9/26/2009

Prout Chapel, Bowling Green State University

(Bowling Green, OH)I always assumed that Prout Chapel on the main campus of Bowling Green State University was an original church around which the university grew up. Instead, I recently learned the building is "an authentic copy of the Firelands' churches constructed by Congregationalist settlers" who traveled to the region of Ohio from the state of Connecticut after the Revolutionary War.

Harrumph!

Still, it is a beautiful building, and the facility is used for weddings, concerts, and all sorts of public gatherings. If I could turn my neck about 120 degrees, I would be able to see Prout Chapel from my BGSU office. Alas, I lack such lumbar dexterity.

9/17/2009

Man with Cigarette

(Toledo, OH) I am not sure why I found this person to be particularly photogenic. Perhaps it was the Greek sailor's cap he was wearing that gave him a certain quixotic and timeless proletarian cachet, or maybe I was just bored and waiting for my wife and her friend to finish purchasing baklava at the Greek-American festival in downtown Toledo last weekend.

Either way, he wound up on my digital memory card, and now he is blog fodder. Smoke on, brother.

Helianthus occidentalis

(Perrysburg, OH) Pictured are some yellow wildflowers near a quarry along Interstate 75 in Northwest Ohio. The scientific name for the plants is Helianthus occidentalis, though most folks know them as the Western sunflower.

You likely will not find many of these flowers near your favorite downtown Disney hotel, as they are typically found only in the most northern Florida counties. Rather, the Western sunflower is a staple of the Midwest and Upper South, the sort of traditional flower that has physical and historical roots in the middle of the North American continent.

9/11/2009

Bare Roof

(Toledo, OH) Pictured on your left are some of the guys who are replacing my roof today. I found it interesting to look at the wood beneath the shingles, as this is a view of my house I may never live to see again, at least if my 50-year shingles do their work as advertised.

Or so long as my home never faces a tornado or a hurricane.

My roofers also appear to have no need for investing in an elliptical, as they engage in heavy lifting and strenuous work for eight hours at a stretch. I, however, may purchase such a machine to assist me in losing the remaining 15 pounds that separates me from being called "svelte."

Brush Pile

(Toledo, OH) The black-and-white feature and the sharpening of this image created a much more sinister effect than this rather mundane pile of brush has in real life. Alas, the pile is no more, as I chopped up the bigger pieces of wood and turned the smaller twigs and leaves into mulch, so there is no need for frightened viewers to worry about having an early use for finding the best wrinkle cream due to premature aging.

Brush piles serve to attract birds and wildlife, though the down side is that they also attract city nuisance abatement personnel. I try not to let brush accumulate for very long due to the peskiness of the latter pest.

Delicate Cosmos


(Toledo, OH) I planted quite a few Cosmos seeds this year, and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of beautiful flowers that appeared in my yard. The stalks of these members of the Aster family grow about seven feet high, and we have had dozens of these delicate blossoms for over six weeks now.

The scientific name of the plant is Cosmos bipinnatus, though some folks prefer to call them the "Mexican aster." I had to pause in the middle of getting an insurance quote to appreciate the simple beauty of these flowers, some of which I cut for a table decoration.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

(Toledo, OH) I heard this bird long before I actually saw the creature, its harmonious songs cascading through my neighborhood as though an opera singer was perched in the trees. I have encountered more grosbeaks this year than any other in recent memory; I am not sure if this is a function of greater awareness on my part or if this is simply coincidence.

And with the brilliant red feathers of the grosbeak, these birds will never have a need to seek out quality equestrian apparel for their forays into the wilderness. They are snazzy enough already.

9/08/2009

Flaming Sky

(Romulus, MI) The skies above this suburb of Detroit seemed to glow as though lit up by a stratospheric conflagration last night. The colorful display was the result of a series of thunderheads rolling in the area at sunset, and the occasional flash of lightning (not pictured) made for an almost trippy evening of skywatching.

More run-of-the-mill matters like picking the best acne treatment seem even more trivial when such a brilliant
array of colors light up the late evening. Then again, I am long past the age when acne is the source of paralyzing social embarassment.

