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Here Comes the Bride

Posted on November 8, 2015 at 11:25 PM

Did I tell you I lead an interesting life? And that I do things on the spur of the moment? I also have a fun quotient – what is the fun thing I did today.


Sunday, Nov. 8, was one of those days. I was slicing an apple for a mid-afternoon snack around 2:30 when I got a phone call. It was someone I know from covering meetings. His church was having a ceremony where “about 30 of us old people are renewing our wedding vows and I thought you’d like to come.”


That’s something you don’t see every day. Usually when a couple renews their vows, it is in a private ceremony generally for family. Three hours after the call I walked into the church and learned 23 couples had chosen to participate.


One couple had been married only eight years. About a half dozen or had been married more than 50 years. I spoke with one couple who had been married for 62!


An elementary-school aged boy and girl – ring bearer and flower girl – led the 23 couples, arm in arm, down the center aisle of the church as the organist played “Here Comes the Bride.”


“Brides” attired in dresses that covered the spectrum of the rainbow and somewhere in between. Hemlines that tickled the knees to tickling the shoe top. Some “brides” sported flowers on their wrist or a small white corsage on their dress. “Grooms” in business suits or casual in slacks, a shirt open at the neck and a sport coat. A boutonniere could be seen here and there.


They repeated vows read by the church’s pastor who was attired in a tuxedo. He and his wife, married 37 years, had renewed their vows at 25 years. He was finishing a six-week series of sermons on marriage and the family and thought the renewal of vows would be a nice way to end the series.


At the end of the vows, the pastor told the “grooms” they could kiss their “brides.”


A traditional reception followed in the church gym – cake, mints, nuts, coffee and punch. Couples, church members and guests ate, looked at wedding photos the couple brought for a display, and chatted among themselves.


I knew one couple, the one who invited me, but I knew three of the servers at the reception.


I have to admit wedding cake beats tomato soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwich I had planned for dinner.


Wonder what next I can drop in the fun bucket next?






Remembering a Classmate

Posted on September 29, 2015 at 11:15 AM

I’m not a poetry lover, although I’ve tried over the years.


It started in the fourth grade. Our classroom had a small blackboard and each Monday the teacher put a short poem on that board. Her handwriting mirrored the cards that hung around the room trying to help us with our penmanship.


Each day as part of our opening exercises, we would recite that poem. On Friday, we copied it into our composition books. After we had a few in our books, we had a recitation period.


One boy in the class was a slow learner and it affected his speech. Or was it vice versa? He finally learned a poem and was proud to stand and recite it on Fridays. I was proud of his progress. I knew how hard he struggled to stand beside his desk and say:


“Before God’s footstool to confess

A poor soul knelt and bowed his head

“I failed,” he cried.

The Master said

“Thou didst thy best, that is success.”


Last week while perusing the obituaries in my hometown newspaper, I came across the one of this young man. He was with my class for six years. In the sixth grade we had a teacher who was not familiar with the way other teachers had treated him. She had her own techniques. He was held back at that time to repeat the work of the sixth grade. Or was it to develop better skills, thanks to that teacher.


He no longer lived in our community. He was in a home in another part of the state. Was he close to his family, which now consisted of a brother-in-law and his children?


What I remembered of him—he was called “Doc” (which was left out of the obituary), he wore blue jeans and sport shirts, he would also say “Larry Doby.”


Rest in Peace, Larry Carmean.








Summer of 15

Posted on July 25, 2015 at 2:35 PM

I’ve had an interesting summer, although it’s only half over, and I have a lot more to do.


This summer I’ve purchased three books, all of which are autographed. That’s probably more books than I’ve bought since my college days. Or do those days of buying and selling textbooks count? And since I live a half mile from a library, why do I have to buy books?


This summer has been different.


It started in June when a friend – Bruce Larsen – published ‘Secrets and Rivals’ taken from love letters from his parents before they were married. These letters were from World War II. Bruce and his two siblings discovered the box of 700 letters at the assisted living home where their widowed mother lived out her remaining days.


