An Ordinary Photo Walk

Ohio’s wildlife is no less exotic than Florida’s. It just seems that way. Things far away and seldom seen are more interesting than what lies in our own backyard. But that is no reason to ignore the apparently ordinary.

My first visit to Sandy Ridge was sans camera. I went to walk and look and see what changes one winter has wrought. Every year is different. More of the old dead trees have fallen. Last years near drought conditions allowed grasses and other greenery to fill in areas that the year before were well watered. Fewer birds hunt as close to the edges reducing easy photo ops. It is still early in the nesting season. I’ll be curious to see if low water reduces the number of nesters this spring and summer.

A few days later I went back with my camera and recorded some of the ordinary things I see every time I visit; Killdeer, for Instance.Killdeer


A pair of Mallards taking a rest.The Drakes' Lady A Handsome Drake

This Great Egret was enjoying the noonday sun, but wasn’t so content as to pass up a quick snack. Great Egret Great Egret Great Etret

In the garden insects on the flowers are discouraged. At Sandy Ridge there is no such restriction. If you watch a wildflower long enough some crawling or flying creature will come along for a meal.Fleabane's guests

Young Grandpa Keith

Black Birds, Blue Whales, Butterflies, and Krill

Rudy woke me this morning at six; not kind. I was just finishing off the night in the living room lounge chair, recovering from yesterday’s half-mile walk. Rudy is a red-winged blackbird. He struts on my air conditioner, sings, then flies up and bangs on the window, fighting his own reflection, protecting his territory from an imaginary foe.  Thanks Rudy. You gave me a lesson for the day: don’t fight imaginary foes.

Come to think of it, Rudy gave me a more important lesson: territory. No one has personal territory. Along with everybody and everything on earth, we are interdependent; no throw-aways. The creation is far more complex than our minds can grasp

Take krill, among the tiniest crustaceans. So what if the warming ocean is threatening krill? Who needs krill? Well, blue whales do. These largest critters of all time feed almost exclusively on krill.

We too need krill and its zooplankton cousins, the myriad species swarming in the seas near the bottom of the food chain, on which all life depends. I’m told zooplankton generate half the oxygen we breathe.

How about pesky mosquitos? Some birds live exclusively on them.  And monarch butterflies, in serious decline because  milkweed habitat is shrinking everywhere. Every schoolkid knows monarchs lay eggs only on milkweed.  I don’t know if any creature eats only monarchs, but I sure would hate to lose them.

Over in Apartment 313, curly green sprouts are showing in a tray on Norma’s orchid table. When the spring soil finally warms, patches of milkweed will appear on the brushy fringe around Woodland Garden’s lovely backyard. Hopefully, monarchs will discover them.

That’s our calling: look after our small corner of God’s big territory. Now I must learn how to train Rudy not to eat monarchs.

Old Grandpa Lloy

It Was a Very Good Day

You’d think on a sunny Saturday morning on a holiday weekend I’d be out camera at the ready for whatever I might find to shoot. But it’s a chilly 40 degrees and my blood hasn’t yet thickened up from my three month stint in Florida. I’ll stay in a while and let the sun warm the world to a more hospitable temperature for woods wandering.

Yesterday I went to my doctor and then paid a celebratory visit to Caley Wildlife Refuge. I have lowered my body weight by more than 25%, my cholesterol by 50%, and my average blood sugar number by more than two-thirds; all this in a little more than 3 months. I’m about as normal as I ever get. It wasn’t any warmer than today but it didn’t matter. I thought I would gloat a bit to my psychiatrist, but he wasn’t there. Too cold for him, I suppose. He a wimp.Blue Iris

Since I was on my own I took therapeutic shots of Blue Irises just blossoming on the edge of the pond. They were shielded by bushes and not conveniently located for portraits. I had to get my feet wet (and cold!) standing in the shallow edge of the pond to get this shot. But, I deserved a flower for my achievement so it was worth it. I brought one back for you.

Your Welcome,
Young Grandpa Keith

She Didn’t

Epilogue 5, Part Two concludes the series. It began when I tossed out a tongue-in-cheek take-off on an ancient (and current) line: “A funny thing happened on my way to the crematorium.” To my surprise, several Hole News readers liked the idea, so I ran with it, listing unexplainable happenings I have encountered as I move toward the recycle bin.

Experienced geezer friends will appreciate Epilogue 5, for they know you can’t overrate loving companionship in old-age. Love caps personal relationships. From a bunch of acquaintances we draw the group we call friends. From that group come the  handful that become special friends. Then, if we’re blest, we find someone to love with a deeper, richer love than youth can know.

