Nearly 100 authors of Romance, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Historical Romance, Inspirational, Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult fiction, and non-fiction team up to offer the Booklovers’ Buffet, the buffet where you can load up without gaining a pound! Even better, every ebook on the buffet is only $.99, so you can load up without hurting your wallet, either. A great way to find new (or new-to-you) authors! So stop by BookloversBuffet.com today and stock up!
If you’ve been thinking about giving Time’s Enemy a read, here’s your chance to do it on the cheap! Or, if you’re in the Dayton area, you can now check out the print version from Dayton Metro Library!
The sale price is for e-books – many are also available in print, at higher prices.
Most books are offered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, so readers have a choice of retailers and formats.
The Buffet includes full-length novels, novellas, and short stories – most are novels.
This is a limited-time offer, so don’t wait too long!
EDITED Monday, October 22, 2012: This blog post is now nearly a year old. I have nothing to do with this event; this post is just an informational article sharing about something cool that happens in Dayton. If you want to volunteer for the Feast, or otherwise want more information, do not email me – I don’t have the answers you’re looking for. I’m guessing you found this blog post through a Google search, so I suggest you try some of the other links that you found while searching. Thank you!
Sometimes, things happen in Dayton that restore our faith in the human race.
Now in its third year, the Feast of Giving is a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner – turkey with all the trimmings – held at the Dayton Convention Center, for FREE. Although some people emphasize those who have financial need, or those who have no one to spend the holiday with, all are welcome. The event’s sponsors stress that they want “people from all walks of life to attend.” The primary sponsors are area businesses, including ABC 22 & Fox 45 Dayton’s News Source, Dermatologists of Southwest Ohio and Lastar Inc., manufacturer of low-voltage cabling and the parent company of Cables to Go.
Volunteers at last year’s Feast of Giving
Donations are accepted from others as well; click on the Dayton’s News Source link for donation information. Over 3,500 people attend the event each year, and many people volunteer to help. Volunteers are capped at 500, and every year, several times that offer to volunteer. As many as 2,000 would-be volunteers have been turned away in the past, by the Feast and its predecessor.
While the Feast of Giving is only in its third year, it follows a long tradition started in 1969 by Arthur Beerman, founder of Elder-Beerman stores. Mr. Beerman had suffered a heart attack earlier that year. While hospitalized, he received hundreds of get-well cards. After he returned home, he started the dinner “to thank the good Lord for letting me get home for Thanksgiving,” and also to give back to the community that had been so good to him. He died the following year, but his family and the Beerman Foundation continued to host the event every year until 2009. According to the Dayton Daily News, “The annual Thanksgiving dinner was believed to be the largest of its kind in the nation having served an average of 4,000 turkey dinners per year.” In 2009, the Foundation’s board announced that they would not be hosting the Thanksgiving Dinner, as they had determined that its funds would be more effectively spent on charities and programs with a broader scope. That year, the above sponsors combined their funds and efforts to keep the tradition alive with the first Feast of Giving.
The Feast of Giving will be held from 11 – 2, and tickets are not required. The convention center is offering free parking, and Dayton RTA offers free bus service to and from the event.
The 2010 Feast of Giving
I’m blessed to have family in the area, and someone has always been able to host (this year, me), so I have never attended the Feast of Giving or the Beerman Thanksgiving Dinner. But it’s cool to think that the biggest event of its kind is right here, every year, for anyone who wants to go. If you live in the area, have you ever attended? If you don’t live around here, does your community offer anything like it?
For the second leg of last month’s Fall Foliage Cruise, sixteen Camaros (and one Saturn Sky) stopped at Mac-o-cheek Castle in Logan County.
I had no idea this place existed.
To be sure, it’s not a “castle” like we associate with in Europe and the UK. Mac-o-cheek (and its neighbor, Mac-o-chee) are more like large estate homes, more in the vein of Casa Loma in Toronto. Neither of these is as big as Casa Loma, but they are older.
The two castles were built by brothers Abram and Donn Piatt, in the 1860s-70s. Mac-o-cheek Castle was Abram’s, and is the smaller of the two. It was also completed first, and its ownership has stayed in the family since.
