We are a Colony……

I know I am inclined to gush about my hometown Cleveland Heights, most of the time it is because of all the amazing experiences our far undervalued town has to offer. Today I am extolling its value based solely on its souls. A diverse and united bunch.

We experienced a great tragedy when one of our local business owners and community leaders was brutally slain in a robbery attempt. My first thought was for his family, friends and employees and then I thought about our community that is centered around these hardworking small businesses.  I was afraid we would see another wave of people fleeing to the outer ring suburbs, but we experienced the absolute opposite.

Every Tuesday for the last 7 years we have gathered at The Colony for girl’s night.  Ups, downs, rights, and lefts have been sorted and unconditional support has been provided. The unofficial leader of our pack, Brady, sketched an amazing design that very night and called on me to help.  We had to make hasty decisions and get started asap.  Flying by the seat of our pants, we set out to sell about 200 shirts and have ended up selling WAY more (the final tally has not been made)

Another fundraising effort rose from the ashes and raised at least 50,000 dollars for the employees lost wages, and a memorial fund was setup to get the doors open again. A dynamic brother and sister team organized a family fun cookout, while other businesses all over in different districts donated food, merchandise and services to raise funds for the people touched most by our collective tragedy.

The employees of The Colony, now our friends after so many years stepped up and toiled through their grief to save the place they work and love. The determination and tenacity of these fine young men and women is awe-inspiring.

Another friend, Shari championed a random acts of kindness campaign in honor of the departed, who gave generously to friends in need.  The people of Cleveland heights came out in droves to join together and celebrate a life and make sure we keep moving forward.  Exactly three weeks ago we suffered a huge loss. Today we are stronger, more united, and clad in matching t-shirts.

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The Vans Warped Tour……

For six months The Teenager has been harping on about this concert.  She was injured very badly last year on a trampoline, instantly losing a year of dance just as she was moved up to the first dance company. Yes, there have been days when she lamented her future dance career and her dreams of attending Julliard, BUT she was most concerned about being able to attend Warped Tour. The holographic ticket arrived in the mail and it was everyday whining.

For those of you who do not know what Vans Warped tour is, it is a showcase for an immense number of mediocre bands. A very efficiently run affair.  Everything is clearly stated in emails to parents and children about safety and how much everything costs. Everything is for sale or you must be properly cued to meet the “artist” you are dying to meet.

When it passed through our fair city it was at Blossom Music Center.  A large wooded, porta potty having venue, that is summer home to The Cleveland Orchestra.  I spent many a day and night as an impressionable youth wandering around Blossom, but our mediocre bands were more like Jimmy Buffett.

Despite the fact that The Vans Warped tour graciously offers a “reverse daycare” for an adult over the age of 28 to accompany each minor ticket holder, I had no intention of spending my day listening to that drivel. The Teenager shot out of bed (there is a first for everything) and dressed while blaring crap music. She rambled on about how we had to leave because we needed to be inline by 10 to meet blahblahblahblah. I saw her staring of into space and a pang of teenager agony came gushing back.

me- I remember when I was your age.

TT- (interested) what?

me- the feeling of looking at one of your favorite actors or musician and thinking if they just noticed me we would be so happy together.

TT- TOTALLY!!!!!!!!!! hug.  LET”S GO!

With the first two teenagers in the car I gave the first installment of my “advice.”

“Don’t go into the woods with girls or boys, bad stuff happens in the woods, and I don’t care how cute the boy is!” They agreed and reminded themselves to tell their other friends.

Two more teenagers in the car.

“Do not (it has more resonance when it isn’t a conjunction) take anything that is offered to you. Not gum, not water, not anything that you do not see unsealed before your very eyes.” They did ask why briefly, but seemed content to take me at my word.

“Stay together!”

“Have Fun!”

I unloaded them unceremoniously, made them pose quickly and dashed off.


I had two missed phone calls around 3 and I quickly called her back thinking something was wrong. The screaming at the other end of the line didn’t help until I was able to decipher the words. BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!! I relaxed and she repeated.  My heart was warm and fuzzy that she wanted to share that with me in the midst of her adventure. MY TEENAGER. :)




Lego my ego.



