Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Daniel Boone Asks For A Handout

Americans, or at least those my age, all know of the legendary frontiersman, Daniel Boone. He opened trails from Virginia and North Carolina to Kentucky and Tennessee, leading to significant migration. After major losses in land deals in Kentucky, he ended up in what is now St. Charles County, Missouri, just across the Missouri River from St. Louis County. It was Spanish territory when he arrived, then French, and became part of the United States in the massive 1804 Louisiana Purchase.

So now St. Charles makes a buck off him any way it can. The statue above was down the street from the ice carving festival. It was designed by local sculptor Harry Weber, who seems to get all of these kinds of jobs around here. He did the statue of Chuck Berry seen here earlier in the month. Boone looks like he is entreating passers-by for a little help with his Kentucky debts.        

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Photo Bomb

Maybe it's happened to you. You set up a shot in a public place and, just as you are about to press the shutter, an adolescent male jumps into the picture. It's called photo bombing, a little bit of image-making vandalism. I usally give the person a "you idiot" glower and they move on. Pretty annoying but not a disaster. I'm not shooting film.

It appears that the practice has spread to four year old girls.  I was trying to take a shot of one of the better ice sculptures when Ellie decided that she should be in the frame. That's more tolerable. The ice sculpture behind her is remarkable. Notice the seams - it's made out of three slabs. No idea how you do this without the sculpture shattering.      

Monday, January 29, 2018

Icy Blast

That phrase is a weather reporter's staple here in the Midwest when bitter cold winds from the Canadian plains sweep across us. The context here is the annual ice carving festival in suburban St. Charles. We took Ellie out on Saturday for a different experience. She sat on the pavement fascinated by the work but kept her ears covered the whole time. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Counter Culture

I don't know about your country, but in this one it is common to see a variation of this in the back window of large SUVs and mini vans. They are stick figures of a man (always the first one on the left), a woman, children of various sizes and genders, and often pets. There is so much of this around that there is a web site devoted to selling these things.  I think it's really dorky.

Someone else does, too. Found yesterday on Old Main Street in St. Charles on our way to the ice carving festival.            

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Desktop Icons

I am so out of material. Fortunately I had the new Fuji with me at the office yesterday. There had to be something to capture. My selection was a little rubber Buddha with a laptop (it's a squeaky toy) and mouse pad with Munch's iconic painting. Sort of a summary of what it's like to be a mindful lawyer these days.      

Friday, January 26, 2018

Lunch And Math

There is a chain of upscale pizza restaurants based here called π. Clever. The family had lunch at the downtown branch after the women's march. I was more interested in a glass of iced tea, though, than the expression of a non-repeating, infinitely long ratio.

Once in a (very) great while I wonder how pi was discovered and calculated. The hunt has been going on for at least 4,000 years. Check here if you give a hoot

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thursday Arch Series

Self-explanatory. I'm tired. More washing ashore on my desk than the tide can carry out. Some time off next month, though.        

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Right Thing

Signs like this first showed up at last year's women's march. Not that many but they get attention. I'm on board with this. I have been married to the same woman for 43 years and still like her. My law partner of 30 years, now retired, was a woman who was not my wife. We had a terrific relationship, almost like brother and sister. Half of the judges I practice before are women. Bobbi Lane, the best teacher I ever had, someone who transformed my photography, is a woman. Openness and respect go a long way.      

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Junior Division

There were lots of young and very young people in the women's march. No doubt all of them put up to it by their parents but the older ones had plenty of enthusiasm. That's Ellie in the third picture. She mostly hid behind her sign, refusing to let me take her picture, but this one time I caught her off guard.

I'll keep going with this for a bit because I don't have any other material. There is some relief expected in the middle of February, though.         

Monday, January 22, 2018

Blue Letters, Red Shirt

All kinds of themes, all kinds of signs at the women's march. The man in the bottom picture was walking around with a Trump puppet, doing sort of a stand up comedy shtick. His 6 or 7 year old son son followed him around taking video on a phone. No idea whether the shirt was meant literally or ironically.

I've been wondering how, in this country, blue became associated with the left and red with the right. Historically, it's the other way around, the tee shirt being a good example. The red banner of revolution! And, of course, blue-bloods, blue stockings, blue chip stocks. Anybody know how this came about?      

