Bucolic Meadow

(Purgatory, MI) "Purgatory" is a strange name for this area, especially given the fact that there once existed a Baptist camp nearby.

I came across this small meadow while biking in western Michigan, and I was awed by the sublime beauty of the site. A hawk circled overhead, sharp eyes looking for rodents or other small meadow creatures upon which it might dine.

These are sights that can never be provided by a realtor, unless that person is willing to take a particularly long walk off the beaten path.

Heron in Flight

(Jones, MI) Waterfowl abound at this time of year in the lakes, ponds, and streams of western Michigan. At one point yesterday we saw four great blue heron take off on the road in front of us, leaving matching shadows on the pavement below.

I was too slow to get out the camera and catch all four in flight, and this image is blurry as a result of the criss-crossing rates of velocity between the bird and our Suburban.

We also saw quite a few heron on a canoeing trip down the St. Joseph River yesterday, but I did not bring along a camera.



Sunrise in the Rust Belt

(Toledo, OH) Heavy haze and high humidity translated into deep colors in the sky this morning. I woke up sticking to my pillow, but the awesome blend of orange, pink, and violet hues reduced my perspiration-addled discomfort.

The sun should burn away most of the moisture in the air today, and the forecast calls for a sunny day in the low 80s.

And there is no metaphorical connection between sunsets and the Fall of the Weimar Republic.



Storm Clouds Above

(Toledo, OH) Our recent drought-like conditions seem to have passed in Northwest Ohio, as yet another series of storms will be passing through the region today and tomorrow.

The area around Toledo was down over five inches of accumulated rain in the months of May and June. I hope that the passing storms of the last few days bode well for my garden and lawn.

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Red Maple Leaf

(Toledo, OH) Our driveway is shaded by a massive red maple tree, and the leaves of this tree have a characteristic reddish hue. From the street the tree looks like a sort of dark maroon color.

The tree is especially colorful in the fall, and I look forward to the changing of the leaf colors, with the exception of raking up all of these leaves.

Also, if you are in the market for quality reception desks, follow this link to learn more about the offerings of JazzyExpo.

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(Toledo, OH) While the total accumulation has not been especially impressive, we did get a steady series of rainstorms passing through Northwest Ohio today.

Both my lawn and garden needed a good downpour; I trust that this will be the end to the period of drought that has withered much of the plant growth in this area.


Sunset on Talmadge

red sunset, Toledo (Toledo, OH) In an earlier post on my main blog I groused about urban disconnection with the natural world. This photo is emblematic of that discussion, as I took it while stopped at the light at Monroe and Talmadge; in frustration with my ability to find a clear space to photograph the sunset, I just stuck the camera out of the car window and snapped a few pictures without looking.

The results were almost ethereal, the setting sun emitting an orange-red glow over motorists as they drove to points unknown. If I were in a depressed and highly cynical mood, I might create a metaphor with the red-sun and a hydrogen bomb, but I won't go there.

Double-Petaled Tiger Lily

(Toledo, OH) Our tiger lillies begin to srrive in mid-June, but there double-petaled tiger lillies are a July phenomenon. They begin to arrive when the last of the single-petaled varieties have withered.

In a way they are a sign that the height of summer is about to pass, as these flowers are among the last blooms of the year for me.

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Birds on a Feeder

(Toledo, OH) The replenishment of seed in my bird feeders was cause for joy among the sparrows and wrens first on the scene today. By my count there were seven on the feeder, including two in flight, when I took this picture.

The colors in this image are a bit strange; the feeder is in a heavily shaded area, but the bird in the back of the picture is illuminated by some stray rays passing through the oak tree under which this feeder sits. I used the "sunset" setting to compensate for the lack of light, but I wound up with an image that looks almost surreal; my neighbor's house in the background actually has white siding.

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(Toledo, OH) Pictured on the left is one of my all-time favorite meals, a feast featuring a variety of boiled items that my wife cooks in a huge pot with a special spice pack.

Starting with redskin potatoes, spices, and corn on the cob, my wife then adds kielbasa, shrimp, and crab legs for one of those meals after which you need to be forklifted away from the table.

Speaking of warehouse items, be sure to check out the quality steel buildings offered by Olympia Buildings.

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Busy Bumblebee

(Toledo, OH) Pictured is an energetic bumblebee collecting pollen from clover in my front yard. One of the things I like about bumblebees is their relatively easy-going nature: they sting only when directly threatened, and they don't seem to mind people staring at them.

Speaking of busy bees, if you as a business owner are working equally hard, you will want to follow my series on tips for succeeding with a small business. Quick plug, that, for my main blog.


Hybrid Duck

Black hybrid duck with white spot on chest (Toledo, OH) I have been following the activity of this hybrid duck for many months 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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Storm Clouds, But Little Rain

(Toledo, OH) Storm clouds rolled into Northwest Ohio this evening, an area hard hit by the 2007 drought.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, we have seen but a few precious drops of rain. The forecast is calling for a 60 percent chance of rain tonight, but the Intellicast.com radar shows most of the precipitation heading north and south of Toledo.

Hungry 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.

