Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Not Make It Babies And Toddlers Week?


Well, I may or may not have enough images. However, there were small children all over the place when we saw my wife's family last weekend, so maybe.

This is Cedric, niece Lisa's youngest child. The photo was taken at Elvira, my mother-in-law's, old home, where she lived for 30 years before moving into new seniors' housing, seen here a few days ago. It was just full of stuff. She took all that she wanted to her new apartment. The rest of it was set out at the old house; the family bid on anything of interest, the proceeds going to Elvira.

There were several shelves of 1940s and 50s women's hats. Someone put one on Cedric. I thought it looked like Rembrandt's beret in some of his self-portraits, an impression reinforced by the angle of the head and shoulders. Behold the young artist.

I bought a perfectly good banjo for $10. I do not play the banjo and have no idea what I'm going to do with it. But it was way cool and I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If You Are Low On Material...

Kristin and Marin 2

... you can always post pictures of babies. A hit every time. This is niece-in-law, for want of a better term, Dr. Kristin Kruse, with daughter Marin, 1 year old. This was taken at a get-together on the old family farm.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back Roads

2nd Road, Marshall County, Kansas

The rural roads in the part of Kansas where my wife grew up are dirt and gravel, straight and well-graded. They generally run at one mile intervals; the enclosed square mile is known as a section.

Above, northbound on 2nd Road, Marshall County. Below, a mile west, southbound on County Line Road, the border between Marshall and Washington Counties. My brother-in-law's farm is on the left in both shots.

Many people envision Kansas as deadly flat. Some of it is, but much is gently rolling, like this area. I love the subtle colors, even at this time of year.

County Line Road, Marshall - Washington Counties, Kansas

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Everyone Meets At Ricky's

Ricky's 1

In the classic movie Casablanca, everyone meets at Rick's. (In fact, that was the original title.) In Hanover, Kansas, everyone meets at Ricky's.

Kermit Riekenberg, below, has owned the place to dine in Hanover for 47 years. Hearty, yummy country cooking at amazing prices. Several layers of my wife's family met there for breakfast yesterday morning. The lead picture sums up the atmosphere. We want to come back and taste the Supreme Potato Ole listed on the board. Heck, we just want to find out what it is.

The ham and cheese omelet is just enormous. My brother-in-law, Mel, put a dollar bill next to it just to show the scale. At the bottom, Mrs. C leaves, another satisfied customer.

Sorry again about the lack of recent comments. Limited WiFi access out here. The motel is supposed to have it but I can't get the signal at my end of the hall.

Ricky's 2

Ricky's 3

Ricky's 4

Ricky's 5

Saturday, November 26, 2011

On The Farm


My brother-in-law, Mel, and his wife, Pat, bought the old family farm from my wife's parents more than 30 years ago. With the way agriculture has changed, they both had day jobs while they grew corn and raised cattle (and children). Four generations were hanging around the place yesterday, from 93 year old Elvira to five month old Sydney. The number of great grandchildren is beyond my comprehension (none contributed by my division to date, though). Some of them played on the old tree swing while the boys went out to skeet shoot.

Skeet Shooting 2011-11-25 4

Friday, November 25, 2011


Kansas 2011-11-24 1

Keating Street in Marysville, Kansas, on a warm, sunny Thanksgiving afternoon. It's a new street and the new home of my mother-in-law, Elvira Kruse, 93 this weekend. Each unit has two townhomes for seniors, all spacious and well-built. Elvira had lived in the old family house in a town of 600 or so (and shrinking). This development is in the county seat of about 4,000 (and growing). She can live by herself and has new friends nearby. Altogether better for her.

But it's so quiet. The cornfields begin at the end of the street. I hear the horns of the trains passing by town.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday Arch Series

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 21

Of course I got some Arch pix from the helicopter. The light was so dull. I wasn't flying the aircraft (much to everyone's benefit) so I couldn't set up an angle I'd prefer. Still, a few were okay. I chose this image for today's post because I thought it was the most dramatic, the most unusual view for us groundlings. I may use others on the next couple of Thursdays.

It's very hard to comprehend from this photo, but remember that the Arch is exactly as wide as it is tall.

