Archive for February, 2011

Burned Out – Bruised- Battered and Bewildered

artwork Alec Longstreth

Apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein for the title.

We have seen a decided lack of participation in happenings in Lorain. Most notably in recent days the Lorain City Schools from meetings about design to the future of the finances of LCS.
There are many reasons for the lack of enthusiasm for all things Lorain .

Some are too busy trying to hold our own lives together or keeping roofs over one’s heads.

Some have been the victim of no good deed goes unpunished.

The volunteer population is aging –

we now leave a lot of the work to NON- profits and paid directors whose direction is governed by “foundations and grants” rather than the excitement of the individual. We do our bit by paying membership dues or donating to those non -profits – we have handed over the can do to those that are paid to do. We don’t for the most part get down in the trenches anymore. ( before I get a plethora of so and so does this or this group does that comments- this is a generalization across the country rather than specifically Lorain)

Going through my “boxes” I came across material “Lorain and Lorain(E) of Yesteryear”.

The yesteryear of 1992 caught my eye and the “International Home Town Parade” where a certain organization The Downtown Lorain Growth Association was the spotlight organization

NOTE: The DLGA in 1995 became ” Mainstreet Lorain ( not to be confused with Main Street program ,although in 2000 it did become for a while a Main Street program) then due to “hiccups” and I am saying that nicely ๐Ÿ™‚ this organization then became Lorain Growth Corporation.

Back in 1992 there was a buzz- a rebirth – a new future for the “downtown area” The quotes are the very similar to today and we who were excited back then remember the de ja vu – the Visionings the studies, the “movers and shakers”, sitting around conference tables, drawing on flip charts, voting for this and that. SIGH!!!!!!!!!!.

I also came across the minutes of 1994 when the Morning Journal/ USS/ Kobe hosted the meeting of a fledgling Lorain Pride Day and a Community Mobilization Committee to include all the population in Pride.

I looked at the names on those minutes – some of us are still around- some have retired and gone to warmer climes- some have left for other jobs – some have died and in the four businesses that were initially mentioned who were very supportive well you can see for yourself

Builders Square
Willow Hardware
Super K
Sherwin Williams

And then there was the Arts – July -14 1985 when again the Morning Journal and Mike Bass Ford sponsored a night at the Ohio Theatre honoring Lorain Native Gerald Freedman , the Artistic Director of Great Lakes Shakespeare. I was there the Mayor of the moment was there , John Cole was excited to have an annex of GLS come to Lorain.

Yes we still have Lorain International, we still have Pride Day we still have meetings, flip charts, studies and visionings (SIGH) and the “wanting” for a successful Lorain City and Lorain Schools and Lorain Industry but for those of us that are burned out and have been “burned “ we are passing the candle flame of caring and wishing success to those that continue to carry it-

But to save anymore think -tanks/ studies , meetings galore the minutes from those meetings in 1994 might help ๐Ÿ˜‰

THE END????????????????????

February 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm 3 comments

Smith / Allen- Chronicle Telegram Tape / Series and Archives

“An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.โ€ Samuel Johnson

The Chronicle Telegram has the video tape of the line-up and the archives on their site

February 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm 2 comments

Beware the “termagant” in more ways than one……..

NOTE: Before you click onto the web definitions and especially the “images for termagant “ BEWARE at least one of the images is connected to a web site with a nasty virus ( which has been reported).

This shameful fact the “virus vermin” are more aware of the English language than I am leads me to hang my head in shame. Amazing to me the image of a termagant would be used to carry a virus – I mean how many people would be searching for THAT image?

Termagant, all started innocently enough as I try to escape my grief watching Masterpiece Classic- Downton Abbey.


One of my favourite actresses Maggie Smith– had a seemingly throw away line but actually punched the word which told all as to how she thought of her rival in the piece.

Upstairs, the show is stolen at least once an episode by Maggie Smith as the Earl’s mother, Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham.

It could be argued that Smith is given many of the best lines, but it could be argued just as strongly they become the best because of her skill at delivering them


a word you can get your teeth into

– that is what my mentor Jean Schaeffer would have said- and yes! I could see her playing the Maggie Smith role. Jean taught me a great deal above and beyond “acting classes”.

Jean showed me the nutshells in a sentence- the clues in the dialogue- the words upon which your “character fleshed“- and how you would perceive all other characters.

A playwright leaves us clues in the phraseology , the words chosen, lines are not accidental, there is a reason for each phrase, clues to delivery .

When you are given a script for the first time and during a cold reading – especially when the play is little known or unknown to you- these “nutshells” ,with practice, stand out. This technique has spilled over into my everyday life. When I read a newspaper article or documentation I can pick out the “nutshells” and the clues, reading between the lines becomes second nature.

