Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Entertainment and education. There are still hawks in this area but there are environmental and population pressures. Young hawks have difficulty surviving. The man works for an organization (the name escapes me) that finds hawk chicks, literally trains them to hunt, and then releases them back into the wild. 

We did some hawking once in Ireland, an experience we will never forget.              

Tuesday, September 29, 2020


After Ellie and this performer were finished their stunt, he went on to do other amazing things. This ladder goes a couple of more rungs past the bottom of the frame. There was nothing to brace the bottom while he rocked gently left and right. Note that his left leg is in front and his right leg is in back. Then he did this thing that would put any dragon to shame. He explained briefly how it's done but I was too busy with exposure and framing to remember.

But it made me think: how does someone learn to do this? At what risk of horrible injury? And how do you find a teacher? He said that he tours the festival circuit during the warmer months (he somehow makes a living on this from tips) and spends the winter practicing and learning new tricks. I think law school was easier.         


Monday, September 28, 2020


Ellie had a great time at the Renaissance Festival, going to shows and riding every amusement in sight. She is not shy in the slightest and volunteers for every audience participation stunt. She really liked this juggler-fire eater. When he asked for a child to assist him, she stood, waved her arm and magic wand and out-shouted a couple of other kids. Once onstage, the performer asked her a couple of times if she was up to this. Oh yes. Ellie looked nervous for a moment when she thought that she might have to eat the fire but she didn't leave. Now, at the critical moment, see the look of wonder and delight on her face.

This kid is brave. Sometimes I worry that she might be a little too brave but if she keeps holding her hand up and waving her wand, she may get what she wants out of life.              

Sunday, September 27, 2020


So we took Ellie to the local Renaissance Festival yesterday. There are lots of these around the US and maybe other parts of the world. Here, the conceit is that St. Louis and Lyon, France, are sister cities (which has the better restaurants?) and then some imaginary connection about the year 15-something, well before this place existed, and, voila, an excuse to walk around in costumes and drink beer. Underneath, this event has about as much to do with the Renaissance as the Renaissance has to do with the hockey playoffs.

An ever-popular event is the jousting. It's as authentic as professional wrestling. Here, Sir Knight in red and Madam Knight in blue played three rounds. No one got a solid hit on the first two runs. On the third, however, the Lady in Blue hit the bullseye and knocked gallant Sir-whatever-his-name-was on his arse. About time.

If you like this, wait a day and see what the kid did on Madeleine Monday tomorrow.     

Saturday, September 26, 2020


One for the tourists. Hey, we used to have some. Inside the Climatron once again, specifically the tropical zone. They need some piped in sounds of cockatoos or parrots, or, even better, that old pop tune, Quiet Village, . That would tempt me to sit down, pour a daiquiri out of my (supposed) water bottle and just breathe.            

Friday, September 25, 2020


Inside the Climatron. The interior landscaping and airflow somehow divide it into four wet - dry - cool - warm zones, each with its own characteristic plants. I have no idea what the red flowers are. They were some distance away and it was hard to focus just on them and not the surrounding leaves. (I should have put the focus on single point but I didn't think of it.)  The flowers look to me like they are rising in jubilation.            

Thursday, September 24, 2020


Still wandering around the botanical garden. I saw a small number of these little dangerous-looking things but not a placard to identify them. They look a bit like those illustrations you see of Covid-19 particles. The spiky balls resemble thistles but not in the traditional Scottish sense. Can anyone identify them?               

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


One of the most famous buildings in St. Louis, at least to locals, the Climatron in the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is a geodesic dome greenhouse, built on the concepts of the architect and engineer R. Buckminster Fuller, and turns 50 years old next week.  In 1976 it was named one of the 100 most significant architectural achievements in United States history. You can see more details about the structure at .

The long pool in front of it is full of lily pads, some floating Chihuly glass ornaments and a bit of sculpture. It looks especially good at night when it is lit by changing color lights.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020


Since as usual there is nothing going on around here, I went to our gorgeous botanical garden on Sunday to get some exercise and images. They have a bunch of Chihuly glass around the place, this one on a side of the rose garden. (I was standing underneath its twin on the opposite side.) It looks like it needs a haircut worse than I do in these no-close-contact times.  These could be solar rays or a punk rocker's yellow died hair.

