Saturday, December 31, 2011


Part 2

Macro photography (say extreme close-up) is a delightful, compositional tool.  It often succeeds just because it presents an uncommon sight to the viewer; in this case drops of early morning dew on a weedy leaf.  Note the extremely shallow depth of sharp focus.  Barely 1/2 inch is clear between the fuzzy foreground and background.

Sue (right) and Savannah, Georgia friends--plus one passing seagull--enjoy a sunrise on the beach at nearby Tybee Island.  Part of the success of this photo comes from its strong, rectangular shape.  You can achieve the same thing often by simply loping off wasteful or distracting parts of your photos with a pair of scissors.  There is no rule that insists they remain the same shape the photo machine provides.

Ashland's balloon glow affords a marvelously colorful subject--especially if you turn your flash off.  It does you no good at this distance anyhow.  If it will not shut off, cover it with something.  If you have a simple camera try the night scene setting and hold your camera perfectly still.  I had mine propped on top of a fence post for these shots.  If you have manual settings on your camera try a couple of test shots first.  My exposure for this photo was 1/20th of a second at f/4 and ISO 400.

This night photo is the Ferris wheel at the Bellville Street Fair.  It appears a bit unusual because I used a fairly long exposure to create the trails of light as the wheel was spinning.  The exposure was for 2 seconds at f/22 and ISO 400.  Had I made the exposure a bit longer the dark wedges would have disappeared.  The camera was held steady by mashing it against a steel light pole.

I liked the spontaneity of this muscular sclerosis patient enjoying the beat of the music as members of my Johnny Appleseed square dancing club provided the entertainment at their annual picnic.  Sometimes photographers can be a nuisance but getting close to the event can be a key to good composition.  I did not use a flash because it would have rendered the background quite dark and destroyed the overall sense of joy during their participation in the dance we take for granted.

Often interesting compositions can be found is less than ideal weather.  The patterns reflected on the wet bicycle trail and the color fading to a misty gray background made this picture of March-of-Dimes participants more interesting than if it had been taken in nice weather.  No flash is advised here either.  That would produce little blobs of fuzzy white reflections on the raindrops close to the camera--and likely destroyed the photo; about like flashing your high beam headlights in a nighttime snowstorm.

I liked the soft presence of the foreground plant and my lady Sue, both being dwarfed by this rocky massif at Hemlock Falls.  It is hard to imagine the geologic powers that created these monstrous stones then tumbled them into this pleasing formation over periods of time that defy human comprehension.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Part 1

Sports photography crossed my plate for the first time in years this summer when I became an adopted grand pa of Sue's grand daughter, Mackenna Curtis Collins.  She is an outstanding athlete and excels at both soccer and cross country running.

In this photo she is defending against overwhelming force from a much larger opponent.  An exposure of 1/1,300 of a second at f/2.8 with a 200 mm lens was sufficient to stop the action yet give nice exposure under back-lit conditions.  Sensitivity was ISO 100.  The long lens and wide aperture helped shallow the depth of field and confine sharpness to the athletes.

Here she digs deeply but had to settle for 2nd place, to an obviously larger opponent, at the finish line of this cross country race.  Exposure data was identical to the first photo but focus was done manually to keep Mackenna rendered sharply.  She wound up taking top honors at her school for her personal race results in her first year at the junior high.

This is the Honey Run waterfall in Knox County.  My Canon Rebel T3i, digital single-lens reflex camera was propped on a sloping rock and leveled with my pocket knife and the lens cap for a make-shift tripod.  The camera had to be held still for the relatively long exposure of 1/4 second which rendered the flowing water in silk-like wisps.  Remember, you can click on these images to see a larger view.

While the back-lighting was dramatic on these dogwood leaves it is the magic of Photoshop software that is responsible for the pressed-in-wax flavor of this composition shot on my upper deck.  The surface of the out-of-focus pond is responsible for the blue background color.  Software certainly adds a stunning, creative tool to digital photography, but, every other photo in this year's series could have been done with film.

This was a spontaneous photo done at a fund-raising event's registration.  It made me sympathetic to the little person's shy expression while I envisioned the ample protection surrounding her with an admitted sense of mirth.