I’m still processing my visceral response to that playful kiss on the cheek by the mailboxes. I thought such feelings were long gone. Norma and I had become best friends, and we had teased our neighbors about a secret romance, but loving one another had never entered our conversations. Now I desperately wanted to hold her and tell her I loved her but the elevator had whisked her away.

I hit the Up button, hoping Norma would pause in the library. By  the time the poky elevator reached the third floor, Norma was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t dare knock on her door, fearing she would laugh at me. I sat in the library two hours pretending to read, hoping she would come to tend the new books. I returned in early evening for another two hours. No luck.

After three sleepless hours in my apartment, I fired up the computer and wrote my first love letter in over 70 years, fully intending to delete it. However, reckless abandon won. I printed the letter, padded down the hall, and slipped it under Norma’s door.  The letter began, Please don’t laugh at me…

She didn’t.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Walk With Me

Bridge TrailheadI finally had a day suitable to take a camera walk. Come with me as long as you don’t mind waiting while I stop to take photos. There will be song birds but I’m not taking my long lens so it will be mostly a flower walk. Besides, the late spring foliage makes it to easy for the birds to hide. We’ll hear them, but only see a few, too far away to photograph.

Here’s a Swamp Marigold beside a pond. They like it wet.

Swamp MarigoldThis lone Rocket Flower cluster over the next two or three weeks will be joined by countless others before they all finally disappear until next May.

Rocket Flowers Tiny Common Fleabane will be around as singletons and whole clumps all summer.

Common  Fleabane


Dandelions by now have mostly gone to seed, but they do it so symmetrically.

DSC_1492 web


Oh, look! Kayakers in the river.

Kayakers on the Black River

Thanks for the company. We’ll do this again.

Young Grandpa Keith

Epilogue 5, Part 1 Surprise!

Epilogue 5, Part One     Surprise!

Promise me you won’t snicker. I was caught totally by surprise. As I edged past 90, I fell in love. The surge of emotion scared me; I assumed love for a woman was long past. I still can’t quite process the experience.

If you have followed the Hole News, you know about Norma, our Woodland Garden volunteer librarian. And you know she prayed seven years for someone to talk to, someone who shared her broad interests. We discovered a string of remarkable ancestral coincidences that enhanced our friendship, and we began evening conversations in the library, giving no thought to the 19-year age difference between us.

I looked forward to those times. Evenings grow long when you live alone. We had 63 residents: fifty-five women, eight men. Most evenings, clusters of women gathered to chat or play cards, but none of the men socialized much.

Our nightly conversations stirred curiosity. One resident asked what we could possibly find to talk about for two hours night after night. To amuse ourselves, we hinted at a budding romance. Sure, I grew increasingly fond of Norma, but romance?

About a year after moving to Woodland Garden, hip replacement surgery led to my lost week and the terrifying morphine delusion the Hole News reported. Six weeks in rehab ended just in time for my 90th birthday bash. Norma and I renewed evening visits and our friendship deepened.

I confess to wistful recollections of earlier years, but I couldn’t imagine any woman taking to a doddering great-grandfather. Then  lightning struck.

A dozen or so residents milled about the lobby waiting for the mail–a daily ritual.  George the mailman arrived and did his thing. While my arthritic fingers struggled with the small mailbox key, Norma retrieved her mail, and for the benefit of onlookers, pecked me playfully on the cheek. Then she disappeared  in the waiting elevator.

We’ll pick up the story next time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Oh Viable Me

Every now and then I pause to inventory my life.  Woodland Garden requires residents to be viable, independent. I love my Garden home so I will do whatever it takes to stay put as long possible.

Novelist Edith Wharton had this to say about viable longevity: “In spite of illness, in spite even of the arch-enemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

I pass all Ms. Wharton’s tests for avoiding disintegration. I welcome change. I adopt what fits me and applaud those who move on. As for intellectual curiosity, I constantly google words, places, bios, histories. You can’t grow without new information. Truth never hurt anyone, even when it challenges old concepts.

Take turtles. They live a long time long but don’t travel far (except sea turtles). When threatened, land turtles hide in their cozy, safe shell. No risks. Please, Lord, spare me the turtle mindset.

Big ideas: The Sage of Juniata Street stretches my brain. I pretend to know what he’s talking about then go home and look it up. How did the world got where it is? Where might it be heading? Every cause, movement, idea, and religion has a history. What’s to fear? Truth will prevail but ignorance rots the soul.

