Walk With Me … Part 2

Hello walkers! If you read Part 1 of this tale, you know that we’re headed out today for a leisurely stroll down Memory Lane to visit the shops, as they were in the 60’s and 70’s, in our quaint village of Loudonville, Ohio. So have a seat on that bench there….put on your walking shoes, grab a bottle of water and let’s get going. We’ve got a LOT of ground to cover today!

We left off at People’s Drug Store so we’ll just mosey on down that side of the street. Of course there were many more stores than what I’ll be mentioning here…I’m just recalling the ones I have personal memories of. First stop, The Loudonville Restaurant, a family restaurant and gift shop located in the most eastern portions of what I believe is now Amish Oak. Back then there was a laundromat and McClain’s Appliance’s squeezed in there too but I think the part that was the restaurant is now the furniture store. When you first walked in, you found yourself in the gift shop filled with all kinds of interesting treasures. It just so happened that I was the Hostess/Gift Shop Clerk the summer between my sophomore and junior years at Ohio State. It was a good job for me but would have worked out better, had I not met my first boyfriend in Columbus about 6 weeks before school let out. You know “young love” and all that….we thought the world would come to an end if we didn’t get to see each other!  I didn’t have my own car until I graduated from college so he loaned me an extra one he had … an olive green Dodge Dart that, as I recall, was not overly dependable. Needless to say, though, I drove that beater down to Columbus late Friday nights after working at the restaurant all day, stayed at his parent’s house on the far west side of Columbus and drove it back home every Sunday night…usually in the wee hours. Now, as a parent myself, I can clearly see why my own parents were less than thrilled with this arrangement. It’s no wonder that I ended up with mono by the end of that summer….burning the candle at both ends as I surely did. I was always thankful on Monday mornings that I was the hostess and not one of the girls who had to do a lot of “memorizing” of orders and such. That restaurant was the meeting place for lots of locals and a lot of young gals got their waitressing start there back in the day. 

As we go on down to the corner, when I was REALLY young there was a bakery there at Main and Spring, where Amish Oak originally started. I have limited but fond memories of standing in there at the case of goodies with my mom, breathing in the heavenly scent of donuts and other pastries. I put a “call” in to my intel “source”, Mr. G, as to the exact name of this bakery but he was unable to produce any results. I believe it was Porter’s but I wouldn’t “take that to the bank”. 

How are y’all doing? Ok? Do you need to stop for a drink of water ? 

This next stop is a ways down the street. We’ll cross over the bridge now…..the NEW bridge.  The old bridge was much different with all the steel girders high overhead. There on the right we find the Loudonville Canoe Livery. For me to include it on this stroll you might think I was a frequent canoer….and you would be wrong. Actually, I have been canoing precisely twice in my 59 years, and only one of those trips was from this livery. No, the reason I have very fond memories is because it was owned by my aunt and uncle …Hezzy and Virginia Nave…and my memories are more centered around their gift shop/snack bar. My grandma used to help them out there in the shop and I used to love to go in and examine all the cool “Indian theme” items that, as a small child, I had never been around. I found it all fascinating. They all lived there too above the shop – my aunt and uncle and my two cousins – and hosted some memorable family get togethers there. 

Next stop is the Party Shop, where the Loudonville Equity is now. It was a very popular spot for those “thirsty” folk or, in my family’s case, those wanting a good ice cream cone. Peanut butter crunch for me please. Celia Anderson would always greet you with a kind smile. Later they moved about a block away but most of my memories are from this original location.

Come on now….keep up….we need to cross the street here. Be careful, it’s a very busy intersection. 

 Let’s head up to the corner of Main and Spring again, this time on the south side to where we find D’s Dariette. It was a real treat to stop here on a hot summer day for a cone or a slushy. My grandmother worked here clear back when my mother was just a young thing. She had lost her husband when my mom was only 13 and walked every day….in her old cuban heels, mind you,  clear down from the corner of Haskel and Union,  where she worked until closing and then walked all the way back home very late at night, alone.  My mom used to say that the police chief way back then – old Rhinie Schnitke – used to try to give her a ride home to help her out but she was very “old school” and didn’t want anyone to get any wrong ideas about that. She would have been exhausted….and in those HEELS…..up hill for a great stretch of it!  She never did accept his kind offer.  This corner still serves up food, but now it’s tacos and nachos and such since Taco Bell replaced old D’s.

