Blog

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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2250147005242599/
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nita-sweeney-depression-hates-a-moving-target-tickets-61336522189


  • 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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/266919897548719/

  • 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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/64025829642767

https://www.prologuebookshop.com/events/nitasweeney

  • 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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/631318254009689/

  • 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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/589695934879920/

  • 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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/838622929810101/


  • 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 https://nitasweeney.com 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

Ohio County Trippin': Delaware County - by Nick Taggart

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

DELAWARE COUNTY

The Art of the Meal”

2-3 March 2019


Whenever we find a reason to drive north toward Delaware, more often than not, after passing I-270, we follow old State Route 315, also known as Olentangy River Road.  It may not be as fast as the parallel U.S. Route 23, but its two shaded lanes are much more scenic as they follow the course of the river. That was the path we followed as we entered the county on a cold March morning.  In the past, we’ve been rewarded with sights of deer, turtles sunning themselves on logs, and great blue herons wading in the shallows. We even saw a single car accident in real time when it flipped over onto its top. Anything is possible on old 315.  There were no airborne vehicles on this particular Saturday, but Michele did spot a kingfisher as I navigated the winding road.

Just before we would have met with Route 23, a few miles south of the county seat, we turned off onto Bunty Station Road.  That led us to Liberty Road and the Stratford Ecological Center, a private non-profit organization that dedicates itself to the admirable task of educating “children and adults in understanding the relationship between living things and their environment, thereby fostering an appreciation of the land and all life that depends on it.”  Its 236-acre organic farm contains a combination of animals, agricultural fields, and woods.

We arrived for the 8 a.m. seating of the Maple Sugar Pancake Breakfast, an annual fundraiser where visitors are able to start their day with homemade whole wheat pancakes, Stratford sausage, and local maple syrup.  I estimated there were about 80 other diners with us that hour, with additional like-sized groups planned for each of the following four hours.

After our breakfast, we walked along the trail leading to the Sugar Shack, passing lines of maple trees being tapped for their sap.  Inside the shack, we saw how the sap was then boiled down to syrup. On our return stroll, we stopped at one of the barns and got a closer look at their herd of llamas and goats.

Back in the car, we backtracked a bit on Olentangy River Road and crossed the river at Hyatts Road so we could reach Taggart Road.  The latter is only about a mile and a half long, but it follows the course of the river on its east side. Early settler Ebenezer Gray Taggart owned a 96-acre farm in this area in the mid-19th Century and the road was probably named for him.  He’s not a close relative that I’m aware of, but I still enjoy having my picture taken with signs containing my surname.

North of there, on Chapman Road, we had to slow down to allow a family of deer to cross in front of us.  Two adults and two yearlings ambled across the road and then stopped once they entered the safety of the woods so they could stare back at us.  (“Oh look, deer, it’s a couple of humans in a Ford Escape. Sometimes, you can catch them with their windows rolled down sunning themselves.”)

I’d planned a short hike through Seymour Woods State Nature Preserve, but we couldn’t find a safe place to pull our car off Winter Road near its gated entrance, so we drove east to Route 23 and south a couple miles to Lewis Center Road.  Continuing east, we drove toward Alum Creek State Park, where the road then dips and bends around the southern end of the reservoir. We turned into the parking lot at the Lower Dam Recreation Area and came face-to-face with the imposing Alum Creek Dam.

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In the parking lot is an historic marker paying homage to the forgotten community of Africa.  In 1824, when Samuel Patterson settled here, the area was known as East Orange. Patterson, an abolitionist, helped hide runaway slaves in his home.  He also invited anti-slavery speakers to spread their message at the local Methodist church. When a pro-slavery neighbor tried mocking Patterson and his like-minded friends by calling their community Africa, they simply accepted it and had East Orange renamed.  

Michele and I climbed the steep steps up the side of the dam, passing a very absorbed jogger who ignored our greeting.  Once he reached the bottom, he turned and jogged back to the top of the dam, and then dropped to the ground and did pushups, his black winter coat and water-repellant pants slapping against the hard concrete with each repetition.  If I was so intent on physical exertion on a cold winter morning, I, too, would probably ignore those around me.

A mile south of the dam on Bale Kenyon Road sits the Delaware County Bicentennial Barn, a century-old barn that can be easily seen by southbound drivers on Interstate 71.  The state’s 2003 bicentennial celebration doesn’t feel all that long ago, but many of the barns that were painted then with the bicentennial logo are now gone or have been repainted.  What was once a common sight, now feels like a special gift from the past. We pulled off the road at the wagon wheel gate that blocks further progress. I snapped a quick picture of the russet wood barn before looking both ways, twice, and backing out onto the road.  

We returned to Lewis Center Road and drove east as it changed names to Big Walnut Road.  At State Route 3, we turned north and skirted a couple of golf courses while staying to the west of Hoover Reservoir.  At Cherry Street, we turned east into the small town of Sunbury and pulled over at the cute little town square. Not only is a Civil War statue a point of interest, but also the large boulder on which it sits.

