Monthly Archives: December 2010

A post a day in 2011

I’ve decided I want to blog more. As a commitment, not a hollow resolution, I will make every attempt to post a blog everyday in 2011. I’ll still post my columns and articles, but I want to write more poetry, too. Perhaps I’ll make other observations as well.

I know it will be challenging, and there will be days when I won’t get it done. But it should be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. In so doing, I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similar goals, to help and encourage me along the way. Of course, I will try to encourage others when I can, too.

If you already read my blog, I hope you will encourage me with comments and words of good will along the way. And don’t forget to click the “like” button, too.

Thanks for your support, and Happy New Year!

Bruce

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Another crazy year comes to an end

By Bruce Stambaugh

No matter what society you live in, news is an important element of belonging. As social beings, we have an innate need to know. That drive manifests itself differently in different people.

I enjoy the human interest stories that tend to consistently run beneath the mainstream media’s radar. Here is a sampling of some of those lesser known but equally important stories of 2010 that I came across.

Jan. 22 – A half-pound meteorite crashed through the roof of a doctor’s office in Lorton, Va., landing just 10 feet from the doctor, who was working on patients’ charts.

Feb. 9 – The Mortgage Bankers Association sold its building for half the amount it had paid for it, and decided to rent.

Feb. 14 – A pothole delayed the Daytona 500 race for two and a half hours.

March 31 – Minnesota Twins leadoff hitter Denard Span fouled a hard line drive into the stands in a spring training baseball game, hitting a spectator, his mother.

April 5 – Twin boxers Travis and Tarvis Simms were arrested for getting into a fight with each other in Norwalk, Conn.

May 10 – A farm in Oklahoma, where scenes from the movie Twister were filmed, was hit by a real tornado.

May 17 – It took Jack Harris of Shepton Mallet, England, nearly eight years to complete his 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, only to discover one piece was missing.

June 9 – Researchers revealed the discovery of the world’s oldest known shoe, a 5,500-year-old single piece of leather laced up the front and stuffed with grass, which was found in a cave in Croatia.

July 13 – Keith McVey, a mail carrier in Akron, saved a man’s life by performing CPR. Two years earlier McVey saved a teenage girl from drowning, also while delivering his mail. He had saved yet another man’s life 20 years ago.

August 10 – A report on the state of health of Americans revealed that, on average, waistlines have increased an inch per decade since the 1960s.

August 11 – A contractor marking a school zone in Guilford County, N.C., committed the ultimate typo by painting “shcool” across the road.

Sept. 14 – When 5-year-old Andrew Polasky won a moose-calling contest held at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, his mother said she wasn’t surprised because her son “is good at making a lot of noise.”

Sept. 26 – James Heseldon, 62, owner of the company that makes the Segway, died when he accidentally drove one of the two-wheeled scooters off a cliff near his estate in West Yorkshire, England.

Oct. 6 – National Geographic research linguists in northeastern India found a new language, Koro, still spoken by only about 1,000 people.

Oct. 24 – Jonathan Byrd won the PGA Shriners Open in Las Vegas, Nev. with a hole-in-one on the fourth hole of a three-way playoff.

Nov. 4 – A retired Canadian couple revealed that they had given away to family and selected charities all but two percent of the $11.3 million they had won in a lottery in July.

Nov. 12 – A study showed that people who take notes, scribble, or even doodle while listening have better memories than those who don’t.

Dec. 11 – A report by http://www.Forbes.com listed Ohio third in the nation for people moving out of the state. New York was number one.

I wonder what interesting stories 2011 will bring?

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Deer in the snow haiku

Treelined pasture by Bruce Stambaugh

Where the young deer played.

Where the snow covered
pasture wedged into the woods,
the yearlings frolicked.

Bruce Stambaugh
Dec. 29, 2010

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Christmas isn’t about hustle and bustle

Snowy decorations by Bruce Stambaugh

Snowy decorations always add to the Christmas celebrations.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I don’t watch much television. But what little I do, I can’t help but notice how the torrent of holiday-oriented commercials focuses on the urgency of buying something really nice for that special someone in your life.

