Signs

Signs are rather mundane bits of the landscape, they tell one, where to go, what’s up ahead, what something is. And as you know, I do like to take photos of the many varieties of signs, especially when they are somewhat cryptic.

Like this sign here, it is indicating that one can fall, or that one should run in a new direction? Someone has removed part of this sign, perhaps that was the instructions.

I have never heard of such a thing, but it is no doubt helpful if one lives in a city.

This doorway of death seemed to be clearer, there is no smoking, and a giant arrow will kill whosoever enters. Thanks for the warning pal, I will not be entering (Or is this some sort of riddle like Tolkein used in “Lord of the Rings”? I shall ponder this.)

This one is a sort of generalized warning, and is temporary and unofficial. But the pterodactyl seems to be giving this consideration (as that’s what happened to them).

But this venerable sign, carved into the stone of this church, has the best general warning of all: “Commit no Nuisance”. And I think this would cover falling down a shaft, climbing up the side of a building, entering the doorway of death, or causing the climate to change, so this should be universal advice.

Speak

At the flats I stay at, there is this place. I kept walking past the door, but one day it was open….

Well, as it turned out, it was a semi-secret pub, and was very popular with a sort of trendy young person. It was a facsimile of a speak-easy, those American drinking establishments of prohibition (January 1920 to December 1933). Of course my only knowledge of these sorts of places comes from old gangster movies. (Although my great-aunt Julia was married to a bootlegger and died of the drink).

True to the historicity of such places, one rings the buzzer and a face appears in the little window asking one for the secret code to enter. I said “Howdy” and the Russian at the door said “what is this howdy?” So I said “it’s American for Hello”, which was good enough to get in (I had not booked a table). And inside a small, dimly lit room, lots of young persons were sucking down drinks in this theme boozer.

Note that even the bear is wearing a blindfold, everything that happens in here is a secret.

I was reminded of a time, probably close to fifty years ago, when I had gone to a similar place. Me and my friends were home for Christmas, there were the obligatory family things, and then there was adventure. I was the youngest person in our group, but I had a fake ID so I could tag along. My friend L was older than me, and I thought she was very glamorous. She had grown up in a mansion, gone to private schools, then university and she was living a bohemian life as a street vendor. She wanted to go out and about and I was fool enough to follow her anywhere. She had a privately printed pamphlet listing gay clubs in the area. So, off we went, driving in her parents’ big sedan.

We were looking for this place across the river, in an almost abandoned urban area (it had made the list for most dangerous cities in America, and it’s still on this). Once upon a time it had been a prosperous place, with businesses, stores and jobs, but that time had long passed. And there we were in a cold, dark street, looking for a place without a sign to announce it’s presence, hoping to not be murdered (it was famous for this, after all). Then we found a door, with the requisite little door for the bouncer to scope out potential customers. I can’t imagine what we looked like, but we must have somehow passed muster, or maybe we had to pay money to enter and there we were, at a drag club, possibly the only females in the place.

To say that I was out of my depth is an understatement, but we went in, sat down and ordered drinks. It was a dive, probably last redecorated in the 30’s when it opened. Many of the patrons looked to be military from the nearby Air Force Base. There was a tiny raised area that served as a stage, and that was where the ladies lip synced to popular tunes. We were sitting on the left side and could see into the dressing area, which was just a flimsy curtain covering a small boxy area. It was fascinating watching a rather ordinary looking soldier turn into a prom queen with big hair and a massive sparkly dress. We on the other hand, looked like the young hippies that we were, we always used lots of eye makeup, and I’m sure that we had on jeans and pullovers of some sort. After a performance, she invited the artist to come over for a drink, and of course I don’t remember any of the conversation, I probably said nothing beyond “howdy”. Then it was time to go, and we made it out of this decaying town and back to our own side of the river.

Altogether it was a much more exciting experience than the modern speakeasy, located as it is in a good part of it’s town (possibly this is also the good side of the river there).

