Friday, February 23, 2024

CASCADE

Some orchids take pride in showing off individual blossoms. Others make their visual effect as a group. This reminds me of cherry blossoms. I've had the privilege of visiting Kyoto in the early spring. Wish I were going back, but this will do.             

Thursday, February 22, 2024

GENETIC DIVERSITY

It's likely that some botanist and her/his geneticist pals have explained the stunning diversity of the shapes and colors of orchids, built around a central theme. That's way out of my department but I still enjoy the variety of images.

Speaking of which, I know we could use some variety of subject matter around here. There is a fun event at the art museum Friday night that I hope to shoot.              

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

ORCHIDS OR SHRIMP?


Perhaps the most unusual specimen in the botanical garden's orchid show. Really hard to photograph with the many layers of leaves, flowers and shoots. No cocktail sauce provided.                         

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

BACK TO THE ORCHID SHOW

Sociable but subdued, a group of orchids huddle together facing the light and turning their backs on the darkness. From the Missouri Botanical Garden annual orchid show.                  

Monday, February 19, 2024

SO WHAT'S THE POINT HERE?

Fahrenheit 451 is supposed to be the ignition temperature of paper. It is also the name of a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury, in which all books are banned and "firemen" incinerate any that are found. It struck me as a strange theme for a boozy, silly festival. Maybe it had something to do with the troubling tendency in this country to remove books from libraries and schools that some people find objectionable. Okay, but at Mardi Gras?                

Sunday, February 18, 2024

AN INCLUSIVE PARTY

This might be the most clever and, on a few levels, the funniest "float" in the Mardi Gras parade. He may have been associated with a group but I found him by himself and couldn't tell. The essence of independence and mobility.                      

Saturday, February 17, 2024

WOULD YOU HAVE GUESSED ST. LOUIS?

Probably not what would leap to mind, even in Maurice Sendak's imagination (if he could imagine STL at all). But at this time of year the lid is allowed to come off the id, license has nothing to do with your permis de conduire and, as they say in New Orleans, laissez les bon temps rouler. I'm told that last phrase, known by most people in the U.S., is nearly meaningless in France.                     

Friday, February 16, 2024

DIRTY HIPPIES

 

All of the floats in the Mardi Gras parade have a theme, usually written on the side of a flat bed trailer the krewe rides on. This one said simply 1969, so I assume it was a reference to the Woodstock Festival. The audience included 19 year old me. There are stories, but not right now.                                

Thursday, February 15, 2024

ERNIE WITHOUT HIS DUCKIE

In fact, without a particularly good attitude. He might feel better in the bath tub with his favorite company (https://youtu.be/cDy4PZPMDwU?si=EkKhDh35GZPZ0enM). But, given the order of the day, once he gets a little more alcohol in him he'll probably loosen up.                

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

IT'S ASH WEDNESDAY. SO WHAT?

It's Valentine's Day, too, if that makes a difference. This is, of course, back at our Mardi Gras parade. I have no idea what these people were about. Who cares? As The Beatles told us ages ago, fun is the one thing that money can't buy.             

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

DON'T SHOOT THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Alien lifeforms, or facsimiles thereof, milling around in the parade staging area on Broadway. I don't think they actually meant to threaten me but I don't want any high energy rays going through my fancy lens. Anyway, we're a long way from Area 51.                 

Monday, February 12, 2024

SILLY SEASON

 

Lent begins Wednesday in the Christian world. Some parts of it have a blowout of excess leading up to the period of fasting and penance, called Carnival in most places but often Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in the U.S. New Orleans is justly famous for its days of wild celebrations. St. Louis claims to have the second biggest. This is something like comparing the height of the Washington Monument with the Burj Khalifa, but everyone has a good time. Our parade is held on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and I always stop by with my camera. No one has ever declined my request for a photo.

Lots more good shots from the orchid show, which I may return to.                    

Sunday, February 11, 2024

DELICATE

The orchids seem somehow solid yet fragile, intensely beautiful but transitory. Perhaps a lesson in Buddhism.            

Saturday, February 10, 2024

POW

The annual orchid show is on at the Missouri Botanical Garden. All the plants are genetically related but the variety of shapes and colors is staggering. Lots of good shots. It helps to have a macro lens.                  

Friday, February 9, 2024

FOUR BASIC FOOD GROUPS

Low on material so a bit of filler. This is part of the facade of a restaurant called The Soda Fountain at St. Louis Union Station. My grand kids go wild about the over-the-top ice cream desserts. But if you want a Manhattan instead of a side of fries, you're good. Want a shot of rum in your sundae? They got you covered.