Celebrating Christmas in our advanced society seems distorted. A brand new car wrapped with a huge red ribbon and bow sitting in the driveway, a sparkling diamond ring and a gold necklace cannot supersede the original gifts of the Magi.

Eager for customers, the ads have managed to push their way to the forefront of the holiday season much too early. Growing up, the countdown to Christmas started the day after Thanksgiving, now known as Black Friday. Today, it seems to start the day after Labor Day.

Watching for buggies on Christmas Day by Bruce Stambaugh

Watching for buggies on Christmas Day.

Even here in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country, we feel the hustle and bustle of the season. Without admitting it, we might even add to it. It’s always easier to see the fault of others than your own.

Wreath on frosty window by Bruce Stambaugh

A frosty holiday decoration.

I don’t want to be negative about Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday of the year.

I just think that given all the commercialization of Christmas, we need a different approach. As I reflect on the historical account of the Advent season that I learned early in life, it seems more and more obvious to me that Christmas really is more about patience than it is presents.

I have many fond childhood memories of readying for Christmas, and the excited anticipation of Christmas morning. My brothers and sisters and I couldn’t wait to raid the pretty packages strewn beneath the tree on Christmas morning. That scene was not the model of patience.

Mom and Dad had stayed up late assembling and wrapping the gifts for us kids. We always pushed our luck at getting up before the crack of dawn to undo what it had taken Santa and our folks hours to prepare.

But what a happy morning it was, with the excitement of surprise with every unwrapping. Those days were simple compared to what passes as season’s greetings today. I find the entire holiday hubbub of shopping, buying and spending exhausting.

Opening gifts by Bruce Stambaugh

Exchanging gifts at Christmas is part of the family tradition.

I long for the true peace and quiet of Christmas, with the family gathered, the fireplace blazing, the tree’s lights sparkling. Of course, we maintain the gift-giving tradition. We have just toned it down so that reason rules. We want the gifts to represent personal quality instead of absurd quantity.

The stockings hang by the chimney with care. They are filled on Christmas Eve, and emptied on Christmas morn. Just like when I was a child, an orange will be the last to tumble out of each.

The grandkids will watch The Polar Express over and over until the DVR wears out. We’ll play games, eat, and bask in the glow of the moment and the season.

Decorating the tree by Bruce Stambaugh

The grandchildren enjoy helping to decorate the Christmas tree.

Our modern society may rush the Advent season and judge it by its economic success. But as for me and my family, we will enjoy each others company, joyously share our humble appreciation and rejoice that it is Christmas once again.

Those are Christmas gifts worth waiting for.

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Schuler remains young at heart

Feeding the birds is one of life’s pleasures for Judson Schuler, of Millersburg, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

In every way, Judson Schuler, 94, belies his age.

His mind is as sharp as a tack. He recalls incidences from 60 years ago as if they happened yesterday. And yet, he can more than carry his own in conversation about current events.

For a man is his 90s, Schuler has maintained his health, too. He attributes that to his regular physical workout routine three times a week at a local physical fitness facility.

“I like to stay active,” Schuler said. “I think it’s one of the secrets to staying healthy while getting old and enjoying it.”

He is true to his word.

“I still like to mow and help out with raking and gathering the leaves,” Schuler said. Given the size of his property, that is no small task. Schuler lives on Briar Lane in Millersburg, Ohio. His late wife, Beverly, was the daughter of the president of Briar Hill Stone in Glenmont.

“The original idea for our development was that every home would be built using their stone,” Schuler said. “It was to be a model for what could be done in construction.”

“Bev and I built this in 1956,” he said. “It still suits me well.” Accordingly, the home was built using the decorative, multi-colored sandstone. The Schuler’s were married 62 years. Schuler has a son, a daughter, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

The living room and den to the back of the stately home both have large windows and sliding glass doors that afford Schuler good views of the wildlife that he so adores.

