Walking (18)

February 27, 2017

I might find adjectives to let you know of my pleasant nine-miler today at Eagle Creek. Photos do the job so much better.

The trails have dried out.


Every time I walk the blue trail, I find yet something new
that grabs my attention.


At Lilly Pond, two geese looked me over suspiciously.


Here’s another proof that age is beauty.


The blue trail falls sharply to the reservoir.


I met Julian and his two dogs. This one is the friendlier.


The ducks and gulls were busy this morning.


Forty five degrees, a fresh breeze, a good day, yes a good day.



Friday, February 24, 2017

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is currently featuring orchids — in the first and second floors of the gallery, in the Lilly House and in the greenhouses.


It is easy for me to understand why a person would adopt orchid-growing as a hobby.


What is an orchid?

The roots and stem form the bottom portion of an orchid plant much the same as many flowering plants. Above the roots you will generally find a stem from which the leaves are born. The stems are quite sturdy in some orchids and are delicate in others, especially, the miniature orchids. The spike is usually the bearer of the buds and eventually the flowers. Some spikes will produce one flower or cluster of flowers . The most intricate parts of the orchid is the flower and the structure is unique among plants with flowers. There are usually three sepals and they are the remnants of the orchid bud. Typically there are three sepals but some orchids may only have two. The sepals are usually dorsal(back/top of the orchid) and two lateral ones. The petals are always three in number. It is the bottom petal that is also called the “lip” or “labellum”. This petal is larger and often can be quite flamboyant. It is here that forms a platform for the insects that pollinate orchids. It is also here where the most stunning orchid colors are. The orchid uses these colors as well as designs to attract the pollinators. (Reference.com)


Most orchids need bright, indirect light, humidity, gentle air circulation, thorough watering once or twice a week, fertilizer during growth periods, and daytime temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit with only small temperature drops at night. Orchids require good drainage and should not be allowed to sit in water. (Reference.com)


We learned at IMA that breeders can bring two altogether different orchids to produce exotic offspring.


We have a number of orchids here in the house. Up till now I hesitate to be their caregiver lest I do them a disservice. Now, under good care, they reward us regularly.


The IMA exhibit lasts for another week to 10 days.



Dirt Farmer

Thursday, February 23, 2017

(The following article was published recently in Menno Expressions, a literary magazine sponsored by Indianapolis’ two Mennonite congregations.)

A dirt farmer

by Dan Hess

Not only am I one of the Urban Farmers (members have dirt under their fingernails), I AM a dirt farmer. I grow dirt. I harvest dirt.

This year’s harvest of dirt may have set a record — 16 wheelbarrow loads. I gave six loads to Carrie and Scott which felt pretty good because that’s more than a tithe. See the load of sifted compost below.


The farming of dirt begins in the kitchen. I/we throw yuckies into a nice stainless steel container — for example banana peelings, left over bits of Swiss chard, carrot tops, coffee grounds, egg shells, spoiled cabbage. Hey, it’s better if I showed you a picture.


This refuse (technically “green stuff” ) I toss on a pile behind the garage. If that’s all I put there, the pile would turn sour as kraut, so I add what is called “brown stuff” —

newspaper, weeds,


sawdust (actually we don’t have sawdust), and leaves. Actually lots of leaves.



All of this green stuff and brown stuff is on a pile out back of the garage. I water the pile, add some urea and then, if you will pardon the phrase, compost happens.

That is, worms and fungi break down the material. Aerobic bacteria and fungi manage the chemical process by converting the stuff into heat, carbon dioxide and ammonium. The ammo- nium (NH4) is the form of nitrogen that makes plants very happy.

(The drum? I put green stuff in there during summers to speed the process.) Harvest is high time of the year. What fun to dig around in fresh compost.



PS. The thought has come to me — seriously — that the transformation of stuff into rich com- post is just a tad like the spiritual transformation of our human failings into something renewed.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A friend who lives outside of the United States asks in a letter to me “How long can this go on?” By “this” he was referring the America’s accepting Donald Trump’s personality, reputation and performance thus far in his presidency.

In my opinion, “this” is likely to go on for four years, maybe eight. I speak not in approval of the man’s personality, reputation and performance but rather from what I belatedly learned from the campaign, election, and inauguration. Up until my belated learnings I was wrong in every prediction I made about Donald Trump. Now my changed perspectives suggest facts and factors I heretofore overlooked.

