Tuesday, December 31, 2013


This image made the cut, not because it is a fairly nice photo, rather it was done with my then very new--say a week or so--cell phone.

I hopped on my bicycle one morning in Florida this past Spring and was doing a turn around in a botanical garden just a few miles north of our winter digs.  Turns out they were celebrating a showing of this marvelous glass artist and I saw this scene with only the cell phone camera available.

Rather than having my preferred camera (a Canon DSLR) with nearly infinite manual controls, I was stuck with this point-and-shoot variety. *Gasp*  Imagine my surprise when I discovered it had made this delightful image.

That same botanical garden offered a couple of evening shows so I went back, armed with my preferred equipment and did this image.  I planned for this shoot to happen when there was a wee bit of daylight remaining in the sky.  One of the beauties of digital technology is the ability to preview the images; especially in a case like this with brightly lighted highlights and colorful reflections with that dab of evening sky boosting detail in the background tree canopy. 

The other helpful factor with many digital cameras is image stabilization.  Imagine your camera attached to a gyroscope to keep it steady when using slow shutter speeds.  Digital cameras achieve that electronically and I was able to achieve this shot hand-held.

This shot made the list of favorites because it induces nice memories.  At my prodding Sue is clowning around a bit as she holds a geocache we had just found in her right hand and frames traffic on I-77 far below her left arm.  The other component of my nice memory is this was done on our way to another winter basking in Florida's sunshine and, she is standing on the Appalachian Trail where it crosses I-77 in Virginia, 3,000 feet above sea level.  Florida snow birding coming up, all the while enjoying geocaching, photography, the AT and my lady all in the same pic;  Yup, a favorite indeed.


These two pictures (immediately above and below) were taken at the Easter Sunrise service on the shore of Vero Beach.  I liked the spontaneity of the foreground couple waving their praise to the Lord as a rising sun teased the morning sky.  Immediately before this shot I had made another with their heads and shoulders simply framing the cross in the background.  Their being caught-up in the joyous celebration and beginning to wave made a dramatic compositional improvement.

Moments later a seaside baptism (below) presented itself just as the rising sun overcame the distant cloud bank.  In both cases these were fleeting images and would have been entirely different with any delay in making the exposures.


This is a technically nice image inside Kentucky's Mammoth Cave.  This picture was done automatically with the flash disabled.  Cave pictures like this, or any night view colorfully lit, almost always will be more interesting without firing the flash.
Stabilize the camera and gently press the shutter with the camera on automatic and you may be amazed at what happens.
This photo (left) doesn't make this presentation on the merits of the photography, but, rather, because it represents a huge milestone in my rapidly advancing years.  My dad never realized his dream of owning a motorcycle and neither had I until this past spring when my bicycling friend Ken Johnson made the leap to owning a two-wheeler--equipped with a throttle.  That was just the nudge I needed.  Thanks Ken!
My rookie season of riding just over 2,000 miles is now behind me and I am looking forward to the next Spring with boundless enthusiasm.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


My furnace, approaching its 30th birthday, still keeps the house warm but its analog thermostat was getting tired.  While it worked fine at comfortable temperature selections, it would not maintain a lowered, maintenance-level temperature due, I suspect, to its aging, spring-loaded, internal design.

So, with a mind toward preemptive maintenance I opted to replace it with a modern, digital model from the well known Honeywell corporation.

When I selected 70 for my heating season comfort with the old one, made by Coleman, the furnace would run, then shut off at 70.  Perfectly.

Selecting 70 with this modern, Honeywell, digital gadget runs my house temperature to 73 degrees before the furnace shuts off--verified by the same, three, random interior thermometers used to monitor the Coleman's performance.

Sadly, Honeywell, appears to have joined the ranks of firms producing sloppy products and proving, once again, my hypothesis that today's standard of excellence is mediocrity.

*            *            *

Then, I was filling out my post office, change of address form for this winter's prolonged visit to sunny Florida when I noticed the form invited me to do this task online with their USPS.com web site.

So I said to myself, "Why not."

I rattled my keyboard and punched in all the necessary data; temporary change, addresses old and new, dates, etc., and hit "continue".

Their site then said they would be charging me $1.00 on my credit card to verify my identity...

...and $29.95 to process my application.


If you do this the old fashioned way and mail your change of address card, "postage free" by the way, this service is free.

Appears to be a perfect example of another hypothesis of mine; namely, not all progress goes forward.. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

as celebrated on the Bellville village
green, December 2012

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Jack Frost stopped by one recent night and decorated my window pane.  The woods were shivering in polar chill; the kind that makes snow crunch underfoot.  I could imagine Jack smiling as he went about his winter creativity with aplomb.

Made me thankful I was pondering his transparent pallet from the inside...

...and a prolonged, Florida visit was just around the corner.

Friday, December 13, 2013

and a little detective work

A lazy winter sun manages to push shadows across the pond's snow covered surface, partially obscuring two sets of nocturnal critter tracks in its fresh dusting of chilly powder.

(That's chilly powder, not chili powder, of course.)

With the Winter Solstice approaching, the noon-day sun--pestering the zenith in summer time--now arcs a much flatter course through the southern sky splashing these tree, and even weed, shadows across the frigid waterscape.

At that opposite solstice the sun's orbit would be so lofty these shadows would not even exist at this same time of day.

I very craftily determined the tracks were those of a nocturnal animal.

Amazing, detective-like prowess don't you think?

I managed that astonishing investigative discovery when I noticed the tracks existed with dawn's first light.

