Monday, June 30, 2014

Memoriam for a Man I Did Not Know

Chris Clarke's friend, Ben Cristoffel, wore the number that
Chris had been assigned for the Indy Aquatic Challenge

A week ago Sunday, I participated in my first ever 
open water swim competition. It was a race sponsored 
by my club, Indy Aquatic Masters.
The day was beautiful, the water warmer than
expected, and the people were cordial and happy.
I was slow and did not finish anywhere near
my expected time, mostly because I am slow, even
on a good day; I learned I need to swim with
my head up to navigate my way around the course.
The "usual suspects" won, of course,
the men and women who are always fast and strong.
But one of them was missing.

Chris Clarke, one of IAM's best, most competitive
swimmers died during the race. At this point,
no one knows what happened except that it was
totally unexpected. Personnel had reached him quickly,
but it was too late. A day that had started with
so much sunshine was suddenly dulled 
by dismay and sorrow.

Yesterday, a memorial practice was held
at Five Seasons health club.
Eighty-two people showed up to swim a practice
routine designed by Chris. While I had been at sessions
with him, I hadn't been a member long enough 
to know him personally, so I had some concerns 
about taking part in the session.
But, as I read about Chris in tributes written by his
friends and teammates, and in the news media,
I found that I did know Chris.

Words like "enthusiastic," "humorous," "passionate," 
and "compassionate" were common themes.
As I looked around yesterday at my fellow members,
I found those same characteristics are reflected 
in the people who are members of IAM. 
 To effectively remember Chris Clarke, all those 
folks need to do is to continue to be the same
enthusiastic, humorous, passionate, and
compassionate people I have come to respect and love.
Maybe one day those qualities will rub off on me,
just a bit, making me not just a better swimmer,
but a better person, as well.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Street Art

Beauty appears in the oddest places;
from puffy clouds in the sky, to flowers in garden beds,
then to a storm's detritus in cracks in the parking lot.
Both the street pavers and the forces of Mother Nature 
collaborated to create some beautiful abstract art.
The earth has heaved over the winters to make cracks
in the pavement, which are then filled with
chips of yellow paint from the surrounding curbs.
Swashes of slurry seal add contrast to the
nubby surface of the asphalt.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In All Its Glorious Hibiscus-ness

On my way to Starbucks Wednesday morning, 
I was startled by the sunlit beauty of this red hibiscus 
outside the Sheraton Hotel entrance.
Newly bloomed, it stood tall and proud to greet
the morning as it rose from behind the
downtown buildings. Just beyond, a hotel limo
and a line of African cabbies were also
prepared to begin the day's business.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Healing Vessel

Waves fall away

"I don' know what to do.
They told me he flat-lined twice on them

and the obscured is revealed,

an' they brought him back, but he's got brain damage
an' they want to take him off life support.

all that remains are our deeds,

That no-good daughter of his is in lock-up
an' I know she ain't signin' no papers.

cupped like hands for water:

And that fuckin' brother of his
that he don' get along with is somewhere
in fuckin' Wyoming and all he said was
'the hell with him."

a healing vessel.
                     -- Mitchel L.H. Douglas

While taking pictures of one of the new water features 
at Eskenazi Health, I happened to overhear 
a bit of phone conversation a woman was having.
about her very ill friend. She was asking
someone to come stay with her during what was
certainly a very difficult situation for her --
saying good-bye to someone she loved,
unable to get any support from his family.
The words in italics are incised 
at the base of this fountain.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eskenazi's Pointy Side: Composition in Gray with Clouds

Whenever I'm around Eskenazi Health, I inevitably 
wind up standing beneath the cantilevered bits
of the main building, trying to get those 
right angles to break up a bit 
of rectangular space in an interesting way - 
does this way give it enough tension?
 Will those windows zoom off 
into space for me? 
Will the soft clouds push against 
the hard surface to make it interesting? 
Oh, well ... anything to make the 
straight lines play well with 
the loose puffy stuff.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Right-Angled Texture

The horizontal facade of Eskenazi Health 
meets the vertical flange design 
on the central portion of the building.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

All the Same

As I approached the Speedway Public Library 
on Saturday, I noticed that the Japanese maple 
at the curb was nearly the same shade of red 
as the car parked alongside. I really liked the way
the sunlight filters through the red leaves
and tried to get a picture of that effect against
the red car, with limited success.
For whatever reason, the way my eye 
registers the bright red created by the sun
is not duplicated by my camera.

