This week, Tina has chosen Distance as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Let me say right up front that I can’t take credit for this picture, but I thought it was so cute that I wanted to share it. My daughter sent it to me. They just arrived at their new house this week, the move having been planned long before all this virus business got going. There’s no social distancing between these two. They are best buddies and have lived in three different US states together so far. For the past year or so, the only view they had from their 10th-floor apartment window was the offices across the street. Now they can look out at a garden and even see bunnies if they’re lucky. The distance between us is further than it was, but long distances mean nothing now that we can no longer visit. All I can do is pray that they stay safe. I can’t wait for the day when I can look out of this window with them.
We don’t have any pets now, nor likely to have in the future. So what to do for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge which Tina has designated as Precious Pets this week. I gave it some thought and decided to re-submit an article that I wrote many years ago for our camera club newsletter, with a few updates and some new pictures.
Many years ago, when my child’s teacher asked the angelic tots in her classroom whose mother would be willing to baby-sit the class pets over the summer vacation I was immediately volunteered, and before I knew what was happening or could lodge any kind of protest, a garter snake and salamander were installed in our living-room. They weren’t the first pets to find their way into our home and the family albums, but they were certainly the most unusual. Up until then we had merely shared our living quarters with a giant white rabbit called Snowy who considered the wallpaper and my best lace tablecloth as a legitimate part of its diet, and a tank-full of sex-crazed guppies – not the easiest things in the world to capture on film.
The only time we’d had a dog in the house was on the occasion when, in a fit of desperation, I’d borrowed my in-law’s terrier – a feisty animal that had forced its way, on more than one occasion, to the forefront of our family’s group photos – in the hopes of quelling an unexpected insurgency of mice brought about by the clearing of an empty lot two doors down from us. The perfidious creature took one look at what it took to be an exceptionally belligerent mouse, promptly threw up on the carpet and was instantly sent home in disgrace.
There eventually came a time, however, when we were pet-free, which was when our youngest child asked if we could get a monkey. “You could take pictures of it,” I was told magnanimously.
My reply, if I remember rightly, went something like this. “If you bring anything else into this house, it will immediately be slung out on its ear. When you kids grow up and move out you can get whatever you want.”
Strange the way things work out. The kid who brought home the class pets and wanted a monkey eventually moved out and for several years never kept anything more demanding than a houseplant, and even that was handed over to me with a request to “make it better.” Now, as well as a 15 month-old daughter, she has a 15 year-old cat called Sugar.
Our second-born was slightly more adventurous and at one time shared rooms with a friend who owned a Doberman, a ferret that learned how to open the fridge door, and an electric eel.
Some years later she branched out on her own and bought an aquarium, but as she traveled extensively on business and her home was too far for me to conveniently visit on a regular basis…. you guessed it. Other children come back home with laundry. Mine came back with a glass tank and two buckets full of tropical fish, all of which took up large amounts of space in the family room. Not wishing to let the opportunity go to waste, however, I took so many pictures of fish swimming about that I could have probably given Jacques Cousteau a run for his money. Now that she has a family of her own she is getting to experience the joys of dog, cat, fish and hamster ownership. The kids may say they’re going to take care of them, but don’t hold your breath!
Our eldest daughter, on the other hand, took me at my word. When she moved out, got married and had kids of her own, their home took on all the characteristics of Noah’s ark. Dogs were just the beginning. Everything from a hyper-active Chihuahua to a deaf Great Pyrenees found its way to their door. They bred boxers (dogs, not fighters or shorts) and gave house-room to a variety of waifs and strays including a St. Bernard, a Basset hound, a Neapolitan Mastiff, and a Shih Tzu. Cats were soon added to the mix and from then on, every visit became an adventure.
A Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, that in a burst of porcine exuberance blundered into the pantry and consumed an entire loaf of bread before it could be apprehended, was introduced into the family, much to the boys’ delight and after a while a lame Shetland pony and a blind horse quickly joined goats, ducks, chickens, boa constrictors and iguanas.
It was a far cry from those early days when a rabbit took center stage in our house but even then, with all that great variety of livestock on hand, when we got together to discuss the latest antics of the gerbils, guinea pigs, monitors and bearded dragons, someone invariably said wistfully, “Remember that salamander we used to have?” I wish now that I’d taken a picture of it. Now that the boys have grown up and have homes of their own, my daughter’s own menagerie has dwindled once more to a very large rabbit, although I did see her looking rather longingly at some Westie puppies that were being sold at the flea market other day. My eldest grandson, who already has a cat and a Great Dane, has a son of his own now, and if things run true to form I’m sure there will be many more pets to follow in the years to come.