What’s really impressive about Mac-o-cheek Castle is the interior. The walls are covered in beautiful wood paneling from native trees, and trimmed by artful scrollwork. All of the furniture inside was actually used by the Piatt family.
Neither of the Piatt brothers had the intention of opening his home to the public, but people were continually stopping by and asking to see. Unwilling to be rude, the family admitted the tourists. This went on beyond the turn of the century, until weary of the intrusions, the families decided to charge admission, thinking it would discourage would-be visitors. Instead, it had the opposite effect.
Elaborate woodwork graces the interior of Mac-o-cheek Castle
Still offering tours, the Piatt family occupied Mac-o-cheek until 1989, moving first into the back rooms of the house, and later into the servants’ quarters. After that, the tours continued, along with ongoing restoration work.
Mac-o-chee Castle sits a little less than a mile away, and was built by Donn Piatt, the elder of the brothers. Mac-o-chee is the larger and more elaborate of the two homes, but is not as well-preserved. Unlike its neighbor, Mac-o-chee was sold out of the family around the turn of the century. Three owners and six decades later, Piatt descendants regained ownership of the home, but it had suffered a good deal of damage in the interim.
Sixteen Camaros parked outside Mac-o-chee Castle enhance the property's beauty
Like Mac-o-cheek, Mac-o-chee is filled with beautifully-crafted woodwork. It also boasts painted ceilings reminiscent of those found in the great castles of Europe. Sadly, the majority are not in good condition, and due to the sales, the antique furniture inside is also not original to the property.
Both properties are well worth the price of admission, which is $12 per castle, or $20 for both. Children get an additional discount, as do groups of 20 or more with reservations. So if you’re in the area and are looking for a day trip, consider the castles! As for the sixteen Camaros and their occupants, a good time was had by all.
Did you know there was anything like this in Ohio? What about where you live?
Camaros (and a Saturn Sky) enhance the area's natural beauty
Ever heard of “Easter eggs” in video games, computers and other consumer products? For those not familiar with the term, it refers to an undocumented feature or extra goody included with the product. My 2010 Camaro came with an Easter egg: new friends! Now several dozen strong, most of us met online on the Camaro5 forum, and later met in person at cruise-ins and other car enthusiast events. My Camaro friends come from all over Ohio, as well as from the surrounding states, and every fall, we get together to go for a cruise to enjoy our Camaros, good company, and some fall scenery.
We had furry, flying friends in the caves
A couple weeks ago, we took our third annual cruise, this time through west-central Ohio. Our first stop was the Ohio Caverns.
Ohio Caverns is the largest and most beautiful cave system in Ohio. Discovered in the late 19th century when a farm worker spotted a sinkhole, over two miles of passages boast thousands of calcite crystal stalagmites, stalactites, and columns. The caves are fairly close to the surface at the entrances, but go to a depth of over 100 feet. However, they don’t involve a lot of stairs or climbing – instead, the caves simply go deeper into the hilly, Champaign County countryside.
The Crystal King is one of the largest stalactites in the U.S.
The crystal formations are considered some of the most colorful and beautiful in the U.S. Iron oxide gives some of the crystals a reddish color, and others take on ranges of pale blue to green. There are two tours available: the regular tour which includes the chambers with most of the dramatic crystals, including the Crystal King, a stalactite nearly 5 feet tall that is estimated to be about 250,000 years old. The Historic Tour is open only to groups, and adds on the first part of the caves that was discovered. The passageways aren’t as finished off and level as in the rest of the cave, and some are quite narrow or low. Caving is one of the few times when it actually pays to be short! I barely had to duck at all. 😀
"Fantasy Land" room in the caverns
If you are ever in the area, I’d highly recommend Ohio Caverns – it’s a spectacle not to be missed! The Camaro friends had a good time, and were in no hurry to take off to our next destination, but we had a schedule to meet, so off we went to Mac-o-chee and Mac-o-cheek Castles – yes, there are castles in Ohio! We’ll take a look at those here next week.
If you live in the area, have you ever visited Ohio Caverns? If not, do you have anything like this in your locale? Ever bought a consumer product that included Easter eggs? Please share!