Sue Brooks takes a peek at the moon through the large telescope at the Warren Rupp Observatory at Hidden Hollow Camp during one of their monthly public, viewing nights.  I am thankful for the cooperative assistance of the scope's operator for aligning the observatory's roof opening for my composition while both he and several observers at a time were hoisted about 10 feet above floor level so they could see in the eyepiece.

My oldest son Brian enjoys a relaxing cast into the sunset at Charles Mill Lake from the deck of their newly acquired pontoon boat.  This simply is a nice photo from one of those special events life provides from time to time.  Can you see the two dark parts of his spinner bait in mid-flight?

This series will conclude with seven more images Saturday, December 31st.   

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


One of the ageless, feature attractions in St. Augustine, FL is the Fountain of Youth (above); the dream discovery of explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513.

It has been more than a week now since Sue enjoyed a hefty gulp from the fountain, and, *Gasp* nothing has happened.

She is taking it gracefully.

We arrived in St. Augustine Sunday, the 18th after saying goodbye to TJ and family over a delightful brunch in Jacksonville.

While south-bound travelers begin to see palm trees in S. Carolina we had our first opportunity to express our appreciation to one of them personally (left) in this touristy town.

We enjoyed a stroll through the oldest part of town then lazed across the Bridge of Lions to an evening visit with the town’s historic lighthouse.  St. Augustine was founded in 1565 and is the oldest, continuously-occupied, European settlement in the US.

The non-historic features of the town are, well, touristy and the trolley ride cost $35 each with stops at a few of the “touristy” attractions so we reduced our planned stay to one night and rolled on south to Vero Beach on Monday the 19th.

Except for a lazy refrigerator we got our camper-home up and hospitable in short order.  It wasn’t long until we were shopping for necessary provisions—and a Christmas tree; camper sized.  If I remember events correctly it was aglow before we managed to nudge the refrigerator into operation.

Why it refused to start initially remains a mystery.

 By Wednesday Sue had corralled a Comcast cable TV tech who arrived and installed that service—thus completing our transition into the comfort of winter life in our sub-tropical home.

Later that afternoon we realllly celebrated.   Wednesday was the first day of winter and Sue marked the occasion with this frolic on the beach—

Sunday, December 25, 2011

May your celebration of Christ’s birthday be the most enchanting ever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

This gentle giant of a giraffe peers at visitors to the Jacksonville Zoo during our stop there while we were enroute to southeast Florida.

20011-2012 style

We said good-bye to winter Dec 16th and a leisurely four days later arrived at our winter digs in Vero Beach, FL.

Our first stop was about 3 hours down the road from home where we enjoyed granddaughter Brittany Wolf (right) receiving her graduate degree in occupational therapy from Shawnee State U in Portsmouth, OH.

Portsmouth also is known for its marvelous display of murals painted on concrete panels on the dry-side of their Ohio River flood wall.

From there we breezed past Charleston then ground our way through rainy-snowy darkness on our meandering ascent of the West Virginia Turnpike to a fuel stop near Beckley at about 3,500 feet above sea level.

We paid close attention to the falling temperature during our ascent.  It dropped to 34 degrees and was headed down as we stopped for fuel.

I was seriously considering that for our first over-night stop when a friendly truck driver told me the local forecast was calling for an overnight accumulation of ice and snow.

We offered her our thanks and hustled on down the road; relieved by a slow climb in temperature as we lost altitude through Fancy Gap into Wytheville, VA and a very welcome late dinner at the Log House Restaurant which resides in a building born there in 1776.

It was meaningful to contemplate the colonies when the walls that surrounded us were hewed from local timber and fueled the westerly expansion of our then yet-to-be nation—as we munched our tasty steak dinners.

The following afternoon we visited daughter TJ and family in Jacksonville, FL then took a peek at the city from across the St. John’s River that evening (below).