Then came Dan Silva with another in the series of Gabriel Allon. Dan was in the Columbus area for a book signing the day after ‘English Spy’ came out. I had to go see him since he and I once worked for the same company, he in Washington and Cairo and me in Columbus. I forked over the top price, which included a signed copy of the book.


At the bottom of the pile is ‘My Life’ by Jimmy Carter. The former president was having a book signing at a warehouse club store and I couldn’t resist, even though it was across town. I had never seen a president and figured this was my chance. I saw him and was somewhat disappointed. He wasn’t anything special – just another man sitting behind a table, casually dressed and surrounded by piles of tires. And, oh, yes, countless numbers of good-looking young men and a nice young lady, all dressed in summer weight black suits, telling us to check our purses at the customer service counter; No, you can’t take a camera in there.


I came away with another autographed book that is now at the bottom of my reading pile. I can cross something off the bucket list I’ve never written out.


Oh well, I’ll go back to reading the book from the library. When it’s finished, I’ll turn to the book on the top of my personal stack and work on it until a book I have on reserve at the library comes in. I’ll get my pile down in about six weeks or so since I have a long flight ahead of me.


I should get busy and clean out the book shelves in the basement. I could have a yard sale of nothing but books.




Seeing Good

Posted on June 27, 2015 at 8:25 PM

This past week I saw two things that made me happy. Both involved books.


Wednesday my writing friend Peg and I had the opportunity to read to elementary school-aged children. We arrived early with books we had written. The principal led us to the library. I couldn’t help but start looking at books and wonder which ones I could check out. We browsed at the table where librarians were putting out books donated by a book store.


Soon teachers led the students into the library and the little ones took their seats on the floor. Parents had stayed when they brought their children to school for this special day. They sat in the back of the room.


A woman from the local library started the program by reading a book. Then it was my turn. I had learned one little boy was celebrating a birthday. I called him up and encouraged everyone to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. Then I read a little story from one of my books.


Then it was Peg’s turn. She read a children’s book she had written and published.


Children were told they could take a book from the table of donations. They scattered to all corners of the library and the outdoor courtyard to read. Some of the children sat with a parent and read.


Peg marveled at how well behaved these children were and how attentive.


“They’ve been read to at home,” said Peg, a former teacher.


And the father of the birthday boy sought me out to say thank you.


I felt so good as I left the school that day. I saw parents and children doing things together.


Saturday I witnessed another family togetherness. Again it was at a library.


I stopped in to pick up a book that had been placed on reserve for me. I got there a little early – the library had not yet opened. I stood in the foyer waiting for the library to open.


I walked in behind a family – Mother had one child in her arms, Daddy had another child by the hand. Families using the library. What a joy to see.


So often we hear of the young people who are doing wrong. There is some good in this world. Let’s spread the good and hope it overcomes the bad.






Letting Go

Posted on May 5, 2015 at 5:45 PM

I learned a big lesson today. I learned to let go. But not without tears.


About a year ago my husband chose to leave this world and left me with a lot of things. Memories are the ones I will cherish the most. And I have 40 years of them.


His workshop has enough tools and other items, including several boxes of his miscellaneous junk that will take me eons to sort through.


Please don’t mention clothes. I sorted, washed, and folded 50 shirts hanging in the basement and donated to Volunteers of America. I’ve sent some items to a United Methodist Church to give to the Free Store they operate. Some hardly used items of clothing I dropped in a box for Special Olympics who will sell them and use the money for Special Olympics. More items are coming as I continue to sort through closets and drawers.


But the big things ar4 the ones I’m having trouble dealing with – those with four wheels.


People were amazed that as a two-person household we had three vehicles, as in cars. At various times in our life together, we would count a collectors car, a motor home, bicycles, motorcycles, motorized bikes, a trike, even trailers to haul them.


One vehicle he left behind was a classic – a 2002 Mercury Cougar, one of the last ones made. The 2002 model year was the last for the Mercury Cougar. He bought this one April 1, 2002, when I was looking for a car. It had been made in March of that year. He had his long-time personal plate on the car, then got REDSCAT for a while, and later a regular plate.


