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Iva Walker

Iva Walker
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217

Hiram – One hundred years ago—1914, the opening year of WWI—in the war zone near Ypres, Belgium, there came a phenomenon known later as the “Christmas Eve Truce”.   Troops all along the line of combat, on both the German and the Allied(British & French) sides, soldiers of both armies, lay down their weapons, lit candles, sang familiar carols, even exchanged small gifts, acknowledging the birth of the Prince of Peace in the midst of a terrible war.  “No Man’s Land”, despite the disapproval of the higher levels of command , became, for fleeting moments, a place of brotherhood as voices were raised—English & German—recalling that Silent Night.

On Friday, December 12, the Hiram Men’s Chorus, directed by Jose Gotera, the Hiram Women’s Chorus, directed by Damaris Peters Pike, and the Hiram Community Chorus will present a musical program of seasonal and Christmas favorites—“Silent Night” in both English and German—at 7:30 p.m. in the Hiram Christian Church (corner of St. Rte 82 , St. Rte. 305 and St. Rte 700), free and open to the public.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, ”Lo,How a Rose E’er Blooming”, ”Salvation Is Created”, and “The First Noel/Pachelbel’s Canon” will be the numbers featuring the men’s voices.  “Oh, Lord, What a Morning”, “Stars Are for Those Who Lift Their Eyes”,  “There Is Faint Music” and “Winter Wonderland” will be showcased by the women’s chorus.  Together, their grand sound will be raised for “Ezekiel Saw de Wheel”, “Goin’Home”, “Mary Had A Baby”, “Sussex Carol”, “La Nanita Nana”, and “Make Our Garden Grow”.  “A Merry Christmas” will be the grande finale, sending all out into the night with the warmth and good cheer making spirits bright.

Music for a Stille Nacht…Heilige Nacht.

A RED-LETTER DAY

Or a red something, anyway.  As I have said before, you can’t make this stuff up.

It seems that in Sheboygan, WI a group of brewers has got together to raise money for charity by being featured—mostly in the buff—posing in a calendar which will be sold online or at numerous bars, liquor stores and groceries in Wisconsin and northern Illinois, proceeds to be directed to the Movember Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on men’s health issues, including prostate and testicular cancer.  ( They may be the instigators of the “No-shave November” that was happening on some media outlets.) These dudes, brewing professionals, tend to be big, brawny and bearded; they are associated with 3 Sheeps Brewing, 8th Street Ale Haus and Plymouth Brewing Co.  The idea for the project was hatched while they were, ahem, product-testing.  Luckily, considering the weather in that neck of the woods lately, the photos were shot in October.  Each month depicts a different step in the process of brewing.  

I keep telling the folks at the James A. Garfield Historical Society that we should come up with more imaginative fund-raising projects  for years when the Christmas Walk is not on.  Everybody (Get it? Every body.) could be in the month of their choice, tastefully highlighting some historical feature (Heck, some of us could just BE the historical feature designated; the wrinkles are primary evidence.) in the district.  Out in a sugarbush in March…at the Ledges in August…Oktober-festing at the Mill…the SummerFest in June…the possibilities abound. I could volunteer to be Miss July.  It’s my birthday.  I have the suit!  There’d be plenty of former students who’d pay good money to see me in my skivvies peeking out from behind the Clock Tower or waving from a window at the old Park Avenue school.  There’d probably be even more upright citizens who’d pay even more NOT to see such a sight.  Money to be made!  Let’s get on this!  Start volunteering.

And speaking of money….  Neiman Marcus has, once again come out with a holiday list of items available for purchase by the filthy-rich:  Say you’d like to go to the Academy Awards after-party sponsored by Vanity Fair(not the awards themselves, you’ve still got to have an invitation for those), a cool $425,000 will get you there.  Save up a few more box tops–$475,000–and you could find yourself in Paris, with five-star accommodations and a near-lifetime supply of custom-designed perfume(Do not steal the towels).  Newly wed? How about a set of Leontine Linens home trousseau of custom cottons and linens for the entire home (probably excluding the workshop) at a measly $55,000.  The classic “his and hers” gift this year is a “Vilebrequin Quadski”, described as a cross between an ATV and a personal watercraft, which will take you very rapidly across either land or water( The switch takes five seconds), $50,000 each.  These are grouped among the “fantasy gifts”; a portion of the proceeds from each of these will be donated to the Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation, which supports youth arts education.  On my list, for sure!

Other excitement that could be coming our way is a new product currently being tested by PepsiCo and reported to an online news dealer called Reddit by a KSU freshman named Steve Barnes.  What is it?  It’s Mountain Dew combined with Doritos—Dewitos—a nacho-flavored soda (which sounds perfectly dreadful, if you ask me), said to have an orange taste with a nacho after-taste.  Weird!  Since carbonated beverage sales are trending downward, the major names in the industry are frantically searching for “the next big thing” .  Other combos up for consideration have been lemon-ginger, mango-habanero (Why is everything getting a boost of heat lately?) and rainbow sherbet, which has been reported to taste like medicine.  Can hardly wait until that hits the shelves!

Then again, it might just hit the spot at another idea popping up in Chicago, the combination church and McDonald’s.  The group trying to organize this enterprise is called Mc Mass (Catchy, eh?).  The item in the AB-J mentions that the dude putting this together works at a church-branding agency (Churches got brands?) named Lux Dei and is trying “crowd funding” to raise $1 million to build the first McDonald’s church.  Contributors can get stickers and shirts with the hashtag #Feast4Jesus or even their names on a donor wall at the first McMass church.  You want fries with that?

Business it was to begin the month of December for the Rotary Club of Garrettsville-Hiram.  This included :

Christmas Party at the Collins home on December 15; soup, sandwiches, appetizers, desserts, white elephant gifts to exchange, 6:30 p.m. to  start, merriment for all.

Planning meetings for Family Week on Wednesdays for breakfast at Fresh Start.  

The plan for benches to be placed along the Headwaters Trail, involving Eagle Scout projects and grant money being made available through Rotary District 6630 and donations focused on reviving and rebuilding in the village is still taking shape but it’s in good shape.

A $100 donation was gratefully received from Ohio for History (Tom Aiken)

Revisiting and updating the club by-laws should be accomplished by January.

Another Santa is needed for the Special Delivery Santa Project slated for December 23.  Any family wishing to participate should bring wrapped gifts to either the Business Works or McCumbers-Brady Realty   for distribution on the 23rd.  There is no charge but donations to the People Tree will be cheerfully accepted.

The mystery deepens…who was president of the club in ’80-‘81, ’86-’87, ’92-‘93?

The dictionaries are ready, will an elf deliver them?

The Four-Way Speech Contest comes up in spring; start preparing now.

Zad, the exchange student–in-residence brought a banner from his home club in Hungary.  He will soon be moving to new digs with the Schwan family (whose daughter, Rachel, is in Thailand right now) for more adventures.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary meets on Mondays at Cal’s II in Sky Plaza at noon.  Prospective members always welcome.  Get involved in the community.

Rats!

Here I thought that scientists had finally found the answer to all of our education problems; a shot of penicillin, and… Presto!…the brain is working up to full capacity.  Whoopee!

 Alas! Not so.  

The other day there was a brief mention on the radio about a study at Johns Hopkins wherein the effect on some persons in an investigation of a certain chlorovirus ATCV, normally found in algae, had seemed to show that when given some tests of cognition, some 43% of the sample test-takers appeared to have difficulty in processing visual information—puzzles and such.  Ho Hum.  So…?

So somebody on a slow news day—Newsweek was mentioned but the internet picked the mention up and ran with it—called it the “stupid virus” and implied that any lagging intellectual powers among us might be the fault of an insidious invasion by these viral marauders.  Actually, the researchers themselves never made such a statement; some media whiz knew a good  ”viral” phrase when he saw it.  Additionally, a line was quoted—with quotation marks and everything—pointing to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska having discovered a virus that infects our brains and “makes us more stupid.”  Uh…maybe not.  In no way did the researchers make such a statement(and it was never really attributed to a named individual), and, in fact, the cognitive tests were sort of an afterthought, having to do with something else altogether, and the testing sample was really quite small.  And then there’s the fact that the writers of the study were able to choose their own reviewers (“Here, Mom, read this.”)…AND the question of how a virus that usually infects green algae might have got into humans in the first place.  This whole thing might warrant additional study but we certainly shouldn’t get all paranoid about some microscopic bad guys being responsible for our own da##ed foolishness.

Then again….  Another story of the same ilk turned up, online and elsewhere, about some poor sucker who suffered for four YEARS—YEARS—from headaches, mini-strokes, a sensation of “strange smells” and heaven-only-knows what else. A biopsy (no, he wasn’t dead) determined that the trouble with his brain was some sort of parasite which he may have  acquired in China.  Yeccch!  The term “brain tapeworm” immediately popped up and sales of Excedrin probably spiked as well.  They had MRI scans of the creature having moved around inside the guy’s brain but, apparently had no clue what to do about it.  Yeccch again! The name of this parasite, which requires about three different hosts over the course of its life cycle, is Spirometra erinaceieuropaei (Easy for you to say).  The team of scientists involved in this case and the investigation of the DNA of the parasite is larded with names like Hayley M. Bennett, Sebastian B. Lucas, Hoy Ping Mol, Isheng J. Tsai and Peter Chiodini but my favorite is Dr. Effrossyni Gkrania-Klotsas.  How much you want to bet that they all just call each other “Doc”?

Other hot news on the medical front : the 5HTA1 gene and its various workings and malfunctions may be the source of difficulties in building relationships with others.   Dubbed the “singleton gene” by some media yahoo, it has something to do with  serotonin receptors in the brain.  The chances of being neurotic and depressed were also hinted at.  Anything more than a hint would by edging perilously close to flat-out prevarication.  Do not tell adolescent children of this dubious discovery, they’ve got enough troubles with this stuff.

Anyway, you can deal with all of this if you just down capsules containing Korean Red Pine Needle (Pinus densiflora) Oil.  Yup.   The ad on the internet said that it is “4 All Parasites, Bacteria, Viruses, & Mold”(sic)—should have given the stuff to the guy with the “brain tapeworm”–and it will “cleanse your body, help rejuvenate aging cells, slow the aging process, tighten loose and ageing skin.”   It’ll be taking bread from the mouths of plastic surgeons!

And finally, if you’re still depressed over the state of your health or your psyche, give a call to Samantha Hess, professional cuddler, of Portland, OR.  She says, “I could cuddle, literally, 24 hours a day.”  She requires that clients first meet her in a public place, that they sign a waiver stating that they will be clean, courteous and fully clothed.  She’s thinking of opening a retail store but currently her services are available in clients’ homes, parks or movie theaters (so that’s who was in row H at “Frozen”).  She charges $60 per hour.

Stick with the Red Pine Oil.

Garrettsville – The November 17 meeting of the James A. Garfield Historical Society at the Mott Building was held amid falling temperatures and discussion of the recently completed Christmas Walk…with cookies to mark the occasion.  The attendance at the Walk was down slightly but the total income was up slightly;  the results were about on a par with recent history of the event, weather and the economy being taken into account.   Some 1,498 persons—give or take a kid or two—attended. A qualified success  qualifies as success  The Garrettsville that remained after the Buckeye Block Fire was in fine fettle and put its best foot forward for the visitors.  Many thanks to all who had a part in organizing and carrying out all of the activities AND to the homeowners who participated by opening their residences to the throngs of sightseers.

Nearly as important, the  Christmas party was scheduled for Monday, December 8 in Cal’s II at 6:30. Those wishing to attend should contact President Kit Semplak or another JAGHS member ASAP.

Nominations and elections of new officers and board members will take place in January, with installation in February.  New members are always welcome. Regular meetings are held on the third Monday evening of the month at 7:30 in the Mott Building on Main St., Garrettsville.

John Zizka enlightened the group on the state of Ohio townships and the latest in  environmental  (septic system) regulations and developments.  Always educational, these meetings.

Garrettsville – The Rotary Club of Garrettsville-Hiram discussed and applauded a number of topics at their recent meeting on November 24, 2014.  Items presented :

Tom Collins reported briefly on the progress of the Headwaters Trail update and promotion.  At least two Eagle Scout projects may be part of the picture. Views of possible trailside benches were circulating; Rotary grant money may be used for materials.  Still waiting for the village to sign off before launching any specifics.

Lisa Muldowney reported that the dictionaries for third graders at Garfield Elementary are ready to go.  Distribution date will be announced after consultation with the superintendent and principal.

President Delores McCumbers brought up the subject of donation to the Rotary International Foundation as well as the possibility of having a speaker from the Foundation to outline what the funds are used for.  The annual Christmas party will be held at the Collins home on South Park Blvd. on December 15.  The results of the invitations to participate in a “Cash Mob” were disappointing.  It’s been a bleak November for many of the remaining businesses on Main St…a difficult year.  There were thanks for a donation from Richard Brockett.

Caitlin Lawless entertained suggestions for the operation and improvement of Family Week, the next big club project.  Final confirmation of the dates awaits consultation with the school calendar.  A committee will be meeting Wednesday mornings at Fresh Start to begin revamping the entire operation, from Family of the Year to new activities yet to be determined.

Amy Crawford gave a final—pretty final, anyway—accounting of the results of the recent successful Reverse Raffle.  The total profit was up, meaning Rotary contributions to the community will be maintained and possibly expanded.  Appreciation was voiced for Chris Cavalier’s sound set-up.  Suggestions for more P.R. before the event and more thank you’s during the evening were aired.  Proposals for new games, a new timeline for activities, the diversification of responsibilities to  avoid individual overload and addition of more high tech methods of display were brought up.  Other issues are on the table for discussion.  On to 2015!

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‘Tis the season to…bliss-out on MUSIC?

Well, heck yes.  Here’s your chance to hear good tunes, to assist in making a contribution  to  the  community, to learn something about one of the great icons in American music, to plunge into the Advent season and to be buoyed by sounds of Christmas as you’ve heard them for years and as new as each morning.  

To wit :

Sunday, December 7 — Damaris Peters-Pike will be offering a selection from her series, “Women of Note” in the person of Mary EllinBarrett, eldest daughter of Irving Berlin, whose thousand-plus published songs still shape American music today.  This program,” Irving Berlin—A Daughter Remembers,” will be presented at 4:00 p.m. in the Iva Walker Auditorium at James A. Garfield High School.  It is a benefit for the #Garrettsville Strong fund.  It is being sponsored by Dave Auble, Ohio Health Benefits, LLC, Gionino’s Pizzeria/Hiram, Total Lifetime Care Medical Affiliates, Dan LeScoezec, ChFC, Hickory Asset Management and Kepich Ford/Garrettsville.  Tickets are $10 each and there will be Christmas cookies and donuts from Bill and Staci Poole of Maggie’s Donuts/Hiram as well as punch from AVI, Hiram College Food Service available following the program.  Audience will be encouraged to join in singing Berlin’s “God Bless America” and who can resist humming along with “White Christmas”?  Make plans today.

And while you’re planning, plan to attend the annual Christmas concert/musical extravaganza—adult choir, O.K. Corale (That’s the kids, they’re cuter.  Sorry David.), bell choir, the whole Christmas ball-o-wax, directed by Jean Marvin—at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 10692 Freedom St. in Garrettsville at 6:00p.m.  Nice segue from Broadway to Main St.  This is always an event not to be missed; it’s just family, fun and faith from top to bottom.  Your ears will thank you and your heart will too.

Sunday, December 14 — The James A. Garfield Schools will present their take on Christmas music—instrumental, vocal, standards jazz, high school, middle school—to the public, starting at 2:00 in the Iva Walker Auditorium.  You haven’t heard “Jingle Bells” until you’ve heard it with tubas!   

 Then, lest you should feel a letdown in Christmas spirit, the chancel choir of the Garrettsville United Methodist Church, under the direction of Max Jackson, will present a program of lessons and carols on that Sunday evening, incorporating congregational singing into the season’s message in music as lifted up by the choir, the soloists, the newly-refreshed organ and the good feelings of all in attendance.  The hour is 7:00p.m.   The location is 8223 Park Ave.  The occasion is joyous.  The invitation is to you.

