Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This chubby potentate is the princesses’ emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.


This from the weekend’s London Daily Mail via Fox News: “Arab princesses kicked off British Airways plane to jeers and whistles after refusing to sit next to male strangers.”

The princesses, wearing traditional Arab dress, were returning from a day’s shopping in Milan.

The news account didn’t identify them as Muslims but Qatar’s Arab population is 100% Muslim, and, these pampered little darlings were part of the Qatar royal family so it is pretty safe to conclude they were nothing but more of the same tribe of Islamic radicals that seem to scurry around demanding the rest of the world obeys them.

The women, all relatives of the oil-rich emir had seats in business class in a party of eight on the packed airplane which included their clan’s chief and an entourage of cooks, servants and other staff.

Let me get this straight; It sounds like we have three pouty, rich, Arab females being escorted around southern Europe on a shopping spree, when, on a British flagged carrier no less, they demand their seating be rearranged because the customs of Qatar don’t allow women to mix with men who are not their relatives.

When airline officials finally booted most of this herd of Arabs, the furious passengers whistled and clapped as the captain ordered the women to be escorted off the sweltering plane which had been delayed nearly three hours over the incident.

One wag was quoted as saying, “I’m glad they finally got the boot. It’s too bad it wasn’t done while the airplane was in flight.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

The competition was spirited as shown in this later model heat while (left) Harley Davidson Motorcycle legends Jay Springsteen, left, and Willie G. Davidson lead the ceremonial lap to open the day’s racing.


It was a venue for vintage guys to enjoy vintage motorcycles at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Lexington last weekend. And, the marquee event was the 50th anniversary of the iconic Harley-Davidson Sportsters which were introduced in 1957.

On hand to serve as grand marshals were Harley legends Willie G. Davidson, grandson of one of the company’s founders and Jay Springsteen regarded as one of the best AMA Grand National flat-track racers of all time.

I knew it was going to be a laid-back day when we arrived at the back gate with $35 tickets in hand—and no one was tending the entrance.

We wandered through the crowds of both people and motorcycles. I lost count of the bikes we saw but I think it was about a dozen short of a bazillion.

Behind the pit area we sampled the antique ambiance with acres and even more acres of a flea market of old motorcycle parts and accessories. A clever enthusiast could easily have bought the parts and assembled, from scratch, that 1947 Moto Guzzi he always dreamed of.

I knew we were in a classy crowd when they played The National Anthem and, as far as I could see, absolutely everyone was standing still and showing some form of respect for our flag.

God Bless America.

Willie G. as he is popularly known and Springsteen led the ceremonial first lap on a card of 14 mostly 8 lap races. Applause chased them around the track.

How about this sample of entries: a 61 Norton Manx, a 68 Seeley, or a 36 Scout or, for Heavens sake, a 34 Indian. Of course that was in addition to countless bikes from later generations; The Harleys and Hondas and Suzukis and Ducatis. And, who ever heard of a Hodaka or an Ossa or a Montessa. They were there too.
While there was a strong sense of gentility in the event, the racing was spirited. Most of it anyway. Often I couldn’t see a rider’s face but I knew he was smiling, even if he was just put-putting his way around the course while savoring this classy time for him and his bike on this national stage.

And Springsteen wowed the crowd in his ageless competitive fashion with an impressive heat victory late in the day. The crowd cheered and waved as he enjoyed his victory lap. He waved back--as classy competitors do--then popped a wheelie to punctuate our mutual celebration.

Off and on all day I thought of my Pop and a family picture of him on his first cycle in the late 20s. And I remember, ever so well, the Harley brochures laying around our house in the late 50s showing that shiny Sportster, a K model I believe, that life ultimately would deny him.

Dad; wherever you are, I hope this weekend you were chasing the boys around some Heavenly track--on your souped-up K model Harley, of course.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


The Vatican

Officially, State of the Vatican City, the governmental capital of the Catholic Church, is a walled enclave of 108.7 acres entirely within the city limits of Rome, Italy.

Created in 1929, it is the smallest independent state in the world.

It is the official residence of the Pope and has an estimated population of 783.

Its form of government is an elective monarchy with the Pope being chosen by a College of Cardinals. The Pope has total legislative, executive and judicial power over The Vatican; making him the only absolute monarch in Europe.

Its security force, the Swiss Guard, is recruited solely from male citizens of Switzerland. They currently number just over 100 men and are the smallest and oldest army in the world.

The Vatican; or Holy See in a broad context, remains in the news as it seeks to resolve the sordid affair of deviant libido in its priesthood.


A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Bryson and his enthusiastic but woeful sidekick Katz set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, all 2,100 miles of it (more or less) from Georgia to Maine. The author, described by one wag as capable of “wringing humor from a clammy sleeping bag,” takes us along for a hilarious, informative and compelling look at this challenging trek.

