This week, Cee is featuring Sand or Dirt in her Fun Foto Challenge. What could be more fun than playing in the sand? It’s the simple things in life that bring us the most joy.
Some spooky characters Pulled Up A Seat and joined the party at our Fall Family Festival earlier this month. Everyone looks forward to this annual event as it’s one of the few times in the year that all the familly gets together and, as usual, our daughter and her husband made the party a special Halloween treat for young and old alike.
This week, Amy has asked us to recount our Photography Journey. Mine has been a long and varied one. Starting in England, it probably began in the late 1950’s when I appropriated my parents’ Kodak Brownie camera. My subjects were usually my dear Mum and Dad but when they weren’t available, I’d sneak up on the dog.
Although I liked the results that I got from the Brownie, there were so few pictures on a roll of film and I later switched to the smaller format of the Kodak Instamatic, only using the Brownie on the odd occasion. The pictures weren’t anywhere near as satisfactory but evidently quantity took precedence over quality in those days. Black and white eventually gave way to glorious color and in the late 1960’s the lens was focused mainly on my eldest daughter and my parents’ garden, with occasional visits to Whipsnade Zoo.
I brought both the Brownie and the Instamatic with me when we came to live in the US in 1973 and continued to use them to capture our family’s early days in Chicago. But I wanted more! I longed for a camera where I could change the lenses and add filters and swagger about in a photographer’s vest, pretending to know what I was doing. Then in 1987, my husband bought me a Minolta X-370 and, so that I might give it a good test run, we took a trip to Niagara Falls and, later that summer, to the Badlands in South Dakota. During subsequent years it accompanied us to Virginia Beach, Wisconsin, Iowa and Florida amongst other places.
I experimented for a while with a Polaroid camera but, although it was useful for those situations when you needed the picture right then and there, the results were disappointing to say the least and the novelty soon wore off. I even branched out with a Super 8 movie camera but the short duration of the film, the high cost of processing and the fact that it had no sound were not in its favor.
My first foray into digital photography was in 2002 with a Canon Elph. Wow! What a revelation! No more eking out pictures on a roll of film and saving what I could spare from the housekeeping to get them developed, only to find that half of them were duds. Digital photography was here to stay, thank goodness!
Later I received the gift of a Canon EOS Rebel. Since then, I’ve upgraded to a newer model and rarely go anywhere without it. I’ve tried to vary the content of my pictures but I suppose nature is my preferred subject, although the family photo files take up quite a bit of space on the hard drive. Over the years I’ve belonged to a couple of camera clubs and learned quite a lot about composition and presentation from my time there, but I never could get the hang of f-stops and metering and technical stuff like that. These days I usually set the camera on automatic and hope for the best.
The last two images were, I thought, especially appropriate for this challenge, the first picture being of our youngest granddaughter taken just days after she was born in 2019 and the second of my dear mother taken two years before she passed away in 2011, at the age of 96, both the focus of much of my photographic journey.
This week, Cee is looking for outdoor ways to move up and down for her Black & White Photo Challenge. Here are a few of the more unconventional methods including maintenance platforms hanging from Marina Towers in downtown Chicago, a maintenance lift at the mall in Mount Prospect, the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier in Chicago and grandson bungee jumping at the Renaissance Faire.
This week, guest host Viveka has given us the topic Capital for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. We have visited a few State Capitals on our travels around the US so here is my take on the subject. Living in Illinois as we do, Springfield would be the obvious place to start.
Madison, is about the halfway point between our house and where our daughter and her family live in Wisconsin, so we sometimes meet there to visit places like Olbrich Botanic Gardens and the Capital Building.
We have family living in Indiana so a trip to Indianapolis is usually one of our destinations. Just my luck, one of the sharpest pictures I ever took was one of the steam plant, which is the only reason I include it here. Also pictured, The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, White River Gardens and a fountain at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
A recent visit to St. Paul, Minnesota resulted in some pictures of the Capital Building, the Cathedral of St. Paul, and the Conservatory at Como Park Zoo.
Our youngest daughter and her husband lived in Salt Lake City, Utah for a brief period so we spent a week there taking in the sights which included the Capital Building, Temple Square and the College of Pharmacy.
Our visit to Cheyenne, Wyoming was only a short one as we were on our way to Utah, but we stopped long enough to visit the Capital Building.
This week, Patti has chosen Favorite Photos of 2019 as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. By far my favorite photos of this year have been the ones of our youngest granddaughter which summon up some of the sweetest memories of 2019. The toy beauty salon that we got her for Christmas was a big hit. Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year and as much joy in the coming months as this little darling as brought to us.
This week, Amy has chosen Display as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t done much in the way of posting recently, the reason being that we have been working hard preparing for an estate sale. When my mother-in-law passed away in July, she left a house full of possessions that were neither valuable nor particularly desirable but, when the family gathered at the old place this past weekend, we realized that so many of those things on display held a great deal of sentimental value, and when turnout for the sale proved to be disappointing, probably due to the timing being so near to Christmas, we found ourselves leaving with arms full of memorabilia.
