Thursday, December 08, 2011


In Costume

Tonight is dress rehearsal and there are performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday of my local Nutcracker show with me making a cameo as a, gasp, adult in the party scene. More importantly my younger son plays the eponymous Nutcracker. Kudos to him--it is a lot of hard work, especially as finals have started this week and he has a head cold.
I enjoy my minute or two in the limelight, something that comes as an absolute surprise to me. I was the kid who detested the school play but now I've discovered that although I'm a little nervous right before curtain time, I've finally learned not to care so much about how I seem to the audience. One good thing that came with age, I guess.
The picture is of me in my dress. I had to take it home to hem the skirt so I was able to pose in front of the bathroom mirror. For tonight's dress rehearsal I'll look much the same except I'll be wearing makeup (tons) and will remember hopefully to take my watch off! Getting my hair to cooperate into a bun shape is a bit of a challenge! It always has a tendency to escape from all attempts at control. I plan to spray (Aqua Gel believe it or not!), gel, tie, twist and hair net into submission. Kind of like wrestling with a python.
Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Airport photos

O'Hare Decorated--Wi-Fi too

On the way to Seattle before Thanksgiving I had a few moments to take airport pictures. Airports aren't too bad for photography. Sometimes, like in parts of O'Hare they can be quite eye-catching. In addition, I always have my camera and sometimes have nothing better to do. Here are a few shots.

Looking up, United Terminal

For those of you who have never flown United through O'Hare airport, this is looking up in the lighted moving walkway area. It is great fun to take pictures of.

Plane through circular screen--alternate focus

Looking through a circular screen in the food court.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Have One for Me

Time for a Pint

Downtown San Francisco has some charming clocks to add to my "collection." For more clocks see my Flickr set.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Superb Plot

Last month I attended a conference in San Francisco. I still haven't processed the photos but I did score a few more clock photos for my "collection" on Flickr. I stayed in a trendy-seeming hotel, a bit too trendy for my middle aged tastes, one of the highlights of which was this postcard.
Still trying to blog a bit more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Day

No turkey was harmed in the printing of this vintage postcard--I'm guessing around 1920's. Enjoy your holiday, day or weekend.

Sunday, November 20, 2011



I can't believe I've been so UN--my last post was over a month (two?) ago. I've been uninspired, unavailable, uninteresting, unpleasant, unhappy, uninvolved, uninvested, uncool, unintelligent, etc. It is a bit of my annual fall laissez-faire, added to a bit of worry and woe and a bit of everyday ordinary laziness.
So what have I been up to during the past months' brain fog? Playing too many games of on-line Scrabble, reading books, making meals, watching TV, helping my son with Geometry (talk about ancient history for me), a bit of travel to San Francisco for a meeting and starting rehearsals for my annual Nutcracker show. Oh, I almost forgot, I work too. Unfortunately my creative brain took a leave of absence, hence too few photos and no blogging. I hope this will change soon enough. Perhaps this is the day. After my headache goes away.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Without Reservations

Siena, Italy

I just finished reading Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach. It is the story of a nearly year long "sabbatical" she took from her career as a journalist to live and travel in Europe and try to find herself along the way. I saw a lot of myself in the book as I read about her. She was 50 something at the time, her kids had left home and she was coming to terms with being in the latter half of her life.
This has been on my mind a lot of late too. Many existential questions of where do I go from here? On the one hand I think I love my work--note that even there I am losing my certainty. On the other hand part of me wants to "run away from home" and find a new life.
The back to school season leaves me thinking about transitions and empty nests--my oldest has moved into his own apartment near campus and my youngest started high school. In four years it will just be me and my husband, cats, turtle and fish rattling around in a too big house. Even before Alice suggested the idea by her own life choices, I had been thinking about what the next steps will be.
There are all these lists nowadays--50/100/1000 things to see/do/read before you die. I don't need a book to come up with my own list. It is there in my mind, more so when I get itchy feet and need to do something new or challenging.

