STL to STT

Corncorde, Craig Nutt, 1996

Planes, trains and automobiles and a boat, don’t forget the boat. With both iPhones chirping, we awoke at oh-no-dark-thirty. Called an Uber, our first four-wheeled vehicle of the day and headed to the airport (STL). After pushing off, the pilot came over the PA to announce a computer problem, but after a brief consult with IT, we were good to go.

We landed in Atlanta (ATL), where it was raining. It claims to be the biggest airport in the world. We took the Plane Train to our gate, which was the fifth stop. The pictured “Corncorde” is some airport art.

Both flights were pretty bumpy. After our second air-leg, we landed in St. Thomas (STT). From there, we took a cab across the island to the ferry, to St. John. Bob, our Airbnb host, met us at the dock and shlepped our bags to the apartment. That was our all day travel day. It’s nice and warm here. Let the fun in the sun begin, tomorrow. It’s already after sundown.

The Angelus

The Angelus, Jean-Francois Millet, 1859

Two peasants stop to say the Angelus prayer at dusk in response to the sound of the distant church bells. They are in the midst of the potato harvest, The woman devoutly worships, the man may be turning his hat, waiting for her to finish. The Catholic Angelus prayer, commemorating the incarnation of Jesus, is said three times a day, at dawn, noon and dusk. In the countryside, this praying was a way of regulating time in the days before wristwatches. This painting is probably Millets most famous. In France, the picture became a symbol of national pride and was widely revered and reproduced. It embodied a vision of piety and devotion, fruitful land and the dignity of labor.

Anne and I celebrated Valentine’s Day together. We didn’t go out or anything special like that, but instead, I fixed us a nice dinner at home. After dinner, we exchanged cards and a few gifts. We then ended up watching the newest episode of the Outlander TV series together. It is the initial episode of Season 5, The Fiery Cross, which was suppose to drop this Sunday, but instead Starz moved its release up a few days, making it available for watching on Valentine’s Day. I’ve seen all of the previous seasons, but have read none of the books. While Anne has read all of the books and has seen almost none of the TV show.

In the past, when I have read the book and then watched the movie, I’ve always felt that cinema had cheapened the story. Most of that has to do with the two medium’s confines. There is no way that any one motion picture could ever tell a story in the same level of detail as can be told in a book. At least not in a single sitting, but with the serialized story telling that’s available now, in these big production TV series, the two mediums are on a more level playing ground.

Game of Thrones is the arch-type for this TV genre. With it, I began with the books, but switched over to the TV and I am happy that I did so. TV concluded its version of that story last year, while the print version is still outstanding.

With Outlander, the books have all been written and the TV series is just trying to catch up, but I don’t think that I’ll ever switch over to the books. On the TV, the book’s characters are fleshed out by real life actors, who pronounce the Scottish dialects much more comprehensibly than I would have ever been capable of sounding out myself. A TV series with a dozen or more hours to tell a book’s story can more than adequately cover any plot, in my humble opinion. 

Millet and Modern Art

Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí is the full title for the new exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Produced in partnership with the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam, it celebrates the art and influence of French painter Jean-François Millet (1814–1875). This show opens to the general public on Sunday and runs until May. As these special art shows at the Saint Louis Art Museum go, this one was certainly one of the best that I’ve seen. It draws works from many different sources that comprise many different artists.

Millet is known as the father of Modern art and in his day was very famous. He attracted many disciples, who imitated his ideas. Now-a-days, their fame has come to eclipse that of Millet. No more ardent a disciple can be found than that of Vincent Van Gogh. This exhibit has multiple side-by-side examples of Millet’s original painting and a copy that Van Gogh made thirty years later. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and Van Gogh certainly wasn’t alone in this practice. Similar imitation is shown with many of the other artists too.

Pictured is a painting by Van Gogh called Starry Night. In this show it is displayed along side a somewhat similar looking painting by Millet, with an identical title. Unfortunately, my photo of the Millet painting did not turn out that well, so I cannot give you a side-by-side comparison. Like his fame, many of Millet’s artworks have not worn so well. Coincidently, Van Gogh has a much more famous version of Starry Night that hangs in New York and was painted the year after this one was made. The pictured Starry Night reminded Anne of our photos of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. 

This morning was the coldest day of the winter. It was only four degrees when I got up. There was no school scheduled today, because otherwise it would have been cancelled. It was so cold… How cold was it? It was so cold that the water company workers took the day off. It was too cold for them to dig holes. 

School’s Out

The Country School, Winslow Homer, 1871

Yesterday, Anne completed her long term substitute teaching gig, in the first grade that she had begun in November and today, the woman who had been on maternity leave returned to school. Also today, Anne swung by the classroom one more time, to present the baby quilt that she had made for her. Word gets around about these baby quilts and I think that expecting teachers pick Anne, in part because of them. This trip seemed like it would be problematic, in that the water company had blocked both ends of the block, but she managed to evade their blockade. They were digging Toyota traps to stop her. I labored to get all of our water use out of the way for the day, since they have worked their way up the street to our water lateral and the possibility of a water shutoff seemed quite likely. Anne plans on taking some well deserved time off now, before resuming her regular day-to-day substitute teaching duties sometime in the future. In other news, we got our Federal income tax refund back. We still have to pay on the state. It’s not much, but that can wait until April 15th.