Spring Scenes

It’s such fun walking around Quincy during this fertile spring — here are a couple of photos I took while I was doing laundry — this catalpa tree trunk is just wondrously twisted and contorted:

Hop clover is an alien plant from Eurasia, a legume which few people ever notice. I like it, though! Minute yellow flowers — I know you’ve seen it before:


Thunderstorm Moving Through

Suddenly the sunlight dims and I hear thunder and rain falling. A Midwest thunderstorm can be quite dramatic! I looked at the radar map on the net:

This photo from the NY Times is quite amazing:

This photo reminds me of another one I came across somewhere out on the net — it’s a super cell thunderstorm, I can’t remember where it was; perhaps in Florida:

I wonder if this is the same front which brought such tragic tornadoes to Joplin and Oklahoma City? There is a tornado warning for this area…


Tormented Dogs

I’m not too fond of small yappy dogs — I’m sure their owners cherish and love them, but they annoy me. The only time I’ve ever been bitten by a dog (skin-piercing bitten) was by a nasty little white dog — my ex-wife and I were visiting an old woman; they were involved in a quilting project. We rang the doorbell, the woman came to the door, and the little dog ran out and bit me on the calf. Dogs confined and banned from roaming and hanging out with other dogs inevitably become neurotic. The same thing happens with people!

Diagonally across the street from me there lives a yappy little dog. It’s an irritable dog and will yap for minutes at a time. If I had a gun here I’d shoot it.

I’m reminded of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire, one of my favorite novels with an insane protagonist. An unreliable narrator, you might say. During one of the opening passages of the novel the narrator abruptly interjects, “There is a very loud amusement park right in front of my present lodgings.”

This is so amusing to me, as it is a way that the novelist can let the reader know that the narrator,Charles Kinbote, is not quite in control of his faculties. He’s twisted, brilliant in his own way, and as weird as Sheldon on the TV show “The Big Bang Theory”, but Sheldon is a nicer guy, and in his own way tries to do the right thing.


Hosta And Iris Time

This spring here by the Mississippi has been just ideal for plant growth. No late frosts and just the ideal amount of rainfall. I’ve just been amazed as I walk around town by the profusion of vegetation and flower blooms.

I like hostas; they’re originally from Asia and they have a genetic plasticity which has allowed breeders to create many new varieties during the past fifty years. I’m particularly fond of the large-leaved blue-green varieties. I was amazed recently to learn that the plant genus is related to asparagus, but then I get amazed easily. Here’s a shot of a particularly nice patch of such a hosta variety just down the street from my place:

Is this profusion of blooms perhaps a single peony? I’m more familiar with the convoluted double forms, which old ladies in Knox County, MO call “pinies”:

It’s raining lightly here in Quincy this morning; I saw a woman with an umbrella across the street walking some small variegated-fur dog. I walked across the street and asked her what the breed of the dog might be.

“Gosh, I have no idea! My mother was living in Memphis and somehow she’d gotten this puppy; then my mother died and I ended up with the dog. She’s a friendly dog, but she’s twelve years old and has hip problems.”

I petted the little dog, and said, ” Maybe some Australian Shepherd blood?”

“Could be — she’s always tryin’ to herd me by pushin’ against my leg!”


Dragged Kicking And Screaming

I’ve been blogging since the spring of 2004, back when I was happily married and living at a bucolic rural place in Knox County, Missouri. Unfortunately, the early posts have disappeared into digital oblivion, due to hard drive failures and the lack of a back-up system. On the plus side, those stories I told back then live on in my mind and I can tell them again, and perhaps more skillfully. Practice makes perfect, after all!

Luckily for me, many of the photos I took during those years were saved to commenter Joan’s hard drive, and she mailed them to me on a series of CD discs. Thanks, Joan!

I was dimly aware of Facebook during the site’s early years. I set up a log-in identity, but I just didn’t like the site at first. Gradually I became aware that just about all of my friends and relatives spend a significant amount of time at the site. Okay, now I admit that I’m a convert. It’s a quick and easy way to keep up with many people. It’s kinda insidious; a software robot at Facebook is aware of people you know and gratuitously tells you about people who know people you know. The trick, I’ve figured out, is to limit the people who are classified as your “Facebook friends”. Can you be a “friend” of someone you have never met? Well, yeah, up to a point.

