A Few More Headstones

As promised, a few more cemetery photos. I just can’t get enough of this stuff.

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As cemeteries go, St. Mary’s is pretty modest. It’s nothing like the monster cemetery we visited in Indianapolis. But it is pretty and peaceful and has a number of beautiful monuments.

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Well, I have quite a few other images I haven’t posted yet, so I think I’ll give the cemetery a rest for now. Pun intended.

A Grave Omission

While I managed to get caught up with posting about our family vacation adventures, I neglected to write about photographing St. Mary’s Cemetery with my friend Jane back in mid-August. Jane has visited the cemetery numerous times and taken some truly stunning images there, so I was excited to join her for a short photographic expedition.

5DM34764I only used two lenses, but they were arguably my two best –  an 85mm and a 50mm both f/1.2. I tried to shoot everything wide open. What’s the point of all that aperture, otherwise?

5DM34773I converted everything to black and white. It’s a rare cemetery photo that benefits from color. I certainly haven’t taken one. I have quite a few good ones, so I’ll post more tomorrow.

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Out With the Old

We’re undergoing another home invasion here in Phoenix. The hideous carpet on our third floor is being replaced. You may remember when I wrote about our hardwood floor installation. That replaced the hideous carpet on the first and second floor. The carpet didn’t seem bad when we moved in, but it was cheap and poorly installed, so every passing year added about ten years to its appearance. It developed a buckle in the master bedroom that constituted a major tripping hazard. I’m lucky I didn’t wipe out during a midnight bathroom run.

The only reason we waited this long to replace it in the bedrooms is that it seemed like such a daunting task to move all of the furniture. When we put hardwood in the living room, we were able to stack all of the furniture in the dining room. There was no way that was going to happen with the bedroom furniture. The furniture moving needed to be paid for as part of the installation. Of course that didn’t get us out of all the work – we still had to carry down all of the dresser drawers and empty out a lot of the closets. That’s how we spent our day yesterday.

So now we sit here, listening to a tremendous amount of banging and praying for it to be done soon. They cut it outside in our parking lot, which made me paranoid that a bird would fly over and crap on it while it was laying on the ground. They did pretty much everything except the master bedroom before taking a lunch break, so I snuck upstairs and took a peek. It looks stunning and feels even better – like walking across a bed of little pillows.

Once they finish the install and move all of the furniture back, we have the fun task of carrying all of our clothes upstairs and restoring some sense of order. Not to mention cleaning up the dust that’s been tracked across the floors. At least we get to sleep in tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll be dreaming about our cushy new carpet.

Fallen

Did you hear that loud thud the other day? That was the sound of millions of leaves all dropping from the trees simultaneously. It’s fallen. Oh, we might get a few more nice days here and there, but don’t let that fool you, winter is right around the corner. I had to turn on the furnace the day we returned from Chicago – it was 59 degrees in the house. Today we put the winter tires on the cars. All harbingers of the impending cold.

But first we get a brief reprieve starting tomorrow, in the form of a visit to Phoenix. The forecast is for the low 90’s every day of the week we’ll be there. So tonight I’m polishing my toenails in anticipation of sandal weather. Our new carpet will be installed on Thursday and we have an appointment on Saturday to get measured for shutters in the guest bedroom and kitchen. Then we’ll be able to focus almost exclusively on designing our new home.

Exciting and scary as hell. You wonder why builders are able to sell expensive spec homes? Because the thought of making the million and six decisions involved in building a home from scratch is just too overwhelming for many people. It will be a full time job for the next year. Good thing we don’t have regular full time jobs. What we do have is an acre of dirt and trees and a lot of ambitious ideas. Wish us luck.

Windy, Again

In a weird sort of serendipity, we are back in Chicago today. Of course it’s been three weeks since we returned from our last trip, I only got around to writing about it yesterday. The never ending irony of blogging is that when I have something interesting to write about, I’m too busy. When I’m not busy, I don’t have anything interesting to write about.

So, why are we back in Chicago after just three weeks at home? Primarily, because I owe a good friend a 50th birthday dinner. But we also made a pact to visit here more often, since it’s my husband’s home town. And we didn’t really get to do a whole lot when we were visiting here with family. So yesterday we drove down for a five day stay. We’re staying in Evanston, which is where I went to college. Back then it was a sleepy little town. I was more than a little shocked by how much it’s grown in the last 28 years. Has it really been that long?

The weather decided to crap out on us again for this trip. Today’s high was 48 degrees. Did I mention the cloudy and windy part was back as well? So despite my multiple layers, coat, hat and gloves, I still managed to be cold. We spent the majority of the day near the Merchandise Mart, visiting fixture and furniture stores. A little homework for our future dream house, which may happen sooner that we were expecting. We found a builder we like during the Parade of Homes and if we can get the design nailed down over the winter, we could be breaking ground next spring. Amazing, considering we just closed on the land two days ago.

So this trip comes at a convenient time. Too bad the weather didn’t get the memo.

We Visited a Zoo (September 13)

Today was the last full day in Chicago for most of the group. My husband bravely volunteered to take the early departees (the Memphis contingent) to the airport for their afternoon flight. The rest of us took the bus to the Lincoln Park Zoo. The camera was definitely out of the bag today.

[10032014]5DM36211Nola loved the zoo. This is her closely watching the fish in one of the underwater sections.