From meerkats to cats. Big cats! Zoo animals are very much creatures of habit, doing more or less the same thing at the same time every day, so I knew exactly where to find the snow leopard. He was taking a snooze on the ledge right by the viewing window.
Both the lions and tiger were also taking their morning siesta. They can sleep like this for hours so I decided to walk around for a while and come back later in the hopes that they might actually be moving around.
This plan paid off, at least as far as the tiger was concerned. He was on the prowl having taken a dip in the pool (something that I just missed) and appeared to be looking for something. He padded around the enclosure a few times and settled down to chew on some grass. Eventually, feeling that he’d fulfilled his obligation to entertain the customers, he returned to his ledge and went back to sleep.
Continuing the alphabet theme for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge, this week’s letters, C & D provided several images from the nature photo files.
The king of the cats; a lion catching a few rays at Brookfield Zoo.
A cautious chipmunk, ready to run at the first sign of danger.
We always stop off to visit the contented cows in Volkening Heritage Farm when we go walking at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.
A darting dragonfly taking a break at Springbrook Nature Center in Itasca.
A rescue dog visiting the old Randhurst Shopping Mall in Mount Prospect; part of a winter festival that also featured snow sculptures.
A daring duck paddling in the fast-flowing waters of the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/03/09/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-letters-c-or-d/
It’s been a while since I participated in Ailsa’s Travel Theme photo challenge but this week’s subject really caught my eye. For more on Ailsa’s Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack go to https://wheresmybackpack.com/2017/02/12/travel-theme-eyes/
I’ve got my eye on you; a frog sunning himself on a rock at the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Iowa.
Soft kitty; our daughter’s cat Sugar with her odd-colored eyes is enjoying her new surroundings in Utah. She was always used to apartment living in Chicago and has now become accustomed to the joys of roaming about in the garden.
A bald eagle giving us the eye at Brookfield Zoo.
Just for fun; a dinosaur skeleton at the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah. I gave him the eye!
For this week’s Photo Challenge on The Daily Post, Jen has asked us for something local (as in home.) I have written several posts on one of my other blogs, Incidentally, at http://skfjrifnd.wordpress.com/ about the towns and villages in the Chicago area. I wish I could think of here as home but that term will always be reserved for dear old England, so for now I will just share a few images of my favorite places to visit that are within an hour’s drive of our house. I suppose they could be considered local.
The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe; one of the most worthwhile annual subscriptions that I’ve ever kept up has been to this place.
Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg; always a pleasant walk and a good opportunity to do some nature photography as well as visit the farm animals.
Millennium Park in downtown Chicago; despite all the bad things that I read about Chicago these days, I still enjoy the occasional visit, especially to Millennium Park where there are so many good things to see.
Morton Arboretum in Lisle; I have to visit this place at least twice a year, in the Spring to see the daffodils and in the Autumn for the fall color.
Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights; always a favorite venue during the summer months and a fun day out even if I don’t always pick the winner.
Brookfield Zoo; We’ve been taking children and now grandchildren to the zoo for more than forty years. The big cats are always popular. “Here kitty. Nice kitty.”
BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett; one of the most beautiful buildings in our area and such a peaceful place.
Lilacia Park in Lombard; I never miss the Lilac Festival. It was always one of my mother’s favorite parks. For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge go to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/local/
Once again, I had to do a spot of improvisation for Jennifer Nichole Wells’ fourth day of her Halloween Challenge. The topic is Cat and I would normally associate black cats with Halloween, however, there were no black cats in the photo files, only a white cat named Sugar. What to do? Well, work a little bit of Halloween magic of course! For more on Jennifer’s Halloween Challenge go to https://jennifernicholewells.com/2016/10/02/jnws-halloween-challenge-ghost/
Getting close-up pictures of animals in the zoo is not as easy as you might think. In my experience they’re either hiding behind a rock, shrub or tree, deliberately standing with their back to the camera which presents a less than flattering image or, worse still, not even in the enclosure. How many times have a scoured an area in the hope of spotting something even if it’s only a stray ground squirrel, only to discover a sign stating ‘This exhibit is temporarily closed.” And I haven’t even mentioned yet, all the bars, wires and other barriers that prevent the would-be photographer from getting a nice, clear shot of the subject.
Not that I don’t appreciate having something substantial between me and a lion or a polar bear when I go to the zoo but it does make the exercise much more of a challenge. Which leads me to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week which is ‘Close Ups’. The images that I’m using for this challenge were the result of the few rare occasions when I’ve actually managed to get close enough to capture a half-way decent shot.
For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to http://ceenphotography.com/2015/04/14/cees-fun-foto-challenge-close-ups/