We found the sled, probably dating back to the late 1960’s, in the crawl space under the house. It brought back memories of our first winter in Chicago when my husband would pull our eldest daughter up and down the sidewalk in the snow with my mother-in-law’s dog chasing along beside them.
On a Sunday morning, under the watchful eye of Chicago’s tallest building, Willis Tower, (I still think of it as Sears Tower) stands one of Chicago’s oldest outdoor markets, Maxwell Street Market. Admittedly it has moved half a mile east from its original site but it still retains much of the atmosphere and content of the old market.
As interesting as it is to poke around the flea-market type stalls, look at and sample the various foods on offer and generally soak up the ambience of this historic market, our main purpose for being here on this particular Sunday is to see the puppets. And they are totally not what we expected! I think we envisioned the more traditional glove puppets, my mind going back to the days of the old Punch and Judy shows. Were we wrong!
This is way more entertaining! Especially since after each performance, the audience is invited to try out the puppets for themselves, much to the kids’ delight. Cool! I was wondering if our 15 month-old granddaughter would stay engaged enough to keep in one place for more than a few minutes but this definitely holds her attention.
This enterprising troupe of puppeteers, called The Puppet Wonder Wagon, uses a mobile performance platform made from a converted trailer, to visit various Chicago Parks and venues. The idea for these performances was conceived and created by Will Bishop and Grace Needlman and has in the past been supported by a grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.
This week, Cee has chosen Books and Paper as the subject for her Fun Foto Challenge. I love old books and the second-hand book stores that sell them! Some of my favorite places to visit in London were those shops that sold used classics and hard-to-find books. Now, when we visit historic houses and museums, I’m always interested to see just which books they have in their displays, from places like the Stephenson County Historical Museum and the Williamson County Jail Museum in Illinois to the grand library at the Biltmore Mansion in North Carolina.
Pictured above is an ornate photo album on display at the Historical Museum in Marion, Illinois. Below are books that are an important part of my own family history. Both are prayer books and each has an interesting story attached to it. The book on the left was given to my father in 1912 by his uncle who was serving on HMS Black Prince at the time. Shortly after this, he transferred to HMS Indefatigable. Both ships were destroyed by enemy fire during the Battle of Jutland in 1916 with heavy casualties. Uncle William was one of those who died. The book on the right was given to my grandfather by a young girl while he was serving with the Royal Field Artillery as he was riding through a village in Belgium during WWI. She ran out of the crowd and pressed the prayer book into his hand. My mother always thought of her as an angel who had given him a gift that protected him through the worst times of the war and brought him safely back home.
Or should that read ‘on and by the river?’ I’m not quite sure what constitutes being ‘on the river.’ Anyway, be that as it may and not withstanding, we spent the day in St. Charles, mostly on and by the river, the river being the Fox River as you can probably tell by the statue of the foxes overlooking the river from Main Street bridge.
There are some noteworthy and historic buildings on the banks of the river near Main Street. The St. Charles Municipal Building was designed in 1940 by architect R. Harold Zook, who is also known for designing the art deco-style Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge. On the opposite side of the river is Hotel Baker which was built in 1928 on the site of the old Haines Mill and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Along the river walk we came across some interesting sculptures, the first being ‘Reflections’ by Guy J. Bellaver. Bellaver also created ‘Ekwabet’ which means ‘watching over.’ The statue was dedicated by the city and named by members of four bands of Potawatomi at a ceremony in 1988. The statue replaced an earlier tribute to the Potawatomi, erected in 1915, that was destroyed by vandalism in the 1960’s. There was also a fascinating piece made, appropriately in the shape of a fox, entirely from recycled (no pun intended) bicycle parts by Francis J. Gagnepain IV.
Walking under the bridge, just south of Pottawatomie Park, we came in sight of the James and Joann Collins Pavilion and Tower. Always up for a challenge, my daughter and I climbed to the top where we got a slightly limited view of the river.
We left the river for a few hours to visit a giant Flea Market held at the Kane County Fair Grounds but returned later for a ride on one of the paddle boats. We took a leisurely cruise past the golf course and a couple of nature preserves towards Elgin. Any boat ride on the Fox River in this area is somewhat restricted as there is a dam both in St. Charles and Elgin.
You don’t see one of these on the river every day! I must admit we were all rather alarmed when we first noticed this car driving down the ramp and straight into the water but quickly realized it was one of those fancy amphibious vehicles. It went past us several times, drawing a rousing cheer from everyone on the boat, sometimes at a sedate Sunday-drive pace and sometimes with all the power and panache of a speedboat.
As we pulled back in at the boat dock, we got another view of the gingerbread tower and pavilion at Pottawatomie Park. And as we walked back to our car, I got a nice parting shot of a cormorant perching on a light pole high above Main Street Bridge. All in all, a lovely day on and by the river.