LOTS of photo ops coming up here. Mrs. C and I are going to the annual orchid show at the botanical garden today. Our surprisingly big Mardi Gras parade is Saturday. As always, I'll be there.              

Thursday, February 8, 2024

LIKE IT NEVER EXISTED


Graffiti on another old building a couple of blocks south of the burned-out warehouse seen recently. In Anglo-American jurisprudence, it means that something is of no effect whatever, as if it never existed. Bleak, but the painter says nothing about the reference. The shiny building on the upper right is a very expensive Four Seasons Hotel above a casino and restaurant complex. The economics change quickly.                   

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

IMPERMANENCE


All things must pass, but how long they last depends, to some extent, on how they are cared for. Consider human bodies. The old warehouse on the riverfront that burned over the weekend had become useless and was abandoned. The surrounding area was old and industrial, lacking a reason to rehab it. The right background is our newest bridge across the Mississippi. How long will it stand? Our oldest bridge is 150 years old and still very much in use.            

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

BURNED OUT

We heard on the news that an old, vacant warehouse near the river had burned, so I had to have a look. It's in a desolate post-industrial area north of the Arch. The interior must have been largely made of wood since you can see the sky through the top. Not much going on when I drove by other than some demolition of unsafe walls but you could still smell the smoke. More for the urban trash heap.             

Monday, February 5, 2024

THE ELLIE AND AUDREY SHOW, PART 2

Low on material, so why not bring back my impossibly cute granddaughters. Audrey, on the left, and Ellie were riding the big Ferris wheel at Union Station. Ellie has her indispensable cloth lambies.         

Sunday, February 4, 2024

ALIEN LIFE FORMS

Lighting courtesy of the St. Louis Aquarium. This is a photo stop every time I take the kids through but the colors are always different.                

Saturday, February 3, 2024

PILE ON

Our aquarium's inhabitants are not limited to fish. Anything approximately wet is within its scope. I don't know what species of turtle these are but they they seem to equally like company and a heat lamp.              

Friday, February 2, 2024

STEAMPUNK SUBMARINE

St. Louis Union Station has had an aquarium since its last redevelopment. It's not on the scale of, say, New York or Chicago, but the kids like it.  The entry area is full of LED screens which, at least at the moment, are made to look like a scene from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.                  

Thursday, February 1, 2024

CITY DAILY PHOTO FEBRUARY THEME - STREET CORNER

You don't have to look at a street corner from sidewalk level. This is a parking garage at the corner of Chestnut and 6th Streets in downtown St. Louis. The view is from a rooftop bar and restaurant on a hotel a block away.                   

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

FEARLESS AUDREY

 

Granddaughter Audrey, 8, concedes nothing to her father, Andy, when it comes to adventurousness. She is zooming down the zip line with arms outstretched, having no need to hold the cable. After this run she did it again.        

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

ZIP

One of the overpriced but fun attractions at Union Station is what they call the ropes course. You strap and buckle into a harness, click into a overhead guide channel, and off you go, up to three levels above the floor.

Ellie has been just dying to do this. She is too big for the kiddie course but not big enough for the main event without an adult. Neither of her parents have been comfortable with the heights. My creaky spine and joints are of no use. Son Andy, flying through the zip line section, was the perfect guide. We don't know how he got his athletic ability. Certainly not from his parents.           

Monday, January 29, 2024

STL DPB BACK HOME - THE ELLIE AND AUDREY SHOW

Back in The Lou. Son Andy and granddaughter Audrey came down from Michigan for the weekend. Ellie, 10, and Audrey, 8, couldn't be closer. We spent much of Sunday at St. Louis Union Station. It hasn't had trains for years. These days it is a nice hotel and entertainment center. After some fun that we will come to later, we had lunch at at a place simply called The Soda Fountain. It has bad diner food and outrageous desserts (some with alcohol, if that's of interest). The two girls could barely finish this between them.             

Sunday, January 28, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - TÊTE À TÊTE


Las Vegas has lots of great places to eat, if you have the price of admission. Here, two elegant young women dine at Mon Ami Gabi in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. It describes itself as a typical French bistro. I'm certain a similar meal would be cheaper in Paris.

Lots going on here this weekend. Son Andy and granddaughter Audrey are in from Michigan. She and STL granddaughter Ellie are good friends. Sure to be pictures to follow.           

