Saturday, June 28, 2008


I was following Sonn Hupp on her morning feeding chores at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary recently when a Mourning Dove plopped itself on her head as if to ask, “Where have you been?”

But more likely it was an expression of avian gratitude from this very friendly bird.

Hupp cocked her head gently so as not to disturb the bird and smiled at the experience.

Like most staff and volunteers at the sanctuary Hupp fills many roles; her formal title being Youth Program Coordinator.

After disentangling herself from the friendly dove she went on to make two very young Carolina Wrens quite happy with a wiggly breakfast of meal worms.

This Screech Owl named “Bob”, partially retired, came to the center after his nesting tree fell and he was the only survivor. He already had been human imprinted—which is irreversible—so he could not be returned to the wild. His reddish color is one of two phases for these owls, depending on their habitat.

Earlier, I met founder and executive director Gail Laux as she opened for the morning and promptly was dealing with a messy floor caused by a recuperating and heavily bandaged Black Vulture named “Igor” which had been a little careless with its overnight toilet manners.

Laux started the sanctuary at her rural, family home in Bellville in 1988 and has been located at the expansive 52 acre Orewiler Road site adjacent to Boy Scout Camp Avery Hand since 1992.

While scout officials have been embroiled in a community controversy over their plans to sell the camp site, Laux is confident the sanctuary’s ongoing fundraiser toward the land contract purchase of their acreage will be successful.

Laux and her board also are eyeing the scout’s unused cafeteria facility for future sanctuary program growth and as a buffer zone should the neighboring scout camp ultimately be sold for residential development.

In 2007 the sanctuary received 143 birds in need of care. One noteworthy case involved a Merlin that was banded in Ontario Canada on its migration south then became entangled in razor wire at the Mansfield Correctional Facility.

That bird was treated at the center for three weeks before it was released to continue its southerly travels.

Often as many as 40 birds call the sanctuary their permanent home. They are unable to be released back into the wild.

For the first 10 years of its operation the sanctuary was primarily involved with birds of prey programs. That scope has broadened considerably. In 2007 the staff presented 218 school programs, did 10 special public displays, gave 62 programs to groups and clubs, hosted 29 field trips and held 27 days of Nature Camp.

They reached over 21,000 individuals during those 2007 activities.

Many of their display birds also are put to work; being bundled up and taken to off-site locations where they delight the program participants. New to their educational collection recently is a Green Heron now named “Reed” who arrived at the sanctuary after it fell from its nest and suffered a fracture.

A crow known as “Mr. Corvid” also has joined the traveling troupe. He is certainly a friendly critter, quick to squeeze his head through his enclosure and give a friendly nod to passers by.

A Barred Owl named “Homer” who was struck by a car, permanently damaging his vision, will replace another owl named “Apollo” in their outreach programming.

“Apollo” and his cohort the Screech Owl named “Bob” will be enjoying semi-retirement now that they are both over 13 years of age.

Photos of the Cast of Characters (from top right):

“Apollo” is a Barred Owl mentioned in the text.

“Bullet” is a Peregrine Falcon who arrived at OBS with an injured right eye and beak. He serves as an “Educational bird”.

“Target” is a Red Tailed Hawk who arrived 7 years ago with a fractured femur. It has the restful duty of being a “Display bird”.

“Ichabod” is a Turkey Vulture who was illegally hatched and seriously imprinted by humans. He is a very popular “Display bird” too. “Nobody steals the show like he does,” Laux smiled.

Here are a couple of ways you can help. A $25 annual, donation, for example, will get you their newsletter, invitations to special events and a 10% discount in the gift shop. For $50 you can Adopt-a-Bird which will net you a nicely customized certificate and photo of your very happy avian critter.

Lots more details are here:

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Moments ago the US Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling in the case of Washington DC v. Heller. This means the right of US citizens to keep and bear arms is an individual right. It is a huge step forward for supporters of the 2nd Amendment.

