Sunday, December 9, 2018

Corps de Ballet

There is a holiday festival at the art museum this weekend. One of the features is dancing by local groups in the great hall. These young women performed the second act of The Nutcracker for a big crowd. It's a holiday favorite.

Tough light. No flash, of course. The sun was coming in through big windows behind my right shoulder, creating a strong light gradient. It tested my limited Photoshop skills.        

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sunset on the Mississippi

Phone cam shot so not the cleanest image. Taken from my office window one afternoon this week. The foreground is the new-ish and rather pointless northern extension of the Arch park, where a useful and reasonably priced garage used to serve visitors. Eads Bridge on the left and the low sunlight falling on a casino hotel in Illinois. You can't help but notice the smog on the horizon.

Friday, December 7, 2018

No More Funnel Cake

Along the promenade under the Arch by the Mississippi. The snack stand that mostly sells things that are bad for you is closed for the day. Funnel cakes are a variation on doughnuts and really bad for you. Sorry if you wanted one. Too late. (But not for the light.)       

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Thursday Arch Series

Nice light. The barren landscape and ominous sky make it look like The Arch On Haunted Hill to me.        

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Big Sky Country

I was driving around the riverfront late Saturday afternoon looking for something to shoot. The light was very nice. That's the graffiti-permitted section of the floodwall in the foreground and an old railroad bridge that seems to be supporting a big cumulus cloud. Not many of them around in late autumn. I think of them as summer clouds.        

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Light Tube

It seems like all of the outdoor holiday light displays have an arched tunnel of colored lights. Maybe one of them is a wormhole to escape this administration. The one at the Science Center is a bit dull, straight and unchanging. The one at the Botanical Garden is much more interesting, curved with changing colors. We'll get there soon.


Monday, December 3, 2018

The Hospital At The End Of The Universe

Hope the Douglas Adams reference isn't too obscure. This was taken from the Science Center grounds and looks science fiction-y. The bright sign in the background is by far STL's biggest hospital, whose name reflects the merger of two adjacent institutions. I've been repaired there a few times. It is the hub of the mighty Washington University Medical Center and goes on for blocks and blocks.

There is a bit of university snobbery here. We have two old major schools, Washington University and St. Louis University, 200 years old in 2018. Wash U, as everyone calls it, is usually ranked in the nation's top 10. SLU, where I went, is in the upper middle ranks and has one of the weirdest mascots in American higher education.  All of my many doctors are affiliated with Wash U.           

Sunday, December 2, 2018


It seems like everybody around here is doing outdoor nighttime Christmas lights displays. We have taken Ellie to Wild Lights at the Zoo, which was so crowded we'll never go back. Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden is the big one. We may go next weekend. 

However, the St. Louis Science Center got into the act this year. They call it Science Illuminated. There were a couple of demonstrations to amaze the kids. This woman, a chemist, is spraying solutions containing magnesium and, um, I forget what else, into a flame. Great balls of fire.          

Saturday, December 1, 2018

City Daily Photo December Theme Day - Joy

See the positive emotions of other City Daily Photo members at .

Friday, November 30, 2018


Standing quietly in an autumn sunset, the ventilator (I think that's what it is) on the old barn watches the prairie in all directions. A sneak attack by Nebraska would be impossible.         

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Ellie talks about her great grandmother

Mrs, C's mother, Elvira Kruse, passed away about two years ago at the age of 98. Today would have been her hundredth birthday. She had help, of course, but kept her own little apartment and remained mentally sharp. Her memory was astounding.

My wife had the brilliant idea of having some of the younger kids say a little bit about their memories of her. I got to be the director and cinematographer. (Pity I don't know how to edit video but I better learn fast.) There was a wonderfully soft blanket that Ellie admired at Elvira's home, which she immediately gave to her. That's the kind of person she was.

Elvira and my mother, Annette Koral, were born about a month apart in the fall of 1918. Annette has been gone almost 44 years. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lieutenant Joshua Kruse, United States Army

There is something of a family tradition on the farm the day after Thanksgiving, but it has changed over the years. The younger men and a few of the women would go out in the nearby fields to hunt quail. After restrictions were imposed on hunting coyotes the quail population fell. For a couple of years someone would go out early on that Friday morning and buy a few boxes of quail (heaven knows where) and then scatter them in the bushes. The hunt resumed. I used to joke with the guys that I was better armed: they had shotguns but I had a Canon.
Eventually the marksmen turned to shooting clay pigeons. (See As the years passed and most of that generation had families, the turnout decreased. Now it's just target practice out behind the house with whoever is around. This is my nephew who graduated from West Point last spring, Lieutenant Joshua Kruse. He is supposed to know how to use these things.