I even managed to conclude the tracks are from different species of animals.

Notice the pattern of "four" in the closer sample while those in the background appear to be aligned in a single file.

Maybe I missed my life's calling.

Then, again, more likely not.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013


In many recent years local FM radio stations would broadcast Christmas music; often beginning at Thanksgiving and continuing through Christmas night.

This year, mostly nothing of the sort, with one notable, local exception and that is Shelby's 100.1 FM who, alone, is continuing that delightful tradition.  Kudos to them!

To the rest of you, Bah Humbug!  You have turned into a bunch of pasteurized/homogenized, sound-alike sources of noise--often barely rising above what discerning adults would consider pollution of the air waves.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


A Christmas card arrived today--from Cleveland. 

"Hummm," I wondered who that could be as I meandered back from my rural mailbox.

Turns out it was from my neighbors John and Sondra Mays.

Picture this:

The Mays often put their little red flag up to have the mailman stop and pick up their outgoing mail.

With the post office's new distribution alignment, mail originating around here now by-passes the Mansfield post office and is hauled about 75 miles to Cleveland where, I guess, it is sorted and distributed toward its destination.

I suspect it may ricochet through Mansfield on its way back to Bellville where postal folks sort it for distribution to their various local mail routes and it is delivered to my rural mailbox...

...about 2 feet from the May's mail box.

Doesn't that just make you tingle all over?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

RABBIT TRACKING SNOWS are getting out of hand; this one being the third or fourth now in about as many days.

This storm is the one that pummeled the western states Monday and Tuesday then moved east until swinging up the eastern coast.  The photo was taken at my Ohio home about 3 p.m., Tuesday.  I awoke Wednesday morning with a total accumulation of--about an inch. By daylight light snow was falling in this part of Ohio with about another 1/2 inch of accumulation in the forecast.

The photo was done with a 70-200mm lens on a digital, single lens reflex camera.  The lens was extended to its full focal length which is the equivalent of about 320mm on a conventional camera. 

The camera was held firmly against a tree trunk beside my upper deck during the 4/10th second exposure.  That relatively long shutter speed created the white, vertical streaks of the heavily falling snow.  The aperture was f/32 with an ISO setting of 400 all controlled manually.

The orange color naturally exists in the branches of this weeping willow tree on my pond's island contrasting nicely with the dark wooded background.  The green is from background pine branches and the reddish hue lower left is from the leaves of a young oak tree.

The color saturation was enhanced during the editing process.

Thanksgiving plans call for our customary trip to Perry County for dinner with Sue's sister Patsy then the ladies will be up and gone by sunrise Friday for their annual assault of holiday shopping.

I'll lazy my way home then go back down and retrieve the survivors Sunday.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING and safe travels to all!

Monday, November 25, 2013


Years ago a local confectioner, the late Scott Brown, used to make annual, snowfall predictions for the Mansfield area; specifically, how many of them would occur over the winter.

Any particular snow event would count only if it produced, yup, enough snow to track a rabbit.

I never learned where that measurement was taken but, Saturday, that criteria was met at my house for the second time this fall.

As that wintry blast was tapering off I noticed a friendly male Cardinal, Ohio's state bird by the way, perched in an evergreen bush near my front door.  This rascal's bright red color was not enhanced by editing software.  Can you imagine how proud he must have been?

I was glad it was him sitting out there and not me.  Temperatures dipped throughout that day to an overnight low in the upper teens.  

In spite of those polar conditions he and lots of his feathered pals were busy munching breakfast at my feeders the next morning, evidently oblivious to the cold that had me tucked into a heavy sweatshirt with the furnace working overtime and me still lighting candles for supplemental heat.

Yet, there they were flitting about without a shiver in sight with an average weight measured in fractions of an ounce for some species.

Humans are such wusses.



Friday, November 22, 2013


I fumbled my way through a huge shopping list at our Kroger mega-sized store recently and still was left with two items that escaped my search.

They were Nabisco Honey Grahams and those 6-pack, snack packages of cheese and peanut butter crackers.

The grahams are a really versatile menu item for me.  They serve as an occasional breakfast and sometimes serve nicely for a lite lunch.  I munch on a package of those little cheesey rascals as my mid-night snack nearly every night.

I explain that to point out this really is an important matter.

The second time I searched the "cracker" aisle was quite a bit more thorough than the first but still--nothing.

Finally, I tracked down a stray employee and inquired about their locations while pointing out I had just left the aisle with the overhead sign silently announcing "Crackers".

"Oh, they are not there," she confirmed and sent me an aisle or two to the left for one of my items and an aisle or two to the right for the other.

"Tell me young lady" I pleaded, "why can't I find crackers in the aisle proclaiming their location?"

She pondered that for a moment then made a somewhat caustic comment about their management-type folks of the male gender, naturally, who make such weighty decisions.

I was looking at her over the top of my glasses with an obviously forced smile as I re-launched my search.

Sure enough, with my elusive products in hand I found both were labeled as "crackers".

While I was pleased with the successful conclusion of my shopping trip I shuttered to think those same management-types likely already were planning their next--and seemingly annual--realignment of the store's overall layout.

Maybe her gender remark was not misstated after all.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Ahhhh.  Squeezed another motorcycle ride in Saturday afternoon.  Made me feel like I won the lottery and didn't even buy a ticket.

The afternoon was cloudy and looked crummy as days approaching winter often do, but, the temperature managed to chin itself past 50 so I fired-up the bike and enjoyed a nice rumble around the local township roads.

