Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter in Chardon, Ohio

Linda shoveling the snow after a "lake effect" in Chardon, Ohio.
In a typical year we might get 120 inches of snow in the Lake Erie Snowbelt. That means a lot of shoveling and snow-blowing. We probably get double the snowfall that Cleveland gets.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Poem by Frank O'Malley


By Frank O’Malley

Let the Christbrand burst,
Let the Christbrand blazon.

Dartle whitely under the hearth-fire,
Unwind the wind, turn the thunderer,
And never , never thinning,
Forfend fear.
Flare up smartly, fix, flex, bless, inspire,
Instar the time, sear the sorcerer,
And never, never sparing,
Save all year.

Let the Christbrand burst,
Let the Christbrand blazon.

(Frank O’Malley was a beloved English Professor at the University of Notre Dame)

Winter Solstice Poem

Winter Solstice

The chill creeps into the bones:
December 21 and sun gone long before 5 o’clock;
Huge gray clouds roll in off Lake Erie
Riding the Witch’s gale, spitting sleet and

Fears as real and as organized as the swirl
Of pin oak leaves down Lakeshore Boulevard.
This day, shaken by nameless fears,
Seems to last forever:

I wonder how I will get through the next minute,
And the minute after that,
And the minute after that,

Wonder if I can make it
Until hope returns

Until peace-which-surpasses-understanding,
As mysterious as winter solstice’s fear--
My heart standing still, turning cold,
My spirit abandoned--

Until peace returns like grace like unexpected


                        Robert M. Coughlin

Summer Solstice Memory on Winter Solstice

Summer Solstice on Lake Erie--off Mentor Headlands, Ohio

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in Jail

Last evening my daughter Carolan and I joined about 30 other church members (from St. Mary's Painesville, a church in Burton, St. Bede's, St. Anthony's, St. Matthew's of Kalispell, Montana (Carolan's parish), and a few other churches) in a Christmas celebration of song and prayer.

This activity took place in the Lake County Jail, under the watchful eyes of the corrections deputies, in the 4th floor gymnasium. We had 3 separate groups: the first group, maybe 40 or so women; the second group, maybe 30 men; and the third group, maybe 60 men. Fr. Mark Riley, of St. Mary's Painesville, led the activities. Behind him were the choir members from St. Mary's and three musicians, including St. Mary's music director (and flute and whistle player extraordinaire), Mary Ann Ratchko.

This is the second such religious liturgy/celebration that I've taken part in at the jail. And each time I've been amazed how the prisoners look so much like my students and my daughters' friends. The women especially are young--most appear in their twenties or early thirties; they were enthusiastic participants, singing and even dancing to the final song (the joyous "Feliz Navidad"). There was a greater age range among the men, and some appeared "harder" in some ways, especially with all their tattoos. Even they, at the end of the night, sang joyfully (and some even danced) to "Feliz Navidad."

In my Catholic grade school (St. William's) and high school (St. Joe's) I learned the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy--one of which is to "visit the imprisoned." It was a blessing for Carolan and me to do that last evening. I hope we brought the prisoners some solace and joy; they sure gave us those Christmas presents.

Postscript: At one point last night, Fr. Mark Riley asked everyone to pray for the 20 families in Newtown, Connecticut who have lost their six and seven-year-old children. I noticed great sympathy among the prisoners--and anger, too. I had the feeling that many of the prisoners would have protected these little children--would have defended them.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bluegrass Music at Aunt Maudie's in the 1970's

In the winter of 1971, Chris Cotter and I took over, from Peggy Scherer and Anne Weinkam, the apartment at 225 Orchard Street in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood. Over-the-Rhine was one of the most interesting neighborhoods you could find in America. It was a mostly poor, urban Appalachian area, with remnants of German and Italian-Americans, and a scattering of other ethnic groups. In 1971, there weren't many Blacks in Over-the-Rhine; they were, for the most part, in the West End and on the fringes of OTR. There was a small group of Vista workers; some Mennonite workers from Bluffton College; some peace activists (I guess Chris and I fit into that category); and some young people who were artists or craftsmen. Some people fit none of these categories!

About one quarter mile from our Orchard Street home, near 13th and Main Streets, was a Bluegrass bar called "Aunt Maudie's Country Garden." I am sure that you could not find better Bluegrass music anywhere. We had the best, and there was no cover charge. The beer was served in mason jars and was cheep and plentiful. Life was good!

