Sidewalk Preparation

(Toledo, OH) News of the issuance of a winter storm warning in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan caused me to mimic a technique used by road crews. I set out a preemptive sprinkling of salt on my driveway and waslkway in anticipation of snow and ice that will accumulate this evening.

I'll see if this works better than salting after the fact.

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Dung Balls

(Detroit, MI) So read an exhibit sign at the Detroit Science Center's featured "Grossology" exhibition last week. Perhaps this is a sign that I am inching closer toward senior living, as I found the scatalogical themes a bit boring, but my children got a kick out of the assembled grossness. Still, it's hard to walk past the words "DUNG BALLS" and not want to take a picture for posterity.

Adults in our group did find the IMAX Theater and the exhibition on the human body to be fascinating, though. It's sad, though, that Toledo's COSI Center, which will close tomorrow, could not develop as loyal a following as does the Detroit Science Center.



Lights Before Christmas - Toledo Zoo

(Toledo, OH) To be completely accurate, this photo was taken of the holiday lights after Christmas, but you get the point. The Zoo puts up an annual light display throughout the grounds, and the event is quite a draw in the slow winter season.

If you look closely at the photo (especially if you click to enlarge it), you will see a series of ghostly apparitions. You can go with either: a) real live ghosts in Toledo; or b) people were moving as I set the camera for a lengthy nighttime exposure.

Your pick.

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Foggy Night in Toledo

(Toledo, OH) The arrival of fog in the evening has a somewhat disconcerting effect on me. I am especially leery of the deadening to sounds that occurs in heavy fog, and I find the reduction in visibility to cause my imagination wander, with unidentifiable objects taking on a sinister appearance.

My neighbor's tree in the foreground of this image looks especially threatening, like one of those creepy apple trees in The Wizard of Oz.


Melting Snow

(Toledo, OH) Little remains of the eight inches of snow that blanketed Northwest Ohio last week after an earlier layer of ice, and this small mound of snow once stood nearly three feet in height. The warmer weather of the past few days, though, is expected to change, and we may see some ice and snow again overnight.

Thus, if you plan to purchase some imprinted promotional products or conduct any other post-holiday shopping, I suggest that you fight the traffic and get these things accomplished today. The weather over the next few days might not be conducive to travel.

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Pete Townshend Lookalike

(Toledo, OH) My brother Chuck, who recently parted company with his glasses in favor of contacts, bears a decided resemblance to guitarist Pete Townshend of the rock band The Who.

On your left is a PhotoShopped two-picture montage of Chuck and Pete. Of course, Pete is 62, and my brother Chuck has not hit the big 5-0 yet, so imagine Pete with fewer wrinkles as you compare the images.

Oh, and - unlike me - Chuck has no use for the weight loss product Hydroxycut, and he carries 50 fewer pounds on his 6'4" frame than do I at 6'5".



Janney's Ace Hardware, RIP

(Toledo, OH) Beyond a red fascia, little remains of Janney's Ace Hardware, a Toledo retail tradition for many decades. A combination of poor economic conditions in the area and increased competition from big box home improvement centers like Home Depot and Lowe's forced the owners to sell its property to a pharmacy chain.

Janney's was always my first choice when I needed items such as plumbing fixtures, lawn and garden items, or electrical supplies. I can honestly say that Janney's never once failed to have in stock an item for which I needed.

Soon even the building will be razed to make way for another paint-by-numbers drug store at Secor and Alexis Roads. I will miss the friendly staff and wide variety of products and services Janney's offered, and I suspect that the loss of this longtime local business is not a promising omen for other area business owners.



Sunset of the Sublime

(Ida, MI) The colors across this southern Michigan field were a sublime treat, and I was glad that I had my photographic equipment with me. This was a moment in which one simply stands back and absorbs the natural beauty, and any momentary stressors have to take a back seat to the restorative powers of a sunset.

Of course, the use of a touch of saturation and contrast goes a long way toward improving my meager photography skills, and it never hurts to possess a quality fiber cable to transmit digital data.



Giant Snowman

(Holland, OH) Standing guard at the entrance to the Spring Meadows Place shopping center in Holland, OH is a giant snowman. I estimate that this holiday decoration is about 15 feet in height, and even my 6'5" frame seemed tiny in comparison.

Of course, given the excessive girth of the Frosty lookalike, he might be well advised to ask Santa for fitness equipment this Christmas. Current research suggests that those whose excess weight gathers in their midsections are at a higher risk for heart disease, and I suspect that local kiddies would be saddened to learn of his unfortunate demise.

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Goodbye to a Rescue Dog

(Toledo, OH) Pictured on your left is Scarlett, a 2-year-old Jindo that we fostered until this morning. Scarlett was adopted today by a young couple, and - while I am sure that she will have a terrific new home - I have to admit that this was one of the best dogs we have ever fostered, and I was sad to part company with Scarlett today.

We work with a local rescue group called Planned Pethood, which spays and neuters the dogs it saves. Scarlett will thus no longer have a need for doggie maternity clothing, but given the number of irresponsible pet owners who allow their animals to produce unwanted puppies and kittens, I am of the opinion that this is a worthy outcome.

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Winter Storm Approaching

(Toledo, OH) The dark grey clouds above the computer rental business in the photograph on the left were moving westward toward the low pressure center that is delivering a major winter storm to the Midwest and Northeast. By early afternoon, the winds began to reverse direction, and the first flakes began to fall by mid-afternoon.

Weather forecasters are calling for between 6 and 12 inches of snow over the next 36 hours or so. I'm glad that all of my errands were taken care of before the snow flew, and I plan to park myself until the roads are cleared on Monday-ish.

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Ice Tree

(Toledo, OH) The ice storm that hit Northwest Ohio was not as intense as billed (at least not yet), but the trees in my yard received quite a glazing.

The light from a nearby streetlight and that from my camera flash made the ice sparkle in this image, creating an effect not unlike Christmas lights in my trees.

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Winter Pine

(Toledo, OH) This pine tree seems especially radiant against the backdrop of gray skies and early winter snow last week, and one can be led to believe that evergreens exist to preserve hope for spring.

While no replacement for the amenities offered by Vegas hotels, evergreens can be a source of shelter for lost hikers, and the seeds of all species of pines are edible. The young male cones, which grow only in the spring, can be used as a survival food, while the bark of young twigs is edible. The inner bark is juicy, and is rich in sugar and vitamins, while tea made from green pine needles is high in vitamin C.

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Winter Mums

(Toledo, OH) We have a few groups of mums that seem impervious to the elements, and the winter storm that passed through Northwest Ohio over the weekend failed to kill these yellow mums.

If memory serves me correctly, these were an Easter gift some years ago, and the mums have returned every year since we planted them. Almost like clockwork, these flowers bring a vivid yellow color to our yard at a time when most of our flowering plants have long since given up the ghost.

With mums, you can kick back on your adjustable beds and enjoy the view, much like you do with roses, except that mums require almost no maintenance.

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(Toledo, OH) Northwest Ohio received a considerable wintry dusting this evening, some three weeks before the official start of winter. The sudden appearance of snow caught me slightly off guard, but I nonetheless welcomed the first snowfall of the year.

I would imagine that local addicts, huddled in abandoned houses or in parked cars, might be questioning their habits on a cold night like this, wondering if drug rehabilitation is better than frozen highs.