Some knucklehead set my fence on fire

Last night the trash bin for the apartment/office building next door caught fire, which in turn set the fence and climbing vine at my property line on fire, which caught my daughter’s attention, which led to us calling 911 to report the fire, which brought a crew of firefighters over to put it out.

Somebody – I’m not naming names mainly because I don’t know them – apparently put a grill with still-live charcoal embers in or on the Dumpster™, thus igniting the overflowing trash bin. The chain link fence that separates the parking lot and said trash bin from my property melted, the lattice caught fire and so did the climbing vine I planted there some 15 years ago, leaving a gaping charred hole where the fence used to be.

Luckily the thorn bushes that surround almost my entire backyard did not catch fire, or it could have threatened my house. And as dry as it has been around here lately, I’m surprised the hedge didn’t catch fire.

This was an intense fire while it lasted.

That pickup was a little too close to the fire for comfort.

Ah, the warm glow of a trash fire …

There goes the lattice …

I wish I’d thought to throw those hedge clippings in the foreground onto the fire.

The scene of the crime.

The likely culprit.

The morning after

The landlord next door is going to hear from me tomorrow, and so is the city. I’m not paying to replace the fence. They are.


Memorial Day parade

So who doesn’t love a parade? Cuyahoga Falls does a pretty big one every Memorial Day, complete with veterans, two high school marching bands (and and alumni group), karate clubs, baseball teams and so forth. Lots to see, neighbors to chat with, etc. I saw an RV parked along the route at 7:30 this morning, set up with an awning and tiki torches! Speaking of torches, I’ll be posting photos from an unscheduled bonfire at the trash bin (Dumpster) next door, which set my fence and vine on fire Sunday night. More on that later.

Starting things off.

The ubiquitous Mayor Don Robart.

And the unofficial mayor of Fourth Street, Tony Destro.

Love a woman in uniform.

Look! It’s the leaning tower of Pizza!

The grand marshal?

Your basic Rolls Royce.

I have no idea how this photo got in there.

A member of the Library Brigade works the book cart.

What’s a parade without Model Ts?

Issue of fracking seems to be gaining traction

I’ve noticed lately that fracking seems to be getting more attention lately, in both positive and negative ways. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has had its fair share of controversy over the last few years, but until recently it has largely simmered beneath the radar of the general public. If you asked the average schmoe what hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” was, they might have answered that frack (or “Frak”) is a euphemism used on some television shows to avoid using a naughtier “f” word.

A survey published this month found widespread support for energy credits, but also pretty widespread support for more regulation of fracking. So, apparently, people are starting to pay attention. The survey seems to be pretty solid. “The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for the National Journal and included 1,004 adults age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted May 17-20, 2012; margin of error was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points,” according to Ecology Today, which as you might imagine has a vested interest in the issue.

Shamelessly stolen from my former employer

Ohio and neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia are in the epicenter of the fracking issue. Over the last five or so years, wells have been popping up all over the place, making some landowners (semi) rich and causing concern and/or outrage among some neighbors. Wells have been around for years, of course, but recently the fracking wells have drawn more attention, mostly negative.

Vermont became the first state to ban fracking earlier this month.

Fans of Akrondave, all five of you (up from three!), may recall earlier posts at this fine blog referring to the issue, including the temporary ban in Ohio on injection fracking waste byproduct into the ground near Youngstown because it was suspected of causing minor earthquakes in the area. In that particular post, I mentioned that I was a bit conflicted because this growing industry was creating jobs, and some pretty high-paying jobs.

Add to the mix that natural gas prices have dropped dramatically in the past year or so and you have fodder for a lively debate.

For the public good, I hope it doesn’t boil down to spin-laden charges of “job-killing government regulation” vs. “corporate greed.” How about we stand back and take a careful look at the real effects of fracking and its byproducts (such as the aforementioned injection wells), and if it appears to be reasonably safe and is reasonably regulated, then proceed with due caution. What’s the hurry? It’ll still be in the ground a million years from now.

Take a hike!

And I mean that in the nicest way, of course.

