WPC: Slanted and Straight

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge this week is to present photos showing “lines.”  

These photos all contain lines that slant together with lines that are straight, which is how I selected photos for this challenge.

Slanting double trees with hyacinths
20180424_145834Wooden door of a storage shed 20170831_142117_001
Fences create slanting lines when viewed head on – they lead to a hypothetical vanishing point.  This is called one-point perspective, a basic technique used in drawing and photography.  Below, a fence in León, Nicaragua followed by a fence in Des Plaines.
KODAK Digital Still Camera

20170907_143202Buildings also offer excellent opportunity for juxtaposed slanting and straight lines using one-point perspective, such as the outside of the Des Plaines Library and …
20180322_142823a hallway at Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois.20180427_191419and a row of chairs in that same theatre. (A few curves, too, since not all the chairs fold up uniformly!)
Nature combined with man-made structures offers another opportunity to photograph slanted and straight lines.  This photo shows the contours of nature in the trees, and how they have been cut to accommodate telephone wires.

CFFC: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is “Busy or People Working.”

Every year, the last weekend in April (this weekend!), our church has a huge rummage sale, our biggest fundraiser of the year. We always need a lot of volunteers.
STAS13-IMAG0363.jpgThe sale takes over nearly every room in the church. We have a clothing room (above), housewares (below – the biggest department), Housewares, always a busy, popular department.holiday, antiques, jewelry, toys, baked goods, books/CDs/DVDs, and outside there is a furniture tent and hot food (hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.).20160421_111420Our church also does mission work. One of our missions is feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless. Des Plaines has a local PADS shelter on Fridays at a nearby church, where homeless adults get a hot meal for dinner, breakfast, sack lunches, and a place to sleep for the night. Different churches sign up for the Fridays they prefer and get volunteers from their church to work the shifts and make or bring food.  Some people work in the kitchen, preparing for dinner…20150227_190349
and then serve the food to the guests.
In the summer, we have at least one church service outside, with special invited musicians and ice cream afterward! This is the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Ensemble.20150705_095043.jpgEmergency workers are important in any community.  The American Red Cross collects supplies for people in disaster areas.IMAG0367-RedCrosshelpTeaching is a lot of work, even during special events when we look like we’re having fun (and sometimes we are)! Here’s a teacher holding up the flag of her alma mater during an annual College Day rally.
Sandy Rywelski holds up WIU flag next to her class.
The music teacher works hard – and so do the kids – with the different age groups to put on an annual show for the different grade levels. Here is the 1st-2nd grade music show.
20150415_134623.jpgA student helps out on the last day of school by cleaning the chalkboards.269
For children, school is their workplace and for very young children, play is their work; it’s how they learn. These kindergartners love building things with blocks.
And in December, everyone works hard on holiday projects. Here, a teacher’s assistant helps kindergartners make gingerbread houses.
Sometimes, people work to provide entertainment for others, either as volunteers or for tips, such as at a summer concert in the park.
While kids are getting their balloons, the band plays.
People with special talents perform for tourists for tips, such as this young man in Tallinn, Estonia.
Waiters in Japanese restaurants “perform” for diners, cooking their food right in front of them.
IMAG1924.jpgSome of the hardest working people work on cruise ships, in kitchens…20170324_103302or as stewards, such as this one trying to hold a tray of hot soup steady for the tourists on the windy deck of a ship in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.The steward holds on tight to the tray of soup.
Some athletes and actors make millions entertaining the public. They might even get a trophy, such as when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016!20161103_001137.jpg

Go Cubs Go! video





Serengeti NP: Topis, Kopjes and Hippos, Oh My!

Feb. 12, 2018

Our last day at Serengeti National Park, and our last safari day, was spent looking for kopjes and spotting some new animals. We also spend some time observing hippos.