Our story will continue soon with our final stop on the way south in St. Augustine.  Please stay tuned.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It is hard to imagine the Ohio River, on the opposite side of this wall, could ever reach a flood stage as high as this side of the dike.  Lady friend Sue enjoys taking a peek at some of the murals local folks enjoy in Portsmouth, OH, then, in the lower photo, she is visiting an aquarium in the Jacksonville, FL zoo.  Tomorrow we will share some other photos and a story on the first half of our trip south.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Just had an opportunity to view Sunday's blog and it certainly did not appear as I had it formatted.  Somehow, somewhere along the line paragraph spaces were removed.  I'll try to fix it.  Soon.
(News of a new planet's discovery arrived recently and that lit the fuse of my imagination which led to this dalliance being authored as we prepared for our departure for Florida.) 

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Our sun is regarded as fairly "puny" as stars go and there are billions and billions of stars (sound like Carl Sagan?) in our Milky Way Galaxy alone.  Each one of those suns (stars) has an habitable zone capable, perchance, of supporting life as we know it.
Therefore, in our galaxy alone, the odds are astoundingly high there would be other planets somewhere in those countless zones--like this newly discovered one.
Then, consider, there are billions and billions of galaxies in the universe.  That compounds, exponentially (beyond human comprehension actually) the odds of there being intelligent life somewhere out there.
Then, consider, the cosmos which includes us and everything beyond the known universe.  Sagan described the cosmos as "...everything that has been, is now, or ever will be".
Actually pondering this makes two things happen to me; 1) I feel quite puny myself, and 2) my head hurts.
...and, I have not even begun to wrestle with the meaning of "intelligence".
Also, there is the matter of distance.  The Milky Way Galaxy is, itself, a fairly large neighborhood.  Our galaxy is about 100,000 light years across.  Remember, a light-year measures distance and space, not time.  It is the distance light travels in a year at a speed of about 186,000 miles per second.
Now, imagine traveling at that velocity for 100,000 years just to cross our own Milky Way neighborhood.
After that little jaunt you can begin to consider visiting our nearest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda.  It is a mere two and a quarter million light years, more or less, away.
Humans certainly are going to have to speed-up our means of locomotion if we ever hope to have eye contact with any of our galactic neighbors.
Unless, of course, they arrive here first.  In that case, we might learn a new definition of the word "intelligence".

Friday, December 16, 2011


Today Sue and I launched ourselves on the first day of the rest of our lives.

We are headed to Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, OH where granddaughter Brittany will be awarded her graduate degree in occupational therapy--the very first day of her new life as well. 

From there we will continue south for our second winter of snow-birding in Vero Beach, Florida.

The blog may be silent for awhile.  Consider us on vacation if that happens.

I have selected my favorite pictures of the year and they are in the queue to be published on the 28th and the 31st.

Meanwhile we will be trundling along with our next planned stop being in Jacksonville, FL to say hello to my daughter TJ and family.

From there we may spend a couple of days in St. Augustine.  Founded in 1565 it is the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the US.

While we will enjoy our unhurried pace of travel we also are anxious to rejoin our very special friends Dick and Dee Weeks from Syracuse, NY who are waiting for us in Vero Beach--along with long-time Bellville friends Dick and Jan Shafer and Duane and Jerri Maxwell; with whom we will be spending Christmas day this year.

Yes, life has been bountiful in many ways and I am thankful to be blessed with marvelous friends, good health and abundant energy with which to continue its celebration.

Can you see me whistling as Sue and I meander along hand-in-hand sharing a devilish wink from time to time.

We hope you will stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Loyal blog reader, Mark Meinzer, pointed out today's BOOK REPORT was a duplicate.

I was inclined to quip I had read those books each, twice.  But, really I am sorry for the mistake and appreciate Mark's bringing it to my attention.  I guess I am paying more attention to Florida trip preparations than I am to blog scheduling.

Recently I have been reading books faster than I have been publishing book reports and I had several reports languishing in the queue.  That also contributed to this posting error.

I guess it really is time for a vacation.  < Smile >

The Takedown by Jeffrey Robinson

It reads like a novel but in this case truth is better than fiction.  The subtitle describes it as, "A suburban mom, a coal miner's son, and the unlikely demise of Columbia's brutal Norte Valle (drug) Cartel."  The story regards a 13 year investigation of the group responsible for 60 percent of the cocaine entering the US.  A good read about the good-guys winning; well, more or less.

