Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Morning Fox Surprise

When we woke up early this morning, a brief period of snow was moving in. Despite the fact that it was about 4:30 AM and the cloud cover was thick, it looked very bright outside from the light being reflected from the snow. The snow was sticking to the trees and looked beautiful, so I thought I would try to take a picture in the low light to try to capture the sight. I left all the lights in the house off so there would be no light glare on the window. But, the camera setting I used didn’t leave the shutter open long enough, so my first attempt came out too dark. I adjusted the camera shutter speed to leave it open longer. As I snapped another photo, I was surprised to see a fox trotting through the yard. I hoped that as I snapped another shot that I would be able to capture it in the picture. I was even more surprised when a second fox appeared and followed the first one through the yard. As I continued to snap the pictures, I remembered that I had the camera set so the shutter would stay open longer, which probably meant my pictures would only show a blur where the fox were running.

Sure enough, when I looked at the photos, that’s exactly what happened – no fox, just a blur. But, lucky for me, when I looked at the first picture I took that was too dark, I could see the faint image of a fox. By lightening the picture a bit – which was virtually black mind you – I got my reward. Standing back by the fence, was one of the fox. I thought I’d share the picture with you. It looks a bit grainy from the low light, but you can still see the fox standing near the fence, waiting to make a move!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Colorful Sunset Before The Winter Storm

There is a winter storm – an “Alberta Clipper” coming in from Canada – that’s due to arrive overnight. It’s supposed to kick off some snowy weather. But, as a treat in advance of the snowy mess, we got a beautiful sunset. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Blizzard Conditions

A snowstorm came through on Sunday, December 21, that brought with it some blizzard conditions. During the day, winds were sustained at about 20 mph, but the gusts reached 40 mph+. When this video was taken in the evening of December 21, the wind was really gusting and it almost knocked me over. Enjoy this short video of the winds and snow.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow, Sleet, Ice, Plus a Close Full Moon

This morning we had a mixed bag of weather. It started with snow, then moved to sleet, ice, and it is supposed to change over to rain later in the morning. I snapped a few shots as the precipitation was coming down as a sleety, icy mix. It looked like little sparkling diamonds, which made a pinging noise as it hit the surfaces. The pictures don't quite do it justice, as it's hard for the camera to pick up the sparkle. Later in the morning, ice began to form on the trees, so I added a few pictures of that as well.

I also forgot that I took a picture of the full moon that occurred on December 12, 2008. It was the closest and largest full moon of the year. It was also the closest and largest that the full moon has been since March 8, 1993. We won’t see a full moon this close again until November 14, 2016. My picture of the moon has a slight “glow” to it, as there was a very thin layer of high clouds in the sky at the time.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting Ready for the Christmas Holiday

The weather has been rather tame lately so I haven’t had the opportunity to get any good weather pictures. Instead, I thought I would just post a photo of the wreath we hang on our front door for the holidays. An acquaintance made it for me many years ago and she probably has no idea how much I enjoy it – especially when the sun shines on it, causing it to flash and sparkle. Of course, clear skies and bright sun in December here in northeast Ohio seems to be a rarity, so we enjoy it when we can get it!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

When Fall and Winter Collide

Technically, this is still fall. But, with the lake effect snow we received in the last 24 hours, it looks more like winter.

The lawn is now covered with snow, with a nice layer of leaves scattered all over the top. Some of our trees were slow to lose their leaves so as the snow fell, so did the leaves. It actually looks very pretty, but it would be a little hard to rake those leaves right now!

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Monday, November 10, 2008

The First Snowfall of Winter 2008

It was bound to happen sooner or later. We got our first snowfall of the season, and it wasn’t just a little dusting. It was one of those heavy, wet, lake effect snows that just keeps going and going and going. It also included a heavy dose of thunder. I don't know why, but the thunder I hear when there is "thundersnow" always seems so much loader, and rumbles longer, than thunder with a rain storm.

We are lucky that we got a lot of the leaves picked up over the weekend, otherwise we we have a thick mat of frozen leaves under all that snow. But, as you can see by the photos, some of the trees still have quite a few leaves on them that haven’t completely changed to their fall colors and are yet to drop. It does look pretty, though.

Some of the maples and the oak still have their leaves

One of the burning bush is getting cooled off with the snow

The blue oat grass is getting buried

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Beautiful November Day

It’s early November, and it feels like summer. It’s about 70 degrees right now, with sunny skies and some high altocumulus clouds. The fall colors, while they are winding down, are still beautiful. Here are a few fall photos from today.

This is a picture of the small pond next door. With the bit of algae and some fall leaves on top, it looks a little like an impressionist painting.

Here are some altocumulus clouds peppering the sky, along with the tops of some trees.