Fogeyisms will be watching developments closely as constitutional and legal scholars analyze this historic judgement by the highest court in the land.

Meanwhile please join us in a silent prayer of gratitude for this long overdue, legal acknowledgment of this specific Constitutional freedom.


Saturday, Fogeyisms visits the Ohio Bird Sanctuary; 52 scenic acres north of the Clear Fork Reservoir, open to the public, specializing in birds but, according to their mission statement, “ create opportunities for people to make a connection with nature and to promote an appreciation for the value of diversity of species.” In the above photo, visitors enjoy some of the sanctuary's display facilities.

Please stop by for a close look at this marvelous place.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Egad. The sun shone brightly for the first time in awhile and cobwebs (My bride Carol used to call them science projects) were everywhere!

One gob was particularly annoying in the corner of my eye as I lounged on the couch with my favorite book. So, I retrieved my handy-dandy cobweb catcher from the utility room and went to work. Everywhere.

That assault finally led me to the top of a kitchen shelf which still displays some of Carol’s favorite baskets. Yup! Cobwebs everywhere there too. They looked like petrified strands of spaghetti, neatly concealing about a year or so’s worth of—dust!


Reinforcements arrived in the form of my handy-dandy one gallon tank sweeper and that was that. Except, I then had to wash the baskets in the shower and spread them around the tub to dry while I crawled back atop the offending shelf and gave it a healthy dose of lemon scented—I think*—spray-dust remover-furniture polish.

*My sniffer has been broken for a long time now.

All that was very well except debris from that attack filtered down through the entire shelf assembly and required about another hour’s worth of my attention clear to the floor...

...where I was reminded the output of my fur-factory pooch had only been swept once already today.

That led to the second squad of reinforcements in the form of my wind tunnel vac which nicely sucks and beats the hair from the carpet, placing about half of it in the sweeper’s bag while the other half welds itself firmly around the beater bar...

...the repair of which is featured in the accompanying photo.

I’m starting to pray for cloudy days again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Little Lyon’s Falls escarpment in the Mohican State Forest visually dwarfs young Alex Ramey, a hiker from Wooster, (above) as she explores the geologic features from her challenging angle of view.


I recently discovered the perfect hike in the Mohican Forest.

Picture beginning with a fairly level walk upstream along the Clear Fork Branch of the Mohican River as it thunders its own beginning trek downstream to the Ohio River, the Mississippi Delta and the world beyond.

“Here’s where we hope to someday build a handicapped accessible trail that would be paved and go from the picnic area, under the covered bridge and continuing upstream to the dam, a delightfully level 3/4 miles along the east side of the river,” described Jim South of the Mohican Trails Club, our leader for the day’s robust adventure.

More on that later as that is the route we will follow on our own final leg of the day’s romp in this pristine forest.

Across that covered bridge we launch our small group on what is also the celebration of National Trails Day being heralded nation-wide on this date by groups like ours.

Towering evergreen trees and their cousins of the deciduous variety render us as mere organic specks as we savor the humid aroma of the mature woods. We carefully negotiate the spring’s moist slipperiness on the rustic but occasionally challenging, blazed path heading toward Big Lyon’s Falls.

We are delightfully flanked by the river to our right and the heavily wooded sandstone formations to our left while wildflowers that favor this moist forest twinkle their salutes to our passage.

A ways upstream our trail does a 90 degree bend to the left and begins a gentle ascent, ultimately following the discharge stream from the senior falls with Lyon’s name (left).

Along the way we enjoy a chat with two Mennonite bird watchers who are temporarily distracted by serious consultations with their own map of the forest’s trail system.

Then, like a giant, geologic apparition the falls materializes; a vertical carving in the sandstone bedrock like the concave hollow in a glacier that had calved itself. And, it was baptized with gentle fingers of the stream tumbling in their steep drop to its outlet.

A group of hikers preceding us were taking turns splashing in the fall’s cooling shower. I hoped the water bottle I found littering the stream after their departure wasn’t theirs.