A failure of Social Studies Education, I calls it.

The recent election, that is…failure of turn-out, failure to understand the way government works(whether it’s supposed to work that way or not), failure to be informed on the issues and the candidates, failure to pay attention to the down-ticket contests…a whole bunch of things that we should all be thinking about but don’t.  AND a prevailing, parsimonious attitude that makes a virtue of trying to do everything on the cheap.  There’s a powerful big difference between wishing to do things in the most cost-conscious and efficient manner possible to do the best we can for the most citizens and trying to see how much we can get away with before the dreadful consequences which we have been outrunning finally catch up.  The difference is the difference between “What’s the best we can afford?” and “What’s the cheapest we can get?”  Strangely enough, there are cases in which quality actually does count.

Consider : One of the persons recently re-elected to the state school board (Whose members, by the way, are NOT all elected; 8 of the 19 are appointed by the governor) has never attended a public school  and is an advocate of charter and for-profit schools(Which are virtually unregulated and certainly not required to account for the way that they spend our money; public schools must do this.).

At a recent state school board meeting, four members walked out when the president arbitrarily changed the agenda of the meeting to move the session for public comment on a proposed change to school requirements from morning—folks had been told to be there bright and early to put in their two cents worth—to afternoon, following a presentation in favor of the change.  People with real jobs had taken time off to be at the session; they were upset.  The president, a Kasich appointee, said that she had the power to make the change, so she did; take that, “We, the people.”

So, what was the change being proposed that caused all of the commotion?  It was a revision of the “5 of 8” rule, which states that school districts must have available to students at least five professionals including such areas as art, music, physical education, library science, school nurse, school social worker, counselors, so-called “visiting teacher” for every one thousand students.  Rather than  pull up their socks and acknowledge the fact that the State of Ohio has been acting unconstitutionally( as determined by the Ohio Supreme Court)  for over twenty years, by operating an unconstitutional educational funding  system, in  which the state share of funding has been declining , forcing local districts to seek funds more and more often to satisfy the mandates from the state board and the legislature, not to mention maintenance and transportation costs.  When larger and larger proportions of the education budget are dependent upon local tax valuation, it’s the old story : “the rich get rich and the poor get poorer”.

And, once again, there’s a strong anti-science coloration here.  Study after study, research effort  upon research effort has shown that art and music, libraries, physical education (Could we use a little less obesity here?), school counselors and school nurses, school social workers—all of these folks—play an important part in delivering the best and most comprehensive, most forward-looking education to the most kids in the systems throughout the state—heck, across the country.  Band and chorus and books keep kids engaged and enlarge their frame of reference for dealing with the real world.  School nurses are the point men—and women—in public health situations on the ground, so to speak.  Counselors and social workers all too often enter the picture in domestic violence situations and cases of poverty and homelessness.  And the board is just going to dump all of these key figures in the educational process?  Instead of showing some grit and integrity and telling the governor and the legislature to quit reneging on their responsibility to provide a thorough and equitable system of education in the state, this “gang of nineteen” is going to throw all of the professionals (the 8) under the bus so that the politicians may pat themselves on the back for reducing government expenditures.  Rather than saying, “These are important services that we should be offering to ALL students in the state of Ohio,” they’re begging off and saying, “Well, you folks out there know better than we what you need.  Go ahead and cut whatever you think you need to.”  Try getting away with that on YOUR next tax return or traffic stop (“Oh, officer, I really didn’t think that I needed to stop at that light; I’m in a really big hurry.”).  Try getting away with that the next time the state orders your school system to this or that or the other thing.  Right.

We might also want to look into who supports…and finances…some of the board members and legislators—All for the public good, of course.

The line, “the rich get rich and the poor get poorer” come from a  Twenties song by Kahn & Egan titled “Ain’t We Got Fun.”

That ain’t what we got, folks.

Garrettsville – Amy Crawford, of Business Works on Main Street in Garrettsville, was the featured member at the November 17th meeting of the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club at Cal’s II.  She outlined her journey from Ravenna native and KSU graduate in marketing and international business through experience in sales—which gave her a first-hand understanding of promotional products and their importance in marketing—to becoming the owner of The Business Works and branching out into accounting and tax services, as well  as promotional products.  Twenty years!  And more to come!

Over the course of the twenty years (been at present location longer than any other enterprise on Main Street) many aspects of the industry have changed.  The computer and the internet have brought about many shifts in the capabilities of individual businesses in this area.  Digital printing and screen printing have had an impact on price, speed and quality; these, in turn, affect access to local creativity and allow more in-house production of promotional items, from activity shirts to zipper pulls.  The Business Works strives to work with reliable suppliers, develop customer relationships and foster school and community pride and involvement.  She was preaching to the choir; several members pronounced themselves very satisfied with their dealings with The Business Works.

Then, it was on to business.

Start planning now if you would like to have Santa and Mrs. Claus deliver a package/gift to your home on December 23.  There is no charge for this but a donation will be accepted for the People Tree (which could use some help in meeting community needs).  Cell phones and GPS have made Santa’s job a little easier but early reservation are still a must.

In common parlance the review of the successful Reverse Raffle on November 13, might be called a “post mortem” but the term certainly doesn’t fit the description of the lively party which took place.  A preliminary estimate of funds raised awaits final settlement.  Issues to be dealt with at the next happening were discussed—need for a designated catering honcho, need for more coat hangers, need for  earlier and broader publicity and invitations—and suggestions aired.  Watch this space.

Finally, the club will be making a contribution to support the  Garfield Intermediate School 6th grade  trip to Washington, D.C.  This is what having the Reverse Raffle was all about.  Rotary is lighting up projects across the community.

Garrettsville – That’s what the top winners at the annual Rotary Reverse Raffle and Silent Auction decided to do.  The five lucky ticket-holders got together and decided to split the very substantial purse of $2000, giving every one of them an additional reason to be thankful during the upcoming holiday season.

It was a sell-out crowd for the festivity and the good times were rollin’ from early-on in the evening, beginning with Mike Carlson’s poignant and all-encompassing blessing through the inspection, appreciation  of and bidding on the many items available in the auction, the excellent meal catered by AVI from Hiram College, the new lottery tree feature and the “game of chance” action that took over as Lady Luck wandered through the room, stopping at tables to “blow on some other guy’s dice” occasionally.  There were out-of-towners, local “movers and shakers” (no hints on what got moved or what got shaken), Amish friends, Rotarians and well-wishers from all over; it was a good night and the good will be returned to the community in the many projects and activities sponsored by the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club in connection with Rotary International.  “Light Up Rotary” is a motto for all seasons.

Special thanks was extended to the generous Candle Level Sponsors—Bay Window, Carol and Al Donley, Michael Maschek, Middlefield Banking Company, Mallory-DeHaven-Carlson Funeral Homes and Crematory Services—who were the foundation support that enabled the  organization of this year’s gala fun time and fundraiser.

Contributors to the silent auction included Missy Steele Pottery, Energizer Batteries, Candlelight Winery, The Business Works, G-Men Boosters, Monroe’s Orchard and Farm Market, Art-N-Flowers, Charles Motors, Barton’s Boards, Darlene Jackson, Hermann’s Pickles, Monica Potter Home, Ace Hardware,Chris Cavalier PC Repair, Ellerhorst-Russell Insurance, Hiram Inn, MacKenzie Creamery, Facet Salon and Day Spa, Fresh Start, Maggie’s , Save-A-Lot, Domino’s, Ted and Maria Lysiak,    Pizza Hut, Subway, Sky Lanes, Mark Johnson, Party Lite, Garrettsville Animal Hospital, Diane Irwin-Lia Sophia Jewelry, TruValue, McCumbers-Brady Realty, Advance Auto, The Villager, Top Tier Pastry, Waterfall Antiques IGA.

Thanks to all, attendees, sponsors, donors, organizers.  Mark your calendars for next year—Bigger and Better!

December 7, 2014…A Benefit for Garrettsville Strong…4:00 p.m.…Iva Walker Auditorium…James A. Garfield High School, 10231 St. Rte 88, Garrettsville, OH.

With the key support of sponsors Dave Auble of Ohio Health Benefits, LLC, Gionino’s Pizzeria, Hiram, Total Lifetime Care Medical Affiliates, Dan LeScoezec, ChFC, Hickory Asset Management and Kepich Ford, Garrettsville, Damaris Peters Pike will be presenting a benefit performance of one of the best-loved characters in  her series, “Women of Note”

“Irving Berlin—A Daughter Remembers” is told through the person of Mary Ellin Barrett, Berlin’s oldest daughter, who recounts the amazing story of  his one hundred one years of amazing, music-filled life, including Broadway shows, movies and more than 1000 songs published—both words and music.  Several of the most beloved—among them, “White Christmas”–will, of course, be included in a salute to the season and the program will conclude with the audience joining Damaris in singing Berlin’s “God Bless America”.  It’s an affirmation of  the nation and that Garrettsville IS strong.

Following this musical treat, Christmas Cookies and Donuts from Bill and Staci Poole of Maggies’s Donuts/Hiram and punch from AVI, Hiram College Food Service, have been donated for the audience’s pleasure.  This should nicely top off a most enjoyable afternoon.  Make plans now to attend.

Tickets are $10 each and may be obtained from any sponsor, at the door, or by calling 330-569 3211.  Tickets and programs designed and printed by Hiram College.

So here’s the thing….  We need readers and scorekeepers for the Garfield QuizMasters to go out to vanquish our intellectual foes in upcoming Academic Challenge competitions.  Do I see any volunteers?

Really, the hardest part is getting up EARLY on a Saturday morning to go ride a bus to the designated venue for the tournaments.  Of course, riding in a bus with a bunch of adolescents who are…how shall I say?…a little “left of center” can be an adventure in itself.  The other thing is that the whole bunch of people  in the tournament are like that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllll of the time.  I am always amazed when they do math problems in their heads (I thought that I’d spend my entire life in the sixth grade, when I couldn’t grasp the concept of the division of fractions; these people are doing binomials—whatever they are) and can rattle off the atomic numbers of obscure elements on the periodic table.  Then again,  sometimes they don’t know spit about quite a few important time periods and/or historic figures.  And sometimes the question-writers don’t seem to have a real firm grasp of what’s being taught in schools lately.

The big TRASH Tournament is a fun one that the kids like, because it is focused on so-called Pop Culture—movies, TV, video games, sports, music,–definitely non-academic stuff.  I told them that I worried about anybody who knew too much about those kinds of goofy things but they immediately discount anything that I—as a person without a television–have to say about the topic.  We scored on one round of questions once upon a time because our ace female contestant beat the clock by calling out, “Bad Grampa!”  How’s that for non-academic?  This particular tournament has moved around a bit.  When we started, it was held up at Case-Western Reserve University, starting in one of the old

Take Up A New Hobby

halls with wooden floors and a blackboard, and moving into other buildings  around the Quadrangle.  We went to lunch at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital(closest food source…pretty good).   Lately, it’s been at Olmsted Falls Middle School, which is probably large enough to hold most of the population of Garrettsville.

Aurora’s Turkey Tourney has morphed from a connection to Halloween to the weekend before Thanksgiving.  There’s often an invitation to arrive in costume; a couple of the bodysuits invited comparison to alien invaders or cartoon characters.  Our local competition guru out of the PCESC(Portage County Educational Services Center) urges us to do themes for contests around the county. We’ve never really gotten into that.  My earmuffs are as far out as I get.

The new tournament coming up this Saturday is terra incognita, since it’s a brand-new tournament that we’ve never attended before (It didn’t exist before).  This one’s at Hawken Middle School, which I’ve never seen before either.  One more adventure!

None of these places are about gourmet lunches either.  The standard is $5 for lunch, consisting of (nutritionists avert your eyes) pizza, cookie, apple, maybe chips.  Rainbow Babies is lots better.  One competition we haven’t been to in a while is down in Copley, where the kids get the $5 standard and the coaches, readers, scorekeepers, et al. get goodies solicited from local food establishments, plus Copley team members’ donations.  That place is like a labyrinth too, with two or three floors, ramps and corners and identical-looking corridors that make just getting to the room that the team is supposed to be in quite a challenge.  Gotta be smart just to be in the right place, let alone answer questions.

One of the best parts of doing this Academic Challenge stuff is that we have never gone   to any meet that I didn’t learn something interesting.  And not just about Pop Culture either.  That trivia goes by so fast that it really doesn’t register a being important enough to latch on to.  I’ve only got so much brain space left and would rather not have it occupied by whatever it is that Nikki Minaj is nominated for or who’s got the best batting average for a right fielder in the World Series since 1989.  Hell’s bells, I forgot my own cell phone number the other day…I don’t call that often.  Nah, it’s more like the questions that we practice on : Who wrote the Wizard of Oz?  Who had the nickname “Satchmo”?  Where’s Kolkata?  What’s a parsec?  That kind of question.

So….  How about it?  Anyone out there up for a challenge?  The scoring system isn’t that hard to learn.  You get to hang out with some pretty fun kids and see “how the other half lives”, so to speak.  You get to make meaningful contributions to education.  You get to talk to me and the bus driver on the way to and from.  You get to offer directional advice when the abovementioned bus driver and I are not real sure of where we’re going, despite the directions from the bus garage –road closings happen, just like that other stuff.

Call the high school (James A. Garfield High School—330-527-4341—those office people take good care of me) or call me direct (I’m in the book).  This could be your new hobby!

One down, one to go.

The Christmas Walk, in its 17th incarnation since being revived in 1980, seems to be off to a relatively good start.  The weather has been fairly co-operative—dampish  occasionally, cold often but frequently bright and seasonal.  What do we expect?  It’s November in Ohio! (Just a word of warning  : Typhoon Nuri or something is going to drag another polar vortex-type weather system down from Alaska to the “lower 48”.  Over here in the “effete East” we may miss the worst of it but the AOL weather item said that high temperature in Great Falls, MT would by about 7 degrees on Tuesday and a broad swath through the middle of the country would have high temperatures—high temperatures– for Wednesday below freezing.)

Anyway, plan to bundle up if you’re going to hit the second weekend.  The sights are worth seeing at all of the stops.  I was particularly taken with the Nelson United Methodist Church.  It’s such a simple country church, so nicely displayed.  Barb Shilling and her crew from the quilt club, the Village Piecemakers, with the quilt array over the backs of the pews, set a perfect tone for a bicentennial celebration; some of the patterns might have been recognized by families who sat in those seats so many years ago.  The lunch was outstanding also; I may be forced to head back out there to sample more of the homemade desserts.  The trail bosses for that round-up were Norma and Valorie McCullough and all of the “li’l doggies” were  up for the trip.  Pastor Rick was relegated to working in the chuckwagon too.

Every stop had its attractions : bodacious displays of craftsman(or woman)ship, humungous trees, amazing renovations and restorations, family moments, wit, humor, plants, views, histories, collections of every size and description…the interesting parts of any community.  We’re all missing the businesses that were downtown but determined to be like “The Little Engine That Could” by giving this biennial event our very best effort.  Sort of like the old tales of starlets being discovered in Hollywood sitting on a stool in a drugstore, we’re hoping that some enterprising soul(with pots of money) comes along, sees this place and how we’re doing and says, “Gosh, this little town really has grit and gumption and good looks and great schools!  Why don’t I come here to open my office/ grow my business/expand my production/research or develop a new enterprise?”  Yeah.  Why not?

If you see or hear this person wandering around loose, notify the Chamber of Commerce immediately, if not sooner, so they can throw a net over the individual and we can get started with the planning.

The picture in last week’s Villager was a good start, an idea with some imagination and consideration of the town and its possibilities.  Keep the ideas coming.  Let the discussion engage everyone.  Let the future be in harmony with the past but not chained to it.  Don’t forget that there are still businesses on the intact side of Main Street which could use a boost right now.  Pete Kepich of the Main Street Grille and Brewing Company is showing the way by sponsoring the Christmas tree downtown, set up by the Rotary.  Others have been pitching in as well.  We’re all in this together, folks.  “Garrettsville Strong” is more than just a slogan, it’s our way forward.  Get on board.