The burning bushes are fiery red right now.

In some spots, there is quite a mix of color in the leaves.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Photographic History Lesson From My Grandfather – 70+ Years Later

Many years ago, after my mother’s father had passed away, she gave me a box of black and white photo negatives that were from snapshots taken by my grandfather over the years. With some of the negatives, he had them carefully rolled up and put back in their metal film containers; some were flat and grouped together using small slips of paper where my grandfather only wrote the year he took the pictures. At one point, I did attempt to look through some of them. Many of them were apparently photos of people that I could not recognize by looking at the negative. I tried to take a few out of the film containers and unroll them to determine the subject of the photos, but the negatives seemed brittle in some cases and I stopped so as not to ruin them. One thing was obvious: my grandfather liked to photograph people.

I tried scanning a few of the larger, flat negatives, but without having a software program at the time to help me convert the negative to a positive image, it became too time consuming to try to make anything of the pictures. So I carefully packed them back up, with the intent of going back one day when I did have better software to help me.

And then, I forgot about them.

Years later, and having some time on my hands today, I decided to bring the negatives out, scan some, and see if Photoshop would be of any help in figuring out what was on some of these pictures. I stayed away from the negatives that were rolled, as they still seemed to be too fragile to unroll. I selected a few from the larger, flat negatives that appeared to have a subject other than people in them. I was surprised to find that my grandfather appeared to have photographed a collapsed bridge sometime in 1938, so I searched the Internet to see if I could find out anything about the location of the bridge.

I appears that the pictures, dated January 29, 1938, were from the collapse of the Honeymoon Bridge (also known as the Falls View Bridge) at Niagara Falls. Ice that had blown down the river from heavy winds off Lake Erie a few days before had caused an ice jam that put too much pressure on the bridge supports, resulting in its eventual collapse.

Considering my grandparents lived in Cleveland and there wasn’t freeway access then as there is now, this was probably a big trip for them to undertake, especially in the dead of winter through the Lake Erie “snow belt.” (My guess is that they took US Route 20 most of the way.)

I thought I’d share some of the photos I was able to get from the old negatives. Granted, they are not as clear as others that can be found on the Internet, but to me they are priceless. It is as if my grandfather left me a gift of experiencing some of the history that he experienced, 70 years later.

By the way, you can find out more information about this bridge and its collapse, with some pictures, here and here.

Here are his pictures:
(the Falls)
The area where the bridge crossed over the river
The collapsed bridge in the ice filled river

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Squire’s Castle

One of the most interesting places to visit in the Cleveland Metroparks is Squire's Castle in the North Chagrin Reservation (located in Willoughby Hills, Ohio).

The castle "shell" really wasn't a castle. It was supposed to be a gatehouse for a large country estate to be built by Feargus Squire, one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company in the late 1800s. (The large estate was never built.)

Squire’s Castle is beautiful in the fall when the trees begin to change color. A few years ago, I made a video of some of my pictures and videos taken of the castle over the years and that video is below. Since the weather was warm and sunny today, and the leaves were showing some beautiful color, I took a drive out there for some new photos, which I have included here.

Squire’s Castle Video

Castle Interior

View from Squire's Castle

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Friday, October 10, 2008

A Tour of Cleveland In Vintage Postcards

Here’s something that anyone from Cleveland, Ohio may enjoy. The short video below is a nostalgic tour of the city of Cleveland that I put together using vintage postcards from the 1930s-1950s. It includes postcards of the Terminal Tower, city roads and bridges, Public Square, University Circle, public parks, and other buildings of interest. (The music in the video is one of Gershwin’s Preludes.)

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse & Museum

In July, I took some pictures of the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and then forgot about them. Since we seem to be in a slow weather pattern right now, and fall colors seem to have stalled a bit, I thought it was a good time to bring out the lighthouse pictures.

The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse , at the mouth of Ohio's Grand River and near the shore of Lake Erie, should not be confused with the much smaller Fairport Harbor West Breakwall Lighthouse , which is only a short distance away on the shore of Lake Erie at Mentor Headlands State Park. In fact, you can see both lighthouses at the same time, depending on where you are standing either at Mentor Headlands Beach, or at the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse.

The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse also houses the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum, which unfortunately was closed the day we visited. We decided to head to the Fairport Harbor Beach which is just a short distance down the road from the lighthouse. And it is DOWN the road, seeing that the lighthouse is perched very high on a steep hill above the beach area. The Fairport Beach Park is much smaller than its neighbor Mentor Headlands Beach, but was still a very nice place to visit.

Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Museum

Fairport Beach

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fall is Approaching

Even though fall isn’t technically here yet, were are starting to see some leaves change color. Fall flowers also are adding some color to the landscape. Here are some pictures I took from the yard today. My “Black Beauty” Elderberry is loaded with berries!

