Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Walk in the Woods

 On Sunday Tom and I took a hike at the Germantown Reserve. The trails were very muddy (we had nearly 3/4 of an inch of rain the day before) and, in fact, that's what finally ended our hike. There was just no way to get across a wet area.

 We enjoyed a hike on the western edge of the park, hiking generally north from the Nature Center. A pond which is near the parking lot was muddy and the water opaque but there were a number of large koi swimming near the surface. In particular we watched one as gold as the sun, another black as coal, each lumbering along lazily.

 Spring beauties have been in bloom for a couple of weeks now and they're everywhere on the forest floor. Such a tiny, delicate bloom atop an insignificant stem. How do they survive the winter's cold? How do they survive the summer's heat and drought?

 Dogwoods are in bloom now, too. All the wild ones I see are white. I love the salmon-colored ones which are now cultivated.

 Tom checks out some flora as we hike down a trail ...

 I love the dogwood above Tom's head and the vivid redbud trees in the distance. The grass greens with the recent rains and warmth.

 I quickly noticed clumps of mayapples (and thought them triliums) but Tom corrected me. We didn't find any mayapples in bloom though Tom located this one with a bud. The flowers are beneath the large green canopies.

 When we finished our hike - by the way, we didn't find a single mushroom, and that was an explicit goal - we stopped at the Nature Center and I admired this stuffed bobcat. I didn't know they were back in Ohio.
 It was a pleasant day with temperatures that climbed into the upper 50's. There were other hikers, too, though the park wasn't busy. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon admiring the gathering green.

Meeting Tina Welling

 It's Monday, April 27, and Tom and I have a treat planned. He's meeting his sister-in-law for breakfast; I'm meeting an author who I admire.

 Tina Welling is married to Tom's brother, John, and the couple live in Jackson, Wyoming. Tom hasn't seen Tina is eight years.

 Tina's staying with her brother, Tom, and suggests we meet at Bruegger's Bagels on Kenwood Avenue at 9:30 a.m.. We're running a little late (Cincinnati traffic is terrible at this hour of the morning) and Tom sends her a short message from his cell phone. "We're close," he says. She answers that she's already arrived and waiting. Patiently, it seems.

 When we step in the front door Tom smiles and walks immediately to the table where Tina waits.

Eight years have passed since the two have been together

We take an hour and a half to catch up on family. I ask Tina a few questions about her charming books. I particularly enjoyed both Crybaby Ranch and Cowboys Never Cry (I have not yet read Fairy Tale Blues). Check out Tina's website by clicking here.

 Perhaps even more important for me is her Writing Wild, a writer's connection with nature. What could be a more perfect read for me? I enjoyed this informative book, cover to cover, and highly recommend it to all writers.

Tom brought his personal copy along for signing

 While we're in Blue Ash, we'll take a short walk, too. But first, a quick look at Bruegger's Bagels ...

 We each had a breakfast bagel sandwich. Delicious!

 Tina and I added coffee; Tom had a berry-based drink.

 Then we took a short walk.

 At the corner of Kenwood Road and Myrtle Avenue. Traffic is heavy and there's a wait for the lights to change.

 We're at the "City Center" where an impressive historical display has been constructed. Each of the wars the U.S. has fought in is represented by a bronze statue of a soldier in period garb.

 The weather was perfect ... if a little windy and even slightly chilly. Still, for southern Ohio, is was a perfect spring day.

 Tom and I hope to travel to Wyoming in August 2017 for a total solar eclipse. If not before then, we should be able to have another family visit then. In the meantime, we have lovely memories of this morning in Cincinnati.

Monday, April 20, 2015

American Sign Museum

 The plan was for Tom to come to Farmersville yesterday (04/19) but a chance article - and a scan of a webpage - made us rethink those plans. The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati was celebrating their 10th anniversary. Best of all the usual adult admission price of $15 each was reduced to two for $10.

 How could we pass that up?

 The American Sign Museum is exactly what it sounds like ... mostly neon signs, many from the 1950's. But it's really signs in general if you don't let the neon colors blind you to the wider message. The Cincinnati Enquirer calls it "a history lesson".

The museum opened in 2005 but in Walnut Hills. The current museum is in Camp Washington on Monmouth Street. Tod Swormstedt is president and founder; Brad Huberman is managing director.

We arrived just before 2 pm on a rainy afternoon. The "Welcome" sign - a large Genie with outstretched arms - was gray, wet and dripping. This twenty foot tall character is from a California carpet cleaning company.

 But, once inside, the brilliant color fantasy begins. Get ready to squint.

 This small Holiday Inn sign is right inside the main entrance.

 Step around a corner to the right and this is the first glimpse of what you're about to see ...

 Antique unlit signs are displayed, too.

But it's when they get the electrical treatment that they pop into a display worthy of Las Vegas.

 All of us in the Miami Valley know the Frisch's Big Boy character (even if, like me, we're vegetarians).

 Tom admires some old time signs.

 And a few more basic signs.

 Then it begins to brighten up ...

 The "Changeable Neon Letters" at the bottom is an interesting concept. Designed for indoor use, individual letters plug into sockets so that a custom message can be built. These come from Piqua, Ohio.

Crosley is a prominent Cincinnati name (think WLR, Crosley Broadcasting). This sign is from Powel Crosley's appliance store.

 Automobile and transportation signage is well-represented. Dad would have enjoyed the place. It's like traveling the early byways on the 1950's.

See the Howard Johnson's sign on the top right? When we were on spring break in Florida (about 1970), my friend Jim Saylor and myself stayed there and Jim would never miss their "all you can eat" fish fry. I always told Jim that'd he'd be the reason they went out of business.

 This homemade sign is from the 1960's and makes use of the "space race" theme of that decade. It's from Satellite Shopland in Anaheim, California.

 This McDonald's sign is familiar to everyone. It's on the museum's "Town Square".

Rohs is a hardware store from Over-the-Rhine. Much of what you see in this storefront is from the original business.

 The Wagon Wheel was a Westside bar and saloon. The Enquirer calls it "a resting spot for cowboys in the 1890's". The newspaper was responsible for "landing this piece in the museum".

 I took this close-up of some particular bright green neon.

 Located in part of the same building is Neonworks of Cincinnati. They handcraft neon signs.

 For their tenth anniversary celebration, the American Sign Museum offered attendees a slice of birthday cake and various soft drinks.

 Tom's aglow in neon.

 I suppose this Rock City sign is a recreation?

 This "Mail Pouch" sign appears older and the wood it is on appears naturally weathered.

 On the way out Tom check's out their merchandise shop. 10% off all items today for their anniversary celebration.

 And Tom settles on a hat (he only has a hundred).

 Great day in Cincinnati. The American Sign Museum is a dazzling sight and well worth the admission to enjoy a vast array of America's signage.