Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back Yard Walking in Ohio

It was cool enough this evening, finally, to take a walk on our neighbor's property.

It was a solitary walk.  Hubby's favorite walk is from the couch to the refrigerator.  Unless he can get me to fetch for him.

As you can see, Queen Anne's Lace has taken over the field.  Want to know a little more about my favorite weed and why it is called a "wild carrot?"  Check it out

We can all use a little education.

I love these purple flowers, weeds, whatever they are, but have no clue what they are.

They're right in there with the Queen.

If you are in  Ohio and want to hang with some people who can answer all of your questions about native plants, you should attend the Midwest Native Plant Society Conference.  It is being held at the Bergamo Center in Dayton, Ohio, August 6, 7 & 8.

You can get more information at
I got home just as our festive lights came on.  We like to keep the party going here in Ohio.

That little bit of exercise felt good.  For a reward, I poured myself a gin and tonic.

The tonic is for medicinal purposes.  I hear that it helps malaria.  Just in case.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Queen is Working In Ohio

I went to a palm reader at the flea market a couple of weeks ago.  Now that may not sound like the best idea, but genius can be found in the strangest places.  And the flea is a strange place.

He grabbed my hands, gave a little squeal, and said "Oooo, you were major royalty in a past life!"

The irony didn't escape me.  I'm sitting in a flea market, with the smell of deep fried food wafting through the air and I'm holding hands with a gnome like man. 

"A lot of good it's doing me now," I replied.  He was quick to reassure me that it was all a part of the master plan.  So if I was Cleopatra or some other fine ancient queen, I hope I had a good push up bra like her. 

The girls should always look their best.

Today, I took off the crown and got to work.  My minions seem to have disappeared which requires that I try to make some money on occasion.  Hubby and I had a medical uniform show at Villa Georgetown, in Georgetown, Ohio.

It's a real sophisticated operation.  We pack our two cars with medical uniforms and toodle on down the road. Then we unpack the car and sell, sell, sell.

The employees buy a lot because their employer offers payroll deduction.  They have four paychecks to pay for their purchase. 

God bless corporate America (sometimes.)

We always set up on the front porch of the home.  But we don't always sweat as much.  Have I mentioned that I've been sweating way too much lately?  And now that I know I was a big somebody once, well, it really yanks my chain.

Relying on my queenly dignity, I did my part, without complaint, I might add.

And then we had to pack it all up again and load our cars.

Just another day, another dollar or two and another reason to eat a large bowl of ice cream out of my gold bowl, surrounded by young, muscular slave boys who are fanning me....oops....flashback.

Those were the days.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Trouble Brewing in Little Ohio

This is my brain after too many hours on the internet.

I started down in the bottom left hand corner looking for something.  Not sure what now.  And I got lost somewhere in the middle.

I think I wanted to find a blog directory.  Then I got distracted by Facebook.  Then I looked at social work jobs.  Had a panic attack.  Then I tried to find writing jobs, but I found a recipe I liked.  Now my head hurts.

As you can tell, I don't have an Ohio topic today, unless it's about a local blogger who went beeeeezerk and set fire to her laptop.

My topic for the day is about the elephant in the middle of the room.

This one is outside, but it's hard to find a picture of one sitting in the middle of an actual room.

I've been walking around this elephant for too long.  I don't dust him so it's even worse than you might think.

I am having a blogging melt down.  A "Come to Jesus" meeting with myself.

I have been asking myself "Why?"  Why am I spending so much time blogging?  Why have I decided to drive all around my county and surrounding counties looking for that offbeat place, that quirky old guy, that giant ball of string?

I don't think I've ever used so many question marks in one post!  There, I used an exclamation point.

Here's what I'm getting at and I'm looking to you all, my blogging friends, to provide some insight.  We blog, we take pictures, we comment on other blogs, we try to be creative and witty....and.  This is where my wheels come off.

In reality, the only people who read blogs are other bloggers.  We love each other.  It's one big humongous love fest.  It's pen pals on steroids.  I do love that part of it.  I love hearing from you.  If it wasn't for you, I'd have nothing but emails about penis enlargement or fortunes waiting for me in Nigeria.

