Archive for the ‘St Louis’ Category


A magnificent African elephant about to start a sand bath int he river bed


Collection of pretty gourds in Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis

So many people are shocked, angry, stunned, grieving at the outcome of the November  USA election. “Whatever will be, will be” after this and events will run their course. But, living with anger and grief is not a good thing for anyone, so I thought this might help for a while.

Mother Nature is a wonderful thing, and usually getting out into Nature (in any form) can be very soothing. (Let’s just hope the new administration doesn’t reverse some/any of the good that’s been done to help our environment—might be a rather forlorn hope, I’m afraid).

I found this poem by Wendell Berry, and it does offer some solace.


A misty fall day in a park in northern Hokkaido, Japan

I’m also going to try and find a photo of ours of something beautiful and wonderful in Nature for the next few days, to try and help soothe some souls.

Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, a farmer, poet, essayist from Kentucky

“When despair grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

From The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

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Horse “parading” in a garden in Urbana, IL


Cows on Parade, Chicago 1999

Animals on Parade

Many cities have, over the years, put up an outdoor exhibition of “Animals on Parade”. The city chooses a special animal—horse, cow, pig, buffalo—and many of these animals are made in fiber glass. Different companies, businesses, shops, institutions adopt an animal and paint it any way they want—usually somehow reflecting their business—and it is placed outside. Some are bright and cheerful, some very whimsical, some symbolic, some rather strange. After some months, there is usually an auction and the animals are sold to benefit a charity. Sometimes the business will keep its own animal, but sometimes it goes to a new home.

We have also seen city benches in Chicago as a theme, and St Louis recently has its 250


Cows on Parade, Chicago 1999

years celebration with 250 fiber-glass cakes dotted around the city. Same great concept.

We’ve seen a number of these collections on our travels and it’s a lot of fun, especially if there’s a list and you can try to track down all of them. Visitors and locals all love these, and it obviously benefits the city to have this extra interest in a temporary exhibition of wonderful outdoor sculptures.

The first “parade” that we came across was the “Cows on Parade” in Chicago in summer 1999 and I wrote about that then. See here http://www.viviennemackie.com/Illinois/Chic-cow-go.html .


In summer of 2002 we saw the “Buffaloes on Parade” in Salt Lake City and nearby Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.


Buffaloes on Parade, Salt Lake City 2002


Buffalo parading on Antelope Island, 2002

And the following year we found many of the “Lipizzaners on Parade” in Vienna, Austria. All gorgeous.


Lipizzaners on Parade, Vienna 2003


Lipizzaner parading in Vienna, 2003

In 2014 we went on a serious “Cake Hunt” for the St Louis birthday “Cakes” (which I documented in a special blog: https://mackie250stl.wordpress.com ). And in Chicago we had fun finding some different horses. These were for the Police Memorial Foundation and were called “Horses of Honor.”


Vera M with  Horse of Honor, Chicago 2014


Horse of honor, Chicago 2014


A gorgeous Horse of Honor, Chicago 2014


A lovely horse in an Urbana garden

So….walking around my own neighborhood in Urbanathe other day I was intrigued to find a painted fiber-glass horse in someone’s garden. It’s very pretty with a black and white pattern, but its stance didn’t match any of the “parades” that I’ve seen.

I’m very curious—-where did they get it, what does it represent? I don’t know these people at all, so I may never know.

But, I’ll be sure to walk that way again.



