Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Friday Foto Fun - The Chicago Tourist Edition

I spent the afternoon (I know I probably should have been clearning, or washing, or ironing - ironing?) going thru the 300+ pictures I took of our trip to Chicago last Friday.  Oh I was such a tourist with camera slung around my neck, snapping pictures at everything in site.  It was such a spectacular day, the skies were that drop-dead-gorgeous blue, the breeze was slight and the temp was just about perfect.  We drove to town and parked 1/2 block off Michigan Ave. the home of the magnificent Mile.  Made a note as to what floor we were on, took our parking ticket with us, because the instructions said TAKE TICKET WITH YOU AND PAY BEFORE RE-ENTERING YOUR CAR!!  I actually looked for the Parking Lot Police as I took the ticket and gave it to Lane to put in his wallet for safe keeping, God forbid we should not take it with us or worse, loose it!!  The day was ahead of us and we were ready to tour.  First we decided to get our tickets for the Architectural Boat Tour that was definitely on the agenda for the day.  Walking to the boat dock the Tribune Tower was right across the street and we were greeted by.......

Marilyn Monroe, a rather large Marilyn Monroe, I might add.  The newest piece of "art" to adorn the streets of Chicago.  I won't mention what the men were doing as they gazed up at the famous billowing dress, the iconic pose from "The Seven Year Itch".

The Tribune Tower is such a gorgeous building, it is seal of greatness in its gothic design .  If it had a cross on top you would swear it was a grand cathedral.  This building houses all the writers of the Chicago Tribune along with the talk radio station WGN.  In the last few years the radio emcees now sit on the 1st floor behind glass windows so we on the street can watch them while they do their 2 hour or so talk show.  It was so sunny that day that we had to press our faces right up against the glass to peer in.  Can you imagine what that poor emcee sees on a day to day basis? 

Not the best time of day to take a portrait picture, but being a delighted Mom, and so happy to have him home,  just had to.

Right around the corner was this young man with his horse & buggy waiting for some customers.  He looked like a proud papa as he looked toward his horse. 

After lunch we strolled around the city, there were so many beautiful spots along the way to enjoy dining outdoors.  Chicago has many open areas and small parks throughout the city.

It was time for the boat tour and as we boarded and took a first glance in back of us, the Trump Tower (the building with the tall spire on top) was gleaming in the sun.  If you decide that is where you want to live, it will cost you a few million, a couple of 0's too much for me.  The building on the far bottom left is the Merchandise Mart.  As a children's wear buyer for a small department store in my former life, I spent some time in this building. 

The Marina Towers.  Remember Steve McQueen driving a car off of one of the upper floors in the 1980 movie, "The Hunter"?  Surely you do, it was famous!!

Love the collection of so many different building designs....

The older buildings all had clocks built on them because at the time most people did not carry or even own a watch.  They depended on the city to keep the time. 

Most of the newer buildings are now being built of glass and steel.  No more of the beautiful stone work that adorned the early buildings in Chicago.  But even the oldest buildings in Chicago are less than 150 years old because in October of 1871 the Great Chicago Fire burned over 2,000 acres of land, destroying 18,000 buildings and killing 200 people.  So the city literally rose from the ashes. 

When the city began the clean-up of the Chicago River, the city became a popular place to live.  Now there are literally thousands of places to live in downtown. 

One of the most famous buildings in Chicago is the Sears Willis Tower.  It's still tough getting used to calling it the Willis Tower, I think it will always be known to us that have been here a long time as the Sears Tower. 

After the boat tour, we decided we would walk down to Millenium Park.  

Along the way there are huge islands filled with over-flowing flowers.  You will find greenery and flowers all over the city making Chicago one of the most beautiful cities in the world. 

Not only are their colorful flowers, but colorful paintings on the sides of many buildings. 

The family that soaks their feet together, stays together, except perhaps for the teenage son.  He needed to be sitting just a tad away from Mom, Dad, & little sis.  He was a good sport tho, and let me take his picture. 

Lush flower beds fill the area around Millenium Park. 