Cafe de Flore
Paris, France

Ms. Steinbach spends her year of wandering in France, Britain and Italy. She writes concisely as in a series of essays about her experiences of each place she stops, as well as her experience of herself in those places. Not everyone can do what she did--it requires a financial freedom and a freedom from pressing responsibilities that not everyone has. It also requires a degree of courage and spirit of adventure to make the leap.
I'm not likely to make any great leaps until my son graduates high school and heads off to college but I'm dreaming now. I hope I make the right choices for me when the time comes.
But back to the book. I very much enjoyed it. It is a relatively light read--easily accomplished in a couple of days but journeying with the author was a pleasure. It also may inspire me to pick up the works of some of her favorite authors: E.B. White, Freya Stark and Janet Flanner.
What's on your life list?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thinking of Spring?

Premier Avril PS

The days are getting shorter and the nights colder. The turtle is inside all snug in his container of dirt. I'd like to hibernate but instead I'm dreaming of April Fools Day in Paris. The "poisson" always makes me laugh.

Postcard Friendship Friday

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Night Lights

La Rochelle at Night

La Rochelle harbor at night.
I find I'm getting pickier about my photos. I took several harbor photos and none are to my liking. Does this mean I'm getting to be a better photographer or just more selective in processing and posting? Whatever.

For Weekend Reflections.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Great Grapes

Great Grapes

One of my first nights in France this summer, we stayed in a chateau. Actually we stayed in the outbuildings of a chateau. The place was charming but we found our hostess cold and unwelcoming. I guess not everything that glitters is gold.

For See It Sunday--grape.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Day at the Beach

Day at the Beach

I got to indulge my weaknesses for old postcards, photography, and flea markets while in France. I still love it that I can buy a tiny piece of history for around a Euro, the same price as for a glossy modern tourist postcard. There is nothing written on the back of this postcard but the label is printed upside down to the photo. I can't help but ponder all the details--all the men with berets and mustaches, the child's lace up boots, "grandma" wearing mourning clothes perhaps. There is a tale here if only I knew how to read it.

Today's theme for Postcard Friendship Friday is National Dog Day. Note that this family brought their dog to the beach.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Ornate Time Piece

Back when I was studying French I used to enjoy puzzling through the poems of Baudelaire. Some poems are transparent and enjoyable for that reason; some require work to feel at least somewhat connected to what the meaning is. Baudelaire was in the latter category.
I had a momentary lapse and forgot the French word for "clock". Whilst looking it up (poetic word intended), I found a link to one of Baudelaire's poems, L'Horloge, from Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil). Here is an excerpt with translation:


Horloge! dieu sinistre, effrayant, impassible,
Dont le doigt nous menace et nous dit: «Souviens-toi!
Les vibrantes Douleurs dans ton coeur plein d'effroi
Se planteront bientôt comme dans une cible;

The Clock

Impassive clock! Terrifying, sinister god,
Whose finger threatens us and says: "Remember!
The quivering Sorrows will soon be shot
Into your fearful heart, as into a target;

Quote and translation from

Makes one feel one's mortality, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Very Big Shadow

Ombre de Phare

Shadow of the Lighthouse of the Whales, Le Phare des Baleines, Ile de Re, France

Playing a new photo meme--Shadow Shot Sunday.

So many photos to process, so little time.

Nantes at Night

Nantes at Night

I spied on the neighborhood nightlife from my hotel window in Nantes, France.

See It Sunday--Night

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Much Ado about Deux Chevaux

Ceci N'est Pas Une Voiture

I don't care much for cars except for a way to get to point A to point B. My husband will gleefully point out how poorly I take care of my current vehicle but I can't help but not care as long as it drives. Maybe it is just a girl thing. In this case (as in quite a few others) it makes be proud to be female. Call me sexist, but there it is.

Pretty Maids All in a Row

However, I saw a convention/gathering of fanciers of the Citroen 2CV while visiting the Chateau of Chambord in France and have to say I found them intriguing in an anachronistic way. Sort of like a vintage Bug I'd say. These cars were all over the place when I lived in Paris in the early 80's. I'd not thought about them since and now, like me, they are vintage. Alas, I doubt I'm considered a collectable.

