Friday, December 30, 2005

Rolen, Edmonds, Pujols

I heard that a local urology group paid $2,000 apiece for the urinals from the Cardinals' locker room at the old Busch Stadium. I wonder what the plans for them are?

Maybe there's inspiration from another downtown institution, the Anheusuer Busch Clydesdales. (click for a great historic view of the brewery)

If you've ever visited the Clydesdale stables at either the Brewery or Grant's Farm, then you've seen the way horses have their names engraved on polished brass plaques affixed to the gates of their stalls.

Now picture you're in the men's room at the same urology practice. They have installed the urinals on the wall, decked out the room in Cardinal red, and attached the names of famous Cardinal players on brass plaques above each stall.

Well, they will have to do something to distinguish these from plain old fashioned garden variety urinals, right?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Nottingham Community Center Updates

Bill Burnes, committee member for the project, updates us on progress and further project details with this recent entry (scroll to the bottom to read Bill's comments).

Also, according to an article in the latest edition of the Suburban Journal, the organizers of the effort have recently submitted an offer to purchase Nottingham School.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Midnight Run

At 2:00 am, we were awakened by the sound of Matt whimpering in pain in the bathroom. The sound of your own child in real pain is something that pierces right through you, and a sound that wakes you right up. He couldn't swallow, and was having difficulty breathing. A trip to the ER was pretty much a certainty.

By about 2:10, we were on our way to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. It always amazes me to think about the wonderful medical facilities available to residents of the St. Louis area.

I'll never forget the time, about 8 years ago, when my mom was visiting from out of town. She wasn't feeling well, and needed to see a doctor. Unfortunately, she did not have medical insurance. I remembered hearing how the old Alexian Brothers Hospital on South Jefferson would treat patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

It was Christmas day when we went down to Alexian Brothers. My mom had worked in hospitals in California, and was immediately impressed with the appearance of the facility. She did not believe me when I told her the care would be provided to her at no cost.

They took her in, gave her a private room, and treated her with dignity, kindness and repect. The doctor was wonderful, cracking jokes and flirting with her. When everything turned out okay, the staff all wished her a Merry Christmas, and sent us on our way. No charge. Mom was floored. She had never heard of anything like this happening in California.

6 months later, she received a note from the hospital, checking in with her, suggesting a donation if she could afford one, and that was it. No pressure. No demand for payment. Zilch; nada. It was another of those experiences we've filed away under "St. Louis Moments".

Alexian Brothers is no more, and at Children's, you have to pay. Fortunately, we have insurance. The place is wonderful, and was Matt's second trip there. His first was about 6 years ago on New Year's Eve. He had an accident, cutting open an inch gash in the top of his head. The ER doc stapled it closed and he was fine.

Children's is the same hospital where the kids washed away in last week's dam failure at Johnson's Shut-Ins were treated. We talked with the nurses about it, and they all said it was stories like those that make their work the best. Given the miraculous nature of it, we figured someday the story would be turned into a network TV event.

3:00 am in the ER is a nocturnal world of strange events. A lady was arguing with the desk nurse about urine test results on her ten-year old daughter. The test showed crack cocaine in her urine, but the mom insisted "there were two 'urines' on the counter" and that the hospital had switched the vials.

She looked over at Matt and me and warned us: "You better watch your urines!". Then she raised her voice, and announced that she was contacting her attorney. She flipped open her cell phone, and left a 3:00 am message on her lawyer's voice mail to file a complaint.

For some reason, the ten year old needed to be seen at another hospital. Even though they were all walking around normally, and appeared to be completely fine, an ambulance and ER team was on its way to drive her to her next hospital stop.

Meanwhile, we were waiting on Matt's test results. When the doctor came in, she told us he was suffering from a bad case of strep throat. A 10-day Rx for penicillin, and he should be fine.

We got back in the car and made the 10-minute ride home, passing the very strange site of seeing the Berra Park athletic fields on the Hill fully illuminated at 5:00 o'clock in the morning.