Saturday, January 27, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - FAKE

The city built on illusion, fantasy, greed, mass taste and a little bit of sleaze. More than a little in the case of the building in the center. We don't enjoy Las Vegas, except as something to gawk at and a location of a wide variety of interesting restaurants. I''m proud to say we did not put a single dollar in a slot machine. It's just where we need to stop on our way in and out of Death Valley.            

Friday, January 26, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - HŌNTO?

Some years ago, Mrs. C and I took several months of Japanese lessons before a trip to that country. It often happened that our sensei would ask me a question, I'd bungle the answer, and she would look at me sternly and say hōnto? REALLY?

That was the first thought that came to mind when I saw this digital billboard while walking along the Las Vegas Strip. I'd say I'm pretty skeptical but not cynical. Tic Tok sparks good? Gimme a break. Love the stomping boot in the upper right.

           

Thursday, January 25, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - A LAST VIEW OF DEATH VALLEY

Probably. Still at Mesquite Flat Dunes. I think this is one of my better pictures from the trip. You can be your own editor but not your own critic. See what you think.              

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF THOSE DUNES

Still at Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley with a point of view pulled back from yesterday's photo. It looks like a romantic 19th Century landscape of the Old West (or that's how it strikes me). The range on the rights is inappropriately called the Grapevine Mountains.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FRANK HERBERT

Another image from the Mesquite Sand Dunes. The two small figures in the center and right center give some sense of scale, although the sand continues well beyond this ridge. And how far away are the mountains?

Monday, January 22, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - ARTIST'S PALETTE

There is a road off Death Valley's main highway known as Artist's Drive. It is another wonderful work fo engineering blasted through the tortuous curves of rock. The main feature is this formation called Artist's Palette. We read that the reasons for this splash of color are geologically and chemically unclear. Looks cool, though. Note the two tiny people in the lower right for scale.            

Sunday, January 21, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - LONESOME COWBOY

Just kidding. It's another tourist standing on a ridge at Zabriskie Point, taking pictures with his phone.             

Saturday, January 20, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - DANTE'S VIEW

 

Late post today. Our Internet wasn't working when we got home from the airport last night and I just figured  it out. Dante's View is a point on a mountain top 5,575 ft / 1,699 M above sea level, overlooking Badwater Basin, which is below sea level. The rest of Death Valley sweeps away to the north. The road to the top is an engineering marvel. However, nothing tells you which of the three books of the Divine Comedy you are looking over.

So, great to be home. It's 4 F / -15.5 C.                  

Friday, January 19, 2024

STL DPBON THE ROAD - A MEMORY FROM ZABRISKIE POINT

We've been to Death Valley maybe four or five times over the last 40 years. As I've mentioned, it's one of our favorite places. A memory comes back of a long-ago visit to Zabriskie Point. There is a broad, flat rock to the left of the frame. We saw what we thought was a German film crew endlessly setting up, with Mel Brooks and Alan King off to the side, goofing around and amusing themselves. One of my few close-up star sightings.           

Thursday, January 18, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - ZABRISKIE POINT

It's odd to think of a handful of places in Death Valley's majesty as particularly famous, but Zabriskie Point is near the top. A rock promontory sits amidst these mysterious flows, overlooking the head of equally famous Golden Canyon (which we used to - deliberate past tense - be able to climb to). I know little about geology, but the black caps are lava. You could find out about it at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zabriskie_Point .

It is also the name of an artsy movie that came out when I was an undergrad. The film was a commercial flop but all us 20 year-olds. loved it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zabriskie_Point_(film) 

                 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - THE QUIET AND THE SPACE

 

One of the things we like so much about Death Valley is the silence and the enormous sense of space. It's not busy during the week and you can drive a long way before seeing another car. The distances between main sites are tens of miles apart. Whether driving or walking through, you may have a sense of being a tiny observer in a vast universe.

Those of you who know us personally are aware that the last couple of years, and particularly the last couple of months, have been difficult for our family. Our last stop on Tuesday was the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. The western skies were cloudy as we approached. I was pessimistic about the light but as we walked out into the sand the clouds parted. I don't need any jackpots when we get back to Las Vegas. I got all I want here. Our rental car has Apple Play and I have a lot of music on my phone. I put on some Chopin as we drove back to Furnace Creek and, in all the space and quiet, a sense of peace fell over me.           

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - GOOD ADVICE

The desert tour continues. This is one of the youngest features in Death Valley National Park, Ubehebe Crater. Rising magma caused underground aquifers to seethe with steam, leading to a volcanic explosion. Geologists think it happened about 2,000 years ago, scattering lava over a wide area. If interested, see http://tinyurl.com/48dtbtyr .               