A Life on the Road by Charles Kuralt

Longtime CBS-TV personality and host of his popular series "On the Road" shares this book-full of tales encountered in more than a million miles travelled in producing that show and many others in his stellar career.  Travel stories are my favorite genre and this one is a potpourri of pure delight.

The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

This is another dandy effort by this very popular novelist.  It takes a look at the armament industry and its use of marketing to manage the public perception of world events in the industry's best interests.  It has all the ingredients for another of his yarns you will want to read non-stop.  Baldacci has 14 previous best sellers.  I hope I can find all the rest I have not yet read.  Soon.

Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux

Imagine hopping a train in London then winding up in Moscow after a right turn in Warsaw.  From Moscow its on to Irktusk via the Siberian Express then a rolling jaunt south through Mongolia on the way to the journey's real destination; exploring China by rail.  Theroux is an marvelous travel writer and this was a dandy read.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


This adventure began when I took my truck to the Graham Ford garage one recent morning for some recall work and Sue arrived as planned to help me loiter away the hours.

Since the Graham Chevrolet dealership was right next door to the Ford place she led the way inside to take a peek at the new Cruze models.  That didn't take long to arouse the interest of a salesman and soon we were riding about their car lot on the cold, rainy morning, examining a generous selection of models.

I rode quietly in the back seat of Graham's fancy SUV, with a sticker price over 50 grand, and stayed in the background during her interrogation regarding the virtues of her selected vehicle which she was soon piloting back to the showroom for dealer plates and a demo spin.

Long story short; an hour or so later I had my truck in custody and her vehicle of interest was on hold while we headed off for lunch and her tending to some arrangements with her finance folks.

She was bemoaning her recent purchase of new tires for what was rapidly becoming her "old" car while I peeked at her over the top of my glasses.  At least it will save you the cost of new wiper blades, I quipped.  That and a lube job were other expenses she had been pondering before we launched for the sunny south.

That wiper blade purchase is no longer an issue.  She took delivery of her new Chevy Cruze the following morning.  That's it pictured above in one of my favorite Mansfield, outdoor "studios".

Meanwhile, the Ford service guy had told me my truck was making a funny noise in the front end.  I had noticed the same thing recently so we headed off to my local shop, Buckeye Auto Center, while I had chauffeur service available.

Their examination found a tie rod had failed when it fell apart as they put the truck up on their rack.  $160 bucks later my truck no longer had that funny noise and I was thanking my lucky stars the tie rod did not become deceased along the road somewhere.

While I was paying my bill I was pondering the costs of maintaining an 11 year old truck versus car payments.

I think I'll take my son up on his offer to sell my truck while I am in FL.

A fellow could easily develop an interest in a newer vehicle.

I can hardly imagine a vehicle like that SUV with the little TV in the dash that shows a live color picture while the driver is backing up--or, the heated leather seats that make you feel like you had an urinary accident when they cycle into action.

It's more likely I will wind up with a slightly aged motor scooter--hopefully one with a good heater.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

September 24, 1940 - February 17, 1969

My high school classmate and neighbor Cornelius A. (Neil) McCafferty Jr., died in combat in Vietnam, February 17, 1969.

My memory of Neil was rekindled recently when a friend shared a link to the Vietnam Wall memorial and I found his name there--even though I was hoping not to in spite of my knowledge of his tragic death.

In our high school yearbook his ambition was "To be a general in the marine corps."  In real life he served in the US Navy for 10 years and was a first class petty officer; SM1.  That's not as much rank as a general but it certainly is near the top of the list for enlisted, non-commissioned officers.

His unit awards included US Naval River Patrol Service Vietnam with a Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal and government of Vietnam campaign medals.

He was 28 when he died.  Already, he had given more than a third of his life in the service of his country.

Ultimately, as a casualty of hostile enemy fire, he gave it all.

May you continue to rest in peace my friend.

I hope you somehow know we will never forget.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The Takedown by Jeffrey Robinson

It reads like a novel but in this case truth is better than fiction.  The subtitle describes it as, "A suburban mom, a coal miner's son, and the unlikely demise of Columbia's brutal Norte Valle (drug) Cartel."  The story regards a 13 year investigation of the group responsible for 60 percent of the cocaine entering the US.  A good read about the good-guys winning!  Well, sorta'.

