No More Plastic Water Bottles at Colin's Coffee - by Colin Gawel

Colin’s Coffee is getting rid of disposable plastic water bottles. To replace them, we will sell you a water bottle you can refill and reuse for the same price of $2. Did you know it takes every single plastic bottle 1,000 YEARS to decompose and Americans buy 29 BILLION bottles each year? Well, it’s time to take a chunk out of that. If my math is right I figure our new efforts will reduce American’s plastic bottle consumption to just  28.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 BILLION each year. Boom. 

I know it’s not much, but it’s a start. Being a small business owner it’s a fine line between doing the right thing and paying the bills. I’d love to be able to provide everyone with organic, free-trade hand-crafted paper straws but I just can’t do it and keep the lights on. But here is the good news, you (and me) can use our own straws. Or no straws at all. We can individually make decisions to cut down on waste.

I know I try to do the right thing with decidedly mixed results. I probably bring my own bag to the store 80% of the time? I still pick up a plastic bottle of water on the way to a baseball game now and again. That needs to change. I can do better. From small things big things one day will come. Remember when rock n roll used to be considered pollution? Well, we put our minds to it and made it better. Change is possible.

This all ends up in the trash. Gross.

This all ends up in the trash. Gross.


Ohio County Trippin' Part Nine: Madison County - by Nick Taggart


 “Little Towns on the Prairie”

29 June 2018

Previous County Trippin' from Nick Taggart: Meigs County - Medina County - Champaign County - Seneca County - Cuyahoga County - Fayette County - Mahoning County -

Every county trip begins with a strategic plan of attack and the one I formulated for Madison County involved treating it as if it were a mountain to climb.  We would begin in the south and make our way “up,” or north in a zigzag, or switchback fashion (or “Serpentine! Serpentine!” if you’re a fan of “The In-Laws.”).  We pierced the county at its southeastern corner on Ohio State Route 3 (or THE Ohio State Route 3 if you’re a fan of the Buckeyes.). Soon after crossing Deer Creek, we entered Mt. Sterling, one of the larger towns in the county, with just under 2,000 residents.

County trippers travel on their stomachs, so our first order of business was breakfast; and in Mt. Sterling, that’s almost synonymous with Ben & Joy’s.  Locally, it sits on the corner of North London and West Columbus Streets, also known by their more familiar route names of Ohio-56 and US-62, so there’s a fair amount of traffic.

Ben and Joy Stroup purchased the restaurant in 1984 and Joy continued running it after Ben passed away in 1993.  It looked as though she was ready for retirement a couple years ago when she put the place up for auction, but when the lone bid of $93,500 wasn’t enough to satisfy her, the 78-year-old decided to continue operating the restaurant.


I ordered the Belgian waffle for $6.50, with a side of bacon for $3.50.  Michele went with the “#1 Breakfast,” consisting of scrambled eggs with bacon, home fries, and toast for $7.25.  Two pesky flies came free. The food was a little slow in coming, which was odd as there were only two other occupied tables; two guys who had finished eating and were just jawing, and a lone woman who put in her order after us.  Michele blamed her home fries for the delay. Once our plates arrived, it didn’t take long for the food to disappear. The home fries were definitely worth the wait.

After breakfast, we walked a couple blocks to the Mt. Sterling Public Library.  It was built in 1911 of red brick and limestone and was another beneficiary of Andrew Carnegie’s largess.  Mt. Sterling has the distinction of being the smallest community in America to receive a grant for a Carnegie library. (The town’s population in 1911 was 1,071.)

The basement of the library houses the Mt. Sterling Community Museum.  It has limited hours, but we were lucky to find it open. Museum director Steve Chambers was in residence and couldn’t have been more accommodating, allowing us to freely wander the two rooms of town artifacts at our own pace, but being available for questions when asked.

Well represented in the museum are photos and ephemera of Mt. Sterling’s two most famous sons: former Ohio senator and governor John W. Bricker, and building contractor, sportsman, and philanthropist John W. Galbreath, both of whom graduated from Mt. Sterling High School.

