An Afternoon in the Park

McDonnell Planetarium

Thanksgiving came late this year. In the run up to it we were subsumed with the holiday and our guests. Now Christmas is fast approaching. Anne has eleven more school days left before her holiday break. There are a million things to do yet, but why work today, when you can put it off until tomorrow. Today was a wonderful day, sunny, with a high near sixty. So, I took the afternoon off and took off on my bike for the park. Things were pretty quiet there. Allowing me to zone out and enjoy the Zen of bicycling. There are still three weeks left…

Raging Strife

Bayou Backroad

Pictured is Anne bicycling along a backwater bayou in Louisiana. This is from earlier this year. Getting her Cajun on. This particular roadway had been freshly tarred and the pavement was like butter. A departure from the condition of most of Louisiana’s streets. They have a saying, “In England, they drive on the left side of the road. Here in Louisiana, we drive on what’s left of the road.”

I picked this picture to accompany this post’s title, which she first coined. Not that she is mad or anything. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I offer you some testimonials from members of her 1st grade class. One of the Specials teachers had asked the kids to write her thank you notes, in honor of Thanksgiving next week. The Teacher’s Collective had already decided that no one would be doing Indian headdresses or paper bag vests this year, but surely hand-turkeys are still considered PC? I’m sure that their spelling will improve.

  • I am graetful for your keg nice [kindness] Mrs. R
  • Ms. R I am thankful because you are fune [funny]!
  • Msr. R I’m gratful for you because you are kind.
  • Mis. R, I am so gratfl for you because you help us lrne [learn]. 

In other news, it has begun and sooner than I had expected. This morning, the water company came a knocking on our front door. They asked, if we could move our Prius, so that they could park their enormous rig in front of our house. I had noticed them working down the block, earlier in the morning. It being a Saturday and that it was raining, I figured that a water main leak had sprung. I launched into my normal drill, getting the dishes done and filling pots with water, all in anticipation of the inevitable water shutoff. I even risked a shower, but only a very quick one. As it turned out this crew was surveying the laterals.

Looking for lead pipes. Their rig comprised a dump truck pulling a trailer, on which sat a huge Ditch Witch device that I came to understand is a giant vacuum cleaner. Working in pairs, one man would loosen the soil with a pole, while his partner maneuvered a long hose to suck out all the dirt. I wonder if they do carpets too? What we are left with are two postholes covered by orange cones.

The good news is that we don’t have lead pipes. Surprisingly, it is copper. I’m surprised because when we bought the house all of our interior piping was galvanized. I had had that replaced with copper years ago, mostly. Some remains on the other side of the meter and disappears into the front wall. I just assumed that it was all galvanized to the main. What I think now is that like our sewer line, up to ten feet in front of the building line was put in by the developer and the utilities handled the rest, but who knows. Some day I will find out, but I’m not looking forward to doing that. It will be expensive.

Update: A second rig has appeared after lunch. They are filling in the holes dug by the previous crew. “Just because Bob’s not here to plant the trees, is no reason that the rest of us shouldn’t get paid.” 🙂

Weekend Update

Autumn Cedars

We’ve enjoyed this busy fall weekend. Starting Friday night with dinner and a show. Dinner was at Big Sky, our local Montana themed restaurant. The show was nearby, at the Rep. Lifespan of a Fact is a one act, three actor play. Tension ensues and the truth is held hostage in the balance, between a famous essayist and the young Harvard intern tasked to factcheck his latest work. On Broadway, Daniel Radcliffe played the intern. Acting as referee, the magazine’s editor rounds out this threesome.

Along the adage of never let the facts get in the way of telling a good story, this play’s theme revolves around the dichotomy between factual reporting and artistic license. Things are guaranteed not to go well, when the temperamental essayist is confronted by an overzealous intern and is forced to defend his 16 page essay from a 400+ page spreadsheet of “questions.” Based upon actual events, this story predates our current fake news, alternative facts universe, but also mirrors their issues with the truth.

On Saturday, we got out-of-town and drove down Farty-Far, to Gray Summit and the Shaw Nature Reserve. There was a huge traffic backup, caused by a combination of construction and an accident. Crazy how those two thing always seem to go together. Fortunately, it was going the other way and had dissipated by the time of our return. Shaw is part of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, so as members, our entry was free. This reserve was originally purchased, because Saint Louis air pollution was killing the garden’s pine trees and the preservation of their specie was sought through their relocation.

Our afternoon walk began in woodlands, following a stream, but soon we transitioned to the reserve’s tall-grass prairie, which we marched through, over hill and dale. Wide mowed trails permitted easy passage through this savanna, but I’m always left wondering at how early pioneers were able to navigate such an over your head sea of grass. The low, but still brilliant sun always seemed to be in our face and we both ended up peeling layers on this warming day.

Our hike ended by the above pictured pond, with its lining of cedars. This oft shot scene usually is photographed closer to sundown, when the light is more golden and the wind driven ripples have subsided. In the past, I have gotten near perfect reflections of these trees, but on this day that was not to be. Or was it? Enter Photoshop and see nature as God intended, if only, as in this case, in a highly stylized form. In the past, Anne and I have gone around and round over this issue of factual versus artistic photography. This picture may not show how things actually looked, but rather it shows them better than they really appeared.

