Polly and I have attended a handful of major and minor league baseball games this year, with two more yet on the schedule. We live about an hour from Toledo, Ohio and 45 minutes from Fort Wayne, Indiana. This affords us the opportunity to see the Single A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the Dayton Dragons, play the Fort Wayne Tin Caps and the AAA affiliate, the Louisville Bats, play the Toledo Mud Hens.
I love minor league baseball. The stadiums are much smaller, usually seating less than 10,000 people. The stadiums have a cozy, down home feel and, as a photographer, this closeness allows me to shoot the game up close. Instead of posting photographs of game action, I thought I would post some of the non-game related shots. I hope you enjoy them.
Last December and January I wrote posts about helping and feeding a feral kitten that frequented our backyard. You can read these posts here and here. Here’s a few photographs I took today of the kitten/young cat.
Bryan, Ohio is about five miles from our home. Bryan is the seat for Williams County and arguably has one of the nicest courthouses in Ohio. Nearby Defiance County has one of the worst. Two years ago, Bard Manufacturing donated the funds necessary to install a fountain on the northeast corner of the courthouse lawn. Here’s two photos of a young woman who was enjoying the coolness of the fountain with her two children.
As a photographer, I am always looking for the next shot. I never know when a photographic opportunity might present itself. In the photos that follow, we were sitting at an intersection outside of Fort Wayne and I noticed a young woman impatiently waiting for someone to pick her up. Evidently, her car had run out of gas.
I am not a big fan of posed photography. I prefer taking photographs of people when they are not aware that I am doing so. This allows me to capture a person or persons in their natural state.
On April 5, 2015, Polly and I took a short road trip south that landed us in Delphos, Ohio. Like many of our day trips, we had no planned destination. We just head north, south, east, or west and see where it takes us. Our children have plenty of stories they could tell about Dad’s famous road trips. When the children were young, we rarely had much money, so piling into the car and going somewhere, anywhere was a cheap form of entertainment. While we have the money to take “real” trips, we still like unplanned trips that take us to places we’ve never been.
In back of the Delphos Herald building there is a canal and lock dating back to the days of the Miami and Erie Canal. As I shared before, getting to the canal was a challenge for me, but I carefully made my way down to the canal, snapping photographs as I walked. (waddled would be a better word) Once I had my photo fix, it was time to head back to the car. I thought, I should go back the way I came. Instead, Polly came near the concrete abutment and I thought, with her help, I could hop up. Yeah…the hop turned into a nasty fall, a fall that left me with a nasty gash on my leg and numerous other contusions. Polly landed on her knees and was quite sore for several days. A week or so later, the gash became infected. Since I am diabetic, any wound like this can be deadly. Fortunately, the doctor prescribed me an antibiotic and it killed off the infection.
My decision to hop up instead of walk back was foolish. Had I fallen backwards instead of forward, I would have tumbled down the abutment into the canal. I have no doubt that the fall likely would have killed me. This was a reminder to me that I am not physically fit and I am not twenty-five anymore. As I am writing this, a humorous thought comes to my mind. Polly, how did your husband die? He was killed by a duck.
No, granaries isn’t a misspelling. When I first typed the word I spelled it graineries. The spell check God objected and told me the proper spelling is granaries. It’s pronounced as I spelled it the first time. Just another one of those strange English words.
Earlier this year, on two of our short Ohio/Indiana/Michigan road trips, I photographed two granaries that I thought were quite interesting. Hopefully, you find them interesting too.
Most Americans are completely disconnected from the source of their daily sustenance. In the 1950’s, the decade of my birth, 12.6% of the American work force consisted of farmers. In 1900, 38% of American workers worked on a farm. Today, only 2% of American families operate a farm or a ranch. Small family farms have become a relic of a bygone era as major corporations and large acreage farmers dominate farming. Our food supply is increasingly in the hands of multinational corporation who care only about the bottom line. Years ago, a farmer in the church I was pastoring at the time told me that the on-hand American food supply was dwindling, and that it would only take one nationwide crops failure for Americans to find themselves starving. Disconnected from where food really comes from, Americans go to the grocery thinking that there will always be a ready supply of eats.
