Here Comes the Storm

(Toledo, OH) Moving in to my area are several waves of powerful thunderstorms, and the first clouds are starting to blot out the sun.

I like the colors of the clouds and the sky in this image; when I was taking the photos I thought I got too much of the sun's rays, and that I would wind up with a blinding overwash of sunlight.

Instead, I got a decent mix of light and dark hues, with just a touch of the sun's rays streaming from behind the thunderheads, which in no way remind me to remind you that there are resources for any of you seeking drug rehab at this link.


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White Daisy

(Toledo, OH) Yesterday our daisies began to open, and pictured on the left is one of the first blossoms. Also known as Bellis perennis, some horticulturists consider these beautiful flowers to be an invasive weed.

I enjoy its somewhat acidic aroma, and this plant is prized by herbalists for its medicinal uses. I'm not sure if it has any value for people searching for hair transplant Florida, but hey: you have to appreciate nature irrespective of the condition of your scalp.

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Thunderhead Building

(Toledo, OH) In the southwest this evening appeared some massive cumulonimbus clouds, commonly known as "thunderheads" or "anvils."

As of this writing, my muggy neighborhood has not seen any rain or lightning, but I see some powerful thunderstorms on the weather radar.

As for my dogs, they would prefer for me to close the wood blinds and windows, as they are not fond of thunderstorms.

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Deal of the Week

(Toledo, OH) I have been complaining about the high prices of gas, and this week I decided to invest in a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Pictured on your left is my latest rusty-but-trusty vehicle, a 1995 Hyundai Accent.

The car runs smoothly, has only 77,000 miles on it by a single owner, and best of all was a steal at $700. And - to be fair - there is very little rust on this car, so "slightly- rusty- but- trusty" might be a more apt description.

I especially needed a car with better mileage, as I am starting a teaching position in the fall that will require me to rack up about 70 miles round trip each day.

Also: the phrase of the day is "crotchless panty." No special reason - it just sounded goofy.

All right, I shall fess up - I am a dirty, soulless whore for advertising cash. Secret's out.



Orange Clouds at Sunset

(Toledo, OH) Saturday night provided a wide array of colorful vistas for those perusing the skies for visual entertainment.

The color of thse clouds in the eastern sky reminded me of those Creamsicles we used to eat as kids, sort of a cream-colored orange hue.

You don't need to conduct market research on a beautiful sunset; I suspect that appreciating the palette of colors in the natural natural world is close to universal.

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Freedom or Folly?

(Toledo, OH I have chimed in on the topic of wearing motorcycle helmets in the past, but I always shake my head when I see a motorcycle rider roar by without a helmet.

This rider was driving through the parking lot of The Andersons in Maumee, OH when I took this image. Riding free, one with his bike, and a potential head trauma victim. Just how good will those True Religion jeans look if you are in a vegetative state?

I'm just askin'....

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Unhappy Residents Decry Kakistocracy in Ottawa Hills

(Toledo, OH) In case you missed this image on my main website, an Ottawa Hills family erected a sign describing the village as a 'kakistocracy'.

There is a long-running feud between the Afjehs and village officials, highlighted by the placement of 55-gallon drums and a used toilet in the front yard as "art."

Perhaps we should contact area furniture stores and let them know about these revolutionary motifs.

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Pine Tree at Sunset

(Toledo, OH) We had another gorgeous sunset in Northwest Ohio this evening, and the darkened pine tree provided comparative contrast against the brilliant orange, pink, red, and violet hues in the eastern clouds reflecting the setting sun's rays.

I took about thirty images, but I decided to shut off the camera and enjoy the remaining moments of twilight sans digitization.

We were also blessed with cool temperatures this evening, and we lit a fire in the outdoor fireplace to roast marshmallows and watch the dogs chase fireflies.

Of course, there were no writing pens to be found, and we were out of wireless range, so the moment had to be recounted at a later time.

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Stranded Motorist

(Toledo, OH) It is never fun to have your car break down, especially on a busy road like the Anthony Wayne Trail, but at least the weather cooperated for this Toledo motorist. Temperatures were in the mid-70s, and I suppose one could not have asked for a better day to have a faulty alternator.

She had help on the way, but thanked me for stopping.

And she might have been able to pass the time away considering her options for financial consolidation software, with no rain to harm her laptop.

