Those who follow my blog posts may know that my home, built in 1855, has been badly damaged. In the spring of 2023, very high winds and a tornado caused power outages in our town in Ohio. The winds toppled trees, downed power lines, and caused one of the chimneys to collapse. That broke some of the rafters in the attic and raised the roof.
I have planned for some time now to take a road trip to visit family and friends down south: Tennessee, Georgia, North, and South Carolina, and possibly even Alabama. The last time my husband and I traveled down south was in 2019. I had planned to make the sixteen-day trip this June.
But then, my eldest brother weighed in and suggested that I should postpone such a trip until my home is repaired. This afternoon yet another inspector is coming to the house. I have been very impressed with the builders who will fix my home. But they, like me, have been hamstrung by the seemingly endless inspectors who have looked at my house. The last one who was here was the best. He spent about ninety minutes looking at the house, and his inspection included flying a drone over the roof of my home to show things he could not see from the inside.
That being said, I titled this blog “When One Door Closes, Another Opens.” A highlight of not taking my road trip south this summer is that I can attend the retirement party for the husband of one of my oldest and dearest friends.
In my last blog post, our adventures took place in my hometown of Toledo. But I wanted to take my friends to see places dear to my heart southeast of where I live.
I come by it, honestly. My parents loved to escape the city by heading out to the rolling hills of Amish country whenever an opportunity allowed. Some of my great-grandparents are buried in Dover, Ohio, and from Dover, Amish country is but a hop, skip, and a jump.
Perhaps you have been there: Millersburg, Berlin (pronounced, unlike its German counterpart, as Bur-lin), Walnut Creek, Sugar Creek, Coshocton County, Tuscarawas County, Holmes County. The list goes on. But it was to this area where my friends and I traveled recently.
My parents always loved this neck of the woods. But in my father’s case, I have long suspected that delicious Amish-made pies called out to him often!
You may have noticed that I haven’t written any blog posts recently. The reason, you ask? I didn’t have time to write because my friends and I were busy having adventures. Ellen drove from North Carolina, and Judy from Indiana. What fun we have had! Because Judy lives closer, I’ve gotten to visit with her now & again. But I hadn’t seen Ellen in ages.
One day we took a trip to my hometown of Toledo. We drove by my parent’s home, where my three older brothers and I grew up.
We went to the cemetery and said hello to my parents, grandparents, aunt, and my dear husband, Ron.
When I was a girl, I used to go with my Mom and Nana to plant flowers in front of my grandfathers’ graves. Lest you think this a morbid task, perish the thought! I also got to feed the ducks at the long reflection pool.
But once we had been there, we thought that excellent food was required. To accomplish that, we ate at a Toledo Ohio original, Tony Packo’s. Hungarian Hotdogs! The walls are adorned with a gazillion autographed hot dog buns. Have you ever eaten there?
The first mention of Tony Packo’s on “M*A*S*H” was when Cpl. Klinger, portrayed by Toledo native Jamie Farr, declared that the “greatest Hungarian hot dogs” could be found there. (Photo courtesy of Tony Packo’s)
Here is a close-up of Radar O’Reilly’s autographed hot dog bun:
Here is a picture of my friend Ellen at Tony Packo’s. Can you see the autographed hot dog buns on the wall behind her? (Forgive me, Ellen for snapping this picture mid sip!)
I hope you have enjoyed these pictures from my friends visit. Please let me know if you’ve ever been to Tony Packo’s and, if you haven’t, start making plans!
PS: The Original Tony Packo’s is located at 1902 Front Street Toledo, OH 43605. Phone 419.691.6054.
Weird things sometimes happen in life. We start out on one path and then realize that the things that make us tick are in a different direction. One of the many blessings of living in America is that our futures aren’t decided for us by the time we reach sixth grade. We can change course, reinvent ourselves, strike out on a different path.
When I was in sixth grade, I had gotten very excited by architecture. I thought I wanted to study architecture and design houses. Probably a very good thing that I didn’t pursue that. In sixth grade, I was wowed by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, but by the time I was a little older what got me excited was Victorian exuberance – towers, turrets, front & back stairways, wrap-around porches, tons of bedrooms, formal entrance ways, formal dining rooms. One of my favorite seminary professors lived in just such a house – decked out in ways that were very lively, and certainly not Victorian.
I entered college as a pre-law student, thinking that I wanted to follow in my father’s, older brother’s, and grandfather’s footsteps. That notion didn’t last long. I realized very early that studying the law was not a dream of mine. So, I spent some time reading and thinking and studying English Literature, and decided I wanted to become a Lutheran Pastor. Like my other grandfather, favorite uncle, and youngest brother.
I reached out to my Bishop to find out what the Synod’s requirements might be prior to applying to seminary. One of their requirements was to go to a Career Counseling Service and go through a battery of testing to see whether ministry was a good direction for my skill sets and interests. The answer was surprising.
When all the testing was done, the Career Counselor said that my testing showed that I was best suited to be a Priest. Did you get that? A Roman Catholic Priest! I thought that was a bit rich since I was female. Soooo, I asked the guy why the testing would tell me that I should be a Priest when I was a female and, even if I had been a Catholic, obviously couldn’t be a Priest. The answer was surprising.