Not making any comment about guns here. No one in my immediate family has ever owned one. It is an integral part of the culture in rural Kansas. My relatives there use them with the highest safety standards.        

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Old Barn

There is an old, rickety barn on Mrs. C's family farm. It has been there longer than I have been visiting the place, 45 years. Now it is used mostly for keeping equipment out of the weather. That wagon, though, could be as old as the barn itself.       

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ricky's Cafe

Last Friday, the family went out to breakfast at Rickey's Cafe in Hanover, Kansas. It is a town of 664, a few miles past the farm, where Mrs. C's parents lived after they sold the farm to her youngest brother and his wife.

Ricky's has been in business for more than 40 years. The cuisine is simple and the prices are low.              

Sunday, November 25, 2018


I think this is Mel's harvester, a huge machine that tears corn ears from the stalks and strips the kernels from the cobs (probably by magic). The kernels come out of the chute on the left and into the trailer seen yesterday.

You can get a rough idea how tall this is from figuring out where my eye level would be. Heaven knows how much it costs. Best to stay out of its way.       

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Children of the Corn

Lots more fun than the Stephen King story and subsequent movie. Brother-in-law Mel grows corn. His giant harvester machine dumps it into this trailer. Over Thanksgiving weekend he gets a ladder and some adults to help the kids climb in. It's strange new fun. That's Eiile in the aqua and pink.            

Friday, November 23, 2018

Rural America

What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?
                - Gene Wilder to Cleavon Little, Blazing Saddles, the funniest movie in the 
                history  of American cinema IMHO

Having a wonderful time. Mrs. C asked me if I remembered the first time I came here with her about 45 years ago. I do. The first memory was her father, a stern, conservative Lutheran farmer. I had two strikes against me: Catholic (by origin) and a New Yorker. The way I won him over was that I could recite the Lord's Prayer in German (Vater unser, der Du bist im Himmel. Geheiliget werde Dein Name) so I couldn't be that bad. I foolishly climbed the windmill and expressed passing interest in cattle. Good thing he didn't find out I was at Woodstock.

This is beautiful, rolling, gently colored country. Mrs. C's family are the most delightful people you could hope to meet. (She's not so bad, either.) I enjoy every trip here.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Civic Pride

We usually spend a night in Kansas City on our way to Mrs. C's family farm. Our favorite hotel is the 816, which refers to KC's telephone area code. The decoration theme is Kansas City everything and the walls are covered with blown-up old photos of the town. This one looks like it is from about the 1920s. Don't say this to a New Yorker.

Off to the countryside shortly.       

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sad But True

Seen at coffee stand in an office building. We don't have any kind of universal pension system in this country. Social Security covers a lot of people but doesn't come close to meeting normal living expenses. It may not cover you at all if you have been out of the labor market due to raising children, medical problems or lack of job skills.

Everybody in the US knows what a 410(k) plan is. It refers to a section of the tax law that allows us to invest money tax free for retirement. There is no money to fund one of these if you are a barista, home health care aide or self-employed artist. These people struggle to meet their daily needs. The sign on the tip jar is a bitter joke. That's life in America.

Over to Kansas City tonight, then on to Mrs. C's family farm for Thanksgiving.       

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Enjoy Las Vegas

The so-called festival of lights in Kiener Plaza was also a festival of commerce. Some of it has a bit of the huckster in it. The awning just to the right of the statue of the runner says Enjoy Las Vegas, maybe selling some package tour you may regret buying. The one on the far right is selling replacement windows.

We've been to Las Vegas, or maybe better said through it, a number of times. We spend the first or last night there on trips to Death Valley, our favorite place in this country to clear out our heads. We're not really into Vegas. We don't gamble. You can get some decent rates on hotel rooms. Lots of restaurants (of varying quality - the buffet at Luxor was awful), Seen some shows - Cirque du Soleil - flashy but yawn; Paula Poundstone - pretty funny. We'd rather be away from the lights, way out in the dark of the desert night.                   

Monday, November 19, 2018

Madeleine Monday

As mentioned, we took the tyke to the seasonal skating rink in Kiener Plaza on Saturday. There was one under the Arch last year that had a synthetic surface - don't know if this was the same. Ellie didn't care.

I don't know if she will have the chance to really learn to skate. Her mother could do it years ago but seems to have lost the touch. Neither Mrs. C or I can't do it at all. So Ellie still uses the double-blade shoes and started off with this sled thing. She ditched the sled after a while and just hung on the rail. She claimed later that she was zooming around. We did not disillusion her.           

