Monday, December 31, 2007



Saturday, December 29, 2007


Chosing one’s favorite pictures from a year’s work is a mental wrestling match. Ultimately the shots selected were chosen to represent a wide varitey of subjects from close-ups to a subject more than 225,000 miles away—the Moon.

They also were chosen to represent a variety of shooting styles from the slow shutter speed effort on the tubas in a parade to another slow shutter speed shot just to achieve an image at all—deep in the cave.

The pictures have one thing in common. All were shot with available light.

The exposure data I provide with the pictures is automatically recorded by the camera and I simply pluck it from the image file with Adobe Photoshop Elements v4; my photo processing software.

Early in the year I upgraded to a 10 mega pixel digital single lens reflex camera; a Canon Rebel 400 XTi and equipped it with a Canon 17-85mm image stabilized lens. In December Santa arrived early with a 70-200 L IS USM f2.8 lens. I suspect you will see some of its work this time next year.

Meanwhile, thanks for enjoying my work—in no particular order:

The four-tuba section of the Clear Fork High School marching band was done with a 1.6 second exposure at f 13 and an ISO setting of 1600 while I was walking backward in front of them during the town’s Halloween Parade. The school’s mascot is a Colt and the outline of a horse’s head in the upper left of the image was a pure accident of the creative process.

The near-quarter Moon was shot at 1/125 second at f 10 with an ISO setting of 800. The camera body was attached to my Meade ETX 90 EC telescope which has a focal length of 1,200 mm. It has incredibly sharp optics and, incidently, is the world’s best selling telescope.

From space we go underground on a boat ride through Penn’s Cave near State College, PA. This exposure was done at ¼ second at f 3.5 with an ISO setting of 400. I was sitting on the transom of the boat and balanced my elbows on my knees to steady the camera. The image stabilization technology used in these lenses is outstanding.

This picture assumes a near-spiritual quality with the sunlight peaking over the crest of Ash Cave in the Hocking Hills and sparkling through the morning dampness to illuminate the tree. God provided this picture. I simply was there to record it. Photo data: 1/60 second at f 4 exposure with an ISO setting of 400.

My daughter-in-law Kate Wolf is enjoying Mansfield’s Carousel. This exposure was made at 1/20 second at f 5.6 at ISO 200. I swiveled my body at precisely the speed Kate was passing by. That rendered her in sharp composition while the background was blurred by the camera’s motion. Several test shots were done to determine the correct exposure and a shutter speed that produced a pleasing result.

This picture was made just after a freezing rain event. The black background was achieved by composing the fairly bright, ice-clad branch against the relatively dark trunk of an adjacent tree. 1/60 second, f 4 at ISO 400. I carry the camera set at ISO 400 and stray from that setting as lighting and composition requires.

My late bride’s favorite flower. The subdued light after a rain shower helps render the plant in a rich and fresh softness. Being fairly close, using a relatively wide aperature and longer focal length all lessen the depth of field and throw the background nicely out of focus. 1/100 second, f 5.6, ISO 400.

Sometimes a simple subject produces arresting results. I saw this water bejeweled leaf lying beside a path in the northeast woods. The cloudy bright sky backlit the leaf enhancing its texture and sparkle. A very close composition confines the viewer’s attention by eliminating extraneous detail—a technique that can hardly ever be used to excess. Even though shot close-up, an aperature of f 14 allowed sufficient depth of field to keep the leaf in focus. 1/100 second at ISO 200.

An exposure of 3/10 second rendered the moving water a silky blur as it tumbles over Fleming Falls at Camp Mowana. I liked the geometry of the composition. I enjoyed contemplating the eon it took the water to construct its carvings. I took pleasure in Nature’s artistry of dappling the scene with colorful leaves and a gentle accent from the green moss. F 20 and ISO 400.

This image was one of those spontaneous events that reveals the magic of its moment—a little girl intensely involved with her own holiday emotions; obvious even in the position of her tiny feet. I was sitting about 50 feet away with the good fortune of having my new 70-200 mm F 2.8 lens attached to the camera. The picture was done at a 112 mm equivalent focal length, 1/1250 sec, f 2.8, ISO 400.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Please pardon the indulgence of yet another picture of my pal. This image jumped into my digimatic camera a few days ago while I was munching on a grilled ham and cheese lunch sandwich and Max was giving me his--You are going to save me a bite, aren’t you--look.

I did several quick exposures on manual; 1/40th second at F 5.6, ISO 400 with the focal length zoomed to 53 mm at approximately 8 feet with both the auto focus and image stabilization engaged. The exposure was done with the available light from the deck doors.

As you can plainly see the image is tack sharp—a testament to this stunning digital technology. Naturally, I also pushed the shutter button quite gently.

Let Max and I also use this opportunity to invite you to enjoy the selection of our year’s 10 favorite photos which will be featured Saturday along with a paragraph of technical explanation for each.

We hope you will be able to stop by.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I chose the plain oil lamp to suggest a humble basis for this composition and to represent the spirit and hope of the holiday season.

The color of the ornament intrudes just enough to represent the secular festivity, the enchantment, and, our warm and fuzzy memories from holidays past.

The background is unadorned and the lighting is unobtrusive while the low angle of view subordinates us to the holiday’s true Christian meaning.

May your holiday be as richly blessed as my composition seeks to be gentle.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Here’s a bit of a teaser for you blog shutterbugs. In this available light photo you will note the furniture and Christmas gifts are in sharp focus while, clearly, there has been some horizontal movement in the tree as evidenced by the highlight streaking.

This is 100% camera technique with zero software manipulation.

How was this done?

Give up?

Scroll down.

The camera was operated in the manual mode and the exposure was carefully hand-held at ¼ second, f 9 with an ISO setting of 1600. The image was composed and focused then the shutter was tripped and the camera was immediately swung on its horizontal axis.

Consequently, for the majority of the ¼ second exposure the camera recorded a sharp image of the furniture, gifts, etc., then, the late horizontal movement caused the camera to see only the bright lights; recording them as short streaks during that brief interval of movement

The lesson to be learned here is to experiment by pushing your camera to places you have never been, then enjoy the fascination of the unpredictable results of the creative process.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Santa Claus* keeps a very watchful eye this time of year for good little boys and girls. You have been good—haven’t you?

Evidently this youngster did not get the answer he was expecting from Santa during his recent visit to the Possum Run Greenhouse .

This young lass examined her grown-up counterpart very carefully as she awaited her turn to discuss her modest Christmas list.

A coy approach is often best when dealing with the issue of convincing Stanta you have been a good little girl.

My hearing isn’t what it once was but I think I heard this young mother say something about Santa telling a whopper—or something like that.

*Alias, Robert (Pat) Patterson, Bellville at his recent visit to the nearby Possum Run Greenhouse.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Grandson Eli Carter-Wolf (6) executes a tactical retreat after a successful snowball attack on his moms, daughter TJ Wolf right rear and partner Wendy Carter-Wolf. They are visiting for Christmas from their home in Jacksonville, FL where opportunities for such frosty frolics are quite limited.

The Fight for English by David Crystal

A light but penetrating look at the history of the English language. “Crystal— ever scholarly yet entertaining—explains why we should say no to zero tolerance” regarding accepting change to the language. Yet, in his text he opines, “Left to themselves, people will descend into barbarism.” ‘Tis lots of lexicography with a hefty dose of philosophy.

The Berlin Wall by Frederick Taylor

The book’s flyleaf hype says, “...captivating....Gripping and authoritative....” I’ll give you ‘authoritative’. It is 449 pages of academic tome. It is about as “captivating” and “gripping” as the typically bland history textbooks I can remember from high school. I didn’t finish this one. Unless you are a serious scholar on the subject you do not even want to start it.

