Friday, January 31, 2020


Liberia is the principal town of Guanacaste Province in the northwest of Costa Rica. Wikipedia says it has about 58,000 people. We took a walking tour with a guide on Thursday. Above, a sample from the tiny church on which the village was founded in 1769. Below, the Thursday-Friday farmers market. Produce in the US can hardly compare in freshness and flavor with what we find here. The middle picture shows plantains, not bananas. Fried pieces are a part of every traditional Costa Rican meal.

Home very late tonight. Hope to get more editing done on the plane.      

Thursday, January 30, 2020


When we come to the ocean shore we usually enjoy the beauty but, unless there is a storm, fail to appreciate the intense might that lies within it. It's a long, long way from here to Asia. Think of it as a simple physics problem - all that mass in all that motion. Big pieces of driftwood are polished and wear away. Even the volcanic rock common in the area is pulverized, little bit by bit. It makes me feel small.        

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Costa Rica has distinct wet and dry seasons, with the changeover in roughly May and November. During the former, mornings may be fair but it pours almost every afternoon. The tourism people euphemistically refer to it as the Green Season. By this time of year the countryside is quite brown. The forecast is the same day after day, sunny and 90F/32C. The only variation is that some days are windier.

It is unusual that we have had a threat of thunderstorms for the last couple of days. Nothing has hit the town but the skies have been gloomy and we have seen showers offshore. This was taken at sunset last night from our condo.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Aves is the Spanish word for birds. Yesterday we went with a guide for a boat ride on the lower Tempisque River. It's flat and tidal for a long way upstream and a great place for wildlife photography. The birds were out in force. From top to bottom, a tiger heron, a great blue heron and a pair of mot mots. We've seen the latter up in the mountains but never so close to shore. It is hard to see against the reeds, but look for the mot mots' unique tails. They look like two long, thin sticks ending in heart-shaped black paddles.

Nothing on the schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday. Ellie will be happy with the pool and the beach. I'll probably work on photos.             

Monday, January 27, 2020


Our intrepid adventurer floats in the Pacific Ocean. The kid is nearly fearless. As we have done other years, we took a big catamaran from the Tamarindo beach. It sails around a headland to a quiet cove where you can swim, snorkel or paddle a little kayak. The company is called Blue Dolphin. We've taken the ride a few times and they do a good job. It's sometimes known as the booze cruise because there is an open bar both out and back. No one went overboard unless it was on purpose.    

Sunday, January 26, 2020



A few species of Pacific sea turtles come to a handful of beaches in northwest Costa Rica to lay and hatch their eggs at this time of year. They only do it at night. How they find their way back from far out in the ocean is a bit of a mystery.

You can search for them with a local guide. After a bone-jarring drive town Costa Rican back roads we came to a beach where they are sometimes found. (No guarantees.) The guides have to use red flashlights because the turtles cannot see that wavelength. After two hours of searching, we came across this hatchling making its way back to the sea. Video taken by daughter Emily on a new iPhone 11.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Ellie is in heaven. Our little Midwesterner loves water and has learned how to snorkel. It's hard to get her out of the pool unless it's to go to the beach.

Lots of activities starting today. We're going to the town farmers market this morning. Tonight we are doing something special. At this season, certain species of sea turtles waddle onto beaches at night, dig holes in the sand with their flippers and lay their eggs. You can only go with a naturalist. Red flashlights are required because the turtles can't see that wavelength and they remain undisturbed.    

Friday, January 24, 2020


Back again in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. Mrs. C figured out from the guest book that this is our tenth year here and probably 13th or 14th time in the country overall. Nos gusta mucho Costa Rica. I get to practice my crummy Spanish. Ellie is in heaven and wants to go to the beach to make sand castles. Lots of excursions planned for the week.  

Playa Langosta means Lobster Beach, although I've never seen the creatures around here. The caption, by the way, is from the late philosopher and New York Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra (a St. Louisan). He also noted that when you reach a fork in the road, you should take it, and that you can observe a lot just by watching.     

Wednesday, January 22, 2020


A charming sculpture outside the main branch of the St. Louis Public Library. If that's what reading will do to your brain, lay on the volumes.

My time is spread so thin that I mostly listen to audiobooks in the car. Just finished Salman Rushdie's latest novel, Quichotte. Another virtuoso performance, with the real and the imaginary blended like milk and coffee. Now to decide on the next one.