The trail that once lead from the big to the little falls used to diagonal up the face of the escarpment and disappear in the woods beyond; rocky stairs carved years ago now eroded into unsafe usefulness.

So we backtracked slightly along what we learned might have been a stagecoach trail once upon a time then trundled up and up on a new course heading generally toward the Pleasant Hill Lake dam somewhere up there about 1 and a half miles ahead of us.

Soon, the deeply carved formation leading out of the smaller Lyon’s Falls appeared like a dangerous fracture in the earth’s crust. You certainly wouldn’t want to be wandering around here in the dark.

While I was shuddering at my own limited courage in this close proximity on the top of the crevasse some youngsters who had joined our small hiking troupe merrily slithered and plunged their way down to the invisible-to-me pool below the falls, and—amazingly--returned (right).

Meanwhile, I focused my attention on the more pedestrian enjoyment of nearby wildflowers.

Soon they popped back into our presence and we headed toward the dam which would provide our bridge to cross to the downstream leg of our hike.

The trail climbed some more and slowly morphed into a dominating rock formation which framed our view of the lake’s surface in the adjacently towering trees and we emerged from the forest on top of the dam with power boats buzzing far below.

This was the turn-around pit stop on the hike and after surviving the steep descent on the dam’s face we found ourselves on a vehicle-width and very level trail which eased itself downstream toward the covered bridge of our adventure’s origin.

Once again we encountered our bird watching duet patiently searching the riparian canopy for a very elusive warbler. “These fellows are very serious birders,” I mused silently.

Our hike concluded from the opposite end of the handicapped trail envisioned at the start of this story and what could one day be a world-class way for folks less fortunate in mobility to sample the treasures of this state forest and its companion river.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Saturday, Fogeyisms will share the marvelous experience of a perfect hike in our nearby Mohican State Forest/Park. My hiking partner, Jenny Lezak, who also enjoys about a bazillion other things I enjoy, is pictured high atop the Pleasant Hill Lake dam, the turn-around point in our recent adventure. Please stop by and share our experience as we romp the hilly, wooded trails and visit two waterfalls along the way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dick and Jan Shafer, June 14, 2008

Life’s real pleasures often are the simple ones.

Here’s a good recipe: Mix the company of two old friends and burgers on the grill with Jan’s healthful side dishes that resemble a private buffet. Garnish with a toasty campfire and pleasant conversation under a starry sky.

Long-time friends, the Shafer’s, have a permanently installed camper at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park just a bit south of town. With their invitation I plopped my highly mobile camper next door to them for the evening—chuckling at this nifty way to defeat the pain of $4 a gallon gasoline.

My geriatric bedtime came and went that recent evening as reminisces blended delightfully with pondering our mutual gratitude for being able to explore this senior stage of life in good health and with an ample history of joyful experiences.

Thanks Dick and Jan, for sharing your summer digs with me.

Just imagine the percentage of the world’s population that will never experience a bucolic pleasure like ours.

Thanks, indeed!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I wandered across the dam early that sunny morning with my new macro lens looking for interesting, back-lit photo subjects.

That’s when a rapidly fluttering movement caught my eye. It was a fly-type critter caught in a spider web and working furiously to escape. I stepped carefully down over the crest of the dam and angled myself against the utility pole to stabilize the camera.

The web was attached between a bluebird nest box and the pole and sparkling in the early sunlight like crystallized embroidery thread.

I focused carefully on the condemned fly and was being mindful of the overall composition when—a visibly monstrous spider scrambled into my viewfinder and promptly chomped its breakfast into submission. Actually, this “monster”was about the size of a fingernail.

Nevertheless, the startling view made me appreciate being higher up on the food chain.

The victor in this natural skirmish was an orb weaver spider. Yup, I was about to learn that’s a spider that weaves a generally circular shaped web of remarkable, geometric precision—and strength.