High Season by Jon Loomis

This book continues to convince me “first novels” are generally a good read. After all, the author has had lots of time to develop his idea before he finds a publisher. This story is set in seaside Provincetown, MA where a tired Baltimore detective hopes to ease toward quiet retirement. Naturally, that does not happen. The funky town delivers lots of plot (in spite of two glaring errors regarding handguns) and an otherwise entertaining read for the author, an award winning poet no less.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A haunting tale of two generations of Afghanistan families struggling to survive in their war-torn country from the Soviet invasion to the Taliban rein of terror and its current struggle to rebuild. There is heart-wrenching love and violent death in this marvelous story that leaves me wondering how any contemporary woman could ever freely choose to exist under Islamic law.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Now regarded as a classic, this futuristic tome, first published in 1932, envisions a population, 600 years hence, cloned into a caste system of hedonists who enjoy free sexuality without the nuisance of reproduction to perpetuate the species. Initial reviews of the book were “surprisingly negative”. One reviewer then wondered why Huxley, “…bothered to turn this essay in indignation into a novel,” describing it as “inert as a work of art.” I agree.

Monday, December 17, 2007


This aerobatic version of Ohio’s state bird did an explosive departure from the platform feeder when the Blue Jay arrived for lunch Saturday. Heavy snow had begun falling about an hour earlier during the backyard feeder, Christmas Bird Count for our Gorman Nature Center.

I recorded 15 species of birds at my feeders during the day-long count. The greatest quantity of a single species at one time was the Junco with 33. Second place went to Cardinals with 16 while 9 Goldfinches took third.

I also recorded Mourning Doves, Red Breasted and White Breasted Nuthatches, Downy, Hairy and Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Song, White Throated and Tree Sparrows, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Blue Jays and two Mallard ducks.

The ducks, naturally, are not regarded as feeder birds but I have a hopper feeder near the edge of the pond and the ducks like to come and tidy up the droppings of seed from the birds with messy table manners.

We are on the border of the ranges of the Black Capped and Carolina Chickadees and they are very difficult to tell apart. Local birding experts believe the Chickadees we see are the Black Capped variety

The snowfall diminished and temperatures warmed overnight to 36 degrees at dawn Sunday and left us with about an inch of slush. Then, the low pressure moved east of us which brought us north winds, plummeting temperatures and about two more inches of snow.

It’s December in Ohio--and the birds rarely seem to mind.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Bellville village children frolic around the bandstand on the village green at the conclusion of the annual burning of the Yule Log. The opening of the holiday season also was celebrated by caroling, the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree and a visit by St. Nick while Wassail was warmed in a large cast iron kettle over the fire.

A new holiday decoration was installed on the village green south of Church St., this year. It will highlight the town skating rink usually set-up on the lawn in front of the town hall when winter’s grip of frigid temperatures finally arrives.

This tastefully decorated home is in a new development on the south edge of the village. Holiday lights from the very modest to absolutely dazzling are visible throughout our Norman Rockwellesque town in the Clear Fork Valley.

Feeling frazzled with the bustle of the season? I try to avoid such silliness and did that this year by doing most of my Christmas shopping before Easter. * Sigh *
Next week we feature a photo spread on Santa’s recent visit to our area.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


The ice storm that recently pummeled the midwest has been very kind to Ohio. This modest overnight ice build-up is melting slowly in light rain with our temperature hovering at 33 degrees and forecast to warm through the day.

And, we have abundant water. This latest rain has pushed the pond to about 10 inches above its normal full level. I cannot measure the rain quantity. The rain gauge is put away for the winter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


No Enthusiasm for Organized Religion

After a childhood which included baptism and confirmation as a Lutheran in the Christian faith I slowly drifted away from the church.

Along with that choice, though, I remember keeping a careful eye on the potential consequences of such an heretic decision.

Will such a choice really condem me to an eternity of damnation? Would I face purgatory after death until I came to my senses?

Serious questions indeed. But, does it make sense, then, that believers of other faiths would automatically face such tribulations simply because they do not march to the doctrinal tunes of Christianity?