The man memorialized atop a bronze horse is Civil War Major General William Starke Rosecrans, whose resume was long and impressive.  Besides being born in Delaware County, he graduated from West Point in 1842, and was an engineer, architect, and inventor when he wasn’t commanding the Union Armies of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Missouri.  “Old Rosy” later served as Minister to Mexico and as a United States Congressman from California. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Of possible interest to Columbus Catholics, his brother, Sylvester, was the first bishop of the Columbus Diocese.

The base of the statue is a 40,000-pound rock known as a glacial erratic, a large igneous rock formed from ancient volcanic magma more than 2.5 billion years ago.  More recently – between 10,000 and 110,000 years ago – these erratics were pushed into central Ohio from northern Ontario by the Wisconsin glaciers. The erratic which eternally props up General Rosecrans is said to be one of the five largest erratics in the state.

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That, of course, begs the question, “Where is the largest erratic in Ohio?”  Fortunately, it’s located nearby, only a mile or so east of Sunbury, about a tenth of a mile north of Hartford Road.  It’s an oval-shaped granite boulder 22 feet long, 18 feet wide and 8 feet high with a circumference of 72 feet. The weight of the exposed portion of the erratic is about 200 tons.  Unfortunately, it sits on private property, so we couldn’t get a close-up view, but when a rock is that big, it looks massive even from afar.

We continued our tour of Old Rosy sites north of Sunbury on Rosecrans Road.  West of Blue Church Road, on the south side, sits an easy-to-miss plaque attached to a rock and enclosed on three sides by a black metal fence.  A half dozen small American flags help decorate the General Rosecrans Memorial. The words on the gold-framed marker, erected in 1940 by an American Legion post, record the General’s birth and death dates and explain that the memorial marks his birthplace.  I assume the Rosecrans homestead once stood nearby and that Old Rosy wasn’t hatched just outside by the side of the road.

Continuing north on State Route 61, we turned east onto Chambers Road to find the only covered bridge in the county.  Aptly named the Chambers Road Covered Bridge, it spans Big Walnut Creek and can still be driven over, which is pretty amazing considering it was built in 1883, but more believable once I learned it was renovated in the early 1980s.  The foundations were rebuilt and a concrete center pier added. A steel substructure also ensured the bridge could carry the weight of motor vehicles. The inside wooden planks are colorfully festooned with the usual graffiti informing travelers of who loves whom.  A budding artist also tried his hand at male genitalia representation; either that or a dachshund with big round ears.

Apparently, I’m logistically-challenged because after visiting the covered bridge in the northeast corner of the county, I decided the next item on our itinerary was a restaurant in the southwest corner of the county.  We followed State Route 42 mostly south and west around the county seat and across the Scioto River. Turning south on Dublin Road, we drove to the small community of Shawnee Hills where we found the Morgan House restaurant.

The eatery is built around an authentic log cabin that originally stood in Morgan County, Ohio.  The founders of the Morgan House had the cabin moved to its current location in 1985 and named the restaurant for John Hunt Morgan. I find it “interesting” that the website, in giving the restaurant’s history, describes Morgan as a “famed Civil War veteran,” and gives a brief biography of the man that only covers his pre-Civil War life.  He was in fact a Confederate general who led a raiding party of 1,000 troops through southern Indiana and Ohio in 1863. He was eventually captured and sent to the Ohio Penitentiary, from which he escaped. He was shot by Union troops in Tennessee a year later. Why name a restaurant near Dublin, Ohio for a Southern general? It is believed that Morgan may have stayed at the Morgan County cabin during his raid.

Laying history aside, Michele and I picked up menus and enjoyed a delicious lunch.  I started with a cup of tomato basil soup before moving on to the daily special, an open-faced turkey club sandwich on Texas toast.  Michele ordered the Morgan House soup, a “thick chicken cream-based soup with celery, onions, mushrooms, white wine, and black wild rice that features dominating flavors of sherry and curry,” and the Basket Lunch, which included a chicken salad sandwich with fruit and chips.

After our meal, and a quick perusal of the extensive gift shop in the Morgan House, we drove east along Glick Road atop the O’Shaughnessy Dam, and then north along the reservoir on Riverside Drive.  Fun fact: The O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, along with Hoover Reservoir, also in Delaware County, and Griggs Reservoir in Franklin County, supply 90% of the City of Columbus’s daily water needs of 140 million gallons.

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We entered the county seat of Delaware along Sandusky Street, passing the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University.  We found a parking spot on West Winter Street and proceeded on foot to investigate some of the local businesses.  Our first stop was Endangered Species, The Last Record Store on Earth. It’s also sometimes shortened to Pat’s Record Store for owner Patrick Bailey.  Perched behind the counter, the long gray-haired proprietor appeared just how you might imagine someone who has been in the record trade for 40 years to look.  On a previous visit, his friendly banter included some affectionately-intended (??) mocking comments regarding our purchase of an REO Speedwagon greatest hits cd.  Our selections this time of “The McGarrigle Hour” by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Hayes Carll’s “KMAG YOYO” escaped editorial comment.