We’re rollin’ now!  Another block or so before we stop again. You doing ok? Any blisters on your feet?  Need a bandaid? Potty break?

As we walk into this next stop, the wonderful sights and sounds come pouring in from all directions. Strang’s Department Store …now Four Seasons…. was an institution in my mind and probably in many others’. The glass encased displays at the sidewalk were always filled with interesting things. As you opened the big door and the “old timey” bell rang, you stepped into a wonderland of treasures, the first of which was the old wooden floor that creaked with every step. There’s something about walking on an old wooden floor…it transports you back in time. As I recall, I think the front end of the store was linens and things and as you walked towards the back, you would find clothes for women and children. It was a rare treat for us to get any clothing from Strangs, as per Part 1 of this saga, you already know that most of my “duds” came from the old Sears and Roebuck store. Once in awhile, though, I can recall getting a nice sweater or something from there. My mom loved to browse there, as she had memories of it from back in her day as well. As with People’s Drug Store, one of my favorite things about Strang’s was that, believe it or not, my dear Aunt Virginia worked here too!  I believe it was after her years at People’s. I can almost see her now, standing just outside the little “alcove” in the center of the store where the huge old antique cash register was, watching as we walked in the door and up that stretch to the center. As I recall, there were jewelry displays close by that old register, and being the “dyed-in-the-wool” jewelry-lover that I am, I would always make a beeline to check out all the pretties. Great old memories for sure.

A couple doors up from Strangs was the Loudonville Public Library. Yes, can you believe it!!  Right there in the center of town. Obviously it was MUCH smaller than the beautiful big place it is today further up the street. Back then I recall that we sat at big round oak tables and hunted for our books by using the old wooden “card catalog” in the center of the room. For you “young’uns”, each book had a card in it and when you wanted to check out the book, you took it to the desk and the librarian pulled that card out and stamped it and the book with the due date by which you needed to return it. Computers weren’t even on the horizon yet.  My great love for books and reading got a good start at this place. I vividly remember Mrs. Yeager, the librarian, being very stern and strictly enforcing the “no talking” rule at all times.  

On the corner of Main and Water was the Big Plus store, where the Coppertop Gallery is now. It was a bit similar to a “dollar store” and yet things were not quite that low-priced. It was small and I remember the aisles were kind of close together but the shelves were full of all kinds of things. The floor in here was also wooden and creaked like Strang’s. I recall Mrs. Bookman working in there for many years.

Are you getting tired? Hot? I am too.  We’re almost done….two more stops.

Another “institution” in my young life was the Ben Franklin store, or the “dime store”, as we called it back then.  My oh my but I enjoyed just browsing through the aisles here. You could literally find just about anything … except food.  Well, unless you’re counting candy or nuts! Me being me, of course, the candy aisle was one I gravitated towards. That and the jewelry and art supplies. Some things never change! That was back when they had bulk candies in big glass cases and a clerk would have to weigh some out for you and put it in a bag. They also had glass cases of bulk nuts …maybe even the kind that was heated and lit up, as I recall. Many a week’s allowance was spent at this wonderful Loudonville landmark.

Ok folks, we’re coming to the end of our little journey here but I can’t quit before making a stop at one of the biggest “warehouses” of youthful memories for me and many others alike. The Loudonville Theater, aka the “Rat Palace” was the happening place starting around middle school. No, I never saw a single rat or mouse or anything of the sort and I have no idea how it ever acquired such an undesirable moniker. When I went, it always appeared clean and in good condition…yes, the seats were old and some torn and there was kind of an “old” smell to it but I LOVED going there and have many fond memories of eating popcorn and watching all those great old movies. I saw my all-time favorite there – The Sound of Music – as well as another movie I’ll never forget, for other reasons, “The Legend of Boggy Creek”, which terrified me so much that I nervously chewed clean through the vinyl strap on my purse, there in the creepy darkness with my equally scared  pals.  In my mind’s eye, I can also see Mr Leach, the very serious and strict owner, as he walked up and down the aisles telling kids to get their feet off the seats in front of them or to be quiet. His mere presence was enough to keep me from doing anything that would require his intervention. Good times.