I tend to lose perspective. Muddled with the minutiae of daily life I sometimes ignore the larger picture.

The Brother and The Niece were visiting and on a cloudless beautiful day we hit the botanical gardens here in Cleveland to see an exhibit of Lego sculptures cohabitating with the habitat.





and of course my favorite. The seed.


The Niece took a bunch of pictures, The Teenager relaxed due to injury.


and The Associate put her back into it and got down to business.


I am always stunned by the beauty of this garden and the obvious passion of the people who care for it.  My pockets are full of seeds and tendrils and I am reminded that nature is my church, everything is connected, and we are but a small part in a vast universe.


My garden has been tended.

out and about and still here.

On a particularly sunny day this summer I was given an opportunity to venture out with The Teenager.  She was at odds with life and she wanted to hang with me. I have this mental exercise I do for these occasions  “I will listen,  I will not judge or punish,  I want her to confide in me, I want to give her the benefit of my experience while staying far off my high horse.”

On this glorious day I was given a tour some of the places The Kids hang out. The first stop was the graffiti wall.  This wall is at the end of a steep trail of a really busy intersection, buggy and creepy. I cannot discern why this cement mountain is here although it appears to be frequented by The Kids. We saw a girl walk by alone!!! The Teenager knows where my mind is headed and says “don’t worry mom I would never come here alone” and I offered to leap into the bushes, but she passed quickly.

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The second excursion was to “The Duck Factory” Right in the heart of Little Italy.

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It is so named because of the abundance moldy and wet rubber ducks,  However, this ruin suggests a more post apocalyptic duck factory.  I am instantly reminded of all the dumb stuff teenagers do and try to remain calm.  The ceilings are falling down, there is a homeless young man who lives in a trailer, the floors are collapsing. Surreptitiously I drop a pin on my map app. We laughed, we cried, we didn’t get accosted, good times.  As we exit there are 50 gallon drums lined up and I imagine her disintegrating in acid (These are the moments when it really stinks to be a visual person.)

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I have a thought, let’s tear this place down, who’s in?







friday freak day.

Utterly apathetic, a tad crabby and restless are not a good Combo. Actually I felt similar to what a nasty pretzel imposter must feel like when the pizza flavoring is dumped upon it. I could mope around and get nothing done or I can hop in my car and drive all over Cleveland to attend two promising estate sales. The first sale was on the west side of Cleveland and I purposely arrived late so as not to endure the aggravation of watching while early risers make off with all MY stuff.

I bet you could guess it was disappointing,  but did you think it would be disturbing? Well it was. First and foremost I was perturbed by the fact that nothing was priced! I wanna wonder around muttering to myself not asking for prices.  Second, there was an enormous wooden “structure” looming above my head,  I spied chain, wires, carabiners, leather, pulleys, and  multiple implements of dubious function. Third, I turned around, bumped into and spilled the contents of a box, and a massive pile of metal speculums came tumbling out as if trying to flee the scene with me.  Mid century modern my eye! Try Middle Ages torture chamber. Fourth offense false advertising.

I could go home and have some lunch, but no I am looking for more trouble, so I hopped back into the car and headed east. The curse of the self-important collector was running rampant and I ducked and covered. Unfortunately all there was to duck under were really, really, really decorative afghans. There were three fur coats identically fashioned out of the same rodent in violet, hunter green and brown. There were a few beautiful and expensive pieces of furniture. I, however hadn’t yet removed the unneeded piece from The Husbands car from yesterdays excursion, so I don’t consider adopting any. I did acquire a little bundle, I don’t need any of it, but I cannot go home empty handed.

The lure of ridiculous cross stitching cannot be controlled and I grab this beauty.


The Teenager- MOM!  You are not going to hang that in the kitchen!

me- oh yes baby!

The second spoil of the day is simply a reflection on my most recent and current mood,  I’ll wear it often to keep the innocent from harm.


