8/28/2007

Blue Jay

(Toledo, OH) This blue jay sat still long enough on my deck for me to get a decent picture of him. Jays are a bit on the screechy side, and can be overly aggressive near my feeders, but I enjoy their bright blue plumage.

And remember, snow bunnies: those of you contemplating an investment in real estate should be forewarned that blue jays eschew the Arizona desert. These passerine birds, which are members of the crow family, prefer to eke out a livelihood in mixed-wood forests, deciduous forests, and parks.

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8/27/2007

Fiery Sunset

(Toledo, OH) The high humidity and smog combined to create a hazy sunset the other night, although I wish I had brought my tripod with me. The sky was too dark to get a sharp exposure, although the out-of-focus shot kind of matches the sky's colors.

With a better image for blowing up, I could have produced a frameable picture to hang above my office furniture and remind me of why I prefer the outdoors.

Ash Tree in Toledo

(Toledo, OH) This ash tree might be a rare sight in the near future, given emerald ash borer crisis that threatens billions of American ash trees.

I have never paid much attention to white and green ashes, given their ubiquity, but I plan to photograph as many of them as I can in my neighborhood while they are still common.

Of course, there are plenty of people who would be happy with cutting down all of their trees, adding landscape lighting, and turning their natural spaces into electrified party zones, but that is another story.

8/24/2007

Cilantro Leaves

(Toledo, OH) One of my favorite seasonings is fresh cilantro, and I have grown my own plants for the last few years. Try to keep them in an area in which the soil stays moist, but avoid oversaturating the plants. I avoid planting cilantro in an area that stays in direct sun most of the day.

The cilantro plant grows well in many climates, and would definitely thrive for those of you seeking Orlando real estate for a retirement or vacation property.

Cilantro, which is also known as corriander, is commonly used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, South Asian, and Latin American cuisines.

save our homes

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Red Pepper

(Toledo, OH) The months of sweating and weeding are definitely worth the wait for homegrown produce. Over the past few weeks quite a bit of my plants have begun to bring forth garden delights, and the taste of a freshly-picked pepper is one of those rare treats that words can only approximate.

Follow up a bite of red bell pepper and tomato with some straight-from-the-garden sweet basil, and you have a mouthful of the finest marinara sauce you will ever sample.

Sunflower Redux

(Toledo, OH) Despite the efforts of my dogs and children to obliterate all forms of plant life in my yard, six or seven sunflower plants have managed to bloom this year.

The sun broke free between the storms that have rolled through Northwest Ohio all week, and though this just turned the backyard into a muggy swamp, the sunflowers perked up and drew strength from the solar rays.

8/22/2007

All Kinds of Shrimp

Among my favorite forms of shrimp consumption is shrimp cocktail, and I especially love a tangy cocktail sauce that is heavy on the horseradish.

Our friends at EatShrimp.com asked us to produce a short video extolling the virtues of our favorite type of shrimp. We decided to let our Westie mix, Candy, be the member of the family who performs the Shrimp Dance. Click on this YouTube link for shrimp frivolity:


Ottawa River Flooding

(Toledo, OH) Heavy rains that have poured down on Northwest Ohio swelled the region's rivers over the past few days, and the levels of the Ottawa River are as high as I can recall seeing in recent years.

This black and white image was taken near the Ottawa Park golf course, as waters have covered much of the links.

8/20/2007

Raindrops

(Toledo, OH) We are in the midst of a weeklong stretch of wet weather here in Toledo. The rain began early Sunday morning, and has continued unabated for over 30 hours now.

You can see a reflection of the overcast skies in the window, as raindrops collect on the pane. When I touch the screen of my computer on one of the drops, it looks like ripples emananting outward.

For some folks, weather like this makes them think of checking out an Orlando vacation home rental, but I like the rain just fine.

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8/19/2007

Dupont Circle

(Washington, DC) Pictured on your left is Dupont Circle, a small park in the center of Washington, DC. The park is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue, P Street and 19th Street.

The Dupont Circle area is the center of quite a few prestigious organizations, including the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Eurasia Center, and the Peterson Institute.

But I did not see a plethora of fitness stores promoting muscle milk and other training products. This must be a Midwestern thang.

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8/16/2007

Chess Players

(Washington, DC) I am always amazed (as a Midwestern rube) to visit places in which culture abounds. Pictured on the left are a pair of chess players at DC's Dupont Circle, each consumed by the plotting of moves in light of the anticipated moves of his opponent.

Dupont Circle is filled with these public chessboards, and games continue in almost all weather. Some of the matches get quite heated, and I observed quite a few players who were so far beyond my novice skill level as to seem superhuman.

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George W. Bush Graffiti

(Washington, DC) I am not sure why this goofy graffiti made me laugh out loud; perhaps it was just the absurdist humor behind this stencil.

At any rate, I came across this urban artwork on a sidewalk near Dupont Circle during my last visit to our nation's capital. No political commentary here, as I just found the stencil humorous.

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8/15/2007

Rogue Marigold

(Toledo, OH) I had some leftover marigold seeds that were about two years old, and as an afterthought this spring I threw them into an area that still needed flowers.

The marigolds finally bloomed this week, and their bright yellow hue perked up an area of my landscaping that was a bit overrun with weeds and in need of attention.

