Saturday, November 26, 2011

Penfield House

I spent the evening in a house that took me back to memories of high school, but also one that I did not appreciate when I visited it as part of my art class all those years ago. It is the Penfield House in Willoughby, Ohio. Louis Penfield was my high school art teacher. He was 6'8" tall and commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home that suited his size. (I'm thinking he had more money than just for his schoolteacher job.) The home, overlooking the Chagrin River, is one of 9 Usonian homes that Wright designed. They are small, minimalist and very peacefully settle into the landscape around them.

Last March I had seen Falling Water (PA) for the first time and I loved it. I don't think these houses would please everyone, but I like clean lines and a minimal amount of "stuff" so they are very appealing to me. I was impressed with myself that the house and lot was just as I remembered - because, believe me, it was a long time ago!

The house was built in 1955 and we were invited to an evening of 50's style clothing and cocktails. I was thrilled to wander the house at will. It is very open, ceiling to floor windows, a carport ( a term coined by Wright), and a "floating stairway." The bedrooms are small, and to suit Mr. Penfield everything was taller - even the door handles were located at about my shoulder height.

Mr. Penfield apparently commisioned Mr. Wright to design a second house because he thought the highways being built in the late 50's and early 60's were going to intrude on his peace and quiet. The day the Penfields received the drawing for the new house, Mr. Wright passed away. The drawing hangs in the hallway of the Penfield House. The second house was never built and some are continually trying to raise money to still have it built someday, being Wright's last residential design.

I have been very inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright homes, however, they are not homes built to last forever. Falling Water had to be partially rebuilt in the 1990's and the Penfield House was renovated in the 1980's at $100,000 cost to his son. So, even though they are unique, they were not necessarily well designed - something I am sure Mr. Wright would have never admitted to in his time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Table Grace

by Gary Johnson

Here we sit as evening falls
Like old horses in their stalls.
Thank you Father, that you bless
Us with food and an address.
And the comfort of your hand
In this great and blessed land.
Look around at each dear face,
Keep each one in your good grace.
We think of those who went before,
And wish we could have loved them more.
Grant to us a cheerful heart,
Knowing we must soon depart
to that far land to be with them.
And now let's eat. Praise God. Amen

Sunday, November 20, 2011


She knows the sound of hair spray means I will be coming out of the bathroom.
She knows the shoes that mean we're going for a walk.
She know words - lots of them, because yes, I talk to her constantly.
She anticipates every room that we are going into.
She knows the sound of my spoon clinking in the cereal bowl means breakfast is over.
She hears the crinkle of a bag of shredded cheese from rooms away and knows she'll get a little pile of it on the floor.
She knows my fingers snapping in the night mean - stop that horrible licking.
She is a relentless hunter, catching only one squirrel in 8 noble years of trying (and then dropping it in confusion)
She hears one single sniffle and she is immediately at my side pleading to be a comfort. Her eyes locked on mine - fearful but steadfast.
She knows without a doubt when I need her, when I need a snuggle, when I am lonely. And she is always right. She's a gift from God. Like all dogs, giving unconditional love, forgiving, affectionate and true.
She's just a mutt that nobody wanted - but I'm glad we found each other.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Are We Truly a Christian Nation?

These are excerpts from an article called "My Take: Reactions to Cain, Paterno Point to a Not-so-Christian Nation,"
by Stephen Prothero, who is a regular CNN Belief blog contributor.

In the never-ending debate over whether the United States is a Christian nation, recent events support the nay-sayers. I am referring to the troubles of Herman Cain and Joe Paterno.

How we respond to ethical conundrums often boils down to empathy. In the abortion debate, do you identify with the woman who wants an abortion, or with the fetus?

One purpose of the world's great religions is to widen our circle of empathy beyond ourselves and our families to others in the community, and in the wider world. Christianity, for example, has long taught that we should empathize with " the least of these", and particularly the poor and oppressed. (Luke 4:18)

When we look at the Herman Cain campaign, do our hearts go out to the wealthy businessman and White House contender, or do they go out to the women who are accusing him or sexual improprieties?

When we gaze at Penn State, do our hearts go out to the boys, some as young as 10, who were allegedly sexually assaulted by a former coach under Paterno? Or do we empathize with Paterno?

When I turn on the television and see "family values" conservatives jumping to Cain's defense within hours of the first charges surfacing, or Penn State students rioting over the decision of their university's Board of Trustees to fire Paterno, I have to ask myself, "What has happened to our supposedly Christian nation?"

I know that in the United States defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty. But I am not talking about the law here. I am talking about where our hearts incline, and whether they incline in a Christian direction.

I do not know if Jesus is a Penn State fan. He may well be, But if he were here today, would he be laying flowers at the front door of Paterno's house (as many students have done), or would he be seeking out the boys whose lives have allegedly been so irreparably damaged?

Would he be standing alongside Cain's lawyer as he issues not-so-veiled threats against accusers who have not yet gone public with their stories, or would he be standing by their side?

In your heart of hearts I think you know the answer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


by Robert Frost

Out through the fields and the wood
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world and descended
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less that a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,

And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Voting is an act of optimism. It doesn't mean that you agree with everything the person does thereafter. Vote your conscience - not a party. Diane Ferri
Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct. Thomas Jefferson