Tag Archives: Bluffton Icon

Six inches of melting snow + warmer weather + 3 inches of rain = December flood

Well. Let’s just say it’s been a pretty weird week, given that we’re just a few days from Christmas.

The deluge began on Friday, the day before the first day of winter. Except for a few moments, it continued into early Sunday, the day after the first day of winter. One week earlier, we’d been digging of first one snowfall, and then another. So not only did we have the onslaught of 3 inches of rain but we had 6+ inches of melting snow.

And what happens with so much water? Flooding. Odd that we should have a flood on the first day of winter, but this is Ohio, land-of-the-weird-weather.

10500-saturday-night-rain-continues-and-riley-risesBy Saturday evening, we could see the lights of Bluffton University’s library reflecting on the green space directly across the creek from our house. That’s usually the first hint that the creek has spilled over its northern bank. Fortunately, we live on the high side of the creek.

My husband went out late Saturday, intending to photograph and videotape images for our website, The Bluffton Icon (www.blufftonicon.com). By the time he returned, the local police department had begun encouraging those in low-lying areas to move to higher ground. Memories of the August 2007 flood were still lingering.

By morning, streets were closed due to high water, and the high school football field was waist-high in water. But even by then, the water had begun to recede. By all accounts, we were pretty lucky, although those with soggy basements might not share that feeling.

1222-9.m.sundayAnd now? Just 24 hours after the water had begun to recede, the temps have dropped from 48 degrees to 30, and a few flurries have reminded us that we’ll likely see snow before we see that much rain again.

But it’s nearly Christmas, and thanks to the winter solstice, the days are getting longer. It’s the beginning of the end….of winter’s darkness, at least.

*For a video of the flooding, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPZ49fOaDag

(Photos and video courtesy of the Bluffton Icon.)


THE BOOK and why it interferes with blogging

Seems I’ve been a bit lax in the blogging arena lately. But hey, I’ve had some good reasons — not the least of which nvolved a confrontation with a dog who latched onto my finger and left his mark….along with three stitches. It’s hard to type with stitches in a finger. Believe me. Don’t try it. It isn’t pretty.

Then there’s that course I agreed to teach, which involves the requisite class prep, grading, etc. Not to mention the one-hour drive to and from the location. But hey, it’s fun so who’s complaining? It just takes time.

But that’s not all. There was THE BOOK. It has basically governed our lives for the past year. Or more. I forget. All I know is that every other conversation involved the production of said book. First, there were the conversations about which stories should be included…which individuals should be invited to contribute…how many years it should span. You get the picture. Well, maybe you don’t.

Technically, this is not MY BOOK. I did contribute one chapter, but for the most part I was just the trusty sidekick, the Tonto to my husband’s Lone Ranger.

It’s like writing a research paper. You settle on a topic, gather your material, create an outline, write a draft…then another draft…then the final version. Then the fun starts. The proofreading….the changes…more proofreading…conversations with the publisher…and so on. What I didn’t realize until it was too late was just how much such a project would literally invade our lives.

Turns out the last few months are the most intense. And then…bam! Andre Swartley, publisher, Workplay Publishing, pops in to deliver the author’s proof and suddenly there is a huge release of pressure. THE BOOK is done and it’s time to plan the release party.

That’s when the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan. We couldn’t agree on a date. The first date coincided with a homecoming parade. Which in a small town is a big deal. The second choice coincided with another homecoming event. The third choice was fine with one person, but the other disliked something about it. I forget what.

Finally, we settled on a date. Then the discussion began all over again. It was like planning your first child’s first birthday party. Sort of.

We — the Lone Ranger and Tonto — hope you’ll all join us to celebrate the release of the book “A Good Place To Miss — Bluffton Stories 1900 to 1975”, from 6:30-8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at Common Grounds Coffeehouse and Cafe, 101 N. Main St., Bluffton. Free Icon coffee and cookies for all!

Oh and by the way, this party is also the second anniversary of the official launching of The Bluffton Icon (www.blufftonicon.com), our free, online news source.

Can’t wait to see you! Just don’t ask the author, Fred Steiner, about the next book. Please.

Finpex 2011 beckons the family philatelist

I have a funny feeling I know what my husband will be doing this weekend. Not that he’s mentioned this…or at least not outright. He posted a story on The Bluffton Icon (www.blufftonicon.com) about Fort Findlay Stamp and Postcard Club’s annual stamp show — Finpex 2011.