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The Andersons - Grain Operations, Maumee

(Maumee, OH)An important part of the skyline of this Toledo suburb is the grain facility of The Andersons on Illinois Avenue.

The total storage capacity of this site is 18,110,000 bushels of grain, and hundreds of rail cars on the Norfolk Southern line are dedicated to delivering grain to The Andersons every day. They certainly must employ a fair number of people in fixed asset accounting.

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Night Sky, Half Moon

(Toledo, OH) The lack of clouds and haze this evening made for some spectacular views of the moon and stars. The southern sky at dusk lit up with only half of the moon's light, and some cropping and saturation with photo-imaging software brought out the moon's craters.

Of course, with the moon you have to take a hundred pictures to get one decent image, but it is worth the wait. I find that it is better to get a smaller, sharper image that can be cropped than to fill the camera's display screen with a massive-but-blurry moon shot.

Oh, and tripods are must, as is patience with camera settings.

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(Toledo, OH) Looking upwards as I lay on my back on my lawn, the sky seems endless, broken up only by the canopies of the trees that ring my property.

There is an especially deep range of blue hues in the east as the sun disappears behind the treeline in the west, and everything is peaceful at the moment.

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Raspberries Forming

(Toledo, OH) It will be a few weeks before our raspberries are ready for picking, as we have nothing but fuzzy cores from which the berries will grow.

I was prompted to check on my raspberries after a post by Microdot at The Brain Police, whose raspberries have already ripened in southern France.

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Ground Roses

(Toledo, OH) Despite the concerted efforts of my soccer-playing children and my rambunctious dogs to kill this plant, my ground roses have survived several years of abuse.

I hope that this particular plant will eventually fill in an area underneath a Northern Whitecedar (eastern arborvitae) that I have pruned.

Yet still they lurk, children and dogs, hoping for another opportunity to kill this hardy rose plant.

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Tiger Lillies, Revisited

(Toledo, OH) Despite their ubiquity, tiger lillies are for me flowers of great beauty and sublimity. I know that summer has officially arrived when the orange-yellow blossoms spring forth.

This particular flower, also known derisively as the "ditch lily," is not a true member of the lily family, and is properly classified as Hemerocallis fulva. They are hardy, and need little in the way of care beyond an occasional watering.

In addition, you can easily split these flowers and turn almost any corner of your yard into another orange daylily zone.

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Intrepid Pedestrians

(Toledo, OH) This couple - she with a walker, he in a motorized scooter - does not let their physical limitations get in the way of getting some fresh air in West Toledo today.

They were eastbound on Violet Road when I passed them in the evening, likely headed up to the local Rite Aid down the street.

Should I some day succumb to a physical calamity that inhibits my ability to get around unassisted, I hope that I continue to plug away like these folks. I would not like to end up sitting in a stuffy room all day.

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On Duck Watching

(Toledo, OH) I spend more than a few minutes a week at Toledo's Foxglove Meadow Park, and I find it peaceful to engage in the activity of duck watching, which I much prefer to sitting home and thinking about student loan consolidation.

Perhaps my fascination with ducks can be traced to growing up in the city of Detroit, where my neighborhoods provided little in the way of wildlife beyond loose dogs and junkies.

Seeing ducks in Detroit was limited to places like Belle Isle and Palmer Park, and the neighborhood parks were better known for illegal activity than communing with nature.

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Hybrid Duck

Black hybrid duck with white spot on chest (Toledo, OH) I have been following the activity of this hybrid duck for many moths now, as it is one of the regulars at Toledo's Foxglove Meadow park.

This hybrid duck is one of the birds least afraid of human activity, and it allowed me to get within about eight feel before it waddled off.

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Cursed Traffic Signals

(Toledo, OH) There are some intersections in which motorists know they are unlikely to make the light, such as the Tremainsville /Laskey/ Douglas six-way traffic nightmare in West Toledo.

Still, I can occasionally make this light.

Then there are intersections in which one is all but guaranteed to wait. For me the most annoying light in town is southbound on Secor Road at the I-475 ramps. Invariably I get stopped at this light no matter if I am coming down Secor, or if I turn onto Secor from nearby Monroe Street.

At least I know where I stand. Or sit.

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Passing the Time

(Toledo, OH) A man sits at a picnic table in the parking lot of the Elder Beerman store on Secor Road this morning.

Reading a newspaper, he seems out of place in the empty parking lot, as the store does not open for another hour.

