Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Here are some words no one that knows me well can imagine I’d ever be saying…”I had to stop by the nunnery on Friday.” I actually chuckle over this one myself, but yes, I truly did have a reason to stop by the Sancta Clara Monastery in Canton on Friday. It seems that this is the time of year that the Sisters do their annual fund raising bake sale. Tipped off by a notice in the Beacon last week, I was intrigued enough to check out their web site (yes sir, the Sister have their own web site at http://www.poorclares.org) and immediately sent in my order for bread and soup. They advertised all organic, no preservatives or artificial colorings. In this respect the Sisters and I have a common interest. Good bread is one of the best things in life, so I was really looking forward to this. I was also surprised to see them selling Wedding Soup and since it’s one of my absolute all time favorite things to eat, I ordered soup as well.

It was a beautiful day for taking a drive, so I rolled down the windows, cranked open the sun roof and headed south on I-77 to find the monastery. Once I arrived I was ushered into a bustling room where a volunteer was getting all the customers packed up and out in record time. The aroma of fresh tomato soup wafted in from the kitchen and loaf after loaf of bread came out to be packed carefully by the volunteers, each still warm from the oven. At this point I was sure I was in for some truly divine artisan breads and had very high expectations of the soup.

Once I got home, I unpacked the bread for better storage and heated up a bowl of the Wedding Soup. As you can see by my photo, I had quite the stash! The Agnus Dei braided loaf is sweet and lemony, the Italian Parmesan smells of oregano, basil and garlic and the breadsticks are the perfect bite with the soup. The only disappointment is the Strawberry Bread which is a bit dry. I’m hoping a little toasting and some fresh butter will solve that.

The big surprise was the Wedding Soup! By gosh the Sisters hit this right on the culinary nose! Tender chicken and soft little meatballs surrounded by spinach and some pasta with just the right seasonings and I am a happy soup camper. Wedding Soup is one of my favorites and this was some of the best I’ve had. I will look forward to an annual trip to Canton for their next fund raiser - as long as there is Wedding Soup on the menu.

Friday was just too beautiful a day to NOT take a drive. Or two. Earlier in the day I headed north to the Cuyahoga Valley National Rec Area to visit the Stanford House. They are preparing the house for it’s newest purpose for the Park and I was tasked with doing a story on the renovations. It’s a lovely setting and I’ll write more about this later, but let’s just say that it was a wonderful start to the day to wander the park back roads.

As I headed south out of the Park to visit the nunnery, I pumped up the iPod, set the cruise control and sang along to the music of the 60’s. Me and Connie Stephens singing about Stupid Cupid, me and Neil Sedaka building that Stairway to Heaven and Elvis telling me all about that Heartbreak Hotel. And the perfect touch was coming up over a rise in the highway when the Fifth Dimension started taking me Up, Up and Away in their beautiful balloon and what did I see ahead of me over the road but the Goodyear Blimp! Ha! Just Perfect!

The offices I work at threw an anniversary party last Thursday evening and I was invited to attend and asked to snap a few photos of the festivities.  The food was wonderful, catered by Vaccarro's, the building was lovely with tables set with white linens and roses, there was free flowing wine and a jazz combo from the University.  They could not have asked for a better evening with the weather so they opened up the patio and the party spread to all areas of the building and patio.  The catering grills were set up outside and the smoky aroma meandered throughout the lower levels keeping our appetites sharp.  I was pleased to see them serving a wine I've mentioned here before, the summery Cha Cha from Dancing Coyote Winery.  Here I am with my co-worker & lunch buddy Alan from Portage Management

My friend Bev would have loved to come to hear the jazz.  Jack Schantz brought 3 of his gifted students and they played for nearly 3 hours.  If you follow the blog, you'll have heard me wax poetically about the University of Akron's Jazz Studies program and it's director, Jack Schantz.  Please, please, please take any opportunity you have to hear Jack and his students.  These kids will be the next jazz generation and they're getting off to a great start. 

This was once again Porthouse weekend for our gaggle of gals. We gathered over at Sarah’s Vineyard rather than picnicking on the grounds this week. Sarah’s was lovely and we seated ourselves in a corner of the deck to enjoy the weather and the company. We raised a glass (or three), nibbled on some snacks and chatted away till time to head across the street to Blossom.

The play this week was The Foreigner and I was so looking forward to it. The story is set in Atlanta Georgia area at a lodge of sorts and the main character is a man who doesn’t wan to be bothered with conversation with strangers so pretends to not understand English. Naturally at this point, that means that everyone in the place talks at him and tells him all of their secrets which makes for a funny play as he attempts to fix things for the others and finds that he does, after all, like to be around people.

I have to admit, however, that I was more than a little taken aback at the turn the story takes when it includes the KKK. Written in 1984, this play feels more like something that should have come out of the 50’s. Not that I’m sticking my head in the sand to think that the KKK isn’t still around, but to put it in the context of this play today felt awkward and unnecessary. This was supposed to be a light-hearted, fun play on a holiday weekend evening and it ended up putting a damper on the night, at least for me.

What I was pleasantly amazed at was the set.  The play was to take place in a lodge of sorts and the stage was transformed into that very wonderfully.  I can't recall seeing a set so well done at Porthouse, the stage crew truly outdid themselves with this.  Log cabin style with stone foundations looked surprisingly real and I was ready to walk up to touch them to find out what it was made from. 

One other bit of stage  magic came when one of the supremicists fell through the floor in a spoof of the wicked witch of the west melting into nothingness.  The trap door in the stage had been used earlier so the audience knew it was there, but it lead me to wonder how they manage to get through the door without getting hurt. 

Overall, the cast and stage crew did a great job.  What I could have done without was the inclusion of clan activities.  This play could have been much funnier without that reference. 

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