Cloud Gate, or us in Chicago refer to this as "the Bean", see photo below for the obvious reason we call it the bean.  It was built by a British sculptor and unveild in Chicago in 2007.

Great photo ops take place at the bean...

Us in the bean....now if this would have been designed by a woman, instead of making us look fat, she would have designed it to make us look skinny....just sayin. 

A short walk from the "bean" is the bridge to the Modern Wing of the Chicago Art Institute.  Standing on top of the bridge there is an amazing view of the city. 

This darling young couple was trying to balance their camera on the side of a rock to take a picture of the two of them.  I stepped up and volunteered to take their picture with their camera (I do that alot).  After taking the pictures with their camera, I asked them to pose for me.  Both of them are real beauties. 

We decided it was time to start walking back to the car.  We were all tired but it appears this group was more pooped than we were.  The girl on the left couldn't even hold her head up. 

Even as the sun began to set, the sky had this lush deep blue...  What a cut-above-perfect kinda day we had.  One that I shall remember for a long, long time!!!

"My happiness derives from knowing the people I love are happy."  -  Holly Ketchel

Until next time.....

Monday, August 29, 2011

If It's Monday It Must Be Yellow (or Orange)

What a lovely, lovely day today was, as I type this the evening is approaching and tonight I will be going to Bunco, a pleasure I have not had for awhile. Now any of you that do not know what Bunco is, I could pull your leg by saying it is an extremely difficult game that only the very sharp minded can enjoy, but instead, it is an extremely easy game that all can enjoy. There are 12 ladies that eat, drink, catch-up on all the family affairs, styles, TV shows, work issues, you know all that real important stuff. And while we are at it, we solve a few of the world problems, at least the way we would solve them if we were in power. All this while playing Bunco. I am happy to re-join this group, I have missed them all.

Catherine (my photo buddy) called this morning with news that she made it home from her trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons with 3,000+ pictures and tales of great times. We met for lunch to catch-up since much has happened in the week that she has been gone. Isn't it nice to have friends to share a lunch with at the spur of the moment? And now dinner with my Bunco buddies, how in the world am I gonna lose that weight before Lane's wedding??!! Oh well, I'll start tomorrow.

Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday challenge this week is the color orange along with one of her textures, ofcourse.  After my lunch date with Catherine I stopped at "The Growing Place", my fav nursery that is too conveniently located near our home.  I needed to find some orange for Kim's TT.  As I strolled thru the grounds, yellow is definitely the color of the hour.  I was hoping for some burnt orange mums that are nature's fall icon, but none to be found.  Not yet, anyway.  But this is what I did find......

Isn't this a fan-my-brow fabulous late season bloomer?  All those deep lush colors just scream autumn.

The same blazing flower just a different angle.  This is my entry for Lisa's Creative Exchange this week.  She always has such amazing photos on her site and many words of wisdom.  Hop on over and enjoy Lisa and all the entries for this week's Creative Exchange.

More beauties basking in the sun....

After all that complaining I did in July about the heat and humidity, August, for the most part, has been filled with delightful temps, low humidity, striking blue skies, the perfect "sitting on the back porch" weather.  I had to show off the blue sky again, and I am hoping that all those places that were ravaged by Irene have bright blue skies and sunshine today.  My heart goes out to all those who suffered losses. 

These little flowers reminded me of fall with their orange and yellow petals....

And finally, my entry for Texture Tuesday.  I used 2 of Kim's textures, 1 layer of cracker jack at 100% soft light, duplicated the same layer and changed it to linear burn with about 30% opacity.  Just play around with the opacity for linear burn, sometimes it can be really harsh but by reducing the opacity it can become quite nice.  Then I added a layer of "stitch in time" 100% soft light.  I removed some of the texture on the flower with a soft brush set at about 50% opacity. 

I hope your day was filled with yellow sunshine and your week brings sunshine to your heart. 