One or two bits (horses?) of history: the Citroen 2CV (deux chevaux--two horses, meaning two tax horsepower--not sure about the tax part) was made from 1948-1990. It was intended as an economy car and as such was much cheaper than the aforementioned Volkswagen Beetle. It even had a bit part in a James Bond film.
OK so maybe I'm not car crazy, but cute is cute.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Looking at the Past

Le Petit Journal

It's not even my own past, I know! Is nostalgia simply a product of getting older? I'd have to guess not given the resurgence of interest in classic rock music and clothes and styles of the 60's to 80's among the younger generation. Maybe I should have been a historian like my uncle and cousin since I like to dig through the history of objects, generally every day objects like photos and bits of paper, but especially photos.
I picked up some old photos at flea markets in France. They aren't too expensive a hobby compared to, say, that of a young friend of mine who boasted recently about having made an incredible deal on a Chanel purse in Thailand. She positively glowed with triumph. I on the other hand strive for a more modest 1 Euro and under fee for an early 20th century photo postcard. And I can't even wear it! (Although I did score a couple of 1980's blouses at a thrift store in Paris--another tale).
I spent a fair bit of time trying to trace some roots on the above postcard. In the interest of time, I'm just going to post what I put on my Flickr site:
I tried to date the postcard (blank on reverse except for Carte Postale imprint) by the journals. The Petit Journal on the banner was published from 1863-1944.
The woman is likely holding a journal Le Petit Parisien which was published from 1876 to 1944.
My best (uninformed) guess would be the photo was taken sometime between 1910-1920. Don't hesitate to educate me.
If you are interested in either of these old French journals, the Biblotheque nationale de France has all the editions scanned on their Gallica website. Pretty amazing. Here's the link:
They even have sound recordings. I could spend hours.

Actually I did spend hours. Here's another photo. It looks like it could be Paris but I have no further information. I feel as if I could write a novel just based on this one photo.

Woman Reading

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jeudi, le 28 juillet, 2011

Now that I have time to post about my trip, I'm going back to my first day's journal entry. Here goes:

Le Rustic Bar

Craches, France
Are we there yet? Jet lag is still muddling my sense and senses but here we are in a small town somewhere near Chartres. Our arrival in France was unremarkable. Driving here involved a few wrong turns due to an unfortunate lack of a good map and a French-speaking GPS. (Actually it turns out it spoke English too, and probably Swahili if I'd tried to check, but we didn't figure that out the first day and by the time I had done so, I was stubbornly determined to use the French voice as part of my continual aspiration to maintain my French language skills). My French is good but having to adapt to "Tout droit," "Prenez le rond point. . ." has me surprised that GPS devices don't swear, along the lines of "You effing moron; you were supposed to turn back there!"

St Aignan
St. Aignan, Chartres

We visited Chartres and its wonderful Cathedral. It is under construction which is unfortunate but even so it is a wonderful building. Cathedrals such as this make me half wish I were Catholic so I could have the spiritual experience of praying in one. Fortunately, the urge passes quickly. I also feel drawn to lighting a candle but don't.
Our night is spent at a farm turned B&B in Craches. "Tres atmospherique," I'd say in French.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Paris hasn't changed much in the past millenium or two

Obligatory Seine photo #1

I thought I'd just copy here my journal entry from yesterday afternoon:
August 5, 4:45
I've been wandering the Marais area all afternoon. I wound up continuing to shop--buying some old paper and an embroidery stamp at an antique shop in the Village St. Paul area which was, the shop I mean, stuffed to the brim with small items--sewing supplies, linens, buttons, items for school kids of earlier years, etc. While I was in the coffee house earlier, I had read through a picture book about the author's school days in the 50's and many of the things he mentioned were for sale there in the shop. I then found a "vintage", ie used, clothing store. I've been in search of a skirt as I overpacked shirts but found one pair of jeans, one pair shorts (not appropriate for Paris) and one dress wasn't quite the right mix of clothes. I didn't find a skirt that fit in the store but I got three great floral short sleeved blouses--one by Cacharel--probably from the 80's. I'm happy. While waiting for the changing room, I watched some French ladies browsing through the dresses--they favored red ones-- and some Asian (probably Japanese) girls trying on shorts. They were giggling in the dressing room for the longest time and left an enormous mess of empty hangers. I asked the sales girl and she said they did spend a fair bit which I hope justified the extra work they left her.
I was also able to visit a real antique store, mostly carrying iron work. The owner kindly educated me about "les heurtoirs"--door knockers but I couldn't afford the lovely item he showed me--a 17th century piece priced at 1700 Euros or so. It would have been so nice on my door too. He showed me one in a Druot catalog (like Sotheby's) of a hand shaped knocker--also 17th Century)--beautifully done with veins and finger nails evident on the iron hand. That went for 15,000 Euros. I still want a hand door knocker but I'll have to look for a "cheap" 19th Century one. As for now I only have a collection of pictures of them--I still find them quaint.