I am sure it will be snowing before we know it (heavy sigh).

OK, we also had some fun with bubbles while we were outside.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mentor McDonald’s Demolition – Out With the Old, Make Way for the New

Update August 22, 2008 - Here's how it looks today

The demolition of the neighborhood McDonalds’s in Mentor, Ohio, on Mentor Avenue (US Route 20), began today. I spent some time watching and recording some of it. For a fleeting moment, as the roof was starting to peel away, I swear I smelled burgers and french fry oil. I didn’t eat there very often, as many times just driving by the place you could smell burgers cooking, so much so that it felt like you were eating one. At least the smell didn’t have the calories that are in the food itself!

Don’t despair, junk food junkies. Another McDonald’s is being built in its place. Some information about this story from the Lake County News Herald is listed below the videos.

McDonald’s Demolition Part 1

McDonald’s Demolition Part 2

Going, going ... gone
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 12:52 AM EDT
By Jenny May

It took just three hours to auction off 43 years of Mentor history on Tuesday.

About 30 people attended the bidding at the McDonald’s at 8775 Mentor Ave., hoping to score deals on restaurant equipment or just bring a piece of nostalgia into their homes.

The restaurant, which was built in 1965, will be demolished Thursday and will reopen in late December to make way for a new restaurant prototype.

Ali Mandovi, owner and operator of the McDonald’s, is donating the nearly $4,000 in proceeds from the auction to the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.

Interested bidders arrived at the restaurant about 9 a.m. to get a glimpse of what was being offered before the auction began at 10 a.m.

Auctioneer Roger Steinfurth of Wayne Luoma Auction Co. in Mentor ran the event. Steinfurth said restaurant auctions are typically only open to those in the restaurant business.

Because this one was open to the public, many of the items that would normally be auctioned off in bulk, such as tables, chairs and paintings, were offered individually.

“We were told there are a lot of people who have been coming here for 40 years and want to buy their favorite table,” Steinfurth said to the crowd before bidding started. “This is the first McDonald’s we’ve ever auctioned, so it’s a test run for all of us.”

Though many in attendance had never participated in an auction, they caught on quickly to Steinfurth’s fast-paced pitches and managed to snag many of the items they came for.

Accepted bids ranged from $1 for napkin holders to more than $1,000 for a cooler.

Mentor resident Dawn Freeman came to buy items for a house her son recently purchased.

She managed to outbid others for a set of four hanging green lights, which she bought for $15 each, a napkin holder featuring the McDonald’s logo and the crown molding running the perimeter of the dining area.

Freeman was disappointed when she lost a bid for the large mirror hanging in the dining area. The mirror, etched with “Mentor Ohio Original Inn,” went to another local resident for $30.

“I’ve been to this McDonald’s a thousand times and I thought it would be fun to get some of the items for the house,” Freeman said. “I’m really pleased with the crown molding. I paid just $75 for that, so it was a great deal.”

In addition to the contents of the kitchen, dining room and rest rooms, people bought the outside parking lot lights and even the bushes in front of the building.

Elaine Crane, owner of Rider’s Inn in Painesville, bought a four-door reach-in stainless steel cooler for about $1,000.

“One of my coolers just died yesterday, so this will replace it,” she said. “Shopping at auctions helps us keep our prices low. It’s also fun because you get to see other people in the industry.”

Crane also couldn’t resist purchasing two cookie racks featuring the McDonald’s logo for her daughter, Elizabeth Courtney Crane-Sherman, who is co-owner of the Inn.

“Those will be a housewarming gift for her,” Crane explained.

“She used to work at this McDonald’s and has been coming here since she was 5 years old, so I think she’ll get a kick out of it.”

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympic Rings of Sunflowers

My neighbors have some beautiful sunflowers in their yard. This grouping reminded me of the arrangement of the five Olympic rings. Well, maybe not as round and not arranged so perfectly, but they still look pretty.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Gaggle of (Pro) Golfers

John and I spent yesterday at the 2008 Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. John had the privilege of golfing this course a few times. But yesterday we went back to watch the pros go at it. As the tournament itself isn’t starting until today, the players were out on the course Wednesday for practice, and spectators are permitted to take photos. I managed to get a few pictures of the pros. Since they weren’t following any kind of schedule, we just had to stick around a few of the holes and snap whomever happened by. And, since it was very cloudy, the pictures look a little drab. We were lucky, though, to find cover before a thunderstorm with buckets of rain hit the course.

Phil Michelson

Fredrik Jacobson and Ian Poulter

Lucas Glover and David Toms

Chad Campbell and Stuart Appleby

Robert Allenby

Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters Winner)

A Gaggle of Golfers

The Firestone Water Tower

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