On the weekends, a band called the "Stony Mountain Boys" played music at the bar--they were stuffed in the back of the long, narrow bar, behind the pool table, just to the right of the men's toilet, on a small, slightly elevated stage. I once asked Junior McIntyre how much he was paid per night. If I remember correctly, he told me $7 bucks a night. Now that couldn't be possible. But whatever they were paid, it wasn't much, and it did not match their incredible talent. [More coming soon]

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Coughlin Kleppel Marching Pennywhistle Band

Colin Jude Kleppel and his Grampa "Brrr" [that's me!] marching around the house on Thanksgiving Day playing "Shortnin' Bread" on the whistle.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dorothy Day Article on Ernest and Marion Bromley and the Cincinnati Peacemakers

I've been reading Patsy Harman's book "Arms Wide Open," and it made me think about some of the characters in the book that I knew who were involved in a historic victory for the peace movement. Dorothy Day wrote about it:

"Bromley Eviction Halted"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, September 1975, 3. 

As we go to press it gives me great joy to write of a victory on the peace front, a victory achieved by the valiant work of the younger members of the peace movement in the United States, which has long known the patient and long-suffering work of such bodies as the War Resisters and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, not to forget, to speak modestly, of the Catholic Worker. As of now, it looks as though our friends, the Bromleys, will not be evicted from the Gano Peacemaker house in Cincinnati, and that the sale of the house, which took place this last summer, will be annulled. Among others, credit can be given to Peggy Scherer, who, in addition to her manual labor here at the farm in Tivoli this past year, had continued her close collaboration with Chuck Matthei in Washington and other Peacemakers around the country. And Lee LeCuyer, who is a tireless worker at First Street, has also leafleted and picketed both in Cincinnati and New York. These are the ones who helped lead the movement which achieved this victory. Ernest and Marion Bromley's patient hard work--picketing, leafleting, resisting, speaking the truth--has not gone unnoticed.
It is a lesson for us all in the peace movement that gentle pressure, constant hard work, a faithful, straightforward--one might even say respectful--adherence to the Scriptural command to love our opponents and to exercise the virtue of hope even when all seems hopeless, offer a great example of the pure means to achieve our ends. Jacques Maritain impressed this use of pure means upon us as in the earliest days of the Catholic Worker. This victory also gives us all a sense of joyful gratitude, not only for the hard work of the young people, but even for those in government office who can respond, as they seem to have, to these persistent, though gentle pressures. Let us pray that this "little" victory will give courage to others around the country to take a stand, which involves a real commitment to the "voluntary poverty" we all talk so much about.

[This text is not copyrighted. However, if you use or cite this text please indicate the original publication source and this website (Dorothy Day Library on the Web at 

Suggested citation:
Day, Dorothy. "Bromley Eviction Halted". The Catholic Worker, September 1975, 3. The Catholic Worker Movement.]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Patricia (Patsy) Harman's book "Arms Wide Open"

I am about 50 pages into Patsy Harman's book, Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey. The book was published in 2011 by Beacon Press. It is a very very good book!

I met Patsy about 38 years ago, when she was a hippy and peace agitator. I can't say I ever knew her very well. But I did visit the communes in Batavia, Ohio, and Spencer, West Virginia where she lived. I knew her husband, Dr. Tom Harman (I can hardly believe Tom's a physician!), and many of her friends: Kenny Przybylski, Wendy Rawlins Tuck, Tim Jenkins, Chuck Matthei, and so many more. I even lived in the ragged Batavia farmhouse after this group left for their West Virginia adventure (Rick Anderson was my house mate)..

To me the book reads like a "roman a clef," names of the characters changed to protect the innocent and guilty. The only actual names I think Patsy is using are her own name and her husband Tom's name.

So far the book has drama and tension--necessary ingredients to keep us reading. And I find the sentences well-crafted, almost at times like poetry. I keep wondering how Patsy learned to write so beautifully in a life that has been so full (and at times so hard).

Patsy has one other memoir out, The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir (Beacon Press, 2009), and a novel, The Midwife of Hope River (William Morrow, 2012). I am going to read all of these books. I am so excited to see her talent blossom out like this.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, 'Gert Ann!

Eulogy for My Mother, Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin. December 11, 2003. St. Mary’s Church, Painesville, Ohio.

