Weeekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

For this week’s photo challenge, I selected photos taken in the last three months, all with my cellphone camera.

Taking photos at night can be challenging and for me, often unsuccessful.  However, there are always some surprises as well as opportunities to take night photos that I grab when I can.

Just last Friday, I took some pictures at Navy Pier in Chicago at night.  We were attending a performance at Shakespeare Theatre’s Skyline Stage, which is under a sort of tent, but during the intermission we walked out onto the patio. The Ferris Wheel was nearby, all lit up.

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The windows of the Shakespeare Theatre building created this distorted reflection of the Ferris Wheel’s flashing lights:

IMAG2692   The Chicago skyline was pretty too:

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In July, I took these photos on a lake in northern Wisconsin, at sunset and just after:

Sunset 9:11 pm

Sunset 9:11 pm

Clouds over lake after sunset: there is a small white dot in the upper right corner - that's the moon.

Clouds over lake after sunset: there is a small white dot in the upper right corner – that’s the moon.

And of course, what would summer be without a 4th of July fireworks show enjoyed with some kids? (My nephews). We were on the pier of our cottage on this same lake, and I managed to get these shots:

IMAG2505_BURST001_1 IMAG2503_1 IMAG2500_1I like the way the fireworks were reflected on the surface of the water.

 

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Plight of the Ash Tree

As I have taken daily walks in the neighborhood this summer, I’ve noticed many ash trees are dying due to the emerald ash borer (EAB), a small insect that hitched a ride probably in packing crates from China (the crates sometimes are made of ash and the larvae could have already been inside the wood). It’s been seen as a menace since 2002. 60 million ash trees have been affected and the estimated cost of this destruction is $20 billion just for landscape trees over the next ten years!

(Downloaded from Google)

(Downloaded from Google)

The EAB actually has 4 larval stages; it is bigger in each stage. After the adult lays its eggs in the folds of the bark, the larvae bore into the inner part of the bark, called the phloem, which they feed on. The larvae, as they feed, create “galleries” or tracks within the phloem and grow larger in size. The phloem is essential to the tree’s health, because it is through the phloem that nutrients are transported upward toward the branches and leaves.

(Downloaded from Google)

(Downloaded from Google)

Look closely at the side of this stump where bark is stripped away. The galleries of the EAB are visible.

Look closely at the side of this stump where bark is stripped away. The galleries of the EAB are visible.

On this stump, the damage done by the EAB is evident - the tunnels, or galleries, made by the larvae are evident.

On this stump, the damage done by the EAB is evident – the tunnels, or galleries, made by the larvae are clearly visible.

Apparently, the EAB will begin at the top half of the tree.

Note that some of the branches are devoid of leaves.

Note that some of the branches are devoid of leaves.

It’s so sad to see so many trees that are dying from this pest. Ash trees were popular shade trees

Downloaded image from Google.  The emerald ash borer is very small.

Downloaded image from Google. The emerald ash borer is very small.

which were planted to replace elm trees that had been nearly wiped out by Dutch elm disease. The EAB has migrated to more than 20 U.S. states and Canadian provinces. It started in Michigan, apparently arriving in a shipping container that unloaded in Detroit. Originally it was thought that quarantine could contain the EAB’s spread, but this has not been effective. I remember hearing that it arrived in the Chicago area in the Ravenswood neighborhood, before we saw any sign of it here in the suburbs.

On our street, there are mostly maples, so no trees have had to be cut down, but some streets around here have many ash trees. The infected trees are marked with green paint, meaning that the tree will be cut down. I have seen ash trees that are already a pile of logs with green paint on them.

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Scientists have been looking for a biological solution – that is, finding a natural enemy of the EAB – to eradicate or control the infestation. They have studied some types of parasitic wasps that are not harmful to people, first a native one, which didn’t work out because its life cycle didn’t correlate with the EAB’s. Now they have discovered 3 types of parasitic wasps that only target EAB. They have done tests and found that these parasitic wasps attack EAB at the egg and larval stages. One kind of wasp lays its egg directly on an EAB egg, killing the EAB egg. Two other types lay their eggs on EAB larvae, where they hatch and grow, consuming the EAB larvae.