It's late Wednesday night at a Kansas City airport hotel as I write this. We drove here from St. Louis this afternoon. Up and out in the morning to get son Andy on an early flight from Chicago, then west into Kansas for Thanksgiving with Carolyn's family. Prairie pix to follow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Local Attractions

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 6 Union Station

A couple of quick helicopter pix. As I write this Tuesday night I need to get the post up and start packing. Driving as far as Kansas City today, picking up son Andy when he flies to KC from Chicago early tomorrow morning, then west to Marysville, Kansas, to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my wife's family. Her mother, Elvira Kruse, turns 93 this weekend.

So anyway - above, St. Louis Union Station. It was once one of the great junctions of the American railway system. It's been rehabbed and has a stunningly beautiful Marriott Hotel in the headhouse, the front part (views of the lobby here and here). The old train shed behind now covers shops and restaurants.

Below, the Edward Jones Dome. A local financial services company bought the naming rights to the venue where the miserable St. Louis Rams play football. Just to the right of that is the convention center. They are contiguous if you need a whole lot of floor space.

Hope to have an Arch picture from the the air tomorrow (hope I have time to write a post in KC tonight). Then we'll have the prairies of Kansas.

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 2

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eye on STL

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 4

Okay, so we're not like a major urban destination but we have our charms and our merits. This is a broad view of downtown from the helicopter looking southeast. You can see just a bit of the Arch behind a tall building at the horizon toward the left. My office is in the building just to the right of that, whose flat top just touches the horizon. The large building in the center foreground with the white circular whatever on top is the wacky City Museum - note the yellow school bus hanging off the right corner of the roof.

That's our pilot Brian in the lower picture. He used to make his living as a truck driver. Somewhere back in the 90s he took a helicopter ride and got hooked. He started taking lessons and look at him now. He thinks it's an improvement.

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 9 (Brian The Pilot)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Earth, Air, Water and Helicopter

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 13

The Mighty Mississippi from the air. The top picture is just after liftoff, looking south. The pinkish strip down the center is the cobblestone levee, dating from the 19th Century. The river is very low. When the water is up, like in this picture from last May, the street uphill to the right can be completely covered. The highest I've seen it is about two-thirds up the floodwall to the right of the street. That's a lot of water.

The bottom picture is looking north, upriver. The graceful Eads Bridge crosses the river, followed by the prosaic McKinley Bridge. Note all the barges pulled over to the riverbanks behind the bridges. The Mississippi south of St. Louis has such a gentle descent that there are no locks and dams. The first is a few miles to the north of us. It was closed for dredging at the time, stopping all the river traffic.

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 14

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Helicopter Ride!

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 7

Ace son and heir to the St. Louis daily Photo fortune Andy gave me and Carolyn a fabulous Christmas present last year, a certificate for a helicopter ride around downtown. So, eleven months later, we finally got around to using it (it was about to expire). You had to book two weeks ahead and we got a gray day but wowie zowie was it a lot of fun.

Needless to say, I took hundreds of snaps, some of which will appear here in the coming days. This view is to the east from roughly over 18th Street. On the right, I 64 crosses the Mississippi. Center foreground is the trompe l'oeil facade of the Sheraton Hotel. You can dimly see Busch Stadium behind it and a foot of the Arch in the upper left.

Thanks to Gateway Helicopter Tours for providing a great experience.

Helicopter Ride 2011-11-19 8

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Quiet Of Cold

Come Back In April

Cold weather seems quieter to me than warm. Fewer people out and about, only a few hardy birds left, no leaves to rustle in the wind. Bare tree branches have much less to say. In the summer people are outdoors and there is much more activity.

As the days become chilly some spots around town get a lonely feel. The ticket windows at the baseball stadium are abandoned. Come spring, this place will be full of chatting throngs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Citygarden, Autumn

Citygarden, Autumn
I have to admit that I took this shot a week or two, looking east on Market from 10th Street. Not many of those leaves left today but, hey, I needed a picture. That's the top of Kieth Haring's Ringed Figure in the left foreground.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Arch Series

Arch In A Puddle

In yesterday's post, I asked readers if they had a preference among three rather different Arch photos I shot recently. Only S.C. from Amsterdam, an architect, replied, expressing a preference for Miesian simplicity.