Well, there we are. A stroll down my personal Memory Lane of some of the sights and sounds of Loudonville in the 60’s and 70’s. If you’re my age or older, I’m sure you have even more you could add. I find great pleasure in recalling these good times…while I still can. Memories, like time, are fleeting and I think it’s fun and also important to get things “down on paper” for future generations to come. Back then if you’d have told us we’d be walking around with little telephones that you could watch TV and play games on we would have searched your pockets for a “joint”. The reverse is true as well. Kids today have a hard time wrapping their heads around facts like us having to get up off our behinds to change the black and white TV channels by turning a dial on the set, or not being able to talk on the phone right when you want to because Mrs Smith down the street was part of your “party line” and when you picked up the receiver to make the call, you could hear her chatting away to Mrs. Jones….and you had to wait until she finished.  

Seeing where we are compared to where we’ve been is very enlightening and gives us perspective. That, of course, can be very educational and teach us a lot of important things about life. That’s all well and good but it’s also just plain fun….and even a little therapeutic, to sit back and reminisce about the good old days . Thanks for keeping me company along the way.

Walk With Me … Part 1

I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve been doing a LOT of reminiscing lately. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been sequestered in my home 24/7 with no one but 2 cats for company and conversation for the last 4 months. Or, perhaps the fact that the world around us is in more turmoil than most of us have seen in our lifetimes. I’m sure the fact that I started a brand new job just a month before COVID hit and have had to learn a whole new set of skills has come into play; and the fact that that job entails about 40 hours a week of  thinking and breathing the very heartbreaking subject of Alzheimer’s disease and its’ relentless destruction of peoples’ lives. Or, maybe it’s the fact that I’ll be hitting the big 6 – 0 in about 6 months….trudging further down”the hill”.  In all reality, I’m quite positive it’s a conglomeration of all of it. “Whatever”, as the younger folk often say….the bottom line is that I believe my pea brain has been consciously and subconsciously seeking out things I associate with “comfort”, and one of those, for me, is in good memories from times past. No, it’s not healthy for us to pitch a tent and live there……and I don’t, because I can’t….I’m much too busy trying to keep my head above water learning new things every day. But, I confess, weekends and days when there might just be a little extra time, I feel a “pull” from that “campsite” that seems to get me started meandering in that general direction.

In my latest little stroll down memory lane, I found myself reflecting on the way our quaint little village was when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. I really had fun purposely pulling up all those memories, the details of which I hadn’t thought about in ages. Those of you who are not from the Loudonville/Perrysville area will probably not find this the least bit interesting, so here is where you have permission to “leave the table”, as we used to say back in the “olden days”. However, those of you who also walked these streets and breathed that air may find it fun to lace up your old “tennies” and take a walk with me.

For whatever reason, my mind started at Zimm’s (or Mellor’s, as some of you will know it). Maybe I was hungry for shrimp or something… since that was my favorite thing to get there as a child……a shrimp basket followed by a square of green or orange “jello salad”. Oh not just plain old jiggly transparent jello……oh no, of that I am NOT a fan. No, this was “pimped-up” jello that had the addition of cream cheese and sometimes pineapple or other unidentified ingredients. We NEVER had shrimp in the Miller home when I was growing up, ditto with steak… but I digress. My grandma Young (Miller) used to talk lovingly of shrimp and I loved her, so maybe that was part of it, I don’t know, but my lifelong love of the “bugs of the sea” began then and there. Perhaps the biggest attraction for me were the outside “menu-speakers” that you had to drive up beside to do your ordering, if you were going to eat in your car.  We didn’t go very often at all, because, quite frankly, there wasn’t much room in our budget for eating out. As I look back, that was probably a good thing. Some things become more special and revered if they’re enjoyed less frequently….saved as a “treat” instead of indulged in regularly to the point of them losing their “shiny appeal”. I don’t recall us ever eating in the car there when Dad was along; as I think he preferred to eat inside. With Mom, however, the drive-in was an adventure for sure. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you I was generally a quiet, introverted, studious young child who really never gave my parents an ounce of trouble. That, however, is not to say that I still didn’t have an ornery streak running through me. It was around this time that I discovered the enormous pleasure of making people laugh. My dear, sweet, kind and  playful mom became my number 1 target. Like me, she had the funny but frustrating lack of control when it came to being able to STOP laughing, having once gotten “ramped up”. She would pull in to the speaker with me and my sister Lisa, 5 years my junior, and while we were trying to figure out what we wanted to order, I would begin my gradual assault in firing off one “funny” after another until she was a mass of hysteria and quivering shoulders….completely unable to verbally respond to the lady at the other end of the speaker who was trying to get our order.  My mother would turn to me with daggers in her eyes and quietly try to shush me in between almost crying….she was laughing so hard.  I was relentless. She feigned anger but then laughed it all off by the time the food arrived.  Great memories that we lovingly laughed about for years and years afterward.