[10032014]5DM36207The light was nice and soft, but a little low so I had to really crank up the ISO. The weather was a lot more pleasant today – almost 60 degrees and sunny, so we spent several hours walking around. Unfortunately, by the time my husband finished battling the horrific traffic to and from the airport, it was too late to join us. So we all met back up at the hotel and went out to dinner.

[10032014]5DM36208Tomorrow we all start the journey back to our respective homes and it will be way too long before I get a chance to see this beautiful little face again.

The Windy City (September 11-12)

The weather took an ugly turn on our first full day in Chicago. After enjoying iced coffee in slightly sticky 80 degree weather following our arrival, we awoke to a cloudy, windy day in the low 50’s. It was more than a bit of a disappointment following our run of spectacular weather in Baraboo. Almost no one had brought appropriate clothing. My mom and I had plenty of layers to pile on and my husband had a light jacket, which is the most he ever wears above freezing temps, but one sister-in-law only brought sandals and the other only had a light sweater.

We split activities by gender on our first day, with all the men heading to a White Sox game. The women took the train downtown and had lunch, followed by a little shopping. Getting on the train with a massive stroller is no small task. It took three of us to carry it and we managed to block most of the stairway in the process. The station downtown had an elevator, so we were okay at that end. But on the return trip, as we were shuffling down the stairs, some kid barreled up the stairs looking at his feet and promptly ran into me. After I yelled at him, he dodged left and promptly ran into one of my sisters-in-law, who was holding the other side of the stroller.

Our second day also started out cold and cloudy, with the added bonus of rain in the forecast. This time we all went downtown on the train and wandered around. Eventually the group dispersed and my mom, husband and I ended up having dinner downtown. The logistics of sightseeing and eating with such a large group start to break down at some point.

5DM36212Once again, my camera stayed in the bag. But here’s a sneak preview from tomorrow.

Sweet Home Chicago (September 10)

On September 10th we bid adieu to Baraboo and hit the road for Chicago. My mother-in-law left Baraboo at the age of 18 to head for the big city, so that is where my husband and his sisters call home. We started out as a two vehicle caravan, but split up after about 45 minutes because we needed to make a gas and bathroom stop. When we reached Chicago a few hours later, we found that the street the GPS wanted us to take to the hotel was closed.

Fortunately, my husband learned to drive on the streets of Chicago, so he wound us around a different route until we reached our destination – a lovely block of apartments that had been reinvented as a hotel. It was too early to check-in, but they gave us the opener to our designated garage so we could at least park the car. It was mid-afternoon at this point, so we drove around to find a restaurant. Ironically, we ended up at one that was easy walking distance.

I had texted and attempted calling Tim’s sister several times after we parted during the drive to see where they were. No response. So when we sat down to lunch, I asked my husband to check his phone. Turns out, she had repeatedly texted his phone, while not answering mine. My husband takes driving seriously, as everyone should, so he doesn’t look at his phone when he is behind the wheel. We had just placed our order when he received a text stating that they had arrived and “the guys” wanted to return the rental car to the airport. My husband had intended to go with them since neither of “the guys” were familiar with Chicago.

Since they weren’t willing to wait until afternoon traffic cleared out, my husband responded that they should allow 3 hours to get to the airport and return by train. Which turned out to be spot-on. Meanwhile, we had a leisurely lunch, followed by a walk around the neighborhood and iced coffee, while we waited for our room to be ready. I think we made the wiser choice.

5DM36137Here’s another cute photo of our niece from yesterday. The camera stayed packed today.

Happy Anniversary (September 9)

Today was our last full day in Baraboo. It also happened to be our 15th wedding anniversary. What better way to spend it than scattering my in-law’s ashes? Yes, everyone dragged their feet and today is our last day to take care of this. I google “scattering ashes in Wisconsin” to make sure we aren’t going to end up getting arrested. That would really put a damper on the day. Fortunately, Wisconsin is pretty lax about it. They have sort of a “be discreet about it” policy.

So we head back to Devil’s Lake and start hiking up the bluff. My mom wisely decides to stay behind and work on her Sudoku puzzles. We find a nice spot marked by a large group of boulders that overlooks the lake. Nola has been fussing the entire walk, so we decide this is far enough up. My husband does the honors. Of course the wind decides to kick up right at that point, so most of us end up getting hit with a little ash.

After we conclude with the scattering, my husband and I decide to head back down while the rest of the group goes for a longer hike. We take Nola with us, since she doesn’t really want to go back in the carrier. She is an absolute angel all the way down the trail.

5DM361495DM36119We spend our time playing in the grass, waiting for the rest of the group to return. We don’t have any toys, but Nola is content to play with an empty orange juice bottle and the lens cap from my camera. Grown-up stuff is always so much more interesting than baby stuff, anyway. She’s happy as long as she’s not confined.

It felt good to have our big task behind us and to just enjoy the beautiful weather.

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Choo-Choo Baraboo (September 8)

Today we took advantage of Nola and my mom’s afternoon nap time to visit a local train museum. When we arrived, we discovered that it was only open on the weekends. Fortunately, you can’t really lock up a bunch of trains, so we could still wander around and take photos.

[09292014]5DM36024bwThis photo started out in color, but I think it has more impact in black and white.

[09292014]5DM36029I tried this image in black and white as well, but it was a little lackluster. I really like the green.

[09292014]5DM36057This is another image that worked better in color. The yellow makes a big impact. I was using my 50mm f/1.2 lens and I was trying to take most of the photos wide open. I have a tendency to travel with zoom lenses to cover all focal lengths, so it’s nice to go on a trip where photography isn’t the primary goal and I can just bring a few prime lenses.