In fact, I changed the composition to reveal more detail in the spider to help with its later identification (small photo lower right).

My friends at the Gorman Nature center referred my inquiry to their spider expert, Naturalist Jan Ferrell; the leader of an earlier expedition blog to a local eagle’s nest. She promptly offered an ID of Larinoides cornutus, Furrow Spider with a referral to a nifty web site by a professor friend of hers at The OSU Marion campus:

In further research I learned these spiders begin their web construction by secreting a silk-like thread from their abdomen and dangling it in the breeze where it will eventually drift and attach itself by the spider’s supplied adhesive to some contact point.

This process is modified and repeated until the spider has its marvelously concentric web. It then hides off in a corner somewhere, constantly feeling the web for tell-tale vibrations caused by a newly captured prey.

If the prey is capable of defense, rather than chomping on it, the spider will simply immobilize it by spinning it into confinement; then bite it. Spiders cannot chew solid food so their venom causes the body of their prey to begin to liquefy which they then simply drink.

The marvels of both nature and knowledge are readily available when we simply take the time to look.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Saturday, Fogeyisms visits a local spider web; the creation of an orb weaver spider. “Orb weavers” are a family of spiders who construct those commonly seen, generally round webs (orbs). They are constructed anew and often repaired daily after performing their ongoing duty of catching the critter’s rations. The photo at the right is of a considerably abused and likely abandoned web.

This week we will meet a member of that spider family and take a very close look at how it goes about the business of spider life; particularly the meal gathering and preparation process.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Riding Toward Everywhere by William T. Vollmann

The book is a sensitive peek at modern Hobos as they engage in this ageless pursuit. It is a generally good read but it gets a little tedious when he drifts into abstraction, seemingly just to amuse his writing peers. Otherwise you will be treated to a real-life view of the dangers and rewards of riding the rails.

All Hands Down by Kenneth Sewell

Our nuclear submarine USS Scorpion was sunk in May 1968 under mysterious circumstances with the loss of all 99 crewmembers. It has long been believed the boat was sunk by the Russians in retaliation for our “sinking” their submarine K-129 that same year. This also occurred during the time notorious spy John Walker was feeding our military secrets to the USSR. To this day the US government has issued no official explanation of the sinking. This book closes that gap in public understanding.

Out of Line by Tina Grimberg

Also known as Growing Up Soviet, this tiny volume is a rich portrayal of the pain and the passion of life behind the Iron Curtain in the 60s and 70s. Finally, the author and her family are painfully allowed to emigrate from Kiev, in the Communist satellite of Ukraine, to the West; initially to Indianapolis then Toronto where Grimberg, now a Jewish Rabbi, has served a congregation since 2002.

Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut

I always kind of liked this author; viewing him as a somewhat irreverent humorist. But, the second chapter of this worthless waste of library shelf space cured me of ever wanting to read his stuff again, ever. The chapter dealt with the allied destruction of the German city of Dresden in World War II. Here’s his comment that curdled my blood, “It is with some regret that I here besmirch the nobility of our airmen, but boys, you killed an appalling lot of women and children.” I can just picture this now-deceased clown kissing Hitler’s a**, er butt.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Fishing Ohio isn’t a book—it’s an encyclopedia. Tom Cross, the author from Adams County Ohio (pictured right), spent much of the summer of 2006 visiting the state’s rivers, lakes and streams, and its reservoirs and its wildlife areas, gathering data for this remarkable, 360 page compendium of nearly everything you need to know about Ohio fishing.

Tom is an unassuming guy with a quiet smile. I met him at the West Union Public Library down near the Ohio River where he was introducing his gem to local fishing fanciers and I was a very lucky, happenstance visitor.

I listened carefully as Tom described his very modest approach to this near overwhelming project. “This book was not written upon some finely crafted oak desk in an office,” he explained. It “...was written on a laptop computer off the tailgate of my pickup while parked next to the rivers, lakes and streams throughout this great state.”

