Friday, April 30, 2010

Playin' Hookey at the Stadium

One of the reasons that downtown generally and Busch Stadium specifically is so top of mind, is that I got to spend an afternoon with friends at the ballpark yesterday. While it felt like playin' hookey, skippin' out of the office shortly after 12:30, I had already scheduled the afternoon off.

The visit there reminded me yet again of just how much I like the newer stadium. Its red brick exterior, repeated throughout its interior, just looks old-world. And, since the brick is fairly common in downtown construction, both old and new, it looks all the more at home.

The trip had been planned because Harriet got discounted bleachers through her work. She, the MonkeyGirl, JoAnn and a few other friends made an event of it (sadly, Mama Martha couldn't join us). The Cardinals made it fun and Mother Nature gave us lots of sunshine, punctuated with some serious wind (gusting to 40 mph).

The MonkeyGirl and I were showered with fireworks debris as we attempted to make our way to our seats from the concessions area. We missed the first few at-bats but already the Cardinals were up 3-0. I, of course, had to drag the camera along.

I got some good shots of pitcher Adam Wainwright in action. Here's one.

My favorite shot sequence of the day though was total luck. I managed to get the swing and the concluding connection of a sixth-inning homerun by Tyler Greene that put the Cards up 9-3.
I love this one because you can see the ball before he takes a few layers off of it!

Look at the faces of the some crowd as they watch to see if it will go out of the park.

The Cards ultimately swept the Braves. The final score: 10-4.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Historic St. Louis: Gateway to the West, Part 3

I tried very hard not to like the new Busch Stadium.

In 2005, I watched as its predecessor slowly disappeared and it began to take shape. I admit, I didn't know what to make of it. Hmmm, this could be interesting. And, I was sad when I snapped photos of the very last section of the old stadium came down, learning that several hours later, it was officially gone.

But then a strange thing happened: I started liking the new stadium. It was amazing to me that this new structure could look so much like it was plunked down in place a century ago. It complements both the old and new architecture that downtown has to offer. I chided myself for selfishly hanging onto familiar history and admitted that the new stadium actually looks more at home in downtown than the old stadium ever did. This gave me a great sense of hope.

Hope that the wrecking ball that was so alive during the 1970s and 1980s wouldn't reappear. Hope that more recent debacles like the Century Building and the Ambassador Theatre wouldn't be repeated. And hope in a brand new process to redesign and reassign the Gateway Arch grounds.

Leaders of the final five teams vying for the job gave brief presentations to a crowd in one of downtown St. Louis' gems, the Roberts Orpheum Theatre earlier this week. The competition is an effort by CityArchRiver 2015, a private organization working with the National Park Service to identify a plan to tie the Arch, one of St. Louis' most prominent icons, with the rest of downtown. If you've ever been to the Arch, you know that the landmark isn't exactly easily connected to the rest of the skyline it dominates. (You have to cross Interstate 70 to reach it from the heart of downtown.)

The idea is to have a new development plan for the 18-block Gateway Mall not only in place but completed in time for the 50-year anniversary of the Arch in 2015. It will be fascinating to see what they come up with and, even more so, what ultimately walks aways as the winning idea. We'll know in August.

2015 ... It's not that far off. I'd be dubious that that much could be done in such a short time but I've seen it happen in the past few years. Busch Stadium. City Garden. Dozens of residential a(the Washington loft district) and retail developments (think Schnucks' Culinaria) either being announced or getting under way. And it didn't happen without a lot of hard work and in many cases, years of planning.

Still, downtown isn't utopia. There are still a lot of things that have to be reconciled. There needs to be more retail. More entertainment venues. Downtown can't shut down at sundown. This is a challenge faced by cities all over the country.

I really enjoy downtown and take great joy in celebrating both its heritage and the present day attractions that are part of what I think may be a building vibe for this vital part of the city. It may be naive but I am hopeful.

Hopeful that, unlike many cities across the U.S., St. Louis will carefully preserve the historical structures it has left. Hopeful that a scalpel, rather than a chainsaw, will be used to cut existing features that may impede meaningful and significant development -- and NOT another parking garage. Hopeful that preservationists will stay active in the future and that futurists will see the value in preservation.

Historic St. Louis: Gateway to the West, Part 2

I'm not sure why this never occurred to me but both the Gateway Arch AND Busch Stadium (the 1966 version) were under construction at the same time. I knew they opened the same year, but I guess I never really thought about the ramifications of two such major construction projects occuring simultaneously and in such a close proximity.

But then I saw this photo (and I'm sorry, I don't know whom to credit for it; I found it in a thread and they didn't know whom to credit either). Looking at this photo, it's easy to see that the face of downtown would forever be altered.

