I have friends that bemoan the demise and disappearance of lovely old buildings in their growing cities. I even do this myself. But there are also the shrinking cities, and their buildings are there to stay until they fall down of natural causes. And because they were built in the face of a hopeful future, they were built to last. Without any love or maintenance, these buildings have survived, putting to shame the plainness of modern architecture.
These buildings both have the same lovely window decorations, but on the building on the right they have at least slapped a coat of paint on things. These windows are custom made and would cost a small fortune to re-create.
This building is currently undergoing renovation and the owners hope to open in a small way (7 luxury rooms) later this month. Built in 1898 as a destination railroad hotel and run by Fred Harvey it was part of the soul of the town. It closed in 1948, had some brief uses over the years, but has not really had any work done on it since then. A lover of the railroad experience is pouring money into it fixing it up, and it could be part of a renaissance of the town.
This building across the street was originally used as a dormitory for the Harvey Girls who worked across the street. It has been bought by an assistant district attorney, and is partially restored (well he at least had the top bit done). It will be interesting to see if these ventures attract tourists (always a fickle lot).
This lovely building was built in 1885, and was a dry goods store starting in 1897. It is untouched, unlike the building to the east, with it’s ugly tacked on frontage. But wait, what’s that in the window?
One can see that this building was quite nice at one time, with cast iron pillars in front. Who ever owns it now might be a bit of a hoarder as it is filled with all sorts of odds and ends.
Yes, that is a life-sized figure of a clown. Why it is there and where it came from are a riddle with no answer. But perhaps it will be something to draw in tourists, somehow.
Once I start noticing a thing, like the white stickers on car windows, I start seeing them everywhere. Of course the very best ones that I glimpse are the ones I see as I am driving along. And it would be impossible to pull my phone out of my pocket (the seatbelt holds me securely in place) and snap a picture before the traffic light changes. Oh well, sometimes these things are just meant to elude one’s grasp. But I did manage to capture these images on parked cars.
In lieu of stick figures, Star Wars seems to be the next most popular way to graphically illustrate one’s family. I have seen Darth Vader as paterfamilias, various storm troopers, and this one, with the large war machines, At-At’s, for the parents and the smaller war machines, At-St’s to show the number of kids. Must be some sort of fan, eh?
I loved this sticker from the moment I saw them pull into the parking space. The combination of the cheerful yellow truck and the image of the elephant, it was really quite striking. (Although they probably don’t have a pet elephant waiting at home).
I saw this one in the same parking lot as the elephant, and I somehow don’t think that it has an ulterior meaning, it was just a pretty thing.
And then there is this creepy sticker. It’s on a rather nice SUV, but this girl wants everyone to know that she is a scary person at heart.
So we have seen these people’s obsessions, and you see my obsession, taking a peak into their souls.
Operating on the theory that any photo can be improved by adding a pterodactyl, I had decided that this years’ photographs of the parade should include Pteri. There is a certain sameness to every years’ parade, we can only guess at what year the pictures were taken by the changes in the hairstyles of the spectators (although it is easier to guess which photos are from the distant past, they are in black and white).
One can always tell when the parade is going to start (never on time), some sort of police vehicle leads the way with ear-splitting sirens blasting.
Shriners are a service organization (made up of mostly old guys) that are an essential part of any parade. Besides marching around (or riding, often in tiny cars; as I mentioned they are mostly old guys) they do raise money for a children’s hospital. On this day one of the old guys fell off the float (he was okay) and this delayed the parade for a bit.
To be a proper parade, there must be floats. And a float must have lots of crepe paper, possibly tinsel or glitter, and people throwing candy to the crowd. And I must say, there was a delicious variety of candy on offer (we gave the bits that we didn’t like to nearby children.)
Because this is a large gathering of people in a sparsely populated area, the politicians were out in force flogging their wares in the hope of securing our votes. In this particular parade anyone who wants to can participate, but, politicians have to pay $100 to be in the parade. This thrifty group has the placards of several additional candidates on the truck. The main politician is making a big deal out of her maiden name, to show that she is the third generation of this political family to be running for office, (no, apparently we can’t ever get rid of political families).
And a parade is as good an excuse as any to ride one’s horse down the main street. There really is no other reason, as there are no businesses in town.
Then it was on to the main business of the day. Free food (courtesy of the cattleman’s association) and a chance to visit with old friends and former neighbors.
Well I have taken the annual visit to M’s relatives in this tiny town during the 108th festival. And because I go there on vacation, I always have a really good time, and take tons of pictures of the same views that I always take. If I actually lived there I am sure that I would not enjoy it half as much (because it is so far from stores, libraries, swimming pools, doctors and other trappings of civilization). But then again, maybe I would get used to it. And I really never tire of the view.
I stopped right on the freeway (motorway) off-ramp and snapped this picture as soon as I got to town (the word ‘town’ is used rather loosely).
The local cemetery is up the road a piece.
And this is what one sees if one takes the road out to the canyon.
But this is my favorite view, with the permanently parked truck rusting away into oblivion.
Here’s a factoid about the place. It’s just a wide spot in the road, but I love it so.
Once upon a time I had an ordinary boring suburban lawn. You know the sort, you water it to make it grow, then you mow it to keep it tidy, then repeat again and again. It’s a mark of respectability to have a nice lawn. Some years ago, we started out with a thirsty bluegrass lawn. Then there was a drought, and the bluegrass mostly died. (We really never liked bluegrass, but it came with the house). When the drought was over we replanted the yard in native buffalo grass. (It does not grow very tall and it was what M’s Grandma had in her yard). But over time various other plants have encroached into the lawn.
This yellow buttercup seeded itself into the lawn this year.
