Wednesday, April 30, 2008

That's Better

When we last left our robin, it was pretty much freezing its tail feathers off, sitting on a branch of our red bud tree on March 8, technically just last month.
Well, here we see a robin (maybe not the same one...) sitting on the same branch (or close to it) on the same tree. This looks a little more warm and inviting, doesn't it (even if the bird's and tree's colors clash a little)???

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I think we all have things we do as a kind of therapy, to escape the trials and tribulations of the day. For some, it is digging in the dirt in the garden and yielding plantastic wonders. For others, maybe just getting lost in that page-turner of a book. Lately, this combo pictured above has done it for me. My son got really good at playing guitar and moved on to a Les Paul from this Squire Strat, which a great axe for beginners and duffers like me, but for an accomplished virtuoso, not so much. He was kind enough to string it up "lefty" for me and leave it to my whims and fancies. Then a few weeks ago my wife picked up this old amp at a church rummage sale. If you twist the knobs just right, it makes that Squire Strat, now enhanced with new Ernie Ball strings, sound just fine.

Most of my musical life was taken up with keyboards (hence the organ in the background - which has a story of its own), but I can get down with a six-string enough to have a really good time - especially if it's strung backwards like this one (the choice of Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney, I'd point out...) So lately, this is my therapy. When I'm hashing out some chord progression, there is nothing else in the world. You don't have to be Andres Segovia to have a good time, trust me!

I'm no rock n roll historian, but the electric guitar was popularized by, what, the genius, Les Paul, Bill Haley in the earlier 1950's, and Elvis, Chet Atkins, and quite a few others, and then it really hit its stride with the British invasion of 1963-1964 and thereafter. So a lot of us Baby Boomers were tuning in to Cousin Brucie and his clones all over the country during those formative "wonder years", and a lot of guitar got imprinted on our brains.

I suspect that many of us, to varying degrees, try to relive those days, whether by trotting out the old 45s and LPs, or playing "air guitar", or hacking around with the real deal. All I know is it can take me to a pretty cool place. I mean, it's only rock and roll, but I like it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Milliums of Trilliums, etc.

We took a little drive today, and on the way back from our destination, we took the back roads. You can tell you are on a back road when you see a sign like this:
Then we visited the reservoir to check on the status of the trilliums. They are in full bloom, as these pictures try to show. It is difficult to capture how widespread they are. It takes quite a few minutes to walk all the way around them.

But as you can see, they thrive there, and grow right off into the woods.

Notice the patches of these things off into the distance:

Here's a single trillium, up close and personal.

As we left the reservoir, I stopped the car near some reeds where red-winged blackbirds hang out and "stake their claim".
i get a kick out of the sound of these guys. I wish I could stick an mp3 of the calling back and forth of the red wingers in here, to give you the full sensory experience!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Weird Object Friday #10

Wy wife collects wind-up toys, and has a bunch of them. Maybe the weirdest looking one, to me, is the walking dinosaur skeleton.

Here he is with some of his friends.

Here are quite a few more of the members of the collection. See that green robot at the top? My sister sent us an army of those guys, red and green. Wind them up and they do this hula-like dance.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

It was a good day to be on the Earth. Pigeon's recent blog reminded me it's just about trillium time around here, so we grabbed the dog and headed out to the reservoir where the trillium goes absolutely nuts, acres of it.

Well, it was a little early, but they are poking out. I'll try to get a shot when they are out in full splendor.

They were having some "Earth Day" events out at the rez; nature scavenger hunts for the kids, some snacks. I was telling someone at the pavilion that I could recall the first Earth Day; I remember going around picking up litter in my home town that day.

Meanwhile, the sky and water put on a pretty decent show out at the Rez. I'll let the Earth do the rest of the "talking".

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Finally, a little color around the 'hood

We walked the dog a little earlier than usual because it was threatening rain. Found quite a bit of color out there. I thought the pussy willows going crazy in our back yard were about as interesting as anything going on in the fowering plant world.
Then there are these two about a block down the street.
Seems to be about the height of forsythia season in northern Ohio right now...
And the PJM rhododendrans are chiming in.
And finally, ever since we had part of this maple cut out for a little more sunlight, the squirrels think it's a great place to hang out.