This wasp has an ovipositor which allows it to lay eggs inside the bark or on an EAB egg. (Picture downloaded from Google)

This wasp has an ovipositor which allows it to lay eggs inside the bark or on an EAB egg. (Picture downloaded from Google)

Arrow points to the wasp larvae inside the EAB larva. (Downloaded from Google)

Arrow points to the wasp larvae inside the EAB larva. (Downloaded from Google)

Scientists have also discovered that there would be very little impact on our native environments in the release of these parasitic wasps. (They are very small – much smaller than most wasps). They have targeted release of parasitic wasps in several states, and Illinois is one of the most recent to receive these wasps.

One article states that in order to have a major effect, most of the trees around the epicenter of release should be in the early stages of infestation – if most are already at stage 4 or 5 (dead), chances are that the EAB will not be very numerous and the technique of releasing the parasitic wasps will not work.

Ways to tell if an ash tree is infected:

Epicormic shoots – these are shoots of growth near the base of the tree – I’ve seen lots of these. It’s the tree’s attempt to compensate for loss of energy at the top of the tree where there is little or no foliage. The nutrients are unable to be transported to the top of the tree due to damage by EAB galleries.

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Woodpecker damagecertain woodpeckers prey on the EAB, and if there is a lot of woodpecker damage to the bark, chances are it is infected.

Bark splits or “callous” – the bark of the ash tree will weaken and split in places along the trunk of the tree if infested.

This diseased tree has a large split, or callous.

This diseased tree has a large split, or callous.

D-shaped holes where the adult EAB emerges – these are smaller than a fingertip, so they’re hard to detect.

Downloaded from Google

Downloaded from Google

Infected tree in Libertyville, IL (downloaded from Google)

Infected tree in Libertyville, IL (downloaded from Google)

Thinning or brown foliage, or absence of foliageespecially at the top of the tree, the leaves will thin out. I’ve seen a lot of this too – it seems as though the tree dies from the top down: at the lower level, the foliage is still full and there are many trees with epicormic shoots. (This trees is at about stage 3.) IMAG2577I’ve also seen the stage 5 – dead – trees that are completely bare, in the middle of summer.

This tree is dead (no foliage at all).

This tree is dead (no foliage at all).

The second article I read, and downloaded part of it, not only describes this entire process, but also gives detailed instructions on how to identify EAB eggs, how to identify parasitic-wasp eggs, how to collect samples, how to attract the wasps to the tree, etc. That web site address is as follows:

http://www.emeraldashborer.info/documents/EAB-Field-Release-Recovery-Guidelines.pdf

I did see a healthy ash tree (or it seems to be) yesterday, on a street I don’t often walk on. I wondered how it could be healthy when so many trees around it are dying. However, today an acquaintance told me they have an ash tree that they have treated every two years for $250 each time. The person doing this service injects something into the phloem to make it taste bad; thus the EAB don’t want to eat it.

This ash tree is being treated. (Downloaded image from Google).

This ash tree is being treated. (Downloaded image from Google).

I started this post over a month ago.  Two days ago, I took a walk down a street that had been lined with shady ash trees.  I counted 28 trees that had been removed in a four-block stretch of that street alone; on a parallel street, I counted 9 more removals, but on that street, I also saw 4 healthy ash trees! Three of these were very young, but the 4th was at least 20 years old, judging by the size of its trunk. I looked up and could see no sign that this tree was infected. Either these trees have been treated with the chemical that repels the EAB or the parasitic wasps have finally been released in this area! That would be good news; unfortunately, it’s too late for the majority of the ash trees around here.

