Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cornmudgin update

Since the last report Walt had a setback, and a little recovery. Another stroke finished off his left side; he and Mark are considering the next move when he is discharged.  The old two story house is all stairs, steps and upstairs bathrooms.

Fortunately for those who care about him, Walt won’t be discharged for a while. He’s on his way to a long term rehabilitation facility. Transport was scheduled for Wednesday, and Mark was to meet them at the new facility. Mark arrived, transport didn't. Things are iffy in the world of hospital transport.

Our phone rang last night, Mark reporting in. He was standing outside Walt’s old hospital room; his dad wasn't there. Yes, he’d been transported to the rehab facility.

“What did he want with a dozen yellow roses?” Mark asked Jan, who laughed out loud. "He told me to bring a dozen yellow roses."

“You know your dad,” she said. “He surely wanted them for his nurse, the nurses.”

“Well I’m standing in the hallway holding a dozen yellow roses! Now what do I do?”

“Give them to a nurse and go on home.”

From one of our mother's many vacations with all her grandchildren and a couple borrowed. Mark is the little fellow in the red shirt. He grew up to be much happier looking.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Two day layover

For the last two mornings I've detoured eight or nine miles on the way to work, hoping for another chance at photographing the egret. No luck; it was only there Tuesday and Wednesday.

Last fall two egrets spent several days in the marsh.  I took the picture with my cell phone, from across the road to the back of the marsh, and definitely before I discovered the camera had a zoom function.

Alain suggested we might be too far north for egrets, so I consulted my Ohio bird book, which places them along the Lake Erie shoreline in summer and found in migration in the rest of Ohio in summers. We have an abundance of shallow wetlands in the valley, and are fewer than twenty miles from their summer habitat. Added to my sighting in the fall, I thought perhaps I could find more egrets.

According to what I've read on the internet egrets are uncommon in the area. Apparently there will be no more unless there is another layover under the overpass this fall.

I turned up little additional information about egrets in the valley. One photographer added an egret to his portfolio of Cuyahoga Valley egrets this past January; another blogger has a series of egret photos taken near Lake Erie.  He was not pleased with the overcast except that it prevented “blowout” of the white in bright sunlight.

So, my egret is suffering “white blowout,” a lovely and certainly technical photographic term. Until fall, then, when I may have my photographic brains all together, here is my impressionistic egret one more time, and I hope we meet again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My impressionist egret

I took my camera with me to a meeting this morning because I heard a white crane was in the marsh under the overpass. They stopped traffic last year, and seemed to have just arrived this year. The bird was on the other side; I would have to get my picture on the way back.

Which I did. Five lovely snaps that looked very good in the viewfinder. After work, after lunch, I downloaded them and found these. Impressionistic. I wonder if the wrap around sunglasses affected my focusing. I took the camera and went back for another try, but it was gone. I hope it will be back for breakfast tomorrow, and not just passing through. I'll have my camera!

On the way to take another picture of the white heron a squirrel ran across our grass and down the wall. I followed him all the way and snapped at the last instant. 

Since I was out and had a camera I detoured to take a memorable picture of the storm of the century a week ago. It actually is the second storm of the century; the last one was in 2003.

There was so much damage from this storm it's past recounting. It surpassed the last storm of the century. The railroad tracks belong to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway; I don't know when they will be repaired. The asphalt lane in the front of the picture below is the Towpath Trail through the park. It's being repaired, mile by slow mile.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

After the parade

What a beautiful day yesterday; not too warm, pleasant breeze. The kid's dad came back with us from the parade to spend the afternoon until Hamilton's jazz gig at seven, in the gazebo on the green.

Looking around my living room at strong young men, an inspiration. We decided some time ago the fifteen year old swing set in the side yard needs to go, but no date set for demolition. I still have little girls around here who go sit in the swing seats and twirl around and exchange secrets. I thought a glider would be a fine replacement. 

Children at work. So was their dad, but I didn't snap him until later.

Farewell, old friend.

The replacement.

"Just fine," the men said. Note the birdhouse at my son-in-law's shoulder. An entire afternoon of one angry wren giving them what for as the swing set came down made no impression on the demolition gang.  There are three active bird houses in this little stand of three oaks, and the same wren seems to be the patriarch of all three. "Move it away from the stand of oaks," Grandma asked.