Actually, I'm holding that one for a bit. Today's image has some urban rhythm and derelict property. The vacant square block is where most of the old Busch Stadium sat. The new one is just off camera to the right. When the team came begging for public money to help build the new venue, they promised to develop a wonderful complex on the site of the old stadium called Ballpark Village. It was to have shops, restaurants, apartments, a hotel and office space. The new stadium opened in 2006. Not long afterward the economy tanked, the real estate market retired to its sick bed and the developers left us with this vacant lot. Well, now part of it is a parking lot. It has a rather crude, seldom used baseball field (it's not very flat) and this little swamp you see in the foreground.

And thus the taxpayers' money. It does make some cool, symmetric reflections, though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Of The Same, But Different

Citygarden - Night 2011-11-11 2

Another night shot in Citydarden. Color works better in this one. In the foreground is the park's most visited work, Igor Mitoraj's Eros Bendato (Eros Bound). It's been on this blog a few times before. It is a hard work to interpret. In this dark shot, it makes me think of a decapitated head lying on the ground - those dead empty eyes. Just four blocks away in the Old Post Office Plaza is Mitoraj's Icarus, a work just as mysterious. It's up to the viewer.

Tomorrow is Thursday and I actually have a few new Arch pictures. Would you like simple and elegant, rhythmic and symmetrical in a urban setting, or lurid color?

Sorry that yesterday was a no comments day. I spent the evening assembling frame kits for my stuff that was accepted in Seen 2011, STL's big year end photo competition and show. They took five images (this, this, this, this and this). Of course, judges being what they are (each of us is the only perfect judge), they didn't take my best couple of images of the year. More about that, maybe, on the January 1 theme day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Night In The City

Citygarden - Night 2011-11-11 3

Citygarden at night. The darkness is broken, though, by selective lighting on the sculpture, some of the foliage and the nearby buildings. The wacky architecture of the Civil Courts Building is on the left. The top glows yellow and red these day. The lights on the side of the building after hours are always in that sort of double-L pattern. It's all a bit unsettling.

When I wrote the title for this post I had an immediate association with a song I liked a lot from 1967. Geez, that was the year I graduated from high school. It's a near-miracle that I can remember it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Season's Over

Season's Over

Well, the home town team won the baseball championship and everyone got excited for a while. Now people's attention is turning to other things. It's getting colder. Outside Busch Stadium, the statue of Stan Musial stares into a wide, gray sky, waiting for a day in April.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Kiener Plaza Unoccupied 1
The police kicked the Occupy St. Louis protesters out of Kiener Plaza Friday night. There was plenty of warning and no violence. About 25 people who passively refused to move were arrested.

I stopped by yesterday afternoon to see what was left. The walkways and amphitheater that had been full of colorful tumult were empty but for a few earnest souls who could not tear themselves away. A couple of puzzling signs were still around and the east side of 7th Street looked like a small home eviction had occurred.

The movement could have meant so much more. My point of view is expressed in a Doonesbury comic strip from a couple of days ago.

Kiener Plaza Unoccupied 2

Kiener Plaza Unoccupied 3

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Evening Stroll

Citygarden - Night 2011-11-11

It's a good time of year for night shots. The sun sets before I leave work and it's not too cold yet. In Citygarden, next to the nearly-empty streets at 9th and Market, Kiera and Julian continue their endless, futile stroll toward the Arch.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another View Of Autumn

Tower Grove Park 2011-11-05 2

The original color photo was full of oranges and yellows with fringes of purple. Ho hum, another pretty fall foliage shot. For the moment, I'm more interested in the clean shapes and tones of black and white. This was taken last weekend in quiet Tower Grove Park.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2011-10-01 4

Late post today. Too much work. In any event, the Arch looks so massive and broad from the side but so slender from underneath. There is no point of reference to guess its height.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Near The End

Forest Park 2011-11-06 2 BW

Forest Park in early November. There was some good color here but I was more interested in the shapes: the emerging bones of the trunks and branches, the shrinking fleece of leaves, the carpet that shifted with any breeze.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Old Sailor

Veterans Day Parade 2011-11-05 4

Another shot from last weekend's Veterans Day parade. This old sailor still has a lot of snap in his salute. Note the word Seabees under the windshield. They are, in effect, the U. S. military's civil engineers and construction company. A can-do bunch of people.

Our traditional naval sailor's hat is a little strange. It looks like it would blow off easily in ocean winds and simply collect water when it rains.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Who Guards The Moon?