A Life on the Road by Charles Kuralt

Longtime CBS-TV personality and host of his popular series "On the Road" shares this book-full of tales encountered in more than a million miles traveled in producing that show and many others in his stellar career..  Travel stories are my favorite genre and this one is a potpourri of pure delight.

The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

This is another dandy effort by this very popular novelist.  It takes a look at the armament industry and its use of marketing to manage the public perception of world events in the industry's best interests.  It has all the ingredients for another of his yarns you will want to read non-stop.  Baldacci has 14 previous best sellers.  I hope I can find all the rest I have not yet read.  Soon.

Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux

Imagine hopping a train in London then winding up in Moscow after a right turn in Warsaw.  From Moscow its on to Irkutsk via the Siberian Express then a rolling jaunt south through Mongolia on the way to the journey's real destination; exploring China by rail.  Theroux is a marvelous travel writer.  He described a Mongolian yak, for example, as looking " a cow on its way to the opera."

Monday, December 5, 2011

The spectacle of a secular Christmas celebration morphs into...

the celebration of Christ's birth. the 25th anniversary year of the Living Christmas Trees pageant presented by the Grace Polaris Church, Westerville, OH.

The Story:  Cody has been asked to bring cookies to his second-grade holiday party to celebrate winter and he is left wondering who took the "Christmas" out of Christmas.  Later that night he has a bad dream that Christmas might go away forever.  Under the cloud of this being his last Christmas, Cody travels back to witness the first Christmas, first hand.  Though it was all just a dream, Cody realizes Christmas is not just here to stay, it is for yesterday, today and forever.

Remaining performances scheduled for December 9th, 10th and 11th: Click!

Do your soul a favor!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


We started out that day looking for ants most folks have never seen and hiking on a bicycle trail that does not yet exist.

The ants are the Appalachian variety (above) with the rusty colored head and thorax with a black bottom or gaster.  The critters in the photo were about 1/2 inch long and appear to be discussing the best use for the piece of dried leaf being hauled into their nest cavity.

A few years ago bicycling friends and I rode part of the abandoned railroad corridor which one day will be a bike trail from Brinkhaven to Killbuck via Glenmont in southwestern Holmes County.  I discovered huge ant mounds that day and our recent outing was to rediscover those mounds for this story.

The normal range of these ants is along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Georgia and inland to the western side of the Appalachian Mountains.  So, these critters have expanded their advertised range a  bit west of there.

These are mound building ants; big mounds--often several feet tall and six feet or so across at their bases.  These mounds can be undermined with a tunnel system another several feet below ground and six feet or so outside the perimeter of the nest.  They may contain several hundred thousand ants.

The colonies living in the mounds can have numerous, egg-laying queens.  Their mounds serve as solar-powered incubators for their eggs.

If young trees begin to grow around the nest creating shade, the ants will bite the tree bark and inject formic acid, killing the offending trees and protecting the solar exposure.

We hiked about two miles out that day and noticed maybe a dozen of these mounds just along the edge of the abandoned right-of-way.  These ants really prefer fields that are not mowed but are occasionally grazed.  The grazing animals keep the weed growth low enough so the weeds do not interfere with sunlight heating the nests.

Who knows how many nests might be found if the conditions met the ant's ideal specifications! 

And, consider this from our story's research:  Though only a tiny fraction of the size of humans, the total weight of all the ants in the world is estimated to equal that of all humans.

Mark Meinzer takes a close, photographic peek at a mound.  Notice the good, sunlight exposure on this mound and several tunnels visible to the mound's interior.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Square dancing friends Mark and Nancy Meinzer, Roberta Karger and lady-friend Sue Brooks enjoy a rock formation along an abandoned railroad right-of-way between Brinkhaven and Glenmont in southwestern Holmes County. 

One day this trail will connect the Mohican Valley Trail which runs between Danville and Brinkhaven to the Holmes County Bike Trail which now ends in Killbuck.

On the day of this hike in early November we were in search of mound building ants like the one pictured below.  Please stop by Saturday for the tale of our outing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Last week's bicycle ride in Holmes County reminded me of a yet-to-be-done story on ants.  That story will follow later this week.

