Nov 19

We eeked perhaps the last bit of autumn out of the weekend

Hey look, it’s the Circle Tower! You can see the name, right there on the side! Completed in 1930, it is today on the National Register of Historic Places as part of Indianapolis’ Monument Circle Historic District. It features what they call smooth-dressed Indiana limestone, with the defining characteristic being the stepped back top stories.

I was more interested in the sign on the side. Some kids were more interested in calling it a pyramid. It’s more of a ziggurat, actually, with those upper stories receding from the outer façades in terraces.

(While pyramids were tombs, ziggurats were temples.)

The tower is one of Indianapolis’ prime examples of Art Deco architecture, especially this metalwork.

This is the north entrance, a one-and-a-half story arch lined with foliate banding. Circle Tower, being completed just a few years after King Tutankhamen’s tomb was rediscovered. Egyptology being a big fad of the time, you got a lot of decor like this:

Sculptor Joseph Willenborg, a German immigrant, filled the bronze grille with the hieroglyphic-like images. This is one of his more memorable works. He also has a lot of work in the nearby theater, the Purdue music building, several prominent hotels and a few social clubs, but the Internet runs out of information on him pretty quickly after that.

Here’s a quick look at some of banding that weaves its way around the door:

But we’re not here, early in the morning, wearing multiple layers in a serious chill, for architecture. We’re out in the cold, after waking up hours before dawn on an off day, for this picture:

By the time the sun woke up and burned off the morning grey, it turned into a lovely morning. Here’s the scene at the finish line:

And if are ever doing something and they give you a medal, make sure you pose for pictures at the capitol.

By the afternoon, the day turned out quite nice indeed:

Sunday was a beautiful day. Perhaps the last one for a while. We, of course, celebrated it with a bike ride:

Today? The bottom is falling out of the thermometer, the latest arctic blast — or whatever we’re calling this one — showed up, along with rain, which turned to snow. I watched it blow in the air in every direction. I watched it give an optical illusion of hanging in the sky. I watched parts of things get accumulation, and others just getting wet. And I watched it start to create little piles on the wooden deck and the chairs and the shrubbery. It was a good day to stay indoors.

Nov 19

Today we partied like it’s 1899

I’m flipping through a 50-year-old periodical. My grandparents leafed through this same book. That’s how I came to have it. It sat in storage for decades and then I got to go through a bunch of things and sometimes that’s how things of no real value are inherited. Some night in an Alabama spring, perhaps, my grandfather read some of these articles, whichever ones might have interested him. I’m taking pictures of the ads with the supercomputer I carry in my pocket. (I wonder what he’d think of that.) So, you know, the same experience.

Anyway, you can check out some of these images too. We’re about halfway through this last copy of Reader’s Digest. Click the book below if you’ve been following along.

To see all of the parts of this issue I’ve photographed, click here. To see all of my grandfathers books that are, so far, on the site, start here.

Sometimes red lights aren’t a bad thing. I had just enough time at this one to see this, decide it would be a good idea to capture the moment, and then make it happen.

That’s just a thing we do now. The technology isn’t terribly impressive at this point. That we can do it is a minor modern miracle, really, but we seldom even acknowledge that these days. What’s impressive is that we sit there thinking Should I? Is it worth it? What’s impressive is how quickly we’ve adjusted and adapted to do that.

Sort of like electricity. Sure, that’s my great-grandparents wonder, and your birthright, but you only think that because it is there every day, all day. We lost power on campus today, and the hard-working electricians from the power company didn’t get the entire outage restored until late in the evening.

I was watching a group prepare a television program when everything went off. They ended up doing it with field equipment and lots of batteries. I checked in on a handful of students who were about to record some podcasts, but they were out of luck. I visited with an instructor who was set to deliver a big social media lecture with videos and slides and, oops. She did the whole thing in the dark, students looking for examples on their laptops, eyes occasionally darting up to the power icon. I gave a tour of the radio station to a high school student, using flashlights. I sat in the dark at the end of the day and caught up on a few emails, also with my eyes darting up to the laptop’s battery icon. Welcome to Indiana University, in the 19th century. Except it is nothing like that.

A view from the parking deck this morning:

That tree is pretty incredible, but I bet it will be hardly recognizable by the next time I have a chance to check on it again.

I’m proud of this tree. The leaves show up early in the spring and they’re staying for as long as possible. Not like those maples, quitters that they are.