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

We’ve finally seen the end of the political ads (Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?—Robert Orben).  The signs should all be picked up until the next go-round and we can listen to the moans of the losers until the next big thing when they can switch to “We told you so.”  The amount of money spent is so amazing—and largely unaccounted for—that we can only nod our heads in agreement with the remark by the inimitable Will Rogers, “Politics has  got so expensive that it takes a lot of money just to get beat with.”  Can I get an “Amen”?

AND then there’s The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which on page 129, in its typical doggerel-style rhyme describes the period between November1 and November16 thus : “Mild retreat means muddy feet.  Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts; piles of snow and blustery blasts”.  Stock up on the booties for the Christmas Walk.  Could be chilly out there.  It also mentions that black bears head to winter dens now, lobsters move to offshore waters and crab apples(The only native apples) are ripe .  AND in 1914 Mary Jacobs received a patent for a brassiere.  How’s that for uplifting info?

In the midst of all that, we have Veterans’ Day on the 11th, honoring all those who have served our country in the armed forces.  It was originally dubbed Armistice Day and commemorated the end of WWI on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month .  Subsequent acts of Congress in 1926, 1938, 1954 and 1968 enlarged the intention of the observation of that day and moved the date around, to considerable confusion; in 1975 the date was set as the original, marking the end of “the war to end all wars”…we can only hope.

Bad news for my sisters!  The London School of Economics and Political Science and Western University in Canada have just announced, in the journal Demography, the results of a study (Social scientist are always doing studies of goofy stuff, trying to show that they are too scientists just like physicists and astronomers.  These don’t always help) that posits “the 3rd child effect” in which child three, four, five, whatever, is not responsible for the same level of excitement and/or happiness in the family as the first two.  Well, there’s a surprise!   You’d think that the backlog of diapers and teething rings and such would have tipped somebody off before a study was deemed necessary to discover this.  Besides, the older siblings will always be happy to point out their innate superiority to the younger porch monkeys.  Not to mention necessary enforcement measures.

Now in Florida, children of any rank in the family line-up may be getting access to a whole new outlook on a number of things if the Satanic Temple, based in New York, gets permission to distribute their “Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities” in the schools of Orange County.  Well, they say, the high school kids in the county got NIV Bibles, so the Satanists should get equal time.  The books have pictures of kids in T-shirts with satanic symbols on them and  they offer messages against bullying and discrimination, for self-esteem and good behavior.  There’s a connect-the-dots page that results in a pentagram and all kinds of stuff like that.  Their point is that if one religion can distribute literature, then all should be able to do the same.  They have a point.  They also have an example to follow in Oklahoma (Oklahoma?!), where, after a legislator brought in a monument of the Ten Commandments and had it put up on the green outside the state capitol building, the Satanic Temple commissioned a statue of Satan/Baphomet/Beelzebub/one of those BAD guys to be put up in the same area.  From the pictures online, I’d say that goats are getting a bad rap, since the Evil One sort of looks like a billygoat.  The little dog named Cerberus isn’t real scary but there are persons with horns pictured in family portraits hanging on the wall.  The “fabled” necronomicon (Book of Spells) was the creation of author H. P. Lovecraft and not exactly ancient wisdom of any kind.  It’s going to be interesting to see how anybody argues against it, given that the Bibles are already circulating out there.  The Freedom From Religion Foundation people will haul a– to the Supreme Court, if it takes that.  Could be a wild scene.  Think of it, Satan in court.  Fire and brimstone (Senators and Congressmen called to testify on the state of their souls…if they still have any).  Stay tuned.

Speaking of which, the Prairie Home Companion last Saturday did their—sort of—annual “Joke Show” and it was a hoot—bunch of stuff that nobody’s heard since fifth grade that just makes you chuckle. Knock-knock jokes, stuff like that.  Ole & Lena jokes.  Three priest, two penguins, one chicken got top billing.  Someone stole a midget’s billfold.  How could anybody stoop that low?

An English professor explained that though a double negative equals a positive, in no language in the world does a double positive equal a negative.  A voice from the back of the lecture hall called out, “Yeah, right!”

That kind of joke.

Tournament time is here for the Academic Challenge Team, the Quiz Masters, at home and far afield.  We could really use some readers and scorekeepers to make things move along.  Can you read?  You’re hired!  Call the high school to sign up or call me at 330-527-2577.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club   received the “sincerest form of flattery” when President Delores McCumbers  revealed that the Portage Cluster of Rotary clubs had emulated the local group by issuing a release on “Why I Support Rotary”, listing many of the community-based activities and international interests of Rotarians.

The Community Christmas Tree project was part of the meeting’s discussion. The tree is to be located downtown at the former Chic and Shabby/Root Store corner, donated by Dane Horvath of Horvath Landscaping.  Tom Collins will be providing lights and community members will be invited to bring (non-breakable) ornaments to decorate the tree.  On Saturday, November 8th and Saturday, November 15th, Santa’s sleigh will be on-site, as will Santa, from 12:00 to 4:00.  At that time, donations to the People Tree or the Community Cupboard will be received—food items, a toy or cash donations.  Possibility of  photo opportunity as well.  On the 8th and the 22nd , District 6630 Rotarians are invited to a Cash Mob/Flash Mob in the village, Sam Bixler and his horses and wagon will be delighting   passengers about town and the Spirit will be in the air.

The Silver Creek Garden Club of Garrettsville has made a generous donation to assist in planting bulbs around the fountain by the Boardwalk and at the entrance signs to the village.  Volunteers for the planting operations would be appreciated; see any Rotarian.

Tom Collins  reported that our resident exchange student, Zad, has been attending district-wide activities for exchange students, including overnighters and tours of Cleveland’s west side…east side next?  He continues to be taken aback by the sheer abundance he sees. Ted Lysiak revealed that the James A. Garfield Elementary has been tagged as  a “School of Honor”—one of only 48 in the state—as a result of its achievements and progress over recent years.

The Reverse Raffle and Silent Auction is on track and ROLLIN’ for next week.  Tickets still available but get them soon.  See any Rotarian.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotarians were gratified to meet some of the eighth grade Power of the Pen team members from James A. Garfield Middle School and their coach/advisor, Jackie Lovelace.  Ms. Lovelace, who has been the coach/advisor/motivator of the Garfield program for 13 years, introduced the group and offered a brief overview of the program, the procedures of competition and the excellent results which the students have achieved.  She also read examples of the students’ writings and it was clear why they had been so successful—excellent use of vocabulary and composition skills.  The G-H Rotary has, for the last five years, sponsored the district competition held at Garfield and was proud to see the hardware(trophy) that the writers had garnered.  Everyone will be pulling for these talented individuals—and their seventh grade counterparts—to go to the state competition this year.  It is a learning experience all around.

The trash pick-up on October 25 was successful…and fun.  The weather was good, the crew (Rotarians and Interact Club members) was convivial and enthusiastic, lunch at McDonald’s was fun, the pictures caught it all.  The Portage County Park District Foundation will be chipping in on the Headwaters Trail project now in the planning stages.  Some local members attended the Rotary/Bob Evans fundraiser       for Polio Plus, a Rotary community health initiative. Local exchange student, Zad, got to go to a district-wide Rotary exchange student get-together and get a feel for the upcoming Halloween activities.  Rachel Schwan, in Thailand, got to attend a RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) activity in Thailand; this is a program that got its start with Dr. Bob Jackson , long-time member of the local club, district mover-and-shaker and all-around good guy.  Tempting to say, “What goes around, comes around” on the upside too.

Then it was “off to the races”…or, rather, “off to the raffle”.  The year’s big event, the Reverse Raffle and Silent Auction is coming up on November 13—almost here—and preparation is the word of the day.  Tickets are available.  Everyone is invited.  Donations and sponsorships are welcome.  Officials from all over have been invited.  It’s the 30th anniversary of this popular fundraiser and it looks to be the best yet.

November 13

SugarBush Golf Course

Don’t miss it.  Get your tickets NOW.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotarians were treated to a  local small business success story at their noon meeting on Monday, October 20 as Jessica Brokaw described the commercial progress of her husband, Doug Seaman, of Doug Seaman Decorating, LLC ,recently one of the local contractors involved in the work on the addition to the James A. Garfield Elementary school.  The painters always get the last walk-through and their commitment to quality is evident all over the building.  Doug began painting with his dad ( and now with his father and son) and other contractors then decided to take the leap into being an independent business upon landing a contract with Applebee’s, Inc.  An LLC (limited liability company) is a flexible form of enterprise that combines features of partnership and corporate structure; Doug Seaman Decorating, LLC was formed in 2013 with help from Tanay Hill, of Huntington Bank’s Garrettsville office and has a learn-as-you-go attitude toward business, a philosophy of hiring quality workers and a commitment to giving back to the community, developing  and deserving trust.  Doug Seaman Decorating, LLC is a prime example of how a skilled tradesman can fit into the larger economy and support family and community prosperity.

Also making a presentation was Colleen Steele, head teller at the Middlefield Bank and a member in good standing of the Garrettsville Silver Creek Garden Club.  Wearing the latter hat, she invited the Rotarians to be a part of the community  photo calendar being offered by the Garden Club to finance the flower baskets hanging from streetlights throughout the village.  The opportunity to give the community advance notice of regularly-scheduled events such as the Reverse Raffle (November 19th  this year, coming soon; get your tickets) and Family Week (2015, February), even regular meeting days at Cal’s II was too good to pass up.

Personal invitations to the upcoming Reverse Raffle have gone out to state and local officials of every stripe to be a part of the evening coming soon.  Members need to turn in tickets and payments as they go

Tom Collins reported on the progress –and success—of a local re-imagine and rebuild Garrettsville project focusing on the Headwaters Trail as a development focus for health and well-being as well as the local economy.  The District(6630) and local clubs have chimed in for matching funds; plans are in the works!

Further discussion bubbled up  concerning the possibility of having a Community Giving Christmas  Tree on the open space downtown, possibly in conjunction with the People Tree.  More to come.

Roadside Clean-up of State Route 82 between Garrettsville and Hiram will be on Saturday, October 25 (a busy day all around); any volunteers should meet at 9:00 at the Carlisle barn at the bottom of the hill.  Lunch will be at McDonald’s.  Y’ all come, now.

Some cartoons, political or otherwise, are SO nail-on-the-head right that they ought to be required reading…er…viewing…er…whatever, for aware citizens.  The AB-J had a pip just the other day in a series called “Pearls Before Swine” (Think about that for a while) which is a little off-the-wall at the best of times , into lame puns and sight gags but this one could be considered a voice of prophecy, in a way.

First panel : a bald, semi-shaven guy with dark glasses, a broken nose, a “wife-beater” undershirt and black vest walks in and says, “Repo man here.”  Rat, standing there next to Pig (recurring characters with definite personalities in the strip), says, “Repo Man?  I’m not behind on my car payments.”

Second panel : The guy carries a ballot box—locked—away in the same direction he came from and says, “Not here for your car.  I’m taking back your democracy.  Too few people bother to read or stay informed or even vote.  So off it goes.”  Rat and Pig watch him go.

Third panel : Rat turns to Pig and says, “I hate it when that happens.”

Me too.

I’ve been serving as a poll worker for about seven years now and it always makes me proud to see a former student come in to cast a ballot; wish that I’d see even more of them.  It used to be a regular thing in the seventh grade to take my classes down to the Precinct A polls on High Street to observe the voting; the poll workers were always helpful and welcoming and happy to explain the procedures to the kids. Pity we can’t do stuff like that anymore.  The curriculum has changed so that civic education of that sort doesn’t really make an appearance until junior or senior year.  Cultivate interest early, I say.  Build on it.  Encourage it.

I remember telling classes that I was really excited about turning twenty-one (The dinosaurs and I had a party—right in front of a glacier.) and someone said, “Yeah, then you could drink!”  The thought never crossed my mind.  I could vote!  That was way more important.

It IS neat that young adults can now register to vote in government classes.  The risk is that they will become like all too many older adults and fail to live up to their responsibilities as citizens.  People will loudly go on and on about their “rights” and just sort of whisper about the other side of the coin, which would require them to actually DO something.

Like voting, for instance.  The polls are open thirteen hours—thirteen hours! For goodness’ sake, how many of us have to be tied down, nose-to-the-grindstone for so long  and at such a vital activity that we can’t arrange for the time to contribute to the fate of the Republic?  The date  of Election Day is determined far ahead of time(First Tuesday after the first Monday in November) so anybody who cares can work it into the schedule.  Absentee ballots are easily available to be put in the mail.  The Board of Elections office is open on weekdays at the county seat.  Think of the posters and advertisements around promoting seatbelt use—What’s Holding You Back?  Equally important, folks.

It would probably be a good thing to have some idea about what you’re voting for, too.  Pay attention.  Don’t just  reflexively pick a party and vote for everybody of that particular persuasion.  Investigate a little.  Read…on both sides.  Listen to what they’re saying.  Check out ratings and non-partisan assessments.  “Due diligence” can make a difference in what you actually see and understand.

And for goodness’ sake, don’t just vote “no”…or “yes”… on everything without understanding what the question is.  Emergency medical services( or fire & rescue or law enforcement), for instance, are something that we have to support all of the time or they won’t be available when we do need them.  Do you figure that saving a couple of bucks on your taxes is worth watching a neighbor gasping for breath trapped in a collapsed ditch on the back forty?  Will your money show up at a football game to take a kid with a broken leg to the emergency room?  The services of the Portage County District Library may not interest you but the programs that the various branches(Aurora, Garrettsville, Streetsboro, Windham) offer boost our schools(and home schoolers), provide for nursing home residents, give the  non-computer public a place to interact with information and opportunities on the web. That’s a bargain, any way you look at it.  Small money, big rewards.

Taxes are the price we pay for the things that we could not do alone : roads, bridges, parks, armies, navies, air traffic control, libraries, health departments, regulations of weights and measures…a whole raft of things that we seldom see but would certainly notice if they were gone.  And, sure, nobody wants to pay more than they need to (Arthur Godfrey said, “I’m proud to be paying taxes in the United States.  The only thing is—I could be just as proud for half the money.”) but doing your part to keep the “ship of state” afloat is a pretty important responsibility, at least as important as premium cable and/or top-of-the-line phone plans.  We might ponder the words of Will Rogers, “Thank heavens we don’t get all of the government we pay for.”Or, on the other hand, Henry Ward Beecher said, ”The worst thing in the world, next to anarchy, is government.”

Think about THAT. And vote!

Columbus Day reduced the ranks of   Garrettsville-Hiram Rotarians but the Rotary spirit carried on.  Discussions covered the following topics :

*Dictionaries are here to be distributed on Thursday to third graders at James A. Garfield Elementary

*The organization needs to update and improve its presence on digital media.  To that end, G-H Rotary will be trying out the services of “ClubRunner”, a commercial operation that has a base integrated with Rotary International and the capabilities to handle photos and directories, planning and calendars and much more.  The investment could help broaden local appeal as well as promoting outreach and connectivity.

*The possibility of a Cash Mob/Flash Mob inviting the fifty-three clubs of District 6630 to come to Garrettsville for the Christmas Walk sponsored by the James A. Garfield Historical Society on the first two weekends of November could be a real boost to the local economy and spirit.  The horses will be there for rides around town, on November 8 and November 15—Thank you, Sam, thank you, Pete.  Diners will want to scope out the possibilities. Entrepreneurs will want to scope out the opportunities of coming to a historic village making a comeback.

*The Reverse Raffle is rolling.  Anyone interested in being a sponsor or donor for the occasion should contact Trish Danku or any other Rotarian to get in on the good karma…and good advertising.  Tickets are available now; get your table companions NOW, look for a good time with a great bunch.

*Tom Collins gave an update on the application for a district matching grant focusing on the enhancement and promotion of the Headwaters Trail as a community asset for health and  economic activity.  Looking good…specifics are working their way through the planning stages.

*Ideas concerning a Community Christmas Tree downtown at the Chic & Shabby lot or the Buckeye Block space are being floated.  Things will begin to sort themselves out when there is more input.

Things are happening in Rotary.  Join them at noon on Monday at Cal’s II in Sky Plaza.