Family-Friendly Parking Space

(Canton, MI) I found the pictured parking space to be an interesting idea that caters to younger families. The U.S. operations of Sweden-based retailer IKEA offer "family friendly parking" that is designed for folks with small children and strollers.

I don't know how well they police their lot for scofflaws who roll into the family section without any kids, but the 20-car section was filled the day I visited. I wonder if they will start offering other innovative amenities, like a Acnepril-themed restroom for teenagers embarrassed about their acne problems.

Rogue Commercial Sign

(Toledo, OH)I had to admire the chutzpah of the business owner who attached a sign promoting his oil change business for trucks to a municipal directional sign. I used to be in business for myself, and I remember how restrictive the city of Toledo used to be with regard to signs.

I'm not sure if the city is relaxing its code enforcement or if the number of enforcement personnel has been reduced, but if the city has time to harass citizens with "illegal" gravel turnarounds on private property for their houses and mobile homes, they can sure find time to chase down the businesses who flout the sign codes.

9/06/2009

Downtown Detroit from Comerica Park

(Detroit, MI) The accompanying image of downtown Detroit was recently taken from a Comerica Park suite on the third base line. None of the city's financial and demographic struggles are evident in the photo, and a casual glance might lead a viewer to the mistaken belief that Detroit is still a bustling industrial mecca in the American Midwest.

Yet even a Southpark dentist offering free crowns and $5 root canals would probably still struggle in Detroit. The city will always be "home" to me, but every time I return to the Motor City I feel more and more like an outsider.

May Detroit one day recover from its woes.

Southwest Airlines Jet

Southwest Airlines Jet (Romulus, MI) The bright colors of this Southwest Airlines jet seemed a bit disconnected from the roar of the plane's engines as it roared over my head the other day near Detroit's Metro Airport. Such a colorful vehicle ought to create a happier sound, perhaps like a calliope or a marching band.

One might also expect such a party-like plane's facilities to be decked out with amenities like Hansgrohe faucets or J├Ągermeister on tap.

Dancing bears and juggling clowns, even. Anything but the rumble and whine of a jet engine.

Old Home

Pictured on your left is the house my grandfather lives in, a house that is an old home in many ways. He lived in the same old house with my recently deceased grandmother since he came back from World War II, and the house predates his occupancy by at least two decades.

Yet the old home is also a family touchstone, as we must have gone there for something like 20 straight Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners before the torch began to be picked up by my mother (and even later by the grandchildren). We never bothered with Christmas party invitations because the door was always open and heck - where else would you even go on the holidays?

Now my grandfather lives alone, and we get up to see him once a week. The old home seems older these days, but it has been a center of my life as long as I can remember.

Thank God for old homes.

Blue Cornflower

(Toledo, OH) I had never previously planted cornflowers before, but I planted a few packets of mixed annuals that I purchased for 10 cents each at a local Rite Aid and the cornflowers appeared a few weeks ago. The crisp azure-hued blossoms contrast well with the zinnias and marigolds that accompanied the cornflowers in the mix.

Imagine that: popping into the store for cat supplies and winding up with a garden full of beautiful flowers for less than a buck. The next you know I'll hear that the government will pay me thousands of dollars for my old clunker.

Nah.

9/05/2009

Vigilant Rat Terrier

(Toledo, OH) Pictured on your left is Missy, our 6-year-old rat terrier mix. At the time of this image Missy was keeping close watch on a pair of squirrels across the yard, critters she seems to believe are ripe for stalking and tormenting.

Dogs like Missy have little use for cell phones in their work as canine yard sheriffs. Her pointed tail and perked up ears provide better communication to those around her that all is not well in the department of rogue rodents.

Alas, the squirrel menace passed, and Missy returned to her porch perch, but rest assured that no rodent dare let down its guard on her watch.

Bashful Marigold

(Toledo, OH)The golden-hued marigold on your left almost appears to be reluctant to participate in the image I captured this morning in the garden, like it was a geisha with a paper fan or a celebrity blocking the camera of the paparazzi with an outstretched hand.

The process of saving collected images like this is less problematic with a quality remote backup service, and I urge readers to consider backing up all important data with such a plan. I once lost hundreds of hours worth of work by relying only on my laptop hard drive to save my documents and images, files that can never again be reclaimed.