They almost achieve their goal, well, sort of. Regardless, the book is a treat!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I am beginning to feel like an hypochondriac.

Two more prescriptions arrived from my Veteran’s Administration Rx supplier recently. One is a gooey substance called Triamcinolone. The other is a shampoo with the repulsive name beginning with Soborrheic Derma-something or other.

Both are intended to combat a scabby-leaky growth that has appeared on my scalp. Yuk.

They are now on the counter beside some stuff called Flunisolide. This is a little squirt bottle of nasal spray I use twice a day to assist in keeping my nose and sinus passages clear. It helps satisfy that instinct to breathe regularly.

Then there are the little pills called Hydrochlorothiazide. One of those each day helps with my mildly disobedient blood pressure.

Finally, there is another pill called Simvastatin. I get by with ½ of one of them each day and like to think of them as allowing me to consume an abundant supply of ice cream without worrying too much about failing grades on my cholesterol tests.

By the way, don’t ever, ever read the cautionary literature that accompanies this stuff. If folks ever suffered from a fraction of the side effects they sputter about, population control would cease to be an issue.

Mercy! I remember when I considered a couple of aspirin in a year’s time perilously close to a medicinal overdose.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Lilium Orientalis THE STARGAZER LILY

Often described as one of the most adored of all lily varieties, this was my late wife Carol’s favorite flower in her rock garden. It is a hybrid lily of the Oriental group and was created in 1978 by a California lily breeder.

It gets its name from the tendency of its blooms to face the sky. Quite appropriate in my view; being in the general direction of Heaven in the Christian faith. *Sigh*

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Although son Craig saw a snake or so during his visit over Memorial Day, I saw my first snake here in many, many years June 26th. I first noticed it slithering across the watermeal covered pond’s surface. I couldn’t identify it because it was covered by the annoying weed but it looked to be about 2 feet long.

Twice it was forced to do a radical evasive maneuver during its swim when the nearby water boiled from the likely attack of a predator bass. I lost sight of it when it disappeared onto the relative safety of the shady bank near the stony point.

At one time, Black, Garter and Water snakes were common sights in my diversified habitat. I hope these recent sightings signal their return—in reasonable numbers, and with polite dispositions, of course.

Flying lessons have begun for the rookies in the Canada Goose squadron. The adults made several aborted take-off runs down my driveway June 28th with their obedient student pilots running along flopping their wings.

This will continue for awhile as the youngsters develop their wing muscles. One day, the miracle of flight will simply occur.

Then begins the hilarity of watching the new “pilots” learn to land themselves.

While on our morning hike recently around the southwest woods I spooked a Whitetail Deer on Flanagan’s Trail. I was within about 50 feet of the critter when it exploded into view and loped gracefully away treating me to flashing views of its white “flag” as it disappeared into the shadows cast by the rising sun.

Usually Max precedes me on these jaunts and all I hear is a ruckus when these encounters occur. But, this morning he was somewhere behind me doing his sniff-test on some other critter that had invaded “his” territory over night and I was treated to this unrestricted view.

Speaking of snakes, on July 20th I saw a Garter Snake, the first one of them in years.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The laptop computer after posting on East Harbor’s new Wi-Fi facility.

--Challenges emerge during travels

Posting the blog while on my camping outings has led to some interesting circumstances. When I was at East Harbor in May I copied my text and photo for the day to a jump stick then uploaded that to Brad and Karen Crownover’s PC for further uploading to the blog. They are permanent residents very close to East Harbor.

When I began my trip down the Ohio River I encountered my first Wi-Fi service at the Austin Lake Campground. There, I constructed the blog contents on my laptop then took the laptop to a picnic table outside the campground office where I could get online via their wireless service.

The campground owner’s wife was intrigued. She had never seen a blog posted and was delighted with the contents when she saw their facility was my feature that day. She wondered if her husband would ever be able to see the blog. Naturally, I copied the blog’s URL and sent it to their home email with my compliments.

In Marietta I planned to use the local library’s Wi-Fi service when I went into town the next morning. But, when writing the day’s material and processing the pictures in Photoshop software, my laptop suddenly came alive with a “Wireless connection now available” notice.

Evidently, some other nearby visitors had wireless networks in their campers and when they turned them on, my laptop quickly noticed. Bingo! That day’s material got posted while I sat in my own camper and hijacked a slice of their signal.

The following day’s material was done downtown at the library. Evidently my earlier benefactor had either left the campground or wasn’t using their wireless network that day.