What about Hindus or Jews, or Yezidis for that matter? What about countless populations who lived and died before Christianity even arrived on this Earth? How could they be penalized for failing to believe what I was taught?

I have long noticed the organized religions tend to advocate a generally similar path through life; one of peace and hope and love and goodwill to fellow man or comforting words of similar effect.

I also have noticed a common thread of hypocrisy among those religions.

For example, while preaching “Peace” and “Love” at home, the Crusades were actually wars based on the prevalent Church of the time seeking to expand its area throughout what is now generally known as the Middle-East.

Christianity arrived in the US colonies because of religious persecution on the European continent. Simply being a "heretic" there was a capital offense through those early ages.

Muslims and Jews have been fighting over Palestine since Biblical times.

In a more contemporary setting, Protestants and Catholics have tended to kill each other in Northern Ireland.

Even more recently, how about the sordid affairs common in TV evangelism or the aberrant sexual behavior that appears to be prevalent in the Catholic priesthood?

Not to mention today’s radical Muslims and their jihad; a homicidal holy war against the rest of us human infidels.

Then, an odd thing happened to me recently. While doing the blog piece on the local Unitarian Universalist Church I began to feel a warm tinge of Christian curiosity.

But that door promptly slammed closed.

It appears they relish their freedom to practice the religious style of their choice under the First Ammendment of our Constitution, but, with no respect whatsoever for our Constitutional protections under the Second one.

Bricks and mortar churches? No thanks.

A walk in the woods with my dog while pondering the cosmos remains more than ample balm for my wayward spirituality.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Barbara Piatt (above), docent at Mansfield’s Oak Hill Cottage, played the Grand Orchestral pump organ at Oak Hill’s opening of the holiday season one recent Sunday.


“One of the most perfect Gothic houses in the US”

The cottage was built in 1847 by John R. Robinson, a local railroad tycoon. It has seven gables, five double chimneys and seven Italian marble fireplaces. Later that century it was acquired by Dr. Johannes A. Jones and remained in his family for 101 years.

Mansfield native and Pulitizer Prize winning author, Louis Bromfield, played at Oak Hill as a child. His memories of the home were the basis for his first published novel “The Green Bay Tree” in 1924.

The house was acquired by the Richland County Historical Society in 1965, is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of the Libraries USA in 2000.

Anka Hall, a volunteer in the Oak Hill Cottage Guild has given tours there since it opened to the public in 1983. “The house is fully restored with the original furnishings, not simply collected pieces from the period,” she amplified.

Seldom does a house with all the furnishings and artifacts of one family’s life come down to the present intact. This one has!

In the library you will see Dr. Jones’ medical tools and a very early inhaling appliance. Over on the hearth of the room’s fireplace are musical instruments of the period favored by the Jones’ daughters.

Tour guides smile when they point out initials carved in some room’s window glass by Dr. Jones’ bride with her new diamond ring; a demonstration of the relative hardness of those elements that has survived through the past centuries.

Resplendent in its holiday attire, the cottage will be open Sundays, 2 to 5 p.m. through the end of December. Admission is $3.




In the news recently after a typhoon hit the country, Bangladesh is located in South Asia surrounded on three sides by India except for a small stretch of border shared with Myanmar. The Bay of Bengal is on its south border.

These borders were established in the 1947 partition of India when the region became the eastern wing of the newly formed Pakistan. They declared their independence and became Bangladesh in 1971.

The Islamic country has been mired in political turmoil ever since with 14 different heads of government and at least four military coups.

The recent cyclone (known as a hurricane in the northern hemisphere) claimed a reported 3,167 lives with 1,724 people missing. Officials there feared the toll could go much higher.

Three similar storms have hit the country in the past 40 years. One in 1970 killed 300,000 people and another in 1991 left 140,000 dead. Advances in disaster preparedness are credited with the lower casualty figures from this storm.

