Hiding in Shadows

Forest Park Owls

Forest Park Owls

I took this photograph on Saturday, while Anne and I were bicycling in the park. Pictured is one of the Forest Park owls, but I couldn’t tell which one it was. It was either Charles or Sarah, a mating pair of Great Horned owls that have been active in the park for many years. It was the middle of the day and the owl was almost invisible to the naked eye, way back in the recesses of its nest. It was hiding in shadows, which is an old D&D phrase. I had to go +3 stops to bring it out of the shadows. Those three stops, plus maximum zoom meant that I had to brace the camera against a tree to get this photo. A nice young couple strolled by and asked us what we were doing, we got the opportunity to amaze them.

Plein Air Cycling

Yellow Autumn Leaves

Yellow Autumn Leaves

Anne and I kissed and made up the next morning. After a few morning chores, we went for a bike ride. It was cool without being too cold. Although, it was a bit breezy. We launched towards the park. We had missed the bus height of the fall color season, while we were in California, but there were still a few leaves left to see and photograph. We weren’t particularly fast and we didn’t go all that far, but after several weeks, it felt good to be back on the bike.

Bikes, Birds and Brunch

We launched earlier than yesterday’s crack of noon, for today’s bicycle ride. We wanted to beat the heat. We rode though Forest Park, which was more crowded today than it was yesterday. The Tour de Cure was running down Lindell Boulevard and there was another cancer related charity event, a walk that was circling the Muny Mile. With some slogging, we made it through the park and on towards Tower Grove Park. Halfway around Tower Grove, we elected to head over to Local Harvest for brunch. Rather unusually, it was not crowded. I found out later that the restaurant has reduced its hours to just the weekend. This might explain why it wasn’t overflowing, as is normally the case, other people might have thought it had closed altogether. After brunch, we circled the other half of Tower Grove Park. We saw the Green Heron in one of the lily ponds in front of the Piper Palm House. He looked to be a yearling, he was smaller than normal. Returning to Forest Park, we saw the egret next. He was fishing in the lazy section of river that flows through Steinberg Prairie. I was having trouble getting a good picture of him, because he kept disappearing behind an island, but then the Blue Heron swept in and flushed the egret back out into the open for us. The Red Eared Sliders seemed oblivious to the whole thing.

Story Corps

Story Corps

Story Corps

Story Corps is one of the largest oral history projects. Since 2003, Story Corps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to the Story Corps weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition.

I first saw the Story Corps Airstream trailer parked out in front of the History Museum yesterday, even though it has been there for almost two weeks. What with first being out-of-town for the MS-150 bike ride and then last week’s illness, I haven’t been riding in Forest Park much lately. I passed it yesterday without stopping, because I was booking to make the start of the balloon race. I shouldn’t have worried, because they never start that race on time and this year it was no different. Today, I was in no hurry and stopped to take a picture. It turned out that Trailnet had set up a rest stop there too, for their big end-of-season hammer-fest, the Ride the Rivers Century. Tom and Audrey had been manning the rest stop, but were in the process of taking things down when I arrived.

I was supposed to bicycle with Captain Don yesterday, but I begged off at the last moment. I’m glad that I did, because once back on the bike, I still felt rather punk. Plus, it took me forever to launch. I replaced the batteries in my bike computer and it took me an hour to figure out how to re-sync it with its sensor. It is a wireless device, with thirty-plus channels to choose from. The wireless wheel sensor and the bike computer have to be synced to operate on the same frequency. I finally found the manual online, but even with these instructions; it still took another half-hour before I was successful. Damn, inscrutable Japanese electronics!

In my abstinence, the Forest Park bike path has been completely resurfaced. Most of the path has just been resealed though and most of that still needs restriping. There is also an awful lot of new signage going up. I’m guessing that it will be used to guide visitors unfamiliar with the park to its various attractions. Instead of a conventional rectilinear road network, the park has a series of interlocking circular roads, which can keep the clueless out-of-town visitor going in circles. These signs might put me out of business as an informal park tour guide, because visitors will finally be able to figure out where they want to go.