At the Hocking Hills Campground I could use their Wi-Fi connection while in my camper. Sometimes. Other times I had to walk to their picnic pavilion to get a good signal. Still other times I had to actually go into the office and stand at a counter with my laptop about six feet from their antenna to get stuff to work.

Then, I was cycling near the office at East Harbor during this month’s visit and noticed a young lady working with her laptop on a nearby picnic table. I inquired if she was online there, and, she was! The campground had installed Wi-Fi since my last visit.

The very next day (as shown in the picture above) I did my blog’s posting while sitting on a dew moistened bench and trying to hide my monitor from the rising sun well enough to see it.

We’ve been able to listen to free radio signals since Marconi began to fiddle with that technology in 1901. I hope something just as nice happens to wireless internet service soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Overnight low temperatures have flirted with the upper 40s around here recently. For the middle of the summer that is downright frigid.

Twice while camping on the shore of Lake Erie last week I ran the heater in the camper overnight, and again in the morning to chase the chill away. I felt sorry for folks who were tent camping.

Here at home I still have flannel sheets on the bed.

This morning I saw a hummingbird perched on a nearby branch at sunrise. He was wrapped in a fuzzy leaf and it looked like he was still shivering. *

According to Ask.com the average low temperature around here in July is 62 with daily high temperatures averaging 82.

I realize it is a bit myopic of me, but, these overnight temperatures make it difficult to regard the topic of global warming very seriously.

* Tall tale alert!

Monday, July 23, 2007

THE DELICATE SEEDS of a wild grass plant mature slowly in the warm, summer sun. This stalk is about 6” tall. I hope they germinate in due course and continue the spread of this attractive plant along the edges of several trails.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


That day—the last day we have to work each year just to pay our tax obligations—occurred on April 30 this year according to The Tax Foundation.

Looked at another way that means wage earners, on average, pay exactly 1/3 of their earnings in this country in some form of governmental taxation.

This date is calculated by The Foundation by dividing the official government tally of all taxes collected in each year by the official government tally of all income earned in each year.

Regardless, doesn’t it just grind you that the average person works four months each year just to pay Uncle Sam and his cohorts at the state and local level his annual tax bill.

Reminds me of the simplified tax form I saw once. It had two lines. The first asked, “How much did you earn last year?” The second said, “Pay it.”

Saturday, July 21, 2007


While biking about 16 miles on South Bass Island during this week’s camping event I discovered the Put-in-Bay Township meeting house. Their outside bulletin board announced the schedule of meetings for their Port Authority. Not many townships around here I can think of have much need for a committee like that.

* * *

On the ferry ride to the island I met a crew member who had more than 40 years service with the Miller Ferry Line. I sheepishly admitted to him I once made it eight years with a single employer.

* * *

I was sitting on the sea wall at Perry’s Monument and was fascinated to watch--then talk to, as they slid by--two fellows who were launching their kayaks for a tour around the island. Both looked like they were equipped for a small expedition, and, I was amazed to learn they can re-board one of those vessels after a capsize in deep water—by using an outrigger. I wouldn’t want to try that in a kayak store.

* * *

I ordered my lunch hot dog with mustard at the town’s Dairy Queen. It came with catsup. I wondered how that acne-laden kid who took my order found his way to work that morning.

* * *

Then, just around the corner my spirits were lifted when I encountered some scantily clad young ladies sipping their adult beverages while sitting on submerged barstools in a tropical setting at a bar—which itself, was submerged in an indoor/outdoor swimming pool. Never did notice how the bartender was conducting business.

* * *

That night I was sharing beverages with my camping-lady-neighbor from southern Michigan. She was enjoying a bottle of Miller Lite Beer and I had a mixed beverage discretely concealed in a glass. Yup, “Barney” came by. You know, one like the guy from the old TV show who was only allowed to have one bullet. This one stopped his cruiser and ordered Michelle to “Dump it out.” And, “that’s your first and last warning” he squawked while leaving. Somehow, he managed to elevate her mild indiscretion to near felonious level. We acted properly chastised.

* * *

My neighbors on the other side for several days were a young minister and his wife from Southeast of Pittsburg. We shared a passion—and consequently considerable—discussion on our favorite bike stories. They were on their way to Wisconsin for some serious, back-woods riding. I hope I meet them again when I get to Confluence, PA one of these days.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Brad Crownover is pictured with a pair of Yellow Perch; two of about 50 we caught while at anchor Thursday a mile or so Southeast of Perry’s Monument on South Bass Island.

July 19th, camped at East Harbor State Park:

The waves had whiskers as the 2 to 3 footers slapped the hull and the anchor line strained a bit under the Southwest wind.

Brad used his combination GPS and fish finder to sneak past a large school of yellow perch in about 25 feet of water. We dropped anchor then eased out some anchor line to loiter his 27-foot Sport-craft fishing machine over the school of fish.