Crystal King photo via Wikipedia, Creative Commons license
I just finished re-reading another good short story: “The Spelling Error,” by Athena Grayson. Athena is a writer friend of mine, and “The Spelling Error” appeared in an anthology, Words of the Witches, several years ago. It was as good last night as it was then!
What I really liked about “The Spelling Error” was how it breaks a stereotype held by many of us regarding people of pagan faiths. Many of us who grew up in conservative Christian homes probably have heard that pagans were “evil,” or at least, woo-woo new-agey types. While there may be some truth the later, the first couldn’t be further from it.
Lucy Dane is the 12-year-old daughter of a single dad – who also happens to practice pagan worship and the occasional bit of magick. So when her best friend blackmails her into casting a love spell for her, Lucy complies, even though her dad has warned her of the dangers of inexperience and magick, and forbidden its use until she’s older. For herself, Lucy wishes for someone to love her just the way she is.
Her dad, Paul, already does, which is why he’s determined to make his small coffee shop a success – or else Lucy will be sent to live with her grandparents. But things aren’t going so well, until business consultant Mira Taggart shows up to help Paul get his business on the right track. Things quickly heat up between them, and it’s up to Lucy to figure out if it’s the spell she miscast… or something more.
Rather than being the stereotypical expectation, Paul, Lucy, and Mira are well-drawn people so realistic it wouldn’t be a surprise to run into them at the grocery store, kids’ sports, or – of course! – at a coffee shop. Their values are the same as those practiced by those of more “mainstream” American faiths: family first, do no harm, and leave things as you found them – or better. Lucy’s point of view is exactly what we’d expect from an almost-thirteen-year-old who only wants to do what’s best for her friend and family, even if it means going behind Dad’s back.
As a side note, I designed the cover for Athena – a fun project, with the Egyptian influence! (Paul’s particular brand of paganism stems from ancient Egyptian deities and faith.)
If you’re looking for an entertaining and engaging way to spend a half hour or so, check out The Spelling Error! It’s available in e-book form from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
Read any good short stories lately? Let me know in the comments!
The first time I heard about hauntings at Wright Patterson Air Force Base was several years ago, when I heard that The Atlantic Paranormal Society was coming to film an episode of Ghost Hunters. Supposedly, a couple of office and storage buildings on base are haunted, as well as the Hap Arnold House.
It shouldn’t be any surprise, considering how much death is associated with some of these aircraft and artifacts.
The Black Mariah
The more recent hauntings are from the Vietnam war, both of which were involved in rescue/medical evacuation missions. The Black Mariah is a Sikorsky CH-3E amphibious transport helicopter that saw many highly classified runs. The Black Mariah is riddled with bullet holes. Supposedly, many soldiers died aboard the Black Mariah, and their voices and moans can still be heard where it sits in the museum today. (Note: according to its Fact Sheet dated 12/2010, the Black Mariah is undergoing restoration and can only be seen as part of the museum’s Behind the Scenes tour.)
The Hopalong, at the National Museum of the USAF
The Hopalong is a Sikorsky UH-19B Chickasaw that served as a medevac chopper in both the Vietnam war and in Korea. It’s also home to an apparition of its last pilot, who the museum’s night staff claim they sometimes see in the pilot’s seat, flipping switches and trying to steer the craft to safety. The seat is still stained with the pilot’s blood.
Bockscar, shown when it was delivered to the USAF Museum in 1961, with a group of its original crew. The nose art was added after the Nagasaki mission.
One of the museum’s more dramatic exhibits is the Bockscar, “the aircraft that ended WWII.” Named after its pilot, Frederick C. Bock, this Boeing B-29 bomber dropped the “Fat Man” atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, which led to Japan’s surrender. Supposedly, people have seen the ghost of a young Japanese boy near the plane at night.