We would like to thank all our family members, our  friends, our relatives for their kind wishes and prayers for my Mom over these past few days. Thanks especially to Aunt Kay and Uncle Bill Coughlin, to all the Coughlin cousins, to the Brock cousins, and all the Fitzpatrick cousins, who are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Thanks to our Euclid friends, our Chardon friends, our Mentor friends, our Valley City friends, our friends from work. Thanks to my brother Denny, his wife Sherri, and children Marlo, Sean, Kit, and Cory, who flew in from California. And to Marie and Michelle Zaremba, and Mike and Amy Zaremba, all who came up from  southern Ohio. Thanks especially to Mary Ellen, who spent the last night of Mom’s life by her side in the hospital. And to Kevin and his boys, Ryan, Tommy, and Cody, who brought Mom into their house the last year of her life.

Those of you who saw my Mom’s obituary in Tuesday’s News-Herald probably had yourself a good chuckle. They listed my Mom as 70 years old, yet born on November 10, 1923. So much for the “New Math”! By that reckoning I’m 45 years old again. My Mom lied about her age as long as I can remember, but I have to hand it to the News-Herald!

In the last 8 years or so, many things have been taken from my Mom, many things lost. In 1996 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 1997, my Dad died. That same year Mom was diagnosed with macular degeneration, which led to virtual blindness. A year later she was diagnosed with colon cancer. These tribulations would have devastated a lesser person, but my Mom accepted her life with an amazing grace. She maintained her wonderful spirit, her positive attitude, her joyfulness, her mischievousness and sense of fun right up to the end. Of all her virtues, I admired most her unfailing sense of gratitude. A couple years ago I wrote this poem about her:

“My Mother’s Grace”

 -for Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin

My Mother never holds
onto evil, suffering, hate,

In her mind’s eye
is always centered


joy and fun:

                It is the most amazing
                charism I have ever seen.

The day my Mother dies
she will have in front of her
not pain, regret, or fear,

                But the last wonderful thing.

                *              *              *

And that last wonderful thing was, of course, gratitude. Gratitude for her life, her family, and her faith.

Mom with brothers Fenton (Skip) and Don (circa 1940)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

89th Anniversary of Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin's Birth Approaching

This Saturday, November 10th, will mark the 89th anniversary of my Mother's birth. Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick was born November 10th, 1923 in Cleveland to John F. and Margaret Ann (nee Sullivan) Fitzpatrick. She was the youngest of 6 children (after Al, Julia (Dudie), Fenton (Skip), and twins Dick and Don.

She was a wonderful person. Fun, funny, full of life, full of spirit. Here's a photo of her with niece Susie Brock from around 1957.

Looks like they drank a lot of beer back in 1957!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What I Am Thankful For

I am happy about Barack Obama's reelection for many specific reasons. Here are a few of them:
  • his election means that The Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") will continue forward. Though far from perfect, the Act deals with insurance caps (Obama mentioned that in his victory speech last night and when he was at Mentor High School last Saturday), pre-existing conditions, allowing adult children to be on their parents' medical policies up to age 26, and so many other crucial aspects of health care. I think that in the future it will help control the increase in prices of health insurance (others vigorously dispute that--we'll see). Certain aspects of this Act need to be changed, the sooner the better.
  • public television and radio are safer; these are national treasures, and it would be a blow to our democracy to have them defunded. My grandson Colin will still have Big Bird, as well as Elmo and Baby Bop.
  • public lands are safer. National Parks, Forests, Monuments, etc. These national treasures are safe for a while.
  • the poor and needy will continue to receive some help. This is a huge concern of mine; my wife and I serve meals to the homeless every week in Painesville, Ohio (Project Hope and St. Mary's). Helping the poor is one of the basic tenets of my Christian Catholicism (as well as a basic element of my Irish heritage!).
I know there are some negative sides to Obama's reelection. I feel deeply for my Right to Life friends and their passionate opposition to Obama--I understand them, I think.

But I have weighed the pros and cons of Obama's reelection, and I think the pros win out by far. We ask God to bless our leaders, keep them from harm, help them to do what is right and good. And God Bless our country.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Springsteen's Song "We Take Care of Our Own"


Album version

I been knocking on the door that holds the throne
I been looking for the map that leads me home
I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own

From Chicago to New Orleans, from the muscle to the bone

From the shotgun shack to the Superdome
There ain't no help, the cavalry stayed home
There ain't no one hearing the bugle blowin'
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own

Where're the eyes, the eyes with the will to see

Where're the hearts that run over with mercy
Where's the love that has not forsaken me
Where's the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where's the spirit that'll reign, reign over me
Where's the promise from sea to the shining sea
Where's the promise from sea to the shining sea
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown

We take care of our own

We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag's flown
We take care of our own.

