Monthly Archives: November 2012

PICK PIC OF THE WEEK — KING OF THE ROOST!

TheBird

The King Of The Roost!

Even the lowly city pigeon can rule the skies,

Or at least pretend …

From a majestic vantage point of poured concrete.

Until the sun rises high in the sky …

And he flies to join groveling friends below,

In search of a bit of bread, or crumb

Dropped by some careless passer-by.

He can dream his lofty dreams,

Until it’s time to eat!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

REFLECTIONS ARE FOREVER

My favorite spot for reflection in the City of Saint Louis is the historic Palace Of Fine Arts designed by Cass Gilbert for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition … known locally as the Saint Louis Worlds Fair. Today, everyone simply calls it … The Art Museum.

It was the only permanent building built for the fair, and second only to the Arch it is probably the most photographed building in the city. I started this blog by noting it is my favorite spot for reflection. And I mean reflection in both senses of the word. And this is because of the East Stair case where you can find a reflection that literally goes on …FOREVER!  And while it goes on forever, you’re only reflected once. Well, actually, twice … but I’ll never know because I’ve never held a camera behind my back to see what the other side of this photo would look like.

Note to visitors to the museum: If you look out of the window at the foot of this staircase, you’ll see this highly reflective tree in the outside forest.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

THE HOME OF THE SMILING BAGEL BLOG

 In case you’ve ever wondered what blog central looks like,  I’ve decided to give you a quick sneak peek of me in high creative mode at the keyboard of the mighty iMAC. In the corner you can see my writing partner. He really doesn’t do any thing besides giving me an occasional thumbs up which is just the inspiration I need some times. My screen saver which you can’t see because this page is hiding it features a photo of the Dragon Smok Wawelski.

Smok is the only dragon known to reside in Poland in reality or folklore. He lived in a cave along the Vistula River. And that’s where my ancestors also lived … not in a cave, but along the Vistula River. According to legend, Smok enjoyed eating sheep and once a month a young maiden. So the villagers were expected to leave the Maiden Of The Month in front of his cave every month for his dining pleasure. (Me thinks that in reality Smok really was just a really horny old Polish peasant who was running his personal house of pleasure.)

Anyway, supposedly a dashing young prince named Krakus did Smok in and built a palace on top of his grave which he called Krakow after himself. He also probably had all the Maidens of the Month to himself.

And that is all the creativity I can create tonight. 

OMG! I MISSED THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER!

I don’t know why I thought today was the first day of winter. I guess it was because my calendar in the kitchen said it was. I should have known better since none of the weather wizards on TV were spewing all the winter weather trivia they had gleaned from their Old Farmer’s Almanac. I had a OFA, but I used it as a coaster for a potted plant last spring. Pot leaked and soaked almanac. So I threw it away! Then the plant died. Guess it had formed some kind of attachment for that soggy almanac.

So, I began preparing to welcome the winter solstice by writing my ode to the changing of the seasons.

FALL HAS FALLEN … AND WINTER RULES

SO NOW I CAN PUT AWAY THE GARDEN TOOLS!

I should have known something was amiss when all the trees went bald last week, and the littering leaves staged an OCCUPY the Streets, Lawns, and Walks protest all around town.

It was a very colorful demonstration to say the least!

Then it hit me like a snowball direct from hell!

WINTER DOESN’T START UNTIL RIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!

AND I HAVEN’T EVEN STARTED DOING MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!!!

So in spite of the fact that yesterday’s temp dipped to 22F it is still FALL … glorious FALL! It was like Ebenezer Scrooge waking up on Christmas day and finding out the temp is going to skyrocket to the mid-50s today. So don’t believe everything you read on the internet … until you get to the last line.

A DAY IN THE MUSEUM

On Sunday I joined family members and friend’s for a special guided tour of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s current special exhibit FEDERICO BAROCCI RENAISSANCE MASTER. This will be the last major exhibition in the Museum’s original Cass Gilbert Palace of  the Fine Arts built for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition. After this exhibit moves on to London’s National Museum in January, the space reserved for major exhibits will be reconfigured into major galleries for the European Collection. Future major exhibits will be held in the museum’s  expansion building that will officially open on June 29.

