Does anyone know the name of this flower?

34652616270_2b514bef61_k

I wish I knew. It is a low-growing perennial. I don’t think it’s typical here in Ohio, for I have spotted it in just one garden around here, and that garden is staffed by master gardener volunteers. With that many “green thumbs” it may be possible that this is something that wouldn’t ordinarily thrive in the Great Lakes region.

First Echinacea

34805555112_1d1990b0c8_k

I added a couple of these perennials to my garden just last year, after they’d already started blooming. It seems rather early for its first bloom. Echinacea is such a dependable presence in summer gardens around here that I haven’t paid attention to their usual timing. I think of them as mid to late summer flowers, but I guess I didn’t realize they could endure through part of spring and all of summer.

Row House, Haller Street

464684922_ca7a69a431_b

My city is littered with a few row house apartments, and several of them have fallen into disrepair. I noticed one listed in the real estate classifieds a couple years ago, and the asking price was just $40,000, with all four units rented. Maybe these structures lost out to the rise of suburban apartment complexes, with the siren call of dishwashers and steady maintenance service.

My daughter attended a birthday party in a row house situated about a block away from the buildings shown above. The birthday house had gorgeous woodwork inside, all wood floors and staircase. The place had a charm that had not dimmed with time and the sinking economic prospects of its neighborhood.

My family moved into a house right next door to these row houses back in the early 80’s. The term “motley crew” definitely applied to the residents back then. Nearly every car parked on the street, all of which looked impossibly long, had roach clips with feathers hanging from their rear view mirrors. One woman attempted suicide on a random Saturday morning, and the radio resting in her open kitchen window was broadcasting “Only the Lonely” by the Motels as the medics loaded her into the ambulance.

I’ve heard rumors that the row houses on Haller Street have since become crack houses. When I took a walk to take this picture, I did not get the sense that something so malevolent had salted this earth, at least not thorougly. Judging from the chatter I heard, I think the same combo of irreverence and light hedonism that helped their predecessors survive the Reagan years still reigned over this street.

After I took this picture, I could hear two men discussing my appearance as I walked away. One asked the other if I really lived down there, and his friend replied, “No, I haven’t seen her around. I’d remember that ass.”

Studebaker School Bus

286838721_1bdd500963_b

This bus has something in common with Paul Bunyan from my previous post: it is no longer where it once stood. There used to a collection of rusted Studebakers just north of downtown, but it think they fell prey to code enforcement or the passing of their owner.

Paul Bunyan

267800614_12ac8fefab_b

I file this one under Abandoned because it was discarded to parts unknown once the small home improvement store upon which he stood went out of business. Who knows, maybe he’s in the living room of the folks who owned that shop, his earnest face a protest against the big box stores (half of which have since went defunct around here, too). By the time I took this picture, he had already lost his axe, and his jeans had worn to an acid-washed finish.

For those of you who have just begun making photography a habit, I recommend that you do take the time to capture the oddball sights you encounter. They may be gone by the time you return. I’ve been taking pictures for 16 years, and about a quarter of the places I’ve snapped no longer look as they did in my pictures, lost to demolition or updates.

As an aside, I’ve been puzzled for years as to why the updates of brand logos seem to erase or obscure their previous versions. Try as I might (and this is just one example), I can’t envision a K-Mart logo from the early 80’s, despite that my family shopped there at least twice a month back then.

He’s Got a Lot of Love to Give

3645417266_9ac0ffab31_b

My sister is wont to say that someone, whether animal or human, has a lot of love to give when it is highly unlikely such an observation is true about that subject. I have no idea if there is any irony in thinking that the hippo-costumed man in this picture also had lots of love to give as I could not see the expression on his face when my daughter approached him. We encountered him nine years ago during an ill-fated trip to the Toledo Zoo, when my daughter had one of her worst ever meltdowns at the snack bar because no straws or lids were available for the drinks (for good reason, to prevent wildlife-damaging litter).  By the time I took this picture, she was in a serene mood, having drained all of her tension through lid/straw protest.

Enough years have passed that I can discuss just how hard this era was for us. I had started working full time for the first time since before she was born, and she was freshly diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Her school had urged me to get her evaluated at a counseling center because she was getting sent to the principal’s office several times a week. I released the center’s findings to the school, and they banned her from the end-of-year zoo field trip because of her diagnosis. There is no point in window dressing this episode: this damned-if-you-do/damned if you don’t scenario sucked, most of all for my daughter.

So we made a special trip to the zoo on the following weekend, which went well except for the royal tantrum at the snack bar. We had begun play therapy at the counseling center. While she actually liked her therapist, she needed a lot of persuasion to walk into the building to see him. Once she decided to take off running from the center rather than go inside. This was not a good thing for two reasons: the center was situated in a crime-ridden part of our city, and I weighed around 250 pounds at the time. Once I caught up to her, I could not get her back to the center without carrying her. By the time we reached the building, my heart felt like it was going to explode from all of the exertion, and I wished that the ground would open and swallow me whole.

In the intervening years, I lost the excess weight, and my daughter mellowed out. She was diagnosed with autism last year, and the diagnosing psychologist looked at her history and mentioned that ODD was likely a misdiagnosis along the way.

Looking at this picture shows me that we both survived and had many bright moments along the way, even if we labored in darkness for so long.