The problem is, I'd actually like to make some money as a writer.  I always have.  I've been doing a superior job at procrastinating for 40 years.  Back before the internet, my excuse was, "Who in the world would print the snippy, sarcastic essays of a frustrated Ohio woman?"  Erma Bombeck already had a corner on that market, although I am her darker twin.

I'm throwing in a nature picture just to add some interest.

So I had renewed hope when the internet bloomed from the middle of Al Gore's forehead.   There was writing everywhere.  It just spilled off the monitor.

You didn't need a publisher anymore to get your message out.  My could start your own blog!  And people did in obscene amounts.

People are writing about their new shoes, blind dates, bad in-laws, hang nails, cures for warts...Do I really care?  To be fair, I only follow blogs that speak to me.  If you're on my list, you're my peeps and I'll follow you to the gates of Hell.  Not through the gates.  Just up to the them and then I'm running the other way.

The only people making money are the scam artists who sell us books about blogging or who have their own blogs about blogging.  They tell us how to drive traffic to our blogs, they design new templates for our blogs, they conduct workshops for blogging, and blah, blah, blah.  I have spent countless hours lost in this maze.

Blogging helped me get through my Yellowstone adventure.  I knew you were out there rooting for me.  Ultimately my blog got me in a lot of trouble at work.  It seems that not everyone thinks I'm funny.

I'm asking you all for input before I commit blogger hari kari.

Damn...I accidentally published this post and I'm not done.  Bear with me.

One more thing that gives me a mental wedgie.  Have you been to one of those sites like  I'm not even giving the link because it sucks.  Thousands of sad people write articles so that other sad people can read them and rate them.  If you write ten articles a day and rate another ten articles a day, you can earn 50 cents an article.

It becomes an obsession like any addiction.  Thousands of people sitting at their laptops checking to see if their article has been rated.  Did they make it to number one this week?  Are they sitting on top of the manure pile?  They even have a poetry section.  And all of the poems rhyme.  Shudder.

I haven't decided what to do.  I need a big group hug, then a slap, then a big dish of ice cream with chocolate syrup.  That always makes me feel better.  There's a novel floating around in my brain.  Should I just hunker down and work on that?  Would you all forget about me? 

Oh come the question marks again.  Time for me to go.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tales From the Ohio Flea

Another weekend at Caesar Creek Markets has come and gone.  My scrub store,, (shameless plug) pretty much looked like this all weekend....empty.

Have you ever worked retail or owned a business?  If you have, then send me lots of pity!  Or a large check would be nice.

I can understand why no one was here today.  It is Ohio and the residents were home counting their unemployment money.  For the other 23 hours and 59 minutes, they played corn hole.

Alright, I'm being dramatic.  And in case you live on snob hill, corn hole involves a board with holes, bean bags and beer.  It's a toddler's game on alcohol.  If you want to try it, they sell the gear here.  In every other booth.

I wanted to take a lot of pictures of the side show characters passing by my store, but the angel on one shoulder told me to behave.  "Be tolerant," she said.

She turned her head long enough for me and my little devil to get one shot of the lady in the t-shirt.

Yes, it's a woman...I checked when she turned around.  No bra, late 60's sequined hat, all decked out in her Sunday finest.

Our friends across the way sell remote controlled helicopters and other manly items.  There's always a crowd of men and small boys (same thing) standing there with their mouths open.

I know it's hard to see the helicopter but it's in the upper middle of the picture.

This is one of the baby ones.  The biggest one they have blocks out the sun and knocks my mannequins off the wall.

They also have a Bruce Lee, Ninja thing going on over there.

The highlight of the day was seeing a customer who bought a Coors Light hat made out of the cardboard box.

She paid $10 for it.

Doesn't she look happy?

And wouldn't you know.  You Tube has directions for making one.  Don't bother watching unless you're serious about it.

All in all, it was a typical weekend in an Ohio flea flea market.

One of my customers told me about her sister's "granddaddy seizures."  She meant grand mal.  I didn't say anything.

People say they can get cheaper scrubs at Wal-Marts. (Remember, we add an 's' here in Ohio.)  Then go to freakin Wal-Marts and get out of my store!

I saw tattoos and piercings in places that defy explanation.