Lily in Morning Sun

(Toledo, OH) the red and orange hues of this lily were especially radiant in the early morning sun today.

I am not sure of the exact variety of lily that this is, and if you recognize this plant, feel free to leave your informed opinion in the comments section.

Or even your uninformed opinion, as well!

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Costco Getting Ready

(Toledo, OH) Whatever one thinks of the tax abatements given to Costco to build a new facility in Toledo, I have to admit these people know how to move quickly.

In just over one year the contractors have torn down al the old buildings at the Westgate Shopping Center, built all new commercial strips, and coordinated the relocation and arrival of dozens of merchants. All that is left is the formal opening of Costco, slated for later this summer.

Unfortunately for Toledo, even a medium-sized retail construction project is big news; Rust Belt cities have little to crow about in comparison with places like Washington, DC.

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Meditative Places

(Toledo, OH) This is a place on my property I have created for meditation, a small pond with some landscaping that I use to momentarily escape those life stressors that interfere with thinking.

This image, even as viewed on an LCD monitor, hardly does justice to the concept of the internal peace I derive from my quiet place.

And yes - that is the Miraculous Statue of St. Francis in the background.


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(Toledo, OH) There are plants for which I have enjoyed a goodly amount of success in growing over the years, and there are some with which my efforts at cultivation have been poor.

With zucchini, though, I seem to have quite the green thumb.

These plants pictured at left are only three weeks old, and they are already about two feet high. I should be picking my first zucchini by early July at this rate. Now, if I can just keep my dogs out of them, and keep my son from driving Titleist golf balls into the plants, I will be all set.

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Much-Needed Rain Arrives in Northwest Ohio

(Toledo, OH) After many, many dry days of what looked like the beginning of the 2007 drought in Ohio, Northwest Ohio received a healthy dose of precipitation.

A couple of the passing thunderstorms late this morning packed some punch, and one nearby lightning strike left a lingering aroma of ozone in the air. This strike was so close that the time between flash and thunder was less than a half-second.


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Seeing Dowtown Toledo from the High Level Bridge

(Toledo, OH) This is a view of downtown Toledo with the guardrail of the High Level Bridge in the foreground.

You cannot see my hand on the rail. That is because my hand is firmly gripping a suspension cable behind me, given my extreme dislike of heights.

I get dizzy sometimes just looking at photos and video of high view.

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Hazy Sunset

(Toledo, OH) There were some impressive orange, pink, and red hues in the sky last night. This particular image, though, was taken about 8:00 pm, and the real color show happened from 8:30 pm to about 9:00 pm.

Unfortunately, at that time I was en route to the theater to see the film Mr. Brooks (no relation), and I have only a memory of a blood-red sun shrouded by the haze and clouds.

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Red-Orange Lily

(Toledo, OH) I am not sure which variety or hybrid of the genus Lilium this is; my wife makes a good case that this is a Stargazer lily, but I usually see a light-hued border on the petals.

At any rate, I enjoy the arrival of this cluster of blossoms in mid-June each year, especially now that my children have grown beyond the age in whcih they want to pick every flower that dares to open its petals on our property.

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Biting Mosquito

(Toledo, OH) The stomach of this hungry female mosquito is gorged with my blood, but I was fascinated with the insect's tenacity yesterday afternoon.

Of course, by sitting there allowing the mosquito to inject its saliva into me and feed on my blood, I probably just gave myself a case of West Nile virus or some other infection.

All in the name of a picture.

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First Tiger Lily, Right on Time

(Toledo, OH) Overnight the first tiger lily in our yard opened, bringing a burst of orange and yellow hues to our rain-deprived yard.

Interestingly, last year I penned a short essay on
using natural phenomena to mark the passing of time, and one of the natural markers that is top of mind to me is the arrival of the tiger lillies in my yard. In both 2006 and 2007 the tiger lillies arrived on the date of June 17.

I would play that number in the lottery, except I rarely play the lottery, and when I do I always chide myself for ignoring the laws of probability.

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Adoptathon Sees Seven Dogs Find Happy Homes

(Toledo, OH) We have been involved with Planned Pethood for some time now, and we have recently become foster parents to dogs who need temporary homes.

The group sponsors frequent Pet Adoptathons, and today's event at the PetSmart in Rossford saw seven dogs leave foster care with new owners. We were a bit saddened to have to say goodbye to B.J., a Lhasa Apso we have been fostering, but he is going to live with a nice lady who came all the way from suburban Detroit to adopt him.

