Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shaggy Zinnia

The usual flower bed at the entrance of our garage is again overflowing with zinnias. I particularly love this one, a shaggy-petaled beauty that I do not remember seeing in past years. It was part of a variety pack of seeds that we bought, I suppose. When I mentioned its unusual appearance to Mom, she thought it might be because of the extreme dryness we have been having. But I noticed that other zinnias had the standard smooth petals.

Here's a closer look at a representative of the shaggy petaled ones. They are all this same color, a vivid pink, almost the shade of Pepto Bismol. They look to me as though they are the flower equivalent of fireworks.

 I watched a Monarch Butterfly trying the nectar here and wish I had my camera handy. But, no. I have marked these zinnias with twist ties so that I may let the flowers go to seed and collect some for next year and for friends. They may be a hybrid, of course, and in that case what I see next year will revert to something quite different. Still, it is fun to try.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Portending Clouds

Monday evening [07/12] I walked outside at about the time of sunset because I saw the telltale signs of towering cumulus through the living room curtain. There is a certain orange quality to them, tinged with late-day pink and I thought I must check out the sky.
Walking to the front, I found these clouds above the maturing corn, marching to the east. Opposite them, the sky was beginning to dim as the sun prepared to set and the late hour tinted these pillars pink. The corn, meanwhile, was dark. It is as though we live in a box this time of year, collared by corn, sitting deep in the bottom of a well, trapped. We can only see out if we look up or down the road. And that is but a narrow path.

To the west (about 8:30 p.m.), another large cumulus was moving towards us and I waited until it obscured the sun before I took this picture. Just a few minutes later I checked the radar and saw a tiny plume of moisture dropping from this cloud. Eaton was its target.

Though we had no rain here during the night, yesterday the storms arrived in the late afternoon. Beginning about 3:30 p.m., we had 1.28" in less than an hour.
While in Miamisburg, a dark mass of clouds gathered in the south and as we drove home I thought the rain had wholly missed us. But again watching the radar, I saw the rain develop here, too, right atop us. It poured! The lightning flashed and the thunder boomed. The rain gutters overflowed.
And then it was over. By evening the sky had cleared and was a crystal blue. This morning the remnants were spread across the corn field as fog.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Grave Matter

When Mitch Hopper, 16, of Centerville, was looking for an Eagle Scout project, Randy Staley had an idea: how about find all the missing tombstones in a section of Miamisburg's Hill Grove Cemetery that contains mostly Civil War veterans?

On a hot July morning (07/10/10 at 8 a.m.), Mitch and a contingent of friends arrived ready to dig. In two hours, they'd uncovered a dozen stones. Staley estimated that there were between 17 and 22 stones unaccounted for.

Most of the stones were standard Civil War issue. Many of the graves in this area were moved here in 1863 just after Hill Grove opened. Previously, the graves were at the Canal Cemetery; it's where the Miamisburg Municipal Building is located now.

A light rain on Friday loosened up the ground but Saturday dawned foggy and hot. That's Mitch's dad, Doug, in the blue shirt. His mother, Jennifer, was there, too.

The graves were found with long metal rods that could be thrust into the soil. One had a handle; the other drove down in a manner similar to a post hole digger, a ram arrangement. Jennifer said they not only found stones but went deeper to find a grave. They felt the rod thumping upon the lid of a coffin.

She said in Civil War times, graves were behind the stones. Today it is common to place the grave in front of the stone.

This is the scene at about 10:30 a.m. A dozen stones (11 were in this single row) were laid atop the soil. Some will be placed again on the respective graves; others will need to be repaired first. And still more will require replacement. All of the graves will be entered into a national database as part of Mitch's Eagle project.

Another shot of some of the stones. They're generally held up pretty well for 147 years of weathering. Maybe they lasted better for being underground?

Mitch managed to enlist quite a few workers: fellow members of Troop 425, family, friends.

With an hour and a half still planned, I left to come home for lunch. The dig continued!
Later: And here, thanks to Randy Staley, chairman of the Miamisburg Historical Society Veteran's Committee, is a shot of the finished work ...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Late Day Rainbow

Late in the evening yesterday (07/08/10) I was sitting at my usual spot on the sofa and admiring the gorgeous shaft of sunlight that was beaming across the room. It followed a light rain shower and I thought the day was ending on a perfect note.
But it was even better than that because I soon noticed that it had begun to rain again. All the while the sun continued to shine. Rainbow! thought I and I quickly scanned the eastern sky from my window. I saw nothing. Nevertheless, the conditions were perfect and I knew a rainbow was there somewhere. I ran upstairs, got my camera and scrambled out into the rain in no more than a bathrobe.
To the southeast, this is what I saw at about 8:10 p.m.:

And to the northeast, the left part of the rainbow had come back to the ground precisely where the cell tower stands, itself lit in the bright sunlight. What a beautiful sight, this spire of silver capped with color! I stood and marveled at the site, a joining of man and nature.

Since I posted the pictures on WHIO, I've had one person note the double rainbow in the first shot. Reduced as it is for posting here, you can only see a hint of the colors to the far right of the shot.
A friend in Wyoming, Al Krug, enhanced the picture by supersaturating it and the second rainbow has risen to greater prominence. I've cropped just the rainbow and its companion from that shot. It's no longer natural, of course, but allows for a better view of the phenomenon.

Yesterday wasn't a good day otherwise. Mom was ill and I took her to the doctor where we spent much of the morning. Then we had two prescriptions to fill, taking more of our afternoon. But it seems that the rainbow capped the day off just right, giving us a colorful exclamation point and, I hope, suggesting better days ahead.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Family Resemblance?

Suppose I lived during the Civil War. What would I have looked like?
A friend of mine, Sherry Wead Lummis, who lives in Shenyang, China, has more than an idea. She has a picture:

To get that picture, she took a shot of Adam Schmidt, the oldest relative we have a photo for. He was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1831 and died in Miamisburg, Ohio in 1897. He would have been my great-great grandfather. That picture, below, was probably taken in the 1860's. He looks to be a man of about 30.

Sherry gave me his beard and his clothing. Of course I am substantially older than Adam was when his picture was taken.

So what would happen if Adam had my glasses? Sherry has also given him my mouth and nose.

Finally, here's the picture of me that was used to make the composites.

This is a pretty interesting experiment, I think. It's certainly one Adam could not have even imagined. Think of the genes bubbling up through the generations and now expressed on my face. Think of the various mixtures that made one feature more prominent and erased others. The DNA that courses through us all both gives and takes as it builds future generations, sharing this and that among disparate families.

The buck stops here. This branch of the Schmidt family ends with this generation. Neither my brother nor I have had children and my father is a lone child. So the family tree finds its branches lopped right here and now.

Is it the best and most important work of each generation to the produce the next? Does a life otherwise count?