Ask the average child raised in the city or the suburbs where hamburger comes from and they will likely say the supermarket. Even here in the rural heartland, children are increasingly ignorant about where their food comes from. Our supply of meat is controlled by a few multinational corporations and large concentrated animal feeding operations (factory farms) These farms hide from public view the horror that goes on behind closed doors. Why is it factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses never offer tours of their facilities? I would think they would want everyone to know where their food comes from. For most Americans, all it would take is one tour to turn them into vegetarians.
I have spent most of my life in farm country. Though my Dad wasn’t a farmer, we lived in many a farm-house and often visited the farming operations of my Dad’s brother and brother-in-law. At an early age I learned where food came from. Knowing what I know, I have struggled for years with eating meat. Knowing what goes on in factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses, I often find myself sickened by the very thought of eating a burger or streak. Yet, in time, my guilt will assuage and off to Fort Wayne I’ll go with Polly to eat a steak at Texas Roadhouse. This is one area where I deliberately ignore what I know to be true, going against my moral and ethical values. I know what I SHOULD do, but my craving for meat almost always wins the battle between desire and morality.
Earlier this year, Polly and I took a road trip to eastern Indiana that eventually landed us in Amish country. Here’s a few of the photographs I took of some horses on an Amish farm. The young horse on the ground was either sick or injured and could not stand. We watched for quite some time as both adult horses nudged the young horse, trying to get him to stand. For readers upset at the farm owners for allowing a sick/injured horse to lie on the ground, the Amish often treat animals as a commodity or a tool. Those who have not lived around the Amish often see the Amish as kind, loving folks who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Sadly, some of them can be quite cruel towards their horses and livestock. Last week, I posted some photographs of Amish sheep that were being used to clear ditch lines of weeds. All of the sheep, save one, were quite indifferent to us and went about their work as if we didn’t exist. One sheep, however, was terrified of us and repeatedly tried to flee, only to be violently jerked back by the chain around their neck. Surely the sheep’s owner knew of its fearfulness. Why put it out by the road where it would be terrified every time a car or person came close? We quickly moved away from the sheep, not wanting to cause it further harm.
Earlier this year, Polly and I took a road trip to eastern Indiana that eventually landed us in Amish country. Here’s a few of the pictures I took of some ducks on an Amish farm. I found their synchronized movement quite fascinating.
Last Sunday, Polly and I took a short road trip to Homer and Albion, Michigan. We had been to Homer years ago. One of the photographs I took in Homer of our youngest daughter Laura won a local photography contest. Polly thought a return to Homer might provide an opportunity for me to take another award-winning photo. The weather God didn’t help me much, so Homer was pretty much a bust, but I took a lot of other pictures as we traveled the rural roads of SE Michigan that I think are keepers.
We were delighted to stumble upon a small Amish community. This community is quite poor compared to their brethren in the eastern Indiana. Some of the houses were quite rough, in need of repair. Some were downright dumpy. One oddity was seeing sheep tethered or chained in the ditches in front of many of the Amish homes. I suspect that they were using the sheep to “cut” the weeds and grass along the ditch line. What follows are photographs of several of the sheep that took time out from their grazing to pose for me.
Slogan on Homer water tower? Homer is Home *sigh*
Cost for one year at Albion College? $51,000
Percentage of Albion residents who are black? 30% What made me look this stat up? A lot of churches with crazy sounding Pentecostal names that are typically found in bigger cities.
Favorite find? Whitehouse Nature Center, operated by Albion College. Will definitely have to return and walk the trails.
A week and a half ago, Polly and I took a road trip south, ending up in Delphos, Ohio. In a post titled Luck, Fate, or Providence, I mentioned an event that took place while I was taking some photographs of an old canal:
…Polly and I took a road trip to Ottoville, Fort Jennings, and Delphos. Like most of our trips, I took my camera equipment with me. As we were wandering around Delphos, we stumbled upon a lock from the era of the Miami and Erie canal. Getting down to the lock was a bit treacherous for me. I wanted to get as close as possible, so I gingerly walked down the concrete abutment to the lock. I didn’t fall, slip, or trip. Lucky me, I thought.