I bet you younger folk will be surprised to know that we once had a Sear’s store in town. What??!!!!  Yes, you heard me….a Sear’s store.  No, not one with a big showroom….or any showroom for that matter. It was a small catalog-ordering version, as I recall. Perhaps some of you with a few years on me will remember more detail than that. It was in a building with another business right about where the Legion parking lot is today…across from the Post Office. What I do recall is that apparently there were no other places to acquire clothing or Christmas presents, or so I thought. I honestly remember pretty much ALL of my clothes coming from there. That might have been because apparently no other retailer in the whole US of A had the foresight to realize that not ALL children were thin and willowy…some of us were a little more “filled out” than others. Today that is somewhat more accepted and tolerated and provided for.  Back in those earlier days, however, it definitely was NOT and earned those of us in that club the disgrace of having to wear what Sears dubbed as “Chubby” sizes. I could write a whole book on that subject but I’ll save it for another time. For some unknown reason, Sears seemed to always and only offer their Chubby sizes in the colors of red, white or blue…or a combo of the three and the girls skirts and dresses ALWAYS had a great big ruffle/flounce at the bottom. For all the first and formative years of my youth, those were the never-varying identifiers of my wardrobe…. And the reasons why to this day, you will NEVER see me wear a dress or skirt with a ruffled bottom. I also shied away from wearing the red, white and blue combo for most of my life, having just recently added a bit here and there.  I do have fond memories, though, of going into that shop to pick up what used to be a big, thick catalog that was so fun to sit and look at and dream about…especially the Christmas catalog with all it’s colorful toys and things for kids. We generally never got much in the way of gifts other than at birthdays and Christmas, so it was a huge treat to go through the Christmas catalog and pick out a few items for our little “dream list”.  Maybe we’d get a few of those things maybe not, but it was fun to dream.

Since this “stroll” is taking longer than I had planned, and the sun is going down and the mosquitos are starting to bite, I’ll make just one more stop before heading back home. This last stop was extra special to me. From a very early age I was fascinated with the “girly” things on my mother’s dresser and then “girly” things in general, which therefore made it natural for me to find even more intriguing all the “pretties” like make-up and perfume and soaps and lotions you find in a general “drug store”, as they used to be called. With that in mind, when I walked in to People’s Drug Store on Main Street, on the alley just down from Creative Outlet, heard the tinkle of the little bell on the door and smelled the combination of perfume, candies and medicinal things from the pharmacy in the back, I felt like I was in heaven. I just LOVED to walk those aisles, gazing at all the lipsticks and nail polish in all their pretty colors and smelling the lovely scents of perfumes galore. I liken it very much to the drug store scenes in the old Andy Griffith series where you could find just about anything, including a large helping of kindness and great customer service.The fact that my dear Aunt Virginia worked there made it even more perfect. She was so sweet and welcoming and ALWAYS made me feel special no matter where or when I was around her. Mr Peoples, the pharmacist, was also very nice but seemed pretty serious too and since I always felt rather intimidated by men in general…..a quality that unfortunately I never seemed to shake…..I tended to shy away from him. I went on to enjoy many other similar stores but none could compare, in my mind, to People’s. Oh how I wish this place  were still there. What a treasure.