I saw mullets and Mohawks.  They are alive and well.

But, sigh, these are my peeps.
Time to close up the circus.

Put away the socks.
Cover the treasures.

So stay tuned until next weekend for more "Tales From the Ohio Flea."

I need a gin and tonic.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

200 Years in Clinton County Ohio

I was going to entertain you with "Tales From the Flea." my place of business on the weekends, but something more important came up.

The Sabina Historical Society, in lovely Sabina, Ohio, is only open one day a month, from 1-3 p.m. and today was the day.  How could I resist?

As I've mentioned before, history is at the bottom of my list of interests.  It actually makes my eyes cross, and I develop narcolepsy.  I've fallen asleep twice just writing this sentence.

But, I have driven past this building for years on my way to visit my mother who is a resident of Autumn Years Nursing Home which is right down the street.  And, my goal is to visit places that it seems no one else visits, so here goes. 

O.K., class, what was this building originally?  Who said a gas station?  That's right little Billy, this was once a Sinclair Gas station with a dinosaur and everything.  Then it became a bank and ten years ago, the historical society moved in.

No, you can't do a drive through.  You have to get out of the car. 

While you're gazing down the main street of Sabina, let me give you the basics.  Sabina, Ohio, is in Clinton County.  The 2000 census counted 2,780 hearty souls here.  Rumor has it that this number will go down after the 2010 census.

The median family income was $35,795 at that time and 12.9% of the residents lived below poverty level. I'm not thinking these figures have improved any.

That's enough.  The town is small and most people are poor.  Let's go inside.

Sabina has an elementary school, but like most small towns in Ohio, it consolidated years back.  The local students have to leave town to attend middle school and high school.  When that happened, all of the high school trophies were left without a home.

The historical society took the trophies and the display case.

 People have donated cheer leading outfits and letter jackets. 

Somebody was cleaning out the attic I'm thinking.

A local resident made this doll house and donated it.

Look at the detail...a little quilt, a tiny dressing mirror, itsy bitsy pictures....who am I kidding?

Why would anyone take several years of their life to do this?  I do believe you can visit historical homes where the real items are in adult size.  You don't need a magnifying glass to look at them.

Ahhhh, the mystery of the human psyche.

This toilet plunger looking thing was used for washing clothes.

Thank God for washing machines.

And yikes, this was used  to curl hair.

Dr. Frankenstein must have had something to do with this.

Then I found out that this is Clinton County Ohio's bicentennial year.  I need to get out more.

I have been seeing these quilt designs on local barns.  My little brain hadn't made the connection that something was up.

There are 54 of these in the county. 

I found a few on the way home.

Why didn't I get out of the car to take a better picture?

It's 94 degrees and if I get out of the car and walk onto someone's property, I'll either get shot or I'll have to talk to the local farmer while I melt into a little puddle.

I've sweat enough for this blog.

There was one thing I had to clear up with Sharon Roberts, the President of the Sabina Historical Society, who was gracious enough to spend time with me.  (I was the only person there.)

Why, oh why is Sabina the Eden of Ohio?

I liked her answer.  She said that at one time, around 1810, the area was a swamp.  When the swamp was drained, or whatever you do to get rid of one, crops grew like crazy.  The ground was mega fertile.

And then, I just had to ask her about Eugene,  a local legend.  I do have the brain of a 12 year old boy.  She gave me reams of articles but I actually found a YouTube video that you have to watch.  It has to do with an embalmed body that was on display in town for many years.  Fast forward 5 minutes into the newscast.  You'll love it and I know you don't have anything better to do.

If you want any brochures about the Bicentennial or the barn quilts, let me know.  Sharon dumped a pile of them on me. 

Tomorrow...I promise..."Tales From the Flea."  And, there will be no more sweating for this blog

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday in an Ohio Cemetery

My blogger friend, Scott at "Finding Another View,", has a Phun Phriday challenge that I can tackle.  He wants photos of anything phun, weird or creative.  You get it don't you?  Photography....phun?  Those shutterbugs.  They are a phunny bunch.

As it happens, today I did something phun and weird in my little part of Ohio.  Creative?  More like phoolish.  O.K., I'll stop that.

