Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When It Was Pretty

Indy's first major snowfall of the year 
brought chilling temperatures the region 
hadn't encountered for many years, 
effectively closing down the city 
for all but essential services.
After the storm passed, there was some 
relief for the people of the community, then, 
a couple days ago, another wave 
of cold air swept into the area,
with wind chills of about -40 degrees.

Temperatures now are rising, creating the feeling
of a heat wave. Woo hoo! It's a torrid 16 degrees F
outside as I type this. While another snowfall is forecast 
for a couple days from now, I've missed 
my swimming sessions and will return 
to the pool later this afternoon.
For me, the cold has been an inconvenience
while for many others it has been a real
danger. So many have had their furnaces fail
while others have no furnace at all.
As I dress this afternoon, I will keep this in mind.
I am merely cold, while others are
literally freezing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Too Cold

There's a wind chill warning over much of the country 
tonight, with temps expected to be the equivalent 
of -40 degrees F through early Wednesday. 
At 11:15 PM, the temperature is -2 degrees with 
wind temp of -20. While some people may 
scoff, this is unusual for us as most of us do not have
clothing appropriate for these conditions.

And I miss my swimming. I miss my coach and the
people who join me in the pool for our practice sessions
three or four times a week. My body has become 
accustomed to the exercise and needs to
be moving. Maybe Wednesday.

As police and other workers are patrolling 
the streets, looking for persons with stalled cars
and homeless people to get them to warm shelters,
I am fortunate to have my own warm apartment,
blankets, and food for myself, my cat, 
and my turtle and to only worry about missing
practices instead of lying in the cold streets. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Another Gem

Last week, I went to the Indiana State Library to do 
a bit of research. While I've been there before, 
I've never been beyond the contemporary addition. 
Attractive on the outside, its limestone exterior does contrast 
with that of the original building, but not so much 
that it's offensive to the eye.

The contrast between the interiors of each section 
is what I found most startling. The older building is
a homage to books, learning, and history,
with frescoes on the ceilings, murals, and stained glass.
It is ironic really, given that the state politicians at the
Capitol Building, are doing their damnedest to tear down 
the public education system in favor 
of corporate run schools. Already, the names of artists,
inventors, and writers incised in the library's walls
are mere afterthoughts; the state preaches the need for
an educated workforce, but instead seeks to create
a population of menials, an underpaid workforce that
will end up fighting over resources.

The light fixtures look like sheaves of corn,
taking reference from a Native American shown in
one of the stained glass windows, holding stalks of corn. 
Whether he is the base of the picture, 
holding up the images of the states founders,
or being trampled into submission by
William Henry Harrison and General 
"Mad Anthony" Wayne is a matter of viewpoint.

There are murals at each side of the main entrance 
to the old building, which leads one to 
the BEST PART - the card catalog! Yay!
There they were, rows and rows
of stacked, tiny drawers, mounted along
the long wall. A place of honor.
The picture below shows only about a third
of the drawers in this hall.

I used a smaller catalog in another
department of the library. The habits learned
in childhood quickly returned and I was
able to use the system almost intuitively.
I loved the feel of the little file cards.
They were almost velvety to hand and it was 
as though I was greeting old friends.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Earlier today, I stood on a spot near where I live.
The sun shown bright in a clear, blue sky as a 
strong wind blew snow across the landscape,
very much like sand across barren desert dunes.
Last winter, an entire section of townhomes was burned 
to the ground due to the carelessness of a tenant.
The remains were recently torn down, leaving
an empty scar in this poor neighborhood.
I've walked that stretch of the neighborhood 
too many times to count over the years and, 
seeing the chain link fence surrounding 
the site is disappointing, to say the least.

Most disheartening, though, was to know that 
on Wednesday night, a sixteen-year-old boy had been 
shot twice in the chest, and left to die in the dirty, 
frozen slush in the gutter across the street 
from the barren lot. Sayyid Abdul-Haqq was a
sophomore at Speedway High School. He took his 
schoolwork seriously and, when not in the
SHS library, could most often be found at the
town's library. His young nephew looked up to him,
saying he wanted to be like his uncle, to go to
school. Here was a boy with a goal, 
who inspired his family, but who met 
his death alone in the cold gutter.