I didn't know it before but the garden takes these glass tubes out for the winter. Freezing temps could damage them.     

Monday, September 21, 2020


Watch out world, here I come.
We took Ellie and her new bike to Tower Grove Park for a workout.  It is usually quiet and has some long, fairly flat straightaways, perfect for her level (she hasn't learned the gearshift yet.) But under these conditions, can she fly!
Note the doll in the rear bike seat. Parents and grandparents in this country all know American Girl Dolls. They have their own special store in some cities, are horrifically expensive and have outfits and accessories that require a second mortgage to buy. Fortunately by now there are knock-off versions with decent quality and priced for those who drive Toyotas rather than Mercedes. That's what Ellie has. They all come with a card giving their names and characteristics. This is Alaine. We assume that she is Québécoise because her card says she likes poutine.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


The caption above might not mean much unless you were brought up Catholic like me. A plenary indulgence was something of great value. Rather than going into theological arcana here you can check the link if interested.

But Catholics have a wonderful concept of absolution - do this, think that, and all your sins are washed away. I didn't pay attention to the business under this awning - it could have been a bar or ice cream shop - because the concept on the awning was so good, sort of a spiritual Groundhog Day. Do all the nasty you want, come in here and emerge in saintly white.  

Saturday, September 19, 2020


It's a good idea to wear a mask even if you are just walking down the street with no one nearby. You don't know when others will come down the sidewalk to meet you. It applies even if you are 10 feet / 3 m tall.

Donald Baechler's Walking Figure has marched down Olive Street for years. S/he (it's ambiguous) has a vigorous stride but never gets anywhere. Is there a metaphor in this?               

Friday, September 18, 2020



About a week ago some group went around putting masks on downtown statues. The reason is obvious. As I drove to my office last Saturday morning I made a survey of where they were located. However, by the time I went out to photograph them that afternoon many of the masks were gone. Some could have been stolen but at least one was inaccessible without a ladder or bucket truck. Like the masks on the statues of players outside the baseball stadium, they were all St. Louis city flags, tied on as well as possible. A couple had fallen down around the statues' necks. My best guess is that they blew off.

So here we have one of Tom Classen's Two Rabbits. (The other is back in the shadows.) I think they look ghostly. You can't tell from the outside but they are cast bronze coated with I-don't-know-what.      

Thursday, September 17, 2020


I dunno. What can you do with this thing after photographing it for twenty years? As Shakespeare said about Cleopatra, age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.                   

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


We have been looking at Laclede's Landing for the last few days. Its southern border is Eads Bridge, the old stone structure on the left. The view here is in the new northern extension of the Arch grounds that replaced a garage. It wasn't pretty but it also wasn't very noticeable. It was the closest, cheapest parking to the monument and the clubs and restaurants in the Landing. What's there now is, well, odd. It feels like it has paths to nowhere and a you-can't-get-there-from-here feel. There is a lack of seating. The landforming and landscaping is not particularly attractive, IMHO. There are some nice views of the Mississippi, though.                

Tuesday, September 15, 2020


Same sign as yesterday but in a more pleasant setting. There must some significant business activity in Laclede's Landing to have someone caring for the flowers.

I keep thinking about where this church the sign mentions might be, even looking on Google maps. There is nothing at all in the immediate area. However, if you walked 10 or 15 minutes south across the Arch grounds you would come to what we call the Old Cathedral, the oldest church in town. That has to be it.       

Monday, September 14, 2020


An affectation. It's true that we were founded by the French trader-explorers, Pierre Laclede and August Chouteau. (No one here except a real Francophone can come close to pronouncing the names correctly. ) They both have streets named after them but Chouteau, the second banana, got the more important thoroughfare. 

Anyway, the city mothers and fathers decided to give second names in French to several streets around the Arch, Old Courthouse and Laclede's Landing. They still have common American names, Broadway, Chestnut Street and so on. This placard is on the 19th Century stone foundations of Eads' Bridge. There is no church anywhere close, although there might have been one ages ago. Alors ça va.     

Sunday, September 13, 2020


And many other things that wouldn't surprise you in the least. Sometimes we take pictures.         

Saturday, September 12, 2020



This would make my knees wobble. I think he was installing windows in a building in Laclede's Landing that was undergoing restoration. I'm also glad he saw me taking his picture.       