A sweatshirt and a fleece vest contained body heat and a Frog Togs rain jacket posed as a wind breaker.  I slid the helmet vents closed and enjoyed a fairly comfortable ride except...my summer riding gloves performed flawlessly with abundant ventilation and fingers soon felt like I had been juggling ice cubes.

Made me glad I had chosen a local circuit rather than an enduro someplace.

I should have known better.

The first Junco arrived at my bird feeders just a day earlier.  That's a picture of one on the left with a tip of my hat to Allaboutbirds.org from whom I borrowed the photo.

Could have done my own picture but cameras don't work well with frigid fingers.

Dark Eyed Juncos bookend the calendar with Ruby Throated Hummingbirds around here; Junco's being among the first winter birds to show up while the hummers play that role as Spring awakens.

Of course, the hummers have more than enough sense to be long gone from this part of Ohio by now.

I don't have much of an excuse for still being here.

But, my lady does.  And, that's that.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


A dapple of rising sun splashes across an inch of newly fallen snow on this naturalizing firebush just outside my front door this morning.

I didn't venture far in search of an image to salute this poignant arrival of the new season--and used a telephoto lens to boot before scurrying back inside.

Thanks Mother Nature for your frosty decorations in the woods.

Now, where did I put my Florida maps?

Monday, November 11, 2013

May we never forget

Please join us today as we salute Private John Irey of the Virginia Lines as our representative of all US service men and women who earned then have maintained a country of freedoms never imagined in the history that preceded us.

The Virginia Lines were a formation within General George Washington's Continental Army joining similar groups from the remaining 12 colonies to prosecute the Revolutionary War against the vastly superior British military forces.

We found Private Irey (January 29, 1757-December 20, 1837) in his final resting place in a Caledonia, OH cemetery.

I felt comforting chills as I saluted Pvt. Irey's grave and offered humble thanks for the incredible patriotism his service represents.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

By Louis Bromfield...
and a little geocaching

In this novel Louie tells the story of Zenobia Ferguson.  "She was a kind of vague relation of my father's and mine because her grandfather and my father's great-grandfather were brothers."

Even before that her ancestor had married an Indian woman of the Delaware tribe.  That's my lady Sue (above) on the site of the Ferguson home high in the hills of what we know today as Malabar Farm.

Louie was just a youngster that day long ago when he and his father paid Zenobia a visit.  Their team of horses pulled their rumbling wagon through the forested tunnel that climbed generally east, past today's Pugh Cabin and scratched its way on up to the meadow where the "earth met the sky" as that young boy told it.

"We started downhill again along the wild road and, as we rounded a clump of flaming sumach (sic), we came full upon a pair of woodchucks and an extraordinary thing happened.  They did not scamper off...they merely sat up on their hind legs like two plump little old people and stared at us and chattered a little" in a scolding fashion.

Birds were so plentiful they would swarm in a huge mixture of species with a friendly welcome to the unfamiliar visitors and their noisy contraption of a wagon.

"Then as we pulled up to the hitching rail a strange figure opened the door and came down the path toward us," Louie explained.

She was tall and thin and ramrod straight of posture with the black hair of her Indian heritage.  Her mother had died earlier and her father was gone too, a victim of Cholera that had swept the area when she was a young woman.

Folks in the valley far below wanted the young woman to move in with them but she preferred her home high on that hill where the "earth met the sky," where she was at peace with herself and all the animals of the forest.

After lunch as Louie's dad napped, the youngster went for a frolic down by the pond where ducks floated about and a new-born calf, on teetering legs followed its mother down for a drink.  The young Louie sensed becoming a brother with the calf, he sensed being part of something that day other people did not understand.

He sensed an enchantment with being in this whole world apart from human toil.

Soon he felt someone was watching him and the sensation became so intense he turned and discovered Zenobia standing near the spring house in an old-fashioned purple dress.  "For a long time we stared at each other," he said.

Then she introduced a squirrel named John who scampered up her dress and sat on her shoulder with its tail curled upon it back.  The young boy was "teched" as Zenobia mused, sharing that day the true meaning of her love for the land where "the earth met the sky".

As she aged she was quite a spectacle when, on her occasional visit to town, she was attired in a colorful gown with a bonnet trimmed with that day's wildflowers, gathering those few supplies she couldn't produce alone, then returning to her hilltop seclusion.

There was a young man named Aaron in her life and the valley was atwitter in speculation of their romance.  Then Aaron went west to seek a fortune and future for the two of them.  Meanwhile a trio of ruffians began to terrorize the area and Zenobia armed herself.

Sure enough, in the dark of a future night she was awakened by the barking of her dog and the sound of footsteps.  She screamed a warning--then waited--then heard the sound of a man's "low laugh" and pulled the trigger.  The next morning she found Aaron laying facedown, dead on her doorstep.

As it turned out the local sheriff was the leader of the band of ruffians which led to the tragedy.

Aaron was buried in the old orchard up there on the hill and later Zenobia was acquitted in a brief trial.  She went home but, ...she no longer lived in this world at all but in a world of fancy up there, high above the woods close to the sky and there she lived until she died.

*               *               *
In the lead photo Sue is holding a picture of the Ferguson homestead at the time of this story.  We found it in the geocache hidden along the perimeter of the homesite and, of course, returned it to the cache--which is the rectangular, brown ammo can near her right elbow in the background.

