Words I would never use, except now

Amish country sunrise
It dawned on me.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. My quotidian passion for words is inexorable.

The English language is replete with nomenclature I seldom employ either in composition or conversation. Now and then I have to unleash my literary angst. The eve of April Fools Day seems like the perfect time to cleanse my self-abridged dictionary.

My linguist.
Naturally I strive to espouse with beatific legerdemain. I have to do so. My jurisprudence is pathetic. Otherwise, my capriciousness gets the best of me.

I desire to be convivial about my codifications. In this political climate, I certainly don’t want to cause a kerfuffle. Although I’d confess to burble with the best of them.

I’m afraid my temerity has defeated my timidity. I hope to be more ebullient than piquant with my verbose mélange.

I certainly don’t intend to be recalcitrant in my effort to foment erudition. Neither do I want to pen prudery nor have my bespoke verbiage tamp or cajole folks. That’s not my forte.

My carapace should always be buoyant, and reflect the timbre of my character. That way I can steel and galvanize my bonhomie without any frisson. It’s neither insuperable nor insurmountable since their meaning is indistinguishable.

The context should never subsume a redolent, louche, or unpalatable knell. That would be downright bumptious. Rather I need to codify my content to be prescient and pictorial without catering to the gentry.

I don’t want to be feckless in the vernacular after all. That would just be smarmy and lack verve. Even after all these years, I still consider myself a nascent scribe in diaspora.

The reverberation of this dissipated resonance evokes no fiat. It may, in fact, be decrepit with the host of literary scions. Grimace and fulminate all you want. They’ll be no seminal effect on me. I’ll continue to shamble along without hyperbole.

Of course, that could be deceitful subterfuge on my part. However, I’m no nihilist nor am I illiberal.

PA Dutch
Though this literary caravan may seem desultory to you, it is actually a scabrous compendium of hifalutin words. I’m not trying to be self-obsequious either.

I am sure there are some cognoscenti readers out there. If so, I will parry their harangues. They are not protuberant to me. Neither am I servile to them.

We can still rhapsodize together on this lexicon of gibberish. After all, I’m no pugilist or sycophantic snob.

I get the feeling that this peripatetic retinue is moribund. Its ethos is unequivocally irrefutable. Mayhap, its thrall is winsome at least.

My actual intent was to be ruminative and instructive. At the very least, this pellucid piece will generate impermanence. Also, here’s hoping that the piece achieves diptych from opening to closing. In that case, abstemious reticence will suffice.

Will I deign to manufacture a whelp to this ineffectual encyclopedia? Probably. I can assure you that it won’t be pernicious. I will admit, however, that I do have a predilection for such febrile panoply.

Bloviator that I am, the comportment for significance here is scandalously bodacious, if not excruciating and specious. I had better halt before my loquaciousness parboils my audience.

American Goldfinch, molting
In my defense, I can’t be accused of being a cheapskate with terms. Perchance I am, I plead amicus curiae.

This invective could go on for perpetuity. I must skedaddle. My hangdog thesaurus is pooped. Ergo, this is the epitome of epistemic closure.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Good Friday gathering

Good Friday, Amish
Good Friday gathering.

Good Friday is a sacred day in the life of Amish. Most Amish church districts hold a long church service, usually for adults only. The focus is to remember Christ dying on the cross for humankind.

“Good Friday gathering” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

A different kind of March Madness

By Bruce Stambaugh

For the first time in our 45 years of marriage, our anniversary falls on Easter. I couldn’t be happier.

bride and groom
Wedding day.
To be honest, I have no idea why we set our wedding date for the end of March. We had to be crazy to marry at the height of high school and college basketball tournaments. I guess it was a different kind of March Madness.

Both our fathers were big sports fans. They watched baseball, football and basketball games on TV and listened to them on the radio, too, sometimes simultaneously. We wouldn’t have been surprised if Neva’s dad had walked her down the aisle with a transistor radio held to his ear. He didn’t of course.

There was another thing about our wedding date. Neva and I were both teachers. What kind of a honeymoon could we take in the middle of a school year? The answer was a very short one.

The years have flown by. Like all couples, we’ve had our ups and downs. Through thick or thin, one little gesture has helped keep us together. We hold hands a lot.

Our handholding started on our real honeymoon the summer after we were married. We ran a church camp located at 10,200 ft. on the eastern slope of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Barr Camp, Pikes Peak
When we were young.
We cooked on a wood stove or over an open fire, drank water from an ice-cold mountain stream, and greeted mountain hikers who needed a rest stop. We met a lot of nice people that summer, plus a hungry black bear that came calling early one evening.

