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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Birds look colorful to us for two reasons: 1) the color we see is actually produced by colorful pigment in the bird’s feathers, or 2) the color is produced by the feathers reflecting daylight.

The Northern Cardinal is quite red, of course. If a cardinal’s red feather was ground into powder, the powder would be red.

Not so with the blue jay, or any other “blue” bird for that matter. No pigment turns feathers blue.

In the photos to the right that is the same blue jay feather. In the top picture the feather is being held so it reflects daylight and it appears blue.

But, when I turn the feather so light is passing through the feather from behind, the feather appears a dull gray, which it is and which is the color you would find if you ground this feather into powder.

Try the same visual experiment with a cardinal feather and it will appear red regardless of the viewing angle.

If you are really curious about the finer details of this phenomenon, here’s an interesting source:

Monday, November 12, 2007


I am lumbering toward a year’s worth of consecutive, daily blog postings—but, I am running out of gas.

Just try it some time. Write one note to your best friend—every day, and see how long you can keep that up. It’s quite a challenge.

The counter on my blog yesterday said I had already made 395 posts over a string of 302 days. (Many days had more than one topic.) Mercy!

I am now planning on taking a week’s vacation immediately after Thanksgiving. When I return, I will be changing to a weekly version of Fogeyisms on December 1st; posting at least one feature-sized item every Saturday.

With a week between postings, then, I can envision being a bit more expansive—going into greater detail in the narratives. Likely I’ll be using more pictures to illustrate the pieces. That’s like the magazine rather than daily news format.

Perhaps there will be more than one subject treated on those weekly presentations.

Naturally, if something timely comes along I will occasionally post mid-week, or whatever.

Here’s a little ditty I wrote back near the beginning; something I’ve held in reserve until the day arrived when I was truly out of gas:


Here I sit with absolutely nothing meaningful to say today.

When my late bride would encounter that phenomenon in me she never failed to express her gratitude.

Fortunately I never reached that day. And, now that I have decided to change to weekly blogs, I really feel relieved.

Thanks for being out there and please stay tuned!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


The church sanctuary rocked as the combined choirs sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

It was one of those moments when eyes teared and shivers ran up and down patriotic spines.

The battle song was the rousing finale to the St. John’s United Church of Christ’s recent Sunday observance of Veteran’s Day 2007.

Earlier, folks dressed in colonial costumes represented the 13 original colonies and depicted the vote to take our yet-to-be country on the dangerous leap into independence. Then, with the flourish of quill pens those same representatives re-enacted the signing of our Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness....”

John Hancock’s signature is largest on this document because, with a bounty already placed on his head by the English, Hancock quipped--perhaps the size of his signature would provoke the British officials to double the award.

And with that burst of bravado, our country was born.

The color guard of the 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard at Mansfield-Lahm Airport (large photo) presented “Dressing the Flag” and brought the audience back to the present time with snappy and very formal, military precision.

The Fun Center Chordsmen presented taps. The bagpiper presented “Amazing Grace”. The audience waved small American flags, some, while dabbing their moist eyes with handkerchiefs.

Fogeyisms tips our hat to the folks at St. John’s for its marvelous program, and...
...If you cherish your freedom today, tip your hat to a veteran.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Recently I watched a ding-a-ling load the groceries in his car, then simply push his empty cart toward the next empty parking space, when the rack for empty carts was one more parking space away.

I wondered which slimy rock he would be crawling back under that night.

Then there was this bozo I encountered the other evening, after dark, approaching me in my lane of the road with his high beam headlights blasting through my windshield.

I slowed down and pulled into the empty, opposing lane and as I slid by this mental midget I could see it was simply retrieving its mail from its rural mailbox which was at the end of its driveway, a challenging 50 foot walk from its garage.

Sure enough, after I passed it backed up and pulled into its garage; without the nuisance of having to get out and open the door—of course.

