Fall. Gather, dang it.

Fall.  Gather.

We are in the midst of Fall.
The season lasts around 3 months.
It begins… you see… with the Southward Equinox.  Also known as the Fall Equinox.  This year, it was on September 22, at 20:44.   The season closes with the Southern Solstice… or the Winter Solstice.  This year it begins on December 21, at 17:11.  So…. about three months.

October has crept upon us this year.  Tonight, as I walked through the wooded area near our house, I could feel October in the air.  It felt both beautiful, and a little sad…. at the very same time.

Yet.  It is time for the harvest.  Time for celebrations.  And people DO celebrate.  In many different ways.  Halloween seems to be the show off among the party themes.  And then… a little later… Thanksgiving takes center stage.

Yet.  There are a lot of “Fall Festivals” which pack a punch.  You can go to most ANY town or burrow…. and find SOME sort of Oktoberfest.   It is…. apparently…  a good excuse for folks to drink lots of beer… or eat mass quantities of pretzels.   Don’t forget the wiener schnitzel.

All kinds of Festivals abound.  Apple Fests.  Black Walnut Fests.  Pumpkin Fests…. and on and on.

But this week, I may focus on one in particular.  You see, I write this-here little Project 16010 column from a place called Preble County, Ohio.  And in this little community, we have GEM of an organization.  (Actually, we have a kaboodle of organizations that are pretty sparkly.)  But the one I am speaking to….. is called the Preble County Historical Society.

Every year, they host a Fall Gathering.  It is such a great festival, down at the PCHS Farm.  If you have a chance to go…. by goodness gracious…. you SHOULD!   It is charming and enlightening…. in so many ways.

I am telling you this much right now.  It would do you good… to go on out and play.

Dip a candle.  Cane a chair.  Meet a Civil War Dude.  Hear some flutes.  Or tribal drums.  Watch the chainsaw carvers. Take a hay ride.  Eat some ham and bean soup… or just sit at the Beer Garden if  Oktoberfests are your thing.  Buckeye Jake’s is catering too.

Best of all… the HISTORY smooshed right into the future.  Splat.

I’m telling you… it is WAY better than going to the Superbowl.

Uhhhnnnn…. well…..   okay.  Maybe not the Superbowl.  But I am guessing you will have a wonderful and uplifting experience …

“So let us go then, and gather there, and join in our songs of joy.  For that is where we discover everything that might be  possible.” – Cecil Constance

My Very First Ringling.

Lions.   Roar.

Trunks.  Packed.

We went.


Today… I had a first.
I am half of a decade old.  I had never seen a live circus.   Well, I have been to Cirque de Solei about 5 or 6 times.  But that is different.

Today, I went to the …. dun, dun, da, da, da, da, dun, dun, da, da, da, da…. CIRCUS.  Yes.  The Greatest Show on Earth.  The Barnum & Bailey / Ringling Brothers Circus.


Truly, it was spectacular.  It far exceeded my expectations.   There were lions, and tigers, and bears.  Seriously.
And elephants, and horses, ponies, llamas, dogs, the whole nine yards.

I was enchanted.  Circus clowns, a Ring Master, and a very little fella.

It sparkled, it glittered, and glowed.  Of course I loved the animals… and I wondered what they thought about their lives in the circus.  I hope they are okay.

The dog act was so crazy good.  I laughed and cheered and applauded.  Ollie is in training as we speak.  She is running the treadmill right now.

In short, we had a blast.  There was so much talent in that arena…. human and animal alike.  I don’t think any of them are ordinary in anyway.  They all seemed…. quite…. exceptional.     I couldn’t believe my eyes at times.    And I couldn’t imagine WHY I hadn’t been to a circus in all my years.

Maybe that is a good thing.  I might have run away with them.

I just hope the kids liked it……  as much as I did.

“It’s amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions.” – Charles F. Kettering

Twists, turns. Flips.