“I enjoy feeding the birds, especially the goldfinches,” he said. Indeed, he has a thistle feeder and a hopper feeder in the spacious backyard. His binoculars hang at the ready by his favorite chair.

Schuler also gets great pleasure from watching other wildlife, like squirrels and deer that scurry through his tree-studded backyard. Though he wouldn’t ever say so, Schuler certainly has earned his right to leisure away his days.

Schuler was a noted attorney in Holmes County for many years. He practiced law well into his ‘70s. His late brother, John, was one of his partners. Ray Miller was the other.

“I still have an office in the firm,” he said. “That was part of the sale, that John and I would always have an office to go to.”

Schuler said that when he began practicing law in 1946, Millersburg had six or seven attorneys.

“Now I think there are 20,” he said with an ornery smile.

Schuler said he no longer practices, but that he still goes to the office occasionally just to check in with the other attorneys. The Critchfield, Critchfield and Johnston law firm bought Schuler’s Millersburg firm when he retired.

“My middle name is Critchfield,” Schuler said. “I’m a second cousin to that family.”

Early in his attorney days, Schuler was once the Holmes County prosecutor. But his heart was in private practice.

With his successful career behind him, Schuler takes one day at a time and enjoys every minute of his experiences. That approach might be because his life has revolved around relationships with his clients, his friends, his community activities and his family.

Schuler has served in several civic capacities. He was the local veterans service officer. He served on the development disabilities board, the airport authority, and several years on the board of directors of the Commercial and Savings Bank.

Schuler was also appointed by the governor to serve on the Ohio Public Health Council, which processed all the rules for mental hospitals, nursing homes, and even public water supplies.

“That was an incredible experience for me,” Schuler said. “I learned a lot during those 12 years.”

Schuler is also a member of the American Legion Post 192 and was made a life member of the Killbuck VFW.

Schuler served in the Army during World War II and fought in the battle of The Bulge. He can rattle off details of war stories as if they had happened yesterday.

He likes to read a lot, too, focusing on “the great people at the beginning of the Republic.” Schuler also likes golf and of course, watching Ohio State football games. He has owned season tickets for 50 years, as he received both his bachelor’s and law degree from The Ohio State University.

Though he has traveled the world and had many exciting experiences, Schuler still considers himself “a small town guy.” Likely, there are plenty of local people thankful for that.

Judson Schuler, of Millersburg, often relaxes in his den.

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Total eclipse haiku

Take a nap today.
A total lunar eclipse
in the late night sky.

Bruce Stambaugh
Dec. 20, 2010

Full moon at Lakeside Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh

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Getting ready for winter

Martins Creek by Bruce Stambaugh

A series of heavy snowfalls hit Ohio's Amish country last winter.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Like it or not, winter is right around the corner. We have already tasted some of winter’s appetizers, snow, temperatures in the teens, and, of course, shortened daylight.

Fortunately here in Ohio’s Amish Country, the snow didn’t amount to much, and the skinny temperatures quickly moderated. Once winter arrives officially next week, that could change. We could have a snow-filled winter like last year, or worse yet, one like 1977 and 1978 when snowdrifts reached 20 feet or more.

Living in Ohio all my life, I have found it helpful to mentally and physically prepare myself for the inevitable. Whether it is prolonged or only stays awhile, the weather will get cold, and it will snow from time to time.

Snowbirds arrive in Pinecraft, FL by Bruce Stambaugh

Snowbirds arrive via bus in Pinecraft, FL.

Those who dislike that harsh reality and who are in a position to do so flee south or southwest to warmer climes. At least the snowbirds hope they will be warmer. Last year proved otherwise. It frosted in Florida and snowed deep in the heart of Texas.

Snow deep in the heart of Texas by Bruce Stambaugh

It even snowed in Austin, TX last winter.

All of us can’t escape the onslaught of winter’s harshness. Some of us don’t want to. Others are involuntarily stuck here to fend for themselves.

