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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Inspiration

This week, Tina has chosen Inspiration as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. With so many places closed down, travel restrictions in place and family gatherings limited because of Covid, and trips to the city put on indefinite hold because of increasing violence, I’ve been finding it hard lately to get motivated enough to get out and take pictures. I decided to look to the younger generation for some inspiration. Youngest granddaughter loves going to the zoo and great-grandson adores dinosaurs so yesterday I took my cue from them and headed over to Brookfield Zoo where by happy coincidence they are featuring a dinosaur exhibit. I think the kids would have approved.

Although the place was quite busy, most people wore masks and practiced social distancing and it was good to see families out there enjoying themselves, taking a break from all the turmoil that health, politics, social injustice and natural disasters has thrown at us this year.

Although the zoo itself is open, not surprisingly, all the indoor exhibits are closed which meant no pictures of gorillas in Tropic World and only a limited view of the bears. Add to this the fact that most of the animals were sleeping (when aren’t they?) and with the usual challenge of trying to get a decent shot through the intervening fences and wires, it proved to be an interesting exercise in zoo photography.

Despite so many of the attractions and services being unavailable, the zoo more than made up for it with the addition of the Dinosaur Exhibition. These prehistoric giants looked quite at home in their various settings and the animatronics and sound effects had all the kids (and some of the adults) squealing with excitement.

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Negative Space

This week, Amy has chosen Negative Space as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. At first I thought this might be a bit tricky. As some of you have already pointed out, when we take pictures, we are usually focusing on the subject rather than the surrounding space, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized that many of the images in the photo files might fit the bill and in the end I had to stop myself from adding to the list.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Labor of Love

This week, guest host Rusha Sams from ‘Oh, The Places We See‘ has chosen A Labor of Love as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  Usually around this time of year, my eldest daughter buys tickets for us to go and see a concert or show together to celebrate my birthday. I rarely go to anything like that throughout the rest of the year so seeing a show and spending time with her makes it an extra-special treat. Over the years we’ve seen Carmen, Orpheus and Eurydice and Die Fledermaus at the Lyric, concerts at Ravinia, Shen Yun and a host of other amazing performances, but this year, because of Covid, this particular form of birthday gift wasn’t an option.  So instead, the dear girl made me a fairy garden complete with fairy lights.

And what made this, above all other previous treats, so extra special was the fact that she had taken time from an exceedingly busy schedule, working as DNP at hospitals that involve hour-long commutes, to do it. She scoured local antique and hobby stores for the right pieces and put it all together with live succulents and plants in what can only be described as a Labor of Love.

Her creativity is not surprising, she is, after all, the mother of grandson and recently published author, Justin, and it’s not difficult to see from whom he gets his thoughtful and caring personality. So many of my collections here at the house are, in large part, thanks to her generous nature.

Finding a home for the garden wasn’t easy. It’s quite substantial and needed a solid base, so when my son-in law staggered in with it on Saturday evening, I had to quickly make a space in the sun-room. I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be moving to another location anytime soon.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pick A Word

This week, Ann-Christine has given us a list of words from which to pick a subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Among them, Growing, Tangled and Exuberant seemed to describe the Chicago Botanic Garden very nicely. This was how it looked on my visit there yesterday.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Creativity in the Time of Covid

This week, Tina is looking at Creativity in the Time of Covid as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. An amazing piece of timing from my perspective as you will see.

While capturing images in the garden, I’ve very often focused my attention on bees, partly because they make interesting if not always cooperative subjects to photograph, but also because my grandson broadcasts a regular podcast called The God Of Honeybees. Yesterday he became a published author for the first time with a book of the same title. I am so proud of him and his achievements as you will have no doubt already surmised if you have read any of my posts in which he has featured including Happy 21st Birthday Grandson and  Collage – A Celebration.

Note; The cover image is by David Provolo and the book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I don’t know if I will ever be able to match Justin’s creative writing abilities although I hope eventually to get my stories published (something else I can work on while I’m stuck at home thanks to COVID.) Meanwhile I will continue to look for bees in the garden.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Lazy Days Under The Sun?

