Thursday, 30 December 2010

"I sometimes wonder if I exist myself."

As most of you who follow this blog know, every other year we tend to go down to Texas to visit the family. This means that it gets harder and harder to find new and exciting sights to visit in the Corpus area. I know some people could see the Lexington every year for the rest of their lives, but my martial interests don't extend much beyond the development of air technology via hot air balloon.

I very proudly wrote my friend Popeye-x in San Antonio that I had located the Alamo, but for some reason he seemed dubious.

I was sure my Alamo was better than his. After all, his alamo couldn't possibly have such a wonderful decor ... such as classically clad Grecian (well um - pseudo-Grecian) beauties....

And does his silly old San Antonio Alamo have....

gargoyles? I think not. So I was quite confident that I had won the argument until he sent me this:

For those of you that know me, you will have immediately realized that I was totally conquered. Mick Jagger and I go way back and of course what could possibly trump Bill Wyman in a Coon Skin Davy Crockett cap?

I would need to find another stupendous sight. One of my sisters (the one who told me that Austin was bigger than Chicago) told me there was a really cool rhinoceros in Corpus, so she drove me around all over the place only to let me know at the end that we'd missed it somehow. Evidently Corpus is rapidly approaching Chicagoan size too.

We did however find this rhino:

I was quite surprised when my other sister told me there was indeed a rhino in Corpus and she would take me to see it. She then proceeded to drive around in the same aimless pattern the other sister had. After turning back she informed me we had missed it somehow. (I don't know why that sounded familiar, but I was beginning to suspect a conspiracy.)

Well, on the way home she got very excited. I was fully prepared to be made the buffoon victim of yet another Chicago joke. The rhinoceros, I was told, had to be behind that fence.

I was supposed to walk into some wealthy person's yard and look through the holes in the fence. Note the slits in the wall. Because it was private property, I gingerly snuck over to the slit on the far left. I looked quickly preparing to scamper back if I should see people out sunbathing by the pool or a shot gun pointed in my general direction. I looked again. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to say. Were they pulling my leg, or did they really think that this was a rhinoceros?

There was no shot gun and no sunbathing, thank goodness, but in that whole walled enclosure, do you see anything resembling a rhinoceros? Okay, so just to be sure, I moved over to a slit on the right. Hmmm... okay, well, maybe... or I really was the butt of some elaborate and large joke?

As I found yet another slit, it was confirmed - this indeed looked like a rhinoceros.

Running around the corner to the left, I peeked through a slit on the street side and there it was in full splendor.

Austin was indeed as big as Chicago and all was right with the world. On the way home we gave a busker some money to share our holiday joy.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

December Drawing

My niece is graduating from art school this year. Here is a sketch of her at our holiday gathering.

Birds I missed

On the way home from Texas we saw lots of hawks. Unfortunately all I could catch was this...

(Obviously not hawks). Of course we were hurtling through space at 60 (plus) miles per hour, so I guess I should be satisfied with the memory and any blurred trace I could manage to capture. My first attempts managed only a few empty branches. (No time to aim or focus.) We saw a golden eagle and I didn't even bother to raise the camera. I was entranced by her beauty and wanted to be sure to appreciate her rather than grab another shot of empty air.
Here is the image from Wikipedia.

Ours was in a tree, but you could clearly see the brown color and the yellow beak. It had the mottled white spots here and there on the chest too.

With left Texas and I kept pracitising and missed all the birds in Oklahoma and Missouri, but in Iowa with a little luck I managed to catch the tree that had this bird.

And I got a closer shot but no focus on this hawk:

My best one was this one, but it is also completely out of focus.

These were easier to catch for some reason.

While others take pictures of the bridges of Madison county, I was more taken with their dilapidated barns.

I missed some great shots of these too, but still there were a few whose beauty seemed to make the world stop even just a moment.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Sad Little Toys

I lost a dear friend today. I had already written this post, but as I edited it, it struck me how lonely these animals looked, probably because I felt lonely too. We miss you, Dana. I just can't imagine the world without you.

Some toys seem not to have gotten any humans for the holidays. We took a tour of Corpus this morning and discovered an awful lot of toys who just didn't reflect that holiday cheer. All of these sad toys were in the same drugstore. Somehow you just have to feel for them.

