Northern Cardinal

(Toledo, OH) I have been seeing and hearing more Northern cardinals in my neighborhood than I can recall from the past.

I have featured some of these resplendent male red birds on my blogs before, and I promise to give the females equal time, just as soon as I can get a decent picture of one of them. For some reason the male cardinals are less skittish than the females, or perhaps the females are busy tending their nests.

I often see the males dining at the feeders in my yard, but I have yet to see a female land on one.


Budding Maple

(Toledo, OH) At least I think it's a maple tree. I'll pay more attention in the future.

This is one of my neighbor's trees, which was the first on the block to burst into color. And what color!

In the late afternoon sun, the tree seemed to glow with its irredescent red buds. The effect was even more powerful from behind the tree, looking into the sun, but I would have had to take the picture from his roof.

Chances are he wouldn't be impressed.

Moon in the Daytime Sky

(Toledo, OH) I didn't have my zoom lenses with me, so this photo of the moon in the late afternoon sky is a bit fuzzy, especially after I cropped it.

Still, it seemed especially big in the eastern sky today. Of course, maybe it was just my bifocals.


Wasps in a Tree

(Toledo, OH) While out watching the storm last night, I noticed what I thought was a large bird's nest in one of my pine trees.

Instead, a closer inspection showed that it was a massive wasp nest. It is affixed about twenty feet in the air.

I plan to leave the critters alone, since the nest is quite a distance from the house, although I wouldn't put it past one of my kids to try and take on the wasps.


Waiting for the Storm

(Toledo, OH) A band of thunderstorms is moving into Northwest Ohio as I write, and I took a few pictures of neighborhood birds as they awaited the tempest.

This American robin perched himself on an electric line as he waited for the storm. He sang for a mate that didn't answer, at least not that I was able to hear.

The robin was not the least disturbed by the flash of my camera, just looking down at me with a dull stare.

I had difficulty getting a picture of this Northern cardinal, who hopped around from tree to pole to line as he sang an insistent song to a nearby mate.

But hey - you want top-of-the-line quality, you gotta pay. Go visit National Geographic or something.


Leaking Coolant

(Toledo, OH) As if the day wasn't already filled with difficulties, I pulled up in my driveway and noticed a pool of light green liquid dripping from my car.

I'm too irritated to check if this is a leaky water pump, heater core, or just a hose with a crack.



Pairing Up

(Toledo, OH) One of my favorite forms of relaxation is to watch the ducks that live in a nearby park. As it is springtime the male and female Mallard ducks spend a lot of time together, and usually form distinct pairs along the banks of the creek.

All was peaceful among the ducks in the heat of the especially warm March afternoon. The lack of conflict is in part due to the fact that there are as yet no unattached drakes. Last year there were two more males than females in the little ecosystem I enjoy watching, and one could often see disputes arise, instigated in general by the single males.

No anthropomorphic analogies, please. :-}


Return of the Crocus

(Toledo, OH) The blooming of crocuses (or croci, for the Latin sticklers out there) is often known as a harbinger of spring in this part of the country.

In some parts of the northern hemisphere the crocus is an autumn-blooming flower.

The violet-colored petals of these crocuses bursting through the brown oak leaves strewn on the ground herald the arrival of a season of growth and life.


Cirrocumulus Clouds

(Toledo, OH) A day that started dreary turned warm and sunny today in Northwest Ohio. Scattered through the late afternoon sky were waves of wispy cirrocumulus clouds.

This type of cloud forms at high altitudes, forming from ice and water droplets as high as eight miles in the sky.


Arlington Midwest

(Toledo, OH) I spent time this chilly March morning taking in Arlington Midwest, the traveling war memorial that documents the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I didn't take this photo with an intentional eye toward irony, but in reviewing my pictures I noticed that this image also includes the statue of the Ten Commandments.

The Fifth Commandment is the source of irony here (Sixth, if you are Jewish or Protestant).


Sunset in March

(Toledo, OH) After a day that saw thunderstorms, heavy rains, and strong winds, the evening brought balmy weather with a few hours of sunshine.

Despite a rather hectic day, I enjoyed a few minutes of peace watching the sun set from my deck.

Springtime Thunder

(Toledo, OH) A series of strong thunderstorms came through the Midwest today. In my area the clouds darkened, thunder rumbled, and lightning flashed, but the strongest of the storms seemed to go to the north and south of me.