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A Word a Week Photograph Challenge – Arch

When I think of arches, I think of Spain: its architecture, with its strong Arabic influence, contains many arches, not to mention arched bridges and viaducts…

 

Archways at La Alhambra

Arched doorways at La Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Beautiful arched windows, La Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Beautiful arched windows, La Alhambra, Granada, Spain

School children on their way home, in El Escorial, Spain

School children on their way home pass under an arched bridge, in El Escorial, Spain

The arched viaduct of Segovia was a functioning method of transporting water into the town, until modern water systems began providing water to the town in the 20th century.

The arched viaduct of Segovia was a functioning method of transporting water into the town, until modern water systems began providing water to the town in the 20th century. These arches dominate the landscape of Segovia, and vehicles zoom under them every day.

  http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/a-word-a-week-photograph-challenge-arch/

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Charleston, SC: Palmetto Carriage Tour

Wed., March 26, 2014

We had ordered tickets for a Palmetto Carriage tour the night before, so we proceeded directly to the Old City Market, adjacent to the Red Barn, where the tour was to start. For booking in advance, once again we got free parking.

DSCN8546It was a clear, but chilly day, and in the barn it was even colder! A warmer room was adjacent to the barn, where people could buy tickets or snacks from a couple of vending machines; however, the barn was interesting – there were a lot of things to look at, such as old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages, horses and mules, and amusing signs.

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feed buckets

feed buckets

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Our tour wasn’t leaving until 11:15, so we had some time to look around the Market a little.

South Carolina is home to the palmetto tree, which is pictured on the state flag. Whole cottage industries arose with creations made from these trees. We saw beautifully-woven baskets made from palmetto fronds, a tradition of the African-American population here. I would have bought one but even the smallest were out of my price range! So I took pictures of them instead.

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Another mule-drawn tour

Another mule-drawn tour

When it was time for our tour, the carriage pulled up to the platform where tour-goers were waiting. Our guide helped us in, and then fetched some blankets, because it was going to be cold in an open carriage today. The carriage was drawn by two mules, each of whom had a name and distinct personality traits, as our

Our young guide

Our young guide

young guide explained. The mule on the left was lazier than the other, so the right-hand mule would bump the lazy one’s rump to get her going again! The mule on the right also tended to lean into the left mule.

The guide was very knowledgeable about Charleston’s history and the story behind the mansions we saw, and he told many anecdotal tales to keep us entertained. There are many “haunted” tales associated with certain buildings – in fact, there are ghost tours, but we weren’t going to stay in town late enough to go on one.

I took a lot of pictures, but even if we had just returned from this trip yesterday, I wouldn’t remember the names of most of the places we saw! Charleston’s historical district is characterized by small, winding streets as well as cobblestone streets -although only a few of these have been preserved -and large manor homes, built for the elite of the 19th century. These elites had made their fortunes through business or trade, and certainly many of them owned slaves. Charleston is still proud of its Confederate heritage.

I loved the ironwork and many of the decorative facades. The homes are beautiful architecturally, and several of them offered tours, although we didn’t take any of them.

DSCN8556DSCN8557?????????????????????????????????????????DSCN8561 DSCN8563 DSCN8565 ???????????????????????????????????????????????????DSCN8571 DSCN8572One can tour the Edmonston-Alston House, on High Battery, to experience early 19th century elegance (built 1825). It contains  furnishingsof the Alston family. I zoomed in on one of the balconies because of the decorative ironwork. (I don’t know what the black and purple sashes are for.)

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Headed toward the harbor

Headed toward the harbor

Look at the columns on this house, which are are slightly “crooked.” (Most noticeable if you look at the railing along the side of the balcony). This was done for a reason. Boats arriving into the port of Charleston could align themselves with the columns to guide them into the harbor.

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The same house from the front

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Calhoun mansion, one of the houses that holds tours

Calhoun mansion, one of the houses that holds tours

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In this picture, people are waiting for a tour in front of the Calhoun mansion; note the chandelier in the front hall.

