Jesus Rays on Jesus Day

Jesus Rays over the Atlantic

It was a restless night. The wind was blowing. Causing the back porch screen door to blow open and then slap back with a loud clap. Eventually, I got up to latch it. Anne thanked me when I returned to bed. It had awoken her too. The latch didn’t hold though and the slap clap of the back door began again. This time, when I got up again, I went down to the basement, out the basement door and retrieved my utility brick by the side of the house. Wending my way back and then to the back porch, I placed the brick outside the screen door, but I couldn’t quite place it as close as I would like, which allowed the screen door to still slap clap, but at a much reduced volume. Sleep eventually found me again.

In the morning, it was raining cats and dogs and I was awoken again by the boom of thunder. I got soaked fetching the paper. The morning rain, gave way to a pleasant afternoon and we went for a walk. The sun even peaked out for a while. It was warm enough that we extended our regular walk. We went to Starbucks for late afternoon lattes. On the way home, the skies darken again, but radar indicated that we were in no immediate danger. Later, NPR sounded a thunderstorm alarm, but the squall line passed uneventfully to our north.

The wind came up again, causing the digital broadcast TV signal to disintegrate across the screen. We switched to Netflix and its wi-fi Chrome-casted signal. We binged the remainder of Russian Doll, which morphed into a buddy movie for uptight New Yorkers. Then watched SNL. By then the wind had subsided.

This morning dawned cold, but bright. For some reason, we got up an hour later than we had expected to. Winter storm Taylor had passed to the east, but not without leaving one last calling card. Our sign of inclusion had been blown up the street. This is one of those signs that reads, “No matter where you are from, we are glad that you are our neighbor.” A message that is repeated in Spanish and Arabic. Undamaged, I replanted it. It looks like it will be a nice day.

Barefoot in the Snow

Barefoot in the Snow

Newly fallen snow, as yet untouched and clean. Me, barefoot, moving rapidly with toes getting cold. The paper, wrapped in plastic, lies by the curb. Couldn’t it have been thrown a little closer? Maybe, I should change my subscription to a digital only one. The other two papers that I subscribe to are digital only. Why? Because the Post’s website is that awful. So, barefoot through the snow I go. I ventured out barefoot, once more. The snow was deeper, but my footsteps were fewer. This time it was for recycling. In the afternoon, after the snow stopped, I shod myself and cleared the car and walks for tomorrow. Earlier, I heard that this was our 18th snowfall this winter, which seems like a lot. According to the person telling me this, since our first snow occurred on November 19th, we are due one more, before winter relinquishes itself. If true that would be nice.

The Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch

Beginning with the Civil War and its interruption of Mississippi River traffic, the Saint Louis riverfront began a long decline. Once the third busiest US port, by the twentieth century, it had fallen into decay. Trying to recapture or at least commemorate its role in westward expansion, city fathers hit upon the idea of a monument. Its site, the site where Saint Louis was originally founded, was cleared. An architectural contest was then held to select a design.

Of five finalists, two designs were created by a father-son, Finnish-American pair, Eliel and Eero Saarinen. A mistake sent the congratulating telegram to father Eliel, but quickly corrected, son Eero was named the real winner. This mistake was understandable since the two men shared the same last name, first initial, workplace and even birthday. Eero’s initial design work was performed with pipe-cleaners planted in the living room rug. Preliminary designs called for a shorter arch, built with quadrilateral sections, instead of equilateral triangles, with which it was finally made. At 51, Eero died before his design was built. 

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On NPR this morning, the local announcer was reciting the temperature, first for the satellite affiliates, which were all minus this or minus that. Finishing with Saint Louis, where the temperature was “negative”, negative five to be precise. Anne took exception to being singled out in such a less than positive manner.

When I picked Anne up from school last night, she giddily announced that she had heard a rumor. Hoping for something salacious, she instead told me that two teachers had told her that there will be no school today. The principal later confirmed that an official announcement would be made at 3:30. I hardly call that a rumor. So, no school today and maybe no mail either, we’ll have to see about that. The paper was delivered, but still sits out on the sidewalk. So close, yet so far. I’ll go out to get it, when it “warms up” some. I’m positive! The trash man is working. I saw him pop in-and-out of his garbage truck, with his bald uncovered head and empty our dumpster at the curb. While I kvetch about the weather, it is with the realization that the plunging nadir of this cold snap has already passed. Highs in the sixties are forecasted for this weekend.

Still, this cold front has done its job. I’m not talking about the comradery that comes from a shared sense of schadenfreude. I’m speaking of budget authority for another trip to Florida! I think it was that couple from Chicago, who we met at the arch that tipped the balance. We were thinking of a getaway and Chicago was on the list. They were already heading south and we’ll just be joining their migration. There is plenty of planning yet to be done, but warmth here we come.