Using minnows for bait on snelled spreaders we went to work. Fishing over the stern of the boat Brad soon had a half-dozen or more eating size perch in the cooler.

I was fishing over the port side about 8 feet away with an identical rig—and couldn’t manage a bite. Finally, I moved to the stern and joined the harvest. Hmmm.

In addition to the perch I managed to catch 3 or 4 Sheephead—a fish the locals regard as highly undesirable. But, they were considerably larger than the perch and more fun to catch. That put me in the running for one of the day’s prizes, “Largest fish.”

Brad already had captured the prize for “First fish” and was well on his way to earning “Most fish” honors. Then he capped the tri-fecta by boating a dandy White Bass.

After an hour or so I surrendered, and watched the gulls that had been shadowing us, hoping for some treats.

I finally announced to Brad as he decided to quit for the day, “That’s okay, you just caught the last one anyhow.”

“What did you say”, he asked incredulously.

“See”, I explained, “The last fish is now gone from your fish finder”.

He just rolled his eyes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007






This statue of Commander Oliver Hazard Perry dominates the new US Park Service Visitor’s Center on South Bass Island. The familiar 352 foot tall Perry’s Monument is visible in the background.

Wednesday, July 18th, camped at East Harbor State Park: In 1813 the then fledgling United States defeated the British fleet in a fierce naval battle just off the shores of Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

That decisive battle led by a 27 year old naval officer named Oliver Hazard Perry only accomplished the following:

--It effectively ended the War of 1812 and the practice of the British of disrupting US commerce at sea in their then ongoing battle with Napoleon in Europe.

--It allowed the US to effectively lay claim to the land bought by president Thomas Jefferson in what was known as the Louisiana Purchase; land at that point which had only been partially explored by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

--In a mop-up battle following the naval engagement the great Indian leader Tecumseh was killed, and with him died the last Indian and British hopes for domination of the old Northwest.

--In winning the battle (the only time in history an entire British fleet had been captured) it allowed US negotiators to prevail with the Treaty of Ghent, thus establishing the US as a world power and leading to the disarmament of the 4,000 mile US/Canada border; as yet, the longest undefended border in the world

Stated in more simple terms, had this battle gone otherwise, today we likely would be conducting our commerce with some division of the British Pound Sterling.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"Cap'n" Brad in the pilot house

Tuesday, July 17th camped at East Harbor State Park: The day started with an early morning bike ride around the park. Very early. And, I was promptly rewarded for enjoying the solitude with a critter encounter.

Momma skunk and a fairly recent offspring wandered out in front of me down near the beach. I did a quick stop, hoping to convince her I was not a belligerent sort of person.

I think it was a her. I certainly did not get close enough for any kind of anatomical confirmation and they simply disappeared into the marsh grass leaving no evidence of their passing. Thankfully.

The day’s forecast called for a high likelihood of rain so cousin Brad Crownover (a local resident) and I decided to tour a couple of nautical museums and give the local walleye population another day of rest.

The Maritime Museum of Sandusky is located on the near east side of town. They describe their mission as “…interpreting the maritime history of the area, including boat building, recreational boating, passenger boats…shipwrecks…and, the boats of Sandusky’s Underground Railroad.”

Their displays are not as expansive as their mission statement, although they are located in a modern facility. If you are really curious check here:

Next we ventured about 20 miles east to the delightful town of Vermilion, OH and visited the Inland Seas Maritime Museum operated by the Great Lakes Historical Society.

Their facility is as attractive as the town and the enlarged building was even better than I remembered it from a long-ago visit.

One of the highlights of their display is being able to walk down a passageway into the actual pilothouse of an historic great lakes vessel, the ore carrier Canopus that was built in 1905 and added to the museum in 1992.

More information for this award winning facility is here:

Turns out the weather forecast was correct.

We were tinkled on most of the rest of the day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


That’s my captain Bob Eichof motoring his sailing vessel the Nan-Sea-Ann out of his docking area near Marblehead, OH Monday afternoon. The winds were very light, but with storms in the forecast for later in the day, we decided on a leisurely sail while the weather was being benevolent.

“Sail? We’re more likely to go out and drift around a bit”, he chuckled.

His 20 foot fiberglass hulled Montego is a classic labor of love. It sports a vee berth forward with a mid-ship cabin sparkling in Bob’s cabinetwork artistry. Over there on the bulkhead is a UHF 2-way radio with weather bands. On the rear bulkhead is a CD playing stereo, beside the control panel for the craft’s 12-volt electrical system.

“See that little black bag. That’s my hardly-ever-used miniature TV he,” smiled. “And over there is a solar powered, trickle charger that can maintain the ship’s marine battery. Sort of."