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Municipal Tree

The holiday season in St. Louis officially began yesterday with an event in Kiener Plaza. The temporary ice rink opened and we took Ellie down for a spin (more about which tomorrow). The city's Christmas tree was illuminated after dark. The kid thought it was pretty cool.              

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Tucker and Market

A major intersection downtown. Three of the four visible buildings are courthouses.The one on the left with the vertical stripes is the St. Louis University School of Law (me, J.D. 1974). The school was on the main campus three miles west when I was there. A few years ago the university bought a plain, vacant office building and completely rebuilt the interior. Now the law school is near the courthouses.

I think law schools have become a bit of a scam. SLU, a mid-level school, costs $41,000 a year (three year program). Jobs are becoming more scarce and there is a good chance that, in time, artificial intelligence systems will eliminate the need for many of us.         

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Vision Thing

At the end of his years as vice president, George H. W. Bush was planning to run for president. People challenged his ability to see the big picture on issues facing the country. Someone suggested he take a couple of days off to figure out his position. "Oh," Bush scoffed, "the vision thing." The comment stuck with him.

So, another monumental statue at the Soldiers Memorial with a noble but vague theme. Reminds me of the fact that I've worn glasses since second grade.           

Thursday, November 15, 2018


I need to pay more attention to the beautifully restored Soldiers Memorial downtown. It opened 80 years ago as a World War I monument, eventually included later wars, but in time got pretty run down. A group raised $30 million to bring it back to its original state and add additional exhibition space. It was so crowded on re-opening day that I'll have to come back to see it all.

Four of these big sculptures flank the north and south entrances. The word courage is thrown around a lot but sometimes I wonder what it really means. Maybe it's a high tolerance for risk.       

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


People and objects at the Veterans Day parade, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Some readers will recall that Samuel Johnson, author of the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language, said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. I suppose there are different kinds of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Entertainment at the Veterans Day Parade. These guys always show up at our major parades like Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day. They are Shriners, an extension of the Masons. All Shriners are Masons but not all Masons are Shriners (see The order does good work, supporting special hospitals for children throughout the country, even if they are a little, um, off kilter.

Shriners adopt a bunch of Arabic themes - they have not shared the mysterious reasons with me - but wear a fez, which is, of course, not Arabian. (Interesting history at .) They like to clown around. The crowd goes wild, if there is one.  

Monday, November 12, 2018

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day in the US. Yesterday was the centennial of Armistice Day, when the peace treaty ending World War I was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. (There is a terrific World War I museum in Kansas City, well worth the visit.) 

Most of the participants and pronouns were masculine. Some one remembered that the list of those who served is much broader.        

Sunday, November 11, 2018

About To Start

Tomorrow is Veterans Day in the US. There was a ceremony yesterday at the newly-restored Soldiers Memorial downtown (more about which soon.) Then there was a big if sparsely attended parade. The fire department always hoists this huge flag for such events.

We had a fair sized investment firm here, A. G. Edwards, that got bought out by Wells Fargo a few years ago. They kept that business here. The company brings out its iconic stagecoach for parades. That's the central branch of the St. Louis Public Library in the background, also lovingly restored a few years ago.         

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Wild West of Downtown St. Louis

Explanation to come.        

Too Early

In front of chez Crowe last night. It's not even the middle of November. We have winter, of course, and may get a couple of very cold snaps, but we don't get a lot of snow. A white Christmas is rare. Wasn't quite ready for this.

People in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and New England may stop laughing at me now. However, I had occasion to speak to someone in Maine on the phone a couple of days ago. They hadn't had any yet.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Qu’ils Mangent de la Brioche

More neon art at Laumeier, this one by David Hutson himself. This was hard to me to read at first because what look like R's to me in the second word are actually N's. This is the original French of the famous words attributed to Marie Antoinette, usually rendered in English as "let them eat cake," the words she supposedly spoke after being told that the peasants had no bread.

There are problems with the story. The word brioche doesn't actually mean cake. It is a very rich bread with lots of egg and butter; it would have been as unaffordable to the masses as cake. However, there is no evidence that Marie spoke these words. They have become part of a legend.

Note the unusual bread slicer in the lower right. It resembles Le Rasoir National, a clever compliment to the words.       

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Big Boy

More signs from the neon art exhibit at Laumeier Sculpture Park. I don't  remember these restaurants and signs when I was growing up in the Northeast but I sure do from the time I hit the Midwest. They were sometimes called Bob's Big Boy. No relation but, like this guy, I was a lot heavier back then. (I'm about 70 pounds lighter that at the time of our wedding.)      

This a very old sign. Note the character: cut-away coat, vest and bow tie - formal evening wear. And spats! Now, if only he could do something about his hair and teeth. They give him a baby-like look..