Consider for just a few seconds the swath of buildings that would have disappeared in order to house both the Arch and Busch Stadium. I have to say that for the first time in my life I'm doing just that. And I'm learning things that I don't like.

It made me laugh then to read this rather white-washed account: In the mid-1950s, several years after he persuaded the board of directors of Anheuser-Busch to purchase the St. Louis Cardinals, August A. Busch Jr. decided that if the team was to prosper and attract the fans necessary to support a major league franchise, it would have to move to a new stadium.
Mr. Busch took his idea for a new stadium in downtown St. Louis to city officials and civic leaders. Their interest in a major redevelopment of the downtown area and the idea that a new stadium could serve as the focal point for their efforts, paved the way for the laying of groundwork for the project.

It also revved up the steamroller and wrecking ball for a whole host of buildings, many of them part of Chinatown. Wait a minute. Chinatown? St. Louis had a Chinatown? Yes. And today, Busch Stadium is standing on it.

I think it was part gentrification, part assimilation that brought this on and pushed it forward. St. Louis was going through a radical phase of redevelopment in the 1960s, likely spurred by the Arch grounds' construction. And Chinatown was a dying part of the city, due in part to the assimilation of younger Chinese Americans who found life much easier than their predecessors and wanted to keep it that way, often turning their backs on their ancestral laundry and restaurant businesses.

And while the population there was never large (300-400 at its height), it was historical. Chinese residents and businesses showed up there in the decade preceding the Civil War. They had made and left an impression on downtown. But in less than a century, it was gone.

I was deeply moved by several passages in The New Town Square: Museums and Communities in Transition, a book by Robert Archibald that I plan to own very soon. These excerpts, from the book's introduction, sum it all up very well and very eloquently:

"The most profound dilemma of this new century, inherited from the last, is a deepening crisis of place and the accompanying ennui of placelessness. Lack of attachment to place disembodies memory, sunders relationships, promotes prodigal resource consumption; it threatens democracy itself ... a shared voluntary pursuit of the common good -- and it must happen in a place, a piece of physical geography, a particular spot on the planet. Those places, especially the ones that early nurtured us, are deeply impressed upon us. When we lose those places, we lose an essential part of ourselves and our stories. ... Every place's culture is now undermined by the homogenizing pressures of mass culture."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Historic St. Louis: Gateway to the West, Part 1

I love the Arch. I heart the Arch. I adore the Arch.

I see the Arch almost every day of my life, from varying distances and at diverse angles. Some mornings I watch the sun climb one of its legs. Other days, I’m amazed by the view of it completely engulfed in sunlight, often accompanied with a backdrop of billowy white clouds in a bright blue sky. Like this.

Other days, I’ve been blessed to see – and capture – views like these.

This week though, I was amazed to learn how very little I knew about its history. In fairness to me, the Arch was already well on its way when I arrived. (It was supposed to have predated me but it kept hitting delays, delays, delays.) Even so, the dedication of the Gateway Arch on Oct. 28, 1965, makes up the only view of the Mississippi’s St. Louis riverfront that I’ve ever known.
I’ve only been up in the Arch twice; once during a grade school field trip and again as a college student when I worked downtown part-time. I had the opportunity to go again last week but a crunched schedule required me to be back at the office instead. Bummer. It would have been fun to capture some views from on high. Oh well. I have all summer to do that, right?

For starters, here’s a few things I did not know about the Gateway Arch. Did you know:
· Planning for the Arch begin in the 1930s. Around 1933, they decided to create a “major presidential memorial” along the St. Louis riverfront, aptly honoring Thomas Jefferson. His Louisiana Purchase was, after all, the primary reason that anything west of Illinois is a state today. On March 10, 1804, a formal ceremony was conducted in St. Louis transferring ownership of the territory (which now includes all or part of 14 states) from France to the United States. (In the 1930s, only the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument existed as major presidential memorials.)
· Between the planning and construction phase, the United States fought in two wars. Essentially, they started knocking down buildings, making really good headway by 1940, and then got derailed by the U.S. entry into World War II at the close of 1941. This would happen again with the outbreak of war in Korea a decade later.
· The Arch’s height was “stretched” during 15 years. The original Arch design – part of the winning memorial expansion chosen in a 1947 competition— was 130 feet shorter than what we see today.
· What a gyp! The man widely credited as its architect, Eero Saarinen, not only didn’t live to see it built, he died in 1961 – two years before construction even started.