Okay, here’s one thing I’ve learned in 30 years of marriage to this guy. See, he’s a philatelist, and philatelists are all alike. They band together. In our case, they live beside each other. A few weeks ago after church, he informed me that he was going next door to play. Okay, that’s not exactly how he put it. It was probably more along the lines of “I’m going over to look at Bill’s (Swartley) stamp collection.” I noticed he didn’t take any of his own along. This can mean only one thing. There will be another Sunday afternoon “sharing of the stamp collections.”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate stamps. I do. Especially when I need to send a letter. And…okay…long ago, I had a stamp collection. My cousins — who lived in Japan — sent me a stamp album. It was beautiful — red with some Japanese characters on the front, and inside the sticky pages were covered with plastic that you peeled back to stick the stamps in place. They must have sent me some stamps, because the album had some very pretty, shiny turquoise stamps…with Japanese characters. I’m embarrassed to admit I never got more than a few pages filled and I had no clue what I was doing. I liked pretty stamps. Still do.

When Fred told me about his stamp collection, I thought, “aha — another common interest”. But then he showed me his. Oh my. This guy was serious. He had stamps and stamps and stamps. They were actually worth more than they cost. Compared to him, I was just an amateur philatelist. But I’d already told him about my so-called collection, so I had to show it to him. He was kind. He didn’t laugh…or at least, not too loud.

Over the years, he has continued to collect stamps, attending stamp shows periodically and usually coming home with some treasured item of great value. I ooh and aah over his purchases and pretend that I know exactly what they are. He’s not fooled.

Because I know he collects foreign stamps, when family members travel to other countries and ask what they can bring back, I tell them to bring him some stamps — they don’t take up much room in an already full suitcase.

When daughter number 2 comes to visit, the two of them usually spend some time on one of their favorite past times — soaking stamps. The routine goes like this:

  • Fill large bowl with warm water
  • Dump stamps in bowl and let them soak
  • Remove stamps and carefully remove the remainders of envelopes from the backs
  • Place each stamp on a cookie sheet to dry

I don’t know what they do after this…I usually fall asleep in the middle of the process. But in the morning, I see cookie sheets filled with stamps, lined up side by side, and I make the usual snide comments. They roll their eyes at me.

So anyway, there’s this stamp show in Findlay this weekend. Finpex 2011. If you’re a philatelist, it’s the place to be.

Not a philatelist? Not to worry. Maybe you’re a numismatist. They frequent coin shows. Guess who you’ll see at those, too?

Remembering Phyllis

Saturday morning as I rounded the indoor track and dreamed of being on the outdoor track, a vision popped into my mind…one of Phyllis Ehrman Moser, about 12 years ago. We often met at the track. While I ran, she walked. But boy, could that woman walk…long legs striding, arms swinging in the true, graceful form of a race walker.

She once told me about participating in a race some time after she’d undergone successful treatment of breast cancer. She proudly wore her race shirt for years — it was a reminder of what she’d been through. In the winters, she’d disappear from the scene but not from walking. Her basement became her indoor track and she’d do laps around and around and around. When the snow and ice cleared, she was back on the track — a tall form in a white sweatsuit, with a bright smile and cheery wave.

One morning I watched as she came up the road and through the parking lot to the track. She stopped periodically, bending over to pick up something. When she got closer, I realized she was carrying a plastic bag. She’d decided to do her part in keeping Bluffton clean by picking up trash while she walked. I often wondered how many bags she managed to fill over the years.

Memories of her carried me through Saturday’s run, but as the day went on, I forgot about it. Later that night, when we returned from a trip out of town, my husband — as usual — checked his Bluffton Icon inbox for any news to report. Phyllis Ehrman Moser had died at 6:20 a.m., less than two hours before I’d started my run. Wonder what prompted my thoughts of her?

Phyllis was my voice teacher in college. I loved my lessons with her — she was so cheerful, so encouraging, and so willing to let me sing what appealed to me. She had a silly side that I think she only shared with certain people — maybe sensing when another person shared that need for some silliness.

And she could sing. Wow. Could she sing. I once asked her how many times she’d sung in the Messiah, and she thought it must be over 50 years. She must have known it from memory.

The last time I saw Phyllis, I’m pretty sure she didn’t recognize me, but that didn’t matter. Her face lit up with that beautiful, bright, infectious smile. I miss her already.

Risky business pays off

In the nearly 30 years that we’ve been married, we haven’t taken many risks, except for buying three houses and having two children. For the most part, we’re cautious — probably overcautious — he more than I. Blame that on the fact that I’m the only girl in a family of four older brothers — they taught me to do things that our parents never knew about until after the fact.

Then, a little more than a year ago, we faced a risky situation that put us both into a little tizzy. For the first time in our married life, we were facing life on a single income — except for some freelance income that helped to pad our panicky selves. We were no different from all those others who had been laid off or fired from jobs, except maybe for the fact that we’d always been cautious. Cheap. Thrifty might be a better word.

