Monday, December 29, 2008

Congress Shall Make No Law. . . .

Congress Shall Make No Law

For Moody Monday: Resolute.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Path to Beach

I believe. . .

I believe that Nature gives the best gifts of all.
Today I saw a bald eagle fly overhead.


(Not the eagle. I think this is a red-tail hawk).

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Shore Birds and Surf

Shore Birds and Surf

The Pacific Northwest Coast in winter is an entirely different world. No traffic, no cars, no stores, no crises. Just wind, waves, water and birds.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Planes, Taxis, Buses and Hiking

The Plane that Never Flew

Well, another vacation rife with weather delays. Our trip started Sunday with the cancellation of our flight from Chicago to Seattle due to a blizzard in Seattle, of all places. I can't tell you how exciting it is to take a round trip vacation to O'Hare airport. Not to mention that our luggage could not be retrieved when they canceled our flight.
The next flight we could get to the West Coast was two days later to Vancouver, British Columbia. Now, Vancouver is one of my favorite cities in the whole world but that didn't make it convenient under the circumstances. We were able to fly to Vancouver Tuesday but only barely given the weather there. They too were having intermittent airport closures. We met a gentleman in Vancouver who had flown from Toronto en route to Sydney and had been in Vancouver for two days already.

Vancouver airport in snow

So there we were in Vancouver, our luggage allegedly in Seattle. We checked in to a hotel and tried valiantly to get a rental car. No cars to be had in the entire region! We managed to find a bus to take us to downtown Seattle despite plenty of snow in both Vancouver and Seattle.


We also managed to take in a wonderful Chinese dinner and a great Chinese breakfast (my first) near the airport and did some frantic last minute shopping in a pan-Asian shopping mall across the street from our hotel. Then off to the bus.
Some 6-7 hours later we arrive in Seattle only to be told that there are no taxis available. Fortunately as our cab driver later explained that was a lie. The hotel had a deal with a private operator and was shunned by local cab agencies. We flagged down a cab by the Seattle Center and headed to my father's house. Alas the cab could not make it up the final snowy hill and we had to walk the last 10 blocks or so. Hiking up a snowy hill seemed the fitting end to our trek, or almost. I say almost because we have yet to see our luggage. It might be at the airport. Then again, who knows? If we can make it from where we are currently staying to the airport tomorrow, we will try to retrieve our stuff. Until then we survive on borrowed clothes.

Trees in Snow

But our spirits are bright though the skies are gray and snowy. I finish with a quote from my older son after an hour of sledding: "Ahh, my butt is cold!"
Happy holidays to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

One for Each Night

Happy Chanukah to one and all, whatever you believe, or don't.

One for Each Night

Saturday, December 20, 2008

December is the Cruelest Month

Yearning to Escape

Actually T.S. Eliot said it was April, but I beg to differ. Tomorrow I leave Chicago for a much needed vacation. I'm not fleeing the snow as some might assume, I'm fleeing my job. December is the month of depression, spiritual and moral crises and physical decline. I need a break from morbidity and morbidness. I need to go where no one needs me for more than a load of wash done from time to time.
Mind you, I love my work. Honestly. But I feel drained and need my moment of replenishment. My husband feels I'm somehow addicted to vacation but he doesn't have my job.
Doing my "drive-by" photography I can turn my brain off except for scanning the scene for a good photo or an unsafe situation. Yesterday, I picked up, I humbly hope, a few good photos. I missed one of a new bird for my life list. I saw my first Kingfisher! He flew before I could cautiously park my car and gingerly climb through the piles of snow. I also saw a car go into a 360 degree spin on the highway. Fortunately no one, including myself was hurt! That was a moment to remember.
The days are going to be getting longer. Three cheers for the solstice. If I ever invent a new religion it will have to involve sun worship and long jaunts to tropical islands.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Red and White House

Best Siding and Trim Award

I just thought I'd share a photo of this strikingly decorated home. And now I'm off to take more pictures. We're having heavy snow here. Hope you are all safe and warm.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dance Mania and a Cautionary Tale

Party Scene1

I had a busy but fabulous weekend. My younger son and I danced in three performances of a local Nutcracker production. I was the equivalent of an extra on a movie set, part of a group of around 10 adults who adorn the party scene. My son was in a starring role and it was wonderful to see him dance. It was tiring but fun and now it is hard to get back to a work/school routine. Fortunately next week is winter vacation!
One bit of ugliness happened yesterday which marred my joy in posting photos of this event. I've always had some reluctance about posting pictures of children, mine and others. I read once on a photography forum about parents objecting to other parents posting birthday party pictures with shots of their child in it. Since then I've tried to be ultra-sensitive.
Here's what happened. Yesterday I threw caution to the wind a posted a couple of pictures of the ballet. I wanted to share the photos with my friends and possibly other parents in the community. I figured with hundreds of people in the audience, many taking pictures or video of their own, what was the harm? After all last year someone posted some video on YouTube.
One of the nicer photos was of the Nutcracker and Clara interacting with the Snow King and Queen. All are in costume and it was beautiful. Well, one of my photos on Flickr was marked as a favorite (a Flickr way to earmark photos) by a stranger. I went to his site because I like to check out the folks who favorite my photos. Generally we share a love of photography and have a particular interest in common. Being "favorited" is usually a compliment.
Turns out this fellow chose this particular photo because the Snow King was wearing tights and he has a fetish. Literally. His Flickr groups include "Men in Tights" and "Tights Fetish." I blocked the guy immediately and pulled the photo from public viewing. I wish I could chew him out though. I don't care what turns him on at home but the kid he was ogling is 14! I am so glad said kid's parents won't know about this. I feel a bit contaminated myself.
Moral of the story: beware what you post. There are ugly people out there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Fish That Got Away

