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 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 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.