She is pictured behind the steps (in the lower photo); all that remains of the homesite's structure.  Dangling from her left hand is the Garmin Oregon GPS we use to find geocaches by their published latitude and longitude coordinates. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Speaking of tonight's changing of the clocks, I am reminded of the saying which goes something like this:

  It is only a government or its bureaucracy that could think one could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it back on the bottom, thus creating a larger blanket.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


I was walking down the street in Bellville the other day and saw this sign on a car's rear window.

I wanted to stop and shake the owner's hand!

Then I remembered--it was my car.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Nature's palette was aflame, as it usually is, this time of year.  This view--gently molested by Photoshop--is a reflection in the pond's surface of my northeast woods as seen from my computer room window. 

I took the liberty of applying the editing software's "palette knife" to the image then used the "accented edges" filter to create the random shapes of bright around the various blobs of color after a slight boost in the color saturation.

Is the image completed as a piece of "art"?  Perhaps the better question is, does it even deserve to be called that?  

Some would say, "Art is in the eye of the beholder" or some such thing.  There, now it is squarely up to you to decide on its declaration.

To me, it is like working on a piece on a wood lathe.  I can fiddle with the chisel and be fascinated as the wood dissolves in a fluid change of its geometry until what is left of the original stock simply falls on the shop floor.

I hope I stopped fiddling with the chisel on this piece before it reached that condition.

(Remember you can left-click your mouse while hovering the pointer over the image and you should be treated to a larger view).  

*            *            *

A motorcycle is not the handiest means of locomotion for carrying a loaf of fresh bread home from the grocery, especially when the loaf's cubic volume exceeds the storage volume remaining in the saddlebags.   Yup, that cycle's driver (me, of course) recently forgot which means of locomotion was in use on that particular shopping trip.

I guess I am lucky I didn't forget my way home.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


File this one under rotting infrastructure:

I found myself  searching for a geocache under this bridge on Grove Road, a township road in Morrow County, Ohio recently and was startled to come face-to-face with its deteriorating condition.  Hefty steel I beams on approximate 3 foot centers seemed robust but the sub-surface decking was in significant decay as were the "x" shaped bracings seen in the upper foreground and lower center.

The decking and its overlay of asphalt are what keeps your car's tires from plunging through the surface.   The bracings give vertical stability to the steel beams which themselves are the "backbone" of the structure.

I am, by no measure, an engineer and am confident the Morrow County Engineer's office has this bridge under regular review.  In their defense, Morrow County is known to be tax poor.   Anyone can see that just by paying attention to the condition of their county and township roads.  

In an October 2012 article in Roads and Bridges it was pointed out, "...24% of Ohio’s bridges (6,381) are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

That's nearly 1/4 of all our state's bridges.

Infrastructure is often out of sight and consequently out of mind.  Taxpayers usually cannot see the inside of our sanitary and storm sewers and our water lines.  It's a rare driver who pays attention to the condition of the bridge structures he or she can see.

Our continuing to ignore necessary repair of our infrastructure will be done at significant peril.

*          *          *

I ordered milk with my Arby's Beef and Cheddar sandwich lunch September 23rd and the milk had a "Best By" date of November 28, 2013.

Can you imagine the nuclear-powered preservatives that milk must have contained?

As I held my nose and quenched my thirst I couldn't suppress my visions of embalming fluid.

*          *          *

This one appears to have gone viral recently:

“When questioned by a Pravda reporter about his talks with Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin (Russia’s President) answered:

Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon.  The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, shits on the board and then struts around like it won the game.”

Truthorfiction.com has been unable to validate the source, but Fogeyisms opines it is astoundingly perceptive in spite of who the author might have been.


Saturday, October 5, 2013


My Facebook account got whacked, or hacked, or whatever last month.  Some geek scumbag in a small, New Jersey town managed to imitate my account then attempted to convince some of my FB friends "I" could make them rich.

It was, of course, a ploy to get people to reveal personal information this schemer could use to cause them financial harm.

After a couple of astute inquiries from potential victims I posted a warning on FB this had happened and commended those who realized this was, indeed, a scheme with a very offensive odor.

I then went to work trying to use tools available on FB to stop such nonsense.  That effort led me to a demand by FB's system that I change my email address.  That, I refused to do.  It was their lax security that allowed this to happen.  They could fix the problem.

Naturally I was embroiled in a totally impersonal process with them and their system was offering no other solution.  That stalled my account and, as far as I know, that's where it remains today.

*          *          *

When a person like me arrives at bachelor-hood unintended that event usually happens without ever having the benefit of any home-ec schooling along the way.

I also had enjoyed a lifetime of pleasure avoiding those syndicated columnists spouting blizzards of advice on managing the distaff side of a household.

Shortly after I lost my bride, the folly of not paying closer attention to her wifely toils became apparent.

Imagine how proud I was recently after I developed the marvelous idea of pinning my dark socks together before tossing them in the wash.

Now, I hardly ever arrive in public with one sock noticeably black--and the other some shade of blue.

I'm still working on the problem of making plastic wrap behave.

*          *          *

Then, there is this display of cabinetry compliments of the Menards store in Ontario, Ohio:

Doesn't the "quality" of that center section just make you tingle all over!

(Cell phone photo taken 7:08 p.m., September 30, 2013)

Saturday, September 28, 2013


High on a north ridge of the Wooster Memorial (Spangler) Park Sue pauses to enjoy the late summer sun as it dapples the forest floor of this 350+ acres of plush woodland.  The park is laced with some 7 miles of challenging hiking trails and bisected by a gently flowing stream which, over geologic time, is likely a tool Mother Nature used to carve it's chiseled topography.

