Archive for August, 2010

Strasbourg- September- Remember

Strasbourg Cathedral 1574

I cannot believe that it was 2 years ago we took “THAT” trip- It was supposed to be to give a break from the stress of finding my son had the “curable cancer’ He was finishing up treatment – all prognosis was wonderful- so in order to celebrate a special anniversary – birthday, on September 1st 2008 we made our way across the Atlantic.

As it turned out it was the trip from hell and when we returned of course another hell awaited . BUT as we dealt with the “trip” I had every intention of writing about the disasters, the rip- offs to warn fellow travelers to beware.

At one point we ended up in the same little hotel twice in Strasbourg- although it wasn’t planned that way.
This small hotel at the very door to the cathedral was named after Cardinal De Rohan

The only drawback was being that close to the cathedral bells you were in for a rude awakening.

Whilst Nikki caught up on some sleep my husband and I went to the cathedral. I have been in cathedrals before, admired the architecture but this tour was a little different .

A child of my son’s (very new) extended family had been killed in an accident. There was nothing we could do being trapped in Strasbourg due to the misfortunes of a Rhine River Cruise and a fire in the “Channel Tunnel”.

I felt I should do something though and so we went to the cathedral to light a candle as the family were devout Roman Catholic and to purchase a rosary for my then daughter in law. I thought perhaps it might bring some solace to the child’s mother seeing they were of this faith to know he was remembered here in this great cathedral and a little candle burned in his memory.

There has been a cathedral on the site since the 7th century

It is known that a cathedral was erected by the bishop Saint Arbogast of the Strasbourg diocese at the end of the seventh century, on the base of a temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but nothing remains of it today.

I am not very religious or at least into organized religion but the place was awe-inspiring. I had many thoughts as I wandered around the great spaces filled with light and opulence some of which can be found here.

However, one of the thoughts that struck me and bubbled to the top of my cynical brain as I stood there in the 21st century , bathed in light, gold sparkling on painted faces of saints, aromas sweet, flowers and beautiful music of the bells and in total awe of the people who built such a place.

A poem described this cathedral decorated with gold and precious stones by the bishop Ratho

What must this wonder of wonders must looked like to the peasants who lived in hovels of mud and straw, windowless with no light, earthen floors down by a canal filled with offal and stench , the stink of disease and darkness that filled their lives, beauty glimpsed but rarely in such an existence?

Can you imagine what it must have been like to lift your eyes to this monument to heaven, to escape the slavery and chains of your life for just a brief while within the cathedral’s confines?

Can you imagine hearing the musical chants, the sound of powerful music ringing across the countryside, to smell smells so sweet , to breathe air not filled with swine , fish , sweat, rottenness , decay and disease, to be bathed in a light full of grace and colour? It must have seemed like heaven to be allowed to enter such a place of delights.

Is it any wonder men of religions , from the Egyptians ,

the Greeks, the Romans , the Christians ,

the Muslims, Hindus etc. build such edifices to the Gods they worship ?

The edifices that inspire awe and draw the congregation and bring a world that is not of the peasant’s world or understanding .

And this world certainly isn’t of my understanding either because for all the beauty found in such surroundings a mother’s simple question


rings unanswered through the great cavernous spaces .

It is a cry that needs no vaulted ceilings echoing back , it is a cry sent to the night sky and the tree tops and apart from the platitudes of men with their sweet music, incense, gold and creations of stone – no answer comes back to the mothers whose cries are heard ringing through the centuries .


A world that is for us, the mothers who grieve ,full of pain , bewilderment and the unanswered question- a simple question asked –


A growing childs question as he/she explores the world.


The stone walls , though beautiful, remain mute , the painted images look down with unseeing eyes. Only the gargoyles laugh, pulling their ugly faces at the joke of it all, sputter and spew as the rain full of tears drops to earth- they grimace with silent mirth at our peasant’s lot here on earth.


