Nineteen Years

It is September 11. For nineteen years, this has been a day that, no matter what the world outside actually looks like, always seems clouded and tinged with darkness to me, and no doubt to countless other Americans too.

It was the events of September 11 and their aftermath that inspired me, compelled me almost, to write in a current events/political vein. It was that compulsion that not only helped me work through the horrific attacks—they affected me very deeply—but indeed affected the course of my entire life, ultimately introducing me to dear friends and compatriots through my writing—in fact, I met my husband as a result of the writing I began just weeks into 2002 because it was the only way I could comprehend and work out what happened that hideous, awful day and the things I saw happening afterwards. Strange, strange life indeed.

Our world flipped upside down, and truthfully, time split for those old enough to know what happened that Tuesday morning: before 9/11, and after. Continue reading


Tile-Roofed Filling Station

While these are a fairly common sight in some parts of the nation, in Ohio they’re quite unusual. To make matters more intriguing, this one is the northern part of the state on US30, also known as the Lincoln Highway.

Last Look at the Tile-Roofed Station Towers

Obviously the old station has’t been in any sort of real service for some time. I’m also not sure what oil they sold to the locals—it doesn’t look like most Midwestern filling stations, and may have been an independent place (a successful one, at that).

Tile-Roof Filling Station

I actually stood on US30 to get this shot (hurrah for lenses with oomph and the occasional steady hand). Oh, the dangers in which I put myself!

Tile Roof, Rusty (looking)

As usual, I see a place like this and dream of small business possibilities—a coffee or tea shop, a small used bookstore, a bakery, a florist, a tailor’s or electrician’s headquarters. This one might make a good little cafe or burger spot, too—folks could sit beneath the canopy where cars once avoided the rain while topping off the tank.

Tile Roof, Rusty (looking)

Look at that—a bonus Fiero! One is almost disappointed it didn’t burst into flames at the moment the shutter snapped. (That’s an old Fiero joke sure to elicit a wry smile from car folks.)

Please don’t be this person.


Glenrio is absolutely one of my favourite places along Route 66, particularly the Longhorn Cafe. The famed painted glass panels on the cafe have stood alone for nearly as long as I’ve been alive—but alas, no more:

…many Route 66 enthusiasts still were deeply disappointed to learn Monday four window panes that spelled “CAFE” at the long-abandoned Longhorn Cafe in Glenrio, Texas, recently were stolen.

Nick Gerlich noticed the missing glass during a visit to the Route 66 ghost town along the Texas-New Mexico border.

He said in a Facebook post he saw no evidence of broken glass at the scene, leading him to deduce the panes were carefully removed and pilfered.

There’s a photo of the vandalization at Route 66 News. As Ron notes, it is a small loss in the scheme of the world, particularly considering what we were all thinking about yesterday and the devastation wrought by Harvey and Irma in recent weeks.

At the same time, I wonder if things like this apparent theft in Glenrio, small though they are, sicken us not just because of the loss, that others present and future won’t be able to enjoy what we’ve enjoyed, but because they make so apparent our very much not being ‘basically good’. We are saddened by the vandalism and her sibling, looting, but perhaps we are also, and more deeply, grieved by such a blatant expression of sinfulness and selfishness, whether we recognize it as such or not.

At any rate—please don’t be the sort of person who apparently stole these panes. What are the silly but true cliches—take only pictures (unless you buy something, and by all means, when it comes to souvenirs and tasty food, buy away on the Mother Road, and support those businesses!) and leave only footprints? Let us respect our past and consider the future.

Is this day different for you?

Seventeen years ago, the date September 11th had no special meaning. It was my boss’ birthday, but other than that, until mid-morning on September 11, 2001, it was an ordinary day.

How hard it is to learn that ordinary days are marvellous, undeserved blessings.