So I went to get new license plates, since my old ones were still on the poor , pitiful “Revolution Orange Metallic” car that got totaled, and this meant a sojourn in the local(Ravenna) office of the State of Ohio   Bureau of Motor Vehicles…turned out to be quite instructive, in a decidedly eccentric sort of way.

First off, one is required(Well, that is if you actually want to achieve your objective of getting license plates or  renewed driver’s license or stuff of that ilk) to take a number—just like at a busy deli or bakery– from a gizmo mounted on a pole right at the entrance doors.  It’s always a shock to look at the number you’ve got and at the crowd of people sitting there already waiting.  My number was 26; the first number called after I got there was 7.  O.K., this is going to call for settling in.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring any reading material—I usually do bring something on expeditions like this—so I whipped out my trusty pen and paper and took notes; people looked at me funny.

First of all, the set-up is better than it used to be; whatever it is that you want, when your number is called, you step up to the counter and the clerk who called will deal with your request.  Once upon a time, specific clerks dealt with specific operations and the issuer of license plates might be snowed under with people waiting  and waiting, while the driver’s license clerk was able to sit at her leisure to examine the new nail color that she had chosen and  tempers tended to shorten as the wait time lengthened.  Well, that’s done with…and none too soon.

The décor is quite enlightening, consisting of old Ohio license plates—predominantly in red, green or  blue, with  some yellow or black thrown in( For awhile there, the idea was to use the colors of the principal state universities—OSU, Miami, Ohio U, BG, Kent, etc.—as they were celebrating their centennials or sesquicentennials or whatever, but then the field expanded and budgets faded and who knows what the  Bureau of Motor Vehicles is thinking now?); 1933 was orange. The earliest date that I saw on the wall was from 1916; there was a1920 next to a 1921 and from then on it was consecutive to the present day. Most were for your standard passenger car but historical vehicles, trailers, farm conveyances, dealers, vanity plates, government vehicles and school buses were also represented.  Then there were plates from all of the states, from Alabama to Wyoming on the lintel above the service desk.  I must say, the design that the BMV has come up with for our Ohio plates is certainly lame, compared to some of the others on display.  I remember  several years ago we( or the BMV, anyway) got all in a snit when North Carolina beat us to the license plate slogan “First in Flight”  commemorating the Wright Brothers exploits at Kitty Hawk.  Somebody was asleep at the switch down in Columbus, probably.  “Birthplace of Aviation” doesn’t have the same ring to it.  “Ohio, the Heart of It All” was pretty good but somebody dropped that one  and currently it’s just sort of nondescript, a barn and an airplane or shadowy words about accomplishments or something behind the numbers; definitely forgettable.  Their whole design concept is less than arresting, that’s for sure. The chairs are black and lined up in rows of four across and there are what look like army surplus church pews running along one side(So you can pray for a lower number?).  The walls also have framed vintage automobile ads(I think that I remember some of them from the LIFE Magazine; that tells you just how vintage they are).  I spotted Dodge Plymouth, Ford, Mercury, Chevrolet, Jeep and Nash(How’s that for a blast from the past?);there was an Atlas Tires  blurb too.  There is also an  antique Ohio Driver’s Manual, some temporary tags, a reminder about  being an organ donor—don’t forget that one—and a display of the old paper driver’s licenses; I remember those too.   Somebody’s bad typing and my own ineptitude caused me to be driving for a whole year on an  expired license.  The last number was typed right on the line on the right side of the little box and I thought—having looked at it carelessly—that I had another year before needing to renew.  WRONG!  It was a nerve-wracking time between when I turned myself in and when I could  get an appointment to retake the driver’s test—written and driving.  Good thing I was still walking to work then and didn’t get into any high-speed car chases.

And speaking of displays….  Everybody’s got a tattoo.  The variety is stunning.  Everything from names inside of hearts—Mom, Emmy-Jo, USMC—to skulls and dragons and Disney characters to Maori designs, spider webs and faeries.  I knew a guy once who had a fly tattooed on his big toe; at the time, this was pretty far out; he’d be a wuss now.  Lots of the displays were on phone screens, everybody seemed to have someone to contact by text, the talking was not a factor.  The big TV screen was being mostly ignored.  The game show that was on was not real inspiring and nobody seemed to be paying much attention…including the contestants.

I must say that the clerks seemed very helpful.  One poor gentleman showed up with no I.D., no passport, nothing attesting to his place of residence; I think he was connected to the University and didn’t have the drill down yet.  The young lady helping him sent him to another office across the hall to figure all of that out; he came back and got through it, chop-chop.  Good thing, since another sign announced that  the whole place was appearing on closed circuit TV and there was an audio monitor in use.

So eventually my number came up , I had all of the necessary papers—including my checkbook—and I now have a new set of plates that I have to remember to put on the car before my 30-day tags run out.  This means that I will have to learn a new set of numbers and letters…oy!…and update my insurance…the fun never stops!

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary continues “full speed ahead” toward the big fall event, the Reverse Raffle and Silent Auction coming up at Sugar Bush Golf Club in November.  Sponsors and donors are still welcome; attendees from across the community can begin lining up their tickets now. See any Rotary member.  It’s an enjoyable evening with friends, old and new, and  great food.  Don’t miss it.

Items of business included Lisa Muldowney’s announcement that the Dictionary Project books are in.  They will each be outfitted with a sticker outlining the Four-Way Test and giving the name of the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club as the dictionary sponsor.  They will be distributed, classroom by classroom, to third graders at Garfield Elementary School as soon as they get their stickers.

The last home soccer game of the season will be on Tuesday; it’s Senior Night and the local Rotary Student Exchange guy in residence, “Zad”, has been part of the team since his arrival, making some major contributions.

The program for the meeting came from member Tanay Hill, of Huntington Bank, who started off with a clever quiz, designed to encourage focused observation by bank personnel and others who might be at the scene of an untoward event at a bank…or anywhere.  Observation  works to protect customers as well as bank employees when situations are out of the ordinary and may need investigation.

Ms Hill has one daughter and graduated from Youngstown State University in 2003 with a degree in accounting; her scholarship from Sky Bank led to her employment there and  when Sky Bank became part of Huntington, there she was.  She started in Warren, has risen through the ranks and has spent 9 years in management.  She is a past president of Business Network International, is involved in Junior Achievement and heads up a team of eight—with many years of experience– at the Garrettsville branch of Huntington Bank.  Her special field of expertise is in business development, which fits well with Huntington’s recognition as a #1 Small Business Administration lender.  Her branch has been a proud supporter of the Friends of Melana organization and is becoming more involved with the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce.  She asks the right questions and gets good answers

The welcomed guest for lunch was Josh Prest, a regional representative for the state treasurer’s office.  His contribution to discussion was to mention that the Youngstown Business Incubator has recently been ranked #1 in the world.  Rising from the ashes is good for the region and good for the state treasurer’s office

Well, that train left the station without me aboard.

I had been planning to take the Portage County Farm Tour but it turns out that it was held on Saturday instead of Sunday and my schedule was all wrapped around the Aurora Band show, Thunder Over Aurora, so it was a setback to open the Record on Sunday and see that I had missed the whole thing.  Too bad.  Those tours are really quite enjoyable and one gets to learn a lot of stuff when going on them.

The Mackenzie Creamery was a big “draw” as far as I was concerned; the cheese they make is amazing and the goats which are part of the operation are always a hoot.  I like goats; they are characters, they have personalities.  You can’t go to the fair and  go through the sheep and goat barn without seeing(and hearing) at least one of them with feet up on the rails of its enclosure, looking around, and giving a loud and raucous “Baaaah”   to express whatever it is that goats think about all of the rest of us.   I understand that the billygoats have some disgusting personal habits and the bad rap that they have concerning body odor is often well-deserved, but the creamery itself was clean enough to perform surgery in when I saw it on the last tour.  The possibility of exotically-flavored   cheese samples may have entered into the desire to go there again.

Then there was a stop at the Sand Hill Stables, which I’ve been itching to get a look at for quite some time– the demos by the farrier(They’re the ones that work at shoeing horses, not blacksmiths) would have been instructive, I’m sure, my feet being what they are ,tours of Beckwith Orchards, Inc, that venerable fruit emporium in Franklin Twp, Brugmann Farms on Frost Rd. in Mantua(They’re not all about sand &gravel), and Lazy B, an apiary ( a place where bees are kept; a collection of hives or colonies of bees kept for their honey)on Ryder Rd. in Hiram Twp.—we all ought to know more about bees and what we can do for them, since they’ve been having a rough  time lately, what with the “colony collapse disorder” and the  profligate use of insecticides in agriculture   and shrinking  areas of wildflowers—or flowers of any kind—for them to forage for food.  The little buzzers have been having a time of it and we should pay attention because a very high percentage of the crops that we raise to eat depend upon the honeybee (genus : Apis ) and their cousins(seven species, 44 subspecies) of all sorts for pollination. And I missed it all!  Bummer!  Watch for it next fall; there aren’t that many farms/agricultural enterprises in Portage County any more.  We should support them  whenever we can; that’s what the Farm Bureau is all about doing in organizing these tours.

Which leads me to think that I’m going to actually get down to learning how to do things with my new phone…like keeping a calendar.  I have a calendar at home with space to write things in, which I try to do religiously(I’ve been excommunicated a few times) but if I don’t scribble a note somewhere when I’m out and about, then transfer it to the calendar when I get home, It’s anybody’s guess whether I’ll remember or not.  Notes on the grocery list are just not very reliable.  My brilliant plan for getting this phone thing accomplished is to take it to the next QuizMasters practice and have the kids instruct me on everything from calendar set-up to weather aps.  Heck, I could probably take it to the sixth-grade girls’ volleyball practice and get the same kind of help.  Ditto for the car; it does things I haven’t even discovered yet.

Missed World Pet Day on Sunday but the pets here are doing pretty well anyhow, except one of the original trio is heading for that last Big Lap in the Sky.  There’s only one cure for old.

I did go to the Thunder Over Aurora band show, which was fine and loud, as usual.  The official T-shirt this year was designed by a member of the Aurora flagline, utilizing caricatures of the  mascots of the participating schools—NDCL Lions, Southeast Pirates, Riverside Beavers(Riverside Regiment), Jackson Polar Bears(the Purple Army), the Garfield G-Men and the Aurora Greenmen .  There were the inevitable redundancies, two different bands playing the same tune, but the arrangements and instrumentations were so different that sometimes you could hardly tell.  Choreography abounds–on the flaglines and dance corps, by the instrumentalists, among majorettes(The Purple Army had a much-awarded feature twirler, she was really good)—everybody is “tripping the light fantastic” at the least provocation.  Calls to mind a line from an ancient ’40’s tune : “It must be jelly, ‘cuz jam don’t shake like that.”  Or maybe “Shake a Tailfeather” from the ‘60’s (It got into  the Disney film “Chicken Little in 2005, as well); there were plenty of shakos on the field.  There was—as occasionally happens at large gatherings–a little lost boy at intermission, a young sprout just sort of dripping tears, not sobbing yet but clearly in danger of heading that way.  A kind  young woman—she had a light green hoodie, so I assumed that she was an Auroran got him to the concession stand and the guys there relayed a call to somewhere to help find Mom ; everybody was very reassuring so the little fellow didn’t lose it, even after Mom did appear.  Actually, by that time, she was probably more likely to be teary than he.  And , Finally, I think that I shall  prod our athletic director (Look out, Mr. Pfleger) to find an equipment sponsor which will provide an “OFFICIAL golf cart” for big events at our school.  Those Greenmen have all the cool stuff…and the event was very well organized.  Thank you, Booster Parents!

Oh, and I saw T-shirts : Fear God. Love Your Neighbor.  Hunt Ducks…. Eclectic Genres…What does this mean?

Ya know…ya can’t make this stuff up.

Some dude, a financier with AGI Capital in San Francisco named Jesse Herzog, has come up with something that he calls the “Suitsy”, which is a “onesie”—familiar to the parents-of-infants crowd—for adults, specifically, adult male business-types.  He claims it will appeal to guys who appreciate “class, convenience and comfort”. “Imagine looking professional but feeling like you’re wearing pajamas.”

The Suitsy is a jacket connected to a shirt, attached to pants with fake shirt cuffs showing at the end of sleeves and a zipper(hidden beneath the fake button placket; tie, belt and shoes are extra) running the length of the front exposure from neck to crotch.  Aye, there’s the rub, to shanghai Shakespeare, and “Hamlet”, into the conversation…in a one-piece garment—coveralls, anyone?–this critical location, the crotch (or “crouch” as Mama calls it in “Music Man”) tends to move in concert with the shoulders, up, down, whatever.  So anyone wearing a Suitsy should think twice about ever raising his arms, or even doing a major shrug.  Either that or have a specially-crafted one made with the crotch somewhere south of its customary position.  And you don’t think that anyone would notice that?

The other concern out there is about the whole zipper issue.  Think about it.  Ladies wearing Spanx have had to do this for quite some time.  It can make “intestinal distress” into a category 5 disaster.

One commentator remarked that it was as though a business suit and a jumpsuit had produced a lovechild.

Anyway, anyway…this dude is touting his invention/device/garment on a website called Betabrand(the promo says “Better Than Fresh Camel Milk”, so you just know they’re about serious stuff) that apparently kind of does market  surveys to see if some new ideas are worth considering for manufacture and distribution…and funding, of course.  At last count, the Suitsy had 375 votes.

And Jesse Herzog has had previous business experience; he once ran a hot dog shop in San Francisco named Zog Dog which put the first hot dog into space.  What?  You missed that?  Gotta get with the program if you’re going to get rich.

***And you might get rich if you’re into Sumo, Sumo wrestling.  Yes!  The United States is the biggest venue for amateur sumo wrestling outside of Japan.  As a matter of fact, the U.S. Sumo Open was just recently held at Cal State–Long Beach and was quite an event.  Yeah,  there were videos with big pounding drum sounds from a drum corps   considerably different from what we might see on a Friday night football scene, ads for sumo equipment, sponsors—Sapporo Premium Beer, Hazutsuru Sake (couldn’t read the Japanese last one)—cheering crowds…the whole enchilada—or sushi roll, if you want to go in a different ethnic direction.  They do weight classes, both men(70) and women(15) and it’s certainly something to watch those very large persons tossing each other about in the middle of that ring.  Clearly, though, it’s not just weight that carries the day.  A competitor must either push/pull/maneuver the opponent out of the ring or cause them to hit the canvas surface.  A lot seems to be about redirecting momentum to bring about the desired result, rather than simply overpowering and outweighing.  And speaking of weighing…do they use a truck scale or what?  Those folks are BIG!

The current reigning champ is—get out your Spellchecker—a Mongolian dude named Byambajav Ulambayar, who’s won the last seven titles.

Sumo may be becoming popular because it is QUICK, sometimes as little as 5 seconds for a match; no commercial breaks, no breaks in the action.  Scoring is simple : is he down? Is he out? No seventh-inning stretch needed.  The uniform sales might be a bit problematic, since the standard garment is pretty much a precision-folded loincloth( 30 ft., linen or cotton or silk); not something the average  Joe-Sumo would be likely to wear to the local adult-beverage emporium.  Oh, some individuals wear what looks sort of like bike shorts under the mawashi or mokko-fundoshi (literally, “earth-basket loincloth”) which is the usual attire, but there are several styles to suit personal preferences Where would one put the college/team logo?

*And finally, check out the bunch of teens that were in an SUV automobile accident when one of their number (the dumbest one) used a lighter to set the driver’s armpit hair on fire.

Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot?

Nah.  Come to the  James A. Garfield Alumni Banquet and remember all that good old stuff with good old friends AND good food .  Yup.  It was a good one.

The organizing committee members—Helen Louise Paul Bouts, Elaine Lange Duffield, Ruth Becks Herrington, Bonnie Ball Oliver, Kit Younker Semplak, Judy Davison Toth, Carolyn Lange Unaitis, Sherri Seals Collins, Tom Collins, Christine Lumbert Pitsinger and Ted Lysiak—put together a fine meal catered by Guido’s, floral décor by Art N Flowers, reminiscences by all sorts of folks and an introduction to the new addition to the Garfield Elementary building which had just had its official ribbon cut at ten o’clock that very morning.  The James A. Garfield Marching Pride made a cameo appearance to greet the early arrivers before heading off to a band show at Stow-Monroe Falls High School, where they wowed the crowd in the name of the district.