But the one thing I learned that totally blew me away – and not in a good way – was that construction of the Arch decimated 40 square blocks of downtown. Forty square blocks! And with those blocks, pieces of the city’s 18th and 19th Century history, like this. (Be sure to scroll down and see some of the awesome buildings mid-demo. Read the story, too, for more historic details!)

And this. And this, too. Even more. And still more. I finally had to just stop looking it made me so ill.

Granted, parts of these areas weren’t in very good shape and, in some cases, they were filled to the brim with the city’s seamy underside. (Some argued that obliterating “a ghetto” was the whole purpose of the effort which actually began clearing many of these buildings through 1940.) Some of the buildings though really were beautiful and could – and should – have been preserved.

Thankfully, no one even suggested that the Old Cathedral be part of the demolition. (Those designing the Jefferson Memorial National Expansion would just have to work around it. Seems strange to me to even see buildings standing near it!)

Less than 50 years into its life, the Arch is practically synonymous with St. Louis. It’s a major tourist spot and I give it credit for never fully letting downtown die, even during its darkest days in the past two decades.

And I’m not saying that nothing new should ever be built. No, that’s not my point at all – though with few exceptions, I mostly loathe modern architecture. I, do, however, think the best cities offer a carefully planned and beautiful skyline featuring both historic and modern structures.

I still love you, Arch, but you came at a very high price, one that could never be fully calculated into the project cost and one that will be exacted from generations to come.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Floating Away

OK, rain, you can stop now! It’s sprinkling this morning, making it a fifth consecutive day with at least some rain. Enough. No mas, por favor.

It rained only sporadically yesterday, but it was already so wet that yard work was out of the question. (So now my yard is beginning to look junglesque.) It also quashed my plans for some tool-testing.Fortunately, our timing was on cue as we managed to miss downpours both at our destination and once we arrived back home. We did get a heavy misting as we were midway through our shopping adventure, but, except for the strong winds, that wasn’t that bad.

The stores were jam-packed yesterday, a direct result I’d guess of people sticking close to home during Saturday’s mini-maelstrom. I overheard more than one conversation about the weather and people’s experiences on Saturday to confirm that theory.

There are tree limbs all over our neighborhood, suggesting to me that we did have some fairly strong winds on Saturday. I’m happy to report that that was the worst of it for us. No damage. No power loss, though a family friend was in the dark for a while. (That was the worst they had happen, thank God.)

Unfortunately, those much farther south of us weren’t so lucky. I feel so badly for them. Every time I see footage like that, I invariably think back to ’06 when so much of our area was hit hard. Storms are not fun and regardless of the amount of damage you suffer, it’s enough to make you paranoid when you watch one forming that seems even remotely out of the ordinary. And, being awakened by the emergency sirens, like I was during a nap on Saturday, doesn’t do much to enhance one’s comfort level.

Ordinarily, I’m not that bothered by storms but I picked up on something Saturday that got my attention. The birds sensed it, too. I watched more than one quizzically look at the sky from the shelter of the back door’s awning. They weren’t quite sure what to make of it either.

I guess they have a hotline into nature’s vibe.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I despise drivers who refuse to use turn signals. It's not only rude, it's unsafe.

I was plagued with them today but one in particular, in a red Impala, complicated my life for miles and miles. This moron was weaving in and out of traffic like crazy as we approached our shopping destination. He did this to me two or three times before speeding off ahead.

Then, he reappeared in just enough time to pull into my lane -- and in front of me -- as we turned onto a lot. I scowled at him as we parked. The bastard just grinned. Grinned.

I blew it off and went on with my afternoon.

Coming home, I could hardly believe my luck. This same jackass was IN FRONT OF ME AGAIN! How is that even possible?! But it was him. And he was back to his antics, wildly weaving in and out of traffic. The last straw was when he came barreling into my lane, sans blinker, missing Pearl by inches. Inches. I was furious. I was ready to kick his ass.

It was so not fair that I was saddled with this idiot yet again. He would surely cause an accident. And God help us both if it involved me.

The mother, who is a paranoid driver at best, and who is without fail always bitchin' for me to slow down even when I'm going the speed limit, threw me into complete shock. "Blow him off the highway," quoth the mother. So, as we hit the highway from the exit ramp, I immediately shifted into the left lane before the assh*t even had a chance to react. I, of course, used a blinker.

Blessed by a lack of traffic, I decided to take the mother's advice. I blew past him at about 90.

The look on his face -- in the split second that I got to view it -- was priceless. Eat that, assh*le! The mother cheered. I let my foot off the accelerator, flipped on my signal, and carefully pulled back into the right lane behind the traffic I was fast approaching. A few seconds later, I had settled back to the speed limit.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Tense Hour

It had rained on and off all morning, so I was slow to rise. As it turned to early afternoon, I found a few things to occupy my time.