Rest on the Return from Egypt 1570-73 (Vatican Museums, Vatican City)

Barocci born in Urbino, Italy in 1533 is regarded as one of the preeminent  artists of the 16th century. His work is noted for its brilliant coloring and detailing. Check the dress fabric on Mary’s right arm. He is recognized as one of the most prolific and influential draftsmen in history and more than 1,500 studies made in preparation for his paintings survive today. And many of these studies are on display next to the paintings for which they were made in this exhibit.

The exhibition which is the first major show of Barocci’s work was organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum in association with the National Gallery, London. Paintings, drawings and sketches on view are part of more than a half dozen European collections.

Nativity, 1597 (Museo Nacional Del Prado, Madrid, Spain

Study of the Christ Child — chalk with pastel on blue paper

(The Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)

Annunciation 1582-84 (Vatican Museums, Vatican City)

Study for the head of the Virgin Mary – chalk and pastel on blue paper

(The Royal Collection, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)

Portrait of Francesco Maria II della Rovere the Duke of Urbino , 1571-72 / Barocci’s patron

(Uffizi in Florence)

Barocci was one of the most highly paid artists specializing in creating and painting altarpieces for Roman churches. Except for two trips to Rome, he lived and worked most of his career in Urbino. On his last trip to Rome he was invited to a picnic where he was supposedly poisoned by rivals who envied his close relationship with Michelangelo. He left Rome and never returned.

Our tour of the exhibit was very impressive and the presentation of the artwork was outstanding. I should point out that since many of the works in the exhibit were alterpieces to be shown in a church, they were much larger than the usual painting you see in a museum. They ranged in size from six to twelve feet tall, and required several years to be completed.

Interesting note, only male models posed for the figures seen in Barocci’s artwork. In some of his preliminary sketches you can see the progression in stages from the male nude figure to the female figure that would be in the final painting. While the finished paintings are striking, the early sketches show what an extraordinary artist Barocci was. Here’s my favorite sketch … it is for the head of Saint John, the Evangelist in the painting THE ENTOMBMENT. According to tradition John was the youngest of the apostles and Barocci painted him as a youth. In his gospel John refers to himself as the disciple Jesus loved. He is also the only apostle to die of old age at the start of the second century A.D.

(Oil on paper mounted on linen – 1580) National Gallery Of Art, Washington, D.C.

MAKING TRACKS WITH MLLE. RENEE!

Today was the kind of day where you just wanted to snuggle up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate. Unfortunately Mlle. Renee cannot have hot chocolate and while she has on occasion been seen promoting a good book that deals with canine issues she supports …

She really cannot read.

And also, she doesn’t think I should be reading when I could be taking her for a walk … even though it was dull, dreary, damp and damn cold out!

But she is persistent!

And who can say no to those pleading eyes?

So, I bundled up like Ralphie’s little brother Randy …   I went outside to brave the November chill!

Today, Renee decided to explore the tracks left by others.

CATS!

DOGGIES!

HUMANS!

AND REALLY DUMB HUMANS

WHO DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SENSE TO AVOID WALKING ON WET CEMENT!

And with that display of how dumb some two leggers can be, Renee decided to go home where it was warm inside.

Snow flurries due tonight, and that book is really sounding like the way to go!

Note … Ralphie’s brother Randy’s photo is from my favorite Christmas movie of all time – A CHRISTMAS STORY.

THIS AFTERNOON’S MOON

This is a photo of Friday afternoon’s moon as seen from the MetroLink Blue Line Train headed to the Shrewsbury Station along the River Des Peres Greenway.

And yes, that true cobalt blue sky is a regular feature of the Saint Louis area … well, at least on sunny days.

Fact Check: 

  The River Des Peres was once a 9+ mile long real river, stream or muddy ditch (during dry periods) that flowed through the city of Saint Louis in a winding pattern and emptied into the Mississippi River. It was named  The River Of The Fathers for two French Jesuit Priests who founded a mission near where it emptied into the Mississippi in 1700. That was 60 years before the city of Saint Louis was founded on higher ground a little further up the Mississippi

 As the city population grew, more and more waste water flowed into the river causing sanitary and odor problems. In the early 1900s it was reconfigured with a poured concrete bed to channel just the flow of rainwater from the city’s drainage sewers to the Mississippi. Contrary to local legends, raw sewage does not flow though the channel anymore. (Well, except when someone has an emergency call of nature while biking, jogging or walking along the Greenway.) All sewage is now carried to the Metro Saint Louis Sewer District’s processing center in a separate pipeline which is buried under the concrete drainage channel.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

Since yesterday was THANKSGIVING in the United States, this week’s photo challenge was … Share a picture which means THANKFUL to you!

