Monday, May 31, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Loomis Gang

If you grew up around here, especially if you grew up in Madison or Chenango County, then you have always known that the Loomis Gang were notorious outlaws and horse thieves who lived in Nine Mile Swamp in southern Madison County in the early 1800s. 
So, whenever you see a Loomis armoured truck in Syracuse, you probably give a little chuckle. I do, and my friend Ted does!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


There are about eight or nine of these characters all hanging around in a small patch of woods in one of the city parks. They weren't saying a word, and they didn't seem particularly concerned to see me. They were content to hop and fly a little but were not in search of food. I think they are a family of parents and young who have hatched this year.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Elmwood Park

AKA Larry's Park in our household, this park of hilly woods, wooded paths, a fresh clear stream and many naturalistic stairs, edgings, a built-in bench, bridges and stream banks. A new roof is going on the old mill. 
Did you notice that along much of the upper pathway are tall old electric street lights? Syracuse has parks for a city twice its population. In fact it once was a city twice its present size. So the parks aren't lighted much at night any more, and there are many fewer benches. Lack of regular use leads to disuse and misuse. We lack critical mass. This is just one of the imperiled resources of almost any old American industrial city. 
ESF did a bio-blitz on May 23-24, 2003 and found 661 kinds of plants and animals. 
Neighbors, community volunteers and tree stewards have put a lot of time into this great park.  There are dedicated souls picking up trash regularly, and that really shows! Thanks to you all! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Garden of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Not fifty feet from busy Columbus Circle is this well tended place of beauty and respite.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mizpah Tower

Downtown Syracuse has some architectural gems.  
First Baptist Church and Mispah Tower has residential space that could also be offices above the sanctuary that was used for concerts for a few years, though not recently. We saw David Byrne there, and Joan Baez. Amazing concerts. The concert space is intimate and interesting, and the sound was good. It is a listed building within the Montgomery Street-Columbus Circle National Historic District.
Mizpah needs a lot of work. It sits lifeless and there are no plans for it. A developer stabilized it with work on the roof within the last couple of years. Several years ago thieves made off with some of the stained glass.
Seems to me that it could hold its own if it got into the right hands. Downtown is becoming a desirable address again, and the neighborhood is close to Armory Square. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

CommuniTree Stewards

CommuniTree Stewards weeding and mulching at Louis Mariana Peace Garden at Sunnycrest Park. 
Many people volunteer 12-20 hours a year for this long-standing and successful tree planting and maintenance program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County. 
Urban trees take a lot of abuse and need lots of TLC to be well started.
My best guess is that tree stewards, and student and neighborhood groups shepherded by stewards, have planted, pruned and mulched several thousand trees in the 5-6 years of the program. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tree Peony

Our flowering tree peony, as promised in mid winter in a post showing a seed pod.
For as long as this shrub blooms it is my favorite. 
The heat wave caused the bloom to crash fairly quickly. 
Joy is ephemeral, isn't it!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Train Yard

Part of the eastern half of the CSX train yard in East Syracuse from Fairmont bridge.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bear Mountain Bridge

Sunny and cool spring afternoon at Bear Mountain Bridge, headed home from a much too short visit with relatives in Chappaqua.

It is impossible to stop here, so this is through the windshield.

There were hundreds of motorcyclists lucking out on a perfect weekend day at this dramatic narrowing of the Hudson River less than an hour from NYC.

People from the city without cars used to be able take an excursion boat upriver to Bear Mountain State Park for the day. I learned this in 1964 (about the same time the Beatles first apeared on Ed Sullivan...remember?) when I worked in NYC for a woman who made the trip with her elderly husband every Sunday from May to October. They were German immigrants.

A Google search for what is available for a day trip by boat from the city to Bear Mountain today indicates there are pricy tours and maybe not much else. If there are cheap same-day excursions still running, do let me know.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Grapes II

I returned to this barn and field of grape vines above Watkins Glen today. Compare this with the March picture:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rural Southern Tier

There are many places in upstate NY where long straight stretches of road run up hill and down dale, always east-west, that have the feeling of ancient footpaths. This is near Corning. There is another through Marcellus, and sections of another from Peterboro to Cazenovia 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Carriage House in Watkins Glen

Those Victorians really knew how to build a garage.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Remember, film folks, when you couldn't capture the blues you wanted? Digital is a joy for this alone!

