Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Home Stretch

So - one of you told me what's new :-) that's better than no one ;-D

Last weekend, I spent the entire weekend in my jams. I was completely, and utterly exhausted, and even though it was beautiful outside, I stuck with my plan. It was wonderful!

I'm on the home stretch of my 365 Project. It was about this time last year that I inadvertently discovered the 365 Project on a blog I happened to stumble upon. This last month has been particularly challenging. I forgot to take photos on, I think about three days. Sometimes you get to the end of the day and you've not had the camera out at all . . . I would think of it fleetingly - "oh, I need to take a photo today - let me go do that . . . " and then that thought would be gone and I would be in bed . . .

Someone asked me if I would continue. No, I won't. I'll always take photos, but I won't be actively taking them every day. Still - I have documented 2011, and I'm pretty excited about that! I'm going to make a photo book in January :-)

In the mean time, here is the latest round of catch up - Please click to see the entire shots - I don't know why they get cut off:

301:365 Last Hurrah

My neighbor's tree again. I didn't think it could get any more red. I was wrong.

300:365 The Bean!

Its official name is "Cloud Gate." It was created by Anish Kapoor, and it lives at Millenium Park. It was built from 2004 - 2006, and although it looks seamless, it is not. It is made up of 168 stainless steel plates that were welded together and polished so much that it appears to be just a big drop of mercury.

No one calls it anything but "the Bean," much to the chagrin of the artist, I believe :-D When you walk underneath it, it's like being in a fun house - it's concave underneath!

299:365 A Tree Grows on LaSalle Street

A very gnarled trunk on what is actually a very young tree.

298:365 Mag Mile

North Michigan Avenue is often called "The Magnificent Mile." It begins once you cross the river. You see the tender houses at the Michigan Avenue Bridge - this where the old Fort Dearborn was located - the true beginnings of this amazing city. Then, The Wrigley Building (the white one) is at the beginning, and it's one fabulous building and one famous retailer after another, all the way up to Oak Street. From 400 North to 1000 North.

I like this photo because you can see more than you realize - it's just a glimpse of the Avenue, but you can see the John Hancock Building. It's the black one on the right with the two antennas. It's at 875 North, and it's massively taller than the Wrigley Building, which give you an idea of the perspective of this shot. Also visible, is the Allerton Hotel. It's the short, dark building toward the center of the photo, it's at 701 North.

297:365 Early Morning Light

I'm using this photo for today - it was actually taken on the 25th. I've really had a hard time this month with missing days. All my travels and burning the candle at both ends caught up with me big time - and there have been multiple nights just this week where I was so tired that I just fell asleep without having taken even one shot.

This is at the end of my block, in the early morning light.

296:365 Fiber Artist at Work . . .

A huge mess in the sunroom . . . knitting all over, needles everywhere, and a cookbook or two thrown in for good measure. Welcome to my world :-D

295:365 Curly Kale

I managed to fall asleep today without having taken a photo. Again. :-S This photo was taken on October 18th - and I really liked it. It's one of the planter boxes in front of the Thompson Center, newly planted for fall. Gardeners seem to always use ornamental kale at this time of year - I see it everywhere!

294:365 Blue as Can Be . . .

And after yesterday's harbinger of winter days to come, today's brilliant, cloudless autumn sky :-) the top of the Randolph Tower is just there for contrast ;-)

The Randolph Tower was formerly known at the Steuben Club Building (through WWII). In 1948 it changed to the Randolph Tower. It was built in 1929 in the Gothic Revival style and was designed by Karl Vitzhum. It's been closed and under renovation for years. Everything stopped a few years ago - but the renovation appears to be continuing now. It was originally retail stores, professional offices and recreational and social club space on the upper floors. It's slated for the latest craze here, "mixed-use residential development."

293:365 Winter is Coming . . .

I think Chicago is beautiful, even on a gray, blustery, chilly day. The Lake reflects that grey sky in its waters. On a day like today, everything is muted. There's Ceres again, on the top of the Chicago Board of Trade. The smaller, tan, triangular building is the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center. Often referred to as the Federal Prison, it's an administrative building where prisoners/offenders of all security levels are held when they have to appear before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

That two-tone building over to the left is the back of the Conrad Hilton. Now it's just called Hilton Chicago. It's on South Michigan Avenue.

This view is looking Southeast from the AT&T Building.