Leaving Mt. Sterling, we traveled across the bottom of the county on State Route 323 past farms and turkey vultures.  We entered the town of Midway, whose claim to fame is a 1953 high school basketball game in which one of its players scored 120 points.  That Ohio record still stands and is also the third highest in the country. This achievement brings two thoughts to mind. First, what was the other team doing the entire time he was scoring?  Were they all four feet tall and working crossword puzzles? And secondly, did sportsmanship not exist in the 1950s that a coach would allow his team to embarrass their opponents like that? I later looked up the story in the Dispatch and found the final score against Canaan was 137-46.  While there might not have been sportsmanship in the ‘50s, there was justice.  In Midway’s next game against Tecumseh, record holder Dick Bogenrife was held to 20 points and his team got whacked 107-55.

We headed north away from Midway on State Route 38, driving about eight miles along more farm fields.  The corn was looking pretty good. (editor’s note: this story was filed last year and lost in the Pencilstorm warehouse until recently found) Just beyond Newport, we turned left on Old Xenia Road SW. Just around a bend in the road, we were surprised to come upon a large white globe sitting upon a 5-story metal base.  It was an odd sight in the midst of all that agriculture. A razor wire-topped fence made its message clear that we should “keep out,” but there weren’t any other signs hinting at what the installation was being used for.  Again, it took some post-trippin’ research to discover it was a government radar station. Built in the 1950s, it was under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration for almost half a century, but after 9/11, it became tied to the Joint Surveillance System, a coordinated venture between the United States Air Force and the FAA “for the atmospheric air defense of North America.”  It’s one of two such stations in Ohio, the other located in the Cleveland area.

We turned north on Roberts Mill Road and stayed on it as it dog-legged past US Route 42 and skirted property belonging to the London Correctional Institute. (“Don’t pick up hitchhikers!”)  Just north of Old Springfield Road, we turned into the parking lot of the London Fish Hatchery.  

The London facility is the oldest of the six hatcheries maintained by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.  It’s so old that the Division was known as the Ohio Fish and Game Commission when it was built in 1896.  There are six staff members, five permanent and one seasonal, who run the operation. One of them was kind enough to brave the blazing sun and give us a tour of the property.  So much interesting information was shared that I should have been taking notes. If I was able to retain only a tenth of what the accommodating staffer was telling us, I’d be the better person for it.

The hatchery is located on 80 acres, 13 of which are water, containing over a dozen ponds and an 800-foot raceway for the rearing of fish that are then used to stock Ohio’s public rivers and lakes.  In the past, London produced coho and chinook salmon, northern pike, saugeye, and largemouth bass, but currently, it’s concentrating on rainbow and brown trout, and muskellunge.  

Not all fish are sent away.  Our guide introduced us to two long-time residents who have become like members of the family.  They’ve not only been named, but they travel to the Ohio State Fair each year to be ogled by children and adults at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources building.  Lisa Left-eye is a carp who swims around in an outdoor pool and can be identified by a cloudy cataract. Gary gar lives in an aquarium inside the office and has been at the hatchery longer than any of the current staffers.

After the hatchery, we drove east into London, the county seat.  We came in on Old Springfield Road, which ended at North Main Street in front of the Madison County Hospital.  We turned south toward the town square and parked along one side of the Madison County Courthouse. It was completed in the final decade of the 19th Century and incorporates a few different architectural styles including a Second Empire design with Beaux-Arts Classicist elements.  A clock tower looks down upon a mansard roof and classical columns over the front entrance.

Once inside, I found the cozy warmth of the dark wood staircases outshone by a barrel-vaulted light court with a colorful stained-glass skylight.  After a quick look around and a stop inside the County Auditor’s office for an updated county map, we left and took a stroll down London’s original business district on South Main Street.  There were a few empty windows awaiting new shops and restaurants, but the strip appeared to be holding its own.  