Even though it is 100 degrees outside, I was willing to walk in the woods, but then I saw this on my patio.

I wasn't about to put a ruler next to this monster to impress you with its span.  Let's just say that my size nine shoe wasn't big enough to cover it.

Seriously.  Sort of.  Anyway, I realized that fighting my way through the woods could put me in contact with one of these.  It could ride home in my hair.

Shoot, I could ride home on it.

So, I did the wise thing and went for a walk in Sugar Grove Cemetery in Wilmington, Ohio. 

I'm just inside the gate, and I'm already sweating like a pig.  No, pigs don't sweat.  How about sweating like a pack of menopausal women in July?  I hope that paints the picture.

I raised my boys in Wilmington, Ohio.  When they were little guys, I would take them for walks in this cemetery. 

What?  It wasn't creepy.  They loved it.

There are cannons in the cemetery.  Every little boy wants to play with a cannon.  Hang on, but I'm going to give you a little history lesson, and this is from someone who flunked History 100 twice in college.

This is Soldier's Point, a triangular section of 60 graves that honor Civil War veterans who had no other means for burial.  In 1927, the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) erected this monument and flanked it with two cannons made in 1861.

To back up a little, Sugar Grove Cemetery was organized in 1857 by a group of Clinton County residents who saw the need for a centralized burial location.  People were just planting their loved ones willy-nilly all over the place before the founding fathers put their heads together.  They started with 22.5 acres but after additional purchases, it now covers 110 acres. 

Cemeteries are interesting places.  I'll prove it to you on my little tour.

The smallest section of the cemetery is reserved for pets.  There are 144 dogs, cats and a skunk buried here.

 Don't pack up Fluffy.  There aren't any spots left.

I have no idea why the cross is in the tree, but it's interesting, right?
This is the Charity Section, established in the 1860s for transients...people who died with no identification.

They have numbers.

Remember to keep your I.D. on you or you could be number 108.

On a serious note, I was sad to see how shabby the cemetery is looking.  Wilmington has had a huge loss of jobs, and I'm sure there have been cuts.

This monument is surrounded by a branch.

All of the headstones seemed crooked or something.  Don't these seem sort of crunched together?

 And nothing had been mowed or trimmed.

Don't you think that when a tree has one branch left, it should be cut down?

This is a yucca plant gone wild.

I'm going back with pruning sheers.

Bear with me on this.  It's noon, it's 100 degrees, and I have sweat pouring in my eyes.  Mascara is running down my cheeks.  I smell like I should be a permanent resident here.

I know you can't really see it, but that black spot on a headstone is a vulture. 

I swear.  I tried to get closer for the sake of my art, but it flew away.  I think it was looking for me.  I think I smelled too bad.

O.K., Scott.  Is this phun enough for you?

I did go home and shower just in case the vulture followed me.  You all can stop holding your noses.

Check in tomorrow for Tales From the Flea.  I'll be working at my scrub store at Caesar Creek Markets and there are always photo ops. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bean Bag Chairs Made in Ohio

Today, I turned left at the end of my driveway, drove about five miles and there it sits...Bean Bag City. 

Can you believe that bean bag chairs are made in Ohio?  I love to say this..."Made in Ohio."

Bob and Sandy Rowland have been in the bean bag business since 1975.  They started out in Chicago as a relatively normal young couple.  Bob was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and when he got out, they stayed in the area.

Bob's passion for sailing led him to make sail boat covers in their spare bedroom.  Sandy tells the story as if everyone's husband is doing the same thing.  This is where normal stops and the adventure begins.  When Sandy found out she was pregnant, she suggested that they might need the bedroom for the infant.  Bob decided that he should quit his day job to "catch up" on all the sail boat covers people had ordered.  He could always find another job when he finished.

So Sandy got her bedroom and Bob started his business.  He never had to look for another job again.  The bean bag chairs were a logical addition to the sail boat covers...same materials, same equipment, same process.

Bob and Sandy started out with a retail store in Fairborn, Ohio.  Around 1983, they moved to their current location in Spring Valley, Ohio.

You know what this building used to be.  It was a country school.  I started having flashbacks to junior high and a very similar building.  Shudder.  But at least it doesn't smell like a school anymore.

