Wednesday, November 30, 2022


In Kiener Plaza, what passes for our central downtown square. Winterfest is mostly a small skating rink, open from Thanksgiving to New Year's, with a few other doo dads. Nice that it's there. Our granddaughter loves the skating. Just the right size.            

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


I've not previously run photos of my granddaughter, Ellie, two days in a row, but this one speaks to me. The hard sidelong look. Fingers of the right hand loosely on the rail, left hand in a fist. The long, unkempt hair, the dirty jacket that causes her no concern, the rosebud lips and the little girl's Lambie thrust defiantly into her throat.

She is nine but this gives me a vision of how she might appear at twice this age. Her mother and I started college at 17, as will she if that's what she chooses. How will her image compare? I hope this photograph is preserved.                

Monday, November 28, 2022


I have more pix from Garden Glow that are worth posting but I thought we needed a change. The Lou has had a dinky Winterfest in a plaza downtown for some years. There is a small ice rink set up through New Year's Day, a one-day Christmas market, a run somewhere in there, and three heated and insulated "igloos" for the you've-got-to-be kidding price of $250 for 90 minutes / 7 people, drinks and snacks extra. (Empty the whole time we were there.)

Still, the little rink was perfect for a nine year old with growing ice skills. Mrs. C and I were delighted by the look of joy on her face when she realized that she could get around on single-bladed skates and without the little training sled for the first time. Such confidence! Neither of us can skate and she did it all on her own.

One of our dear friends in Alabama might notice what is poking out of her coat.           

Sunday, November 27, 2022


This display is at Garden Glow every year. Rectangles tilted this way and that, which could be disorienting on a winter's night. The changing colors on good flat pavement guided this slightly gimpy photographer. You can see Henry Shaw's house at left center.        

Saturday, November 26, 2022


I mentioned Henry Shaw in yesterday's post, the founder of our botanical garden and the adjacent Tower Grove city park.  During Garden Glow, visitors are invited inside to see the 19th Century architecture and decoration in Christmas themes. Light projections on the outside change every year and I still don't know how it's done. Trippy, as we used to say.           

Friday, November 25, 2022


Our botanical garden has an interesting history. It was established by an immigrant from Sheffield, England, Henry Shaw, whose family was in the metalwork and cutlery business the city is known for. He set up shop here and did quite well, retiring at 40. Shaw established an estate on land that was then in the countryside. In time, he bequeathed it for what became the garden and adjacent Tower Grove Park. The land was flat to gently rolling. Shaw could climb to the deck on this little building and view all of his estate.           

Thursday, November 24, 2022


The Garden Glow at our botanical garden leads people through a specific route. Walking north along the east wall, visitors come across a brick walkway whose clay material favors light's longer wavelengths.  Nothing similar nearby in yellow. This isn't Kansas.               

Wednesday, November 23, 2022


Well, maybe. When you  come out the other end you are still in St. Louis. More from Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden.             

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


The entry building to our botanical garden, with its visitors center, shop, restaurant, meeting rooms and display space, along with the plaza opening behind it, are all new for this year. As you pass through the sliding glass doors into the garden proper you are confronted by this totem. Perhaps a statement of the obvious, but it prepares your mind and eyes for what lies ahead.            

Monday, November 21, 2022


Holiday lights in a sweet gum tree, Garden Glow, Missouri Botanical Garden. Doesn't seem very festive to me.                        

Sunday, November 20, 2022


The geodesic dome of the Climatron in red and green colors with suggestions of giant Christmas trees. I bet someone has researched why certain colors and shapes are associated with particular holidays but I just take pictures of them.              

Saturday, November 19, 2022


As the year winds down it's time for Garden Glow at our (if I do say so myself) spectacular botanical garden. After completion of the new visitors center and entry plaza this year, they really upped their game on the technical wizardry of the displays. We didn't get very far into it, though, because a certain small person was being a bit of a pain in the grandparent, complaining she was so cold she couldn't feel her toes (28 F, -2 C. Sheesh.) We may try again later in the week when it should be warmer.             

