Reflections In Lights And Death

A man I know passed away last week after bravely battling a terrible illness. I met Tom in 2020 when I joined the local Educational Service Center board and we became colleagues.

He was always quick with a joke, eager to put a newcomer at ease, and a smart man who was respectful of others. He liked to travel and learn. His wife Fannie also attends our meetings and is a kind soul. The two seemed perfectly matched.

But that’s the end of what I knew about Tom till I read his obituary and learned things that made me wish I had asked more questions while he was living.

Tom was a fan of lifelong learning, a Scout leader and a Sunday school teacher. He was a longtime Civil War reenactor and lifelong history buff. He enjoyed the outdoors, gardening and yard sales. Tom was an inventor who made an ice cream machine that operated by pedaling a bicycle. He even built a 1965 Plymouth from the frame up.

I always liked Tom but had no idea he was such a character. Old photos in a slideshow projected on the wall played while we waited in line. If I didn’t know it by then, it was clear that Tom packed as much living into his life as he possibly could.

I had a newfound appreciation for Tom’s zest for life.

It made me a little sad to think of all the great learning I missed out on because I knew none of this. Of course, when getting to know someone, you don’t know what you don’t know and have to rely on them to give you some clues. I suppose that’s why we often learn so much about people from their obituaries.

As I looked at Tom’s wife and son, their family and so many friends lined up to say farewell, I started thinking about how Tom left a mark on us all. Every person there knew Tom for a different reason and everyone had different stories to share. Every one of us is richer for knowing him.

Later in the evening I strolled through the holiday lights at the Gallipolis City Park and stopped to visit the war memorial. I’m typically so taken with the statue above me that I fail to notice much else.

But on this night I saw the face of the soldier reflected in the marble wall of names below. It made me pause.

It occurred to me that something of Tom is reflected in everyone fortunate to know him. It’s nice to think that humans can live on through the influences we have on others. I won’t soon forget Tom or the lessons learned during the brief time we knew each other.

One of those lessons is to do a better job listening and paying attention so I can learn something I never knew I wanted to know.

Smile For The Camera

Scout hates cameras and honestly, cameras don’t like him either. His rich, shiny black coat practically absorbs light and he tends to be blurry in most pictures. My best chance at good photos involves catching him sitting still in natural light.

This week I broke down and upgraded the iPhone I hated to one that seems pretty nice so far. The true test of the camera is whether it can capture Scout.

Miraculously, I got a couple of good images on the first try. Much to his chagrin, of course! The above picture is what happened when I told him to smile. The juxtaposition between Scout’s frown and the smiley snowman cracks me up.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep trying!

Mall Photos

The nice thing about smart phones is having a camera in your pocket wherever you go. This enables my compulsion to make pictures of random things all day long.

Case in point: these images snapped at a mall in Pittsburgh a few months ago.

This trio of dresses caught my eye in a store window.

Then there was this amazing Gucci wallpaper. It would make a great accent wall in the dream library that I’m designing in my mind.

And this fun little message.

Running around documenting the common and the unusual things I see every day is a part of who I am. It isn’t necessary having encouragement to be more of who I am but it certainly was a fun affirmation.

I had forgotten all about my stroll through the Ross Park Mall that rainy evening so finding these random snaps was a fun treat!

This Day

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” – Sarah Addison Allen

We are expecting rain here in southern Ohio today. I intend to use this day for rest and some much needed catch up work around the house. If I play my cards right, I’ll make time to cook something tasty and nutritious for this week’s lunches as well.

Not every day can be for adventures. Sometimes we have to stay home and recover – or better yet – prepare for what’s ahead! Enjoy this day, friends!

Alley View

Viewing a street from an adjacent alley is one of my favorite things to do. This alley runs behind the Hotel Millersburg in Millersburg, Ohio. This quaint town is the county seat of Holmes County in the heart of Amish Country.

I enjoyed this small town with its antique stores, tree lined streets and interesting old buildings. In the above picture you get a partial view of the Holmes County Courthouse, the crown jewel of the downtown.

It was built in 1880 and is grand. Here’s another view.

The clock tower is great

As much as I enjoy seeing the entire building, I like that alley view a lot. It’s just a glimpse but enough to make you want to see more. That’s the thing about adventuring – it gives you a peek of what’s out there and a reason to go explore!

The Church of Saint John the Baptist Episcopal

This church was a bit of a mystery to me when I found it back in 2021. The Church of Saint John the Baptist Episcopal is located on a pleasant street in Dunkirk, New York. I stumbled upon it while exploring the area around Jamestown in 2021.

I had gone to Jamestown for the Lucille Ball attractions and was out planning to see other things including a statue to the native son who created comic strip canine Marmaduke.

The slate roof of the church drew me right in and down Fourth Street for a closer look.

The front doors are gorgeous and inviting, adorned with festive Easter wreaths.

And yet, look up to find a broken window directly above the doors. Did they not know the window had been broken?

The church seemed well cared for with its pretty wreaths and some nicely tended spring bulbs in the side yard. They had Easter services just a couple of weeks before my visit. Surely someone would have been by to notice and at least board up the window.

I’m dying to known what’s going on there now but their Facebook page hasn’t been updated in over a year. I’ll have to cruise by if I’m ever in the neighborhood. Then again, maybe I’m better off not knowing. I may not like the answer.

Grand old churches like this one are at risk in towns and neighborhoods across the nation. Between growing maintenance and operations costs, aging congregations and the lure of big churches with community center type facilities, it’s hard for a simple House of the Lord to keep going. I see them all the time empty, run down, and often sold for cheap housing. It’s a sad fate but a very real one.

This church reminded me of a sweet old grandmother with a lot of life left in her, much wisdom and warm hugs to share despite a prominent broken tooth.

Here’s hoping she is getting the care she deserves and that the doors are still open for those who need a place to go for spiritual guidance.