What happens when a Hot-Headed German Woman learns the Art of the Trapeze?  She joins the circus.  This was true of Lillian Leitzel.   Apparently, she was quite amazing in gymnastics, trapeze and aerobatics.   Quite unique and amazing, Lillian was.  She would dislocate her shoulder and flip again and again… more than 100 revolutions in a single performance.   She was a standout, to say the least.

But as mentioned… she had a bit of quick fuse.  As fate would have it, she met and fell in with another hot-headed wild card. His name was Alfredo Codona…. a guy from Mexico…. and also a circus performer.  They married, and had a tumultuous partnership in life.  Yet, all their friends said the were made for one another.

A life filled with passion and loathing.  But as circus performers, they were the big tops. Lillian and Alfredo were STARS.


Then.  One night…. Leitzel was performing at Valencia Hall in  Denmark….  and Codona  in Berlin.  Leitzel  ascended into the air to begin her infamous one-arm planges (the flipping over thing).

But.  On that night….. bad luck would be there.  You see….. the brass swivel on the rope crystallized and broke. Lillian fell over 20 feet to a hard, concrete floor. She suffered a concussion and spinal injuries in the fall.

Yet.  She was a tough cookie her whole life.  The doctors were confident she’d recover. Codona rushed to her side.  She insisted she was fine and urged Codona to return to Berlin to finish his engagement.

Then…… Leitzel boarded a train with him and the pair headed back to Berlin ……. when she died 2 days later.

Codona was devastated by her death.  Miserable.

Yet… as time went on… he married another aerialist named Vera Bruce.  Well… their marriage was worse than horrible.

Unfortunately, Codona started getting reckless in his performances.  He was distraught and unsettled.  And one day… he suffered a bad fall as a result. He was done.  The injuries in his shoulder would prevent him from ever performing again.  He was “grounded”.   The Great Trapeze Performer would fly no more.

Divorce from Vera Bruce was next.  The stress of Leitzel’s passing and the end of his circus career drove Codona to desperate measures. While discussing divorce proceedings in Vera Bruces attorney’s office, Codona asked if he could speak to his estranged wife in private.

Well wouldn’t you know… that  goofball of an attorney obliged and as the door closed behind the attorney, Codona pulled a pistol from his coat pocket and shot Vera Bruce before turning the gun on himself.   This all happened in the very early 1900s…. when this circus was pretty young.

Ta-Da.  The Dark Side of the Circus.  The Barnum and Bailey / Ringling Brothers Circus.

“When It’s Darkest, Men See the Stars.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Donuts dunked in Milkweed.

Milky Weed

Tonight, I was going to tell you the story about this Milkweed Farm.  You see…. all the other Milkweeds who lived on the farm….. knew Lou Ellen was the fairest Milkweed of them all.
And she was.

What happened next is actually quite disturbing.  So instead of carrying on with this sordid tale, I will just say this.

Happy Sunday Morning.

This morning I am thankful for you.  For my coffee, and my glazed donut.  For the way my slippers feel on my feet.  I am glad that the sun rose in the east… or more succinctly… that the earth kept rotating in the right direction…. and the sun came into view.

I am grateful for it all.  Hot showers, butter, Sunday Morning on CBS, hardwood floors, apples, dogs, musical scores, and milkweeds.

But you know…. most of all, I am thankful for all of you.

Because I am so glad for it all…

my Sunday Prayer is this….
If I open it, I will close it.
If I turn it on, I will turn it off.
If I unlock it, I will lock it up.
If I break it, I will admit it.
If I borrow it, I will return it.
If I make a mess, I will clean it up.
If I value it, I will take care of it.
If it will brighten someone’s day, I will say it.

I think the world is a better place for having Milkweeds.  Today, I want to do my part to make it a better place too.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder

Old Wings. New Wings.

Dragons... fly.

Perhaps the Dragonfly is quite sapient as far as this whole universal truth goes.  I think they rock.

Dragonflies are ancient insects. They have existed on Planet Earth for approximately 300 million years.   Totally old beings.