Friday, November 18, 2022


Photographically speaking, that is. As so often happens I didn't have any great ideas for blog material so I went to Forest Park and shot some HDRs and panos as an exercise. This is a 7 exposure HDR, -3 EV to + 3 EV. It's officially called a bandstand but it's really an ornament, completely surrounded by a small body of water called Pagoda Lake in the center of the park. I made several versions. This one keeps out the water and focuses on design.             

Thursday, November 17, 2022


I used to post a photo of the Gateway Arch on most Thursdays. However, after 20-something years of digital photography (early adopter) and many thousands of shots of this thing, it's hard to come up with something new. This caught my eye, though, when I was walking around on the levee. I have no idea what the reference is. As far as I know, nothing special happened here in 1950. The planning, design competition, engineering and construction of the Arch spanned decades. It was opened to the public only a couple of months before I showed up here for college in 1967. 

In a sense, 1950 was my gateway to here, being the year that the universe dropped me off by another big river, the Hudson, with no hint that I would spend most of my life just west of the Mississippi.               

Wednesday, November 16, 2022


No imports here. Nothing but the finest American locally made St. Louis, Missouri, swill. Although in this case it's probably just for storm water runoff (not that there's been much lately). Noticed on the street above the levee and below the Arch.           

Tuesday, November 15, 2022


We rarely get early snow. In fact, my impression is that our annual snowfall has declined with a warming planet since I showed up here for college in the 60s. We aren't very far north, about the same parallel as Washington D.C., Rome and Athens. So it was a surprise when we woke up this morning to find the streets and plants covered in white. This tree is just outside our home. The temperature now is a little above freezing so it won't last.                 

Monday, November 14, 2022


This is a water level gauge used to measure flooding on the Mississippi. The bottom of this column is about even with the top of the levee. It is measured in feet. You may be able to see that the first number is 24. The zero point may be arbitrary. Obviously, the river can rise much higher than the street at the mid level of the gauge. 

I've long thought that the Mississippi breathes over long time scales, in and out, up and down. It's doing a deep exhale at the moment.                  

Sunday, November 13, 2022


We have seen some images recently of the cobblestone levee descending to the Mississippi River. There is a street above that, then another slope up to the feet of the Arch. The north end of the street has a long, barren stairway to the park proper.             

Saturday, November 12, 2022


A view from the Mississippi River levee, where we've been the last couple of days. In the foreground is Eads Bridge, the first span across the central and lower part of the river, opened in 1874 and still in use. The higher steel structure behind it is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge, in service since 1951. The cables seen through Eads' arches are part of the awkwardly named Stan Musial - Veterans Memorial Bridge, opened in 2013 as an alternate route relieving traffic on the Interstate highways on the Missouri and Illinois  sides of the river.             

Friday, November 11, 2022


There was a time when I would upload a picture of the Gateway Arch almost every week. To paraphrase Shakespeare, age cannot wither her nor time spoil her infinite variety. However, after taking thousands of shots over 30+ years of digital photography it's pretty hard to find something new. But since I was down shooting on the riverfront anyway I thought it was time to say hello again.

It's quite a marvel. It is a catenary arch, the inverse of the shape you get if you hold a chain up by its ends. 630 feet / 192 meters tall, with a slightly scary funicular that can take you to the top through either leg. It's now 57 years old. I think of it as our local deity.         

Thursday, November 10, 2022


I drove down onto the levee by the Mississippi to get a closer view of what's going on. During busier periods, particularly summer, the levee is used for parking. You can just see the faint yellow stripes on the cobblestones. It's not unusual to see the water getting close to the spaces painted at bottom center. If Old Man River is really rolling it can cover the paved path at left center or even go over the cement wall above that and over the street.

In an hour's shooting I saw one barge go by. My last office overlooked the river and a tow would pass in both directions every few minutes. As a commentator on FB noted yesterday, this is causing great difficultly for farmers who can't get their grain to port.               