I have fond childhood memories of the benefits of winter, like ice skating, sledding, flinging snowballs and digging snow tunnels. Most of them likely were indeed in the throes of winter. But I do remember delivering newspapers in a glorious Christmas Eve snow.

I also recall hustling our young son and daughter into my in-laws’ farmhouse amid stinging, sideways snow, howling winds, and frigid wind chills. There are times when Ohio winters are at their absolute worst in December.

We then anticipate January and February to be utterly horrible. And low and behold they might turn out to be meek and mild, not to mention mucky.

Whether we stay or whether we go, winter, regardless of the weather, will arrive. We might as well get ready for it.

Snow covered cornshalks by Bruce Stambaugh

A typical snowy scene in Ohio's Amish country.

In many ways, we already have. The tomato trellises we erected last spring have long been coaxed out of the ground and stored in the garden shed, thanks mostly to one of our kind, strong young neighbors.

The birdfeeders have been cleaned, filled and hung, and the backyard birds, and a couple of mooching fox squirrels, have already been taking advantage of the freebies. Actually, I am the one that is grateful. Watching the birds, and squirrels, rabbits and occasional deer, enjoy the cracked corn, oil sunflower seeds and suet mixes is my winter’s entertainment.

White breasted nuthatch by Bruce Stambaugh

A white-breasted nuthatch at my kitchen window feeder.

In truth, I feed the birds year-round. With winter’s approach, I merely increase the number and style of feeders to accommodate the various feeding habits of my feathered friends.

Of course, I can’t neglect the vehicles that transport us from place to place during the winter weather. I make sure each is winterized and ready to endure whatever winter has to throw at us.

The woodpile is stacked high and wide, ready to feed the hungry fireplace. I’d rather be shunning the cold elements in front of a warm fire than on the outside shoveling them. Who wouldn’t?

Winter is nigh. Are you ready?

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Holiday hospitality highlights church walk

Church walk visitors By Bruce Stambaugh
By Bruce Stambaugh

The visitors came from near and far. All were treated to a good measure of holiday hospitality during the first Candlelight Church Walk held in Millersburg, Ohio on Dec. 10.

Five Millersburg churches were chosen for their close proximity to make it easy for people to walk from stop to stop. At each church, visitors were kindly greeted with a combination of church history, tours, Christmas displays and holiday refreshments.

Visitors were given a map to follow to guide them from church to church. They were heartily greeted at each church, which was festively decorated according to its own holiday traditions.

Yet, many common elements connected the quintet of denominations. The candlelight segment of the walk came in the form of luminaries that lined the front sidewalks and guided visitors into the individual sanctuaries. The luminaries were unique to each church, giving visitors a foretaste of what was inside.

Jim and Kim Sabo drove three hours from Bridgeport, West Virginia to do the tour. The Sabo’s consider the area their second home. When Mrs. Sabo happened to see the church walk mentioned online, they didn’t hesitate to do the tour.

At St. Peter’s Catholic Church, a couple that had retired to the Millersburg area for the peace and quiet found it in the sanctity of the walk and the people they met along the way.

Visitors to the Faith Lutheran Church marveled at the handmade decorations on the lovely Christmas tree at the front of the church, and rested at tables in the fellowship hall to enjoy homemade cookies and punch.

Live nativity scene by Bruce Stambaugh

Millersburg Christian Church featured a live nativity scene in the sanctuary.

A live nativity scene brought a respectful hush over those who passed through the Millersburg Christian Church sanctuary. The nativity actors, all attired with period costumes, filled the pulpit area.

At First Presbyterian Church, visitors enjoyed refreshments upon entering the foyer, and could inspect the decorated sanctuary at their leisure. Louisa Erb, of Mt. Eaton, said she had always wanted to see the Presbyterian Church but never had.

“I like architecture and the church is very nice,” she said.

Making the piano sing by Bruce Stambaugh

Arlene Yoder made the piano sing at Millersburg Mennonite Church.

Several members of Millersburg Mennonite Church provided visitors with seasonal music that included various musical instruments. Each church provided a variety of refreshments.