The car wasn’t driven much. It reminded me of Grandma who only drove her car on Sundays. It carried us to Sandusky to see the kids and grandkids. We argued the difference between a sport car and a sports car.


He’d hook up the trailer to haul bikes to ride. But he soon realized how much space he was taking up in the parking lot and decided he needed an SUV. Welcome another vehicle.


The Cougar didn’t get much use. I liked it because of its collector’s value. I didn’t like it because it didn’t fit my body and I didn’t fit it. I sat too low in the car. And when I pulled the seat forward enough to reach the gas pedal, the steering wheel was in my gut. He worried about me the few times I drove it.


I said good bye to it today. It has a new owner. I turned over the registration and insurance papers, cleaned out the glove box and console and checked under the seat and in the trunk. I got a check. Work is being done on transferring the title.


I told the new owner to “take care of her.” I watched as he drove away in the car and his father drove away in the truck they came in.


I turned to go into the house. I fought back tears, but they came at times throughout the day even while I was driving the Lincoln MKX. I had let go of another part of the man I loved and shared a life with for 40 years I have much more to dispense with.


Anyone know what I can do with those metal forms you put in shoes to help them hold their shape?


Mine Eyes Are Seeing...

Posted on April 14, 2015 at 11:35 AM

Thanks to my optometrist and an ophthalmologist, I can see better. I guess.


Last August when I seemed to be in a what-else-can-happen mode, my optometrist discovered a cataract forming on my left eye. He wanted me back in six months.


I went back in February, at which time he spotted a bump forming on my left eyelid as well as a cataract forming on my right eye. He gave me information on two ophthalmologists, and I chose the closer to me rather than downtown. I feared the parking problem.


A couple of appointments produced surgery dates. I was told, and I read in information I was given, that the procedure takes only a short time. A small slit in the eye, remove the cataract, insert a lens and the procedure is done. “Twenty minutes,” I was told in the ophthalmologist’s office.


I mentioned my upcoming procedures to friends. Many of them had been through it and kept telling me not to worry.


“But it’s my eyes he is working on,” I maintained. “I need my eyes.”


I enlisted the help of a friend whom I had helped when she needed a ride to physical therapy. She drove me to the eye surgery center across town. She drove me to post-op check-ups.


Neither surgery took long. In fact I didn’t even have to remove my shoes when I got on the bed. When the work was finished, I was sitting upright a few minutes later, and was munching peanut butter crackers and sipping a beverage. I needed that since I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink after 7 a.m.


It took a while for my left eye to get back into sync with the right eye. But when it did, I could see so much better. I could see what I was doing when I set the sleep timer on the TV in the bedroom.


The right eye went much easier. I drove the car a couple days after this procedure. I looked at the opening credits of “Perry Mason” and could see Raymond Burr moving his eyes. I now watch TV and watch for the actors and actresses to move their eyes.


My vision is 20/40 – hasn’t been that good for ages. I had sad farewells to my contacts and thanked them for getting me through the past 45 years.


I have to wear reading glasses for close-up work and have been playing trombone with books and newspapers to see what it the best distance for reading. It feels strange to lean back and close my eyes without having to worry about removing contacts and losing one.


I now have to see another specialist about that bump, or lesion, that was removed. Meanwhile, I’m still able to write and am trying to work on some thought out projects. But I also have some outdoor work to do.



I want to meet you

Posted on March 25, 2015 at 8:40 AM

Having published two books means I must get out and promote my work and try to tell some books so I don’t keep falling over the boxes they are stored in in the bedroom.


My first book, Poodle Mistress, came out in February of 2011. It is the story of my husband and me raising nine toy poodles in our first 27 years of marriage.