And. Today, they look very much like they did in “dinosaur times,” though they have gradually gotten smaller since then.

The Legend and Lore of the Dragonfly spreads far and wide.  It covers a bit of everything…. from the very menacing …. to the very marvelous.

I think….. the dragonfly grabs the attention of the human imagination…. because of the way it flies.  Or maybe there is more.

Depending on the culture… they have been seen as evil…. “The Devil’s Darner” and “Water Witch”…..  OR very holy… the symbol of love goddesses… lucky.

It depends on the culture with the magnifying glass.

Dragonflies spend most of their lives in the larva stage…. crazily….. up to three years, depending on the species.

Once they finally get their wings…. well… this stage only lasts a few weeks.
So when you see a winged dragonfly…..  you know it’s toward the end of its lifespan.

This makes me both sad… and somehow celebratory…. at the same time.

Perhaps they know it is time… they finally believe in the magic….. and they get their wings…. to fly and fly.  Yes.  Like no other creature on the face of this planet.  A celebration.  The long wait is over.  They fly like they have magic in those wings.

So they rock on.  Like Dragonflies Do.

But somehow…. I think we ALL might have magic in our wings.  If we believe it is true.

“Magic is believing in yourself.  If you can do that, you can make anything happen.”  – Wolfgang von Goethe

Border Land


When I was little… I thought certain fences were some kind of designer-variety.  A Barb Dwyer Fence.
Sort of like Perfume by Chanel … or Dress by Bill Blass.

Yes.  Fences.  They are all over the place…. now aren’t they.

In this world of ours. For sure.

As described by Noah “The Word-Man” Webster…. it is a barrier, railing, or other upright structure, typically of wood or wire, enclosing an area of ground to mark a boundary, control access, or prevent escape.

To mark a boundary.  To control access.  To prevent escape.

Pretty serious business.  It sounds like the intro for a scary movie or something.

Keeping things out.  Keeping things in.    Fences, fences everywhere.  Perhaps the world would somehow be better if we didn’t have so many fences.  If there weren’t so many barriers between me, and you, and Farmer Jones, or Ms. Corporate, or Nosy Nate who lives next door.

Yet.  As bad as I make them sound, above…. sometimes… in life… we need to set boundaries.  This can be a hard one to figure out sometimes.

But the bottom line is…. there are certain occasions when we all need to protect ourselves.  There should be no fear or guilt in that.

I am never quite sure the right or wrong way to do this.. I’ll tell you that much right now.

Where the heck is that Barb Dwyer when I need her?


“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.” – Robert Frost

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers

It is all so wooly.


I’m a starting to feel a bit like Charles Kuralt.  “And tonight…. here is  another story from ‘On The Road’ …..”

But here I am, you see.   It happened again.  Out on my walk… on that quiet exploration.  A different road this time. Tonight.

I was walking along…. adding sevens and eights in my head and dividing them by four…. while singing songs from West Side Story.

In between verses of “When You’re a Jet”…. I heard a faint little hum.  I listened more closely.  And again…

“Oh…. I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener…. that is what I truly want to bee–eeee–eeee….”

I looked down, and there was a Wooly Worm.   He was singing at the top of his little Wooly Worm lungs.

“Hey little dude.  What gives?”  I asked.
“I want to be anyone but a wooly worm.  Right now, I am trying to look exactly like this wispy wild weed.”
“Well, you are doing a great job Wooly.   But why?  Why don’t you want to be you?”
“Well.  No matter WHAT color we are… we get blamed for the winter weather…. by someone.  And we don’t have crap to do with it.  People are hateful about it…. and the whole thing is an old wive’s tale.  Those haters even try to run over us with their cars… and step on us…. just because of our color….”
“Doesn’t sound quite fair Wooly.”
“It isn’t by golly.  It shouldn’t matter what we look like on the outside.  People should just get to know us for the Wooly Worms we are.  Some of us are good.  Some bad.  But for crying out loud…. don’t just assume we are bad because of the wools we wear…..”
Well said little dude. Well said.”
“Thanks.  I could go on… take Dancers for instance.  Just because you are a dancer… it doesn’t make you bad or good.  It is all about HOW you dance.  Like…..  this thing Twerking… BAD.  Tap Dancing… GOOD.”
“Nicely said once again.  Hey. Wooly?  I think you should just keep being who you truly are.  Be the good little Wooly-Wools-Dude … let your light shine through…   AND…  people will see you for the love and goodness in your heart.  At least… the smart ones will.”
“Thank you, big ugly human.”
“You are quite welcome Wools. Quite.”


