fabulous in colors like “speckled ink” (grey) and “rising vapor” (unidentified shade of brown-grey). I even tried the Silver Lining Dress because, come on, if you name a dress the silver lining, you’re expectations are set pretty darn high. However, I looked like the adult version of Shirley Temple on a three-day bender.

If the color wasn’t wrong, the size was off. Apparently all of these dresses were made for women with cleavage. Or maybe they were made for women six feet and over. Maybe I needed to get a forklift to raise my hips and waist. I most certainly needed the wonder-est of wonder bras with gel implants and inflatable implants and whatever other devices can be used to create boobs. What’s a short, un-chesty, big hippy girl to do? I was so disturbed by the awfulness that ensued in the dressing room that I left without browsing the racks for a consolation purchase like a shirt or a clearance barette. I’m thinking the staff was dialing 911 as I opened the doors. Emergency! Emergency! Amy is leaving us with no bag!

Shut out at Anthropologie, I waited another week before trying again. Maybe the dress fairies were feverishly working on the best summer dresses ever and they hadn’t hit stores yet. Maybe I needed to call the dress fairies and complain. I did some online shopping but nothing was standing out and given the disaster at Anthro, I wasn’t convinced ordering online without trying on would be the best route to go. I looked at my old standby black and white geometric print dress at the back of the closet and sighed. I’m pretty sure it sighed back.

I drove to Macys and went through the same routine. At least here I found some regular colors like red, yellow, blue, and fuchsia. And the dresses looked promising. There were floral prints, designs that gave a nod to the 50s, and even some sundresses. I had so many dresses in my two hands that the associate spotted me and said, “watch out, you’re dragging a couple of those.” (Not that she offered to help me drag them into the dressing room.) A couple of the hangers had slipped and I was trailing a pleated brown and white polka dotted skirt behind me. Nice.

One by one, I slipped them on and slipped them right back off. Good god. What was wrong with me? Or, what was wrong with these dress designers? The fun ruffles made me look like a clown. The big flowery prints made me look like…I’m not sure but the word pretty didn’t come to mind. 

After Macys, came Dillards. Then Anne Taylor. Then Banana Republic. Then New York & Company. I called my sister Mary who was having a similar dress dilemma and left her a voicemail declaring that I had tried on no less than 30 dresses and still wasn’t dressed for success.

Desperate times call for desperate measures so I parked the car in front of none other than Talbot’s Petite shop. Oh yes, I was going to enter the land of pink and green, preppy ballet flats, and dainty sweater sets. And here’s where things went from bad to worse. If dresses weren’t working, maybe skirts would. I pulled a bunch of skirts — including the pinkest of preppy pinks pique skirts imagineable — and a few dresses into the dressing room. Two associates were working but they ignored me. Apparently my jean jacket and black t-shirt didn’t scream “Talbot’s customer” to them. I tried on a few things and one of the skirts seemed passable but I had the wrong size. I stomped (because I was stomping frustrated by now) out of the dressing room and got a different size. Again, no recognition from the two associates who were now helping another customer who was at least two decades older than me and carrying a Coach purse. The skirt was passable but I was too ticked by the lack of good retail etiquette to think about purchasing it.

I carried out the pile I had carried in and started putting things back in their appropriate places because I’ve worked retail and that’s good retail etiquette even though most people leave their unwanted stuff on the dressing room floor (pet peeve #482). I don’t have many skills but among the few I have is remembering exactly where something was hanging in the store. I have a photographic memory for retail — or maybe I just shop too much. I even organize my return pile so it goes from the back to the front of the store. Yeah, I’m a geek that way (also see blog about how to pack a proper grocery bag) One of the women noticed me struggling to release a long linen skirt from the jumbled hangers. Mind you, she didn’t walk toward me to help. She turned in my directionn and said, “can I help you with something?” I actually laughed, and said, “no, it’s probably a little late for that.” In a major act of retail defiance, I put the rest of the clothes in my hand back on the sale rack for the two associates to sort out.

The wedding is in late June and I remain dress-less. I may have to call in the best reinforcement known to womankind and to retail disasters — my mom. Even though she’s more Talbot’s and Coldwater Creek than I am, she still has a knack for helping me find something to wear. And she’s known for pulling out the Catholic charm (or maybe it’s guilt) with the infamous “try this on for me” line. My sisters and I know this means “your mother knows this isn’t your style but the cut is good and the fabric is nice and maybe you should try on something that doesn’t make you look like Shirley Temple on the three-day bender.”   Despite the sighs, groans, and “you’ve got to be kidding me’s” that followed that statement, what typically followed after that was, “I told you so,” “mother knows best,” or “you should listen to your mother sometimes.” True and true.

Trouble is, my mom is in Cincinnati and I’m in Akron so I may have to send her out on a reconnaissance mission to the mall to scout out some options. Not that I would ask her to do this on Mother’s Day because this is her day when her kids should be celebrating her and honoring her for all of the love, support, and retail therapy she has provided over the years. Then again, there are some really good sales this weekend.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you!