I took advantage of the beautious weather and some free time to take my own advice. This is a great time of year to get out. It’s not too hot or buggy yet, but spring is definitely in full bloom, if perhaps moving on toward summer maturity. The novelty has worn off a bit, but now is a good time to slow down and soak it all in: the fragrant if invisible flowers, the pungent aroma of decomposing wood from nearby fallen trees – pretty much like walking by a freshly spread bed of wood chip compost; most of the trees are fully filled in. The sounds of countless songbirds and scurrying chipmunks seem to punctuate every turn on the trail.

Today was a two-parter: I noticed the nearby cemetery was especially colorful with all sorts of flowering shrubs and trees in bloom. I’ll make a separate post with that. Even in midday sun there’s always opportunities for interesting images at a cemetery. I don’t always succeed, but hey, I’m working on it.

Second was a visit to the Gorge Park and the adjacent Glens hiking trail. It’s a moderately challenging trail — definitely NOT ADA compliant. There are a few potentially dangerous spots, so I’d think twice about bringing small children. Anyway, on to the pix:

This limestone-and-other-stuff formation is known as “puddingstone,” so named for its Swiss cheese texture, which reminded explorers of English pudding, which you might have guessed by now is nothing like the Jell-O brand of pudding you and I probably grew up with.

This is the famous Mary Campbell Cave, where a 12-year-old girl named – wait for it! – Mary Campbell was kidnapped and kept by a local tribe. She survived and named the cave in her honor. Or something like that.

A former colleague of mine referred to chipmunks as “rats with racing stripes.” Seems appropriate. Sometimes I wish this camera came equipped with a few rounds of .22-caliber ammo. If you saw the damage chippies have done to my garage, you wouldn’t think that cruel at all!

A fern grows in stone.

This is a good example of when a flash would be handy. That or some major bracketing. This was shot from within a fairly deep overhang. The detail of the overhang is lost in the shadows because the camera’s auto exposure set itself for the much-lighter background. But if you bracket for the shadows, the background will probably wash out because of overexposure. What to do, what to do?

… The answer, of course, is some handy-dandy strobe flash fill. Especially helpful in dark caves and other spots lacking natural light. In most cases, I’d prefer to use natural light. But if you need a little help, don’t fight it.

Despite improving water quality, the mighty Cuyahoga River seems to still be the favorite home of big lunkers like these, “Carpusi Enormusi.”

There is no shortage of interesting rock formations along this stretch of the Cuyahoga River. And when crews blow up two more dams, the receding (and much interesting white water) river promises to expose more interesting rock.

A closer look at this formation.

And now for some moving pictures:

The birds and the bees

Twas a lovely day on the Bike and Hike Trail at and near Water Works Park, with spring in full bloom. I didn’t see any deer today, but the chipmunks were out in force. And they’re getting complacent, too. Nearly ran over one lazy chipper on the trail.

It was hard to tell from the distance, but it looks like one of the ospreys has returned to Water Works, but no mate was in site. Anyway, it’s nice to have some nature so nearby — I don’t even need to get in a car to get there. Five minutes on a bike.

This appears to be your basic honeybee, although I hear the honeybee population is threatened by insecticides and other forms of pestilence, which could be bad news for many crops. Love long and prosper, little honeybee.

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.” Wish this camera had a macro lens. Focus could be a little sharper. Maybe this is an aging starlet bee who needs soft focus for those romantic close-up shots. Yeah, that’s it. I meant to do that.  

Not sure if this is the same bee or not.

Your basic butterfly. Any entomologists out there who can identify the species?

Yes, yet another bee.

A blue heron at Water Works. One of the hazards of shooting though a chain link fence with autofocus is the links can play havoc with the autofocus. Wish I’d trusted my own eyes. The grass in the background is in better focus than the bird.

Apparently the birds were not in a cooperative mood on this day. I think this is an osprey, but it’s hard to tell from this distance. There was a nesting pair of ospreys in this same area last year. But so far only one of these raptors has shown up and I didn’t see a nest.

I believe this is an iris of some sort. These are seen in many spots along the Cuyahoga River, in the Bike and Hike trails and the Towpath.

Waiting for the Swamp Creatures to emerge. Or not.

OK, this clematis is in my backyard. I cheated.