After crossing over two sets of railroad tracks, we stepped inside the brick Dwyer Bros. Hardware store, one of London’s oldest businesses.  It opened in 1888 as a small hardware, tin shop, and implement dealer. It’s still owned by members of the Dwyer family and stocks everything you’d want in a hardware store.  The aged wooden floors remind shoppers of the double-digit decades this store has been around. We purchased a box fan and backtracked up the street, the irony not lost on me that I was perspiring while toting a cooling device under a HOT sun.  As we cranked the AC in our car, I noted the outside temperature was 88 degrees.

We drove to the London Public Library on East First Street, another Carnegie-funded library, built in 1904.  A rear addition was constructed in 1989. We stayed just long enough to use a public internet computer to research the location of one of our upcoming stops.

We were departing London along East High Street when we pulled off at the Madison County Historical Society.  The museum wasn’t open, but the grounds are accessible. Various historic buildings have been moved there including the Jonathan Alder cabin.  The simple log structure dates to about 1806 and was the home of Madison County’s first white settler. More on him in a moment. After a quick photograph, we were back in the car and driving the short distance to Andrew Court East.

When planning our Madison County trip, I learned that the county was home to a Champion tree; not just a State Champion, but a National Champion.  These trees are considered the largest of their species in the country. In this case, it’s a Downy Hawthorn. I wasn’t previously familiar with this particular type of tree, but after learning the largest one in the country was right here in Ohio, I can be forgiven for a slightly puffier chest and springier step. (Suck it, Michigan!)

The Ohio Division of Forestry has a Champion Tree Coordinator who keeps track of such things and has recorded that our champion Downy Hawthorn has a total point count of 173.  That calculation is made by adding the tree’s circumference in inches (131) to its height in feet (30) and a quarter of its crown spread in feet (47). The Forestry website lists the tree and the county in which it resides, but doesn’t give its precise location, so I emailed the coordinator.  He responded, “Unfortunately, the tree you are asking about is on private property and we are unable to disclose private information.” Undaunted by this rebuff, I was determined to find this tree, so I trawled the dark web and made inquiries of my sources in the deep state until I found the information I was looking for.


No, not really.  What I did instead was use clues from the photograph the Division of Forestry provides on its website and compare them to Google Map street views until I found its location.  It sits in the backyard of the house on the southeast corner of East High Street and Andrew Court East. Sure, it’s technically private property, but I was able to stand on the very public sidewalk to look at the tree and take its picture.

Now, please, if you’re a Downy Hawthorn fanatic, don’t go stripping off your clothes and holding a Woodstock-like festival in the yard where this tree is located because the authorities will certainly trace the dissemination of the tree’s location back to this article and the Men In Black will show up at my door and flash one of those little memory loss pens in my face and that would be regrettable.  Remember, this is top secret information! Be responsible and use it only for good.

We continued driving northeast to the village of West Jefferson.  I was told by a friend that West Jeff has more pizza places per capita than anywhere else in the state.  We did indeed pass a few on East Main Street, but I didn’t do an official census, so I’ll leave it to someone else to confirm this fact.  As good as pizza sounded at that moment, our destination was Ann & Tony’s Restaurant on the east edge of town. The restaurant has been serving delicious Italian cuisine for over 65 years, ever since the namesake couple, both children of Sicilian immigrants, decided to open their doors.  Their son Tom and his wife Judy continue offering authentic Italian cooking. I ordered the small “combination dinner” that included healthy samples of homemade lasagna, penne pasta, and spaghetti with meatball. Michele stuck to the single entrée spaghetti with meatball. The delectable garlic butter that comes with complimentary rolls is enough to entice anyone to Ann & Tony’s, but their delicious red sauce is testament to the Italian eatery’s longevity.  Despite our “small” portions, we were both stuffed by the end of the meal.

We attempted to walk off some of the calories at Prairie Oaks Metro Park, just a few miles north of West Jefferson on State Route 142.  The park straddles the Big Darby State and National Scenic River and offers a variety of recreational activities in its 2,000-plus acres, but we limited ourselves to a stroll along the Coneflower Trail.  We were rewarded with the sight of a rabbit and a beautiful monarch butterfly, but we also encountered a muddy section of trail and a swarm of hungry mosquitoes who would have been better served dining at Ann & Tony’s rather than on our bland skin.  We opted to cut our hike short and return to the car.