However, I was surprised by what caught my eye next:
all five cars (four shown here; the one at the front of the line 
was a small Nissan) parked outside the library, 
each a different make and model, were all 
virtually the same shade of red. Huh

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sidewalk Shots

The weather Thursday evening was hot and muggy, 
too heavy with moisture to not rain.
When I left the Natatorium, the clouds had finally
broken down, releasing the moisture 
 in great splotches of rain.
The storm stopped as I walked to the bus stop,
during which I found these pictures.
Temperatures were so warm that the rain had already 
begun to evaporate from the sidewalks.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Inner Lights

They're small things, really, but the way the light 
in the fountain is caught and bent by the falling water 
seems beautiful. I especially like the way 
the fiery glow of the light contrasts 
with the foamy bubbles at the bottom.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Waiting for Indygo

Whether it was the pattern of the girl's backpack 
and the way the bright yellow lining 
of her hoodie shown in the morning sun -- 
or that combined with the pattern 
in the man's shirt, I don't know, 
but it sure caught my eye.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

On the Bus: Daily Folk

The word "commuters" conjures up images of big city folk 
who come to work each morning, brief case in hand, 
crisp white shirt and tie with their business suits,
 or women wearing neatly polished pumps 
with a conservative dress.

In this town, they'll drive an SUV to one of the local 
 parking garages, where the vehicle will stand
all day, costing their owners fuel, fees, upkeep,
insurance, monthly payments, blah-blah-blah --
while the owner spends eight to twelve hours working
to earn all that money to have this "convenience."
The people who take the buses here are generally
politely referred to as the "working poor."

As shown in the above picture, they are a carpenter
and a healthcare worker, accompanied by a number of
wait staff and cooks, hotel workers, and maintenance staff
for offices in the area. Now, the business world
can do without the presence of an attorney
or file clerk for a day or so, but if the maintenance staff,
the hotel maids, the janitors, and the healthcare
workers could not get to their jobs, the workday 
would come to a complete standstill.
Yet we still have a public transportation
system that is woefully inadequate
to meet the needs of a place
that likes to promote itself as a 
"world class city."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Pleasant Break

Monday evening, I walked over to Eskenazi Health 
to catch the bus for home and to check out 
the newly completed fountains and water features 
at the hospital's main entrance.
There I saw three women taking the time
during their evening break to enjoy
a word game.

On their way back to work, a couple of them
paused to wade in the gurgling water
of the new fountain, a low-profile installation that 
invites such innocent, relaxing pleasures.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Art in Speedway: Ikat Fence

Long strands of telephone cables, strung between tall poles, 
cast shadows on the privacy fences.
Surrounding the back yards of residences 
on West 25th Street, the fences are usually very dull,
bland affairs, unpainted and poorly installed.

These sorry panels are, however, acquiring a patina
that reveals the cut lines of the saw blade
that made them,as well as creating a contrast between the
knotholes and the parent tree.

 The patterns reminded me of ikat dyed
fabric, draped in long, wood curtains along
the street.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

No Bed of Flowers

I generally keep my camera aimed at "pretty pictures."
I avoid taking pictures of people both because of my reluctance 
to approach people and for personal safety - 
you'd be surprised how many people 
seem to think the cops are watching my blog 
for glimpses of wanted felons (them!).

While always present, scenes such as that above
seem to be more common than in the past. 
While I sat on a bench waiting for the bus, 
I stared straight ahead at the "pretty picture," 
while the sad situation above unfolded just to my right.
God only knows from where he'd come.
He couldn't even say himself, although a band on
his wrist made it seem likely he'd been
to either Eskenazi Health or the VA Hospital.
A policeman was summoned and, as kindly as his
uniform would allow, he tried to get the man
to move away, without success. 
As my bus pulled away from the curb, I heard
sirens approaching, signifying an ambulance or, 
more likely, a paddy wagon, that had been summoned 
to take the sad man away.

As the differences between the Have/Have Not 
in our country become more extreme, 
the sheer numbers of people who have nothing to do,
 no place to go become more obvious.
My generation has seen the country's transition 
from a manufacturing society to the computer age, 
relying on "service jobs" (i.e., fast food industry
and hotel maids) to fill the void left by well-paying work. 
This has helped to create a surplus of people
who often have only a marginal connection to
steady employment.
The greed of our corporate masters, with the legal assistance
of Congress, have returned this country to a culture
of rapacious greed unmatched since the days
of Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and John Rockefeller.
It took the will of Teddy Roosevelt to bring
them into line, but today's Congress is so tightly
wound, contorted, and entangled with special interest
groups that logical thinking about dire problems
facing our society does not seem to be possible.

We are running out of water, the food supply is at risk.
Our educational system is failing us, meaning that many kids
barely have the skill it takes to press a color picture
on the cash register to ring up our Big Mac purchase.

The state of Indiana has given out so many tax breaks to
businesses *seeking* to do business here that it 
has eroded the tax base. This has led to a shortfall
in that revenue, as well as from the average taxpayer,
because so many of them are either out of work
or employed in such low-paying jobs they
have little or no tax liability.

When I ride the bus to work of a morning,
all I see are people like myself, just trying
to keep roofs over our heads and food
in our kids' stomachs. Most of us are one or
two paychecks from being out on the street,
but we keep slogging away, thinking we'll catch
a break. Some day. But probably not.