August 31, 2010 at 8:33 pm 7 comments

You say Tomato -I say HOW BIG????

I was at Don Moulds today picking out replacement lilacs for those lost at Settlers’ Watch.

IT IS TOOOOOOOO HOT to plant so we came away sans Lilacs- however…

in the next couple of days you can try your luck and wins titles and gifts

1. Heaviest Tomato * must have 3″ stem attached

2. Largest Pepper ( any variety) 8 must have 3″ stem attached

3. Most Beautiful Single Flower * must be in a container w/ water- grown in your yard only.

4.Unique Flower or Herb arrangements from your yard. * must be in a container w?water. 18″ overall max.

5. Best dressed Veggie

6. 4×6 ( only) picture of your landscape or flowers with a live animal in the picture.

Please submit from Sept 2nd-4th at the Amherst of North Ridgeville Stores


Don Mould’s Plantation
Plant Sales Outlet, East
34837 Lorain Road
North Ridgeville, OH 44039-4448
Phone: (440) 327-3407
Fax: (440) 327-2907

Don Mould’s Plantation
Plant Sales Outlet, West
Route 58 ; Route 113
Amherst, OH 44001
Phone: (440) 986-7777
Fax: (440) 986-7797

August 30, 2010 at 6:08 pm 1 comment

Needed – a Tattoo on my Forehead

I am seriously thinking of getting a tattoo in a highly visible place on my person -one of warning to the general public at large.

You see I am not who I used to be at all and never will be again. I rarely go out for various reasons but one reason is that it takes so damned much out of me . I no longer attend events but when I have to or know that I will be “in public” it takes a great deal of preparation.

I can only liken it to preparing for a role in a play, you go through the characters with whom you will be involved on that particular public stage, the good characters and the bad- how your character will deal with them knowing their roles.

In the back and beyond when theatre played such an important role in my life, I would, before my first entrance on stage, wait in the wings, hesitant , a little nervous and I would always take a deep breath and “assume the role of the character” into which I had been cast.

I find myself doing just that now in this role that fate has chosen for me.Before entering out on the world stage from the security of the wings I put on the make-up take a deep breath and try to get through the scene.

This takes a lot of effort and quite frankly I am a wreck for a couple of days afterwards. Bottling up the grief and pain for those few hours, pretending everything is OK ( no one really likes a blubbering grieving woman even if they do understand why ) so the smile is painted on, laughter forced and the pain and heartbreak that is welling up inside is “capped” under great pressure. The “IT” is the lead in this tragedy.

I had geared myself up for the Mid Ohio racing and visitors from overseas. I knew that these would be very hard days but I took the deep breath and put on the costume of the other old me”I tried to be the old me – I tried to push the pain to the bottom, I really did try to be strong.

Then came , in my opinion, the rudest man in Ohio , he was an anal, holier than thou autocratic bully if I ever came across one.

Now in the normal scheme of things one of two things would have happened. I would have politely dealt with this cretin , moved away from the area or let my son deal with him, because Chris surely would have , of that I have no doubt. He would not have let his Nana and mother be subjected to the red-faced , spittle spluttering pompous arse that assailed us ( over an umbrella) .

Unfortunately, Chris was not there and what this man got in retaliation was “ME ” not the me of old- but the me who had used every bit of her intestinal fortitude just to attend the event. The “ME” who can no longer suffer fools and idiots- the ME who is tired of self righteous sanctimonious control freaks. The ME who is no longer in control of her emotions the ME who is always endanger of “flaring” and subject to language that could make a truck driver blush.

Over react , yes I did ( first to admit it) this man became the epitome of all the crap I had been dealing with ! I didn’t handle the unscripted event at all well. It left me shaking with anger and missing my son more than ever. He just added another weight to the weight I already bear because of the loss of Chris.

Needless to say the following days left me once again in the dressing room of my real world trying to get back a semblance of strength to go back and tread the boards. Those are days when I would welcome the final curtain and the ending of the play. They are days when the only welcoming lights in the theatre of life are the “Exit” signs, but then I see in the follow spot

and I know the 3rd act has to be performed, no matter how badly I play the scene.

