A Flamboyance of Flamingos


Flamingo

I went to the zoo this week, the first that I’ve been there, since before London and it was a real zoo, with millions of screaming children running all about. It has warmed up and most of the animals are now out. This includes the flamingos, who winter in the old building that was once used for the sea lion show. The sea lions have a new facility, so they don’t use it any more. The flamingos are not on display in this building, but you can glimpse them through the windows. More importantly, they can see you too and it gets them pretty agitated, so I don’t like to do it often. This week, they were reinstalled in their summer quarters in the zoo’s central lake. While observing them, I overheard two women discuss how they were moved from their winter to summer quarters. Apparently, one keeper per bird, holds the bird with arms outstretched, one hand holding the neck and the other the legs. They try to keep the birds perfectly straight. I guess that this helps to subdue them for the quarter-mile hike.

I had lunch today with the Perma-Bear. We met at the Sugarfire Smokehouse in Olivette, which is really helping to put Saint Louis on the map as a kingpin in the barbecue biz. We caught up with each other on old times. I got to tell him about my travels and I was surprised with his news of the lengthy list of people who have left the company. I guess that I got out at a good time.

Love and Murder


Well, if not murder, then at least mayhem, but love and murder sounds better. You see, springtime is nesting time. Birds pair up, which is the love portion of this post’s title, but once paired, then they defend their territory, which leads to murder or at the least mayhem. Across the way, in the rich neighborhood (Have you ever noticed that a good murder-mystery always involves the wealthy?), we were walking earlier this week and came along the pictured feathers. They were found lying on the ground, but no body was found, hence the mayhem. Then yesterday, I was cycling by there again and caught the pictured perp, still noisily defending her territory. Her partner in crime was their too, but he was too elusive for my camera. Latter, I heard the answering call of the aggrieved party, so no murder, just a little roughing-up. They had decamped down the street, close, but not too close. The streets of this neighborhood are studded with aged oaks. Most have reached the end of their lifespan. Decay has set-in, making them prime habitat for these bug eaters, at least until the city forester gets the old oaks. I’ve added the feathers to Dan’s industrial sized dream-catcher, where their yellow shafts are set off nicely.

Today, Anne and I passed by this spot again, but this time did not tarry. We were on a mission, a mission to ride our bicycles to lunch. You know, we should have gone to Mission Taco, but we had just been there. It is the beginning of a four-day holiday weekend for Anne and today was a perfect day. Forest Park was delightfully uncrowded, just us two, plus a host of lawn mowers. Lunch was in the CWE, at a place called BBQ Saloon. Whiskey seems to be their main forte, but the barbecue was good too. When we first moved to Missouri, the word saloon was banned from the names of all drinking establishments.

I’ve done it again. I’ve buried my lead. Yesterday, I was texting Dave and asked him how Harvard was going? “Pretty sweet. I gave a talk today, about my research and there were so many big names in the audience. It was a little intimidating, but I think that it went well.” Cool!

Bubble ‘n’ Squeak


Tower Bridge in the Evening

When we were in London, we stayed in Shoreditch, which is in the East End. It is an inner city district within the borough of Hackney, just north of the historic City of London. Specifically, we stayed at Landmark Apartments (30 Rivington St.), which is about one-and-a-half miles north of the Tower of London. We booked our stay through AARP. We were very pleased with our lodging. Its two main attributes being that it was close and cheap, about $600 for six nights. I was a little worried about staying there, because of the place’s 3 out of 5 star rating. People either loved it (5 stars) or hated (1 star). The main complaints seemed to revolve around either over bookings or the size of the rooms. We had no problems with the first complaint, in fact, we were able to check in early, which was a blessing. Our efficiency apartment was small, but also very well-organized and included a queen sized bed, full kitchen and bath. It even had a combination washer-dryer all in one unit. I had never heard of such a thing.

In the six days that we were in London, we ate seven meals in Shoreditch, five breakfasts and two dinners. One of the dinners was at a place called the Diner, a British chain, which we discovered had some sort of Saint Louis connection. All of the tables had inlaid the exact same Formica pattern as can be found at the City Diner on South Grand. The menu also featured two Saint Louis references, the Arch burger, with Saint Louis style pulled pork and baby back ribs, done Saint Louis BBQ style. Taken all together, it was too much of a coincidence to not to be somehow connected.

Looking Down From Tower Bridge

Our favorite place for breakfast and the only place that we went back to (twice) was Ozone Coffee. They roast their own coffee. In fact they make such a thing out of coffee that on our first go there, we were a little taken aback. Their baristas act more like a fine wine sommelier and our waitress’s look of disappointment, when we ordered a just pair of Americanos did not go unnoticed. On our second go, we got the hang of things and ordered dueling washed and natural versions of one of their signature beverages and got an approving nod too. Their benny was my favorite. I got mine with the pastrami spiced salmon, which along with the eggs came atop bubble ‘n’ squeak cakes, which were mainly potatoes.

Crossing the Streams


Anne and Deb at the Confluence

In the picture above, you have the Anne and the Missouri River on the left and Deb and the Mississippi on the right. Yesterday, we all drove up to the Riverlands for some bird watching. Then we headed down to the Confluence, where these two rivers meet. The state park where it is located is officially named after Ted Jones, who was a local rich man and got this park named after him, after the 1993 flood. The photo below is of a Bald eagle sitting on its nest, which is located in Illinois off of Route 3, across the road from the Mel Price lock and dam. As you can see, this nest is huge. It has been there for years and I assume that the same nesting pair of eagles returns to it year after year. They must add-on to it each year. 

Our parade through the Post-Dispatch’s list of the 100 best restaurants in Saint Louis continued on Sunday. We started off at the Southwest diner for brunch. The food there was good, as always, but unfortunately we were seated at the table right next to the door. So, whenever someone came in or out and the door swung open we got a chill. Coming in at #18, dinner was at Reeds American Table in Maplewood. This is a relatively new place and it was brand new to us. The food there was excellent and was only outdone by their service. I am definitely going back there again. We capped things off with a nightcap at Ted Drewes, famous for their frozen custard. Now it is time to do some fasting.

Bald Eagle and Nest

Gather Ye Rose Petals


Anne and Deb in the Japanese Garden

The cherry blossoms looked beautiful looked beautiful yesterday. Too bad that they’ll all freeze in our latest cold snap. Still, they looked beautiful while they lasted. We picked Deb up at our local Metrolink stop and then made a beeline for Mai Lee, the adjoining Vietnamese restaurant and by way of this late lunch cracked the top 25 in the list of best restaurants in Saint Louis. After the gardens we hit Ices Plain & Fancy for a little liquid nitrogen chilled something.

Before Deb arrived, Anne and I were studying hard at YouTube U for our trip to London. Did you know that all adult males are expected to take weekly archery training? It must be supervised by the clergy. I have no idea on how I’m going to get my longbow through TSA. More importantly, we got some ideas on how to get around town, what to pack and other more contemporary customs. Looking forward to this next great adventure across the pond.

Redbud


Redbud

We get to play tour guide this weekend. Deb, Bob’s sister is in town this week for a conference, something about theater. She regularly does lighting for her regional theater company back in Slippery Rock, PA. Deb, along with Joanie, went out to dinner with us last night. We picked Natasha’s, a Persian restaurant on South Grand. We’ve eaten there before, usually after a bicycle ride, but this time we picked the place, because it made this year’s Post-Dispatch 100 best restaurant list. I had their signature beef shish kabob, which were delicious. There will be lots of fine dining this weekend, because after all, we still have 99 more restaurants to go.