Afterwards, we late lunched at Frisco, Webster’s newest hot restaurant property. We’ve tried to dine there on our regular trips to the Rep, but have always been shutout. Their mid-afternoon fare seems to be more our speed.

On Sunday, our possible trifecta of dining out came to a screeching halt, when I served lunch in, but I was able to lure Anne out on a bike ride to Forest Park. It was another perfect Fall day, whose memory we will savor in this week to come, because the weather forecast looks more like Winter than Fall, with both cold and snow predicted. We saw a snapping turtle beside the bike path. It looked like it had just crawled out of the primordial ooze, which it better be crawling back into again. We saw fellow teamies Chris and Anne on the bike path and again at the DeMun Kaldi’s. We sipped caffeinated brews together and enjoyed the last light of what has been a wonderful weekend. 

Big Hearted

Big Hearted

I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, went for a bicycle ride today. Riding by myself, I was able to go 20% faster than otherwise. As I turned towards home, I spied this giant inflatable heart. I don’t know how I could have missed it, when I passed by before. This photo doesn’t really do it justice, because it was Yuge! It was big enough to walk through. Your path models the path of blood flow, in on the right-side and out on the left. All of the heart’s major components were labeled, atriums, ventricles, valves, arteries and veins. The inflatable heart was part of a larger display the dwelt with heart health issues. CPR dummies were setup for practicing on and it looked like there was much else, but since they were still setting everything up, I decided not to pester anyone and soon departed and continued my heart healthy practice of cycling. Bernie Sanders made the news recently, when he suffered a heart attack. He seems to be recovering, but his event is a reminder that all of the leading candidates for president are septuagenarians, even Elizabeth Warren. Bernie’s heart attack is a reminder that at least he has a heart.

Endless Summer

Endless Summer Sunset

The joke around Saint Louis these days is, “How you liking this July weather?” With highs in the nineties it sure feels like it’s still July and not September, but there are some differences. With fewer hours of daylight now than July, it cools off overnight and I can usually shutoff the AC for a few hours. That’s not the usual case in July and while it has been mainly days with highs in the nineties, there are plenty of other days, when it is not that warm. Plus, I think that the humidity is a little lower than it typically is in July, but overall it is warmer this month than it normally is, leading to the sensation of an endless summer.

Anne and I went for a bike ride this morning, getting out and back before the heat really kicked in. Drumroll… Sixty years ago, Hawaii became the 50th state and today, Anne made it her 50th state too, when she spied a parked car with plates from Hawaii. She plays the license plate game. She’s got an app for that. Before our ride was over, she was more than halfway through the states in her new game. And yes, on the way back home, we circled the block, looking for that Hawaiian car again, but alas it was gone. Thinking that its owner is a bible thumping church goer, Anne made note to look for it again, next Sunday.

My consolation prize came from a passing cyclist, who complemented me with a, “Nice bike!” Forest Park was too crowded, so we headed to Tower Grove. I promised to make lunch, so we didn’t stop to eat on South Grand. I made my Californian chicken salad, chicken salad with fruit and nuts. On the way home, we came upon the remains of an early morning charity walk. It had a huge finish line sign that Anne could not resist. She sprinted ahead and while crossing over the line, raised one fist in victory. I just chuckled. Next, we stopped at Kaldi’s for a smoothie and iced coffee. When we got up to leave, a family that had participated in that charity walk took our table. They recognized Anne by her jersey and had seen her fist pump her way to victory. I just chuckled, again.

Metal Print

Metal Print

The metal print that I ordered, arrived today. It looks pretty good, although there are subtle difference in it from the original, which I’ll link to here. It is slightly darker than the original, but the colors are also much richer. I had to crop it to fit the printer’s available formats. Unfortunately, I inadvertently cropped off my signature. Oh well, it still came out quite well considering that this was a first attempt. I’m sure that I’ll do better next time.

The water company came by this morning. I drove Anne to school a little earlier than necessary, in order to be available during their service window. Fortunately, they didn’t arrive too early or too late. I only had to wait around for half-an-hour for the service tech to show and the job only lasted fifteen minutes. Installed was a satellite uplink, so that the water company doesn’t have to send out any more meter readers. This concludes an exercise that they initiated last May. When they sent out their first notice, I responded to let them know that we would be out of town all summer. Then they said that’s fine, we’ll schedule something when I returned. Anyway that’s what they said then. When we finally returned a letter had arrived that threatened an imminent water shutoff. Several frantic phone calls, eventually resolved everything, but not before their incompetence was exposed. In this age of big brother and big data, I suspect that they will be able to monitor the length of my showers from now on.

I bicycled in the park this morning. I got out as soon as the meter maid had finished her job. I wanted to beat the heat. I almost wrecked again, when for the second time in as many weeks, another cyclist cut me off, by turning in front of me at the last moment. Fortunately, I was able to avoid a crash. At least this cyclist was more apologetic than the last one. That one was almost a hit and run.

It feels more like July than September this week, with highs in the nineties and heat indices approaching a hundred all week. I’ll be biking as early as I can. The weekend looks cooler.