Just a stone’s throw (if you have a very strong arm!) north of the park is the Foster Chapel Cemetery, the burial site of the aforementioned county settler.  Growing up, I knew Jonathan Alder only as a name on a school building, but later I learned a little more about the man. He was only seven years old when he was captured by a Native American war party in Virginia in 1782.  He was brought to the Ohio country and adopted by an Indian family. He remained with the Indians until the Treaty of Greenville of 1795. Alder served as an interpreter for awhile before returning to Virginia in 1805 to be reunited with his mother.  Apparently, he wasn’t in a hurry since it took him a decade to make this journey. He eventually married and brought his wife back to Ohio, where he built a cabin and settled on Big Darby Creek.

We returned to West Jefferson and drove west on Main Street.  Soon after passing under a busy train trestle, we turned right off Main Street so we could see the recently constructed Taylor-Blair Road Covered Bridge that spans the Little Darby Creek.  It opened near the end of 2012, costing $2.7 million. Was it worth the price tag? Well, it was partially responsible for getting me to visit and inject a few dollars into the local economy.  A man and two young boys toting fishing poles were emerging from the creek as I got out of the car to take a picture. I was quick with my photographic duties as it was 90 degrees outside!

We continued west out of town on Main Street, aka U.S. Route 40, aka the old National Road.  Being an historically-minded man with simple tastes (Or am I a simpleminded man with historical tastes?), I get a thrill out of seeing remnants of the past.  In Madison County, a big such find is evident about seven miles west of West Jefferson at the village of Lafayette. The Georgian style Red Brick Tavern was constructed in 1837, the same year the National Road reached Madison County, and three years before William Henry Harrison and Martin Van Buren both stayed there during the 1840 presidential campaign.  It’s said that Van Buren drank tea with the aristocracy of the area while Harrison ordered a round of hard cider for everyone. On election day, voters proved they leaned more wet than dry by voting for Harrison.  

In the yard on the west side of the Red Brick Tavern still stands an old National Road milepost.  It’s a bit eroded, but so would you be after standing outdoors for over 180 years.

We progressed another couple of miles west on Route 40 before turning north onto State Route 38.  At the village of Plumwood, we veered northeast onto Arthur Bradley Road. Less than two miles further along, we crossed Little Darby Creek and pulled into a small parking lot for the Little Darby Preserve. It’s one of the state’s newest nature preserves, having just been opened in 2011.  It gets its name from the creek that it straddles, although after following about three miles of a mowed walking trail, I concluded that it could have just as easily been named the Bunny Trail Preserve. We didn’t get far in before a rabbit hopped out from the thick growth of tall meadow grass, paused to look at us and ponder where we’d come from, before skedaddling back into the grass.  This scene was repeated numerous times during our hot and sweaty hike.

Back in the cooling comfort of our car’s air-conditioning, we continued northeast on the road fronting the preserve, which had changed its name to Lafayette Plain City Road NE.  About six miles later, we turned left onto Converse Huff Road and then right onto Converse Chapel Road NE. A left on Boyd Road took us to a long lane leading back to Smith Cemetery.  This small, remote graveyard serves as a microcosmic history of the township. The plants that cover the tombstones represent the landscape the settlers encountered when they arrived and the people listed on the tombstones can be matched to the names on nearby roads.

When the first interment was made here in 1816, the settlers called the area the Darby Plains.  It was covered with thick prairie grass. Unfortunately, each year’s growth of grass would accumulate into a decaying mass that became a natural breeding ground for mosquitos.  That led to an outbreak of malaria resulting in more burials in the cemetery.

The land was eventually tamed through a combination of ditching and tiling that turned a once wet prairie into rich agricultural land.  Remnants of the tallgrass prairie can now be found only in small pockets such as the Smith Cemetery, thanks to management by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.  