So, meet Mademoiselle Renee! I think THANKFUL goes both ways with Renee and me. I first met her at the HSMO shelter almost four years ago. I was living alone, and I needed someone to share the house with me. As I walked down the row of potential four-footed companions, she was the one who picked me out by running up to me and showing me her happy face. She was about nine months old, and she had not had a happy puppyhood. Three months earlier she had been roaming the streets of Saint Louis … a lost, stolen or abandoned puppy for some time. She was near starvation with her puppy collar embedded in her neck so that it  had to be surgically removed. When finally restored to full health she was put up for adoption. And the very next day (Valentine’s Day), she adopted me. So, we’re both equally THANKFUL to have each other as our faithful companion!

 

Renee’s Happy Face!

TIME TO GIVE THANKS!

NOT FOR SHOPPING!

If retailers have their way, next year the Black Friday sales will probably start on Wednesday afternoon. Sorry, it’s just a bit of excess commercialism that has  piqued my holiday ire this year. Actually I have never gone shopping on Black Friday, just like I never go shopping on the day after Christmas.

Which is rather strange, since I always celebrate Thanksgiving with my brother and his family on the day before Thanksgiving. He does this so my nephews and nieces can celebrate Thanksgiving with their in-laws.

So yesterday afternoon I headed west and spent the afternoon on the other side of the Missouri River. I was a fun afternoon since I had the chance to meet the new great-nephew and reacquaint my self with the almost new great-niece who can now crawl around the floor faster than a cockroach. She has no vocalization skills yet, but she’s actually learning sign language.

We also had a great turkey dinner …

That quickly left plates looking like this …What that all their was … ?That’s apple pie, chocolate cheese cake, pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, pumpkin tarts, decorated brownies, and acorn cookies. I had a sliver of pumpkin pie.

As I was leaving my sister-in-law handed me a package for Mlle. Renee … gizzard, liver, heart and neck of the day’s bird of honor!

So, today I made turkey soup for Renee. After slicing the giblets, I cooked the meat off of the neck, removed the bones and added rice, carrots and green beans and served up a bowl to the lady of the house.After she licked the bowl clean, she gave me that Oliver Twist twist … “Please, Sir, may I have some more?”

And just in case you’re thinking about sneaking out to the malls for the pre-Black Friday sales …

The angry turkey police will be picketing stores and watching out for eat and run offending shoppers.

TALES OF THE TWINKIES!

  Twinkies and I share a long history together. Even before I ever tasted one, I smelled them. And overcome by that delicious creamy good fragrance, my infant senses went into action and introduced me to new bodily function … salivation. Unfortunately, my Aunt Edna into whose care I had been erroneously been placed, coarsely commented, “Oh, look, Little  is drooling again. Isn’t that cute?”

Thankfully, my all-wise grandmother replied, “Well, wipe his face, dingbat!” I would soon realize that this was a normal conversation between the two. My Aunt Edna had never married  and she lived with my grandmother in a four family flat in north Saint Louis. Since this was back in an unenlightened era, my aunt was unkindly referred to as a spinster lady and/or old maid.

Grandma was my dad’s mother. My grandpa and her husband had died shortly after my mom and dad married. So the house on Palm Street was referred to as Grandma’s House. 

And it was located across the alley from the Hostess Bakery where they baked Twinkies and Snowballs 24-hours a day. That’s why going to Grandma’s was always such salivating fun. Even despite my Aunt Edna, who would always be a well-meaning menace. Actually when we were coming to visit she would always stop at the bakery store and pick up a couple of packages for me and my brother.

 Twinkies always came two to a package, which meant there was always one for me and one for my brother. They also tasted better when I was little.  The original creme filling was banana flavored. To be honest I can’t remember when I last ate a Twinkie. Guess that’s why they’re going out of business. Alas, I killed the Twinkies Factories!

These days, I eat sensible foods …

Monday morning’s buttermilk pancakes!

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