After ten minutes or so, I was ready to return to the car. I had two paths I could take. I could retrace my steps or make a big step and little jump to ground level, Polly said she would give me a hand, so I chose the latter. Polly reached down, took my hand, and began to help me up. And then, our world went crazy. Polly couldn’t pull me up completely and I violently fell forward, knocking both of us to the ground. If my weight had been balanced slightly the other way, I would have no doubt went careening down the concrete abutment into the canal. The fall would have likely killed me.
The good news? My cameras escaped damage, though one of them does have a slight scrape. The hood on the lens kept it from being smashed. Polly ended up with bruised knees and I ended up with a twisted ankle and hip and a nasty, bloody contusion on my left leg. It is still oozing slightly today.
I know I was lucky. I should have retraced my steps. This was the safe and prudent choice. However, Polly was standing right there and she said she would help. Why not, right? She helps me out of the recliner and car all the time. What neither of us counted on was how difficult it is to pull up a 350# man. When Polly pulls me out of the car or the recliner I help her. This time? I was dead weight and I almost literally became so…
Yesterday, I had Polly take me to Urgent Care in Bryan. My left leg is swollen, an inch bigger circumference wise than my right leg. The contusion is weeping fluid and has become infected. I am white, the wound is red and yellow, and I am trying to keep it from turning black. (shout out to the Evangelical song, Jesus loves the Little Children, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight) I am taking an antibiotic. The doctor swabbed the wound and sent it to the lab. The lab will do a culture to determine what is causing the infection. If warranted, the doctor said he will change the antibiotic, but he thinks the one he prescribed should do the trick. This is the same leg, BTW, that I had a foot problem with last fall.
Last Sunday, Polly drove us to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend the Cincinnati Reds-St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. We had a great time. There’s nothing like experiencing a live baseball game. When the stands are full, as they were on Sunday, the stadium comes to life. The cheers and the groans ripple loudly through the crowd, as Reds fans live and die with their team. In many ways, I find the live baseball experience to be a lot like a revival service. There’s that “feeling” in the air that resonates deeply with me.
That said, we have come to the conclusion that I can no longer take trips hours away from home. Driving to Cincinnati and back meant we were on the road for almost 8 hours. Whether we took the interstate or a state highway, the roads, thanks to a hard cold winter and a lack of infrastructure upkeep, pummeled my body. Mile after mile the roads bumped and banged my body, so much so that even double doses of pain medication couldn’t stop the pain.
As much as I want to cheer the Reds on in person, I know I can no longer do so. My body has issued its decree, cross this line and I will make you pay. As I have said many times before, a time would come that I was no longer willing to pay the price of admission, no longer willing to suffer the brutality of long trips. That time is now. I hate that it has come to this, but it is what it is.
Now this doesn’t mean that I can take shorter trips to places like Toledo, Fort Wayne, Magee Marsh, or Marblehead. An hour or two from home, along back roads at a slow speed, I can still do. There’s a minor league baseball team in Fort Wayne and Toledo, so I can still enjoy the live game experience. There’s plenty for us to see and do within a few hours of our home. There’s plenty of sites and out-of-the-way places to photograph. Instead of lamenting what I can’t do, I choose to focus on what I can do. This is me adapting to my environment. Shout out, Charles Darwin.
My chauffeur driving our 2015 Ford Escape. What’s real interesting is the gravel pit in the background. I sure wanted to climb down there and take some photographs.
We recently bought a new car, a 2015 Ford Escape. We made this purchase because I was having difficulty getting in and out of our 2013 Ford Fusion. The Escape sits up higher and has greater head and leg room, allowing me to sit comfortably, even when I have to twist my body to lessen the pain. We are quite pleased with the car. Actually it is an SUV, but we call it car. Health problems have robbed me of my ability to drive any distance but a short one. This is another thing I’ve had to adapt to. For decades, I did most of the driving and now I must rely on Polly to chauffeur me wherever I want to do. Again, it is what it is.
