Haters Gotta Hate

Pagoda Circle at Dawn

Pagoda Circle at Dawn

Haters got to hate, I just wish that they wouldn’t do it in my town. Pam Geller and her Southern Poverty Law Center certified hate group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) is at it again. Today, Geller announced that 100 billboards have just gone up around Saint Louis that depict the winning cartoon from her Garland, Texas “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest. This is the same contest that was attacked in April, by two shooters. The drawing depicts a caricature of an angry Prophet Muhammad, waving a sword and shouting “You can’t draw me!” Also illustrated is the artist’s hand holding a pencil with a speech bubble saying “That’s why I draw you”. Additionally, on the billboards is the slogan, “Support Free Speech” and the AFDI logo. With all that Saint Louis has been through this last year, this is the last thing that we need. It is true that depicting the Prophet is perfectly legal under American law, but so then is using the n-word, but that doesn’t mean that you should do either. Both are examples of hate speech. Geller used Breitbart as her mouthpiece and so far this news has remained in the extreme right’s echo chamber, but it is sure to come out in the mainstream media soon. I only heard about it, because I work with people like that. I could have swung by after work and gotten a picture of the one on Banshee, but I chose this more peaceful photo from my morning bike ride in Forest Park instead.

Cardinal’s Cake

Cardinal's Cake

Cardinal’s Cake

A bit of a mystery has developed here in Saint Louis. It revolves around the pictured Cardinal’s cake. This year Saint Louis is celebrating its 250th anniversary. In honor of this celebration 250 birthday cakes have been distributed around town. The mystery involving this cake has to do with its disappearance. It disappeared sometime in late August and has not been seen since and the Cardinals are not commenting on it. Rumors are swirling about it. It is thought that the Cardinals are having some sort of dispute with the cake’s artist and the cake is in storage in some undisclosed location. Maybe it is the same place that Dick Cheney used to inhabit. Needless to say many cake fans are distressed about this situation. I was fortunate enough to get to see the cake and also get a picture of it before it disappeared.

Eat Local

Front Yard Cooper's Hawk

Front Yard Cooper’s Hawk

This morning, both Anne and I were leaving for work at about the same time. Before we each jumped into our respective cars and headed out, we stopped to converse for a bit, all the while standing out front on the sidewalk. While we were speaking, we both noticed a steady stream of some sort of stuff that was gently floating down from above. It was falling from our front yard maple tree. At first, I thought that they were leaves or bits of leaves that maybe some squirrel was ejecting from its burrow. It is fall now, but the particles seemed too small to be whole maple leaves and they floated way too slowly to be falling leaves. Then I wondered if the falling particles might be sawdust, like the stream of falling sawdust that is created by a carpenter bee as it chews its way through wood, but what ever it was that was falling, it was too large to be sawdust. We moved closer to investigate this phenomenon and try to figure out what was really coming down.

What we found was a pile of tan and grey feathers scattered across the pavement. Looking up, we saw that more feathers continued to rain down upon us. Then we spied their source, a raptor eating breakfast on a branch. We both tried taking iPhone pictures of this bird, but I knew that that wouldn’t work out too well. So, I went back into the house to get a real camera and took the above photograph. It turns out that the raptor was a Cooper’s hawk. We see them routinely in the neighborhood. They mainly eat birds and must really appreciate all the avid backyard birders in the neighborhood, what with the large number of birdfeeders around. The prey was a Mourning Dove that was likely plucked off the peak of our next door neighbor’s roof. They like to congregate there in the morning and I can regularly hear them cooing.

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.

A Thousand Flowers

Honey Bee Swarm with Flowers and Fruit, 2012, Paul Stankard

Honey Bee Swarm with Flowers and Fruit, 2012, Paul Stankard

It feels like we are falling ever faster towards winter solstice, towards darkness. There is also a chill in the air to match this darkness. The annual cycle of the sun seems upon us so much more quickly this year that even the trees with their expected set of fall colors appear to have fallen a step or two behind the times. What better excuse do I need, in these darkening days then to post a little color, a bit of sunshine, one last gasp of summer?

“A thousand flowers” is the literal translation of millefiori, a term coined in 1849 to denote the technique whereby glass canes enclosing flower like patterns are cut into cross sections and used as a decorative motif. These canes are made by assembling colored glass rods of varying thickness to create a pattern, heating the rods until they fuse, and then stretching them out like taffy in order to miniaturize the design. Once a variety of patterned canes have been made, they may be bundled together , reheated, and pulled again to form all manner of geometric or floral designs when cut. Infinite variations of cane sections may be assembled, producing a kaleidoscopic final effect. These canes are manipulated using techniques called lampworking. Glass rods of various colors are worked with shears or other tools to create small, three-dimensional sculptures.

The paperweight pictured above was specially made for the Art Institute of Chicago in honor of the reopening of its expanded paperweight galleries in 2012. The millefiori beads below were a gift from my mother to Anne. Mom bought this necklace in Venice.

Anne's Millefiori Beads

Anne’s Millefiori Beads

The Circle of [Cabin] Life

While I toil away here is Sweat Louis, Anne continues her vacationing on the shores of Lake Superior. By way of a sop, she sends me daily updates on her doings and bits of cabin news. Mostly her missives are just captioned photos, but last night, along with the usual treasure trove of photos, she add this text:

Tall ship, sunset and sandpiper [not shown] from yesterday, when it was calm. Today the wind was 28-30 mph and quite cool in the afternoon, so I walked back on the road behind Doelle’s and took some Pooh pictures of the plants on the gravel road that goes through the Little Traverse Conservancy. I liked the decaying birch tree with sapsucker holes gridded for your convenience and the other one (pine?) with the cut-away section from [not shown]. Next email will have a tree struck by lightning and the Little T. map, plus the beach when I returned. I hope to ride tomorrow, although the wind is still supposed to be NW, but ONLY 12 mph.

The Saint Louis paper’s front page headline today announce cool tempertures through this weekend, with highs only in the low eighties. I look forward to this brief respite from summer’s heat, but know that it will also bring cold weather to Anne at the cabin. Sorry honey, but into each life a little rain must fall. 😉