Tower Grove Park, Dusk

Well, I was going to post another picture from the Veterans Day parade but oopsie! I left the external drive with those images on my desk at work. So maybe back to that tomorrow.

For today, then, part of the eastern gate of Tower Grove Park as the sun was setting behind me. This post needs some background music.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Veterans Day Parade

Veterans Day Parade 2011-11-05 1

Veterans Day in the U.S. is on November 11, the date the armistice was signed ending World War I. It used to be called Armistice Day but we've been in so much other trouble since 1918 the name has been generalized.

The parade is the Saturday before, of course, but it's a good time to reflect on what patriotism means in this mongrel nation of ours. It's different from countries that have a common cultural and ethnic core, like Japan or France. We are the stewpot of states; everybody came here. We are wildly diverse. What is it our patriots hold such fierce allegiance to? A system of government founded by upper class British ex-pats in a far different time? An idea - perhaps a fantasy - of individualism, unbounded growth and manifest destiny? It would have been interesting to ask people after the parade why they hold this country dear above all others, but I was cold, I'd been on my feet for two hours and I wanted to back to my office.

On another topic, reader Julie from Sydney left a comment yesterday asking but tell me Bob, why does St Louis have a Pinocchio statue? Is there an Italian connection, a Disney connection or a lying connection? Well, we do have an important Italian population and, I'm sure, as many liars per capita as any other city. However, one of our glories is that we have two statues of Pinocchio, and in the same park! Citygarden is a two square block oasis of modern and contemporary sculpture in the heart of downtown. It contains Jim Dine's version seen yesterday (actually called Big White Gloves) and Tom Otterness' take on the theme, Kindly Geppetto. It just is that way.

Veterans Day Parade 2011-11-05 2

Veterans Day Parade 2011-11-05 3

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pinocchio's Favorite Baseball Team

Pinocchio, Cardinals Fan

You. can still see the happy glow from the World Series here and there around town. In Citygarden, Jim Dine's Pinocchio wears a huge red and white Cardinals scarf, raising his arms in celebration.

Should be a beautiful day here today and we finally have a bit of fall color in the trees. There is a Veterans Day parade at noon. Time to go out with the big net.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Halloween Central West End 2011-10-29 - 13

A look back at the Halloween street party. Every year you see costumes based on recent events. Last year there was a Chilean miner encased in that little rescue capsule. This year it was a gentleman, rather less gaunt than Steve Jobs, demonstrating the latest in funerary technology. My son got an iPhone 4S and says the reception is way better than his 3. I wonder if it works from the Other Side? (And what would the roaming charges be?)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday Arch Series

2011-10-15 Arch 4

The industrial view. Above, the freight railroad bridge across the Mississippi. Below, a manufacturing plant, now vacant. In the middle, high voltage lines linking Missouri and Illinois. Oh, and that curve of stainless steel.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Red October

Cards Victory Parade 1

There was a huge championship parade for the Cardinals downtown on Sunday afternoon. The police estimated that over a hundred thousand people showed up. It says something about this community's commitment to the team.

The top picture is manager Tony La Russa riding Anheuser-Busch's old beer wagon. He has been the Cardinals' manager for 16 years, after being in the same position in Chicago and Oakland. The intellectual, intense La Russa is one of the greatest managers in baseball history. To the shock of all St. Louis, he announced his retirement the day after the parade.

The second shot is the magnificent Albert Pujols, considered by many as the greatest player in contemporary baseball. He has spent his entire eleven year Major League career here playing for La Russa. He is now a free agent and can negotiate with any team. St. Louis fans desperately want him back but his eyes are ominously fixed on the horizon.

Don't know if the man in the last picture is looking for a baseball celebration or a Halloween party. Both are heavy on fantasy.

Cards Victory Parade 2

Cards Victory Parade 3

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boo 2: How Rude

Halloween Central West End 2011-10-29 - 7

The usual social conventions about good taste are not enforced at St. Louis' Halloween street party. Maybe that's what the wilder costumes are about: for one night you have a license to be as outrageous as you want. You can go back to your job as an insurance clerk and no one will think differently of you. It was just Halloween.

Halloween Central West End 2011-10-29 - 9

Halloween Central West End 2011-10-29 - 10

Halloween Central West End 2011-10-29 - 14