It is among the most densely populated countries in the world and officials there predict 50 per cent of the country would flood with a mere three foot rise in sea level; a scenario sometimes predicted to result from global warming.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


A cookout today would require shoveling some 5” of fresh snow off the picnic table on the lower deck; our first significant snow of the season. Actually, a picnic is not a very good idea—for humans. The birds, however, are delighted; particularly after I freshened up the feeders a bit during a slight lee in the storm. Those are American Goldfinches and Dark-eyed Juncos flitting about the thistle feeder.

The goldfinches are with us the entire year and the males, commonly known as wild canaries when in their bright yellow breeding plumage, are now the same drab olive color as the females.

The juncos spend their breeding season as far north as Alaska and winter with us in large numbers.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Bellville’s version of the Grand Ole Opry happens the fourth Sunday of each month in Gary Mishey’s backyard garage. Sounds of clanking tools are replaced by the rhythms of banjos and guitars and mandolins strumming mostly country music as it should be played.

Dean of the Jam is Bill Wise, 81, framed behind his son Chip’s stringed instrument in the above photo. Both play lead guitars. Counting Logan below, Bill is now playing for the fifth generation in the Mishey family.

Gary Mishey, bass guitar
Logan Scott Mishey, 14 mos.

We’re in “G” de facto leader Jim Blackstone says and toes get to tappin’ and fingers get to pluckin’ and music rolls through the wrenches like a melodic tsunami.

June Wenger, rhythm guitar

Larry Hammond, rhythm guitar

An average of 10 to 12 musicians from a regular pool of 30 or so do this each month because music is in their collective blood. It wants to come alive as audiences wish it would. And, with this group it always does!

Jammin’ in the Garage…

Folsom Prison Blues, Your Cheatin’ Heart, Foggy Mountain Breakdown,
Ruby, The Tennessee Waltz…

…Grand Ole Opry Bellville Style.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Good friend and former Richland County Sheriff Dick Petty (right) sings a duet with Larry Hammond, rhythm guitarist with a group that Jams monthly in a Bellville garage. We feature that activity tomorrow in a blog piece entitled;

Grand Ole Opry, Bellville Style! Please tune in.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007


After 11 months, 313 consecutive days and 380 posts I am taking some time off. I expect to return Saturday, December 1, 2007 and hope to publish weekly thereafter; on Saturdays, sometime between 6 a.m. and noon--

--occasionally, maybe even more often.

Please stay tuned.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Malabar Farm Naturalist Lisa Durham of Bellville, in colonial costume (above), tends to the turkey roasting in a reflector oven at their recent Hearthside Cooking Workshop. Twenty six folks were enrolled in this recent day-long event where an entire Thanksgiving dinner is prepared in this traditional manner.

Another ½ dozen Dutch Ovens were cooking in a second fireplace where other “colonial” folks (staff and volunteers) tended the wood fire and kept a fresh supply of hot coals supplied to the cast iron pots.

The cooking times were carefully scheduled so the entire dinner would be finished by the day’s end.

Preparations included roast turkey and ham, cornbread dressing, a cranberry medley, maple baked carrots, Harvard beets, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, baked squash, corn pudding, cranberry maple sauce, Irish soda bread, pumpkin pie, German apple cake, whipped cream and hot mulled cider.

Participants, in small squads, were kept busy throughout the day peeling and slicing and dicing and mixing and mashing ingredients for these various culinary delights.

All went home with five printed pages of recipes on how to prepare this holiday feast.

Here’s how the pioneers dealt with the absence of canned pumpkin on the grocery store shelf:

“Pie pumpkins are usually small and have a darker color than decorative pumpkins. Select firm pumpkins, wash thoroughly, cut into chunks. Place in a Dutch oven, add at least 2 inches of water and cook until soft.

Drain water, scoop pumpkin from skin and mash. Put mashed pumpkin in a colander lined with cheesecloth and let drain for 10-15 minutes to remove excess liquid. Use the mashed pumpkin as you would canned pumpkin.”

I asked Naturalist Lisa, “What happens to all this food at day’s end?”