The still-novel-to-me parking deck foreground shot:

I just looked up at this one and thought the lights and colors made for good lines:

Speaking of maples, this Red maple is probably the last one still trying. But the green is gone, the yellow is giving ground. The seasons must grind to a halt.

The Red maple, then, is nature’s traffic light. And next week, winter will be here. Until April.

Probably the next time I show you the River Jordan, it’ll be frozen.

It’s diminutive for a river, I grant you. I prefer the previous name anyway: Spanker’s Branch. Maybe there was someone named Spanker, maybe parents spanked their kids for getting in the creek. No one knows why it had that name. But from such harmless mystery good lore can emerge. As it is we have to say: Jordan was a 19th century president who didn’t think a building should be named after him, so he said just name the creek after me and by the 1920s people were calling it the Jordan River casually, and it was formally renamed in the 1990s.

Spanker’s Branch is the better name, then.

But what’s even better is the weekend. And I hope you have a great one!

Nov 19

I made do

I decided I would visit a few stores after work today, so I picked two stores that were seemingly at random.

Seemingly at random because you didn’t know where I was going or why. And seemingly at random because I haven’t told you they were both places I’ve been before — at least one of them frequently. And seemingly at random because you did not know, until this precise moment right here in which I am telling you this part that is very important to the overall story in absolutely no way, that both were between my office, where I spend a lot of time, and the house, where I spend the rest of my time.

I walked through several sections of the first store and found some things, but nothing I had to have. This was really just an excuse to be somewhere, you see. I get in these circumstances and begin to think OK, if you find one thing, two things more you sorta like, you can buy them all. There’s no logic or rationale for this. But if you have some things you’re thinking about getting but you don’t need in the moment, it is a good way to avoiding extraneous purchases. If, that is, you don’t put too much effort into your secondary rationalization skills. And, really, you shouldn’t, because you’ve already built up a credible argument for why you aren’t buying this thing. (e.g. It is only worth it if you find more things.)

So I went to the second store, where I did have a purchase. I needed to buy a picture frame. And not just any, but one that is a random size. It isn’t random, it’s just a standard that applies only to the continents of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and most of South America. This is a real thing, and we, the Canadians and paper and photo connoisseurs of Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines are the outliers.

And do you know how hard it is to find an internationally accepted frame size in a Hobby Lobby?

I found one. One. The guy was making his patient announcements that the store would close in 15 minutes, and so please bring your purchases to the front and thank you for shopping at Hobby Lobby, where the store will now close in 10 minutes … and don’t you know I waited until the last possible second to go to the register, because if that patient manager sort was going to make his staff work the full shift, I was going to do my part, for them, to see that he did too.

Hobby Lobby is a fascinating place, really. There’s all kinds of carefully distressed things that I would appreciate if they were authentic. But I’m afraid most of their offerings have more attention to the detail of manufactured shabbiness and not enough in overall quality. But it is hard to do much better than Hobby Lobby for a picture frame. Unless you need an A3. And if that’s the case you should go back to the collage frame section, where there is always a miraculous 50% off sale the day you are there, and hope you find something close.

I like the nomenclature of the international, or ISO 216, system. It is only odd if you’re not accustomed to it. But if you think about it. It is a standard defines the “A” and “B” series (and a secondary C series) of paper sizes, which are the most commonly available paper size worldwide. If you’ll round to millimeters, they all have the same aspect ratio. And, while this is more of a paper feature than a photo feature, if you cut or folded a page in half along the width, those halves also have the same aspect ratio. These are great for design elements. And the naming system is simplified. I’ll have an A3, please.

If you, like me, need a 16 1/2 inch by a 11 10/16 inch frame, you might be making do. I made do.

But here’s the thing. I found this frame that some frame maker designed would be great for a matted triptych of 5x7s. It was my only option, so I got it. I liked it a little, but I wasn’t wild about it. I got home, put the print inside the frame. It didn’t fit perfectly, I have a little under a quarter of an inch on both the left and right showing an extra black background, but it fit well enough.

And the look of the frame perfectly complements the print.

You can do worse than making do.

Nov 19

The one allows for the other

Tuesdays are the longest days. Spend a day at work. Get home just in time for dinner, which is later, because there are TV productions to monitor. So I get home in time to change clothes, make an ice water (it isn’t as easy as they say) and dip some food onto the plate. I’ll spend a few minutes after dinner just sitting still, and then it is time to do the dishes, perhaps attend to the recycling or some other very small chore. And by then it is 10 p.m. So it is time to iron clothes for tommorrow, and then bed, because while Tuesday runs long, Wednesday arrives at the normal time.