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There is only one you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.” – Anthony Rapp

Walking before.





Tonight as I walked  ….. it seems…..  I was very much all by myself on the road.  No beings of any sort.  There were no country noises.  It was quiet and still.

I could have been the only one in the world, at that moment.  At least, that is what it felt like.

But.  I knew I wasn’t.

And then I started thinking about all those who may have walked along this path before me.  An old farmer… 100 years ago.  Carrying an ax in hand… out to chop wood.  Wearing a weather worn pair of overalls, and a hand sewn flannel shirt.

Or an Indian woman, 5,000 years ago.  She was carrying a bunch of wild berries back home.  She had been out picking the last of them for the season.  Winter would be coming soon.
And on that day….. what did she think about?  Who was she going home to…. on that evening, so very long ago?

Three hundred years ago… a soldiers boot.

Ten years ago… a child skipping along…. and singing a farmer in the dell.

But all of us ….. on this same path.  Where my feet now touched the ground.  In those long-ago-footsteps.  How many more before?  Each with their own lives, and thoughts, and feelings.   And how many after?

And I stopped and drew in a deep breath, of all that was around me.  It smelled like autumn leaves, and cut grass, and unknown notes of nature.  I looked down, and saw this tiny grasshopper on the field corn.

I realized at that moment, there is so much we do not see.  So many things we do not know.  So much behind us, and so much to come.

And the only place, we can truly be… is in this single moment.

“And the only place, we can truly be… is in this single moment.” – Alan Watts

It all looks different.



Sometimes you look at things… and all of a sudden… they look different.

I guess this is okay.  It has to be.

That is life.  Neither good nor bad… this change of things.  Just different.

I heard a lot of really good things today from people…. and animals.  That part is good.  Some people know good.


There is an old Buddhist saying that goes…. “Fall down seven times.  Get up eight.”

And there you have it.


“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” – Buddha

This little piggy had roast beef.


As many Preble Countians very well know…. the World Famous Preble County Pork Festival took place over the weekend.  It is, truly, a pretty nifty community event.  A big festival.  Lots of pigs, and pork, and people.

And I will tell you this much.

The people who host the festival… the ones who roll up their sleeves and make it happen… the tireless volunteers…. those folks are truly, TRULY, nifty.

I have been involved in The Pork Fest for a couple of years now.  As with everything, there are very good and amazing things about this event … and some parts that need improving.  But as Preble County goes… it is one of the biggest affairs our community has ever known.
The festival was born in 1970.  That is 43 years ago.   A long time indeed.
And, since its inception, this non-profit organization has donated 1.7 million dollars back to the Preble County Community.

So I stand up and give a round of applause to all of those who coordinated, volunteered, worked, and cheered this event on.

It is a good thing, when a community can come together, and show pride in something.

We are losing this in society…. I think.

People speak in broad terms of world peace, and global awareness.  These are truly important things, indeed.  But until you start at home…. not throwing trash out of your car window,  showing an act of kindness to someone at school, or at work….. volunteering at a local festival… or for a community group….

Well, I truly believe that is where it starts.   For all of us.  For the “WE” of us.  At the very heart of things.  At home.

Yep….  and this little piggy went….. WE, WE, WE……  all the way home.


“Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.” – Aristotle


“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi