Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stoned Again

Petrified wood

Can't avoid the rocks in this part of the world. It might be a bit weak on the vegetation but the rock-life more than makes up for it. In Arizona the rock seems almost organic and in terms of the petrified wood, some of it was once organic.
We're winding down on our trip here.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Late Christmas with the Turkeys

Wild Turkey

A late Christmas post to wish all of you who celebrate this holiday a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. In appreciation of today's post by Australian blogger "Snail" I am sharing an American turkey as her post appreciates the turkeys of Down Under. If you ate goose or turkey tonight, tofurkey or otherwise, I hope your dinner was good and the company cordial. As all good American Jews seem to do, we had Chinese food here in Sedona, Arizona. It was good too.

Turkey Track
Turkey footprint. They have big feet.

Monday, December 21, 2009

R & R

Peak Reflected

I am currently traveling in the southwestern US. The past two days we have spent in Zion National Park. I was here around 4 years ago in the summer. I think despite the cold and snow, the winter has a lot to recommend it. It is amazing to have the feeling of having the park all to oneself. There are other people here of course but there is so much space, quiet and freedom that I feel it is my private park space. What a treat.
I don't have regular control of my internet access so I may not post as much as I'd like but I'll try to post a few pictures and updates of my adventures.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Steele Door

Steele Door

I find the geometry of this image pleasing to my eye. The "Steele" referred to the campaign poster for Kari Steele in the window.

Monday, December 14, 2009



Well, the show went very well. I haven't had time to process the pictures and of course it was a little hard for me to take pictures of myself on stage. This is just a teaser. Unfortunately it was one of the best pictures my hired photographer (kidding) managed to take.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Doorway and Manger

Greystone Door and Manger

Here is a Chicago door for while I'm off dancing. The storm we had a few days ago must have blown Mary over as she is leaning on Joseph.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hannukah

Here are a couple of postcards I made in honor of the holiday.

Celebrate Hannukah

One for Each Night

Not exactly fine art but the sentiment is real. I'm looking forward to lighting the first candle tonight with my family.
I am in the last of three dress rehearsals for tomorrow's and Sunday's Nutcracker performances. This is my third year in a secondary role as an adult party goer. This year I wear an ugly green velvet dress. I'd say the highlight for me is dancing a polka.
Of course, even more important is getting to see my son dance. This year he dances a fairly important role as the Mouse King. Of course, as in most family plays, the evil character, in this case a mouse, is slain at the end.
If all goes well, I'll have a few pictures to post in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More from Paris

Numero 22

For Wordless Wednesday, the fourth of my ongoing door series. Note that door numbers 22 and 24 are from Paris but number 23 was in Chicago. It wasn't planned that way. The flyer posted on the door refers to a Chat Perdu (lost cat) by name of Chocolat. I hope the owner found him.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Door Number 24

Numero 24

We jump for our 4th door to Paris. Doors in Paris always seem to have an air of mystery. What history and art, what domestic secrets are enclosed within? I've only known a few Parisian families personally and I always felt privileged to be admitted into their homes.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Behind Door #2


For my second door, I present the entrance to the former Foster-Munger Company. From what I could find on the internet (a few old catalogs for sale mostly) Foster-Munger made doors, windows and art glass around the early 1900's. Now the building is occupied by the Fort Pitt Hotel Furniture Liquidators. Imagine furnishing your home in used Ritz-Carlton! If only I had known this when I was furnishing my office, I might not have needed to spend quite so much time in resale shops. I may yet swing by to look for a chair or two.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Door in Primary Colors

Photo Sunday's theme for the day is Door. This inspired me to run a series of my photos of doors over the next few weeks. I have seen many photo books and posters featuring the doors of various cities. These tend to be picturesque or stately doors. I have a few photos of doors of this ilk but have often focused on the run down decaying doors of Chicago and elsewhere. For today, I am publishing a door from an industrial area in Chicago.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Going to Zion

Entrance to Zion National Park

Today's postcard refers to our upcoming family trip to Arizona at the end of the month. We will be experiencing Zion and the Grand Canyon (OK Zion is in Utah) in the winter. Brrr. But beautiful I'm sure.
Happy Postcard Friday.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Hawaii sunset
Sunset in Hawaii