Our 12 year old neighbor Laura noticed that our garden is rampant with cornflowers, having become a menace after a year of near neglect while we were in St. Louis. Laura said it reminds her of Pandora.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Strathcona Folly

Strathcona Park is near our B&B in Ottawa, beside the Rideau River that joins the Ottawa River just below here.
Cast animals are in shadow boxes at child's eye level in a room at the far left side of the folly as pictured above. Other features include remnants of torn down buildings, stone and concrete.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Canadian Museum of Civilization, Douglas Cardinal, Architect

The Grand Hall contains recreations of six northwest coastal tribal villages. It took my breath away the first time I saw it. Once you enter the museum, you step to a balcony two tall stories above the floor of the Grand Hall and witness this space that feels sacred.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Canadian Museum of Civilization, Douglas Cardinal, Architect

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is in Gatineau, just across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill in Ottawa. This huge painted shield is four stories up, at the top of the round gallery at the far end of the Grand Hall.
Enlarge it to good effect.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa

The Tulip Festival in Ottawa over the first two weeks and three weekends of May celebrates the warm friendship between the Netherlands and Canada. From the Canadian Tulip Festival website: 

~The Festival, now in its 58th year, preserves the local heritage of Canada’s role in freeing the Dutch people during World War II and the gift in perpetuity of the tulip to the City of Ottawa for providing a safe harbour for  the Dutch Royal Family at that time.~

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Starrucca Viaduct, Lanesboro PA

The Starrucca Viaduct still carries trains today, in continuous use since it was built in 1847-48. It is in far northeastern Pennsylvania along with other notable viaducts in Nicholson and Kingsley. It was built by Irish immigrants. 
It crosses a wide creek valley at a height of one hundred feet, its 17 arches spanning over one thousand feet, and it is twenty-five feet wide, carrying two sets of tracks.
It is a beautiful and graceful structure. It is listed as a National Register of Historic Engineering Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
There are many images to be seen via Google including historic photos and paintings, and aerial photos.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Onondaga Redhawks and Pinewoods Smoke Play Box Lacrosse

If you want to see some action, go to a box lacrosse game. It's hard and fast, and it is totally local. These men are superior players who have been playing lacrosse since they were babies. We went to the season opener at the Onondaga Nation Arena in Nedrow on Saturday night. 
You are looking at the Onondaga Redhawks playing the Pinewoods Smoke from western NY. The Can-Am Senior B league of Native Americans plays in Central and Western NY and Ontario from now through mid-summer. Visit for the schedule and much more.
Lacrosse has been played around here for hundreds of years. Local people were playing an even more strenuous game long before the Jesuits arrived. 
For a terrific interview of Oren Lyons by Bill Moyers, visit here:
This is a great article on the history and culture of Indian lacrosse:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

SU Lacrosse

Syracuse scores a goal yesterday afternoon. You can see the ball pushing the net above #55. (Blow it up for excellent effect.) It was the last game of the regular season; Syracuse played Georgetown. It was close. On to the Big East. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I've got an old mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
She's a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
We've hauled some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
And every inch of the way we know
From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge for we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal

These are close to the original words written by Thomas S. Allen in 1905, after the days of mule power. The song has seen some changes since it was written. 
Who here doesn't know a version? It's sometimes seen as a childrens' song and is widely used to teach upstate history. It still gives me a strong sense of long days on the early canal, which is less than a mile from where we live, and a deep sense of community and accomplishment. The canal was dug and the locks built by Irish immigrants.
Pete Seeger and many others have recorded memorable versions. My favorite is Bruce Springsteen's.
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants in City Daily Photo's May Theme Day: Statues
The statue of mule and driver is beside Erie Boulevard across from the Weighlock Building in downtown Syracuse.