I love the Story Corps stories on NPR. They are diverse, they are full of emotion and they frequently make be cry. Almost all of them are dialogs and generally at least one of the participants are baring their soul. While, I was photographing the trailer, an out-of-town couple came up to me and asked about Story Corps. They had never heard of it. I guess that they don’t listen to Public Radio. I clued them in, with the hope that they might start listening.

Pre-Teen Spirit

Parasailing in the Park

Parasailing in the Park

My no good, lousy, very bad day of yesterday got turned around today, just not immediately. Every Friday, I have an early morning meeting and as per usual I was butt in chair, but my still sleep fogged mind was somewhere elsewhere. My preparing for the upcoming Seattle business trip and yesterday’s emergency fire drill had pushed all thought of addressing any of my already assigned action items off the table of my mind. So, the conclave of engineers that I met with was not pleased with me and they rewarded my incompetence by piling on even more duties. All seemed lost until midmorning, when a guardian angel in the form of my boss swooped in and relieved me of all those pesky action items. I suspect that some little bird told him that I was floundering and if he wanted his project saved, he better reassign some of the work, which was alright by me.

After weeks like this one, I am frequently amazed that we ever manage to get anything off the ground. I feel like the above pictured three guys look, futilely struggling to get off the ground. We must be doing something right, because the company is shooting for an annual revenue goal of $100B by its 100th anniversary, in 2016. At the end of the day, the big boss held a big meeting that was a combination pep rally and strategy session. It was chock full of bad jokes and inspirational messaging. One of the fundamental messages given was one that I’ve heard every year for over thirty years, “You were great last year, but I really need you to be even better this year.” Anyway, it was suitable Friday afternoon fare and the jokes though corny weren’t really that bad.

When I got home I discovered that my not too bad, not really lousy, not very bad day today was totally trumped by Anne’s. She was in the 5th grade today. One of the students had entered and won a contest. All week-long clues to today’s big reveal were released, one day sand, another surfboards and a third beach balls, to name a few. Next month cast members from Disney’s Teen Beach Movie will visit the school. Unfortunately or maybe not so much so, Anne will miss this event, because she performed for me the most frightening impression of one of the 11 year-old girls in her charge, who upon hearing this news went absolutely wild with joy. It was a terrible transformation to witness. Seeing the horror on my face snapped her out of character and then she half seriously asked herself, “How could someone so completely lose it?” After she remembered herself at that age and another musical group called the Beatles.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Four and Twenty Birds of Many Colors

Four and Twenty Birds of Many Colors

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.

Anne suggested that the above pictured birds might prefer remaining etched across the sky, instead of being baked into some pie. Recipes contemporary with this rhyme’s origins describe the making of such pies, so that the birds are left alive and then fly out when the pies are cut open. Even if baking doesn’t kill the birds, which is not supposed to happen, it has to be uncomfortable for them. Who would want to eat such a pie that had held twenty-four birds under duress for some period of time? Even the most flakey of crust must become somewhat sodden under such circumstances. Even if such pies were never meant to be edible, but rather were considered to be entertainments, what host would want to shower their guest with the foul droppings of over excited fowl?

Today and for some days now Anne has been toiling over a hot stove in preparation for our Thanksgiving supper. We met for a shopping date last night at the grocery store and purchased the bulk of our feast’s larder. She had today off and has tomorrow off too, so most of the preparation work should be done before Thursday. This will make a nice break from the past. Usually, our holiday cooking regimen involves marathon participation from the two of us. I’m getting off rather easily this year, because I still have to work and Anne has the time off. While she is still innovating this year, with some new to Thanksgiving dishes, she has not gone all revolutionary on us. We’ll still have plenty of the traditional dishes to serve.

Our dinner party will be smaller this year. It will be just Anne, Dave and I. Dan is staying in LA for this holiday. On the plus side, we shouldn’t be impacted by the current Storm-of-the-Century du jour. Boreas is named for the Greek god of the cold north wind and is the bringer of winter. It should pass us by, leaving us unscathed, but then go on and impact the Northeastern seaboard and snarl airline traffic nationwide. This oncoming storm and the very cold weather that preceded it all this week, herald a bitter winter. If that is not enough, the rings on the wooly bears and the Farmers Almanac both forecast the same. So, on the eve of this Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for those friends and family members that we can gather and also thankful for our new furnace.