Classes of special recognition—1944(Yay, Dick Davis and Helen Lewis Manlove), 1954, 1964 and 1994)were presented with some memory-joggers about the prices of things like gas and houses during their salad days.  Board of Education president Guy Pietra was the Peerless Speaker and board vice president David Vincent offered the blessing.  The look at the new addition, built through the $5million Straight A Grant (The only application to receive unanimous approval) to produce a Campus of Excellence, was an eye-opener and a source of pride…mingled, no doubt, with amazement.  Any food not consumed on the spot was donated to the Center of Hope as a community outreach.

It was a fine old time with friends and family (note the number of Collinses and Andrewses, among others, in attendance) and the date has already been set for the next one.  Mark your calendars for September 19, 2015, same time , same place.  Everybody learn the Alma Mater!

There’s a story about that.

Garrettsville – The James A. Garfield Local School District cut a ribbon on Saturday, September 20 marking the amazing (120 days!) completion of the addition to the James A. Garfield Elementary School, bringing about the relocation of the district’s fifth and sixth graders to the Campus of Excellence, with all of the system’s students sharing the same venue.  This was made possible through a $5million Straight A Grant from the State of Ohio(The only application to have received unanimous approval) and through the outstanding efforts of a blue-ribbon design and construction team—including local firms  Scotchman Electric(Scott Russell), Doug Seaman Decorating and Rocky Gardens Landscaping(DeanHorvath).  The application process opened one year, to the day, before the ribbon-cutting ceremony and was a total team effort, spearheaded by Superintendent Ted Lysiak and Treasurer Tracy Knauer. Board members, administrators, educators, staff members, students and a community advisory group all played a part in the final concept.

With the awarding of the grant, the clock began ticking and the race was on!

Bob McCullough of Hammond Construction, Melanie Friedman of FMD Architects spoke briefly of the challenges faced.  Charlie Fury, superintendent of the whole construction project, was praised.

Guy Pietra, Board President, and Rick Patrick, Mayor of Garrettsville, offered thanks and appreciation to key players who were major factors in the co-operating elements which made the timeline work—Don Long, Carrie  Dornack, principals; Ellen Rybak, GEA president; maintenance and custodial staff; students and teachers; village maintenance crews and permitting bodies.  It was an over-all effort, one illustration of which was the newly-waxed floors   of the building, done early that morning by Elementary head custodian, Judy Gyulai, since “her” building is now “our”  building and she’s proud.

The refreshments and the tour were icing on the cake.

It’s not just about the building.  It’s about BUILDING for the future.

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Ladies….  Ladies….  Ladies….

There’s still time…still time to sign up for the 1st Annual Women’s Retreat being held at the Garrettsville United Methodist Church on Saturday, October 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00p.m.  The event will feature varied sessions ranging from Bible stories presented by God’s Circle, a Christian Women’s Storyteller group, to cooking, knitting or Yoga instruction, through estate planning, bow-making, book discussion, card-making, spiritual conversations with Rev. Chris Martin and simple fellowship opportunities.  The basic fee is $20, with materials charges for craft sessions.   Information is available through the church office or by calling Stephanie Byrne at 330-527-4772.  Lunch—catered by Anne Haynam, owner and chef of On the Spot Gourmet and presenter of the cooking instruction–is included (not to mention desserts by Tracy Garrett of Top Tier Pastry,   LLC).

Check it out.

Do something relaxing, fun and uplifting for yourself.  It may be a retreat but it will move you forward.

Garrettsville – Fourteen members and guests of the James A. Garfield Historical Society met on September 25 at the historic Mott Building, Main Street, Garrettsville for their regularly-scheduled monthly meeting.  The main topic of discussion was the upcoming Christmas Walk.

Plans for the refreshments to be offered at the Mott Building during the reservation-only Candlelight Tour are in the capable hands of Cindy Matson, Becky Moser and Lynn Fry.  They outlined the plans for the items to be served and invited additional contributions in the same general menu framework.  Inquiries were made as to the specifics of the champagne punch recipe.

Valorie  McCullough, chairing the participation of the Nelson United Methodist Church in celebration of its bicentennial, reported that decorating had begun, with some overlap of fall and winter décor.  The keynote for the over-all theme of “Heavenly Host” is an angel by local artist-in -wood, Mike Kortan, and is currently having wings refurbished.  The menu for meals to be served in the church dining area will be posted in the program but will include a turkey dinner with homemade gravy, and pulled pork sandwiches, among other things.

Deadline for submissions for the programs/tickets, either information or advertising, is September 26.   These are currently in the works and proceeding as scheduled

Other items of business included notice of the Ohio Local History meeting approaching on Oct 3,  note that an inspection of an outflow valve in the basement, as required by the BPA, was imminent, the Mott Building will be open as usual on the first Saturday of the month, October 4, the annual tour by the third grade students of Garfield Elementary School will be on October 10, preliminary information from the Chamber of Commerce holiday promotion encouraging local shopping at Christmas…and anytime.

Donations from Tim Perkins including a number of antique garments from his mother’s family, the Kelkers, were received, looked at, commented upon and referred to Delma Mishler for expert laundry care for their preservation.

The JAGHS meets every third Monday of the month at 7:30 in the Mott Building.  Meetings are open to the public and new members are welcome at any time.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary met on September 22 at Cal’s II and closed the meeting  by voting to make this their regular meeting place—at noon—until further notice.

Guest speaker for the day was Mark Tripodi of Cornerstone of Hope, a counseling center for grieving children, teens and adults, located in Independence, Ohio, with a new facility opening in Columbus.  The center offers many programs : grief counseling, art therapy, support groups, school programs, bereavement camps, memorial ceremonies, education and training of grief counselors, a lending library, volunteer opportunities–all available on a sliding financial scale.  All ages and need situations are welcome to interact with their licensed clinical professionals and/or peers, whatever brings the most support and healing.  Summer youth support camps, crisis intervention team training, weekly and monthly sessions, a variety of therapies are all available.  The group and their Tree House have appeared on Animal Planet.

After suffering a devastating family loss, Mark and his wife and family were unable to find help and support that met their needs with a schedule and a financial situation that fit their capabilities, they set out to establish a group, a community and a facility that would do for others what they wished had been available for them.  Cornerstone of Hope has been the result, a light in the darkness of despair which overwhelms so many.  Mark was accompanied by Francine Artiste a new-on-the-job facilitator for the group.

In other business, Tom Collins reported on Zad, the resident exchange student, who got to attend the recent climate change rally in New York, see Times Square, be amazed at the 300,000 people in attendance at the rally (“There is NO planet B”, “It’s getting hot in here.  Take your coals off.” “Save the Humans”—message from a Panda)…AND score the winning goal in the Rootstown soccer game.

Tom also gave an update on the continuing consultations with the Mantua-Shalersville Rotary Club, the Garrettsville Garden Club, the Mayor of Garrettsville and the Portage County Park District for expanding and promoting the Headwaters Trail for the good of the entire community.

Rich Brown attended as a guest.  He is a business contact of McCumbers-Brady Realty doing vital title work.

The Rotary-sponsored Roadside Clean-up will be on October 25.

G-H Rotary meets every Monday at noon at Cal’s II,  Check them out.

Garrettsville – The Cupboard is all about Community and its offering a new service for families   still working hard to regain their feet; it’s called the Weekend Snackpack Program.  It’s being made available to eligible students in the James A. Garfield Local School District on a monthly basis and provides a bag of healthy and easy-to-prepare snack foods sent home on the third Friday of each month; this would be approximately 15 healthy  between-meal snacks for after school and on weekends to supplement regular meals.  Food allergies will be taken into account in selection of snacks.

There is no cost to families and distribution will be handled with the utmost discretion.  Participation is strictly confidential and arranged by school counselors.  Names and information will not be shared with anyone else.  Applications for participation in this program are available from school counselors.

This program is being made possible through the co-operation of the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard and the James A. Garfield Local School District and a $10,000 nationwide grant originating with Massachusetts Mutual Financial Group, whose local representative is Christopher Perme of the Perme Financial Group, Garrettsville.  Over one hundred students are enrolled so far and there is room for more.  The community cares.

Well, actually, it wasn’t all that wild but it definitely was interesting and fun.  The Portage County Park District is offering opportunities to scope out some of the features of the newly-funded (THANK YOU, VOTERS)county parks with knowledgeable  and  entertaining volunteer naturalists (or  one, at least, Thank you, Joe) to get a good look at just what’s out there.  There is a lot.

We got to see the fall flowers—goldenrod(several varieties), asters(lots of  colors and sizes), lobelia, to name a few.  We got to see lots of mushrooms, from decorative turkey tail shelf mushrooms to cute little red-topped poisonous ones (Amanita muscaria, red fly agaric, which contains the toxic, psychoactive alkaloid, muscimole which used to be left out in dishes to kill flies…probably bumped off a few  curious others as well)  and the  little, filament-like “fairy fingers”.  We got to see frogs and toads and spiders, mostly little-bitty guys.  We got to see an abundance of trees (What? You thought the place was paved?)and shrubs, both native and invasive species, a couple of stages on the succession of forests and the remnants of vernal pools.  No wild animals to speak of appeared to cross our path but a few had clearly been there for a woodland picnic because the bones of their appetizers were spotted in a couple of places and the odd one or two stray turkey feathers indicated that somebody was celebrating Thanksgiving early(and it wasn’t the turkey).

The day was perfect for an exploratory amble through field and/or forest.  Our ever-resourceful guide had fortified himself with a GPS app to make sure that we’d be getting back to where we’d started and not still be out there looking for a fenceline.  He also helpfully passed out laminated plastic cards describing the local tick population and what to do about them.  They certainly are ugly little buggers and they hang out with a murderer’s row of diseases—Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis(that’s always mentioned in the papers that you have to read before giving blood),Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Heartland Virus—not warm fuzzies that one would like to invite home.  Cats are about the wildest things that I can stand.

So….  That was Sunday.  On Saturday, the band—the James A. Garfield Marching Pride—went to the Solon Band Show and for the first time in recent memory, the evening was dry and , while cool, was   bearable, temperature-wise.  Mirabile dictu!  I tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve been on a bus packed full of band kids soaked to the skin and unable to get any concession-stand food that wasn’t drenched by the run-off from under the spectators’ seating.  Not a pretty picture!

Kudos to the Windham band, also in attendance, for showing what a rebuilding program and a lot of spirit can be capable of.  They did their school and their supporters and themselves proud.   The big  schools—Solon, Hudson, Kenston, for example—can blow down the walls but small can be MIGHTY mighty too.

The Marching Pride exemplified this as well, with a display of energy and enthusiasm and musicianship that captivates audiences.  One dude in the announcer’s booth said, “I love this band; they’re always so ON!”  That’s what I thought too.

And the kick-off(Ha!  That’s a joke, son.) to the weekend was—as always—the football game , with our first look at real football weather for this year.  Truth to tell, it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the weather people were hinting prior to the first whistle.  Several times I heard dark hints about the  temperatures plunging after the warm week that we had earlier…incipient Polar Vortex, for sure!  More on that later; I now have both the Farmer’s Almanac and the Old Farmers’s Almanac, which, I have noticed have both hedged their bets by saying that this could all be a pile of brown stuff if the El Nino weather pattern kicks in…or pigs fly…or hell freezes over.

And speaking of cold….   It’s a tad chilly out in space, right?(Is this a segue or what?) And there are radiations of various sorts, right?  Well, fear not, Japan’s cartoon favorite feline and exemplar of the Kawaii (“cute”) culture, Hello Kitty (Her real moniker is Kitty White; the other is just a stage name), is whirling around way up there with a special space suit and paint job designed to protect from  UV and cosmic rays.  Yes.  The little white cat with a pink bow is cruisin’ in the Japanese nanosatellite(It’s really little), Hodoyoshi 3 and getting messages from various earthbound fans—one of said messages will be drawn by lot and broadcast every day, a different one every day, from space.  She went up on June 19; it was announced on August 12, probably to make sure that no misfortune came to the little 4cm  model   which was celebrating her 40th birthday.  Somebody spent $40million on this to boost Japan’s education and science industries.  I could have got them a much better deal to celebrate MY birthday for a mere $10 million.

Cake would be extra.

The Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club began and ended with the Four-Way Test this past week.  Is it the truth?  Is it fair to all concerned?  Will it build good will and better friendships?  Is it beneficial to all concerned?  President Delores McCumbers opened the meeting by extolling this as a rubric for conducting everyday life.  The recitation of the test was, and has become on a regular basis, the last item of business.

The report from Rachel Schwan in Thailand was good; she is settling in, learning to cook, getting used to insects and gekkos.

Zad, the in-residence exchange student, is getting along famously and playing a key role on the Garfield  boys’ soccer team.  He will be getting a team warm-up suit from the club.

Trish Danku next took the spotlight, giving a brief background picture of herself as from a large, loving , strict Irish-Canadian family who transitioned from being a wallflower to a real bloomer.  Her  employment at the Canadian Consul’s office led to her meeting and marrying a Yank, Greg Danku, and becoming involved in the community of the Parish of St. Ambrose, which has been a stay in time of trouble.  Her current employment in the funeral industry–Carlson Cremation Services and Funeral Homes—meshes with her mission to give back.  One aspect of this is her work with creating life stories on line and facilitating pre-planning for end-of-life situations. On October 13 the club is invited to join Dr. Mike Carlson in a tour of the local facility—Mallory-DeHaven-Carlson, on Center Street, Garrettsville—for a better understanding of the business.

The club’s principal fund-raiser, the Reverse Raffle, is coming up in November.  Members will be contacting potential sponsors and donors soon, emphasizing the beneficial activities and programs that Rotary offers to the community.  Contributing to and attending the bash are helpful ways that many businesses and individuals can support the community through Rotary.

Family Week, another big local Rotary project, will be coming up in February, 2015 and is in line to be getting a major re-vamp, across the board.  Stay tuned.

Jim Irwin brought more historical items and there  is talk of creating a Rotary scrapbook with copies of the newspaper articles on the club dating back to ancient times…well, the 1950’s, anyway.

G-H Rotary meets at noon on Monday at Cal’s II.  Come see.

Well , it’s not just about football, ya know.  Or volleyball or baseball or cross country or golf or soccer or any of those sports where you get all sweaty.  Much more refined than THAT.

Specifically, it’s the Sinquefield Cup Chess Tournament.  Held this last week in St. Louis, MO, the event saw a stunning  performance by Fabiano Caruana, a twenty-two-year-old Italian grand master(He became a grand master at the ripe old age of fourteen.)  Prior to this occasion he had been ranked third in the world by the FIDE (Federation Internationale des Eschecs…sort of the NFL of chess)but he took care of the number-one-ranked dude, Magnus Carlsen(age 23) of Norway (Who is also a model for advertising campaigns and was named one of the “sexiest men of 2013” by Cosmopolitan) in short order and went on to best such big names in chess as Veselin Topalov and Hikaru Nakamura.  He finished with seven…SEVEN…wins(in a row) and one draw in the tournament and won $100,000.  This is unheard of in chess competitions, where winning frequently is decided by the number of draws and losses—it’s soo hard to win outright against all of these “brainiacs”.  Judging from the ages of the top two finishers, it could be the beginning of a fierce competition   to go on for some time.

Then again, you never know.  Two competitors at the Chess Olympiad held in August in Norway kicked the bucket while the event was going on.  One, from the Seychelles had a heart attack at the venue, one, from Uzbekistan, was found dead in his hotel room.  Pressure’ll get to you.

No sweat!

And then, of course, there’s the Spanish Vuelta.  What, you’re not following the Spanish Vuelta?  It’s one of those European bicycle road races that we all care so much about at this time of year. (  Since Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France deceptions we’ve lost all interest.  They could –totally–be riding unicycles and wearing clown suits for all we know…or care.) Anyway, the latest stage winner (Not sure what that means either) is a speedy dude named Przemyslaw Niemiec.  Nice Irish kid, right?  Imagine first grade, being a little tyke riding to school on your bicycle—probably in a Polish neighborhood—and having to learn to write your name on your school papers.  Imagine being his teacher and having to pronounce the tiny tot’s name on the first day for roll call.  Whoooeee!  I survived Viggiani, Chaykowsky and Gruchewski but this guy might have given me pause for refection.

