Like so many big city dwellers I "head home for the holidays." I've been a lucky and blessed resident of the the magnificent, gorgeous city of Chicago for what is going on 18 years now. Boy do I have Chicago Pride. I love it when people come to town and want to do touristy stuff. It just means that I get to do all of my favorite stuff and see my favorite girl in all her glory with people who don't see it so often they sadly take it for granted like so many Chicagoans. It's the draw back of the constant speed and busy motion of the big city, you have to be very intentional to slow down and see. Anyhow, back to the point..."home for the holidays." For me that means back to the city of my birth Toledo, Ohio. A town I loved and appreciated all of my life. However from as long as I can remember I always knew I intended to leave it. That I craved for something else. For the better part of a decade going back to Toledo has been stressful and often clouded in grief. Thankfully I have some really great friends who still live there and are usually up for the job of blasting me with love and laughter to fill up my soul. For the past several years I have stayed in an Air B&B, the same one, two awesome lesbian ladies, one a retired university professor. Great house full of whatever the holiday is at the time cheer. Clean and comfortable. This year I just didn't have the budget to spring on private lodging. Luckily one of my generous, and amazing Glass City Roller friends just moved into one of my all time favorite Old West End houses that I have adored my whole life and offered up a bed for a portion of my stay. Vodkillah was my holiday hero this year, along with her awesome husband Steve. My first night in town I checked in at Chateau Atkinson, was greeted as warmly as could be and invited to a OWE neighborhood solstice party. It was already reasonably late and we all had lots to do in the morning but decided to check it out.
I have always felt a tie and relevance to the Solstices. Winter and these short days have always been a damper on my spirit. So celebrating the official change in other direction of that seems natural to me. So I thought it pretty cool that on my first night home for the holiday I got to celebrate and meditate on this gift of longer days and more light. When we arrived to the house there were no lights being used, the entire place was light up by candle light. They had many mantles littered with candles and other cool shit. I was glad I decided to tote the camera along.
The super awesome metal Indian bust was my favorite!
While inside I found out we were at a Former President of City Councils' house, so that was a cool and relatable tidbit. While at the Solstice party we met up another former Glass City Roller buddy of mine Ms Beefy Vanderhuge. Beefy told me that she was volunteering in the morning and invited me to come along. Interested in how my home town was giving back to the community and excited to see my friend being a part of it I agreed. I'm glad I did too because it set a nice tone for the day. I believe it is in part put on by a few groups called Food for Thought and Fellowship Matters, INC. you can check out more about them at their website FellowshipMatters.Org. They really had some awesome stuff happening. A hot food line up, and the plates that were walking away had my mouth watering. Wrapped gifts for kids, a bread line and fresh produce. There was even a giant Mobile Medical Unit, LifeLine Toledo on site.
There was also some guys blacksmithing hearts and giving them away. Myself and most of the children were entranced by the live craftsmanship. So of course I took a bunch of pictures then asked some questions.
Turns out our philanthropist blacksmith was Dane Turpening of Toledo Twisted Iron. Check out his website at www.toledotiwstediron.com. Dane endured my journalistic assault with a sweet and open demeanor. Beefy then took me to see some of his other more prominent work that most of Toledo probably recognizes him for.
Dane is responsible for ECHO or "the rings" as I have often heard them referred to. The rings are fashioned from parts of the former steam plant that resided on the shores of the river since 1896. Promedica wanted to preserve this history in some way and turns out Toledo Twisted Iron was up for the job. Nicely done Dane. Dane also created the awesome decretive screens of the fire pits in the same vicinity also crafted from reclaimed steel from the steam plant.
Being downtown on the banks of the Maumee looking at sculptures brought back fond memories of my Grandma Duncan. Back in 1984 The Portside Festival Market Place opened up. My Grandma would pick me up and we would park her car and board a Tarta bus and visit Portside regularly thought the 80s until it's sad close in 1990. When I think back on it all I can remember is magic. Large flags of fish wavering in the giant space while people bought and sold all sorts of things. Clutched tightly to Grandmas hand I remember just always being excited at the bustle and vast collection of artisan goods. Outside next to the market place there was giant public art sculptures. The one I remember most fondly still stands today. Sun Obelisk by Dale Eldred. A 60-foot tower of stainless steel, glass and reflective tape diffracts sunlight into a beacon of rainbows. Tragically it was a solid cloud cover type of day so no magic there. But it was still nice to gaze up at and remember my awe as a small child 30 years ago looking up at the same creation.