"You never know when you are making a memory."  -  Rickie Lee Jones

Until next time....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Evening

The sun is slowly setting, the weekend is coming to a close and I sit here thinking back over the last 4 days and marvel at all that has taken place in this short period of time.  Our son Lane flew into town on Wednesday evening, bringing along a girl/lady (I never know when to start calling a girl, a lady) that he has been dating for over 7 months.  Our son is almost 44 years old and never been married, came close a couple of times, but never quite made it.  I had pretty much given up hope that anyone special enough to catch Lane's eye would ever appear.  But serendipity happened and Nellie entered his life.  Apparently it was instant attraction and as they begin dating and getting to know each other they both felt the right one had come along.  I suspected marriage was in their future, but was midly surprised when I asked Lane, "so, you think you and Nellie will get married someday?"  And his reply, "well, Mom, yes we are and the date has been set, it is Dec 3rd."  Well, my immediate reaction was wow, that is so wonderful, and my second thought was, Dec 3rd of this year??  That is only, gulp, 3 months away.  Apparently, and I can't disagree, they are not youngsters, so why wait.  The wedding will be small and they both want to keep it simple so there will be no blow-out wedding reception, but a simple gathering of a few people.  Nellie has made my son very happy, I can see it in his smile.  And Lane has made Nellie very happy, I can see it in her smile and the fact that she told me what a great son I have and how wonderful he is several times over the course of the last 4 days.  Ofcourse, that makes a Mother feel mighty special that another woman besides his Mom thinks the same way about her son.  I always knew Lane would be a great catch for someone, and Nellie is that "someone's" name. 

Now, don't these 2 look happy??!!  The soon to be Mr. & Mrs. Lane & Nellie

They have gone back home to California, but I will be seeing them again in 3 months time. 

I walked around the backyard this afternoon and found a couple of visitors, Nellie and Lane had left but Miss Dragonfly and Mr. PrayingMantis decided to hang around for awhile.  I also added 2 new bird-feeders to the backyard, so hopefully in the near future, more bird photos will begin to appear here. 

These are 2 different angles, but the same dragonfly.  First of all, it's red...I did not realize that dragonflies came in such a variety of colors....blue, golden, red.  And 2nd those 2 white dots on his head are obviously eyes.  They moved, must have been watching me, in the shot on the left the white spots were on the side of his head, in the shot on the right, the white spots were in the front.  I just never noticed this before, but then again, I never had a camera that captured these lovelies so closely.

I think this is a praying mantis, but it could be a grass hopper.  Whatever it is, it was highly interested in the rose, but then again, who isn't interested in putting their heads in the center of a rose?  We may not put our heads in the center, but I am sure guilty of sticking my nose in the center and drawing a deep breath hoping to get a whiff of a rose scent. 

These last 4 days were happy times with lots and lots of pictures, I will post more later, but right now I think I am going to shower and crawl in bed to watch Masterpiece Theatre with Inspector Lewis.  Hope your week is filled with surprises and happiness. 

"Your children are always your babies, even if they have grey hair." - Janet Leigh

Until next time.......

Scavenger Hunt Sunday - August 28 Edition

Why, oh why do I wait until Sunday to check the prompts for Scavenger Hunt Sunday over at Ashley's blog?  By doing that I make it so much more difficult trying to round up the photos in one day.  But I think I have always been a procrastinator.  Unfortunately I have never been one to plan ahead, I am more of a spur of the moment kinda gal.  I certainly did not get this trait from my Mother.  She was a planner and an organizer.  If she was having a luncheon or dinner with guests, the planning would begin as soon as the invites went out.  Me on the other hand, would maybe, just maybe decide what the menu would be the day before and sometimes the trip to the grocery store would be the morning of the event.  I usually am never late in what I do, just the planning ahead could definitely use some improvement. 

So here we go with this week's challenge.....

1.  Old & New

While my son and his new fiance, oh I do like the sound of that, were in town, we went to downtown Chicago for the day.  Nellie had never been to Chicago so we had to do the tourist thing and visit the highlights.  Marilyn Monroe is now adorning Tribune Tower Plaza in the iconic pose that gave the movie "The Seven Year Itch" its staying power.  I dubbed this my "old & new" because of the "old building" and the new "statue."