While you were on the road, should you have been traveling in Canada, you might have run into—oops! poor word choice—you might  have encountered hitchBot, a robot designed and , presumably, programmed by David Harris Smith of  McMaster University and Frauke Zeller(Who also produced an art critic robot named kulturBot) which was   hitchhiking across the country from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia.  Beginning on July 27 at the Institute for Applied Creativity at NSCAD (formerly Nova Scotia College of Art and Design),  it traveled 6000km (4000mi.) relying on the kindness of strangers and arrived  on the west coast on August 16.

It was originally plunked down by the side of the road at the airport in Halifax and within five minutes got a ride with a couple heading to camp in New Brunswick.  It then went on to crash a wedding celebration, join in a First Nations gathering, show off dance moves by doing the Harlem Shake at a festivity of some kind in Saskatchewan and become an international celebrity of sorts.

hitchBot can talk and has GPS capabilities.  Creators Smith and Zeller refer to it as “her”, so that’s what that’s about(Girls can do anything).  She survived having a cracked LED shield protector and by the end of the adventure her speech patterns had become a little more random (Heck. I get that way by the end of the DAY sometimes).  She’s got a beer barrel body(Been there, done that), yellow gloves—with one thumb up—for hands,  blue arms and legs, multicolored boots and red eyes—they wink –and she can smile.  She can carry on a conversation( with a brief quotation from Robert Frost) about as well as a lot of people I can think of.  She’s part of an investigation concerning the question of whether or not robots can trust humans and the functionality of Artificial Intelligence(The “real” kind seems to be getting pretty thin on the ground lately).  Her last ride around was with a gentleman named Steve Sxwithul’txw(Yup, that’s his name; he’s of the Salish Tribe  on the Pacific coast) who is a film producer, so we’ll probably soon see a documentary on hitchBot’s  trek across Canada.

I’d have picked her up

It’s that time again.

School has begun and so have a number of other activities.  Most of them could use some volunteers to keep things moving along and produce the best outcomes for all concerned.

Booster groups of every stripe need help in their fund-raising  activities.  Picture yourself hustling hot dogs at a game or topping off a root beer float for sale to a thirsty customer.  Statisticians and scorekeepers are frequently in short supply—the season gets longer with every game gone by and more looming into the winter. The chain gang at football games is NOT made up of elves who live under the bleachers, you know.   Somebody has to help with and/or supervise the clean-up—indoors or outdoors, a mess is a mess.  Tickets must be sold and accounted for.  Merchandise, ditto.  Elementary schools have activities going on all of the time that could use a little adult supervision and contribution…of course, it behooves one to act like an adult and actually be a  desirable role model in addition to counting coupons or putting up pictures, or whatever.  Act responsibly so kids can see how it looks; they get enough of the bad stuff on TV.

Community groups—Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, Eagles, Masons& Eastern Stars, church folks, etc.—are always looking for help and support.  New in town?  Show up to make new friends and get all of the latest on what’s happening around and about(The jungle telegraph has direct lines to many of the most active).  Have you a hobby?  Dollars to doughnuts there’ll be someone around who shares your interest, or would, if you’d get out and promote it(I’m still mulling over an offer to take up horseshoes).

There are things to do, places to go, people to see.  In the immortal words of Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving to death”.

You could at least try an appetizer.

 

Well…seasons have started…football season, soccer season, volleyball season, cross country season,  interscholastic golf season (The regular duffers have been going at it all summer), marching band season…you name it, the season has started.  School is like the opening gun for all sorts of stuff.

There are, however, plenty of competitions out there which we “wot not of”.  Such as:

Amazon has just agreed to pony up a ton of money–$970 million—for some outfit called Twitch which makes it possible for video gamers to watch—just watch, not play themselves—other video gamers play…what else?…video games!  This is causing great commotion in the online world for some reason and many of the big names—whatever they are, in the online gamers world are all a-buzz about it.   I am not one of these people.

Let us get this straight; people can get on their computers to watch other people play video games.  Just what IS it that these watchers DO?  They don’t have to even move their fingers, just barely their eyeballs.  Do the actual players get any feedback on their play?  Are there electronic/digital cheerleaders chanting algorithmic encouragement from the in-the-cloud sidelines?  Any rain delays when a server goes down?  The questions have only just begun to roll in.

On the other hand, there will be no ambulances with emergency medical staff standing by in case of injury.  The playing field, such as it is, acts as its own scorekeeper and referee, so there will be no overheated spectators booming out insults about the officials’ suspect ancestry or eyesight.  No more trekking to the concession stands for sustenance, you can set up your screen to watch next to the refrigerator and/or microwave and never have to brave the cruel outside air.  You can watch in your Jammies and who’ll be the wiser.  And as evolution marches onward, humankind will devolve into creatures with two  myopic eyes, three fingers on each hand(Those two on the ends don’t do much on a keyboard or controller anyway)and enormous butt-ends to sit upon in front of the ubiquitous screens that are part of the sports scene.  What a picture!

On the other hand, there are the World Tug-of-War championships presented by the World Tug of War International Federation (more than one; divisions by weight class—in kg—and gender) drawing participants and spectators from all over the world.  This past weekend the big competition, sponsored by the United States Tug of War Association, was held in Madison, Wisconsin, the fourth time that it has been staged in the U.S.(Oshkosh, WI—1984, Rochester, MN—1998, 2004).

Pretty much the opposite of the abovementioned sport (?) competition, this features teams of eight pullers per team who have to be weighed in—and stamped on the wrist and thigh—before the contest to ensure the weight requirements are met.  All pulling is done bare-handed—oy—no sitting is allowed( there are officials who issue cautions if this does occur and three cautions equal a disqualification and a loss of the match.  In  the videos on YouTube, the teams sort of resemble sixteen-legged insects with  uninspired choreographers; legs on the left, step, legs on the right, step, everybody LEAN BACK.  The noise is pretty visceral too, mostly uuuhhh, uuuhhh, UUUHHH—in unison.  Coaches (called drivers) can stand alongside their team, sort of like a coxswain in front in rowing( or wrestling coaches yelling “Chicken wing!  Chicken wing!), and  speed up the count or direct the lean or whatever—all pretty sweaty work    from the look of it.  Not where one might expect to see ladies’ teams but they’re on deck too and just as determined.  Ladies don’t sweat, they “glow”.

Actually, the tug of war was part of the Olympics when the modern games restarted in 1896 and had a considerable history from as far back as ancient China and classical Greece…not to mention tales of the Vikings pulling animal skins over pits of fire to decide who got what share of the plunder from hapless European peasants.  After the 1920 games the number of sports was reduced and the tug of war got the ax.  It is regularly  a part of the World Games, where teams from Egypt, Cambodia, Japan, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland and everywhere else get into the act.

Injuries resulting from accidents in tug of war can be rather gruesome, back strains being the least of a participant’s worries.  Not so much concussions as amputations ,caused by the ropes snapping or getting wrapped around the wrong thing.  Uh-oh!

Makes one pine for the good old days of Tiddly-winks

…and speaking of winks ….

We haven’t  yet seen a bikini coffee bar in the neighborhood.  It’s the latest thing in some locales.  Somehow the thought of a “Peek-A-Brew” or “Natte Latte” in Portage County isn’t really flying in my imagination but you never know.

 

Not one of my better weeks; suffice it to say that I’m now looking for a new car and not a rehab facility.  That’s the good part.  Time to move on.

The rollercoaster begins again : school is starting!  Whooeee!  Anyone got an office/coffee klatsch/bowling league/civic group/ neighborhood betting pool going on whether the newly -added-on-to Garfield Elementary School will make it to open in time?  Well, it’s GOT  to, of course.  Time and tide and fifth graders wait for no man.  There will be, undoubtedly, opportunities for volunteers to step up to the plate and help move all of the miscellaneous stuff stashed all over the district buildings into its appointed places in the Elementary School.  Stay tuned on that one.

The Portage County Randolph  Fair is on–on the same week as the Lorain County Fair in Wellington, Ohio( often still referred to as the “Wellington Fair”).  They have similar histories, actually.  Once upon a time in each of the counties there was a county fair and the Randolph  Fair / Wellington Fair.  Folks took their prize-winning peach pies or their fattest hogs to whichever festivity was closer or had the best prizes (or the least competition).  Then the real estate prices got to rising to the point that there was NO point in using prime acreage just once a year for the fair and so the “more rural” location became the de facto county fair location and the state of Ohio Agricultural Society declared that it would only support and sanction the awards given at official county fairs.  A couple of fires on the fairgrounds might have contributed to the switch as well.

Some years I can make it to both of them, some years, not.  The Lorain County Fair is my old stomping grounds.  In my misspent youth I garnered a 4-H pin that attested to the fact that I had made the best apron—brown and orange print, it was—in the county .Take THAT, Martha Stewart!  It was stunning, I’m sure.  The dress that I made, not so much. (All of my handmade items—potholder, tea towel, whatever,   tended to have kind of brownish edges  where I had to take out and re-stitch with my grubby little hands; laundering was another skill learned at this time.)  It was an interesting twist of fate that one summer  when I was young and foolish(I’m older now; we won’t go into the rest)and recently moved to Garrettsville, I consented to assist in being the advisor to the girls’ 4-H sewing club in town.  Mrs. Ford was the real advisor, I think that she just wanted help with crowd control.  At least I don’t remember anyone sewing through a body part as I did with the edge of my thumb.

I also have a cherished set of three GENUINE Swiss cowbells that I, or, rather, my livestock won in the cattle competitions over the years.  Trophies be darned, we were showing Brown Swiss cattle and the Brown Swiss Breeders Association wasn’t handing out some chintzy plastic trophies.  Two of the bells came mounted on little wooden  cradles, the other one came on a leather strap that a Swiss cow would wear up on the mountain.(Anybody remember Heidi?  She did goats, I think.  Same principle, you can’t milk the creatures unless you can find them; that’s what the bells were for.  To be honest, cows OR goats will usually head home when it’s milking time.  Like looking for a rest stop on the turnpike, there’s a certain discomfort factor involved, if you get my drift.)  Anyway, they do make a really, really loud noise at a football game…or anywhere else for that matter.

Now-a-days, I notice there are camping set-ups all over the fairgrounds in designated areas for the kids and their parents to stay overnight to keep an eye on their animals.  Back in the day when I was one of the 4-H ‘ers with a project, only the BIG boys were to be found around the barns after, say, ten o’clock and they were usually sleeping with the cows…which is O.K. if the cows are sleeping too but getting stepped on in the middle of the night by a half-ton milk-producer-in-training is no picnic, I’ll tell you.  Cozying up to the livestock doesn’t do much for one’s personal hygiene ratings either but this was trumped by the “cool” factor of getting away with hanging out at the fairgrounds basically unsupervised and the subsequent opportunities for making up big fat lies about whatever it was that the guys did there.  There are, at least, shower facilities available at most fairgrounds which allow overnight stays.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to stay upwind until the campers can be checked out.

Other exciting things can happen at the fair too.  Thursday evening used to be the Junior Fair Parade, where the kids showing livestock of all sorts—calves, cows, goats, sheep, horses, ponies (Not many chickens were in the parade)—would bring their animals to one entrance to the racetrack, walk them past the grandstand(To frenzied applause of relatives and friends) and exit out the other side entrance and, thence, back to the barns.  One fateful year the affair was going on, even as big purple clouds were gathering …and gathering…and piling up…and darkening in the west.  The wind picked up and we were hustling along, hoping to get to the other side before all hell broke loose; a vagrant breeze caused the blue ribbon on my calf’s halter to flutter, the lightening cracked, the thunder rolled and that headstrong bovine decided right then and there that she’d had enough and was heading for home …NOW!  Rain or no rain, she was outta there.  I was hanging on to the halter strap for dear life and running as fast as I could, considering that she had four feet and I had only two ,which were only touching the ground on a part-time basis.  Luckily, my dad had anticipated a fiasco of this nature, was at the exit and managed to get a hand on both of us to slow things down just a tad.  We were soaked, of course, by the time we reached the barn—much faster than we had left it—but at least we got back there; there were others attempting to round up critters for quite a while after that.  Long live the fair!

Apropos of nothing at all except the virtue of proofreading is this notice in a newspaper about a 4-H fundraiser : Small Animal Pancake Breakfast.  So…are these pancakes made in the shapes of bunnies or pygmy goats or chickens…or do the pancakes contain hamster toes or duck eggs or goose grease…or are the foods being made by sheep chefs or a pony maitre patissier or an alpaca cook at the grill?

Make you think…right?  Somebody get Disney on this.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotarians were treated to a surfeit of riches in the area of interesting and relevant speakers  at their meeting on August 18, 2014.

They heard first from District Governor Mike Devanzo from the Medina club  who thanked members for being a part of the great sharing  of time, talent and treasure which is the spirit of Rotary.  His encouraging vocal exercises led him to announcements about the upcoming “Dine to Donate” event on October 23(the day before World Polio Day) co-ordinated with local Bob Evans restaurants, and the District 6630 foundation day on November 9.  This led him to Rotary’s new focus on increasing membership and boosting Rotary Foundation contributions.  In aid of this, Rotary Days, with featured activities in area clusters will be highlighted this year.  Rotary offers many opportunities to serve, locally, statewide, nationally and internationally.  The sum is greater than its parts.

Next up was Chris Scheuer, “the Y Guy”, who will be co-ordinating programs and activities out of the former Garfield Intermediate School on Park Ave., Garrettsville.  The roll-out will be accomplished “with all deliberate speed” based upon the expressed desires of the community.  So far, the flag football, youth soccer and Jr. Cavaliers have been well received.  Child care registration is on-going; information is available at childcarereg@clevelandy.org or by calling 216-263-6860.  Active adults will be next  on the menu and their ideas and requests are being sought; the website www.clevelandymca.org could be helpful or the local operations director, Kim Curry is also a resource (kcurry@clevelandymca.org/ 330-367-9720).  More input, more volunteers are being welcomed.  There is an open house on Park Ave. on Thursday, August 21.

Third presenter of the meeting was Michael Charney, candidate for the State Board of Education in District 7.  He is an experienced educator with insights not only in his field but into the workings of the political and legislative processes which go into the functioning of the State Board of Education.  The current member  representing District 7 is not a graduate of public schools and is, in fact an advocate for private schools, charter or for-profit.  Mr. Charney proposes shining a light—lots of light—on the workings of the non-public, non-accountable schools receiving public money and wasting it.  He has also been active in the formation of the Cleveland Teachers’ Institute aiming to expand the capabilities of educators in Northeast Ohio.  Accountability is an across-the-board goal.

After all that, the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club voted to sponsor the Dictionary Project in the third grade of the Garfield Schools to give every third grader a dictionary of their very own.  What an encouragement!

The James A. Garfield Local School District has got a TON of things—programs, activities, competitions, etc.—coming up.  Here’s a quick look; check the district website for more info or watch for stories in The Villager.

8/20—the Elementary School addition is to be finished – Frantic activity

8/21—the Steering committee tours the facility –   Frantic activity

8/23—the State Superintendent inspects the facility – Frantic activity

8/25—Faculty and staff arrive to gird up their loins for the coming year – Frantic activity

8/26—Students(grades 1-12) return, full of p&v and potential  – Frantic activity

8/28—Kindergarteners enter, wide-eyed and wondering

9/1—Labor Day, no school  – Deep breath

9/15—Waiver Day, no school for students, teachers pause to reconnoiter

9/16—Onward and Upward!

9/20—Saturday, 10:00a.m. Official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new James A. Garfield Intermediate School, with various IMPORTANT PERSONS (That would be the Garfield public…and officials of all sorts) in attendance.  Garfield Alumni Banquet opens at 5:00p.m.  for meet-n-greet, 6:30 p.m.for dinner (Reservations due by September 1).

