Thursday, February 28, 2013

Back and Forth

When I left for work this morning, I decided to wear one of my baseball hats 
to help fend off the morning drizzle as I walked to the bus stop.
It felt liberating to be free of the snug, cocoon-like fleece ski hat.
Late this afternoon I was wishing for snug; the temperature had dropped
and the edges of a late winter snow squall blew over the city.
The picture above shows other commuters who, like me, quietly
waited for their ride home, resigned to the cold breezes slapping our
faces with big, sloppy flakes of snow.
The picture below was taken at about 8:15 a.m., as a woman
crossed the intersection on her way to her office.
Her long, blond hair was probably free of a hat for the
first time since last fall.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Next Day: Soggy Little Sweaters

It's inevitable, I suppose. After all, the unofficial state motto of Indiana is, 
"If you don't like our weather, stick around for fifteen minutes."
I woke up to rain showers that continued throughout the day. When I went
to the store, I stopped to check on the magnolia tree.
It was doing just fine, the little sweaters worn by its buds
sheltered them from the wet weather.
No such little sweaters for the humans though, as they 
dashed through the drizzle on their way to the store.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Textured Tuesday: Little Velvet Sweaters

When I went for a walk Sunday morning, 
the air around me felt, finally, as though Spring! is on it's way.
The birds were singing, calling to each other,
spreading the news through the sunlit air and this human
was taking it to heart. I stopped to look at a magnolia tree a few
blocks from home. Not long from now, it will be filled with
mauvey-pink flowers, but for the time being its buds are
wearing little gray sweaters to protect against the late winter chill.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Some Reasonable People Needed

One summer morning many years ago, when I was about ten years old, 
I was reading our morning paper. There was an article with
large headlines spread across the front page. It told of shootings the 
night before of a woman and her two children, killed in their
beds by her ex-husband. Unhappy with her remarriage after their divorce,
the man broke into the home she shared with her second husband,
who shot the man in the hallway of the home. Both men survived, and
the killer went on to serve a life sentence in prison.
I remember thinking, "Why would a man shoot his kids?
Didn't he love them? If he loved their mom so much,why did he kill her?"
This story affected me because the little girl, Jeannie, had been one of
my 4th grade classmates. Her brother, Tommy, was one 
of the "big kids"; he had been in 6th grade.
Their mom, who I'd known as Mrs. Whitaker, had
been the leader of my Brownie Scout troop. 

My little friend, Jeannie, did not die right away from her injuries. 
She survived long enough to get through surgery to repair the wounds 
and the amputation of one of her arms that had 
been torn apart by the shotgun. I think that must have been the first
time in my life that I was touched by the death of someone I knew.
Someone who I'd been in classes with from 1st grade was ... Gone. 
Because in a moment of unthinking rage, her daddy had picked
up his gun, driven to his ex-wife's home and killed the 
three people he had said he loved.
While this event was tragic and painful, it is just a precursor
to the increasing numbers of similar deaths that have taken place 
over the years, with weapons that themselves are both
more numerous and more powerful. I see it in my own family -
Men whose closest participation in hunting is at the grocer, 
buying a cut of meat in a plastic tray, insist they need these assault
weapons to "protect their families." They have big, loud dogs
and security systems in their homes. They have cell phones beside
their beds, and yet, they feel the need to have guns so powerful 
the bullets would not only kill the intended target, 
but could tear through the walls to maim
or kill their beautiful babies. To be of any use, these weapons would
 need to be kept at hand, loaded for use, should the evil they fear
make it past the alarms and the big dogs.
Not only have these men not considered the likelihood
that their children could be the unintended victims of their delusions,
they have not considered the life-long effect of the psychological
trauma caused by the taking of another life. For ten years, I slept beside
a man who had been a sniper, both in the military and for other
government organizations. Frequently, I was awakened by his nightmares,
the guilt and terror from missions forty years before, haunting him still.
And he was trained. Taking another life is very difficult ...
or it should be. What will these men do if they turn someone 
to pudding in their living room, or god forbid, should a swath of bullets
make its way into their children's rooms?

