Monday, August 31, 2015

Down at the county fair

As a kid, I loved the Lorain County Fair in Wellington, Ohio. I showed cattle and entered photography projects. I helped my Mom set up the Wellington Grange exhibit. I was on the Junior Fair Board. Mom and I sometimes perused the previous years dessert winners and then made and entered a few less popular categories (I think we got second place out of two in divinity). I helped at the band donut booth, sold tickets for rides, rode the rides, and played in a German band that entertained near the midway.  It was the full fair experience.

It's impossible for the fair to consume or thrill me the same way it did one week in August back in the 1960s, but I still like the fair. And last week was fair week, so Jim and I made two trips to the 170th Lorain County Fair.

Monday night we saw Three Dog Night perform at the grandstand.  The last concert I saw there was given by Pat Boone sometime during the 1960s.

Tuesday I wanted to explore the exhibits. Jim was ready to leave about an hour before I was, but played the good sport as I looked at vegetables, fruit, silage, sewing, gift wrapping (!), bees, candy, wine, heavy equipment, antiques, rabbits, cows, sheep, horses, and you-name-it, they-seem-to-have-a-category-for-it.
We were toward the back but still had good seats for Three Dog Night at the Lorain County Fair Grandstand. I'd forgotten how ubiquitous their songs were in the late '60s and 70's.  Three Dog Night had 12 gold albums and 21 consecutive hits including Momma Told Me Not to Come, Joy to the World, One, Black and White, Shambala, and Old Fashioned Love Song,
From top photo clockwise: 1) Vocalists and original band members Danny Hutton and Corey Wells, with Pat Bautz (whose been with the group since 1993) on drums.  2) A new keyboardist  replaced original keyboardist  Jimmy Greenspoon who died in March at the age of 67.  The new guy was great but I can't find his name anywhere, not even on the 3DN website 3) Bass player  Paul Kingery has been with 3DN since 1985 4) Michael Allsup, who has been with the band since shortly after it formed.
As the sun started to set during the concert, the lights on the midway rides were a great secondary show. 
Bev at a fair selfie spot.
Jim checking out the price of a piece of equipment he thought would come in handy.  It was listed at $49,500. We'll put it on the "very distant future wish list."
I was petting a goat in one of the pens when this young man said "You can pet my goat." Can't resist an offer like that. Love how this goat is leaning his head against the boy.
Gotta keep your horse clean.
 And gotta have some down time with your cows.
A few friendly fair faces.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sailing, kayaking, and laughing at Atwood Lake, Ohio

We got together with friends Carl and Sandy of Lancaster, Ohio, in 2011 and have been wanting a repeat performance. It finally happened last weekend.

We met up at Atwood Lake Park in east central Ohio.  With eight campgrounds, a huge lake, hiking trails, marina, restaurant, cabins and more, there is lots to do. And, it's a beautiful place.

The big draw is the lake. People keep pontoon boats here and motor around while fishing or pulling kids on towable tubes. Others, like Carl and Sandy, have a sail boat at Atwood. It's a great sailing lake because it's big, fairly deep and has a 25 horsepower limit, meaning power boaters can't go screaming by. It's a great kayaking lake, too.

So we sailed, kayaked, ate, talked and laughed. A lot. Thanks, Carl and Sandy!  Hope to see you again soon.
Bev and Sandy.  We met as freshmen at Ohio State University and both of us met Carl that year, too.  Bev graduated from Ohio State; Sandy graduated from University of Wisconsin and Capital University Law School.
Dinner at Carl and Sandy's cabin.  Jim and I made stuffed chicken breast, veggie casserole, and S'mores.  Another night Sandy and Carl made prime rib, baked potatoes, and peach cobbler. A third night we ate at the very good park restaurant. We did not lack for food.
Jim and Carl.  Look closely at Jim's clothing -- he's soaked. He was helping Carl cast off the bow line (or in regular words, disconnecting the front of the boat from the dock) and fell in the water.  He said it happened just like you see in the movies: one foot is on the boat, one foot is on the dock, and as the boat moves away you have no choice but to jump in. He had his phone and electronic car keys in his pockets; after the dunking both still worked.
Atwood Lake as seen through the lens of Bev or Carl's cameras.  The lake is 15 miles from Zoar, home of a former communal society founded in 1817 by Germans who moved to America because of religious persecution.  Former Lutherans, they were pacifists who would not go to war nor observe traditional religious sacraments such as baptism or marriage. (A history of the Zoarites said couples wishing to get married "would just present themselves before witnesses.") In about 1922 the community was concerned that population growth would out pace their resources, so they "experimented with celibacy."  That last eight years.  In 1898 Zoarites decided to dissolve their society and divided their communal property among members. 
Carl covering his boat's sail at the lake's shore. Atwood Lake was created in 1936 (per an Internet site) or 1937 (per a hoodie Sandy bought me) and is operated by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.  The MWCD is part of an Ohio drainage system that covers  8,000 square miles -- almost the size of the state of New Jersey.
Jim manning the rudder.  He said you have to constantly pay attention and get the feel for it so you don't over correct.  He also said it was fun.
Carl took this photo of his boat at sunrise. So pretty. 
Bev holding her kayak so Sandy can give it a try. Later that day Sandy was thinking about buying one (yay!) and looking at them on line. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tearing down the school in Wellington, Ohio

