Friday, November 30, 2018

Sentinel


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

Memories

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 https://flic.kr/p/dvLvNN). 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

Power


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

Courage


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

Patriots


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

Shriners


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 https://www.shrinersinternational.org/Shriners/MasonShriners/Masons). 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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fez .) 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..                                                                                  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Now All We Need Is Sex And Rock & Roll


More of the neon art exhibit at Laumeier Sculpture Park. I wonder what selection of drugs might be helpful this morning. We won the House but lost our much-admired senator, Claire McCaskill, to a young man who has spent his first two years in political office making a shambles of the Missouri attorney general's office.

At least there won't be any horrible legislation passed by Congress in the next two years.     

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Freezer Fresh


Those are two words I don't expect to see together. If you buy frozen salmon at the supermarket, is it fresh?

This is from the current indoor exhibit at Laumeier Sculpture Park. It is about the restored old neon signs and neon sculpture of David Hutson. I suppose the big sign is about ice cream, although it's hard to be sure. It's certainly not acceptable by today's standards.The small sign in the back is part of Hutson's expression of Claes Oldenburg's artistic philosophy.        

Monday, November 5, 2018

Madeleine Monday


There was an event Saturday evening at Laumeier Sculpture Park called Light The Way. The reference is to the monumental structure at the end of the park's great lawn. It was mostly for children: lawn games, crafts, face painting and so on.

Ellie had a great time. The adults did not. It was cold. The lines at the food and beer trucks were awful. There was a least a half-hour long line for face painting; we were fortunate to talk her out of that.

The kid was happy to pose with  Tony Tasset's Eye. Her Nepalese leopard hat added a certain touch. I didn't know which picture I preferred so I used both. Below, she is enclosed in the arms of Niki de Saint Phalle's Ricardo Cat.  
       


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

Color


We don't always get a colorful fall. Many years it is too warm and dry. Leaves turn brown, drop to the ground and that's it. This year, though, we hit the jackpot.

Still short on new material. After physical therapy this morning at Washington University Medical Center I went by my favorite spot in adjacent Forest Park. Damp day or not, it was ablaze.

There are some good sources of new images this weekend.      

Thursday, November 1, 2018

City Daily Photo Novenber Theme Day - Friend


I have one very best friend, someone who has stood (or in this case, sat) beside me for 44 years, my wife Carolyn. Always kind, always tolerant of my weird edges, and, as recently illustrated, supporting me in sickness and in health. We met in a St. Louis bar on St. Patrick's Day. We come from about as different backgrounds as two Americans could have: a farm in Kansas and an apartment in New York, but the relationship worked.

We share similar values (à gauche). Neither of us is interested in consumerism but we sure love seeing the world together. This picture was taken a few years ago above the Mediterranean in Eze, France. We've walked together in Tierra del Fuego and Everest base camp, gone to some of the world's great opera houses and raised two children. Now we dote on two, and soon to be three, grandchildren, including the redoubtable Ellie. 

I couldn't have a better friend.