As did this sunflower, although I suspect that the squirrels may have had a hand in it’s being there.
Flowering sage was planted in the flowerbed near the house, but found this a little too confining, so it escaped out into the lawn.
Oregano flourishes near the front steps. A favorite of the bees, the plants sprang up from seeds that leapt over the concrete. Every year this patch gets a little bigger, perhaps it will completely take over my yard in due course. That’s not a black snake hiding among the plants, it’s the hose. (I do water things every now and again).
And who is the master of this tiny kingdom? Why it’s the bunny of course.
I had ended up downtown at the terminus of the annual cattle drive through town. It always starts near the private college and ends at the former county courthouse, which is now a museum.
I had always noticed the large faces on the facade, there is a Native American (also known as Red Indians in the UK) over each of the large windows in the place. These faces don’t look to be too pleased with the goings on in the building, but perhaps that is only fitting.
The animal kingdom is represented by this lion’s head. He would be part of a fountain, if only the water had been turned on.
The intermediary between man and beast can be seen in the base of this light pole. With cherub faces and lion feet, one wonders, ‘what on earth was the artist thinking’?
This woman is just part of the woodwork in this former district courtroom, but she appears to be happy about it.
Unlike the previous sculpted faces, this figure is painted and shows the entire body. And what exactly the figure means is rather enigmatic. She has wings (is she an angel?), she is holding a banner labeled gold (representing Fortune perhaps?), and has a dangling, trussed up person in front of her (no idea what so ever). The more usual figure of blindfolded Justice holding a sword and a scale is nowhere to be seen in this courtroom. Perhaps this is an allegory of how our local justice system works.
If ‘eyes are the windows of the soul’, what are actual windows? And more specifically, the windows of one’s car? We generally live an anonymous life, one can’t tell much about a person’s interests from just a quick glance at the person. But on one’s car it is easy to put out the information about what one is interested in.
Although it is sometimes a puzzle to figure out the enigmatic meaning behind the window. Is this a romance reader, or a cynic?
To graphically show one’s stick figure family, was an early trend, mostly it was parents and the number of kids. But this person has a complete family and doesn’t need anyone else, just her two dogs and a cat.
This one is based in a realistic depiction of the pooch and it was quite a large sticker.
This person wanted people to know that they were not a local.
This is my friend’s car. While the end stickers are easy enough to decipher, the middle one is a little harder to figure out as it shows a rotary cutter, which is what one uses to cut up fabric for quilts (’cause scissors are just too slow).
Another enigmatic sticker (well it’s enigmatic to those who don’t follow anime).
I don’t know if there is any particular part of creating art that could be said to be the hardest part, it’s all hard, just in different ways.
I suppose the first hard part is having inspiration. Some people fill endless sketchbooks with ideas, and then struggle to decide which one is worthy to finish. But I typically have a single notion of what I might want to create, then the next step is to figure out how to do it.
Of course the model is the late Miss P.
And because I always work in fabric, I need to have a bunch of choices to try out. Does the fabric play together nicely, or do they clash? And the eternal question ‘Do I have enough fabric?’ (the answer is always ‘No”.)
And I also needed fusible web, sharp scissors and, wait a minute, how did Pteri sneak into the pile?
So here it is, the finished product. I had an amazing (to me) amount of trouble with this piece, many things that could go wrong did go wrong. I cut pieces out backwards, the fusible stuck to everything but the fabric, I actually sewed two important finished bits together and had to re-cut them at the last minute. It was due at a show by 4:00 pm and I delivered it at 3:37 (so it was 23 minutes early, thank goodness that the traffic wasn’t bad). And then the best bit, it was juried into the show.
I think the entire experience can be summed up in this quote from my e-friend Shreve “It’s when I’m under pressure that I realize what a great procrastinator I really am.”
I once again found myself in the city to the south. At one time, it was much more prosperous than my town, it had industry and lots of good paying jobs. But the industry is gone, and now the city looks to attracting the leftover tourists from our town. And one of the many reasons to go there is this tourist area.
I think that they call it neon alley. There is always the question of what to do with the signage of a building, folk art that let one know instantly what the business was selling. (Although I am not sure what the lamp with Aladdin written on it was advertising, possibly magical wishes). Most of these are no longer going concerns, although at least one of these businesses still exists.
Cigar stores used to be part of the urban landscape, it was a manly thing to smoke a cigar (me and M used to smoke cigars when we went camping to annoy the insects). And back in those days when smoking was allowed they also sold cigarettes. The turquoise sign came from a little family-run cafe over on Main street, and we did patronize it when it existed.
These bits of ephemera are just randomly placed on this half block long brick building that has been partially restored. Located right across from the train station, it had a commercial function at one time. But now it houses a Senator’s office, a lawyer’s office, a cafe, tavern and an antique shop. The newer part looks to have been built in 1903 and the building survived years of neglect to remind us of the past.
The background painting surely was done a really long time ago. I can’t imagine anyone bragging about selling wine from Herrman, MO (I have tasted these on a bet). Greyhound still offers service, but doesn’t even have an office, let alone a waiting room. One just stands on the corner near a parking lot.
And a final bit of unusual ephemera is an ancient British telephone box. Of course it does not contain a telephone, or even cards advertising ladies who will answer one’s every need. But it does make one wonder “how the heck did this get here”. And possibly “why”.
Do you see yonder cloud, that’s almost in the shape of a camel?
By the mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
Methinks it is like a weasel. It is backed like a weasel.
Or, like a whale? Very like a whale.
Thus sometimes hath the brightest day a cloud.
Many thanks to Bill Shakespeare for once again providing such an excellent guest post.