Today the park boasts 17 geocaches; all tucked invisibly and playing hide and seek with cachers like us and our friends the Meinzers, who after two, near day-long exhaustive visits and mile upon mile of hiking-searching, have managed to find 12 of the little treasurers.

The remaining five, all spaced at least 1/10th of a mile apart will nudge us toward a future expedition of savoring nature's visual communion in this nugget of public land.

In an earlier caching outing Sue and I came upon this tombstone which celebrates the all-too-brief life of a youngster who evidently found passion and likely noteworthy achievement on the baseball field.

I found myself wishing I could have seen him play while hoping Heaven rewards him far beyond what life had to offer.

Pro-creation, praying mantis style:  These two insects (below) found themselves smack dab in the middle of the B&O Bicycle Trail during their amorous exertions while we wandered by on yet another caching outing.

Note the wary expression of the lower creature for which I apologized profusely.

Moments later Sue and I went on our way and immediately bumped into another couple of cachers who happened to be from the Columbus area.  Nearly as quickly, and to our total amazement, they inquired if we were known in caching circles as the Skagways; which happens to be correct.

Turns out they also do some snow-birding in our Florida town; just a half-mile or so up the road, in fact, and they recognized us from our pictures in our geocaching log postings on-line.  Needless to say we are in the process of cementing our connection and looking forward to shared caching outings with them in the sunny south.

As we wandered back toward the parking area, Sue exclaimed, "What was that?"  I heard it too, a strange noise coming from the near-by brush.  It sounded like an aggressive human trying to clear his throat, or maybe a grunt through a very moist nasal passage.

While Sue turned to take a closer look I noticed a white tail deer in the same brushy area.  I was reminded it was approaching the season for their rut, and suggested to Sue this might not be either the time or place for excess curiosity.

I could picture an agitated buck deer blasting out of the bushes and encouraging our immediate departure.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


We rolled easily over the gentle hill in the country road and right there it was; a Bald Eagle.

Eating road kill.

I was, regardless, enchanted by the very sight of our majestic National Bird.

Then felt a quiver of dread.

Could I be witnessing a hint of our country's future?

Orwellian! you gasp dismissively.  Just turn off the electric in this country for a week or so.  Imagine everything grinding to a halt.  You can hardly conceive the anarchy that would soon follow.

Are we, once a beacon of hope to the struggling masses of the world, condemning ourselves to the despair of rooting in carrion for survival?

Currently the political elite infesting our national government seems hell-bent on bombing Syria senseless.

Do we risk igniting the cauldron of world war in the Middle East while at the same time seeming to find it impossible to extract ourselves from the killing fields of Afghanistan while the majority of
world leaders and our own population seem to find the thought outrageous.

Who anointed us as the world's policeman?

We have imposed upon ourselves by our own free choice a government that already has condemned our grandchildren to suffering a debt load and the consequences thereof, that defy comprehension.

We were a beacon to the world's infirm who could find comfort in the dream of repaired health in the then finest system of care in the world, ours, now being described as a train-wreck about to happen.

What about answers on Benghazi and Fast and Furious.  And the IRS and revealed others leading the Washington herd as it gallops our Constitutional rights into smithereens.

How about the twin monsters of unchecked, illegal immigration and jihad?

This cumulative morass makes Watergate seem like a junior high school prank.
God bless the carrion eaters of the natural order.

It was simply a sad experience to be reminded a Bald Eagle was naturally among them.

...and a horror to visualize that metaphorical hint of what may lie ahead.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bellville Style

With a roaring snarl the 163rd edition of the Bellville World's Fair came to life Sunday with the highly popular tractor pull rattling the south end of town.

Official opening of the town's annual homecoming happened early Wednesday evening with a presentation of colors by the local American Legion color guard and a moment of silence on the village green as the town remembered the jihad horror of that September 11th,  12 years ago.

Then, the comfortable sense of corn-fed Americana kicked in as children romped on the grass while seven of the valley's finest young women vied through the final stage of the fair queen contest.

The midway, stretching most of the length of Main St., was a cacophony of noise as game vendors hustled their bucks and the growing crowd sashayed this way and that sharing constant greetings--with everyone!

The south end of Main St., was anchored by straw filled tent-barns where pigs squealed, ducks quacked and rabbits suffered the indignity of the judge's probing fingers while the young FFA showmen and women shivered silently with private dreams of that much deserved blue ribbon.

There were canned veggies, baked pies, flower arrangements and a gourd nearly 6 feet long on display here and there and a presentation of art and photography by the valley's artisans in the public library.

The aroma of fair food assaulted the palate and vendors in the Merchant's Tent assaulted passing visitors with an endless assortment of give-a-ways.

Anchoring the village square was a long table featuring the products of the  locally dominant industry--agriculture--with a poignant sign declaring "...and God created a Farmer."

Fair week will end Saturday night as raucous crowds ricochet their final trip down the midway, then, overnight the magic of fair week will, simply,  disappear.

Sunday the local fire department will hose the streets clean and town's folk will turn their attention to other serious concerns of the new day--like beginning to plan for the town's World Fair number 1 6 4.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Ohio River, Pomeroy, Meigs County

We headed for that (not-close-to-anywhere) Appalachian slice of Ohio on an early morning recently.  It was the start of a sweep of geocaching that ultimately would net us 7 new caches but, most importantly, two new counties in our quest for a cache in each of Ohio's 88 of them.

You just do not go to Meigs county in ordinary travel around the state...which makes it, of course, my kind of place!

Pomeroy is a riverfront village and the county seat of Meigs County with a population of 1852 souls.  Most of us have lived in neighborhoods with that many people.

