Monday, January 31, 2011

I. M. Pei in Boulder

This is the campus of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder CO, designed by I. M. Pei.

Syracusans know I. M. Pei as the architect of the Everson Museum. 

Early in his career he designed a large complex to be sited at the top of a mesa just south of Boulder. It sits just in front of the iconic Flatirons, nearly vertically uplifted red sandstone on the eastern edge of the Front Range of the Rockies. Sadly on this day the view was clouded in.

The Center is worth a trip for the I.M. Pei history and the interesting museum about the earth's atmosphere.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ski Eldora

Megan and I downhill skied at Eldora west of Boulder. The new shaped skies, wider and shorter than the skis I learned on oh so many years ago, are fun. Those old brain pathways for skiing are still there from the days at Snow Ridge and Stowe, and the weather was perfect, clear, mild and windless. 

It is possible that it was the finest skiing I have ever experienced. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Denver Botanic Garden

In the middle of winter, the Botanic Garden is full of interest. It didn't hurt that we caught the next to last day of a huge Henry Moore exhibition of sculptures spread over the entire garden.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Monumental knitted sculpture hanging beneath a skylight.
(click to enlarge, to good effect)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Children's Library at All Souls Church in the Lower Ninth Ward

One of the LeMoyne College students' projects during last week with Operation Southern Comfort in New Orleans was to clean, sheetrock and paint unfinished parts of the church. This beautiful library was only a dream before last week! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Los Islenos of St. Bernard Parish

People immigrated to the Mississippi Delta before 1800 from the Canary Islands and found a new home rich on land and in the sea. They came here from other parts of the Spanish peninsula as well, and the rest of southern Europe too. Descendants of los Islenos, the Canary Islanders, still live here today and have formed an important cultural center at el Museo de los Islenos in western St. Bernard Parish.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed every building in the complex. Some were original to the Islenos and had been moved to this site from the surrounding countryside.

Rebuilding was imperative. Operation Southern Comfort has had a hand in some of the projects. Pictured are some of the buildings showing typical early architecture and ways of life.

A thorough history of los Islenos is at the following interesting site:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

St. Bernard Parish LA Houses

Every building in St. Bernard Parish LA, just south and east of New Orleans, was inundated during Hurricane Katrina. No building was spared. These homes, all within 3 blocks of the Mississippi River, are behind the levee and on slightly higher ground than those farther from the river, and all of these sat in water 8-10 feet deep (which came from the opposite direction, not from the river) for a period of up to two weeks. 

Almost all of the homes in this particular area in Old Arabi have been rehabbed. The crew with which I worked gutted a house here during our week in St. Bernard with Operation Southern Comfort. It was among the last to be saved before the Parish would have condemned it and taken it down.

Gutting a house means removing the interior down to wood walls, and beyond if there are termites (of which there always are some), pulling nails, taking up tile and linoleum, and hauling everything outside and into the biggest dumpster available. Next steps include steam cleaning for mold and fumigation against termites.  Then the rebuilding can begin.

Most of the houses are shotguns, meaning that, in the most literal sense, one could look through the front door and out the back door with 4-5 rooms between.

There are also double shotguns for two families. These were traditionally built for multiple generations of the same family, a couple and the parents of one of them, and later a child of the couple with his or her own family.

Shot-guns may have a camelback attached to the rear of the house...a single room addition, or two stories and several rooms.

The appearance of the front of the home, facing the street, remains the same. The effect is lovely. No two homes are quite alike; paint combinations are personal choice and pleasing; trim is unique. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Did We Go To a Hornets Game on Our Evening Off? Yes, We Did!

My first (and perhaps only) NBA game! What a riot of sights and sounds. We were high up in the Arena, so the overall effects of visuals, light, color, digital displays, 4 Jumbotrons, and a wildly happy crowd were intense. And, and! The Hornets won by one point in overtime. Confetti, streamers, fireworks!
During breaks we danced with random crowd members featured on the Jumbotron and excellent music on extremely effective speakers. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Surge Protection

The US Army Corps of Engineers is building a huge surge protection wall around St. Bernard Parish. They are building it in record time. They have mostly admitted wrongdoing and accepted blame for the surge and levee failures that inundated New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish during and after Hurricane Katrina. Closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) and building this wall, combined with renewal of destroyed wetlands all around the area, will help to safeguard the vulnerable wards and parishes from tragedy and disaster again.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Old Arabi, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana

Operation Southern Comfort is a not-for-profit that organizes and supports 6 trips a year from Central New York to places hard-hit and still recovering from Hurricane Katrina five-and-a-half years later, particularly to St. Bernard Parish just south and east of New Orleans.

This week I have joined a group of 110 people including 80 college students from SUNY Oswego and LeMoyne College for a week of work sandwiched between 2-day drives from CNY each way.

We left home last Saturday and began working bright and early Monday morning. It is cold here this week with daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s and nighttime temps in the 30s and 40s.

The group of Oswego students with whom I am working has responsibility for gutting half of a double shotgun house. The house, and every other house and business in all of St. Bernard Parish, was under several feet of water for weeks following Katrina and the breakdown of flood control in its aftermath.

Difficult circumstances have kept the owner of the house from taking on the task any sooner. It is a painful week for her as she recognizes, describes and touches, and finally lets go of, material representing a lifetime of memories.

Shown here is a room from which furniture and personal items have been removed and sheetrock has been taken down. The guys are pulling nails. In coming weeks, after we leave, the house will be steam cleaned to remove mold and dust, and sprayed for pests including termites.

Not knowing where to start or how to describe this week, I will just find a place, this place, to begin. Please bear with me, and feel free to ask questions in the Comments area.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011