Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day Cookout

 With Memorial Day weekend arrived, Tom and I decided we'd grill out. Last year, if you remember, Tom gave us a new  gas grill and we used it once. After he got here, we went out to the barn and uncovered it, took it out into the driveway and fired it up. It was running instantly.

 Of course we had vegetarian fare: curry burgers, corn on the cob, grilled peppers. Tom began by preparing the peppers atop our burn barrel ...

 He had both the large peppers which he gutted and then cut into strips and also the small ones which he left whole. He bought both in red, yellow and orange varieties. Beautiful to look at and true gems beneath the brilliant late-spring sun.

 Then over to the barn. He grilled the peppers on the top rack and corn on the bottom, closer to the flames. We peeled the corn husks back, removed the strings and then folded the green husks back into place. Tom grilled the corn until it was slightly charred.
 He bought the corn in Findlay when he visited stepmother, Clara, on Thursday.
 But as the time came to eat, so did a violent thunderstorm. I had watched it approach on radar and told Tom we'd better be thinking about getting the grill undercover. We lifted it by the two ends, moving it just inside the double doors.

 And there we grilled while the rain poured down. The wind blew the torrent sideways, creaking the barn above us, small trickles dripping from the skylights. We stayed fairly dry but for a light mist blown in by the wind. All told, half an inch fell.

 When the rain stopped enough to get to the house, we carried everything in as best we could. The corn has begun to cool so we brought it back up to temperature with the microwave. In addition to our grilled food, we had deviled eggs (thanks, Mom), coleslaw and soda (Tom chose beer). We had slices of key lime pie for dessert.

 When we went back out, we found the already-misshapen maple at the southeast corner of our property stripped of its only southern limb. Now it is even more oddly-shaped, windswept to the north like a lakeside pine. I suppose it will have to come down. Years ago it was topped by another storm and I've never liked the look of it since.

 Using Tom's tree saw, he cut several branches away and we dragged them to the back of the driveway. We have tree trimmers coming soon and I may add this to their work. Or I may cut the branches  up myself if I have time.

 Even with four rounds of rain, when the sun came out we cleaned Tom's car, a 2009 Prius. He took it over to the automatic car wash first. Then I wiped it dry (big mistake since it quickly got wet again) and vacuumed out the inside, top the bottom, end to end. The car's as clean as we could make it under the conditions.

 We ended the day by cutting up a whole watermelon and sitting on the edge of the porch, eating it and spitting the seeds into the grass. Then it rained again and we were forced into the garage where we finished a few more slices.

 It seems the last several Saturdays have been like this. We've decided to make no more outdoor plans in advance. If we get a sunny Saturday soon we'll take advantage of it. Otherwise we'll make the best of it we can, just like today.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Renovation of Tom's Former Home Almost Complete

 Up until about two years ago, Tom owned this Victorian home in Northside. Laurie is the new buyer and besides herself and a crew of contractors, the place is undergoing a remarkable transformation. It's really more than a renovation. The house was fully gutted to the point where it's hard to imagine it's the same place.
 Yesterday Laurie gave us a grand tour. Though there's still plenty to do, it was quite an eye-opener.

 The house is located at 4267 Chambers Street, Cincinnati 45223.

 The outside of the house is buttressed with a number of ladders. There's no doubt, even from the outside, that something is going on here. What a lucky neighborhood to have people like Laurie take an old house and convert it to something modern and new, and yet keeping all the charm of its age.

 The new windows are very impressive, both for their curb appeal and insulating value. Nothing is more important to an energy-efficient home than good windows.

 This small porch (above a larger one below) will be a nice place to enjoy a summer evening and watch the traffic on the street below.

 When the house is listed for sale, Fletcher Realty will be the place to check. Here's a link to their website.

 And here are a host of pictures of the interior work underway ...

 A brand new kitchen is nearing completion. The new counter-tops are safely hidden beneath kraft paper.

 Lighting will be ample in this kitchen ... but recessed and out of the way.

 The old carpeting that was on these steps is long gone. Everything is newly painted. And the white paint that was on the newel post has been carefully stripped away and the beautiful wood again visible.

 There are a number of the original stained glass windows still in the house.

 This stacked washer/dryer combo takes little room and a perfect space was made for it. The dryer, Laurie said, is ventless.

 A new closet area with French doors ...

 This is one of two Victorian-era fireplaces. Both will be decorative.

 On the small porch above Pullan Avenue, Laurie talks with Tom, the former owner of the house.

 This new shower is impressive, with a built-in seat.

 There's a large room on the top floor that used to serve as Tom's bedroom and computer area.

 The smaller room at the opposite end of the third floor. would make a perfect bedroom for a teenager.

 During a recent heavy rain, Laurie checked the skylight to make sure it didn't leak. "Not a drop," she said. Tom used to have his bed beneath this opening.

 When I looked out this window ...

... this blue jay was looking back in at me.

 This place certainly represents a lot of time and money getting it into the condition it is now. I'm always impressed when someone tackles a project of this size and succeeds. It's slowly turning into a show place.

Visiting the Wesleyan Cemetery

 In case you think it odd that Tom and I regularly visit cemeteries, they seem a wonderful place to walk about, commune with nature and just enjoy an afternoon of peaceful solitude. Is there any place but a cemetery that is close-by and offers this better? And they are one of the few venues that are free.

