The Lope: March 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fun with Snow

Saturday was a day of "wow; I've never seen this much snow" from everyone I know, save those who were familiar with more northern climates. The blizzard that hit Hutchinson, Kansas, Friday and ended earlier Saturday was over, and it was time to figure out what to do with 15+ inches of snow.

Of course, kids know what snow is for.

A couple houses down from the snowman, someone had made a snow igloo about six feet high.

The birds in my back yard made tracks in almost symmetrical geometric patterns. Hmm...what are they trying to tell us?

I bought these boots in late 2007 in a impulsive visit to Yoder hardware in the Amish town of Yoder, near Hutchinson. The climate has made sure I've gotten a lot of use out of them.

The snow arch I shot Friday has turned into an ice cave. If I'd have had a few Star Wars snow trooper figures handy for the photo, this would have been a cave in the ice planet of Hoth.

The snowman I'd shot earlier in the day had apparently met a nice snowgirl and spawned. These must be their offspring. Better hope for some global cooling, kiddos.

As the sun set, I wished I'd found a good wide area of snow with some interesting trees and...oh, maybe some tombstones. The skittering of the sunset across a subtly textured snowscape is not to be missed. What with excavating my car and gathering stuff for the rescheduled Soroptimist Women's Show I'm helping at Sunday, I let the sunset slip my mind and had to settle for the closest decent scene I could find in ye ole neighborhood.

Temperatures Sunday are supposed to be well above freezing, but I'm hoping for more fun with snow.

Fifteen Inches

Welcome to Hutchinson, Kansas. Come share our space - if you can excavate some. A group of sledders turns inconvenience to opportunity as they head east down Avenue A, most probably to the slopes at the K-61 overpass.

I took a little walk around my neighborhood in the south-central part of town this morning during the waning hours of the blizzard, looking for pictures of my neighbors coping with the storm. I stopped a lot; it's actually hard to walk in all that puffed ice. This is Patsy Terrell's car; I don't think she'll be using it soon.

Hutchinson, along with much of Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Texas, is coping with a major Spring blizzard that began Friday.

A neighbor helps excavate a pickup truck. Avenue A is kept fairly clear by the city, but even trucks were trapped in driveways.

Eventually, another truck with a tow line had to be employed.

Bob Arpin watches city and county road crews go by.

Bob has excavated part of his driveway. I asked if he really thought he was going somewhere and he said "no; I'm just looking for something to do." I think that says something good about his generation.

And just how deep is that snow?

Just past the area Bob has cleared, his yardstick shows fifteen inches of snow.

It's even a bit deeper, closer to his house. News reports indicate measurements elsewhere in Hutchinson up to 18 inches. What I find interesting is the stratification of the snow drifts - it's a lot like geology. You can see a layer of sleet that fell overnight at about the ten-inch mark.

I found Bob's technique logical. He slices and lifts small sections of snow. He says it's a lot easier to move.

Here is the tree seen in yesterday's blog post. You can see the snow is higher on the trunk. Notice how there is very little snow on the roof of the house pictured. This was a very dry snow and was driven by strong winds, so little of it settled on roofs or branches.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Unsprung

A major snow storm - a blizzard, in fact - plastered Kansas today, and it's not over yet. This is the Houston Whiteside area of Hutchinson today at 5:28 PM Friday. Here's an Autumnal view of the same scene.

UPDATE (Saturday 9:30AM): A Mixture of snow and ice fell rather aggressively all night Friday. As of Saturday morning at 9:30, we are being snowed upon rather copiously.

Funny how Spring can burst forward only to be slapped down by Winter. This was shot six days ago on a warm Spring afternoon.

Here is the same forsythia today.

March comes in like a Lion and goes out two frozen lions wearing snow cowls.

The big Soroptimist Club Women's Show is one of the few Hutchinson events that has not been canceled for Saturday. It's at the Kansas State Fairgrounds Meadowlark Building. I'll be there, subbing for Mia who can't make it because of the blizzard. That's right, Ace and I...and a whole trade show of mostly women. Please don't throw me in that briar patch.

UPDATE: The show is now scheduled for Sunday, March 29 from noon until 5PM. Ace Jackalope and I will be working Mia Denman's beaded jewelry booth for her; stop in and say hi and I'll publish your picture here, if you wish.

The wind sculpted a snow arch at the south edge of a porch on the east side of a century-old house. The nearby coal door reads:

Would you like to capture that blue of evening snow that you see out a window when your eyes are adjusted to indoor lighting? Set your camera's white balance for tungsten (usually a light bulb icon) and include an outdoor dusk view in your picture. Just remember to change it back before you screw up daylight shots.

The snow is supposed to last until Saturday afternoon, and forecasts range from nine to twelve inches for Hutchinson - heavier in Western Kansas.

Update (Saturday 9:30AM): I haven't measured it, but I'm sure Hutchinson is closer to that twelve-inch mark, if not over.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Equinox

Spring sprung at 6:44 AM Friday in the central time zone of the U.S., but I doubt nature bothered to consult the calender.

