Monday, December 24, 2012

Ho, Ho, Ho...

Saw these over in Illinois. I think they are quite possibly my most favorite Christmas decorations ever!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and longing,

longing for peace on earth and an abundance of goodwill for all.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Two Of Us

First of all, for those of you who requested a photo of the both of us...

I'm the one in the hat.

We spent today at Howell Island Conservation Area. (Click here to read about the place)

 We'd hoped to see some wildlife, but we instead we saw reeds...

Not all of trail was this muddy, but it was all pretty much two track.
mud and ice.

I did see a ten point buck bounding through this old field savannah. However, since Heather didn't see it and I have no doesn't count.

We're told this place is really beautiful in the Spring, alive with wildflowers and birds.

But, today it was old milkweed pods...

A few touches of orange...

And curled dock gone to seed.

Still, it was a nice eight mile walk, albeit a boring one. And, neither of us got even one mosquito bite.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Such Problems

Heather and I spent some time at Pere Marquette State Park today.

The last time I was in the area I had a little problem with Isabelle.

The River Road runs right next to the Mississippi in Illinois.

 I was on the Great River Rd between Alton and Grafton near a little village name Elsah. I'd pulled over to take a couple of photos. After getting the pictures I started it back up, but when I got the stop sign it died and wouldn't start. I couldn't even get it to turn over. I pushed it back into the parking area. I tried the few things I knew. Nothing. I was at a loss. Finally I called Mike, even tho' I knew he was in Oklahoma. I told him what was going on. His first words were, "Oh shit." That was reassuring. We talked some more. Then he said, "Are you sure the kill switch isn't engaged?" How in the hell could the kill switch be engaged? I was coming up to a stop sign when it died. But, I looked. You already guessed the conclusion to this story didn't you? Yep, I must of bumped the kill switch somehow. Oh well, I was too relieved to feel all that embarrassed.

Today we had no such problems.

We saw a bald eagle. This is a major nesting area for them and sightings aren't rare, but still I feel  something special whenever I see one.

Even with the water levels so very low the Rivers are still the star.

The light played tricks on me. It looked like the River was iced over, but it wasn't.

And, this moss made me think of  the fair Lady Trobairitz

I am always amazed at the sight of trees growing out of the bluffs. These trees are a testimony to the strength of the will to life embedded in our world. A testimony to how life carries on even under harsh conditions. A good reminder after the harsh news of the killings in Connecticut.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

If She Offered Me Cookies...

It was a rainy morning. A fine mist hung in the air. It was foggy, a dreamy sort of fog.

I stopped off for a couple a bagels and to warm up a bit.

I was thinking to myself, "This is one of those mornings when I wouldn't be surprised if a time portal opened up before me...or maybe I ride out of the fog and find myself in a whole different reality."

When I left the bagel shop I rode off into a light, but steady rain. I was just settling into the rhythm of the ride when it happened. I must have rode over some mythic threshold. Anyway, I found myself near a place I knew to be the Pink Pole.

I don't know how I knew I was at the Pink Pole, but I did. And, I knew when one finds oneself suddenly at the Pink Pole one needs look for Santa Flaus. And, look for that right jolly old flf I did.

As I searched I found Mrs. Santa Flaus. She was standing on the porch. I vowed to myself if she offered me cookies I would just say, "No."

And, I saw a couple of flves. They seemed very busy and stayed to themselves.

And, I discovered a team of reinfeer all hitched up to the fleigh and ready to go.

But, I did not see Santa Flaus. Pity.

I'm sure if I would have found Santa Flaus he would have told me the true meaning of Flamingo-mas. As it was, I had to be satisfied to return to my own world in the pink of health and with a sense of increased well-being. Who says fla-miracles don't happen?


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Last night I witnessed and was immersed in surprise.

Some of the people I've had the privilege of making music with and the greater privilege of calling friends were doing a dress rehearsal for a gig coming up this weekend. Last year, this incredibly diverse group of musicians came together and created a Hanukkah performance piece like no other. It became an album. And, now its performance is turning into an annual event.   The venue for the actual performance is a night club called Off Broadway. The venue for this dress rehearsal was a apartment complex for elders located on the campus of the Jewish Community Center. It is difficult to imagine two more different venues.

The surprise came when the audience of elders made it very clear they not only liked the material, they loved it.

I think it surprised the audience, but I'm positive it surprised the musicians. How would you expect your "eighty something" relatives to react to a mix of electronica, straight jazz, poetry, some Benny Goodman clarinet, combined with a few remnants of the music of their youth?

I don't know what the expectations were of the musicians, but whatever they were the reality of what played out was richer.

Here's a link to a piece documenting last night's event. Click on the link and look at the faces of both the musicians and the audience.

And, here's a link to the album if you want to get a better and bigger taste of the music.