In the process of doing the ant story on a marvelous day in early November we enjoyed not only the hike along an abandoned, railroad corridor (above) but also the scenes below, all within several miles of each other near the junction of Knox, Holmes and Coshocton Counties.

I was accompanied on this delightful outing by square dancing friends Mark and Nancy Meinzer, Roberta Karger and lady friend Sue Brooks pictured immediately above on the Bridge of Dreams, Ohio's longest covered bridge.  It spans the Mohican River in Brinkhaven and is, itself, the end of the Mohican Valley Trail, a combined bike and buggy trail that courses the four miles between Brinkhaven and Danville.

Mark is paying photographic attention to an Amish buggy clip-clopping eastbound on US Route 62 as viewed from the covered bridge.  Holmes County boasts the largest Amish population in the world.

From the covered bridge we drove those four miles along route 62 to Danville then another four miles or so south, crossed the intersection with SR 36, immediately crossed a bridge over the Kokosing River then headed east on the first township road to the Honey Run Park about a mile or so east of route 62.  From that park it is a very short hike to Knox County's only waterfall (below).

As you can imagine, local folks take considerable pride in the bounty of natural scenes glorifying our area of Ohio.  It was a special blessing when it could be shared with equally special friends on a warm and sunny November day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Will December also be as kind?

A culvert under state route 83 near Holmesville, OH colorfully frames biking friends Nancy and Mark Meinzer as well as my lady Sue Brooks as we head north on the Holmes County Bike Trail from Millersburg to Fredericksburg.

Sue smiles (right) because the Village Car and Buggy Wash in the latter town serves another function as well.

Our ride that early and warm November day was a 20 mile round-trip on this dandy, multi-use trail where bicycles and Amish buggies share the right-of-way.  Buggies are confined to one side of the trail for obvious reasons.

Regardless, there often is gentle eye contact and a modest wave shared when "English" folks on their bicycles roll by our clip-clopping travel companions.

This trail now extends from Killbuck in Holmes County through Millersburg to Fredericksburg in Wayne Co., a distance of about 16 miles.  When finished it will extend from Killbuck through Glenmont to Brinkhaven where it will connect with the Mohican Valley Trail near Brinkhaven.

One day it will be a link in a continuous bike trail from Cincinnati to Cleveland.

Meanwhile it is unique as the first trail in the US to accommodate horse and buggies as well as more traditional trail users. That distinction happens here because Holmes County also is home to the largest Amish population in the country. 

The noise of highway traffic sometimes assaults the ears and makes Amish and English riders alike grateful for this travel route.

More often the trail is accompanied by the splashing of creeks which share its course through idyllic pastures and quiet woodlands.

My companions make a nicely timed passage on the trail (below, top left) as I compose the photo of a beaver dam which flooded a small tributary into an aquatic home for countless basking turtles who also were enjoying our sunny and warm fall day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Cultures cooperate nicely on the Holmes County Bicycle Trail where Nancy Meinzer (above) and Sue Brooks (disappearing under the sign) head out on a 20 mile jaunt recently.  Please stop by Saturday for a story on our very enjoyable, late-in-the-season bike ride.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Born in Africa by Martin Meredith

Sub-titled "The Quest for the Origins of Human Life" the book takes a peek at the seven million years that have passed since the precursors of humankind began to evolve in Africa; always in search of the oldest human ancestor.  The whole process however was marred by the intense rivalry, personal feuds and fierce controversies of the sciences and scientists involved.  The current agreement seems to point to Homo sapiens beginning about 60,000 years ago, generally in East Africa.  More or less.

It's All About the Bike by Robert Penn

The funniest line in this book was when the author described one design of a bicycle seat as like "riding on an irritable lobster."  Penn is in the middle of a life-long love affair with bicycles and in his mid 20's pedaled around the world.  In his book he travels internationally accumulating bicycle components from top of the line manufacturers with the hope of assembling a world-class, dream bicycle.