She smiled, “Why, we eat it, of course...” ...with gratitude, naturally, for the traditional bounty of our country as celebrated in this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


It took a track-hoe about three hours of leisurely munching to level a house on Bellville’s Main St., Monday. Brad Smith, owner of True Value Hardware, smiles as the last corner of the building falls just north of his store. The lot will be paved for much needed parking.


28 By Stephanie Nolen

Literally 28 compelling vignettes of people in Africa who have battled HIV/AIDS. The author uses these stories to focus attention on the estimated 28 million people infected there; 5,500 of whom die every single day.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is literally a virus that weakens the immune system, ultimately leading to AIDS (A = aquired. ID = immunodeficiency. S = syndrome). AIDS is not one disease but rather presents itself as a number of diseases that attack as the immune system fails.

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A captivating first-novel takes a first-person look at two young boys growing up in Afganistan in the 1970s; one rich, the other the son of their servant. Then, a horiffic betrayal. Then, Russia invades Afganistan and the author and his father escape to impoverished asylum in the US. A stunningly personal autobiography posing as a novel. It likely makes my top 10 list of books, ever. Today, the author is a west coast physican.

Our American King by David Lozell Martin

The US government has collapsed and the coutry is in chaos. Millions die in the anarchy and of starvation. The White House has been abandoned and overrun; the corpses of dead politicians hanging upside down on the surrounding fence. A charismatic “King” Tazza rises to power and traverses the US assembling an army to restore order while the book drifts to the compelling conclusion “Governments (regardless of their form) never have the people’s best interest at heart.”

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham

This yarn is about a professional football player whose lackluster career bottoms out with playing in an Italian league. Actually, it is a lackluster 258 pages of guaranteed cure for insomnia. What’s next from this otherwise talented author, fairy tales?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I was struggling with the precise identification of this wild plant when a fortuitious lunch conversation with friend Tom Wade quickly solved that problem.

After my very brief description of the plant he directly said, “That’s a Euonymus Alatus” commonly known as a Buning Bush, also known as a Fire Bush.

Their leaves naturally are green with cholorphyll in the summertime but now give the appearance of burning jewels in the gloomy yet softly pleasing earth-toned woods. It is not hard to understand the origin of its common name.

“Plants with abundant exposure to sunshine turn the brilliant red” Tom said. “Those in partial shade will have leaves of a pink-yellow hue this time of year.”

Another distinguishing characteristic of the plant is its practice of throwing lengths of corky bark on its branches, vertically inclined to the lateral axis as shown in the picture to the right.

“They are hardy to Climate Zone 4 north of us and tolerate a wide variety of soil and moisture conditions,” Tom added.

Formerly of Wade and Gatton Nurseries in the Bellville area, Tom is now successfully self-employed in the landscape business.

Curious; check here: This page is currently under revision so click on the “contact us” link at the top of the page for further information.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Three times this year we have commented on prominent, alleged violations of law around the nation.

On June 27th in a piece entitled “Some Justice” we reported on a Washington, DC judge who sued a local dry cleaning establishment for over 50 million bucks because they lost his pants.

It was August 9th when we ran a “Commenterry” dealing with allegations Barry Bonds had used steroids illegally to achieve success in his assault on some of major league baseball’s most revered records.

Then, on September 11th we ran the piece on US Senator Larry Craig (R) Idaho who was caught with his pants down in a Minneapolis Airport. He resigned and we applauded that decision—which he later withdrew.

In the first instance we called for (at the very least) this character’s removal from the bench. That happened recently.

In the second instance we called for uniform application of law regardless of Bond’s status in professional sports. That also happened recently. This character has been indicted by a federal grand jury and faces severe penalties if convicted.

In the third instance Craig was stripped of all his committee appointments and a Senate Ethics Panel was convened to investigate the matter.

Then silence.

This case is not about this person’s sexual orientation. It is about a member of our country’s senior legislative body violating the country’s laws then trying to use his privileged status to worm out of the consequences.

