Spring snow

Spring snows are much different from Winter snows because they are usually quite ephemeral. The overall temperature has started to warm up, and snow doesn’t stick to the roadways as much. But, there was a rather severe blizzard on March 13th this year, which is sort of unusual. There was not a lot of snow, but there was tremendous wind speed, and it was dubbed by meteorologists as a “bomb cyclone”. Which is a fancy way of saying that the atmospheric pressure dropped more than 24 millibars (whatever these are, but apparently it is quite a bad thing), and this intensified the wind. Of course people did not take the warning about the storm seriously and bad things did happen: about a thousand people were stranded in snow drifts along the roads, a friend was in a 44 car pileup, etc.

I could just about see the house across the street, so I was staying home. And I had to dig through a bit of a snowdrift to be able to leave two days later.

Because this was such a huge storm, when the next one approached, people tended to get a bit hysterical about it.

Here’s the morning of the next storm, it was warm and clear, looking to be a beautiful day.

Right on schedule these lovely big snowflakes started to fall. But the blizzard bit failed to materialize here in town, it stayed up north, then moved to the east. This storm was only a “baby bomb”, which really sounds sort of cute and cuddly.

This was the only aftermath to the storm at my house, I had to scrape off the windshield before I could go anywhere, so it was not too bad (much to the disappointment of the local tv newspersons).

Bees

I know by now that you are wondering why I bother to stop in at the pub. It’s across town, it’s expensive and it is hard to find a parking place there. But there is an attraction to the place, it is called “The Golden Bee” and every time one stops in the bartender will throw an embroidered bee at one. Now most of the time it is just a regular bee, but they do feature a number of special bees throughout the year. And I try to show up for a pint on those special days.

So this is the very newest bee. In fact I got the first ones that they handed out. They have a big space symposium every year, all sorts of government types and defense contractors show up, so they make this special bee to commemorate the event. I had to get these before the conference started because the place is packed while all these free-spenders show up.

These bees are from: a big conference (they will make a special bee if your event is big enough), St. Patrick’s Day (no green beer is served here), Christmas and the Senior golf tournament from last summer (it was on TV).

This is what I usually do with the bees, I put them on the dashboards of my cars (the rocket bees are from previous Space Symposiums).

They do end up all over the house, these ones are in my sewing room.

And this is the lamp in my bedroom.

And these bees are hanging out in the dining room. There are so many bees in my collection that you might be thinking that I go there an awful lot (really, I don’t). But, these bees represent years and years of stopping in (also it’s a lovely place to take out-of-town guests). So I won’t actually have to go there again until July 4th, Halloween and Christmas. Hopefully by then they will have a new delicious cider on tap. 😉

Pub

My faithful dictionary defines pub as an informal British term for a public house; inn; tavern. And there is one actual pub in town, imported from London some years ago. Of course this means that London has been short a pub for many years now. But with the commercialization of real estate in London they lose pubs constantly, so I suppose it is a good thing that this pub landed here where it is appreciated.

These pub fittings were originally shipped off to someplace in New York City, and about 58 years ago they came to rest here in town as part of the fancy hotel. The original pub was rather small, and a few years ago the new owners expanded the place so that they could get more tourists in. Apparently they have evening sing-alongs with a piano player, but in all my years of stopping in I have never been to this (also I have a terrible singing voice).

Here’s a bit of the lovely main bar. There is not an infinity of bars, but there are a lot of mirrors about the place to bring in some light (it is properly dark for some serious drinking).

The antique and the modern sit side by side, the television at the top is almost always turned to a sports channel (yawn). Quite often it is tuned to golf, as the pub is part of the hotel, which also has a golf course nearby.

They have lots of period details to evoke that Olde England experience.

Are these the sort of things one might find in a pub in situ? I doubt it. One might expect to see beer advertising and photos of the patrons perhaps. But this sort of thing does add a certain quaintness to the place, and we are paying extra for this experience.

The Fuller’s tap had this lovely griffon on top, so I asked the barmaid to take a picture of it for me. It perhaps best symbolizes the very nature of this pub, a mishmash of various bits and pieces put together to make a new sort of animal.

Truckin’

Food trucks have become a popular choice for dining out. It’s a phenomenon that started in big cities and it is a trend that has even become popular here. I was driving down the street on the way to the dentist (driving very slowly) when I saw this group of food trucks in a parking lot. And as I was hungry after the dentist visit, I decided to stop in and see what’s cooking.

Well this guy is my favorite and I have often patronized his truck. He makes a delicious lobster roll (lobster meat held together with a little mayonnaise on a special grilled bun) and other things I have never tried, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for lobster today.