If you look around closely you will find the components for a functional galley—a sailor’s version; hardly recognizable as such by a pampered, shore-bound chef.

The ”pilot house” is merely a fore and aft cushioned seat within reach of the tiller and tending lines for the mainsail and the jib. “It has an autopilot?” I asked, not sure I heard correctly. Yup. I learned about that just after the demonstration of the GPS navigation unit.

While enjoying my turn at the helm I could see our speed reported by the GPS; 1 point 7 mph. I watched my heading and the wind indicator atop the mainmast while coaxing the sails into the most advantageous wind angle under Bob’s patient explanations.

I watched Bob and saw a guy at peace with things. And, he knew I understood the magic of the moment.

The motion of the water in the bay was so relaxed ants could go surfing.

And for an hour or two two old guys were able to watch life go by in slow motion.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Today the camper and I are heading back to East Harbor State Park for another multi-day dose of nautical ambiance.

One of those days I hope to enjoy a sail with my high school classmate Bob Eichof who virtually lives on his sailboat at its summertime mooring near Marblehead.

Then, cousin Brad Crownover has mentioned a day in his fine fishing vessel, terrorizing the walleye population. Maybe I’ll get that accomplished too.

I also expect to hop the Catawba ferry to Put-In-Bay with my bicycle and spend a day rolling around South Bass Island. Who knows what we will discover out there.

Then, there is that splendid Inland Seas Maritime Museum at Vermilion. It has been years since I wandered its displays and pondered the nautical history it shares with its lucky visitors.

As has been the case in my previous wanderings this summer, lots of good blog material is likely to emerge.

But, the normal schedule of my daily postings could be a bit erratic.

If that happens; sorry.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Imagine! Yesterday was the end of our first six months of blog publication—and what fun it has been. In that period we have published 245 items. We have roamed around the world and into outer space. We have taken a few peeks back in time.

Amazingly, a large majority of topics have concerned activities right here on my little piece of Heaven on Earth.

The flora and fauna are a constant source of delight and entertainment. Material for the blog often emerges just by taking a look out the window or a walk in the woods.

We’ve managed to publish 182 consecutive days with only an occasional tardiness.

It does take a lot of work but it is a very rewarding hobby. Your periodic comments on the blog or, more often, in emails are very encouraging and very much appreciated.

I have no way of knowing who may be reading or viewing the blog—if anyone. But, many of you have told me of your delightful habit of regular, or even daily, visits. For that, I am really grateful.

Please stay tuned.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Permit me to introduce my cousins pictured from left, Ron Wolf and his brother Dennis. That’s me with them and our bikes as we relaxed a bit at North Lake Park recently; half way through our 27 mile round-trip ride from Bellville.

Ron likes to ride fast. I usually mosey along at a slower pace and Denny has struggled on our past rides with his mountain bike. Today, however, he showed up with an aging but racy Italian model—and he was a new man!

Naturally, with the Tour de France bike race going on in Europe now, we drew lots of comparisons between those riders and us. Admittedly though, our self aggrandizement in this regard was highly inflated. However, I am compelled to point out Denny led our miniature pace line the entire way back to Bellville, sometimes at a blistering speed--for us--exceeding 17 miles per hour.

But sibling rivalry ultimately prevailed. In the final stretch Ron pulled into the lead and enjoyed the adulation of the cheering crowds at the finish line.

Actually, the only noise at the finish line was the sizzle from our tires as Denny and I rolled across the line in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

But, it was our version of that world-famous race.

And, I hate to tell my cousins this; but, when officials add my handicap points for being the elder rider in this event, I likely will wind up with the yellow jersey after all.

Friday, July 13, 2007


It was hot that afternoon on neighbor Betty’s porch. But a merciful breeze bumped a gentle melody out of the wind chimes. Darlis Horn was there. She is Betty’s daughter and she likes to sing.

In fact, it was practice day for a trio of ladies; Darlis and her friends Nancy Long and Janet Hendricks. Mostly they sing at their church but they do guest spots around the area as well. This rehearsal was a tune-up for the Wednesday evening service.

Darlis sings second soprano while Nancy shifts from high soprano to alto as the song requires. Janet sings mostly alto. It is a pleasant hobby for these gals and has been for about five years now.

Nancy has had some serious training and international experience. For Janet and Darlis it is pure talent. They work from personal music books in three-ring binders. Sometimes it takes them awhile for all three to find the same song. That produces lots of giggles.

Yup, they have lots of fun doing this too.

Most folks would recognize many of the gospel standards they practiced like “Just a Little Talk with Jesus” and “In the Sweet By and By”. Those are good music for the soul. And, when the ladies rev them up a bit, the other soul, s-o-l-e, gets to doing some floor tappin’.