He was on his way home from the store.
Given the weather, he was probably returning from 
the convenience store a couple blocks away.
This is a poor neighborhood, where people often 
have to juggle between which bills will be
paid - heat? Phone? Electric? Will there be money
for food? Gas for the car? If he went to the store
for milk, did the person who shot him see
he got change from a $10 bill?
Indeed, did he even have that much?
This is not a neighborhood of people who have
money, but one where a bit of small change
can seem like a windfall.
Nor is this a unique story, but it sure as hell
is new to Sayyid's family, whose hearts are broken.
The temperatures are dropping and it will be very cold
during the coming week, but right now
 the only colder place on Earth is the heart 
of whoever pulled the trigger.

Anyone with information related
to the murder of Sayyid Abdul-Haqq
can contact Crime Stoppers at 262-TIPS, 
or text INDYCS with their tip. 
You may also contact the 
Speedway Police Department 
directly at 246-4300. 
All information will remain anonymous.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Just About ...

A month ago, the winter season began and, 
with very little respite, it has been a misery of cold 
that quickly seeps into the bones along with 
the unaccustomed wind chill. 
Waiting for the bus near the Indiana
Historical Society, I looked into the Central Canal
where I was surprised to see gold fish
swimming just under the surface. 

The water was warm enough that steam rose 
from its surface. Ducks swam upstream,
themselves huddled against the frigid winds
 like their human counterparts 
on the streets above.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Island of Mercy: Eskenazi in the Night

See that little pole in the lower right corner 
of the bottom picture? Just beneath the wedge of pink? 
That's where I was standing when I took the top picture, 
another view of the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Health Center.
The structure is a series of rectangular boxes,
stacked and connected to form an E without a crossbar.
The lighted section is the outpatient care section, while
the emergency department forms another white box 
to the north of this one. More enclosed than the others, 
it is clearly marked in bright red letters, 
EMERGENCY, that can be seen for miles.
The letters are as large as the ones identifying
the hospital and its benefactors,
so people who want help will make no mistake
in locating the care they need.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow in Her Bedroom

I hate being cold. 
I grew up in a house that was never warm in winter. 
At night, I huddled under a blanket, 
waiting for my body heat to warm my little cocoon. 
In the mornings, I dreaded getting up for school because
there was that run between the cold air in my
bedroom to the aura of heat radiating from the coal
stove downstairs in our dining room.
School, the site of other tortures, was still a haven
from the cold. I shivered my way to school where 
I experienced warmth that was, at times, 
almost suffocating. My goal in life has never been to 
be famous or successful in the most commonly 
recognized meanings of the word; 
I've only wanted to be warm in winter.

On the edge of the recent cold wave, I was on my way 
to the Circle Theatre, huddled in my own misery,
when I was brought up short by the sight of a person 
curled up just a few feet away, asleep beneath a tan comforter.
I was afraid. Should I try to wake her, to see
whether she was OK, or leave her to sleep, without
bringing her into the reality of the cold -
the cold air, the cold concrete, the cold bricks?
Police were nearby, virtually always aware of the stress
around them, so I went on, ashamed of my fear.
I went back the next day and found the woman's pillow 
and the blanket on which she slept covered with snow. 
She had gone, but her possessions, the furnishings
that made up her sidewalk home, were piled nearby.
She expected to return. 

As I write this, the temperatures are again 
plummeting into the single digits and below zero. 
While I try to make sure I will be warm, 
there are so many who are not.
And, damn, I do not know how to end this,
just as I do not know how to fix 
the problem of homelessness.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tiny Bubbles

I'd rather be swimming ... or out taking pictures, 
but however clear and blue the sky, the temperatures 
have dropped into the 'teens, and the flag across the street is 
held out nearly straight by the wind.
So here are a couple SPD photos of sketches
I've been working on, impressions of what
I see when I am swimming. I've thought of borrowing
an underwater camera, but I think I would lose
the feeling of what I see when I'm in the pool.