The third bit of windfall is a 1970’s chia pet, which according to the teenager is a large cucumber with a snout.  She isn’t wrong, but I clean him up and name him Henry Higgins.


The torture chamber theme marches on with this fourth little gem that was nestled among sewing paraphanelia.


The batteries still work and now I can go home.



belt banger.

In an effort to remain hip to the The Teenagers lingo I listen carefully, although stating it like that makes me decidedly unhip. Many of the phrases, music, and movies are coming back around and I hear my own mother’s voice echo in my head.  “I used to have that same dress” says the voice, or “I used to listen to that music”  shake head vigorously. I listen closely because I want to pick up the secret teenage code and be aware without embarrassing The Teenager.  For instance if a young girl within earshot says “I had surgery and those pills they gave me were awesome.” Her name automatically gets added to a list in my head, and that list is called “I have my eye on you little girl.”

A word that the kids are using these days is “banger” I know!!!!! right!!!! It is a word that can summon a number of images to ones head, especially a mother of a beautiful teenaged daughter. Fortunately, The Teenager thinks this is a ridiculous word for party and promises she will never attend a “banger.”

I have been encouraging The Teenager to have friends over so I can quietly get to know these walking masses of hormones.  She had a few friends over yesterday and I set about working on a chair.

This just happened in real-time as I write this.

The Associate- Can you glue his hair back on?


Me- Maybe grampa went bald. Maybe it is a toupee.

The Associate- Maybe, can I have an Ice cream cone?

Me- You need to have a sandwich first.

The Associate- Ok.

Then I went down to grab some more coffee and she was just finishing up an ice cream sandwich. sigh.

Back to the chair. I was sitting at the kitchen table because there was “a nice breeze” (bringing their voices in the window)  I learned quite a bit in that time.  First of all and most importantly they actually wanted The Associate to hang with them.  WOW. I think I could like these kids. A few wandered through on the way the bathroom and I cataloged the ones who or whom (*sorry Mickey and Nicky) said hello and or thank you. I am pleased to say not a single name made it on the list today, and the chatter was nice background to actually finish my chair.

So…. this chair came to me one day on a walk through the neighborhood.  I brought her home and I cleaned and shined her up.


Some glue and a chair clamp settled her back together.







A whole bunch of belts, a hammer and some upholstery nails, and I had myself a banger.


*I apologize to Mickey and Nicky for my grammatical incompetence.  I am sure you both wince when you read my blog, but I will never be as eloquent as either of you so I am gonna call it poetic license. xo





happy day. solstice.



I know that this day also signals the decline of sun we are allotted per day, but I opt for optimism and have a big day planned.  The Associate and I headed out around one for some fun after some bribing went down. Anybody who reads this blog o’ mine is familiar with The Associates, shall I say lifestyle,  so sometimes it takes a little promise of a cookie or some such sweet to get her out of the house.

Recently people in my little slice of the world have begun to acquire chickens. We being lucky enough to have too much backyard are toying with this idea.  Well they are, I am in.  We started this beautiful day with the chicken coop tour to pick like chickens at the brains of those already rearing chickens.


my favorite design of the day, but this chicken looked grumpy despite her beautiful abode.


I dragged The Associate around for a while until the allure of lunch and cookies became overwhelming.  She is as cantankerous as that chicken as we wait for our snacks.


I ditched The Associate for The Husband and we headed out to the Larchmere Porch Fest for some music, and then down to The Cleveland Museum of Art for the summer solstice party.



good times. xo

lying low.

Summer is in full swing, water, camp, rain, heat, bugs, sunscreen, attempts at housekeeping and attempts at creating. Every day can be a delicate balance. I, however have decided to not stress and instead my daily success is measured by how little time The Associate spends watching My Little #$% Pony.  You might say this is lazy, but I won’t agree.

I won’t agree because I have also applied this technique to The Associates emotional well-being.  She is obviously a deep thinker and contemplates life’s obstacles in a distinct way, so why not let her. Being the smallest member of the family and the alpha is very strenuous. We used to worry constantly about her anti-social behaviour (of course she is an angel at school.)  These days we lie low and let her come to us with her revelations.

