This week, Amy has chosen Layered as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden yesterday where they were preparing for Night of 1,000 Jack-O’-Lanterns. Peel away the layers of a pumpkin and what do you get? Scroll down to see the result.
Once again, an amazingly opportune choice of subject from Ann-Christine for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge which this week is Candid. On Saturday we held our 3rd annual Family Fall Festival which always gives me a great chance to take some candid shots but for this challenge I’m focusing on one particular aspect of a wonderful family reunion. Our grandson got engaged in the pumpkin patch! I was asked to take pictures but we were instructed not to give the game away too soon, so all 25 of us were ambling around the pumpkin patch trying to appear very nonchalant without missing the big moment. It wasn’t easy!
This week, Patti has chosen Filling the Frame as the subject for the Lens Artists Photo Challenge and my first choice for this particular challenge was Mount Rushmore. I say ‘first choice’ as I work mostly with zoom lenses and most of my photo shoots include close-ups so don’t be surprised if you see another entry from me later in the week. Thanks, Patti!
Another brilliant piece of timing by Amy in choosing Countryside for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week! Last weekend we rented a log cabin in the Wisconsin countryside (a first) so the whole family could get together. Daughters, spouses, grandkids and us, experiencing the joys of country living, at least for a couple of days. As someone once said, “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Don’t get me wrong. We had a wonderful time but there are just some things that I cannot get used to.
The bugs! My God! The bugs!! If nothing else, the size and quantity of bugs in the countryside make this city girl want to stay close to the city. When we arrived at the cabin we were greeted by screams and shrieks coming from inside. “Aaaagh! Kill it! Kill it!” This coming from the kid who once travelled up the Amazon in Peru and trekked through the jungle in Thailand. Even she was having a hard time dealing with the bugs in Wisconsin.
I don’t know why it is, but I feel far less comfortable in the countryside than I do in the city. My imagination seems to get the better of me and my nightmares threaten to become a reality. Speaking of nightmares, I have this recurring one where I am walking in the country and suddenly come upon a wild animal, usually a lion. I don’t doubt there is a psychological explanation for it but it makes me very nervous when I’m hiking through the woods.
Everything seems to take on a sinister appearance in the countryside and my fear of birds takes on an added dimension.
Even the most innocuous country scene promises to hide some new danger. Was that a bear I saw lurking among the bushes?
We were obliged to take refuge in the cabin for several hours one afternoon when we heard the sound of someone taking target practice close by. Apparently I feel far less threatened by all the shooting that takes place in Chicago, even though, looking at it logically, the odds are probably in my favor here in the Wisconsin countryside. And I probably stand more chance of being mauled to death by a pit bull in Chicago than I do of being dispatched by a bear in Wisconsin. But there it is. Give me the city over the countryside every time, except for short visits.
Well, here at least is one piece of good timing. I was about to post this and then saw Ann-Christine’s choice of subject for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge which is Magical. So this is my take on that topic. I’ve lost count of the number of swallowtail butterflies that we’ve raised and released over the years but in all that time I’ve never yet found a monarch caterpillar until now. I spotted it a week or so ago on the orange butterfly weed in our garden and brought it inside so that I could observe the changes from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, a process that is truly magical.
The other evening it looked as though it was about ready to make the first change and I sat and watched it for several hours but nothing happened. I got up early (for me) next morning and it was still hanging from the same stem, going through what looked like a few mild calisthenics and gyrations, sending little ripples of movement along the length of its body.
Again, I sat for several hours with camera at the ready as I wanted to record the moments when he finally shrugged and wriggled his way out of his brightly-striped skin. But I had to get up and move around eventually, and I thought I would just nip into the next room to check my emails. I swear I was gone for no more than ten minutes! And when I came hurrying back it was to find that the little stinker had done his magic and as I gazed at the chrysalis that now hung from the stem, I thought I could hear a faint raspberry being blown and a whispered, “Missed it! coming from inside. Unbelievable!!
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.
I realize that I’ve already submitted an entry for Amy’s Framing the Shot, this week’s subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, but I was in Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago yesterday and when I saw this composition I thought how it would have fit right in with that theme, so I hope you will forgive me if I throw this one into the mix. Wishing everyone a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend.