Thing #62 I Like About Living Where I Do

[Part of a continuing series, which started here]

62. Miami University's Disc Golf Course. It's a small thing, I know, and there are many disc golf courses all over Ohio (see a list here). But I have yet to play any of them. I have, however, played Miami University's course numerous times, just recently yesterday (a cold and soggy day, during which I took these photos).

It's nearby. It's free. It includes some beautiful scenery (especially in Spring, Summer, and Fall) through Miami's Western Campus (which is the easternmost part of campus. There's a reason it is that way. But it's still one of the fun oddities, among many, of Oxford, Ohio). And it's a great way to blow off some steam, get a little exercise, and enjoy some good company.

Eagles Over the Great Miami

The photo above, taken by my dear friend Doug Webb, is of a bald eagle mother and child, so to speak. Doug discovered these eagles some time ago along the Great Miami River, a few miles southwest of Hamilton.

As he watched, the mother flew above the eaglet. When the eaglet sensed the mother's presence, she (probably) rolled over and showed her talons to Mom, passing the test, demonstrating readiness to defend against predators. And also providing a great shot for Doug's "eagle eye."

Thing #10 I Would Like to Like About Living Where I Do

Last month I began a series of posts on the things I like about living where I do, which has become an ongoing series. Soon after starting, I thought I'd list some of the things I haven't yet done or seen in the area, that I would LIKE to (things like the Cincinnati Observatory, the Dee Felice Cafe, the Boar's Head Festival, etc.). The list was nine items long.

I need to add to it. At least one more item:

10. Loveland Castle. In a ravine along the Little Miami River sits Chateua LaRoche, better known as Loveland Castle. Modeled after tenth century European castles, it was built by Harry Andrews, a fascinating man with a blazing IQ.

After service in World War I as a medic (he was a conscientious objector to mechanized warfare; he preferred the medieval kind), he settled in the Cincinnati area. In 1927, wanting to be able to take his boy scout troop for stays in the countryside, he was given two plots of land on the banks of the Little Miami River by the parents of two of his boys. Calling his troop 'The Knights of the Golden Trail,' he dreamed of a castle on the site. In 1929, he began to collect stones washed up on the banks of the river and started to build. Due to his job in a publishing house and commitment as a Sunday School teacher on weekends, he made little progress until 1955, when he retired. At the age of 65, devoted himself full-time to completing his life's dream.

Upon Harry's death in 1981, care of the castle fell into the hands of the Knights of the Golden Trail, now all grown men.

Today, the castle is open to the public as a tourist attraction, and a testament to Sir Harry's vision. It includes a dungeon, spyholes, suits of armor, and beautiful gardens. Sir Harry even created a hidden room in the garden that was not discovered until after his death, when that section of the Castle suffered some structural damage.

Loveland Castle (aka Chateau Laroche)
Address: 12025 Shore Rd, Loveland, OH 45140
Phone: (513) 683-4686
Hours: April-September open 11am-5pm every day; October-March open 11am-5pm Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. Call ahead to check.
Admission: $3 per person.

Thing #61 I Like About Living Where I Do

61. The Mariemont Theater. Located in the picturesque village of Mariemont, a suburb of Cincinnati, the Mariemont Theater is a throwback to an earlier time...AND a progressive, artsy-type venue for films that can be seen at no other theater in the area (except for the Esquire, which is owned by the same folks).

It's a bit of a drive for us, but it's often worth it to see movies that will never come to our local Hamilton or Oxford theaters. I think it was here the lovely Robin and I saw the memorable Memento. It was also the site of an event I never thought would happen: a film adaptation of a Shakespeare play that I walked out of (it was the dreadful Ethan Hawke version of Hamlet, in which the emotions of the title character--and most others--nearly ran the gamut from A to B).

So, while not every movie they feature is necessarily to my liking, I LOVE that a theater like the Mariemont is in the area. Anytime I see a preview or read a review of a movie that is unlikely to run on one of the eight screens in Hamilton (or, for that matter, dozens of others in West Chester, Springdale, and so on), I check the Mariemont. Not only do I love this theater for their often offbeat fare, but for the ice cream parlor nearby. And its village setting. And the unlikelihood they'll ever feature a Justin Bieber movie.

(The top and bottom photos above were shamelessly borrowed from the wonderful 365 Things to Do In Cincinnati blog, which I highly recommend to all my readers...both of you)

Striking Sky

Here was the scene as I was driving west on 129 between West Chester and Hamilton last night, Feb. 11:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thing #60 I Like About Living Where I Do

[Part of a continuing series, which started here]

60. The Great Strides 5K Walk. Last year, my family and friends (above) participated in the annual GREAT STRIDES walk to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (I foolishly chose to fulfill a work-related responsibility, dagnabit!). I love the way our community in Hamilton and the Cincinnati area support GREAT STRIDES, the CF Foundation's largest and most successful national fundraising event. The Hamilton GREAT STRIDES walk will take place June 4 this year at Joyce Park in Hamilton.

As many of you know, my grand-daughter Calleigh was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis within a few weeks of her birth, launching our family into a whirlwind of discovery about this genetic disease. Because CF hampers her digestion, she has to take synthetic enzymes with every meal or snack. Because CF makes her prone to lung disease, her parents (and sometimes grandparents) do breathing and vest treatments twice a day with her in order to keep her lungs working fully. With the help of many, she is today as beautiful, charming, and healthy a little girl as you will ever meet. And we have every prayerful hope that the CF Foundation's efforts will someday soon result in even more promise of health and life for many years to come for her.

Please help me meet my fundraising goal of $1,000.00 by donating, sponsoring me, or joining the team and walking your own self! (I can send you detailed instructions that will make absolutely pain-free).

