Thursday, July 31, 2008


a book closes
a saga ends
light overcomes the darkness

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Ohio Chronicles: Bridge Collection Pt 3

This is the final installment of "The Bridge Collection"

This bridge used to connect Bridgeport, OH to Wheeling Island, WVA. It's been closed for a number of years but never torn down. In fact, most of the bridges I've shown you have long been out of service. I wonder why they're left standing? Too expensive to demolish? That's ok, I'm kinda glad. They're more stylish than the new ones. Tired but proud monuments to the glory days when Steel was King of the Valley.
This is Wheeling Island as seen from the top of a hill in Ohio. To give you some perspective of just how wide the river is, the Island is a small town itself. In its heyday, this was where people of wealth lived in their big, beautiful homes. Go figure, it floods nearly every year. We could never figure out why rich people would live there.

This is the revamped Blaine Hill Bridge. My grandfather helped build the first one (see Sept '07). It's actually not a bridge over water, but is a 500' climb up a hill on old Route 40. Joe grew up less than a mile from here. Since it's on dry land, I could go underneath and take these neat upshots of the arches. I think the stairs are also an interesting piece of architecture.
Below is the original Blaine Hill Bridge. Very historical. It's called an S bridge. I wrote a little bit about it in my September '07 blog.
And that, friends, concludes our tour of the Ohio Valley bridges. Next up, the long-awaited cemetary tour. Oh yes. If you grew up west of the Mississippi, you've probably never seen old cemetaries like we have back east. Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Ohio Chronicles: Bridge Collection Pt 2

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge is over 150 years old, one of the oldest in the world. My grandfather told me how the bridge collapsed once. He said the structure was already weakened and the steady rhythm of a dog walking across it caused it to finally collapse.I completely believed him until I repeated this story to my husband. When my mom smiled at him and said, "she believed everything her grandpap said" I realized I had been the audience for a Grandfatherly Tall Tale. Actually, I still kinda believed it until the advent of Google. When I did some research, I found that the bridge did indeed collapse in the late 1800's -- because of gale force winds. No dog was mentioned.
This thing scared me as a kid and my little brother would nearly have a nervous breakdown if he thought we were going to drive over it. The floor of it is like a metal grate and it makes whirring noise as you drive over; not to mention the slight swaying movement. To this day I will not cross this bridge. Would you drive on something with this many warning signs?! No trucks allowed; cars must stay 50' apart. A traffic light regulates how many vehicles are on the bridge at one time. No thanks. I'll take the Fort Henry instead; pictured below.
The Fort Henry parallels the suspension bridge. Stay on this road and go through a tunnel. Tunnels are so cool.

This bridge is further south on Route 7 (pronounced 'route', remember?) It used to be a toll bridge. That little rusted box on the bottom right was where you paid the toll man. For some reason, this bridge turns up in many of my recurring weird dreams.
Here's another view of it behind a railroad bridge. I love the graceful architecture of it, how it rises to two peaks (only one is visible in these pictures).
The railroad bridge runs through another small town. Here's how it looks before approaching the river:
I have a couple more bridges to show you and then it's on to the cemetary tour! Betcha can't wait.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Ohio Chronicles: Bridge Collection

The Bridges of ... The Ohio Valley.
This is the first in a short series of bridge pix. Even though I was born & raised in the Ohio Valley, I never really noticed the bridges. They were just a means to cross the river. Where I live now, there were only two bridges available to cross the river until recently. Another was built and now there's talk of another one. On my visit last August, for the first time, that contrast really jumped out at me. So many bridges!! There must be a dozen within a 40 mile span. I appreciated and admired the architecture and determined to photograph as many as possible next time I visited. Here's the results. I had a wonderful time going off to photograph these. It gave me some time alone to hyper-focus thru a lens and leave my cares for awhile.
This is one of the newer ones. I saw it for the first time a few years ago, on a foggy morning. As we approached, it rose up out of the fog like something from outer space. I was fascinated! It's on the way from the airport, so this was my first stop when I arrived, even before checking in with the folks.
Talk about a "then & now" contrast. This one above is just a couple miles downstream. Just drive south on Rt 7, also known as Dean Martin Blvd in the Steubenville area, and you'll see it. As scary looking as it is, I saw cars driving over it!
A little sidebar: Route 7 -- rhymes with "out". Unlike Route 66 and Route 40, which must be pronounced 'root'. You have to say it "Route 7".
More to come.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Ohio Chronicles: Chapter Eight

Then & Now

Last fall, I posted some pictures of my old high school as it was being torn down. (See Sept 22, '07 "A Look Back at High School)

I stopped by to see how it looks a year later.
It's as if it never existed. Hardly a trace of the old alma mater.