A lot of water has run down life’s stream since then. We are fortunate to have family, friends, neighbors and church members who lifted us up when we needed it the most. We have tried to return the favors whenever possible.

Serving and being served in and by the community has strengthened if not defined our marriage and our shared purpose. But it’s the everyday interactions with one another, with strangers and friends that have helped see us through.

No matter the situation, Neva and I automatically reach for each other’s hand. That purposefully keeps us together.

I have read Neva’s heart and mind simply by touch. Cold and firm or warm and gentle, good times or bad, we still cling to one another. It’s a constant reminder that neither of us is ever alone in any situation. I thrive in that reassurance.

I remember the joy of playing horse as our two youngsters rode on my back around the house until I collapsed. They long ago became responsible, productive adults with careers and lives of their own. Our three growing grandchildren are wonderful blessings to us now, too.

happy couple
The happy couple today.
We recently visited the pastor who married us. We thanked him for all that he did to prepare us for our wedding day and life beyond. Hand in hand, he set this young, naïve couple on a long, meandering, incredible journey together.

I’m hoping the Easter weather will be beautiful, as lovely as my bride. It’s been a while since I’ve called her that. It will be great to share this holy day with folks who have lifted us up all these years.

I’m overjoyed that Easter and our anniversary coincide this year. It’s the perfect day of hope and joy for us to celebrate our reckless, uncalculated love together.

In the evening, we’ll sit and watch basketball games on TV. I’m pretty confident we’ll be holding hands.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

The storm cometh

squall line, storm front
The Storm Cometh.

Severe weather grips me. As a volunteer severe weather spotter for the National Weather Service office in Cleveland, I pay close attention to the weather forecasts. When the potential for severe weather is a possibility, I go on a personal high alert.

I watch radars. I read online weather maps. And I scan the sky. I also take my camera with me.

When the season’s first strong thunderstorms approached Monday evening, I was ready. An active weather system had produced a tornado in southwestern Ohio. The cold front weakened a bit as it approached eastern Ohio. But that didn’t keep it from producing some impressive clouds, particularly in the front of the storm system.

The western sky turned dark. I went to the back porch to see what was coming, and this is what I saw looking north. The clouds looked fierce and angry. But fortunately, we only received torrential rains and a few strikes of lightning.

“The Storm Cometh” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 206

The idiosyncrasies of Daylight Saving Time

pink sunrise
Sunrise in pink.

By Bruce Stambaugh

As a kid, I loved when Daylight Saving Time (DST) arrived, mostly. At first, school days began in the dark. The upside was that we had more daylight time in the evening to play and do chores.

That seemed like a fair trade to me. Excuse the pun, but times have changed since the origin of DST. I’m not sure humanity has, however.

Believe it or not, DST originated in ancient times before clocks existed. Various civilizations adjusted their schedules, not their clocks, to the natural lengthening of warmer months.

Amish volleyball
Evening recreation.
Ben Franklin’s humor accidentally credited him with the suggestion of DST. When awakened by the sun at 6 a.m. in France in 1784, Franklin jokingly suggested in an essay that the French could save a lot of money by getting up earlier in the morning. That would result in fewer candles burned in the evening.

Folks in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada were the first to use DST in 1908. The idea didn’t catch on until the onslaught of World War I when Germany resorted to using DST to save fuel for the war effort. Great Britain soon followed suit.

The same thing happened when the United States entered World War II. To save fuel, DST ran from April 30 to Oct. 31. In one form or another, DST has been around ever since.

Today’s use of DST in the U.S. dates to the 1973 oil crisis in the Middle East. DST now runs from the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November. Altogether, 70 countries use some form of DST.

Despite its semi-annual adjustments, folks still get confused by the change of time. A simple rule is spring forward an hour in March and fall back an hour in November. Note the cheeky references to “spring” and “fall.”

Farmers often get the blame for initiating DST. In fact, the farmers I talk to hate it, especially if they milk cows.

Amish farmer, hay wagons
Late evening wagon train.
When I was an elementary school principal, I often made home visits. In some Amish homes, I noticed that the household clocks remained on standard time.

Others apparently used the art of compromise. Clocks were set back a half an hour. Perhaps these methods were mild forms of protest. Whatever the reasons, people always seemed to know what time it was regardless of what the clocks said.

That’s more than others could say. This simple idea led to some chaotic timekeeping. In 1965, the state of Iowa had 23 different start and end dates for DST. Even the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Min. didn’t change time equally.

To bring order to all of the chaotic clocks, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 making DST uniform. Well, mostly. Arizona and Hawaii still don’t use DST, along with several U.S. territories.