The photo above was done in a town park looking straight south.  That's West Virginia in the background across this narrow neck of navigable river downstream from Parkersburg.

After scoring a cache in this little park and wringing the dew out of our shoes we headed back north and spent nearly an hour and a half on backroads where we went most of that time without seeing another car.

As you can see from this pic of our car GPS some of the gravel roads had quaint names.  After pondering this name I readied the camera for instant action in the event a bear did, indeed, decide to do some roadway wallowing.

The closest we came was a huge doe whitetail deer which sluiced down a steep hill and crossed closely in front of us on the way to join a regiment of her pals munching in a forest clearing just below us.

I wondered if that deer even remembered the last car that passed by.

We wound up meandering through Amesville in Athens County; a town best known as the site of the historic, Coonskin Library.  Settlers there in the early 1800s trapped fur-bearing animals as a means of both livelihood and sustenance.  They then sent a courier back east with a batch of fur hides where he sold the hides and used the proceeds to buy some 70 books.

They were the stock of the region's first public library--hence the name "Coonskin".

Somewhere along our route down there--and I haven't the foggiest idea where--we came across this horribly defiled, yet colorful, covered bridge:

It amazes me these hooligans were able to acquire the wide array of spray-paint colors used in this artsy vandalism.  Maybe by mailorder.
Our final treat of this adventuresome day occurred in McConnelsville where an actual working lock remains as a remnant of the Ohio-Erie Canal which, in its heyday stretched from Cleveland to the Ohio River.

Lock Technician, George Parker (left), while walking small circles around the black bar's gear axis, muscles the lock gates open or closed as necessary.  A vessel coming up the river would pull into the empty lock and the doors would be closed.

Then water from the higher, upstream river would be allowed to flow into the lock cavity, filling it and raising any craft in the lock to the higher level of the river.  When water reached that level, the upper doors would be opened and the vessel could continue its journey.

 A small, maintenance dredge (lower) has just been dropped from the higher, upstream side and is making its way out the lower end of the lock.  Only one door had to be opened to accomodate the beam of the dredge.

You can see by the water mark on the lock wall how much this vessel was lowered.  That vertical distance equals the amount of vertical height the river falls in this area with its impounding waterfall.

In its heyday this river system was a principal means of transportation.  That was through much of the 1800s but the railroads were churning their way west and taking the hauling business away from the much slower waterway system.  By the early 1900s the waterways were mostly out of business.

That part of our transportation history was eliminated entirely when a flood in 1913 destroyed much of the waterway infrastructure and the smaller river systems were relegated to handling mostly small boat traffic, just like this one today.

We left George sharing mutual smiles.  As we were telling him about our geocaching outing his smile led to the revelation we were standing quite close to a cache--right there.  He gave Sue a couple of hints as to its location while I was demonstrating how we found these things with a smartphone app.

Soon, we knew from Sue's happy squeal she had been successful.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


The small photo right is a view of the lower part of the slit in the tree above where countless honey bees were doing their thing--naturally; creating a honeycomb full of that marvelous, yummy, product that will sustain the hive during the winter ahead.

We had just found a geocache hidden in another tree immediately adjacent to this hive when lots of flying bee activity directed my attention to the swarm's location.

We paid the activity careful attention while we signed the geocache's log and returned it to its hide, did a wee bit of photo work then left the bees to their honey-making/storing activity.

Meanwhile, we noticed the white slab seemingly appended to the lower left of the hive tree.  That evidently was the top of a tombstone which the tree had grown around, moving the top portion of the grave marker upward with the tree's growth.

We did not examine the stone's remainder closely in wise deference to the bee activity which, through that point, was tolerant of our presence.

This cemetery was in Union County, northwest of Columbus.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

at Gambier, OH

This little country church was constructed in 1862-63 during the country's convulsion of Civil War.  It was built just north of the then newly founded Kenyon College in Knox County, OH.

Some community folks of the time--evidently deficient in current events--feared it was a British fort being built "on the hill" to assist the Confederacy.

Turns out it was the innocent, spiritual growth of the community, whose new college was then regarded as a bastion of Lincoln supporters.

The chapel escaped the threat of demolition in 1972 when a restoration project began and has spanned some 40 years.  Today, while no longer serving as host of an active congregation, it continues to serve as a community center with events such as weddings, funerals and cultural performances.

Our enjoyable visit was the result of a recent search for and finding a geocache on the property's perimeter.  The interesting engraving in the smaller photo was on the sides of a post which evidently once supported a gate.

Later that same day we recorded a cache find in the Amity Cemetery which contains the grave of once, well-known TV celebrity Paul Lynde.

Lynde likely is best remembered for his long appearance on the show Hollywood Squares (1968-1981) where his quick wit was a staple of that program's popularity. Lynde was born in Mt. Vernon, OH.

In that same cemetery we encountered the gravestone of more fundamental design below.  It appeared to be simply two large rocks with a millstone attached on which were engraved the names of the decedents.

Note the date of birth of the Blairs; 1790.  That's a year during George Washington's first term of office as the country's first president.  Mr. Blair died just as the somewhat nearby Quarry Chapel was being completed.

Later that same day we concluded our caching by scoring a find with a level 5 of difficulty--the highest in the caching activity.  That one was near Brinkhaven, OH and required a very steep descent from an abandoned railroad grade then an immediate, challenging climb up an equally steep deposit of shale where we found the camouflaged cache container hidden in a crevasse in the rock formation.