Below: Facades

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DSCN8593Below, Charleston Hat Man. This little “man” (all made out of hats – look closely!) is a symbol of the city, and you find him here and there on buildings or signs. Personally I found him to be a bit sinister.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Episcopalian church

Episcopalian church

Looking toward the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, one of Charleston's most important historical landmarks.

Looking toward the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, one of Charleston’s most important historical landmarks.

Back at the Market after the carriage tour, we once again encounter the Charleston Hat Man:

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Savannah: More St. John the Baptist and Monterey Square

St. John the Baptist cathedral – continued…

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I am adding the pictures my husband took inside this cathedral, which came out better than mine. These photos show the stained glass windows, organ and frescoes on the wall.

DSC_0260DSC_0259DSC_0261DSC_0262 DSC_0263 DSC_0266 DSC_0267A very beautiful cathedral!

After our trolley tour, we drove around in our own car to visit some places we saw on the tour that we wanted to explore. We were particularly interested in seeing the Mercer-Williams house, the scene for much of the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, located on Monterey Square.

Plaque designating Monterey Square. Unfortunately it's named to commemorate the capture of Monterey, Mexico by Zachary Taylor's troops in 1846!

Plaque designating Monterey Square. Unfortunately it’s named to commemorate the capture of Monterey, Mexico by Zachary Taylor’s troops in 1846!

We had learned on the tour that the way the squares were designed, residences were to occupy the north and south sides of the square, while businesses, places of worship and other structures were located on the east and west sides of the square.

The Mercer-Williams house

The Mercer-Williams house

This house is named Mercer-Williams (sometimes just “Mercer House”) because the house was at one time owned by singer Johnny Mercer, one of Savannah’s most famous citizens, but in fact Johnny had never lived there. Later it was purchased by Jim Williams, a self-made man and antique dealer who is the central character in the book.  The house is currently occupied by Williams’ sister and her family, so tours are not being conducted at this time.

Also on Monterey Square is the Mickve Israel synagogue. This congregation was founded in 1733. The current synagogue was consecrated in 1878, according to a historical marker in front of the building. It is the oldest Reform Jewish congregation in the United States. By the time we got there, it was after 6 pm so it was closed and we had to be content with taking pictures of the outside.

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Savannah: Old Town Trolley Tour: Andrew Low House, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 (cont.)

Before I continue, here’s a little background on Savannah: The historical center of the city is notable for its 22 squares laid out in a grid. This was the idea of James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia. On two opposite sides of each square would be residences and on the other two opposite sides would be reserved for commercial use. Each square has a small park in the center and most have either a fountain or a statue. These squares serve the purpose of keeping traffic from flowing too fast, as it would on most major straight thoroughfares in urban areas.

HistSavmapThis map gives an idea of the layout of the historical district.

We continued on the trolley tour until Stop 8.

Monument to Savannah's Scottish forbears, dedicated on the city's 250th birthday, May 3, 1987

Monument to Savannah’s Scottish forbears, dedicated on the city’s 250th birthday, May 3, 1987

shops along Bay Street

shops along Bay Street

Madison Square

Madison Square

?????????????????????? DSCN8525 DSCN8527?????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????IMAG1663_1 ??????????????????????????????????These beautiful old houses are the reminders of the opulence enjoyed by Savannah’s upper class in the 19th century. No doubt many of the owners of these homes were plantation owners who depended on slave labor.

Lafayette Square

Lafayette Square

At Stop 8 we got off to tour the Andrew Low House. Across the street was a large church, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. I snapped a picture of it before we went into the house. We had to wait a little while for our tour, and meanwhile looked at the beautiful gardens and the patio in back.

Andrew Low House

Andrew Low House

Partial view of front gardens

Partial view of front gardens

Andrew Low house patio

Andrew Low house patio

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Gardens at Andrew Low House

Gardens at Andrew Low House

As in the Juliette Low birthplace, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the Andrew Low House.