The Rise and Fall of the Bible by Timothy Beal

The author, a professor of religion at Case Western Reserve University "...takes us back to early Christianity to ask how a box of handwritten scrolls became the Bible, and forward to see how the multibillion-dollar business that has brought us Biblezines and manga Bibles is selling down the Bible's sacred capital."  Scholars will find the book challenging.  The faithful likely will find the book unsettling.

The Statues that Walked by Terry Hunt/Carl Lipo

Sub-titled "Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island" the authors harness the power of modern science to unravel the mysteries surrounding this extremely remote Pacific island.  Why were the island statues created and how were they moved?  Where did the native population go?  After some plodding through the abstractions of sociological theroy they arrive at horrofic and evidence-supported conclusions.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Opera House is the grand ole lady of Main Street in Hayesville, Ohio.  She is sandwiched quietly as the second floor neighbor of the town's post office in the commercial block east of the village stop light.

She has been there since 1886 presenting stage acts, musicals, movies, graduation ceremonies and more than a few minstrel shows.

She may not be as glamorous as she once was but, she has hosted silent movies, then the ones that actually could talk.  She has outlived eight tracks, and dial telephones and carriages that were replaced with automobiles and their fancy new running boards.

And, she still is going strong.

In the top photo you can see the little valves that once controlled the gas that was burned to illuminate the entryway.  Today modern spiral bulbs reside in the antique fixtures.
Backstage in the smaller photo (top right) Dave Roepke tells Mark and Nancy Meinzer and Sue Brooks about the colorful, original stage sets hanging in the picture.  Six of them were painted in Chicago in 1886.  Four remain.

He also points out a gentle slope to the stage.  That was designed to help audience visibility since there was not room in the building to slope the seating floor.  That technique also gave rise to the theatrical phrases "Up Stage" and "Down Stage."
Dave still is going strong too.  He conducts the tours and sells the tickets and mans the concession stand and runs the projector.  Popcorn sells for a buck and bottled pop is 75 cents--quite a pleasant surprise if you are accustomed to the prices of those products in the modern cinema.

Tickets for this day's movie were 3 bucks a head.

A change of film reels results in a brief intermission which lasts as long as it takes for the last person to return from the restroom.

The opera house has struggled over the years as community awareness of her true value has waxed and waned.  After sitting idle for more than 30 years a group of 600 people from Ashland and surrounding counties formed a restoration committee in preparation for the 1976 bicentennial.

They raised more than $2000 for new wiring and interior decorating.  That same year the opera house became the first Ashland County building to be named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Restoration efforts slowed until 1994 when local folks launched another series of fund-raising efforts.  They replaced air conditioning, installed restrooms and, most recently in 2009, refurbished the wooden seating.

If you glance below the seats ahead of you, you will see a circular wire object.  They are the original holders for patron's hats.

Attendance ranges from what turned out to be our private screening of the movie "Contagion" to well over 100 folks at a recent musical event.

Here sits one of life's delightful bargains just a few miles and a phone call away.  Do yourself a favor.  
Click here for a nice recent article on the Opera House by Courtney Albon of the Ashland Times-Gazette.
For a current schedule, call Dave at 567-203-3231.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Icycles cling to a stray branch after overnight temperatures in the mid-20s constructed this wintry tapestry beside the pond's spill pipe.  Splashing water is frozen into the crystal stalactites while little bubbles float merrily by.

Since my pond is part of the Mississippi River drainage basin this water soon will be passing by palm trees in the Louisiana bayous--actually, a very sensible thought this time of year.

For you photography buffs, this picture was done with a 100mm Canon, f/2.8 macro lens.  In this case it performed the role of a modest telephoto lens allowing me to enjoy a fairly close view while clinging to the creek's bank.

The camera was a Canon Rebel T3i digital, single lens reflex.  This model has a fully articulated viewing screen which allowed me the comfort of swinging the screen so its was visible as I held the camera near water level while I remained high and dry and composed the photo.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hayesville, Ohio

Buffalo-Bill Cody signed the backstage wall of the opera house during his "one night" performance there on October 28, 1888.  The signature has been abused and cleaned over the ensuing 123 years.  (Remember, you can click on blog images to examine a larger view).

Please stop by Saturday when Fogeyisms will take you inside this marvelous trophy of local history for a peek at what we enjoyed during our recent visit.