Friday, January 30, 2009

Faith Comes in Small Boxes

Simple Faith

I continue to photograph small Chicago churches. I enjoy discovering how people place their houses of worship in small storefronts, private homes, old warehouses--all that seems to be needed is walls, a roof, a hand painted sign and hours of operation. The more run down the neighborhood the more churches there seem to be. Today I wandered down a side street and there was this little "cathedral in a box."
Clear skies today for Friday Skywatch.
I think this shot fits the bill for a new photo meme I discovered, Thematic photo. This week's theme is "simple."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Neighborhood Bars

Not my neighborhood unfortunately. Who could resist a band called Ritalin Bros? Especially since I'm a Child Psychiatrist. In Midlothian, Illinois.


Halftime Lounge

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


A local camera store is presenting a show of photos with the theme intersections. The photo should fit a Chicago theme. Submissions are due today and I only heard about it yesterday. I browsed my photos and didn't find that much. Here are two I chose to submit.

Taking the Car for a Walk
Look carefully at the person crossing the street!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Cute Cat Pic

Feline Friends

If you can't do profound, make do with cute.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

F is for Futility

F is for Futility

I gathered a few more photos today. For more, see my Flickr site.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Long Day, Short Post

Church for Sale

Today is my marathon work day. My reward is tomorrow off until it is time to pick up my son from school. Then it is back to parenting duties! I'm trying to decide if I should drive back to Gary. I checked on Mapquest and it is a 39 minute drive. Last week I drove their the long way with multiple stops so I had no idea how long the efficient route is. I figure if I leave right after school drop off I would have a few hours and the light would be different than last week (close to sunset). I'm sure I missed many sights too. Well, we'll see how energetic and spontaneous I feel in the morning after a late night tonight.
And you'll see the photos, if any, this weekend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gary, Indiana--Take 2

More Gary Row Houses

For Wordless Wednesday. For the words see yesterday's post.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gary, Indiana

"There is just one place
That can light my face.
Gary, Indiana,
Gary Indiana,
Not Louisiana, Paris, France, New York, or Rome, but--
Gary, Indiana,
Gary, Indiana,
Gary Indiana,
My home sweet home."

Lyrics from the Music Man

Standing Alone

When I was a kid I saw the movie, Music Man, a number of times. It was one of my father's favorites. It is all about the sweet wholesomeness of a small town and how it brings out the best in a man of bad character. Since I grew up in Seattle and Los Angeles, this was my only encounter with Gary until recently.
Living in Chicago as a young adult, I came to regard Gary as a place to pass above (on the Skyway, an elevated toll road) on the way to the Indiana and Michigan Dunes, great sandy hills on Lake Michigan. No one that I knew ever went to Gary. It wasn't considered a destination.
Gary has repeatedly been called the "murder capital of the country." It has earned the title by having the most murders per capita of a city of more than 100,000 people. This number was 58/100,000 in 2005.


I would have never have considered going to Gary but my fellow urban photographers kept posting wonderful pictures of the Gary area. In my wanderings on the south side of Chicago I keep moving farther south and the next interesting stop appeared to be in Indiana. I had a child-free day and there I went.
Honestly, Gary has some lovely architecture and the first neighborhood I passed through seemed relatively prosperous and well kept. I truly loved the homes which were a mix of brick and stone, each unique and elegant.

Great Chimney

Closer to downtown Gary I saw the parts of town that generated the negative reputation. Gary seemed more desolate than the worst parts of Chicago I have visited. There were hardly any people out on this cold day, but there seemed to be almost no place for people to go to. I saw a few young men on the main street but didn't stick around to chat.

Interesting Row Houses

Gary is a city that has great architectural bones. I hope they find a way to revitalize it, to bring back jobs, safety and hope to its residents. I'm glad I'm not the mayor, though. I wouldn't know where to start.