Shut Show

Smallwood’s Anole

The government is still shutdown and now, so is Saint Louis. We got a respectable 8″ last night and it is still coming down. In truth, ours like the government’s is only a partial shutdown. Our one-block street is plowed, all the way down to black top and the paper was delivered, eventually. We might even get mail today. There is some heavy-duty shoveling in my future that was made only worse, when rising temperatures heated our aluminum awning enough that the snow piled up on it slid to the ground. Now there’s a rampart at the walk’s head.

Local television is serving up a combination of fear and schadenfreude. Be afraid, don’t venture out or you’ll end up like these unfortunates. Don’t they look miserable? If TV cannot find enough misery, then they manufacture their own, by sending out the newest-cutest reporter to suffer in the elements for you.

We’re all making much adieu about nothing. This storm was well forecasted. Because it first hit during the evening rush hour there was additional turmoil, but everyone had plenty of time to fill their fridge. Hunkering down for a day or two in winter is not all that bad. Everything will be right again by Monday.

Yesterday’s sojourn at the zoo was a tribute of sorts. In 1982, Saint Louis experienced its greatest snowfall in living memory, 19″. We still felt new here and called ourselves Babes in Toyland, having ventured out alone onto the world stage. It was a Saturday and we had attended a matinée at the Esquire. Exiting the theater, we were greeted with thunder-snow. We had plans to visit friends that evening, but begged off. The city was closed for a week.

Like today, it was still snowing the next morning. We lived closer to the park then and took advantage of our sudden richness to cross-country ski. None of the roads were plowed and there were few cars moving. We eventually found our way to the zoo. The entrances were closed, except for a service one, where the gate had been wedged open. We asked an employee, who was climbing through the gap in the gate, if the zoo was open? After thinking, he said yes.

There was not much to see. All the buildings were closed. Including the pictured anole’s herpetarium. The only animals that we saw were the sea lions, who were loving the snow. A sole concession stand was open and in it had gathered some of the zoo’s staff. Sipping hot chocolate, we overheard one man exclaim that he had driven 20 miles to get here, because he had “200 herbivores to feed.” Talk about an essential employee. 

Wolf Lichen

Wolf Lichen

Letharia vulpina, commonly known as the wolf lichen is bright yellow-green, shrubby and highly branched, and grows on the bark of living and dead conifers, most commonly in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rocky Mountains. This lichen is a symbiotic relationship between algae and a fungus. The algae help photosynthesize the light from the sun producing sugars for the fungus to eat. The fungus in return help plants absorb the mineral nutrients necessary for growth in extreme environments. This specimen was found near the Old Faithful geyser basin in Yellowstone. This species is toxic to mammals due to its yellow pigment, which is not chlorophyll, but vulpinic acid and has been used for years to poison wolves. It is also been used as pigment for dyes and paints.

The snow began, but I was already out and about. I went over to Forest Park. It was pretty deserted. I visited the zoo and pretty much had it to myself. On the way back, I swung by Art Hill, but it was still too early to see any action there, but the grass was getting whiter by the minute. The city had dumped a couple of truckloads of firewood. I cut through the art museum, but I couldn’t stay very long, because they were going to close early, due to the weather. The streets were all snow-covered, as I carefully drove home. I’m waiting for Anne to call, so that I can rescue her from school. Then we’ll hunker down for the weekend. 

Crystalline Water

June Frost – Yellowstone

Up to a foot of snow is forecasted for Saint Louis this weekend and I say bring it on! History tells us that the actual amount of snow fall received may vary, but only downward. The storm watch begins tomorrow at noon, but only starts to get interesting during the evening rush hour. Snow fall is expected to last until Sunday. Temperatures that will hover around the freezing point are complicating this forecast. Much of the precipitation could end up just being rain, but with all of this occurring over the weekend, Anne was led to gripe, what a waste of a good snow day.

In true Saint Louis fashion, I will rush to my local grocery store, before all of the milk, bread and beer is swept from the shelves. It is an oft-repeated madness that I have come to wonder might just be part of a ploy to stoke commerce. I’m a creature of habit though and will stock the fridge full, no matter what. Once safely home again, I’ll scan the skies, searching for that elusive white stuff.

To that end, I walked to the store today. The sun was out, with barely a cloud in the sky. It was crazy. A full 24-hours before the snow watch is scheduled to begin and people were already going nuts. The store was well stocked, but like I said the storm is still a day away. I’m sure that tomorrow’s evening news will show footage of looted looking store shelves. As Saint Louis cowers in fear, awaiting old man winter’s wrath, at least we’ll be well fed.

It was freezing cold that pictured June morning. In the twenties. We were tent camping at 7800′.  We woke at dawn and while still warm in our bags, as soon as we exploded out of them, we darted to the restrooms. Which were heated, but only enough to keep the pipes from freezing. Then back to the car, with the heat on full, we drove to the Lamar Valley and found plenty of wild beasties to see.