Monthly Archives: January 2014

Fond memories, albeit slightly creepish

Although I never would have admitted it back then, I was a little ooked out as a kid by a popular tourist attraction that I think we visited twice (Mavis? Any recollection of going there more than the one time with Grandma and Grandpa J?).

The House on the Rock occupies a rather strange place in my memory. I was quite young (8 or 9, I think) when we went, but certain images stick out to me to this day.

Built in 1945 by eccentric dreamer Alex Jordan, and opened to the tourist public in 1960, the House is more like a rambling museum of strange and wonderful artifacts, like turn-of-the-century gadgets and toys. I remember being particularly mystified and impressed as a young violinist by the mechanical instruments. The fact that they played totally by themselves was part of the creepy fascination — at least for a 9-year-old in 1968. Now here’s where my memory gets a little fuzzy, and I can’t find out for sure if I’m remembering what was actually there, or just what I think was there.

I know there was a mechanical violin-playing contraption, and I’m almost positive that it was of the “double” variety, like the one pictured (a 1912 “Violano”). However, in all my searches of the present iteration of the attraction, I can’t find this particular instrument, other than a reference to a “single” version of the instrument, where only one violin played.

Now is it my faulty, 9-year-old’s memory that’s wishing it featured two violins? Or were there actually two violins in the display? I’m not 100% certain, but I really want to believe there were two, and that they played an old, early 20th-century parlor song in perfect-thirds harmony. But…maybe not. All I’m totally sure of is that I wanted to stand there and listen for much longer than my parents were willing to wait.

Many cool features have been added since we visited. The Infinity Room is definitely a place I’d like to see. Alternately, I would not be interested at all in the hotel, resort, and golf course they’ve put there — the result of capitalist greed coming to roost in the secluded beauty of the Wyoming Valley, which is why we can’t have nice things. Jordan charged 50 cents to see the place in 1960; now it’s $28.50 to get the whole enchilada. Psh.

Still, if you’re ever in the Madison, Wisconsin area and have a few hours to kill, it would be a shame to miss it. In the interim, here is an excellent collection of photographs from someone’s recent tour.

Happy snow day #7 for me — I’m off to take more DayQuil and try to get some work done. TTFN!


pan·dem·ic – adjective.
1. (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

Is it any surprise that many are feeling a bit under the weather? I thought last week that I would really see some improvement in my general health by getting out of school for three days. Turns out, however, I think I just brought home more goodies to share with the Thriller (who is really having trouble today).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we’re at “widespread” levels of sickness. Iowa, Texas, South Carolina and almost all of the Gulf states must be reaping the benefits of that clean livin’. The rest of us, not so lucky. I shouldn’t complain, though. I am fortunate and thankful for a warm house and plenty to eat and drink — and plenty of DayQuil and NyQuil, which, as you know, make the world go ’round. That high-test Robitussin doesn’t stink, either. And it’s cherry flavored. :-D

Did I ever tell you about my love affair with all things cherry? I love cherries. All kinds, in all manifestations. I love cherry candy, cherry cake, cherry Kool-Aid, cherry ice cream, cherry milkshakes, cherry pie, cherry cobbler, cherry cough drops. Of course, my all-time, heavyweight champeen udda worl’ favorite ever is cherries and chocolate mixed together.

Ahhhh, heavenly.

OK, back to flu and coughing and sniffling and stuffed-up sinuses and achy bods and drugs and the couch. But I’m still thinking about cherries.

Sleigh bells ring…

…because that’s about all you’d want to drive this morning around these parts.

It’s a beautiful sight, though. At least it’s beautiful from the inside of your front porch, as opposed to the inside of your car’s windshield. Quite a few snow drifts on the roads this morning. And speaking of, here’s a quote from an area newspaper:

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard issued a Level 3 snow emergency at 7 a.m. Saturday.

“We were out checking the roads at 5 a.m. and some roads, such as Baseline, had 3 feet of snow,” Howard said. Ohio 162 was completely drifted shut until crews from the Ohio Department of Transportation plowed it. Portions of Old State Road had drifts as high as 3 feet. “You’ll drive along sections of the road that seem fine, and then you’ll come up on a drift that is 3 feet high. I expect this Level 3 to be in effect for some time,” he said. “We’re supposed to get more snow, and winds are expected to increase.” 

During a Level, 3, motorists can be ticketed for being on the roadways.

Don’t have to tell me twice. Today is a day for cooking for the week, doing some choreography, and relaxing. May as well, right? Neither of us wants to plow out the 6 inches of snow that’s covering the driveway. Besides, it’s Saturday, and hopefully that means R&R for you as well. Fortunately, the Thriller and I have a near-empty dance card. Because, you know, there needs to be open space for coughing.


Conflicted, but grateful

Normally, I hate school cancellations on Friday during a rehearsal run, because the ballgame always gets rescheduled for a Wednesday night: the *only* night of the week I can get all my cast members together for a company rehearsal of any kind. I have so many athletes in the three winter sports (men’s/women’s basketball, men’s/women’s powerlifting, and wrestling), it’s near impossible to assemble all 25 kids in one place for two hours. It’s madness.

But today, I was grateful and relieved to get the cancellation text. My lungs feel like two enormous slabs of mercury-infected salmon, putrefying in my rib cage. Every dry, hacking cough is a new experience in searing, white-hot, exquisite pain. Honestly, I didn’t know how I was going to get through five rehearsals and a lecture class today, as the only thing that makes the coughing worse is talking and singing. A long weekend of recuperation should do the trick, however.

And the Thriller sounds just as bad as I do, if not marginally worse. Between the two of us, I think we’re scaring the dog, and everyone knows that’s pretty easy to do in the first place. Haha

This about puts the kaibosh on seeing any grandchildren or sister Mavis this weekend, too. My life is a hash. Good night, nurse.

Fink out (back to the bed)

On two-hour delays

Me? I don’t like ’em. Not one little bit. Oh, now the kids — the kids love those extra two hours of sleep.

Scenario #1: Their parents wake them and say, “You’ve had a two-hour delay; time to get up now,” and they go, “Wow! I just got two more hours of sleep! Bonus!”

Scenario #2: Their phone buzzes with the notification from the school district that there’s a two-hour delay. They quietly whisper Yes! — then promptly go back to sleep.

As you might guess, neither of those dreams come true in this house. Once I’m up at 4:30, I’m up for the day. None of this going-back-to-bed nonsense. Therefore, two-hour delays need to either 1) not happen, or 2) turn into cancellations so I can stay in my jammies and work from home. (At least I get to have a leisurely breakfast and an extra coffee. I’ll go do that now. BRB.)

I do understand why they always start with delays. Really, I get it. It is easier to see “black ice” in the daylight, and many of the back roads in the rural community where I teach go unsalted and unplowed until the last minute. The school whiners always surface on days like this, too:

“In my day, we went to school no matter how bad the roads were!”
“What’s up with those sissies? It’s just -20 outside. Get to school and go into the building and get warm.”
“Why are they always delaying schools? Don’t those bus drivers know how to drive?”

I’ve heard them all (and more), trust me. It’s not really about any of those issues, in my opinion. It’s more about living in an extremely litigious society, where officials accused of disregarding anybody’s safety — that of students or staff — can face a tremendously difficult legal battle if something unfortunate should happen. That, and hello: just err on the side of caution where kids are concerned. Call us sissies; I care not. Getting to school by 7:20 a.m. is important, I know. Getting there no matter the cost, especially when there are now record numbers of student drivers, is not earth-shatteringly crucial. Thus saith the Fink this day.

But delays? As a former principal of mine used to say: “Not a fan.”

Not a fan.