Subsequent to the evil, hateful, murderous terrorist attacks of that morning—one I remember finding particularly beautiful while heading to work—September 11, and the days leading up to it and those following, have been very somber for me. There is a true pall over it, one that, almost unexamined, prompts me to wear all black, something I only do when mourning the loss of a loved one. But of course I love my country, too, and she was cruelly wounded that day. So many people lost someone they loved, representing just about every walk of life in this nation; some of the stories, I still recall with grieved clarity, and pray for the survivors. I don’t go wall-to-wall with mourning (perhaps we should? Or is prayerfully, thoughtfully going about our daily business, remembering the clarity with which evil expressed itself that day—which, in honesty, is pretty much what I do—a better tribute?), but you’ll never see me at a party or cheery get-together of any sort on September 11. It would feel disrespectful, callous, unserious.

Of course, we live in unserious times—odd many times over, after such an event and its brethren in Paris and London and Mumbai and on and on.

Just thinking about that day—about the horrified, primal screams—screams—emitted by the ABC newsman, a grown adult man, talking to my local affiliate as the second plane hit the second tower, about those towers sliding down against that still bizarrely beautiful blue sky, with so many lives still fighting within them—a pit forms in my stomach, a lump blocks my throat, and tears sting the backs of my eyes. I think for many of us, September 11 was a formative day, no matter our age. So it would only make sense, I think, for the anniversary of that day to affect us deeply.

Is this day different for you, in any way? Truly, there is no judgment here; I’m honestly curious as to how September 11 affects others. Some may wish to do all they can to ignore the grief hanging over the day, because of all the pain it brings; alas, perhaps some of you cannot at all, having had a loved one murdered in New York or Pennsylvania or DC. Again; I’m just curious as to how other Americans mark the day, if at all.

Memorial Day, 2015

For Which They Fell

I’ve been too busy actually working to blog, but Memorial Day is one thing I cannot in good conscience  neglect.

Normally, I try to go out and get something extra-special for Memorial Day, in an effort to remind us of those men and women who have fallen in defense of our nation, in what Lincoln so aptly described as “the last full measure of devotion” to America and all she stands for.

Unfortunately, weather and other things have not cooperated this year (and I did not bring my camera to our church’s Memorial Day commemoration this morning)—a privilege I can claim as a photographer, something the men and women who have served and even died under this flag can never claim. Forget the post office; it’s America’s men and women in uniform who serve no matter how they feel, no matter what else is happening in their lives, under any condition, including conditions so horrendous you and I could not manage to think well, much less perform well. Yet they serve, they perform, and often in fashion beyond exemplary—some dying while doing so, many dying while protecting their brothers and even sisters in arms in the process.

It is these brilliantly brave men and women we in America honour today, those who have given their lives in service of our nation. Continue reading

Thank You

Thank You


Happy Veterans Day to each and every one of you who has served in the uniform of our great nation. What civilians are able to do, every day, in peace and security, rests upon your willingness to sacrifice yourself, your life, your days on the behalf of America.

Thank you, and may God bless you and yours over and above the rest.

And please—whenever you see a veteran, thank them. Genuinely say ‘thank you’, shake their hand. Chat a while if they’re so inclined (though they tend to be industrious folk, so don’t be insulted if they’ve business to attend to!). But always, always say thanks, even if you have to run them down in the supermarket.

They’ve earned it.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Bob Hope

As the granddaughter & niece Navy veterans, as well as a classic film fan, I do enjoy Bob Hope as much for what he did to cheer our men & women oversesas as for his good humour and irresistible grin. Nitrate Diva has a collection of ten facts about the star you’re sure to enjoy reading!

Nitrate Diva

coverDescribing Bob Hope as “underrated” may sound strange. After all, he remains one of the most recognizable people of the 20th century. However, a new, comprehensive biography suggests that few of us fully appreciate Ol’ Ski Nose and his significance in American culture.

Richard Zoglin’s Hope: Entertainer of the Century doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it was. The book matter-of-factly addresses the star’s less lovable side, including his womanizing, his stifling conceitedness, and his heavy reliance on sycophantic employees.

Despite the sometimes uncomfortable honesty, Hope proves an ultimately inspiring read, largely due to the clear-sighted appraisal of its subject’s vast legacy. Not too long ago, Christopher Hitchens crankily asserted that Hope wasn’t funny. I guess that’s a matter of opinion (Not in my house, but I’m trying to be diplomatic…). What Hope certainly was, though, was influential.

In his prime, Hope made it cool to crack wise about current events. Never…

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