Out Of This World

Anyone care to guess what this is a picture of?

I won’t make you wait because it would then be a very short post. 😅 It is the maneuvering vents of the Space Shuttle now in the Washington DC Museum of History. It seems like yesterday that I saw them but it has been almost 9 years since the last launch. That is ancient history to you Millennials, so I will forgive you if you didn’t have any idea.

This post is to celebrate the SpaceX launch last week. It brought back memories to see it take off from the Kennedy Space Center.

History of Mustard?

I am very aware that people collect just about everything in the world. Being as how the USA is driven by consumer spending it’s not surprising that we have some of the biggest collections in the world.

In case you were wondering there is even a museum in Madison Wisconsin dedicated to a mustard collection. Who would have thought!  But it is quite a fascinating place to visit if you are in the northern hinterland.  Here is a sampling of what they have.

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view


Slavery Auction - Atlanta.jpg


I ran across a rather startling picture at the Andrew Johnson Historic site in northern Tennessee a few years ago.  Before I talk about that, I was thoroughly amazed at how Johnson’s hometown managed to spin the story of him to make him appear to be a heroic figure which is very contrary to most historic opinion.

I guess I have not come across too many photos showing how intrinsic slavery was to the southern States.   This picture, according to the tag below it, was taken in Atlanta in 1864 just after the Emancipation Proclamation.  The “Auction & Negro Sales” store was in the same row with all the storefronts.  Sadly selling human beings was just the way it was in those days.

If you want to see more details click on the picture for a larger view.

The Great Lakes Freighters

I had the privilege of touring a Great Lakes Freighter last fall. It is permanently docked at the National Museum of the Great Lakes near Toledo Ohio. I think I saw my first freighter on the Great Lakes in the late 1960s. That was when steel and autos were king of that region. There were hundreds of them on the Great Lakes bringing ore from Minnesota to the mills on Lake Michigan and Erie. They are still around but just not in the numbers they once were.

It’s hard to give you the magnitude of these ships with photos. The Col. James M. Schoonmaker is about 600 feet long and via a self-guided tour I had free rein to almost every area of the ship. I spend a lot of time in the engine room and the crew’s quarters above them. Of course the Captain’s and VIP’s quarters were in the front away from all that noise. 🙂

It was interesting to see the status that the head cook had in the hierarchy of the crew. He and his sous chef, so to speak, had their own quarters while the crew was four to a room. Being that I worked my way through college in a dormitory cafeteria and then many years later spent eleven years volunteering in a local soup kitchen, that area of the ship also got a lot of my attention.

Mississinewa 1812

You never hear very much about the War of 1812 but there was a major battle that took place in Indiana.  It was just south of Ft. Wayne.  The British along with their Indian allies fought an Ohio militia there. It happened after the Brits took over Forts at Mackinac, Dearborn and Detroit which was part of the Northwest Territory (Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

The Americans in that area were in in the process of getting rid of all the Native Americans who didn’t want to voluntarily leave their homeland.  William Henry Harrison, otherwise like Andy Jackson, was known as an “Indian killer”. He managed to invade and destroy several Indian villages in the area before the British got involved. Not a great history lesson but the reenactment is pretty dramatic.  Here are some photos.

Click on any picture to see a larger view of the series.

NYC 1999

I don’t think I have to tell you where the source for this abstract came from. It was taken in 1999 during our last visit there while residing in New Jersey. I made my last visit to the World Trade Center that day. We ate at Windows on the World restaurant at the top of one of the towers and watched helicopter fly around below us. That seems like yesterday, but still ages ago.

Coastal Taco – Cleveland

For this Abstract Realism post, I chose the Coastal Taco in Cleveland Ohio. The picture was taken just after sunset from our room at the very eclectic Aloft Hotel. As you can see the restaurant was under a very large bridge going across the Cuyahoga River near Lake Erie. The photo did’t require much tweeking to put it in the abstract class. The food was pretty good and the inside atmosphere was delicious. 🙂

Celebration of Glass

I was recently at the Ft. Wayne Museum of Art and came across a fabulous collection of glass. If I remember right it was on loan from the New York Museum of Modern Art. I have always been fascinated by glass art and this was the best I have seen.

