Tag Archives: United States

Peacefulness of early morning runs marred by thoughts of violence

In 35 years of running, my early morning runs have provided me with much time to think, to pray, to meditate, to plan, to talk (and not just when I have a running partner because who better than oneself to talk to), and to completely lose myself in memories.

Tuesday morning’s run was in many ways like every other run. The early morning quiet was welcome, broken only by birdsong and the occasional car passing by. But the peacefulness of the early hour was marred by conflicting thoughts of sorrow and anger as memories of the horrendous bombing at runnersMonday’s Boston marathon.

As I ran, I reflected on all of the finish lines I’ve crossed, happy in knowing that my family was often waiting to cheer me on. It never once occurred to me that I could be putting them in danger, that there might be someone angry enough at the world that he or she would set off a bomb at a road race.

Even as this thought crossed my mind, a distant rumble of thunder broke into my reverie, sending chills down my spine. It reminded me of the old lady in “Under the Tuscan Sun” who agrees to sell her crumbling villa when a bird defecates on Frances’ head. “Le signe, le signe!”

If that thunder clap was a sign, it was perhaps more a sign that we all need to remember that we Americans aren’t the only ones facing acts of violence every day. Even as the bombs exploded in Boston, there were about 20 separate car bombings in Iraq that killed at least 37 and injured more than 140 people, all in one day.

I’m reminded of a statement by a cousin — “We are not alone in our grief.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/world/middleeast/attackers-strike-across-iraq-as-elections-approach.html

In the weeks to come, those early morning runs will serve to remind me of our shared grief the world over. I’m sure I won’t be alone in my thoughts.race

 

 

 

 

Tschantz-Pannabecker “Friendship Quilt” on display at Sonnenberg

Much as I hate to admit this, I guess I’ve inherited yet another trait from my parents –difficulty parting with “things”. Over the past few years, though, I’ve begun to whittle away at this extra stuff…piece by piece.

When my mom moved from her condo to an independent living apartment, she was forced to downsize her belongings. A few years earlier, she’d created a written inventory of what she owned, listing the provenance of antiques and other valuable items.

She provided us with the list and asked us to indicate which items we’d most like to have. Amazingly, between my four brothers and I, and our spouses, children and grands, there were no real arguments over who would get what. Each of the grandkids seemed to have a special affinity for specific items, often stemming from some childhood incident involving Grandma and/or Grandpa.

There were, of course, some family heirlooms, including some quilts, several of which most of us had rarely — if ever — seen, and some of which we didn’t know even existed.

One of the quilts had belonged to our paternal grandmother, Sylvia Tschantz Pannabecker, who taught school at Boone School in Wayne County, Ohio. The hand-embroidered “Friendship Quilt” was made by her students in the class of 1912-1914. In 1931, it was presented to my grandmother when she and Grandpa and their family returned to the United States while on furlough from their mission post in China.

About a year ago, a board member of the Kidron (Ohio) Sonnenberg Heritage Center, asked whether I would be willing to lend the quilt to them for one of their exhibits.

Like my dad, I don’t make decisions quickly or easily, and turning over something of such sentimental value brought out a part of me that I didn’t recognize. I needed to know whether it would be protected from harsh lighting, secure, and most of all, that it would someday be returned — intact — to my family.

Because truthfully, I didn’t see it as mine to give away. My grandmother had kept it safe for all those years before turning it over to my parents. Mother had eventually hung it for display so that others could enjoy it.

Turning it over to virtual strangers wasn’t easy. I consulted with my sister-in-law, director of Kauffman Museum in North Newton, Kansas, because she has expertise with similar exhibits and dealing with donors/lenders of family heirlooms.

Suddenly, I realized I was making this way too hard on myself. If a quilt wasn’t made to be used on a bed, then there must be another reason for its existence. Like a painting or sculpture, this quilt is a piece of art — one that deserves to be enjoyed by many.

And so today, my grandmother’s quilt, is hanging on display at the Sonnenberg. If you’re in the Kidron area, stop by to enjoy this piece of Tschantz-Pannabecker history.

