Saturday, May 28, 2011


Just a bit Southwest of Funk in Ashland County is a little dam that isn't.  Well most of the time it isn't; doing much damming, that is. in impounding the flow of water.

The dam's official name is Mohicanville and most of the time it just sits there; a nicely maintained, elongated earthen structure 46 feet high and 1,200 feet long with a concrete spillway that is hardly visible from the nearby county road.

It is a dry dam.  I has no permanent pool of water behind it.  A small stream known as the Lake Fork usually flows freely through the dam and goes merrily on its way until it joins the Mohican River Southeast of Loudonville.

But the Lake Fork is just one of nearly countless little streams that flow into the 271 square mile watershed behind the Mohicanville Dam.

And, in wet times like those recently around here that can involve a whopping amount of water.

Consequently, the US Army Corps of Engineers built this dam in 1935, just one of many in this part of Ohio designed and operated to help control flood water.

At maximum pool level, this dam could be holding back 31 feet of water depth and inundating 8,800 acres of land upstream; later releasing it very slowly to help control flooding downstream.

In the top photo you can see the water pooling behind the dam to the left.  On the day this picture was taken the dam was holding back about 19 feet of water depth.  The dam's outflow that day was 1,342 cubic feet of water per second.

The dam's maximum discharge is 20,500 cubic feet per second.  So, comparing these numbers you can see the dam was working nicely to help downstream folks.

This also creates some inconvenience upstream like the road closed in the lower photo.  It is Township Road 2250 and it is under almost 2 feet of water; just temporarily, of course. (Inset photo)

The dam's spillway elevation is 963 feet above sea level.  So, there is a topographical contour line at that elevation encompassing the entire 8,800 acres upstream within which there should be no structures subject to damage from the periodic flooding.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I took a peek out my bedroom window one recent morning and noticed this phenomenon; two trees standing about 5 feet apart were wet on opposite sides from overnight rain.

The Eastern White Pine in the foreground was wet on the west side.  The pine in the background was wet on the east side.

It's hard to imagine an explanation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Hollywood Hills by Joseph Wambaugh

A whimsical read about a convoluted art scam.  I hope any Los Angeles cop that reads this book doesn't see much resemblance to his or her real world of police work.  Pure brain anesthesia.

The Ragged Edge of the World
by Eugene Linden

Species and cultures are nearing extinction from the polar regions to tropical rain forests and Linden has reported on these events for 40 years.  This book is a compilation of those experiences in Borneo and Machu Picchu, from the Midway Island Atoll to Ndoki, an African pygmy homeland, as examples.  In essence, he takes a peek at what happens when the world's ever increasing march of consumerism collides with pre-historic remnants scattered about the Earth.  I enjoyed the book, both as a travelogue and as a somber reminder of cultural and resource destruction wrought by human presence.

Moby Duck by Donovan Hohn

The book is a true story, part travelogue, part oceanography, part environmental analysis.  It deals with 28,800 bath toys that were lost at sea from a container ship in a storm and Hohn's attempt to measure the environmental impact of plastic products that pollute the world's oceans.  You will learn about the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, a small continent-sized hunk of ocean where currents conspire to trap flotsam in unbelievable concentrations.  His tedious ramblings ultimately drove me to another read...which was

Legacy by James A. Michener

A work of fiction, this book traces the contributions of one family's members from colonial times to the present; in the development of our Constitution and its sometimes not-so-gentle metamorphosis.  It is as it claims to be, an elegant lesson in American history and a delightful story.  Thank you Mr. Michener.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


The trail to the falls seemed shorter that day.  Of course, I am comparing that day's visit to those of childhood memories.

We parked near Oneida Lodge and eased down a grassy bank and across a boardwalk over Fleming Falls creek at Camp Mowana; a Lutheran Church camp northeast of Mansfield and the site of two, delightful, week-long camping memories from my long-ago youth.

The gushing creek swollen by Spring rains tickled our ears with the comforting sound of water in excited motion.