It smells and that odor will permeate the US Senate until its source is removed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


The church anchors the southeast corner of Church and Bell St., in Bellville—just as it has since 1897.

It is that marvelous spiritual edifice made of sandstone that shares the block with its secular neighbor, the Bellville Village Hall.

Bill Millikin, a lay leader of the church, helped me understand the eclectic approach to formal religious practice for which this lively congregation is known.

“For example, we didn’t know whether to call our choral group a chorus or a choir” he noted. One definition holds a chorus is a somewhat casual choir. “That’s us,” he quipped.

The church first held services in Bellville in 1822 with the assistance of circuit riders. Official organization of the church was in 1847 and their first building was constructed near the current site in 1851.

That was 10 years before the start of the Civil War.

The sandstone for today’s structure was quarried from the Cyrus Gatton farm on SR 97 east of Bellville and another quarry then west of the village.

The church organ was built in 1873 and arrived here via canal boat and wagon in 1910.

L. D. Ball of Shelby, maintenance committee chair, showed me records that revealed the church was constructed at a cost of $5,277.89. A typical entry showed Mr. L. L. Garber was paid $9.25 for his masonry work the week of May 18, 1895. An entry a week later showed he earned $10.

The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.

We replaced the front steps to our church in 2007 Ball pointed out. “That cost $6,000; more than it cost to build the original building.”

“New” pews were purchased in 2005. They were 100 years old themselves and church members worked weekly for nearly a year to rebuild and refinish them. They sparkle in the comfortable sanctuary which also saw new heating, air conditioning and a sound system installed that year.

This from the church’s October newsletter: “Finally, with our new members joining on Sept. 23rd, All Souls has a total of 75 members which just about matches the largest membership in our 185 year history. That is a membership growth of 56% in the last 5 years.”

Judging by the warmth and fellowship I enjoyed while visiting to prepare this piece, I certainly am not surprised.

John Martin and wife Arlene Webb serve the All Souls church as the Pastoral Care Team. Martin holds a MA degree from the University of Hawaii and was graduated in the summer of 2007 with a Masters of Divinity degree from the Methodist Theological School of Ohio. He is currently in the process of fulfilling the Unitarian Universalist Association’s requirements for ministry. Arleen will graduate in June 2008 with two master’s degrees; one in theology and the other in religious education.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Yup, there I was without my camera.

It happened this way: Max and I were on our late afternoon hike and were headed out the connector path toward the west trail. The winter sun was angling for bed early as it does this time of year.

Because of the rapidly approaching darkness I left the camera in the house, then--

I noticed Max going to high alert while I scanned ahead and saw it—a nice buck Whitetail Deer was silhouetted through the trees as it ambled toward the hilltop in the northwest corner of the woods.

It was very much aware of our presence but not very alarmed.

It stopped at the top of the hill and looked back toward us. It’s ears like radar antennae standing proud beside a fine rack of antlers—all richly black against the waning amber hue of sky.

I moved slightly to improve my sight line through the trees. The deer’s radar adjusted almost imperceptibly as it stayed focused on the threat I might represent.

Max sat down. I couldn’t tell if he was resting or simply bored with my distracted attention.

The moment stretched on and on, but probably only for a minute or two.

While I was enjoying the affectionate kinship with my best pal and sensing the cerebral delight of a very special moment with that princely creature in the near distance I had to remind myself it was indeed a wild animal—focused only on its own survival.

As it began to slowly meander toward the east, far off dogs barked randomly and the deer instinctively reversed course and disappeared to temporary seclusion in the expanse of high, woody brush to the west.

I silently wished it a safe journey.
“Barfelyuked”: A word coined by Fogeyisms in the blog dated November 7, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007


A novel by Phil Stortz; maybe

A chill crawed up my spine as my retired policeman friend pondered the rural creek where he helped recover the body of a murder victim those many years ago.