Except for this. I wonder why it was left? It's like a tombstone.
Maybe more like a memorial; because the place isn't dead. On the contrary, it's more alive than ever. Here's the new school in a new location. It's one of the most high-tech public schools in the area.
The weekend I was there was Alumni Weekend. Several events were planned, including a tour of the new building, but I didn't go. I've only been to one class reunion, when Joe was the keynote speaker. It was too surreal. Don't know if I ever want to go again. It's weird to see people 25 years later when they're frozen in your memory at age 18.

More "Then & Now" to come. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Night MindStreaming

Life is weird. I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did - I'm pretty sure this is my first time around.

Walking Blu Thursday night after sundown. Perfect summer evening, soft breeze, just slightly cool. 3 teens were sitting on the pavement of someone's driveway, looking up at the sky, talking about things teens talk about. I felt a bit of nostalgia. The best part of being a teen is summer.

Waiting for my flight at Cincinnatti Airport. Saw a large ad for The Christ Hospital. Their web address is: It's a heart hospital. But think about that: take your heart to Christ. Have you taken your heart to Christ?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Ohio Chronicles: Chapter Seven

The Three Roses "Is that a vase of roses in a car cup holder?" you may be asking.
As a matter of fact, it is. Let me tell you how they got there. As many of you know, mom has been in the fight of & for her life for almost four years now. After a late winter bout of pnemonia, she had to go to a care center to recover and go through physical therapy again. One of my reasons for renting the convertible was because she loves riding in them and I thought it would lift her spirits to spend a couple days getting out and about in the fresh air and sunshine. She worked very hard in therapy that week to be strong enough to go.
So, my sister & I busted her out; my sweet brother-in-law helped her in the car, and off we went for five hours. First stop: her youngest sister, Pat, who said we must visit Aunt Connie and announced she would love to come along with us. So she got her visor & sunglasses, water for everyone and a sun hat for mom and cheerfully hopped in the back seat. Aunt Pat was always game for having fun - a road trip, a picnic at the lake, whatever! She called Aunt Connie who said, "I'll put the coffee on!"
It's a good 45 minute drive to Aunt Connie's but that's all we wanted to do anyway! She is always the perfect hostess. No matter when we would drop in at her house, it seems she was just taking a cake out of the oven and had made a fresh pot of coffee. When I was 15, she let me have my first party at her house because it was big & roomy, perfect for teenage get togethers.

Because mom couldn't get out of the car without professional assistance, we pulled right into Aunt Connie's garage. She set up a fan to keep mom cool and had Josh Grobin playing on the cd. But the thing that just cracked me up because it was so over-the-top-Aunt-Connie was, she found an old shower/potty assist chair in the garage, from when my uncle broke his foot, and set it up like a tea cart by the car door. Dusted it off, put a cloth on it, and served sandwiches, cookies and fresh coffee. The finishing touch was the vase of flowers just cut from her garden.
The sisters dreamed for awhile of opening up a bed & breakfast which they would call The Three Roses (their maiden name). Phyllis would make wonderful home-cooked meals. Connie would do all the decorating. Pat would do the shopping and keep the books. It was a great idea that never made it past the dreaming stage.
I've had a policy on my blog of not using names very much or showing people pictures - just because the internet world can be so weird. But I really have to introduce you to these ladies. I love them so dearly. They have stuck together through everything life has thrown at them and life has hit them with some pretty hard stuff. They have spats like all sisters. The eldest (mom) gets aggravated with the youngest (Pat) and the middle one (Connie) tries to keep the peace. But they always have been and always will be there for each other. Three lovely ladies. Fragrant pink & red softness on strong, sturdy stems - with just a few thorns for good measure. They really are The Three Roses.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Ohio Chronicles: Chapter Six

You've Got Mail!Tonight I'm going to show you one of my favorite buildings in The Valley...The US Post Office. Since I was a child, I've admired this building. I can't explain why. I love the landscaping, the double stairs, the old wood inside, the very tidiness of it. And I was happy to find that it's been well kept and not a thing has changed, not inside; not outside.
It was built in 1938. I feel confident in saying that PO Box 95 has belonged to my dad & his dad since the doors opened. Dad doesn't remember any other mailbox and this is the only place we've ever picked up mail. The mailman didn't deliver to The Hillside.
What fun to go to the Post Office, run up the double stairs, entrusted with the key to open the little door and see what treasures were waiting inside. Talk about childhood innocence - the dread of bills had not yet become a reality!
My other grandparents' box was here also. Funny thing - I didn't know that until this last trip.
There has been one change: the Postmaster. He's someone I went to school with, although I didn't recognize him. He didn't recognize me either. Imagine that!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Ohio Chronicles: Chapter Five

