Sunday, January 31, 2010


This is our inuksuk, looking over the lower garden. 

For a cultural treat, Google inuksuk (s.) or inuksuit (pl.) to learn more about  the original way markers on Baffin Island.

Norman Hallendy wrote and photographed Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic, 2000, Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver/Toronto and University of Washington Press, Seattle. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Icicles: decorative in concept but a real problem for the homeowner.

They form when snow melt on the roofs meets cold air. Gutters don't work for icy water, and they may even be brought down by the weight. 

Even more alarming is that water pools behind the ice dam and will begin seeping into the house, becoming a steady flow that can only be stopped if the dam is removed or there is a protracted thaw. People try using heated wires with limited success.

Trying to remove the ice is tricky and dangerous. It is easy to damage the roof doing it. And you can break your neck.

The culprits are heated top floors that are poorly insulated, and shallow eaves.

A cold attic with an insulated floor works great. So do deep eaves that let the water travel away from the house. Also steep slate roofs.

Living in the cold north is interesting.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Amur Tigers

Our zoo, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, is strong in northern animals, and so the pace picks up in the winter.

Amur tigers are endangered and survive in the wild in one small and threatened mountainous area of Asia.

Three years ago a borrowed female birthed two healthy cubs. I think these two are Dad and one of the cubs.  The zoo's web page does not give identifying information on the individuals in the collection.

On this recent visit, the nearer tiger basked in the sun near the window, paying me scant attention. Then he arose and went off down the hill to step out with his comrade.  I have seen them do this many other times, joining each other in a synchronized stroll.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Clinton Exchange Building

The Clinton Exchange Building, an elegant four-sided building siding on Genesee Street (at the right), was designed in response to the grid and diagonal layout of downtown. The two opposing sides are not parallel, the shorter front is concave and the longer back is convex. This achieves the result that the rear corners are more or less square with their respective street corners, as Franklin Street crosses Erie Boulevard at a right angle, and then curves so that it also crosses Genesee St. at a right angle.  Perfect.
The art deco Niagara Mohawk Building is behind on Erie. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Round Lake

Yes, I jazzed up this photo. I have finally switched to RAW and am having so much fun.
Round Lake and its companion, Green Lake, collectively within Green Lakes State Park, are plunge basins. So much of the topography in upstate NY is explained by the relentless action of glaciers. Here, a lake of melt water on top of a glacier at least a mile thick broke loose with a waterfall that bore these holes, both over 175 feet deep. The lakes are primarily spring-fed. There is a third plunge basin a few miles away at Clark Reservation, also dramatic and interesting in its geology and botany.
Round Lake is designated a Registered Natural Landmark, giving it and the surrounding old forest additional protection. 
There is an air of mystery attached to the lakes. People will tell you that they are bottomless. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Skaneateles Lake

A relatively small Finger Lake at 16 miles long, average three quarters of a mile across, and average 150 feet deep and 300 feet deep at its deepest point, the topography of this lake clearly shows the effects of glacial scouring. The Finger Lakes were scoured more deeply than depth measurements would indicate as sediment has since filled them to some extent.  All eleven of the Finger Lakes flow north into the Lake Ontario basin.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Skaneateles Lake

Yesterday before the rain the wind ran straight north, up the lake. Any ice near the shore at the north end had been broken up by big waves and was crashing against the wall making sounds like breaking glass.
Skaneateles is one of the smaller Finger Lakes and is the source of much of the water for the city of Syracuse. We appreciate it a lot. 
These lakes are formed in the trenches gouged by glaciers. 
We say skanny.atlas, with four syllables. Other people extend it to five. Or pronounce the first one skinny.       

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Byrne Square Building

Coming from the west, this is the first building on Genesee St. designed to fit into a triangular lot created by the diagonal and and grid scheme. The front room upstairs is filled with light.  I have taken a yoga class there and loved the space.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Woodland Reservoir

This crystal clear body of water, three-quarters of a mile around, sits above the Strathmore neighborhood and provides drinking water for much of Syracuse.  The water comes from Skaneateles Lake, 20 miles away and almost 500 feet higher, with very little treatment.  Skaneateles Lake is one of the cleanest bodies of water in the world, according to the water department. The groundwater running into it is carefully monitored. We are very fortunate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spirit of Light

Spirit of Light sculpture above the main doors of the Art Deco era Niagara Mohawk Building built around 1932.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Syracuse History

Owners and planners have preserved many significant downtown buildings and architectural details in Syracuse. 
Genesee Street, a main east-west thoroughfare, meets downtown from the east a few blocks south of where it enters from the west. On the east side is a public space, Fayette Park, and at the west side, Onondaga Creek. The result is several buildings in between with interesting oblique and acute angles to accommodate the early diagonal layout overlain with the grid that came next.
More recently part of Genesee Street has become a walkway, other parts have been obliterated by newer construction, and only one short stretch at Hanover Square still exists as a street in central downtown. If you walk the route, you will find other street-level clues as well.
Buildings pictured here are the State Tower Building and City Hall Commons.
Visit:    for much historic building and neighborhood information.
If you have followed my St. Louis blogs, St. Louis Mosaic and Merry@St.Louis, you know you can expect to see many buildings and details online in coming months.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cheap Entertainment

How does a creature with a brain the size of a peanut understand glass?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Traveling with several other frequent visitors to our feeders, this large woodpecker is striking.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker at our feeder. 

After more than a year away, 20 minutes after I put food out for the birds, they were back in abundance.  It is clear that mixed flocks travel together, so when someone makes a discovery, it goes back to tell the others.  But how was our renewed feeding discovered?  Smells?  Does someone make the rounds of the old places on the off chance?  Sheer luck?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Here Comes Our Stuff

The moving truck came Tuesday. They had some problem with the truck and so were a day late.
The problems weren't over. Read Ed's blog, Upstate Outpost [posted 1/9], for the details of this interesting story.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snow and More Snow

It has done nothing but snow since we got here on Friday morning. Joli loves the snow and will lay down in it with great joy.

A very nice development since we left sixteen months ago is that the city is taking responsibility for plowing the sidewalks along public spaces like this park near our house. People walking in the streets is always a dangerous situation here, and still the sidewalks in front of rental units don't get shoveled. Homeowners are pretty conscientious. And now the city taking over the parks is a very good thing. If it was done before, it was done by people like me who think a snow blower is a great toy and who love being out right after a storm. There are other equally affected people. Lately, since we don't have our blower out yet, someone from down the street who we don't know yet has been coming up at least as far as our house. What a fine thing to do. Thanks!  

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Crow with Snow

Twelve and a half inches of snow in the past 24 hours.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Syracuse Garden

Tree peony seed head. 
This tree peony will have huge yellow flowers in about 5 months.