Here is my second entry for Becky’s Spiky Squares photo challenge. One of the best places to study nature in the Chicago area during the winter months is the Field Museum and this has to be one of their earliest exhibits; those giant battling African elephants with their pointy tusks. We had a great family day out there on Saturday.
This week, Amy has chosen ‘Small is Beautiful’ as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I didn’t need to search the photo files for this one. The choice was obvious. Our youngest granddaughter, just a few days old, small and beautiful. For more on this photo challenge go to #11: Small Is Beautiful.
We were tickled pink with the latest addition to our family, the youngest of five grandchildren, our little Texas princess born earlier this year. For more on Becky’s Pink September Squares Photo Challenge go to Hello September!
Summer wouldn’t be complete without at least one day at the races at Arlington Park. Our granddaughter loves animals and especially horses so Arlington was high on our list of things to do during her visit.
I will say this, however, that a trip to Arlington may, on the face of it, seem like a cheap day out – parking is free and entrance to the Park is reasonable on certain days – but once inside, beware. Apart from the obvious temptation to have a bit of a flutter on the gee-gees, the price of food and beverages is ridiculously high! I could have bought a decent bottle of wine for the cost of a small bottle of water and a thrifty shopper could have fed themselves for a week on what I shelled out for ice cream (the first thing the kids ask for when we go somewhere like this.)
Still, the high price of feeding and watering the troops was well worth it, just to see these beautiful creatures step daintily past as they made their way out of the paddock, hopefully with the winning jockey on board.
The horses aren’t the only things racing about at the track. There isn’t an awful lot of time in between each race so we must decide which horse we like according to name, color of the jockey’s silks or the even more scientific method of sticking a pin in the list of runners, then run up the steps to place a small wager, out again and down the steps to view the horses in the paddock to make sure our choice is still alive and kicking, then back up again so we can go down to the rails to cheer the winner home. It’s quite exhausting!
Things usually go very smoothly at Arlington. I’m always impressed by how efficiently everyone does their job, from the stable lads and the people who maintain the track to the person who plays the bugle (or is it trumpet?) before each race.
We did quite well that day. Three winners out of seven races which, for us, is about par for the course. And the pleasure we got from seeing our granddaughter meeting one of the horses face to face so to speak, rounded out our trip to the races very nicely.
We recently took a road trip to Texas to celebrate the birth of our youngest granddaughter and I thought that it would be interesting to take pictures of our garden prior to leaving and compare them to how the garden looked when we returned two weeks later.
The beginning of June is the most colorful time of year in our garden and I knew we would probably miss seeing some of the flowers that were on the brink of blooming, but there were enough of them out to wish us a cheery farewell. The peonies were in full bloom and irises of all types and varieties were looking quite spectacular despite losing many to iris borers this year.
Blues and pinks and purples were well represented, with flax flowers, bluebells, salvia Caradonna, Baptisia australis, pinks, weigela, heuchera Coral Bells, Johnson’s Blue cranesbill and aquilegia all making a fine show.
The poppies, including my favorite Turkenlouis, were continuing to burst open but I figured I’d probably miss the pink Carneums.
A lot can happen in two weeks! Apparently we had quite a bit of rain while we were gone and the weeds had taken over. There were still a few remnants of the flowers that had been blooming when we left and some that had come and gone while we were away. However, the garden was not without some fresh color.
Apart from all the weeds that have invaded every part of the garden, some of the plants that are supposed to be here have run rampant and there is also quite a bit of deadheading to be done; a lot of work ahead of us, no doubt. But all the toil will have been well worth it as we got to see the sweetest flower of all, our little Texas treasure.
The topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Liquid and comes fortuitously for me as you will see, later in this post. Water can have a very calming effect and, with everything that’s happening in the world today, we could all use a few moments of tranquility to reflect, which is why, instead of heaving seas, raging rivers and tumbling waterfalls, I’ve opted for more peaceful scenes. The first two images were captured in Snowy Range Pass, Wyoming.
The next two pictures were taken at Sylvan Lake and Palisades State Park, South Dakota, perfect places to sit and meditate.
Wisconsin also has some very scenic spots in which to enjoy some relaxation time.
These gently rippling waters lead me to an opportunity to share a link with you that I sincerely hope you will try. My eldest grandson, someone of whom I have written about in several of my previous posts has recently started a podcast called Exit The Echoes. I cannot say enough good things about this young man, who recently became a father for the first time, and I am more than happy to give this new venture a mention here on WordPress. The subject of his latest episode seemed to fit in so well with the pictures that I had in mind for this post, so please, if you can, spare a few minutes of your time to listen to Meditation: Ripples And Echoes and I’m sure you will enjoy his liquid tones.
These last two pictures were taken at Whitefish Point, Michigan and Council Grounds, Wisconsin.
For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Liquid
Under normal circumstances nothing would induce me to visit somewhere like Brookfield Zoo on a sunny, mild Sunday, but when the Grandkids visit on a weekend and Sunday is the only available day, I have to brave the crowds and make the best of it. As I suspected it would be, the place was packed! Luckily my Granddaughter is old enough to get around under her own steam and doesn’t tire easily so we got in a solid three hours of walking and seeing all kinds of wild and wonderful creatures. She even enticed me into the Australia House, something I swore I’d never do again after Mom and I were dive bombed by a giant bat, but I’m glad I chanced it as I got a nice shot of this kookaburra.
I always enjoy watching the giraffes. We caught this one in a confrontation with a couple of geese. The giraffe was a young one and was naturally curious about the two noisy interlopers in its enclosure. He bent down to get a closer look but the goose took exception and put up a bit of a fight. The youngster jumped back in alarm and then ambled off to chew on a few twigs.
My Granddaughter loves dogs so this one, an African painted dog, naturally caught her eye. No, I don’t think Momma will let you bring this one home!
Next up were the bison. I haven’t been this close to one of these animals since the time I found myself on the outside of an enclosure just a few yards away from one that they’d neglected to round up with the others, in Custer State Park, South Dakota. It was looking for its buddies and had snuck up on me, there being only one other hapless photographer between me and it. Needless to say, I made a slow, backwards retreat to the car.
Granddaughter likes to get into the spirit of the thing.
On to everyone’s favorite, Tropic World. Well, everyone except me. I’m never very comfortable in here, with the birds flying about, but luckily they didn’t come too close and I was able to focus my attention on the animals.
The gorillas are always most impressive. especially the large silver-backed male who kept a wary eye on us and his family. There were several young ones playing about and I could feel for the mother as she tried to catch a few moments peace and quiet before they were back, jumping on top of her.
As is very often the case, many of the larger animals were taking a siesta and there wasn’t much action to be seen in either the bear or big cat enclosures.
It was a different story over by the sea lions. They were being put through their paces by some of the keepers and were demonstrating their fish-catching and flipper waving skills. Unfortunately there was a thick mesh screen separating us from the action but I found that if I zoomed in close enough with the camera, it magically disappeared. All in all, quite a successful day, with one satisfied kid (after we’d stopped at the gift shop) and plenty of pictures to share.