Friends Lisa Lawhead, of Millersburg, and Cindy Funk, of Shreve, met at a local restaurant, and then decided to do the tour. Lawhead echoed a comment heard at nearly every church.

“I have been by this church many times,” she said, “but had never been in it until tonight.”

Others, like Bill and Barb Roderich and Tom and Pat Albu, of Canton, made the drive to do the tour at the invitation of friends. They said it was more than worth the drive. The evening ended with caroling at the First Presbyterian Church.

Lead organizer Kate Findley, who attends the Presbyterian Church, said she and the other planners were pleased with the turnout.

“We hope to do this again next year,” she said. “We really thank all the people from each congregation who made this event go so smoothly, and of course thank those who chose to take the tour.”

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Amish sledding haiku

Amish farm in snow by Bruce Stambaugh

The fresh blanket of snow made perfect sledding conditions for children on this Amish farm.

The boy and the girl
took turns sliding down the hill
in a coal shovel.

Bruce Stambaugh
December 13, 2010

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A survival story for the season

By Bruce Stambaugh

The story didn’t get much play in the mainstream media of the United States. But I found it incredibly noteworthy if not uplifting, especially during this Advent season.

If you missed it, here’s what happened.

Sometime in late September, three teenage boys slipped into a 12-foot boat and headed to one small Pacific island from another. Unfortunately, their outboard motor ran out of fuel before they could reach their destination, the atoll island of Tokelau.

If you have never heard of it, don’t feel bad. I hadn’t either. Curious though, I looked it up. It’s part of an archipelago many miles northwest of Samoa.

Samoa I had heard of. As a child, I perused the many shiny black and white photographs that my late father had taken when he had visited Samoa and surrounding islands during his stint on the U.S.S. San Diego during World War II. The water buffalo and the thatched roof huts of the Polynesian island natives fascinated me.

Maybe it was that bit of sentimentality that drew me to the story initially. Once I read the first few sentences, however, I had to know the full story.

With no oars and no fuel, the boys and their tiny boat drifted far away from any land. Soon they were deep in the expansive Pacific, adrift with only a handful of coconuts they had thrown into the “tinnie,” the colloquial tag for their vessel.

The blazing sun beat down on them, and they parceled out the coconuts, the only food they had. The boys floated aimlessly for days, parched without vital drinking water.

Day after day they sat helpless in the tropical sun searching the horizon for signs of land or other boats. A series of fierce storms cropped up at night, nearly capsizing the boat. The boys hit the boat’s bottom and clung to the sides to steady their small vessel.

The storms provided an upside, however. The boys lapped at puddles of the fresh rainwater left by the downpours. Once, at night, a ship passed close to them, but because they had no light of their own, the boys could only watched in despair as the big ship glided by.

Once the coconuts were gone, their only food came in the form of small, flying fish that happened to jump into their boat. Another time, a bird landed on their boat and one of the boys managed to grab it. They devoured it raw.

Again desperate for water, the boys began drinking small amounts of seawater. Near the end of November and some 50 days after they had left their little atoll, a deep sea fishing boat approached them. This time it was during the day, and they and their little boat were rescued 800 miles from where they had originally launched.

The boys spent a few days in the hospital to regain nourishment and strength, but it would be more than two weeks until a boat would take them back to their small country of 1,500 residents.

Fascinated by this amazing story, I typed in Tokelau into Google Earth. I wanted to get a visual on their tropical homeland in the middle of the Pacific.

Sure enough, the program took me right to it. I zoomed in to see the series of small islands, all formed from volcanoes. The residents lived on the rims of the inactive craters. Amazingly, picture icons were posted. I clicked on them, and shots of a tropical paradise emerged. Swaying palm trees, pristine beaches, and deep blue bays beckoned.

I mentally kept connecting this joyous, improbable survival story with the one on which the Advent season is based. Like the Bethlehem account from long ago, with its unlikely cast of characters, this miraculous tale had to be shared, too.

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