Central Park Bandit
Anyone familiar with American TV has to have been exposed to numerous episodes of crime based drama on the gritty streets of New York City. You watch enough of these paranoid cop shows and it is easy to believe that crime is running rampant down the streets of NYC. This month, in my week-long stay in the city, I witnessed no crime. Unless, you count the above pictured beggar thief, who took a moment to mug for my camera, before returning to the plying of his wiles on the unsuspecting tourists of Central Park. I knew that Manhattan would be safe, based on Anne’s and mine 2009 visit to the island. On that vacation we also visited all of the other boughs, but then we always traveled in a group. There was over 35,000 of us cycling the Five Boughs Ride that day. I did feel some initial trepidation about Brooklyn on this month’s visit, but it was soon overcome and I hope that Dan will do well there.
This week in my couch surfing of the web, I discovered the following SNL skit entitled “Bushwick, Brooklyn, 2015”. This is the neighborhood where Dan lives now. In this skit three African-American men, all played by recognizable actors, are standing on a street corner shooting the breeze. [Spoiler Alert] The skit’s gag is that these three tough guys each have a softer side that repeatedly highlights the gentrification process that is ongoing in Bushwick. This is the same process that has already swallowed next door Williamsburg and is now spilling over into the surrounding and still more affordable neighborhoods. The skit’s ending is a shock, but I think that it helps drive the joke home.
Gentrification is a two-edged sword. The new mostly young and white residents do introduce nice things to a neighborhood, like artisanal mayonnaise, but these more affluent residents also tend to drive out the existing lower-income community with increased property values. Part of the reason Dan left LA was because he was on the receiving end on the next even more affluent wave of gentrification there. I like to look on the bright side though. Eventually, Dan will be priced out of Brooklyn too and then maybe he’ll come back to Saint Louis and we’ll be here waiting for him.
Last month, on one of our last few days in Monterey, Chris, Anne and I drove north on scenic Highway 1, California’s coastal highway. We drove up to Half-moon Bay and had lunch at the Moss Beach Distillery. On the way back we set a more leisurely pace and stopped at most of the state beaches along the coast, checking them out. Chris is always scouting for new seashore landscapes to photograph and it was all new and exciting to us. It made for a pleasant afternoon. The pictured merganser was at one of these beaches.
At this particular beach, the parking lot was situated on a sandy bluff overlooking the beach, with cliffs around it and there didn’t appear to be any easy way down to the surf, which would explain why the beach was literally covered with seagulls. This particular beach was really no more than a sandbar that at the moment had landlocked a tidal estuary behind it. This estuary was only narrowly separated from the sea by the sandbar and it looked like large waves, say from a storm could easily wash over the bar and replenish the basin’s waters. Alternatively, in a less arid season than what California is currently enduring, it looked like the estuary would act as a way for rainfall to drain into the sea. Anyway, it didn’t appear that either of these two mechanisms had occurred recently, because the water in the basin was quite stagnant.
Still, there was a school of fish trapped in this two-acre landlocked basin and the merganser was busy hunting them. The bird would flap its wings, partially lifting its body up off the water, then it would stamp its webbed feet, thereby creating a lot of noise and splashing. It was trying to herd the fish. It looked like it was trying to herd them into a corner, I guess, to make them it easier to catch one. It didn’t have any luck in the few minutes that I spent watching, but it had all day to practice, because the fish weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Honey Bee and Cone Flower
I know that the calendar says that summer ended almost a month ago, but this week’s unusually warm Indian summer weather has allowed me to pretend otherwise. Rain and a cold front are due tomorrow, so as they say, all good things must come to an end. This has been a glorious summer, as I launched off into retirement. I traveled a lot, spending time with as many relatives and friends as I could. Now, it is time to get some things done around the house and plan more adventures of next year. I feel like the grasshopper to Anne’s ant though. She is busy working hard, winter is approaching and I am content to just fiddle about. I hope that when it really gets cold, she takes pity on me and takes me in and doesn’t deign to consign me to some errant ice floe. Although, with global warming there probably won’t be enough ice floes to go around for all us boomers. Maybe, I should just grab the next available? I won’t worry about that today, I’ll worry about that tomorrow instead.
Round Lake Fountain
It was another beautiful day in paradise. It was unusually warm for this late in October. The mercury was driven so high by a stiff south wind. The wind was also blowing the spray from the Round Lake fountain, which caused the pictured rainbow. I enjoyed a leisurely noontime ride in Forest Park. In fact my whole day today was rather leisurely. After my ride, I decided that it was too warm to be working outside and too nice a day to be inside, so I lounged around all afternoon. The only other thing of note in the park was a man playing the drums off of Confederate Drive. He was whaling away on a full drum set and quite well, I might add. It is just the sort of thing that you don’t see every day in the park. I almost felt a little guilty luxuriating so much in my ease, because Anne got up this morning at uh-oh dark-thirty. She started a two-week gig in the third grade today, finishing up the end of someone else’s long-term substitute assignment, because of a schedule change. She really goes all out for these long-term positions, but what she is really looking forward to is the job after this one. It is another long-term sub position, but this time with a flair. She will be a Math Interventionist. I keep trying to spin this title into Math Insurrectionist, because after all she will be acting as a member of that terrorist organization, Algebra and will be deploying weapons of math instruction, think compass & protractor, but she’s having none of my nonsense. She will mainly be working with high aptitude students, kids who really want to do math, but she will also be dealing with students in a more remedial setting, but with very small class sizes. This second assignment ought to keep her busy until the end of the year.
Anne Playing Koi
Anne and I got out and about today. We enjoyed a rather warm October Sunday afternoon at the gardens. It felt unseasonably warm and was made to seem all the more so, because the gardens had already begun putting up their Christmas lights display. We are members and have been to the gardens dozens of times, but this time we eschewed the main thoroughfares and were amply rewarded with the discovery of many unseen treasures. Our first discovery were the pictured koi. Their pond is just a stone’s throw from the Climatron, but is situated just far enough off the beaten path that we must have been the first people that they had seen all day. They immediately came rushing over to us, hoping to be fed. Unfortunately, neither of us had packed any food. Anne decided to dangle her fingers in the water, at least until a fish came over to nibble on them, so in a real sense she was playin’ da koi. It was in the far southeast corner of the gardens where we made our real discoveries. First, there is a private residence in this corner of the garden. Maybe it is the grounds keeper’s place, since his usual abode has been undergoing renovation. I don’t know, but with after hour’s access to the rest of the gardens, they have the best backyard in Saint Louis. Adjoining it is a Bavarian garden that we had never seen before and next to it work is underway for another new garden. It is too early to tell what type this new garden will be, except that it involves the use of dozens of dead tree stumps. Time will tell, maybe by spring.