Descending Icicles

(Romulus, MI) While visiting my grandfather today my eyes caught sight of a group of icicles that formed an aesthetically pleasing array of frozen shapes. The way the icicles gradually descended in relatively arithmetic length reminded me of the bars on a xylophone, or maybe like a series of larger and larger bones, such as ribs or toes.

I did not have, however, the urge to eat these icicles like I might have as a child. As I look back I am amazed I never became sick eating icicles, especially the icicles that formed from roof runoff. We regularly chomped down on these "roof-cicles," and I shudder at the toxins and grime that I undoubtedly ingested.


Opossums in Toledo

(Toledo, OH) I heard the opossum long before I saw it the other evening, and at first I thought my trash cans were being invaded by rats. No, instead another mammal had been feasting on our discarded items.

Our dogs have long despised these creatures, which sort of redefine the word "ugly." I know some folks find possums to be cute and cuddly, but to my eyes they are rather freakish. Of course, with the built-in marsupial pouch, they do not spend much time thinking about infant and child care items like the baby jogger city mini, but even their strong maternal nature cannot overcome their inherent creepiness.


Foster Doxie

(Toledo, OH) I never paid much attention to Dachshunds before I started fostering with Planned Pethood, but in the past two years we have fostered about seven of these cool little dogs. Pictured on your left is Ashley, a mini Dachshund we have been fostering for about two months and who is leaving today for her forever home.

Doxies are loyal and affectionate, and they spend zero time worried about such everyday concerns as the best type of women's vitamin. Doxies just want your love, and they are happiest when they can curl up with a kind human being.

Goodbye, you pretty little baby!

Flying Jay

(Toledo, OH) MAny folks find blue jays to be annoying visitors to their bird feeders, and they focus on the loud screeching of agitated jays or their aggressiveness toward other songbirds as reasons for jay-disdain. I have personally quite fascinated with blue jays all my life, and I find their independence and seeming fearlessness to be endearing qualities.

If blue jays were people, I doubt that you would find them asking questions like "does Jenny Craig work"? No sir: blue jays would not be bothered with such mundane matters.


River in Mid-Melt

(Toledo, OH) This section of the Ottawa River near Point Place reached the point where it is no longer possible to cruise around with snowmobiles yesterday. In fact, anyone foolish enough to spend time in a mode of transportation other than a boat would be, well, pretty foolish.

Kind of like someone who paints dark circles under their eyes in order to achieve a look that can only be described as "sleep-deprived Goth." I am sure you have seen this fashion archetype.


Upside Down Squirrel

(Toledo, OH) The squirrel pictured on your left is busy attacking one of my bird feeders in an effort to extract the sunflower seeds I stock for cardinals and blue jays. He is busier than a teenager getting ready on prom night with a bad case of nodule acne.


Yet despite my annoyance at having to restock my feeders more frequently, I bear no ill will toward the neighborhood squirrels. In fact, I kind of admire their tenacity and inventiveness in regularly defeating every method I use to keep them from the bird feeders.


February Sun

(Toledo, OH) As singer Johnny Nash once said: "It seems like years since it's been clear," and I had to take a short break from grading to soak up a few chilly rays from the full February sun. Pictured on the left is one of my flower gardens, although you can only see the tips of my yucca plants sticking out from the four-foot snow banks that piled up from drifts and shoveling last week.

That storm - while it did not send me scurrying for anti aging products - nonetheless reminded me of my gradual decline from youthful energy. I have been bothered with a nagging backache since the waves of snowstorms started, and I have come to the realization that I either need to invest in a snow blower or a hardy snow shoveler from this point forward, especially if I am going to play Good Neighbor and clear the driveways of my elderly neighbors.


Emergency Lights at Night

(Monroe, MI) A return trip from Detroit turned into a white-knuckle excursion down Interstate 75 the other night. The blizzard that dumped several feet of snow on Washington DC skirted the region, but Michigan road crews had not yet salted or plowed I-75 when we reached the edge of the storm.

In the 20 miles from Carlton to the Ohio border we saw at least a dozen vehicles off the side of the road, including several of what appeared to be injury accidents. Yet in spite of the obvious danger we also saw a fair number of FWD vehicles speeding in excess of 75 mph in the poor driving conditions.


Worn Laminate Floor

(Toledo, OH) Pictured on the left is a section of a worn laminate wood grain floor in my kitchen. We made a few mistakes when we chose this flooring, not the least of which was the fact that my then-younger children were budding demolition experts.

We also chose an off-brand company instead of paying top dollar for the highest quality flooring, and we neglected to consider the damage a rolling office chair would make on the floor (this chair is at the community computer in the kitchen).

In hindsight, I would have been much better off by purchasing quality tile flooring from a reputable dealer. Tile handles abuse much more resiliently than wood laminate, and it is virtually indestructible under normal wear and tear.

Oak Leaf in Winter

(Toledo, OH) The solitary leaf caught my eye, roiling as it did in the January wind that accompanied an approaching high pressure system. There was an element of stoicism that appealed to me in the leaf's seemingly defiant stance against a much more powerful force, although admittedly the features of a Canon camera can make even the ordinary take on spiritual or heroic qualities.

After all: it is just an oak leaf. Nothing more, nothing less, and my attempts to project meaning may ring hollow in winter's frigid indifference.