Making a donation is easy and secure, and your generous gift will be used efficiently and effectively, as nearly 90 cents of every dollar of revenue raised is available for investment in vital CF programs to support research, care and education! Just click the "Click to Donate" button on this page to go to make a donation that will be credited to my team (you can also click here to go to my GREAT STRIDES page, where you can learn more, join my team, make a donation, and leave a prayer or comment with your donation to express your support). ANY support you can give will be deeply appreciated.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a devastating genetic disease that affects tens of thousands of children and young adults in the United States. Research and care supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is making a huge difference in extending the quality of life for those with CF. However, we continue to lose precious lives to CF every day. That's why your help is needed now more than ever to ensure that a cure is found sooner - rather than later. To learn more about CF and the CF Foundation, visit

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those with CF! Thank you for supporting the mission of the CF Foundation and GREAT STRIDES!

Thing #59 I Like About Living Where I Do

[Part of a continuing series, which started here]

59. Altars. They're not physical altars (actually, one of them is), but they are altars nonetheless.

One of the things I like about living where I do are the spiritual markers I pass all the time in the area (albeit some more than others): the length of road on State Route 177 (Hamilton-Richmond Rd.) just north of Rt. 73, where one night my son, Aaron, swerved to avoid hitting a deer on the way from his girlfriend's house...and hit a tree. When I arrived on the scene, he was lying on the road, partially covered by a blanket or jacket. It turned out that, though he was in shock, he had nothing more serious than a double-broken wrist. But every time I pass that spot, or come near it, I thank God that my son was not killed, or even more seriously hurt, that night.

It's much the same with the spot on Stillwell-Beckett where one winter day my daughter, Aubrey, slid off the icy road and into a ditch. That dangerous curve has since been straightened, so the specific stretch of road is no longer there. But my memories are, and I never pass it without remembering that call, and breathing a prayer of thanks for my daughter's preservation.

There are other altars in the area, too. The literal stone altar where the Cobblestone church family first entered our South Farm property for a prayer walk soon after the 55 acres were purchased. The spot on Somerville Road where the lovely Robin totaled her Grand Am to avoid a collision with a truck that had stopped in the roadway, just over a rise in the road. And more. Altars, every one of them. Places that give me pause, and prompt prayers of thanks.

Thing #58 I Like About Living Where I Do

[Part of a continuing series, which started here]

58. A walk in the neighborhood. Castle Hostetler is situated at the intersection of Gardner Road and a short street called Timbercreek. One of the things I love about living here is that, by crossing Gardner and heading straight down Timbercreek, I embark on a 2.4-mile loop around the neighborhood. Whether I'm jogging, taking Calleigh in her stroller, or walking Ender, or enjoying a nice walk with my bride, it's always pleasant (in nicer weather than we're having now), and at my pace can be walked in about forty minutes or jogged in about thirty (that's why I call what I do "jogging" and not "running;" "running" implies speed). Along the loop are friendly neighbors, attractive yards (all better cared-for than mine), and only a couple dogs that would like to rip my beefy form to shreds...and very little traffic, since the majority of the route ends in cul-de-sacs (which is French, I think, for "keep turning left").

Thing #57 I Like About Living Where I Do

57. Seasons. Seems like everyone around here is sick of winter. Ready for it to be over. Even the hardiest souls (you know who you are, John).

But me, not so much. Oh, I'll be glad with a capital "G" when Spring arrives...but that's exactly the point.

One of the things I LOVE about living where I do is the changing seasons. I LOVE how the cold and ice and snow of Winter makes the heart (and body, soul, head, sinuses, and throat) long for Spring. The depths of Winter make Spring even sweeter when it comes. And likewise with Summer and Fall. By the time each one rolls around, the change of the seasons is a cycle that never gets old.

I suppose I'd like the year-round temperate zone of Sacramento, say, or the sun and surf of southern California. But I suspect I'd tire of it. I really like chopping wood and building a fire in the winter cold, and smelling the first wafting of grass cuttings in the Spring, and walking barefoot in the grass in the Summer, and inhaling the crisp autumn air and watching the leaves turn in the Fall.

It's a spiritual experience for me, it really is. And one of the things I like about living where I do.

Thing #56 I Like About Living Where I Do

56. Road crews. Some areas are better than others, and every area has danger spots, but one of the things I like about living where I do is the timely and effective job the county and city road crews do clearing snow from the roads in this area. As some of our more southerly neighbors know, and other more southerly neighbors have discovered this year, having the right equipment and personnel when a snowstorm (or ice storm) hits makes a HUGE difference for the people and business in that area. We've had crazy snow and ice this winter, but have been only a little inconvenienced, and not at all immobilized. That's something I'm grateful for.

Thing #55 I Like About Living Where I Do

55. My study. I've had a study of some kind or other wherever the lovely Robin and I have ever lived--since 1980, at least. In Lancaster, it was a small room (with windows!) off the master bedroom. In Cincinnati, it was in the basement (best I could do). In New Jersey, it was half of the furnace room. In Youngstown, it was again in the basement. And in our little cottage on Baker Road near Somerville, it was a fold-down desk in the corner of the bedroom. Okay, that last one wasn't a study; it was a desk, and all my books were in boxes (alphabetized) in the attic.

But one of the things I like about where we live now is my study:

It's in the basement, sure, but it affords room for most of my books, and a wonderful place to write, and compute, and waste time, and so on. And the space under the desk provides the family dog, Ender, a sanctuary from thunderstorms and fireworks. So it serves many purposes.

Not only that, but it also has my prayer chair in one corner, a sofa to nap on, and a comfy place to meet with people.

It's far and away the best accommodations I've ever had for study, writing, praying, and thinking deep thoughts.