Monday, January 15, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - DEATH VALLEY

There is no better place we know in the US to clear out your head than Death Valley. It's two hours drive from Las Vegas and, outside of the central village, you might as well be on another planet (with your fellow tourists). This is Badwater Basin, 282 feet / 85.5 meters below sea level, the lowest point in this country. (I'm talking geography, not politics or history.)    

The mountain range in the background and the one behind me are slowly spreading apart as this section of the valley continues to sink. Springs that originate in the mountains drift toward here and evaporate, leaving a crackling salt crust.          

Sunday, January 14, 2024

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - MUNCH LIKE AN EGYPTIAN

Hello from one of the most absurd cities in the world, Las Vegas, Nevada. I dunno, maybe Dubai is up there but I've never been. Blew in late Saturday afternoon, had a great dinner at a Taiwanse restaurant, and then sacked out in this place. We are not Vegas people, but it is our way-station on the way to our real destination.

https://youtu.be/ur6pMt5KA_w?si=avIrxgHei2Ejltvr

Saturday, January 13, 2024

IN NEED OF A WARM HAT

It's finally getting quite cold here, although it's much worse further north. 18th Century wigs just aren't enough to keep the brain warm. Woolfie should get someone to make a run to REI for him.

Today is a travel day, with an major change of scene by tonight. Hope to have something to show Sunday morning.                

Friday, January 12, 2024

BOATHOUSE

Turn around from the view in yesterday's post, take a few steps across the road and you come to this. There is a series of waterways through the northwest quarter of Forest Park that eventually lead to the Grand Lagoon below the art museum.The boathouse rents paddle boats, kayaks and paddle boards. There is also a decent restaurant. Hard to see in this deliberately soft image but there are still paddle boats in the water in January. Business was poor.              

Thursday, January 11, 2024

WE USED TO BE SOMEBODY

Okay, significant software messing around here but it fits the image. A long time ago, St. Louis was the fourth largest city in the US, after New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. I won't go into what happened since, but in 1904 we had a World's Fair (Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis) and the second modern Olympics after Athens. This is one of the few remaining buildings, known to us as the World's Fair Pavilion. It is well restored and you can rent it for events.          

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

THERE'S A REASON FOR IT

This is the bottom of Art Hill, the long slope that's the place to go sledding in this town. The body of water at the bottom is known as the Grand Lagoon. When we got heavy snows (it happened), the paved path would be covered and the reckless could - and did - fly straight into the water (and it's more than a meter drop). Eventually, the park put a line of hay bales at the bottom. Now it's spaced bales with that orange net stretch stuff.

Forest Park lies between our two major universities, St. Louis U. and Washington U. When I was an undergrad at SLU, we used to swipe plastic trays from the cafeteria to use as minimal sleds if there was a big dump. Kids would zoom out of control and occasionally someone would shoot off the end. I saw it happen.                  

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

DO THE BEST WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT

There is a cold drizzle falling as I write this Monday evening but temperatures are cleanly above freezing. Any snow cover is gone, although a few decaying snowmen remain. Art Hill, the long slope below the art museum, was patchy over the weekend but bare now. Children will try their sleds on anything available.             

Monday, January 8, 2024

STRIPES AND CURVES

A crosswalk in Forest Park, leading to a walking trail through the trees. Sometimes we just have to be satisfied with patchy, sloppy snow.          

Sunday, January 7, 2024

WE FINALLY GOT SOME

I have not looked up the statistics but it seems like we get a lot less snow than we did years ago, and what we get doesn't last as long. We got a little Friday night and Saturday morning, enough to cover the grass, but the temperature was just above freezing. Still, families brought the kids to Art Hill, the long slope below our art museum. It's STL's premier sledding venue.      

Saturday, January 6, 2024

THAT'S US

 

Downtown St. Louis, looking west from the top of the Arch. I worked there for my whole career, 47 years. Not so big but not insignificant. It's not doing so well post-pandemic but there are reasons for hope. Neither mountains or tornadoes on the horizon. 

We note that this is the third anniversary of the insurrection that attempted to crush our democracy. May we persevere.             

Friday, January 5, 2024

MORE ARCH, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I GOT

I've been taking pictures of the big wicket for ages and it's hard to find something fresh. This one has some sense of scale.

Need to get out on the street, for whatever there is to shoot in January. I got my back worked on this week at the mighty Washington University Medical Center so I should be more mobile. We'll see what there is to see.