Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Silencer by James W. Hall

This was a good yarn about old Florida money and a mysteriously deceased patriarch who was clipped just before he donated his estate for preservation--and a reluctant heir who winds up entrapped in a sinkhole--and a shady governor--and a troubled wife.... Brain candy.

Stumbling Along the Beat by Stacy Dittrich

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this book was largely set in Richland County Ohio. The author is the daughter of Joseph Wendling, one of a family with a long history of service to the Mansfield PD. The book tells of her early police experience in a Mansfield area town she calls Mayberry. (She doesn’t divulge its real name) The challenges of her job were mostly with her male officer co-workers and she tells that story with vigor. Great read.

Executive Intent by Dale Brown

Another 400 pages of easy reading—this yarn takes a peek at the super-powers grappling with Space as a world-dominating, power platform. And, it takes off with current events morphing nicely into near future technology doing believable things in the hands of some pirates, a couple of heroes and the usual crop of inept, international politicians.

Murder Behind the Badge by Stacy Dittrich

My second read by this author—this one takes a peek at policemen who kill and leads off with the Drew/Stacy Peterson story from the Chicago area; often called the murder-by-cop (alleged) mystery of this century. It also has chapters on the Bobby Cutts Jr, recent story out of Canton, OH and Mansfield’s own Charles Oswalt who was convicted and imprisoned for murdering Marjorie “Margie” Coffee whose body was found in an icy stream near Butler.

Fogeyisms first touched on the Oswalt story in November 2007 with a piece on a retired Butler policeman.  Put Phil Stortz in the box, upper left and launch a search for that item.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some three to five thousand visitors enjoyed touring this privately owned horticultural estate in Knox County which was recently open for its annual, two days of public visiting.


Every once in awhile life throws you a bouquet.

That happened recently when I discovered the Schnormeier Gardens in rural Knox County just a chip shot south of Gambier.

And, my timing was exquisite. They are open to the public only two days each year and I learned about them just a few days before this year’s event.

Ted and Ann Schnormeier bought an old farm down there just over 10 years ago. That has since morphed into a 150 acre setting of which 75 acres are now transposed into a world-class, Asian-themed, horticultural treasure.

As you drift down the gentle slope from the visitor center you are treated to the eye-candy view of their Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home across a large pond with a foreground bejeweled with a colorful, Chinese style walking bridge that arches gracefully to Swan Island. A Japanese tea house soothes visitors at water’s edge.

A swish-tinkling stream tumbles into the far side of the pond inviting your ascent to Serenity Garden draped high on a plateau featuring its own Japanese Garden house.

Schnormeier has been quoted as describing his creation as “...a landscape on steroids”. He and wife Ann own Jeld-Wenn Inc., of Mt. Vernon and work actively in maintaining their creation with the help of a small, landscape staff.

I heard a visitor quip, with admiration; he wished he had the money they spend on maintenance alone. I could understand his compliment.

It didn’t matter which direction you looked, visual treats abounded.

I wandered into the Chinese Cup Gardens behind Mrs. Schnormeier (right in blue top) where she took a seat among admiring visitors and gracefully shared the story of the small oriental pavilion from that ancient culture.

The Woodland Garden offered an oasis from the day’s heat as visitors trekked in the cool shade beside the bouncing stream.

The Meadow Garden featured one of my favorite elements; a Zig-Zag Bridge; thought to discourage bad spirits from following the walker--such spirits said to have difficulty navigating the corners.

A classy and colorful brochure tells visitors “...over fifty pieces of an eclectic sculpture collection...enhance the enjoyment and pleasure of our visitors.” The collection is considered to be the “jewelry” of the gardens.

Thanks Ted and Ann for your jewel of a creation.
The Zig-Zag bridge of The Meadow Garden (above) while the waterfall below sends its flow delivering a stream of tranquility through the heart of the gardens--and the hearts of visitor's as well.


Thursday, June 24, 2010


Saturday, companions Sue Brooks, Rose and Dick Hatfield and I visit a mecca of landscape architecture in nearby Knox County. Passing a foreground of Lotus plants, they wander through Schnormeier Gardens in the top photo and enjoy the most recently created feature, the Quarry Garden, below and its 1,200 tons of limestone. One of 50 pieces of sculpture (middle) serenades our visit. Please join us in this visual delight.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Nine of us were in the second half of a 22 mile, round-trip ride from Cardington to Waldo, OH last Thursday when part of our group went sailing around a road closed sign to see if we could overcome this pesky detour.  Another part of our group that was out of sight ahead of us was oblivious to our maneuver and evidently, rolled merrily along their way.

