This week is a special one for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, celebrating its one-year anniversary, and we have been invited to choose our own subject. I’d like to do something completely different on this occasion and feature some pictures that my 10-year-old granddaughter took the other day at Navy Pier in downtown Chicago. She was using my SLR camera and did a fantastic job. The only contribution I made was to do a little cropping but the content and quality of the pictures are unaltered. I’m so happy that she is taking an active interest in photography and will do everything I can to encourage it.
Well, here’s something a bit different. I’ve never been to a girl’s softball game before, so last weekend we went up to Wisconsin to watch our eldest granddaughter play in a softball tournament. It seems like only yesterday that she was a toddler playing with her dollies and tea set and now she’s ten years old and ready to take on the world.
For the first couple of games, we choose to watch from a place of comparative safety behind the fence and sit back to enjoy what is, for us, a new experience. You have to admire the enthusiasm that these girls show, and I can’t help noticing that they’ve picked up one or two mannerisms, probably from watching major league baseball games on TV, although I somehow can’t imagine Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the others standing in the dugout singing “We are the Yankees, couldn’t be prouder! If you can’t hear us we’ll shout a little louder!” which the girls proceed to do until they reach an ear-splitting crescendo that scatters a flock of birds roosting in a nearby tree.
During the second game there is a lot to cheer about as the hits are coming fast and furious and we spend most of our time either clapping the team or slapping the mosquitoes that are evidently ravenous up in Wisconsin. By the end of the game we have scored 16 runs and a gazillion mosquito bites despite a liberal application of bug spray and Skin-So-Soft.
The next couple of games are played at another park, the field brand new, the playing surface pristine. I hadn’t planned on making a panoramic view of the field so I take pictures from all different angles and when I finally download the resulting shots and decide to stitch a couple together to give an idea of what the place looks like, I have one heck of a time trying to get things to line up.
It’s not easy to get a clear shot through the chain link fence so I opt to be a bit more adventurous and observe the game from along the left field line. My husband, who is rather more cautious, chooses a spot a bit further down at the end of the safety net.
“The ball will have to make a sharp turn for it to hit me,” he says as he settles down. Famous last words! Almost at the first crack of the bat, the ball comes hurtling towards us and makes a freaky wild turn. Luckily his reflexes are still pretty good and he gets a hand up to protect his head, the ball giving his palm a pretty sound wallop. I am very impressed by Wisconsin hospitality when a man comes running all the way from the other side of the field with an ice pack. There is a lot said about the rivalry between Illinois and Wisconsin and this good Samaritan wasn’t to know we were from Illinois but I’d like to think he would have extended us the same curtesy even had he been aware of the fact. Be that as it may, we are extremely grateful for this friendly gesture.
By the end of the fourth game our team has a 2-2 record. Granddaughter has played some excellent games at first base, got several key hits and has shown that she knows what to do when it comes to running the bases. It all comes down to the final game and our girl goes up to bat. After watching the ball whizz over her head and a few wild pitches outside that get away from the catcher, she gets knocked down by an inside pitch to the leg. She crumples in a heap and the coaches rush out as we hold our collective breath. They eventually get her to her feet and she hobbles to first base. She’s obviously in some pain but she doesn’t come out of the game and even steals second base. Attagirl!
They end up winning the game and then I find out that the first game that they lost wasn’t part of the tournament so they are actually 3-1. Hooray!! They make it into the Championship game which is being held this weekend. That was one wild and crazy tournament! Unfortunately we won’t be able to make the game but we’ll be there in spirit.
Thanks to Tina over at Travels & Trifles for picking the Wild topic for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.
The subject for Nancy Merrill’s Photo A Week Challenge is Lit From Within and, although I hadn’t intended to participate this week, the opportunity to capture some appropriate pictures presented itself quite by chance and so here is my take on the challenge. For the past three weeks I’ve been spending much of the time at the hospital visiting my 93-year-old mother-in-law. Sadly she has reached the stage where nothing more can be done for her and has been moved to more comfortable surroundings in hospice there. The only bright spot in these rather gloomy days has been the sight of the Christmas Village that has been set up in the lobby of the hospital. Apparently, the man who owns all these lovely ornaments brings them in every Christmas for everyone to enjoy. Thank you, whoever you are! You have helped to lighten our load.
For more on Nancy’s Photo A Week Challenge go to Lit from Within.