Wednesday, November 9, 2022


This is the old levee, built in the 19th Century, that connects the Mississippi River to the central city. It's hard to get scale from this picture, but half to two-thirds of what you see here is normally under water. When the river is really full, it runs up to the street you can just see at the left center. The current level is the lowest in more that 40 years due to drought up and down the watershed. Barges, the commercial life of the river, have to run with light loads and shorter groups in the diminished central channel. There are areas that are restricted to one way traffic on alternating days.

I hope to drive down into the levee today for some closer shots. And I hope today doesn't approach a low water mark for our democracy.             

Tuesday, November 8, 2022


Gotta get back to normal stuff. When I took this picture my loose associations made me think of a rocket gantry but it's just some kind of industrial structure along the riverfront. That diagonal piece on the left is a type used to get material on and off of barges. Which would be great, except the Mississippi is running dry, sort of and at most places the barges can't get close enough to shore. I hope to get some pictures of that.

A bit of the Paint Louis section of the floodwall is at the lower left.            

Monday, November 7, 2022


On Saturday I took Ellie to The Magic House, STL's children's museum. One section is about the divisions of government, with mock-ups of a courtroom, the president's oval office and a legislative chamber. Here she sits in the judge's bench, head in hand, perhaps thinking about the state of our state.

Tomorrow is election day in the U.S. Yes, it's odd to do it on a Tuesday but it has something to do with market days in agrarian post-colonial times. Lots of us, perhaps including my granddaughter, are terribly worried about the erosion of democracy in our country. Missouri has an open U.S. Senate seat. Not that the Democratic candidate is so great but, to everyone in this household, the Republican is a horror. This isn't the place for details but, in general, I could never vote for a candidate of a party that has lost its mind. There, I said it: the occasional rant.          


The last photo in this increasingly depressing series from the Old Missouri State Penitentiary. Most of us with daily photo blogs like to post pictures that are, in one way or another, attractive. However, there is some value in showing the darker side of our communities.

The view here is through a thick window into the chamber. There is a heavy sealable door to the left of the frame. Note that there are two chairs. There was an occasion when they were used simultaneously. I decided not to describe how the process works.    

The complete album of these pictures, including several not published on this blog, is at All of this made me feel that I should have a second post today that was, well, more pleasant.        

Sunday, November 6, 2022


Next to last image in this somber series. This is the path leading to the Old State Penitentiary's execution chamber. If find the irony horrible. Judge not, lest you be judged.             

Saturday, November 5, 2022


There are many broken windows in the Old State Penitentiary but the buildings are still stifling. Seen on the floor of one of the residence halls.           

Friday, November 4, 2022


You could look at this space that way - tall, narrow central aisle, small side aisles, full of shadows but for the high key hole window at the end. It's one of the residence halls at the prison, of course. If it resembles a church, it's the church of the dammed.           

Thursday, November 3, 2022


A corridor in one of the "residence units" in the old Missouri State Penitentiary. Someone could die of despair before serving the end of their term.         

Wednesday, November 2, 2022


Although I'm retired, I maintain a loose relationship with my old law firm known as "of counsel." It lets them continue to use me in marketing materials. But it means I have to keep up my law license, and to do that I need a number of hours of continuing professional education every year, even if it has nothing to to with any work I might do. 

So I look for programs that are cheap and hopefully interesting. The local bar association ran a bus tour to the old state penitentiary in Jefferson City, the state capital. There was a program on the bus about the history of the death penalty in Missouri and then a tour of the nearly-abandoned facilities. I thought it was gruesome but fascinating. By the way, the title of this post is the inscription Dante describes on the gates of hell.              

Tuesday, November 1, 2022


From the St. Louis Aquarium. Soft on the eyes and undoubtedly soft to the touch, although I wouldn't stick my hand into the tank even if there were a way to do so. And maybe this is a way to represent soft sound. There is hardly any sound at all.

See how other CDP members find la soave vita at