Fee Fi Faux

I do love to wander about taking random photos of whatever catches my eye. This area is famous for it’s natural beauty, but there is also the charm of it’s fakeness (not sure if this is a word).

For example, if one gets a permit and has technical rock climbing experience, one may climb the sheer cliff faces at Garden of the Gods. In lieu of that, anyone may try their hand at climbing this artificial rock slab. No permit is needed and there are no warning signs of impending doom. (Plus it’s both easier and quicker than technical climbing).

This could be a tree (after the developers have had at it), or perhaps it is a new way of stacking firewood. But no, it’s neither. This claims to be art, and is part of the arts in the street program (who knew?). And it’s for tourists and locals alike

These faux rock formations are being installed at a new play area. It recreates the feel of rock formations, without the pesky realism and danger of actual rocks. Oh imagine all the fun that children will have playing on these (or not).

It’s not just civic organizations that go for the unnatural look. These homeowners decided against a lawn (really not a terrible idea) and instead populated their yard with these rather attractive plants. It breaks up the monotony of a rock yard, and gives it a bit of style, so this is the only spot of faux nature that does something useful. It’s an improvement, unlike the art on the street tree (try again city).

A walk in the park

I know that I most often take pictures of places in the city. But the city is part of the larger county, and this is not all totally developed (yet). I knew this park existed, my favorite dog friends often go there to run, but I had never taken the time to visit. So today was the day for it.

The area where the town sits was originally a tree-less prairie, but along the ridge in the northern part of the county, there has always been a pine forest. And this bit was designated as a park (which explains why there are still trees and there aren’t fancy houses in view).

The skies had been smoke-filled the day before (with smoke imported from California), but the winds shifted and there were the blue skies and fluffy clouds of summer.

The park features walking trails, a dog park, and a little pond (no fishing allowed, but the fish will break the surface and stare at one). Also present were chipmunks, and they proved to be quite a hit with any of the young persons who were there.

And why was I at this park, on this day, at this place? Why some dear friends were getting married in the gazebo that juts out into the lake (that’s not them in the picture, just some random tourists). It was a beautiful day, in a beautiful place, with a beautiful ceremony to tie the knot. And then it was on to catered food, (one does get hungry strolling in the park), music and wedding cake, a perfect end to a perfect day.

A day in the country

I love a drive in the country, it’s something that we sometimes did when I was a child, just to escape the city. And on this day me and my girlfriends were on a mission, and of course this mission involved shopping.

It’s really not that far to go, just drive south to the next city, then follow the river, and there you are among the fields. This was a giant field of pumpkins, across the road from a popular farm store. It’s not really an old-time farm stand, it’s more of big business, so it’s an interesting place to shop.

They had added quite a bit of stuff, since my last visit, like the imported Italian pasta (there were lots of Italians who came to the area to work in the steel mill, and their descendants are still here). There were plenty of baked goods and even tourist souvenirs to be had. And they were roasting green chile in front, so the place smelled great.

As this antique tractor has steel wheels, it is probably from the mid 1920’s or possibly early 1930’s. I’m leaning towards the earlier date, because it has a starter crank instead of an electric starter, and the overall primitiveness of design. (I know way more about tractors than I should).

Here’s another farm store, this one also had a cafe, which was quite good. (sorry, I don’t take pictures of my food anymore).

Quaint old stuff sets the stage for selling locally made products. It’s a guarantee that we’re out of the city.

And why had we gone south? (aside from the obvious need to shop at the farm stands). Oh yeah, I had won a red ribbon (2nd place) at the state fair, so well done me. After a quick ride on a Ferris Wheel, it was back to town.

New artist

So now you might be wondering, what was the recent gallery opening about? And why did I feel impelled to go?

This piece was the first one created by this artist for the local “art on the street” project , and it has always been my favorite (I actively hate some of the work of other artists). It has been here for a couple of years and I am amazed by the number of my friends who have never noticed this and don’t know what I’m talking about. Anyway, the statue was vandalized by some jerk last year, and this is actually the second version. The artist came to town to fix this, and decided that he liked the place so well, that he and his family moved here from Korea. So now I guess that makes him a local artist.