But I am thinking that those that attend my “play” may need a program, so they know when to leave the theatre just incase my brain explodes.

August 28, 2010 at 10:08 pm 9 comments

The Closure- Irving School

I have lived across from Irving School for over three decades.

We looked at this house at night. We were strangers to Lorain, we didn’t know the area but fell in love with the “cottagey mock tudor”. This old house felt like home as soon as we walked in.

In fact I hadn’t even seen the upstairs when my husband ( aided and abetted by my mother who was visiting ) made an offer – full price $22,000.

The next morning I came and checked out the neighborhood-

Oh! Oh! there were some problems

There was the vacant house on the corner of 4th and Hamilton and the house next door was decidedly derelict. Funnily enough they still are there and derelict– somethings it seems never change.


I looked at the narrow street and there was a huge ( to my eyes) school building directly opposite. We did not have children at the time and I worried-

Oh dear what would it be like when summer was over.

“Never live across the street from a school”

had been advice given as we searched for our home, and here we were a stones throw away from the main entrance and no parking whew!

What had we done?

The sale went through and over the years we learned to adapt to our neighbor LCS . – We arranged our comings and goings to coincide with school hours, mornings and afternoon as school let in and let out could be a nightmare. At least a half hour of organized chaos happened twice a day and then “silence”. There were times when it was nightmarish ( especially in the rain and snow)

But on the other side of the coin there was the laughter of children every morning and afternoon and life games during recess, The school cut their grass, maintained their property and were good neighbors, our street got plowed first.

The school grounds gave ample opportunity for flag football, soccer and cheerleading skills to be hewned by the neighborhood kids. When our children came along they didn’t have to walk 2 miles in the snow with no shoes 😉

However that changed when someone in their infinite wisdom did away with neighborhood schools. In my opinion that is when the LCS started on its present course. But I digress

As I write this this morning, the flag is no longer flying above the front doors, the play yards have grass and weeds sprouting through the cracks. The letters on the sign board once proclaiming proudly the coming events have fallen away leaving something akin to a foreign language.

The building in just three short months has a decidedly dilapidated air about it. The laughter and voices of children silenced by their absence seems to have sucked the very “life” from the building, even the trees are dying.
This morning I should be hearing the voices of the children as they are dropped off , or arrive- the first day at “big school” for many . There are faint echoes but apart from one lone boy bewildered as to

“where is everyone”

and his mother looking perplexed motions him back to the car and the street is quiet once more devoid of the organized chaos that heralded “time for school”

Schools is out and I miss the first day of school. I miss the sound of the flag in the wind, the clink of the metal guidewires and I miss the
laughter of children .

Goodbye Irving – soon your bricks and mortar will be a memory too and my “outlook” will change but “for the better”-remains to be seen !!!!!! 😉

August 27, 2010 at 11:05 am 8 comments

Settlers’ Watch- Outlook Good!

Morning Journal staff planting at Settlers' Watch

A few days ago I was informed Settlers’ Watch was one of the nominees for Lorain County Beautiful Award for 2010. I was also told Black River Historical Society Gardens on 5th Street has also been nominated.

I am hoping there are other groups nominated in the immediate area. So many people in this little “old” part of Lorain have worked so hard this year to bring colour and beauty to those that pass by or stop awhile, Lorain and Charleston Village are already “winners”.

Cover by Chris Ritchey- Photo Mark Teleha

The Settlers’ Watch project is ongoing , there are so many “pieces parts” to the little green space now known as Settlers’ Watch .

You can find a full bio of the project here

and a pictorial bio here
Each little place , each little flower has a story behind it- it is in some ways a “secret garden”.

The Eric Barnes Eagle poised to soar reminds me of another young man – poised to soar.