By this time, Matt was starting to feel better. Call it good luck or bad luck; his Christmas vacation starts today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What Matters

Last night, I phoned a friend about the developing situation going on in his old St. Louis neighborhood. For forty-plus years, he lived on Columbia, just around the corner from St. Aloysius church. Last year, he and his family moved to a big new home across the Missouri River, over in St. Charles County.

He graduated from St. Aloysius in the 70s, and knew a little about the plans to demolish the church for a new subdivision. He thought the project would be an improvement to the area, and supported it. He couldn't understand why the Preservation Board denied the demolition request. What would happen now? Would the old church complex remain vacant indefinitely?

He went on to say how he thought most of the housing around the church was "dilapidated", and how new homes would bring up the area. New homes built on the St. Al's site would encourage other developers to come in and tear down dilapidated housing around the church, and a whole new neighborhood could be built, just like what is happening at Botanical Heights.

I explained how a group of historic preservation and pro-city advocates testified to save the buildings to preserve the historic fabric of the neighborhood and how they thought the buildings could be converted to some other use, such as loft condominiums.

My friend didn't understand how a church could be converted to housing. I mentioned a few examples of how it had been done before, and he said he thought whether the church would be demolished for new homes, or rehabbed, the two choices gave the city a "win-win" set of alternatives, and that either option would be good by moving new families into the area.

I could tell he really wasn't that interested in discussing the St. Al's situation. What he really wanted to do was catch up on how our two sons are progressing in sports. His son is a real strong kid, with a rocket for an arm. He told me how this off-season, he's making arrangements for him to have private pitching lessons with former Cardinal pitching star, Danny Cox. He assured me that the lessons would be expensive, but he wanted the best for his son. The boy does have a lot of potential.

Our sons started out growing up together, attending Lutheran shools and playing on the same sports teams. My friend's experience is just the opposite of ours. He grew up Catholic, and converted to the Lutheran faith as an adult. Kerri and I on the other hand were both raised Lutheran, but then converted to Catholicism a couple of years ago. It really doesn't make much difference now anyway, since Lutherans and Catholics are kind of becoming the same thing.

This winter, we're thinking of setting Matt up for some private pitching lessons too. I doubt he'll have a former Cardinal as an instructor though, that is unless they have some of them working down at the St. Louis Baseball and Fast Pitch Baseball Academy. However, I have heard that another former Cardinal pitcher is dating a woman that lives in Magdalen parish, and how we might be able to get him to give our kids some free pitching lessons. Now, that would be cool.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Heinous Christmas Decorations

Decorating things is a big deal for St. Louisans. We take shards of broken ceramic tile and mirrors, and turn them into men's room mosaics. We hang buses and broken airplanes off the tops of buildings.

You even see it when we're on the road. Travel to one of Missouri's campgrounds, and you can always tell the St. Louisans by the strings of colorful electric lights and pink flamingos surrounding their campsites. That's all fun stuff and makes us part of an extended community.

But sometimes, we go too far. This year's gotta-have yard decorations are the new, $299-$350 inflatable snow globes. They're showing up on front lawns all over St. Louis. Am I the only one who wants to pop one of these things with a giant poker? Giant puffy snow men, Santas on Harleys, reindeer scenes, they're are all great.

But snow globes are supposed to be miniature winter fantasies, sealed in a crystal ball. When they're 6 feet tall, undulating in the breeze, and emitting a constant hum from an electric fan, that's where I draw the line.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Exciting Riverfront Plans...

...along the blue waters of the Mississippi up in Grafton.

Float a few miles down the river, and discover that Alton has its own multi-million dollar riverfront improvements planned...

Old world service, within a five minute ride

A couple of weeks ago I made a great buy on a leather jacket at the ScholarShop in Clayton. It was during their annual volunteer appreciation day where they open the store only to the family and friends of their volunteer staff.