He told me that the questions about the Priesthood were weighted toward caring about the liturgy of the church and about the way the services were conducted. I countered by saying that surely Lutherans and Episcopalians and many other liturgical churches had pastors who cared about the liturgy and the way the Eucharist was celebrated and the holiness of the services. He agreed. At that point, I pushed a little harder asking why the testing didn’t say that I was best suited to be a pastor?
He looked a little sheepish when he answered. He said that the questions regarding (non-Catholic) liturgical churches were weighted higher in wanting to hang out with the parishioners, over coffee, spaghetti suppers, and the like. Suddenly a light came on for me. While I can certainly do those things and enjoy them, they weren’t the priority items on my list. Good preaching and faithful liturgy weighed in much higher for me. If those things aren’t right, no spaghetti supper is going to hold the church together.
All too often when I was a young person in church, the classes, and youth group events were clumsily trying to be relevant and real and talked about stupid things like “will God still love me if I come to church wearing jeans?”
What I have always craved is worship that is thoughtful and follows the liturgy, which done right, is continually pointing us to scripture and through scripture and the Ecumenical Creeds to the Triune God. I don’t go to church because I want someone to tell me how to think, how to vote, what to care about. I go to church to be fed. I go to church to hear the word of scripture. I go to church to eat the body and drink the blood of my Lord and Savior, who died for my sins – which are many.
I decided, along the way, that I belonged in the pew, not in the pulpit. I was approved for ordination, but I decided that there were better ways for me to serve the Lord. But one issue that has never abated for me is my impatience with people who want to waste time touting the current issue du jour. Quit trying to be relevant for today! Instead of trying to be relevant – work on being faithful! Wrestle with the appointed lessons of the day and assist your congregation with seeing them more clearly. That will do more to create disciples who have stopped, and are turning around to look at their Lord, than anything else you can do.
My husband and I are constantly thankful that we have just such a pastor – a pastor whose preaching provides nurturing food for our lives, to take to heart, think and talk about during the week. The liturgy does that as well as it is packed with prayers, admonitions and songs that come directly from scripture.
I have some friends who go to big, non-liturgical Christian churches, who think that liturgy is all made up stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is a retelling, from many parts of the old and new testaments, of words that point us in the direction of our God. I still find myself singing the haunting words from the Psalmody of an Evening Prayer liturgy:
Let my prayer rise before you as incense; the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. O Lord, I call to you; come to me quickly; hear my voice, when I cry to you. . .
We need Pastors and Priests who are faithful to their calling. We need them to wrestle with the words of scripture and use them to preach, teach, and, just like all the saints of the church, point us to the Lord of Life.
I’ve talked about some surprising answers that I have found in my life. What are some of the questions and issues in your life?
Right now the Christian church is knee deep in the season of Lent. This is the season from Ash Wednesday to Easter, when we take stock of our lives, look to the Lord, and walk with Him on his way to the cross for our sake.
If you haven’t come to church, please stop, turn around and come. If you don’t have a church to go to, this is the perfect time to start – so go on your own or tag along with a friend. If you are a church member, invite your neighbor. If you don’t know who you could go with – ask around. Ask your friends on Facebook. Ask God. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened.
No matter what your life looks like, no matter how many times you’ve fallen or screwed up, know that you are in good company. So has every single person on the planet.Instead, remember who and whose you are. Take a deep breath. Stop what you are doing. Turn around. Look to the Lord of Life – He is right there. He is walking before you
The last three blog posts have been about the drama of my damaged house being repaired. Now I want to switch gears and talk about something cheering that cheers me and might cheer you.
This week I have two college friends arriving — one from Indiana and one from North Carolina. If you read my series of blog posts about my college professor Karl Peterson, you have already seen their pictures. But remember that the picture I am showing here dates back forty-two years to my marriage in 1982.
I have visited with my friend Judy, who lives in Indiana since my move to Ohio, and Judy has stayed at my Ohio home several times. My friend Ellen visited my husband and me when we lived in Arizona but has never seen my circa 1855 Ohio home.
Here is a favorite picture taken during Ellen’s visit to Ron & me in Arizona way back in 2015. We have seen each other since then — but she has never been to our Ohio home.
I am counting the hours until Judy and Ellen arrive. Ellen lives in North Carolina, and while we have visited over the years, she has never seen my Ohio home. I have some adventures planned, as well as some delicious places to dine. If you were having friends visit, where would you want to take them?
Do you have dear friends who you haven’t seen in a while?
If you haven’t read the two previous blog posts in this series, which were published on Tuesday, April 28, 2023, and May 2, 2023, consider starting there.
But be advised, the story doesn’t end there. A few days ago, I heard some odd noise outside, and looking out the front door; I saw the builders’ truck parked in the driveway with Gina behind the wheel: Gina and her husband, Vincent, own Cirigliano Enterprises, LLC.