Mayor Krasienko and Arthur - job well done

Arthur Schwandt of Lorain has his own Eagle in mind that of being an Eagle Scout . His project was accepted and the project was to assist in the maintaining and adding to Settlers’ Watch. Arthur put in many hot, hot and very hot days this summer, and his efforts show . Days of weeding , planting , mulching, adding compost and grass seed, preserving and caring filled this young man’s summer. Arthur became part of the continuing story of the secret garden. His efforts bringing life, beauty and respect to the little corner of 2nd and Oberlin Ave.

Everyday finds another story added to the “garden”. Boy Scout Troop 338 have planted Lilly beds along the fence. Next year their bright and sunny blooms will bring even more delight to the “butterflies and bees” that have found a new home in and amongst the steel and wires of yesterday


August 25, 2010 at 12:03 pm 6 comments

Who you gonna call?

I will be the first to admit it I have no answers- none at all. I have surfaced but briefly from my other world and found it a sad sad place.

In my past life the situations that are facing this city would have found me “getting involved” from tent city homeless- the financial problems we face , the degradation of our safety forces. roads, housing stocks of shame., school- to be or not to be………….

I would like to have thought that I may have helped, seen a way through , added a perspective ( hopefully in a positive way ) . But as I said I rarely if ever get involved in the surface world anymore.

BUT ( and there is that but again) in the past two weeks I did actually come to the surface when asked to give some background and assistance to an organization ( that shall remain nameless- they have enough trouble)

I will tell you that I made no difference at all – I watched a group of volunteers unable to get past the past, the posturing , one upmanship, wordsmithying and I have to say “nastiness”.

It was just a little sampling of what I see in the broader picture of Lorain., all you have to do is read the comments section of the newspapers etc. the same behaviours are all there.

If volunteers, those that GIVE, can’t get it together for the sake of their greater good – then how are those that “TAKE” ever going to see a way clear. Because we are the takers, certainly we pay for the privilege of “taking” with our taxes etc. but we take none the less and sometimes we take for granted.

As I watched the “volunteer meltdown” unfold in front of me, it only reinforced my “Why did I bother? – I didn’t help – I may have hindered -who knows?

Of the above list of “problems ” in your world locally the “safety forces” would probably have been one I would have focused upon. I am totally biased – and greedy for MORE of them not less.

You see like most of the citizens I like to know they are there- I like thinking that if I call they’ll come running to help me. The Lorain Fire Dept. did come and save this home (a few years ago now) as fire was trapped – raging inside the walls.

I did watch as they saved my home. I did see a firefighter get injured , I don’t ever remember knowing his name but as I sit looking out of a window this morning – I can -because they did their job and saved my home.

The Lorain Police Dept has on more than one occasion in all the years I have lived in this same home – been there for this neighborhood- time and time again they answered a call for help. A 2 am call placed by a frightened woman ( me) who saw and heard an altercation across the street, a man armed- they came – they took away the cause of fear and once again a sense of security reigned.

Yes! I am definitely biased – I am selfish – I want to feel safe- I want my neighbors to feel safe.

But as with everything it comes down to money and the lack thereof- paychecks dwindling, taxes not an option in this current climate I am thinking.

So what is the point of this post – there isn’t any- just a few thoughts as I come up for air and see the struggles facing Lorain.

This Loraine feels a connection to this old , worn out City of Lorain , who struggles to maintain – it isn’t easy in our respective worlds – we are what we are and there is a weariness of worth that accompanies our journey in our respective worlds.

But that leaves the question “Who you gonna call – not this Loraine – I am ,as the city out of assets ( emotionally) and bankrupt (motivationally) ; I hope that at the other end of the line you will be able to have a call for help answered at least from the City of Lorain. If the call is not answered by the alternate Lorain then “LOSS” surely will.

August 23, 2010 at 1:43 am 2 comments


Boxed In and Cut by Chris Ritchey

As with many mornings since you passed from our world into the next, I have watched as the night clouds are blown gently by the dawn breeze, I watch a sky lighten and fill with colour. And I think of you.