You can see the steel mills across the Lake - in Indiana. Although grey, it was clear :-)

292:365 Fleecy Pumpkin

This little pumpkin is my fall decoration at work. It sits on my ledge. A lady was selling them last year to raise money for a charity - I can't remember which one. Her sister made them. It's orange fleece, some ribbon and some fake ivy leaves. And I love it :-D

291:365 I'm Ready to Go Home

This is the giant that transports me daily to and from the city. Down in the main station - Millenium Station (AKA Randolph Street Station) - underground, waiting for the doors to open.

290:365 The Loaner

My own hammer dulcimer is on its way to me. This is the loaner that is currently sitting in my sunroom :-)

Monday, October 17, 2011

What's New?

How many times has someone asked you that, and you said, "nothing." If you find yourself saying that, then it might be time to change your point of view :-) To paraphrase Dr. Wayne Dyer, "When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change." How cool is that?! :-) Way - and very, very true.

The season is now changing pretty dramatically all around me here in Chicagoland. It's in the high 40's this morning. I've worn a light jacket most mornings for the past week, but the high went up into the 70's. Not so much any longer. And so the world around me appears changed . . . new :-) And I'm thinking about the new winter coat I got this summer (on sale!). It will be time to put it on pretty shortly I think.

It's been my experience that the warm weather holds until about this time every year. No hard frost yet, but I imagine one is on the way. I will be happy for it to arrive because I have asthma, and the past two weeks have been a little challenging on the breathing front. Once there is a freeze, stuff usually calms down in that respect.

What's new?

Well, there is a hammer dulcimer in my sunroom. It's not mine - it's a loaner until mine arrives. I'm learning to play a new instrument, and I can hardly tell you how excited I am!!!!


There is a Dusty Strings dulcimer that will be on it's way for me shortly. It's likely that it will be built especially for me (again, how cool is that?!) because I preferred that the soundboard be stained black - easier for . . . um . . . mature eyes to see all the strings that way ;-D

And, as has happened many times before for me, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. This time, it's Ted Yoder. That dulcimer he's holding? Mine will look like that, but black :-) Do you want to hear some dulcimer like you've never heard before? Click on the bottom of that page and click the forward arrow until you see All Creatures of Our God and King. Click Play and prepare to be amazed. I would lay money that it's unlike anything you have ever heard before. Go on, CLICK. Trust me :-)

Yes - my heart is racing. Creating with my hands is such a huge part of who I am (Hey! No butt jokes, thank you!). Fiber art or music - a wheel, knitting needles, or an instrument - all are extensions of my hands, and I cannot wait until I'm able to string even a simple melody together. No idea if I will ever be even half as good as my teacher, but I can visual myself playing, and that's often the hardest part (of anything).

It is my hope that this will be like the guitar was for me when I was younger - an automatic fit. The kind of fit where your fingers just know what to play and when. Where you can play and sing at the same time - or not, as you choose :-) Of all the instruments I have played over the years of my life, the guitar was probably my best, and I haven't played it seriously for decades . . .

The sunroom really looks like a studio now - as usual, there is yarn all over the place, and baskets full of fiber, the Baby Wolf, and a loaner dulcimer.

So, I challenge you this week to look at the world around you with new eyes. Change your point of view. There is something new - there is always something new!

289:365 After the Rain, After the Wind

The pile of wet leaves on my driveway. This was taken on October 14th - today was a day that was mostly all driving all the time (to Indiana to meet Ted Yoder and his lovely family!), and by the time I got home, I managed to crawl into bed without having taken a photo.

288:365 Mac's Elegant Emerald

It's not one of my plants (although I am currently growing it). I was judging an African violet show (my third in as many weeks!). It's a semi-miniature with a ton of blossoms!

287:365 The Sign Guy

This guy stands on various street corners in the city. He's been doing this for years. His signs have changed over the years, and usually he's only been on a hunger strike for a day (he changes the date on his signs regularly). I see him on the Northwest corner of Randolph and Clark, at the Thompson Center. This is the most casual I have ever seen him look. If you want to read about him - this, from Wiki.

286:365 Lawyers in the Rain

One of the last warm days . . . on the way to work, corner of Dearborn and Randolph.

285:365 Floors 2 - 20, Going Up!

Managed to snap this before security shooed me away and advised, "No Photos in the Lobby!!" This is in the lobby of the Unitrin Building, formerly known as the Kemper Building and before that, the United Insurance Building, at the corner of State and Wacker. It was built in the 1960-1962. Kinda reminds me of Mad Men. Don't forget to get your coffee and bagel on the way!

284:365 State Street . . .

. . .that Great Street. It's not so great as it used to be, with Marshall Field's now renamed and junked up, and Carson's gone, there is no real reason to come downtown to shop anymore. This was on the way to work, corner of Randolph and State, looking south.