Bruce Springsteen is a guy with a big big heart. This song expresses so passionately what I wish for my family and my country.

Montana Conservation Corps and Disaster Relief for Hurricane Sandy

I just saw this news release from the Montana Conservation Corps. Carolan is one of these relief workers (she's now in the borough of Queens, stationed at a relief shelter at York College (Jamaica neighborhood of Queens):

November 2, 2012
For immediate release
Contact: Jono McKinney, MCC President and CEO
Office - 406-587-4475

Montana Conservation Corps Deploys for Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

Bozeman – Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) announced today that nearly 40 of its AmeriCorps national service members are set to deploy as part of the response effort to Hurricane Sandy. MCC will deploy members on a 30 day disaster response effort in coordination with the Corporation for National and Community (CNCS) Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Utilizing the existing National Service infrastructure allows a rapid mobilization of volunteers into areas of critical need. State and federal agencies, partnering with local disaster managers, are able to leverage national service member expertise to clear fallen trees and other debris, move sand, distribute food, coordinate volunteers, and support other general relief efforts as they arise.

MCC crews gathered Friday for deployment orders and will arrive in affected areas this Saturday with tools and resources to begin work immediately. Accompanying the crews is Mario Colucci, MCC Regional Program Coordinator for Missoula. He is expected to assist local personnel in coordinating the extensive relief efforts.

“This is an all hands on deck scenario and AmeriCorps members are uniquely suited to provide immediate assistance. They have a level of efficiency and skills that make them a great resource to bring stability and aid to the beleaguered people affected by Hurricane Sandy,” stated Colucci.
Earlier this year, MCC applied for and was granted designation as a CNCS Disaster Response Corps.  Disaster Response Corps are pre-approved for CNCS’s disaster response deployment list, enabling a rapid response of boots on the ground.

About Montana Conservation Corps

MCC is a nonprofit organization that inspires self-discovery in young people through hands-on conservation service while empowering them with the skills, values, and confidence to be leaders, stewards of the land, and engaged citizens who strengthen their communities. MCC AmeriCorps members complete diverse conservation and community projects including trails, weed management, stream restoration, tree planting, home energy retrofitting, and building improvements for local organizations. For more information, visit or call 1-866-JOIN MCC.

About the Corporation for National and Community Service

CNCS, a federal agency, provides strong support, expertise, and trained and dedicated volunteers to help communities to prepare for, mitigate, respond, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. From forest fires and floods, to hurricanes and tornadoes, to terror attacks and oil spills, participants in CNCS programs have provided critical support to millions of Americans affected by disasters since 1994.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Obama at Mentor High School

Here is part of President Obama's longer speech at today's rally: And here is Kevin Potter's introduction of President Obama and his comments on how "Obamacare" has saved his daughter Erin's life:

Carolan to work at a shelter in Staten Island

Carolan and her colleagues from the Montana Conservation Corps will arrive in New York City tonight and then go on to a shelter in Staten Island where they will work for at least the next month. Staten Island has sustained terrible damage from Hurricane Sandy and we hope Carolan's crew can help out.

President Obama's Short Speech at Mentor High School

Here is a youtube version of the short speech that President Obama gave in the overflow room at Mentor High School today. Linda and I were standing on the right side of the stage (the video was taken from the left side). After the short speech, President Obama shook hands with everyone he could reach; then he went into the main gym for the longer speech. Over 4000 people were at today's rally. It was tremendously exciting.

Obama in Mentor, Ohio--November 3rd, 2012

This morning we waited a couple of hours in rain, sleet, and nasty cold to enter the Obama rally at Mentor High School. When we arrived at the high school around 8:30 AM we were discouraged to find a line about a half mile long, wrapping all around the high school. But spirits were high, people in a fun mood, and after a couple of hours we went through the metal detectors and entered the school. As we got to the high school gym, the entry was closed off--the gym was full. They asked us to go down the hall to an overflow area and promised us a "special guest." Around 11:45 the special guest, President Barack Obama, arrived, came to our overflow area, and made a brief off-the-cuff speech. And then, before the featured speech in the gymnasium, President Obama shook hands with dozens of people in our area. At one point he was 5 feet away from Linda and me. He looked right at us, apparently noticing my Guinness cap and snow-white beard, and acknowledged us.