Finding some beauty in a dreary Ohio January

Ohio is experiencing yet another random January. Snow one day, rain  the next; 10 degrees one day, 50 the next. And so it goes. Typical Ohio weather.

Every year, people comment on how strange this winter is and the usual contention is that it is all the result of global warming — which is no doubt true. Those of us who are at least 40 years old will swear that we had a LOT more snow in our childhoods than our children have ever seen.

I distinctly remember clearly 29 years ago, just six years after New Jersey scientist Wally Broecker coined the term, “global warming”. It was early February, because daughter number one was just one month old. She and I ventured out for a walk on a sunny, balmy day — I wore shorts and a t-shirt, she in a light sleeper and tucked into the Snugli.

The truth is, Ohio winters can be very dreary. Sunny days are few and far between. SAD is a common phenomena, so the sale of “happy lights” increases in winter time. In fact, as I write this, my SunTouch is cranked up on high.

Surprisingly, I woke up this morning to sun shining in the window. Five hours later, it has disappeared behind a bank of clouds threatening us with some sort of precipitation. But for the few hours that the sun was out, it was glorious.

Sunday is a day off from running, so I opted for a walk through Motter Metropark, a small park on the edge of town. It’s about two miles in length, and rambles through former farmland and a small woods.

The higher parts of the trail are frozen but at the lower end, one has to walk carefully, hopping chunks of dirt to avoid wet feet — a thin layer of ice covers large areas of standing water.

It occurred to me that although we often view this time of year as dreary with little color dotting the landscape, it’s also good to remember that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” My friend, Joanne, commented that she has snowdrops blooming. Though I didn’t see any signs of those tiny white flowers, I decided to focus on what signs of beauty dot our landscape. Here are some examples:

The down-to-earthiness of an extraordinary woman — Helen James Minck

Some individuals walk into our lives quietly and unobtrusively, yet leave such an indelible impression that we feel their presence long after they are gone. Helen James Minck was one of those individuals. When Helen died on Christmas Eve, I felt saddened that I’d never get to hear more of her stories, to hear her laugh. Yet her face and voice are so clear, so present.

I met Helen about five or six years ago when she and her husband, Richard Minck, invited us to join them for dinner at the Shawnee Country Club in Lima. My husband and I had known Dick, a  Bluffton native, for many years. In fact, he’d been my landlord when I’d lived in a tiny garage apartment at the back of his property.

On that first meeting, we met at their condo that bordered the golf course. Having never met Helen, I was nervous. In the first few minutes, she put me at ease. My first impression of Helen was that she was a lovely, sweet woman who dearly loved to listen to her husband’s stories of their extensive art collection. It wasn’t until later when we were sitting in the club dining room, which overlooks the golf course, that I began to understand just how accomplished this woman was.

Dick and Helen Minck

We happened to be seated at a window from which we could see some young high school golfers teeing off. I knew little about golf, but it was clear that Helen was an old pro. Until back problems prevented her from participating in one of her favorite sports, she’d been a champion golfer at Lakewood Golf Course in St. Petersburg, Fla., where she’d lived when not summering in Lima. Without a hint of snobbery, she began telling stories about golfing with so and so. But it was her mention of “Chi Chi” that caught my attention.

Chi Chi? Rodriguez? Yep, that’s the one. She grinned and recounted a story he’d told. I’ve forgotten it, probably because my brain stuck on the name. She really did know her golf.

The old feature writer in me surfaced and I began asking questions. Pretty soon she’d told me about growing up first in Toledo, then Lima, before heading to Wellesley College, a women-only school in Massachusetts. Then she really surprised me — she had majored in physics — one of only two physics majors in the class of 1941. I remember her saying she loved the sciences and math.

By that point, I was pretty much awestruck, although not by any fault of Helen’s. Her stories were just that. Stories of a life lived fully.

On the wall in my office/sewing room, is a mounted photo that Dick Minck took while he and Helen were traveling. It’s a scene of a fishing village in Alaska, I think. Dick will probably tell me I’m wrong. No matter. If I look at the photo just right, I can imagine Helen standing on the old pier, ready to tackle yet another of her favorite sports — fishing.