The 2% who control the nation's business
don't seem to understand that we are all drinking
from the same well; eventually they will succumb 
 to the same poison they have inflicted
on the general populace.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Strawberry Aftermath

See that little red thing, just to the left of the girl's foot? 
Dead strawberry slice.
All day Thursday, it somehow evaded being scooped 
into a bowl and eaten by an avid lover 
of strawberry shortcake,
only to end up soapily smeared on the
downtown sidewalk.
Oh, the ignominy of it all.
(I just wanted to use ignominy in a sentence.)

About a half dozen teenagers were engaged
in cleaning the 30-pound pails before
they were returned to the supplier. 

The Festival organizers estimate they sell about 
six tons of strawberries, which would make
about 400 pails of the fruit - not to mention the giant 
containers of whipped cream and the ginormous 
amounts of ice cream consumed.
(Damn, my day is complete! I just used
the words ignominy and ginormous
in one post! Spelled right, too! :-)

Friday, June 13, 2014

All the Fixin's!

Thursday saw the 49th Annual 
Christ Church Cathedral Women's Strawberry Festival. 
Held annually on Monument Circle, people line up early
for the treat and sit in the shadows of the Monument
and the Cathedral to enjoy strawberry shortcake with
ice cream as live music plays in the background.

People of all ages stand in line for some of the 
18,000 home made shortcakes and fixin's,
lovingly made and stored by members of the church 
in the months leading up to the Festival.

The Festival served an estimated six tons 
of strawberries to go with the cakes, as well as 
vanilla ice cream and whipped topping.
Ninety-five per cent of the proceeds from the Festival
will go directly to local, national, and international
outreach groups.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Feelin' Blue

Day lilies, pock-marked by huge 
globules of dew,
greeted the morning sun. And me. 
I was on my way to work
and just had to stop to get a picture
before the heat of the day
burned away the flowers' little prisms.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Thank You Notes

Tuesday evening I attended a small appreciation 
dinner for volunteers working with the Indianapolis 
Symphony Orchestra. We were entertained by
members of the ISO, four women who are long-time
members of the orchestra's string section.

The blurry photos show musician Amy Kniffen's viola. 
Other guests were as intrigued by the shape of her viola as I was.
She told us that the maker, Hiroshi Iizukabased the look 
and construction of his instruments on the viol family 
of instruments of the 16th Century, rather than 
those of the 17th Century whose shapes 
are more familiar to us. The distinctive shoulders 
on her viola, as well as it's curved bottom, 
help to make it easier to play.

Art in Speedway: Minimalism

 A week or so ago, I took an early morning walk 
around Speedway. I had had a specific 
mission in mind, but on the way to that site, 
I took plenty of pictures of other things,
particularly garages.
When the Town of Speedway was established
in 1926, it was envisioned as a "city of
the future." Housing developments were created
that included garages for cars - but no
sidewalks, a problem that has, for the most part,
been remedied in recent years. 

It is these little structures I'm stalking.
Many of the garages remain, some brittle and gray,
others covered in vinyl, others lovingly tended
in homage to their automotive history.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Not Even the Clothes on Their Backs

Several weeks ago, a women's apparel shop 
in the Speedway Shopping Center began 
a "going out of business sale." 
Over the following weeks, the colorful 
merchandise on the racks diminished, leaving 
only a few bare racks, gray walls and carpet.
Several white mannequins were left 
in the windows; deprived of even a cheap dress, 
they put the bare in barren.

As recently as a week ago, a handwritten sign
on the store's door said "Closed Forever."
Last week, I walked by the (former) store where 
saw women inside putting garments 
on hangers, then onto a slew of roundels that
hadn't been there earlier.

This week, the previous sign has been replaced 
with one saying "Store not open. Help needed."
Methinks another emporium of cheap 
inexpensive street fashion 
is due to open soon. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Here Be Dragons, er, Dragonflies

It's been a long while since I've seen a dragonfly.
They were always my tiny companions
when I was fishing off the side of the boat,
green ones, blue ones, and little fiery-red ones.
With their big heads, they reminded me 
of helmeted helicopter pilots.
This one, however, nearly smacked me in the head 
this morning as I walked to the store. 
I looked in my dragonfly book 
but couldn't find one like him in the pictures,
so I can't say what kind of dragonfly he be, 
but I bet he's not from "uncharted territory." 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sunlit Edges

I saw these little sunlit flowers in one of the garden plots 
at Saint Christopher Catholic Church in Speedway.
 I was captivated by the way their little furry bits 
caught the sun, accentuating the delicacy 
of their shapes and stems.

The brightness of the sunlight off these little flowers 
made me think of the way crystal prisms 
were used to bounce candlelight around a room, 
making the room seem brighter.