The type of surprise that blossomed last night is a powerful thing. It is the stuff which can change a life.

And, now for a little moto-content. My coming to riding had something kin to this type of surprise. As I've said often before, heaven knows I wasn't expecting to enjoy riding. I merely wanted to save a little on gas money and squeeze a few more miles out of my aging Ford Windstar. No matter my expectations, the reality was much richer.

It has become a journey of ascent, of drawing close to the very roots of the Tree of Life, and being surprised again and again and again.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another Wonderful Weekend In The Heartland

I ride and poke around on trails looking for wonder. Today I saw a red maple leaf on the tarvy of the parking lot. It was resting on its stem and two other points. It was beautiful, yet I knew if I picked it up and took it home it would be out of place. It would be just another leaf. Often context is everything. I tried to take a photo, but I was rushed and none of them turned out. Oh well, I'm not sure the moment would have translated well.

Yesterday Heather and I were at Klondike Park in St. Charles County. It was amazingly warm for the first day of December. We were walking around the trails without jackets. We had never been to Klondike Park before. It is the site of an old silica quarry. I hadn't put together sand and silica until we began walking around the lake. There was white sand everywhere. It gave the landscape a look of being covered with a dusting of snow.

I'm afraid I was much taken with the area around the lake and we didn't have as much time to explore the rest of the park as we planned. Still there were wonders to be found in the woods.

 There was even the most rare of occurrences. Heather agreed to have her photo taken.

Maggie, my friend, told me to be on the look out for a goat she had seen in the Park when she visited there back in 2008. I didn't see any goats, but on the way home we stopped for a bite to eat and did see this:

Whatever it is.

Today, I had to break back out the summer gear. It was 75F/24C when I left the Condo. I really didn't have a destination in mind. I just wanted to ride. I ended up at Cliff Cave Park.  I found myself wondering how low the Mississippi River had gotten.

When I arrived at the Park it was swarming with people. I finally found a parking place.

Yep the River is very low.

I was surprised to see any river traffic at all.

This barge looks empty, doesn't it?

There also was an Army Corp of Engineers vessel.

But, as so often happens I found wonder in the sky. 

With it being so warm the darkness seemed to come cruelly early.

I ended up riding home in the dark, which was just fine by me.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ice Ribbons

I've ridden to Sandy Creek Covered Bridge Historical Site a number of times, but Heather had never been. Since it was going to be a chilly day we decided a little road trip there would be a good plan.

We hung around the bridge, took some photos, and did the same things I do when I ride out that way.

I've never thought of this place as one to walk about, but Heather noticed a path leading off toward the woods and headed toward it. I followed.

As we walked into the woods we saw what looked like plastic bags scattered about. If there hadn't been so many we might not have looked close enough to see what they really were.

Vaguely, I remembered reading about this phenomena, but couldn't remember where. I know I certainly hadn't expected to ever see it.

I took a photo with my phone and sent it out to my Facebook friends asking if anyone knew what these things were called.

I called them ice ribbons, although this one looks more like cotton candy.

One friend called them ice blossoms or frost flowers.

But, by whatever name you call them, they were beautiful.

Once again, Heather and I walked right into the middle of an outbreak of complete serendipity. 

Later I did a search and found an article online. It answered all my questions about these little ice structures and then some. Click here to go to the article.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Heather's Dart

Back in September Heather decided to participate in an photography event. It is called Dart St. Louis. This is from their website:
DART St. Louis is a participatory photography challenge that started with one basic premise - that beauty can be found anywhere by those who seek it. In September 2012 over 375 creative St Louisans threw darts at a huge map of St Louis City. Over the following month, participants visited the area where their dart landed and made a photograph. The resulting collection of photographs show a snapshot of St. Louis as it is today, one random block at a time.

When Heather threw her dart it landed closest to the intersection of  Grand and Union in Forest Park. This explains why she and I have spent a bunch of time there of late.

The photos have finally been posted. (Click here to view the photos)

To see more of Heather's photos you can click here.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holding On

I had expected my riding today to be limited to a trip up to Neve Shalom to help pack things up for the move to a new space. It didn't work out that way. When I got there I found the number of folks who turned up to lend a hand had exceeded expectations. This was good news for the project and meant instead of spending the afternoon packing up, I was able to leave after a couple of hours. When we finished packing up the books in the library I took off and wandered up to Creve Coeur Lake.

This was a tree outside Neve Shalom when I first arrived around noon.
There are still patches of color to be found but...

A couple hours later and a different location, it didn't look so colorful.
It is beginning to look more and more like winter is drawing near.

This pair of mallards apparently doesn't feel it is time to move on yet.

But, in most places it is looking pretty gray.

There are two trees just outside my garage that seem not to have gotten the memo about Autumn falling away.

They are gold and red...

...smooth, and...

Autumn is holding on here and there, but it doesn't appear it will holdout much longer.