 Cincinnati's Wesleyan Cemetery is one that Tom hadn't visited before and it is near to his apartment, situated on a hilltop overlooking downtown Northside. As the  name would suggest, it was begun by members of the local Methodist Church (Wesley Chapel to be specific) in 1843. It is the oldest continuously operated cemetery in Hamilton County.

 But that description seems a bit loose to me. Though it is "operated", upkeep seems minimal. High grasses grow everywhere and headstones are often all but buried. Owing to Memorial Day coming in just over a week, a man with a weedwacker was uncovering graves, perhaps those of just his family. Otherwise the project seems insurmountable for the nine days remaining.

 As we walked about, I took photographs of the stones that caught my eye ...

 What is the story behind this stone? It is fairly new and certainly presents a mystery.

 More of the headstones are of this character, generally with death dates in the mid-1800's. The stones are often sandy to the touch and disintegrating slowly through the century-and-a-half of constant weathering. Just as our lives end, the stones that mark that end slowly disappear, too.

 Intricate designs are carved into many of the rocks. I was struck by the number of death dates that seemed clustered in July 1849 (my own birthday was in July 1949). Tom suggested that an epidemic of some sort caused the deaths. Being near the Ohio River and sanitation being almost non-existent in this time period, could cholera have been a cause?

 This double stone caught my attention.

 Many of the stones have been vandalized. Where some have merely been toppled, others have pieces missing. Where is this angel's head? The intact spires of Northside reign in the background.

 A wife (left) contracted for her husband's stone - a neat hand holding a scroll - and then followed him twenty-two years later.

 Many stones that remain are toppled by time and etched by lichens which chew the rock to pieces, all but erasing the record. Wesleyan is know for record-keeping so I suppose the information is safe. Read the Wikipedia entry (like at the end of this blog) about recent lawsuits about the cemeteries "dilapidated appearance".

 It appears that names once topped these stones - rows of them (more extensive than shown) - but I could find nothing that survived. Tom wondered if this was a potter's field, though he questioned whether they'd have stones at all. Or perhaps these are military graves.

Wesleyan is known for it's role with the Underground Railroad. Tom and I will return, in fact, with a borrowed book on that very subject.

 For more information on this cemetery, check out the Wikipedia entry here.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Remembering Ruth Lyons

Ruth Lyons
Credit: WLW/Crosley Broadcasting Corporation

The Crosley Square Building in downtown Cincinnati

 Tom tells me this was the studio location of Lyons 50-50 Club. But we weren't here to see that. We were here to see Lyons actual home ...

 Ruth Lyons home at 5205 Colerain Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Cincinnati is for sale. I asked Tom if we might drive by and see the place. He scoped it out a day before and on Saturday, May 7 we made a stop.

 There is a wooded lane leading to the house which is well-removed from the road. I suppose this was planned as it affords ample privacy for a woman who was probably Cincinnati's first superstar.

 The house was featured in the August 1958 issue of American Home Magazine. The house has three baths and four bedrooms.

 Current asking price for the home and 4.59 acres is $350,000 (reduced on 4/12/16); the original asking price was $475,000. The house was built in 1866 (it is precisely 150 years old).

 At the side of the house (distant view to the left) is an in-ground swimming pool.

 Turning to leave the property, we drove back out the lane to Colerain. This is the view Lyons would have seen every morning when she went to work.

 And finally Colerain Avenue again.

 Ruth Lyons and her husband, Herman Newman, sold the home to Ron Sweitzer in 1971. Lyons 50-50 Club, on WLWT in Cincinnati, aired in the 1950's and 1960's and is said to have paved the way for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Ellen Degeneres.

Lyons career came to an end after her 21-year old daughter, Candy Newman, died of cancer. Lyons suffered a stroke in 1966 and retired from broadcasting the next year (January 27, 1967). She died November 7, 1988 at 83..

 Read more about the house and view interior pictures at a WCPO post (click here).
 For more about Lyons herself, check out her Wikipedia entry here.

 My grandparents attended a taping of the show and I was told my grandfather, Elwood Schmidt, a Miamisburg undertaker, was briefly questioned by Lyons. I assume it was during a period in 1951 when NBC carried the show. I know that interview was heard in Texas by some of our relatives. The TV show began in May 1949,

Later (May 21, 2016) ...

 Tom and I visited Ruth Lyons "grave", actually an urn at Hillside Chapel. It's located at 525 Martin Luther King Drive W in Cincinnati. Here's a useful link.

 The entire family - Herman, Candy and Ruth - are interred there together.

 Herman is on top, Candy's urn is in the middle and Ruth is on the bottom.

 The room is shared by countless urns. There are several rooms at the Hillside Chapel. The Newman family is centered in this picture.

Herman Andrew Newman, 11-27-06 to 2-16-91

Candace Laird Newman, 8-27-44 to 6-19-66. Also inscribed is " Our Dearly Beloved Little Princess"

Ruth Evelyn Newman, 10-4-07 to 11-7-88

 Ruth Lyons urn is inside this door and to the left. Her urn is in the first room to the right, controlled by a sensor that turns on the lights  when you enter.

Hillside Chapel

 Tom spotted this mother and doe on the grounds of the Hillside Chapel.

This is the only sign you see when you enter the driveway off Martin Luther Kind Avenue W.