Monday, June 20, 2011

MEDINA LADIES NIGHT OUT, DUCKS AND CHICAGO!

Last Thursday evening was Ladies Night on the Square in Medina and Nancy invited me to drive over with her to take in the sights and have a little late dinner.  Medina truly is a charming small town with lovely shops lining the square and people wandering in and out.  The square was crammed full of things for kids to do - ring tossing, coloring contests, and other games. 

Most of the shops and restaurants lining the square were open for business and were enticing guests in their doors by serving up little munchies and wine for the adults.  We often ponder over how these little places manage to stay afloat in today's harsh economic climate. Many shops sell cutsie little decorative items that are very adorable to look at in shops, but seldom practical or appropriate for our homes.  There are times when I consider setting up little displays similar to the shops, but then I stop and think - hey, someone has to clean all that stuff - and the idea pops right smack out of my head. 

We strolled through the Potomac Bead Shop where beads hung in rainbows of colors on walls of two floors where ladies were busy working projects for Ladies Night.  We also stopped in the Medina Gem Company where they had some of the most stunning jewelry on display I've seeen in a while.  Nancy and I were both attracted to a glorious necklace that priced out at a little over $2,300.  I was embarassed to ask if they would sell me earring backs (14K gold of course), but the proprietor was most accomodating and happily sold me four clasps.  She was as nice to me as if I had purchased the $2300 necklace - what a lovely woman. 

Since dinner was the main objective of the evening, we asked for recommendations from shop keepers and were directed a little bit out of town to Thyme the Restaurant, located just beyond the main square on North Court Street.  This isn't really walkable from the square, but it's well worth the drive north to find this little gem. 
The 65-seat spot features what Chef John Kolar calls “contemporary cuisine with worldly influences”.  We didn't have difficulty in deciding to choose a table on the charming front patio but we did have some problems in choosing our dinner.  The menu is full of wonderful items such as Pan Roasted Thyme Chicken, Lobster Newburgh Fettuccini and Chipotle Cream Steamed Mussels.  We were both intrigued by the Grilled Chicken Mac 'n Cheese (although neither of us ended up ordering it).  I settled on the Warm Asparagus salad and a small Italian pizza - both delicious paired up with the Malbac wine I ordered.  I'm not sure what Nancy ordered but it must have been good because when I stole a glance at her plate it was completely clean. 
 
Although it had threatened rain all evening, we'd spent the entire time walking the square under sunny skies.  It only begin raining during our dinner and we moved to a table away from the edge of the patio, but it really was a lovely setting and a terrific meal.  A perfect summer evening. 

DUCKY DAY
Saturday morning was Canal Day at the Cascade Locks Park, "Akron's Urban Park".  Set over at the new Schumacher Cascade Mills site, which is located on North Street across from the Mustill Store, there were a few dozen craft vendors set up and several tents with things for the kids to do.  Today was the Park's annual springtime fund raiser and their 4th Duck Derby. 

CLPA has a unique partnership with Metro Parks, Serving Summit County and the City of Akron allowing them to promote the historical value of the park while also encouraging residents of Summit County and beyond to get out and about and enjoy nature. Their stated mission is to preserve, protect and promote Cascade Locks Park along locks 10-16 of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

I've been volunteering for these annual events for many years, as early as the second picnic back in 2002.  They've morphed a bit from ice cream socials to barbecues, and now into Duck races in the canal.  This little park association is truly a grass roots organization and the people are like a family.  I've enjoyed being a peripheral part of them for so long and look forward to staying involved for many years to come.

CHICAGO!
Saturday night I went to Chicago!  No,  not the town, the stage play.  Saturday was the first of our ladies summer season at Porthouse Theater and the show was Chicago!  We had a lovely evening for our regular picnic and performance.  This year there are 11 in our group (we seem to add one or two each summer).  We all brought along some food to share and some wine.  We have tables reserved in the pavilion (in case of rain) and we set up in there. 
 
This week we had shrimp, meatball sandwiches, sushi, waldorf salad, ginger cookies, rice krispie treats, melon in proscuitto, pasta salad, little meatballs, orange fluffy salad and 4 or 5 bottles of wine.  Yee goodness, we ate well!  Conversation flowed nicely as did the wine - and I'm not intimating one had anything to do with the other. 
 
What I like about this group is our diversity.  Although we're all about the same age (40's - 60's), we come from many backgrounds and everyone has something to contribute to the conversations. 
 
This is our 5th summer at Porthouse enjoying picnics prior to the show and this seems to have caught on to many others in the audience.  The first couple of years we did not reserve spaces and yet had no difficulties finding tables on the grounds.  Each summer there seems to be more and more tables set up, each with a brightly colored umbrella for their patrons to use.  This summer there is even a new pavilion for additional seating - and they're all filled! 
 
I think this is a fantastic way to stretch a simple theater experience into a full evening of enjoyment.  That being said, our next performance in July will find us over at Sarah's Vineyard prior to the show.  As much fun as it is to prepare our own picnic, it's just as much fun to let someone else do the pampering! 
 
This week the show was phenomanal!  Directed by Terri Kent with choreography by Mary Ann Black, the production was lively and well done in the space allowed.  The music was wonderful under the direction of Jonathan Swoboda.  There is a terrific full review by blogger and local critic Roy Berko here.  My personal opinion is that Dylan Ratell who played Mary Sunshine stole each scene he was in - yes, WOW!  Also, although I thought Ms. Black's portrayal of Roxie was spot on, she felt miscast in the part that seemed to require a younger actor. 
 
I'm looking forward to our next performance which will be The Sunshine Boys.  Anyone out there who hasn't had a Porthouse experience yet needs to get out and get there!

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