Lens-Artists #72 – Waiting

People wait.

Waiting in line to get into the Louvre, Paris


Waiting to enter Sacre Coeur Church, Montmartre, Paris


Waiting to see the Mona Lisa up close, Louvre, Paris
Marching band waiting their turn at a marching band competition, Vienna
Waiting for the bride & groom to emerge from the church, Poulsbo, WA

Transportation vehicles wait.

Parked bicycles wait for their owners to return, Amsterdam
Cruise ship waits to board passengers to begin an ocean cruise, Amsterdam
Bicycles wait up above, and boats wait down below – the frowning face means boats must stop and wait their turn to go under the bridge, Amsterdam
Parked cars wait for their owners to drive them, Amsterdam

Animals and plants wait.

Waiting to be planted in a garden, Des Plaines, IL
Cat watches and waits for a moth on the screen, Des Plaines

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #72, 11/16/19: Waiting



WWPC: Ways and Means in Miltenberg

Miltenberg, Germany, a beautiful small city with some 9,000 or so inhabitants, is located in northern Bavaria on the Main River. This post features ways – how people move around – and means – what is used to get around – in this picturesque town, for Which Way Photo Challenge, now with a new host, Alive and Trekking.


This photo was taken from the Main River, not at Miltenberg, but representative of personal watercraft.

Childhood: A Journey of Growing Up

We have recently moved and so I have been going through a lot of stuff stored in our old house, including photos I took of my son, Jayme, when he was a child (he is now 34). I am sharing some of my favorites of the ones I have scanned, for this week’s VJ’s Weekly Challenge #62: Child/Childhood.


Jayme with neighbor

Playing in a kiddie pool with a neighbor, on a hot summer day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1986


Jayme Villa Alvarez - in Janesville wagon
Fall 1986 – in a Janesville Wagon, at his Granny’s house in Janesville, Wisconsin
Jayme Villa-Alvarez - on the pier at the cottage
Faux pout on the pier (wearing an oversized Brewers cap!) – at our cottage on Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin, c. 1988

With his cousins

Julia Waeffler & Jayme Villa-Alvarez
Jayme with his cousin Julia, at our cottage in northern Wisconsin, c.1989. These two were very best friends for years, and only drifted apart when we moved to Illinois and both of them grew older. Julia was just under 2 years older than Jayme.


Leslie, Jayme, Allie & Katy - at Native Village in Lac du Flambeau
Visiting a native village with cousins Leslie and Allie (that’s me as a much younger mom on the right!) – Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, c. 1992
Eric Nesvold & Jayme Villa-Alvarez
Jayme with cousin Eric, feeding a deer at Jim Peck’s Wildlife, Minocqua, Wisconsin, c. 1993

With his stepdad, my husband, Dale, who is teaching him how to check the tires of his bike, Des Plaines, Illinois, 1996 or 1997.
Jayme Villa-Alvarez, Dale Berman


Jayme now, taken at his stepsister’s wedding in January 2019.




Lens-Artists Challenge: Windows

The theme this week for Lens Artists’ Weekly Photo Challenge is windows.

Mormon church – Salt Lake City, UtahSONY DSC
Trigger – photography studio and wedding venue, Chicago, IL
Northlight Theatre, Skokie, IL – with sculpture in front
Bike frames in a window, Chicago, IL
Inspirational message on the rear window of a parked car, Arlington Heights, IL
House, Des Plaines, IL
90 Miles Cuban Café, Lincolnwood, IL
Vine covered façade, Oakton St., Des Plaines, IL
Flower pots on a window sill in Todos Santos, Mexico
Park Inn Hotel, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Mason City, Iowa

Circles on Route 66

A little preview of our road trip on Route 66!  Travel With Intent has a weekly challenge on Sundays, and this week the theme is circle. What better place to find circles than on Route 66, “America’s Road,” which celebrates our car culture??  Here are some random “rounds” from our trip.

One of several painted mini-cars in downtown Pontiac, Illinois


This plaque honors World War II veterans depicted in a mural in Cuba, Missouri.


New Mexico’s state symbol is the “Zia” sun sign from the Pueblo tribe. This “Great Seal” of the state of New Mexico appears on the floor of the rotunda of the state capitol, in Santa Fe.


The ceiling of that same rotunda. Unlike other state capitols, Santa Fe’s does not have a dome and the building itself is round.