He lived on bologna sandwiches, beans, soup and coffee prepared on modest camping equipment. He stayed overnight at state parks, wildlife areas and on the banks of streams. “I slept more in the back of my truck than I did my own bed that summer,” he mused.

He vividly recalled a night spent at Clouse Lake with hordes of mosquitoes as tormentors. Then, there was a very special invite to a cookout with the fishing charter captains at Vermilion Harbor.

The book (left) discusses every publicly accessible fishing area in Ohio. It lists the species available, it treats readers to a broad overview of the site and a generously descriptive narrative on the fishing; often quoting local anglers and revealing fishing baits and favored patterns for a successful visit.

He also includes info on special regulations, facilities and camping, miscellaneous information and directions. The book is liberally sprinkled with maps, and, pictures of local fishing activity.

It has a comprehensive index and is organized along the state’s five wildlife districts plus Lake Erie and the Ohio River.

In addition to being a skilled fisherman and award-winning writer, Cross is chairman of Ohio’s State Record Fish Program and past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio. He also serves as Executive Director of the Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau.

Every year Ohio licenses approximately 800,000 anglers. I recommend this book to every one of them!
Note: The book is available online from, by typing Fishing Ohio in the search box.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Recently I was down along the Ohio River and mooching some internet access from the fine folks at the West Union Public Library in Adams County.

That’s where I met their local author Tom Cross who was about to do a program on his recently published book, Fishing Ohio.

I enjoyed his program. I bought his book. And, I’ll tell you all about that experience this Saturday. Please stop by.

The Trivial Variety—

The average person drinks 16,000 gallons of water in a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Shortly after 5 a.m. the near unconsciousness of deep sleep was blasted by white hot illumination--like magnesium being explosively ignited followed instantly by the bone rattling concussion of a small, nuclear detonation.

The mind slowly escapes the mental fog and gently senses gratitude for the absence of any evidence of a real explosion.

From near silence, torrents of rain gush through the leafy canopy and pummel the roof as if to make it submit—then, just as suddenly, only a pitter-patter of near silent rain drops as the storm succumbs as instantly as it materialized.

I could see a soft reflection in Max’s eye as he did sentinel duty beside the bed.

And all was well once again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I did my best to stimulate the economy with Uncle Sam’s recent benevolence; while chipping in a few bucks of my own, of course.

I bought a new lens for my digital camera—a Canon 100 mm, F 2.8 Macro.

Macro defined means “Very large in scope” or some variation of that phrase. With this lens it means it is capable of making an image in the ratio of 1:1, or, the same size in the camera it is in real life.

It’s rather like walking around the woods with a magnifying glass attached to your camera.

Here’s a sample:

This critter appears to be a member of the “Fly” family/genus/species; whatever. Because the lens has a focal length of 100 mm (a modest telephoto) I can take very close-up appearing pictures without getting extremely close to the critter.

This “fly” sat quite peacefully for its portrait, which, incidentally, appears to give new meaning to the photographic term, “red eye”.

As you can plainly see the zone of sharp focus (depth of field) in this photo technique is very shallow. I got this composition fairly well adjusted then moved the camera very slightly back and forth until the plane of sharp focus fell squarely on the critter’s face, then, gently tripped the shutter.

I suspect you will be seeing more samples like this on the blog. In fact, my very first effort produced a rather delicious picture of a spider preparing its breakfast. That picture is in the queue—waiting for a specific identification from the local bug-ologists.

Please stay tuned.

Monday, June 2, 2008


From a recent news story I learned the word “elegiac”, pronounced e-LEE-je-ak or thereabouts.

Basically, it means being sad about something past.

But, in the third entry describing what the word means, said:

3. Classical Prosody. Noting a distich or couplet the first line of which is a dactylic hexameter and the second a pentameter, or a verse differing from the hexameter by suppression of the arsis or metrically unaccented part of the third and sixth foot.

Made me sorry I was curious.