Right next door is another school building that has been converted to apartments and a senior center.

They serve lunches like sloppy joes and salmon patties, and I will be there soon to report. 

Now, back to bean bags.
I asked Sandy if I could take her picture in one of the chairs.  She flopped jumped at the opportunity.  I don't think she sits down much.

Did I mention that she started out as a Spanish teacher?  Let's see.  I started out as a social worker and now I sell medical uniforms.  What happened here?  I like to think we're both having more fun now.  At least that's what I repeat to myself every day.

You have to see these bean bag chairs. I'm jumping up and down here to get your attention.  These are perfect presents!  They have dozens of colors and you can get them monogrammed.

Poking out at the bottom left is an Ohio State bean bag chair.  How cool for your Buckeye theme room...yes?  Have you noticed that the new generation of bean bag chairs have backs like recliners?  They also have dog beds.

Oh heck.  Just go their website for the chairs and for sail boat covers.

Before I go sit in a tub of ice to get through another hot, humid Ohio day, let's talk quality and made in Ohio.  These products are quality.  They are made out of quality material and they have quality stitching.  I can't say quality enough, although I think I have. They will last years and years.  You have to pay for the good stuff.  Don't expect two for $19.99. Some of their chairs are being used in the Harvard Law School library and the Guggenheim Art Museum.

Finally....THEY ARE MADE IN OHIO!  Bob and Sandy take pride in their product.  They will talk to you on the telephone.  They employ ten people.  They actually make a product in this country.

Whew!  It gets tiring on this soap box.  Just keep them in mind if you need a practical yet unique gift.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ohio is Closing Store by Store

I have admitted to living in the country, outside of Xenia, Ohio.  Now, let's learn to pronounce Xenia.  It is ZEEN-ya.  Not to be confused with Xena Princess Warrior.  We have already heard the joke so stop before you even go there.

There are approximately 24,000 people in Xenia and the median income per household is $34.000.  Why does anyone live there?  It's obvious.  No one can afford to move.

But businesses move out of town all the time.  I guess I can't blame them.  No customers, no profit.

If you live in a town this size or drive through one, you know that there is usually an old grocery store in the center of town.  Or an empty building where it used to be.

Fulmer grocery store, in the heart of Xenia, Ohio, will be one of those buildings by the end of July.  I have mixed emotions about this. 

My sad feelings are for the employees, many of whom have been there for years, and for the senior citizens who are able to walk there from several apartment buildings in the area.

Flip the emotion coin and part of me doesn't care.  The building is run down and the prices are high.  To be honest, the only reason I went in there was because...wait for it....the LIQUOR STORE is in Fulmer.  Of course I only buy alcohol for those wild parties I throw cooking purposes so I'll panic survive. 

So, the building will be empty.  Probably forever.  Xenia will have another downtown eyesore. 

Do you have one of these in your town?  The empty Wal-Mart?  This building will be empty forever too.

There are a couple of stores left in this strip mall.  Gotta have the Dollar Tree.

Kroger is at the opposite end of the strip mall.  We love our Kroger in Ohio.  The double coupons, the 10 for $10 sales, the friendly staff....

My bagger yesterday told me that he treats his wife like a queen.  He takes her to White Castle.  We have funny guys in Ohio.

Rumor has it that Kroger plans on building by the new super Wal-Mart across the road.  And then there will be another empty strip mall and then everyone can move farther out again and then there will be another empty...oh heck.  Stop me.

This is the vacant video store at the entrance to the  Kroger strip mall.  Vacant, abandoned, hollow, for lease, no one get the idea.

Just to reassure you, Xenia is not totally empty.  We still have fast food and convenience stores.  No matter how bad it gets in Ohio, we have to get our calories, lottery tickets, cigarettes and beer. 

One more thing.  In case you plan on moving to Ohio, you need to learn two things.  Kroger is Krogers and Wal-Mart is Wal-Marts. We like plurals. 

You don't want people to think you talk funny, do you?  Oh yea, your car is your veeehicle.  Heavy on the veeee.  You are now better prepared for life in Ohio.  Pack your bags.  We have space for you.