It was easy for me to see an image of a small boy down there under the boardwalk, avoiding the scolding of camp counselors and searching for poly wogs below the creek's rocks.  That was lots more fun than standing in the lunch line at the nearby lodge--like we always had to do.

Then, with lady friend Sue Brooks and her grand daughter Mackenna, we huffed and puffed up the "mountain", crossed the old ball field near the chapel in the woods and headed downstream for the falls.

I enjoyed watching an enthusiastic Mackenna down on her hands and knees, capturing that very special composition of a wild flower with her digital camera.  I wondered if she would understand my box Brownie and its 620, black and white roll film.

Our short hike took us past this memorial plaque (left) to the Linsenmayer family who made this camp possible in the summer of 1941--a mere 7 years before my first-ever camping experience and memories that have lasted a lifetime.

I never met these folks and regret I never had the opportunity to say "thank you!"

The falls celebrates the passing of this small creek, tributary to the Black Fork branch of the Mohican River which ultimately flows to the Ohio River and on to the Gulf of Mexico.

And, that reminded me of the very recent flooding on the Mississippi--and other global events largely involving man's inhumanity to his fellow man.

...which made me yearn for the mellow days of that youth, now long gone.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


This trillium and lots of its siblings welcomed our recent hike in Camp Mowana near Mansfield-- the site of my only childhood camping experiences more than 60 years ago.  The camp also is the location of Fleming Falls, one of the most attractive falls in the county and the reason for our visit.  Please stop by Saturday for a nice photo of that falls and some babbling  by the author.

For those of you who may be curious about that photo of the falls:  It was done with my Canon DSLR camera on a tripod and exposed in manual mode for 6/10 second at f/22 with an ISO of 100.  That relatively long exposure caused the rapidly flowing water to take on a silky appearance and is the reason I lugged the tripod back to the shooting location.

In the photo of the trillium above I also used the manual mode.  Many amateur photos like this will fail because the camera is usually in the auto mode and the photographer is not nearly as close to the flower as this photo appears.  Under those circumstances the camera will attempt to measure the very bright reflected light of the flower's white petals as well as the near blackness of the background and average the two--usually resulting in horribly overexposed petals.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I was having lunch at the coney island and enjoying the newspaper spread out on the empty space beside me when this bozo arrives and sits in that very seat.

I looked around and noted more than half the other counter seats were empty.

Can you imagine the Sunday school lesson I almost shared with him.


How far do you have to drive these days before you encounter your first idiot tailgater?

200 feet?  1/2 mile?

Maybe I attract them.

I drive the speed limit.

I wonder what Sunday school lesson they are sharing with me when they go roaring past.


Have you ever paid attention to the Kraft, macaroni and cheese box that proclaims itself "The Cheesiest"?

That little bag of dehydrated cheese flavoring inside contributes about as much to the flavor of that meal as a couple of drops of food coloring.

Maybe Kraft hires their marketing minions from local used car lots.


CRITTER NOTES:  While fixing my last macaroni and cheese dinner I stole a peek through the west woods and watched a pair of white tail deer munching their supper.

Couldn't help but feel their meal likely was better for them than my macaroni concoction was for me.

Meanwhile the frogs were having a frolic all around the pond on that first mid-80 degree day of the season.

They are acting like someone dumped a barrel of froggy-Viagara in their water. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

This bald eagle is the same scale of a traditional carousel horse and is capable of being ridden by an adult.  It's body and tail are elongated and the rider would sit on the bird's back.

Celebrates 25 years in Mansfield

Imagine a place of employment where all employees have the delightful task of ultimately making their customers, young and old alike, happy.  In fact, 23 of their 28 employees are artists.  They have created 45 new carousels and restored more than 20 antique ones.

The Mansfield Carousel Works has been hand-carving carousels since 1991 and sending them around the world where they are featured everywhere from cruise ships to zoos.

To celebrate their anniversary earlier this month, the shop held its first open house in 18 years.  Even with that gala event going on, seven of their 28 employees were in Kansas City that weekend to assemble one of their latest creations.