When Maggie Smith delivered the word “termagant” I knew it was a “word you can get your teeth into” but I also realized the word was unknown to me. I felt chagrined after all Downton Abbey was a British piece- I, of all people, should have a clue. So heartily ashamed of my shortcoming I went in search of the definition

-termagant – capitalized : a deity erroneously ascribed to Islam by medieval European Christians and represented in early English drama as a violent character
2: an overbearing. odious or nagging woman

An overbearing woman – hmmmmmm well I guess that could be said of me- over bearing and nagging as for odious well I have my own representative for her ๐Ÿ˜‰
So you can- Beware the “Basilisk and the Termagant” –
Words are wonderful and can be lovely sounding even when insulting – I heard an English “TV Presenter” calling another an “Onanist” – I thought at the time interesting pronunciation of “oneness ONLY knowing the insulting nature of the presenter sent me in search and now I have another polite sounding way of calling someone a wanker ๐Ÿ˜‰

And words to live by- the family motto so you too can beware
Birthday Card for Mumby Chris Ritchey

February 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

Lorain City Schools – The Meeting for the New High School

Lisa has a report on the 2nd meeting found here

No oops about it, Lorain, you did it again by Lisa

“Of the 9 residents, 3 LCS employees and one of the students had attended last weekโ€™s meeting, as did the rep from GLIDE/LCGP [I counted him as a resident last week but not this week]. That means only 4 new people came to have their voices heard this week.

AND from the Morning Journal – Attendance Sparse………….

February 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm 8 comments

Encased in Crystal-the artist speaks

UPDATE” check out Mark’s close up on crystal here

She came calling with her tears but I did not stir, I had shed too many tears to be moved by hers.

Her voice then at first a whisper became insistent looking for my attention- but the screaming inside me drowned out her cool wintery voice.

Not one to give up she called even more loudly and sent her followers to tap on the windows. Still I lay listening but not moving, shadows danced upon the wall beckoning me to leave the slumber of grief.

Light came gray and silently – finally I answered her call………

The artist had finished her work during the night and I woke to find just like my heart a world encased in crystal

Not satisfied with the bowing down of the trees to her talent she calls once more with voice of winter her subjects to acclaim her expertise – tears turned to crystal- encasing the life that waits for the softer tears of her spring- when once more she will remind us of her talent to make our world beautiful.

February 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm 5 comments

Lorain City Council Meetings or Am I speaking in a vacuum?

Jean Schaeffer was a wonderful acting coach. On occasion Jean, would during the last week of rehearsal, come in to “tighten -up” the production.

I was used to being critiqued and having her give me a plethora of notes at the end of a rehearsal. In fact, in one play she spent an hour making me just walk across the stage as I was taking off a coat. A small seemingly insignificant action but actually one that made a world of difference to the character I was portraying .

BUT there were times when I would be with her and watching a performance or production that REALLY needed her expertise and she would say nothing just nod and smile. All the time I would be thinking

“why isn’t she saying anything this is awful they need help”

One day I asked, after a particularly dreadful performance,

Why aren’t you saying anything?

Jean replied:

“If you are not prepared to take on the work to change something then don’t criticize those that are trying”

I have remembered that and in past years I have tried not to criticize too much those that are doing if I am not prepared to do the project or run for office etc.

So I sit back in my enforced “grief-apathy” and watch.

Sometimes I am stirred to speak ( now I prepare the statements- as I can no longer be trusted to talk “off the top of my head” as I just may go “off my head”) .

Prepared Statement read before City Council Committee Feb 14th 2011
Lorain City Council Committee Statement Feb 14th 2011 Charleston Village Soc

The Historical Hysteria caused me to show-up for a recent Council Committee meeting and the de ja vu of “same behaviours” I have seen for years continues unabated:

It is obvious as the audience watches (as it always has been) who is on whose “team” in the “Admin vs Council/
Council vs Admin game that has been going on for years ( no matter whose bottom in the seats)-

The city department that is the flavour of the month subjected to “biting remarks” ๐Ÿ˜‰

but the most frustrating part of being in the “audience” is hearing the council person on the floor pontificate and ask the questions trying to sound knowledgeable and asking the hard questions when to all who are watching it is obvious they were unprepared for the meeting

So my notes to those that legislate and administrate

Notes anyone????????????????

February 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm 8 comments

WHO I AM! The artwork speaks – Chris Ritchey

ED: NOTE: Today, the 3rd anniversary of the diagnosis of the “obscenity” was the date I had in mind to close this blog with its final front page – BUT bear with me a little longer life- as always- gets in the way.