Well, it’s dark now and the lightning bugs are flitting around in a dance with those pesky mosquitos. Time to head home. I’ll be finishing this trip sometime soon with more familiar stops along the way…so stay tuned. 

The other shops on Memory Lane are dusting away the cobwebs and polishing their counters in preparation for the second half of our stroll.  Take care till then.

A Forever Kind of Love

I can’t really explain it. I don’t know why it began…but I do know it started early… very early. I’m referring to my lifelong fascination with and deep love of trees.  I can tell you I was under age 5 when it first began.

My first and still very vivid memory of being drawn to a particular tree was way back when I was just a small child and my parents and I would drive back to their childhood town of Loudonville from our home in Columbus. A trip that became much less frequent when we finally moved back there when I was starting first grade.  For the “little girl me”, that was a long trip that we made on more than one occasion. I remember noticing this particular tree along the way … partly because of it’s lush fullness, stately size and symmetry but also because I eventually imprinted onto my young brain that once we passed that tree, we only had a few more minutes until we were at our destination.  On the return trip, I’d bid it farewell from my little corner of the back seat.  That tree still stands … about a half mile or so south of Rainbow Springs campground, right where a township road intersects Route 3.  It’s been starting to show it’s age, as is the “little girl” who has watched and loved it these 54 or so years now.

When I find trees that draw my attention like that, I start to wonder about them.  How long they’ve stood there, what all they’ve “seen” in their lifetime, why it is that they ARE still there, when so many others have been uprooted … a new house here, a new business there, maybe a big boring parking lot or a strip mall or maybe just because someone didn’t want it around anymore. Who or what has saved them all these years?

I started reading a book several months ago that I need to go back and finish.  “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Wohlleben took me by such surprise for the rather mind-boggling and surreal report it gives about trees and their interconnectedness with each other and the plant life and creatures around them.  When I first started it, I thought the author was surely joking or completely insane…. trees communicating with each other?!!  But the more I ponder on all that, the more fascinated and in awe I become.  It makes me cherish and respect them even more.  It also increases my love and respect for God’s masterful artistry in designing such beautiful and intricate creations that are so uniquely interwoven and critical to our ecosystem.

There are many, many trees I have noticed in my travels near and far but really only this one and one other in this area that I’ve had the great pleasure of admiring for so many years.  When I come upon them, it makes me smile because it feels like running into a dear old friend I haven’t seen for ages.  A very happy encounter.  Much like me, though, these trees are getting closer to the end rather than the beginning of their stories.  Speaking of which, my other dearest old faithful tree has recently sustained what I fear may be a fatal injury.  As I was heading to Kroger this morning to pick up my grocery order, I came up over the little rise on TR 2704 and my heart just sunk.  There in the middle of the field where it has always stood alone with such grandeur and majesty, I sadly saw that my dear old friend has been damaged heavily. Half of it is on the ground.  I suspect it succumbed to the recent strong storms we’ve had.  It always made me so happy to see it’s gnarly old trunk and I’d wonder how many little animals and creatures had called it home over the years.  I’d marveled more than once at the bald eagle I’d see perched on one of it’s old branches or the occasional group of creepy turkey vultures that would camp out there too.  Perhaps the remaining portion of it will be able to survive…time will tell…but it will never be the same.

The same can be said of life in general.  For every beginning, there is also an end.  For me personally, though, there will never be an end to my love of trees. Unlike many other things that come and go, I can say with utter certainty that this love came early and will stay late ….very late.

Remembering Joycelyn…

https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/remembering-joycelyn/actionalz

The watercolor painting above……..the beautiful covered bridge in the heart of the Mohican State Park in this great state of Ohio….. is a special piece I did to raffle off as a part of the Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser “The Longest Day”, in honor of my dear mother, Joycelyn Miller.  She passed away a year and a half ago after suffering terribly the last 7 years of her beautiful life with dementia.   I can’t begin to describe how devastating and heartbreaking it is to watch someone so kind, loving and selfless suffer so tragically for 7 long years. I can’t begin to tell you how painful it is to have the woman who was ALWAYS there for me and my family….through thick and thin……who took her only day off work each week for 8 months to go with me to my chemotherapy treatments…….the woman who would walk through fire for me and my sister…………look me in the eyes and not have a clue who I was.  There aren’t enough words to describe that kind of pain. No one should have to witness or endure such agony. We MUST find a cure for this beast of a disease!