"OK?" from the inspector of gliders, turned to face the three bird houses and the unhappy wren.

I had to go down there.

Way up the yard, by an entirely bird house free stand of oaks and maples.
Job done just in time for supper and Music on the Green.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Curmudgeons and parades

Dear old Walt; all the doctoring he abandoned two or three years ago caught up with him. He had a right side stroke this time, his steering wheel arm! Or, as Mark told him, "Well, old man, I'll be driving you to doctor appointments and drug stores." He's also become a full fledged diabetic and won't be leaving the hospital until that is under control. Thank you for all your good wishes. Let's see if he takes his medicine, or devises some new workaround.

Today was Memorial Day, the day of picnics and parades. I sat in the hot sun for the fun of taking pictures for three hours, but I had picture taking to amuse myself. Far too many follow, but don't feel obligated.

Nine am. Overnight spot stakers on all four green quadrants.

Just waiting.

Gazebo bunting.

Chair reclamation.

I think she was the nanny.

"Another year, another parade." "Right, son."

Check the hair ribbons.

Filling up.

Color guard.

Our band, under the leadership of my favorite band director.



The mayor.

The National Guard.

Look at the size of this young man's feet.

The band stops at the clock tower for the national anthem.

A small selection of paraders. There were half a dozen convertibles with scholarship winners. 

A man of the cloth and his Harley.

A lot of very nice cars.

A lot of photos of little girls sticking landings.

This young driver paced her own car.

This young driver's car had brakes by mom.

A hand up.

Another landing.

Boy scouts.

An old car.

Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes and Drums.

And so much more.

I hope you had a good holiday, too.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

An old cornmudgin

My brother, our brother, is a good man, affable, secretive, kind, devious, generous, given to occasional excess. He’s worked hard at everything, his job, his motorcycle, his garden, his car. Kittens curl up and sleep between his feet, cats seek his lap. He answers children’s questions, shows them how to swing a hammer or handle a shovel. He helps where he sees a need. He accepts little.

Walt is my oldest brother. I left home at my earliest opportunity; he returned home at his earliest opportunity. My sister was seven when I left. Walt was Jan’s big brother; he watched out for her, helped her, protected her. When Walt came home from the service he bought Mr. Lymon’s house, on the street behind our parents. Everyone knew Mr. Lymon would not sell that house to anyone but Walt. That’s just how it was.

Walt met Hazel when he was in the service in England; they married and came home. Our Hazel; she figures in several old stories of mine. Three sons came along, Roy, John and Mark. I don’t know what ended their marriage, but it did. Hazel eventually had to return to England; she did not become a citizen and could not be sponsored without a spouse. Walt took custody of his sons.

My brother had a romantic concept of women, and an unshakable visual ideal. His wives, three in total, were small women with black hair. He married the last two, I’m sure, to take care of them and their children. Walt’s job relocated him for years to southern Ohio and Mark, his youngest son, had trouble holding his own in the blended families; eventually Mom brought him back home.

Walt had one daughter with his last wife, and there is another young woman who came by his wood shop to talk to “Dad”. He took care of all his children who have scattered to the parts of the county that were their childhood homes. Mark is here, ten minutes away.

When Walt retired fifteen years ago he moved to Mark’s house and they began renovating it together. Walt is a fine craftsman; Mark keeps things tidy. For several years Walt ran a small woodworking business out of our barn. He was so cavalier about sawdust that Tom eventually put a dust collector on the ShopSmith and carted sawdust out in wheelie bins.

About ten years ago Walt had a stroke. Like me, he was a smoker, and like me suffered the consequential bone loss. We compared creaky knees back in our sixties. But nicotine is a tougher taskmaster, and one day Mark called the house, asking Janice to intercede. He thought his dad had a stroke the day before, but was refusing all help. Walt’s little sister arrived in ten minutes and took him to the hospital, where he stayed several days while doctors regulated his blood pressure (yes, he’d had several old heart attacks and small strokes) and started therapy for a semi paralyzed right side.

A day or so after Walt was released he pulled his Jeep into the yard. He came over for someone to tie his shoes. The hardest part had been shifting with his left hand. Yes, he was our same brother.