By 4 p.m. I was groggy and still having trouble with my left arm. (Rain can do that.) It was worse than normal, hurting from my elbow through my fingertips.

I popped some pills and decided a nap might be in order. I was blissfully sleeping, Yorkie snuggled beside me (kind of as I'd planned to be early yesterday morning) when I was jolted awake.

THIS IS A TORNADO WARNING. TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY. This was followed by a loud siren. It's good to know that the emergency system is working, I guess, but I hate to be awakened like that. I hopped out of bed.

I woke up the mother, who was napping on the sofa, and immediately turned on the news. I grabbed flashlights and the cat carrier, a transistor radio and both cell phones. Then we sat and waited. And watched.

It got horribly dark. Very, very frightening. The wind began blowing through the trees and then the rain came. The sirens continued to go off.

We began hearing reports that a tornado had touched down about 20 miles or so away. We waited to hear if it was heading for us.

We watched as black clouds swirled closer and then over us. Then HEAVY rain came. It poured and beat on the roof, against the house, on the deck. But it was just rain and some wind.

Areas to the west and the north of us had power lines and trees downed. Cars and homes were damaged. We didn't hear any reports of injuries, thank God. We texted and called families and friends. I heard back from almost everyone that they were OK and I was thankful.

Finally, an hour later, it was over. Naturally, our road had been transformed into a lake. (Typical.) And we watched the dark clouds roll out and slowly be replaced by gray or in some cases blue, skies.

Here's hoping that everyone is OK out there and the storms continue to head to the northeast.

And just as I finished typing this, rain began to beat the roof again. I guess we're in for a good soaking.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why Am I Awake ... and Dressed?

I should be blissfully asleep right now. In all likelihood, there would be a Yorkie nestled against my leg, peacefully snoring.

That was the plan anyway. All week I thought of how wonderful it would be. The past two weeks have been rugged so my first day of vacation was more than welcome.( Especially after spending a good chunk of yesterday chasing around after rugrats to get pictures during Take Your Kid to Work Day. (I’ve become the unofficial official photographer for many events at work.)

Instead, I’m at work. Just too many things happening, too many things to be done to just walk away now. So, I’ll be at work until noon. After that, Lord only knows.

Yes, there are much worse fates so I won't complain. Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Preview

I'm weak. I admit it.

If you had any idea the size of the backlog of materials I have in the hopper for this blog ... if only they were written! During the past several weeks, I've made good use of outdoor time and taken lots and lots and lots of photos. You've even seen some. Others, I just have to save until I create the words to accompany them.

But seriously, I am chomping at the bit to put them all out there. And since yesterday was a long day (followed by an even longer night as I attended a work-related function that got me home at 9 p.m.) I figured I could contain myself by sharing a few, just a few, of the shots I've captured recently.

So ... here's a peek. Just a peek -- at what's coming in the future. See anything you like? I know I do. God, I love downtown!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Midweek Humor: PharmaCat

It's always hilarious to walk into the bathroom and find this ...

Do you think he's comfortable? Mind you, this is only one of his three beds ... (The back feet are killin' me.)

You've got to love Toby. And you've got to love Elavil (and the person who invented the piller for cats) just as much!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beyond the Naked Eye

It's funny the things you don't always notice.

I was out soaking up sun on one of my recent sunny day adventures when a glint of light caught my eye. It was coming from one of the 'scrapers. But not from the building itself as is sometimes the case. Here's the building. (I look out upon the other side of this building from my own window all day.)

Do you see what might have caused it? Starting from the building top, count down to the fifth triangle. Keeping your eye about the level of its tip, look slowly left, stopping about a third of the way across the building. Do you see that?!

Maybe it was this guy!

Definitely NOT a job I would want. Though it would make for an interesting vantage point for photos ...

Lookin' Up

The almost extra hour of sleep I got moved me out the door ahead of schedule. (I shunned the pre-dawn bus this morning, opting for the one I’ve been riding for two years or more, the one that is going to be pulled when new schedules take effect May 10.)

Having a few extra minutes, I chose the scenic route, the one that goes through my city’s historic district. It gave me a chance to check up on the triplets and it also gave me a surprise. I got to see some of the awesome progress that had been made on one of the houses. A house that had once been battered and probably in danger of wasting away to the point of demolition has a new lease on life!

The last time I saw it, it had already been resided but now the trim has been painted, a bay window had been tucked into one corner, and the windows are adorned with awnings. It’s so cool to see this house specifically, and this neighborhood generally, get some love.