Sunday, January 21, 2018

STL Women's March 2018

My  wife, daughter and granddaughter banded together in solidarity yesterday and headed downtown for the 2018 women's march. I got to play chauffeur and photojournalist.

There was a big turnout, although I haven't seen any numbers yet. I was surprised because the event received little advance publicity - a thin Facebook page, a bare-bones web site and nothing on the local TV news or NPR station that crossed my path. That didn't prevent women (and a few friends) from turning out by the thousands. More of this to come.    

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Beer And Politics

Very late post. I forgot my laptop at the office yesterday. Anyway, Mrs. C and I attended a fundraiser last night for Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who is up for re-election this year. Claire is a blue beacon in an increasingly red state and we support her strongly. (On the other hand, our super right wing Republican governor, who makes our skin crawl, may be about to be forced out of office over a sex scandal and/or indicted for a couple of things. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.)

We had hopes Claire would be there but, of course, she was stuck in Washington with the shutdown nonsense. Her sister, Ann McCaskill, spoke passionately on her behalf. The venue was STL's most popular Irish pub, McGurk's. Guiness and Smithwick's flowed freely. People paid close attention. Certainly Samuel Beckett did. Oscar Wilde, maybe not so much.     

Friday, January 19, 2018

Frozen Chuck

I don't remember the exact temperature but it was really cold (for us) when I visited the ice carnival. Walking by the statue of St. Louis' Chuck Berry across the street from Blueberry Hill, where he performed regularly until he died last year, I couldn't help but think how frigid the bronze was. The man himself was a complete contrast.

I never met Berry as such but I attended the dedication of the statue in 2011. A casual acquaintance with the sculptor, Harry Weber, got me into the room at Blueberry Hill where Chuck was hanging out. That got me this picture, one of my all-time favorites.

Mrs. C and I are attending a fundraiser later today for Senator Claire McCaskill, who is up for reelection this year in this red-leaning state. We need her. Hope I get a couple of pictures while I'm at it.    

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sculpture With A Chain Saw

Where do you go to learn ice sculpture? It is an art with narrow applications and not a lot of room for self expression. The subjects don't vary much. This one is becomming a big and little penguin.

Still, there is a lot of skill in this. It amazes me that it is done freehand, no template, not even a sketch to look at. A chain saw is not a precise tool. The fine work is done with picks and chisels. The sculptor uses a blowtorch for smoothing. Can you make a living doing this?    

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ice Festival

Last weekend brought the annual ice festival in the University City Loop district. The town is called that because most of Washington University is within its borders. The area is named for the old transit loop, where trolleys from the city proper would turn around for the return trip. It's a hip part of town.

It was cold and, as you can see, snowing. There was a good crowd, though. The festival always has someone making ice sculptures. It looks awfully difficult, done freehand with a chainsaw, circular sander, chisel and blow torch. I'll get something posted soon about the sculptor.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Plastic Towers

The theme of the Lego exhibit at The Magic House was the world's tallest buildings and towers. These models were all displayed to scale with each other and a few were too tall for the room's ceiling. I can't remember the names of all of them but dead center in the top photo is New York's beloved Chrysler Building, with the Empire State Building a bit to the left. (The new One World Trade Center was not represented.) Those two very tall, very thin structures to the right of the Chrysler are ultra-expensive apartment buildings erected on small lots in mid-town Manhattan. I think the blue one to the right of that is the Comcast Tower in Philadelphia. Didn't make a note about the others.

Below, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers are in the left background. The foreground contains Toronto's CN Tower, and to the right, some unimaginably tall building with torticollis in Shanghai, new since our one visit there, and then the Tree Tower in Tokyo.       

Monday, January 15, 2018

Madeleine Monday - Architect

Such concentration! Ellie is not ready to build an eighty brick tall tower but she was making quite an edifice (with a little initial help from her grandmother). She took over the design and construction quickly. There were a few collapses but she always went right back to work, making the next version stronger and taller.   

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Giant Tower

Mrs. C and I took Ellie to the Magic House yesterday, STL's excellent children's museum. There is a special exhibit called Towers of Tomorrow, with stunning models of some of the world's tallest buildings and towers made entirely of Legos. The structures were on a number of tables, each with a surrounding platform and a well full of thousands of bricks for visitors to use.