I make a cup of coffee , sit at the desk in the den. I look through the window to the trees, they take me on a trip.

There is the one that looks like it should be on plain in Africa, the one from the french countryside, the one that weeps along with me, that should be trailing her branches in the gentle waters of an english river.

Then there is the tree that is touched with the red of anger. It reminds me – it taunts me .

Soon there will be a flash of colour outside this window , one last burst of life and then barren branches reaching into a grey sky.

The life that is green and lush will fall and my eyes will once more see the homes of man rather than the homes of birds, who delight with their song each morning accompanying my tears.

The falling tears have splashed onto the top of this old desk for many months now, they too have left their mark , the varnish has softened, the protection gone leaving exposed the heart of the wood. There is no point in refinishing because tomorrow’s dawn will bring the same tears falling from eyes that cry for you.

Today is the day I am reminded I failed – I couldn’t hold back the falling of life from our branches.

A day that is bitter sweet- it was the day I became someone else , a mother of a son- a mother of promises- a mother who gave her little girl a brother to be with her always…… a mother who gave a father a son one to continue his name .

I remember, this day of all days, all the birthdays as I watch the sun come up on a world that no longer holds you –

I think of your last birthday – another waiting room, you sat slouched in a chair at the Cleveland Clinic waiting for a biopsy on the latest lump on your neck.

Your sister and I went to be with you, knowing in our heart of hearts this was not going to be the birthday that we wanted for you -trying to hide our thoughts and feelings from you . I know I didn’t succeed in that, and I am so sorry.

As your sister approached you looked into her eyes , she tried to smile and just said


It was day not celebrated with presents and laughter but tears and fear and now another “Birthday” a day filled with tears once again and longing and not knowing who I am . And the willow continues to weep as do I .

It is a “Birthday” lost

The first Birthday without you brings the memory of the day of your first birthday we had with you –

You were OUR gift and we love you with all of our broken hearts.


August 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm 7 comments

Language of Hands- Farewell

ED NOTE: For many months you have read as I have said goodbye to my son- today this blog shares with you a farewell from a son to his mother.

Mom, I’m sitting by your bed. It’s late at night and you are too tired and too sick to talk to me. So all I can do is hold your hand and try to comfort you.

Your hand has become so delicate; fragile with age and care. And I remember. . .

This is the hand that cradled and caressed me as a baby.

This is the hand that supported me as I learned to walk, and picked me up when I fell.

This hand washed and fed me when I couldn’t do it for myself.

This is the strong hand that reassured me as it led me to school that first day.

And it is the loving hand that welcomed me home again.

This is the gentle hand that cared for me in illness.

This is the firm hand that corrected me when necessary.

This is the hand that taught me to share as my brothers and sisters joined the family.

And it is the creative hand that built a safe, loving environment to nurture us all.

This is the hand that taught my hand to find middle C on the piano and then encouraged me to explore the world of music.

This is the hand that lead me out onto a stage for the first time introducing me to a life passion for theatre.

This hand released me when it was time for me to fly on my own–even though it hurt her to do it.

And this is the hand that kept a constant stream of encouraging, reassuring letters flowing to me no matter how far apart we were.

This hand has always been there to accept, support, welcome, congratulate and love me through all the trials and joys of my life.

This is the hand I kiss as the tears stream down my cheeks. I only hope that this hand can feel all the love and gratitude that I am trying to pour back into it tonight.

Thank you for being my mother and for doing that job so well.

Dave Cotton -a farewell to his mother.

Hand and the Orb- by Chris Ritchey

August 19, 2010 at 11:26 am 3 comments

The Language of Hands

Hands -Da Vinci

Have you ever really given any thought to just how important the language of touch through our hands is to our lives.