Clearly, two stellar examples of today’s Me-Me-Me genetic catastrophe.

Then, this on prescription drugs:

The clerk handed me a tiny tube of stuff the dermatologist had prescribed to treat a problem on my scalp. That will be $58.72 she chirped.

“You’re kidding me,” I gasped.

This tube would barely have contained enough grease to lubricate the latch on your watch band.

Of course, I routinely hear stories of folks who face staggering costs for their drugs; folks who sometimes are forced to choose between their medicine and food.

I don’t pretend to have any answer to the near impossible cost of medical care but, I often wonder what would happen if they locked medical, insurance and regulatory officials in a room along with a few key Congress-critters and refused to let them out until they achieve a return to sanity in all medical charges.

Then, this on more sloppy journalism:

The Detroit News reported November 9th a badly burned and beheaded body found northwest of there was that of a registered sex offender from Illinois.
The story concluded with this profound comment:

“Sorensen’s (the victim) head has not been found.

A cause of death has not been determined.”

Anyone want to hazard a guess?

Friday, November 9, 2007


This shot of my pal Max was done with nothing more than indirect window light.

Most every home has a place where you could pose a person, perhaps leaning against a wall and looking out the window. Get in close with your camera, focus carefully and squeeeezze the shutter release.

Delightful, casual portraits can be made easily this way. Zoom your lens out a bit toward the telephoto end. This will lessen the depth of field and help throw any background detail out of focus.

Here’s another simple technique. Let the person stand so just ½ of their face is illuminated by the window light (not direct sunlight). Then, use a sheet of something white as a reflector and bounce some of that window light into the shadow side of your subject’s face. A piece of wrinkled aluminum foil taped to some cardboard will work nicely.

Bingo! You can do a picture that rivals a studio portrait with very simple tools.

The small photo is the same image. I just fiddled with it a bit in Photoshop software. Your editing software may not be quite as powerful, but, likely you can do some delightful things with whatever picture editing software came with your camera.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


That was the phrase my late political colleague Paul Whizzer White used to describe these annual digressions from sanity.

We are done, albeit temporarily, with being hurricaned by political advertising. The quaint, visual pollution of countless yard signs will soon disappear as well.

Some already have.

Before the polls closed I was chauffeuring incumbent friend Fritz Ackerman around the township gathering his hand-made signs promoting his reelection as one of our trustees.

He’s the kind of down-to-earth fellow who would prefer they not be there in the first place.

And, he won, handily—soon to commence his 29th consecutive year in office.

My friend John Scheurer did not do as well in his first attempt at public office—a seat on the Madison Board of Education. But, we will be better served as a community if he does succeed one day.

Like Fritz, John is a quiet, intelligent guy who has a lot to offer in public service. Voters out there will be doing themselves a favor when they recognize that.

And my favorite mayor lost. Long-time Bellville village mayor Carolynn Studenmund was defeated after 22 years of service. I don’t know why, but, when the dust settles she and the town will realize we all are better off because she was there. Thanks Mayor!

The voters in Mansfield finally approved an operating levy for the city schools. They and the state recently built a castle of a high-school up there while the system has been flirting with academic failure for years and discipline in the hallways nearly requires the presence of the national guard. I wish them luck.

Now, unfortunately, the country’s sanity will suffer an accelerating assault by the national political circus of the 2008 campaign--which seemed to start several years ago.

Heaven help us.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Barf.el.yuk; a Fogeyism noun, substantially less than desirable.
Barf.el.yuk.ed; verb, to treat or be treated thusly.

Yesterday Max and I were barfelyuked by the first snow flurries of the season.

When I first noticed them on our morning hike, a word of considerably less civility came to mind followed by my natural reaction, Yuk!

So, as we continued our drift along the trail and the flurries continued their gentle assault, I pondered this meteorological miasma--and this word was born.

By the time we reached the pedestrian bridge I was grappling unsuccessfully with the word as a verb in the transitive form. I quickly agreed with myself, it’s been much too long since any formal class work in English mechanics.