The ill-fated crew of the Lady Be Good
The Lady Be Good was a B-24D that disappeared after departing for a bombing mission over Italy on April 4, 1943. The other 24 bombers sent to Naples that day returned safely. But the Lady Be Good wasn’t found until sixteen years later, after a group of British archaeologists spotted wreckage while flying over the Libyan desert. After an intensive search of the area, remains of eight crew members were recovered, one of whom had trekked over 100 miles from the wreckage. The ninth crew member was never found. The aircraft was recovered in pieces, many of its instruments and equipment still in usable condition. Some of these parts were installed in other aircraft. According to the Lady Be Good fact sheet, a C-54 with autosyn transmitters from the Lady experienced propeller trouble; it managed to land safely only by ditching cargo. A C-47 with a radio receiver from the Lady had to be abandoned in the Mediterranean. An Army “Otter” plane got an armrest from the Lady Be Good, then crashed in the Gulf of Sidra. None of the ten men aboard were ever found. Some parts were, however – including the armrest. Now housed in the museum, the parts inexplicably rearrange themselves.
The Strawberry Bitch
Another WWII-era B24D, the Strawberry Bitch is one of the museum’s more popular attractions. With a range of over 2,800 miles laden with 5,000 lbs. bomb load, the B24 was well-suited for longer range missions like the raid on the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania, which were estimated to supply 60 percent of Germany’s crude oil. Visitors and museum staff have reported hearing rattles and clanks from the undercage where the gunner sat, and some even claim to have seen a shadowy figure inside. Others say they’ve seen strange lights inside the aircraft. Whatever its/their nature, the spirit(s) haunting the Strawberry Bitch are the only ones said to be violent: a former janitor from the museum claims one slapped him in the face once. Who knows, maybe he made a comment about the plane’s pinup girl nose art. 😀
Prisoners of War exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
There’s one exhibit at the museum that isn’t an aircraft, but evokes a sense of dread and unease in more people than any other: the POW exhibit. With my skeptical nature, I’d be more inclined to believe this is simply due to knowing the horrible experiences suffered by our prisoners of war, rather than any paranormal activity. Still, it makes one wonder!
I have to admit, I didn’t see or hear any evidence of ghostly activity when I visited the museum. If you’ve been there, did you? Do you know of any haunted museums in your home town?
Ohio was all over the national news last week, when a man in Zanesville released 56 exotic animals that he owned, then killed himself, leaving the animals to run amok and possibly hurt, or even kill someone. The debacle had an unfortunate end in that law enforcement had to kill 50 of the animals to ensure public safety. One of the questions raised was, why was this man able to keep these animals when he’d been convicted of animal cruelty in 2005?
Which raises another question: What happens to exotic animals when they’re removed from a bad situation like this?
A white tiger at the Heaven's Corner Zoo
One place they might go is Heaven’s Corner, a wild animal sanctuary located in West Alexandria, just a few miles west of Dayton.
Heaven’s Corner is a privately-owned, nonprofit, USDA-licensed zoo that houses over 150 wild and exotic mammals, reptiles, and birds. The organization’s primary purpose is rescue. Most of these animals were pets whose owners were unable to care for them and either released them, or called for help (that little cub isn’t so cute when it grows up to be a tiger or bear that could rip a person apart!). These animals are often brought in by law enforcement or other state or local authorities. Sometimes, animals are dropped off at the sanctuary. Others came to Heaven’s Corner from other zoos that closed (usually due to lack of funding). These are animals that can’t be returned to their natural habitat for any of many reasons, and the staff of Heaven’s Corner strive to provide each animal with a safe, species-appropriate home where it’s properly cared for.
This Macaw also calls Heaven's Corner home
The other part of Heaven’s Corner’s mission is education. It’s open to the public, and often hosts school groups. I visited several years ago (time to go back!), and was fascinated to hear the stories behind many of the animals, which include several species of tigers, leopards, bears, tropical birds, snakes, and even crocodiles. It’s well worth a visit, and all admission fees go directly toward the care and feeding of the animals. They also accept donations via their website. They also have an active Facebook Page you can Like.
Last week’s unfortunate incident will undoubtedly result in new legislation limiting ownership of wild and exotic animals in Ohio. When new laws take effect, there will likely be plenty of owners who will surrender newly-illegal animals. When they do, Heaven’s Corner will be ready to help these animals find a new home – or provide them with one.