Friday, April 18, 2008

W.O.F. 9 - creepy toy

Maybe to some this thing is cute, but it sort of creeps me out. Our son brought this home from a garage sale once. That little panel in the front is a solar receptor. As long as there is some light in the room, the yellow guy's head bobs, ever so slightly, back and forth. More light, and more bobbing.

And I have no idea what the little green guy leaning up on him is - presumably an unripe little squirt that hopes to bob its own head some day.

I guess it is somewhat of a conversation piece, but it does not exactly make for hours of fun. Just sort of creepy, having this subtle movement catch you out of the corner of your eye.

Bonus picture having nothing to do with weird objects: A tree about a block away from us, in full bloom:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Healing Waters

I've been preparing a report for a Village I have been working with, Green Springs, and I like to include photos in my reports. It was 72 degrees and partly cloudy today, so I took off with the company Kodak for the nearby village this afternoon.

One key asset in Green Springs is a regionally known rehabilitation hospital called St. Francis, run by the Franciscan order. Due north of the hospital campus is what appears to be a pool of water in a park like setting. This pool is what gave Green Springs its name - back in the day people would travel to this town to take a dip in the medicinal sulfur waters. It was thought to be a cure for certain ailments.

The area is still very attractive. The locals I talk to say they pretty much stay away, though, because of the strong sulfur smell. Plus, the geese down there get pretty territorial about it.

I spent some time down at the springs anyway, dealing with the smell, honking off the geese, but taking a couple pictures of the scenery anyway.

Obviously, that's the hospital up there at the top of the hill.

Yep, hyacinths are officially out and bloomin' in northern Ohio.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

day on the road; color along the Interstate

Spent the day on the job in a series of meetings in a county 100 miles from home, where I am helping a township put a comprehensive plan together. I spent some "free" time driving the roads, getting familiar with the township, doing the recon. It was a good day, and I feel much more familiar with the place, some of its people, and some of its issues and aspirations.

While listening to Steve Martin's recent memoir on CD, and while driving back on the Interstate, I pointed the office-issued Kodak EasyShare Z650 (not an altogether bad camera, but I have not caught on to the rhythm of its "shutter" yet out the side windows for some blurry roadside shots. The sunset color is unretouched; it was a good show. And sorry; the tanker and signage below is highly retouched; I get carried away with "posterizing" every once in a while.

The color along I-75 gave way to the never-neverlandedness of U.S. 30, which developers and drivers still have not fully discovered yet. The sunset concluded in my rear view mirror, and it got really dark, leaving just Steve for my entertainment.

Monday, April 14, 2008

movie reviews - two digits raised skyward

OK, I will not be reviewing movies very often on this blog because, for one thing, I don't watch that many movies. And for another, I don't know what I'm talking about aside from knowing what I like. Which may often be unlike what others like.

Anyhow, despite having a really busy weekend, what with both kids, the husband of one, and the girlfriend of another in the house to celebrate my wife's upcoming birthday, and with said wife's pronouncement that we should do something all together aside from watching a movie (and so we played a rousing game of Scattergories, which is a good game, I must admit), I squeezed (squoze?) in two movies on my own anyway. The weather was pretty horrendous, so outside activities were ruled out. So anyhow, these two that I watched were among the most entertaining movies I have seen in some time.

First up was the Darjeeling Limited. This one is not for everybody. There is not a lot of plot; it is more about character development in an odd situation and setting. The basic premise: after their father's death, three brothers try to connect with one another (at the seeming urging of one of them in particular, who keeps asking if they can all agree to certain terms) as they ride along rural India in a train bearing the name of the movie. They are trying to reach their mother. I won't say much more, plot wise, except in general terms, they face some challenges. I think this movie was listed in the store where I rented it as a "comedy". It is not, really, a comedy. It defies categorization, I think. I mean, it has its light moments. But it is more just a journey.