One morning, a coach was working with me
on my stroke, asking me to turn to the side when I breathed,
making certain I kept my head down.
Well, I did just that and what I saw was beautiful!
There was the splash and flow of disrupted water
flowing past my goggles, with the man-made shapes
of the lane markers in the background.
And that was my left eye! In my right,
I saw calmer water, with people in adjacent
lanes swimming by, the water apparently disturbed 
only by the fan-like swarms of tiny bubbles made by their
feet as they kicked. Of course, the trick is to get
both into my drawing/painting efforts. Meh.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Grassy Swoosh

Near the graceful dried grass shown in an earlier post, 
there are a few bunches of shrub-like twigs
that in warmer seasons have little purpley flowers.
Here, the remains of the tiny blossoms create
constellations of dark brown stars, highlighted
by the delicate swoosh of the dried grass.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Warm Notes in the Frigid Air

The young woman in the silver gown is Jennifer Christen
principal oboist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. 
Last night was her night in the spotlight, as soloist for Mozart's 
Concerto in C Major for Oboe and Orchestra, 
K. 285d (314). She performed beautifully, 
the notes rising and falling through the night air, distracting 
the audience away from the cold breezes they would 
face as they returned to their homes later that evening.
In the video below, she is giving a short explanation
about the preparation of reeds for her oboe and,
in the process, plays a few bars of the Mozart piece
she performed Friday night.  

Last night, I joined the ISO's Assistant Principal Percussionist,
Craig Hetrick, to promote upcoming ISO concerts 
and community activities. Among the people who stopped
to chat was a woman and her three daughters, 
one of whom plays oboe. The mother talked with Mr. Hetrick
about wanting to find suitable instruments to accommodate
her daughter's talent as her skills improved and grew.
She is now in sixth grade and her present oboe cost about
$3 thousand. One of the things I enjoy about these
evenings is the musicians coming out to meet the people
for whom they play. Overall, those I've met
have been intelligent, funny, and kind people,
just the sort one would want as friends. I saw the young
oboist later, who said she was going to talk
with Ms. Christen about lessons.
It seemed so cool to me that a twelve-year-old girl 
would easily have the opportunity to speak with
a professional about her future.
Right there in the lobby of the Hilbert Circle Theatre, 
on a cold night, over cups of hot cocoa.
One in jeans and the other in a silver gown.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sparkling Orbs

After a few days' respite from subzero temperatures, 
we are once again in the deep freeze.
It's just been a month since the winter solstice and 
everyone is already sick of the whole thing.
On my way Friday evening to hear the 
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra play,
I passed a florist's display window where the
glittery orbs in the arrangements
provided just about the only happy color
for blocks around.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Grasses in the Snow

In this winter season, just about the only time 
I am standing still is when I am waiting 
for a bus. Otherwise, I am on the move 
to someplace warm. This afternoon, I looked down 
near my feet to see spare, slender bits 
of dried grass shivering in the snowy breeze.
Of course, I took its picture.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


While sitting in a corner coffee shop near the Circle, 
I noticed a zig-zag pattern just outside the window. 
The rain-slick street brought out reflections 
from running lights on cars, as well as accentuating 
the dashed pattern of the cross walk markings.

More than a few Zig-Zags have 
been passed over the decades and these 
men remain as excellent as ever.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Textured Tuesday: Wilted

A week ago, the entire country was under a severe freeze warning.
Snow covered the landscape for miles and miles.
Later, the temperatures warmed into the 40s-50s, bringing 
rain showers. The blanket of snow is practically gone, 
leaving only mountain ranges of snow heaped  
at curbsides and in parking lots. Remnants of those
will remain until spring. As the snow cover 
receded, plants that had been buried and ruined
revealed new colors, accented by the sparkle
 of decorations made from icy crystals
of melted snow.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Beautiful Green

Standing in front of the Federal Court Building while 
waiting for a bus, I looked up to see a tree 
I'd seen a gazillion times before. This time, however,
the tree stood out sharply from its fog-draped
surroundings, covered in a coat of moss
that accentuated its shape and the texture of its bark.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Foggy Reasoning

I just liked the way the other buildings 
framed the fog-shrouded edifice of the Key Bank, 
creating an interesting negative space.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

At Some Point ...

... We must all walk the same path.

During the first couple days, the pale blanket of snow
was beautiful to look at. However frigid, it allowed
the sun to shine and gleam, giving a sparkle
to our everyday surroundings. Now, thankfully,
the temperatures have risen and the snow's filthy reality
leaves us masses of the stuff. It's stacked and piled
just about everywhere a shovel, snow-blower,
or plow could find. And it's dirty, making cold,
gray slush at curbs and corners that people must walk 
through as they cross intersections.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Hospital