Yellow Jackets

(Toledo, OH) While trimming my pine trees I came across a yellow jacket nest. Luck was with me, because it was still early in the morning and the normally aggressive insects were still a bit subdued.

I admit to fighting the urge to grab a shovel and swing away at these annoying (and potentially deadly) pests. I also allowed myself the luxury of imagining taking a can of a flammable aerosol and roasting them.

Not that I would know anything about such juvenile pursuits, or that in the summer of 1976 I ever engaged in this type of behavior.



(Toledo, OH) I have been seeing, or perhaps noticing, a number of herons around the Ottawa River over the past few years.

I came across a heron on the Ottawa near the campus of the University of Toledo, eyes locked on some underwater prey. The bird sat still for over a minute before plunging into the river, snagging some hapless creature, and flying away.

It appeared to be a Great Blue Heron, though its colorings were muted by the low angle of the sun and my distance from the bird.


Black Eyed Susans

(Toledo, OH) One of my earliest memories is walking along the back fence of my grandparents' house in Michigan, a then-rural place outside of Detroit, and seeing hundreds of these dazzling black-eyed Susan flowers smiling at me.

It now seems almost surreal, this memory of wandering in the midst of these yellow flowers. These days the acres of open space behind their house are filled with the activity associated with a gravel pit, and I have been unable to see a single yellow blossom on my recent visits to their house in the summertime.


Yellow Iris

(Toledo, OH) I came across some beautiful yellow irises on the campus of the University of Toledo today.

Their bright, lemony hues brought a touch of color to an otherwise dreary day, and also added some signs of life to an area of campus hard hit by the recent drought and the lack of permanent sprinkler system.

Wary Grackel

(Toledo, OH) Lurking in this pine tree is a grackel that is keeping a wary eye on me as I sat on my deck on this cloudy morning.

I should have used a slower shutter speed and a tripod, as the dreary morning skies blocked out much of the sun's rays.

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Yellow Squash

yellow squash (Toledo, OH) My squash plants have begun to yield some delicious fruit over the past few days, and we have been able to dine on steamed, sliced squash every day this week.

I enjoy the ability to walk out into the yard just before dinner and picking produce that grew in my yard. There is something primoridal about the act of harvesting crops, something both timeless and satisfying.

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An awesome spectacle in last night's evening sky.

Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.

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Flower Medley

(Toledo, OH) The blossoming of our black-eyed Susans overnight provides a contrast with the white daisies already in bloom.

The black-eyed Susans act as a sort of colorful alter-ego to the daisies. Both plants are members of the Asteraceae family, and either would make excellent patterns on a set of custom curtains.

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Red Roses

(Toledo, OH) The beauty and aroma of these red roses is especially pleasing for me, as I once thought this bush was a goner.

A period of 60-degree weather in January caused the plant to sprout leaves in the winter, and then an Arctic cold snap came, turning the early leaves into frozen, brittle greenery.

Though late in blooming, the plant seems to have recovered.

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(Toledo, OH) Pictured on your left is Eddie Haskell, a Puggle that we adopted from Planned Pethood. Eddie is a bit on the rambunctious side, but he is very affectionate and protective of the people in the house.

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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Port of Toledo

(Toledo, OH)These are the grain silos at the Port of Toledo, as seen from northbound I-75 coming across the bridge over the Maumee River.

"Your Gateway to the World," the signs on the silos read.

Beyond grain, not much gets shipped through Toledo's seaport these days, but should this area once again attract heavy industry, the deep waters of the Maumee River may one day bring dozens of freighters every week, as it once did.

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Summer Daisy

(Toledo, OH) Some consider daisies to be pervasive weeds, but I find that this simple flower is one of the hallmarks of summer.

I especially enjoy the somewhat acrid aroma of daisies as the breeze passes over them, like the mid-70s breezes that descended upon Northwest Ohio today.

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Setting Sun

(Toledo, OH) The sun popped out from behind some clouds at sunset last night and provided an intriguing blend or orange, red, and yellow hues at sunset.

There were also some hints of pink and violet at the the top of the clouds that hung over the setting sun like an awning.

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(Toledo, OH) Yes, it's just a lowly sparrow, scratching in the woodpile and dirt behind my garage, but there is still something majestic about this ubiquitous member of the Passeridae family.

I think that this bird is in the Fox Sparrow subspecies, though these birds are more commonly found in Canada at this time of year. Another good possibility is that this is a Song Sparrow.

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Toledo Toad

(Toledo, OH) While watering my plants I came across a rather large toad yesterday, an animal that did not seem pleased by the sudden appearance of cold water in his sun-soaking reverie.

Years ago I would have found this creature to be worthy of many hours of fun, but I decided to let the toad hop off to find a new place to hang out.

And just because I like the word so much, I am going to type Sonderweg in this post.


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House Fly

(Toledo, OH) There are many aspects of the natural world in which I can find beauty, but house flies - even magnified - never seem like anything more than objects I wish to smash.

It is more than mere revulsion based upon science that disgusts me about flies; even were I not to know that flies carry disease, I would still harbor some innate sense of abhorrence for these insects.