Across Winter Street from the record store is Bun’s Restaurant, a local institution since 1864 when it opened as a bakery.  We’d eaten there on a previous visit to Delaware and our present county trip meal dance card was already full, so we had to give Bun’s a miss this time, but I’d recommend it to others.  The neon “Bun’s Restaurant” sign that hangs from an arch over the middle of the street makes it easy to find.

There are plenty of shops to check out on Sandusky Street, but we spent our time in the city’s two main antique stores: Sandusky Street Antiques and Delaware Antique Mall.  The former offers a nicer, higher end selection of goods, while the latter is larger and features more varied pickings. We came away however, without any purchases.

As the clock neared 4 p.m., our agreed upon check-in time for our night’s lodging, we returned to our car and made the short drive to the west end of the street and parked in front of the Winter Street Inn, a 142-year old Victorian-era home that was converted into a bed & breakfast by owners Rodger and Debbie in 2006.  Rodger met us at the door and led us upstairs where the Humphries Room awaited us. Named for a previous owner of the house who owned a thriving Ford dealership, the room featured silk wallpaper, an antique Persian rug, and a comfortable king-sized bed which provided us a spot for a late afternoon siesta.

It was dark by the time we returned outdoors.  We left the car behind and walked down Winter Street, appreciating the architecture of the Italianate homes that filled the lots, many of which appeared to be serving as frat houses, or were owned by people who liked decorating their facades with large Greek letters.

We stepped into the Staas Brewing Company, Delaware’s first (and only?) brewpub.  We sat at stools at the bar and requested a couple of porters; an 8% Baltic Porter for myself and a 6.4% Vanilla Porter for Michele.  Most of the chairs in the bar were occupied, mainly by folks who could have been grad students or parents of students from nearby OWU.  The television screens were muted, but contained sports-related programs. The beers were good and the ambiance was relaxed and inviting.

For a total contrast in clientele, our next stop was the Hamburger Inn Diner on Sandusky Street.  It’s another longtime Delaware institution, dating back to 1932. Closing time is 10 p.m. or midnight during the week, but its open all night on weekends.  Most of the stools at the U-shaped counters were occupied when we entered, but we found a couple at the back of the restaurant. Fox News was playing on the television and a Blue Lives Matter flag was displayed opposite an American flag.  There were lots of tattoos and piercings and overheard drama about people doing other people wrong. And that was just the staff! But everyone was friendly and helpful and the food was good and exactly what I was expecting. I had a cheeseburger and Michele had a chili dog.  We shared our sides of onion rings and waffle fries topped with bacon and cheese.

Feeling a bit stuffed after our meal, we rolled south down Sandusky Street and around the corner onto William Street. We paused at a historic marker memorializing the birthplace of Rutherford B. Hayes, nineteenth president of the United States.  The marker was erected in 1926, the same year the Hayes home was torn down. In its place is now a BP filling station, referred to on a website I came across as the Rutherford B. Hayes Birthplace Gas Station.

Continuing around another corner, we found Roop Brothers Bar, or Roops, as the locals call it.  “Where live classic rock and blues music lives!” The building is a nondescript red brick structure with stacked beer barrels out front.  Inside, the mostly middle aged crowd was preparing for a night of good rockin’ with local favorites, The Stolen Fire. The band was formed in 2011 by four professors from Ohio Wesleyan University.  I stepped up to the bar before the music started and ordered a pint of Brew Dog’s Radio Zombie Phone In, a Russian Imperial Stout. I noticed most of the other drinkers were ordering their brews in cans and bottles.  There was also Jägermeister available on tap!

We stayed for about an hour, listening while the band ran through a series of Zeppelin covers followed by “Pinball Wizard” and Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”  They sounded good and the crowd was into them. After my nursed beer finally emptied, we stepped into the nippy night and strolled back to our B&B. We slept soundly.

I awoke the next morning early enough to shower before breakfast.  The bathroom for our room was so small, the washbasin was located outside it, near our bed.  As I sat on the toilet, I was mere inches away from the mirror that hung from the back of the door.  While performing my morning necessary, there was the spitting image of myself, pants down around his ankles, gawking at me.  It was a bit unnerving. I’d look away, but every time I snuck a peek, there I was, still staring.

Perv!

Promptly at 8 a.m., we descended the winding staircase to the first floor.  In the dining room, Rodger already had our places set. There was a bowl of mixed fruit and granola in yogurt, and on a side plate, a cherry-filled donut.  Coffee and juice filled our cups and when we were ready, the main entrée was brought out consisting of a sunny side egg atop a muffin, accompanied by slices of melon and pineapple.

After our meal, we hung out in our room for awhile, getting our money’s worth.  At 11 a.m., when we checked out, teeny random snowflakes had begun to fall. I snapped a photo of our B&B as well as the building across the street, the former George W. Campbell home, which was originally built in 1854.  It was designed with Romanesque and Norman Revival architectural features which included a round tower and arched windows and doorways made of locally-mined blue limestone. It now serves as the Delaware County Cultural Arts Center.