When I first brought Jim to Wellington, Ohio, where I grew up, the tour went like this:

See that house? See that church? See that school?

End of tour.

Now a third of the tour -- the connected group of buildings where my Dad, my brothers, and I all went to grade school, junior high, and high school -- will be torn down.

Right now it's a "middle school" but will be replaced in November by a newly constructed building on the other side of town. From what I understand the land will be turned into a park.

The fate of the school has been controversial. The building is in a historic district surrounded by 150-year-old homes, so the pro preservation people were/are very upset and believed it could have been remodeled and restored. Then you have folks who say a remodel wouldn't work and wanted new. The decision was put to a vote and new won. Kids and teachers will make the switch to the new building around Thanksgiving.

A couple of weeks ago the Class of 1970 held their 45th reunion at the old school and invited anyone who wanted to take a last look to come on by. I don't think I'd been back since I graduated in 1969. The inside and much of the outside looks as though someone decided quite some time ago that it wasn't worth maintaining. 

Update, August 21: An article in today's local newspaper says part of a movie staring William Hurt and Shirley McLaine might be filmed in the gymnasium of the school (shown in two photos below) this fall.  That would be a nice memorialization.
My brothers and I went to this school from first grade through 12th grade.  My Dad also attended all 12 years here and graduated in 1937.   I believe what you see to the left was built in 1938/39. The section to the right was completed in 1916, but the original multi-pane windows were later replaced. Sections you can't see in this photo were built in 1867 and 1953.  
Hallway near my high school home room in the 1953 section of the building.
The outside of the 1867 section.  
Bev on the roof of the school, where a telescope and astronomical observatory were installed in 1922  By the time I was attending school, the observatory was no longer in use. I didn't even know how to get to the roof, but Jim found a doorway to a rickety stairwell. 
Our high school gymnasium/theater/assembly hall. If you watched a basketball game you sat in these seats and looked up as if you were at a concert.
Jim on the basketball floor.  It was definitely not regulation size -- you can see how close the free throw line is to center court.  The gym is in the section completed in 1939.
Bev sitting approximately where she did when she played trombone in the high school concert band.
From top left clockwise:  1) Ornamentation on the outside of the building. 2) Many of the windows on classroom doors were covered with sheet metal -- not sure why.  This classroom also had fabric dropped across in maybe in an attempt to make it look more inviting? 3) Classroom wall with the American flag, speaker and clock looking pretty much the same as it did when I was there from 1957-1969.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Brew Fest: Lorain, Ohio

We'd seen a couple of signs for what's currently the only brew festival in Lorain County, Ohio:  Brewfest Waterfront District in downtown Lorain, Ohio.

Then we saw an article in the local newspaper that quoted one of the organizers as saying; "There's a misconception out there about's not the cesspool that people seem to think it is."

Probably not a Chamber of Commerce-approved message. But we went. And it was great.

For $30 per person, we each got coupons for 15 four-once beers and an over sized shot glass to drink them. 

First we walked around the couple of blocks of downtown Lorain that were blocked off, scoped out the beer tents (and the two wine tents ) and the food trucks. Then we stopped at our favorites.