And so we have gone on these last five years or so. Same old Walt, putting together the family picnic every summer. Sometimes smoking, sometimes not. Regaining drafting skill with his right hand.Quitting the doctor when he disagreed with her. Stocking my daughter’s pantry for several years; underwriting braces for Emily and for his granddaughter, Caitie. Becoming so right of right in his views that we sat on the porch in comfortable silence, having little in common to talk about except family.

Walt organized yesterday’s picnic. He brought all the food over Friday afternoon and stowed it in the fridge.  He slipped in early yesterday, and laid down on a bed for a nap. Not unusual; he’s a night owl and we often see the Jeep in front of the barn in the wee hours. But when he appeared for hot dogs and hamburgers, we knew he was in trouble. No, he was fine. “Have you had another stroke?” his little sister asked bluntly. No, he was fine, as he carefully assembled his picnic plate and slowly made his way out to the table.

After lunch he joined everyone on the porch, and everyone watched him like a hawk. He was not well, spoke little and soon excused himself in carefully slurred words. We watched him across the yard, his left side considerably drooped, steps painfully slow. The driver’s side of the Jeep did not face us, and we watched him go around to it. He was at the door, opened the door, and disappeared. “He’s down!”

Help assembled, lifted him upright. “It’s the trick knee” he announced, as animated as the old days. No help necessary, don’t call an ambulance, he was fine, right up on the seat and off. Adrenaline is pretty powerful stuff. Mark and Caitie discretely left a minute later, to tail him home.

Mark called this afternoon. He woke his dad to assess his state of being and found Walt ready to go to the hospital, but later on, not now. Janice said to tell him she said so. Mark was grateful for the advice and said he would get the old man to the hospital, and that’s where he is now. Jan took charge last time, Mark was able to take charge this time. The baton has passed.

Only the diagnosis is left. We wonder if the old curmudgeon will take his medicine.

Walt and his oldest boy, Roy, about 1968

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A grumpy day goes extraordinary

Work has weighed me down so much recently that I've contemplated locking the door behind me and throwing the key in the river on my way home. I am an elected official. Our sole raison d'être is to do the people’s work. Sadly, I work with some appointees who see job security in obfuscation. I’d rather roll water uphill than deal with them. But I must. That story has no end—yet. Stay tuned.

The other shadow in my otherwise gay and sunny life is the end of the audit, my usual clean audit. But one of the trustees (the elected officials with authority!) came through with severely trampled toes. Completely self inflicted; the auditors were only doing their job. But I dreaded tonight’s exit conference.

So, I went for a ride this afternoon. The sun was shining, the breeze blowing, and a beautiful afternoon. Pictures always help.  I went in search of one or two. I took a picture of the road department yard; the road super is making everything shine for Memorial Day, and he laid new striping with a paint roller. “Sequestered funds,” he says. He’s funny.

Actually, I went back to town because of the rain barrel. I've mentioned our road super is the poster child for conservation. Boston was selected to display one of the rain barrels painted by the local high school art class and auctioned recently. The road super was insistent I get a picture for the web site, and I didn’t see how I could be in two places at once on Memorial Day, with my own marching band in another town. But he came into my office this morning and said I could take a picture right now, it was here! I came back in the afternoon to do it justice with my “real” camera.

I looked at the river behind a new shop. It’s still flowing down hill. I went into the shop and discovered the proprietress is an old friend. But I’ll save it until I make a tour of all the shops again.

I stopped to take an absolutely magnificent picture of dogwood blossoms mingled in a spruce tree. A bury your face in the blossoms picture. But, the wind would not stop blowing and I could not get high enough to photograph down into them. Next time I’ll figure how to get on top of the dumpster.

I came home for a nap, and went to the meeting. It was superbly contentious, until the lead auditor took control by literally outshouting the trustee. Point made the auditor assembled her papers to leave. I asked her to remain and review the audit with the rest of us. 

It was a good audit of my books, but, the auditor noted, the management letter must reflect one trustee would not sign the “representation letter.” It basically says the trustees and I represent our records are correct, blablabla. I saw the wheels turn; the trustee took up pen and signed the public document.

Passing the auditors in the parking lot I smiled broadly and wished them a wonderful weekend.