Ellie dove right in but the man next to us created an amazing structure. The slab rose higher and higher, steadied only be a small cross brace at the bottom. Several of us watched as it grew and wobbled, wondering when it would collapse. It didn't. Kenny, the builder, took it to a display table (top), staying together the whole time. It was quite amazing.     

Saturday, January 13, 2018

No Picnic Today

Tower Grove Park is full of ornate, 19th Century gazebos. They are all different in size and design. You can rent them for a day. During warmer months, they are always busy with groups holding picnics, barbecues and outdoor games. Empty, though, during frigid weather.

Should be able to shoot some new material today.       

Friday, January 12, 2018

Two Kinds Of Cathedrals

Edifices dedicated to commerce and religion.  Behind, the former regional headquarters of the Shell Oil Company in a style that borders on art deco. It is still an operating office building if a bit down at the heels. Right foreground, the gothic tower of Christ Church Cathedral, the seat of Episcopal practice in STL. Another first experiment with the Fuji X-T2.    

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday Arch Series

Taken on the levee on New Year's Day when I was shooting the crazy water skiers in the Mississippi. Used the new Fuji X-T2 and a fair amount of Photoshop. Liking the camera.   

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Macedonian Wine

I am really low on material but last night brought an opportunity. There is a hot restaurant in our town, Webster Groves, that's been open about a year. It's called Olive + Oak. We've never gone because you have to book about two weeks ahead and, frankly, it's a bit expensive for our trying-to-retire budget. But my staff gave me a gift certificate for Christmas so off we went last night.

It was a delight. No space here for a full review but there was an unusual treat. The wine list had a page of "no one would ever buy this" bottles at reasonable prices. Absolutely unknown stuff. The owner is also a qualified sommelier and gave us guidance. We ended up with this Macedonian red. Just terrific. Ever drink wine made from kratosija or vranec grapes?         

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Land's End

Kind of looks like that but it it's just another point on a map in the Midwest. Again, the Missouri is on the right with all the ice carrying into the stream on the Mississippi from the left. There were a couple of photographers with tripods. I don't see why it was needed unless they were trying to shoot panoramas. The scene was blindingly bright.

The river levels are very low. This area is under water some of the year.         

Monday, January 8, 2018

Madeleine Monday (Color Sense)

If she were a little bigger Ellie could have been a riverside beacon along the Missouri. She is generally allowed to pick out her own clothes, subject to the occasional veto from mom.  Hence her Nepalese leopard hat (from the organization at the bottom of the sidebar), flowered sunglasses, her grandmother's crimson scarf, pink jacket, purple pants and blue-and-orange boots. (Yet she says green is her favorite color.) Oh, and note Old Lambie clutched in the left hand.         

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ice Water

Yesterday was clear and very cold (for us). The family took a ride to the state park at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The point on the right is literally the tip of land between the two. The view is roughly to the southeast. All the ice is coming in from the Missouri, on the right. 

The Mississippi, on the left, is clear for a reason. The site is just below the massive lock and dam at Alton, Illinois. Ice backs up behind it and only clear water flows through. There hasn't been enough time and space for it to re-freeze. The drop in elevation downstream is so gradual that there are no locks all the way from St. Louis to New Orleans.             

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Where To Go Sledding

The place in STL to go sledding, tubing, or your choice of sliding device is Art Hill. The great sloped arc descends from the art museum to the Grand Lagoon in Forest Park. Almost every child in St. Louis had sped down it at one time or another. The problem, though, is that if you are going too fast you could slide off the edge into the water. It is partly frozen now but was completely open when this was taken.

Today's newspaper headline says they we have stayed below freezing for thirteen days, the longest stretch in 35 years. As a rule, we're not that cold a city.          

Friday, January 5, 2018


We have not been above freezing since before Christmas and there have been several nights sub-zero Fahrenheit (that's -18 C. Why this country does not convert to metric is beyond me.). That's unusual for here. In these pictures, freezing condensate pours off the top of the Federal Reserve Bank next to my office building (maybe they have to keep the money chilled) and ice flows throughout the Mississippi.

As I look out my office window this afternoon, there are chunks of ice in the river from bank to bank. If time and weather permit tomorrow, I may walk out onto Eads Bridge (rear of second photo) or even drive up to the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi. It's not that far away but the route is very indirect because of the shape of the rivers. And I've been trying to find the last time the river froze solid here. Hard to be sure but I think it was 1936.