Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's the Dane County Farmer's Market on capital square! We planned to get there bright and early, but instead arrived at the usual time – about nine-thirty, maybe tennish. The sidewalk is normally packed shoulder-to-shoulder by that time with people moving in the usual counter-clockwise direction around the square.

One day, owing to a fluke in our weekend timetable, we arrived at six-thirty or quarter to seven and found we were one of about two or three dozen people who had the whole place to ourselves. We vowed to try doing that again, but it was a pretty empty promise. One of us doesn't get out of bed on the weekends before eight o'clock. Ever.

Barb loves peppers!

I think she's got some heirloom onions in her mitts there, too.

She hardly made it down one street on the square before she'd gone through nearly every dollar of the double sawbuck she set aside for the farmer's market this weekend. She just can't pass up a table covered with herbs and spices, and there were plenty of those.

Although there are quite a few vendors selling cheese, eggs and meats, the stalls along each street on the square are normally dominated by small farmers selling their fruits and vegetables at the market.

Barb is a big fan of the peppers and is easily drawn in by something new. She seems to be big into the heirloom veggies right now.

A few brightly-colored chilis on display.
honey bears
Honey Bears

The bee keeper who sells these at the market also came to our house this spring to rid us of an infestation of carpenter ants.

Clearly, this is a woman who knows a thing or two about bugs.


The flower that looks and sounds like a fiesta.

Food! Glorious Food!

There's always plenty to sample at the farmer's market, and nobody gets into the samples more eagerly than the kids ... although I have to admit I was a bit surprised to see this tyke digging in to pesto pasta like there was no tomorrow.

Organic Gardening finally goes too far

None of that fake dirt for me.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry-sized but not necessarily cherry-colored.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Pretty Pony

Sorry to foist another snapshot of a car on you, but I don't see these on the streets nearly as often as I used to – practically never, now that I think about it – and certainly not as finely cared for as this one. Not a spot of rust anywhere! And the interior was immaculate!

Was there ever a better-looking American car? Was any American car more iconic than the Mustang? I'm not crazy about cars, but even I have to say the Mustang has a classic style that hasn't been matched.

The Mustang has a set of lines that make it instantly recognizable up close or at a distance. Designers of modern editions of "mustangs" feel that all they have to do is slap together a car with identifiable features – the tail lights, the air scoop, the gas cap in the middle of the back – and they've produced a faithful update, when all they've done is produced a poor sketch by tracing over an original.

This Mustang has benefitted from a few modifications, as most will, the mag wheels and flash rims being evident. The guys in my neck of the woods who owned Mustangs almost always pulled the original engines and dropped something really huge in its place. But even with changes as obvious as these, this is still undeniably every inch a Mustang.

As I said, I'm not crazy about cars so I don't know why I'm gushing over this one. It was built using engineering techniques not much more advance than Detroit used to build the Model T. Its tail pipe probably emits more CO2 than a coal-fired boiler. It's not even especially comfortable to sit in for very long, but I'd love to drive this little pony around town just once (it occurs to me now that, while I've ridden in a few, I've never driven a Mustang). This was truly a one-of-a-kind. Too bad more domestic cars didn't have this kind of class.

(Not a spot of rust anywhere!)

A doctor's car?

Or a duck hunter's, perhaps?

I spotted this license plate on a Chrysler parked along Carroll Street; My Darling B provided the caption.

Setting Free the Bears

A side entrance to Ragstock on State Street, and its reflection in a conveniently placed mirror.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Madison's In The Details

If I were a betting man and I had to guess what the Hovde Building on the corner of West Washington Ave and Fairchild Street must've been in a previous life, I'd have to put all my money on the headquarters of a regional utility. All those generators and lightning bolts must mean something.

... and pull back to the long shot ...

The Hovde Building's actually quite fetching overall, in the style of buildings from the 1950's or thereabouts.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Watching over the remains of St. Raphael's

This curly-haired visage looks out over an entrance to the burned-out cathedral.

Saint Raphael's cathedral was gutted a little over a year ago after a hobo started a fire in the attic spaces.

Only the walls and the steeple remain standing on the 200 block of West Main Street.

The sky seen through the broken windows of the steeple tower still hold the power to surprise the passing walker.

An Impromtu Window Display

Mr Smoke takes a break in a pile of old cigar boxes in the front window of the tobacco shop in front of the Inn on the Square.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Walking to Work - Park Street

I had to walk to work from a medical appointment at the corner of Park and Regent Streets.

Going north up Park Street I passed under the railroad spur that the Wisconsin Southern Ry uses to bring coal to the university's physical plant.

Park Street dips into a cut under a modern iron-and-concrete viaduct that carries the spur over the road. The oddly-shaped multicolored concrete caught my eye as I went past.

Here's another view of the cut looking north:

There's something about lines of sight diminishing to a vanishing point that makes me point and click without thinking.