I'm a dark beer lover and had four samples. The most interesting was SpinDoktor Hard Root Beer out of Hudson, Ohio, which was exactly what it sounded like: spiked root beer. I also tried and liked Milk Street Stout by Franklin Brewing of Elyria (and whose owner, we found out after the fact and who we talked with at length, was the organizer who made the "cesspool" comment. Enthusiastic brewer and a great organizer.)

Jim is an IPA lover and had quite a few more samples than I did.  First because he can handle way more beer and secondly because IPAs are what every brewery seems to be making these days. (I drove home, by the way.) Jim thought the Black Frog IPA out of Toledo -- owned by the first African American commercial brewer in Ohio -- was OK but a little sour. He really liked the JackieO's Mystic Mama IPA out of Athens, Ohio. He also liked the Head Hunter IPA from Fat Heads in Middleburg Heights and the Citra Dog IPA out of Thirsty Dog Brewing Company from Akron. The latter is brewed with citra hops which are becoming Jim's favorite hop variety.

Lorain is on Lake Erie and dissected by a large river, which seems like the perfect location for a city. So why is it so depressed?  Vermilion, Ohio, for example, is just ten miles to the west and touts itself as the "crowning jewel" of the south shore of Lake Erie. It's a lovely town with sailboat-filled lagoons, lovely homes, restaurants  and shops. Then there's Lorain, i.e. the cesspool. But it's not a cesspool and it has so much potential. Years ago Vermilion bet on boat harbors, beaches, recreation, and tourism.  Lorain bet on steel, ship building, and the Ford Assembly line. We all know how that worked out.

Lorain can turn around and one of the leaders in the comeback seems to be Lorain's mayor.  We saw him at the festival and he looked like he was about 18.  I researched him on line; he's actually 30 and is one of the youngest mayors in the country for a city the size of Lorain's (68,000).  He was 27 when elected and is running for a second term.  

You go, mayor. And you go, Lorain. Actually, everybody out there go to Lorain. If nothing else visit Lorain's beautiful Lakeview Park, maybe one of the few beaches in the country where you walk through roses to get to the water.  Then buy something and support Lorain.

Jim with a beer in front of the Brew Kettle, a Strongsville, Ohio brewery we've been to before. The festival's brochure said that 40 breweries were at the festival.  We think it was more like about 30.  Whatever the number, there were plenty of choices. Plus the food was great.
The festival was held in downtown Lorain, Ohio,  which has so much potential:  It's right on a Great Lake, next to a large river, and has some beautiful old buildings. One thing that might help:  If marijuana is legalized in Ohio (legalization will be on the ballot this fall and it's still a big if) Lorain will be home to one of 10 state growing/processing centers.  The grow site will be just east of the location above in an industrial park.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

From your lips to God's ears

Somehow, I just find this amusing. It's in Penfield, Ohio, and the asking price is $75,500.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One sick dog

Our dog, Cooper, has almost recovered from a bad bout of pneumonia.  Pneumonia is tough on anyone, but it's especially hard on a 16-year-old doggie.     

For several weeks Jim spent a lot of time getting Coop's meds down him and trying to get him to eat. Besides having little energy, Coop just didn't have the appetite for his regular food, let alone the peanut butter, cheese, turkey, pill pockets and other treats Jim used to entice Coop to swallow his meds.   

It was lucky we were in Ohio when Coop got so sick.  First, Bev's brother is a veterinarian and lives about 40 miles away; he, Dr. Rust, and the rest of the staff at Apple Hill Animal Hospital in Broadview Heights have been wonderful.  Second, at my Mom's, Cooper doesn't have to climb steps like he does when we are on the road or at home in Salt Lake. Third, Cooper sleeps in my Mom's garage which has a fairly cool floor even in Ohio's heat and humidity. Adding to the coolness is the homemade doggie air conditioner Jim made by cutting a hole in the top of a Styrofoam cooler, filling the cooler with ice, and setting up a fan so the rising cold air goes directly to doggie.

I think Cooper -- who was already in Jim's life when Jim and I met in 2003 -- is a lucky dog. Jim probably thinks he's the lucky one.
Cooper, a blue heeler mix.  He's feeling much better, thank you.

