tylik: (fruit and flower)
I started thinking about writing a few of these some weeks ago, when Cleveland was named, by someone, as the nation's most miserable city. That Friday, Kendrick was off at a conference and I was heading back home during a light snow, and thinking to myself that yeah, I'm not representative or anything, but I like my life here pretty well. Of course, it's more complicated than that.

A new pizza place had gone in along my most common route home from the lab, through little Italy. I'd been eyeing them curiously for a while, so I stuck my nose in and asked if they had any food I could eat. After some negotiation, they made me their all veggie calzone, without cheese, and I hauled it back home with me, over the red brick of Murray Hill road, up the stone stairs behind the Spirk Innovation Center, and across the street to our building.

I really love those stairs. They have the look, to my eye, of 1920's stonework, and they haven't been particularly maintained. In several places the stones have buckled, and many of the flat bricked sections are pitted and broken, but they are quite passable. The height and depth of the stairs is pretty uneven - I take the goat trail in some pretty serious snow and ice, but leave the stone stairs for better weather. (However, other people make the opposite call, so it is perhaps a matter of taste.)

But they are beautiful. Beautiful then, frozen ground and a little snow in the air, beautiful in themselves, or in the almost mythical sense of ascent they invoke. Beautiful the last few weeks in sun and rain and with stretches of native lilies around them. (No, I don't know which ones. I haven't yet found the local equivalent of Pojar... they remind me a little of chocolate lillies, though the flowers are lighter and pointier.) Of course, that particular day the beauty of the stairs warred with the mouthwatering scents coming from my calzone, so I didn't tarry that much.

And oh, gods, that calzone was good. Okay, truth, I seldom go out to eat, and the local cuisine doesn't generally have a lot of overlap with my restricted diet. But it was hand made and fresh baked, and filled with several different kinds of peppers (both fresh and pickled), olives, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms... oh, so very tasty. I like little Italy a lot. As much for what it isn't as what it is. Shifu says the Seattle I-dist is "restaurant town" not "chinatown" and little Italy is also a restaurant town. It's not a high rent district, it's not all spiffy clean, I'll admit to steering clear a bit during the Christmas season because really, I can only handle so much Frank Sinatra at the best of times, and Frank Sintra singing carols... meh. There's a lot of gooey cheesey Itallian immigrant cuisine, and even some really good food that I can eat. In August there's some big Feast of the Assumption shindig, that involves a lot of people, statues of the Virgin, food, alcohol, and fireworks... I think. (I am mostly bemused.)

There are a lot of churches nearby, including some in little Italy that have pretty nifty statuary. Though what I notice the most is the bells. There are a lot of churches - and maybe other things, but I'm betting churches - that have wonderful old bells. At various times throughout the day and week they are rung. The only thing that could be better would be also having ezzins. (Real ezzins. Ideally in a couple of different mosques within hearing range of eachother, so they get all competitive with the singing.)

But that gets close to another thing I really like about Cleveland. The architecture. Oh, my word. Look, it's a poor city. And it used to be a very rich one. When I first visited I wrote that it is a fairy tale city, but much more in the sense of Grimm than Disney. The architecture is amazing. All the more so because much of it has been neglected. Beautiful brickwork crumbling away... not all of it, of course. Downtown can be very strange though - buildings of incredible grandeur, and streets weirdly empty. There aren't really enough people for the buildings. When people here talk about traffic jams, I often struggle to keep a straight face.

I live in an affluent neighborhood, by Cleveland standards. The houses here are incredible. I think I've pretty much gotten the whole owning large beautiful house on a chunk of property thing out of my system... which is a good thing because the prices are pretty incredible as well - really, you can buy a mansion for the cost of a condo in Seattle. An old creaky, lovingly maintained (but soon in need of more loving maintenance) mansion. With a carriage house, and gorgeous old oak trees scattering acorns across the lawn.

And the people are generally really nice. When I was wandering around with an injured kitty wrapped in my jacket, everyone was completely sweet, and made what suggestions they could. I have a pretty quiet life, but there are an awful lot of people I say "hi" to on a more or less daily basis, people who I run across between home and the lab, people who tend to be heading in to school while I'm doing forms, people at the stores I frequent...
And a few grumbles... )

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tylik

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