A faction of the nation seems
to be in the grip of some sort of communal paranoia,
fed by fear-mongering columnists and billionaire lobbyists
whose self-interest knows no boundary. These people have 
manipulated the fears of people to their own ends and,
among other things, convinced them they *need* assault weapons
and that the US government is working to deprive them
of the "right" to bear arms. All they want is to continue to feed
off the fears of the populace, and too many people have fallen victim
to their bull shit. These guns are only needed by the police 
and military; for anyone else they are nothing more than cold, 
black penile extensions.
It is in this spirit I joined a group of people on Friday night
to demonstrate against the increasing prevalence of
gun violence in our society, one that had as its purpose the request
that applicants for gun permits undergo mandatory
background checks. If an applicant has nothing to hide, 
why should there be a problem? Right? Right.
It should be so easy. We need some reasonable people
to come together on this, to negotiate.
At this point, it seems impossible.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lacy Crystals

It's silly, but I can't help myself.
I walked down to the convenience store to buy a half gallon of milk.
Most of the ice that had formed during Friday's storm had melted.
All that was left existed in the shadows of the bushes that
sheltered it from the sun. In fact, the ice was the shadow, taking on 
the shape of the dormant shrubs that hovered over the
delicate crystals of icy lace.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tiny Ice

A storm front went through overnight, bringing freezing rain, sleet and a bit of snow.
While not as severe as had been expected, the morning commute was
full of hazards for thousands of drivers. There was a light rain when I left 
the house later in the morning. The rain froze on reaching the ground, coating 
the plants and twigs with a granular pattern describing each drop.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Speedway, 7 A.M.

The recent change in local bus schedules means that I have to take 
a different bus to work. No longer can I, in effect, just step outside my front door 
to get the bus downtown. The new bus stop is about a half mile away,
which is not a problem. In fact, it gives me the opportunity to see another 
part of my neighborhood when it is beginning to wake up for work.
I was standing at the corner of  the park when I took this picture.
Just as the sun was rising above the roof lines, a car was approaching,
and a neighbor had turned on their porch light to get the newspaper.

A late winter storm is moving through central Indiana, 
leaving behind an icy glaze of freezing rain, sleet, and snow. 
I expect to see a sparkly world tomorrow morning.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Downtown, 7:45 a.m.

Wednesday morning, I left for my part-time job, to work on 
an assignment that may carry me into June.
June seemed to be a polar continent away though,
when I left the home before 6 a.m. to catch
the bus at a stop about a half mile away.

The cold, dry air had no competition from the sun.
Many people stood, shivering, waiting for that moving
zone of warmth, the city bus.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Piece of Sun

A year ago today, I wandered through nearby fields 
where I found flowers blooming in 
defiance of the calendar. I posted them 
now because I am in need of a bit of sunlight,
a bright happy patch onto which I can
hang my longing for a happier scene,
one that does not seem to have wrapped
us in a cold, itchy blanket.

The sunlight had even brought out the colors in this thorn tree;
the pale light honing the thorns to a sharper edge,
shiny black against their blue stems, with dark blood red
shadows warning of their dangers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February Recess

With temperatures in the mid-fifties on Monday afternoon, 
residents of my neighborhood took the opportunity to play outside.
A pick-up basketball game in the driveway of a nearby
home occupied the energies of a group of teen-age boys, while
a little boy left his bicycle to go join his big brother
in a game of softball.

The respite from colder temperatures was short-lived, though.
Before I got home later in the afternoon, the wind had picked up,
bringing with it cold rain showers that brought my little
spring fantasy to a halt.

This yard ornament on the porch of a Speedway home, 
brought a smile to my face. Costumed geese were rampant
some years back and, although they've since become a little outre'
I enjoy the damn things and applaud the people who
maintain their geese in appropriate holiday gear.
Although Valentine's Day passed without a nibble,
I still hold out hope, even if it is a goose in a red dress.
Anyway ... be mine?

Monday, February 18, 2013

In and Out

The sun and clouds are alternating their presence in our days, 
in and out, as we work our way closer to spring.
These changes often happen within hours --
the morning is cloud-covered, bringing snow showers
that coat the ground with a thin glaze of white.
The breeze pushes out the overcast, dragging the bright
sun just behind. Everything is bathed in the sun's light,
then, more clouds and a bit more snow.
It's a bit like the instructions on a shampoo bottle:
"Wash. Rinse. Repeat." cleansing away the winter 
doldrums as preparation for the renewal 
and promise of spring.