One day soon I need to come through here and take some photos. It’s a really pleasant sight -- bit to mention quite a privilege -- to see revitalization in progress.

Monday, April 19, 2010

20 Questions

The bus driver is visibly agitated. I don’t blame him. It’s 5:45 a.m. On a Monday.

I’m sore and groggy. I’m agitated, too. And I don’t have near the excuse he does. I don’t even have to board to see the source of his irritation. I can hear it before I even see it.

“It don’t take no half a hour to get over there,” a shrill, indignant voice claims. The bus driver is on his feet now, consulting the rows of bus schedules that line the small wall at his back.

“Maybe not, but that’s what the schedule says,” he replies calmly.

Finally, I see her. She is a chubby black girl wearing a striped sweatshirt much too small to contain her bulk. Her belly flops swishilly over the waistband of her jeans, coming to rest upon her thigh like a heap of unfolded laundry. It provides a convenient landing pad for the cell phone clipped to her hip.

She pulls a wad of bills from one pocket before thrusting her hand deeply into another. For a second, I think it might disappear, never to return. But suddenly, it does, bursting forth with a shower of change. It rolls in several directions. Clink. Clink. Clink. “Damn,” she mutters and nearly topples as she bends a bit too far to retrieve it.

She is light-skinned and all of 18, no more than 20. Her hair is long and has been carefully straightened. It would be quite pretty, save the obnoxious red and blue streaks going through it. She could even be quite pretty, save the snarl that seems to be permanently embedded on her face.

“How long do it take this bus to get to 6th & Washington?” she bellows. I bite my tongue, wanting desperately to correct the lazy grammar.

“It arrives at 6:10,” the driver answers.

A litany of questions follow, each calmly answered. Then the cell phone leaves her hip. As luck would have it, we get stuck by a train. I hear much more of this conversation than I want to.

“I left your f**kin’ house at 4:20 … and I been standing out here for a whole hour and a half. …I doan know. I need a ride home. No. No. I still got to walk home and put on my clothes first.”
Suddenly, she begins to giggle and tilt her head. Hey, she can smile! There is obviously a male on the other end of the phone. Then: “Because if I wanna did it, I wouldn’t been standin’ here on this corner for two hours, two hours and a half. Actually three hours.”

It’s either later than I thought or this girl can exaggerate with the best of them.

I want to yell to her that if he can’t get her home, or at the very least safely deliver her to the bus stop at what amounts to the middle of the night, he isn’t worth her time. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t listen if I did. She won’t learn until it’s too late.

All that attitude – and directed in the wrong direction, at the poor bus driver instead of the jackass she left two – or was it three? – hours ago.

You’ve got a lot to learn, sweetheart. A whole lot to learn.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Weekend Tally

Whew! Hard to believe it's Sunday night and tomorrow it's back to work again. Well, it doesn't feel much like I ever left work. While I did sleep in a bit both days, I've been in a perpetual state of motion the rest of the time.

Here's a general accounting:

No. of hours spent mowing and weed-eating: 7
No. of bags of yard waste taken to the dump: 5
No. of feet of hose unrolled and hooked up: 100
No. of yard implements cleaned with hose: 6
No. of loads of laundry done: 8
No. of cars washed: 2
No. of Tylenol consumed: 10
No. of hours doing work-related functions: 2
No. of tools tested: 0 :(

Friday, April 16, 2010

Farewell, Summer

I can smell the rain in the air. We need it desperately. The pollen is clinging to everything. The house. The deck. Pearl. (Despite the fact that she has been washed three times in less than 10 days.)

My eyes and throat are going nuts. I do not want another sinus infection. If this keeps up though, I fear that’s exactly what I’m in for.

But as much as I know that we need it, part of me hates to see it come. It will usher in cooler temperatures. (We aren’t supposed to hit 70 over the weekend.) The last few days have been SO wonderful. I really do hate to see them go. At least I got to enjoy them – and take in some beautiful old buildings in the process.
A big box arrived on my doorstep yesterday. And I already have a few other boxes that need unpacking. Look for a return of ToolTalk AND the history segment next week as I’m chock full of fodder for both!

Now to get enough time to put some tools to the test and string together some tales of bygone days … two of my favorite activities.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One April 15 Question

It’s April 15. Do you know where your taxes are?

Thankfully, I started mine Dec. 31 and had federal and one state filed at the end of January. I had refunds by the first week of February.

But my resident state? Ah. I never get around to it until the 11th hour because it is SUCH a pain in the butt. And it's a total wash: I don't owe them. They don't owe me. Schedule for this. Worksheet for that. Copies of federal and state to go with it. Gah!!!

