Storm clouds

Derecho
Canon PowerShot S95
2020

Not long ago a derecho storm passed through. This is a storm characterized by heavy rain and straightline winds of 90 mph or more.

The storm cell stretched from south of Indianapolis all the way into Lake Michigan. The worst of the storm passed through northern Illinois and northern Indiana, causing widespread damage. In central Indiana we were in the least severe zone of the storm, which caused far less damage. We got plenty of rain, though.

We could see the storm cloud from way off. It was a giant shelf — sunshine outside it and darkness within.

The light was interesting as the shelf reached us. The sun outside the cloud still lit everything brightly, but the cloud itself darkened the sky. This gave the light a blue-gray hue, and boosted the sense of contrast.

I stepped out my front door to make this quick photograph before the rain started to fall in buckets.

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Photography

single frame: Derecho

A photo of the interesting light as a derecho storm rolled in.

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The purplest house ever

The purplest house ever
Canon PowerShot S95
2020

My wife and I have been walking neighborhoods all over central Indiana for the last few years looking for one that gives us the most of what we want in a home and its surroundings, with prices we are willing to pay.

We’ve recently visited the Irvington neighborhood on Indianapolis’s Eastside a couple times, and we think this just might be the next place we call home. We’re at least a year away from being ready to move, though.

When Irvington was planned in 1870, it was as a town — Indianapolis didn’t extend this far east yet. Indianapolis annexed Irvington in 1905. The National Road, known locally as Washington Street, bisects it; a small business district with shops and restaurants lines this main street. To the north and south lie a network of narrow streets, many of them curved, a few of them still paved in brick. Homes are older, built between 1870 and about 1960.

This extremely purple house is for sale. I checked it out on Zillow — it’s lovely inside. But zomg, the purple. Now, purple happens to be my favorite color. What I’ve learned, however, is that a little purple goes a long way. At my last house, I used purple as an accent color in my kitchen, but used a particular complimentary shade of green much more. Purple mostly showed up in my kitchen in utensils, small appliances, and bakeware. I still have a complete set of purple Pyrex.

My Canon S95 got the color exactly right in this shot. Purple has not historically been its strong suit. It usually renders it as a purplish blue.

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Photography, Preservation

single frame: The purplest house ever

A little purple goes a long way.

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Ingredients for lemon pie

Ingredients for lemon pie
Canon PowerShot S95
2020

My wife has been working on a personal project that, in part, involves adapting recipes from the 1800s to turn out well using modern cooking methods.

A lemon pie recipe proved very challenging to adapt. The old recipe called for boiling the lemons, rind and all. It made for a pie I found to be inedible, though the rest of the family managed to finish their slices. Margaret made heavy adjustments on each of three more tries with this recipe before she got a result that worked.

These ingredients went into the final, successful pie. This is exactly how Margaret arranged them on that colorful plate. She lay it on the dining table, lit only by sunlight through the back door window.

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Photography

single frame: Ingredients for lemon pie

Still life with egg.

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Brick segment of old US 40/NR

Brick National Road in Ohio
Canon PowerShot S95
2011

The National Road in eastern Ohio offers an abundance of old pavement, both brick and concrete. You can still drive on a lot of the old brick, but very little of the concrete.

This short segment of brick is in Cambridge, on its far west side. See it on a map here. The National Road and US 40 used to leave Cambridge proper on Dewey Ave., which becomes McPherson Ave. and Manila Rd. on its way out of town. When it reaches a railroad track, it curves to parallel it for maybe 300 feet. It’s clear that at one time the road crossed the track where it now curves, but it would have been a dangerous crossing due to a shallow angle.

Manila Rd. ends at Phillips Rd. Turn right and cross modern US 40. On the other side lies this brick segment, which lasts for maybe 200 or 250 feet before asphalt takes over again.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Brick National Road in Ohio

A segment of old US 40 in Cambridge, Ohio, that is paved in brick.

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Brick New Ross Road

New Ross Road
Canon PowerShot S95
2012

You’ll find brick streets still in daily use in some cities. But you won’t find any brick highways still in daily use.

I’ve not surveyed every highway in the nation. But I feel good about going out on that limb.

When you find a brick highway, it will be bypassed or abandoned.

This brick road near New Ross, Indiana, used to be part of the Dixie Highway. That was a network of roads that connected Chicago and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, with Miami. Later, Indiana routed State Road 34 over this road. At some point, probably after a new alignment of this road was built south of those railroad tracks in the upper left corner of the photo, the road became US 136.

In the photo’s foreground, notice the seam where the bricks’ pattern changes. That’s to facilitate a hard turn the road makes here so it can cross those railroad tracks at a right angle.

Eliminating this crossing is why the new highway was built. Providing access to one farm — see the fence on the right? — is why this road wasn’t abandoned.

A bridge was removed from this alignment, however. That’s why a guardrail blocks the road ahead.

See more photos of this brick road here. Map this brick road here.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: New Ross Road

A brick alignment of the Dixie Highway near New Ross, Indiana.

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Brick Route 66

Brick Route 66 in Illinois
Canon PowerShot S95
2013

When you follow Route 66 west in Illinois, when you reach Springfield you have to decide which of two alignments to follow to St. Louis. The newer one hugs I-55 — or, more accurately, I-55 hugs Route 66, as 66 came first. The older alignment is a little farther west, generally following what is now State Route 4.

That old road was routed around farm boundaries, creating a number of sharp turns. Over the years, the state rebuilt sections of that road to make it straighter and smoother. The old sections of the road were left behind so farmers on the road could still reach their properties.

Sometimes, the original pavement remains. This is one of those times. Thanks to a restoration, this is brick in wonderful condition. This is the typical Illinois brick highway, with bricks fitted inside a wide-U-shaped concrete pad. I wrote about how these roads were built here, with diagrams from old Illinois Department of Highways documents and photographs of one of these roads under construction.

I made this photo at the north/east end of this 1.4-mile segment, facing toward Chicago as the road goes. The road used to curve left here to flow into the current alignment of State Route 4.

This is a truly gorgeous segment of old brick road, and gives the best feel I’ve ever encountered for what these roads were like when they were new. If you’d like to visit, you can find it on the map here.

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Brick Route 66 in Illinois

A restored section of brick pavement on Route 66 in Illinois.

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