Anyone remember the Saturday Night Live skit of that name?
I went for a walk to the beach today. I'm back in Chicago so this is Lake Michigan not a "real" beach. It still has a lot of the charm of the ocean, minus the salt air. I figured today was one of my last chances to get out there before spring. It was sunny but only in the 40's so I had my doubts about going but it turned out to be a good choice. The lake was calm and the air was well-warmed by the sun. I considered taking my coat off but didn't quite get there.
The beach is very calming to me. It brings back my childhood trips to the beaches near Seattle and I enjoy the chance to be relatively alone and untroubled by other people. No offense "other people" but sometimes solitude in required. For better or for worse, while I walk on the beach I tend to think a lot. I'm not sure why, but I do. Maybe I'm processing the week kind of like a dream does. Maybe it is the relative sensory calm of the waves washing, the quiet breeze and the lack of human chatter. Sometimes this becomes burdensome as I find myself pondering something difficult from my past or present but it seems to be out of my control. The beach just makes me free associate.
Today I wound up thinking for a bit about the philosophical or spiritual questions that come up often in my work and lately in my personal life, namely: why do bad things happen to good people, where is the justice in the world and so on. These questions came up twice just yesterday at work and as my two year old nephew heads into surgery this week for his cancer treatment it comes up in a more personal way too. I don't claim to be in possession of the answers to these questions but I do try to ease the pain of unknowing.
In terms of human caused injustice, my thoughts roamed to the question of good vs. evil. I believe in free will which means to me that as people we need to be free to do ill in order for us to be able to choose to do good.
As I pondered good vs. evil I spied a rock that looked interesting and picked it up. I turned it over and got a message from a most unusual place.

Peace Rock

To my eye, this rock has a peace sign on it. I chose to take it as a message. Not directly from G-d or anything like that, but being reminded to be at peace felt pretty special. Take it as you will, but it really happened that way.

Friday, November 27, 2009

From My Past

Pencil Cup

For Photo Friday.
I made this pencil holder using an empty can, some postage stamps and something like Modge Podge. It still sits on his desk. First class postage was 8 cents, Eisenhower and Johnson were recent presidents and the Alaska Purchase was having its centennial so it must have been around 1967/1968. I was 6 or 7 years old. Does that make me vintage or antique?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Holiday to All

Abundant Reason

And if this is not your holiday, have a great day!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shrimp Truck


I'd say this has to be one of those life is good moments. On the last day of my Hawaii trip I rented a car and circled the island of Oahu. I stopped along the day for a late lunch at one of several "shrimp trucks". These seemed to be some variation on the theme of a van converted into a small kitchen preparing fresh shrimp on site. I ordered garlic and butter shrimp and received 8 or so large shrimp with a side of noodle salad (not to my taste) and rice.

Truck menu and Graffiti

There was a light rain at the time but I ate at a picnic bench under an umbrella along with a few other families. For entertainment, we all got to watch a feral cat and her kitten beg for food and a local chicken with a dozen or so chicks wanted to share in the feast too.

Shrimp Shack Cat

Licking her chops after a shrimp tail

The mother cat got all of my shrimp tails while her baby nursed. The chickens partook of some rice grains which I figured were healthy enough.

Shrimp Shack Chicks

No fair! I made myself hungry just thinking of the shrimp. Too bad it is several thousand miles to the nearest shrimp truck.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Taste for Sausage?

Sausage Tree Postcard

Two weeks ago I posted some pictures of a "sausage tree." It took me nearly an hour to identify the tree as it was not a native of Hawaii where I saw it and I had no idea what it was. I jokingly named it a "hanging potato tree" which isn't all that different from its actual name.
A week later I stumbled across a postcard of the same tree in one of those small world moments. I guess now I'll be seeing hanging sausages wherever I look, especially when I'm hungry. Here is another one of my photos of the fruit and flowers of the tree.

Sausage Tree

For more postcards, visit Postcard Friendship Friday here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Family Planning

1941 Grand Canyon Postcard

Other possible titles include: "So Shoot Me Now" and "Between a Rock and a Hard Place"