Thirty years ago, I rode my bike out to the cemetery and snapped a picture that showed thigh-high grass left to grow wild among the grave markers.  During this most recent visit, I found chest-high flora. Thirty native species of prairie plants have been inventoried at the cemetery. A few narrow paths have been kept mowed to allow access to the remaining tombstones, only a few of which can be spotted above the grass.

The summer day was waning as we returned to Converse Huff Road and followed it to U.S. Route 42 and north into Plain City.  On its south side sits Der Dutchman Restaurant, a place we’ve been known to make special trips to from Columbus for the excellent made-from-scratch comfort food buffets.

My wife raised the touchy subject of county trip rules and whether our patronage of Der Dutchman was allowable.  After all, “thou shalt not spend money at chain stores, restaurants, and hotels” has been one of the sacrosanct commands since the establishment of county trips.  Der Dutchman, technically, falls into this category.  Its original restaurant opened in Walnut Creek, Ohio, in 1969.  Since then, four others have been established in small towns around Ohio, and another in Sarasota, Florida (??????).  I don’t think they’ll be vying any time soon with Starbucks or Subway for the most storefronts in a square block, but it does meet the chain definition as “a series of shops owned by one firm and selling the same goods.”


I could take a moment here and devote a lot of words to rationalizing why eating at Der Dutchman upholds the spirit, if not the law, of the county trip rules, but that would just be inside-the-beltway self-indulgence, and anyway, all I wanted was a good piece of pie.  After crossing the threshold without the county trip gods smiting us, we slid into a booth and placed our order. We were still rather full from our mid-afternoon lunch at Ann & Tony’s, so we stuck to the dessert menu. Michele enjoyed a slice of coconut cream pie, while I opted for lemon meringue and a cup of coffee.  It was the perfect ending to an enjoyable outing.

All that was left was the driving.  We made our way to Main Street via some residential side streets and then drove east out of the city.  After bumping over railroad tracks and passing the Heritage Cooperative grain silos at Kileville, we exited the county at its northeastern corner.


Time spent in the county: 10 hours, 11 minutes

Miles driven in the county: 92 miles

Zion National Park Vacation by - Colin Gawel

Every two years we save up our pennies and flyer miles to splurge on a family vacation out West. Personally, I’m on the lazy side of the holiday spectrum. I’m not looking to hack through the rainforest in Brazil or skydive over the Great Wall of China. Plop me down on a beach with a book and some tunes and I’m perfectly fine spending a few days lost in my own head. However, living in flat Ohio, there really is no substitute for seeing actual mountains. It’s something I never saw until touring with Watershed in my early twenties and it left me awestruck. Not that I was complaining, growing up our family went to Ocean City, Maryland every summer and that was good enough for me. I suppose it still is.

However, my wife Erin is a “mountain” person as they say and certainly it’s important to us as parents to expose Owen to some different places while he is still under our roof. So the big ticket item for 2019 was a trip to Zion National Park in Utah. A number of things made this an attractive option for our family:

Watchman Hike

Watchman Hike

  • I had heard from numerous people that Zion is their favorite National Park

  • The trip could be done quickly and easily. Fly into Vegas and a 2 hour drive to our destination.

  • Once there, a shuttle system eliminated the need for further driving/parking.

  • The whole trip fit into a narrow window where Owen wouldn’t be missing many summer sports activities.

  • Can spend one night in Vegas and see The Beatles Love by Cirque Du Soleil.

So after countless hours researching and preparing from the coffee shop, our family took off Sunday, May 26th, on a direct Southwest flight to Las Vegas. The early departure had us on the ground 9:30 am local time and traveling North on I-15 cranking Outlaw Country the whole way. The ride itself was impressive as the interstate cut through the mountains of Arizona before we arrived at our destination of Springdale, Utah.

Springdale itself is basically a scenic two lane road dotted with hotels and restaurants leading to the entrance of Zion park. The city runs a free shuttle that takes folks staying in town to the entrance of Zion where you can catch the park shuttle to one of nine stops each with hiking trails of different degrees of difficulty.