You shouldn’t need an engineering degree to do taxes. You just shouldn’t. Such is life though when you live in one state and work in another.

I let TaxAct do it for me because I am not “eligible” to file online myself because of all the schedules and worksheets, etc. Huh? Why, if I PAY someone else, will the state take it, but if I tried to submit the paperwork online myself I can’t?

Whatever. Just take my money. At least the sh*t is filed. The state had accepted it by yesterday afternoon. Another year done!

Here's hoping that you can say the same very soon if you haven't already ...


That's right. It's there in all caps. Read it. Do it. I'm talking to you with all the foreign alphabet names who don't leave real comments ...

I'm speaking to those freakin' spammers who keep trying to sell sex, Gucci, porn pix and God knows what else via links on MY BLOG!!!! Rest assured, if I wanted any of those things sold via my blog, I'd be the one doing it. IT'S MY BLOG, a**hat, NOT YOURS!

I'd been lucky until about two months ago. Before that, there would only be a random one or two. Now, every few days, there are 10, 15, 20 at a time showing up. If this keeps up, I'll HAVE to put the comment security in place. I've tried not to because I find it annoying personally. So, I'll apologize now to my faithful commenters and new visitors alike if it should come to that.

In the meantime you worthless sack o'crap spammers, the sheriff is on duty.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Fix for the Architecture Junkie

I didn’t get to roam around Monday on Opening Day and missed out on all the fanfare of the kick-off to baseball season and a perfectly gorgeous afternoon. Yesterday, I made up for it and did something even better. (Well, better in the mind of a person who is totally into historic architecture.)

Camera in hand, walking shoes on, brain swirling with info from work, I took to the streets on a sunny, 80-degree afternoon. My first stop: St. Louis Centre. I got a quick glimpse of the gutting job going on inside it.
There was some irony in that roughly 25 years ago, I watched them build this failed shopping center. A multi-story structure that linked two older and anchor department stores, Famous-Barr (now Macy’s) and Dillard’s (formerly Stix, Baer and Fuller – and now many years vacant).

Now I’m watching them tear it down. Or, if the sign in the left-hand corner of this photo is to believed, I’m watching them convert it into a parking garage with, potentially, some ground-level retail space.

A little more irony here as "parking garage" is usually the plan after felling a historic building in downtown St. Louis. Thankfully, that’s not the case here.

Then, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for months. I walked up to Washington and pointed my camera straight up to the cornice level of the old Stix building (c.1905). This poor, neglected old structure. It sure has some majestic touches tucked away up top. It’s a shame there’s nothing else going on with it.

Fortunately, the same cannot be said a few blocks away at the Arcade Building and adjacent Paul Brown building. There is supposed to be work under way there to turn them into lofts. The state of the economy may have scuttled that. I need to check.)

There’s some evidence that there is work going on but I didn’t notice any activity. In this shot of the Paul Brown building, it’s worth noting that, reflected in the windows are two historic gems in their own right: the Chemical Building and the Old Post Office. The latter underwent a dramatic renovation/restoration in the early ‘80s. (I watched that go on, too … along with the exceptionally good-lookin’ construction workers that seemed to overpopulate that site. But I digress.)

I grabbed images of a few other places on my mid-afternoon journey and I’ll get around to sharing those soon. The place I spent the most time though won’t be mentioned yet either. It’s a truly inspirational spot and one definitely worthy of one of my historical blog entries. (And one that I'm now aware I may have missed an entire spectacular side of. IDIOT!) Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get around to documenting it. Watch for it!

In the meantime, hope you enjoyed my little walking tour.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Racing Into Tuesday

Ladybird lived up to her name as we flew through town this morning. I was a bit of a slow riser today and in no way thought I’d make this bus as a result!

I’m glad I grabbed a jacket today. I didn’t yesterday but was OK because I had long sleeves. Today, I’m braving short sleeves – and the AC is already blasting on the bus. (It’s only 57 now, though we’re headed for the mid-80s.)

Yesterday was gorgeous. While I had wanted to walk around for Opening Day, I couldn’t. I just had too much going on to stop for that long. Maybe next year. Sigh.

St. Louis always goes all out for baseball. Opening Day is always awash with pageantry. From one of our conference rooms, you can look right down into the stadium, something that is fun to do, especially on a day when so much other than baseball is going on inside! I heard Pujols homered. I did not hear the resulting fireworks. (Something I always did in my old office.)

The game didn’t start until 3 so the crowds weren’t the menace to rush hour that they normally are for a day game. Traffic didn’t seem any worse than any other day really. And they won. Yippee!