Part One In search of my son- In search of me
Part TwoTourjours Moi-Always Me
Part Three Always Me – Always Chris
Part Four In search of My Son-
Chris Ritchey – Thanks

Part Five Dark Humour- Shedding a Light
Part Six – The Unfinished Portrait

Part Seven– The Unfinished Portrait- The Artists
(2) Part Two – Who Are We Really?
Part Eight– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight

Part Nine– When Premonition Becomes Hindsight – Part Two
Part Ten (a)There is an “I” in Death
Part Ten (b)- I didn’t know my son- Chris Ritchey
Part Eleven- Unfinished Portrait the Artistic Gene
Part Twelve- Unfinished Portrait- the Artistic Gene- Part Two
Part ThirteenA Place of Echoes
Part FourteenAn Absence of Laughter

Part 15:
In the post the letter to Bishop Lennon and company there is the artwork

WHO I AM by Chris Ritchey

It was December 25th 2009- It was the worst December 25th I have ever experienced. – 22 days after the death of my son- 14 days after being told ( not for religious reasons but because this is what Chris would want ) his bride was denying us our closure-

and 6 days after the “controllers” buried his remains with balloons and without his family into the cold earth.

Whilst we had all been to Nikkis on the 24th I could not face Christmas Day and all it meant – I could not look at the faces of grief- I just wanted it “over”. So we all huddled, each and every one of us, in our own homes- trying to get through the pain of a Christmas Day without Christopher and christian charity.

In fact I decided that day to start cleaning drawers and cupboards. I was preparing for my own death- I didn’t want any of my family to have endure the going through everything. You see I didn’t know how I could live with my heart being shattered into so many pieces, the pain is a physical pain at times – and if I am honest I have only survived so far because of the strength of my daughter, Nikki, and Gavin.

I emptied out my “personal” desk in the living room, burned a great deal in the fire-place but eventually grief took over and I could no longer function.

I called my mother to see how she was- she wasn’t doing well at all- and both of us had a conversation punctuated by wracking sobs. She could not understand why Chris” wife had been so cruel as to deny her her goodbye- she wondered

Did WE really know Chris’s wishes?

I told her- I had spent more time with Chris in his last weeks than anyone including Angela

and I said:

“I don’t know mum, I thought I knew Chris, who he was , we talked openly and sometimes loudly about all things from the time he could talk but I couldn’t bring myself to discuss what would happen if he died- I just couldn’t do it – he was fighting so hard to just live”

I started to 2nd guess myself as to who he was as I had all along since his illness and marriage.

“was this the right treatment, was this the best Dr. – could I have done more – why did I stand back on the decision-making? What if? Why didn’t I trust my gut – why did I defer to “them” at the hospital?

the doubts like wood smoke choking, blurring vision as it swirls on its journey from the flames.

Then I saw a folded piece of blank paper on the floor by the foot of the couch, obviously it had fallen there as I had cleaned the drawer. I picked it up and a wallet sized high school graduation photo fell from the folds. I had put the extras in the drawer 10 years before.


I thought to myself

“this must have become caught in the folds of the paper-“Just a second mum I want to throw this piece paper into the fire”

and then I felt something else in the folds. Two slides were tucked away, on each slide was Chris’s signature, as I held them to the light I recognized them immediately.

I didn’t know these slides existed in my home – I had never seen the slides before- why they were in MY desk drawer or how they got there I don’t know, as I said it is my personal desk and I was the only one ever to put anything in it and I certainly hadn’t .

BUT I had seen their content before so would anyone who attended Chris’s CIA college graduation ceremony.

As the graduate received their degrees they walked across a large stage- behind them on a very large screen was a projection of “who they are” designed by themselves.

I watched as students had pictures of themselves with family, friends, and their interpretation as to who they were flashed onto the screen.

Then came my son , I was so proud of him and there it was the “Who I Am” projected on the large screen – his art work describing who he was – his white soccer cap, the American flag ( he had sewn on it) and the simple word freedom. I knew exactly what he was saying and I even knew the “sub text” to that art work and so will you readers (eventually- and that goes back to another Christmas).

Who I am by Christopher D. Ritchey

Yes! I thought that is him – a man of few words but he spoke powerfully, succinctly through his work and with humour. He smiled at us and gave a thumbs up as he crossed the stage .

As he took his diploma another slide ( an example of the work of which they were most proud ). The light from the lamp illuminated that slide as well and I saw in the slide his thumb and the text which sent shivers through me. You see he never got to” tick” the box after college and the last conversation took place with a thumbs up………. I was in bits- literally … that Christmas night… but Chris spoke once more through his work.

I knew without a doubt that Christmas night –

I shouldn’t second guess myself Chris’s work was speaking for him

– I would “listen” and I would always let his work speak for him. that is why I continue to carry on letting him speak and will let his work tell you who he was- he deserves to be heard .

February 15, 2011 at 1:58 am 6 comments

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