We drove northwest out of Delaware along West Central Avenue and then veered north on State Route 203 up to the village of Radnor for another architecturally unique structure.  At the entrance to the local graveyard is the Radnor Cemetery Lych Gate. Traditional in England and Wales, lych gates are covered gateways used to shelter coffins until clergymen arrive for burial. The Radnor version was designed by a local architect over a century ago to commemorate the early settlers of the town who emigrated from Wales.  It’s built of locally-quarried stone and features two openings: a larger one for a horse-drawn hearse and a smaller one for mourners. The gate was also given a tower resembling a church steeple to give it an ecclesiastical style.

We drove east from Radnor for about four miles until arriving at U.S. Route 23 about a mile north of the entrance to Delaware State Park.  I thought a little outdoor exercise might work off our morning donut. We wound through the park before stopping near the camp check-in station.  Near there was the beginning of the Lakeview Trail. For awhile, the path was dry and pleasant. The sky was a solid cloud, but we could see Delaware Lake.  The lake was formed in 1951 after the construction of a flood control dam. The state park was dedicated a year later.

Once the trail looped away from the water on its way to connecting to the Briar Patch Trail and the return to the parking lot, big muddy patches began getting in our way.  We tried walking around them, but the sides of the trail were lined with briars and needle-filled plants. The Sunday morning stroll became a slog as more and more sections of the trail contained standing water.  One can attempt to be very Zen about it all and concentrate on a particular mantra to distract from the trail conditions, but when that repeated word becomes, “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK!” then you realize your attempt at serene meditation is, well, in a word, fucked.

After a couple miles of less than ideal hiking, we arrived back at the lot and spent some time scraping off the brown slop that had caked to our boots before allowing ourselves back in the car.

As we drove back to Delaware, the snowflakes hitting the windshield became bigger and wetter.  We had made plans to meet my sister and her daughter at the 1808 American Bistro at 1 p.m. for Sunday brunch.  Katanya and Jennifer introduced us to this very fine restaurant a year ago and we looked forward to returning. I considered myself lucky when I spotted an open parking spot directly across the street.  After we parallel parked, the car behind pulled up next to us and rolled down a window. My sibling and niece were inside and were a bit miffed because they had seen a car vacate that prime parking spot and had quickly driven around the block so they could get it.  “Sorry!” I weakly responded, although I couldn’t stop laughing.

Once we sat down to eat, all thoughts of stolen parking spaces were forgotten as we were all easily distracted by the food.  The restaurant has been open for over a decade and has a deservedly good reputation for its Sunday brunch. I had the shrimp and grits which was outstanding with shrimp and andouille sausage bathing in polenta and a creamy Cajun sauce.  We all enjoyed a leisurely two-hour meal, which was long enough for a layer of snow to accumulate on the windows of our cars.

We said our goodbyes and swept our vehicle of snow and drove a few blocks away to the Richard M. Ross Art Museum on South Sandusky Street.  It’s housed in OWU’s Humphreys Art Hall, a former United State Post Office building. I was looking forward to seeing the current exhibit, “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” a collection of curated works by African American artists and artists from the African Diaspora.

When we entered the museum, we saw right away that there was some sort of to-do taking place.  There were lots of well-dressed people milling about and socializing. (We later learned the Delaware Community Chorus was hosting a reception for its donors.)  Michele was hesitant about proceeding, but I really wanted to see the art and figured so long as we weren’t turned away, we could still do so. Michele’s misgivings were reinforced when we were somewhat strong-armed into wearing nametags.  I acquiesced quickly on the assumption that we’d be less conspicuous if we had nametags like everyone else. I was wrong. We were both greeted by name by complete strangers on multiple occasions. I’m not particularly fond of being so familiarly hailed by someone who doesn’t know me.

We did our best to circulate through the galleries, but it was near impossible at times as the hors d’oeuvres-munching, wine-swilling crowd didn’t seem to have a problem socializing directly in front of pieces while completely ignoring the art.

I was able to get close to one piece and was contemplating it when a guy ambled up next to me and asked with a laugh, “What does that say to you?”  I find the perusal of art in a gallery to be a somewhat personal experience and regardless of whether or not I have a specific reaction to a piece, I don’t want to discuss it with a stranger.  I had the feeling he didn’t want to seriously deliberate its merits anyway, but rather was just make a joke of it. I responded by ignoring him. After enough awkward silence passed, he finally took his plastic wine glass and moved on with a laugh and a mutter about still waiting for the art to say something to him.  I continued on my way while screaming in my head, “I just want to be left alone to look at the art!”

Michele later told me she did her best to display a demeanor that said, “Leave me alone,” but was unsuccessful time and time again.  Apparently, whatever talents the Chorus possesses in singing and fundraising far exceed the ability of its members to read body language.

I can’t imagine we resembled the normal philanthropist, what with our attire of cargo pants and mud-caked boots, but perhaps we were mistaken for the reclusive and deep-pocketed donors, Mr. and Mr. “Anonymous” who always appear at the top of contributor lists.