The family is traveling tonight. A stopover in Miami and then, on Thursday, on to what's become our winter home from home. So maybe no post that day unless I find the baggage carousel particularly fascinating tonight.            

Tuesday, January 21, 2020


My children were born in 1976 and 1980. Being responsible, modern parents, Mrs C and I were careful about their diets, particularly sugar. But the whole thing got blown to hell when we visited my father's house in New Jersey. (My mother had died some time before.)

My father spent almost all of his career in the industrial sugar business. The company for which he was sales manager were middlemen between sugar refiners and bulk users. Back in the day he sold Pepsi all its sugar. For most of that time he literally worked on Wall Street, but in commodities, not securities. Nice picture of his beautiful old office building here

Anyway, he doted on his grandchildren. He modified a big bookcase in his home to fill two long shelves with glass candy candy jars. We'd come in and he'd call out "Candy store's open!" to our kids. We were powerless. If we put up a peep of objection he always replied "Sugar is only 14 calories per teaspoon!"

And they seem okay today. This photo is of a former candy wholesaler on Locust Street in Midtown.


Monday, January 20, 2020


The National Hockey League All Star game is here next weekend. Looks like my relationship to it is that I drive a Honda. This the second time a city has hosted the All Star game (planned years in advance) after winning the championship (apparently Edmonton did it in the 80s). Strong graphics, anyway.

By the time the game is in progress, the principal use of ice in our location will be in cocktails with small paper umbrellas.      


Sunday, January 19, 2020


The side of a bar next to the baseball stadium. Sure, the team, the Cardinals, was locally hatched. But how can the city of St. Louis have been made by the city of St. Louis? It's sort of an X = X proposition, as if - poof! - we arose sua sponte on the banks of the Mississippi.

I am certain that no one but me worries about this.        

Saturday, January 18, 2020


These posters cover the empty display windows of what was once the biggest department store in town. The surrounding office building was also the headquarters of a long-gone retail giant, The May Company. Then Macy's bought the whole operation, then shrank the store, then closed it. The whole place sits empty, surrounded by cheery promo illustrations. This one includes the beautiful pavilion in Forest Park left over from the 1904 World's Fair (where the Grateful Dead once played for free, as I am a witness), a bit of old Route 66, and part of a painting in our art museum, George Caleb Bingham's The Stump Speech.  

In the short term, St. Louis will send me packing, with my complete consent and cooperation.         

Friday, January 17, 2020


My favorite St. Louis park is Tower Grove. Smaller than its flashy cousin, Forest Park (the biggest central city park in the US, bigger than Golden Gate or Central) but still substantial. And it's quiet, having no museums, zoo, or golf courses.  A bit formal, too. Thay say it's laid out like an English walking park (not that I would know one if I saw one).

One of its unusual features is a good number of "pavilions," open sided structures, each of a different design, that the public can reserve for events. This one, Sons of Rest, has an enigmatic (and sexist) name. What does it mean - descendants of those who died in military service? Children of the rich leisure class? Your guess is as good as mine. 

UPDATE:  the ever-alert Mrs. C uncovered the meaning of this name. The society was founded in Birmingham, England, in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a place for retired World War I veterans to meet, socialize and support one another. . There is a web page about the one shown here at .             

Thursday, January 16, 2020


I am so stone cold out of material that I'm reduced to taking photos of knickknacks on my desk. Now is the winter of our discontent, until a week from now when my family and winter will do a trial separation.

Anyway, I am a big fan of the artist Jenny Holzer. Her work consists of streams of provocative aphorisms delivered in every possible way (look at the web link). I have a set of highball glasses at home that she designed that say things like "boredom makes you do crazy things" and "you are guileless in your dreams." Then there is the crystal ball I have had on my desk for years, maybe 3 inches / 7.5 cm in diameter. The words are engraved on the bottom and it's devilishly hard to focus on them but you get the idea.  I think Jenny and I are on the same page.        

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Well, maybe, if they are coordinated and seek the same goal. On the other hand, think of Deep Blue versus Garry Kasparov. Image found in the old, lonely commercial area south of the Arch.               

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


Turn around about 180 from yesterday's shots and you will find one of Forest Park's golf courses. The golf cart track is open, maybe because it has better drainage and the asphalt stays warmer that the surrounding soil. You could probably play a round if you had those orange balls.          

