Saturday, May 30, 2009

Visitors are welcomed to the Wapakoneta facility by the static display of an F5D Skylancer airplane flown on NASA duties by Armstrong. Inside the main entrance ladyfriend Joetta Goodman enjoys her introduction to the facility “...dedicated to all Ohioans who have attempted to defy gravity through flight.”


As I wandered the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta that day I could not help pondering the amazing fact it was just 66 years from man’s first, powered flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 to man’s arrival on the Moon in 1969.

That is a stunning leap in technology in the mere length of one human lifetime.

Armstrong was born in 1930 and began flying lessons at age 15. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering at Purdue on a navy scholarship and flew 78 combat missions with the navy during the Korean War.

He was chosen as an astronaut in 1962 and four years later he commanded the Gemini 8 mission which completed the first-ever rendezvous and docking in space. He reached the moon in command of Apollo 11, July 20, 1969.

The museum opened in 1972 and is designed to resemble a futuristic moon base with soil mounded around the frame of the building and its central, 56 foot diameter, white-domed planetarium resembling the rise of a cloud-shrouded Earth.

The museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the history of aviation and space flight including Armstrong’s Gemini 8 spacecraft. Artifacts from the 1969 landing include a moon rock.

The nice collection is somewhat abused by the facility’s shabby exterior appearance. And, two of the three exterior displays sit in a far corner of the parking area looking like they were deposited there by the delivery truck driver...and forgotten.

I also was troubled by the inside presentation of his historic training airplane. I hangs, ignominiously, gallows-style; suspended vertically by its propeller and mostly hidden by other displays and the building structure.

Armstrong will be known forever as the first human to set foot on the Moon, yet, that component of the museum display is blandly designed and lighted. It deserves better.

After the Moon landing display area visitors are treated to a space-like, dark hallway which passes through some sort of twinkling light thing on the way to the “Astro-Theater”.

This is like having the build-up to a rousing piece of music happen after the song has ended. And, I’ve seen better video graphics on second-rate TV commercials.

Regardless of its shortcomings, the facility has a modest admission cost and is well worth the visit, especially by aviation, space and history enthusiasts.

Second grade students from a nearby town roar through the museum on a field-trip scavenger hunt. I’m not sure just how much learning was actually involved in this very noisy exercise.

Inquisitive visitors will be advised by museum telephone folks that the Ohio Historical Society is facing serious budget problems and those people are working with local officials to find alternative sponsors to keep the museum operating. I hope they are successful.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Air and Space Museum--

Saturday, Fogeyisms visits the budget-beleaguered Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, OH, Armstrong’s birthplace. On the day of our visit poorly maintained asphalt, blooming dandelions and a relatively permanent cell tower and light pole all tarnished the view of the clever, exterior design of the facility dedicated to the stunning achievements of one of Ohio’s most respected native sons.
Note: This facility, like others administered by the Ohio Historical Society, violates 2nd Amendment freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Monday, May 25, 2009

May we never forget...

Living History at the Mansfield Cemetery was an informative new feature of the local Memorial Day holiday celebration. The grave sites of 33 historically, prominent citizens were the scene of sketches of their lives done by local Portrayers and Guides.

More than 500 folks were led in small groups around the cemetery where they were treated to brief tales in first-person narrative of their contributions to our younger nation.

Laurel Tope told the story of Mrs. US Senator John (Cecelia) Sherman. When not otherwise engaged, Laurel (top) is a Sherman Room, reference librarian at the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library.

Veteran newspaper reporter and columnist Ron Simon gave an energetic portrayal of Ohio Governor Mordecai Bartley who served the state from 1844-1846 and had the unique distinction of replacing his son in that office.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Sometimes the Canada Geese don't play very nicely on the pond.

One of this year's breeding pairs is raising one chick and they get nervous, often violently, when stray geese show up.

Usually, the arrival of some interlopers is announced by a cacophony of honking then the surface of the pond boils with the kamikaze attack of poppa goose acting to defend his breeding territory.

Water explodes in a Niagara of spray as the enraged male goose hurls himself smack on top of one of the unwelcome trespassers.

Early morning sun sparkles in the splashing upheaval as the combatants crisscross the liquid battlefield.

Then, the vanquished trespassers straggle up on a far shore, seeming to lick their imaginary wounds while the successful defender stands on the water and stretches his wings in a show of bravado to his adoring mate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Poppa Canada Goose—with a wingspan of nearly 5.5 feet and weighing up to 20 pounds honks his stern warning as he launches an aggressive attack on other geese trespassing in his breeding territory. Please stop by Saturday as Fogeyisms explores the never-ending and amazing spectacle of Nature taking its course on the pond.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paint Sale?

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Louis Bromfield was just a child when he first met Zenobia Ferguson. She lived a reclusive life way up there past what we now know as the sugar shack at Malabar Farm.

The road to her place, then just a trail, led nowhere but there—up a steep hill through a tangled tunnel of huge trees. “The oaks and beeches and maples rose straight up like Greek columns to a height of a hundred feet or more and underneath them grew a jungle of dogwood and iron wood and wild grapes and ferns and snakeroot.”