Left: Pet lovers taking a look at foster dogs

We came home with another dog, though, after being asked to take in a poodle mix named Mortimer. He's a sweet boy, and loves to cuddle, and I'll be writing more about him when I get familiar with him.

We were not able to sneak out and check out the bathroom vanities at the nearby home improvement store, though. That will have to wait for another Saturday.

For those of you thinking about getting a dog, please consider adopting a rescue pooch. Every resuce dog we have taken in has been housebroken, good-tempered, and loveable (though some dogs might not yet be housebroken). For more information on adopting rescue dogs, see The Toledo Area Humane Society, Planned Pethood, or Petfinder.com.

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Sacked Out

(Toledo, OH) After a long day filled with chasing squirrels, chipmunks, and (especially) each other, the four dogs currently residing in our house collapsed about 8:30 pm.

Clockwise, from the bottom center, we have Candy, a white Westie mix; Jimmy, our Sheltie mix; B.J., a long-haired Lhasa Apso we are fostering; and Eddie Haskell, a Puggle (pug-beagle mix) who just arrived today in foster care.

For those of you thinking about getting a dog, please consider adopting a rescue pooch. Every resuce dog we have taken in has been housebroken, good-tempered, and loveable. For more information on adopting rescue dogs, see The Toledo Area Humane Society, Planned Pethood, or Petfinder.com.

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Cherry Time

(Toledo, OH) No these are not the sweetest, and they are a bit puny and bitter, but the cherries are ripe on my trees in the backyard.

They also attract birds, and if you look closely you can see a fly on the rightmost cherry.

Still, there is something to be said for eating produce that grows on your own piece of land, and only those juicy Bing cherries could entice me better than my own homegrown fruit.

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Canine Tug-of-War

(Toledo, OH) To your left two dogs engage in fierce combat for control of a cloth toy, while the third - our Sheltie mix Jimmy - looks away with disinterest.

Such games, of course, are the sole province of immature pups, you understand.

Jimmy is a sophisticated dog, and does not stoop to such shennanigans, unless they involve food or really cute-sounding doggie voices from people. Our yard, by the way, is ill-suited to support quality teak outdoor furniture like that of Thos. Baker, at least not with its current contingent of rowdy young dogs.

Morning Glories

(Toledo, OH) My own attempts at cultivating morning glories this year have been a bit disappointing, as I happened to plant them in an area of heavy dog traffic. They may yet thrive, but the pounding of dog paws has taken its toll on my morning glories.

Thus, I had to snap a few pictures of the hearty morning glory growth at a neighbor's house. These are annual flowers, but they produce a lot of seeds, and you can expect the morning glories to return each year.

Provided, of course that you do not plant them in the paths of mail carrier-chasing dogs.

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Cracking Plaster

(Toledo, OH) The effect of this peeling plaster on the back of this building in downtown Toledo looks almost deliberate, and I am reminded of an old wall in a place like Venice or Florence.

This is an occupied building on Broadway, and I am not documenting another abandoned facility here. I was captivated by the mix of blues, tans, and reddish hues in this image, something difficult to recreate on business cards or stationary but which a computer monitor captures well.


A Pack of Dogs

(Toledo, OH) For the next twenty-four hours or so, we will have four - count 'em, four - dogs roaming around the house.

The newest dog is the tan-colored pooch with the curly tail; this dog is named Eddie Haskell, and is a pugle: part pug, part beagle.

For those of you thinking about getting a dog, please consider adopting a rescue pooch. Every resuce dog we have taken in has been housebroken, good-tempered, and loveable. For more information on adopting rescue dogs, see The Toledo Area Humane Society, Planned Pethood, or Petfinder.com.

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Brick Road

(Toledo, OH) To your left is a stretch of Broadway in front of the Oliver House in Toledo. The paving bricks give this area a quaint appeal, a throwback to a bygone era.

I always enjoy walking along or driving on a brick road, and I especially like the thunk-thunk-thunk of tires crossing over the bricks.

These brick roads last almost forever, too, and I recall a movement in Detroit when I lived there a few decades ago to tear up the accumulated concrete and asphalt and restore the brick pavement underneath.

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Keeping Watch

(Toledo, OH) A black bird, perhaps a grackel, is perched atop an abandoned building in downtown Toledo. Silently staring at me three floors below, the bird maintains an unwavering vigil over its surroundings.

