Dual Purpose

Art in the public square is allowed to be functional. In fact, many people appreciate seeing a purpose in art on public display.

Does it make you smile?

Does it make you think? (‘What was the artist thinking?’ counts as a thought.)

Does it serve as a landmark?

On a recent visit to a popular St. Louis attraction, I saw a familiar object in a new way.

Solutions provided for two problems: I’m thirsty. What time is it?


Old-fashioned Door

Touring historic homes is an activity I enjoy. However, as I get older, I discover that I’ve seen (sometimes used) historic items.

Consider the door on the right. Yes, the one with the locked chain to keep tourists (and others) out of the structure.

My great aunt — and others in my hometown — had a similar door to her house. It was a handy place to sit when all the lawn chairs were full of adults. She didn’t use it often but the residents of this historic, early 1800’s home would have.

It went to the cellar. Yes, cellar, not basement. Think dim, cool, and full of shelves, bins, and crocks of supplies. Open the doors wide and walk down the five or six steps. Is it daylight? Did you bring a lantern? Careful where you step! Creatures may have slipped in to enjoy the cool, pounded dirt floor.

Imagine being the child sent to get the potatoes, carrots, and onions for the kitchen. I’d fill my basket quick. How about you?

My great aunt’s home — build nearly a century later — also had an interior set of steps to the basement. Much better during winter storms.

Lift Up Your Eyes

Not literally. Well, sort of. Tip your head back and look at the sky. (But leave your eyeballs in their sockets and connected to the optic nerve.) Please!

Lift up your eyes — is advice from centuries ago. It’s used in the Bible to remind people to look to the hills and the heavens when they pray.

Depending on location and walking conditions — I like to “lift my eyes” during my morning walk. You see some amazing clouds. Depending on how early this walk happens — a person can see the remnants of the sunrise colors. Or narrow rays breaking through.

You can also see man-made structures.

Lift up your eyes!

See where your 9-1-1 call for help flies.

Ancestors Evening

How many generations of your family can you record by name?

Did they live in the same city or region as your? The same state? The same country?

Different groups brought their regional habits and forms of entertainment when they moved.

While during the day many of the families socialized with others doing work or business — the home became the center of activity in the evening. Especially in the days before electricity, telephones, and the “modern” distractions.

Study the photo and imagine. Papa (or grandfather) enjoying his evening pipe while others in the family tour the world with pictures on the stereoscope, read, or sing by lamplight.

Tender Care

Art in the public square — or garden.

On a recent visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden, I varied my route.

And there–sitting on the lawn–was a sculpture reflecting my notion of tender, loving, care.

What do you see? Playtime? A farewell?

Something sinister–kidnapper and victim?

Garden Cottage

Meet me at the Garden Cottage.

What sort of image comes to mind?

Are your thoughts cheerful — a small house surrounded by well-tended plants?

Or do you think sinister–night, no moon, and an abandoned structure in the midst of overgrown vines?

A clever writer could construct a book which fits either description. Or another — how about the modest house acts as a gateway to another world.

Today’s photo — taken at the Missouri Botanical Garden — falls into the first category.  For a little over a century, a series of employees such as chief gardeners lived here. Then it sat vacant for more than a decade (a tinge of the sinister?) before receiving a much needed renovation.

Would you like to spend a summer here?

Garden Girl

She dashes between the rows and searches for the perfect flower.

Dress and hair bounce with each fall of a foot against the solid earth.

I found it! I found it!

She takes a moment and tips her face to the sun.

She’s garden girl — and a sliver of her stays forever.


Look Up!

When on a scenic drive — as passenger, not driver — be sure to glance UP at the scenery.

This particular bluff is located between two small river towns on the Upper Mississippi (in this case, upper equals north of the Ohio River) . It also happens to be named The Maiden Rock.

Yes, at one time (perhaps still) you can buy a printed copy of the “legend”. In this one the princess is named Winona and her father is Chief Red Wing. And like similar stories at other bluffs along the river, she gathered her dead lover — from the wrong tribe — into her arms and leaps off into the waters below.

Please to remember — the road and railroad were not carved into the foot of the bluff at this time.

True story? You can decide.

Beautiful bluff? You have my vote.

Full to Overflowing

My cup runneth over.

It’s not a new phrase. You’ve probably heard it a good many times.

Have you felt it? Have you ever had an event happen in which your heart and spirit feel suddenly full of all the positive things in life?

How would you picture it?

Summer abundance with overflowing cup.


At the Heart

At the heart of the home is…the kitchen.

In the Midwest farming community where I grew up — many of the houses (town or rural) had the entrance into the kitchen. Often this was via a back porch — sometimes open, sometimes enclosed. This was the door that was used.

Yes, every house had a front door which often opened to the living room. But the traffic pattern here was light. A knock on the front door signaled strangers.

Step back a few generations and the same pattern emerges.

Time was spent in the kitchen — by residents and visitors. This is where the women did a great amount of work preparing food for either immediate or future use. Family and guests gathered around the table for meals. Visiting and evening tasks were accomplished close to the heat and light of the fire.

This two room frame house with a central fireplace was a common floor plan in the 1830’s. The kitchen side of the fireplace was at the literal center as well as the functional heart of the home.