A Bradford Pear tree blooms in front of a flag-bearing porch in Webb City, Missouri. last weekend.

A garter snake takes advantage of the rays at the nature center two days ago, unconcerned that it was still officially winter.

A friend of mine told me that she'd heard a folk tale that raw eggs were easier to balance on end during Spring equinox. As unlikely as it sounds - what the heck? - we tried it. She was able to stand a number of them on end (which I promptly upset when I came over to her house, walked in the room and gently set down the camera) a number of hours before the actual equinox and concluded that all you need was patience to do the trick.

I looked into this folk tale and found it is usually attributed to the Chinese. I was also reminded that a number of spring/egg things relate back to the the ancient Germanic festival of Ostara (celebrating the goddess Eostra), including the naming of estrogen, the name of the holiday "Easter" a number of other egg-related traditions.

I guess that from now until Easter, it's the season of the egg. This is going to rev me up for some Easter egg fun.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day

I've run across very little Irish or St Patrick's Day oriented material this past year.

But I did meet a leprechaun at Carlos O'Kelly's restaurant in Hutchinson, Kansas last St Pat's Day. Quite a trooper, he or she was - running around like that for a shift.

And while in Springfield, Illinois last June, taking a side trip from the National Route 66 Festival, I saw Frannie's Ol'oe Irish Pub.

Last July, I met the recently blogged statue of St Patrick in Great Bend, Kansas.

And last September, I saw these holiday ornaments at The McPherson Scottish festival.

Is he Santa? Is he a leprechaun? Or is he a dual-market potential collectible designed to empty your pot of gold? Oh well, he looks cool.

Across the street from Cooky's in Golden City, Missouri, I found this cool St Patrick's Day vest and hat in an antique mall. (photo by Patsy Terrell)

Aside from these things, I'll have to refer you to our previous years' caches of things green:

2007's St
Patrick's Day Megapost
takes you from Chapman, Kansas, to a bird's eye view of Ireland, to London's Celtic crosses and then back to Shamrock, Texas. There's a lot o' green in that post.

Happy St Patrick's Day, 2008 offers more Shamrock, TX, the fine Blue Dome of Tulsa, OK and some Irish Doxies.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Shamrock in Kansas

Finally, St Patrick gets his due.

I ran across an actual public statue of St Patrick. I mean, the man has been a celebrity since the fourth century, has a holiday named after him, and yet the imagery we see associated with his day is largely oriented around leprechauns - little creatures that practice magic...which I believe would make them pagan. And it's greed-oriented magic at that. I doubt good St Patrick would approve.

This statue is in front of Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Great Bend, Kansas. I read on it's diocese website that the church is nicknamed "St Patrick."

The day I was there in July of 2008, the lawn was worthy of the Emerald Isle, by any standard of green. I like the roof line of the church, too.

Read a bit about the historical personage of St Patrick, along with some pure Blarney thrown in by me, in Things Irish and Then Some.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beware the Ides of March

OK, so that's the Greek Parthenon and nowhere near Rome where Julius Caesar was assassinated after being told to beware the Ides of March. And, really, it's not even the Parthenon but a replica in Nashville, TN.

But hey, I really have to use the photo as often as possible. It's also in the prologue.

As to the "Ides of March", I always have to look up just exactly what that means. The Romans used the word "Idus" to refer to the 15th day of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other eight months. The Ides of March, in particular, was a festival day dedicated to the god Mars.

I'm not the superstitious type, and probably neither are you, but it is kind of odd that we've had a Friday the 13th and an Ides of March on the same weekend - both on days you're likely to drive on a weekend trip to eat pie.

Better drive safely tonight - I'm just saying.

Of course, you might point out that the Ides of March has come and the day largely over, but as the soothsayer is said to have reminded Caesar as he headed to the Senate and his death, "Aye Caesar, but not gone."

Sleep well ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pi Day 2009

It's the day we like to call Pi day - March 14 or 3-14. The Greek number Pi starts with 3.14, so of course we had to have pie today. Of course. Right?

The scene of our caloric crime was Cooky's restaurant in Golden City, Missouri - in business since 1942. Mia, Patsy, my mom and I went.

In a very long case at the front of the restaurant resided over a dozen pies. I'm told they can sell through as many as 100 pies a day sometimes.

Ace poses with a my slice of Caribbean pumpkin pie (left). Instead of being made with milk, it is made with coconut milk. At right is a bit of Mia's Reese's pie, which tastes like Reese's peanut butter cups. We both gave them a good forks-up rating. Patsy enjoyed her pecan pie and mom liked her Caribbean pumpkin, so that's a 4/4 rating on 3/14.

Cooky's features booths with metal coat hangers between.

Two slices of pie and one soft drink cost only $4.75. Our Pi Day experience was good all around.

See also last year's Pi Day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yes, We Have Trees

They say we don't have trees in Kansas. This is utterly untrue. Here's one.

And here's another. OK; it's the same one. But really, there are more.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen?