As for Ms. Wharton’s small ways, try children, flowers, beetles, birds. Ever ponder a nightcrawler? Or pick nightcrawlers from wet grass at midnight for trout fishing at dawn?  No? Then you haven’t lived. When small ways delight you, you will never want for entertainment.

So what does all this mean? I have no idea, but I’m 91, open to change, and happily viable.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Richest Guy on Earth

The nightly hole started early—9:45. No use fretting abed. I cranked up the computer and the inbox produced a link from Jeff Huddleston: Jeff said An Interview with God was the most beautiful thing he seen in a long time. It was breathtaking and mind bending.

About half way through the four-minute photo/music clip, this sentence let loose a flood of gratitude: A rich person is not one who has the most but one who needs the least. I am probably the riches guy on earth for I can’t think of one thing I need.

I live in a comfortable apartment among friends. We’re all dollar-poor and old (or handicapped). We lean on HUD Section 8 for help with rent, but each month my modest preacher pension and Social Security covers my needs with a little left over to serve the kingdom. I ignore April 15 and the stock market. My only luxury is a sack of harmonicas, which constitutes my kids’ inheritance.

I can’t imagine a more rewarding life. I accept geezer reality with its challenges. My faith is intact. I enjoy a good measure of health. Friends abound plus a special friend, and my brain works reasonably well. What more is there? Little by little, I’m learning what it means to be a Christian.

Inward/Outward recently told a great story about a woman who loved God and never missed church. On her way to worship one Sunday, she hurried by children wanting to play and a poor man begging. When she reached her church, she found the door locked. She spotted a note. It said, “I’m out here. God.”

I love my churches, the worship and fellowship. I always sense God’s presence. But God was no less real on a string of recent Sundays, when health factors kept me home. God doesn’t headquarters in church and expect excuse slips when we miss a Sunday.

Home and out and about is my mission field. As the richest guy on earth, I gladly share my wealth.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Thanks, Mom

Each Saturday I work through Dr. Mardy’s Quotes, a writing resource Quotemeister Bob Kelly put me onto. Yesterday, Dr. Mardy included a poem Judith Viorst wrote to her sons shortly after she turned seventy:

Most of the wise, mature, sensible women I know
Have nothing but disdain for Mother’s Day,
Which they rightfully declare to be a crass, commercial way
Of getting guilty children to spend money.
Furthermore, I am hoping that I
Will turn into one of those wise, mature, sensible women
Long before this current decade is through.
But meanwhile, if you know what’s good for you,
Send flowers.

Our mother was  a stay-at-home who never drove a car, rarely socialized beyond church gatherings, cooked three meals every day, nursed elderly kin in our home, and hung out clothes summer and winter, when Dad’s long underwear swung on the line like a headless, frozen corpse.

While Father was out and about with his police work and too many other things, Mom anchored the family, leading brother John to comment: If you came home and Mom wasn’t there, you figured the rapture had occurred and you got left behind.

I’m glad I kept close to Mother through my adult years, writing   and stopping by often. She dropped dead at age 66 while doing dishes. Father heard her fall. My secretary tracked me down as we were heading home from an Alaska driving trip.  Knowing I had been a thoughtful son greatly eased my sense of loss.

I wish I had her worn Bible with her trim handwriting filling the flyleaves and verse markings on almost every page.

Thanks, Mom. I bless your memory.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

You Can’t Eat Talk

The world is falling apart. People killing one another at home and abroad; rampant corruption everywhere; terrorists lurk around every corner. How can we fix our troubled world?

There is no fix because of the trouble’s source, and please don’t blame Satan. Satan may be the father of lies, but people do the lying.

I doubt there is more evil per capita in today’s world than in the past; there are just more people. Our amazing technology lets us watch evil as it transpires around the globe, making it seem on the increase.

Let’s not forget all the good stuff going on; and let’s remember the better world Jesus promised:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

I cry over ravaged children and the senseless carnage of war. I cry over  greedy consumerism that spends more on dog food than on food for hungry people. But my tears are not the tears of those who cry in the dark, not knowing the Light. So while I can’t fix human selfishness, I can share in the food bank and help whip up supper at the rescue mission. I can brighten the wee parcel of dark Earth where God put me. That’s kingdom work.

Brightening isn’t talking about light, it’s walking the light, serving  needs close by. To the hungry, a warm meal is the best sermon there can be. You can’t eat a talk.

Old Grandpa Lloyd