Friday, September 11, 2020


I guess the owner has never been to Harry's Bar in Venice or the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis in New York.         

Thursday, September 10, 2020


I've been complaining about having nothing to shoot. I was at the office part of the day yesterday and, while looking out my window, realized that I have not been to the Laclede's Landing area in a long time. It is a district just north of the Arch that contained old commercial buildings, some from the 19th Century. There was extensive restoration maybe thirty years ago. The area filled up with restaurants, bars and clubs, along with some office and residential space. The place was hopping on weekend nights.

Then, a few years ago, the foundation that supports the Arch renovated the whole grounds. Work on the north end shut off the main vehicle access to the Landing. Most of the businesses quickly withered and were given no compensation for the damage done to them.

Now access is some better if not as good as it was. A few businesses have come back but there is still a lot of empty space. I took this photo through one of the alleys. It's quite unoriginal - everybody takes this shot. Still, there is a bit of drama.              

Wednesday, September 9, 2020


After all those wasted years in therapy, all I had to do was go to the history museum.        

Tuesday, September 8, 2020


I mentioned in yesterday's post that another Cardinal great, Lou Brock, died Saturday at the age of 81. Although he was an exceptional hitter (the statue shows the moment he made his 3,000th base hit, something quite extraordinary), his great fame was from his speed and deceptiveness as a base runner. He set what was at the time the Major League record for stolen bases. It still remains the National League record. He had such skill at deceiving pitchers and such sudden speed that he was without peer.

These pages have noted before that the Cardinals are St. Louis' state religion. When Mrs. C and I went by here yesterday afternoon we found a growing mound of flowers and tributes. I expect it to grow.            


Monday, September 7, 2020


One corner of our baseball stadium has a group of statues of the most famous Cardinals in history. (One of the foremost, Lou Brock, died yesterday at 81.) They wore the flag of the City of St. Louis as a mask, sort of like a bandito face covering. Stan Musial, The Greatest Cardinal Of Them All by universal acclimation, followed all the safety standards.

So if Stan the Man can do his part to protect the rest of us, you can, too. None of this my right to be free and kill your grandparents. I'm a grandparent.          

Sunday, September 6, 2020


Late post. The family went to this event at the botanical garden last night and got home late. There were long walks and my lumbar spine feels like it's rusted out these days so no editing until this morning.

The event is called Toro Nagashi. There is a mid-August Buddhist festival in Japan called Obon that honors ancestors. Toro Nagashi occurs at the end when ancestors return to the spirit world. A flame representing them is transferred to a lantern, toro, along with notes of well-wishes and memories, and set afloat.

Not the best photo but they didn't allow tripods. You can get a bit of the feel.             

Saturday, September 5, 2020


Details of the ruins of the old Sears building on South Grand. There is a sign indicating that the owner wants to pass it off for redevelopment. We wish them good luck. The terra cotta decoration is less elaborate than the Dinks Parrish Laundry we saw a couple of weeks ago. It looks like some of it on this building has been stolen but local artists have added their own ornaments.

Friday, September 4, 2020


More terra cotta decoration. A local friend gave me a tip about this. I've driven by but never paid attention. It is the old Sears building on South Grand Boulevard near Gravois. That thing in the top center is not a letter N for Napoleon. It is a scroll with the date of construction, 1925.

The details are worth a look, which we will come to next.      

Thursday, September 3, 2020


When Americans visit London and take their first Underground ride, they are surprised and a bit confused by the ubiquitous recorded announcement to "mind the gap." It refers to the space between the edge of the door and the edge of the platform. If I recall correctly, some of the station platforms are curved, meaning there really may be a gap.

This isn't public transit. It is the side of another Mexican restaurant on Cherokee Street. Of course, it refers to social distancing but if you have never been to London the meaning would be lost.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020



We will ask our resident expert, V de Q, for help on this.

This figure has stood on a pedestal at Cherokee and Jefferson for many years. I always thought it marked the beginning of the Cherokee Street shopping district. It may also have been a reference to the Anglo-American tradition of a cigar store Indian, signifying that the business behind it was a tobacconist.

Yet it has survived decades of social change. I never looked at it very closely until I took this picture. I am not knowledgeable in these matters, but the tablet the figure holds looks like an example of the Cherokee language, part of a very sophisticated culture. Perhaps someone knows more about it. 


Tuesday, September 1, 2020