I know it is a lot to ask, but as the new president is inaugurated today, I hope Obama remembers his "community organizer" roots and figures out a way to help those Americans who live in the direst of poverty in these pockets of violence and despair.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Something to Do with Used Coffee Bags

Coffee Weave

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the result.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shutterday--Up In Lights

Looking Up

One of the best parts of being in O'Hare Airport is taking pictures on the United Terminal's lighted walkway. That's me reflected.


Architectural Flower

A twist on the theme since nothing is currently blooming in Chicago and I didn't want to dig up an old flower macro. This is a detail on a New York City building.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yes, Thank You, the Frostbite is Healing Just Fine

Promontory Point on a Sub-Zero Day

Just kidding, but my fingers were getting pretty cold taking this photo. Not to mention my toes. It was around -7 F at the time. Cameras don't like weather this cold either. I'm pleased mine managed.
Speaking of managing, lots of cold cars here. I had a patient cancel last night because her car wouldn't start. This made me all the more anxious as I strolled out to my car at 9:30 last night after it had sat outside for nearly 10 hours. Fortunately the engine turned over and my car and I made it home (to a heated garage no less--nice but you should see my gas bill!)
This morning my son was carpooling to an event and I had to race out of the house at the last minute to jump his ride's car. I'm assuming he didn't miss the bus since we haven't gotten any phone calls. He'll be in St. Louis which I assume is warmer than Arctic Chicago.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009



The view from my office fire escape yesterday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I am Woman

"If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman"

Me on Tricycle

Anyone besides me remember Helen Reddy? As a child of the 60's I was just a little to young to fall in love with (or swoon over) the Beatles. I was a feminist but just missed the bra burning phase. I think my generation (or perhaps it was just me) took feminism a bit for granted. I knew I was good at math and science and never thought once that a boy could do it better. I even asked a boy to my senior prom (he turned me down, alas).
This does not mean I feel that women have achieved entire equality. I think there are still "glass ceilings" although some are now installed by choice--women like me who want to be at the top of what we do but realize that it isn't necessarily consistent with being the kind of mothers we also want to be.
One thing I have always resented is the simple fact that I will never be as strong or as fast as most men. I will always lose at arm wrestling with even the wimpiest guy. I am also amazingly stubborn and don't like being bullied or assumed to be incapable of anything due to my stature (which is a tad less than 5'5''/110 lbs).
I had one of those mighty mouse moments today. I was walking my son to an activity when I saw a neighbor whose car was stuck in the snow. I stopped to offer her a push and there ensued some pushing, forward and back, a bit of digging with a shovel and so forth. A fellow helped for a few minutes and wandered off. A young woman came by and was going to help but while she was fiddling with her I-Pod, I gave a final heave and the car took off. The woman looked at me and said in an admiring tone: "You're strong." A sense of womanly pride swelled my frostbitten lungs and I mentally showed off my biceps. It was a nice moment.
In all honesty, it isn't about showing off. One of the things I like about winter here is that someone is always willing to stop and give a push to a stuck driver. When the world seems bitter and angry it is warming to see a neighborly moment or two and to contribute oneself.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Makes Me Proud to Be an American!


Actually I feel angry and ashamed. I know it is just a few bad eggs but what kind of animals threaten to bomb elementary schools to make their political point? Here is what I learned about just today. As the parents of a child in a "Chicago Jewish day school" I feel like the last to know.

Chicago Jewish day schools receive bomb threat

January 1, 2009

(JTA) -- Jewish day schools in Chicago received a bomb threat in the mail.

The letter, received Wednesday at the Chicago offices of the Associated Talmud Torahs and the Ida Crown Jewish Academy, threatened Jewish day schools in Chicago and in the suburbs, WBBM newsradio 780 reported.

The police bomb and arson squad is investigating.

Quoted from JTA.

I may be saying too much on a public forum but threatening my kids is just going too far.
By the way, this is a free country but if anyone posts comments in favor of bombing elementary schools it will be summarily deleted. It's my blog!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Circle on Bean

Circle on Bean

A flashback to summer--kids making a circle reflected in Chicago's Bean (Cloud Gate).
For See-It-Sunday, "Circle."