So, I scurried back to the computer and Wikipediaed the phrase “transitive verb”. Imagine my surprise when I not only found transitive and intransitive but ditransitive, ambitransitive, and so on.

That grammar lesson began to make my head spin.

So, I will continue to seek a semblance of correct use of the language while blogging and depend on you readers to reveal my clinkers.

Meanwhile, it will not be long, I fear, until this barfelyuking white stuff will arrive in measurable quantities.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A spry senior volunteer, Mrs. Goldie Michalovich, serves a lunch for the Butler-Clear Fork Nutrition Program at the nicely renovated senior center in Butler recently.

More or less, there is.

Recently I’ve become acquainted with and welcomed to the Butler-Clear Fork Nutrition Program which last year provided 19,250 meals, largely to seniors at the nicely renovated adult center on Henry St. in Butler and through a daily, meals-on-wheels program.

With about 3,250 breakfasts annually, each Wednesday, and other special programs an average of 65 to 70 meals each day are served.

Participants may make a donation but that is not necessary.

The program is funded from a real estate levy which generates about $65,000 annually. They also receive approximately $10,000 annually from the county United Way program and an average of $15,000 yearly in donations.

D’Wisenbarger, program coordinator, explains they have been serving meals since 1989 under a block grant originally funded by the Richland County Commissioners and contributions.

Since 1998 the levy approved by voters in both Jefferson and Worthington Townships has continued to support the program for seniors and people with special needs in both townships.

While the program operates out of the Butler facility it does serve citizens throughout the valley and is run by volunteers. The adult center building was opened in August of 1997 and the nutrition program began operating out of there in October that year.

I already am in the habit of reading the weekly menu for the program in the Bellville Star and marking those days on my calendar when their yummy offerings rattle my culinary preferences.

Today I had ham and scalloped corn. Wednesday it’s going to be beef and noodles with a dessert and Thursday I will enjoy meatloaf and potatoes. Ahhh.

I knew the place was special when on my very first visit I learned the nice, senior volunteer lady who served the table (Mrs. Michalovich pictured above) was a very young 92 years of age.

I felt like borrowing her smock and proposing she take an honored seat at the head of the table so I could serve her.

But, she probably would have smacked me a good one for such impertinence.


The levy renewal is on the ballot today in both townships and its approval will continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $21 per year. It’s easy to spend that much per meal in a fancy Mansfield restaurant.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Max and I were lazying along the driveway recently and behind me I heard a BIG splash! I thought a large fish had jumped really close behind me. Then, I saw the origin of the noise. A large buck Whitetail Deer was swimming across the lagoon. It didn’t take him long to disappear in the northeast woods.

I mid October I saw a Garter snake on the west trail; the first one of those critters in a long time. In fact, the first snake period. Max and I gave the little fellow his space and we went on our way after thanking him for the visit.

On October 20th I saw my first Juncos of the winter. They spent their summer breeding season somewhere up in Canada between Newfoundland and Alaska. Many will spend the winter here but others will go on as far south as the Gulf Coast and Mexico for their winter. That’s probably their more geriatric crowd.

Last week I was giving the camper its pre-winter bath and got stung by a Yellow Jacket. I guess he didn’t know I was kind to a large nest of his buddies earlier this fall. (See Fogeyisms – Sunday, August 19th, 2007).

And, Thursday as dawn pushed early light across the pond I noticed a dead Whitetail Deer laying ½ in the water in the northeast corner. She was an adult doe with no obvious signs of trauma. I like to think she died of natural causes. By this weekend Turkey Vultures were paying close attention to the area. It has been my experience the carrion eaters tend to be quite efficient in matters such as this.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Visitors are dwarfed by the rock formation of Ash Cave in the Hocking Hills. Julie Maxwell is in the light sweat suit to the left of the big rock. Husband Kevin is to her left in blue with a white cap.