But the noise I heard was not the truck but a different kind of noise. I decided to go outside and check it out. It turned out to be individual bricks being tossed off the roof onto the gravel driveway.
In addition to the bricks that were tossed onto the gravel drive and then thrown onto the bed of the truck some larger items, were lowered down by rope.
I don’t know about you, but I am a coward and dislike heights. I have been to very high places: the top of the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and what seemed like endless stairs in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
I am so thankful for the young man who did this precarious work on the roof of my home.
I unearthed an old list of blog ideas buried in the paper piles of my office submitted by old friends and two cousins. I am tempted by their excellent suggestions and mean to address them shortly, but right now, I am pulled in another direction.
I am in my home office and can hear the rain coming down. Alas, that doesn’t help matters. My house was built in 1855, and the houses on either side of me were most likely built about the same time. Stormy weather, high winds, and old architecture are not a healthy mix.
I watched workmen on the roof of the home next door to mine. I talked with several, and one of them took some pictures of my roof from that vantage point. It showed a fallen chimney. My home has three chimneys — it appears that only the one has toppled.
I had the good fortune to talk with the company’s owners repairing the house next door. The quality of their work impresses me. I asked them if they would be willing to look at my home, which requires much work. They agreed to do that.
I was entirely unprepared to see the extent of damage both inside and outside my home, which their pictures dramatically cataloged.
In addition, there is a lengthy list of interior and exterior damage that will need repair.
Looking forward, I am thankful for the company who will attend to the repairs.
The blog post I just finished and intended to post today with pictures and information regarding damage to my home will have to wait.
I just received a call from the builders telling me they are conscious of the seriousness of my home crisis. So instead of the previous date for inspection, scheduled for May 8th, they have arranged for the inspector to arrive this Sunday.
I am a poor piano substitute for the church organist every third Sunday when his day job requires him to work. I am supposed to play for him this Sunday. I talked to the pastor to let him know that the inspectors are flying in from other states, and I am waiting to hear whether they will be arriving at my home in the morning or afternoon. I am hoping that they will be here in the afternoon, but I need to be here regardless of the hour.
I would appreciate your prayers as I await the inspectors visit — many thanks.
Now and again, we are issued an invitation that is beyond compare. I received one to help celebrate a milestone birthday for my daughter. There was not one chance in a million that I would turn down a visit with my daughter, son-in-law, and their wonderful children.
So I packed my things, drove from my Ohio home to their Missouri home, and enjoyed a delicious visit with them, taking me away from home for twelve scrumptious days.
We attended Easter services at their church and were invited to dinner at the home of my son-in-law’s parents the following day. It was a treat to catch up with many in their extended family.
My daughter & son-in-law wanted to take me to the St. Louis Art Museum, but unfortunately, it was closed, so we went to the zoo instead. Somehow this old lady accidentally deleted all the zoo pictures I took.
On Saturday night, a fabulous party with many of her friends and family helped to celebrate her birthday. I am still savoring the joys of this twelve-day adventure.
I had planned to write about Karl Peterson visiting us in Columbia, South Carolina, for five days in June 1991. But I have changed my mind. Instead, I want to end this series with one last post about Karl and our friendship.
I was in Virginia with my husband, visiting his parents, when Karl Peterson’s daughters called, informing me that their father had died and asking me to speak at his funeral. There was no way that I could make it back to Ohio in time for his funeral. So, I wrote what I would have said and contacted a faculty member, Charles Chatfield, who read it for me at Karl’s funeral.
This is what I wrote:
A handful of students kept him talking after class: but he was willing to keep up the discussion as long as time allowed. The topics were varied — religion, anthropology, criminology, art, movies, and sociology. You need not agree with him, but he responded to students as if their questions were exceedingly serious. In time, I noticed that my questions were becoming more substantial. He expected it.
Fifteen years ago, when Karl Peterson was my teacher, the books in his office were in three-foot stacks everywhere. He had bibliographic suggestions for nearly every discussion. Once during a conversation with me, he loaned me a book that dealt with the history and influence of the phrase “We Stand On the Shoulders of Giants.” I am grateful for the privilege of standing on the shoulders of a giant — an exemplary teacher, avid reader, lover of art, and good friend.
Sometimes the memories of people we care for trip us up when we least expect it. I found this in my journal written in April of 1994:
On the Death of My Teacher, Karl S. Peterson.
Four months have passed since you died. There is still an oddness about it — a piece not fitting.
You have been my friend, teacher, and advisor for fifteen years. You visited me and my family in two of our homes. We sat on a park bench in Connecticut and smelled the salty sea air at Light House Point Park. In South Carolina, we sat on the curb outside the art museum and ate lunch — street vendor hot dogs. How often have we gone out to dinner in Springfield or Yellow Springs, and now you are dead.
It is just weird. It wasn’t that we talked so often — but I wasn’t finished with the conversation, were you?
From your obituary, I learned things that I never knew about you. But you said I was a rare friend to whom you could say anything.
Although the longevity of friendship makes up for lots of conversation, I keep thinking, oh, I must tell Karl. Are you listening?
PS. Karl, here it is 29 years later, and I still miss our talks.