Percy King

Percy King

So the conditions were far from ideal, but we did our best to circulate through the rooms and actually look at the art.  There were a few artists represented with whom I was previously familiar such as Aminah Robinson and Kojo Kamau, but there were also many who were new to me.  It is always a pleasure to discover a new favorite. One example was the “First Avenue” triptych by Don “DonCee” Coulter, but the artist whose works may have made the biggest impression on both Michele and myself was Percy King.

OSU football fans may remember King as the safety who blocked a punt for a touchdown against Penn State in 1998.  After a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, he turned to another passion of his: art. What he has since named, “Shaolin Wood Technique,” his works incorporate layered sheets of compressed composite wood.  The results are very cool-looking 3-D portraits of prominent cultural figures from Langston Hughes to Snoop Dog.

By the time we completed our tour of the exhibit and escaped to our car where we were both anxious to compare our museum experiences, the snowfall had increased in intensity.  Road visibility approached white-out conditions as we drove south on U.S. Route 23. I’d originally planned on ending our weekend with a hike in Highbanks Metro Park to see a couple of Adena mounds, but the weather situation forced a change.  We just kept driving south and soon exited the county.





Time spent in the county: 32 hours, 2 minutes

Miles driven in the county: 138 miles







Colin's Coffee Nominated for Upper Arlington Business of the Year

Colin’s Coffee Nominated for UA Business of the Year

Not trying to jinx it or get a big head, but I thought folks might be interested to learn that Colin’s Coffee has been nominated for the 2018 business of the year by the city of Upper Arlington. The winner will be announced at the State of the City address on Monday January 28th. I’m unsure how this works or who else is nominated, but a quick google search reveals Ohio Health took home the trophy last year, so it looks like we might be in for some stiff competition.

In all seriousness, no matter how it turns out,  we are flattered just to be nominated and appreciate the city of UA acknowledging a business as small as ours. It’s a team effort down here at the Golden Bear Center, with our amazing customers and staff leading the way. They really deserve the credit for what gives the coffee shop its special vibe.


Anyway, I will report back on the Colin’s Coffee Facebook page to share the results after the meeting on January 28th. Stay warm. - Colin

FYI - This amazing Colin’s Coffee painting was done by UA Freshman student Ava Taylor. Follow @ Instagram avatays_art

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Ohio County Trippin' Hancock County - by Nick Taggart

HANCOCK COUNTY “Past Times Pastime” 8-9 December 2018


We were heading north on US Route 68 when the green county sign, standing lonely at a rural crossroads, marked our entrance into Hancock County.  We turned left at that intersection and followed County Road 2 along the southern border for about two miles. Sitting neglected between the road and a frozen field was a stubby cement cylinder.  It would have been easy to miss had I not been looking for it. It was placed on this spot just over a century ago to mark Hull’s Trail, a path from Urbana to Detroit, blazed by General William Hull and his troops during the War of 1812.  The historical marker also makes note of a small supply stockade and blockhouse constructed for that war effort. Fort Necessity, “affectionately” dubbed Fort Mud by the poor sods who had to build and guard it, was located 400 feet north and 150 feet east of the marker.  Any remnants of the fort are long gone. A wall of trees running along the road blocked our view of what wasn’t there anyway.

We drove a large loop along country roads before returning to US Route 68 and continuing our progress north.  We passed through the village of Arlington, which clocks in with the third largest population in the county at just about 1,500 residents.  It’s also one of the oldest pioneer settled spots in the county, beginning as a farming community in 1844, and then gaining steam as a railroad crossroads when tracks were laid across southern Hancock County.  The main street was decorated for the holidays with vintage red lanterns and green garland hanging from the street lamps.

Pilgrim Restaurant - Findlay, OH

Pilgrim Restaurant - Findlay, OH

Another ten miles further north, we found ourselves in the middle of the county seat of Findlay.  Turning left at the courthouse onto West Main Cross Street, we drove another few miles, passing over busy Interstate 75, and to our destination for breakfast, Pilgrim Restaurant.  If the large black “FOOD” emblazoned on its pitched yellow roof wasn’t signpost enough, the nearly full parking lot served as a testament that this was the place to dine. I ordered the Pilgrim Omelet while Michele opted for the standard scrambled eggs and hash browns, supplemented with bacon and a cinnamon roll.  We planned to get coffee anyway, but the signs decorating the interior left no doubt that java drinking was encouraged.

Drink Coffee.  Do stupid things faster, with more energy.

Coffee!  If you’re not shaking, you need another cup.

After a delicious breakfast, we returned to US Route 68 and proceeded north out of town.  As we entered Allen Township, we passed by the land of giant things.  A sprawling factory on the right belonged to one of the county’s largest employers, Whirlpool Corporation.  Nearby is the Ball Corporation’s beverage packaging plant. Towering above them both is a field of seven mammoth white wind turbines constructed in the last few years by One Energy to aid in supplying clean energy for Whirlpool and Ball, as well as for Valfilms, a maker of films for food packaging, automotive, construction and telecommunication industries. Valfilms has its world headquarters in Brazil, but its North American headquarters in Findlay.  To add a large dash of color to all the behemoths, a tall water tower - diminutive when compared to the turbines - was painted in a red, white, and blue star-spangled motif with the message, “Findlay Salutes Veterans.”