Since it's Sunday, it seemed appropriate to feature this set of pictures.
This is the church my Grandmother, mom's mom, belonged to. I still like the architecture of it. The neighborhood it sits in, although old & run down, has a charm about it. Lots of trees and a cozy feeling.
It's quite old.My mom attended here as a child, but I'm not sure how long. At some point, she perceived rejection and stopped going. She told me that she never felt "good enough" to belong. She meant in a social way. Many of the popular girls in her class attended here. Popular Girls can cause a lot of damage, whether they mean to or not. Mom believed we should have some sort of spiritual education, so she sent us to Sunday School. This is the door the kids would enter. She would drop us off & pick us up, I suppose an hour later although it seemed like an eternity. (note: my son's fifth grade teacher had a sign on his desk that said "It's a Sin to Bore Children With the Bible". God bless him.)
If I enjoyed Sunday School, I don't remember. I remember Miss Janice, who was very nice and I just loved her name. In pretend games with my friends, I was always "Janice." I remember two little boys, Jeff B. and Jim H., whose behaviour caused our class to get yelled at every week. These hooligans were also in my class at school...all the way through twelth grade. I remember in sixth grade being so absolutely bored learning about Charles Wesley week after interminable week that I stopped going. And then one day, a Popular Girl, the daughter of one those other Popular Girls, came up to me on the playground, hands on hips, and said, "you haven't been coming to Sunday School, so you aren't going to be confirmed. You can't be a member of the church!"

End of church for me, baby. For a long time.

Notice the circled area on the next photo. A street sign.
Next to the sign someone stuck a cross in the ground. I found it quite ironic, hugely significant. Don't ever, ever be the person who, even unintentionally, puts up a Do Not Enter sign in front of the Cross of Christ.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Ohio Chronicles: Chapter Four

First of all, Happy Birthday America!
This was my first attempt to capture fireworks with my camera. It has a fireworks setting, but I didn't really know what I was doing. Still it was fun to play with it.
Now, back to my Ohio adventures. As I've said before, I'm not a morning person. I do like to stay up late but, really, I'm a minor league night bird. My mom & sister now, they're major league players. I can't keep up with them. After a week with them, I do nothing but sleep a few days when I get home. The first night I was there, my sis tip-toed in my room at 3:30 a.m. and asked to borrow my camera. "mm hmm, sure...why?" She said a house was on fire just up the hill from her house. I thought that sounded somewhat interesting and maybe I should go look,too; but for the life of me I could not move. Her husband is captain of the volunteer fire department and she is a volunteer firefighter/EMT herself. She didn't go on this call, but got some interesting pix from her back porch.The next morning, I wondered if I had dreamt that conversation. But here's the evidence. No one was hurt & damage wasn't too bad. They think it was an electrical fire that started in the basement.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

And Now We Pause For...

Friday Night MindStreaming!
Ok, ok, it's only Thursday. But it feels like Friday because our office closed early today for a long holiday weekend. I've gotta tell ya, that extra hour & a half makes a big difference. Supper was already in the crockpot, so that was taken care of. There was time to spend with Joey, enjoying coffee & long conversation; and still time to go work out.

While working out, I remembered something. After we got married, we both got hired at the same company, a small electronics manufacturer. Joe's hours were 7-3. I worked in data processing & they let me have the same hours. I was not a morning person then, either, but getting off early in the afternoon was great. It really gives you time to develop hobbies & spend time together. I think people would be less stressed & more balanced if we worked less. Do I hear a big AMEN!?

Also during my workout - btw, I added 5 more minutes to my treadmill time - I was listening to Pink Floyd. Oh no you don't...don't you go all spiritual-huffy on me! I still enjoy some early 70's music. I already went thru that phase of tossing out those evil albums only to buy them back 20 years later. I have a theory that Vintage Stock was started by, well never mind. I digress...

My introduction to music was spending time with my Grandpap while he listened to his collection of The Longines Symphonette. I loved it and I think it set the tone for my future music preferences. I cut my rock & roll teeth as an 8th grader on the horns of Chicago (they probably don't qualify as R&R, but still...) and in college progressed to the Floyd. I love the layers, complexity, and musicality of that band. Not every album, mind you. They could get pretty weird. As I listened to a song called "Us & Them" - so meloncholy & moody; perfect for my massage chair reward - I thought about these lyrics:
Haven't you heard?
It's a battle of words.
And most of them are lies.
Isn't that what the enemy does to us? He takes the battlefield to our minds and spins subtle lies. Every day we are confronted with something he can twist & spin, hoping to cause us to doubt God's promises. A friend was commenting to me this week that you better know what it is you believe, so that when he whispers a half truth in your ear, you recognize it as the lie that it is. Good advice.

Tomorrow: Chapter Four of The Ohio Chronicles continues...