Just over a month ago, the new Sidney and Lois Eskenazi 
Hospital opened on a site on the IUPUI campus, 
just west of downtown Indy. The new buildings replace
Wishard Memorial Hospital,which for over 150 years provided
medical care to the people of Marion County. 
As the needs of the community and its services expanded,
Wishard grew, much like Topsy. Visiting the hospital was like 
entering a maze, with clinics fitted and expansions added 
to the building wherever space could be found.
Years ago, it was evident that a new hospital was needed
and ground was broken for the new facilities in 2011.
An extraordinary gift of $40 million to fund the new public 
hospital was made in June 2011 by the Eskenazis.
Every time I came downtown, I passed by the construction 
site, wondering whether the piles of dirt, concrete, steel, 
and stone would be just another nondescript pile. 
But I think we've gotten something beautiful, clean 
and spare with beautiful blue stripes to relieve 
what might well have been ugly, blank walls
full of blind-eyed windows.

While patients were moved and the hospital officially 
began operations on December 7th, a lot of the landscaping
remains to be done. The workmen above are constructing
what will become a multi-layered "healing garden" nestled
in the yard of the hospital, outpatient center, and faculty
office buildings. This is in addition to the garden on the roof 
of the hospital, intended to provide patients, staff, 
and the community with organically grown vegetables. 
The structure of the healing garden is intriguing, 
with steel rebar taking organic forms 
that to me resemble bits of an RNA double helix
There is a pile of massive limestone to one side 
to be put into position down the road, 
and the top will be grassy, too.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lethal Beauty

This is when I like winter, when the sun shines 
on the trees, melting globs of snow that 
then freeze into crystalline sparks of light 
on the branches.

People began to emerge from their cocoons this morning, 
to start cars that merely groaned and whined
instead of purring from the pleasure of being started.
One neighbor needs to thaw his poor car;
standing humbled and shrunken in a drift of snow
it had no shelter or barrier from the frozen air.
Why is it we expect a machine to perform
whenever asked, without realizing it, too,
needs some consideration for the way its bits
react to the elements? Shoot, I've neither seen
nor heard a bird in three days. I expect
they are perched beneath the snow-laden
branches of fir trees or building eaves,
their feathers fluffed up against the cold.
Sort of like me, except I will need to go
to the store fairly soon for some seeds 
for myself  and my little family
(my cat and my turtle).

Monday, January 6, 2014

White on White

The snow fell all day, beginning in the morning in big, 
sloppy globs, then falling straight down in a shower 
of fine flakes. Frequently, the snow dropped off 
the trees onto my face as I looked upward .
Pale gray, almost white, the snow clung 
to dark brown branches, looking like 
a lovely ink drawing, creating a delicate balance 
against the sky, the snow, and the branches,

This beauty is deceptive.
Now, we are waiting for the freezing 
temperatures that will turn the lovely globs 
into weapons whose weight may cause power lines 
to break, leaving a great many people 
without electricity. The wind chill is expected 
to reach -40 degrees over the next two days.
I guess I won't be swimming 
much this week. :-b

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Peppermint Fire

I had broken several slender candy canes into short pieces 
then eaten them from an old bowl as I sat at my computer.
It was then I noticed the scalloped sunlight
casting a little fire onto my note pad.
Folks in the Midwest are hunkered down
in expectation of a winter storm bringing heavy snow
and temperatures below zero degrees.
The lines at the grocery were long this afternoon
when I walked over to pick up a supply
of milk, bread and cereal. I also looked for some
post-Christmas peppermint sticks, but other 
people apparently had the same idea 
as there were no more to be had.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mission Accomplished

Last Saturday, I noticed a couple men removing 
the little squadron of fiberglass toy soldiers 
from their posts on Monument Circle.

As a truck pulling the troop's transport slowly drove around 
the monument, a sling was put under each soldier's arms, 
then he was lifted from his post on to the trailer.

Finally, they were carted away to home base, 
to be stored until just before Thanksgiving, 
when they will again be assigned special duty, 
bringing joy to visitors on the Circle 
during the Christmas season.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Watered Silk

On my way to swim at the Indianapolis Aquatic Masters 
event, 100 X 100, I noticed the gray clouds were 
relieved somewhat by brushes of blue and pink. 
The sky and sunlight pushed in from the east to make
a sunny, if cold, day seem less leaden while the tree
gave me the impression of black lace overlaying
a background of silk moire'.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Monthly Theme Day: Just the Best

It's just a small wad of leaves and one single, simple flower petal, 
but this has to be my favorite picture for 2013.
I found them floating in the basin of a water fountain
on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

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