Because of ongoing health problems I missed seeing some of my most favorite things this spring including the daffodils at Morton Arboretum, tulips at Cantigny, spring blossoms at the Chicago Botanic Gardens and the lilacs in Lombard. However, the flowers in our garden provided some consolation. They seem to manage pretty well without too much help from me and hopefully I can get out there before the weeds take over. We’ve had a lot of rain recently and when the sun finally did put in an appearance I managed to get a few shots of some familiar faces.

A colorful display of tulips and some mud-spattered daffodils as well as a few  other springtime flowers helped to brighten the day.


A white-crowned sparrow and my arch-nemesis the rabbit also paid us a visit.


I must apologize for not keeping up with all the blogs that I normally follow recently, owing to the fact that I’ve been unwell for the past couple of weeks, so much so that we had to cancel a family get-together at Easter and a trip to Utah to visit our youngest daughter and her husband (something we had been eagerly anticipating) all of which has left me feeling rather ‘down in the dumps.’  However, it did give me the opportunity to sit for many hours looking out of the window and apparently I’m not the only one missing in action.  I’m sure someone must have been looking for this zebra finch which evidently had escaped from somewhere. As far as I know it’s not native to the Chicago area or even America.

I also spotted another bird which, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t visited us before. I think it’s a nuthatch but perhaps someone could confirm that or correctly identify it.  I hope to get back to reading all your posts soon and catching up with the latest news.  Best wishes to all.

Weekly Photo Challenge – The Road Taken

This week’s Photo Challenge, set for us by Krista at The Daily Post, is the road taken.  Whenever we go traveling it’s always by road and many of the images in the old photo files are shots taken from the car, so they are not always too sharp but sometimes it’s the only way to record the places that we see. When you’re on the highway you can’t just pull off to the side when you spot something you like.



Early morning and on the road in Nebraska and crossing the Mackinac Bridge that connects Mackinac City to St. Ignace in Michigan.



Sometimes you have to share the road with something other than vehicles so be careful when you’re driving through somewhere like Custer State Park in South Dakota.


Occasionally, if you’re driving through the countryside, you can get out of the car and risk standing in the middle of the road to get a shot. The above image was taken on a ‘rustic roads‘ jaunt in Wisconsin and the picture below shows the road leading across the Great Salt Lake from Salt Lake City to Antelope Island in Utah.


For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to

One Word Photo Challenge – Elder

Jennifer has chosen ‘elder’ as the subject for this week’s One Word Photo Challenge.  Merriam-Webster’s definition of the noun elder is ‘One having authority by virtue of age and experience’ and, according to Wikipedia, American Indian elders are revered as repositories of cultural and philosophical knowledge. With extraordinary grace, energy and pride, these members of the American Indian Community have set a fine example by keeping their culture alive and meaningful for a new generation.





These images were taken at the American Indian Center’s 63rd Annual Chicago Powwow last year. For more on the One Word Photo Challenge go to

Guilty Pleasures

This post comes with a warning! Some of the images may be considered rather gruesome but then ….. it’s nature and if you take photographs of nature you have to expect something not very pleasant occasionally.  I’d like to be able to say that I didn’t enjoy capturing these images but the awful truth is, I kind of did.  Somewhat.  Let me explain.


If you feed the birds on a regular basis you will know that it does tend to attract larger predators and I always feel a bit guilty that I’m setting the table, so to speak, for a possible kill.  The hawk makes so many passes over our garden during the course of the year and for the most part comes up empty, but on this occasion it managed to catch a sparrow. He played around with it for a bit, pulling out a few feathers and then dropped it into a nearby flower pot.  He seemed to lose interest in things and went to sit in the lilac bush.


I was horrified to see that the sparrow was still alive and making a feeble attempt to escape.  I debated whether to go out there and scare the hawk away but I figured the sparrow was so badly injured by this time that I really wouldn’t be doing it any favors so I left well alone and hoped that the hawk would at least return and put an end to its misery.  It did.



With a certain sense of macabre irony, the hawk decided to carry its meal over to the little table on the patio and proceeded to chow down.  And I captured every gory moment with the camera.  In mitigation I can only say that these days I rarely, if ever, brave the freezing winter weather to go out and get nature shots, instead relying on nature to come to our garden in the suburbs, and opportunities like this don’t come very often so I have to make the most of them when they do.  Of course I was sorry for the sparrow but hawks have to eat too, and it is such a handsome bird.




When he’d finished his meal, the hawk ruffled his feathers, gave one final shriek and took off, leaving the sparrow’s head like some grotesque tip for the server (me, apparently.) Thanks!

Nature of the Dance – Men’s Fancy and Northern Traditional

I would like to share a few more images taken at the American Indian Center’s 63rd Annual Chicago Powwow.  The costumes and dances were of particular interest to me and luckily the weather was perfect for bringing out all the colors on display.



One of the categories in competition dancing is Fancy.  The dance originated in Oklahoma and requires considerable agility and endurance. The costumes certainly live up to the name, being extremely elaborate with feathers, ribbons, bells and all kinds of brightly-colored accoutrements. It is said that the dance may represent warriors preparing for battle.




Although not quite so flamboyant, the costumes worn for the Men’s Northern Traditional dance are still considerably ornamented and are most impressive. The costume may include an Eagle feather bustle, bone bead breastplate, leggings, beaded moccasins and ankle bells. The dancer sometimes carries an Eagle feather fan, pipe bag or dance stick and paints his face to represent a traditional family or national emblem.



There are several different interpretations of the dance which is thought to either represent a warrior recounting his feats in battle or searching for his enemy while other stories mention a hunting or gathering role. Some of these dancers look quite fearsome so I’m guessing it has more to do with the fighting aspect.