I felt like the little boy who stood with my Mom and Dad, brothers and sister along St.Clair Avenue near Euclid Beach in the summer of 1960 and saw John F. Kennedy drive by on his way to the Democratic Party steer roast at Euclid Beach Park.

My eyes welled up with tears and I felt so lucky to be at Mentor High School on this chilly November 3rd, 2012, to see President Barack Obama. I'm sure the little children who stood in front of me and shook the president's hand will never forget this moment in time.

Here are a few photos form this rally. These were taken this morning, at very close range.

President Obama greets people at Mentor High School, in the overflow area.

President Obama was happy and relaxed at Mentor High School.

Angie Weaver and John, outside in the cold before the rally.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Montana Crew to New York for Rescue Work

We heard from my daughter that an excellent crew from the Montana Conservation Corps (Carolan included) will fly to New York tomorrow to assist in the recovery  of the city from Hurricane Sandy. About 11 young people, including 2 crew leaders, will go to New York. These are all outstanding workers (they can outwork me and you in a heartbeat--they're used to long days of hard, physical work). The first indication is that they will work in emergency shelters in New York City, but I'm betting the mission could change as needs change.

I'm so proud of all the young women and men that serve our country in various ways. Some serve in the military; others in AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. And here's a group of forest and wilderness workers who will fly from the Glacier National Park/Bob Marshall Wilderness areas to densely urban New York City. I'm betting they will do just fine in their new environment and will help both the people of Greater New York City as well as themselves. Hurray for them!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pray and Work for the Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Of course we will pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy--the people of New York City, Staten Island, the New Jersey coast--and other areas ignored by the media or not heard from. But let's also do something, and quickly! There are thousands of people still suffering.

We call on local, state, and federal authorities to do everything possible to help. Let's use all our resources. Call in the army, navy, and marines if necessary. Let's help them--and without delay. Let us spend some of the vast wealth of our country to ease suffering and save lives. Let's help rebuild the city and the neighborhoods destroyed by this terrible storm.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oíche Shamhna--Halloween

The Irish called it Oíche Shamhna and we call it Halloween. The pronunciation of Oíche Shamhna is incredible, though it follows Irish orthographic and pronunciation rules. An approximation might be /EE-huh HOW-nuh/. Literally it means "the night or eve of Samhain." Samhain can mean the feast of November 1 (All Saints Day in the Christian calendar) and the word can also just mean "November."

We know it as the day the sharp line between the living and the dead is blurred. It's the day the Melonheads of Kirtland are out an about (and boy are they peeved--all the local teenagers driving down the road-that-I-shall-not-name, past the ruins of Dr. Crowe's burned-out mansion; and days of incredible weather, cold, ferocious winds and driving rain--no wonder the Melonheads are in a bad mood!). I'd just let them be. Don't take the risk!

I've had a few minor encounters with the Melonheads. Years ago I had one who was a student in one of my classes. And I've caught fleeting glimpses of them in the woods on the Chardon-Kirtland border. It's like seeing a deer running in the deep woods; you just aren't exactly sure what you are seeing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Irish Music Session at Hiram College

Yesterday we had a rather small but wonderful Irish music session at Hiram College (located in the small college town of Hiram, about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland). We have these sessions about three or four times a year, organized by Professor of Music Tina Dreisbach and her husband Paul Dreisbach. Tina plays several instruments, from whistle to Irish flute to concertina; Paul plays whistle and uilleann pipes (he is also a fine oboist, but doesn't bring out the oboe in the Irish session). Yesterday, to our surprise, another uilleann pipe player came--a fellow named David from Cuyahoga Falls (possibly David Daye). There were also two harp players, Ellen Eckhouse from Garretsville, where she owns the Village Bookstore, and one of her students. So two harpers and two uilleann pipers at the same place and same time--incredible!

We also had a piano player (his name doesn't come to mind--but he is very good; he must know hundreds of tunes) and the premier bodhran player, Sheldon Firem. Sheldon also brought his guitar and his bag of whistles. He can play the whistle as sweet as anyone and I can't imagine a better bodhran player. I was there with my homemade guitar and my Susato whistles. Another man, Denny (from the Akron area, I think) had a button box accordion. And a young woman was there with her fiddle. She is an excellent player and also seems to know many many tunes (she loved playing polkas).