Please consider donating, through the link above, to this most worthy of causes.  For each $5.00 you donate, a ticket will go into the jar for a chance at the painting above. So, for example, if you donate $10, you will have 2 tickets/chances, if you donate $100, you will have 20 tickets/chances in the jar. Then on June 20th……the “longest day”…. we will pull the winning ticket and I will send the painting to the lucky winner.  All donations go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association.  Thank you so very much for any amount you care to donate.

Was That A Crow?!

I’ve been a nature-lover my entire life. Memories of my dad teaching us how to “walk silently” in the woods, looking for mushrooms, playing in the creek and breathing in the fresh, glorious scent of a piney forest are indelibly etched in my mind. In my young adult years, however, the business of life took over and I didn’t seem to have time to put much of a focus on that. Now, as I get older, life seems to be circling around and I’m finding a renewed love and passion for the simple pleasures of the creatures and landscape around me. I feel a deep and constant thankfulness for the beautiful little slice of this world that the good Lord has planted me on. A day never goes by that I am not looking for and enjoying the birds and squirrels, the flowers and trees that are so abundant here.

Not long ago, I walked out into my kitchen and saw a huge black bird sitting in my crabapple tree right outside the window. In the 28 years I’ve been looking out that window I’ve seen gray, red and black squirrels, jays, cardinals, red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, flickers, chickadees, sparrows, grackles, robins, finches, doves, hummingbirds, nuthatches, orioles, and a few others but I had never seen one of these huge black birds that I occasionally see strutting around in my big back yard. I was pretty sure it was a crow and after consulting my field guide it was confirmed.  What a curious thing. I still wonder why he was there all of a sudden. Perhaps the oranges I had put out a few days earlier caught his big eyes…….along with whatever scoundrel completely snatched them all in the middle of the night, including the grape jelly AND the cups holding it.  My money’s on a coon. I have those too, as evidenced one night about a month ago when I noticed my motion-detecting security light out back had come on late.  I looked out to see, in astonishment I might add, both a big coon and a opossum casually munching birdseed at the edge of my patio. After a few minutes, that nimble coon shinnied up my patio support post, reached out and violently shook my bird feeder, then climbed back down and proceeded to feast some more.  The opossum kept eating and gradually sauntered back out into the darkness. What a sight that I never expected to see!!  I consider little unexpected sightings like that to be a “treat” from God, as He knows how much I love them….and He loves me and wants to bless me….and you too, of course.

Anyways, not long ago I started a nature sketch journal to record the interesting little tidbits I get to see.  When I do a little research to go with the sketch I always learn some new and interesting things as well.  That’s a good thing to me……I love it.  Maybe you will find it a little interesting too……along with whatever treasures the Lord has placed around you.  Have a wonderful holiday weekend and remember to give thought and thanks for those who sacrificed dearly for our freedoms.

 

“The Dandelion Twins” Throw Pillow by TeresaE61 | Redbubble

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Life Continues …

Today was just a flat-out gorgeous day, as is any day that includes sunshine, in my book anyway. A dear friend of mine said something the other day that really struck a chord in my brain.  In these unprecedented, scary and uncertain times where sometimes our world feels like it’s upside down, it’s calming to take note that new life still goes on all around us. Spring still arrives, the flowers still bloom, the birds still sing, the grass still grows and we’ll still have to mow it.  It brings a much-needed feeling of “normalcy” to our current, very abnormal days to see the things we’ve always seen at the same time of year we’ve always seem them. Positive things to be thankful for. Beauty to behold.