  • This country’s democracy is in sharp decline. One principle cause and evidence of the decline is the control of government by monied interests. Every senator is said to be a millionaire. Now a billionaire is the chief executive with billionaires on his staff. Money begets money. Money controls money.
  • While the two main political parties are of much the same ilk, the Democrats are weak, leaderless, unfocused and ineffectual. During President Obama’s eight years in office, few Democrats gave strong voice in support of him. And during this same time Democrats lost members of the House, governors and mayors.
  • A fundamental character of the members of America’s culture-in-control is its deep-seated resistance to outsiders who are different. The United States is far more culturally exclusive than is publicly recognized. The Constitution was written by white wealthy males some of whom were slave owners. Slavery was then accepted for nearly 100 years after the country was founded. The demeaning of the Black culture continues to this day. Immigration, as interpreted by the white population has been “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” who come from western Europe. Beyond that, immigration is an iffy policy. America’s cultural exclusiveness is shown in many ways, principally in housing, jobs, schools and opportunities. We now see a continuation of  Klu Klux Klan-type hatred expressed against not only Blacks and Native Americans, but also Mexicans, Moslems, Jews and to an extent, South Pacific immigrants. The campaign and election have incited these hatreds once again.
  • The industrial revolution put people to work in America. The electronic revolution with its robots and artificial intelligence now puts industrial people out of work, leaving a large segment of the population un-employed or under-employed. Such circumstances lead quickly to disillusionment and dependency. And, be it known, to a shared hostility.
  • Any country on the planet that devotes more than 50% of its national budget to defense stands to be challenged eventually for the way this  country combines militarism and hegemony. America will not long be respected as it flouts and flaunts its military might.
  • Around the world populism is gaining traction. This populism is associated with nationalism and huckstered by people in the mold of totalitarian dictators of the past.
  • That so many people seemed to shrug off Candidate Trump’s moral compromises and intellectual mediocracy and at the same time to accept his bombast, suggests to me that they will continue this same uncritical assessment of the President so long as he promises pie-in-the-sky solutions.

For me the question is not “How long can this go on?” but rather “How can I be a humane world citizen in the continuing presence of this?”


Walking (17)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

It wasn’t a day of bright sunshine nor did I rack up a lot of miles, but a walk in the Purdue Woods along Lye Creek offered many rewards this afternoon.

This old gate  doesn’t move anymore, but it seems to mark where one should enter.


Ringo is as old as I am (in a dog’s life), and enjoys the walks as much as I do.


The creek cuts against a wall of rocks and trees just as it passes by Winter Wood.


This is the elegant home of perhaps raccoons, maybe even a fox or coyote.


Poems laud the still waters, yet tumbling water gives life to a stream.


Along the shore countless shells suggest a cemetery of aquatic life.


Lichens and moss have survived the winter quite well.


Which was more patient, the stone or the rock, in the making of this union?


Lye Creek can even boast of a waterfall, whose height is perhaps 18 inches.


Thanks for sharing this walk with Ringo and me.


Walking (16)

Monday, February 20, 2017

One expects a winter day to be clear and cold enough to chill ears, numb fingers and bite toes. Such days make for brilliantly sharp photos.  I enjoy long walks on such days, but …


… in my opinion clear-cut days are rivaled by mornings of mist and fog as shown below at Camp Friedenswald, a photo taken a month ago.


Today I hustled to 100 Acres to feel and see the softness of mist. Such mornings seem to offer extra leeway for the comings of the day, an extra allowance against the strictures and ultimates that press in against us. I like the indefiniteness of the lines of a misty morning which relieves me from toeing the line. Mist-ic harmony.

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Walking (15)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

This morning, after traversing a quadrant between 10th Street and 16th Street, I returned home via North Bolton. I had reason to pay attention to a four-block strip — there was not one bit of trash on the lawns, the walk, the city right-of-way or the street.


I addressed the trash issue in Irvington because the quadrant I had earlier walked through is heavily trashed. Heavily trashed as in beer cans, take-out boxes, styrofoam cups, paper and cardboard, clothing, a crate, ribbon, toys and did I say beer cans?

Irvington is tidy for at least two reasons. My neighbors don’t toss trash. If any appears, it is picked up.  We also have “the trash lady” — Pauline. On her daily walks she carries one or two plastic totes into which she throws any trash she finds. Most of it comes from the trafficked section where Pleasant Run Parkway leads onto Michigan Avenue.  She tosses the full totes into a public bin or the trash can at home.

Why do people trash the near environment?

Is the tossing of trash simply habit?
Might there be elements of protest in trashing?
Do they think the trash will just automatically go away?
Perhaps they trash inside their houses and cars?

I chose not to insert any photos of trash on the streets. Getting such photos is easy to come by.