That's Ken Johnson in white above, already across the first barricade while Ute Volk waves to her encouraging followers and Doug Versaw is, well, pondering things.

While those three and a couple more riders, Edie Humphrey and Lynn Rush, hoisted their bikes over and slid themselves through the barricades Tom Hadley and I reversed course with a pair of recumbent bikes too big and heavy for such exertion.

You guessed it.  The sign-obeying contingent got back to the start location first, followed by the two recumbent riders who rolled past the outlet end of this detour before the adventursome folks emerged from the bushes on the other side.

...all to everyone's delighted amusement.

That amusement will exclude, of course, any later reports of poison ivy attacks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This hand-powered pumper sits in front of the bell (above) from Mansfield's original fire station.  When a new station was built in 1925 the bell was displayed in Central Park until it was moved to the museum in 1993.  Lady friend Sue Brooks and square dancing friends Mark and Nancy Meinzer, Don and Roberta Karger, Rich and Rosa Hatfield and Linda Warren are pictured variously as retired firefighter and museum volunteer Ray Secrist leads a tour (below) through the Mansfield Fire Museum.

One of Mansfield’s treasures is lurking behind the “Fire Museum” sign on West Fourth St.

If you haven’t been there and are the least bit interested in Mansfield history in general and its fire history in particular, do yourself a favor and enjoy a visit.

You certainly cannot beat the price. It’s free.

It is located in the old Five Cousins store building just East of Brookwood Way on the South side of West Fourth St.

And it is stunningly well done—every bit the volunteer work of Mansfield and area firemen, their families and friends.

You will see old stuff; really old stuff. Can you imagine a wooden, city water line that firemen used to drill a hole through and attach their hoses; being mindful to plug the hole when their work was finished?

Hence the origin of the term “Fireplug,” your tour guide is likely to quip. He will be telling you the truth.

One of the niftiest pieces of apparatus is a 1900 American Metro steam-operated predecessor of today’s fire engines. It was horse-drawn and used steam power to operate its pump. Its fire service life was lived as truck #47 with the St. Louis, MO fire department.

Nearby in their marvelous display is an even older “pumper.” This one was propelled to fire scenes either by men or horses—whatever was available. A bucket brigade often was used to fill its tank and ranks of men on sides of the machine would rapidly raise and lower long arms, alternating to power its pump.

You will walk through a replica of an old downtown street scene and yet, recognize a store or two. Younger folks might not recognize the parallel bands of steel in the street. Older folks might joke about them being the tracks laid by passing street cars.

You will learn from a large display the “Biggest Fire of the (past) Century" was when the Quality Furniture Co., burned on February 12, 1944.

You will see a replica of a fire station, horse stable and learn how harnesses would drop from the ceiling to hurry the horses on their way.

When you pull in you may notice a vigilant Dalmatian pooch sitting on a front ledge of the building; dogs long identified with the fire service.

Not only are they extremely friendly and loyal they were a big help to the firemen by protecting their horses from thieves of that period when the horses were tethered out of harm’s way at a fire scene.

Your volunteer tour guide likely will tell you that story and a few more.

One of the biggest testaments to the terrific quality of the museum is noted in the several, priceless, antique engines on loan there.

One potential, out-of-state donor said “I knew this was the perfect place for my donation when I walked in the front door.”

It’s certainly a perfect, local place to enjoy an hour or so on a weekend afternoon; mid-May to mid-October, 1 to 4 p.m.

1900 Steam-powered pumper, truck #47 from the St. Louis, MO fire deparetment is pictured above with retired firemen Paul Johnson and Marvin Galloway while Secrist (below) shares stories in the replica horse-stable from a long-ago fire station.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Gary Williams 1944 - 2005

Robreta Karger reads the commendations awarded over a lifetime of firefighting to the late Gary Williams who was the original director of the fire museum which opened in October 1994.

Williams served the Mansfield Fire Department for 25 years and rose to the rank of captain.  He also served as a captain in the Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department for 24 years; also rising to the rank of captain, and was a township trustee there for 25 years.

Ironically, Roberta and husband Don (left in the photo below) live in Washington Twp.  Retired fireman and volunteer guide Ray Secrist leads our tour group through this facility on a recent visit.  Please stop by Saturday for our story on this marvelous museum.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Sue and I stopped by her cell phone shop for a replacement charger recently, and noticed a vehicle in the parking lot with its headlights on.

I made a couple of quiet inquiries concerning that to the small clusters of people in the store.


Then, I noticed a young female wander out the front door while appearing to assault her phone with her thumbs.

