Category Archives: Ephemera

Reflections

Fast away the old year passes

Well it’s that time of year again, when one is inundated with recaps of the past year (in case one has forgotten being there). And today I am also giving in to the impulse, but, being literal-minded I am including some of the reflections of things that I photographed over the past year (you do remember how much I like reflections and shadows?).

January, 2021. I was at the local market and I was inspired by how lovely the clouds looked. It must have been quite cold, as I just took the picture by my car. That is the car’s roof reflecting the tree and clouds.

This was in June, when the local art on the street program kicked off. I seem to remember that one could visit each bit of art, and perhaps get a prize (this assumes that one could find a parking place near each of the new pieces). I had decided that this was the only new thing worth seeing (price $80K to buy), and here it is also reflecting the new courthouse addition and jail.

August, and this reflection was taken in my car window. I had gone over to a friend’s to drop off some delicious, perfectly ripe peaches, and there was this lovely peach sky.

October. I adore the reflections in this spot and have photographed it several times over the years. The contrast between the 60’s modernism of this annex and the Victorian splendor of the other is always worth a picture or two.

More October. The real trick of photographing reflections is to avoid having the photographer appear as well. So I was considering this as I lined up the shot of this temporary exhibit of elephant statues.

November. For some reason I was parked on the street. It was a mostly overcast day, but there was this break in the clouds that illuminated a distant quarry on the side of the mountain, and I thought it beautiful. Tis the season for reflections, and this is how I remember it.

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).

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.

Anthropomorphics

It started with this guy, the King Trumpet mushroom. (I assume he is male, because he is a king).

I had used the mushrooms in my dinner, when I noticed the bag these came in. I decided that King mushroom was a rather snazzy figure, and started to wonder who made the choice to have an anthropomorphic design to explain and sell this product. (Sadly, there were only ordinary mushrooms in the packet). So I decided to look around to see what other anthropomorphic designs I might find.

I was lucky to find that I had saved this container to use for storage, because Mr. Peanut was killed off by his company! Yes, some genius decided that a peanut with a monocle, gloves, cane and a top hat (spats are not pictured here) was not the proper salesman to flog their product, so they declared him dead (although as an inanimate cartoon figure I am not sure if this is even possible). Oh well, he lives on in my heart (and pantry).

I am happy to see that the Kool-Aid man, a staple of my childhood, still lives on (and cherry remains my favorite flavor).

I took this picture at the grocery store, because the sweet cereal that I do eat uses a cartoon character, instead of this friendly fellow. Because the last thing one wants when sitting down to breakfast, is a bowl of grumpy cereal.

But the winner of this contest of mascots has to be the King Trumpet mushrooms. Because they don’t just have one smiling figure, there are also all of his friends. Perhaps they are on the way to a party, or are running a race, whatever. They are happy to see one, and I expect I shall purchase them again (and not the ones that come in a plain package.)

Hot Dog

I still read the daily newspaper (delivered to my home by mysterious means early each morning). And I was excited to read that the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile was in town. I caught a glimpse of it when I was driving along downtown, but I had an appointment, and couldn’t quite catch up with it. But all was not lost, there it was at the supermarket the next day.

Of course I have seen the previous versions driving down the road in years past, but this was my chance to get up close and personal with one. To see what it was actually made of (custom fiberglass body on a truck chassis). Yes, I do want one.

And here it is, a giant driveable hot dog, perhaps leading the way to the future with its spaceship-like design. It had a pair of drivers who were handing out discount coupons and swag (like the postcard).

This is just one of the many (six) Weinermobiles and it came all the way from Wisconsin.

I don’t care what hot dogs are actually made of, they’re delicious (in moderation).

But not everyone loves them. I guess there is no pleasing some pterodactyls.

Getting a Head

According to the dictionary (yes I looked it up in an actual book) a trophy is: “something symbolising victory or success” and under b: “A mounted fish, animal’s head, etc.” It’s also a rather weird thing to do. I do occasionally go the the local Elks club, a fraternal organization devoted to something (I think it involves beer), and displaying lots of its’ namesake beasts.

This elk seems to be giving a bit of side-eye, meant perhaps as a bit of reproach for his untimely demise. He is tastefully situated on a fake lodge wall, that’s not a real mantle under him.

This elk is in a much plainer setting. Staring straight ahead he seems to be either sad or indifferent to to goings on in the room.

Now this elk was more of an actual trophy, with fine 12 point antlers, he was a lovely specimen in life. However, the way that he is mounted gives him a look of surprise. (It shouldn’t have been a total surprise, didn’t he notice that hunter creeping up on him? Maybe not).

And then there was this fellow, laying down on the job. From the looks of it, he has been around for a number of years, so perhaps this is understandable, sometimes one just needs a break. And if this is on display at the “Elks”, I worry about what is stuffed and mounted at “Modern Woodmen” another fraternal organization. 😉

Ornamental

My favorite Christmas tradition is decorating the tree, because years ago I banished all the generic sort of ornaments and went with only special and unique ornaments.

I remember buying this ornament at an after Christmas sale (surely the best time to acquire these). It must have been about 35 years ago, or more (that can’t possibly be true). I had gone to the St. Louis Zoo with my friend and his dad, and we went a little crazy buying things. There was something about this fox that spoke to me, so I bought it even though I did not need it.

I bought this one on vacation in Hawai’i and it is a Humahumanukunukuapua’a (spellcheck actually accepted that word) which is the state fish of Hawai’i.

M and I used to go to a couple of conferences every year, and while the men were busy, S and I would go in search of Christmas ornaments. She loved Christmas decorating but was a purist and would not buy anything made in China, which sometimes made it hard to shop. But we were in San Antonio and I found this lovely lizard which was made in Africa, so it came home with me. I can’t remember if she bought anything on that trip.

This elephant came from another conference trip. Me and S had gone to Macy’s in San Francisco and I got this beast, while she found some ornaments that were made in Germany (the former primary source of Christmas things).

I bought this one right here in town, I’m just including it because I love it. And I have had it for the past 32 years.

I’ve only had this one for two years, a friend gave it to me after Miss Dog died, so in many ways this is the most special ornament of my collection. But they all bear the weight of memories of times and places past, like Christmas itself.