The three brothers are played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman. I think the fourth big star is the Indian countryside and its communities, shrines, and shacks that, at times, steal the spotlight. I also think that, in order to properly enjoy this film, you have to just sit back and go with the flow. There is a sort of flow to the whole thing, like a leisurely rail excursion, with a few bumps along the way.

It's directed by the inimitable Wes Anderson. I am not schooled in cinematography, but some of the sweeps or pans or whatever seem quite clever and serve the mood and plot, such as it is, very well. I think the same trick was employed on a ship in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", another Anderson work. And Life Aquatic star Bill Murray makes a couple of cameos in Darjeeling along the way. So if you like a bit of quirk and off-mainstream in your movies, you might like this one.

Then yesterday afternoon I burned off two hours with the highly entertaining (at least to me) The Bourne Ultimatum. I suppose it took a little suspension of disbelief to swallow the whole conspiracy going down in movies like this. But once you allow yourself to do so, it's fun to just follow the chases, and marvel at the plot twists (or make a mental note that you saw the twist coming). As with Darjeeling, the sets were pretty foreign/exotic, although in this case, there is too much mayhem going on in the foreground to really avert your eyes and enjoy the centuries-old European architecture.

This is really Matt Damon's movie, but he gets help from a wide-eyed and pretty silent Julia Stiles, a very good, conflicted CIA boss guy played by David Stratheim, and another honcho played well by Joan Allen.

I am not a big fan of post-MTV frenetic camera shoots, but in the case of this movie, because the plot and action are frenetic, I thought they were captured well by the camera work and editing. I did not get a headache from the herky-jerkyness, and it served the mood of the flick well, I thought.

Anyhow, I recommend both movies, and although they are very, very different, both have a sort odd similarity in that they chronicle the journey of people in search of themselves, trying to reconnoiter with their less than savory past. Anyhow, because of the risk of copyright infringement, we must state that for both, it's two opposable digits extended skyward.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

signs of life

More and more signs of spring out there, even though the s-word is in our forecast for tomorrow. A week ago, I was awakened by one bird singing solo. Now it is a chorus. The crocuses are abounding all over, and daffodils are making a showing.

And the sounds of spring are not confined to birdsong. Last night we were treated to the mellifluous tones of our tornado siren. It seems that cyclical, "tornadic" activity was spotted in a line of clouds passing through the south end of the county. Fortunately, nothing touched down.

These guys are still around, too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

W.O.F. 8

Well, it is getting a little more challenging coming up with original weird stuff. I continue in plundering our son's room, for now. I am not sure how to explain this. It is his work. It is of a papier mache medium. It was probably an art project. It is dragon-like. It was very dusty, sitting high above a bookshelf. It is what it is.

Here's a little contest. I do not believe this thing has a name. (I could be wrong). I welcome suggestions - so the contest is "Name the dragon-like thing". What name do you think fits best?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

mandatory walk around the block

The dog lays down the law nightly and coaxes us into walking her somewhere. This has been the routine for thirteen years and it's not about to stop now. So we took a walk around the block and here were a few of the things we saw.

First, about a block away, these people have this incredible wood sculpture behind a fairly tall fence, in their back yard. An eagle that has caught a fish in its talons, banking harshly. I have not discovered if this was carved out of a tree trunk, but I would guess that it was. It may be 12 feet tall.

Next, we passed the local gas station. We did not like what we saw, but I was able to get all smug about buying a tankful for $3.17.9 this morning. What a dumb thing to get all smug about!

We checked in down the street to see if the buzzards were still in residence. Indeed, they were, but as I just had the pocketable Sony with me, with about a 3x zoom, you'll have to take my word that they are up there (in the circle...)

There's one on the wing, headed for those beloved pines.

And finally, Silky made the traditional stop at the big old oak tree on the corner. I believe this is where dogs from this part of town get their information about who's been by. We chop down trees and make paper, then print messages on the paper and distribute them to get our news. Dogs have this advanced sense of smell where they can gather their news straight from the tree. Brings a different angle to the term "news hound", I guess.