She headed straight for the vehicle and turned off its lights.

Then, continuing the assault on her phone, she wandered back into the store and slithered past me like I didn’t even exist.

I said, “You’re welcome” and was treated to the briefest blank stare as she disappeared from view.

Yup, civility is dying.

So is good customer service.

We never did learn if there were any AT & T employees in there.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A knowledgeable guide hosts visitors in the “Big Room”, part of an interesting, one-hour visit of the Seneca Caverns. This room (above) is on the formation’s fourth, sub-surface level. In the lower photo, lady friend Sue Brooks—laughing top right—enjoys Rich Hatfield’s exploration of the cave's “Ole Mist’ry River, 110 feet below ground. The legs (center) belong to Mrs. Hatfield.

One of Ohio’s Largest

In 1872, two youths hunting rabbits discovered what is now known as the Seneca Caverns when their pooch fell through a sink hole in the brush about four miles southwest of Bellevue, OH.

That dog led rescuers to the discovery of the interconnected upper four levels of the seven levels open to visitors today.

The absence of man-made artifacts from prior to the late 1800s suggests the caves were not commonly known to earlier residents of Northern Ohio.

Once thought to be the result of an earthquake*, current studies suggests the cave is the result of simply timeless motion along a fault line—a boundary between the Earth’s tectonic plates.

That motion would cause the underground rock strata to crack and sometimes collapse causing the cavities.

These underground cavities or levels likely were enlarged by ground water moving vertically and laterally through the various planes of the fault line.

Today, visitors descend more than 100 feet through seven levels until they encounter the “Ole Mist’ry River” which marks the bottom of the normal cavern tour.

The water level in the cave can change dramatically. The lowest water level was observed in 1934 when it dropped an estimated 100 feet below the seventh level exposing an additional five rooms.

Even at that depth the fracture could be seen through the crystal clear water descending ever lower. The absolute bottom of the cave structure has never been determined.

In July of 1969 the cavern was filled with ground water after nine inches of rain fell during four hours. It took two days for that rain event to fill the cave—and it took four months for the water to return to its normal level.

This underground “river”, commonly referred to as the water table, drains into Lake Erie, some of it passing through an old tourist attraction in Castalia, OH known as the Blue Hole. This was discovered when a note in a closed bottle, dropped into the cave’s underground river, emerged there.

Tours of the cave take approximately one hour and you will want to dress for rigorous activity. You will be descending and climbing the equivalent of a 10 story building on an irregular, rocky, sometimes narrow, path.

And, take a jacket. The underground temperature is a constant 54 degrees.


*An earthquake is the result of the sudden release of built-up pressure along a fault line.

Photo data: Both pictures were done with available light. The exposures were 6/10 second at f/5.6 and ISO 400. The camera was hand-held but solidly supported on a rock or pushed firmly against a cave wall surface to avoid camera shake.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Saturday, Fogeyisms takes a peek at the Seneca Caverns near Bellevue, OH where visitors (above) explore one of seven, underground rooms. The lowest of those rooms is more than 100 feet below the surface. More rooms are known to be below that but they require Scuba equipment for further exploration. Please stop by and see where our visit stopped. Wisely.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Country Driving by Peter Hessler

The author is a veteran magazine correspondent and six-year resident of Beijing. With a newly acquired Chinese driver’s license he launched on a border-to-border tour of that vast country and shared informed insights of that country’s lurch between Communism in government and capitalism in its economy. His writing style was a bit tepid for me but, nevertheless, an interesting peek at this colossus emerging on the World’s stage.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Described as an adult fairy tale, the book tells the story of a farm which is taken over violently by its animals who seek to create a paradise. The author, a believer in “democratic socialism”, reveals his beliefs in this 1945 book which critics often thought was aimed at Stalinist Russia of that period. While described as a “classic” these days I was comforted that it was only 114 pages long. Give me his “1984” any day.

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

For me, this was one of those rarities—could hardly put it down. It is a rollicking, pirate tale; set in the Caribbean Islands of the mid 1600s. Crichton, perhaps best known for his giant, Jurassic Park, and the author of 15 other works of fiction, died in 2008. This completed manuscript was found in his papers after his death. Thanks Mr. Crichton. May you rest in peace!

The Edge of Physics by Anil Ananthaswamy

A science writer, the author travels the world in search of answers to the biggest questions in modern cosmology; “Why is the universe expanding,” “What is the nature of the dark matter,” “Are there other universes besides our own?” He visits with scientists in the Chilean Andes, others in deep Minnesota mines, still others probing the Antarctic ice sheet. And many more desolate outposts. I enjoyed the travel narrative as much as I struggled with the science.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


“Angel” (that’s Sue’s spiffy cat) turned out to be a perplexing problem in our search for winter digs in Florida starting this coming January.