Thanks, everyone, for your wonderful comments on my last post :-)

Go now - look at things with new eyes this week - and come back and tell me what's new :-)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I am an Adventurer . . .

Last night, I had just come home from the club and was watching some telly, and the phone rang. It was one of the Church Ladies, and we proceeded to have one of the most amazing phone calls I have had in a very long time.

In early September, the Church Ladies had asked me to be their speaker for their fall luncheon. The wanted to hear some about my travels, and all the stuff I do. My "list." I didn't really think I had anything interesting to talk about, but I knew they were interested in my trips to Iona and most recently, to Egypt, so I agreed.

I put together a Powerpoint (!) and called it: "A's List: Dance Like No One Is Watching." And I talked about my life and my list of "things I've always wanted to do" (I don't call it a bucket list). I've written here about this before, and I used some of those writings in my presentation.

I talked about my life, about my late mom (many of them knew her), and about how she shaped who I became as an adult. And I talked about my travels and shared some photos. I talked about learning at a young age that life is short. I talked about finding the writings of author, Joan Anderson, and how my trips to Iona with her had changed my life. I talked about Julia Cameron's books and about Dr. Wayne Dyer's books. I talked about my list of things I'd always wanted to do, and how it changed as I moved on to the path back to myself. It began to have questions on it and began to be more about who I am than what I wanted - and how the things I wanted began to be informed by the "me" I was discovering on this path.

I talked about how I am an adventurer.

If you are on this path to yourself, or might like to be, the posts in this blog that are tagged with "The Path to Myself" are about my feelings and journey. I have surrounded myself with people who "get it." Those of us on the same path - it's about the spirit and about life and about living our lives. And for me, it's always about Dancing Like No One Is Watching.

The presentation seemed to go pretty well and many of the ladies told me they enjoyed it very much. And the lunch was great - church ladies know how to cook! :-D I had been really nervous about it and when it was over, I was really glad I had done it.

So - the call. I got this call last night from one of the church ladies who had attended the luncheon and heard my presentation - someone who has never called me before. She called last night to tell me that she had recently been in Florida, and that she had always just gone to the beach in her capris - never actually getting in the water. But this time . . . she said she remembered my talk about, as she put it "living like no one is watching."

She looked around her and realized that there were plenty of people who were older, fatter, (insert whatever it is that usually holds you back here) - and she didn't want to just get her feet wet on the shore, she wanted to go swimming. So, she decided to go to the store. There was a bathing suit in her size and it fit (of course it did - whether or not she knew it, she had already set the intention of what she wanted to do and everything just fell into place :-)). She bought it, put it on, and headed to the beach and the pool.

She told me that she got into the water - all the way into the water - and that she spent a lot of time in the pool, floating around with a water noodle and just generally having a the time of her life. I could see her there - and I could hear in her voice the joy she had been missing on so many previous trips where she kept herself from enjoying herself to the fullest because she was afraid of what others might think. Best. Trip. Ever.

Wow . . .

I was so thrilled that she had called to share this with me. My own spirit leaped for joy at her joy. I imagine all her trips are going to be a lot more fun from now, on - I imagine her LIFE will be even more filled with joy as she heads down the path to herself.

It doesn't matter what you look like. It doesn't matter how old you are. It is NEVER TOO LATE to start doing all the things you have always wanted to do. My mom got her Bachelor's Degree in her late 40's. She started taking piano lessons again when she was 80 years old. I learned to play the bagpipes when I was 40 and I started lifting weights when I was 53 and I think I'm about to learn a new musical instrument . . . (more on that in another post :-) ).

What's stopping you? Probably only yourself . . . "I don't have time . . . I'm too old . . . I'm too young . . . I'm too fat . . . I'm too tired . . . I can't afford it . . ."

Oh my friends, Excuses Begone! Life is short - every day we wake up is a gift.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

283:365 Eczema?! Geez . . .

Apparently related to asthma. Who knew. I went to get it checked out because the patch grew to 5 or 6 times its original size. It's non-contagious and I have goo for it, which is making it look a lot better already. It doesn't itch (I guess that's rare). At least it has a kinda cute heart shape . . .

Monday, October 10, 2011

Flying . . .

That's how it feels lately.  Once again, I over-booked myself in September and October.  I seem to do this every fall.  Next year I want to pay better attention, because I am completely off any schedule I might have had in place.  It's been weeks since I walked in the a.m., and that's mainly because I'm just too pooped to pop. Witness me sitting here, writing when I should be walking . . . I was up until 11 last night (I usually go to bed at 9) and I didn't get enough sleep.