Other birds fly in and out of cracked windows and dormant exhaust vents. While no longer in use, this old warehouse supports all sorts of non-human activity.

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Sky High Graffiti

(Toledo, OH) Vandals in general have no fear of heights, and this batch of graffiti can be found near the center of the High Level Bridge, which is also known by the name of the Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge.

It was a strange sensation to be standing hundreds of feet in the air, wind ripping across the suspended cement decks, only to see the omnipresent gang tagging and vulgarity of graffiti artists.

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Red Maple Seeds

(Toledo, OH) A poster at ToledoTalk noted that his maple trees have not produced the requisite "helicopters," "whirlies," or "whirlybirds" as they have in the past. Normally, he pointed out, they clog his pool filter early on in the year.

I checked, and my red maple tree has an abundance of helicopters, loaded and ready for launch in a few weeks. It seems to me that my helicopters should have fallen by now, too.

This reminds me of an earlier discussion about using natural phenomena to mark the passing of time.

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Broken Glass

The broken green glass of a Heineken bottle in Toledo, OH(Toledo, OH) Walking along Broadway today I came across this broken Heineken bottle, green shards of glass scattered across the hot concrete. A few Heineken slogans came to mind, for no particular reason:

How refreshing! How Heineken!

Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.

It's all about the beer.

I kicked aside the glass fragments as best as I could, not willing to risk a sliced finger over one of the thousands of broken bottles that get tossed by inebriated drinkers from vehicles every year in the middle of the Rust Belt.

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Chainlink Skyline

(Toledo, OH) Here is an image of the skyline of Toledo, as seen from the High Level Bridge, which is also known by the name of the Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge.

This image was taken on the western half of the bridge, which features a curved, fifteen-foot chainlink fence.

More on my harrowing fight with acrophobia to take this picture of the Toledo skyline on my main site, HistoryMike.

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Beautiful White Flower

(Toledo, OH) I am not sure what type of flower this is; I saw it in a garden next to the Oliver House in downtown Toledo. I was struck by the contrast between the dark green leaves and the white petals.

If you recognize this plant, please leave a note in the comments section.

Given that the plant is rather bush-like, I am hazarding a guess that this is a member of the Rhododendron family.

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Communications Tower

Communications tower in Toledo, OH near Summit Street and Clayton Street (Toledo, OH) This communications tower is located near Summit and Clayton Streets just south of downtown Toledo. This view jumped out at me for two reasons: the tower is quite colorful against the blue sky background, and the modern communications tower dwarfs the nearby buildings, which date to the late nineteenth century.

Modern architecture towering over the crumbling facades of old arehouses, or some other visual metaphor you might think of.

I am not sure if this is a city, county, or private structure.

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Uphill Ride

(Toledo, OH) A cyclist travels west-to-east over the High Level Bridge, which is also known by the name of the Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge.

This is only about a 20-degree incline, but this rider must travel over 1600 feet in order to reach the midpoint of the bridge.

The upside of such an arduous journey, of course, is the downward section of the trip. I estimated that another bicyclist cruised downhill past me ata speed of about 30 miles per hour.

Bet they can't reach bicycle speeds like that in Branson Missouri.

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Toledo Skyline

Skyline of Toledo, OH as seen from the High Level Bridge, also known as the Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge (Toledo, OH) Here is an image of the skyline of Toledo, as seen from the High Level Bridge, which is also known by the name of the Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge.

More on my harrowing fight with acrophobia to take this image of the Toledo skyline on my main site, HistoryMike.

I especially like the reflections of the buildings on the waters of the Maumee River.

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Yellow Clover

(Toledo, OH) This variety of yellow clover is another of the "weeds" that pop up in my backyard that are quite beautiful in and of themselves.

Sprouting up in an area that is largely devoid of current use on my double lot, this clover will provide nitrogen to the soil until such a point in time as I decide what to plant there.

Sort of a small exercise in leaving the land fallow, just like the days before manmade fertilizers and agribusiness.

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Sweet Basil

(Toledo, OH) Thinking I would remember exactly where I planted all two dozen types of seeds, I arrogantly neglected to write down a list of what I planted in my various gardens.

Thus, it is with only 99 percent surety that I proclaim the sprouting of these sweet basil plants.

Unless they were the cilantro...nah.

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