I'm glad you are still standing Sun Obelisk.
After our sculpture tour of downtown Beefy swung me by a very cool Toledo Shop called Handmade Toledo. Which happens to be owned and operated by another one of my former Glass City Roller pals Betty Floored. It was awesome to see the space finally for the first time.
Bought myself two pretty cool Toledo Tee Shirts by Printedonalark.com.
Then to top off my First Full Day back in town we rejoined with my lovely hosts and hit the World Famous Toledo Museum of Art. Most people don't know much about Toledo and if they do it's usually the Mudhens or the bit about the Glass City due to its being the location of the first glass manufacturers in the late 1800s. Toledo has a huge art population and culture. There was a particularly awesome exhibit my friends were interested in showing me so off to the Museum we went.
Holy Toledo!! Rebecca Louise Law's Exhibit Community was awesome!! So glad I got to experience it. The minute you walked through the doors the smell was magical. Like you had just entered a wild flower garden. Which basically you did. Check out this amazing artist and her truly wonderful exhibits at www.rebeccalouiselaw.com.
After the exhibit it we decided to wonder around the museum a bit. Which of course brought us to a place fond in my heart The Water Lilies by Monet. My first real memory of art is based on the Water Lilies by Monet. When I was in grade school, possibly the first grade Meadowvale's amazing resident Art Teacher Jane Archambeau enlisted the whole school to cover all of the hallway walls in water lilies. Each class was responsible for a section of the hallway. In my 7 year old brain it seemed like it took weeks. I remember standing in the hallways and falling in love with the power of art on my little soul. I then was a recipient of a scholarship to classes at the Toledo Museum of Art for several years which expanded my love and experience of art. I have the grandest memories of running through the halls of the museum and curling up in corners to draw on my sketch pad. I'm sure we were supervised but in memory it seemed like we had so much freedom to roam and experience our own inspiration in whatever corner of the museum that was. It made the museum less intimidating and made art feel so accessible and possible. Which may have had something to do with my ability years later to abandon all responsibility as far as my parents were concerned and seek out an artistic profession. Thank you Mrs Archambeau, Claude Monet and the Toledo Museum of Art. It was good to be inside your walls again. I was flooded with great memories.
Friends and Art Museums, one of my favorite combinations.
Thanks so much you all for taking me. It was instrumental in my ability to process the holiday I'm sure. Dear Beefy, Vod, and Steve, seriously there are not words to express my gratitude. I may have been a "boarder" of sorts (lol) but it sure did make home feel a bit more homey. You have host spirits. I felt so welcome and comfortable. I feel like I can't even describe the comfort it provided me. Thank you. Thank you. I love you. Forking Roller Derby, saving my life yet again. I can't say enough how thankful I am and how much I value the amazing humans that Rollerderby has brought into my life. It seems as if almost anywhere I go I got roller derby people to love and be loved by. Derby connections are like bonds formed in steel, well mine seem to be anyway. I love it. I love Derby. I love Derby Friendships. It's something. BIG.
Then after the Museum I headed to good ole Sandy Duncan's where I shoulda been all along... wink wink. The next day I had the beautiful gift of having lunch with my beloved 3rd grade teacher Ms. Fink. It's such a joy to have that connection revitalized. Teachers were so impactful in my life. I have got more than a handful that I know had a firm hand in me ever making it to anything. Ms. Fink was the first. She has always joked that she "knocked the chip off my shoulder", which in a sense I think she most certainly did. I always had a natural rebellion against authority. If someone was trying to boss me, that just always triggered more doubt and questioning. Ms. Fink had some magical presentation of her authority that I accepted and trusted right away, and I was a very suspicious kid. To be in my late 30s and still be able to share space with my first most influential teacher well, its one of those small pleasures that brings unexplainable joy. Thank you Ms Fink and sister Barbra for making time to spend hours with me under the excuse of lunch. I really enjoyed our time together and look forward to our next opportunity to share stories and air.
I do regret not having an opportunity to snap a photo of us all.
On Christmas Eve morning Vod and I hopped in the car and drove up to Luna Pier in hopes of catching a sunrise. Unfortunately the cloud cover was too thick for an actual sighting but it was still beautiful like a cotton candy sky.
I decided to go ahead and do a timelapse anyway. In hind sight I wish I would have used the fisheye for this particular timelapse. I was just glad to be enjoying dawn with a friend and the sky and water.
I'm gonna close out with the HOUSE and The VOD.
And that was Toledo folks.