Seeing Double

Today, I had planned a day of photography. But another of a string of emergencies or "urgencies" got in the way and I only had a quick half hour to take a few shots. During a bout of internal whining I realized that life is full of opportunities that get away and I need to stop focusing on them.
It happens to me often enough. I'm on vacation and the kids were tired so we skipped a certain stop that I wanted. Work prevents a photo op. I made one choice that closed the door to another.
Whether these escaped "fish" are big or small, sometimes I need to remind myself that life is full of choices and that regrets are rarely helpful. Another case of do as I say, not as I do, doctor. Or to put it another way, physician heal thyself.
I just started a book, The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry, by Kathleen Flinn. This woman threw caution to the wind and lived out a dream which was to enroll as a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. As she puts it: "I could go now or spend my life wondering why I didn't. 'Life is not a dress rehearsal,' I whispered to myself."
Good for her, I say, but for me, right now, I need to get on with business. There is no life altering moment around the bend (that I am aware of) but I have no intention of having my epitaph be full of regrets either. I freely chose to be a certain kind of doctor, the compassionate kind who gives up photo ops to be there for her patients. I chose to have kids which means fewer side trips and less freedom to go where I want to while on vacation. But I also choose to go on vacation next week and not be there for my patients for 10 days. And I choose to take an afternoon off of parenting to take photos. Life is full of compromises. So be it.
My epitaph will hopefully be something like, "She lived well, played well, worked hard, indulged in her creative side and really, really cared about people."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

London Shop Fronts and All About My Thursday

Last Call

Roaming around the internet (as if I have nothing more important to do), I found this photography blog. It reminds me of what I hope to accomplish with some of my city photos. Anyway, I thought I'd share it.
Speaking of nothing to do: after much ado, I decided to take the day off today. Normally Thursdays are my longest day--I generally work from around 11:30 to 10. Tack on a 35-45 minute commute each way and it makes for a very long day.
The plan for today was go out for a brief photo shoot. The light is beautiful and the snow adds to the effect. I went out yesterday and had a great, if brief, outing. The only catch was the streets were pretty slippery and the sound my anti-lock brakes make as I slide past the stop sign into the intersection isn't pretty!
At 12:30 today I need to pick up my son from school. It's a short day--one of those teacher institute things, I think. Then we do a bit of shopping to work on our costumes and make-up for tonight's dress rehearsal. At 4 my son has his Nutcracker dress rehearsal which I join at 5. I think I might be a little anxious about the performances coming up--they are Saturday and Sunday. Last night I dreamed that I had forgotten the rehearsal today and arrived late and that I lost my costume. Of course, none of those things will really happen.
I feel a bit cheated though because I had to schedule an urgent appointment this morning. This means no photo outing for me. I didn't have to schedule this appointment but it was kinder not to let it wait until next week. So photos will have to wait.
Winter is long and there will be many other opportunities to stalk the snowy streets of the south side.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More on this little house

JL pointed out that this is a Sears Craftsman House. I'll take his word for it. What a great bit of architectural history, though. The Cook County Assessor's Office has this picture of the same house posted for 2000. It was in much better shape back then so I "borrowed" the photo.
I can't believe how much I learn off my internet network! Thanks JL and thanks to the Flickr contact who steered me to the county site.

How to Paint a Mondrian

Start with one house.

Fixer Upper

Close crop the siding.

Mondrian by Isulbrick

Rotate and color on Photoshop. Sample colors off reproduction of original Mondrian.

Faux Mondrian

The original Mondrian:


Thanks to Seth, a Flickr contact, for noting the resemblance between Insulbrick (an old type of siding) and art.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Moody Monday--Old and Decrepit

Burned and Abandoned

Glimpses of Chicago

B is for Blue Gloved Snowman

I'm enjoying my ambling through the far south side of Chicago. I've found new neighborhoods with each outing. Much of this area is flanked by large industrial complexes. I suspect the neighborhoods were more prosperous when the steel mills were active although I shudder to think of the pollution. The ethnic mix is broader than in my immediate neighborhood, as well. As I ventured into some more Hispanic areas, the Christmas decorations were more in evidence. Some houses were a bit over the top in my book.

Xmas on Hoxie

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tasteful Paint Job

Blue and White

Continuing a selection of homes from Chicago's south side.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Neighborhood Block Clubs

Block Club

Someday I am going to learn about Neighborhood Block Clubs, but today I need to go to work.
Happy Wednesday!

7300 s Drexel Block Club

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

O is for Out There

O is Out There

In search of new sights and new sites for my photography, I have been roaming ever farther south in Chicago and slightly out of Chicago. I've discovered new neighborhoods, small patches of wilderness, factories, boat docks and garbage dumps. The far south side holds onto its authenticity in the way the wealthier suburbs do not.
Small brick cottages line the streets instead of tracts of ranch or faux-colonial homes. Even the awnings have character. Don't you just want to know what enterprising awning salesman convinced half the neighborhood that they needed awnings with their last initial, I guess, on them?

Sweet Home Chicago

The obsessive compulsive collector in me wonders if I could find the whole alphabet. Now that is really out there!