The second book is Newsroom Buddies, a story of the working friendship I developed with the man who hired me at United Press International and lasted long after we both left the company that crumbled to a mere shadow of what it used to be. It’s written in alternating chapters and we take you through a newsroom as a reporter and an editor work to get stories from where it is happening to you the reader, viewer or listener. And we show you how we were affected by the financial problems of the company and where we went and what we did afterwards. Both have several five-star reviews on amazon.com.


But come see for yourself. Come out and meet me at some upcoming book signings or purchase the books either in paperback or as an ebook.


I will be at the Ohio Grassroots Alzheimer’s Project fund-raiser April 10 at the Heimut Haus Party House in Grove City from 7 to 9 p.m. Alzheimer’s is an illness that scares the bejeezies out of me. My mother had dementia in her last three years of life and I’m sure her mother did also, although my mother said her mother had hardening of the arteries. Maybe that is what they called it in the 1950s and early 1960s. For every book I sell, I will make a donation to the cause. And so will authors at the event. Check it out at http://senioragenda.blogspot.com/2015/02/70s-spring-dance-party-to-benefit-ohio.html


Then on April 25 I will be at the Dayton Book Expo at Sinclair College in Dayton. Come spend the day with authors and support them. Learn more at http://www.daytonbookexpo.com/


If you want to know how you, too, can become a writer and tell your story, join several authors July 16 at the Westland Area Library on the Far West side of Columbus as we share information with you about how to get started, talk about pros and cons of being in a writing group, and show you what can be done with your writing.


Looking forward to meeting you.




Just do it!

Posted on March 21, 2015 at 4:55 PM

I took the opportunity recently to attend the annual Celebrate Women program at Ohio University-Lancaster. That is a day of workshops. It’s a day for women to get out of the house or office and learn what other women are doing. That’s a bargain for the $20 I paid. A sumptuous and bountiful box lunch was included.


The keynote speaker was Naomi Tutu, the daughter of Desmond Tutu. She was dynamic! What impressed a lot of was her ease at speaking.


After she was introduced, she walked up on stage to the podium at one end, then strode to the middle of the stage and spoke so freely.


Since this is National Women’s Month andth is was a women’s program, naturally the topic was women.


She spoke about women in Northern Ireland, an area where she said t that Catholics are born to hate Protestants and Protestants are born to hate Catholics. She spoke of two women—a Catholic and a Protestant – who said “enough is enough” and encourage the two sides to live in peace and live with each other.


In another instance, Ms. Tutu decided to follow women who kept up the household while the men were off working and making money to support their families. Her idea was to follow one woman this week, another next week.


She asked the women what they do while the men are away and they responded “Nothing.”


The women, she discovered, got up at 4 or 5 a.m., went down to the river to get water, carried it home and heated it so the children could wash up before going to school. Afterwards, the women went out to find firewood for the stoves for heating and cooking. They ironed their clothes with a black flatiron; a regular electric iron was a luxury. They carried water again and again to their


“After a week, I was exhausted at doing ‘nothing,’ “ Tutu told an audience that had filled the auditorium.


Sort of reminded me of my mother and grandmother. Even I carried drinking water for the family.


When it comes to getting things done, who is it who takes the lead? Is it the women or the men of the family or household? It doesn’t make a bit of difference who does it, just so it gets done.


The following day I had lunch with a group of women friends. One made the comment that we just accept what has come to be the norm.


If there is something you don’t like, borrow a phrase from Nike: Just do it! Find a way to work with the opposition.





Stranded in Pensacola

Posted on February 18, 2015 at 11:10 PM

I have become a stranded traveler and it’s not quite what I’ve seen on local TV news.


I had gone to Florida and Alabama for Presidents’ Day Weekend activities. After three full days of fun and festivities, warmth and walking, I had to return home to the cold northern climes of central Ohio. However, when I got to the Pensacola Regional Airport and had returned my rental car Monday, I discovered Southwest had cancelled all flights north for two days because of a wide band of snow and ice moving from St. Louis to the East Coast. I couldn’t get a flight out until Thursday.


I would have to get a hotel room, but had to make reservations through a special phone system at the airport. I had to figure it out. A woman helped me. She found the code and punched it in the phone, then handed the receiver to me, saying “It’s ringing.”