This is one of those photos that needs no additional level of abstraction added. It has enough of its own.

Life Stories – The Sunrise Fisherman

One of my favorite vacations was a month-long visit to our northern neighbors. The people throughout Canada just seem so friendly and interesting. The itinerary for the trip was  Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec, along the St. Lawrence Seaway, Nova Scotia, and finally Prince Edward Island. This story is about the St. Lawrence River on a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise morning.

We were done with our Canadian tours of Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec, so now it was time for to slow down and relax in the beauty of the St. Lawrence Seaway. One thing we quickly discovered was that when we left Quebec City, we pretty much left humanity behind. It seems that Quebec Highway 132, which is a two-lane road is for the most part uninhabited, at least by our standards. As we approached the 300 km mark, I started getting worried that we might have to sleep in the car! Finally, just before panic was beginning to set in, we came onto the town of Riviere-Trois-Pistoles. It was a very small town with only one store and no overnight accommodations. Just on the other side of town there was a small sign on the road with the words “motel” with an arrow pointing to the right.  We were desperate, so decided to give it a try. After five minutes on the gravel road I began to wonder if the sign had been maybe abandoned years before, it certainly looked old enough.

Finally, a couple of buildings appeared on the horizon. One was a small house and the other appeared to be a long chicken coup. Hesitantly, we approached the house and found a typical motel office type room. When we asked about staying the night the person behind the counter muttered a few words in French and then went into the back room. We were just about to leave when an older lady appeared. She told us that her husband didn’t speak much English, but she assured us that she had rooms available for the night, and she would give us her best one. In desperation, we agreed without even asking the price or seeing the room.

It was a small but clean room among about a half dozen others in the “chicken coop”. There was a sign above the small sink that proclaimed in both French and English “Don’t drink the water – showering OK”. The room had a musky odor and filled with antique (read that as very old) furniture. There was no TV as there was likely no reception. The double bed was bouncy, to say the least.  More about that later. What made this room so special was its location; it was about 50 ft from the shoreline of a very wide portion of the St. Lawrence River.  The view was simply spectacular!

We had not eaten since breakfast that day, so we decided to go back to Riviere-Trois-Pistoles to visit its only store. It turns out that it was well stocked with a variety of cheese. We purchased a selection and some crackers for our dinner that night. We decided to eat our dinner delight at the picnic table just outside our room. The view there of the St. Lawrence proved to be much more pleasurable than the food itself and that is how it should have been.  We watched a couple and their young children play along the rocky shoreline. They were staying in an RV adjacent to the “motel”. Even without hearing them I could see that they were having the time of their life.

As the sun was setting we returned to our “Don’t drink the water” room and decided to call in a night.  Little did I realize what kind of night it would be. The sheets were clean, but the covers were tattered and had a mothball odor. After my wife fell quickly asleep I laid down on the bed and found a very obnoxious broken spring poking me into my back. I thought I could ignore it but quickly found out otherwise. The more I tried to adjust my position the worse it seemed to get. After about two hours of maneuvering I finally gave up and decided to spend the night in the lumpy tattered chair next to the bed. I nodded off and on for what seemed like an eternity until a slight glimmer of light finally stretched into the room.

As it become lighter, I decided to venture out to get a first glimpse of the St. Lawrence and maybe take a nap on the more likely comfortable picnic table. As the sky became lighter and lighter, I noticed about 100 yards away a lone fisherman sitting on a five-gallon bucket with a long fishing pole over the water. Even though I was watching from a distance I felt I was intruding on his personal space, but that didn’t keep me from scurrying back to the room to pick up my camera.  I sneaked a few pictures and I watched him for about ten more minutes. He didn’t catch any fish, but I don’t suspect that was the true reason he was out there. I think he just wanted to savor the surroundings. I kind of get the idea that he probably did this many other mornings just to start his day out with a peaceful resolve.

The sunrise that morning was spectacular! The colors seem to have been drenched by a rainbow. That was the most uncomfortable night I had on this trip but I will always remember it. Especially since I shared it with a nameless new Canadian friend, if only at a distance.