Near the northern boundary of the county, we pulled over in the town square of Van Buren to read a historic marker detailing the small village’s history.  It’s another early community, having been laid out in 1833 and named for Martin Van Buren, a prominent national figure of the time whose election to president wouldn’t occur for another few years.  

Positioned against the eastern edge of the village is Van Buren State Park, 300 acres of recreational land surrounding a long, skinny lake.  On a cold December Saturday morning, it had the feeling of having been put to bed for the winter. Our car sat alone in a parking lot while we hiked for a spell along the water’s perimeter.  Black locust pods littered the hard, frozen ground and big, beefy fox squirrels lumbered between leafless trees. We went as far as an open shelter house before turning around. It wasn’t the most exciting stroll, although we were rewarded by finding a quarter in the parking lot and spotting a bald eagle circling our side of the lake.

We got back in the car with Michele behind the wheel so I could navigate while unencumbered by such trivialities as watching the road.  We drove west on State Route 613 and got stopped by a train just before reaching the town of McComb. It was a reminder of what a busy railroad corridor northwest Ohio is.  Once the train passed and the crossing gates raised, we entered the village and looped through its quiet streets.

Go Panthers!  

I assumed that’s what one should say in McComb when I saw a large mural of the big black cat on the side of a building.  I later confirmed it is indeed the local school’s mascot.

We drove south out of town and then meandered our way east to County Road 99.  Just shy of Interstate 75, we turned off the road so we could visit Jeffrey’s Antique Gallery.  The seemingly endless collection of stalls located in a long, sprawling building isn’t resorting to hyperbole when it claims to be the largest antique mall in Northwest Ohio.  After spending a bit of time perusing the collections of hand-me-down cultural mementos, I came to the conclusion that a better name for such establishments would be Reminiscing Emporiums.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, you’re bound to come across something from your childhood being offered for sale at a price far above what you ever paid for it, or for that matter, ever might have sold it for in a yard sale.  It’s all there, from NASCAR “collectible” figurines, to a vintage cardboard Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket from the 1980s, to dishes you’d swear you used to eat off of at your grandmother’s house.

We are going to need a bigger flask.

We are going to need a bigger flask.

And should you ever be forced to spend time at an antique mall against your will, here’s a surefire plan for passing the time quickly and enjoyably.  First, sneak in a flask filled with your favorite adult beverage. Then, take a drink whenever you overhear someone say, “We used to have one of those.”  Be sure to be accompanied by a designated driver though, because you’re sure to be snockered in no time!

After about an hour and a half, we found we’d barely made it through half of the mall.  The rest would have to wait. We returned to the county seat and parked on the campus of the University of Findlay, an institute of higher education established in 1888.  On foot, we found Croy Gymnasium, paid $8 each for tickets, and found a place to sit on the hard bleachers. We were in time to catch the final four minutes of the women’s basketball game between the University of Findlay Oilers and the Malone University [Canton, Ohio] Pioneers.  Despite a string of last-minute 3-pointers drained by the visitors, it was the home team that dominated in a 69-50 win.

After a short intermission, the men’s teams took to the court.  The pace was faster than the women’s game and the physical contact was a bit more aggressive, but the shooting wasn’t any more accurate.  We left at half time with the Oilers leading by 11 points. I later learned they maintained their lead and won the game 81-75. In both games, it was fun to watch for the pure enjoyment of the sport without feeling the need to root for either team.

With the afternoon waning, we returned to the heart of downtown Findlay, south of the Blanchard River.  We pulled up in front of the new Hancock Hotel. Located on South Main Street as part of the Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s campus, this beautiful addition to the city opened its doors to guests for the first time only ten months earlier in February.  The staff were very friendly and helpful, especially after the desk clerk mistakenly sent us to the wrong room. He’d written “405” on our room key folder. After a few futile attempts to gain access to the room, I returned to the front desk and learned the clerk should have written “504.”  Our keycard worked much better for that room!

After a short settling in period, we left the hotel on foot and paused for a photo next door at the Marathon Petroleum Corporation building.  I’m usually not one to shill for an oil company, but Marathon is an Ohio company with its headquarters in Findlay, so why not show a little love.  Its history is a tangled and complicated tale of mergers and acquisitions, trust bustings and spin-offs, but I’ll attempt a CliffsNotes version for interested parties.

In 1887, several small Ohio oil companies came together to form The Ohio Oil Company.  Two years later, John D. Rockefeller stepped in with his big fat wallet and purchased the company to add to his Standard Oil holdings.  A couple decades later, the Standard Oil Trust was broken and the Ohio Oil Company once again became independent. After purchasing the Transcontinental Oil Company in 1930, the Marathon brand name was created, which eventually led to the company changing its name to the Marathon Oil Company in 1962.  Twenty years later, it became a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, but almost 30 years after that, the refining and marketing assets were spun off into a separate company called the Marathon Petroleum Corporation. And that’s where we stand today. [Whew!] According to Wikipedia: “Following its acquisition of Andeavor on October 1, 2018, Marathon Petroleum became the largest petroleum refinery operator in the United States, with 16 refineries and over 3 million barrels per day of refining capacity.”  It’s something to keep in mind the next time you think globally and fill up locally.