After I loaded up my bird feeders this morning, I decided to get my camera out and see if I could capture anything green shooting up out of the dirt, as I have been doing a lot of sketching and watercoloring lately and needed some fresh subject matter.  I was not disappointed.  It just so happens that one of my favorite spring flowers was already in full force in 2 of my flower beds. I have had a bit of a special place in my heart for lungwort for several years now. I really can’t explain it other than to say that I find it’s rather fuzzy, thick spotted leaves very pleasing to the eye….probably because they’re different than most, and I tend to prefer things that are unique and different. According to Sir Google, lungwort was so named because those who first laid eyes on it thought it resembled the lungs. Apparently this was long before autopsies and such because I have actually seen real lungs and they look nothing like these pretty little plants. They obviously needed a little more light back in the Dark Ages… in more ways than one. For many years it was therefore also thought to be a medicinal plant of benefit to ailing lungs. Apparently that turned out to be false; but the name still stuck.  It is also known by several other names such as Bethlehem sage, Jerusalem cowslip, spotted dog and “soldiers & sailors”.  So, anyways, I snapped a few photos and came in and happily set out to create page 1 in my latest nature sketch journal.  Just about my favorite way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Explore Your Roots

 

One of the best things about having a blog is the ability to use it as your “soapbox”, to share with the world ,or whomever cares to read it, your thoughts or opinions on just about anything and everything from soup to nuts! It just so happens that, as a former small business owner/creator/marketer, I have a very special place in my heart for those kindred spirits who love to create and sell their creations. Yesterday I visited my favorite kind of “shopping mecca” where there are handmade products galore from a wide selection of creators. More often than not, when I visit such places I feel guilty actually purchasing very much because a lot of the things I’m attracted to happen to be things I know I could make myself. Notice the word “could”. Yes……I “could”, but the more important question, and the one I conceded to yesterday was “but WOULD I?”.  The answer these days is almost always…..”uh, no, I would not”.  I just have too much going on.  So, I’m tickled pink to share with you some of the treasures and the Creators who produced them.

Many of you may be familiar with the Local Roots store out on Cleveland Ave. in Ashland.  I had only been there a couple times previously. My sister and her husband and I all share birthdays within 6 days of each other, so, she decided to gather us all together with some of her children to have lunch at Lyn-Way, a rarity for us. We had a great time and decided to mosey over to Local Roots across the street afterwards.  I was in Heaven as soon as we entered. Sometimes places like this have either just a few items or they concentrate on only 1 or 2 main types of products. Oh not this place!!  They had an extremely varied selection of items. My eyes first landed on the handmade/sewn fabric things like little drawstring bags to organize things, napkins, “paper” towels, grocery store produce-type bags, tote bags, aprons, bowl cozies, little zipper bags of all sizes to store change or other little treasures in, mug cozies and more. Next I noticed all kinds of dried herbs in bulk in glass jars, nice for all kinds of uses such as your own tea concoctions or in cooking. After that there was a small smattering of fresh produce such as beets, cabbage and radishes. I know during the summer season this category is a lot more full, as to be expected. There was a fairly large display of handmade soaps, lotions and such, which is always of particular interest to me since that was my main type of creation many years ago. There was handmade pottery, jewelry, some beautiful photo greeting cards as well as hand painted ones. Next there was a large freezer containing locally sourced organic meats which looked better and more interesting than most anything you’d find in your typical grocery store. There were many other local food items like organic cornmeal, maple syrup, delicious chocolate candy sweetened only with honey, baked goods and jams, jellies and other condiments.  The lady working there was quite friendly and couldn’t have been more helpful.

So, you may be asking, “What did you get Teresa?” Well here’s what I felt I couldn’t do without at that time. Believe me, there was a LOT more I would have loved, but, the last time I checked, the Reader’s Digest people have not yet deposited a million dollars into my checking account. I keep checking…they keep avoiding my calls.  The photo above shows almost everything but it’s hard to really figure out what some of it is. I’ll start with the Pure Maple Sugar from Fitch Pharm Farm. I have had maple sugar from other folks before and found it to be fantastic sprinkled into or on butternut squash or oatmeal. So, I thought I would give their’s a try. I’ve had some of their products before and know them to be of very good quality. Along those same lines, I decided to also try their Organic, Non GMO Stone Ground Cornmeal as well. As a matter of fact, I just polished off a warm piece of cornbread I made from it this morning……yummy for sure!!!  It has a very nice texture unlike the mass produced type I find at the grocery store. I’m a sucker for handmade/hand sewn items …..little things I can and have made but, like I noted above, know that I will not usually take the time to do anymore.  I appreciate the time and effort that even the smallest of items involve. I managed to limit myself to a cute little cloth pouch with bicycles on it, from “Mary’s Sewing” that looks perfect for carrying business cards…….something I’m going to need real soon…….lol……I believe they call that a “teaser”, 2 catnip-filled tiny “pillows” from “Puppy Pleasures” for my fur babies, which, instead of inducing “euphoria” like I thought they would, transformed my normally docile felines into fighting tigers after the first 60 seconds with these new toys. Rather entertaining. Rest assured, no blood was shed during this round of growling and teeth-baring.  Then I snagged a couple bowl cozies from “Paulla’s Baskets”. If you’re unfamiliar, these are like fabric hot pads except they are sewn to “caress” the bowl, making them excellent for when you’re eating your favorite soup in front of the boob tube or, conversely when eating a bowl of something really cold, like ice cream and you don’t relish the idea of stiff purple fingers from an ice-cold bowl. They’re great and I got 2 more colorful additions to add to my collection at home. 

