Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Very Small Pool Party

Lydia really likes hanging out by pools in the summertime. While the pool we have access to through our apartment building was technically open, we didn't want to risk interacting with other residents or really even want to use the other building's elevator to get there. So I did what anyone would do: I bought a kiddie pool, crawled out my apartment window to the roof of the building next door, and started blowing.

We had some setbacks pretty much immediately. It would have probably taken me hours to blow this thing up with my mouth. I was getting pretty lightheaded which was probably a bad life choice while upon a roof.

Luckily I'm like friggin' MacGyver. I cut a water bottle in half and taped it to a hairdryer. The hairdryer's coldest setting was still pretty hot and so I had to take frequent breaks because the water bottle plastic would begin to melt when it got too hot. Other than that it was a success.

The next hurdle was how to get the pool filled with water. I had bought a hose for this purpose but there wasn't a way to connect it to our kitchen faucet as I had intended. We resorted to taking care of this the most ghetto way possible by filling various containers with water and then dumping them out the window into the pool.

I bought a few of these water cooler jugs full of water early in the apocalypse when I wasn't quite sure just how bad things were going to get. I was still a bit nervous about emptying them but I figured I could just fill them back up with faucet water immediately.

It's amazing how much water weighs and how much this pool could hold. After a ton of manual labor we had like a couple of inches worth of water in the pool. We were tired of lugging it and splashing it all over our apartment, and we also weren't sure how much weight we could put on the roof before the thing collapsed. So whatever. I think Lydia was happy enough with our accomplishment.

On the plus side I think we were pretty safe from any possible drowning incidents.

Later on we strolled around a bit in Lafayette Park and noticed this Thomas Hart Benton statue.

Keen JMAA readers may recognize that name from our recent visit to Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site in Kansas City. Well the artist Benton was named after his great-uncle Senator Benton seen here.

Senator Benton was one of the two first senators from the newly minted state of Missouri. I'm patiently waiting for the day that the hippies realize that St. Louis' Benton Park neighborhood is named after a slave owning senator who Wikipedia says was "an architect and champion of westward expansion by the United States, a cause that became known as Manifest Destiny." 

You can see he's unfurling a map of North America. Fun fact about Manifest Destiny:

"According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia, Adolf Hitler's Lebensraum was the "Manifest Destiny" for Germany's romanticization and imperial conquest of Eastern Europe. Hitler compared Nazi expansion to American expansion westward, saying, “there's only one duty: to Germanize this country [Russia] by the immigration of Germans and to look upon the natives as Redskins."

So yeah this statue is for sure going to get torn down. Enjoy, St. Louis!

Watching businesses, especially bars, try to "reopen" during a pandemic was pretty vile. I felt like I was looking into the dark heart of capitalism.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Big Ol Elephants

Mastodon State Historic Site was a park where it was a real bummer that we couldn't check out the visitor center. I bet they have some mastodons in there.

This white-marked tussock caterpillar at Mastodon State Historic Site is not quite hairy enough. The site is where we found the first solid evidence of the coexistence of humans and the American mastodon in east North America.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Holy Southern Illinois

We've been making a lot more excursions into Illinois lately for a couple of reasons. One is that we are always on the hunt for Walmart grocery pickup slots and they seem to be in greater supply on the Illinois side. The other reason is we are always on the lookout for new parks to enjoy and being downtown means there is a lot of fun stuff right across the river.

We've driven past signs for the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in the outskirts of Belleville numerous times and always been curious about what the heck that was. I thought maybe there had been a magical miracle in metro east but it sounds like the "Shrine name refers to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, where legend says snow fell in the summertime".

I learned a new word.

"In Christianity (especially Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Methodist), an oblate is a person who is specifically dedicated to God or to God's service.

Oblates are individuals, either laypersons or clergy, normally living in general society, who, while not professed monks or nuns, have individually affiliated themselves with a monastic community of their choice. They make a formal, private promise (annually renewable or for life, depending on the monastery with which they are affiliated) to follow the Rule of the Order in their private lives as closely as their individual circumstances and prior commitments permit. Such oblates are considered an extended part of the monastic community; for example, Benedictine oblates also often include the post-nominal letters 'OblSB' or 'ObSB' after their names on documents. They are comparable to the tertiaries associated with the various mendicant orders."

The grounds were really nice and there were definitely a lot of unexpected things to look at.

Back at home our television viewing habits have probably been affected by the amount of drama that is now involved with daily life. As a result we are watching copious amounts of The Great British Bake Off as a nice calming form of entertainment.

What's more calming than watching British people comment on the size of the bubbles in a cake mix?

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Apocalyptic Artwork

So downtown St. Louis was covered in plywood, protecting businesses' windows from riots after the death of George Floyd.

Corona beer's similar name to coronavirus led to a lot of jokes and I think lower 

We had just started a stroll out the back door, and I noticed a folded up ping pong table in the alley with a "FREE" sign taped to it. It was giant even folded up but luckily it fit into the elevator. Success!

Now that I have this large treasure... what the heck am I going to do with it?

Anyway the objective of our stroll around town today was to check out all of the cool artwork that people are doing on all of the boarded up windows. I was impressed with its quality especially considering how quickly it seemed to pop up overnight.