Kevin called our 210 mile drive that Sunday “meager” and by their standards it really was.

Not too long ago he and wife Julie buzzed up to Niagara Falls for a day-trip. But, even that was dwarfed by their grand-daddy of a Sunday drive this year, a whopping 880 miles in less than 24 hours from Mansfield to a segment of the Skyline Drive in Virginia and back.

Kevin Maxwell is my late bride’s brother and they enjoy multi-state drives like most of us journey to the local custard stand.

Our recent 200+ mile jaunt took us to the Hocking Hills where we visited Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Old Man’s Cave, Conkle’s Hollow and Cantwell Cliffs, and were home before supper time.

I’m convinced we travelled at least another 50 miles that day—on foot, and, most of that vertical.

But, oh my gosh, what grandeur!. Collectively, these places are a fairy-land of enchantment. Trails wander through forests with trees that grow in the rocky chasms more than 150 feet tall just to reach sunlight.

Ash Cave and Conkle’s Hollow are blissfully level walks where a randomly pointed camera will always record a post-card quality image. Always.

It is indeed a rewarding day trip, and, whether your philosophy is inclined to the geologic or the theologic most will agree the creative forces have been very kind to the Hocking Hills.

The above photo of Ash Cave in Hocking Hills State Park is but a pleasant example.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Drops of moisture take on the appearance of crystal jewels in soft afternoon sunlight along a wooded trail.

The water on the maple leaf is hard to explain. There had been heavy frost overnight in the local area but, none here, and no other precipitation that day of which I am aware.

This arouses the curiosity of my scientific nature. Perhaps the droplets are the result of that magical dance along the fine line of temperature-dew point spread where water vapor cannot decide whether it wants to be a liquid or a gas.

Regardless, the creative side of me says--simply be thankful and enjoy these visual delicacies whenever they occur.

Photo notes: This picture was done by extending the camera’s lens to full telephoto and manually adjusting focus to the macro mode. Then the picture was composed and sharply focused simply by moving the camera until that was achieved. The exposure also was manually controlled and slightly underexposed to lessen the shadow detail so it did not compete with our center of interest for the viewer’s attention. Caution: this kind of photo work leads to muddy knees.

Friday, November 2, 2007


San Marino

This country reportedly has the second oldest life expectancy in the world with folks living to an average age of 81.6 years. This tid-bit showed up in a recent email from Brad Crownover and I had no idea where it is.

Now I do—and it is a fascinating place.

It is a land-locked country within the Apennine Mountains of northeastern Italy and is the oldest constitutional republic in the world.

It was founded in 301; almost 1,200 years before Columbus discovered our neck of the woods. San Marino’s founder, named Marinus, was a Christian stonemason fleeing religious persecution of the Roman emperor of the time.

Its population was estimated to be 29,615 in 2007 and it is 23.5 square miles in size. By comparison, Ohio townships average 36 square miles in size.

It is the third-smallest country in Europe, with only Vatican City and Monaco being smaller.

Ed note: A Wikipedia chart varies somewhat with the source in Brad’s email and does not even list San Marino. Wikipedia has the US at 38th in world rank with an average life expectency of 78.2 years; 75.6 for men and 80.8 for women.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


The season’s first frost in the form of thick and icy embroidery sparkles the edge of these berry bush leaves Monday morning October 29th while the rising sun amplifies the seasonal colors of the foilage.

Overnight temperatures were likely below freezing far and long enough to signal the end of our growing season.

I did a little research so I could explain the phenomenon of frost and ran into words and phrases like—deposition point, spicules, specific heat, thermal emissivity, absorptivity and superincumbent air.

As I pondered composing this stuff into readable material for the blog my head began to hurt.

I was driven to the more practical side of the event.

I concluded, while frost means a respite from the chore of mowing it is usually a very short vacation between stowing the lawn mower and first needing the snow shovel.