Will Facebook replace the blog? I don’t think so; there will always be a need for longer and more substantive essays on the net. The down-side is that it can be a time-sink, especially if you have too many virtual “friends”.


An Encounter At Dusk

I was out walking this evening — spring has been just beautiful this year. Here’s an image of some cool sunset clouds I saw from about 13th and Broadway, with McDonald’s arches as a sort of urban overlay:

I was about a block away from my apartment when I saw someone bent over and poking through my orange plastic container of recyclables. Tomorrow’s trash day. Oh, what the hell, I thought — who would be looking through my cans, newspapers, and such?

It turned out to be my downstairs neighbor Beulah. She’s 87 years old and I’m quite fond of her. I don’t think she gets enough attention from her family so I try to be nice to her.

I approached her and we chatted for a while. She said, “What’s that tree coming up by the back steps?”

“Oh, that’s a young catalpa. It needs to be killed; it’s just too close to the steps. You know, over on your side of the house there are some mulberry trees coming up amidst the shrubbery.”

“So that’s what those are! Larry, a few years ago I used to keep the yard here in pretty good shape — the landlord tends to neglect it, except for basic mowing. I just don’t have the energy any more, and my pruning shears are dull.”

“I have a pair of sharp shears, Beulah, and I’ll get these little trees cut back, okay?”

“Why, that’d be nice! Thank you!”


Mourning Doves In Quincy

I’ve long been familiar with mourning doves; the species name is Zenaida macroura. These doves are one of the most common bird species on this continent.

I was accustomed to seeing this bird and its ill-formed nests during my years in Missouri. After moving to Quincy, Illinois I was surprised to see that the species had adapted well to living in town.

Here’s one I saw the other day from my porch aerie:

I am very fond of the lonesome call of the mourning dove: “Hoo — woo -hoo — hoo”.

Mourning dove call


On Walking

I have been a walker for the past forty years; it took me a while to appreciate the benefits of the activity. While I’m walking I usually either compose paragraphs in my mind or mentally play variations of tunes I know. The down side of this is that I often get lost, not taking the right turn-off. Oh, well, I can live with that!

Walking not only benefits digestion, but I get to see up close and personal what people have planted in their yards. The iris and dogwood season is coming to a close, but now the early roses are starting to bloom. The tulip trees have bloomed and they are presently engaged in littering the side-walks with their discarded petals.

This evening there was rumbling thunder and intermittent drizzle — a nice time for a walk. A couple of photos:

A tree, which may have been a soft maple, had been cut down and cut up on Maine Street:

I do get a kick out seeing remnants of brick pavement which have been asphalted over, when the asphalting wears away in patches, revealing the original street surface:

One benefit of walking is that you can walk with impunity the wrong way down a one-way street!


Musical Crossovers From An Early Era

The 1960s was a very musically creative era, sort of like Italy and Germany during the 17th and 18th centuries. What interests me is how songs from different genres passed back and forth, from black soul, country, to rock, and occasionally to straight-ahead blues.

An example:

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles Original Version

Marvin Gaye’s later version of “Heard It Through Through Grapevine”

CCR’s cover version

And then there is, as Joan called her in an earlier post comment, that “force of nature” singer Tina Turner, in a full-scale arena version, with fire and special effects:

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

It seems to me that musical genres are more insulated from each other these days — back in the day all forms of music were broadcast on the same stations. What do you think?

BTW, don’t listen to these four versions sequentially — you’ll have a “Grapevine Overload”!



It’s been drizzling this evening; I set out on a walk, although I knew I’d get damp. I was walking south on 14th St. and saw a car with the doors open, and I heard some loud music coming from the car stereo or radio. It sounded familiar; I asked a young black woman, who was exiting the car, “What is that song?”

She said, “Oh, that’s Adele — isn’t that a cool song?”

I’m thoroughly immersed in the musical past, and I don’t pay a lot of attention to current music, but I remembered a musical NPR concert and interview I’d heard a few weeks ago. Adele is a young woman from the UK who has picked up on the Ella Fitzgerald approach to singing jazzy, bluesy songs; the funny thing is that she talks with a broad British accent, while she sings with a very American Black sort of accent; she has evidently absorbed the Billie Holiday — Ella Fitzgerald — Bessie Smith approach to singing a song. An example:

Rolling In The Deep

Isn’t she good?