This week, Nancy Merrill’s topic for the Photo A Week Challenge is bridges. My daughter always had a horror of crossing bridges, especially in a car, and would close her eyes tightly if we were going over an especially long one. I don’t know how she manages, now that she’s a mom who has to do all the driving. I imagine it’s still a white-knuckle experience but hopefully she keeps her eyes open. It isn’t always easy to plan a trip without crossing some kind of bridge or other. Rather like life, you cross that bridge when you come to it.
The Serpentine and Zigzag bridges at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Crossing the Mississippi River in Cairo, Illinois.
A bridge across the train tracks in Milwaukee, part of the Hank Aaron State Trail in Wisconsin.
Crossing the mighty Mackinac Bridge in Michigan.
For more on Nancy’s Photo A Week Challenge go to Bridges.
The subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week was set for us by Patti, and she is looking for some fun. Whenever I am looking for a little fun, I head over to my eldest daughter’s house. For many years I hosted every kind of family celebration imaginable but now she has taken over the task and is doing a first-rate job. Last year she initiated a new celebration, the family fall festival, and we had a lot of fun, so this year we looked forward to the date with eager anticipation.
The day started out well. The sun was shining and we were able to enjoy all the outdoor decorations which were primarily geared towards the forthcoming Halloween festivities.
Someone was on hand to do a bit of face painting while the grown-ups prepared the food. Luckily we didn’t need to use the grill as it seemed to be haunted, and I got a fright when someone tapped on the window by the kitchen sink and I look out to see who was there.
Then it was time for all of us to head over to Kregel’s Pumpkin Farm. We had a great time there last year and this looked to be just as much fun, with some family members trying out a new rolling activity while others had a go at the giant slide. By this time, the dark clouds were starting to drift in but we were fairly confident that we’d stay dry as there seemed to be no rain in the forecast.
It was then that things took a turn for the not-so-good. We had hopped on the hay wagon for a ride out to the pumpkin patch and had just made our selections as we stood about discussing the merits of various types of squash when it started to snow. And not just snow. The wind picked up and howled across the field! And there was a blizzard but not gently falling snowflakes. These felt more like shards of glass pummeling us. We all piled back on the hay wagon and the driver set off. I don’t have any shots of these events as by this time I had bundled my camera underneath a rather inadequate jacket, so you’ll just have to picture the scene for yourselves. The wind had reached such a velocity that I thought the wagon was in danger of tipping over and the cold was almost unbearable (many of us were just not suitably dressed for this wintry onslaught.) It’s a strange thing but as horrific as that slow ride back to the farm was, we were all laughing! Even in the worst conditions we were a family, together, out to have some fun and by gosh, we were determined to make the best of it!
By the time we got home, the blizzard had stopped (naturally) and we settled down to enjoy the rest of the day. Unfortunately the camera wasn’t functioning too well after being caught in the storm so I abandoned the picture-taking for other fun pursuits. For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to Just For Fun
Change is all around us, as Amy points out in her choice of subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week, and the trees are once again taking on their autumn colors while there’s a chilly nip in the air first thing in the morning, but it’s not only the seasons that are undergoing their annual transformation from summer to fall. As Bob Dylan once pointed out, “The Times They Are A Changing.”
On a recent visit to Volo Auto Museum we were rather amused and, admittedly, somewhat shocked by the sentiments expressed in this collection of vintage advertisements displayed alongside the cars. It’s good to know that some things have changed for the better.
I can relate to these ads. For many years, I lived in a house with three smokers and there were times when you could hardly see the other side of the room for smoke. My parents were able, with a tremendous amount of willpower, to eventually change the habit of a lifetime, and quit cold turkey.
However, despite the change in certain attitudes, it’s sad to see that there are many that remain, to a certain extent, the same.
My husband was clearly influenced by ads such as the next. For our first wedding anniversary he bought me a fancy electric mixer. I was upset! I had hoped for something a little more romantic and made him take it back. Subsequently he allowed me to choose, within reason, my own anniversary, birthday and Christmas presents. For our 25th anniversary I asked for a paper guillotine to trim photos. He was upset! He thought my choice was somehow symbolic.
My grandfather might have agreed with the next ad. For most of his life he spurned lean meat for pure fat until, with advancing years, he developed high blood pressure and heart problems. I think that even then he was unwilling to concede that his poor health was linked to a bad diet, but eventually wiser heads prevailed and he was forced to change his daily menu. Unfortunately the change came a little too late to do much good.
For more on this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to #15: Changing and/or Changeable.
This week, Patti is encouraging us to Look Up for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge and I was certainly doing that at the Chicago Botanic Garden Kite Festival recently. Despite the fact that there was almost zero breeze, the kids (and many of the dads) were able to get those kites flying, making a very colorful show.
For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to #13 Look Up.