With respect to Mr. Lynde and his achievements, experiences such as ours on that geocaching day are far more rewarding than being a couch potato and enduring today's version of TV "entertainment"...

...especially with our day's crowning moment being the sight of mother whitetail deer leading her fawn across a very pristine Kokosing River, sun dappled in the rural, afternoon's soft light.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Saturday's story will take you to an historic church near Kenyon College in Gambier, OH, and to the final resting place of a well-known, TV personality from the 1980s who was born in Mt. Vernon, OH.

In our geocaching hobby we routinely roam the state in search of these mostly delightful hides.  On the day of the above photo we were working in the very-rural area of Caledonia, OH.  We trundled down a country road, crossed a fairly modern bridge then made an immediate left turn onto the weed covered approach to this bridge of more antique leanings.

It announced our crossing with creaks and groans even though my gray Ford Fusion (just barely visible to the left of the 2 ton load limit sign) weighed less than that--I think.  After crossing the bridge our course took us along mowed grass for a couple of hundred yards between the woods on the left and a cultivated field to yet another country cemetery--one that a nearby neighbor later opined most local residents likely didn't even know existed.

We never know what is around the next corner in this nifty hobby which, itself, is an invigorating way to travel down life's path.  We hope you stay tuned.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Harley Hogs of course

Yup, you see the sign in the background.  That's where we spent a recent Saturday participating in my first-ever poker run--motorcycle style--then socializing the day away with a fine corn roast on the club's grounds.

It all started when Sue and I rode my Honda motorcycle to our square dance club's annual picnic and had a nice talk with Dick and Melisa Moyer (above right) fellow dancers who, up to that minute, had no idea of my interest in motorcycling.

A day or so later Dick was on the phone and inviting us to ride a poker run with his Mansfield club that Saturday.  I was flattered but reminded Dick I was new to the sport, had never ridden in a poker run and rode a Honda besides.

You have to understand, Harley-Davidson (Harleys) dominate the American cycling culture to the extent some of those riders disdainfully consider Hondas and other oriental motorcycles "rice burners".

I said, "Dick, let me get this straight; you want Sue and me to trundle into their nest out on Cookton-Grange Rd., with about three month's of cycling experience and ride 75 miles with those folks over an unfamiliar course and do it on a Honda?"

"You'll be fine," he assured me.  "Yeah," I muttered, feeling like a little-league baseball player about to try batting practice in Yankee Stadium.

Dick said his cousin, Aaron Beer, an experienced Moto-Guzi rider (a legendary Italian cycle), would be joining us and we could ride together.  "You mean I can follow you guys and try to avoid embarassing myself," I inquired.  "Absolutely," he assured me.

So, after registration that day, Dick and Melisa rumbled out of the club grounds on their Kawasaki Vulcan 900 cycle, followed immediately by cousin Aaron on his Moto-Guzi and suddenly it was our turn to roll.  I prayed silently we wouldn't tumble in the gravel of the club's driveway while we did an instant 90 degree turn onto the road's pavement and sputter-roared away from the starting grid.

I learned later 60 motorcycles were entered in the day's event.

We rolled east to a northerly turn on Rock Rd., then a north-westerly turn onto Highway 39 and somewhat promptly into Shelby traffic where Aaron got stymied behind some turning cars and I had no option but to slide into his place behind Dick and Melisa.

At the next opportunity I offered Aaron his starting slot but he said "stay there", you are doing just fine.  That was nice--but it put me in second place of a queue of motorcycles that began to form behind us as we sped along SR 96 to SR 603 where we whistled through Olivesburg then down into Mifflin where Dick promptly missed our course change onto the Lincoln Highway eastbound.

If you are following the story carefully you will realize, as I began to realize, I was now in the lead of a squadron of about 10 or so motorcycles and not the least bit sure where our next turn was.

I knew Sue still was behind me.  Everytime we hit a bump she squeezed me with her legs.  I began to think about getting her a seat belt.

Then I would check my mirror and as far as I could see on the hilly-curvy road there were motorcycle lights, lots of them.  I checked the other mirror.  Same thing.  Egad.  How did I get into this mess?

I had a copy of our scheduled route taped to my cycle's fuel tank, just like Dick showed me, but even when I could read the darn thing I didn't have the foggiest idea where the next turn was.  I lucked out on a couple of turns because their intersection was posted on an advance road sign.

That got me to a lucky right turn on SR 511 where I was intently watching for the next left turn because I thought they said it was obscured when discussing it in the pre-ride driver's meeting.

It was, and by the time I saw the sign I could only bump on my left turn signal and bang the brakes to show a stopping light warning while I sailed past that turn.  I finally managed to find a place to make a U turn and headed back...passing at least one other rider who had followed me and was doing his U turn in the clumsy fashion required by the anatomy of slow-moving cycles.

I was relieved when he didn't throw something at me.

Turning right on the correct course I soon noticed Dick, Melisa and Aaron waiting for us.  They had been far enough back to be able to get slowed down and make the correct turn.

My agony of leadership was over!

At least, with any luck, I would be able to follow Dick the rest of the way home as we rumbled into Loudonville.  The remainder of the ride was a piece of cake; a stop to get checked in at the Malabar Inn's, locally famous roadside spring house then a very dusty section of Hanley Rd., westbound from SR 13 where we had been warned road crews had done a tar and chip job just the day before and it was too late to change the ride's course.

Heading into the later afternoon sun it looked like riding in a storm on our dusty moon's surface.

