Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Long, Straight Road

When you get off the main roads around Marysville the farms stretch beyond the horizon. Out in the countryside there are gravel roads, as straight as the land permits, spaced a mile apart. The square mile they enclose is known as a section.

It's pretty quiet out here except for the sound of farm equipment and the wind.                

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Antique Tastes

One of Marysville's attractions is the Koester House, with its museum and somewhat strange gardens. German immigrant Charles (Karl?) Koester arrived in town in 1860 and soon made a name for himself. He ended up becoming the town banker, built a very fancy house by the standards of the day and filled the garden with reproductions of, I don't know, Greece-Roman-Renaissance-Baroque sculpture.  The garden isn't very big, the pieces seem thrown together in a crowded way, and yet it tells us something. What were the tastes of the well-to-do 150 years ago? The place seems very foreign in a prairie filled with corn fields.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Madeleine In Marysville Monday: 1 or 2?

1. Audition for a slasher movie, maybe. At breakfast at the Wagon Wheel Cafe. The knife wasn't very sharp.

2. A more traditional approach. She's been a good girl all year, mostly.         

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Marysville, Kansas

I've been visiting here a time or two a year for more than 40 years. Mrs. C went to high school here and grew up on a farm 17 miles away. Marysville has about 3,300 people. The area is rolling prairie, not at all flat. Farmers grow corn, wheat, milo and alfalfa. Some raise cattle. When you drive down the gravel country roads the drivers of oncoming cars always wave hi as they pass.

This is small town America. Kansas has conservative booze laws and most bars can only serve beer with 3.2% alcohol, yet they are well-patronized. The main street appliance store survives despite the Walmart on the edge of town. Since I was here last summer, benches have sprung up all over town memorializing the deceased members of so many classes of Marysville High School. And why not paint a neo-primitive picture of the Wagon Wheel Cafe (where breakfast provides enough calories to last a week) on a circular saw blade?              

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy 98th, Elvira

My wife's mother, Elvira Kruse, will be 98 years old on Tuesday. It's the reason we come out here every Thanksgiving. She's rather frail physically but her mind is perfectly sharp. She remembers many things that her children do not.

Here she is surrounded by two of her grandchildren, my daughter Emily on the left and niece Tricia upper left, and great grandchildren too numerous to name. (And there are many others.) Only my Madeleine is out of sorts.              

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thursday Arch Series, Plus Some Other Stuff

No pictures from Kansas yet, although there is lots to shoot today and tomorrow. So, a recent picture from STL. The view is from the northwest corner of the baseball stadium. On a sunny afternoon these four buildings march forward from the Arch. The middle two are the Hilton Hotel. The one on the left, the tallest building downtown (there's an understanding that nothing should be taller that the Arch), is a couple of blocks further back.

Out to the family farm  today.          

Thursday, November 24, 2016

If You Haven't Finished Making Your Holiday Plans . . .

Why not consider Thanksgiving dinner at the Travel Centers of America truck stop in Foristell, Missouri, about 50 miles west of St. Louis? Hey, and you get $5 off at your next visit. Come back at Christmas!

Our stops on the way to Kansas City were a bit more frequent than usual due to a certain special passenger. She slept through most of central Missouri, though. Who wouldn't?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fake Infrared

There are companies who swap out a sensor in a DLSR for one that uses infrared light. Theoretically, you could get the same dramatic results as infrared film. Years ago I did this to my old, old Canon 5D Mk I. Got some interesting shots but it was pretty fussy. Didn't keep it up.

This kind of image tends to get very bright leaves. Clear skies turn almost black. I found that I could get a similar effect just using the color sliders in the black and white adjustment tool in Photoshop. The subject is my favorite autumn tree in Forest Park.

Road trip today. Theme song for our destination here.          

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

And Just Next Door . . .

You can see this peeking through the right side of the second photo in yesterday's post. It's the side of the neighborhood post office. Apparently you can't have a proper wall in The Grove without it being painted. The sort of disjointed line-up reminds me of the work of one of my favorite contemporary artists, James Rosenquist.                    

