Sunday, November 30, 2014

Landscapes With Trains

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Out here in Kansas you can photograph all the trains you want. Long haul trains, carrying coal and grain and every kind of freight. Just don't have bad timing while driving on a highway with a railroad crossing. You could wait a long time.

There is a Union Pacific line that runs along the west edge of Marysville. It has a freight siding maybe a dozen tracks wide. An overpass was built across it on US 36 a few years ago. Good thing. The trains crossing the highway could really slow down the trip from town to Mrs. C's family farm.

Home tonight but we'll run with this for a while.                

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

On The Farm

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Out to Mrs. C's family farm for the day yesterday. It's been owned for some years by her youngest brother, Mel, and his wife, Pat.

There was one cornfield that hadn't been harvested. Mel said it had been too wet. So, having little better to do, he brought out the combine and grain truck and got to work. The combine is a monstrous, complicated machine that rips the ears off the stalks, the kernels off the ears, and then pumps it out a chute into the truck bed.

Mel gave son Andy and his wife, Claire, a lesson on driving the combine. Lots of levers and pedals. Not a driving experience he's likely to have on the streets of Chicago.                  

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving In Marysville

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Thanksgiving in Marysville, Kansas, at the home of my mother-in-law, Elvira Kruse. She lives on Keating Street, above, on the edge of the prairie. Elvira will be 96 on Saturday.                      
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Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, all us Apple people brought in daughter Emily and Madeleine after dinner on Face Time. Son Andy and his wife, Claire, drove in from Chicago and made a fabulous meal. Below, Andy, sister-in-law Mary Lee, Mrs. C, Claire and Elvira gather around the TV and Andy's MacBook, sending greetings back to The Lou.

And, at the bottom, Madeleine takes her first steps! A day to remember.                     

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday Arch Series

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This seems like an appropriate Arch picture for St. Louis this week. We are in Kansas City tonight where the air is clearer. On to Marysville, Kansas, in the morning for Thanksgiving dinner with Mrs. C's mother, who will be 96 on Saturday, son Andy and his wife Claire. Prairie pix soon.

My friend Olivier, from Evry, France, posted the image below on my Facebook page today. He loves everything about New York (my home town) and visits frequently. This is the cover of next week's issue of The New Yorker magazine. The Arch and our city are divided, black and white. 

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends.                           

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Little I Saw

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There was a second day of protests in St. Louis on Tuesday. As I write this late that evening there has not been more violence. Two thousand National Guard troops are on the streets. People are demanding to know where they were last night, when many businesses in Ferguson were burned or looted. Paranoid theories are in the air. Some of them may be right.

We knew that there would be a march or rally downtown. Our office building is off in a corner of the district and we didn't expect trouble. However, about 2 in the afternoon we saw a crowd of people coming up 4th Street. A few hundred people marched up an exit ramp from Interstate 70, strung themselves across it and blocked the busy highway for about twenty minutes. These pictures were taken from our office windows. I didn't have a very long lens with me and they are greatly cropped. As you can see in the pictures below, a group of police in full riot gear pushed the protesters off the road. We saw no violence but I read later that the police used pepper spray.

This is a very hard time for us. There was conflicting eye-witness testimony about what happened on the day of the shooting. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullough's conduct has been sharply criticized. Most people don't know that McCullough's father was a St. Louis policeman who was shot to death by a black man.

People have fierce opinions, which may or may not be based on the ambiguous evidence. It's a good time to leave The Lou for a while. More soon from another location.                    

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hands Up Don't Shoot: Ferguson, Missouri

Hands Up Don't Shoot

Most of my readers know about the events following the death of Michael Brown, an 18 year old black man, shot by a white policeman on August 9 in our suburb of Ferguson. The metro area has been on low boil ever since. Some of the protests became violent and there were a lot arrests. Many have demanded that criminal charges be brought against the policeman, Darren Wilson.

That issue has been pending before an institution unique to American's criminal system, a grand jury. There have been fears of riots if Wilson is not indicted. The city is on edge. All area police are on duty. Hundreds of National Guard and FBI personnel have been brought it.

The decision was just announced at 8:25 PM our time. Wilson was not charged. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullough gave a detailed summary of the procedure and evidence on TV tonight. As I write this late Tuesday we do not know what will happen in and to St. Louis next.

I found the image above stenciled on a bus shelter. It illustrates the common chant of the protesters: hands up, don't shoot. All of us here might wonder if we should call the number below. 
Damage To Shelter

Monday, November 24, 2014

Madeleine Monday

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While poor son-in-law was working Saturday night (it's ok - he's about to start a new job for more pay, better hours and a much shorter commute) Mrs. C and I, daughter Emily and Madeleine went out to dinner at Jax Cafe. It's in the Benton Park neighborhood, just west of the giant Anheuser-Busch brewery, and has been around for maybe a year. First visit for us, third for Emily. Definitely recommend it.

Madeleine has been going to restaurants with the family since she was tiny. The kid is well-behaved and cheerful. No tantrums. Sometimes a little extra attention from grandma helps.                               