On the following Monday, I wore the jacket for the first time, and promptly snagged it on a sharp object, tearing a 2-inch hole in the side. So I've been searching for a place to have it repaired.

Calling around, I found a little place at 5423 Gravois: "Bob Stevenson's Shoe Repair & Leatherwork & Orthotics". Sounds like a good South City place, doesn't it? They're located in the Bevo area, just a couple of blocks southwest of the old Gravois Bootery.

Bob, answering his own phone, assured me he could repair the damage like brand new, and his price was less than half of what his suburban competitors quoted. One of the best things about St. Louis are all the small independent businesses operating out of our stock of historic, mixed-use buildings, where the "Low Overhead" way still applies...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Shattered Kevlar

Johnnie Mac's sporting goods store in Crestwood is an athlete's paradise. They specialize in hockey equipment, and you'd be amazed at the variety of products they carry. They must have over 300 hundred different hockey sticks in stock. And hockey sticks are no longer the clunky, wooden variety you remember from years ago. They've gone all high-tech. And some have gotten very expensive, approaching $200 apiece.

Kevlar is the ultra lightweight and very strong synthetic fiber invented by DuPont used in making bullet proof vests. Like other space-aged technology, it has other uses as well, including the manufacturing of athletic equipment.

Matt plays with a "hybrid", "Z-Bubble" stick made by Easton. The good thing about hybrids, unlike their more expensive one-piece counterparts, is that the blades are replaceable. Replacement blades run anywhere from $12-$50 dollars. Snap a blade and the whole stick is not ruined.

To make them more lightweight and durable, Easton wraps the shaft of its Z-Bubbles with Kevlar braiding. You can see the Kevlar braid through the clear coat finish of the shaft. The result is a cool, 3-D illusion. The "bubble" in a Z-Bubble supposedly gives it more flex on a slapshot. Not ever having played ice hockey myself, I wouldn't know anything first hand about stick flex or making a slapshot...

Last nite, the Affton Gold House Peewees went on the road to St. Peters in the second game of a home-and-home series, trying to reclaim first place in their division. In their last game, St. Peters moved into first place by beating the Affton team at Affton, 4-2. So yesterday, it was Affton's turn, hoping to beat St. Peters on their home ice.

We made the 30-plus minute drive from South City to St. Peters, (and this with no traffic), arriving at the impressive St. Peter's Rec-Plex. This is the same facility which played host to 2004's Olympic diving qualifying tournament..

The Affton team started the game with a short bench-only 9 skaters; while the St. Peters team had lots of reserves, about 20 skaters in all. Nonetheless, the Affton team jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period. However, by the end of the first period, you could see the Affton players tiring, and St. Peters tied the score, 2-2.

Late in the game, the score was tied 4-4. With about 4 mintues to play, skating in a crowd, Matt unintentially speared a St. Peter's player with his stick. The Kevlar-wrapped shaft of the Z-Bubble shattered in two. He wasn't whistled on the play, but was sent to the penalty box for 2 minutes for not dropping his broken stick to the ice, a safety penalty.

Affton killed off the penalty, and with less than a minute to play, the score remained tied 4-4. Affton had played a strong game, and well enough to win, but it looked like this one would end in a tie.

Then with about 20 seconds left, an Affton forward, broke free in front of the St. Peter's goal. He took a shot over the goalie's shoulder, and scored. Affton held on for the final 17 seconds to win the game and move back into first place with a 5-1 record.

Back at home, plans are in the works to mitre down the shattered Z-Bubble into four sections, and turn it into a picture frame for Matt's bedroom. With Kevlar reinforcement, it ought to be good for a couple hundred years...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Magdalen's Second Chance

[Update: In a close game, a very strong St. Margaret Mary team from South County defeated St. Mary Magdalen by the score of 2-0. St. Margaret Mary scored its first goal just before the end of the first half on a rebound from a penalty kick and its second goal on a breakaway midway through the second half.]