While there were many good options to stay, we chose Cable Mountain Lodge as it was literally 100 yards from the park entrance, eliminating the need to ride the town shuttle. When taking a teenager hiking, one less shuttle is one less excuse to stay in the room and watch Game of Thrones on the IPad.

The lodge was very nice, not too big, with scenic views of the mountains from the balcony. It had a coffee shop, small store and a brew pub right on sight. The pool was kinda small but the hot tub was handy after a long day of hiking. I cannot recommend Cable Mountain or Springdale for pre-teen kids as there aren’t any kiddie options like mini-golf or water parks, but for older kids and parents it’s pretty perfect. Note to beer drinkers: Utah only allows for low alcoholic beverages at this time (4.0 or less) so if you are interested in something stronger you will need to stock up before you enter the state.

We knocked off the Watchman hike right when we arrived just to get the blood pumping and because cool temperatures and rain were forecast for Monday. Sure enough, the next day the weather was extremely unseasonable for the desert: rain and 48 degrees. Though this was a slight bummer, it came with an upside, as we had the park almost to ourselves for one day.



Riding the Zion shuttle couldn’t have been any easier and our first stop was to Riverside hike which takes you to the beginning of the Narrows, one of Zion’s two most famous trails. The Narrows itself requires you to walk in the river at the bottom of a towering canyon. However, with the rainy spring, it was closed as the water flow was too strong to allow people to safely make the journey. Still, Riverside was a very easy and scenic trail anyway. We got to see the Narrows, we just couldn’t go in the water.

The other popular trail is Angel’s Landing which goes straight up the side of a mountain taking folks to a stunning view of the Zion Canyon. The final step of this journey requires people to make a steep, narrow assent holding onto a guide chain. As it is a very popular trail, this last step can be very crowded and tack an hour and a half onto the trip. We decided to call it a day at Scout’s Landing, which was still plenty high enough for breathtaking views without the terror and aggravation of the final summit. It is best to start this trail before 8 am to beat the crowds. It is definitely worth the effort, though.

Three nights and two full days was plenty of time to enjoy Zion and we headed back to Vegas Wednesday around 10 am and were sitting by the Mirage pool by 2 pm. Since Love wasn’t scheduled until 7pm we had plenty of time to bathe in the Sun and take in some sights.

Sure, Las Vegas is trash, but I love it the same way I love KISS. There is nothing quite like it. While I never feel like an actual Vegas participant, I sure get a kick out of watching people who are. Crazy humans with our EDM pool parties and bottle service. And lots of tattoos. Fun stuff.

Owen and I laid down a few small sports bets before the show, (Damn you Mets, blowing a 4 run lead in the 9th) and LOVE was a sight and sound to behold. Burgers before bed and back on a flight the next morning at 9:30 am.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better 96 hours in my life. - Colin G.

Below: Angel’s Landing and well….duh.


Local Author Launches Memoir About Mental Health And Exercise - by Nita Sweeney

If you live north of Zollinger or south of Lane Road, chances are you’ve seen me jogging along the tree-lined streets with Morgan; my yellow Labrador retriever running partner, canine therapist, and training coach. If Morgan could talk, he would tell you how excited we both are that Mango Publishing is releasing my first book, a memoir.

Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink tracks my journey. At 49-years-old, chronically depressed and unable to jog for more than 60 seconds when I discovered running, I gained an inner strength I didn’t know I possessed, and with Morgan’s help, found myself on the way to completing my first marathon. In my first book, I share how I faced emotional and physical challenges to finish the race and come back from the brink.

As with any “team sport” running and writing takes a fellowship. Much love and gratitude goes to Colin and the gang at Colin’s Coffee for the caffeine, carbohydrates, and camaraderie and I hogged the table closest to the back door during the many years it took to bring this book into the world.

The central Ohio community has opened its arms to help me welcome my “book baby” into the world. I hope to see you at one of these events:

  • Nita Sweeney Launch Day Book Talk at The Book Loft - May 15th

Join Nita Sweeney celebrate the launch of her new book, Depression Hates a Moving Target, with a reading and talk at The Book Loft of German Village on Wednesday, May 15th at 7PM. Books will be available for purchase.