So it was a small group, but well-balanced with the mix of instruments. And we had a wonderful two hours at this historic little college.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Most Beautiful Fall Day in the History of the World

It was today, October 25, 2012. In Northeast Ohio. Mark it down.

I am the witness. I was there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Tribute to Senator Paul Wellstone, dead 10 years now

Glacier National Park: Big Early Snowfall!

Here's a view from Glacier Park's "Two Medicine" webcam. Winter has arrived in Glacier!

On Top of the World--Jewel Basin Area in Montana

Carolan and her friend were hiking in the Jewel Basin area of the Flathead National Forest, west of Bigfork, Montana. This area is filled with beautiful mountains and lakes. They were near the peak of Mount Aeneas (7477 feet) when it started to get dark and they had to head back down. From the mountain top they could see many small lakes as well as the huge Flathead Lake.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can Outsiders Buy Josh Mandel's Election?

Sherrod Brown has been under a brutal attack in his run for re-election to the US Senate. So far, outsider organizations have spent some 25 million dollars trying to defeat him. The tv commercials are absolutely disgusting, filled with lies. They are sponsored by organizations like Carl Rove's Crossroads GPS, the US Chamber of Commerce, and so-called dark money groups who can keep their donors secret.

I don't think this will work for Mandel. He comes across as a real immature guy. He has said he would have voted against the American auto industry. He neglected his duties as state treasurer. Worst of all to me is that he wants to claim the senate seat of a great American senator, Howard Metzenbaum. What a terrible contrast to Howard Metzenbaum, who is still revered as a hero in Ohio.

Here's another thing. Sherrod Brown is beloved in Ohio. He has served his constituents so faithfully and personally. When he learned that my niece Michelle Zaremba was fighting in Iraq without adequate body armor and truck armor, he intervened--and it wasn't long before the armor arrived for Michelle's company. Sherrod spent a half hour on the telephone with me talking about this situation. He comes through for his constituents, on a very personal level.

Sherrod Brown is a champion, and I think the voters of Ohio will re-elect him even in the face of the monetary onslaught.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chagrin River Review: Call for Submissions of Poetry and Short Fiction

Chagrin River Review (I am one of the editors) is currently accepting submissions of poetry and short fiction for its second issue, due out Spring 2013. The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2012. To view full submission guidelines, to read our first issue, and to submit your work via "Submittable," visit us at
Below is an image of our first cover, a photo of a sculpture by Paula Blackman:

American Beech tree by the Chagrin River and Mitchell Mills Road
The spectacular tree above is near the Holden Arboretum, one of the treasures of Northeast Ohio. In this photo you can see the Mitchell Mills bridge going over the Chagrin River.

This area is very close to the home of the Melonheads, and I think I glimpsed one of them as I drove over the bridge. Halloween is, of course, the time of the year for the Melonheads!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Most Beautiful Lake?

Look at this astonishing webcam photo of Lake McDonald, in Glacier National Park (right close to where my daughter works). The photo was taken around 8:40 AM (US Mountain Time) on October 17, 2012:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Color in Chardon, Ohio

Penniman Drive, Hambden Township, near Chardon, Ohio

Pin Oak

Burning Bush

Sweet gum

Sweet Gum

Penniman Drive, Hambden Township, near Chardon, Ohio

Lourdes Shrine in Euclid

Colin and Julia--one of the last Sundays at Lourdes Shrine in Euclid

Ed, Colin, Julia--Lourdes Shrine, Euclid

Linda, Colin, Julia, Bob

Fall Color in Hambden/Chardon

Ed with Colin (the kid is very interested in the geese)

Carolan's Poem about Autumn in Northeast Ohio

The other day I found an old poem Carolan wrote (some 9 years ago, when she was a Freshman at Ohio University) about autumn in Northeast Ohio. Our area, especially parts of Lake, Geuaga, and Cuyahoga Counties, have unsurpassed color in mid to lake October. I can't imagine that New England is even more beautiful. It's because of our climate, our soils, and the mix of trees (sugar maple, red maple, tulip poplar, tupelo, sassafras, etc.). Anyway, here is Carolan's beautiful poem:

in northeast ohio

                        the buckle of the snowbelt
                        does not rust slowly into
                        the freeze and gloom and white permanent winter.
                        it Explodes.
                        crimson orange flames bursting from the branches
                        fireworks, a sunset, a campfire
                        the glory and celebration and excitement

                        sustain the hidden embers of Warmth
                                                                                of Color

                                                            of Life.