Earlier this year, the 7th grade boys baseball team from St. Mary Magdalen parish made it into the City-County championship tournament. They played hard, but lost in the second round of the playoffs. The good news for them? Baseball is not their best sport; soccer is.

Presently they are contending for the CYC City-County championship in the "closed division". ("Closed" means no select players are allowed on your team. If you play "open", you can load up your team with players from "select" leagues).

Even though the Magdalen team plays in the "closed" division, I have seen them beat many "open" division opponents. The team has been playing together since kindgergarten under the excellent coaching of Spiro Cosmas. None of these boys play on any other soccer team; they devote their full soccer effort to the Magdalen parish CYC team.

They have earned their way to play in the championship game of the City-County championship, winning their two qualifying games in convincing fashion, the mercy rule being applied in both matches.

Good luck to all the coaches and players in your championship game!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another 15 Minutes Faster

Determined to catch the earlier bus, I arrived at the Hampton Gravois Bus Center 15 minutes earlier than the day before. The 80 Southampton was already waiting.

A quick check on yesterday's trash pile at the Bus Center revealed that the cleaning crew had been through and picked up the place. Everything looked good, except for a recently emptied, 40-ounce can of Colt 45, set up on one of the recently cleaned seats.

The Southampton driver told me I'd be a lot better off catching the 10 Gravois across the street. So I heeded his advice, crossed Gravois, and waited at the stop.

Standing in the 33 degree misty air, the sky still dark at this early hour, gazing out across the wide expanse which included a Schnucks, a Walgreens, the cozy Hampton/Gravois Bus Center, and a Steak and Shake, but mostly, hundreds of cars travelling in all directions, made me feel like about one in 50,000. Most everyone else was riding by in cars. The few of us waiting for buses were barely noticeable.

Then a man started to cross the street from the Bus Center. An eastbound car on Gravois nearly hit him. The pedestrian had to jump out of its way. After a couple of minutes, the 10 Gravois arrived, and about five of us stepped aboard. The route would be pretty much a straight shot down Gravois towards downtown.

Just before Meramec, we passed under the Gravois Viaduct. I was reminded of the perennial Suburban Journal letter writer who periodically like clockwork writes in to criticize the 14th ward alderman for the deteriorating conditions of this and the nearby Chippewa Viaduct. I wondered, should an individual alderman - elected in the mid-1990s - be held responsible for semi-crumbling, massive, viaducts built in the 1920s or 30s?

A short while later, we stopped near Roosevelt High School at the corner of Gravois and Michigan. A group of high school-aged youths exited the bus. None of the them were carrying any backpacks or books.

The bus continued down Gravois, until it made a swing over to 14th Street to enter downtown proper. It passed the Sheraton Hotel in the old Edison building, and I wondered what the late Don Breckenridge might have done if he had a chance at rehabbing the old Children's Building across Clark Street.

At Tucker and Market, the bus headed east. It turned north on Fourth Street, and I started looking for the most convenient stop. I moved to the front of the bus, and was surprised to learn that the canned-sounding, recorded voices you hear narrating stop and transfer information are actually the driver's, speaking into a small microphone, played back after a 2-second delay.

I exited the bus at 4th and Locust, and walked through the new Federal Reserve Plaza. It's an urban plaza that really works, connecting points of interest together. It's all granite and bronze, lots of horizontal and vertical angles, classic in design, even more beautiful this time of year decorated for the holidays. It felt like a one-block section of mid-town Manhattan was moved to downtown St. Louis.

Walking another block west on Locust, I passed the remains of an abandoned homeless encampment, blocking the doorway of the old Mercantile Library/Boatmen's Bank building. Plans are in the works for this building to soon be converted into another loft housing development. At this point I checked my watch, and was 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

I ran some quick numbers in my head. If I didn't need a car during the day to get around to business meetings, we could save hundreds of dollars every month by riding the bus...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A one-hour tour

Having run into a recent spate of car-related problems (yeah, it's back in the shop again....), I had the opportunity to ride MetroBus. It would be my first time riding it since Metro instituted the new routes, and my first time departing from the newish Gravois/Hampton MetroBus Center.