Bev's veterinarian brother, Bob, and his wife Suzie, a retired college professor.  Thanks so much for taking care of Cooper, Bob!  Bob's holding a can of Heady Topper beer that he brought back for Jim from a Vermont vacation. The beer is brewed in Waterbury, Vermont; last October it was rated the number one beer in the world by the Beer Advocate.  Bob said people were waiting in line for four hours to buy it -- but someone gave him two cans.  He gave one to his son and -- because he knows Jim loves IPAs -- he brought the other one back to Ohio to split with Jim.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Amish Country Brew Pub

Jim and I visited Ohio's Amish country a couple of years ago.  When we recently realized the area now has not only beautiful farms and scenery but also a brew pub, obviously we had to make a second trip. So Thursday we headed toward Holmes County, the center of the largest Amish community in the world.

First we drove to Kidron, just north of Holmes County and advertised as home to Ohio's oldest livestock market. The Kidron Auction is held every Thursday; Hereford cows and Holstein male feeders were on the auction block. Although I grew up on a farm, I wasn't sure what the term "male feeder" meant, although I should have been able to guess: male feeders are castrated cattle purchased to fatten up before slaughter. So sorry, guys.

The indoor auction hall consisted of a half circle of tiered platforms holding folding chairs and facing a small pen. The hall probably could have held two hundred people if you got all cozy.  Most of the attendees had to be Amish or old order Mennonites as beards, hats, bonnets, dark clothing and bare-footed-kids were everywhere. 

One by one the action folks brought in cattle, a helper poked the animal with a stick so it would move and people could view it from all angles, the auctioneer chattered, and someone made a purchase without a visible (to us) nod or raise of the hand. The poking and prodding bothered Jim, so we left after two cows - thankfully without accidentally buying either one. But later we did get a half peck of peaches from a Mennonite family.

Then we drove through Berlin, Ohio, in the heart of Holmes County. What a traffic jam. I'm guessing anyone navigating a buggy avoids downtown Berlin. We didn't stop, other than when vehicles were at a standstill. If you like browsing in gift, antique, quilting and cheese shops, it looks like the place to be.

Then it was on to Millersburg. Millersburg is a pretty town of about 3,000 people and the Holmes county seat. It has an imposing town hall and a gracious-looking brick building that was once a jail but now houses local government offices. I don't know anything about Holmes County politics, but maybe that's appropriate. We walked around town and then headed for Millersburg Brewing Company.

First, despite a prim appearance, I don't believe the Amish have a blanket prohibition against imbibing. However, the Millersburg Brewing Company is not owned or run by the Amish.  But then again, you probably didn't think it was.

If you want food at the brewery, you can buy a plate of trail bologna and Swiss cheese. We passed. Later that got me to thinking: What the heck is trail bologna?  Apparently it's bologna that's been made in nearby Trail, Ohio, since 1912. Trail is also known as Dundee, Ohio, because Trail is too small to have it's own post office. If you want, you can take your own beef or venison to Trail and have it ground into bologna.  Good to know.

As for the beer: Jim tried the Major Holmes IPA and ordered a glass of the French Ridge IPA; both were only OK, he said.  I had tastes of the Imperial Pumpkin Ale and the State Route 39 Stout. I and liked them both -- so I ordered a glass of the two mixed half and half. Very good.

One more thing:  When I was a kid, an Amish couple and their children lived on our farm in a former chicken house remodeled by my dad.  Their names were Nevin and Emma Byler and Nevin worked on our farm.  Nevin, Emma, and kids:  If you are out there somewhere we still think of you. Hope all is well.

Home of the Kidron Auction.
A line of bonnets at the Kidron Town and Country Store next to the auction house.  The Amish I'm familiar with do not wear printed fabrics.  But there are many different Amish and Mennonite sects with different rules/traditions and apparently someone out there wants these bonnets.  Or maybe they are purchased by tourists.
Waiting cattle at the Kidron Auction.  When I was a kid my dad bought a Shetland pony for me from the Kidron Auction, and later bought some sheep for me. Mom remembers that he sold calves there.
Horses and buggies waiting for drivers to return from the Kidron Auction.  

An Amish man with a horse-drawn rake. I read that Holmes County is 42 percent Amish and that in about 15 years it may be the first majority Amish county in the country. 

The Holmes County Commissioners have their offices in this former jail in Millersburg, Ohio.
The taller building in the middle is the Millersburg Brewing Company in Millersburg, Ohio. It opened in 2012.