Monday, November 21, 2016

Light Fuse Run Away

There is a new restaurant on Manchester Avenue in The Grove neighborhood called Firecracker Pizza & Beer. Good idea. Get those basic food groups checked off with a side of strong graphics. Black Cat is the name of a popular brand of firecrackers.

I like the "light fuse run away" concept. How perfectly juvenile.            

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Never Noticed

I've walked by this spot innumerable times. It's the plinth of the great statue of Louis himself in Forest Park. The monument and the Art Museum behind it are on the top of a hill (which, with a flash of imagination, we call Art Hill) so there is unbroken sky behind it. 

But I never noticed the obvious composition. It sort of says: welcome to my world.                

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Evening Commute

I don't have any new material but I have a smart phone and two eyes. And so another late departure from work. Swing out of St. Charles Street and down Broadway to the highway entrance. Of course I drive. This is middle-size city America. If I took public transportation the trip would be three times longer.    

A song lyric by the incumbent Nobel laureate for literature has it that the sun's not yellow, it's chicken.

Friday, November 18, 2016

But Almost Nobody Does

To overgeneralize, lots of people have short memories and hold long grudges. Some individuals, but not nearly enough, are seeing the risk of Muslim equivalents of the appalling World War II Japanese internment camps, worried about suppression of the press like in Russia and Turkey, or granting broad license to industrial polluters in search of profits.

But I will not soon forget President Obama: the intentions of good for the whole country, the clarity of his intelligence and above all, his dignity, a quality sorely lacking in his successor. We, his admirers and supporters, are not going away.

I think this is enough of this for now. There are lots of other photos on Flickr here and I may yet edit more. No other new local material so I may need to collect myself for a day or two. 

Years ago, someone wrote a comment here criticizing me for just about never producing "the occasional rant." I hope I've made up for it over the last ten days.               

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I like the German word for science, Wissenschaft. You could transliterate it as the craft of knowing. A few people in the anti-Trump rally carried signs like this. There is an element in the winning party that feels free to ignore science when it conflicts with their beliefs, climate change being a good example. I've read that the Vice President Elect is a creationist. It scares me.

Everyone's favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, said that the great thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not. I wish more people understood that.             

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Crowd

The people, united, will never be defeated. That's what they chanted sometimes. That's what they hope, but there are no guaranteed outcomes in bare-knuckle politics. Never be defeated? Ask a few Syrians about that. Maybe this administration and its colleagues in congress will so offend the American people that they will get the crap kicked out of them in the 2018 mid-term Congressional elections. But maybe not. They are good showmen, in the P. T. Barnum sense, and unafraid of deception. (Although that doesn't make them unusual.) Most Americans will remember Barnum's most famous quote, "There's a sucker born every minute." We just saw that in action, didn't we?

So here are people in the crowd, angry, maybe hopeful, maybe not, but simply needing to emote. The first two shots are around the starting area at the Gateway One building.  Note the Peabody signs. Peabody Energy is the largest privately held coal company in the country and an adversary of environmentalists. Their headquarters is inside.

After everyone wandered around downtown for a bit the crowd seemed to gel at the intersection of 4th Street and Washington Avenue. The last shot is from my office window, which overlooks that location.

But let's also remember that our most revered president, Abraham Lincoln, once noted that "you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." God, I hope he was right. 

And, hey, a shout-out to Gunn, our friend in Norway - I like your idea. Know any European editors who might like to buy some of these images?        

Monday, November 14, 2016

Yeah, I'm There

At the Anti-Trump rally downtown yesterday afternoon. I'd say there were a couple of thousand people. It had a starting point but no pre-defined route, wandering through major streets, blocking traffic and pissing off a lot of motorists. That didn't help their cause.

Still, my heart was with them. I think that's a look of real pain on the face of the woman with the sign below. If my face hadn't been stuck in a viewfinder I'd have looked about the same. I am not getting over the election. It's eating at me. Trump and his pals violate about every value I have. I'm sick. I'm ashamed to be an American these days.

But that can't be allowed to persist. I'm thinking and thinking about what I should do. Cannot just sit and watch with mouth gaping.             