Once again, we were up at dawn.
Our first animal of the day joined us during our breakfast – a praying mantis!
2-12 praying mantis-Ang'ata Camp in SerengetiThe tall grass in this area of the Serengeti at times made it difficult at times to spot animals or observe their behavior on our first game drive. We came upon a troop of baboons, and saw this male possibly mating with the baboon underneath him, but she was barely visible so we couldn’t be sure.  He could just be grooming his companion, male or female.
1141We also saw mongoose roaming through the grass. I was lucky to get this shot before they were completely hidden in the grass.SONY DSC
We spotted several species of birds that we had not seen before, including the martial eagle,SONY DSC
a barn swallow,
and a grey-breasted spurfowl.
SONY DSCIn this area of tall grass, we saw many herbivores, including elephants, DSC04670.JPGbuffalo, DSC04553.JPGostriches, DSC04694.JPG
impalas and species of antelope we hadn’t seen before, including the topi. Topis have a very distinctive coloring, with large gray areas on their thighs and black faces.

Their calves are hard to distinguish from the calves of other species, because they are light brown at birth and when they are very young.1202.JPG
Both males and females have ribbed, gently curved horns.
Another antelope we saw for the first time was the hartebeest.
SONY DSCDavid (our guide) had told us we were going to find kopjes today – a Dutch word referring to outcrops of rocks scattered over a section of the Serengeti. DSC04695.JPGThese rocky piles constitute a different ecosystem and one can spot different species there, as well as leopards and lizards, that bask on the rocks. Most prevalent is the hyrax, a small mammal that looks something like a guinea pig, but with a more pointed face and that is in fact related to the elephant!  They can be hard to see at first, because they hide between the rock layers and their fur camouflages against the rocks.

There are two hyraxes in this picture. Can you spot them?

Even if you don’t spot them right away, you can tell the presence of hyraxes by long white streaks on some of the rocks. Their urine is very acidic and causes these white streaks to form on the rock!SONY DSC
We saw no leopards at the kopjes, but did spot interesting birds hidden among the acacia branches.

Usambiro barbets
Long-crested eagle


Nearby, a giraffe family was grazing.DSC04682.JPGIn addition, there are some adaptable plant species found growing in the kopjes.

Candelabra cactus
Fig tree

We then spent quite a long time observing hippos at a pond where they gather. There must have been 40 or more of them submerged in the water there!


A sign informs us about the pool and its inhabitants.

Which are hippos and which are rocks?SONY DSC
A nearby crocodile co-exists with the hippos – they present no danger to each other.
Hippos spend as much of their time as possible submerged in water. However, they must go ashore to forage. Notice their feet which seem a little webbed.
On land, they seem unwieldy and clumsy, but they can be formidable opponents.1169
One hippo was hesitant to go back into the pool, because another hippo was giving him the evil eye.
When he finally ventured in, the aggressor lunged at him.
Soon things settled down.
A baby swam contentedly alongside its mother.
Meanwhile, a black-headed heron stood vigilant at the water’s edge.
A family of geese played in the water.

SONY DSCThroughout this safari, I’ve noticed this is a good time to see animals with their young. On our way back to Ang’ata Camp, we spotted a mother baboon with a baby on her back.SONY DSC
Another baboon came up behind and looked as though it was going to grab the baby off her back! I don’t know why, and our baboon expert was in the other vehicle! The consensus in our vehicle was that it was a playful gesture.SONY DSCThat evening, being our last night in Tanzania, we had a little celebration and the staff surprised us with a special cake, which they brought out – including the chef! – singing! We also played charades (strict rule: NO PHOTOS!) and recited haiku poetry about the animals of Tanzania.

Asante sana, Ang’ata Camp staff!


2-12 sunset behind our lodgings at Ang'ata Camp Serengeti
Sunset at Ang’ata Serengeti Safari Camp


This is what a hippopotamus sounds like!





Artful: Impressionists in the Permanent Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

These works are in the permanent collection at the Art Institute in Chicago. A gallery dedicated to the impressionists contains works by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Toulouse-Lautrec.

First are three works by Vincent Van Gogh, one of my favorite artists!