This is this years’ selection for “art on the streets”. And because one does not have to put any money in the parking meters on Sunday morning, I was out and about to take this new photo of these amazing steel Betas. It was rather breezy and they were moving in the wind, as is proper for fighting fish.
So besides making massive sculptures, he also does smaller pieces, like this tiny tree (it did not have a tiny price tag). This tiny gallery is the perfect sort of place to show small art. (Not sure if it is the perfect sort of place to sell art). But there we all were, seeing and being seen, drinking cheap wine and admiring the art.
I did love this piece, and after a glass of wine I had a few fangirl words with the artist (and I hope that he understands English, or maybe it’s better if he doesn’t).

I had found out about the gallery show from an article in the local newspaper, and this mentioned that the missus of the artist did fiber art. Well, so do I, so I wished to meet her. But we do very different sorts of things, and I guess I am not a fangirl, but I definitely approve of following one’s muse. I hope that she and the family like this town, and that they continue to be local artists, because we need great art for the streets (wait a minute, that brings tourists, so maybe not).

More signs

I do love the whimsy of signs, just a brief announcement of something, anything that gives one a snippet of information or direction. Now that proper gallery openings are allowed, I had popped in to see the show of a new resident (more later). By proper gallery opening, I mean there were nibbles, cheap wine and no masks, just what one expects. And signs.

This was the entrance to the gallery, referencing a rap song from the past, so I would guess the gallerists to be in their 40’s.

Rather useful information, and I am sure the persons inside got tired of repeating this to passersby.

This looks to have been posted by a trout, or perhaps a friend. I am unaware of any fish actually living in the creek. And like many signs, it appears to have been ignored.

This sign was the best of the lot, as well as being the most cryptic. Walking on the sidewalk is what one does, I suppose this indicates to walk one’s bicycle, the other two images were more mysterious, but I eventually decided that they referred to skateboards and rollerblades. I doubt if this is legible or obvious as one rolls along, but it’s an interesting graphic. Nice try, city.

More Mountain

I love living here, and I love to look at the mountain everyday. I will just be driving along and see a picture perfect view that I want to capture. It is always slightly different and always beautiful (someone even wrote a song about this after climbing to the top).

I had just come out of a building, looked up, and there was this valley visible because of the misty rainy weather. The mountain usually appears as a solid mass, it’s no wonder that the first European explorer couldn’t figure out how to climb to the top. (Also he was arrested for trespassing by the government of Spain and carted away).

This day was a patriotic holiday, and I had noticed the flag waving about in the breezy weather. So I drove up to get a closer look and the wind promptly stopped. But as there has been this rainy weather pattern, the wind did eventually pick up after a bit.

Here’s a different view of a lovely rainy day. The mountain is an obstacle to the clouds, and funnels precipitation so that there is often a very localized effect of rain or snow. On this day it was raining up the pass, and dry where I stood.

I had gone to the northern suburb to visit a friend, and this is the view from her house, the mountain just peeks over the top of the foothills, and doesn’t look very majestic. The white things in the middle are pillars of rock, just sitting there for no apparent reason. I think it is part of the military academy, that’s why it’s not surrounded by housing.

But, from whichever angle one approaches the mountain, it always makes me happy just to see it, towering over the town.

Lizards

There was recently a spell of hot weather, perfect for basking.

These two were enjoying the heat on my front steps after emerging from the oregano jungle.

I’ve seen this one before, perhaps I am getting the side-eye because this is probably not a lizard, it’s a skink (but, nobody cares what a skink is, they are all lizards to everyone not a biologist).

This one, however, could clearly be described as a lizard, most likely the dreaded roof lizard.

This one is possibly not a lizard, it could be some sort of dragon (maybe?). And heedless of the danger to life and limb, these tourists are casually strolling by. It must have already eaten, as it never moved. As I said, it was perfect weather for basking, so I found myself wishing for some air conditioning and a very cold beer.

random bits of life