Next I faced a dilemma with the greeting card displays. I am totally “old school” in regards to being one who LOVES to still send and receive actual PAPER cards and letters and I’ve had a lifelong love of greeting cards. On a sidenote, many years ago I tried my hand at writing greeting card verse and actually sold 3 of my creations to Dayspring, a nationally known Christian card company…I digress.  I also used to make my own greeting cards many years ago which fed my extreme passion for paper of all kinds. Speaking of that, have you ever been to Hollo’s PaperCraft up the road in Brunswick?  Oh my, if by chance you share my passion for paper of all kinds, colors, weights and types, you simply MUST visit their quirky, unique store!! Oy vey…. I can’t seem to stay on the trail today….oh yes, the greeting card display.  I had a hard time narrowing it down, but I eventually chose 2 BEAUTIFUL photo cards by Linda Goodman. They are photos of nature and the outdoors…my favorite . I may or may not be able to part with them.  If you get a card like that from me, know that I think you’re pretty darn swell! Next my eyes landed on the handmade pottery, something I almost never buy but that I definitely love. As it turns out, I’m kinda picky about my pottery and lean towards very specific types and colors which are not always readily available just anywhere. My most treasured piece of handmade pottery is a mug that is dear to my heart. Many many years ago when I had my own business making hundreds and hundreds of bars of soap and similar products and toting them all over the place, I happened to end up at the Triway craft show next to a very nice pottery vendor. We spent a Saturday hawking our wares and getting to know each other. Back in those days, money was very tight and it was not in my budget to purchase pottery or things in that generally higher price range at events like that.  But at the end of the show that day this sweet gal suggested that perhaps I would be interested in “bartering”……I would get to pick my choice of items from her products and she would get to choose an equally priced item from mine.  That was my FIRST experience with bartering and I must say I LOVE it and wish this society would get back to more of that way of exchanging goods and services.  So, I chose a beautiful and uniquely shaped brown earthy mug which I cherish to this day, along with the memories it evokes.  I did it again, didn’t I! Boy, Alice in Wonderland has nothin’ on me!!  I found a beautiful little vessel with a lid in shades of aqua and purple that I have decided I will use on my counter as a salt cellar. The name carved into the bottom is Connie Vogler from Tenderheart Pottery. I absolutely love it!!!  Next, that freezer of meat in the back had me curious and I chose a package of Italian Chicken Meatballs from local Tea Hill Farm. I’ll have to report back on those later. Lastly, an impulse purchase, for which I am famous……….what say ye??!!!…..aren’t ALL of these “impulse purchases”??!!!  Why yes, Cindy Lou, I suppose they are at that. Anyways, my sister had mentioned a tiny essential oil diffuser that clips in your car vent up by the cash register.  I have a pretty serious fragrance allergy and even essential oils mess with me at times but I also like for things to smell good. So, when I spied this pretty little thing I decided that it too had to go home with me. I shall see if I can handle it’s gentle wafting of the oils of my choice ….probably spearmint and lavender….or not.  

So, there you have it. My wonderful trip to discover some of the fruits of labor of many local people who share their talents with the shoppers at Local Roots in Ashland, Ohio.  My kind of shopping for sure.