Resident artists display a panorama that ultimately will be featured around the inside rim of a new carousel (top) and one of the panels which will appear around the outside perimeter of another carousel (below).

Currently the shop is working on new carousels for the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and others for the Bay Creek Resort in Chesapeake Bay, VA, as well as customers in Dayton and Detroit.

How about having a carousel animal created just for that special someone in your life?  They do that too.  Cost for a single animal on a display pole--an estimated 3,000 to 7,000 dollars; largely depending on its complexity, of course.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


While the factory is modern, adults and children alike enjoyed a boat-load of enchantment at Mansfield's Carousel Works during a recent weekend open-house.  It was the first open-house in their 22,000 square foot facility near the Mansfield airport in 18 years.

The one-time event was held in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Carousel Park in downtown Mansfield.  Please stop by Saturday and join us on our delightful visit.

Friday, May 6, 2011


A tip-of-the-hat to my son Brian and wife Kathy who simply showed up one recent day and built a new set of masonry steps at my place (pictured above).   Their project replaced an aging, and sometimes challenging, set of stone steps in a often-used rock garden wall.

The walkway leading out of the photo, lower left, goes toward the lower deck and boat dock on the edge of the 1 1/2 acre pond. 

I cannot imagine being an aging parent without the support they have provided all these years.  Can you see my appreciative smile?

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This week's winner of "Life's Biggest Pain in the A**" award is the Dish satellite tv outfit.

Do not ever consider dropping their "service" unless you are prepared for a world-class run-around. 

Here is a summary of my dismal experience:

I put my service on hold for the three months we were in Florida this past winter.  When I got home and discovered my service had not been restarted as they indicated it would be, I began to review my notes on this process.

That's when I discovered they had almost exactly doubled my monthly charge in the two plus years I was with them.  My original bill was $34.13  With no changes in service prompted by me nor any notification that came to my attention, my bill had grown to $64.88 per month.

This was "bundled" in my monthly bill from Century Link--my local telephone company.

I was long aware of Dish's marketing gimmick of making a selection of 200+ channels sound like some sort of bargain when about three or four of them were worth watching--occasionally.

That's when I decided I didn't need TV anymore.

Then, the hockey-like scrum began.  It took me more than 15 telephone, email, and "chat" efforts to finally achieve their assurance of our divorce.

These contacts involved getting mired in continuous loops of automated choices of assistance, none of which involved a termination of service when that was the announced intent of my contact.

Once, I actually reached an English speaking human who promptly rewarded me with a disconnect buzz on the phone line when I mentioned the phrase, "terminate my service".

Usually my request to terminate was rewarded with a barrage of well rehearsed sales pitches.

Finally, I received a box to ship my receiver and remote controls back to them.  That was followed a day or so later by a recored phone message that I would face financial execution if that wasn't done proptly.

Their stuff was returned April 30th.

I hope the divorce is really final!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

and a snow shovel...

With a Spring season that seems bent on ignoring the calendar it is no wonder a couple of my feeder birds seem confused these days.

That's a male American Goldfinch, the lower of the two birds in the photo, with his dining pal, a Dark-eyed Junco, above him on the thistle feeder.

You cannot help but notice the goldfinch is already decked out in his splashy breeding plumage.  That's just fine, but, I don't usually see that happen when there still are juncos present.

Juncos tend to winter here then scurry north, far above the US/Canada border where they enjoy their breeding range and raise their young.  The peak of their Spring migration is usually in March or earlier April. 

The goldfinch, now splendidly attired in his mating finery, also spent the winter here but he was dressed very much like his lady counterpart in a drab, army-green feather suit.  It's the arrival of Spring that sets his hormones to dancing and his color to become canary-like in hopes of attracting a desirable mate.

Migration is not something to set your clock by, however.  So, soon, no doubt, the junco will be on his way north.

In fact, maybe I am partially responsible for his delayed departure.

I wonder if he is confused by the fact I still have not had the courage to put my snow shovel away.