Door Knocker

This journal entry was written while drinking Perrier in a Scottish pub. The bar man turns out to have been English not Scottish but after more than a week in France he felt like a compatriot. Sometimes my brain feels tired from straining to think in French. BTW the music in the bar was Dylan. It is rare to hear French music playing in a shop or cafe.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Not bad for a country home. It makes me understand the French Revolution all the more. The interior is as fantastic as the exterior. Full of tourists but rightly so. I have to leave the gushing at that. The internet connection is too slow for multiple uploads and I should certainly be doing something other than blogging at the moment.
I'm currently in Le Mans, headed to Paris tomorrow. I'll try to post more from there. Paris should be great but I'll miss the smaller cities and towns and the drives through the countryside.
A bientot!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Greetings from the Marais-Poitevin

The photo is of Chartres, France

Look it up! It is kind of interesting and I'm not sure I have time to explain in detail. I am running between this stop and our next with a boat trip on the "Marais" which means swamp but which is really a system of canals first created in the middle ages by a group of monks for control of water levels. It is nicknamed the "Green Venice." I'm sure I'll be taking a million pictures. I hope I don't drop my camera in the water!

Gotta run! Having a great time!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Going, Going. . .

Just Past Sunset on the Seine

Not quite gone. But I'm going back to France! We leave on Tuesday for a two week trip. I will be spending around 10 days on the Atlantic coast of France with my husband and then a solo 5 days or so in Paris. I've spent too much time on line trying to find the perfect itinerary, perfect hotels, etc. but who's complaining? I'll try to post a bit while I'm gone but that depends on time and internet access. Life is good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


So, what am I up to? Working, reading, taking photos, dancing, and too much time on the internet. I liked the look of my outgoing mail today so I scanned it for you. Two of the letters are to my son who is away at a camp on wheels--today I think he is in Idaho. The letters will find him in Jasper! What a great place that is. One of the most beautiful parks in the world in my book.
More news to follow.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's My Birthday and I'll Cry if I Want to.

Chicago Confidential

I'm taking the day off work to play in town in honor of my hemi-centennial. Can't decide quite how old I feel. Depends on the moment. The book is more vintage than I am though.

Here is a quote from Chicago Confidential, by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer, c. 1950:
"The actual circumscribed Loop was once hailed as the diadem in Chicago's golden crown. But it became the stone in her gallbladder."

I think I'll go check out the stone and see how bad it really is in 2011. Cheers.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Layers of Limestone

Limestone Layers

Seen on the shore of Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, they are beautifying the lake and removing some of the old stone clutter. It will indeed look nicer but somehow I'd prefer the lake less tamed.

For Shutterday: Stone

Friday, July 08, 2011

July 4, 2011

Works for Me

I have to get some chores done but I thought I'd just post one or two pictures from my July 4th celebration. There are many more to come, as we had a lovely but too brief trip to New England for my cousin's wedding. So this is just a teaser and to let you know I'm still here.

Starry night

Green and Red

Friday, June 17, 2011

From the Archives


Amazing what photos I've never bothered to post. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Foggy Day on the Lake

Friday, June 10, 2011

5 years, 1132 Posts

Niagara, April 1964
Niagara Falls, 1964

I guess I've been keeping busy. Today was the 5th anniversary of this blog. 1100 plus posts isn't too shabby even if I post less frequently than in the past.
Today I spent several hours scanning old family photos. These are of my in-laws' family so there are no personal memories attached. I don't have my old family photos in my keeping since both my parents are alive but I have become the archivist for my husband's family. I see it also as keeping my sons' legacy for them. Truthfully, I'm the only one in the family with the will to do it anyhow.

Looking Down
(unknown location and person somewhere in Australia)

The unspoken rule is that I rigorously maintain the privacy of that side of the family but I though it would be cool to share a couple of vintage travel shots. These are from Australia and Niagara Falls. The man looking down the edge of the waterfall is an unknown acquaintance. I've posted on Flickr to see if I can find out what fall this is. 2010 safety rules doubtless would not permit one to stand on the edge of this fall and look over. How life changes!