I think we got on the last tour of the day because it was too late to try to get to the Davenport House and tour it, even though Tam had bought tickets for that house also. We had to wait for another trolley to pick us up, so meanwhile, we looked at the gardens around the Low House.

The large cathedral of St. John the Baptist also beckoned, so Tam hung around the Low House and trolley stop while Dale and I took a quick look in the cathedral.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????????It was definitely worth it! The stained glass windows were beautiful and the sanctuary was magnificent but not overdone. Green marble columns flanked the pews on each side of the aisle. There were frescoes on either side of the altar depicting Jesus’ ministry. I liked the general color scheme inside the cathedral – the green marble contrasting with the pink and white marble on the floor. The arched ceiling was also lovely, and in the balcony at the back of the church was a spectacular organ!

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I couldn’t capture the colors of the stained glass windows, it being late afternoon with the sunlight filtering in through the windows. The holy water font was tiled with a Celtic design set against a dark blue  background. Stunning!

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Old Savannah Trolley Tour & Juliette Low’s House

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 (cont.)

We’d been told that the Old Town Trolley Tour was the best and most popular of the Savannah trolley tours to get an overview of the city, although there are many others, as well as walking tours, ghost tours, etc.

Because we had advance purchased tickets, we were able to park free for four hours. It was a large lot on the site of an old train depot flanked by warehouses.

Tam went and bought house tour tickets, determining the stops where we would be getting off. It was already noon when we arrived, and the trolleys were on a rotating schedule, so we were scheduled for the tour that left at 1:05. We got a guide which listed all the stops and what places of interest were at each one. There would be a main attraction, with other places of interest clustered around it, shown on a map, which was color coded for each stop.

The tour was narrated and I took pictures as best I could as the trolley rolled along – I had mixed success! I figured that being on the right side next to the window, I’d get good pictures, but it turned out that most of interesting things to photograph were on the left side! Dale was on the left side and snapping pictures every few seconds, it seemed! ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The Thunderbird Inn, a hotel with a funny sign: "At the intersection of 'Yes, ma'am' and 'Dude'."

The Thunderbird Inn, a hotel with a funny sign: “At the intersection of ‘Yes, ma’am’ and ‘Dude’.”

City Market near Ellis Square

City Market near Ellis Square

The first place we got off was Juliette Gordon Low’s house. Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts. We took the house tour, narrated by a docent who told us Juliette Low’s life story as we moved from room to room. She was known by her family as “Daisy” and used this nickname throughout her life.

????????????????????The patio and gardens behind the house was quite pretty. A troop of Girl Scout troop who had visited the house at the same time were taking group pictures.

Sculptures in patio behind Juliette Low's house: Cast bronze emperor cranes, in memory of Page Wilder Anderson (first US Girl Guide leader)

Sculptures in patio behind Juliette Low’s house: Cast bronze emperor cranes, in memory of Page Wilder Anderson (first US Girl Guide leader)

patio behind Juliette Low's house

patio behind Juliette Low’s house

???????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The house is quite impressive from the outside – large by today’s standards, although Daisy Gordon’s family was considered “middle class” (upper middle class, for sure)! She was athletic and talented in the arts.

his antique doll house was on display in the gift shop (I'm sure it wasn't for sale) at Juliette Low's house.

his antique doll house was on display in the gift shop (I’m sure it wasn’t for sale) at Juliette Low’s house.

The man she married, William Low, was from a very wealthy English family and they moved to England after their marriage. I’m not sure if class had anything to do with it, but her marriage was unhappy. Her husband died in 1905 when the couple was separated. She spent a period of depression, feeling her life was without meaning, until she met Sir Robert Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts in 1911. In 1912, she gathered 18 teenage girls to form the first troop of American Girl Guides. Her niece was one of the members of this first troop. The next year the name was changed to Girl Scouts.

Juliette Gordon Low died in 1927 of breast cancer.

(Some information that I had forgotten was retrieved by visiting the web site https://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/history/low_biography/.)

 

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