Excursion 27, Part 3 (Home through the Hills)

It is a shame that Appalachian Ohioans cannot replicate some of the successes that West Virginians have had bringing federal money to help their struggling state.  But the problem is that all of West Virginia lies in Appalachia, while only part of Ohio does.  None of the power centers of Ohio, all urban or suburban, are in Appalachia; the region does not have the population to have political clout nor money to purchase politicians’ attention.  With no real economy, plus underfunded and under-attended schools, the region cannot attract money from the state of Ohio, to say nothing of the federal government.  The region is a fairly equal mix of “red” and “blue” counties, but neither party pays attention to them, Republicans because they care nothing for the poor and Democrats because they know and care little about the rural white poor.

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Excursion 24, Part 1 (Sleep in Heavenly Peace)

In which our intrepid ventures out on Christmas morn…

In November 2013, I finally purchased my first DSLR camera, a Canon EOS 70D, something I had been itching to do for several months at that point, although the Canon Powershot SX50 HS superzoom camera that I had been using is in some ways better suited for roadside photography.  But I felt it was time for me to step up.

Work and the Polar Vortex combined to prevent me from taking the camera on a test ride for some weeks, but one possibility did intrigue me:  going on on Christmas day.

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Excursion 22, Part 1 (Relics of the Dead)

In which our intrepid hero looks at the past and the passed…

Death comes to us all in the end, but you never know how news of the deaths of others will affect you.  Although I mourned their passing, the actual deaths of neither of my maternal grandparents caused me true sorrow, because in both cases, the circumstances of their passing meant that death, when it came, was something of a blessing.  The relief of their suffering outweighed the sorrow of their absence.

The circumstances of death thus play a large role in how deaths affects us.

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Excursion 17, Part 1 (The Eagle Has Landed)

In which our intrepid hero encounters an unusual eyrie…

I saw a UFO once.  I use this term in its literal sense—an unidentified flying object—rather than as a synonym for “flying saucer” or “alien spacecraft.”  I was probably about 13 or 14 years old at the time.  It was very early in the morning—I was outside putting stuff in the car, as my family was getting ready to go on some trip (one of our rare vacation trips, I suppose).  The sky was perfectly clear and I just happened to notice an odd little circle hovering high up in the sky.  It was extremely tiny and I was kind of surprised I even managed to see it in the first place.  I couldn’t figure out what it was, and neither could my family.  My father suggested getting his spotting scope, so we brought it outside and looked at the object through it.  Even through the spotting scope, we couldn’t really make out any details.  We eventually decided it was most likely a weather balloon, which I still think is the most likely explanation.

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Excursion 15, Part 1 (Up the Old Ohio)

In which our intrepid hero travels up a lazy river…

Typically, in introductions to blog entries such as this one, I have tried to evoke personal memories of years long since gone, but recently, the only memories easily evocable have been dreams of only a few short months ago, those naïve times before I had ever heard of terms like “polar vortex.”  After several years of very mild winters, the winter of 2013-2014 has been a shock to my system I still have not quite gotten used to.  Although we’ve had years with more snow, in terms of pure coldness, this is the nastiest winter we’ve had here in Ohio in 20 years and I guess I was getting spoiled.  As I type, though, the temperature is around 11 degrees, it has been snowing, the wind is whipping outside my window, and the forecast is telling me that two days from now the high temperature will be below zero and the low somewhere around 15 below.  In times like these, I can look at photographs such as these from early August 2013 and almost feel the warmth coming from them.

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Excursion 14, Part 1 (Pastoral Ohio)

In which our intrepid hero cows some cows…

As I sit here typing on my computer, the weather outside is 11 degrees (Fahrenheit, of course; I do not belong to Al Qaeda).  The next few days are going to get much colder.  The winter of 2013-2014 so far has been a pretty darn cold one for Ohio.  That arctic quality is only enhanced when I look at the photographs in this blog entry, which were taken last July 13 on a gloriously sunny summer’s day.  As an obese person, I tend to prefer extremes of cold over extremes of heat (you can always put on another layer, but you can only get so naked), but I am not much for extremes of any sort.  Although I can put up with cold weather, I really am a weather wimp.  I would be much happier if the temperature always stayed between 69 and 72 degrees.

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Excursion 10, Part 2 (The Bottomless Barn)

In which our intrepid hero learns that there is at least one way to skin a barn…

When I was a kid, there was a popular t-shirt that depicted a mouse in the grasp of an eagle’s talon.   Even as the eagle was lifting him off the ground to be lunch, the mouse gave the eagle the finger.  I tried to find such a shirt on the web, or the original artwork, but failed.  However, you can find a cruder, less dynamic version if you do a Google image search on “the last great act of defiance.”  Why do I mention this 1970s t-shirt?

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Excursion 5, Part 3 (We are time’s subjects, and time bids be gone)

In which our intrepid hero literally discovers the Theory of Everything…

One of the odd things about dilapidated or ruined buildings is how they juxtapose with the seasons.  If you look at a ruined building in the winter, the landscape surrounding it is as grey and colorless as the building itself; lifelessness upon lifelessness.  However, if you come across the same building in the summer (in Ohio), you will instead see a picture of contrasts:  a gray, lifeless shambles of a building surrounded by vibrant greenery.  Indeed, it may not even be surrounded but invaded by such greenery.  In this case, lifelessness confronts life itself.

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Excursion 4, Part 5 (Take Me to the River, Drop Me in the Water)

In which our intrepid hero continues his journey towards the mystical Ohio river…

I am no student of architecture but anybody who looks at enough buildings, or pictures of buildings, will eventually begin to pick up on certain architectural styles from certain eras.  That is certainly true for mundane residences and businesses.  Often you can look at a house and pretty much know when it was likely to have been built, just from its appearance.  Leaving aside signs of aging, buildings go through fads and trends just like anything else.  One such trend certainly appeared in the 19th century.  If one looks at early photographs of American towns and farmhouses, certain types of brick structures appear so often that they are often a signature—though it is true that in the 20th century some buildings were constructed in a “retro” fashion, inspired by or duplicating that earlier style.

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Excursion 3, Part 3 (Death and Grapes)

In which our intrepid hero provides veritas and vino, entirely coincidentally…

Farms interest me.  I am a city boy, through and through; I have spent virtually all of my life living in one of three cities:  El Paso, San Antonio, and Columbus.  But I do have a small amount of familiarity with farms, because relatives of mine owned a cotton farm near the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and we visited often.  In fact, for a considerable number of years I was there pretty much every weekend, because my father bought a horse (for deer hunting purposes) and reached an agreement with my great-uncle to build a corral on his farm to house the horse and the horse of a family friend.  My dad went out each weekend to ride and brought me along to clean up the corral for him.  So I can say, if nothing else, that I shoveled tons and tons of manure on a cotton farm in my childhood.

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