If you live in the area, have you ever been to Heaven’s Corner? If not, do you have an organization like this in your area? Does your state have animal incidents?
Time management has been a challenge for me for as long as I can remember. And keeping my house clean?
(Excuse me while I go have a good laugh)
Okay. Anyway, yes, the day job makes a convenient excuse. Not sayin’ it’s a good one, but it’s mine, and I’m sticking to it. Actually, I no longer worry about it, because now that my husband’s retired, he does a lot of it, and trades work with a friend to do some too (don’t hate me!). But when I was laid off a few years ago, I knew I had to step up.
Flylady’s website is full of tips to get your house (and other aspects of life) under control through routines. She sends out motivational emails every day, and sells products on her website that she’d personally used and determined to be the best value for what they do. She also has a lot of great sayings:
“Your house did not get messy in one day, it’s not going to get clean in one day!”
“You cannot organize clutter, you can only get rid of it!”
“Baby steps get the job done!”
“Just fifteen minutes!”
What a difference ten minutes makes!
Words to live by!
While I was out of work, I did a good job getting clutter under control, and I kept up with the house fairly well. But reining in clutter is an ongoing task, and I haven’t kept up with it since going back to work several years ago. Yesterday, I tripped over shoes in my walk-through closet and decided enough was enough. Surely it wouldn’t take that long to declutter my shoes, so I noted the time and figured I’d spend fifteen minutes on it and see what I could get done.
Buried in that junk, I found three pairs of boots I hadn’t worn in at least two years, and five pairs of shoes that were worn out (and I also hadn’t worn in a year). Those went out. Behind them, way in the back of the closet, were a cleaning bucket I’d thought was lost, and a laptop I had from my first software development job, that I bought in 1997! Even if it could run modern software, the screen was just about shot the last time I fired it up. So I found a place that recycles computers for free, without using toxic chemicals or shipping it over to China, and I put the boots in a bag for the next AMVETS pickup.
Time? 10 minutes!
Okay, five more minutes. I decided to tackle my husband’s shoes, since his size-14s are even more of a tripping hazard than my shoes. He didn’t have any to throw out, but I did move a few he doesn’t wear often to the back, behind his slacks.
Fifteen minutes total, and I was done!
The rest of the closet awaits for my next fifteen minutes, some other day, maybe tomorrow!
Have you ever put off something because you thought it would take a long time – then when you finally jumped in and got to it, found that it didn’t take long at all? Have you found anything as ridiculous as a non-functional, 14-year-old laptop??? Got any decluttering tips? Please share!
We’re going to check out the weird and maybe creepy this week on My Town Monday.
When I was a little kid, maybe seven or eight, my grandpa took me to Community Golf Course a few times while he practiced putting. After he finished, we always drove around the park, taking in the scenery and sights.
The tower as it appears today
Community borders Hills and Dales Park, a beautiful, historic landmark in and of itself with picturesque trails and picnic shelters. The park was a gift to the community from John H. Patterson in the early 20th century. Patterson Road cuts a winding path between the park and the golf course, and just a little ways north of its highest point sits a small stone tower.
The tower fascinated me as a kid, and I wanted to go inside, but it’s always been locked as far as I can remember. When I asked my grandpa why, he said someone had killed him/herself there. I never got any vibes from it that the place might be haunted, and never really gave it much thought for years after that. But every now and then, I drive past, and wonder, so I decided to do some research.
I always just called it “that tower at Hills and Dales Park,” but it apparently has some much more evocative names. Most commonly, it’s called Frankenstein’s Castle. Some people refer to it as the “Witches’ Tower.” There’s a story behind its closing, too. My grandpa was right about someone dying there, although it’s questionable as to whether or not it was suicide. According to a newspaper article in the Daily Gazette (Xenia) on May 18,1967, a couple of teens from nearby Bellbrook took shelter in the tower during a thunderstorm. The Kettering Police got a phone call the evening before, about someone being injured at the tower. The young woman was found halfway up the stairs, dead, with extensive burns all over her face and chest, indicative of a lightning strike. The guy also had burns on his face, but survived. He couldn’t remember anything of the event, but others surmised he was coming down the stairs behind the girl when lightning struck the tower’s metal gate/door, sending a fireball up the interior steps.