So many demoralized denizens of the store were to be found prone.

Some just looked down.

Some look like they felt unwell and unloved.

Mickey was just hanging around aimlessly.

Some just looked lost.

Others just couldn't get up.

Or didn't show their best sides.

Some were barely hanging on.

It's always best if you aren't alone.

But some sadness just cannot be surmounted.

Even outside of that store there was the same trace of sadness.

Santa, I know how you feel.

A Corpus Holiday

Took this one yesterday - it sort of sums up the Winter holiday in Corpus.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Winter's Here!

Well we had the first snowfall of the year and although it got warmer afterwards, now we have had a cold front move in and it doesn't look like it is likely to warm up again - so it seems like Winter has arrived.

The first snow is usually quite lovely.

Unfortunately when it sticks it also prevents the sun from being absorbed by the earth and thus reflects any heat from the sun back into the atmosphere. The result is even colder temperatures.

It's cold out there and we may have the coldest thanksgiving in over 21 years.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I get it!

After years of thinking that all people deserve equal opportunities and that government should help protect the rights of the disadvantaged and needy, I finally get it. Some people are simply better than others and more deserving. Those people deserve the advantages over others that they have worked so hard for. If you own a business and contribute to consumer culture you deserve more. If you are out of a job you must be inferior and less deserving than those that know how to earn money and keep our nation running. It makes sense - we should not be supporting those that don't contribute to the economy. If you are sick, you must deserve to be so and why should you be educated or fed or treated medically on our dime, if you were worthy, you would earn the money to get your own education, health care and food. We should not subsidize education, food stamps, programs that protect the environment, because people that benefit from these things have not contributed their fair share. It is every person for himself and may the best man win. Never help your enemy when he is down and he will never come back to challenge you. Do only what gives you the maximum power and leverage, let the weak worry about the problems you create later (much later.) I think I finally understand. Since (as Garrison Keillor notes) we are all above average, this system should work quite well. I guess we'll find out very soon. After ME the deluge. You guys find your own life rafts, you're going to need them.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Political Rally

I'm no stranger to the political rally, but today I experienced the most fun one I've ever been to.
Let me start at the beginning. Maybe you remember these guys.

Yup, that's Sha Na Na, the group that recreated the fifties for the seventies. Believe it or not, they actually played Woodstock (just before Hendrix!) Well what could be more fun than a political rally with one of the original members - Jon (Bowser) Bauman?

Mr Bauman came out to Minnesota to help Tarryl Clark raise money to replace Michelle Bachmann in Washington. Bowser sang and joined Bobby Vee on "stage" to support Ms. Clark's efforts.

No, that's not Bobby, it's his son Jeff, but you can sure see the family resemblance!

My friend Jim Read helped organize the fundraiser. Here he is with candidate Tarryl Clark at the Fisher's Club in Avon.

Here is Tommy Vee's bass. I really like this image - I like the vibrant colors, the composition and the subject matter.

Tarryl gave a rousing speech about what she hoped to do in Washington.

and Jim encouraged us to get out the vote, before introducing the bands.

The band set up in the front of Fisher's Club in Avon.

Jeff played drums and look who else was here.

Yes that's him!

He still has that gorgeous smile! Bobby Vee came out and sang a lot of his great hits, including Rubber Ball, Take Good Care of My Baby and The Night has a Thousand Eyes.

Here Jeff plays his brother's bass with his brushes.

Then it was time for the piece de la resistance: Bowser. We were entertained in fine Bowser tradition, but also got to hear some classical piano - some lovely and difficult Chopin pieces. Mr Bauman, it turns out, had studied at Julliard and was a bit of a child prodigy.

Bowser also sang the songs we remember him for, music from Grease and his version of Blue Moon and Hand Jive.

Then we got some more wonderful music from Bobby Vee before the big finale.

It all ended (as it always did on the Sha Na Na show) with Goodnight Sweetheart. My father was such a fan of Bowser. It brought me a strong sentimental feeling to hear and to meet Mr. Bauman as if somehow I could return for a moment to those happy days of yore and laugh with my father at the posturing and silliness of a more innocent age.