Around the corner and a couple blocks away on East Crawford Street, we found the Findlay Brewing Company, where we enjoyed a couple of late afternoon beers.  Michele tried the Ohio Weather, a pint of cinnamon vanilla porter with a cinnamon-sugared rim. I opted for a snifter of Chicote’s 2018, a chocolate habanero milk stout that slid down the throat with just enough heat left behind to make it an interesting brew.

We returned to our hotel room and had just enough time to change clothes before heading back out into the cold night for a brisk walk south to our dinner destination.  A couple months earlier, we’d made reservations for the 25th Annual Victorian Christmas Dinner, a fundraiser for the Hancock Historical Museum.  The event is held in a different local home each year. For 2018, Dave and Julie Wright volunteered their 1903 Colonial Revival house at 916 South Main Street.  Our tickets were mailed to us ahead of time along with the dress code: “You may dress in period costume or formal attire, if you wish. Otherwise, business casual dress is appropriate.”  Once in Findlay, I discovered I’d packed my frock coat and top hat in my other steamer trunk, so I made do with a sweater and ye olde khakis for my attire.

The furniture had been moved out of all the first floor rooms and was replaced by enough tables to accommodate about 50 diners.  We sat with three other couples at a round table in the front room. “Servants” in period costume brought us our various courses: carrot crème soup, a garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and stuffed breast of chicken with dressing and gravy accompanied by mashed redskin potatoes and French-style green beans with almonds.  With each new wave of food, the “help” would surround our table and then in unison, place the plates before each guest. I felt as though we’d entered an episode of “Downton Abbey.”

[Please note:  Yes, I realize the Victorian Age officially came to an end with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and that the imaginary world of “Downton Abbey” took place in the post-Edwardian years before and after the First World War, but just so you know, this incessant need for nitpicky correctness is why people don’t like you!]

We drank wine with our dinner and coffee with our dessert of pumpkin bread trifle.  We were serenaded with music by the College First Church of God Carolers and then entertained with a recitation of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by a man in a nightshirt calling himself Clement Moore.  By the time we retrieved our coats and stepped into the 21-degree night, I was heady with holiday spirit.

The following morning when we checked out of the Hancock Hotel, we found the lobby teeming with children.  Parents had brought their young ones for “Breakfast With Santa,” an opportunity for kids to visit with the jolly ol’ elf while dining on pancakes.  There was also a craft table where they could create “Magic Reindeer Feed” (Which is now legal thanks to recent legislation, but only for medicinal purposes.  Apparently, a lot of reindeer suffer from glaucoma.).

We drove up Main Street and paused to get a better look at the Hancock County Courthouse.  Dedicated in 1888, there’s no mistaking it for anything other than a grand example of 19th Century architecture with decoratively carved stone all over its three symmetrical stories.  A domed clock tower rises in the center and atop it is a 16-foot bronze statue of the county’s namesake, John Hancock.

A few blocks east of the courthouse on East Main Cross Street, we pulled into a small parking lot next to the Blanchard River.  On the opposite bank is Riverside Park and connecting both sides of the river is a small cascading spillway that a more imaginative community booster will tell you is a waterfall.  Regardless of your viewpoint, it was a quiet, pretty spot on a sunny Sunday morning. As if on cue, a bald eagle flew overhead, following the course of the Blanchard.

Timing is everything on a county trip and we were apparently a few years too late for our next destination.  We drove about seven miles east out of Findlay on US Route 224 to see the county’s Bicentennial Barn, one of 88 barns painted for the state’s 200th birthday in 2003.  If you want to see the bicentennial logo on Hancock’s barn, quickly take a look at it on Google’s Street View, dated August 2015, because it no longer exists in real time.  I’m not sure if the old barn was completely replaced or just received a new paint job, but in either case, the logo was gone.

We returned to Findlay and searched for a couple of historic markers to fill in some local history detail.  The first was easy to find on the southwest corner of Main Street and the Blanchard River. There, a sign marks the location of the original Fort Findlay, another supply depot ordered built by General Hull during the War of 1812.  It was named for Colonel (later General, and later still, member of Congress) James Findlay, the officer who oversaw the fort’s construction. The pioneers who laid out a town on the same spot a decade later retained his name.

The second marker was a little more difficult to find.  On the west side of town, after crossing railroad tracks and shimmying down an alley, we found a marker next to the Blanchard River near the rounded corner where River and Liberty Streets meet.  The neglected area resembled a spot where young boys might later tell authorities they found a dead body. Fortunately, I didn’t make any such discoveries. I did, however, find the marker that had been placed there in 1937 to commemorate the location of the Great Karg Well.  Its discovery in 1886 launched Ohio’s first major natural gas boom. Companies flocked to Findlay for the area’s huge natural gas and petroleum deposits. The resources were so plentiful that the city was able to illuminate its streets with gas lamps, earning it the nickname, “City of Light.”  