Springs gushed from sandstone outcroppings among clusters of maidenhair fern until, finally, the trail ended at the top of the world where you could touch the sky and the distance faded into the blue mist of infinity, Bromfield mused.

Zenobia’s modest dwelling stood there behind a spring house near an old log house built by her grandfather in Indian times. Bromfield remembered the enchantment of the place where she lived in harmony with the land and the wild animals.

Once while Bromfield was watching a squirrel in the woods he felt the intense sensation of being watched himself and discovered Zenobia standing near the willows and smiling at him. “That squirrel is John,” she chuckled and called to him. The little critter scampered up her purple dress and perched on her shoulder, chattering away with his tail curled over his back.

Years later, Bromfield, having traveled the world, bought the farm we now know as Malabar including her place.

She was born in the cottage where Bromfield first saw her in his youth and was four years old when her mother died. From then on she lived with her father in that cottage on the high hill close to the sky.

She was 17 when her father died of cholera. Neighbors wanted her to move in with them but she would not leave her farm up there against Heaven.

She went on to find love...and endure tragedy and lived the rest of her life, not in this world “...but in a world of fancy, nearer to the trees and the water, the rain and the snow and the birds and beasts than to anyone on this earth.”

Today, up there against the sky, there is an old meadow now full of young sugar-maple trees. Nothing is left of her home site but the square hole of the foundation and a nearby waterfall now known as Ferguson Falls (pictured).

As we wandered through a stand of pine after a recent visit to the falls several whitetail deer moved gently away from our path only to stand near-by and watch our quiet passage.

I had soft eye contact with the nearest deer and felt blessed with the feeling Zenobia’s spirit was with their presence.

“Up Ferguson Way” from The World We Live In by Louis Bromfield, copyright 1943, renewed 1971; available at the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rookie's Equine Saga Continues

I found myself on the big leather seat again yesterday--the one attached to a horse.

We did a few warm-up exercises in the corral; stuff like slow turns, backing up and riding with outstretched arms without the benefit of stirrups.

Then I was promoted to the relative freedom of a large, fenced pasture. I promptly applied my new knowledge on shifting the critter's gears and we went sailing up the fence line. I learned later I had gotten the transmission stuck somewhere between a canter and a gallop, or whatever.

That after hearing lots of shrieks and me returning to the corral to find a distraught horsemanship coach who thought her steed had decided on this frisky romp with or without me.

Ha. I can hardly wait until the next rodeo comes to town.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Saturday, Fogeyisms will share our recent visit to Ferguson Falls at Malabar Farm and Louis Bromfield’s fictional account of the story behind the reclusive father and daughter for whom the falls is named. That’s yours truly fiddling with composition of the photo that will appear with this enchanting tale. (Photo by Joetta Goodman)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

At the Mansfield-Richland County Public Library

The library teamed up with prominent local photographer—and old friend—Jeff Sprang to create a display of local, historical photographs and paintings, nicely compared to the current photographic view of the same subject.

Sprang worked with a collection of 60 aging prints from the library’s Sherman Room collection plus others from the collection of Tim McKee, the library’s Communications Associate, and whose idea led to the project.

From October 2007 through March 2009 Sprang found the exact location of the old photographs and determined the precise camera position for the shot, duplicating that angle in the modern version.

While processing one of those new shots, Sprang was surprised to see his image reflected in a doorway glass, then found a nearly identical image of what appears to be the tripod and legs of the photographer in the photo done long ago.

The oldest photo duplicated was an 1869 Stereopticon image of Mansfield’s square.

McKee described the response to the show as “astonishing”. Time and time again we’ll see folks react with delight then summon their companion to share some memory long lost in the passing of time, he noted.

The display is scheduled to continue on the library’s second floor level until the end of May.

Ecedric Jefferson, Mansfield, is pictured above enjoying the display. The panoramic views to the far left of the above photo are a 1920 Harley Davidson Motorcycle Club photo duplicated by the modern membership of that same club.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is giving scientists extraordinary glimpses of the ringed planet Saturn and its moons with the most incredible detail ever obtained. The above view was done as the unmanned spacecraft moved above the dark side of the planet.

As very little light makes it way through the rings, they appear somewhat dark compared with the reflective surface of the planet. This view combines 45 images taken over the course of about two hours according to a recent article on the British Daily Mail web site.

The spacecraft was launched from Earth in 1999 and in its first five years photographed the moon, Mars and Jupiter, only approaching Saturn in June of 2004.

That first-ever close-up study of the ringed planet which ended in June of last year provided such opportunities for exploration and discovery NASA extended it for another two years.

In the smaller photo below one of Saturn’s moons, Rhea, passes in front of the planet’s largest moon, Titan, as it is lit from behind by the sun.

Saturn is second to Jupiter in size of the nine planets including Earth that orbit our sun. It has a diameter of some 75,000 miles while the Earth is a relatively puny 7,926 miles in diameter.

