Small potatoes travel, advocacy, etc.

As the French say, “it goes.” (Ça va.)

I made an extended weekend visit to Hamilton, Ontario recently. It was just about worth going, which is to say that it was nice, but it felt like I hardly left. Oh well. It was strange to realize that it had been more than 10 years since I was last in Canada… I suppose I had seen the obvious major cities, the exchange rate was unfavorable for a long time, and I’ve been spending my travel dollar on other destinations. Still, there is a whole other country right there, and there are things to see outside of Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver.

Original Tim Horton's

Store number one.

Hamilton is nice enough to visit. It’s cute, really; I kept thinking “that’s cute,” “huh, that’s cute,” “this is cute.” So many cute, little houses. Cute Hess Village. The Tim Hortons museum is incredibly cute. (If by some chance you plan to visit, Timmies store number 1 is at 65 Ottawa Street, at the corner of Dunsmere, and I presume that the mini museum on the second floor is open 24/7 like the eatery downstairs.) The Art Gallery of Hamilton is cute, though n.b. their web site and banners may give the impression of a rather larger collection than they actually have.

Probably the best reason to go is to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, which is actually in close-by Burlington; just the glasshouse areas alone are worth the admission and in season I’m sure the full grounds are spectacular. If you happen to visit the cute town of Dundas (where I stayed), their local museum is well worth a visit. The Canadian Warplane Museum is also popular; I was satisfied though not enthralled, but it did provide what’s probably my most popular Twitter post ever:

It was strange going somewhere for a holiday and driving everywhere. My travel in recent years has mostly if not entirely been a break from driving, in cities with substantial public transportation. (Even when I went to California, last summer, I had a rented car but a friend shuttled me around the sights during my day trip to Santa Cruz .) Driving around the Hamilton area could be worse, and it could be better. Finding my way around reminded me of my super-brief visit to Baltimore, in that you have to keep making turns to proceed in a more or less straight line. Also, there are too many roads or sections of roads called “York,” “King” or “Main.” Be prepared to get lost if your navigation skills are so-so.

I happened to further a couple of minor, ongoing projects. In Hamilton, I found another book for my Sherlock Holmes collection at a local bookseller’s. On the way north, I stopped at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo and saw the grave of Millard Fillmore, checking off another name on my list. I also visited the last resting place of another, more memorable political figure…

It’s kind of funny, maybe funny-sad that I invest interest in small-potatoes projects like this. But I’m still struggling with the issue of finding things to interest me other than work (which is an interest of necessity, not exclusively but primarily) and the soul-crushing tragedy of political advocacy.

I continue my career as unpaid amateur hatchet-man here in Lakewood, and recently provided two more articles on the unfolding fiasco of Lakewood Hospital. “Emergency Room? …It’s Complicated” contributed to a minor stir at a city council meeting that I didn’t even attend, and may have prompted the rich and powerful Cleveland Clinic to purchase a full-page newspaper ad to blur the issues I noted. It’s also possible that a follow-up entry in this past week’s Lakewood Observer will discomfit some deserving people, as well.

This is amusing, in its way, though I also think that for the time being it’s mostly pie-fighting that has little impact on larger public opinion and none on public policy. In fact, public policy in Lakewood seems to be going even further to the dogs, and it’s difficult not to feel utterly dispirited by the sense that just as I have finally settled to the place I live as a community of which I’m a part, I discover its purported leadership looking more wormy and rotten every month… As I’ve known for a while, though

much of what’s happening at any given moment in this nation, and on this planet, is a bummer. All that most of us can do is keep trying to carve out spaces, physical and figurative, where the evil and the oppression and the repellent are held at bay, for a little while longer. Which, disappointingly for the community-minded, often means smaller and more personal spaces because shared spaces are shared with many people of different tastes and values, who have their rights however lamentable those tastes and values may be.

Some times it’s either a bucket of puke and a few small potatoes, or just a bucket of puke.

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