The nasty injury detailed at the start of this post has proved to be a wake up call for Polly and I. I no longer can afford to push the envelope, risking injury. Since I am diabetic, any type of wound is a concern. I pastored several people who lost their legs due to a cut or wound that morphed into an abscess drugs and doctors could not cure. Despite all our miracle-working drugs, there are viruses and bacteria that can and do kill us. I must take better care of myself, not putting myself in circumstances that could cause physical injury. When I walk with a cane, I tend to ignore my limitations. When using a wheelchair, it is obvious that I can no longer pretend to be Superman. While I refuse to give up, I must face reality and adjust my life accordingly.
The good news is that Polly will still be by my side. We’re in this together until death do us part. Her love and care make the pain and suffering bearable.
Four bottles of inexpensive wine we purchased at St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw. Michigan
She took the day off.
The weatherman says sunny and 55, I hope he’s right.
I busy myself getting ready for tomorrow.
Clean the house, I tell myself. Can’t leave if the house isn’t clean.
House is clean.
I put my camera equipment on the table, tripods behind the door, ready for loading in the morning.
I check the camera batteries and make sure the flash cards are installed.
No need for the GPS, we have iPhones now, so Google maps will direct us to our destination. Just to safe, I put some paper, a pen, a flashlight, and maps of Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio in my briefcase and put it with the camera equipment.
Clothes, shoes, wallet, jacket, and hat, all ready for the morning.
She will be home soon.
She sees that I cleaned the house. She smiles and shakes her head. She knows…36 years of knowing…
I want to be out of the house by 10, I tell her. And I mean 10, I add, knowing that I am fighting a battle I have lost more times than I can count.
A restless night, I get 4 hours sleep before she wakes me up.
The car is loaded, ready to go. Ten minutes late…
She drives. I want to drive but I know I can’t. I am no longer physically able to drive. I know this, but I still want to drive. She ignores me, knowing I will no longer put up a fight.
Off to Fort Wayne first to drop off papers at the hospital. I owe them $5,000.00. I hope they will reduce the amount I owe.
She wants to go Rome City to see an old, no longer functioning self-sustaining nunnery.
It’s not long before I start feeling every bump and thump as we ride over roads savaged by harsh Midwestern winter.
Our destination is South Haven, Michigan. Sunset is at 7:45. I want to get there by 6:00. How we get to South Haven is undetermined.
This is a Gerencser road trip, one our six children experienced many times. A general destination with no certain route.
The assault on my body continues. I complain some, but I know it is not her fault. If I had known this is how painful the trip was going to be, I would have stayed home. I am glad I didn’t.
North and West we travel, meandering down never before traveled roads.
I set Google maps to no highways or toll roads. We want to see what most people never take the time to see.
Amish, horses, buggies, laundry gently blowing in the wind. What a pleasant surprise.
Where’s their school, she asks. Soon, we stumble upon it. Look at all the bicycles and yellow vests.
Countless stops so I can get out of the car and take photographs. It’s not long before my shoes are muddy, muddying up the floor and mat cleaned the night before.
Sometimes, I stay in the car, using the window to steady my telephoto camera lens. We fuss a bit as she tries to maneuver the car so I can take a shot. We’ve been fussing for 36 years. It means nothing, our love transcends anything we could say to one another.
We finally come to a road we’ve traveled before. Soon we come to Paw Paw, Michigan. Let’s stop at the winery, she says, and I say, sure.
So much wine, so little money. I sure could use a drink. We buy four bottles of inexpensive wine. As we checkout, I tell the young woman waiting on us that we were once part of a religion that forbade the drinking of alcohol. She replies, really? Her face tells me she’s never heard of such craziness. I go on to tell her that we were 50 years old before we drank wine for the first time. I chuckle and say, we are living the 60’s and 70’s a little late in life.
She needs to use the bathroom, so does our daughter with Down Syndrome. I’ll tell her I’ll take the wine out to the car, She says, OK, and hands me the keys.