Monday, January 13, 2020


Hard to find something to shoot this weekend. The light looked like what happened to a white car that hasn't been washed in a year. But I had something different to play with, a new tripod. It's the best I've ever had. Got it through a Kickstarter project by a company called Peak Design, known for high end camera bags and the like. They set out to make the best travel tripod ever and I think they succeded. You can look it up if interested.

So I took it to sodden Forest Park, put my beloved Fujifilm X-T3 on it, set the ISO to the lowest native setting, 200, then f11 and let the shutter take as long as it pleased. Really like the crispness and contrast here compared to what I would have gotten handheld, probably at ISO 800-1600 and f8 at most. 


Saturday, January 11, 2020


This is not a medical facility as such. It's a Walgreens Pharmacy, the biggest chain in the land. (Pharmacies here are very different from what I've seen in other countries. I can go into this place and buy a toilet brush, USB hub or a bottle of whiskey. Plus my prescriptions, of course. Whiskey is not one of them.)

I, for one, am horrified by the commercialization of American medicine. All the big pharmacies have an office where you can see a nurse practitioner (which is not a problem) for minor or routine concerns, as long as you can pay. The next level up is what's called urgent care offices and they are all over the place. The dominant local group uses the slogan "ER Skills Without The ER Bills." I suppose it serves a purpose-you can see someone quickly without an appointment- but they are for-profit. You can't go in for a bad URI without getting a chest CT and albuterol inhaler before you leave. Cash or insurance up front, please.

No idea what I might post tomorrow. It's just dull here, lead sky, barely above freezing, a drizzle of freezing rain and snow falling. Nothing going on. Time to put on my thinking cap rather than my night cap.                  

Friday, January 10, 2020


There's a metaphor in here somewhere, something about what is happening to us at the edge of the wilderness. This is actually a local landmark at a gas station that has been at this location for many decades. The original enormous sign was formed with neon. What you see here is a modern reproduction, sort of like the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square, Boston. The view is through the trees in the southwest corner of Forest Park.

The Amoco brand doesn't exist on gas stations any more. This one pumps BP products. I wonder how many Americans know that stands for British Petroleum.          

Thursday, January 9, 2020


I took yesterday off. Daily photoblogging can be a grind, especially when an American like me spends most days driving from a garage attached to my house to a garage beneath my office building, not getting out on the street much in winter. Limited shooting opportunities.

Anyway, there is an unusual plaza between our public television and public radio station's buildings called the Public Media Commons. It is the site of a lot of creative events in good weather. Even in mid-winter, the huge video screen in the back has a rotation of unusual images. When I last passed by, it was showing movie clips of skiing on Art Hill decades ago.        

Tuesday, January 7, 2020


A few minutes after sunset in Forest Park. The trees, especially the one back-center, look menacing.

I am so out of new material...   

Monday, January 6, 2020


Ellie loves to go to the St. Louis Science Center. It's sort of a science playground for kids. I don't know how much knowledge she absorbs but she dives into it madly.

It has a two-level, semi-animated T. Rex that appears to have just taken a bite out of a triceratops lying at its side. (Did those two creatures exist at the same time?) I'd find it frightening if I were her age but I guess that's how inured children are now to the horrid (a skill that may be very valuable as they grow older). I wasn't frightened by the full-sized models of a T. Rex and brontosaurus in the Museum of Natural History in NY when I was young but they were just statues. No one ever dreamed that monsters could stalk Central Park West until Ghostbusters came out.                  

Sunday, January 5, 2020


You don't have to be young and crazy to go water skiing in the Mississippi on New Year's Day.  Old and crazy will do. Lots of color helps. That's a Mexican sombrero behind his head, maybe for a little extra air drag.            

Saturday, January 4, 2020


Sorry no post yesterday. Sometimes life intrudes.

Every New Year's Day a group of people goes water skiing in the Mississippi River. And, yes, it's cold. Really cold. The air was mild last Wednesday but the water comes down from way up north. It takes a special kind of person to do this.

It is for a good cause, though. The event is a fund raiser for the Missouri Disabled Water Ski Association. They use special equipment to get people with significant physical impairments out on the water and zooming.                  

Thursday, January 2, 2020


It was really hard to choose from this and the photo I posted yesterday. Bit of good luck here - my reflexes aren't that fast. Taken off Samara, Costa Rica, last February.              

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


From the 2019 St. Lou Fringe Festival last August. These performers were aerialists, acrobats, trapeze artists and dancers in a show called When Women Were Birds. It was breathtaking.

There is another photo I came this close to choosing. I think I'll run some runners-up for a bit.