Monday, July 26, 2010

Birthday Fun!

Terry acting

This is my husband, Terry. This Sunday was his birthday, and we spent the entire weekend doing things he really loves to do. Although he looks like he's in pain in this photo, he's actually having a lot of fun because he is acting! Terry loves to write and act, and lately he's been writing comedy bits for a series he calls "Manchester Gallery" for our friend's internet show "Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff." We spent a good part of Saturday filming various bits that will be used in the near future.

P-51 Mustang-1

On Sunday, we went to a nearby airport to get a close-up look at some vintage WWII planes. Terry's favorite plane is the P-51D Mustang, and here he is posing by a P-51C, an earlier model.

P-51 Mustang-2

We watched as the Mustang took off, made a pass across the viewing area and dipped it's wing in our direction. Then it came back in for a landing and parked where it was on display once again. Terry really loved seeing his favorite plane fly!

B-24J bomber Witchcraft

Here's Terry by a B-24J Liberator bomber. We got to walk through this plane and explore its interior.

B-17 Flying Fortress-2

And here's Terry by a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber!

B-17 Flying Fortress-1

We also got to tour the interior of this one.

B-17 Flying Fortress-3

Lincoln Park

In the afternoon, we headed over to the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. There, we had lunch in our favorite hot dog joint, followed by a decadent mint cupcake at one of our favorite cupcake shops! We walked over to Lincoln Park Zoo, but by that time, the zoo was closing, and we needed to catch a train back home.


That evening, we ate dinner at our favorite restaurant, followed by a nightcap at a local bar.

Hollies hat

The morning of his birthday, I gave Terry a hat with the logo of his all-time favorite band, The Hollies. Terry and the hat were inseparable all day. Well, he did take it off when we went to the restaurant.

No Victorian activities this weekend, but spending the whole weekend having memorable adventures with Terry was a whole lot of fun!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Form Ever Follows Function

Sullivan 18

As a native Chicagoan, I had always heard about the great Chicago architectural firms from the late 1800's through the early 20th century. The firm of Adler & Sullivan was the one that made the biggest impression on me.

Sullivan 1

I recently went to the Chicago Cultural Center for their new "Louis Sullivan's Idea" exhibit. It features fragments of the magnificent ornamentation salvaged from buildings designed by Sullivan. The exhibit walks the visitor through the life of this famous architect, from his arrival in Chicago in 1873, to his death in 1924.

Sullivan 2

Louis H. Sullivan 1899
Louis H. Sullivan in 1899

Louis H. Sullivan came to Chicago from Boston. He partnered with Dankmar Adler in 1879. That partnership lasted until 1895. Both the Adler & Sullivan team, then Sullivan alone, created some of the most influential buildings in American history.

Cornice Detail-Wainwright Building, St. Louis, MO-1890-91

Wainwright Building, St. Louis, MO, 1890-91

I walked in awe among the fragments of terra cotta and ironwork, toughing each as I came upon them.

Sullivan 5

Pilgrim Baptist Church- 1891-destroyed by fire 2006

Pilgrim Baptist Church, Chicago, 1891. Destroyed by fire in 2006.

The exhibit is enhanced by enlarged photographs, some reaching 24 feet tall. The fragments were put into their proper context by finding their placement in the photos.

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Auditorium Theatre-1889
Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, 1889

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Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, 1889

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part of a door in the Auditorium Hotel

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Walking the streets of downtown Chicago, it's hard to look up or to get a close look of what remains of Louis Sullivan's work, or most any of the late 19th and early 20th century buildings. There are so many more modern, much taller structures looming over everything.

Sullivan 4

This exhibit brings all the details down to eye-level, like you'd never see it on the actual buildings. The fact that the curators allow you to touch the pieces makes the experience even more special.

Sullivan 3
Schiller Building wall stencil, Chicago 1890-92.

Louis Sullivan was a believer in bringing natural, organic forms to the tall, otherwise impersonal skyscrapers that he and his contemporaries were designing. I thought the pieces were beautiful. I wish I could have seen these buildings in all their original splendor. Sadly, most have been torn down or modernized beyond recognition.

Entrance to Transportation Building-1893
Transportation Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893

Sullivan's Transportation Building at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was the only building not conforming to the all-white Beaux-Arts style in Daniel Burnham's plan for the White City.

Chicago Stock Exchange Building-1894
Chicago Stock Exchange, Chicago, 1894

Chicago Stock Exchange-Entrance 1
Chicago Stock Exchange, entrance salvaged & on display at the Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago Stock Exchange-Entrance 2
detail of Chicago Stock Exchange entrance.

While attending college years ago at the Art Institute of Chicago, I would gaze upon the salvaged Chicago Stock Exchange entrance arch, on display outside the school. When I graduated, the reception was held in the reconstructed Chicago Stock Exchange trading floor.

Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room
Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, reconstructed at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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sculptors working on Sullivan's details

A few of Sullivan's Chicago buildings remain. The old Carson Pirie Scott store (originally the Schlesinger & Mayer store) is being restored. The Auditorium Theatre is restored and is operated by Roosevelt University.