We/I am trying to plan the latest family vacation. When the parents live 2000 miles away this can take some doing. The origins of the latest bright idea in bonding are complex. Last winter we flew in to Seattle in a blizzard to visit my family. The blizzard was unprecedented as it was in Seattle and not Chicago. At the end of the ordeal my father expressed a natural wish to "go somewhere warm next year."
My thought had been to go to Puerto Rico. It is relatively easy to get there (non-stops from Chicago) and passports are not required. Besides it is beautiful, exotic and the food is great. There the plan stood until a few weeks ago when my father searched the net and decided that Puerto Rico was actually relatively hard to reach from Seattle and a bit expensive. So he came up with the idea of Arizona. Nice and warm and relatively nearby, right?
True for the nearby part but my father also chose that we should visit the Arizona high desert. Guess what? It will be cold! The only advantage temperature-wise over Seattle will be tons of sunshine. Warm it won't be. Alas, I'll need to bring my usual winter gear--hat, gloves, long underwear, etc.
We all sort of agreed. By sort of, I mean my 12 year old didn't want to go at all and my husband lectured on how he'd rather take a short vacation and hang around at home.
This is where the "so shoot me now" begins. I asked my dad to set up the trip as I've been way too busy to spend much time figuring this all out. As an aside, you need to know that my father likes adventure travel, only without the danger. He's over 70 but you wouldn't guess it from the itinerary he presented. In two weeks, he had us planned to drive 1000 miles and make on the order of 8 overnight stops.
My husband and I found one point of consensus. We just cannot do this. 6 people in a minivan is bad enough but this is beyond our ability to handle.
There the consensus ends. My father is still wishful for his 1000 mile ordeal. My husband wants to basically shorten the trip by 5 -7 days and stay in one place for most of it. My 12 year old doesn't want to go which I'm ignoring but my husband thinks his opinion should be counted too. My college kid probably has an opinion and definitely wants to go but he's not in communication with us. Who knows what my father's wife thinks? I'm sure he does but the communication has been between the main travel planners, me and my dad.
Oh, and my husband leaves it all up to me except when he is telling me how stupid the whole thing is and how he doesn't really want to do it. And if the trip doesn't turn out well, guess whose fault it will be?
Anyone have a small vial of arsenic handy?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Red underbelly
The original of the photo that became the new header.

I finally had to add comment moderation. Somehow I am now on the spammer's wavelength and have been getting 10 or more spam comments a day versus hardly any over the last 4 years. Since I was playing around anyway, I finally updated my header. After 4 years of blogging it is about time, I stopped describing myself as flailing about looking for the purpose of the blog. From now on it is what it is. The blog can rest as my vacation-away-from-vacation.

"We climbed aboard their starship, we headed for the skies
come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me lads"

From the Styx.

Rescue Me


This photo made me think of the Carole King song--
"When you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand. . . ."

I did a quick Google search to double check the lyrics and stumbled across this too funny cartoon blog, by the name of Prozacville. Check it out. Really.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Red-Crested Cardinal in action

Originally uploaded by skron
After much ado, I've managed to post my first video. For more on this bird see the previous post.

Cardinal Grazing

Red-Crested Cardinal

A Red-Crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata) grazing in a park in Waikiki. These birds are quite showy and relatively common. They were introduced to Hawaii, like nearly every other bird I saw, this species around 1930.

Red-Crested Cardinal--2

For some wonderful photos of a similar cardinal and an overall great bird blog, check out 10,000 Birds!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Talk about jet lag!

Pacific Golden Plover

This little birdie is a Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva). It is a handsome bird but more notable is its migration behavior. This plover probably flew to Hawaii from his summer nesting place in Alaska and may have made the 2000 mile trip in a single non-stop flight. Take that United! I had to fly to Hawaii via Los Angeles. The good news is this bird is no longer endangered and was not introduced to Hawaii by mankind. It got there on its own two wings.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Hanging Potato Tree

Hanging Potato Tree

OK, it isn't really a hanging potato. But it sure looks like one. Anyone know what it actually is called? Posted below are some pictures of the flowers.
Actually after much ado I am adding to this post with the identification of the tree in question. I must have spent nearly an hour on Google searching images of trees from Hawaii.
Courtesy of the University of Hawaii website, I have discovered the following:
The tree is Kigelia africana, or the sausage tree. It comes from west Africa. Somehow it doesn't surprise me the tree is introduced. The island of Oahu seems to have trouble taking care of its native species. Most of the birds I saw were also introduced but that is for another post.
I am so relieved that mystery is solved.

Hanging Flowers

Red Flower and Green Grass

This post is being submitted to Festival of the Trees. Check them out and consider submitting your own tree thoughts.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Now and Then

Field Columbian Museum

My initial fascination with old postcards was to see how my city changed over time. Now I just like them.
Here is a 1906 view of the building that is now the Museum of Science and Industry.
Below is my 2007 photo of the same building although from a rather different perspective. It hasn't changed much in the past 100 years.

Museum of Science and Industry

To visit Postcard Friendship Friday click on this link.