Stortz was the chief of the Butler, OH police department in 1984. He had taken the original missing person report on this victim. That was about a month before Boy Scouts cleaning litter along the road saw an arm sticking out of the ice of the Possum Run Creek down near Butler Newville Rd.

County sheriff deputies investigating the scene called on Stortz, who lived nearby, to use his personal tools to chop the victim from its icy tomb.

In doing so, they carefully preserved the ice encasing the victim which later revealed clues that helped convict the killer.

The successful investigation took many strange twists:

--A psychic described moving water and a steel structure as the location of the victim’s body, (the stream and bridge?) before a murder was known to have been committed.

--The victim, trapped in prostitution had a child fathered by a policeman in a nearby city.

--With local welfare officials forcing her to reveal the father’s identity for purposes of child support, the father/cop was found to have offered her a cash settlement to keep his wife from learning the sordid details.

--A second officer was learned to have been seeing the same victim.

The first cop was ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to prison where he served approximately 16 years. He was released from prison in 2004 and was last reported living in the area.

Armed with intimate knowledge of this case and its principals Stortz is now a budding author. He has submitted his creation to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award program where it has gained positive review.

His manuscript is now a work of fiction because of contest requirements as well as close family connections to local law enforcement combined with a respect for the survivors, many of whom live in the area.

The top prize at the end of Stortz’s writing rainbow is $25,000 and a publishing contract.

That’s a nice dream for a retired cop from Butler, Ohio.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Living alone, it is hard for me to consume an entire loaf of bread before it begins to get stale. Usually, when I wind up with a half-dozen or so pieces I cube them with a bread knife and put them in a platform bird feeder.

That thrills the blue jays. One day recently a squadron of them emptied that feeder in 20 minutes flat.

While I was watching their coordinated assault goldfinches, both white and red breasted nuthatches, chickadees and titmice hammered the black oil sunflower and Niger seed feeders with abandon.

Oblivious to all that aerial activity a gray squired cavorted in the pines while smaller cousins, a red squirrel and a chipmunk tidied up the leavings under the feeders and a Carolina wren busied itself with tidbits of the thistle seed on the upper deck in what appeared to be friendly competition with a pair of juncos.

A belted kingfisher sat quietly on a lofty perch in the pine snags and seemed amused by the goings on. I think his belly was temporarily full.

Meanwhile, two pair of mallard ducks dabbled in the pond weeds along the dam and, in the background, far across the pond, four crows worked on the deer carcass until the turkey vultures arrived and continued the job after shooing the squawking crows up into the adjacent woods.

By human standards that sight is gruesome and sad.

But, it is part of nature’s cycle of life and death.
Photo: A turkey vulture over the pond, pondering.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


One problem when I bought my my new truck was I could not see the ball of the trailer hitch when I backed up to connect the camper.

Even with careful alignment of the vehicles it is still a hit and miss proposition, requiring multiple trips in and out of the truck to place the ball precisely enough the receiver can be lowered and secured.

A visit to the “Ajax Camper Supply” web catalog led me to a nifty mirror on an adjustable shaft which attached somewhere on the rear of the truck with a magnet; and, for only a100 bucks or so.

I was tempted until I read their customer comments on this contraption and discovered folks had trouble with the mirror falling out of its frame.

So, after pondering this challenge a bit, I went to the local auto parts store and bought a rectangular semi-truck mirror. It has threaded studs on both narrow ends and cost 20 bucks.

I then fashioned a two piece saddle out of wood scraps that hangs over the truck’s tailgate and allows me to adjust the tilt of the mirror so I can clearly see the ball in the truck’s own rearview mirror.

About a bucks worth of weather stripping on the saddle cut in the contour of the tailgate protects the truck’s paint and about three bucks worth of white, spray enamel makes the thing look store bought.

When I am done with the hitching chore I simply loosen a couple of wing nuts and put the mirror back in its original box. The saddle is two flat pieces and it joins the boxed mirror in a storage compartment for the next outing.

Yup, necessity sure is the mother of invention.