Schlesinger & Mayer store-Lib. of Congress photo
original Schlesinger & Mayer facade, 1899

Schlesinger & Mayer Store 1899
original Schlesinger & Mayer facade, 1899

Whenever I used to meet up with somebody downtown, we would meet at the Carson Pirie Scott corner doorway, under that magnificent ironwork!

Schlesinger & Mayer Store-2
old Carson Pirie Scott store as it looks today

Schlesinger & Mayer Store-1
detail of old Carson Pirie Scott storefront today

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original Schlesinger & Mayer facade piece

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original Schlesinger & Mayer baluster piece

After 1900, the fanciful style that made Sullivan famous was falling out of favor. His high profile commissions went away. He continued to work, however, on smaller buildings in the midwest. Some of his unique banks remain to this day.

Owatanna Minnesota Bank-1908-detail
detail from National Farmers' Bank, Owatanna, MN, 1908

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clock from National Farmers' Bank, Owatanna, MN, 1908

Merchants National Bank, Grinnell, IA-1914
Merchants National Bank, Grinnell, Iowa, 1914

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Louis Sullivan suffered from depression and alchoholism in his later years. He died alone and penniless in a cheap hotel in Chicago in 1924. He was 67 years old.

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If you're planning a trip to Chicago, be sure to stop by the Louis Sullivan exhibit at the Cultural Center. It's free to the public, and runs through November 28, 2010.

Sullivan 6

Please visit these great links for more Louis Sullivan info:

Louis H, Sullivan 150 Years. A great Flickr photography set by Atelier Teee

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Monday, July 12, 2010

My Weekend Communing With Nature

This weekend, we spent most of our time outdoors. On Saturday, we pulled weeds, trimmed shrubs, repositioned the rocks around our pond's waterfall, and tried to kill as many Japanese beetles as possible.

We always have beautiful dragonflies and damselflies at our pond. I decided to take a break from my work and photograph two of them. This Blue Dasher was amusing, in that he always came back to land on the same daylily bud!

Blue Dasher Dragonfly

This Twelve-Spotted Skimmer darted here and there, catching insects on the wing, but tended to land on our rocks, or on the rushes in the center of the pond. Here he is on a daylily stem.

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer Dragonfly

Our "Nikko Blue" hydrangea turns a beautiful shade of blue in acidic soil. Unfortunately, the soil around here is much to alkaline, so unless I add some aluminum sulfate to the soil every year, our "blue" hydrangea turns a wimpy pinkish-purple! As you can see, this year, I forgot to amend the soil!

"Nikko Blue" Hydrangea
Nikko Blue Hydrangea

Our lilies have finished blooming...

White Lily

"PinkPixie" Lily

...but not the daylilies, garden phlox, hydrangeas, and many of our other perennials:

Monarda "Jacob Cline"
Monarda "Jacob Cline"

Monarda "Blue Stocking"
Monarda "Blue Stocking"

"Barthirtythree" Tall Garden Phlox
Phlox "Barthirtythree"

deep pink Tall Garden Phlox

White Tall Garden Phlox

"Hyperion" Daylily
Daylilies "Hyperion"

Hemerocallis fulva- Daylily
Daylilies -hemerocallis fulva

"Annabelle" Hydrangea
"Annabelle" hydrangea

Potentilla "Miss Wilmott"
Potentilla "Miss Wilmot"

Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata

Lady's Mantle
Lady's Mantle

Coreopsis "Zagreb"
Coreopsis "Zagreb"

Gooseneck Loosestrife
Gooseneck Loosestrife

Purple Coneflower
Purple Coneflowers

Fen Walk 4

On Sunday, we took a guided nature walk in a nearby fen with our friends Teresa and Kim. A fen is a wetland area where water seeps from glacial formations. Limestone gravel left by the moving glaciers below the ground makes the water alkaline.

Fen Walk 2
our guide discusses the milkweed plant

We saw some of the low areas where the seepage occurs. You have to be very careful walking in the fen, because there is quicksand!

Fen Walk 5

The ground is a floating mass of peat. We saw many types of grasses, sedges, cattails and prairie wildflowers. The fen we visited is 260 acres. Volunteers are trying to restore it to its original state. There are many species that are not native, and it's difficult to eradicate them.

Hoary Vervain-Fen Walk
Hoary Vervain

Prairie Thistle-Fen Walk
Prairie Thistle

Our guide told tales of children lost forever in the tall prairie grasses as early pioneers moved westward across America.

Fen Walk 1

We also saw interesting insects, like this Widow Skimmer dragonfly...

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly-Fen Walk

... and this beautiful Red-Spotted Purple butterfly!

'Astyanax' Red-spotted Purple Butterfly-Fen Walk

It was a great weekend, enjoying the beautiful weather in northern Illinois!

Fen Walk 3

For more information, visit Teresa's blog or Chicago Wilderness Magazine.

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