Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Slow Death

I'm afraid to say that the west side of Cleveland is dying. I'm seeing more and more empty storefronts, and a major anchor is pulling out of a local mall. The outdoor mall that replaced Westgate Mall seems to be thriving, but drive only a little way down the street, and there is an entire plaza that is almost empty. The biggest anchor in the empty plaza, as a matter of fact, pulled out and moved to Westgate Mall. I mentioned in a previous post about my favorite clothing store closing the only store they had on the west side. I doubt any of this is helped by the fact that Cuyahoga County's sales tax rate is the highest in the entire state.

Of course, the east side of Cleveland, and south of Cleveland (i.e. Strongsville) seem to be doing better economically. But, and especially in a town that is bordered on one side by an "inland sea," such as Cleveland, I can't see one side of a county, a major metropolitan area, getting worse economically without the rest of the area eventually feeling it. The Strongsville area's only saving grace at the moment may be that Summit County has a sales tax rate on the lower end of the state.

I may be biased by having spent most of my life on the west side of Cleveland, but I do believe the area has a lot to offer. The lake, for one thing. Boating, fishing, personal watercraft. Lots of nice park areas in the Metropolitan Park System. While not at the level of an NYC or LA, there are also nice museums, concerts and plays. That this area may be turning into another Detroit is not only sad, but seems such a waste. There is no reason, that I can see, that this area should be dying, besides poor management by the politicians that run it, the same thing that has decimated Detroit.

And speaking of poor management, I have to put in a note of disgust for the city planners of Avon, OH. They allowed an enormous grove of trees to be chopped down, to make room for more stores. The problem is, the trees have been gone for months, and there is no sign of any new stores coming. So everyone who drives on I-90 through Avon gets to see an open area full of mud and tree stumps, which may stay only mud and tree stumps for a very long time. Yes, there is a new freeway exit going in a little further down the street, but that won't be ready for at least a year, and Avon already has most of the major big box stores and, I believe, all of the local grocery stores. Plus, one of the big reason the exit is being built is to relieve rush hour congestion for the two exits on either side. Will it really bring any new people? And yes, the far west side into Lorain County does seem to be doing well. But how many of those are people fleeing Cuyahoga County for Lorain County? Can that area keep it up? Or will the near west side eventually drag it down as well? I'm not optimistic, given the the sluggish economy and poor city leaders.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Well, I never heard from Sew News at all, so I guess they don't want me as a subscriber. I'm starting to feel invisible, as companies just don't seem to respond to me when I try to communicate with them. I sent an email to Lily yarns because I was angry that they sold my email and I was getting spam to it. (It was a custom email, not published anywhere, so it should not have been receiving spam.) Again, no reply at all. I tried to call my favorite clothing store to let them know of my disappointment because of the closing down of the only store closer than a half hour radius for me. I couldn't find an option to contact the company in any way, so I ended up calling the company blind, and getting routed to someone's personal voicemail. I'm not even sure this person deals with issues like mine, and again, I never got a reply.

I'm a relatively small blogger, only one person, so I guess my opinion doesn't matter to companies. And to be honest, one customer really does mean nothing to them in the grand scheme of things. However, one unhappy person can sometimes turn into a whole online community of unhappy people. In the gaming community, a huge drama occurred when one lowly gamer tried to get some information from the PR firm for a company that was creating a good product, but had the misfortune to hire someone functionally illiterate and terminally rude to represent it. Here is an email back and forth between the lowly gamer, Mr. Illiterate, and a man who just happens to run one of the most popular webcomics that gamers read. Christoforo thought he could be rude to one person, and found himself the laughing stock and butt of jokes all over the Internet. For a final laugh, look at this Bing search to see how one of Christoforo's more "unfortunate" phrases has gone completely viral.

Some of the blowback may have gone too far against Christoforo, so I will say right here that I'm not threatening anyone. I don't want a huge online flame war, nor people's personal information or family members to be targeted. I'm just one little person who would like her concerns responded to, but it seems you have to have clout before you get noticed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Making Sense of Exercise

I never really got into the concept of "exercise," at least the idea of lying on the floor and waving your arms and legs about. It was supposed to be good for you, but it wasn't fun and I didn't see much real point in it. Now that I've seen the Dancer taking ballet, jazz and tap, I've seen her incredible growth as a dancer, and all of the exercise she does makes sense. I prefer ballet barre work to the warm-up exercises she does in jazz, but it's all preparation for a greater end: the beauty of dancing.

I see now that this was probably my real problem all along. I had no greater end to work toward. I was not good at sports; could never have been good at sports. Not only am I under 5'4", but I also have relatively short legs (27" inseam.) And relatively short arms, and small hands. No one ever told me this stuff, though. I knew I wasn't tall, but for the rest, I just felt clumsy and awkward. Without a specific activity to pursue, my interest in exercise merely for exercise's sake decreased rapidly as I grew older.

However, after taking mother-daughter dance classes with the Dancer, I realize that I enjoy dance. Of course, I'll never be "good" at it, but it's something that I can do on my own, as opposed to a group sport, and much less expensive than something where you have to join, like a YMCA for swimming. (Not that I am a good swimmer, either.) And you can do it all year long, which matters in northeast Ohio! The real break-through for me, though, is why I hated exercise, and why it seems to make sense now.

BTW, my daughter's dance studio has started offering Zumba for adults, but I don't think I'm up to that, yet!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shut Up and Sew!