But you get to hang out with fun people:

There’s a gif, somewhere on my Twitter account, of this infinity effect. It’s a great little moment. The monitor on the wall is showing program and the floor director moves camera one over for that shot and before they get a graphic into the system … you get this really trip image. And look closely. Charlee, on the right, is smiling, except she isn’t.

To be fair to both of the co-hosts, I think I shot that picture just before both were about to say something clever during their mic checks.

Today was another day of blue skies. That makes five in a row. We are tied at five over the last 10 days, but we know which condition is going to win out, in the end. And yet we still do it. What else would you do? You can’t change it, as my grandfather said to me on the phone this evening. You just accept it.

Do you ever talk to your elders and wonder if they’re still trying to teach you things? Maybe this isn’t casual small talk. Maybe he knows there are still plenty of metaphors I need to learn from. Maybe I’m now old enough to accept that. Which is a lot like saying that you accept that maybe you do need to be taught new things. And maybe that conversation tonight wasn’t about the weather.

Which is an awful lot for a regular old phone call, if you think about it. It’s getting cold and damp for him. It will be exceedingly cold here. And he laughed, a lot, at my latest tale of getting old. Like you’d know anything about it, he probably thought, I’m still teaching you about the inevitability of the weather.

He doesn’t think like that at all, I’m sure of it. He mentioned my great-grandmother’s house in passing, part of a story about a water heater. He still refers to his mother-in-law by an honorific and her last name and she passed away 15 years ago. Things and habits and routine and niceties matter. That’s not just a generational thing, but it certainly stuck in him and with his generation. Also, he’s perhaps the second kindest man I’ve ever known. His father is the kindest man I’ve ever known. It must have come naturally to most of that family.

I’ve been thinking about his dad a lot, lately. He was born 100 years ago this week, and he died several Octobers ago, now. Plus there’s the upcoming Veteran’s Day, and we’ve talked about his role in the war a fair amount here. Probably right about now, I don’t know for sure the date, he was getting ready to sail to Europe. His war started 75 years ago in December.

You can read a bit about it on this map tracing the unit history, if you’re interested.

This weekend I’m going to pull out a pocket knife he gave me and polish it up once again. It’s beautiful, rugged, used, purposeful. He found it on the roadside somewhere. I’ve never been able to bring myself to carry it, lest it be lost.

Anyway, Tuesdays are long, but Wednesdays make up for it, somehow.

Probably the blue skies, definitely the phone call.

Nov 19

Where you step

Last week I was counting grey days. We were moving into winter, after all. I’m not embracing it — Three, four, five days in a row! Hoo-grey! Like that was something to be excited about, other than the morbid curiosity of wondering how long that would last, and what I would one day be able to do with that information. (Nothing.) — but you have to step into it to step back out of it. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s an approach to try, as much as any other.

Then Saturday came, and it was chilly, but the sky was blue and lovely. And Sunday was another beautiful looking day. I mean, consider:

That was during the bike ride, and I was wearing gloves, sure, but shorts and a windbreaker. I wore wool socks, but my toes weren’t frozen, like on Friday when I’d forgotten the rule of cotton.

(The rule of cotton: Is it cold? You’re going to be cold.)

And then Monday, yesterday, was another fine looking day, even if I was inside for the entirety of it. And tonight, I got home just in time to run for a few miles in that moment between the twilight and the gloaming, and into the fullness of the evening:

It was about 5:40.

Today, another fine and crisp day. You can just feel it in this video:

For all the technology available to us, though, you can’t really express fall. The sites are never grand enough and the smell is never there. It isn’t a season for just the one sense.

But before we get ahead of ourselves … we’ll have a lot more grey and winter-like conditions later this week. It’s a touchy time in an intemperate place, meteorologically speaking.

This morning, I finally figured out to take the picture I have been admiring on the parking deck. I park on the second level, in case the little creek a block away sneezes, I guess. And that second floor parking routine means I take two 180-degree turns. And after the second turn there’s this view, which looks lovely through polarized sunglasses and, finally, my pictures looks as it all does in my minds eye.

As ever, the key is in where you do your metering.

You have to step in, then, before you can step back.