And that’s not even counting the additions and corrections to the athletic facility—new fencing , new goal posts, etc.—and the BIG GAME with the Harlem Ambassadors vs the Garrettsville Inspectors (Garfield alumni) on the basketball court on October 25 to support continuing improvements on Main Street & the athletic field.

Stay tuned.  Get involved.

 

236

Arrrooooo!

Arrr00000!

I saw a coyote out in the wild western edge of Portage County.  It’ll be bucking broncos and tumbleweeds next, by gum!

The occasion was a “two-fer” local attraction activity, as the Kent Lions held their annual corn roast at Beckwith’s Orchard and farm market ( I’m a die-hard Monroe’s Orchard and Farm Market customer myself, so it was all about new horizons)AND the Portage County Park District was inviting the public to step off on the Portage Bike and Hike Trail which just happens to pass near there off Lake Rockwell Rd.  Great opportunity to chow down on an iconic summer treat—not to mention the fresh-baked peach and apple pies—then walk off a few calories and learn a few things along the popular(and now supported) trail.  Such a deal!

So, we’re off from the information board at the trailhead, led by our intrepid volunteer naturalist, Joe Malmisur, heading for another info board near Breakneck Creek(complete with a display explaining how the stream got its name); it was about a two-mile trek in store for us.  We’re getting the lowdown on what kind of trees are along the trail, what kinds of flowers are in bloom, which ones are invasives, which are not, the various insects whizzing or fluttering by, miscellaneous tidbits of information on the whole outdoor scene.  Somebody said, “Is that a deer?”  Somebody else said, “Is that a dog?”  Somebody else said. “Is that a coyote?”  Just about everybody said, “Whoa! It is a coyote!”  So, of course, we all looked—the creature in question was maybe a hundred yards to the west– and the coyote looked back and crossed the trail a couple of times, not particularly alarmed, but apparently not interested in forming any lasting relationships with a bunch of pale faces in his territory.  Joe got out his binoculars and we could all try to get a better look before Mr. Wiley eventually decided that he had important business elsewhere.  Pretty cool!  How do you top that?

Well, it wasn’t exactly a downhill slide, even then, with few more fauna to accompany the flora.  We got an explanation for the behavior of the “Quaking” Aspen, a look at some galls; a couple of turkey vultures circled overhead checking to see if we had expired yet, ready to have us over for dinner—or just HAVE us for dinner.  We saw blackberry and black raspberry bushes, we listened for birds, we dodged bikers (What?  They think that they get to use this space too?), we looked at—and avoided– the poison ivy.

Ah, yes, the dreaded Toxicodendrons radicans, (also known as Rhus toxicodendrons or Rus radicans)…poison ivy to us rubes.  It sure is a healthy-looking plant, vigorous, even, and growing everywhere (It particularly likes edges of cleared spaces  where there are trees and shrubs to climb and more sunshine than deep in the forest, but anywhere will do).  Nobody got into that greenery but we did get some admonitory snippets of doggerel verse : “Don’t be a dope, don’t touch the hairy rope”, “Hairy vine, no friend of mine”, “Berries white, danger in sight”, “Leaflets three, leave it be”.  I do usually get at least a couple of itchy bumps per year but they’re almost certain to be little gifts from some cat or other who has spent time out frolicking in the shrubbery by the creek bank then wants to cuddle up with somebody inside.  That somebody is frequently me.

So…anyway…there will be more hikes of greater or lesser distance and difficulty over this late summer and fall—throughl November, I think—sponsored and led by the Portage County Park District and its volunteers (Joe Malmisur, Principal Factor)through six of the trails in the system(Some of them get  used more than once).  It’s the Wild Hikes Challenge, a program designed to encourage healthy recreation in the park system’s parks and trails; it’s a showcase for Portage County’s rich natural and cultural heritage.  It’s also likely to be  fun.  Individuals who complete 8 of the hikes—verified—will earn a hiking staff crafted by workers at The Hiram Farm.  Donations are suggested to cover costs.

Get the good on you.  Give it a try.   Take a hike.

 

So…I’m thinking that my gardening endeavors are in need of divine intervention—for the fungus or whatever it is that’s devastating the hollyhocks  and the tomatoes, the slugs and/or whatever is feasting on the berry bushes, the infant poison ivy that seems to be popping up all over the place, the ”sweet violets”, AKA Chameleon plants that are sending out their smelly but vigorous roots everywhere but in the “dead zone” where I’d like them to move in—and I was reading a murder mystery involving a public garden with a statue of a holy fellow called St. Fiacre(Irish–Fiachra, Latin—Fiachrius) patron saint of gardeners (…and maybe cab drivers…who knew?).    Why not give him a shot?

Well, maybe not.  There’s more to the guy than one might think.  He’s not just a second-string St. Francis.  Mercy, no.

So, the saints tend to have specialties.  If you want to sell your home and the bids aren’t coming, you can appeal to St. Joseph; bury a statue of him in the back yard—upsidedown– and first thing you know you’re calling the movers.  ‘S’truth.  St. Jude specializes in lost causes, just ask Danny Thomas, that’s why he named that hospital after him.  St. Genevieve is the patron saint of cats because she was originally invoked to protect  grain stores against rats and mice( I need to speak to her).  St. Patrick watches out for snakes, engineers and Ireland.   St. Wenceslaus looks out for brewers.  St. Isidore of Seville has even been called upon to take an interest in computers and the internet; the list goes on.

So St. Fiacre (That’s St. Fiacre of Breuil, not the other two guys), whose feast day is approaching on August 30, has some , shall we say…interesting…areas of consideration.

St. Fiacre is, number one, the patron saint of gardeners, those who raise vegetables and/or medicinal plants.  Statues of him often depict him with a staff , masses of blooms and a bunny.   He was granted as much land as he could entrench in one day to build an oratory for the Blessed Virgin and a hospice for travelers.  Instead of digging , as the grantor no doubt expected, he simply dragged his staff along the ground and the soil turned itself over—the ditch dug itself!  Anyway, the good man dealt with all manner of travelers’ complaints and seemed to specialize in urology and proctology, particularly sufferers from venereal diseases (Probably why his name is seldom given to helpless children).  Also, riding distances on a horse, mule or donkey , or camel, for that matter, was certainly no easier then than now, so the good man’s intercession was implored for those afflicted with hemorrhoids (known in medieval times as “St. Fiacre’s figs).  Do we want this guy hanging around?  Sounds like his expertise is not really focused on fungus and slugs.

And, besides that, I think that I might have a word with St. Ambrose; Saint Ambrose is the patron of beekeepers.  Not sure whether he has any influence with the non-honeybee (genus : Apis) critters but I was sure in need of somebody who had some recently.

I had placed an out-of-service litter box on the back porch in hopes of encouraging a semi-feral momma-cat in the neighborhood to have her litter there where we could get a hand on them and socialize just a little.  No such luck.  So the box sat there, upside-down facing the wall, abandoned, for all intents and purposes.

Sunday I went out to clean up the porch for expected company—sweep, straighten up, that sort of thing—took a broom with me; good thing.  When I bumped the box, what I had thought was just an idle bee or two buzzing around exploded into a swarm of really, REALLY angry critters that thought I was attacking their homeland and THEY were going to put a stop to it.  Whooeee!  Sure did!  I beat a hasty retreat, swatting all the way, and got the heck out of there.  From a somewhat safer spot I looked back to see what the situation was then fetched my broom to get the box, the rug and the bees off of the porch an out onto the lawn where they could be dealt with a little more safely.  Not a one-shot deal!  Took about three tries, slapping as we went, to get the box and rug out but some of the bees…yellow jackets, whatever they were…were sticking around, just hopping mad and itching for a fight, flying around their former location, stingers at the ready.  Finally, what did the trick was the garden hose.  I washed what was left of their real estate out of there and brought out the insect spray to convince them to look for new digs.  Still took them about an hour to give up and move on.  The remains of their apartment building are out on the lawn until I’m sure they’ve gone for good.

The adventure was not without injury.  I got stung about four times but only one seems to be actually swelling up.  The last time I remember and event like this, I was stacking hay on a wagon  when the baler ran over a nest on the ground.  Zoweee!  Those bees were just as mad  but I was a lot faster then.  We—my sister and I—shot from of that wagon and took off for parts unknown, shedding our long-sleeved shirts as we went.  Finally wound up in the creek, dropped trou’ and put mud on the stings where the bees had gone up our pants and shirts.

Who says that living in the country is boring?

 

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club members wished their local Rotary Student Exchange participant, Rachel Schwan, good luck and Godspeed on her adventure in Thailand for the coming school year.  They also welcomed visitor Skip Schweitzer,  columnist for The Villager.

Current items of business included : Carol Donley’s certification as a local student exchange co-ordinator, the Kent club is seeking volunteers for their yearly assistance to arriving foreign students at Kent State University, Tom Collins reported attending the Rotary Day ball game at the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field on August 1, with a special welcome and recognition by the Tribe announcer , updating of signatures on financial documents for banking purposes, reminder about the invitation to tour the new Garfield Elementary School project on August 11,checking steak orders for the steak fry on August 11 at 6:00.

Tom Collins reported on the Headwaters Trail project grant application to District 6630, citing assistance from Steve Zabor of the Mantua-Shalersville club and possible involvement of other clubs in the undertaking.  Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary is already working on beautifying the signs at the entrances to the village of Garrettsville as well as encouraging the increased use of the Headwaters Trail.  At least one of the project submissions by Kent State University students focused on promoting walking in the village and this might be something to build on and present to developers to keep the “small town feel” of the village.  There will be a meeting with the planners on the Portage County Park District and G-H Rotary will bringing input and ideas.

Dues are due.  Membership is open to all.  Meetings are held on Mondays at noon in Cal’s II.  Come check out the locals.  You could be the spark To Light Up Rotary.

 

In addition to pareidolia, I occasionally suffer(if that’s the right word) from bouts of mondegreen; I don’t think that it’s covered by any reputable insurance(though it’s likely on the docket for some fly-by-night, blood-sucking outfit from the late-night TV)but it can be sort of debilitating when you’ve got it.  Pareidolia, as you must recall, is usually seeing significant images in totally random contexts, like the guy down in Louisiana who cut open an eggplant and beheld the word “God” spelled out in seeds.  Elvis and the Virgin Mary are apt to turn up anywhere, from a toasted cheese sandwich to pictures in mildew on old walls.

Mondegreens, on the other hand, are audio rather than video effects and have only been defined since 1954, when the word was coined by Sylvia Wright in an essay which appeared in Harper’s Magazine.  It’s even in dictionaries now.  The Wikipedia definition is : a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony(sounding alike) in a way that gives new meaning; most often created by listening to a poem or song  but not hearing clearly, substituting words that sound similar to the misheard lyrics…sort of making sense.  The columnist in the Record who mentioned this the other day cited his mishearing of the ‘70’s song “Chuck E.’s in Love” as “Chuck Easy, Love”.  Not real intelligible, but close.  He gives a couple of other examples, like “very close veins” for “varicose veins” and “old timers’ disease“ for Alzheimer’s disease.  My contribution to these slightly-skewed interpretations     was my confusion over a ‘60’s tune by Elvis (See, I said he was everywhere) titled “Return to Sender”;  for years  I puzzled over why Elvis was singing about “The Prisoner of Zenda”.  Not that I actually knew anything about “The Prisoner of Zenda”—it was written in 1894(Just a tad before my time—maybe I was channeling Grandma) and made into movies in 1913, 1922, 1937, 1952 and 1979 (a Peter Sellers flick, must have been interesting).  I wasn’t that into Elvis, truth to tell, so I probably didn’t listen too carefully.

Anyway, some other examples of the phenomenon are :

“Surely Good Mrs. Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life….”  from the 23rd Psalm, “Gladly, the cross-eyed bear” from the hymn “Keep Thou My Way” and “O Say Kansas City” opening the “Star-Spangled Banner”.  Pop songs, possibly because of the really poor enunciation found among the groups singing them,  are frequently episodes of mondegreens, for instance, the Creedence Clearwater Revival line “There’s a bad mood on the rise” morphed into “There’s a bathroom on the right”.  The original “Twelve Days of Christmas” had “four colley birds”—not any more understandable than “four calling birds”, really—until the early twentieth century.  The cartoon feature, “Olive, the Other Reindeer” had its origin in the song “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”.  One of my personal favorites was  the line from the Catholic rosary, where the line hailing Mary (See, I told you she was everywhere too)”amongst women” became “a monk swimmin’” and some little kid looking at a Nativity scene at Christmas trying to find “Round John Virgin”.  I even had to participate in a reverse mondegreen in the third grade when we had a music program and sang a novelty song, popular at the time, “Mairzy Doats”; the immortal lyrics were : “Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey; A kiddley divey too, Wooden shoe?”  Great stuff, eh?

And there are examples of the same kind of wordplay in lots of languages, not just English; one mentioned  was the Hebrew song, “Hava Nagila”(Let’s be happy)—always showing up in Jewish wedding movies where everyone goes around in a circle and they all end up stamping and yelling “Hey”  at the end.

See, they’re everywhere.  And don’t get me started on soramimi—songs that produce unintended meanings when translated homophonically into another language.  I always wonder about the ones in the Methodist hymnal that have versions in Cherokee or Japanese.  What if we pronounced them wrong and sang something scatological? Might even have some connection to the urban legend that the Chevy Nova had to have its name changed when sold in Latin America because competitors  claimed that it “No Va”—“Doesn’t go”  Or on eggcorn…or mumpsimus (That one makes me crazy).

Malapropism is another story.  Time for bed.

 

Garrettsville – Rodger Pettit was a visitor and, unexpectedly, the program for the evening at the July 21, 2014 meeting of the James A. Garfield Historical Society.  His original intention was to present information on the proposed and planned Nelson Veterans’ Memorial, its history and current status.  The memorial is to be placed on the grounds of the former Nelson School on the east side of the Circle.  It will consist of an octagonal patio/plaza with a square gazebo surrounded by upright plaques representing the Armed Services of the United States, engraved with the names of service personnel from Nelson (Criteria for  such markers vary with each venue.  In this case, eligibility is extended to those that have lived in and/or were born in Nelson Township.  The patio/plaza area  will be composed of pavers of several sizes which may be purchased with an engraved message, the committee retaining editorial  final decision on the inscriptions.  (see drawing on display in Villager window)

Donations are being sought.  Grants and the possibility of government support are on the radar.  Anyone who would like to be a factor in the effort is welcome to make a contribution.  Two individuals from the township—Garland Randall, descendant of the founding family of Nelson, and Bob Rose– have been mentioned by Rodger as part of the inspiration for the current push to complete the monument at this time.  Monuments are built to last; the heroes they commemorate cannot be with us as long.  Now is the time to get this done.

THEN, in his inimitable style, Rodger went on to display an antique map of the school districts in Nelson Township prior to the pressure from the State of Ohio Department of Education to consolidate and, eventually, to be joined to the school system of Garrettsville.  He was able to find only one structure of that era still in place—his mother’s house.  Topics then ranged from Amish schools in the area to the abandoned church on Silica Rd.(Two types of church law got tangled up in that one), the doors on the Nelson Central School being constructed so as to open out  because of the tragic Collinwood School fire in the Cleveland neighborhood in 1908.  Fascinating tales of local lore prompted reminiscences and questions and interest in a host of topics.  Plans for the memorial are on display at the Weekly Villager.  The society will be making a purchase of an 8×8 paver for the monument.

Members reported a good turn-out during the open hours of the SummerFest( Next regular Open House hours are on August 2 from 10:00 to 2:00).  Permission has been granted to use the Municipal Building for the craft show during Christmas Walk.  Brochures are on the to-do list.  The annual summer picnic is scheduled for August 18 at Nelson Ledges, 6:00—potluck at Buggy Pass, depicted on an antique postcard (Remember them?). In case of rain by 4:00, the rain date will be Tuesday, August 19.  A picnic pavilion may be available.  Stay tuned.

Youngest member, Grace Edwards, suggested that some thought be given to a Historical Bake Sale for next SummerFest…sounds possible…and tasty.  Jim Mayer raised the possibility of a new line of historical postcards , using the society’s photo archives and possibly some from the recent fire.  JAGHS currently has twenty-five members; you could be one of them.  Meetings are held on the third Monday of the month in the Mott Building on Main St. Garrettsville, 7:30 p.m.  Y’all come, now!