Summer-Winter Diptych

I took a picture of this old house and then dug up an older shot. A year and a half later the house looks much the same except for a bit of fencing. Only the seasons have advanced. Although this house looks somewhat haunted to me, it has great bones. I hope the owner plans to do something with it eventually. The neighborhood is pretty marginal but is gradual being gentrified.
Here is what the neighboring houses look like. They are in slightly better shape but also boarded up.

Three Blind Mice

Saturday, January 10, 2009

There are No Ghettos Here

Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago from 1955-1976 once said: "There are no ghettos in Chicago." (Cited in Waiting for Gautreaux, by Alexander Polikoff). Was this denial? Or a blind refusal to look at the evidence before his very eyes.
A selection of data regarding Chicago community areas from U.S. census data:

Fresh Produce

Grand Boulevard
White 0.62%
Black 97.7%
Hispanic 0.84%
Asian 0.07%
Other 0.74%
Median income $21,672

Bridgeport (where Daley lived)
White 41.0%
Black 1.05%
Hispanic 30.2%
Asian 26.1%
Other 1.63%
Median income $35,535

White 0.44%
Black 97.8%
Hispanic 0.86%
Asian 0.07%
Other 0.79%
Median income $18,955

Damen Food Store

Lincoln Park
White 84.5%
Black 5.17%
Hispanic 5.06%
Asian 3.61%
Other 1.67%
Median income $83,328

Data cited in Wikipedia.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Afternoon and Evening Photos

Rally in Federal Plaza

How I spent my early afternoon.

Old and New

How I spent my evening.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Rust on Wood

Actually I'm really not sure what this is.

Da Dump

Metal Bits on an Old Log

While I was staying near the ocean a couple of weeks ago, I paid a visit to the local dump, or perhaps better stated, the local dumping ground. Why? Why did the bear go over the mountain? I also had hopes of seeing some interesting birds--this part didn't happen.

Hide-A-Bed Couch in Dump

It was kind of interesting to see what could be found there --an old boxspring, a hide-a-bed couch, some car parts without the car, a stove, some toys. The only excitement was when I slipped on a patch of snow and landed on my rump. I was unhurt but when I saw the pile of boards with nails sticking up in them I realized I needed to be more careful. Imagine where you can find danger!
I did get a few intersting shots, at least in my humble opinion. IMHO--see now I speak IM!
Lots of snow today. I hope to get a couple of pictures.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Greetings from Dandelion the Turtle

Dandelion the Turtle

Just something to post.

I've been harvested

Buy Wisely,  and Don't Lose Your Home
Buy wisely, if you didn't, call this number to avoid foreclosure.

I've posted before about my writing being "harvested"--my term--for being lifted and posted on another site. Well, a few hours after yesterday's post, a comment appeared about how I could get more information on the topic of the post. Turns out the links led to two sites which consist of nothing but excerpts from other people's writings and Youtube posts and so on. Not one original word on the site but lots of ads. I commented with a request to remove my material but doubt there will be a response. I also flagged both blogs via Blogger but doubt there will be any action. I could file a complaint with Google but of course protecting one's rights takes a lot of time which right now I don't have.
It is merely a matter of principle. The principle in my mind is that I wrote it, it's mine. You don't get to take it. Even though my site was linked, the site basically uses another's work to make money. Not just mine, many people's. I don't want to contribute. Period.
In fact it has been hard to get my writing removed from previous sites. At least I get the pleasure of tilting at windmills. Probably won't get much more satisfaction than that.
By the way, lest you think I am a big spoilsport, I don't mind non-commercial use of my photos with prior permission (as in just ask nicely) and a link or other attribution. And I certainly don't mind a friend posting something to the effect of "sarala said something interesting on her blog the other day, blah, blah, blah." I just don't like blatant theft with a profit motive.
The plus side is that I did a little surfing about protection of content and one thing led to another and I found this great group called Improv Everywhere. They are sponsoring something called New Pants 2K9 which involves riding on public transportation sans pants, what else? Undies are definitely allowed, by the way. And guess what, there is a Chicago chapter (and many more, check out the site) with the main event on January 10th. No I'm not going. Too busy, chicken, shy, cold whatever. But I will smile just knowing that some brave Chicagoans are baring their legs to amuse and baffle the rest of us.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Altgeld Gardens