I remember being a very small and ill little child. Apparently I got all my childhood diseases in one fell swoop, mumps, measles and then whooping-cough . A bed was made up for me in the dining room- the table pushed to the side, a fire in the grate flickered brightly casting a comforting orange glow in the darkened room. It was the cool touch of my mother’s hand on my forehead that I remember most, she must have sat there hour after hour stroking her child’s fevered brow. I can remember drawing great comfort from her hands, I still do .

Gabriel's Touch - photo Lisa Miller

Hands – when your child is born and you count the tiny toes and fingers , that first small curling of that tiny hand around your finger- hanging on, reaching out in a strange new world- a handclasp of life – speaking volumes without the need for language as a mother and child are introduced through their first touch.

The young child slipping their hand in yours as they walk to school for the first time, hands linked together as children play –

Rover Red Rover

Chris with his Dad

holding on to dad – “

don’t let me go”

The caress of a hand between young lovers, hands clasped in prayer, wrung in anguish, in a fist of anger. The hands of a son identical to those of the father and now a nephew, Gavin. who has his Uncle Chris’ hands .

There hangs on my dining room wall a sketch done by my son- he created the piece as part of assignment at least 10 years ago. I found it when he was throwing it out – he said it wasn’t very good – I think he got a C-. But to me , the mother, Da Vinci didn’t compare. I said

No! don’t throw it out – I want it – frame it for me and I will hang it.

You could see by the look on his face that was the furthest thing from his mind or want to do but he did. He put it into a poster frame and it hung on his wall for a couple of years.

Other art work took its place eventually, although I have to say he was never satisfied with his sketches and painting and I rescued more than one from the garbage.

The language of hands became the most important means of communication in the end, it was like traveling back in time to those little tiny moments of a new-born babe and those curling fingers looking for comfort and giving comfort. –

My son would reach for my hand when we would go into the Drs. in those last weeks in Texas a quick squeeze to say it will be OK! reassuring and giving me hope.

And then in those final days when his voice was taken from him a thumbs up to the nurses, or a thumbs down was his only means of communication to tell them of his condition. His smile and voice blocked by tubes and tape, his eyes swollen shut .

I would sit for hours holding his hand trying somehow to infuse through touch some strength , courage, a force to heal and love. The last time he squeezed my hand it was so strong it actually hurt but then nothing, was it a stroke, was it the paralyzing drugs I don’t know but his hand although warm no longer spoke.

But just in case I kept holding his hand, desperately wanting to feel the language of the hand once more.

In my unreal world after his death I found myself, for some reason, going through closets, attics and basements, and under beds- hands that needed to be busy – to be filled – reaching for something that was no longer there.

I found the sketch of the hands under a bed – the glass was broken and others things had been piled on top of it. As I removed the artwork I realized that he had folded the canvas to get it into the poster frame.

The language of the hands is all there in his work the child, the thumbs up , the grasp on life, the caress of the young of the old.

I realized that this work that he dismissed so lightly was speaking volumes. I had two prints made up for two very special people who have spoken and felt the language of the hands as I had and had known their language of delight and unbearable sorrow.

I took the original work to be professionally framed , they said

“we can get that crease out for you if you like”

I thought about that – aesthetically it would look better but then I remembered my son’s hand had formed that crease , it was now a part of the language of the hands, I said

No , leave it as it is.

And so a sketch that was meant for the garbage now hangs in a very expensive frame on my dining room wall and speaks to me more clearly than a Da Vinci and is priceless.

This is a very painful week for me and at least one other mother I know – I am not sure when I will be writing next…… it will all depend on my hands……….

August 15, 2010 at 11:30 pm 9 comments

Apologies it wasn’t me !!!- Viagara

It seems that under the thatwb email an email went out to those in that particular address book – I have been compromised with the yahoo- viagara email that has been going around- so some of the readers may have received this email. Nothing to do with me personally and I know my readers need no enhancement 😉

I don’t promote Viagara – and I am sorry if you receive this email. I received it… HUH go figure just another day in the life of……………..

August 15, 2010 at 11:50 am Leave a comment

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August 2010