I get to go to a game in a few weeks. Looking very forward to it. While our summer weather is supposed to wrap up later this week, here’s hoping for some more of these pretty days later in the month.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Dawning of a New Day

This morning's sunrise wasn't all that bright and colorful. The sun slowly edged its way into the sky with very little fanfare.

But Friday's sunrise certianly was! I managed to capture it at its most colorful.

Yeah. This view isn't so bad!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday Scenes

Yesterday was a REALLY good day! Really.

It got off to an auspicious start but it was beautiful weather, safe travels, and incredibly fun times with family and friends.

In the morning, it was a National Scrapbook Day celebration with Mama Martha, the Monkey Girl, and poor C. who somehow ended up with our table. (I hope she doesn't decide to stop cropping after the experience!)

And then, it was over all too quickly. I left a little early, flew home and did a quick change to go and celebrate the First Communion of my two little cousins.

They were both too cute! Unfortunately, V shed his suit before I could capture this shot but E was still in her pretty dress. (She would change clothes two times later on.)
Good friends, good food, good fun -- GOOD TIMES!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Weekend Buzz

I don’t anticipate any DIY in my future this weekend. This, in spite of the fact that my still unfinished bathroom and kitchen prey on my mind every day. But, it just isn’t going to happen this weekend.

First, I’ll be spending tomorrow with pictures and my scrapbooking friends in observance of National Scrapbook Day. It’s like a playdate for grown-ups and I’ve really been looking forward to it!

Even so, I’ll have to cut out a tiny bit early so that I can go spend some of the evening hours with family as two of my cousins each have a child celebrating First Communion, so we’ll be heading to the restaurant for a post-business hours gathering. It should be fun.

Sunday, however, I have a date of a different kind. It’s one I’ve been dreading for a few weeks now, but I really can’t put it off for much longer: I have to mow. For me, it’s the only downside to the unobstructed arrival of spring. I’ve been catching tiny bits of warmth and sun during the past few weeks; today will be no exception. But dragging out the mower will give me my first crack at spending a little bit of time outdoors.

I’ll probably have to don a mask though as I already have a sinus infection. Playing in grass pollen and dirt isn’t likely to help that out much. But, considering that it’s supposed to be sunny and very warm, I sure hope I don’t end up with facial tan lines that make me look like Zira on Planet of the Apes!

If you’ve got DIY plans this weekend – or if you even just want to do some shopping – how would you like to save some money? Fred – from our friends over at One Project Closer -- pointed out that there may be a problem with the Sears link from Wednesday’s post. Never fear.

Sears themselves have shared some links to sale information that starts TONIGHT giving everyone Sears’ employee discount privileges this weekend only. Here’s what they sent me:
· Date / Time: Online, it starts Friday, April 9, 8 PM CT until Saturday, April 10; the in-store sale is Saturday, April 10, 9 AM-12 NN
· Offers: Extra 20% off apparel, cosmetics, fragrances, accessories, jewelry, watches, shoes; extra 10% off appliances, electronics, tools, lawn and garden, automotive, fitness, furniture, luggage, and home among others
· Link to site
· Link to PDF coupon that details all offers (See page 7 for tools)
· Link to in-store savings passes

Happy shopping! But don’t forget to check out OPC when planning future DIY projects. Not only is there a variety of great advice to be found, you can also get good information on money-off coupons from both Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Change in the Weather

It was nearly 70 when I left home yesterday morning. Today it's 47. And the wind is evil! Even though it was still dark, I had to put on my sunglasses to keep crap from blowing into my eyes.

Of course, that didn't help my already completely p*ssed off sinuses. And from what I saw on the news last night, it's only going to get worse. Allergy-sufferers, beware!

I'm afraid that I already have all the makings of a sinus infection, so I'm sneaking into the allergist's late this afternoon to see if I can't put the brakes on it before it swerves out of control. (As these things usually tend to with me.)

Maybe I should move to the desert.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Into DIY Discounts

I’ve been watching with a little bit of envy as some of you have fully embraced your spring projects. I very much hope to rejoin the DIY brethren soon. This D*mn House is at that phase where something, anything, just has to get done – baby steps toward making it an actual house again!

While I don’t know when exactly that will be, I do know one thing that I will be armed with when it does happen: discounts. We love saving money at This D*mn House. (It’s that much more to put toward the next project!)

Fred and all our friends over at One Project Closer maintain a few posts with the most recent coupons from the major home improvement stores. The first two – courtesy of Home Depot and Lowes – include instructions for getting a 10% off coupon mailed directly to you from each of them. A third, this one for Sears, offers up their latest online deals (like when Kenmore appliances or all things Craftsman go on sale).