For good or for ill, the intent of this checkered history of playing with time was to save energy. Research has shown that concept is flawed.

I can see both sides. Earlier risers would just as soon avoid manipulating the clocks twice a year. Those who desire extra playtime after work or school are happy for the extended daylight.

That remains the justification for DST. It doesn’t save time. The tactic merely adjusts the clock to accommodate more daylight for more citizens.

My less than nimble fingers protest resetting the many digital devices that don’t self-correct. The child in my heart, however, still enjoys the adjusted daylight.

kids swimming, summertime
Summertime fun.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Lavender Geese

Canada Geese, Ohio sunrise
Lavender Geese.

This pair of Canada Geese was none too happy about my early morning intrusion on their quiet solitude. Their harsh honking wasn’t the only thing that caught my attention. I couldn’t believe the color of the predawn sky’s reflection on the farm pond. The lavender and mauve beautifully accented these noisy birds.

“Lavender Geese” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016


sunrise, Atlantic Ocean
Sunrise with Sam.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I stood on the beach beside Sam enjoying another inspiring sunrise. Though I didn’t know it, the scene renourished me. I had never heard that word before.

Sam was a security guard for a beach restoration project that was ongoing on the barrier island where my wife and I have wintered for the last several years. He had just come on duty for his 12-hour shift.

hood mergansers, saltmarsh
Sam couldn’t contain himself. In his strong southern drawl, he chatted while I snapped away with cameras to capture the unfolding beauty before us.

Sam said he had come to work early just to see the sunrise. He succinctly expressed the natural fringe benefits he received from just doing his job.

“I get to see sunrises, the full moon last night, the stars and planets, and a beautiful sunset over the island,” he said. I had found a kindred soul mate. Sam described in one sentence why my wife and I return year after year to this little paradise.

It’s not balmy by Miami standards, or even Sarasota for that matter. But we find the island’s winter weather much more agreeable than northeast Ohio.

From another glorious dawn to a spectacular sunset, this particular day served as a perfect example of how we recharge.

I couldn’t help but see the irony in
the beach reinvigoration.

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The massive renourishment project was an engineering marvel. Involved were large freighters, tugboats, survey boats, an enormous pumping station, hundreds of 40-ft. long steel pipes sections, and a variety of heavy-duty excavating equipment.

Huge ships dredged the river inlet to maintain shipping lanes. Pumps recycled the sand through a miles-long piping system. A slurry of sand and seawater spewed back out onto the beach.

Giant bulldozers plowed a path to channel the excess water back into the ocean. Shore birds and sea birds reaped the benefits by feasting on the crawling critters caught up in the pressurized flush of sand and water.

Renourishment came in more natural ways, too. The salty spray, the sanguine setting of having an ocean for a front yard, the wildlife, the nearby marine forest and accompanying saltmarsh, and the friendly folks encountered during our extended stay combined to enrich our lives.

beach construction
Sam at work.
Sam and I lingered a long time on the beach, side-by-side, silent, soaking in the radiance before us. When the colors muted, he returned to his station at the end of the orange iridescent construction fence and took a sip of water.

I retreated to our rented condo to the company of my hospitable wife and our latest of many visitors. They were just as thrilled with the sunrise as I was. That, too, served as nourishment for my soul.

To be honest, I’m not a beach person. I’d much rather be hiking in mountains than lazing along the shore. But it’s cold in the mountains in winter, and though it’s not even subtropical here, we had a lot in common with Sam and the beach project.

The word renourishment, in fact, applies specifically to restoring damaged beaches. Standing beside Sam enjoying the sunrise brought a wider meaning of the word for me.

Neva and I were exceedingly grateful to be renourished by the marvels all around, and by the good folks who came calling. I was especially pleased when Sam asked to have a sunrise photo sent to him.

Even beaches need to be renourished from time to time. How and where are you replenished?

sunset, Fernandina Beach fL
Soft sunset.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Greeting the Day

sunrise photo, family on beach
Greeting the Day.

This photo could be just another beautiful sunrise on the beach. But if you look close, a lot is going on in this scene.

Even in silhouette, you can see a man, his two daughters and the family dog. Look closer and you will notice that the girls are chatting, one with her back to the sun, just having burst over the ocean. The man is holding the dog’s leash, the doggie cleanup back, and his smartphone. In fact, you’ll note that he, too, is reading his phone rather than enjoying the gorgeous sunrise. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Like it or not, perhaps that is truly how much of the western world welcomes in each day. We fixate on getting the day going on our own terms instead of simply greeting the day as it freely shines upon us.

“Greeting the Day” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

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