  • Depression Hates a Moving Target Presentation - May 28th

Join Nita Sweeney, author of Depression Hates a Moving Target, for a presentation on Tuesday, May 28th at 2PM at the Upper Arlington Senior Center. Nita will share her experiences about using exercise to manage depression and anxiety. Books will be available for purchase.

  • Nita Sweeney Book Talk/Reading at Prologue Bookshop - May 30th

Book launch celebration continues! Join author Nita Sweeney as she reads from and discusses her new book, Depression Hates a Moving Target, at Prologue Bookshop in the Short North on Thursday, May 30th at 7PM. Books will be available for purchase.

  • Nita Sweeney Signing at Gramercy Books – June 2nd

Nita Sweeney, author of Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, will sign books (and chat as much as you like) at Gramercy's "Kitchen Table!" Join Nita for this informal event from 2PM to 4PM.

  • Nita Sweeney at Marathoner in Training Kickoff - June 8th

Fleet Feet + FrontRunner Worthington – 7227 N. High Street

Nita Sweeney, a long-time MIT member, will speak about using running to manage mental health. Her memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink will be available for purchase. Please check back for times and more details. MIT runs at 8AM and the store opens at 10AM.

  • Publishing: What a Ride! - June 23rd

Nita Sweeney, author of the memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target, will share her publishing experience (can you say roller coaster?) at the Writers' Ink group in Upper Arlington, Ohio at the Kingsdale MCL on Sunday, June 23rd at 1PM. Join the group for food and Nita's discussion of how her book came into the world. Books will be available for purchase.

  • Writing from the Inside Out - Upper Arlington - August 11th

Join Nita Sweeney, author of Depression Hates a Moving Target, on August 11th for a creativity boost. Nita will teach "writing practice," a term coined by bestselling author Natalie Goldberg, for a technique designed to kick the inner critic to the curb. Books will be available for purchase. Class will be held at the UA Senior Center but is open to all adults. Registration required.

  • Book Launch Celebration! – June 30th

Gregory S. Lashutka Event Center (the dam keeper’s house) at Griggs Reservoir

Sunday, June 30, 2019 from 1:30PM to 4:30PM

Nita's lifelong dream of publishing a book came true! Please join her, Ed (the #onehundredpercentgoodhusband), and the rest of her family to celebrate the launch of Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink. If you pre-ordered or bought a book elsewhere, please bring it for Nita to sign. Books will also be for sale. Light refreshments will be served.

 Author and writing coach Nita Sweeney writes and lives in Columbus, the heart of Ohio. She publishes Write Now Columbus and the blog, Bum Glue. Her first book, a memoir about running and mental health, will be released on May 15, 2019. For more information, visit or follow Nita Sweeney on your favorite social media channel.

Pencilstorm's Mother's Day Playlist - by Wal Ozello

It’s Mother’s Day and I can’t help but celebrate my mother. She was the one that bought me my first microphone, came to my concerts and was my biggest fan. Also, back in the day, we were at brunch together after a concert and I was telling her about all the groupies that were chasing me. She responded with, “I don’t see a ring on your finger - you can do whatever you want.” My mom rocked.

So in honor of all the rock n roll mothers out there, here’s a playlist about mom. They may not be the best way to honor her - but they certainly have a mother-like theme. Enjoy.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Let It Be - The Beatles

Mama Kin - Aerosmith

Squeeze Box - The Who

Mother - Pink Floyd

Mama I’m Coming Home - Ozzy Osbourne

Tie Your Mother Down - Queen

Always On The Run - Lenny Kravitz

Got another one that we missed? Add it in the comments below.

What I Learned at Chris Collaros' Funeral - by Scott Goldberg

I know for many, attending a funeral is difficult—knowing what to say to family or being around grief can be uncomfortable. For me, there is a closure that occurs at funerals that I find helpful. What I have invariably learned at funerals is the things we often view as frivolous are actually the things that resonate with people. They are things that connect us to each other and specifically to the person we have lost and come together to honor.