I have always been a weather enthusiast, and I enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of a turbulent storm.


Hazy Sunset

(Toledo, OH) After a day filled with rain, freezing rain, and many clouds, the sun finally appeared in the sky about 7:00 this evening. There remained quite a bit of haze in the sky, and the colors of the sun were distorted by these atmospheric particulates; dominant are the pinks and greys in this image.

From this angle the sun appears to be incinerating the branches in the foreground.


A Couple of Dogs

Shetland sheepdog and a Westie, West Highland White Terrier (Toledo, OH) We have a loveable pair of dogs we adopted last year from shelters. Jimmy is the brown-and-white Sheltie mix, and Candy is the West Highland White Terrier (also known as a "Westie").

The camera caught both dogs in a moment of relative calm; Candy is walking into the setting sun, while Jimmy remains in the shade.


Toledo Muskrat

(Toledo, OH) The small community of muskrats in Toledo's Foxglove Meadow park appears to have grown to at least a dozen members. On any given day I usually see at least four or five of the aquatic rodents swimming along the creek banks, searching for food.

Their numbers have likely swelled in response to the food that parkgoers leave for the ducks and geese that call this small patch of urban wilderness home.



(Toledo, OH) The melting snows also expose trash that has accumulated throughout the winter.

I never understand the thought processes behind a person's decision to litter. Yes, we live busy lives, but what is the point of tossing trash out of your car window, or - worse - taking a load of garbage and dumping it in a public space?

To my mind there is something especially selfish and antisocial about littering. I live on a corner that seems to be a magnet for drivers tossing refuse from their vehicles, and I had to pick up over a dozen pieces of junk yesterday that were hidden by the snow.



We've Got Tulips!

(Toledo, OH) The warm temperatures over the past two days sent some of my tulip bulbs into spring mode, bright green leaves poking their way out of the ground overnight.

We are currently at 72 degrees Fahrenheit here in Toledo, and it feels every bit like spring outside.

Unfortunately, temperatures will drop over the next few days, and we are likely to see several frosts in the next few weeks, but I hereby declare winter to be over in my neighborhood.


Untitled Work by Local Artist

(Toledo, OH) My son had several pieces of work entered in a local art fair.

To the left is an untitled work he created a few months ago. Actually, I believe the painting has a name, but he just grumbled something and I decided to simply let it go. He's in one of those phases when it is best to let him alone when he is surly.

Anyways, I enjoyed the contrast between the blue and yellow; I have some ideas about what the subject is, but I'd rather that people just appreciate it on its own merits, rather than the words of some NOSY PARENT chiming in.


Here Come the Buds

(Toledo, OH) One of the first signs of spring on my property is the sprouting of leaf buds on my red maple tree.

They haven't quite started to burst open, but there is a certain liveliness to them. I am also hearing mourning doves and cardinals in the area; both species must have just returned from more southerly climes.

I am looking forward to the gradual return of plant life in my yard.


The Big Dipper (Ursa Major)

The Big Dipper, Ursa Major (Toledo, OH) I was excited that the Big Dipper was so prominent in the northern sky tonight (yes, I'm a geek), so I set up the tripod and took some pictures. I went with a 10-second exposure to get some decent light without getting star trails.

Click on the image for a larger version.

The "ladle" portion of the constellation is facing to the left in this picture, and the "handle" of the Big Dipper points downward.

One Ugly Building

(Toledo, OH) To your left is the University of Toledo's Student Annex Center, my vote for the ugliest building on an otherwise aesthetically pleasing campus.

This prefabricated building - dubbed "The Shack" or "The Trailer," depending on the derisive pundit - used to be known as the Sociology and Anthropology Building.

I have taught in this building one semester, and taken a few classes in it. By far it is the building least suited to instruction, and one that seems quite low on the list for maintenance people to visit; I spent an entire semester with flickering fluorescent bulbs generated by fixtures with bad ballasts in a room that had two temperature settings: frigid or blazing hot.

There will not be a dry eye on the UT campus when this "temporary" building has its inevitable date with the wrecking ball.

Rising Waters

(Toledo, OH) The recent warming of temperatures has caused the melting of the snow that has accumulated in Northwest Ohio over the last month, and the rising levels of the Ottawa River reflect that additional water.

This photo was taken from the bridge on the UT campus that spans the Ottawa River behind the Carlson Library. If you look closely you can see a pair of Mallard ducks swimming upstream; when I tried to get closer for a picture, they got agitated and flew away.