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Sunday, November 23, 2014


Wet Day 1

I'm scraping the bottom of the photo barrel. Yesterday was gray and wet, not promising for the image collector. So after my usual Saturday visit to the office I drove aimlessly around downtown, 50 mm lens on the camera, using a technique I cribbed from Nathalie of Avignon In Photos. Turn off your windshield wipers, find something bright and play with the focus. Works every time.                  

Wet Day 2

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sort Of A Skyline

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We don't have a stunning urban skyline. The two tallest buildings downtown are about the height of the Arch. It goes down from there. This group of contrasting buildings is a bit north of the Arch. A CDP colleague once lived in part of the development on the left. The asterisk on the building on the right marks my office window.

The second photo is a 90 degree turn to the right. The green glass of the luxury Four Seasons Hotel is topped with a strange brick cockscomb. It looks pretty awful up close but it's covered with LEDs that produce any pattern the owners want (like this). In this shot it is imitating a fire.                  

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Lace Maker

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Another shot from Forest Park last weekend. I think the plants in the foreground are some kind of fancy prairie grass (please correct me if I got that wrong). With a dusting of snow, it reminds me of the lace you might see around the neck and shoulders of people in 17th Century Dutch painting.               

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Arch Series

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Bare trees and hard contrast as the cold weather settles in. Even the leafless tree branches will soon be gone. As part of the vast project to renovate the Arch grounds and some of the adjacent city, all of the beautiful ash trees that were planted in the 1960s are being torn out.  They say that an insect called the emerald ash borer is heading this way and that it will kill all these trees.

So, the ashes will replaced with London plane trees. However, they are at risk from a spreading fungus. And the National Park Service is only planting plane trees. Now there are a variety of species around the edge of the grounds. Every arborist the NPS consulted said that such a monoculture has a great risk of failure. The NPS ignored them

The trees have already been cut down south of the Arch. I wanted to photograph that area but it's surrounded by chain link fence taller than me. This shot was taken from the north.  I can see it from my office window so maybe I'll get some documentation.

As they used to say on government construction signs, your tax dollars at work.                         

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Soft Light

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The snow was starting to fall on Sunday when I took my camera to Forest Park. Days like this can be a wonderful time to shoot. The sky is a giant softbox with the light intensity brought down two or three stops. The mist itself deadens sound. The loudest thing around may be your shutter.                     

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Early Winter

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We got enough snow to cover the ground on Sunday. I looked at some meteorological information and found that the first snowfall in St. Louis hasn't been this early since 1938. And as I write this Monday evening the weather pundits are telling us we should blow the doors off the record low temperature overnight. 

The U. S. Weather Service says there is an equal chance of warmer or colder than average conditions in the upper Midwest this winter. A private company predicts very cold. Who knows - ask me in April. These photos taken Sunday in Forest Park illustrate the point.                 

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Madeleine Monday: Encounter With Guacamole

Madeleine 2014-11-15 4Three generations of us got together for dinner Saturday night at the home of my daughter and son-in-law, Emily and Brian. We brought ingredients and Brian, a professional chef, presided in the kitchen.

Early evening snacks included chips and guacamole. Madeleine, now almost 15 months old, was not acquainted with the concept. Mrs. C and I thought it was brilliant that Emily gave her a little plate and bowl of the stuff and let her just dive in. New sensations! She was so delighted that she offered to share one with daddy in the bottom picture. You wouldn't refuse that, would you?                  

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Police Escort

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St. Louis police motorcycles are simple and stark, if those words apply to Harley Davidson hogs. The black paint jobs and black leather outfits are intimidating, probably on purpose. Hot cops.

I'd love to have these guys flanking my car on a day I'm late for work.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lonesome Pine

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If you can sing any of that song you're older than me. And anyway, our Pine Street isn't all that lonely, except in spots. What you don't see along it is a stagecoach with a team of four horses. We could use a new transit route over that way and cowboys will always be welcome by some section of the American population. Something for the city to consider.

What this rig had to do with the Veterans Day parade didn't get through to me.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Who Loves The Cymbals Player?

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Some are better accepted than others. Maybe it has to do with the band.                

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Old Soldiers Never Die

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They just ride on the back of antique buses. That's a proud, confident face and posture.

I'm puzzled by the tee shirt in the second picture. Is it honorable to blindly follow orders for the sake of they-know-not what? They sure know the country and the people by the time they leave. Ask them what they think of their commanders then.                  

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Group Portrait

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I'm not sure whether these young men are actually sailors or students in a high school or college military training program. Some of them don't look like they could legally buy a beer. There is also a real lack of enthusiasm about being in the Veterans Day parade. Maybe they are usually off on Saturday.

Love the oddball on the left wearing shades.                   

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

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Today is Veterans Day in the United States, when we honor the men and women who served in our military forces. The occasion is taken very seriously these days. It's common to hear civilians saying "thank you for your service" to uniformed personnel. However, people of my age remember the scorn and derision heaped on veterans returning from the Vietnam War. Times change. Attitudes change.

The annual parade in STL takes place on the Saturday before the event. There are usually more people marching down the street than observers on the sidewalk. One of this year's features was a bald eagle, the quintessential American symbol, held by a staff member of the St. Louis Wild Bird Sanctuary.                            

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Madeleine Monday

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A 14 month old, a Pyrex dish with an inch of water, a big absorbent pad and a vinyl faux-wood floor. Killian the dog was wise to stay clear.                  

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