The Poet’s Garden, Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890); 1888, Oil on canvas

The following painting, The Drinkers, was painted while Van Gogh was at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. Although he was very productive at this time, he struggled with self-confidence as an artist. to retrain himself, he made copies of admired works of other painters, which freed him from having to come up with original subjects, but also allowed him to concentrate on interpretation. The Drinkers was inspired by a black & white print by Honoré-Victorin Daumier, but the colors were his own invention.

The Drinkers, Vincent Van Gogh; 1890, oil on canvas

Van Gogh painted a series of still lifes involving fruit in 1887. He simplified his palette, emphasized vibrant colors, and used thicker, broader strokes than he had previously. In these works, he experimented with complementary colors (yellow and purple, blue and orange, red and green) to intensify the vibrancy.

Grapes, Lemons, Pears and Apples, Vincent Van Gogh; 1887, oil on canvas

Paul Gauguin was an accomplished sculptor as well as painter. In 1886, Gauguin was invited by ceramist Ernest Chaplet to create artistic pottery. Instead of using pre-made forms, Gauguin designed his own, which he jokingly called his “monstrosities.” This vase is decorated with both exotic and familiar motifs, including a goose taken from his paintings of Brittany and a Cambodian deity based on a photograph of a sculpture near Angkor Wat.

Vase in the Form of a Topical Plant with Bird and Deity, Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903); 1887/88, stoneware painted with slip and gold

Gauguin is famous for the paintings he made of life in Tahiti. His second trip there began in 1895. Over the next couple of years, he painted some impressive canvases that were larger than his former works. No te aha oe riri is based on an earlier painting, but the mood has changed, in that the figures are more disengaged. Although difficult to interpret, the question of the title invites the viewer to create his/her own narrative>

No te aha oe riri (Why Are You Angry?), Paul Gauguin; 1896, oil on jute canvas

Gauguin was keen to capture the flora and fauna of Tahiti. In Te raau rahi (The Big Tree), the big tree of the title is on the left.  In the middle is a tropical almond tree behind a group of banana leaves. On the right is a hibiscus bush with red flowers.

Te raau rahi (The Big Tree), Paul Gauguin; 1891, oil on canvas

At the Moulin Rouge is Toulouse-Lautrec’s most famous painting. He painted this scene of the Paris dance hall populated with regulars and habitues, including himself – the short figure in the background, accompanied by his cousin, the physician Gabriel Tapié de Céyleran, who is much taller. The woman on the right is the “scandalous” English singer, May Milton. At some point, the painting was cut to remove her from the scene, either by the artist or his dealer, but by 1914, it had been reattached to the painting.  If you look carefully, you can see on the lower right side, two faint perpendicular lines where the painting was cut.

At the Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901); 1892/95, oil on canvas

With this painting of the dance salon Moulin de la Galette, Toulouse-Lautrec became famous for depicting the entertainments and people of Montmartre. He used turpentine to thin his paint, applying it in loose washes. This technique is called peinture a l’essence.

Moulin a la Galette, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec; 1889, oil on canvas

A painting by Cézanne, The Vase of Tulips, was included in an earlier “FOTD (Flower of the Day)” post.


To accompany this post, I am posting a YouTube video of French composer Claude Debussy, Claire de lune. Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Maurice Ravel were known as the Impressionist Composers, who lived in the same time period as the painters Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Toulouse-Lautrec.











CB&WPC: Chairs and Benches

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is “any kind of seating.”

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Bench for relaxing, Des Plaines, Illinois


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Hjemkomst Heritage Center, Moorhead, Minnesota


KODAK Digital Still Camera
Seat in Chancel of a church in St. Louis, Missouri


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Barstool on board m/s Eurodam (Holland America Line cruise ship)


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Chair art in a park, Evanston, Illinois


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Relic from a beauty parlor (the chairs where they put the large hair dryers over your head), now at Trigger (wedding venue & photography studio), Chicago, Illinois (Our daughter is getting married next winter at this venue.)


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Bench at Trigger, Chicago, Illinois


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Fancy chair at Trigger, Chicago, Illinois


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“Whale” bench, Ketchikan, Alaska