My unofficial estimate is that the water level is 15"-18" higher than average. This is not quite flood levels, but if we get some heavy rains, the Ottawa will quickly reach flood stage.


Ohio Sunset

This image was taken from a moving vehicle somewhere near Radnor, OH.

We were traveling to Athens, Ohio and I just stuck the camera out of the car window. No filters, no special settings; I just like the way it turned out.


Jet Contrails at Dusk

(Toledo, OH) These feathery jet contrails look like a pair of claws, or perhaps a set of those special pliers used to crack open crab legs.

The rightmost contrail traced nearly the entire breadth of the sky from west to east, jet passengers headed for points unknown. As the white vapor disappeared into the eastern horizon it narrowed to a fine line, like a brilliant argent thread on an indigo rug.

Oak Tree at Sunset

(Toledo, OH) This oak tree looked resplendent in the late evening sun, which was just starting to cross the treeline behind me when I took this photo.

I especially like the contrast between the illuminated and shadowed portions of the tree.


Another Toledo Snow Day

(Toledo, OH) The 2" or so of snow that fell in Toledo overnight closed local schools yet again, and my house is ringing with the collective voices of our brood.

So much for a quiet morning reading and writing.

I will endeavor to make the most of the intrusion into my sacred time. Perhap's this is God's way of telling me to spend more time with my children, although I still suspect this is more of a cosmic joke.


Steaming Sewer Lid

Steam rising from a sewer lid in Toledo, OH(Toledo, OH) Yes, I know that they call these "sanitary" sewers, but the odor emanating from this sewer lid suggests material that is anything but "sanitary."

Add to this the fact that the putrid smell wafts by one's nose on a cloud of steam, and this is enough to make you forestall your lunch for a while.

I think it takes a particularly hardy person to work in municipal sewer and water departments, especially those who have to actually crawl down into the underground labyrinths about which most of us pay little attention.


Collingwood Arts Center

(Toledo, OH) One of the unsung jewels of Toledo is the Collingwood Arts Center, the unofficial nexus of the Toledo arts scene.

The building itself was once the convent for the Ursuline Order of the Sacred Heart, and later housed both Mary Manse College and St. Ursula Academy.

I spent quite a bit of the last few days in the building, as two of my children are performing in "Bye, Bye Birdie" with ToDAY Productions.

There is still one more show at 3:00 pm this afternoon, so stop by and catch the performance if you have time to kill today.

University Hall, University of Toledo

(Toledo, OH) I took this picture near Cheltenham and Bancroft, just past the pedestrian crossing to the Driscoll Alumni Center.

It was raining and somewhat foggy when I stood around trying to get an image of the clock tower in the March gloom. I was hoping to get more of an obscured image, drenched with mist, but that did not come through in the picture.

Maybe on the next foggy day I will use a tripod and a slower shutter setting to catch more of the fog.


Pickup Truck Full of Bread

Red pickup truck full of leftover bread(Toledo, OH) On any given day I see a lot of strange sights around me. On the good days I have my camera with me to document the oddities that I come across.

Parked next to me today at the University of Toledo was a red pickup truck, overflowing with hundreds of loaves of bread. There were loaves of white bread, wheat bread, and bags of burger buns in the bed, while the cab of the pickup was loaded with those long loaves of French bread I enjoy so much.

I'm assuming that the owner of said truck collected the loaves from a local baker or retail outlet, and is using them to feed the homeless. Perhaps, instead, this person might taking this leftover bread and freezing it for personal use.

Still, leaving the bread out in the middle of an early March downpour does not bode well for this perishable food. Had I not just stuffed myself with free pizza at the John Yoo lecture, I just might have helped myself to a loaf of bread.

Wind Chimes

Pineapple wind chimes on an Ohio porch blowing in the wind(Toledo, OH) I stood on my front porch waiting for a ride today and paused to listen to the music created by three sets of wind chimes my wife has hung over the years.

It's been many weeks since I last sat on my porch, which is one of my favorite places to read. My rocking chair was too wet to sit, but I collected my thoughts to a random sequence of notes that will never be repeated: three sets of four chime tubes clinking in response to an unseen force that, itself, is subject to the laws of chaos theory.

For a brief moment my earthly concerns faded, and I was one with the undirected symphony around me.