This is what the tower looked like decades ago
No one seems certain of when the tower was built, but it’s been there since at least the 1930s. Some theorize that it was built by the CCC during the Great Depression, to serve as a lookout tower. (I never realized it had once had a roof until I found the image below!)
And yes, some consider it haunted. There are accounts of people seeing lights in the narrow, vertical windows at night – not like someone’s in there with a flashlight, but small spots in the shape of a ball. The same people also saw a figure on top of the tower, that then ran down the interior steps and outside, then disappeared.
The same people returned a few days afterward, and saw a rope noose hanging out one of the tower’s windows. On another visit, they saw a shadowy figure in white hanging upside down from the noose. Other people report being chased across the road by the woman in white.
I’m skeptical by nature, so have trouble believing any of this. But then, I have never been to the tower after dark, which is of course when the creepy stuff always happens. Maybe I should try it some time?
If you live(d) in the Dayton area, have you ever been to the tower? Do you think there’s any truth to the stories? If you’re from elsewhere, do you have any weird, haunted landmarks like this in your hometown, and do you believe the stories?
Contemporary tower photo via forgottenoh.com Historic photo of tower by Rollyn Putterbaugh via fotki.com
It’s an Ohio thing, who knew? I didn’t, that’s for sure! But, I wanted to do a little digging into this so-called “Hallmark holiday” and find out what it’s really all about.
My Sunbird was not a convertible, but looked much like this one otherwise. There's a reason cars are special to me!
See, for me, Sweetest Day is something more. I admit to being cynical about it until 20 years ago, as I was about Valentine’s Day (“holidays that are great for someone who has a Valentine/Sweetest, and make the rest of us feel like crap”). What changed it for me twenty years ago was, I met my husband. Not on Sweetest Day, but on the night before Labor Day.
We met in a bar after a fireworks display. A friend of mine, who knew him through a friend, said hi, introduced us, then be-bopped off to someone else she knew, leaving me there at the table with the guy I had no idea I would marry, and his friend (whom he hasn’t seen since). I got his number planning to have him work on my car, a Pontiac Sunbird with a bad oil leak. I couldn’t afford a repair shop bill – heck, couldn’t afford any repair bill at that moment – but a month later, I had some money saved so I called him.
I dropped off the car on a Monday night. He called the next evening to let me know what was wrong with it (cracked head gasket) and how much the repairs would cost, then we talked for an hour about all kinds of things. When I picked up the car a few days later, I paid him $400 to fix what would have cost three times that (or more) at a shop, and he asked me out for the following Saturday night.
Sweetest Day editorial that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in October, 1922 (click to enlarge)
That Saturday was Sweetest Day. He left roses on my doorstep earlier that afternoon, while I was out shopping.
Some sources credit Herbert Birch Kingston for starting Sweetest Day in Cleveland in 1922. His original purpose was to spread some cheer to orphans, elderly shut-ins, and other downtrodden or lonely folks by giving them gifts of candy. Kingston was employed by a candy maker, so there was certainly a commercial component to Sweetest Day’s origins. Other sources claim it was totally commercial, the concoction of a federation of Cleveland area candy industry insiders. Although the initial intention was to encourage people to gift candy to anyone, it’s mostly celebrated in romantic relationships modern-day practice.
So, Sweetest Day is a bit more than just a “Hallmark holiday” for me. (Despite its long history, Valentine’s Day is still pretty much that.) I had never really heard of Sweetest Day before high school (1980), but it turns out it’s been around a lot longer – and it was started in Ohio!
The sources I found all stated that Sweetest Day is still largely celebrated in the Great Lakes states, and not much elsewhere – also something I didn’t know, being a lifelong Ohioan.
Sweetest Day is this Saturday, October 15th. I still don’t know what I’m going to get for my husband. Often, we just go out to dinner, which is what we did on our first date.
Do you do anything for Sweetest Day? Or is it a Hallmark holiday for you (or less)? Do you have a fun story of how you met a significant other? Please share!
Car photo via motorbase.com (unattributed) Sweetest Day newspaper clipping via Wikipedia.org