War Memorial
American War Memorial, Canberra, Australia
Memorial is inscribed with the following words:
In grateful remembrance of the vital help given by the United States of America during the war in the Pacific 1941-1945.
Unveiled by
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
February 16, 1954

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Vintage Book Covers

Damon Runyon

Are going to be outgoing postcards. Sizing them accurately down to 4x6 turns out to be a little tricky but I think I'm getting the hang of it. My first efforts seemed to crop off some of the edges even though the pre-printing image looked fine. I'm wondering if I ought to try reading the books too.
Damon Runyon is going out to the Missive Maven. Maven definitely has a fun blog about letter writing and related themes. I hope I don't creep her out with Damon--some of the cover faces are a bit sinister if you ask me. Perhaps it is a bit better than sending The Loved One to a complete stranger--does it have a hint of stalker about it?

The Loved One

I'll keep on blog hopping as time permits.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chain Mail

Caught in the rain

In the distant past, I did a couple of blog walks, heading from one blog to a linked one to see where I wound up. Today I had the inspiration to do the same for mail oriented blogs--blogs where owners post an address and swap postcards, letters or mail art. There are some interesting ones out there, as I have discovered. The catch is, I will mail something to each of the addresses and see what comes of it.
I'm going to start with TheSnailMailer with the postcard posted above--if it rains anymore here in Chicago, I'm going to have webbed feet and mold growing where the sun don't shine. Becky, of the SnailMail blog claims to be a stationery addict. To date I haven't heard of a 12 step group for that one but there's always room for one more!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What's Up Doc?

Chinatown Window
Dinner in Chinatown

I can't believe how boring I've been. Hopefully, my real life is more interesting than my blog-life of late. Here are a few pictures of my recent non-adventures.

The Watcher
Watching the cat watching.

Packing List
My son takes a trip for his 8th grade graduation. Lucky dog.

Forgive Yourself
Working on it.

Friday, May 20, 2011



It sounds like a bad joke along the lines of: "What do you call a shrink who loses her voice? Unemployed." Ha, ha, ha. Yes, I have lost my voice. I hope to find it again someday so unemployment seems unlikely but it feels strange to be unable to talk. Is there some sort of theme here? Not long ago I largely banned myself from the internet due to an arm problem. Now I can't talk. Typing, talking...hmmm. What next?
Actually, my arm is improving although I'm still taking it easy with the computer time. No Mortal Kombat for a few more weeks. Kidding. Otherwise I have this stupid cold--cough, sore throat, the works, and silly me, I chose to keep working through it. I just hate calling in sick. Not that I have anything against vacation days but sick days are hard when you are a doctor. They're so...unplanned. Well, the best laid plans of a control freak are not proof against a virus. I worked through it Wednesday and stumbled home with my throat on fire and my voice gone. So I called in on Thursday. No choice, really. I spent the day in front of the TV which thanks to TiVo and Netflix is more interesting than it might otherwise have been but succeeded in making me desperate to be functional again.
Happy Friday.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mail Art

Daisy Mail

I'm trying to stay "relatively" off-line because I seem to have developed a repetitive motion injury--not quite carpal tunnel syndrome since it involves the ulnar nerve (the proverbial funny bone)--and I need to be careful.
Here is one of the many things I am playing with lately. Copy to be mailed off to a friend or two. Anyone else want one? Just send me an address if I don't have it already.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Still playing with the pinhole camera. I finally got to turn my negatives into positives in the dark room. Here is a sample. The thing I am enjoying with this little camera is how the lack of a lens and fish-eye effect makes the world seem very different and slightly alien.

Outdoor Dining

We also played a bit with double exposures (easier said than done in my book). I'll post some of those when I have a bit more time.

Gotta go or I will absolutely be late to work!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Me and My Pinhole

Me and My Pinhole

Having fun with pinhole photography. The images come out as negatives on paper and have been scanned and inverted on Photoshop. Next week I will be printing from the negatives in the dark room. I can't believe how much fun this process is!

Pinhole with Tree Shadow

Inside and Out