Month: August 2017

86% Totality

On Monday, August 21, 2017, many people across this country were excited to get a look at the solar eclipse.  For the first time in generations, the total eclipse would pass over the continental United States! Some people made pinhole boxes, like we used to in school. Some trekked down to Carbondale or Makanda in southern Illinois to join the crowds viewing the total eclipse – we didn’t go because all rooms were booked, but we vowed to go in 2024, when it will cross southern Illinois again! Some used colanders or their hands to see tiny crescents. A friend in Texas took this shot.
colander eclipse crescents-Amie R

Another friend journeyed down to Cherokee, NC which apparently was also in the path of totality. Before the total eclipse, she took this shot of crescents coming through the openings in a tree canopy.  Then she got a picture of the total eclipse.crescent shadows-Marge Smtih

total eclipse-Marge SmithMy photographer cousin who lives in Wyoming in the path of totality took this excellent picture.DSCN0306

Here in the Chicago area, we had 86% totality, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a good time! I worried about a shortage of eclipse glasses – I looked online but companies were charging hundreds of dollars for them! Luckily, my friend Betty and I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden, which was partnering with the Adler Planetarium to sponsor an eclipse viewing event – we were lucky to find both parking and eclipse glasses, which were being handed out free one pair per family.

Happy me – I got eclipse glasses!!

The grounds at the gardens were crowded with people, who had brought lawn chairs or blankets to sit on (picnics were not allowed). The smell of cooking hamburgers wafted through the air as people stood in line to have lunch before the big event.

We attended a concert by a trio of musicians, one of them the composer of a piece written expressly for the eclipse. In his introduction, the composer said that, although we sometimes feel small, the eclipse lets us feel part of something bigger.


All around the outdoor concert venue, people had set up chairs on the lawn and were getting ready. I heard one woman tell another, just around noon, that the eclipse was starting: “It looks like a cookie with a bite taken out of it!”

A pair of teenage girls and a mother and daughter figure out how to take pictures using their cell phones with the glasses over them. (Not only could looking directly at the sun when not totally eclipsed can damage your eyes, it can damage cell phone cameras as well.)

This guy was ready to take some professional-looking photos. On the right is the rose garden, a waiting crowd getting settled.

Meanwhile, the flowers and plants had a lot to offer in terms of beauty while waiting.

Betty and I finally chose a spot at the edge of a tree, but with a good view. Clouds were gathering and people worried about the eclipse being obscured by a cloud cover.

I settled into a comfortable viewing position, lying down with my head resting on my purse, and holding my eclipse glasses over my regular glasses.20170821_131032

Part of the time, it was clear enough to see the full eclipse, and I managed to take this picture using my cell phone, holding the glasses over the lens, while Betty clicked the button.  At first, I thought it was just a yellow blotch with a reflection of the sun’s rays at the left,
but when I blew it up, I could see it was a perfect crescent!20170821_130602 (2)

Not bad for a cell phone!!

Soon afterward, during the period of 86% totality, a cloud cover began to obscure the sun, but the cool thing about it was that at first it was a thin layer of clouds and you could see the eclipsed sun right through it with your naked eyes!! I tried to take a picture of it but the clouds moved so fast. Still, if you look carefully to the left of the small light patch in the center of the photo below, you can see a faint partial crescent.

After that, the sun completely disappeared behind a thick layer of clouds – we’d gotten to see the best part anyway! So we got up and went to have salads for lunch and then admired some more flowers before going home.

I am keeping the glasses for 2024 – Carbondale or Bust!!


Photo credits:
Amie Rodnick
Margaret Smith
Katherine Murray
Katy Berman, blog author

It’s Gotta Be Blue

The theme for Frank’s Dutch Goes the Photo Tuesday Photo Challenge this week is BLUE (lots of color challenges lately!). Here are my offerings.

I took this picture of the blue Caribbean Sea and the blue sky above because I liked the cloud formations. 20170324_163800

During my most recent visit to Chicago Botanic Garden on the day of the solar eclipse, I saw these gorgeous “Blue Butterfly” Siberian larkspur flowers. Larkspurs are in the delphinium family.20170821_122819

At a cultural center atop a hill in Antigua, Guatemala, where The Golden Fork restaurant is located, the grounds had many works of art on display.  This artist used blue mosaic tiles to depict everyday scenes. This was my favorite in the series.KODAK Digital Still Camera

An artist’s studio at Spanish Village in San Diego, California
KODAK Digital Still Camera

WPC: Structure of a Web

Two Septembers ago, I was taking a walk at 8:30 in the morning when a neighbor signaled to me to cross the street to look at something. As I approached, she said not to come any further, but just look. A spider had, overnight, spun this intricate web which stretched across the sidewalk, anchored by a tall milkweed plant and a tree. It was so delicate and complex – it’s always a wonder to me how a spider can spin such a large and beautiful design in such a short time. Yet this intricate structure, in all its beauty, is solely for the purpose of catching the spider’s dinner, and within a short time, due to other forces of nature, it will be gone. The author of this amazing structure is sitting right in the middle – perhaps she is resting after all that hard work!


From the other side:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Structure

Travel Theme: Animal Companions

For Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week, I am including some animals that aren’t exactly “companions” although in all the time I spent in Northern Wisconsin, I have always looked forward to seeing loons on the lake and hearing their calls. In that sense, they have been my “companions” on the lake, as they have become for many people.  Nowadays, these shy birds are forced to share their lake habitats with increasing numbers of humans, so it is possible to get closer to them than ever before.  In July of this year, we stayed for a week on Lower Kaubashine Lake in a lodge which is part of Black’s Cliff Resort.  My husband and I discovered a loon family (mother, father and baby) when we took a ride on his fishing boat. Later, our family rented a pontoon boat, where we got very close to the parents.


In this picture, the loon parents seem to be looking at each other in realization that a boat full of humans is between them and their offspring, who went off fishing on his own! They began to make distress calls.


We must have gotten within 10 feet of this brave parent, who came closer to search for her chick. My nieces, realizing that we had separated the family, urged my husband (who was driving the boat) to drive away so the loon family could be reunited. That’s exactly what we did.



And while on the subject of bird companions, I remember the birds we saw on our spring Panama Canal cruise.  In Antigua, Guatemala at the place we went for lunch, we got up close and personal with these guys:

KODAK Digital Still Camera
A parrot on my husband’s shoulder
Panama Cruise C 592
He’s a friendly guy! He perched on my wrist!

Speaking of friendly, on a trip in 2014,  we happened upon this calico cat in Beaufort, South Carolina, who loved the attention we gave her!

Horses on a farm in Finland:

KODAK Digital Still Camera
A boy who lives on the farm, rides on a pony, with his mom at his side.

In November 2016, when we were in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we saw lots of dogs, most of them with their owners. We were walking in Copacabana and came across this dog, who was curious about a baby in a stroller:

That same day, we visited a cousin at her condo in Barra da Tijuca, with her beloved poodle:



FOTD: Sunflowers

A house I walk by frequently has sunflowers growing in front. At the beginning of August, there was only one that had grown tall (but not full height) and its interior of seeds was not yet complete:


Late in the month, when I went back again, I was amazed especially by this gigantic one so bursting with seeds that there seemed to be barely room for its petals!


Here is the tangle of sunflowers as they looked a few days ago (notice the difference in height from the beginning of the month to the end!):


Cee’s Flower of the Day, 8/29/17