Not quite rising to the level of historic importance as the Great Karg Well, yet still very popular among locals, is Wilson’s Sandwich Shop on South Main Street.  Ever since Hoyt “Stub” Wilson opened his small restaurant in 1936, folks have been flocking to it for its menu of chili dogs, onion rings, and other similar simple offerings.  It moved to its current location in the 1960s. We arrived soon after its noon opening and were surprised to find it so busy for a Sunday afternoon. Both the inside counter and the outside drive-thru were humming with activity.  We stuck to the basics, each ordering a Wilson Chili Dog, and claimed something in common with former Vice-Presidents Dan Quayle and Joe Biden, who both had been Wilson’s customers.

After lunch comes dessert and the best place for something sweet in Findlay is Dietsch Brothers, a candy and ice cream shop whose origin dates to the late 1920s.  We sat down at a booth and enjoyed a couple of cones. Mine was filled with the Buckeye blend of chocolate and peanut butter while Michele opted for cherry vanilla.  We also did some shopping, selecting sweet treats from Dietsch’s vast selection of chocolate and candy. With the holidays fast approaching, we knew we couldn’t go wrong adding chocolate to a family member’s gift.   

Our next stop, just a couple blocks away on West Sandusky Street, was the Hancock Historical Museum.  Executive Director Sarah Sisser, who we’d seen the night before welcoming folks to the Victorian Christmas Dinner, was staffing the front desk.  The museum is located in the Hull-Flater House and furnished in the late Victorian style. The first floor also houses a general museum containing exhibits representing the county’s history.  Its most unique artifact – while not having any direct historical connection to Hancock County - has got to be the bathtub from the USS Maine.

For those who need a refresher course on their American history, the USS Maine was a United States battleship that blew up under mysterious circumstances in the harbor at Havana, Cuba in 1898.  Two hundred and sixty American sailors died. The United States used the sinking as an excuse to declare war on Spain. The Spanish American War had three key outcomes: removing Spain once and for all from the Caribbean; making war heroes out of Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders; and lodging the phrase, “Remember the Maine” into America’s psyche, even if we no longer remember why we’re remembering it.

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A bathtub from the USS Maine might seem like a somewhat bizarre relic, but its path from Havana’s harbor to the Hancock Historical Museum is a fascinating one.  After the ship was raised from Havana’s harbor in 1911, everyone with a political connection wanted to obtain a piece of it. Ohio’s Congressman Frank B. Willis managed to obtain the captain’s enameled-steel bathtub which he planned to donate to his hometown of Urbana.  The only problem was Urbana didn’t want it. The town of Findlay spoke up and said it would be happy to take it, but was rather disappointed when a rusted old tub arrived. Apparently, no one considered the toll taken on the metal after spending more than a decade under water.  No one wanted to display it, so they stored it in a municipal building and used it for a time as a coal bin. Public outrage ensued and it was eventually put in a display case in a little-used hallway of the county courthouse. It’s said that a courthouse janitor got tired of explaining to visitors what it was so he taped a "USS Maine Bathtub" sign to the case.  When the courthouse was renovated in 1960, the tub was sent to the Findlay College Museum. They used the case for other purposes and stored the bathtub in an old cigar factory. In the mid-70s, it was given to the Hancock Historical Museum where they left it in a basement for many years before finally dusting it off and giving it some prime real estate among the other exhibits.  

After learning its circuitous history, one couldn’t help but feel fortunate to be standing in front of the rusty old tub.  I just had to take a picture of it!

There are other buildings located on the grounds of the museum and we did a quick tour of the Crawford Log House, built in 1840, before driving on to our next destination.

We returned to the campus of the University of Findlay to visit the Mazza Musuem, an art museum devoted to illustrations from children's picture books.  Examples of original art hung on walls above the children’s books in which they appeared. I had Michele pose for a picture in front of one of her favorites, Bread and Jam for Frances, illustrated by Lillian Hoban and written by her then-husband, Russell Hoban.  It’s one in a series of Frances books about a loveable badger who, in this instance, is a fussy eater.  Our tour was a fun walk down Memory Lane, being reminded of some of the books that helped start our lives as readers.  

Our final stop of the day was a return to Jeffrey’s Antique Gallery.  We had a bit of time to kill and hadn’t finished perusing all the booths the day before, so we continued our search for the ever elusive treasure that we didn’t even know we needed.  Unfortunately though, despite a credit card and a valiant effort, another ninety minutes of shopping didn’t result in any purchases. I left, however, with a greater appreciation for Findlay as a cosmopolitan community.  As I strolled around the antique mall, I found myself at one point near a young Japanese couple speaking their native language. That reminded me of the table of Spanish-speaking students I encountered the day before in Croy Gym, and the couples we found ourselves walking behind on the way to the Findlay Brewing Company who were speaking Russian.  Who knew?.

It was dark by the time we returned to the road.  Another short drive south on Main Street and then a longer jaunt east on US Route 224 took us out of Findlay and out of the county.






Time spent in the county: 32 hours, 59 minutes

Miles driven in the county: 97 miles

 

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