And while I was huddled on my couch, I listened to a couple
musicians I hadn't heard much about.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Ms. Tortie lounges on the patio of her winter abode, a cardboard carton 
set under the balcony of her owner's home. Her thoughtful owner also provided 
a thermal weave blanket for added protection from winter's cold winds.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Washy Color

Someone had taken a broad wet brush, full of watercolor, 
and spread it across the sky, leaving a wash of
inky lavender. Here and there, a faint tinge of pink broke through, 
what was left of the sun's light after a cloudy day.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I spent the day inside, reading and doing research for my next project.
I'm just too tired of looking at blah. The only color around has been 
the brightly colored flowers at the store, wrapped and gussied
up with ribbons to enhance their already obvious appeal.
I'm thinking that tomorrow there may be some
bargains available, so may re-home the unfortunate
blossom that was not chosen for a Valentine's Day token.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Luv fer Sale

Traffic at the shopping center Wednesday evening was backed up 
as though it were Christmas Eve. People were streaming from the party
store with balloon bouquets. Little children held the ribbons for 
Mylar balloons in one hand, while holding onto mom with
the other as they navigated traffic in the parking lot.

Since the New Year, stores have been stocking wares 
for the annual assault on the objects of our love with brightly colored
ribbons streaming from balloons, flowers, and chocolates. They've caught
our eyes as we walked through the produce department, building
our anticipation, adding beautifully arranged bouquets of
myriad flowers as Valentine's Day drew closer.

The whole flower department looked like a carnival 
of commercialized amore. Rows of stuffed animals leaned, 
appealing to the soft, paniced hearts of shoppers, 
the purple heart on the rear  of one fluffy pup 
symbolizing the affection of a wagging tail.
Step right up! Take a gamble! Don't pass by the chance
to win your sweetie's undying love ! Buy! Buy! Buy!
On one shelf, I saw clear plastic cartons, usually meant
for a dozen roses, that had been filled instead with
six cans of beer arranged on a bed of shell peanuts
and wrapped in a big red bow.
In the distance, I could hear a lone banjo
playing ... 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Iron Lace

I was taking pictures of the brick exterior walls of some buildings 
in downtown Indy. I turned around and looked up to see
what looked like lace trim, adding grace and beauty to the otherwise
dull facade of Circle Centre Mall.
When mall construction was planned nearly twenty
years ago, the Indiana Landmarks Foundation
required that the facades of many old buildings be incorporated 
into the new construction. Over the years the ILF had acquired a number
of the facades, which they saved and stored for future use.
The facade of the old Vajen Exchange block, constructed in 1872, 
was saved from the original structure had stood at 120 North Pennsylvania.
It is one of four structures that add interest, warmth, and variation
to the east exterior of the Mall.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Textured Tuesday: Taylor, Softening

This is Taylor, who is named after the young woman who brought her to me 
one cold night over two years ago, when the streets were covered with snow and ice.
She was thin and filthy dirty, her fur matted in places with oil.
Holding her was almost impossible; stiff-legged with fear, she did not
care to be held, and we both struggled, me to hold her, she to get free. 
Someone had abused her because loud voices and heavy footfalls 
outside my door would send her into hiding for twenty-four hours at a time.
Now, she's not gone so long after being scared and may even
respond when I call her name. If there is a noise and I tell her it's OK, 
she will often stand for a moment, consider the information,
then come back to hide beneath the couch rather than inside the
bathroom washstand.

I'd gotten my previous cats when they were small kittens. 
Over the years we developed a vocabulary and they knew, 
over time, that certain events would happen, or not, 
related to whatever sounds had emanated from their human. 
I could play tag with them, a version of hide-and-seek that Taylor
interprets as a threat, so that game's out. One would fetch, 
the other would sit up, lie down, or leap for treats, at my request, 
because, after all, you do not command a cat.

Taylor and I are a work in progress. She'll let me hold her a bit and,
 when I rub my face in her fur, she smells like cookies.
Usually, she's curled up in a tight wad about six feet from wherever
I happen to be and spends a good portion of the time sleeping
beside me on the couch. We are developing our own
vocabulary, which is small, but she's telling me she likes to be
close and I am happy with that.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Men at Work

Since the cold weather has eased somewhat in our area, it's been nice 
to get out to see all the activity taking place around town.
I like to see the variations I can find on "men in pits."
It's perverse, but while the idea of having a man in a pit is tempting,
it is definitely 'way too much of a high maintenance endeavor. 
First of all, I'd have to dig a suitable pit, one that a strong, 
sturdy man could not climb or jump out of. To make it deep enough
I'd have to bring in one of those steel retaining walls that prevent collapse.
Well, somebody would be certain to report the silly woman
(I only have one cat, so I can't actually be crazy) who'd
commissioned an excavation that would hold a lounge chair,
a large screen TV, and a cooler big enough to hold a beer keg
and a year's supply of wings. 