I wanted a hotel across the street from the airport. Instead I got the Crowne Plaza downtown. What a surprise I was in for.


The hotel was built around a train depot designed in 1912 by Louisville and Nashville engineers. This two-story terminal was a bustling place for years, but activity began to subside as flying and driving replaced trains. The last train left the station in 1971.


The building sat idle for a few years before restoration began. In 1979 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. A 15-floor hotel was attached.


Chandeliers and other ornate decorations were purchased to complete the atmosphere of the early 20th century. Heavy wooden sideboards, a telephone-type couch. Leaded windows. Doors leading into the 1912 diner are bivas doors from London.


A highly polished grand piano sits in the main lobby outside the CAVU room (ceiling and visibility unlimited for you non-aviation people). Down the hallway can be found a luggage storage room, gift shops, photography studio, a reception area with a big fountain, as well as a small wooden trolley that holds a microwave and complimentary coffee for guests. Off that area is a library with books, some dating back to the railroad era. With time on my hands, I wandered in and sat on the heavy furniture to read the books I had brought along.


Chandeliers adorn many areas in the lobby and the restaurant, each with its own history. For instance, the chandelier in the registration lobby has 235 lights and 150 individual crystal prisms.


Several times during the day -- and night – a train rolls past the back side of the hotel. I look out my window and see the water of the Gulf of Mexico.


It’s been an enjoyable time stranded in a city I’ve visited a few times before, but this time I got a different view. And what a story I found and shared with you.



A Tribute to Ashes

Posted on November 1, 2014 at 11:15 AM

I attended a memorial service of sorts a few weeks ago. I didn’t know the deceased, but when I heard of her achievements, I couldn’t stay away. In fact I found out about this service in a roundabout way.


The editor of the Madison Messenger asked me to do a story on the levy the Pleasant Valley Fire Department put on the November ballot. I made arrangements to go to Plain City to talk with the chief. When we had finished our conversation about the fire levy, he turned to telling me what was happening during Fire Prevention Week, especially the memorial service for their Dalmatian they lost in July.


Dalmatians used to be a standard around a firehouse, especially in the days when horses pulled the fire wagons. The dogs guarded the horses. But that horsepower has now given way to greater horsepower and today’s vehicles don’t need guarded.


Still the department had a Dalmatian. The firefighters acquired her when she was a puppy and didn’t have a name. They’d take her to schools when they did fire safety presentations. A contest quickly sprung up to name the dog. The name chosen was Ashes.


Ashes was a typical puppy, leaving her ‘calling card’ in unusual places, like a firefighter’s bed or his boots. But the humans overlooked that and worked hard to house train her.


She became a favorite of the community. She was a hit at the fire safety programs. She could Stop, Drop and Roll. She used her front paws to stomp out a small fire. She would slither on her belly as if she were crawling under smoke. And the school children followed her.


Ashes had her own bed, shaped like a fire truck.


She greeted everyone who walked through the front door. She was there for the chief when he arrived at 6:30 a.m. He had a dog biscuit for her. By roll call she had begged about a dozen more biscuits.


Only one photo graces the wall outside the chief’s office and that is a black-and-white photo of Ashes.


It was a sad day in July 2014 when she crossed that Rainbow Bridge at the age of 14.


The firefighters obtained a statue and one of them painted the spots just where spots were on Ashes. They used a donation from the community to build a pedestal to hold the statue.


I attended the open house that Sunday at the end of Fire Prevention Week. About 100 people gathered round the pedestal where a tribute was read and the drape whisked away to reveal the statue of Ashes.


I heard a woman say “It’s all right, honey,” and I turned to see a woman put her arms around her teenage daughter whose lower lip was quivering.


We don’t see Dalmatians around the fire stations today. The Jackson Township fire chief says it is because of the liability. People are afraid the dog will bite and liability insurance is so costly.


Please remember Ashes as the Pleasant Valley Fire Departments works to heal from their loss.



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