Evidently lots of previous, irresponsible pet owners have left problems in their rental accommodations to the extent most owners now prohibit pets outright.

So, our interim solution popped into our view while driving down Possum Run Road recently.

Sue said, “Look. There’s a camper for sale. Let’s stop and take a look on our way back this way.” The look on my face had to scream “astonished”. Sue absolutely is not a “camper” and had previously wiggled around the very suggestion of considering that style of snowbirding.

But, stop, we did—and owned that rig less than 24 hours later.

Turns out, the camper belonged to old friends of Sue’s and her late husband and was in terrific condition for its age. She even had nice memories of some camping outings in it some years ago.

It’s a fifth-wheel style just less than 30 feet long and fell easily within the towing capacity of my V-8 powered pick-up.

But, mercy, is it ever going to be cozy!

She’s used to a spacious, 3-bedroom condo and I have a 3-bedroom mobile home on 9 secluded acres. The camper is like a one-bedroom, 225 square foot apartment—with a davenport-equipped “living” room, a combination dinette/kitchen area, full bath and the bedroom.

Naturally it will have a nifty, awning covered patio area just outside the door.

Now, we are looking around for a place to park it for January through March next winter. The RV park we currently are considering costs $675 for January and $800 each for the next two months.

That’s substantially less than rentals costs for decent housing. Besides, it’s just a place to sleep and get tidied up for the next adventure.

We are into square dancing and bicycling and hiking, and, with the blog expecting to be fed a regular supply of material we’ll be roaming an entire state--full of adventures that need written about.

So, we now are in the process of outfitting the rig and counting the days until launch.

However, we’ll be taking the title with us.

Just in case, of course.

We hope to spend lots of quiet evenings—as Sue is doing in the top photo—relaxing this winter on the awning covered patio of our camper; with palm trees swaying in gentle breezes nearby, of course.

There is a davenport out of sight behind me in the lower photo which takes a peek through the kitchen/dinette area toward the step-up bedroom in the front of the camper. A full bath is in between.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


That’s lady friend Sue Brooks (above) pondering some storage space beside the queen-sized bed in our recently acquired camper. Our plan is to spend three months this coming winter on our first-ever snowbird experience in that sub-tropical adventureland.

I think she is considering the drawer she is viewing as the location for my clothes. She already has informed me her stuff will consume both closets—and more. < Smile >

Please stop by Saturday. We’ll tell you a little more about our plans.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


We left for Atlanta one recent Saturday at 12:15 a.m.; just a 630 mile jaunt or thereabouts.

No big deal. The wedding we were headed for wasn’t scheduled to start until 4:30 that afternoon.

Turns out we got there in plenty of time to meet up with family for lunch, check in for our overnight stay and spiff up a bit before heading to the church—the ageless Presbyterian variety, just a chip shot north of downtown.

I was there on the groom’s side of the family; the groom being a newly minted MD, James Crownover, the son of my late wife’s brother Dennis and Becky Crownover.

I have vivid memories from just a few years back when James and I were catching critters down in the creek. Mercy.

He married another newly minted MD, Jennifer Lanzer, a classy lady with whom he will be sharing doctor residencies in Pittsburg by mid-June—each in their own specialties, of course.

The top photo shows the elegant reception room at the Ansley Golf and Country Club immediately preceding a dinner buffet and lively evening of dancing to the quartet shown as they provided dinner music in the background.

In the next lower photo guests shower the groom and his partially hidden bride with red rose petals as they leave the reception. Cousin Brad Crownover (far right in the blue shirt), when he later saw this image, bemoaned his amply protruding waistline, whereupon Carol’s half brother Kevin Maxwell quipped, “Well, it’s certainly easier to see now.”

In the bottom photo, that’s Brad far right with grand daughter Brittany Wolf to his left, then Kevin, Brad’s delightful wife Karen, grandson Eli, my daughter TJ and her partner Wende Carter-Wolf; the latter part of the clan from Jacksonville.

We were enjoying a Sunday morning recovery/reunion/breakfast before departing Atlanta.

Eleven hours and another 630 miles later we were back in Ohio...

...where Kevin was still smiling about delivering his wedding gift—a snow shovel—requested by the groom’s deep south family as a joking reminder of the Pittsburg weather soon to be part of the newlywed’s, until now, lifetime of sub-tropical weather experience.