The Big Picture

The modern world is complicated. Technology is changing and rippling down into other aspects of life at unprecedented speed. Many people are unable to grasp it all — so they specialize, concentrate on one portion, and work to become an expert within narrow margins.

The world needs a few specialists. At times we need to consult an expert. For example, my grasp of physics is fragile. I’d never be able to pick up changes in observatory photographs or tiny pulses hinting at new space bodies or atomic structures.

But I ask you to remember the big picture. Resist the power of tunnel vision. Think a little about the future. (If I plant the tree here — will the roots clog the sewer in a few years? Will the crown surround the power lines?) It might work out better in the long run to plant the tree six feet to the left or choose a shrub instead of a shade tree.

Big picture, or long distance, thinking requires choices. So I urge you to gather the facts as best you can, weigh the pros and cons, and make an informed choice. Whether it be where to plant a tree, which item of clothing to purchase, or which candidate to mark on your ballot.


Rest a Spell

Cold rain. Wind. Snow swirling and dancing across the ground.

Three good reasons to move the daily walk into the mall.

Nice flat surface. People to watch. Dry and warm.

Walk, walk, walk. Past the row of shops, loop around at the department store, and return past the kiosks. There’s a couple doing the same path at a different speed. Up the stairs to another level. Make a oval past different shops. Savor the smell from the food court. Pause to adjust the shoelace. Walk. Walk. Walk.

Oh, good. Exactly what I need before I summon the energy to one final lap of the businesses.

100_2001 Ideal spot for weary shoppers.

Or walkers.

The Understudy

Every good theater company has them. A wise corporate manager trains them.

Performances must go on. Work must be completed.

So after you glance at the sky this morning to determine if it’s sunny or cloudy. Did you see your shadow? Did you want to curl up in your abode for an additional six weeks? Or are you invigorated and ready to go out and prepare for the next season?

Folklore gives the task of mid-winter weather forecasting to the woodchuck. AKA ground hog. I give you his understudy.

Prairie Dog

A prairie dog practicing for next Ground Hog Day.

PS: Have you eaten sausage today?

Safety First

Safety: my dictionary begins with freedom from danger and a protective device before moving on to definitions which apply to football.

I’ve yet to come across an absolute safe activity. Even sleeping can be dangerous in those odd moments of earthquake, fire, or flash flood. Unpredictable humans and animals necessitate a person to be alert for safety concerns when driving, riding, or walking.

Yet some activities are safer than others. And some which include danger are necessary. But many of these can be made safer by planning and equipment suited to the task.

Take the example of this man. While I personally would need a tremendous amount of money to do his job — he moved about doing his work. Yes, he’s paid. Well, I hope.


The structure on the left is a two story building.

Behind him are power lines.

A major street is out of scene to the right.

No Matter the Weather

Run. Run. Run. For fitness and fun. Ignoring the heat, the rain, and the cold.

My circle of acquaintances includes several runners. Yes, they are a hardy group. Some of them leave warm, cozy beds in the winter to don running gear — including hat and mittens — to jog along a trail or a path in the park. Do they enjoy watching their breath form vapor clouds as they run? Or does the shower feel good and the coffee taste better when they return to their homes?

One St. Louis runner outdoes them all. In warm weather he’s surrounded by splashing water. On special occasions the water is tinted. (On purpose.) Then during the coldest months he runs exposed above his shallow pool.


Run! Running Man. Run!

Special Building for a Special Location

Recent Friday blogs have featured branches of libraries in large, public systems.

Not all libraries fit that model. Smaller town will have one building, or a portion of the building. Frequently these are remodeled from previous businesses or perhaps even a home.

Churches often have libraries with collections primarily for members. Hospitals will have libraries filled with standard texts and recent periodicals. (We all want our physician to be up-to-date.) Schools often have one library per building plus a bookshelf or two in each classroom.

On one of my vacation trips we happened upon a library specialized in content (emphasis on one portion of university studies), but also specialized in construction. Strong winds, rain, and snow will not harm this building. It also matches the style of the living quarters and other structures in the observatory complex.

Mexican library0001_crop

A cozy building for students and staff  at a high point in the Mexican Baja.

Floral Wall Decoration

Unless you’re a bachelor that I’m related to — you hang some decorative objects on your living space walls.

Prints of famous art are popular. Enlargements of family or vacation photos find a place in many homes. Perhaps a favorite plate or a shadow box holding small items from vacation trips decorate a room. Original artwork? By a professional artist? Or a family member with talent?

Flowers are a popular theme. They have cheerful colors and tend to bring an illusion of sunshine and fresh air inside with their image.


I’m going to pass on these cheerful and dramatic beauties.

My rooms are too small!


Neighborhood Landmark

Are buildings female? Like ships? Indulge me and read along.

She’s a grand lady. Designed with a sturdy appearance, to last a century or more. An anchor for the neighborhood. A destination for young and old, rich or poor.

She’s stood on this corner in a municipality long ago absorbed into the city. She was build at a time when “grand entrance” included stone steps up from the sidewalk. Tall wooden doors open to a tiny vestibule — designed as a sort of air lock to keep cold winter winds from sweeping all the way across the main reading room.  High ceilings, marble steps to the daylight basement, high grand windows.

And modern touches. A series of computers for patrons to use. Bar coded materials checked out via computers. Knowledgeable clerks willing to assist.

A modern library in an elegant case.


Welcome to all. Children can read in the same space parents, grandparents, and also great-grandparents came to discover new friends in books.


Crossing the Creek

The park appeared tiny from the road past the hospital. Aside from a modest parking lot and a little wild area along a small creek there wasn’t much too it.

Well…there was this footbridge. It must lead to something.

So on a fine January day, I parked in the lot and went exploring. I needed the steps for my exercise program. And when weather permits I prefer fresh to mall recycled air.


Step, step, step over the creek. The wooden planks bring the story of the three Billy goats crossing the bridge where the troll lived. (O, that’s an old story which my father told with much expression.)

Asphalt paths wound past ball fields, branched to give a choice on into the woods or loop around on the level past a second parking lot. I took the wooded route and admired the woods at rest. Leaves on the ground. A few patches of brown grass. Rocks exerting authority when the eye is not distracted by busy summer growth. A few birds gathering lunch and calling to friends.

It’s good to take a risk and cross over the bridge to explore.


New Year, New Branch

Library, that is. Actually it was open to the public for a handful of days at the end of 2015, but it you like to round and make it easy to remember — 2016!

The second day it was open I went and checked it out. One incentive — two items I’d requested had arrived.

Everything outside the building is raw, tiny plants and virgin pavement contribute to an “unfinished” feel. This is underscored by the houses still under construction next to the library building.

Inside the feeling of “new” and “not quite done” continues. Signage directs patrons to the various departments. A large, open staircase leads to the second floor. An entire wall of windows plus upholstered seating makes a pleasant place to read a magazine while glancing out at traffic on a busy road.

On my second visit — returning items — I was introduced to an automated return system. One item at a time. Wait for the green line. Wait for the green line — but I thought I did. Conveyor belt takes it away and directs it to similar items for reshelving.

Give me a few more visits to get better acquainted and I think I’ll like it. Yes, the old branch was cozy and familiar. It was also crowded, parking at peak times could be a problem, and electrical outlets for computers were at a premium.

Will it become my "second home?"

Will it become my
“second home?”