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A great shot taken by Rod Mackie through the window to us inside

A great shot taken by Rod Mackie through the window to us inside

A Lovely Wine Bar
4069 Shaw Boulevard, St Louis (corner of Thurman)
Not far from the entrance to the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
Open Mon-Sat 11am-1am, Sunday 10am-12am

A delicious plate

A delicious plate



Rod M outside on the patio

Rod M outside on the patio

Our daughter lives in St Louis and we have visited Sasha’s many times, at different times of the year—in the warmer weather we sat outside on the patio but in the cooler weather people can still sit outside, as two outdoor fireplaces have lovely fires. Inside, in winter, there’s also a cozy fire with big stuffed chairs and couches around it. We sat there December 2013, to celebrate our daughter’s graduation from nursing school.
It’s a lovely place to go for a small celebration, or just to hang out with family or friends. Buy a bottle of wine—or two—and a cheese or meat platter for a relaxed couple of hours.
The last time we were there in October we were happy to use their new menu on individual tablets (some iPads), which was easy to navigate. The wine selection is pretty extensive (whites, roses and reds), plus there are a number of local beers too.


Sonya D and Nathalie M. Happy graduation

Sonya D and Nathalie M. Happy graduation

We’ve always been happy with the service there and love the ambience—informal, but bustling. The wine racks stacked at odd angles up to the ceiling are different to most others we’ve seen and the toilet doors are covered in wine corks—very innovative, as all wine lovers realize that corks collect up very quickly and then…what to do with them?

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The side of Rise's building sports a colorful mural

The side of Rise’s building sports a colorful mural

buildingfullRise Coffee, 4180 Manchester Ave, The Grove (the street with a lot of fun murals).

This is a relative newcomer to the coffee scene in St Louis and has become a new favorite for many, including our St Louis family.

It opened in October 2013 in the re-emerging Grove neighborhood. Rise is locally owned by Jessie Mueller and her husband Ron Mueller, and they want to focus on creating a local community in the area. The great coffees and baked items from nearby bakeries (donuts, pastries, vegan cookies, quiche, for example) certainly help with this aim. Their coffee speciality is hand-brewed “pour over” style, which we found very good. They also offer many other kinds of coffees and teas.

At the entrance

At the entrance

signstandAnother notable feature is that Rise encourages “pay it forward” as part of a Coffee For The People program and there’s a corkboard with coffee sleeves noting various cups of coffee or other items that have been bought and paid for by a patron, to be used by another patron. This way, folks who cannot usually afford to hang out in coffee shops will be able to join in this community.

The smallish two-story building has a lounge and kids area on the second floor, as they want to encourage people to linger. The Muellers have used handmade lighting and a mishmash of reclaimed, upcycled furniture. There are many other small interesting touches in the décor, which was Bohemian-inspired, and locally crafted.

Different reviewers have used words like quaint, hipster, a gem, cool, with an eclectic chill vibe, neighborly, and we’d have to agree with them all! The servers are all really friendly and the atmosphere is great.


foodtruckRise now also has a mobile Coffee Truck (probably the first in St Louis), which started in October 2014. It’s co-owned by Jessie Muelller and Nick and Sara Endejan, both of whom have been very involved in the Rise coffee shop—he as the manager and she as a barista.

A very nice place and well worth a return visit.

Check out their website for all the details:


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Nathalie M and Rod M at a table below the rooster mural

Nathalie M and Rod M at a table below the rooster mural

Rooster, at 1104 Locust, on corner of N. 11th Street, St Louis

Rooster is a European-style café in downtown St Louis specializing in crepes, pancakes, special sandwiches and other breakfast and brunch items. They also have a good selection of coffees, beers, and wines, and some say they have the best Bloody Marys and Mimosas in town. However, a Korean friend who went there for the first time told me they disliked the Bloody Mary as too spicy (my guess is that it was just a very different taste for them).

It was busy the day we were there, even though it was the Christmas holiday weekend, and friends tell me that it’s always busy, so it seems to be a popular place. We obviously sat inside, but in the warmer weather they also have outside tables, so you can eat and watch the world go by.


Nathalie M and VIv M

Nathalie M and Viv M

It’s a large place, with a couple of interconnected rooms and a more formal dining area to one side. The interior is tastefully decorated with the rooster theme, all very bright and cheerful; rooster paintings are grouped on walls, a huge rooster mural dominates one side room, metal roosters perch in front of windows and on shelves.