There was a wide variety of vehicles serving food. This is obviously a converted school bus. (It would be more fun to ride to school if they also served hot dogs on the way). 😉

I liked this truck because it was brightly colored, but this truck doesn’t serve any food, just treats.

One doesn’t need to have a truck at this food rendezvous. These folks were unconventional in their vehicle and unconventional in their menu, a vegan po-boy indeed! (No such thing exists).

I liked this trailer, a miniaturized version of a food truck. I assume it had the essential bits for serving food, it didn’t take up any excess space, and was just a cute little thing.

So what did I choose to eat on this occasion? I got a grilled Cuban sandwich (roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickle and mustard) from “Lucy, I’m home” and I was so busy eating that I forgot to take a picture. There were so many other delicious looking choices I shall have to go back and try them all (except the vegan po-boy).

Turtle Tales

One of the local schools was celebrating the children’s book author Dr. Seuss. And so of course I volunteered to come to the school and read one of his many stories. I picked a rather short story “Yertle the Turtle” as it did not have too many tricky verbal passages, and it fit in with my ulterior motive.

So I drew a copy of one of the images in the book. And after I read the story, (a striking tale of hubris) I asked the kids to draw this picture of a turtle. Whenever I have visited any museum in London there are always some students drawing pictures, it seems to be a requirement. I thought that these kids might enjoy having a go at drawing after hearing the story. All of the classrooms were equipt with a fancy AV system that projected this drawing onto a large screen tv. I also drew a simple line drawing of a turtle on the whiteboard (classrooms do not have blackboards and chalk any more). And I asked the various classes that I visited to draw any sort of turtle that they liked for me.

It took real bravery to try and copy the storybook turtle and a few students in each class I visited attempted this. This kid did both sorts of turtles and a bonus cat.

This first grader drew quite a credible turtle (I did show a hat on the sample turtle).

Also by a first grader.

Yet another first grader’s art. He wanted to be sure to include the context of pond and rock while still choosing the simplified turtle picture.

This careful sketch of a realistic turtle was done by a third grader.

I am only showing the pictures that students gave to me. I think some students didn’t like their drawings, that’s why they gave them to me. Other students were so proud of their work that they wanted to share it. The first graders were the most enthusiastic (they thought the story itself was hilarious) and willing to try. The fifth graders were the most reluctant to try, which was sad. I had wanted to share my love of drawing, and I hope that I gave someone encouragement to give drawing a try.

Shadows again

I don’t know why I am obsessed with shadows, but I am. My dictionary (yes an actual physical book which sits next to my computer) first defines a shadow as: A comparative darkness within an illuminated area, especially that caused by the interruption of light by a body or object. Further down the listing it defines shadow as, A mirrored image: to see one’s shadow in a pool (this one does not seem to be as familiar a usage).

So there was another free day at the local museum, and as usual I popped in to see what’s new. And there was an abundance of shadows to be seen in the newest show.

This artist had used found bits of the detritus of life to make art. While the artwork itself was only mildly interesting, the works cast fabulous shadows.

Definitely an interruption of light going on here.

And here as well.

All of the pieces are made of similar stuff, bits and pieces of flotsam wired together, but each casting a lovely shadow of comparative darkness thanks to the illumination of the museum lighting.

Here was my favorite reflection of the day, it features multiple mirrorings of the original thanks to it’s plexiglass box. Repetition and enigma, these are things that add an extra bit of interest to the art, and were probably never intended or anticipated by the artist. But it’s what I see and appreciate when I look at these works.

Horsing around

The horse is a powerful symbol of the West. Easterners rode around in carriages, but Cowboys and (red) Indians preferred the freedom of a horse (also there was a certain lack of paved roads like existed in the East). And when something is such an ubiquitous important symbol, it often finds it’s way into art.

These horses are part of a grouping that celebrates a local developer. Someone added a whimsical touch by decorating each horse with a seasonal ribbon tie. It’s very festive and I hope that they do this for all of the major holidays.

This horse head looks to be old, and also looks as though it was formerly attached to something (a body perhaps?). Today it rests in the yard of M’s uncle, acquiring a new layer of weathering.

While this mysterious horse head awaits it’s place as a piece of art in someone’s home. It’s probably still for sale in this swanky antique store.

This riding horse was also in the antique shop, and I fell in love with it (although not with it’s price). Hey, wait a minute, I once had a tennis racquet like the ones under this horse, surely these can’t be an antique! I guess that tourists will buy anything (they hope).

Of all the horses, this is my favorite, and is the sort that I always wanted to have. Pegasus the flying horse is out there somewhere, just waiting to be tamed by a worthy human (or demi-god). Pegasus is not limited by a little thing like roads, and that is the ultimate in freedom.