Occasionally a note is flubbed and the culprit suddenly gets interested in her shoes. Most often, in such instances Nancy is peering at the musical miscreant with one of those over the glasses looks. Then, they giggle some more.

I don’t know if their melodic harmony reached any of the neighbors during practice that day.

If it didn’t, it was the neighbor’s loss.

Thursday, July 12, 2007



In the news recently because of yet another Islamic terrorist attack, Scotland is the northern 1/3 of the main island of Great Britain. It shares a land border to the south with England. Beside the mainland, the country also consists of more than 790 smaller islands.

The terrorist attack occurred in the country’s largest city, Glasgow. The second largest city is Edinburgh, the country’s capital.

Since its union with England in 1707 Scotland is not a sovereign nation. But, because it has maintained its own legal and educational systems and The Church of Scotland, it has retained its well known culture to this day.

It has an estimated population of just over 5 million people; less than half the population of Ohio.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is generally regarded as the “World’s Home of Golf”. The first game of golf for which records survive was played in Edinburgh in 1456.

When most folks think of Scotland, however, the image that comes to mind is often of a kilted piper playing the Great Highland Bagpipe. Or, it might be of Nessie, The Loch Ness Monster; a tale that has been around for more than 1500 years.

In either case, determining the preferred undergarments, if any, of bagpipers or the legitimacy of Nessie, is beyond the scope of this brief article.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Pausing for a little rest in the woods gets one closer to the things that really matter.

Take a gentle, deep breath of that oxygen-laden, cool air. Exhale slowly. Take another. Then, look around a bit.

Already; right there by my left foot is a tiny, brown frog. Or, is it a baby toad. Or a peeper. Unless you are very curious, it doesn’t really matter. I hope he is having a good day.

Then, over there in that brilliant patch of slanting sunlight a spider is constructing its web. Even now I can see it taking its marvelous geometric shapes as the silk sparkles against the dark woods.

Somewhere from the west comes the splattering sound of a woodpecker air-hammering a hollow branch in search of his breakfast. Further north a hawk squeals. I think he is celebrating his free-ride on the invisible escalator of a thermal current being generated by the morning’s already hot sun.

Now I hear a rustling high in the hickory tree. I watch carefully until a pudgy gray squirrel reveals himself leaping to his next favorite branch. I wonder if he will bother to recover the nuts he is dislodging that ricochet to the floor of the woods.

I haven’t seen a deer yet this morning, but, the game trail back there is showing lots of activity.

The bark less elm trunk just to my right appears to be hosting a convention of daddy long-leg spiders. I lean that way to examine them closely. The joints of their sprawling legs look arthritic and they display two different back designs in this gathering. I wonder if this reveals the males vs. the females. Hmmm.

Periodically my reverie is broken by the distant and muted racket of a human vehicle hurrying to get someplace down the county road.

I wonder if wherever they are going is as rewarding as my little spot in the woods.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CANADA LILY-- (Lilium canadense)

I now have these spectacular wildflowers established in two areas on my land; 1) is along the south trail and 2) is in the corner of the pond near the campfire area. My #1 specimen occurred naturally while #2 was planted via a gift from local friends Fritz and Jill Ackerman.

The plant likes rich, moisture-retentive soil and mostly sun. I note it also seems to like neighbors. Mine flourish in the midst of healthy growths of meadow and property line-type weeds.

I gently prune the weeds that interfere with the individual plants receiving sunlight and I use long bamboo stakes with a loose loop of binder twine to support the tall, heavily flowered stalks.

This wildflower is slow to get established; several years to produce abundant blossoms, but, it will then propagate by sending out daughter bulbs on thick runners to produce colonies.

The delightful flowers are about 3 inches in diameter with their very distinctive, widely flared petals. Each plant can have from a couple to nearly a dozen blossoms.

Ain’t Mother Nature somethin’!

Monday, July 9, 2007


(Another in a series of brief articles on developing new skills with your digital camera.)

Learn your camera’s capability!

Some of you probably have very fine digital cameras. But, let me guess; you learned it will do extremely nice pictures if you put it on “automatic” mode and shoot away. Consequently, that’s all you know how to do. That’s fine. However, you may be missing some marvelous picture opportunities.

Here’s how to fix that problem. Keep your camera’s instructions handy and learn one new thing each day. That will take a little effort, but, in a very short time, you will be rewarded with some photographs you earlier thought impossible.

For example; the “Script Ohio” sparkler photo published July 4th would have been impossible to do with the digital camera set on “automatic”. To do that picture I used the manual setting and did a test exposure to determine the correct aperture or “F” setting.