In our conversations following the incident that set us back to one income (mine), we talked about what options we had. There were, of course, the usual unemployment checks that would boost things for awhile. But those would eventually end. So we began to brainstorm about how we could combine our skills to start our own business. In the beginning, we saw it as a way for us to avoid the dangers of unemployment — the depression, the fears, the anger, the tension.

In a way, it was almost more of a therapeutic plan but as it began to take shape, we consulted with experts on small business and slowly began to realize that it just might work. With the help of Ryan Lowry, our technology guru, we set about designing a website that would allow us to do exactly what we love — community journalism. Small-town stuff. No national news. A few false starts and we were on our way to going live.

We knew we didn’t want this to cost our readers.  We wanted to keep them out of the financial equation. With two daughters of 20-something ages, and with some students and interns-to-be who are connected at the hip to the Internet, this product had to easily accessible and interesting to all ages.

That’s what led us to the name. As has been our habit for the past 30 years, we talk. A lot. In the car, over dinner, on walks, with our kids, without our kids, with our siblings. In fact, we were in the car driving somewhere, when the perfect name came up. Fred was listing the various names that friends and family had suggested. None sounded quite right. I suddenly realized there was a computer-related word that was perfect. Icon.

Thus the name was born. The Bluffton Icon. Perfect. Short and easy to spell. Its simplicity reeked of technology.

And so, we began The Bluffton Icon. Slowly, Fred and Ryan worked through the technical stuff until we were ready to go live. The date was September 22, 2009. We had seven viewers and while we don’t know who they were, we have our suspicions. I have four siblings, he has two, and there’s that guy out in Reston, VA., who is probably our most loyal supporter, next to our two daughters, Lindsay and Anne. Oh, that’s nine.

Like Jack’s Beanstalk, the Icon grew and grew to today’s version. We owe so much to our advertisers who believed in what we proposed to them. Then there are our readers, our constant supporters. It’s a thrill to overhear someone say they read it on the Icon. We’re heading averaging 500 views a day and we compute that to be about 1,200 unique individuals over the period of a month. 50 states. Viewer on every continent except Antarctica and we’d love to talk with someone there.

It’s difficult to express our thanks to our supporters, but we’re going to try. We’ve planned a one-year celebration from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22, at Common Grounds, 121 S. Main St., Bluffton. We’ll have Bluffton Icon coffee (courtesy of Common Grounds), Bluffton Icon popcorn from Shirley’s, and cake and cupcakes from Little Black Apron. Even giveaways. And lots of conversation.

Hope to see you there!

Camper portapots? Dick the Bruiser? Spike Jones? The real meaning behind those search terms…

I find it immensely amusing to see what search terms have led readers to my blog. Take “camper portapots” for example. I’m sure the last thing this person expected to pop up in his or her Google search was my blog. But find it he did and for some reason he actually opened it up. I thought that was kind of funny, but I’m probably the only person who cares. You probably think that’s pretty boring.

There are only two people I know who enjoy this kind of thing other than myself. My husband and Ryan Lowry. Like the buzzards hovering over the woods behind our house, the two of them are glued to the stats on the Bluffton Icon, our online news source.  Oh yeah, my brother and sister-in-law watch the stats on their blogs too. Does that mean we have big egos or are just easily entertained by simple things?

I prefer to think it’s the latter.

Here are some of the other search terms that have led readers to my blog. I wonder what they thought of it? I wish they’d make comments so I know who they are.

  • Coral Naylor Florida (C is my co-worker and she does NOT live in Florida, so apparently there are other Corals)
  • Tiny campers, fixed-up campers, vintage campers Craigslist (etc.)
  • creating room with skewed perspective (is this some kind of feng shui?)
  • Mary Pink Mary blog
  • hair cut short
  • how not to have a skewed up thinking
  • Scott Hamilton Schwachman diamond (?)
  • Scott Hamilton skate to Spike Jones (see a thread here?)
  • Spike Jone (sic) typewriter wong (sic) (??)
  • Dick the Bruiser vs. the Sheik story
  • Pete and Kim Suter, Shannon (Pete teaches at Bluffton University, where I work, and he and Kim own the Shannon Theater and Shirley’s Popcorn)
  • boredom in a small town (this is a recurring search term)

And of course, my all-time favorite….

  • Truckin bozo Dale Sommers

Okay, I understand where some of these terms come from and I understand why people would do searches with them. As for the others…gotta say I’m flummoxed. If you can figure it out, fill me in.