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Star Spangled Banner

You can't cry into it. It's too big. And these days it's very hard for me to see clearly.

I keep thinking of the clip below. 19 year old me was there, although I can't say I remember it very clearly. Some of the feelings about my country are the same today as 47 years ago.

As mentioned, I'll be documenting the anti-Trump rally downtown this afternoon. There has been some interesting commentary on these demonstrations. Trump won the election lawfully, although only because of our bizarre Electoral College system that allowed Clinton to win the popular vote and lose the race. Is it helpful or appropriate for the losers just to blow off rage? I don't think so, unless it makes some people feel better for a while. As Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday, being an American citizen is like family: you're in it whether you like it or not.

On the other hand, it begins the process of common struggle and resistance that some of us feel is necessary. For example, if the party in power tries to dismantle Social Security (a subject I know a lot about) or permits environmental degradation, I hope masses of people take to the streets. I'd be with them.              

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bring Back American Railroad Jobs

Ruins of the Cotton Belt depot, north riverfront.  

There is a big anti-Trump rally on Sunday starting at 2:00 in Citygarden. I'll be covering it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

There will be no photo post today.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
                                                                 H. L. Mencken

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


The special exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum didn't appeal to me at first. It was about the work and life of Yves Saint Laurent, the renown couturier. I gotta tell you though, it was fascinating.

He broke the once-dominant trend of elaborate ornamentation, bringing a new, clean elegance to women's clothing. His inventiveness - and his business sense - seemed boundless. The displays were very well done. They including dizzying examples of the combinations of fabrics he used, not seen here. For the time being you can go to the museum's website,, and click on an overview of the show.

Even an old guy like me can agree with the final quotation.

Big day in the U.S. today, with repercussions around the world. May the light side of the force prevail.                    

Monday, November 7, 2016

Don't You Dare

There is a long, broad tunnel under downtown Seattle containing electric buses and light rail. Great idea to avoid all the city center congestion. But if you went down to the wrong platform you'll have to go back up to the street to get to the other side. What would happen if you tried to dash?

Seattle has a great public transit system for a city its size. We've used it a number of times. When we rode it from our hotel to the International District and back Saturday, I played dumb tourist and asked about the fare (which I knew). Well, it's $2.50 regular and one measly dollar for seniors. Amazing. But both times the driver told us not to worry about it and waved us on back.

I have no local material so I'll do Seattle stuff for a while. Tomorrow: Yves Saint Laurent in rain city. What?                

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Not Always Colorful

Seattle is, after all, a very wet, gray city much of the time. The Chihuly glass flowers in the top picture are brilliant (as usual) orange-yellow. The Space Needle in the background is white with a gray core. These photos have more of the feel that was around on Saturday, when it rained on and off all day.

We did go up to the top of the Space Needle, as we have many times before. It's required. And every time we do it I take a version of the second picture, weather permitting: the towers of downtown, the baseball and football stadiums in the lower right, and Mt. Rainier looming in the south. It's gonna blow someday. Then the skies will really be gray.         

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Glass Half Full

Lots of visitors to Seattle go Chihuly Garden and Glass, full of the work of renowned glassmaker Dale Chihuly. I've heard of people leaving in awe of the blazing colors and almost magical technique.

Not everyone views it that way. Chihuly once came up in a conversation with an artist I know. I asked his opinion of this body of work. His blunt answer: too easy

I get that. It is awfully accessible, isn't it? Bright, pretty colors and cool shapes. Despite the enormous skill and craftsmanship that goes into its production, it is not in the least difficult. There is a lot to be said for art that takes some work to grasp, leading to something deeper. I remember when I first heard The Rite of Spring 45 or 50 years ago. I was baffled. Now I think it is among the glories of modern Western art.

So maybe Chihuly is too easy. Maybe there is great value in its obvious beauty. Make up your own mind. There are many more examples in my Flickr feed (link in right sidebar) and several more I want to edit. Probably more of this tomorrow.

We have a free day today in Seattle. It's supposed to rain more-or-less nonstop. There must be more things to do indoors in this wet city. Reports to follow.