Readying for my trip, I visited the MetroBus website and downloaded a PDF of the schedule. Possibly due to my limited tech-savvy, when printed, the font on the schedule was scaled so small, I needed a magnifying glass to read it.

I arrived about 20 minutes early for the 7:20 bus. Passing by car, I always enjoyed seeing the new Gravois/Hampton bus depot. It was a positive addition to the Gravois entry into South City. Having had an up close and personal look at it, it was not so impressive.

The waiting areas are equipped with electric heaters. Unfortunately, they were only working on one half of the station. On the side they were working were piles of trash, including an empty liquor bottle, discarded fast food containers, the remains of a lost purse, and strewn stacks of "Playback" magazine. So, instead of sitting amongst the garbage, riders chose to wait it out on the unheated side.

My bus arrived about 15 minutes ahead of its scheduled departure time. I asked the driver if I could wait on the bus. He said "no". I then mentioned to him about the piles of trash in the heated shelter. He said he'd "call someone". Then he disappeared into an auxiliary building for about 15 minutes. Why he didn't come out with a broom and a dustpan to clean up the trashed waiting area, I couldn't explain.

In the meantime, I searched the MetroBus station and the side of my bus unsuccessfully for fare information. At about 7:19 am, the driver invited me aboard. The fare machine read, "$1.65" for a one-way ride. I deposited the fare and took a seat in the rear-third of the bus.

About 7:30 am, we passed the Southampton Presbyterian Church. Not knowing the potential health risks of cel phone antennas, I can say that the visual impact of the device on the church chimney is barely noticeable. Not sure if I ever posted before how I remain one of the world's last remaining cel-phoneless residents.

A block west of Kingshighway, at the southeast corner of Lawn Avenue and Oleatha, we rode by one of the city's top decorated Christmas houses. A must-see on any lights drive...

Turning north onto Kingshighway, the sun was just rising above the purple facade of the Charles Schmitt exotic used car lot.

7:39 am: Traffic jammed briefly on northbound, South Kingshighway, ten riders on the bus.

7:40 am: Pass King Dodge. Wave in direction of the family car in distress. Offer a novena to the auto repair gods.

7:41 am: Pass Steve Smith's "Royale". Sidewalks clean and swept.

7:42 am: Tower Grove Park stop crowded with at least 15 riders waiting for buses.

7:43 am: Overhear fellow passengers bemoaning bad luck drawing "Lotto" numbers.

7:44 am: Eastbound across Magnolia along northern edge of Tower Grove Park. Rising sun shining through the branches of the park's bare trees. Park looks pristine. Nets off the soccer goals.

7:45 am: Enter Shaw neighborhood heading north on Thurman. At corner of Thurman and Shenandoah, pass the remains of the Thurman cafe, housed in the former home of the Garden District Commission. Outdoor seating, tiny wrought iron fence, and outdoor fireplace still positioned for phantom cafe customers.

7:45 am: Eastbound on Shenandoah. Historic Shaw buildings looking better than ever. Out of the whole ride, Shaw neighborhood looks by far the "most improved".

7:49 am: Northbound on 39th. Pass mini-traffic jam at entrance to St. Margaret's of Scotland.

7:50 am: Northern edge of Shaw neighborhood, at Shaw and 39th, pass the only visible signs of remaining neighborhood decay. Cross under Hwy 44, approaching Botanical Heights.

7:51 am: Passing Botanical Heights. Tiny street trees, fresh asphalt, and most of the windows in the new houses having no curtains gives the new neighborhood a sterile feel. Northern edge of Botanical Heights neighborhood, a passenger on the bus shouts out, "Somebody running for the bus!". The driver stops and opens the door. The runner climbs on board. Standing room only now on the bus.