While the Earth orbits the sun about 93 million miles away, Saturn is approximately 800 million miles from the sun. These numbers are given as approximations because the planets have elliptical, not round, orbits.

Ironically, Saturn is right now nicely positioned for viewing by the naked eye. High overhead and slightly to the south just after dark you can see the constellation Leo. Leo’s (The Lion) head is clearly represented by an arrangement of stars that look like a reversed question mark. It is facing west.

To the left you will see a triangle of stars that represent the lion’s rear haunches and tail. That looks like a triangle lying on its side. Extend an imaginary line downward through the stars of the triangle’s base and you will see a very bright “star”

That’s not a star at all, that’s Saturn!*

With the naked eye, or even with binoculars, you will not be able to see the rings. That takes a good telescope and at least a 50 power eyepiece. Even then, your viewing image will be quite small and the rings barely visible because they are now edge-on toward the Earth, not being seen obliquely as the spacecraft did above.

Regardless, it’s a nice experience to stand in your backyard and see a recognizable object 800 million miles out in space—with the naked eye.
*Please see Wednesday’s blog for a celestial map.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Saturday, Fogeyisms heads out into space with some stunning pictures of the planet Saturn done by the Cassini spacecraft. Saturn is now visible to the naked eye in our just-after-dark evening sky. Look overhead and find the big dipper. Below that to the south you will see the constellation Leo the Lion with its head that looks like a backwards question mark. Saturn is a bright “star” just below that constellation. See the map and enjoy taking a peek; at both the planet and the blog, of course.
Star map courtsey of Heaven's

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

During a heavy rain storm momma Canada Goose attempts to shelter her sole hatchling under the umbrella of her expansive wing. But, the chick, with somewhat of an independent streak, kept popping its head out for a peek around in spite of its protesting mother.

The Breeding Saga Concludes

In earlier blog chapters we learned two breeding females had established nests on the pond having enjoyed the fertilization services of a solitary male goose; regardless of the fact these critters are usually known to mate for life—in the monogamous fashion.

After the last chapter in this story appeared the lesser experienced female with the nest below the high tide level suffered yet another flooding of her nest.

With several, multi-day interruptions in her incubation duties I feared her effort would fail. But, she persisted in her duties.

Then, amazingly to me, she was soon seen swimming on the pond in celebration of the hatching of her newly arrived chick while the veteran momma goose continued her incubation effort on the high and dry surface of the island.

Finally, a day or so later, I noticed the island lady goose was off her nest with no additional chicks in sight.

Meanwhile, the male goose, I presume, had taken up fatherly chores with the celebratory female in escorting the single chick about the pond.

But, a day later, when I had the opportunity to examine the below high tide nest I found five eggs there with no evidence of a sixth egg ever being present, hatched or otherwise.

Then, the protective male goose began to chase away the chick-less, island female who I thought was his mate in the first place.

I’m glad I do not have to sort out the genealogical details on this chick’s birth announcement.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Twice weekly at the local Y, 15 to 20 ladies exercise their way to fitness, often in random assortments of individual versions of the same dance movement.

After all precise choreography is not the goal here, it’s fitness wrapped around lots of fun.

Nevertheless, class instructor Shirley Weddell, a brutal technician-says she-and a retired, 40 year proprietor of her own Studio of Dance, is deeply focused on the anatomy of dance; of a Demi Plie (dem-ee-plee-i) movement for example.

She can wax poetically about the sensual beauty of an Arabesque. She regards ballet as the most exquisite of all dances.

She is intense about her class in a nearly 75 year young body supported on two artificial hips. They give her pain while she continues her pursuit of pleasure in her profession.

She spoon feeds her pleasure to her somewhat geriatric students who have a more pedestrian interest in the anatomy of dance yet a nuclear-charged interest in the process.

Just so it isn’t too serious!

That’s Shirley upper left massaging her temples while students in the top photo achieve less than perfection in a supposed-to-be uniform exercise movement.

“Lord give me patience,” she chuckles as Marian Blahnik (small photo lower right) giggles when she discovers her movement is slightly out of synchronization with her companions.

That’s Gayle Davis in the upper photo appearing to “Pray for perfection” Shirley chuckles, when actually Gayle is doing a delicate balance exercise; quite nicely as a matter of fact.

Twice-weekly sessions include a jazzy warm-up period, floor exercises, across-floor movements and some basic routines. A real frolic develops when Shirley announces it is time for the ladies to change into tap dance shoes.

That alone clips about 10 years of aging off most participants.

Besides the Monday and Friday sessions the ladies now are beginning some intermediate ballet.

In those Wednesday sessions Shirley can pursue her real joy with the anatomy of dance in instructing students that Demi Plie requires the precise centering of the knee cap over the third toe.

Yes, it will be awhile before this dance group performs on a New York City stage.

But, that hardly matters when these ladies, known as the Y Miss Steppers, can have this much fun on their own Mansfield, Ohio dance floor.