Altgeld Gardens

When I wander around the Chicago area with my camera, I generally point my car south and drive wherever my fancy takes me. Lately I have been going a little farther south each trip and I am discovering new wonders around the greater Chicago area. During my last trip, I stumbled across the Altgeld Gardens. Altgeld from a distance looks like a large planned community which is what it turns out to be. It is also one of the first public housing units built in the U.S. Altgeld was built in 1945 by the federal government for African-American World War II veterans and became part of the Chicago Housing Authority in 1956.

Wheatley Child Parent Center

The area is actually quite attractive in its own way but looks rundown. Internet sources tell me that the place required major asbestos abatement in the 1980's and that Barack Obama used to work there.
Aside from the Asbestos problem, the gardens are also built on and around landfill and some pretty nasty industrial plants. More attractive, perhaps, than the late and unlamented Robert Taylor Homes these gardens may be just as toxic for young people and other living things.

We Fill All Prescriptions

Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008 in Review: A Photomosaic.

2008 in Review

One photo from each month.

Back to Chicago

And my crazy block club collection.

St Lawrence Block Club

Friday, January 02, 2009

Washington Skies

Washington Skies

I thought I'd check out a new photo site, Skywatch Friday. Easy enough to post a sky photo on Fridays. This is from shortly before I returned home from Washington State.

for Richer or Poorer

"Twists of fortune, wedding vows, the woes of the economy, dreams of riches. You might write about what it was like being a poor college student, or what you'd do if you won the lottery. Or about what true riches are, or different kinds of poverty: poverty of the spirit, of the imagination, of the pocket. Have you ever encountered true poverty?"--prompt by Sunday Scribblings

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,1
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

words and music by Malvina Reynolds

My old house

A song from my elementary school years and a picture of a house I lived in years ago. At least I think it is the house. It has been changed a bit. I think the pointed roof and bow window are new. So is the faux Normandy trim. But I lived there, I, my brother, my mother and my pet rat. The house was brand new at the time. We were the first owners of the new, cheap construction. The house took a bit longer than planned so we rented a different house for a few months, one that was much grander, across from a golf course that I raided for lost balls, I later sold to my father.
My grandparents provided the down payment for the house. My mom on a paycheck from a low end retail job, a single parent with two kids, couldn’t have afforded it. We were pretty poor back then. Not starving but I was always the kid with the scholarship, the kid who brought crappy presents to birthday parties and crappy food to potlucks. We were home alone a lot while why mother worked or we camped out at her work, a jewelry store. They let me help sell cheap stuff, watchbands and charms.
We didn’t stay long there either, maybe a year or two. Then my mother decided to move with me to California where her parents were. I wasn’t consulted. My brother opted to live with my dad. I chose my mom because I believed that she needed me and because I didn’t want to live with my step mother.
We moved into a ratty apartment in Los Angeles. The living room carpet was coated with grease from the disassembly of a motorcycle by the previous owner. I walked to the large public school two blocks away. Not long after we moved in a pervert flashed his parts at me and I walked to school on the other side of the street for months. The rental was replaced with a condo, also funded by my grandparents. It was nicer but I was off to college not long after. I’d lived in 16 homes in my first 16 years. I wasn’t getting attached to apartments even ones called condominiums.
I never liked LA and I never really forgave my mother for moving me out of Seattle. I understood her reasons but still think my ties to my father should have come first. The hidden gift was living four years a few blocks away from my grandparents. They enriched my life and kept me sane through high school. I still miss them.
Returning to Seattle as I did last week is always bittersweet. Good memories and bad, and a feeling of loss when I head “home” again. I love Seattle, the city, as I loved my grandparents. It and they were my roots as much as my parents were.