Bar rooms

When I was a college student I was often to be found in the bar closest to campus. It featured a jukebox, pizza and cheap beer, all the things a college student favors. The place no longer exists, much to the relief of the neighbors, and a convenience store has taken it’s place (really not the sort of thing one hangs out at). Although I am not a barroom denizen anymore, I do occasionally stop in someplace for a brew or a cider (more likely).

This bar has been around for about 20 years, but I never stopped in until quite recently. Built originally as a neighborhood market in an old neighborhood near downtown, it is very much a hipster sort of place with lots of funky signage (and very good modern food).

This place has existed for less than 10 years in anewish strip mall built in the north part of town. It’s a brewpub, which means that they make their own beer on the premises as well as having other craft beers on tap. It’s a good thing to brew beer, as they do not have to pay the federal tax on it (although this fact does not make the beer any cheaper). The place is dog friendly and serves bacon, so I suppose it is sort of a hipster place as well.

This bar is definitely a hipster hangout, located in downtown (that means there is no parking nearby). They sell various craft beers and pizza. Those things hanging down from the ceiling are beer taps from all the craft beers that they used to carry. This place will soon be history, as the entire building is being converted to condos (flats) for hipsters (they will have to go down the street for a drink).

This bar is the hipster re-creation of a neighborhood tavern in the Midwest. It’s just like the sort of place old guys used to drink in, but with an edgy vibe. They serve the sort of comfort food one used to find in a tavern, chili mac, fried walleye (okay that’s all I ever order there, so I don’t know what else they serve).

I’m sure that they have craft beer, but they also have the sort of brands of beer that ordinary people drink (in Wisconsin or Minnesota), Leinenkugel (which is terrible), Pabst, Hamms and Moosehead (a delicious Canadian beer).

I’m not sure what it means that I end up in hipster sort of places (as I am totally too old, cranky and un-hip to be a hipster). Rather, I guess it means that I like good food and good beer (or cider) and I will go to any place that serves these.

State ments

I love to see a personalized car, and to find out where a person considers home. (I was always baffled by a friend who had lived here for 40 years, which was well over half their life, refer to another state as “home”).

So sometimes one chooses a rather abstract image of their favorite place, like the invisible Michigan mitten, surrounded by the Great Lakes to show their affinity.

This person also chose a somewhat abstract image, it’s the symbol from the Wyoming license plate of a cowboy on a bucking bronco (a male horse).

This sticker features just the outline of the state of Texas, and of course it’s on a pickup truck with a huge tool box (no gun rack, though).

This one has the logo and colors of the major college in the state, perhaps this person is an alumni, or perhaps they just follow the sports team.

Our state flag often appears as a symbol mixed with one’s favorite obsessions. Here is the Colorado alien (from the movie ‘Alien’), ready to attack any humans that stray across it’s path.

The elk perhaps indicates that this person is a hunter (elk is unfortunately delicious) or maybe it’s a sign that they just enjoy the outdoors and the native wildlife.

This person identifies with Denver, the wonky curved building is a symbol of the city, with stylized mountains forming a backdrop. (So what are they doing in this town?)

This person likes Colorado like they like their cat, but their love is for New Mexico (and I certainly share some of this love too).

Road trip

Well I had the opportunity to take a quick road trip, so of course I grabbed it. I tend to be very tense driving and after hours on the road it is hard to unclench my hands from the steering wheel. So I am always glad to tag along when someone else is doing the driving. And where would I go? To New Mexico, my favorite and most frequent place to visit.

It’s 149 miles to the New Mexico border. Once one drives over Raton Pass (elevation 7834 feet) one has a splendid view of the open plains. Unlike many photos that I take where I have to hide the fact that there are scads of people just out of view, there really are no people to be seen. This is part of the empty quarter of the state. This view shows part of Capulin National Park, one of the first landmarks one sees as one enters the state from the north.

There it is, my most photographed landmark of northern NM. I confess that I do get excited every time I see it. Whenever I am there, I am on vacation, so I associate the area with rest and relaxation. If I actually lived there I am sure that I would get tired of all the driving one has to do for shopping, doctors, etc. It really is just a wide spot in the road.

And if one crossed the road, one would be at the original site of the village. The large mesa is Jarosa Mesa (no idea where the name comes from), and the smaller one is Santa Clara Mesa (named after a saint for some reason).

This is the view from M’s uncle’s place. All that stuff lying about is over at the neighbor’s, I think he does a little bit of construction work (or at least he used to). M’s uncle also has plenty of the flotsam of life floating about his yard. It is funny that with all this open space their homes are so close together. Once again it wasn’t hard to crop any people out of the picture, there are under 400 souls in the entire village. I shall miss stopping by if the village gets any smaller, but I will always love the view.