                        when the snow doesn’t stop falling
                                                and the sun forgets to visit
                        we will grasp tightly to the fire of fall
                        and the eternal glow will keep us strong.

Carolan Coughlin
October 27, 2003


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Big Dog, The Boss, and President Obama in Parma Thursday!

My cousin Maggie Brock sent me an email the other day telling me The Big Dog (Bill Clinton), The Boss (Bruce Springsteen), and President Obama will be at a rally in Parma, Ohio this Thursday, October 18th.

I attended a rally on the Cleveland Mall shortly before the 2008 election featuring Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama. It was an unforgettable experience. I was right there in front of the stage. Behind me were a hundred thousand people (give or take). It was the second most exciting time I ever had in Cleveland (second only to game 5 of the 1995 World Series, which I got to attend with my wife and two of my daughters).

I will be there to hear the greatest politician of our era, Bill Clinton, the greatest musician of our era, Bruce Springsteen, and the unique intelligence, leadership, and charism of Barack Obama.

"Colin Happy"

My two-year-old grandson Colin told Linda this morning,"Colin Happy." He has said this beautiful two-word sentence a few times before, and it is really true and you can see it in everything he does. Colin is a happy kid. He has what what it takes to grow into a secure, productive, and loving adult. He has the love and care of a mother and a father. He has the love and care of his grandparents, who get to see him often. He has the basic medical attention he needs, good nutrition, and lots of human contact. We read to him, talk to him, play with him--and we pray for him.

Colin is blessed and happy. And we pray for children who do not have the love of their mother (or someone like their mother, a loving grandmother, an older sibling, someone). Such children will have a tough road. And sometimes our society and our world pay dearly for this lack of love and care.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

First Snow at Glacier National Park

The photo above is from the Glacier National Park webcam near the St. Mary entrance (the eastern side of the park and the Continental Divide). The image was taken this morning, shortly after sunrise.

My daughter Carolan is working fairly close by, near the Jewel Basin, just outside of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. She might be cutting trees in the snow today!

Welcome to the snow!

 Above, the first snows on the mountains around Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Monday, October 1, 2012

National Public Lands Day--Hope You Celebrated!

This past Saturday, September 29th, was National Public Lands Day in America.I hope you celebrated.

Our country is in part full of fences and gates that you and I cannot cross. The city where I grew up, Euclid, Ohio, had almost no public access to Lake Erie (Of course, as kids, my brother Denny and I made our own access, going everywhere we damned pleased, swimming wherever we liked). Our home had such a tiny yard (about one tenth of an acre) that we went on family picnics all the time to  the Cleveland Metroparks--that was my first encounter with public lands, the common good, the common wealth of America. This is where we could play baseball, enjoy the woods, breathe the fresh air.

A New York Times opinion piece ("The Geography of Nope," by Timothy Egan, published September 27, 2012) says America has thousands of square miles of national park, national forest, and Bureau of Land Management lands--about the size of Italy. Add to that our beloved state and local parks, and we have something more precious than gold. Politicians, industrialists, and businessmen--keep your hands off these shared national treasures!

Egan makes a point that these public lands are not guaranteed safe. These lands could be bought, sold, or industrialized. And he mentions certain immediate threats to these lands (locate the article here: New York Times article on public lands in the USA).

I am very grateful for these public lands. For those near me: Cleveland Metroparks, Lake County Metroparks, Geauga  County Metroparks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park; and those far away (like Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, which I visited this past summer). These lands are our common wealth.

Catholicism: A Big, Wide-Open Heart?

I attended mass at St. John Vianney's parish in Mentor, Ohio yesterday and the celebrant was a Jesuit missionary from Nepal (with the co-celebrant his Jesuit Nepalese superior).

During the homily the priest mentioned encountering a man in Nepal who asked him what his religion was. When Father responded, "I am a Catholic," the man put his hands near his heart, then extended them out as wide as possible, as if to say, "Your Church is the Church of the big, wide-open heart." I felt my eyes suddenly well up with tears--grateful that this Nepalese man had encountered Catholics who made him think so highly of our Church; and saddened that that so many bishops, archbishops, cardinals and popes of late have made our church seem quite the opposite--a small-hearted, mean-spirited church, full of angry rules and boundaries.

I remembered Pope John XXIII and the great Catholic parish priests and even some bishops of my lifetime who believed in the big, wide-open-heart Church. And I wept thinking this Church seems to be disappearing.