Using a tripod, I also used manual focus and a bright flashlight to pre-focus the camera. The shutter was opened long enough to write the image in the otherwise after-dark, outdoor setting; about 20 seconds.

Remember, with digital cameras “film” is cheap. So, practice and practice some more!

Like most things in life, reward is usually the result of effort.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


The above image is from the internet site
www.intellicast.com/National/Radar/Current. (This should appear as a live link. If it does not simply copy and paste it into your web browser).

It is my favorite internet weather radar.

This image is from the morning of July 6th. It prominently shows a large area of heavy rain and some thunderstorms then occurring in eastern Texas and Louisiana. It also shows a broken line of rain and storms up and down the offshore, east coast of the US.

Note; there is no radar return showing in Ohio. Yup, it was sunny here that morning!

With a quick peek at this site you can quickly get a feel for what is going on around the country.

And, to take a closer look at a specific area simply hover your cursor over that place. A box will appear and identify the local radar site. Click it and you will be treated to a very detailed view.

Another great feature of the site is called “Show Animation (Loop)”. You will find this feature in a box just above the radar image. Clicking on that will launch a progression of radar images for the past two hours so you can easily determine how fast and in what direction the weather is moving.

The color bars at the bottom of the page identify the precipitation shown. When the rain appears orange or red on the radar that usually means it has reached the level of thunderstorms.

If it is a big red area approaching I’d be heading for the basement.

If I had one.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The 1957 Chevy


They had a Cruise In on the village green Friday evening. Proud and aging cars were everywhere; around the Gazebo and on the lawn in front of the village hall. And up and down Main St. And on Howard Smith Blvd., and along the bank parking lot.

Old cars reigned supreme. It was their evening to take a bow.

And, right there in front of the bandstand for the whole town to make a fuss over was a spit-shined, 1957 Chevy, Bell-Aire, 2 door sedan. My oh my.

Its transmission did not have overdrive—but my nostalgia glands did. I used to own one like that.

My reflection peered back at me from its mirror-smooth bumper and I peeked inside being careful not to touch anything. I could almost smell the burger and fries from Porky’s out there on Ashland Rd. That’s where we hung out after high school back when this car ruled our hearts. The first time.

Then, over there by the hedge was a 1952 Chevy; another one like I used to own, and wish I still did. I remember the rumble of its pipes as it rolled down Ashland Hill past the high school classroom where my future bride studied that period—way back then. The split, exhaust manifold made it sound terrific.

Around the corner near Church St. was a 1954 Olds, Delta 88. Remember them? I had one of them too. They had more chrome than many of today’s cars have steel.

Then down by the hardware store, acting kind of ashamed was a 1962 Ford Fairlane. It is awaiting the restorer’s magic. But, it gave my heart a good tug. That was the first new car we ever owned.

While the Fairlane and I were sharing that moment, a 60ish GTO eased gently toward its assigned parking space; one of the last of an estimated 300 entrants. I could hear the rolling beat of the camshaft and there was thunder just waiting to rattle its pipes, but, it behaved itself.

My neighbor John Mays had his pristine,1990 Cadillac sedan there. I once had an apartment smaller than that car.

I talked to the fellow who owned the DeLorean. They were made in Ireland for only two years, 1981 and ’82. I almost tripped over that spiffy little thing. Their body was made entirely of stainless steel. If the gull-wing doors were open you could fall into the driver’s seat. Today’s value, “...about $40,000.” he told me.

Well liked local educator Jerry Marshall and several of his buddies put this event together. There was one last month and a couple more are planned this summer. Dave Kapes, who owned the 57 Chevy I lusted over, is a friend of Jerry’s.

Dave is from Apple Valley and he appeared pleased I did not slobber on his car when we first talked.

I had to chew on cotton balls to avoid embarrassing myself.

Thanks guys for a marvelous show. And thanks Bellville with your Gazebo and village green—for being the perfect venue for this large dose of nostalgia.

Friday, July 6, 2007


The young dandelion plant is one among many I found sprouting through about an inch of fresh asphalt recently applied to the township road in front of my house.

And, this asphalt was compacted by a huge roller.

In doing some research on this persistent plant (Taraxacum Officinale) it was humorous to read an organic gardening forum devoted to combating these “...weeds from hell” which were attacked by scalding, burning their seed globes or dousing with concentrated white vinegar.

There were several comments on the forum in the vein of advanced control methods regarding the use of explosives.

One thing is sure from this photo, covering your dandelion infested lawn with a hefty coating of freshly rolled asphalt is not likely to be a successful way to eradicate this landscape pest.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


This item is from a two week flying vacation with our high school and lifetime friends, Nancy and Jerry Kulka, which went from Ohio to Arizona to California, to South Dakota and back many years ago.