This week, Amy is asking us to share some moments Under The Sun for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. If you do any kind of gardening, you know that there are no such things as lazy days. I have an old tee-shirt that I use for working in that says, “I garden, therefore I weed.”  Isn’t that the truth!  It’s never ending and, at this time of year, done mostly under the sun! But fortunately, with all the spring rain that we had, the plants have grown sufficiently to cover the weeds until I can get to them. And I will…. eventually. Along with the weeds, perennials continue to flourish beside annuals and biennials that reseed and pop up randomly around the garden. Cultivating, deadheading, trimming and re-planting are just a few of the jobs that keep me busy out in the garden.

And I am not the only one who has been active out there in the garden in the summer sunshine. The rabbit explosion has produced several litters of plant-munching bunnies. Luckily there has been enough foliage to go around so I don’t feel too bad when I see them eyeing the flower beds. The coneflowers have been attracting both bees and butterflies and recently there have been hundreds of little skippers too. The sunflowers have had their fair share of interest and it’s amusing to watch the squirrels trying to get at the seeds. They are very resourceful and use the garden furniture to their best advantage.

 

Just as the sun is starting to go down, I catch a glimpse of a mouse peeping out from under the leaves, and a wren making short work of some hapless insect that is almost as large as the little bird itself.

And when the sun has disappeared below the horizon, there is still plenty of activity in the garden. There’s often a distinct whiff of fox outside, first thing in the morning, and a neighbor has reported seeing a coyote surveying the property with an eye to finding a late night snack. Skunks and possums are also frequent visitors and can be heard scratching about on the stones beneath our bedroom windows at night.

There’s never a dull moment and whether I’m running about wielding a trowel or a camera, there’s little time to sit back and enjoy those lazy days of summer under the sun.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Winter

This week, Ann-Christine invites us to share some Winter images for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I have to admit that I am a creature of comfort and rarely stray too far from home during the winter months. The older I get, the less appealing the idea of getting togged up in boots, scarf, mittens and heavy winter coat becomes.  These shots, three at the Chicago Botanic Garden and one at the Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg are a few in my very sparse collection of typical winter photos.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Autumn

This week, Patti is looking forward to Autumn for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. For so many reasons, autumn is probably my most favorite time of year. Primarily, I love the colors, and then there’s the cooler weather, not to mention less biting bugs and irate red-wing blackbirds. Of course, any time of year is great at the Chicago Botanic Garden but autumn is a very special season full of bright flowers and glowing foliage.

Autumn is one of the few times in the year that most of our family is able to get together and there is nothing more fun than our Family Fall Festival which is usually held at our daughter’s house in Indiana. She really puts on a terrific show with festive decorations that include Halloween characters, many of which are animated. The kids love it!

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is the ideal place to visit in autumn when the trees are at their most colorful. A membership to the Chicago Botanic Garden gets you into the Arboretum for free and you can spend the day taking in the sights.

And what would autumn be without a trip to the pumpkin farm. This one is in South Barrington, Illinois, but we also visit a couple in Indiana and Wisconsin. They are a little more low-key but usually just as enjoyable.

And finally, one of my all-time favorite Halloween shots. “Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog,” and a Big Mac to go, please.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – The Spring in Spring Valley

This week, Tina is celebrating Spring for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. One of my favorite local places to visit is the Spring Valley Nature Center and Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg. Sadly it wasn’t open this Spring for obvious reasons and and will remain closed at least through August. That being the case, here is a nostalgic look back at Spring in Spring Valley.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Summer

This week, Amy is kicking off a month of seasons with Summer for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. What would summer be without a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

In my own garden, summer means dragonflies, flowers and butterflies. Heavy rains and fierce winds knocked a lot of plants down yesterday, so I will be spending some time in the garden propping things back up.

And finally, I had to include this scene, captured as we took an early evening boat ride around the lake on the 4th of July. It seemed so typical of a summer day with everyone, even the dogs, enjoying the sun and taking time to sit back and relax.