7:56 am: Passing through SLU Hospital land. The area looks sharp. Ever since the start of the ride, there is a noticeable lack of trash blowing through through the city's streets and sidewalks. The neighborhoods looks clean! Passengers on the crowded bus are speaking in muffled tones. The crackle of the driver's radio is audible above the soft conversations of the riders.

7:59 am: Crossing Grand on Park into the Gate District. Years of work started by neighborhood resident LaVerne Foster, and carried on by organizations including SLACO, CF Vatterott, and Pyramid Construction, have resulted in a dramatic, mixed- income, diverse new urban neighborhood built upon the original street and alley grid.

8:04 am: First sight of the Arch and downtown.

8:05 am: Pass under the elevated, double-decker Highway 40 structure connection to Illinois. It still looks like braces hanging across the southern edge of downtown.

8:08 am: Pass the City Hall/Savvis surface parking lot built on the site of the former Children's Building.

8:10 am: Conversation in the back of the bus reduced to talk of b-----s, mo-fo, shid, a--, booty, shid like dat, smack dat shid.

8:12 am: Headed eastbound along Washington Avenue. Abundant signs that groundfloor retail spaces of loft buildings are rapidly filling with tenants.

8:15 am: Overhear two middle-aged ladies riding the bus since Southampton express dismay at the amount and prices of downtown loft housing developments.

8:17 am: Exit bus at the Convention Center, walk the one block to the office. Total trip time from South St. Louis to downtown: 1 hour.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Smart Move By Cards' Management

Matt Morris is now a San Francisco Giant. His 90+ mph fastball and nasty curve will no longer be part of the Cardinal attack. As much as we'll miss his likeable, low-key demeanor and his squeaky, little kid sounding voice, we won't miss him that much as a player.

Despite a good regular season record, Morris wasn't effective in post season, and he's starting to get up in years. The Cardinals offered him arbitration, but apparently Morris had the option to consider other offers.

Enter the Giants. San Francisco picked up Matty Mo, offering him between $24 and $27 million dollars for three years. $8-9 million per year? Hey Morris is good, but he's not that good. Hats off to the Cardinals' brass for knowing where to draw the line.

The bigger question is, with some favorite ex-Cardinals like Matt Morris and Mike Matheny now playing for San Francisco, what will happen to the late 80s, Jeff Leonard/Ozzie Smith/Chili Davis-inspired bad blood rivalry between the Cardinals and the Giants?

Friday, December 09, 2005

All in all...not a bad week!

Or, "Thanks, King Dodge!"

Things didn't start out so well.

On Monday, it looked like Matt's soccer team would be playing through snow drifts later in the week, and I tore a hole in a beautiful leather jacket I had just made a great buy on two days earlier at the ScholarShop...

On Tuesday, our dog was to go in for surgery to remove a fast growing tumor.

And on Wednesday, we were scheduled to have transmission work done on our newer car (a five year old Dodge).

So Tuesday morning, I started off taking the dog to Jewell Animal Clinic on Chippewa. Being low on gas, and having a few extra minutes, I drove across the street for a fill-up. Upon returning to the car, it didn't want to start. Uh-oh. Then it reluctantly fired up.

Driving the one block back to Jewell, I decided better to leave the car running than to risk it dying again. So I walked Hollie in for her surgery, and took my chances with the car.

Leaving the dog in the good hands of the staff at Jewell, I began the trek downtown. The car was going through its recent tranny gyrations, but managed to make it in the rest of the way. However, upon arriving at the top floor of Kiener West garage, the engine warning light illuminated. Now what? Park it and risk being stranded? Or turn around and try limping back to the dealer a day ahead of schedule? I decided to go for it.

Jogging back and forth across side streets, I tried to make it down to King Dodge. Now the tranny would not shift gears. It was stuck in either first or second, and the anxiety of breaking down midway was peaking.