I have a subscription to Sew News magazine. It's fun to read about my hobby, and the articles can be inspiring. However, I was surprised, and then appalled, to see the editor's column this month promoting the radical feminist "holiday" V-Day. Yes, I said radical. If the Tea Party is radical, and conservatives are radical, then I'll call out left-wing socialists as being radical. And yes, the V-Day page, to which the editorial directs you, is political. The first article I clicked on, for girls, is all about Occupy Wall Street, and how those mean ol' policemen are beating up and generally harassing all those peaceful OWS activists. Considering over 5,000 OWS protesters have been arrested worldwide, I doubt all of those arrests were of peaceful, law abiding folk, no matter how many well-meaning people are there. Considering the number of reported rapes, I actually find it darkly humorous that the V-Day page is promoting OWS.

If you want more of my thoughts, and the background on the V-Day movement, see below, but suffice it say that it is a very political movement, and I was disturbed to see that a sewing magazine is promoting it. I really don't care what the politics of people in a sewing magazine are. I don't think it's at all necessary for me to know. A sewing magazine should be about sewing! Now I'm wondering if the magazine just wanted to promote what is at bottom a good cause, reducing violence against women, or if they are so far in the left wing tank that they don't even realize they are left wing. See the latest cover of Newsweek for a media outlet who isn't even trying to hide it anymore.

I sent off a quick email to Sew News yesterday. I'll let you know if I hear back. I'm expecting the "sorry if you were offended" nothing sauce, but I may be pleasantly surprised.

Love, Marriage and the Patriarchy

This post has become very long. For those of you who already know about Eve Ensler and V-Day and the left-wing feminist agenda, move on to the next post above. If you want to understand the background of the above post, or you want to read my ramblings about the subject, keep reading!

Some hard-core leftist feminists apparently don't enjoy watching others celebrate romance and happiness on Valentine's Day. They had to come up with V-Day, to highlight violence against women. As the article I linked too describes, yes, violence against women is tragic, it is real, and it should be stopped whenever possible. However, linking it with Valentine's Day is seen by many women, like the women of the Independent Women's Forum, and myself, as an assault on normal, romantic relationships between men and women. My husband and I have a stable and loving relationship. I chose to get married, to have children, to be a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I made the decision for me to homeschool our children, and we ultimately made the decision to send them to public school. I'm not a victim of the patriarchy. Since most of my regular readers are also in stable marriages, I think you would agree that marriage and family can be a good thing.

Where the left-wing feminists go wrong in their V-Day approach, I think is two-fold. One, linking violence against women to simple, everyday loving marriages and male-female relationships. Two, thinking that constantly drawing attention to something will somehow magically end it. How much sense does pushing "Valentine's Day as V-Day until the violence stops" really make? I find it hard to believe that leftists really believe in the perfection of humanity, and yet the women that promote V-Day seem to. Welcome to real life, and real, fallen humanity, and a world where there will always be people who are violent, selfish, murderous, debauched, physically ill, mentally ill. I wonder if the Lutheran concept of vocation does not come into play here. I can feel sorrow for tragic events that take place far away, but my real vocation is helping my neighbor, the person that is here in front of me. Putting a sticker on my car that says "Free Tibet" will not free Tibet. Giving my out-of-work neighbor a bag of groceries will help feed a family.

Or are these women just pushing their agenda, that women are victims constantly in need of help, constantly need Daddy Government looking out for them? It's easy to proclaim you'll push X until Y happens, when you know Y will never happen, if your real goal is just to push X. Either way, their ideas and worldview are miles away from me, and I think they would realize that, and despise me for it. What I wonder about it is the people who think, or pretend to think, that this stuff is mainstream, and I'll explain why in my next post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cough Cough

The entire BTEG family has been sick for about a week. I absolutely hate getting sick around this time. For one thing, it's harder to get back into a regular schedule after the holidays. For another, it's harder to start working on the goals that you want to achieve for the year. Even sewing does not hold much appeal when all that you want to do is sleep, and your body aches. I'm also coughing heavily when I do too much physical activity.

I am thankful that the weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny. It's good to get some extra sunshine at this time of year.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Slowing It Down

One of the things I'm learning to do in order to achieve my goals is not to get ahead of myself. It's very difficult to cook more, and perhaps even experiment with fancier dishes, when the kitchen is not completely organized. I'm still trying to find room for things; a buffet would be great, but it's not in the budget so I need to work with what we have. In the meantime, I shouldn't feel badly when the best I can do is just getting a dinner on the table for my family.

I also need to pace myself better with regards to sewing. I often look at the project as a whole and get overwhelmed, instead of breaking up into tasks. Maybe one day to find the fabric (because a lot of it is still in boxes.) One day to trace the pattern and cut it out (if it's a big project.) Then get the pieces cut out. Then the sewing. One of the hot ideas in accomplishing goals (at least looking at the Android apps) is simply taking, say, 25 minutes to work on something. That way, you've made progress, but the task doesn't bog you down.

I'll admit it's difficult not to be impatient to get a project done. Especially when there's a deadline you've created for yourself. For example, I really wanted to get the living room cleaned up more before the Musician's birthday party, and before Christmas. We have no attic and no basement in our current abode, so there are lots of boxes with no place to go. However, there was enough room for the Musician's friends to enjoy her party, and enough room for the Christmas tree to go up, and for the family to sit around it. No use beating myself up over it not being better.

Monday, January 02, 2012


Do you know why I actually have some hope that I can accomplish some of my goals for this year? Because for the first time in a long time, we are not planning to move, and we are living somewhere that we have close to enough space. When everyone in your family has some type of hobby or interest, you need more space. Mine is sewing. While I'm going to attempt to cut down my fabric stash, I still need room for my cutting table, my table for my machines, my patterns, my reference books. Sewing makes me happy!

It was only late last year that I actually started to realize, however, how much stability can mean. It's such a nice feeling to unpack, to really settle in, not to have so many of one's possessions packed away in boxes. You can actually use everything you have, not have most of it stored away. It's nice to be able to take a nice long break from living out of boxes, and just concentrate on living for a while.