Go check it out:
Home Depot Coupons - 10% Off & More
Lowes Coupons - 10% Off & More
Sears Coupons - Appliance Discounts, etc...

These articles contain instructions on getting other deals from these places, too, both online and in-store. Bargainmasters Fred and Ethan do a great job of keeping on top of the lists. Thanks, guys, for making that DIY dollar go even farther!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Covered Walls

My office is unboxed and I FINALLY have all my pictures on the walls.

It's been very comforting to have my photos all around. Combined with the open sky, new skyline, and view of a lovely historic building, it makes me happy as a clam.

See for yourself.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Just for Me

I’m up early again. Not as early as Friday, but not that far off either.

The storms that were blowing through when I went to bed are long gone, thank God. The air is thick. And hot. It’s already a temperature that would represent something near the normal high for this time of year. The birds are chirping and shrieking and flapping to life, in spite of the fact that it’s still completely dark, no hint of light yet in the morning sky.

It’s 5:45 a.m. Ladybird is the third car on the bus station lot. There is only one other person on this bus.

My early-riser status is due in large part to the fact that, in spite of Lawnmower Man’s rude awakening, I got the sleep I was after. (I slept from before 1:30 until nearly 4 when I was awakened by the shrill whine of a string-trimmer.) It was OK. I needed to be up anyway or else I might not have gotten the 4.5 hours of sleep that I did last night.

I’m proud of myself for remembering two things I bought for myself over the weekend: a nice new watch, similar to one I bought during my first trip to New York in 2005 (one which has since broken, its main control shot) and a really cool photo display piece that I think visitors to my office will – OK, and me, too – will enjoy playing with. Both were on sale and one had a coupon to take even more $$$ off. SCORE!

Isn’t it fun?! Can’t wait to fill it up.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Lawnmower Man Rides Again

All I wanted was to sleep in today. That was it.

I'd had a weird, sporadic sleep pattern yesterday which had started with a nap Friday night.

The original plan had been to do a bathroom reno at the restaurant between yesterday and today. That got taken off the roster for a variety of reasons. Yesterday was spent getting household needs (and for me, a few things I wanted for a change) and more stuff for some projects at the restaurant. So, today's goal was to sleep until I felt like getting up. Except that's not what happened.

I was rudely awakened by the sound of a lawnmower. The Lawnmower Man was back. (Quick history note for those who haven't been reading long: Crazy man who lives on the corner and constantly cuts grass. His, everyone else's, and usually makes huge messes in the process. He did mine for a while til I made him stop because of the uneven levels and huge gouges he left throughout.)

And I swear if I go out there and there is grass all over Pearl after I scrubbed her but good yesterday ...

Oh, Happy Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010


Maybe because I went to bed roughly 90 minutes earlier than usual. Maybe because yesterday's 87-degree high temp left the house a little warmer and even though we'd switched on the air temporarily, my room was still hot.

Or maybe it's just because my brain, haunted by all the things I know I must accomplish today, refused to completely shut down for an extended period.

Whatever the reason, I was awake shortly after 4 a.m. I tried in vain to go back to sleep but I could NOT get comfortable. Before 4:30, I'd given up. And by the time I normally would have been fumbling in the dark to turn the alarm off, I was piloting Ladybird across town to grab a bus.

By 6:15, I was working. And I need to get back to it. I may break briefly in a few minutes to get some caffeine, though somehow I already feel like I've had the morning infusion. (I am so NOT a morning person so this even feels wrong.) The one benefit of coming in extra early: There will be absolutely no one disturbed when I hang a few pictures in a bit!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An All New View

I love these pictures.

I have long referred to them collectively as my “happy place.” I spent some of the best times of my life in these scenic spots including Cancun, Laguna Beach, the Rocky Mountain National Park and Cape Hatteras. I took every one of these shots, trying to capture a stunning view that I’d been blessed enough to see.

It’s no secret that I’m a true aficionado of Mother Nature’s glory so this is not surprising. But moving to a new office – and getting a stunning piece of historic architecture for a backdrop – it seemed like the ideal time to do a change of artwork. Here’s my new view, featuring said piece of historic architecture.

So, slowly during the past few days, that’s exactly what I did.

I decided to highlight some of the shots I’ve captured during the past few years of historic downtown St, Louis. After taking advantage of a Walgreen’s sale that includes enlargement , recycling my old frames and painstakingly rounding up a selection of other frames that wouldn’t break the bank, here’s a look at what I’ve done so far.

I still have a few more groupings to pull together (including one featuring that more modern downtown staple, the Arch) and hang, but thus far, I’m extremely pleased. I don’t know how people can stand to be surrounded by bare walls – especially ones where you spend as much time as I do in these.