Yesterday, we got a text from David, “We got a verbal acceptance on a house!” That was fast. We knew that thy were looking to buy a house, but I figured that it would be a longer-term project. Details to follow. Today, we drove over to the Central West End, to visit Left Bank Books. Anne had placed an order for a couple of books and they were ready to be picked up. We parked around the corner from the bookstore on McPherson and just after I pulled in a car sporting a Delaware license plate pulled in in front of us. Anne has been sitting at forty-nine states for a while now, needing only Delaware to win the game. Starting the next game immediately, the CWE turned out to be a target rich environment, where she racked up over twenty states in less than an hour, including Delaware again. Yep, that’s right we counted that car twice. I guess that it has been a while since we walked around the CWE neighborhood, because a lot has changed. There were many new restaurants that we have not dined at yet, but missing were many old stalwarts. Most notable of the missing in action was Llywelyn’s Pub. Three other locals are still around town, but the original one on McPherson is gone. Further south on Euclid, at Maryland Plaza, the World Chess Hall of Fame has installed a pop-up called Jingle. In conjunction with Kingside Diner it has set up a tent on the plaza, but it has also taken over at least the windows of the old Culpepper’s corner too.
Anne is seen here playing hopscotch on a new artwork on the sidewalk in front of CNB Bank Park in downtown Maplewood. As the pictured shopping bag attests, we were there doing some Christmas shopping. While this unnamed art isn’t exactly a hopscotch court that didn’t prevent Anne from using her imagination and having some fun with it. It also occasioned her to wonder about the origin of the word hopscotch. Allow me to elucidate or in the vernacular mansplain. The origin of the game itself dates back to iron age India. The English etymology of the word hopscotch is a portmanteau of the words hop and scotch, the latter is used in the sense of an incised line or scratch and not the people of northern Great Britain. While in Scotland the game is known as Peevers, Peeverels and Pabats. The shopping bag you can think of as her lagger, in place of a stone.
Yesterday, we walked in Tower Grove Park. While the larger Forest Park is also known as Saint Louis’ front yard, what with all of its marquee attractions, Tower Grove is sometimes called Saint Louis’ backyard, because of its more intimate feel and vibe. It had been a while since we last visited this park and we were looking forward to checking it out, to see what if anything had changed. This Park is in the process of reintroducing a river into the eastern half of the park, which has entailed lots of construction all year. Workers were still laboring on this project and we had to take a detour around their construction zone, on our usual circuit around the park. There wasn’t as much progress on this development as I had hoped, but it is still a work in progress. The big new development in the park was the installation of multiple mobile cellphone towers around the park. Both AT&T and Verizon has each prepositioned multiple cell towers around the park. We asked a worker what was up and learned that not this weekend, but next weekend the park will host a live Pokémon GO event. For the uninitiated, which includes myself, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game that is played on a smart phone. An event such as this would have the players walking around a venue trying to catch Pokémon with their phones. This game debuted in 2016 and is still quite popular. We were in Ottawa then, where the park across the street from our hotel was a Pokémon site. We could see people, mainly kids, seemingly running around in circles, chasing virtual Pokémon with their phones. The game has been praised for its introduction of exercise to video gaming, but because the players are running around in public, it has resulted in some unfortunate accidents. Tower Grove Park should make for a good venue for this game, since much of the park is inaccessible to cars.
Hnefatafl is an ancient Norse board game that is sometimes refered to as the chess of the north. Unlike conventional chess the sides are not equal, with one side on the defensive and the other on the offence. The fewer white pieces are surrounded and menaced by the larger dark army. There has been some back and forth about which side holds the advantage. Much of this is derived from the fact that although examples of the game, like the one pictured have survived, the game’s rules have been less durable. Conventional thought has been that the offence or as in this case the black pieces have held the advantaged, but more recent discovery indicates that it is the white defence that holds the advantage.
The Coronavirus has arrived. The first diagnosed patient in Missouri turned out to be a young woman, a student studying abroad in Italy. She came home with it and has been quarantined. Unfortunately, she lives in Saint Louis County. She is literally one in a million now, but don’t expect those long odds to avert a panic. Our governor and county executive appeared on TV to calm the masses, but I’m sure that this will be for naught. The hype in the press has been too relentless.
The paper’s by-line was from Clayton. I’m sure that that is because Clayton is the county seat and not that the origin point was there too. Mercy, a hospital that is located further west was mentioned in the report, indicating that the infected person also resides further west. That would put her in West County, the most affluent region around Saint Louis, which dovetails with her studying abroad.
Yesterday, Anne and I walked to Clayton. She to absentee vote in Tuesday’s Presidential primary and me to mail some packages for her. It was a warm day and the weather was perfect for a walk. We kind of hoofed it going there, with twin deadlines of a closing polling place and post office, but we made it fine. Afterwards, we stopped for lunch at Manhattan Café and then home for a nap.
In 2019 a whole lot of road-tripping was going on! This colored US map catalogs all of the states that we visited this year. We managed to color states from coast-to-coast and from Canada to the Gulf. Doing more than half of them. We mostly drove, except for Virginia and DC, where we flew. Putting a lot of miles on the old Prius. That was this year, but I’m already looking forward to next year. We have a new car that is yearning to explore the open road. We already have a few trips planned. Actually, our calendar is filling up fast. Places to go, people to see and things to do.
While we are driving, in order to pass the time, we play road games. There is that old saw the Alphabet game, where you try to find the letters of the alphabet on passing road signs, but our favorite one is the License Plate game. We even have an app for that now. We’ve managed to win this game a couple of times this year, getting all fifty states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Timing our play to begin at the start of a trip, we can usually get more than half the states in one day. After that play begins to slow, until new plates become only a trickle, but by the end each new plate is a major victory. We once encountered a family that played a rather restrictive version of this game. According to their rules you had to get the new plates in alphabetical order. That would take forever.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Dave and I used to play Warhammer 40K, with figures just like those pictured above. He texted me this photo, which coincided with Anne finding in the news that there has been a shooting in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn (4 dead, 7 shot). Dan lives in this neighborhood. Her motherly concern caused her to reach out to eldest her son and ask for proof-of-life. Not immediately getting an answer, she continued worrying and soon tried again. I checked the news and discovered that the shootings occurred at a gambling parlor, on a cross street near Dan. Eventually, he got back to us and everything was alright. Dave is with him in NYC this weekend and they are at a gaming parlor, playing Warhammer. They are playing for points, so no gambling is involved and hopefully no gunplay either. We really shouldn’t worry so much, NYC is safer than Saint Louis is these days.
Anne has been dissecting owl pellets at school. An owl pellet is something that owls cough up from their gizzard. Usually, they are composed of indigestible components of the prey that they feed on and comprise things like bones, feathers and bits of fur. Sounds truly disgusting, right? That’s what the third graders thought at first, but they got into it and soon took to the task with relish. She claims that she never touched any of the pellets, but instead used tweezers and toothpicks to examine them. The kids ended up doing most of the work anyway and Anne washer her hands afterwards. According to Anne, on a continuum of grossness, owl pellets are less gross than dead mice found while opening the cabin for the summer and way less gross than phlegm. I’m sure youth wanted to know. We’re planning on getting our flu shots this week, because although it is unlikely one would ever catch anything from owl pellets, there are plenty of other sources of disease in the third grade.