We did - until an unplanned intermission. About halfway through the movie, the lights went up, the film stopped and a theatre employee walked in and told us that a tornado warning had been sounded and that we'd be shown to the attached Hutchinson Mall's tornado shelter.

The walk to the shelter required going outside (? yeah, I know) so we saw the storm - a wall cloud, I believe (above two photos), but the tornadic activity was either past or not visible. There are reliable reports of four tornado or funnel sightings in or near Hutchinson, so this wasn't an unwise exercise.

Fun with storms (L-R) - Mark, Terry, Sharon and Patsy point at nothing.

After a few minutes, a theatre employee ushered us back inside and the show continued.

I recommend the Watchmen movie to even hard core fans of the comic. The one major change I spotted totally made sense. It reminded me of the Lord of the Rings Movies in that it was caringly rendered.

It's a violent flick, though. However, said violence does serve character development and is not merely gratuitous.

Six Minutes to Midnight...

...that's when I should have been in my seat for a midnight showing of Watchmen early Friday morning, but things worked out fine as I'll see it this weekend with Patsy and Mark.

And that my old newspaper buddy Mark should be with me is fitting. I remember, back when the twelve-part comic was released in 1986 and 87, how we'd go to my apartment after work and digest each precious copy in silent reverence as if it should be held in white-gloved hands and read in the antiquities vault of a museum as "Codex Watchmen."

I'm in a great fame of mind for the movie as I haven't read Watchmen in over 20 years and remember only the dark mood of it, without many specific details. This means I can still be in suspense during the show.

I have recently read up on Alan Moore, my favorite snake deity worshiper who used to be in a poly relationship with two women. Yeah, he's interesting.

In addition to writing comics, Moore is also a magician and described himself in a New York Times article as "I am what Harry Potter grew up into and it's not a pretty sight."

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Paul Harvey

News of the death of Paul Harvey this past weekend sent me mining through old file boxes at my mother's house. Amidst the flotsam and jetsam of teenage memories was this aged photo I shot of Mr. Harvey for my high school newspaper back in 1977 or 78. He was speaking at Memorial Hall in Joplin that night, and somehow we high school kids had been invited to the press conference that day. I bet this was my first "celebrity" photo.

I remember Mr. Harvey as warm and accepting of us young journalists. I think I asked some sort of lame question like "is it true you told Nixon he was wrong about the Vietnam war?" (he did).

He was even cooler than I knew. Route 66 News reports that Harvey, a Tulsa native, had been a benefactor of the mother road a couple times.

Paul Harvey donated $1,000 to Friends of the Mother Road toward the restoration of the Vernelle's Motel sign on 66 near Arlington, Missouri. It used to look pretty bad and now seems quite serviceable. (April 2007 photo)

Harvey also touted the 99 cent bologna sandwiches at Wrink's grocery in Lebanon, Missouri, and spoke kindly of owner Glenn Wrinkle. (2005 photo)

To my loss, I never met Mr. Wrinkle. When I was first through Lebanon in April of 2005, he had recently passed away and the store had been closed for a couple months.

Glen's son, Terry, reopened the store in 2007 after another party tried to do so unsuccessfully in 2006.

I was through there with friends in February of 2008 and shot a few photos, including this one, showing the old curved wooden counter.

Of course, I tried a Wrink's sandwich - think this one was ham and cheese. It was pretty decent road food, let me tell ya.

Eating and driving remind me of Paul Harvey again. Though I don't listen to much commercial radio, I was always riveted when I scanned across his program while driving.

I'm wondering how many of you, like me, pulled over in areas of marginal radio reception once in awhile - in my case the Kansas Flint Hills - to catch a fading signal rather than suffering the fate of not knowing "the rest of the story."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Black, White, Cold

It snowed in Joplin, Missouri, Saturday. Here's a view of Shoal Creek from Wildcat Park.

I'd carpooled to Joplin from Hutchinson with Patsy, who took some of her own pictures.

Initially I'd hoped to get one of those photos in which snow makes things look ironic, or in which defiant life pops from the frozen stuff, but these suffering yellow flowers were the best I could do.

So we headed to the Reddings Mill and Wildcat Park area of Shoal Creek, looking for large-scale vistas to show off the copious amount of snow being driven by the wind. This is the old Reddings Mill bridge, now part of the the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center walking trail.

Even subtle colors like that of this stone stand out in the mono color landscape of dark tree trunks and snow.

And here's a video.

Black and white and red

The mailboxes of the Reddings Mill community make me appreciate to-the-porch mail delivery.

Patsy shot this photo of me; My teeth are literally chattering. Ahh, but I should savor it. Soon, there'll be no snow for months. Puffy crystals will be replaced by gnats, and shivers with sweat.

It's a trade of pleasure for pleasure, I suppose. This morning I appreciated the soft thud of the Joplin Globe on my mom's snow-covered driveway, and this summer - "Lord willin' and the creek don't rise" - I'll visit and bask in the song of cicadas that now wait under the snowy ground.