Amazing Bags

I'm taking a break from processing my Hawaii photos to share a project I just completed. It is a lot of fun to do and takes maybe two hours to complete. Plus you get rid of waste plastic bags. What could be better.
Basically you cut up plastic bags--the kind that we shouldn't be using anyway--layer them, and iron them into a heavier material. It takes round 4 bags per layer. The resulting material feels a bit like Tyvek (the stuff used for mailing envelopes) and sews well. I've seen a couple of patterns to turn them into tote bags.
I made the first one a few months ago and it really works, so I made a second of slightly different dimensions. It was fun picking out the bags that would make for an interesting end product.

Bag Lady

I read somewhere that maybe the fumes of the fusing plastic bags are bad for you. I don't know although they don't smell much and I figure that in the grand scheme of the toxins we are exposed to (after all I've stripped paint) it can't be all that bad.
I'm listing one craft book that gives instructions for this bag but I think things can be found on the internet as well. If you try it, have fun.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Heron fishing

Seen fishing at hotel in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


On the beach

My last full day in Hawaii, I made a circle tour of the island of Oahu. There is a bit of the coast which is not completely accessible by car--beats me why they didn't finish off the road, for some reason it reminds me of the bridge to nowhere--but I felt a sense of accomplishment for having circled an entire island. The total distance was around 120 miles. The hardest part of the trip was resisting stopping at every beach I passed.

Surfing 1

At the tail end of my tour I passed the famous surfing area. I couldn't resist pulling off to see what all the fuss was about. I'm not a big fan of surfing but, man, those were some big waves. It was great fun to watch with a bit of that morbid curiosity that makes people secretly hope for a wreck at a car race. I'm not an ocean wimp since I lived half my life near the Pacific Ocean but let me tell you, that surf was scary. I wouldn't have even gotten my feet wet in water that wild.
Almost as cool as the surfers were the camera-men. There was some amazing glass there. I had only my 100mm lens so my pictures leave a bit to be desired but it was a great challenge to see what I could do. Here are some of my pictures.

Surfing 2

Friday, October 30, 2009

I should be learning about autism. . . .

A Sail at Sunset

But I decided to download and post a few photos. I hope this doesn't bring me bad karma. I've been running around like crazy here in Hawaii. Meetings from 6-3 and then a bit of wandering around Honolulu, dinner and collapse into bed. With the 5 hour time change I don't know whether I am coming or going half the time. My legs and back hurt from walking miles in bad shoes and carrying my conference materials, purse and cameras over my shoulders. It is hard to wear sensible shoes in 86 degree weather. But the Crocs are hard on my feet over time. My hotel is around a mile from the conference center. It makes for a lot of walking but it saved me a small fortune!
I can't wait until Sunday. My plan is to get out of the city then and see a bit of Oahu. Waikiki, although warm and sunny, isn't great for photography.
Here are a few of my limited number of photos:

Catching a Wave

Water play

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hello from the Pacific!

Posted by Picasa

So I’m sitting in LAX, short for Los Angeles International Airport, although I’ve never heard it called that. I’ve spent a lot of time in this airport, on the way to visiting my grandparents or heading home from or back to college and graduate school. Neither the airport nor the city is the home of too many fond memories. Well, I guess memories of my grandparents and other relatives who have lived here are good but I never liked the city. I wonder if the smog is less severe now. In the past, flying into LAX meant descending through a layer of orange-yellow fog that made one sympathetically gasp for air even from the canned atmosphere of the plane.
The good news is I’m not staying. I’m merely waiting for my flight to Honolulu. No, Honolulu is not my favorite city in the world, far from it. But as winter begins to descend on Chicago, a few days in a tropical paradise don’t seem so bad. I’m attending a conference in the city and the warm weather and beaches make the very long flight worth while, or so I think at present. I will even have an extra day at the end of the conference at which time I hope to see a tiny bit more of the island.
Lest you think I’m lazing around, I will be putting in around 20-25 hours of lecture time (continuing medical education) over a five day interval. This exceeds the average weekly load of a college student although I won’t have homework or quizzes. I do know that by the end of one of these conferences, I have basically exceeded my ability to absorb new information. When my brain starts telling me that I cannot learn one more thing, that is when I start playing hooky and heading off to the beach.
I’d rather be on vacation with my family and I’d rather be on a different island, Kawaii would do in a pinch, but a conference in Honolulu is sort of like having one’s professional cake and eating it too.
I’ve had another day or two of internet exasperation so I have no idea when I will be able to post this or the pictures I plan on taking but at least I’ll have a post ready for whenever I am next on-line.
Think of me as the autumn leaves fall, or if anyone from the southern hemisphere swings by, as the spring birds get busy nesting.