Stopping to smell roses: 13 acres of beauty

A honeybee, her pollen baskets full, works the open blossom of Carrousel at the Park of Roses. (Cindy Decker photo)

Columbus’ Park of Roses isn’t just a glorious romp of color and fragrance with 12,000 rosebushes on its 13 acres.

The park is also a memorial to many, an homage to others.

Walking the wide paths, I spend almost as much time wondering about the people named on the rectangular green plaques as I do about the flowers themselves. Every person honored had a story, someone who loved him or her.

After my father died in 1998, I adopted a rose bed in honor of my parents. My mother, who had died years earlier, loved roses, and I still remember the names of ones she grew. read more

Visiting the parks: Blacklick an urban retreat

Native wildflowers attract bees and butterflies to Blacklick Woods Metro Park.

Just like the citizens of central Ohio, Metro Parks are a wide-ranging lot, offering everything from herb gardens to strenuous hikes for the 8 million people who visit them annually.

In its 19 parks, Metro Parks boasts 200 miles of trails on more than 27,000 acres of land in seven counties.

But people tend to have their favorite parks, the ones that draw them for afternoons out. (My favorite is Highbanks, but more on that another day.)

Realizing that I’ve explored only eight of the Metro Parks, I put visiting all of them on my list of goals. read more

Playing with kitties: A great way to relax

Blake, the cat almost renamed Crush, climbs into one of the cat trees.
Key recorded blackmail evidence that I must hide from my own cats.

My friend Key and I decided three things after a visit to Eat, Purr, Love, central Ohio’s first cat cafe.

No. 1. An hour really is long enough to play with kittens and cats.

No. 2. If you find a cat that you might want to take home, don’t dally with your decision. The cat might be adopted before you act, even if you have picked out a really cool name.

No. 3. The coffee and tea might be a little expensive, but the money goes to a good cause.

The cafe on Indianola Avenue in Clintonville is open six days a week, letting visitors meet cats from the Capital Area Humane Society that are available for adoption.   (The cafe is closed Mondays because, according to the website, “Cats do their laundry and get pedis on Mondays.”) read more

Learning to breathe: Under water and above

Humans tend to take a lot of things for granted. Breathing, for instance.

The past few months, I’ve spent a lot of my free time visiting doctors because I developed breathing difficulties after bouts of bronchitis this winter.  I apparently waited till my 50s to become asthmatic. Or at least that is the current theory.

So forgive my blog’s absence. All my writing time went to staying alive.

Still, I still have been busy knocking things off my list. I just haven’t had time to write about the experiences. read more

Following the gorge: Awash in wildflowers

The Little Miami River flows through a narrows at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. (Cindy Decker photo)

Ohio’s early wildflowers often make seekers scour the forest floor to find them.

But after a long winter, nature lovers will delight when they spot a minuscule harbinger of spring (also known as salt and pepper), which bears clusters of flowers only a quarter-inch wide.

As spring progresses, the flowers become more more showy.   People walking in the woods won’t have to look as hard to enjoy the variety of plants in bloom.

Indeed, the question might be where to look first, with so many blossoms vying for attention. read more

Big band sounds: A lesson in social norms

Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra gets ready to perform. (Cindy Decker)

What I expected to be a simple night out a few weeks ago – a one-and-done kind of activity – took an unexpected turn into discussions of audience behavior, expectations, and, well, what constitutes fun.

The performance by Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra at the Clintonville Women’s Club fell into the category of “things I didn’t know that I don’t know” (which is a large category indeed).

Evidently, I went into the event with one gigantic misconception.

I thought that because the orchestra performs weekly in a social club   – an event that has been going on 20 years – the atmosphere would be somewhat casual. Food is served, and guests may bring in alcoholic drinks. I expected the music to be dominant, of course, but I also expected talking, laughing and perhaps even some dancing. read more

Along I-70: Well, it was a nice day for a drive

A marker from the National Road tells the distance to Cumberland, Md., where the road began.

Seventy miles east of Columbus, the National Road & Zane Grey Museum tells the stories of the country’s first interstate and a well-known author of Westerns.

The End.

Conclusion: Always check a venue’s seasonal hours before heading out on an adventure. It might be closed until May.

Attacking weeds: Or when the weeds attack

Thorns have ripped holes in heavy gloves. And skin.

Under the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2017 is the year of the chicken or rooster.

That might well be, but for me, 2017 is the year of the thorn, and I have the scars to prove it.

Thorns are major players in my attempt to cross No. 65 off my list: Tackle invasive species in my neighborhood.

That’s what I’ve been doing since I last wrote, waging war against plants that are trying to overtake the wooded landscape.

I’ve spent hours with a bow saw and pruners the past few weeks, taking out honeysuckle, privet and multiflora rose bushes. read more

Getting fingerprinted: To ease my travels

Procrastination is a funny thing:  Delaying a task usually lets the chore grow in my mind to unreal proportions, making it seem more annoying, boring or daunting than it would be if I just got it over with.

Such was the case with the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck application.

For several years I’d delayed signing up for PreCheck – which allows a  more orderly trip through an airport security checkpoint – because I would need to visit the local office as part of the process.  I couldn’t see how I could take two hours out of a busy workday to visit the office, a 20-minute drive in the wrong direction from my house. read more

Into the cave: A winter hike and a picnic

My winter hike in Hocking Hills was mostly a success, but it was somewhat lacking in a key ingredient: winter.

Sure, the calendar claimed that Sunday was winter, but Ohio has pretty much ignored conventional weather this year, trading February snows for thunder and lightning. (After our February storms, a friend who keeps track of such things says she has now seen lightning in every month of the year in Ohio.)

The hike to the Rock House on Sunday was more like a spring outing, which was both good and bad. Good because we didn’t risk sliding to our deaths on the icy rock stairs. Bad because we didn’t get to see a frozen waterfall or icicles hanging from the rock face. read more