Friday, June 27, 2014

A Sunday Drive (except it was Tuesday)

I took a Sunday drive except it was a Tuesday this week.  My good friend, Marti and I drove, well she drove, I rode a little over 100 miles (actually it was more than that because as we were driving and doing way too much talking we missed the turn, so add an extra 13 + miles) to Lake Carroll, IL to visit a friend of Marti's that had moved there 20 years ago.  They have kept in contact, which I think is exceptional to stay in contact with those that have moved away....Marti is a master at this....she has friends from childhood, friends from high school, friends from college, neighbors or church members that have moved away that she keeps in touch with which I think is a unique quality.  I can barely remember my high school and college friends, let alone stay in touch with them.  It is kinda sad not knowing how some of my best friends in high school lives unfolded. Did they have happy marriages, how many or any children did they have, are they even still alive?

Oh I do diverse....back to Lake Carroll.  Helen and her husband Lyle have a lovely home buried in a wooded area and after a tour of the house and lunch at the clubhouse, Helen took us on a drive through the countryside. Just a teeny bit of history abut this part of Illinois....very hilly so unlike the Chicago area which is flat as a pancake, but the reason we are so flat and this area which is in the the northwest area of Illinois, fairly close to Iowa & Wisconsin is so hilly is way way back when we were in the middle of an Ice Age, the glaciers made it down to the Chicagoland area, but didn't make it as far as northwest Illinois, and when they melted, they left the land flat.  I didn't know that but everyone I mention it to had heard that.....I really think it was because they were raised here and probably learned this in school, while I went to school in Texas and learned about the Alamo and not glaciers.  Marti had mentioned to Helen that I love finding barns to photograph.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sun was shining, slight breezes, blue skies with the most beautiful puffy clouds....give me a red barn, blue skies and puffy clouds and I am indeed in heaven.  And with two wonderful women by my side, indeed a lovely day.

I love this "condo" style barn with all of its windows...altho I wonder if those shutters open or are just decor.

And a blue and white barn, don't think I have ever seen one of these....

We did run across a couple of quilt barns....wish I could tell you the name of those squares, but I honestly don't have a clue.  I could google it but there are problem close to a gazillion different ones.

And we ended our drive with this church.  Isn't this just the perfect setting and site of a country church.

But my post isn't complete without a link up to TexWiseGirl's Good Fences.  This is very typical of the fences in this part of Illinois, nothing fancy, but gets the job done.

And today is the day I post at my collaborative blog Focusing On Life.  Please take a moment to stop by.

Until next time.....

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Aaah Summer

"Aaah, summer - that long anticipated stretch of lazy,
 lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility.
It's a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, 
conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends." ~ Darell Hammond
Until next time.....

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Flowers, Colors, Beauty

This is what summer is about, for me, colors, beauty,  Many times last winter I found myself going back through the images from last summer just to replenish my soul with the colors and beauty of summertime.  Back in the 80's my sweetie and I took a trip to England and I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the gardens there, from the simplest front yard garden to the massive beauties found around the estates and castles.  I was determined to create my own little patch of beauty when I returned home.  My first garden was no more than about 20x20 feet at the side of our home.  And since that time I have added front yard gardens, back yard gardens, mailbox gardens, driveway gardens.   All began as sun gardens only to be gradually converted to shade gardens as the trees began to grow blocking the sun.   I have a few sun flowers, but they are gradually being overtaken with shade.  Remembering back when we first moved into our home some 35 years ago, like all new subdivisions there were absolutely no trees in sight.  As we planted our trees, no more than sticks at the time, I never would have imagined the shade that those small trees would later provide.   And since there is so much shade, I find myself going to garden centers with camera in hand, taking pictures of the bounty of colors that I cannot grow in my shade gardens.  Eventho I cannot grow many of the flowers that grace gardens filled with sun, my trees provide shade and coolness during our hot summer days.  So trading sunny gardens for the coolness that the trees bring is a good thing (as Martha would say).  

Yesterday,during our weekly girlfriend gathering at Barnes & Noble, we watched the dark clouds begin to roll in.  We all decided perhaps it was time to leave and reach home before the heavens opened and the rain began.  I made it home right before the rains came and took this image of the gathering clouds.  Pretty scary huh??  Nothing dangerous happened, just lots and lots of rain.

Which made for nice raindrop pictures after it subsided....

And finally, my contribution to Theresa's meme (TexWisGirl - Run A Round Ranch) Good Fences. Nothing better than a good old adorned, rusty fence.

"What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade." ~Gertrude Jekyll

Until next time.....

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Enjoy the Days....

After an over-abundant number of days of absolutely perfect weather, which I call San Diego Days, beautiful blue skies, no humidity, balmy breezes, temps in the upper 70's/low 80's which we decidedly deserved after the winter we endured, summertime has returned to Chicagoland....heat and humidity.  Now I am not complaining (well maybe just a tad) but when that humidity starts rising, I am forced to turn the AC on, shutting all the windows and doors and it's just like winter again with the house all closed up.   Altho unlike winter, I can go outdoors and sit on the backporch, read, nap, listen to the birds singing and splashing in the birdbaths.  So no, I'll take a little heat and humidity anyday over last winter.

Saturday my daughter held a little surprise "bon voyage" party for my youngest granddaughter, Brie.  She is off to South Africa, yeah, South Africa....where she will be working at a Cheetah reserve....yikes!!!  She is in her senior year in college and this trip is part of her studies to become a large animal handler (aka zoo keeper).  Last year she interned at a small zoo, this year it's the Cheetah's.

 And she was surprised...

Several of her friends were there along with her cousins.  Aren't they cute sisters!!??

And not only did Brie get a surprise, but my other granddaughter, Bailey surprised me with this....