I crossed Utah to Morganford, then over Oleatha to Kingshighway. I made it the couple blocks up Kingshighway, and then jogged through their parking lot to the service area and parked it. I opened the hood, and there was this bad plastic/oil burning smell and some smoke. Was the tranny toast? In thirty years of driving, this would be my first time dealing with a transmission problem.

Now it's all pray, wait, and see, imploring mercy from the auto repair gods. The phone rang at my desk. It was DeeDee from King Dodge service. She had good news and bad news. The good news was she had her "best transmission guy working on it". (I'm thinking, "when is the good news for me going to start?")....and he thought if he tried this and that, the transmission might be fixable for about $950.

The bad news is that our warranty expired 3,000 miles ago (already knew that), and if a new transmission was needed, that would push the cost to $2,500. Ouch. That's about the total value of the car. Sheesh. Okay, so now we're waiting, and praying some more. Christmas this year is starting to look real tight...

DeeDee calls again, and the mechanic is making progress. He wants to try a couple more things, and it just might work. But he finds a broken tie-rod, so more work is needed...

Meanwhile, Kerri and Matt pick up Hollie, and she's doing fine, highly medicated, and totally sedated. The backyard wildlife will have at least a one-day reprieve...

Next day, Thursday, still waiting on the car. About 11:00 am, the phone rings. The repairs worked, but the starting problem is probably related to the battery getting weak. New battery recommended. I agree to have it replaced. The car should be ready about 1:00. Transmission repairs worked!

The shuttle guy and I ride through the snow back to King Dodge. Total cost on the car, about $950 and only about $620 of it is for the transmission work! Thanks, King Dodge! In the distance, I think I hear the sound of sleigh bells ringing...

At home, Hollie is feeling better; we're still waiting for the lab results on her case.

Then around 5:00 pm, CYC officials make the decision to cancel Matt's soccer snow bowl.

We should hear in a day or so about Hollie's situation. If she's okay, then that just leaves finding a leather repair shop to complete this week's domestic survivor drill...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Snow Bound?

The 2005 City-County CYC Soccer Championship Tournament is set to begin this week, with games scheduled to be played on the St. Mary's High School field off of South Grand.

With temps holding below freezing and 1-3 inches of snow predicted, the game may look more like a Packers/Vikings game than a South St. Louis tussle...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Old St. Louis

This morning we had a handyman come over to do some small repairs. He's a little-sized guy, about 65, and a 2005 heart attack survivor.

While looking at a quirky bathroom we have on the main floor, he commented how "you can still by those tiny "zinks" in stores.

I haven't heard that expression in well over a year, and have never heard anyone under the age of 55 use it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Street Trees, Part 2

Our city is blessed with a superior urban forest. Not including the trees in parks and on private property, the city counts 80,000 street trees at a value of about $133,000,000. Mature shade trees make our neighborhoods more beautiful and help conserve energy.

The city Forestry Division does an excellent job maintaining and expanding our stock of street trees. They do it with crews of tree surgeons and arborists, assisted by only two inspectors, one north and one south, tracking the health of trees and when necessary, removing and replacing them for public safety purposes.

Trees are things most of us appreciate, especially when they provide us cooling shade on a hot summer day. We gather under them at block parties. We rest under them. They are part of our community. They are impressive. They are real urbanism.

In Asheville, North Carolina, they have established a Tree Response Committee to support the care and maintenance of street trees. Even for Sweet Gums...

In the spirit of community building, and engaging residents in neighborhood improvement, we could start a new program for concerned citizens and volunteer tree experts to promote expanding the stock of street trees and supporting the city's efforts protecting trees in distress. Such a program would heighten awareness of our outstanding urban forest, and create another opportunity for citizens to work together for the long-term improvement of our community.

There are lots of potential ways to engage citizens in looking out for the welfare of our lush tree canopy, and we'd be reinforcing another of the positive messages about St. Louis.