The construction in the background is a brace of brand-new dormatories, if I guess right, and I believe I've seen enough dormatories in my life to know one when I see one.

Walking to Work - Across Campus

A typical university dormatory - so typical that dormatories exactly like this one are found at campuses all across Wisconsin including my alma mater, UW-Eau Claire.

There was a pair of these towers at the top of The Hill on upper campus, imaginatively named The Towers. I had a room on the western side of the men's tower that, during the summer months, was like living inside a pottery kiln.

Which is why I was stunned to look up at this tower and see that these lucky bastards have air conditioners! I can see one window-mounted air conditioner for each room! I would have sucked sewer water for one of those!

I'll bet they have broadband cable, too. In my day we thought we were pretty lucky to have phones in the rooms. Rotary phones, with dials and bells.

I kept going up Park Street until I got to the library mall, a green and pleasant place anchored by the humanities building on this end and the university bookstore at the other.

State Street runs from the library mall to capital square, so I hung a right and started up the long hill toward work.

Walking to work - Along State Street

The shaded beer garden of this brat haus looks like a great place to spend a lunch hour.

I've been living here a year now and I've said that aloud to myself or a walking companion every time I pass by. Don't be alarmed; lots of people on the streets of Madison talk to themselves.

I think I may finally have to stop there this week. Photos to be posted on this site if and when I get around to keeping that date.

I don't remember seeing lady liberty standing there before, but she probably was. I've got a memory like a lumberyard; mixed piles of scrap with the piece I want on the bottom.

"Say it with me: The Exclusive Company!"

Back when I heard Mister Gianelli bark these words on the radio, he was advertising his shop in Oshkosh, where he sold top-notch stereo components and other electronic gadgets.

This store sells only music recordings, one of the few places you can buy in CD or vinyl format.

I came here when I was on the hunt for a new turntable, but nobody sells affordable turntables now, only custom-made jobbers that cost a small fortune. Talk about exclusive.

The neon's quite a nice touch, isn't it?

I used to buy clothes at the Ragstock store in Eau Claire; they had army surplus jackets from Germany and cargo pants back when it wasn't fashionable yet.

The store's been around so long now that even the mannequins have begun to look a bit long in the tooth.

When you're advertising retro by wedding it with an image of the undead, I've got to question your marketing technique, although I can't deny it's eye-catching.

Walking to Work - Capital Square

I call this the "top" of State Street because it's at the capital and the top of a long, gradual uphill haul.

Other people call the campus end of State Street the "top."

I don't know why. I'm staying with my "top" until somebody can give me a compelling reason to change.

The top of State Street is closed to vehicle traffic except city busses, as evidenced by the shelter at left. This block of State Street is one of the most quiet and pleasant for walking.

Mifflin Street, to the right, and Carroll Street, to the left, are not only closed to traffic, each street ends in a cul-de-sac at this corner, separated from the square by curb and gutter and a small pedestrian rest.

The home stretch to the bank is this two-block-long uphill climb along Carroll Street from Mifflin to Main beneath the shaded overhang of oak trees on the capital lawn planted who knows how long ago.

I was in a very mellow state of mind by the time I arrived. If only I could do this every day.

Monday, August 07, 2006

What I saw on my noon hour

The new office building on the corner of Main and Pinckney Streets has finally taken a definite shape.

I've asked a few people but haven't a clue yet what it's going to be.

I haven't decided whether or not I like it. When I saw the blocky structure begin to emerge during the winter months I thought I hated it, but now that it's been glazed I have to admit it's beginning to appeal to me, specially when I turned around today to take a photo of it and saw the capital dome reflected back at me.

The cut stone slabs, arranged apparently at random, also annoyed me at first blush but now they evoke a memory of Wisconsin sandstone, once very commonly used in many downtown buildings.

Maybe, just maybe this building belongs on capital square.

An arresting glint of sunlight made me turn to glance up at these curiously Jetson-ish chrome fins dressing up the corner of this otherwise ordinary apartment building off Gilman Street.

Among the mansions of Madison

As I walked up a narrow path from the shore of Lake Mendota I found this beautiful Italianate house elegantly dressed in Wisconsin sandstone. By any lights, the view alone from the rear veranda across the greensward sloping down to the lake was worth a million dollars. The house itself was a gem.

Who could be living here? An architect? An industrial designer? One of the great movers and shakers of Madisonian high society? I wandered around the front of the house to see if I could get a closer look.

A mass-produced sign out front advised me this was Knapp House, and another stock sign in the driveway advised that parking was for tenants only.

It's a flophouse for college students, another one of Madison's gorgeous mansions carved into flats and turned into Animal House.

If I had a million dollars ...

A beautifully turned-out turret at the top of the Gilman Street Rag Bed and Breakfast.

The house is looking a little rough around the edges; its steps are worn and the front door doesn't hang precisely square any more, but its colors are bright and inviting and the rooms appear to be well open to the air and sunlight.