 

Busy time for the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club at their meeting on July 28, 2014 at Cal’s II.  The monthly list of program responsibility was reviewed.  President Delores  McCumbers spoke of the benefits of the PETS (President Elect Training Sessions) program and of a Rotary Honors Vets event coming up in central Ohio.  Facilities-use papers have been filed for Family Week 2015 activities  February 22-28, at Garfield High School and Elementary School—Caitlin Lawless will be the Trail Boss.  August 18 is the date  for  Chris Schuerer  to appear to be the” face”…and the “ears”… of the YMCA   which will be opening its new facility and operations at the Park Avenue building, formerly the Garfield Intermediate School (which has now moved to the St. Rte 88 campus).  He will be seeking input on desired programs for the community and giving a brief outline of what has been planned so far.  Rotary pins for the soon-departing (August 6) exchange student, Rachel Schwan, have been received, with banners to follow.  On the horizon for the club are the October trash pick-up between Garrettsville and Hiram and the Reverse Raffle in November…never too soon to begin planning.  And in that same vein, some possibilities for new/re-thought activities for Family Week were proposed and existing features reviewed.   Thoughts about local projects circulated, including community walks,  ideas for promoting use of the Headwaters Trail,  pitching in with the Kent club to assist incoming international students at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store,  a Portage Cluster joint project of some sort—plenty of opportunities.

Jim Irwin came with pieces from his collection of historical documents—photo, newspaper, club program folder, handwritten thank you note—for all to peruse and enjoy.  He also had memories of some of the individuals making up the club in the past.

The annual Steak Fry will be on August 11 at 6:00.  The noon meeting will not be held but there will be a tour of the new Intermediate School addition and Elementary School renovation which WILL be opened on August 20.  Lunch-on-the-fly…dinner in the green.

Lisa Muldowney was the program for the meeting, giving a brief personal  picture of herself as a Garrettsville native, a Rootstown resident, the mother  to six, a member of significant local boards (Ravenna Chamber, Coleman Services) and the head of the Garrettsville Branch of the Middlefield Banking Company.  The bank was founded in 1901 and prides itself on being community-oriented and capable of creative thinking and operation in financial matters.  Not every bank can take loans for Amish buggies in stride.   She has a community-involved staff which can be seen, not just behind the counter but also out interacting with the people the bank serves.  It offers basic banking services for home, commercial and personal financing, as well as having a “green” outlook on emerging business possibilities.  Coming soon—home mortgage with a 30-day turnaround.  How’s that for horse-and-buggy dealings?

Next meeting August 4.  You’re invited.

The Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club welcomed several guests at the July 21 meeting at Cal’s II—Erin Koon and Jessica McKnight from Huntington Bank, sitting in for Tanay Hill, Evelyn West, local delegate to RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) and  her mother, Sandy West.  The club also welcomed the return of Kim Kohli after an inactive period.

Items of business included dues invoices, discovery of  stored materials long thought to have disappeared, a reminder that   the by-laws should be reviewed, the upcoming “Rotary Night” with the Cleveland Indians on August 1—special ticket prices, activities for the whole family and fireworks(See a Rotarian to get in on the fun), annual Steak Fry on August 11 at 6:30, recently ordered, redesigned flags and pens for Exchange Student Rachel Schwan to take with her to Thailand, a Mrs. Santa suit may be available for the traditional Rotary Santa gift delivery (It’s never too early to be thinking about these things.  There’s no costume shop at the North Pole), Tom Collins has met with Steve Zabor of the Mantua-Shalersville Rotary Club, past District 6630 Governor, to discuss a possible co-operative project dealing with the Headwaters Bike and Hike Trail and application for a Rotary grant—more discussion planned—deadline approaching, possibility exists for incorporating Eagle Scout projects into the overall picture.  Jim Irwin brought in some historical documents, old Garrettsville Journals among them, for perusal and enlightenment.

Evelyn West described her experience at RYLA as a “fantastic experience.”  This included interacting with over forty other award-winners from all over District 6630 in both co-operative and competitive experiences, an “eye-opener “  of a mixer to start getting acquainted and plenty of fun.  Some of the activities were, basically, unstructured challenges to creativity and organizational skills, like the talent show which turned into a sort of wing-nut TV format.  Others hinged on a craziness car-wash enterprise called “Swooosh”. And “Fish” was about making work fun, entertainment as a motivating force , and “make your own” attitude to make your day…or anyone else’s day.  One of the speakers who made a very positive impression was Bob Dean, the Hiram College women’s soccer team coach.  Evelyn will, no doubt, be putting to use the many skills and insights she has acquired to make her senior year a great success.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary meets at noon on Mondays at Cal’s II in Sky Plaza.  You’re invited .

 

gmen-garfield-localGarrettsville – One more meeting of the Campus of Excellence Oversight Committee on August 21 (D-Day plus one), the day AFTER the Garfield Elementary School Addition and Campus Enhancement project is scheduled for completion.

The roof is on.  The windows are nearly all in.  The door frames are ready for installation.  Despite the vicissitudes encountered in any construction project with this kind of timeline and this kind of retrofitting involved, the light is on at the end of the tunnel. It’s coming down to the wire and all systems are GO!

Savings were realized in the bidding process and have been re-invested in upgrades throughout the James A. Garfield campus, for all buildings.  This includes more efficient windows, security upgrades (also utilizing funds raised initially by Dee Synnestvedt for parking lot security cameras), digital signage for the high school and elementary school campus—5’x8’, wireless, , kitchen  improvements, carpeting in the new elementary band room, furniture upgrades…the whole shootin’ match…looking good.

So when would you like to hold the official ribbon-cutting ceremony?  In September some time?  Before a home football game?  On my birthday?  Whatever your suggestion, get it to a committee member or to the district office ASAP and, in any case, plan to mark your calendar and be there because heaven only knows how many dignitaries will arrive to see this amazing accomplishment marked by the community and all of the folks who made it possible.

And don’t forget that your YMCA is also reaching out to the community for input concerning the types of programs you would like to see offered out of the Park Avenue building.  They will soon begin having one-day-a-week open hours for registration leading to participation in fall programs.  Ditto for the PCESC which will be operating a pre-school program out of that building.  The YMCA contact person is Chris Scheuer; his number is 914-443-0043 and he’d like to hear about your interest in programs for all ages, K through Old-Enough-to-Know-Better.  Let him know what you’re interested in.

We’re ALL interested in this.

One to go!

Garrettsville – Anyone with some spare time and a sense of humor should make a beeline for the Iva Walker Theatre this weekend for the final performances of “Little Shop of Horrors” by the thespians of the Garrettsville Curtains Up Theatre company.

The plot revolves around an alien plant that just happens to wind up in a Skid Row florist shop (Likely, eh?) being tended by a nebbish named Seymour who’s smitten with the shop’s other employee, Audrey, who’s constantly being abused by her sadistic dentist boyfriend (Are you following this?).  Turns out the plant is a ‘way more advanced version of the Venus Flytrap and doesn’t dig plant food, just blood (Any type, dentist, shop owner,  girl friend, whatever). Customers are impressed by the exotic greenery. Chiffon, Crystal and Ronnette are the doo-woppy Greek chorus   that helps the story line along and wind up being about the only ones on the stage that don’t become a main course for the hungry plant.

Good cast, fun music—especially if you’re old enough to catch the pop culture references—a very menacing plant voice and a pleasant way to spend an evening.

 

Garrettsville - The Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club meeting on July 14, 2014 at Cal’s II began with the “Passing of the Pig”  to celebrate significant events of the preceding week; these included : a son’s attainment of The Order of the Arrow in Boy Scouts, marvelous mileage in a new car, the good life and a guest in attendance, a mortgage fulfilled, a baby brother’s birthday, a return from a successful family vacation, progress on the new school construction, the passing and appreciation of a beloved mother-in-law, a graduation/family reunion.  The “Days of Our Lives”.

Guest Steve Jenkins, with the Funeral Directors’ Life Insurance Company spoke briefly about    the topic he knows a lot about, pre-need planning for end-of-life situations.  With the actuarial disruptions caused by lengthening life spans, too many people are likely to misjudge their needs in terms of long-term care and funeral expenses.  The MedicAid  spend-down required is not well understood and unforeseen consequences can throw a monkey wrench into even  seemingly well-planned situations.  The issue of closure for the bereaved often takes a backseat to money when planning is done but it does not necessarily go away.  The FDLIC encourages pre-planning to mitigate the disruptions which can come about through lack of understanding between   family members.

Steve Zabor, of the Mantua-Shalersville Rotary Club, representing the District6630 grants committee, issued an invitation to a meeting—August 6 at Jake’s– being organized by Edie Benner for consideration of a possible joint project among the G-H and M-S and Aurora clubs focusing on the Headwaters Trail, its community and economic  potential.  He also brought a heads-up about “Rotary Days”, a point of interest for Rotary International and President Gary Huang, inviting communities across the globe to participate in activities, especially outdoor activities, with Rotarians to foster appreciation of the great outdoors, physical pursuits and   good neighbors.

Rachel Schwan is anticipating a 6-hour flight to Thailand, beginning on August 6 (Guess she’ll miss the meeting).  She can brush up on her language skills, learning Thai.

The Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club will be sponsoring a hole at the G-Men Football Golf Outing coming soon AND contributing to a fabulous New York learning experience for the Candance Academy, involving master classes, a lesson with the Rockettes and the new version of “Cinderella” on Broadway.  Supporting the community is what it’s all about.  Light Up Rotary!

 

“Back in the Saddle Again…Out where a friend is a friend…Where the longhorn cattle feed on the lowly Jimson weed…We’re back in the saddle again….” (Was that Gene Autry?.  Gene had a sidekick named Pat Butram,  I think, who always says said his name so that it sounded more like “artery”. Made him sound like a medical condition. I know Roy Rogers did “Happy Trails to You”.   Roy had a horse named Trigger and a dog named Bullet. Where did Gabby Hayes come in?)  But I digress….

It’s good to be , once again, bringing you the latest news flashes.  The paint has dried!

I don’t know about anybody else on the ol’ Villager Ranch, but I spent a good deal of the “down time” between   the end of SummerFest and the Fourth of July being asked about the results of various competitions and contests (My pies did well!); unfortunately, I had no idea how things all came out.  This week’s edition should enlighten everyone about those basic facts.  The next time this happens—SummerFest being piled upon the Fourth, all higgledy-piggledy—I’m just going to make things up.  In matters of fact, I cannot be trusted.

It WAS quite a stretch there, getting things organized and set up (Thank you crews of every stripe, you were golden.  The seating, the electric wizards, the clean-up forces…ya dun good)as well as the actual events (I’m talking the Garrettsville SummerFest and the Hiram Fourth of July) ;everyone pitching in made a BIG difference.

Kudos to the Eagles, who’ve made their corner of downtown an attractive focal point.  Ditto for Mike Maschek, who’s made an amazing improvement to the “face” of the village by cleaning up the eyesores in back of the old gristmill and gutting the structure so that it can be restored.  The reseeding of the Buckeye Block space is looking good too (The Eagles went ballistic and sodded their territory.  Primo!)  Hiram’s “Old Fashioned Fourth” has lost none of its appeal and even keeps on growing, with the Bloodmobile available and activities for everyone(Music and strawberries are an awesome combination).  The Community Band had a good, solid brass section that tooted and oom-pahed through a varied program with a remarkable cast of all ages. Think about dusting off that old high school instrument yourself for next year(The regular bass drummer needs support and some of the other players—Sax-y Anna is 84—would love to have some too).  It’s really fun.

Good fireworks, both ways  …and a shout-out to Newton Falls for that big time production of lights and sound on the 4th.

And maybe that everyone was all wound up after such a stretch of celebration, but there were sirens—police, ambulance, fire, who-knows-what-all—going off lately at all times of the day and night.  Just wanted to get in on the excitement, maybe.

More Cruise Nights and a Peach Social still on tap for the rest of the summer.

Saddle up, Pardner.

Shhhhhhhhh

(Trying to avoid jinxing the project.)

Photo: Denise Bly, Contributing Reporter

Photo: Denise Bly, Contributing Reporter

The latest report on the big school construction project adding Garfield Intermediate onto Garfield Elementary and locating all of the James A. Garfield Local School District buildings on a unified campus, thus saving time AND money in the educational process…the report is that things seem to be holding pretty well to schedule and looking like the—extremely tight–deadlines will be met.

The latest update, delivered June 19 in a presentation and walk-through to an interested and inquisitive group disclosed the various contracts and contractors involved, from sitework and concrete through structural steel, lockers, HVAC, building electric(Scotchman Electric),painting and wall covering(Doug Seaman Decorating), technology and paving.  Not to mention kitchen equipment, carpentry, flooring and plumbing.  Every one of these contracts was bid out and issued keeping both the cost and the time constraints in mind.  The intricacies of scope in such construction are quite amazing, involving the “breathability” of a building combined with    building efficiency, updating of the utility functions for the entire campus,  the element of “Seek and ye shall find,” in discovering an Insinkerator in the bus garage attic, brick types and so much more.

So far….  Looking good.

The weather has had its usual effects and, no doubt, will continue to do the same but once the roof, and the drainage thereof, goes on, it’ll be, “Bessie, bar the doors” and full speed ahead.

Also at the meeting was “The Y Guy” who complemented the entire community on the excellent condition of the Park Avenue building, indicative of the level of use and maintenance given priority over the years.  He indicated that the menu of services and activities to be offered out of the headquarters there will be developed over time, beginning with youth sports and expanding to adult programs and leagues, as needed.  This will be a methodical, step-by-step process, ensuring quality and demand, with high standards set for supervision and equipment and program design.  He mentioned the YMCA’s association with the Junior Cavaliers program and Adventure Guides as being part of the long-range outlook for sponsored activities.  Kim Curry, formerly part of the local soccer organization, will be the part-time co-ordinator for this new enterprise.

The Portage County ESC will be operating a community pre-school in their portion of the building.  All systems are GO.

Shhhhhh.  It’s going to happen.

Are you tired of tooting your own horn?

Here’s your chance to try playing your own pipes.  Well, not YOUR pipes exactly, but they’d be yours if you’d like to stop by the Garrettsville United Methodist Church and pick up an octave or two.  Here’s the deal :

When the abovementioned GUMC recently renovated, refurbished and updated its vintage (circa 1913) pipe organ, there were pieces/parts removed to be replaced by new musical apparatus…apparati?…stuff.  These pieces/parts were just too COOL to be pitched( although some of the REALLY long ones—eight -footers– had to go to that Big Recital Hall in the Sky) and they’ve been stashed away in the church basement since that time.  But now, “the time has come, the Walrus said”, to do something with these artifacts to free up some space  and move on…but they’re STILL just too COOL to pitch, if that can be avoided.  There are bunches of these antiques in boxes waiting to be re-purposed, re-used, adopted by somebody.

There are metal pipes that sound like tin whistles—look sort of like them too—or like steamboat whistles, with the same heft.  There are wooden pipes that have the mellowest tone imaginable.  The metal pipes are round and heavy-ish (mostly lead); the wooden ones are square and lighter than one might think.  Some are only about ten inches long, some are shouldering up to the  departed eight-footers.  They have the   tone that they are supposed to sound engraved on the lip somewhere, so you could assemble a sort of giant Pan-pipes affair on your back porch, should you, being handy, choose to do so(Take THAT, you wussy wind chimes!).  They’d make a one-of-a-kind accent piece in your music room or over the mantel.  I’m not sure what kind of wood  the wooden ones are made of but it’s older than most of us around here and might well be made into something neat if there are any interested woodworkers around.  Right now every one of them is really grimy and in need of some cleaning (I never  want to overdo it in the cleaning department.  “Cleanliness is next to godliness” ?…I say it’s next to impossible) and a little TLC.

Anyway, anyway, anyway…anyone who’d be interested in acquiring one—or more—of these treasures should inquire at the GUMC (office open 9:00a.m.—1:00p.m., Tuesday through Friday) .  A donation would be appreciated but not strictly necessary (Even new organs have to be maintained, y’know).

Toot toot!