We were level in the clear, cool air at 9,000 feet on an IFR flight plan from Casper, WY to Rapid City, SD. While our wives were relaxing in the back seat of the Cessna 182 Jerry and I were discussing my experience in flying zero gravity with the US Air Force.

We decided to try our own experiment and laid a pencil on top of the instrument panel while I described flying a parabolic arc with our relatively small airplane. Then, I dived to increase our airspeed followed by pitching the nose up in a modest climb while adding full power.

As the airspeed bled off I unloaded the G forces from the wings by pitching the nose down gently through level flight to a slight descent.

Bingo! Our pencil floated in mid air.

We enjoyed a very brief celebration over the success of our experiment, then pandemonium struck.

There were multiple screeches from the back seat and I turned to find the problem and was immediately confronted by Jerry’s wife’s posterior floating just above my shoulder and my wife dangling upside down under Nancy’s left leg.

At the same time, naturally, everything else in the airplane that wasn’t attached—floated, everywhere, including the immeasurable contents of both ladies’ purses.


Just seconds later I returned my attention to flying the airplane while Jerry stuttered through the beginning of what turned out to be a long series of apologies on how we could be so immersed in our experiment to have forgotten they always flew the enroute portions of our flights with their seat belts unbuckled.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

What better way to send Fourth of July greetings from Buckeye-land to our readers across America than with a “sparkling” image. Invisible in this time exposure is son Brian who is painting the night with a sparkler in the handwritten shape of Script Ohio.


With co-producers; Kate and Dane Wolf.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a land-locked country in southern Asia, bordered on the east by Pakistan and on the West by Iran. It is the world’s 41st largest country—just slightly smaller than Texas, and has a population of some 31 million.

While it gained its independence from the British in 1919 it suffered a 10 year invasion by the Soviet Union in most of the 1980s. The chaos and corruption following the withdraw of Soviet forces spawned the rise of the Islamic Taliban, who by the year 2000 had captured most of the country.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks here, the US launched a military campaign to destroy the al-Qaida (an international alliance of militant jihadist organizations) terrorist training camps inside the country. The battle with the Taliban continues to this day.


Growing Up Amish by Richard A. Stevick

This is an excellent review of the Amish teenage years and how those folks preserve their culture by encouraging their youngsters to join the church as adults. It covers such interesting items as Rumspringa; a running around period between adolescence and adulthood, and the Ordung, their book of church rules.

Stevick, although a professor of psychology at a small PA college, spares us of writing like one.

Monday, July 2, 2007


Permit me to introduce my (new to me) 2000 Ford F-150 pick-up truck. It appears to be delightfully suited to towing the camper.

It replaces an old friend; my Jeep. The Jeep served me well but it really struggled in its towing duties.

I had added a transmission cooler to the Jeep, and, new 6 ply tires to give it a boost in the towing role. The camper was within its factory tow limits. But, the recent run down the Ohio River and over through the Hocking Hills on the way home convinced me of the need for a more robust tow vehicle.

An earlier challenge was dragging the camper across the Sandusky Bay Bridge in a rigorous, quartering head-wind.

After a fairly thorough search (and encounters with used car salesmen previously described) I found my new truck in son Brian’s neighborhood. It belonged to his friend Bruce Hahn who used it to successfully tow his camper—a bit larger one than mine actually.

It has what Ford calls its Triton V-8. Doesn’t that name just make your testosterone quiver?

It was born in Henry’s factory with a tow package as well, so, the test tow I did with my camper was simply to bolster my pre-purchase confidence.

It buzzed the camper around my local hills without breathing hard—comparatively like adding an engine to my bicycle.

And, it is nicely tricked out. Picture this in a tow vehicle: leather seats, keyless entry and all the other goodies in the “Lariat” trim package. Reminds me of a gentrified mule.

So, my looming trip across the Pennsylvania mountains in August has suddenly become less daunting.

Welcome aboard Mr. Truck.

Now, I’ll try really hard to find my little red Jeep a good new home.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

WATER LILIES—Shortly after we established the pond my bride Carol and I visited the local water garden shop where she was discussing water lilies with the proprietor.

He said, “Oh my, you cannot use these plants when you have White Amur (Grass Carp) in your pond. They enjoy eating these plants as if they were ice cream.”

We had previously installed six of these fish to help control naturally occurring aquatic weeds.

So, she left his shop mildly disappointed. When we got home--and much to our amazement--that very day a neighbor had stopped by and placed a large container of lilies in the pond; his gift to my sweetie after an earlier conversation they had had.

That was about 13 years ago. Three of those fish have survived and grown to nearly 3 feet long. As you can plainly see the water lily plant has survived nicely as well.