But, besides the warm atmosphere and the friendly and helpful servers, the best thing is the crepes—a great menu with some unusual combinations, both sweet and savory. We went for the savory and had a goat cheese crepe with mushrooms, basil and oven-dried tomatoes; a three-cheese crepe with emmentaler, fontina, asiago, basil and oven-dried tomatoes; and a brie crepe with roasted spiced apple. They all come with some spicy creme fraiche on the side. You can also choose crepes with chicken, bacon, ham, sirloin or sausage, or vegetables, like creamed spinach. All rather inventive!

One of our yummy crepes

One of our yummy crepes

Placemat/menu for drinks

Placemat/menu for drinks

The sweet crepes sounded interesting but we didn’t sample any. For example, Nutella with bananas or strawberries; oranges and cream with crème fraiche and honey.

We found the prices reasonable: most crepes in the $8-10 range, coffees about $2.50.

Open 7 days a week. Mon-Fri 7am-3pm; Sat-Sun 8am-3pm.

Even a frosty rooster on one of the doors!

Even a frosty rooster on one of the doors!

BTW: We were here on one of the days that we were going Cake Hunting for the STL250 celebration. The food fortified us

for a whole afternoon of finding about another 8 cakes!


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rabbit2Rabbits are one of my favorite animals and I love outdoor public art, so when the two are combined it’s a hit!

We found these one of the days when we were out hunting for the St Louis birthday cakes to celebrate St Louis 250 years of history.

See the blog about the St Louis cakes here:


This unusual seated rabbit sculpture is in Strauss Park, a small park on Grand, almost opposite the Fox Theater, St Louis.


First Night-Saint Louis commissioned this lovely piece of public art.


backArtist Catherine Magel directed its creation in 2009 in a partnership between Craft Alliance and Grand Center, Inc., a local organization that promotes public art. Students from three different schools helped to create this 14-foot mosaic sculpture; Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, Metro High School, and Cardinal Ritter College Prep School. They each took part in a one-week intensive studio session, where they helped design the sculpture using ceramic objects, mirror, tile and glass.

Magel chose the rabbit because of its universal appeal and cultural significance, such as luck for the New Year, and fertility for creative ideas. The rabbit is seated in a type of yoga pose, it seems, with its hands/paws in a praying position. There are colored decorations dotted all over its body, some of known objects, some patterns, and some probably symbolic. It’s very thought-provoking, when one takes a closer look. If we think about world mythology and folklore involving rabbits and hares, there are many universal stories that can relate to our lives today.










bustFacing the Fabulous Fox Theater, Strauss Park also has a bronze portrait bust of Leon R. Strauss (1928-1999), an urban pioneer and preservationist. It was created by Jesse Vonk in 1999.

As the plaque below the bust reads, “ His vision changed the face of St Louis. Strauss’ accomplishments included the restoration of the Fox Theater with his wife Mary and Fox associates, the development of Debaliviere Place and Kinsbury Square and a deep commitment to the Saint Louis Symphony.

This monument stands in Grand Center as a tribute by a grateful city to keep Leon Strauss forever close to its heart”.

Hence the name of the park.


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gen sign

Cake at Brightside Park

Cake at Brightside Park

We’ve been very busy recently with an exciting new project: Trying to track down and write up as many of the “Birthday Cakes” in St Louis, Missouri, as possible. The city is celebrating 250 years this year and part of the celebrations are fiber-glass birthday cakes with candles, dotted around the city, county and outlying areas. The cakes are at places/buildings/parks/museums/shops/institutions that have have an impact on the history of St Louis and its surrounds and helped to make it what it is.



general sign

Cake at Cahokia Mounds

Cake at Cahokia Mounds

It’s a fun project, part scavenger hunt, part history lesson, part photographic expedition. Each cake has been specially painted by a local artist, usually with images that fit the cake’s location.

Please share with me, and take a look here:


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