Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hoping Chicago Gets the 2016 Summer Olympics

The peristyle (new) in Millennium Park

I don't know what the rest of the country is talking about, but here in Chicago, all the talk is about the city's bid for the 2016 Olympics. Even President Obama and Oprah Winfrey are going to Copenhagen this week to meet with the International Olympic Committee, who make their decision on October 2.

View of Chicago skyline from Lurie Garden, Millennium Park

Chicago is known for its architecture. Since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago has built itself from the ground up as an innovative world class city. I'm more a fan of residential Victorian architecture, but Chicago still has some highly ornate and famous skyscrapers and other buildings from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Some of our notable architects from that era have been Adler & Sullivan, Burnham & Root, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Views of the Art Institute of Chicago (1892)

New wing of the Art Institute overlooking Lurie Garden

Mayor Daley has done much to beautify the downtown area during his many years in office. Daley has stated that he loves Paris and wants Chicago to have that feel. Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park have been fitted with Parisian-style train entrances, old-fashioned street lamps, and flower plantings everywhere.

Lovers of late American Victorian architecture can take tours of Chicago showcasing the amazing facades. Newer unique structures mingle with the old. If Chicago wins its Olympic bid, I'll post more photos of some of the more famous older landmarks.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Garden

Fall has arrived. I've already found some colorful leaves on the ground, but for the most part the trees and shrubs are still green.

In my fall garden, the autumn clematis mounds over the arbor, emitting its sweet fragrance.

A final riot of color explodes from the asters and mums.

Our two huge silver maples are among the last to lose their leaves every fall. Too many times, snow has covered the fallen leaves before I have a chance to rake them up.

 I love summer, but I don't enjoy mowing grass or pulling weeds. I don't like shoveling snow either. At least, living in the Chicago area, we get a break from each of these chores for some of the year!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Adjustable Shelf Supports

For years now I've wanted to build some Eastlake Victorian built-in bookcases to create a library in one of our rooms. My friends always tease me, because I never seem to get around to it! I've worked with wood before, but have never created any fine cabinetry. I like to look at authentic Victorian pieces to see how they were constructed, because I'd like to be as authentic as possible when I do my construction.

I've been pondering over which kind of adjustable shelf support systems to use inside my bookcases. It seems there are two predominant types of adjustable systems used in original Victorian construction. One consists of sets of evenly drilled holes, into which are inserted special shelf support pins. This is how my Victorian side-by-side bookcase is constructed.

My side-by-side

The other system involves drilling semi-circles or sawing toothed slots along the four upright pieces, and slipping corresponding horizontal piece of wood as the actual shelf supports. This is how my kitchen cabinet is constructed.

My kitchen cabinet

I see benefits of both types of supports. With the shelf pin system, the shelves themselves can be straight cut, but you'd need to buy the pins. With the cross-bar system, each support would need to be cut to fit the notched vertical pieces.

These are some of the details that I love about Victorian cabinet construction. One of these days ( I promise!) I will get my final plans finished and get those shelves built.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Victorian & Edwardian Cat Photography

One of my favorite things to collect are Victorian & Edwardian photographs of people with their cats. I especially enjoy looking at these people from over 100 years ago and wondering if they loved their cats as much as I love mine!

I have a few daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes, but mostly gelatin and albumen prints in the form of cabinet cards and cartes-de-visite. I love the lighting and detail of these old photographs. And as a photography buff, I appreciate what goes into a beautiful composition.

When photography was in its infancy from the 1830's up through the Civil War years, it was practiced by professionals in private studios in large cities, or by traveling photographers who took their gear on the road to small towns all over the United States. At first, exposure times were long. Subjects had to sit or stand very still for minutes at a time, often with the help of hidden neck supports. Children or babies were held to keep them as still as possible. The stiff looks, no smiles and glazed over eyes (from inevitable blinking) are typical of early photos.

The family pet rarely got the chance to be in the picture in the early days. To find a sharp image of a cat is rare! In later years, the use of flash and faster exposure times meant clearer, more animated poses... and more sharp pets.

Here is my list of recommended sites and books about early photography:

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Friday, September 4, 2009

September Garden Delights

I had the day off today (yea!) so I got to begin my holiday weekend taking a stroll through my garden. The weather today is beautiful and sunny, and I got some great shots I'd like to share.

This is my husband Terry's choice of garden decorations.
His mom used to recite this poem to him when he was little.

The monarch butterflies love several plants
in our yard, especially the Butterfly Bushes!
Wild Milkweed has magically appeared in our
yard the past few years. We have let it grow so far
because it's the only plant the monarchs
will lay their eggs on!

Squirrels just LOVE the nuts
from our Ohio Buckeye tree.
They run around with the huge nuts
in their mouths, then happily munch away,
leaving the mess for Terry to clean up!

A lovely corner featuring

Wonder of Staffa, my favorite aster!

All my late summer blooming
Hostas look very regal!

and my hardy Chrysanthemums add great color
to my late summer garden.

Some wonderful surprises in my
wildflower garden this year...
Queen Anne's Lace, and a mystery

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my garden today!