I think it was Monday. Whatever day it was I now liken it to Neil Armstrong’s first words as he stepped onto the moon, and in the exhilaration the moment we weren’t quibbling over her words like poor Neil’s.

The day started like any other with me poking her awake and her making some hilarious remark about respect while half asleep.  On this day there was no rush so cuddling ensued.  We went out to play some tennis in the wilting heat, and came home to do some housekeeping/ fumigation.  I went up to change and came down to find the tables wiped down and a glass of water garnished with mint and a straw.  Shock, Awe.  The day marched on with little surprises of consideration and compliance, and an official looking apology was issued to The Teenager by The Associate for her aggression without provocation.

By dinner time the house was slightly cleaner and we sat down to eat.

The Associate- I am out of the stealing business.

Us- Well alright starchild! (applause)

The Associate- I am out of the lying business.

Us- cheers!!! (applause)

The Associate- I am out of the blaming others business.

Us- Wooo hooooo. That’s great honey blah blah blah.

The Associate- (with devilish grin) but I am still in the complaining business.

Us- laughter, tears.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for The Associate”






I am finally done painting the kitchen cupboards. I made many mistakes and hopefully I have learned from them all. ;)   Instead of the slow and steady process of four doors at a time, and painstakingly removing gunk and letting each layer of paint dry properly in the shade, I hurry. If you want paint to self level it needs to dry slowly. I know this, I have already done 34 doors and 10 drawers, but in haste I decided to not follow this simple rule on the last two largest doors. Dumb. Now I am discouraged and my progress stalls. Nobody else notices the flaw, but I do.

My awesome family doesn’t mention this stall. Who cares that there are giant heavy doors all over the kitchen. A week or two or three goes by.  I am clearly opposed to using sandpaper because I managed to remove decades of gunk without it, ill be damned if I am gonna use it now. Chalkboard paint! duh, I just happen to have some in the dungeon. The Associate attempts to defile it between every coat. Three coats later chalk poised, I tease The Teenager that only inspirational quotes can adorn this wall  (I won’t tell you what she wrote, my mom reads this blog.) After quickly cleaning the surface with paper towels (dumb) The Associate has a go.


I guess we will be tightening up our spelling this summer.

Next up ugly tile back splash, cause I roll backwards.


Just like that its summer.

I woke up yesterday morning with a vague sense of dread. It’s summer. Don’t get me wrong I love summer, but what in the bleep am I going to do with The Associate. I momentarily dream of a camp that starts as soon as school ends and goes until the first day of school.  I don’t really want this but a girl can dream. The loss of my days is a blow especially because I spent a lot of the last days of freedom stupidly spring cleaning instead of making stuff.

This morning I awoke to The Associate screaming “I want to go for a run!!!!,” and just like that its summer.

me-  Sooo? Running huh?

TA- yep

me- Are we morning people now?

TA- yep

me- (In an attempt to be supportive) High five!  (deep sigh)

A little background is necessary. This Associate of mine is a night owl, some nights she is still playing as we go to sleep at MIDNIGHT! In the good morning (that’s what she used to call the morning) for school I wake her up at least 4 times, eventually dressing her as she lies limp. So, now to clarify, she is a morning person just in time for summer break, which means I am a morning person now. yay.

Bleary eyed I make my coffee and find a perch on the porch to watch my newly hatched marathon runner.

me- No, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast.

As I watch her prance down the path outside our home she becomes distracted by all the cottonwood seeds flying through the air and abruptly stops to collect them (I LOVE SEEDS.) Now this is something I could get into, while she gets her much-needed “run.”

I quickly run down all the available containers and settle on the abundant supply of prescription bottles that I collect. pills

see related post.   http://electricbelle.com/2013/06/29/lamp-jones/

So far we have collected Columbine, Iris, Delphinium, oregano, cottonwood, dandelion, and oak.  Later we will add my collection (see related posts)



As we travel around our yard I am surprised at how many things we can learn from this adventure. I briefly forgive myself for the terror I felt earlier, pour myself another cup of coffee and move on.