A tattoo representing Alzheimer's in honor of her PopPop, my sweetie.  I was really touched by this sweet gesture.

On my way home I decided to stop at one of my favorite garden centers, Blumen
Gardens.  What a truly unique place to visit.  Not only do they have gardens filled with beautiful flowers but they have truly gorgeous spaces to hold special events.  There was a wedding scheduled for that evening, so I peeked around (naturally, wouldn't you??) to see the set-up.  In fact, my daughter has just scheduled the "great grandbaby" shower at this location in July.  Lots of old brick and rusty doors....perfect!!

Growing poppies and red poppies.

And in my yard today....bird on fence. I know the sparrow is just about the most common ordinary bird around here, but he posed so nicely for me and with my new lens you can see the patterns and colors in his feathers,

And also growing on this same fence is lovely clematis, see this time I didn't call it a peony....I tell you it is definitely the age.

And more growing on the trellis in the front.  Sure wish these lovelies would stick around longer, but they bloom their little hearts out and then they are gone, only a memory until next year.

Like so many happenings and people in our lives, they are here for what seems like such a short while and then they are gone, a lesson to be learned.  Enjoy life each and every day, what is here today may not be here tomorrow.

Until next time.....

Friday, June 13, 2014

Today Was The Day was the day of my annual physical.  You know the one where you drop and spread your legs. At least I have a female doctor so there is no modesty issues, just the whole idea.  And now it is on to blood tests, mammogram & bone density, yurk.  I don't know about you, but I get myself all worked up about it. Yesterday that was all I thought about, silly me.  I have always been blessed with good health (knock on wood and say a little prayer) but as the age numbers climb I think I worry more about the what if's.  When I look at the obit's in the newspaper there are way too many that have passed on that are far younger than me and honestly I am not ready to leave yet.  Way too much left to do, places to see, people to meet.  You know.

Anyhoo, after leaving the Dr.'s office I treated myself to breakfast at Burger King, now wasn't that just the smartest thing to do after a physical to stop at a fast food joint???  But I did have orange juice along with a croissant with egg & sausage and their tasty little potato bites.  Hope that was so small you couldn't read it.  I decided to take my tasty breakfast down to the Riverwalk, enjoy my breakfast and stroll along the river, along with camera in hand (ofcourse).

The spirea bushes are in bloom....

Along with the brightly colored yarrow....

A dragonfly stayed still enough long enough for me to grab a shot....

And I spotted this tree that had the most beautiful red leaves, reminded me of Fall, oh no, not yet, we haven't even reached summer.  I think the young leaves were red and then changed to green as they matured, but they looked really beautiful against the bright blue sky.

And as I was walking back to the car I spotted a butterfly.  I was so excited you would have thought I found a wad of money.  I hardly saw any butterflies last summer so to see one this early in the year I almost peed in my pants, altho I didn't because I had left said pee in a cup at the Dr's office.  (too much information??)

Oh and if you have a chance, please hop over to my collaborative blog Focusing On Life where I teach you all about roses, what their color means and what the significance of the number given.

And fyi, these were all taken with my new lens, the Tamron 16-300mm.  It is very similiar to my Tamron 18-270mm but I have banged that one up so bad that I can't even get the polarizer off to give it a good cleaning.  And in my post yesterday I called a clematis a peony....age, I am blaming it all on age.

Until next time...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Good Fence Thursday

Didn't want the day to go by without posting to Theresa's (TexWis Girl) Good Fences meme.  I have always loved fences, I used to join Fence Friday's  on Flickr before I began blogging.  That seemed to inspire me to look for "out of the ordinary" fences each week.  So I am happy, happy that Theresa is now my inspiration for fence lookouts.  And speaking of happy, happy would ya look at those peonies??!!  They are so big and fluffy and multi-petaled they almost look like mums, but mums don't climb fences like these lovelies.

"Ridicule has historically proven itself a rickety fence for great ideas."  ~  Vanna Bonta

 Until next time.....

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


It's raining and very cool today, hasn't even reached 70 degrees, but that's OK...we have had some rather spectacular days lately, so I guess we need to balance our spectacular with some little less-spectacular. And speaking of spectacular....I got my new lens today.  Yeah, I know, it's raining so I really can't test it out quite yet, but I did take a couple of shots from inside looking out.  This one is thru the front window in the rain...not bad huh??!!

And then there was these two from the back porch....

I can hardly wait until I can take it for a real to the Arboretum.

You would think I had a thing for pink wouldn't you.  I'll admit I do love pink in the garden, but then I love reds & yellows, & blues & purples...oh sigh, I just love summertime.

Read any good books lately??  I just finished "What Alice Forgot" by the same author that wrote "The Husband's Secret".  Both are about women who experience a moment that changes their lives.  Alice's story begins with her falling and hitting her head during her "spinning" class at the gym.  When she regains consciousness she has forgotten the last 10 years of her life.  Each chapter unfolds more and more of her life and the lives of the women who she holds dear.  I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.

And I have to admit I am watching "Fargo" .  What a demented group of characters.  Billy Bob Thornton has to be the best of the bad guys and Martin Freeman as the shrinking, unassertive man turned totally undaunted is outstanding.  It is a very character driven show, well worth a watch if you are a little demented like me. Martin Freeman is such a diverse actor, from Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit movies to Dr. Watson in the terrific PBS series, Sherlock Holmes.  I had all the episodes taped (actually debating whether I was going to watch them) and one day last week I was feeling a little under the weather so I crawled in bed and watched all of them, one right after the other.  There are several summer TV shows that sound kinda promising, let me know if you come across one that catches your eye.

And just are my kids.

They are happy that it's summertime too!!

"Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow." ~ Doug Firebaugh

Until next time....