The men in the top hole were doing maintenance work on area 
telecommunications lines, while the man was digging a trench 
for new electrical conduits. I don't know what the other men on the crew 
were doing, perhaps providing him encouragement and entertainment.

These men were taking a late lunch. 
Business, of course.
They must be ad men because they're too happy 
and relaxed to be attorneys or accountants.
But no matter - whether they were wearing suits
or canvas coveralls, every man I saw was
good looking (and made great pit candidates).

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Quaker Then/Qaekr Now

The merchants along Indy's Massachusetts Avenue make efforts 
to restore and retain anchors of our past, as evidenced by
the overlapping generations of painted signs on the side of this building.
Not far away, a tagger calling himself "Qaekr" has called back
the familiar face from Quaker Oats advertising,
adapting the iconic portrait for the slaps he sticks onto
lamp posts, mail boxes, walls, and street lights.
While I didn't immediately see an example of the artist's
graffiti, photos of his work and the sticker from all around 
the Midwest have been posted on-line.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Crystals and Harley

Wednesday was an odyssey. After lunching with friends, 
I went in search of a coconut cupcake.
I headed east towards Massachusetts Avenue
and The Flying Cupcake, a sliver of an old
storefront barely big enough for a display case, a few small
tables, a refrigerator, and an astounding array
of flavored, colored, and prettily decorated delights.

The Flying Cupcake is one of several small shops around Indy, 
supplied by the main store and bakery just north of the downtown area.
I've also encountered Petunia, the bakery's rolling store, that offers
the yummy cakes to customers unable to get to a store.
The atmosphere of the little storefront on Massachusetts Avenue
is friendly, it's shabby-chic interior bearing no trace
of a corporate game plan lurking amid the frosted treats.
Yay, for that. 
I'd waited a month, through snow and wind chill
to indulge my longing for "Coo-coo Coconut."
I left with a pretty pink box containing the coconut cake,
plus one each of "Here Comes the Bride" with a tiny sugar
bride and groom on top, and a chocolate one
called "Peppermint Twist."
Could I make them last with a treat every other day? 

The odyssey carried on. I'd walked about a mile to get to the store, 
then walked back towards the downtown area to go to the camera store, 
well over a mile away. Then I wandered some more, stopping 
and starting, my little treasures in my tote, while I took
a batch of pictures. Just before I got the bus for home, 
I stopped at a shop to warm up with a nice hot latte -
and the little sugar bridal couple disappeared, savored slowly
bite by bite, while I waited for the bus.

One two down, one two to go.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Wednesday afternoon was sunny and mild - for winter - until the sun 
began to fall into the western horizon, behind the tall buildings downtown.
Then a chill breeze began wandering the streets, wrapping its
chill around unsuspecting pedestrians.
Here, a young boy waited for the bus with his mom.
Perched on the ledge, he had her warmth to protect him 
from the cold air, as his bright eyes shown out
from behind the shield his mom provided. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Because It Is

I love bricks. They add warmth wherever they happened to be used.
Here, on the wall of this building on South Meridian Street,
they are old. They've seen the passing of years, of generations
of shops and people wandering the streets.
Their varegated color speaks of the clay from which
they were formed, the hands that made them
a hundred years ago and more. So many are stacked, 
doing their job but needing to have their mortar cleaned, 
repaired, and replaced. They are blue and red, 
orange and brown, and running one's hand over their
surface brings one into contact with history,
in a way no thin coat of stucco, spread over 
styrofoam, can ever do. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Downtown Indy, 1893

I turned the corner into one of the American art galleries at the IMA,
and caught sight of the profile of a big domed building that looked familiar to me.
I checked the identification label on the wall, and found the huge
oil painting,Washington Street, Indianapolis at Dusk, was, indeed
a scene showing the State House, on the north side of Washington Street,
surrounded by the hubbub of her citizens, perhaps on their way home from work.

The painting was done by German artist, Theodor Groll, 
when he came to judge German paintings at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
He stayed in Indianapolis, visiting relatives, during the period when
this painting was done, from 1892-1895.

The one thing I can tell about the differences between life 
in 1893 Indy and today, is that public transportation
was much better then.