This past week I attended the funeral of Chris Collaros. Chris was the principal at Wickliffe, the elementary school my kids attended. My youngest is now a freshman in high school, so it’s been awhile since we have been active members of the Wickliffe community.

Nevertheless, the evening before the funeral my daughter (now a junior in high school) and I paid our respects at the funeral home. We weren’t alone. We arrived around 6 pm and wound our way through a line that took about an hour and a half to reach the family. Apparently, it had been this way the entire calling hours which began at 3 pm. Throughout the funeral home were mementos of Chris’ life. Most poignant were the notes, cards and pictures from Wickliffe students some with encouraging messages, and others just reporting on the current happenings at school and letting him know he was missed. One wall was decorated with some of the colorful ties Chris wore including his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers—as a Browns fan it reminded me even Chris Collaros had his flaws. We saw alumni families like ours, younger families with kids still attending Wickliffe, and we hugged past teachers that nurtured my kids and taught them about things like compassion and empathy that come in so handy at moments like these.

When we reached the family, I recounted to one of Chris’ daughters how our family was nervous when Chris became principal at Wickliffe. We had gotten to know the previous principal, Dr. Fred Burton and loved the community he had created at Wickliffe. But it didn’t take long for us to realize what Dr. Burton already knew--that Wickliffe was in good hands.

The next day at the funeral, I learned a lot I didn’t know about my kids’ principal. Back in the day, Chris Collaros was a football star in blue collar Steubenville. Mellancamp’s Jack and Diane running through my head—for Chris was Jackie—he was “a football star”. Good enough (and smart enough) to earn a scholarship to Princeton.

I learned Chris took the work he did quite serious, but I never felt like Chris took himself too seriously. Promoting progressive education in Upper Arlington is probably not as easy as Chris made it look. It wasn’t always clear to me what progressive education meant. But I knew it involved experiential learning, celebrating all kids, and respecting and tolerating all their differences. The result of which created a special community that our family is proud and grateful to be a part of.

I did know Chris played the guitar. Chris played in a band along with Fred Burton and a few other school administrators and they called themselves Principally Speaking. The band was a staple at the annual Wickliffe fundraising event. Chris brought his guitar to Wickliffe Town Meetings, Golden Star Choir performances, and occasionally on his visits to classrooms. The funeral was filled with music. Beautiful, uplifting music performed in part by the Upper Arlington High School choir.

The funeral was poignant and sad (I’ll admit I cried) for we had lost a great man who provided a wonderful learning environment for our kids, but I also left grateful to have known him. And even more grateful for the impact he has had on my children, my family, all the kids that graced the halls of Wickliffe, all the kids that then are affected by the spirit of Wickliffe when those kids move on to middle school and high school, well the impact is immeasurable.

Often what is written in pencilstorm can seem frivolous or beside the point. Somebody’s top five concerts, the Buckeyes prospects this season, or which Cleveland team is about to break my heart. But music and sports have a way of connecting and uniting people. It’s often how we explain our connections to our close friends and loved ones. That’s the exact opposite of frivolous—it’s vital and makes life worth living.

I wish Chris was still around to greet kids as they enter Wickliffe with that gapped-tooth infectious smile of his. Frankly, I wish he was around for next football season so he could witness the pounding the Browns are about to inflict on the Steelers and get a small taste of what it’s like to be a Browns fan for say the last 40 or so years. Thinking about Chris the song Forever Young keeps running through my head—not the Rod Stewart song, but the one by Alphaville (I had to look that up). I guess a job that requires you to be around kids all day can do that for you. He was a lucky man.

So next time someone who has touched your life passes, take the time to attend their funeral. You will be reminded of why they meant so much to you and you may learn something new about them. It will likely give you a chance to reflect on them, perhaps laugh about some anecdote, and cry a little too. I did all that at Chris’ funeral. And as the wise coach Jimmy Valvano said if you do all those things you’ve had a full day, you’ve had a heck of a day. - Scott Goldberg