Of course, my 19-year-old son will probably chop them and stick them on the end of his buddy's poker tables or something, but for the moment there are marigolds aplenty.

8/14/2007

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

(Jones, MI) I did not have a tripod or zoom lens when I came across this Ruby-throated hummingbird at the bed-and-breakfast in which I stayed a few weeks back.

Still, I was excited to get a few decent pictures of these fast-moving birds as they sipped nectar from the feeders.

Perhaps I should store a few photographic supplies in the truck toolbox for just such occasions.

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August Harvest

(Toledo, OH) As mentioned in the previous post, I look forward to the arrival of late summer and the bountiful produce that shows up each day in my garden. Pictured on the left are cucumbers, yellow squash, and tomatoes that ripened in the past 24 hours.

Some of these are so eye-catching that they look more like jewelry than produce. At my home we are guaranteed to eat healthy at least two months of the year when my gardens start kicking out the fruits and vegetables.

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Tomatoes on the Vine

(Toledo, OH) As a gardener I look forward to the months of August and September, for this is the time that the fruits of my summer's labors begin to arrive. On your left are some beefsteak tomatoes, each weighing over one pound. They are quite juicy, and lend themselves well to tomato-based pasta sauces.

Now, if they would just develop term insurance for garden plants, I would be all set. I have had to deal with drought, dogs, and mischievous teengagers this summer in my annual quest to grow vegetables and fruits.

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8/13/2007

Whitmer Stadium

(Toledo, OH) Pictured at left are members of the Whitmer football team practicing on their new field. Among the highlights of the $2.75 million project was the installation of synthetic turf.

I am looking forward to watching the progress of tight end Kevin Koger, who is the best player I have seen in action at the high school level since Charles Woodson. Koger is big, has good hands, and is so speedy that he ought to start wearing a radar detector.

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8/11/2007

Another Planned Pethood Adoptathon

Left: Pet lovers saying hello to foster dogs

(Holland, OH) We attended yet another Adoptathon today, and this event was held at the PetSmart location at Spring Meadows. Several dogs went to loving homes today, and quite a few people stopped by to see Tyke, a German shorthaired pointer mix we are fostering.

While these rescue dogs are not perfect little plush animals, they have many excellent qualities. All three of the dogs we have adopted are wonderful companions, and I urge every reader to consider adoption the next time you are thinking of getting a dog or cat.

For more information on adopting rescue dogs, see the Planned Pethood website.

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8/09/2007

"The Noble Horse" - Peter Busby

Created by artist Peter Busby in 1999, "The Noble Horse" is a wire sculpture that is located outside of the University of Toledo's Rocket Hall.

The sculpture reflects the area's prior history as grazing land for domesticated farm animals.

Unlike some artistic efforts, there is no need to provide closed captioning for those who wish to enjoy this work of art. I also frown upon the juvenile attempts at poking fun at Busby's work by noted misanthrope Subcomandante Bob, who had a different interpretation of The Noble Horse.

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8/08/2007

Dead Snake

(Purgatory, MI) I came across this dead snake while biking in the middle of nowhere last week. I am not sure what type of snake it was, but it measured approximately four feet in length.

It must have recently come into the clutches of a predator, as there was fresh blood just under the reptile's neck. No jokes about the rise of Nazi Germany, please.

:-}

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Irrigating a Cornfield

(Marcellus, MI) This cornfield is getting irrigated by a mechanical system that pulls water from a nearby river and sprays it over the plants. As we biked by the cornfield we were misted with some rank-smelling liquids.

Of course, were the fields to remain unwatered, one would likely need to engage in some sort of plasma cutting method to cut the withered stalks of corn.

8/07/2007

Gravel Road

(Purgatory, MI) This deserted country road leads from the middle of nowhere to the boondocks. At one point there was a Baptist camp near here, but now there is nothing but unpopulated square miles of nature.

Not a single outdoor kitchen or woodburning stove to be seen.

In the two hours we spent biking and picknicking, we did not see a soul, although we found quite a few spent 12-gauge shells.

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New Dog in the House

Tyke is an 8-month-old male Pointer/Beagle mix who was given away by his previous owners. He weighs only 31 pounds, but is quite leggy and has a docked tail. Tyke is very affectionate, has an easygoing disposition, and he loves to lay next to people as though he were a lapdog. We are fostering Tyke through Planned Pethood, a group that rescues and provides homes for unwanted dogs and cats.

Tyke is a very friendly, sweet puppy who is good with other dogs and adores children. He rides well in the car, although he hadn’t ridden in one since 8 weeks of age, and he is learning how to walk appropriately on a leash. We are working on getting Tyke housebroken; he currently is successful doing his business outdoors about 80 percent of the time. If you are interested in Tyke, please follow this link to Planned Pethood and fill out an application.

For those of you thinking about getting a dog, please consider adopting a rescue pooch. Every resuce dog we have taken in has been 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.

8/02/2007

Sunflowers

(Toledo, OH) This is the time of year when the sunflowers begin to grace us with their splendor. The image of this particular sunflower was taken in shade, and the resultant picture is a somewhat muted flower head.

Still, I never cease to be amazed at the sunflower's ability to follow the sun throughout the day, a characteristic known as heliotropism.

And for you technophobes: I'll bet your fancy shower faucets can't execute a maneuver as cool as heliotropism.