Maybe this is some sort of biological Sonderweg at work here, a historical paradigm of collective revulsion for houseflies that gets transmitted from generation to generation.

Or maybe flies, as my son said, just suck.

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(Toledo, OH) Over the weekend our raspberries arrived, and the picking is good at the moment. Any time I get the craving I can ramble out back and pick a few handfuls of the tasty berries.

Best of all, raspberries are a nutritious fruit, containing a good deal of vitamin C and manganese. Raspberries are also an excellent source for vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

Add raspberries to John Lennon's suggestion that All You Need Is Love.


Everlasting Pea

(Toledo, OH) The flowers of the Everlasting pea are beautiful, but this is one aggressive weed. I have been yanking these perennial legumes every year, and I have nicknamed them "The Borg" for their ability to seemingly regenerate on a spontaneous basis.

Resistance, it seems, is futile against Lathyrus latifolius, which is also known by the colloquial name of "sweet pea."

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The Sun and The Heat Wave

(Toledo, OH) I stepped outside this morning to get a few pictures for a short post about the heat wave of 2007 that will be arriving in Northwest Ohio today.

Yes, the Sun is off-center here, so sue me.

Even with filters and speeding up the shutter, is well-nigh impossible to get a decent picture of the Sun with my camera. Still, this shot gives a sense of the blinding, blazing power of the Sun if you are goofy enough to stare at it in the daytime.

And - for the record - avoid heat stroke today: drink lots of water, stay out of the direct sun, and avoid strenuous activities. Oh: and the word of the day is Sonderweg.

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Easter Lily

(Toledo, OH) Overnight bloomed one of my favorite flowers, an Easter lily we planted about four years ago.

Also known as Lilium longiflorum, the Easter lily traces its origin to the Ryukyu Islands, an archipelago that stretches from southern Japan almost to Taiwan.

The flowers have a delicate aroma, and add a touch of grace and beauty to my drought-stricken backyard.

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Downtown Toledo

(Toledo, OH) I was originally going to delete this photo of downtown Toledo, which I took from a moving vehicle on I-75 near the Anthony Wayne Trail. It is slightly off-center, taken at a strange angle, and is not the sharpest of images.

Yet there is something appealing in looking at one's city from odd perspectives, and I thought I would crop it and play with the saturation a smidgen. The result is a one-of-a-kind image that represents an instantaneous glance from the middle of the American Rust Belt, and Toledo looks well in this picture.

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Blue Jay

(Toledo, OH) Many people find blue jays to be annoying birds, given their agressiveness and high-pitched screech when agitated. I find their light-blue hues to be captivating, and I enjoy watching these members of the Corvid family.

Still, it makes sense to provide multiple feeders if you live in an area with numerous blue jays, as their territorial nature means that some birds might miss out on the feedings if the jays in your neighborhood "claim" a given feeder.

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Sylvania Fireworks

Fireworks exploding in the skies over Sylvania Ohio to celebrate the Fourth of July (Sylvania, OH) We were quite impressed with the fireworks display in Sylvania, OH last night. The city uses Centennial Quarry as its ground zero, and we visited some friends on Little Road whose house is close enough to the event to get an excellent view, while far enough away to avoid traffic.

Still, I think the city works hard to time the lights on Monroe Street to accommodate the extra traffic, and it took us a mere five minutes to get through downtown Sylvania.

Much better than fighting the 200,000+ crowd at Toledo's riverfront fireworks display, or the million people who crowd Detroit's riverfront each year.

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Yellow Jacket

yellow jacket(Toledo, OH) I must admit that my instinct is to grab a folded newspaper and smash every yellow jacket I see, especially when I remember some of the painful welts I have received from the stingers of these insects.

Yet there is something majestic about seeing one of these creatures up close. They are compact machines capable of impressive feats of scavengery when they work en masse.

But when they show up in my bedroom and sting me repeatedly in the face, they have crossed the line. Die, dirty Vespula invaders!

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Michaelmas Daisy

(Toledo, OH) Named for the feast of St. Michael, the Michaelmas daisy is in the family Asteraceae. I came across some beautiful specimens of this plant on the campus of the University of Toledo today.

Most varieties typically bloom from August through fall, but this flower opened in July. Perhaps it is a transplant that was seeded in a greenhouse earlier in the spring.

And - for the record - I doubt that there will ever be a technological method that will capture the resplendence of the Michaelmas daisy in a digital format. The sight, smell, and feel of a blossom is a synergistic experience beyond digitization.

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Mixed Flowers

(Toledo, OH) Pictured on your left are tiger lillies and daisies that concurrently bloom in one corner of my yard. This is an especially brilliant and fragrant mix of flowers that lasts but a few short weeks in June and July.

If you look closely in the picture you can see some sort of wasp gathering nectar on one of the rightmost daisies.

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Gathering Signatures

(Toledo, OH) Unidentified supporters of the Recall Carty Finkbeiner petition drive camp out at the former 7-Eleven Store on Secor at Laskey today.

I'm not sure if I would sign such a petition, but I did hear several cars honking horns in support as I waited to make a left turn. I hope the petition gatherers did not mistake me for some sort of undercover surveillance personnel as I snapped a few pictures at the red light.

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