I open the trunk of the car, put the wine in, and carefully wrap the bottles with a towel.
I slam the trunk of the car and reach into my pocket for the keys so I can unlock the car.
Panic. You didn’t. You fucking idiot. Surely, you didn’t lock the keys in the trunk? You damn idiot, yes you did.
Soon she comes out to the car and I tell her what I’ve done. I thought I had ruined our day. She calmly reaches into her purse and pulls out the second set of keys. Disaster averted.
I am mad at myself, still upset over the keys. 57 years, and I’ve never locked the keys in a car until today. My self-esteem takes another dive.
Back on the road, time to head to South Haven.
The roads continue to pummel me. She notices that I am writhing in the seat and says,I’m sorry. I say, it’s OK. It’s not, but only death will keep me from reaching our destination.
5:00 Pain meds. She notices I have taken the maximum dosage for the day, but she says nothing. She knows I will have to take extra pain meds to get through the day.
It’s 5:30 as we pull into the parking lot near the beach. She and I have been here many times. It’s our favorite place to be. There’s nothing better than watching a Lake Michigan sunset, especially when the one you love are by your side.
The sun is shining, it’s 54 degrees.
The Lake is frozen, the beach is covered with a mishmash of ice, melting snow, and sand.
People are out and about. One young woman is in flip-flops and a white sun dress. Silly humans, we are, worshiping the warmth of our star.
We make our way out to the lighthouse. I walking slowly, prodding the ground with my cane, making sure the slushy snow beneath my feet is firm.
We finally reach the point, the first time we’ve been here when the Lake is frozen.
People come and go as we stand there enjoying the warmth and the view. What a wonderful view…
A talkative woman stands nearby. Her back is to the sun and Lake. She seems only interested in talking to those who are near her. She’s lecturing a young couple about an upcoming sales tax initiative. She’s against it. She turns to me and asks, do you read? Yes. What do you read? Books. Philosophy? Yes. I’m thinking, really, here I am 3 hours from home, away from my blog, and I am getting quizzed about philosophy? The talkative woman asks, Who? I snap back, Kierkegaard. This satisfies her and she turns to the woman in the white sun dress and tells her she’s crazy for being out there in flip-flops and no coat. I thought, I’ll tell you who’s crazy.
We walk back to the car and drive to the bluff overlooking the Lake. I’ve never taken photographs from this spot before.
I set up my tripod and prepare both my cameras to take photographs of the sunset. The show will be short and sweet, I know I must be ready.
She gets out the portable camera I bought her for Christmas. She is quite proud of her work. I hear her camera beep, knowing she is photographing me going about my craft. I used to object, but I know my children and grandchildren will one day appreciate her photographs. I’m reminded of what my friend Tom told me, photographs are about the memory, the moment. That’s what matters.
Soon the show is over and we quickly load everything back into the car. The temperature is quickly dropping. By the time we get home it drops 20 degrees.
As we make our way down from the bluff, I ask her to stop at the beach. Just a few more shots, I say. She’s cold, so she stays in the car as I setup my tripod and take a few photographs of the lighthouse, now lighted by incandescent lights along the walkway.
It’s 8:15 as we walk into Clementines. All the adrenaline has dissipated and my body now screams for attention. I can barely eat. I use the bathroom before we leave, leaning against the stall, a few tears come to my eyes. Why does it have to be this way? Why does one day with my friend and lover cost me so much?
More pain meds.
I have a counseling appointment scheduled for tomorrow. She knows, and will cancel it in the morning. Bed is what awaits me come tomorrow and several days after that. It’s the price I pay for living, for experiencing the beauty of my wife and a Lake Michigan sunset.
It’s midnight as we pull into the driveway. We’ve been gone 14 hours and driven over 300 miles. Exhausted, she falls asleep in minutes. I take more pain medication and my normal nighttime meds. I’m so exhausted that sleep comes quickly.
12 hours later, I wake up, knowing that I must now pay for yesterday.
Is it worth it?
She’s at work now and she sends me a text. The sun is shining, want to go to on a road trip?