That's Melissa, Dick and Sue in the lower photo with our bikes in the newly forming queue of parking at the motorcycle club so folks could make an orderly departure from the grounds when the yummy-corn roast party ended.

It had to be some reverse form of Murphy's Law when Sue's randomly drawn poker hand awarded her two pair; good enough for a dandy second place plaque in the passenger class of the day's event.

That's my smiling co-pilot heading back to her seat in the clubhouse while another award-winning rider takes stock of this very curious affair. 




Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ohio's Communal Experiment, 1817-1898

A motorcyclist trundles along Ohio route 212 and passes the yet-to-be restored Zoar Hotel (above) in this historic village located in northern Tuscarawas County while village staff member Bruce Barth (below), in period garb, tells tour visitors about the commune's reconstructed greenhouse .

Just 14 years after Ohio became a state about 200 German religious dissenters called the Society of Separatists of Zoar arrived in Ohio and formed one of the longest-running communes in the state's history.

They were escaping religious oppression from the Lutheran Church and were led by Joseph Bimeler, a pipemaker and teacher whose charismatic leadership carried the village through a number of crises.  They did not practice baptism or confirmation and did not celebrate religious holidays except the Sabbath.

The Zoarites had purchased 5,000 acres of land sight-unseen and used loans to pay for it.  They were due in 1830.  The Society struggled for many years to determine products and services they could produce in their village to pay off the loans.

After early failures of individual families to be able to raise sufficient crops to sustain themselves all money and other assets of the community were pooled and the commune was born.  Individual folks volunteered to work in the area of their personal skills.  Others reported for work each morning and were assigned tasks that would be helpful to the common good.

The community government was an elected board of trustees.  Men and women had equal rights.

They constructed a central garden with geometric precision occupying an entire square of their village centered around a now-huge Norway Spruce tree which symbolized eternal life, encircled by a hedge representing Heaven and twelve juniper trees representing the apostles, enclosed by a circular walkway.

The garden is immediately outside the greenhouse windows above.

A community kitchen was formed where folks ate in shifts.  There was a bakery and a cobbler's shop and a tin shop, a wagon shop and a blacksmith and a sewing house, a bakery and a school--each providing community services in return for labor provided by its members.

An early event critical to the success of the colony was the digging of the nearby Ohio and Erie Canal.

Ohio required some of the Zoarite land to be used as right-of-way and offered the village an opportunity to assist in digging the canal for money.  They accepted, and spent several years in the 1820s digging the canal enabling them to pay off their loans on time with money to spare.

The village spring house (above) circulated cold, spring water in channels surrounding the visitors keeping dairy products cool and available for dispersal to the town's residents.  Free, of course.

By the mid-1830s Zoar was virtually self-sustaining.  The farms produced more food than was needed and many products were sent to other towns for sale.  The foundry, for example, manufactured many goods including wood burning stoves for general sale--the principal source of heat for most buildings.

By 1852 the society's assets were valued at more than one million dollars.

Bimeler's death on August 31, 1853 led to a slow decline in the cohesion of the village.  Although the Zoarites lived and labored as a communal body, Bimeler had been the group’s spiritual leader and business administrator even before their arrival in America. His energy and foresight largely were responsible for Zoar’s success. After his death, the people’s initiative gradually declined.

The social and economic environment was changing as well, and this, too, had a major impact on the community. The coming of the railroad in the 1880s brought more of the outside world to Zoar, and the rise of mass-production industries made Zoar’s smaller businesses obsolete. With easier access to the outside world, younger members drifted away to make their fortunes, and religious orthodoxy decreased.

In 1898, with a growing number of Zoarites expressing their desire to disband and divide any remaining assets, the society was dissolved. Common property was divided among members, with each receiving about fifty acres and $200.

Zoar History

Thursday, August 15, 2013

...at Zoar Village

Please stop by Saturday and Fogeyisms will take you on a visit to Zoar Village near Dover, Ohio, a commune of German religious separatists which flourished then dissolved in the 1800s.  Today, the
community, a mix of reconstructed buildings and others privately owned and occupied faces another threat of extinction--this time from a potential levy failure.

Bruce Barth (right) a Zoar staff member from Louisville, OH treated visitors to a marvelous guided tour recently, sharing vivid explanations of life in Ohio's frontier settlements as well as a chilling description of the threat to this historic village.

We hope you enjoy our story.  For a published story on the levy problem and its possible consequences click here. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Here is precisely the reason we occasionally read news of a child being killed when climbing on tombstones.  This horrible, potential tragedy (pictured above) is in the Mohicanville Cemetery of Ashland County Ohio.

We applaud the effort of township trustees there to bring this danger to the public's attention with their sign.

But, we also wonder why the legal response to such a grave danger seems to be merely a sign.

In the recent past we had tragedies with youngsters being trapped and suffocated inside often-abandoned refrigerators.  The legal remedy there was to require the removal of refrigerator doors before discarding them.

Certainly a similar solution can be found to fix this problem in our cemeteries.

*          *          *

Fogeyisms encountered this problem while geocaching with friends Mark and Nancy Meinzer.  Cemeteries are a popular place to hide geocaches.  They usually have ample parking, are places of quiet solitude and caches always are placed with the permission of cemetery authorities, virtually always away from grave sites.

Besides reflecting on the lives we read about on grave markers during our visits (as Nancy, Mark and Sue are doing in the lead photo) they can be breath-taking scenes as in the following, un-retouched photo taken that very same day.  In this case the cache was hidden in a hollow fence-post in a far, upper corner of Pioneer Cemetery overlooking a large dairy farm northeast of Loudonville.