I'm wishing I was headed to Iona this week with Joan Anderson.  But I'm not. 

I'm wishing I was 40 pounds thinner.  But I'm not.

I'm wishing - and you know what they say:  "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."

The older I get, the more I find that I need to build in recovery time for myself when I travel, and the two back-to-back trips involving airports really did me in, and I've been running ever since.  I didn't have the luxury of a day off after each trip so it's been a month of catch-up.

I finally made it to the Jewel yesterday.  I've been needing to go since the last week in September . . . that means I've been eating a lot of take out and snacky sorts of food, which is never a good thing for me.

I've judged two African violet shows in two weekends and will judge another on Saturday.  It's crazy!  But I added some very nice plants to my collection.  Speaking of which, I spent prettty much an entire day yesterday putting leaves down and potting up babies. 

When the plantlets are ready to be separated, that's when the work really starts.  Over the weekend I bought a bale of Promix BX.  This yielded about 18 2.5 gallon bags of potting mix.  That's like a 29-year supply (I've offered to split it with another violet friend).  I currently am hovering around 147 varieties.  Most of those are in the propagation stage, but will be hitting the potting up stage in the coming months.

I'm going to be talking to the Windy City Indoor Gardeners again in February 2012 and am looking forward to it!

And now, here are the catchup photos - I've switched over to using the HTML code from Flickr rather than uploading from my computer - hopefully that will alleviate the line issues.  You should still be able to click to biggify, although it now takes you Flickr. 

I recommend you do click, because one of the drawbacks of this way is that the photos get cropped somehow . . . so click for the full view.  These are also in the wrong order, but I'm out of time now and changing text and photos around in Blogger is never very much fun . . .

I've been fascinated by the fall colors - because we had a lot of rain this year, they have been spectacular spectacular!

270:365  To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn . . .

270_365.092711  I live in the woods and these trees are outside my front door.

272:365  Last Light

272_365.092911These are the trees behind my house, in the last lgith of the day.  they don't turn red - only yellow gold.

273:365  Promise

273_365.093011I was at Midway airport - this was taken through the glass. I know it's not a great photo but I can never resist the promise of a rainbow.

274:365  All Aboard!

274_365.100111The train was on it's way. Taken at the Lauritzen Botanical Garden in Omaha. I was there to speak at the Missouri Valley African Violet Council's fall convention and show. I was also a show judge. There is a wonderful, extensive model railroad in one area of the park.

275:365  Times Past . . .

275_365.100211On the garden wall of the Victorian Garden at the Lauritzen Botanical Garden in Omaha. Isn't she beautiful? :-)

276:365  Another Season

276_365.100311This is part of the other side of the Chagall mosaic in Chase Tower Plaza. The first photo I took was on 28 July. This photo is of a portion of the East side. I was over on that side of the Loop today and I can never resist a stop at the Chagall if I have a little bit of time :-)

277:365  On Fire

277_365.100411The tree in front of my neighbor's house. Half of it is still green - this is the other half!

278:365  I Never Tire of This . . .

278_365.100511The fall foliage on my own block is more spectacular this year than in years past. I just never get tired of seeing it, and taking photos of it. :-)

279:365  Gum!

279_365.100611The beautiful Wrigley Building - this is a much more traditional view than the one I took in July.

280:365  Coming in for a Landing

280_365.100711One of the gardens on South Michigan Avenue. I love the colors and, of course, I love birds :-)

281:365  Black & White

281_365.100811Thought I would try one - manipulated in Photoshop because this was a color shot. I didn't like how the berries looked in color, but I like them here. I also like the play between light and dark, and how if you kind of squint/unfocus your eyes it looks so abstract.

282:365  Pumpkin-O-Rama

282_365.100911A whole cartload at the local nursery - I stopped there this morning to get some perlite.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Soon

What a wonderful weekend I had in Omaha!  Went there for the Missouri Valley African Violet Council's fall convention and show!!  Got to see my friends Joyce and Kent, and met a lot of wonderful new friends!!  I was the speaker and had a great group of people in my presentation - many of whom were not MVAVC members - I think some of them will be soon, though :-)

I'll let a few photos do the talking.


The model train in the Lauritzen Gardens

Some beautiful plants

And some truly innovative designs.

I'm trying something different with a couple of the photos - hopefully it will alleviate the lining problem.

Stay tuned for the next episode of "With They Shape Up for Show!!"