#2  Night Photography

Not quite night-time, but close enough.  The same day we went into the city to see the tourist spots as we were leaving I shot this as the sun began to set behind the buildings.  We had such a wonderful day, but by this time of the day, my feet were screaming "get me outta here."

#3  Music

I know there was a suggestion that we take a "selfie" for this prompt, and I want everyone to know that this is definitely NOT a selfie.  Wish it was, but it isn't.  We went to the French Market on Saturday morning, and this beauty was playing her guitar and singing to entertain the patrons as they shopped.  Lovely girl, lovely sounds. 

#4  Cheesy 

I know I should have demonstrated my culinary skills to my new soon-to-be daughter-in-law, but I didn't want to give her any false ideas.  I am kidding, I really do like to cook, but after 30 40+ years of cooking, I have pretty much decided that eating out is always a good option.  And a good cheese burger, prepared by someone else, is always a tasty choice.   

#5  Sun

Last night as we were driving home from my daughter's , the sun was beginning to set and I so wanted to capture a picture of the sunset.  However, because Illinois farm-land is soooo flat, the least building, hill, clump of trees or anything that is above 10 feet in height can totally block the view.  By the time we reached higher ground the sun had done it's thing and I lost my opportunity.  Instead of a spell binding sunset, I have posted an image of an avalanche of awesome "sun" flower. 

So that, my sweet peeps, are my interpretations of today's Scavenger Hunt Sunday.  Hop on over to Ashley's blog and see the other wonderful images, they will delight. 

"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end, may also be only the beginning."  -  Ivy Baker Priest

Until next time.....

Sunday Series 52 - #2 Mail

Oh I am so far behind in my postings and I DO have a really good excuse, my son Lane was in town for 3 days, left this morning at 6:00 AM (sob, sob), but brought his soon-to-be-bride (yeah! yeah!)along to meet the P's.  I was not too surprised when he told me that they were getting married, but what surprised me is that the wedding is planned for Dec. 3 in California.  Dec. 3rd, OMG that is 3 months away.  Oh well, I digress from the subject at hand (but I really had to tell the terrific news right away) and that would be Nancy's Rural Journey Sunday Series 52, Week 2.  And this week the subject is mail....

Earlier this week I received this sweet note from a friend that I haven't seen in quite awhile.  Doesn't it warm your heart when "out of the blue" you receive a hand-written note delivered to your mailbox at your home instead of your "inbox" on the internet?  How much more time it took to find the card, write the note, stamp & address the envelope, and actually place it in a mail box to be mailed leaves a thankful imprint on my heart.  I must remember how much it meant to me, and find the time to do this for others. 

Hope you receive lots of mail this week that leaves a thankful imprint on your heart. 

"Appreciation in any form at any time brightens anyone's existence" - Ruth Stafford Peale

Until next time......

Linking up with Nancy's.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Heart Faces - The Pet Edition

How could I let a photo challenge like Pet Faces go by without posting my sweet, sweet Toby.  I have had many a dog during my lifetime but none as smart, cute, or loving as Toby.  I sound like a Grandmother with a new Grandbaby, don't I?  But maybe many of you feel the same way about your dog, the smartest, cutest, most loving dog ever...  He seems to love me in whatever mood I am in, always wagging his tail when I enter a room, looks for me if he doesn't see me, greets me with kisses each morning, gets up with me in the middle of the night, cuddles with me during storms, always says please and thank-you before and after meals (well not really, but I am sure he is thinking that), lets me wipe his paws before entering the house on a rainy day, my kids hardly ever wiped their feet and they never greeted me with kisses in the morning (except maybe when they were babies)....all in all, I really love my Toby. 

Look at those black button eyes!!  How could you not love a face like this.  Sometimes Toby crawls into my bed in the morning after I have already gone downstairs to make coffee and start the day.  He always looks a little guilty when I find him in bed.  That is when I snapped this shot, after catching him catching a little more naptime. 

"No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
-- Louis Sabin
Until next time......