Stained glass window in Cathedral Basilica San Francisco in Santa Fe, NM


Bumper sticker on a car in Arizona


An abandoned gas station somewhere in New Mexico was adorned with brightly painted bicycles.


Motel parking lot, San Bernardino, California


Woven basket over fireplace at El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM


Ancient petroglyphs on volcanic rock at Petroglyphs National Monument, NM


Round barrel platforms at sunset over the Mississippi River, western Illinois
















Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge

Cee has a weekly “Oddball” challenge of photos that don’t seem to fit in with a particular topic. Mine are more on the verge of “weird.” Oh well, here goes…

A scraggly bush with lots of bean pods


Sunlight filtered through a patterned glass window in my house


Bike frames in a window near Logan Square, Chicago


Little Free Library with signs to fantastic places you can find in books (with a helpful small chair alongside). 





CB&WPC: Bicycles Rule in Amsterdam!

In Amsterdam, bicycles are ubiquitous. Most people ride them and many people commute to work on them regardless of the weather. If they are going far, however, they might park their bikes for the day at the train station.

This is a bicycle parking lot near Sloterdijk Station.
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Bicycles have the right of way in Amsterdam over pedestrians. If you are on foot, do not linger on a bike path or you will collide with a cyclist! Although we were there in the winter, that doesn’t stop Amsterdamers from riding their bikes – they just bundle up against the cold, wind and rain. I heard that once there were hurricane force winds and that a number of people on bikes were blown into frigid canals!

Speaking of canals, canal tours are also ubiquitous and a must for anyone visiting Amsterdam! I took the following during a canal tour.

1-31 canal tour3 (3)

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge is for anyone who wishes to showcase their photos in black & white. Join in the fun!


WPC: Shadow

Here are my entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge topic Shadow:

The first two pictures are of my cat, Hazel. A beam of sunlight highlights her light areas with the rest in shadow.


Hazel's light features enhanced by light coming in the window

A few years ago, my husband and I were on our way home from a trip down South, and we stopped in St. Louis in the late afternoon. The people sitting on the steps are literally in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, which extends out onto the surface of the river.


A dragonfly posed on the dock where I was sitting, on a lake in northern Wisconsin.


Last week we went to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which had an exhibit of old-fashioned bicycles.


Stockholm by Bicycle

Stockholm, Day 2 – August 15, 2015

Every day someone on the ship's crew changed the carpet for each day of the week on the elevator.
Every day someone on the ship’s crew changed the carpet for each day of the week on the elevator.

Although I had been the one to suggest it originally, it was with considerable trepidation that I went out on the dock with Dale and Elmer to find our tour. I hadn’t biked at all this summer, so I was really out of shape for bike riding. Our tour guide, Joachim, was waiting for us with a dozen or so bicycles, each equipped with a helmet, which we were required to wear, and a water bottle.
Joachim worked for Stockholm Adventures, a tour company that provides biking, skating kayaking, sailing, motor boating and snow shoeing experiences for the adventurous traveler. He showed us how to adjust our helmets. Most bikers here do wear helmets although it is not mandatory, except for children. I recalled our guide on the canal tour last night saying that Swedes like to be safe.
Joachim showed us how the bikes work. The main brake is the coaster brake – stopping by pushing the pedals in reverse. There’s a hand brake also, but only on the left side. On the right handlebar was the gear adjustment – there were seven gears.
The first thing we faced on our route after leaving the pier area was a long and fairly steep incline as we rode over a bridge, one of many connecting Stockholm’s 14 islands. Needless to say, halfway up I had to get off the bike and walk. I was grateful for having a crew member, a young Dutch woman, stationed at the rear of our group, yet found myself compelled to apologize to her every time I couldn’t keep up with the others. Dale later told me that he hadn’t gotten up the hill without getting off his bike either, and the same was true of several others.

View from lookout shortly after crossing the bridge.
View from lookout shortly after crossing the bridge.

There aren’t a lot of hills in Stockholm and those we encountered weren’t usually very long, but I did struggle to get up many of them. We stopped often to take pictures at lookout points and other places of interest which Joachim told us about.

Large square in commercial area
Large square in commercial area

20150815_022513The nice thing about being on a bike tour is being able to go places that buses can’t, and being in the open air. Stockholm is very bike-friendly and encourages the sport as an ecologically friendly way to get around. There are bikes everywhere, something I’ve noticed in most of the places we’ve been. Stockholm has an extensive network of bike paths throughout the city, allowing bikers to feel safe riding on busy city streets. There are connecting bike and walking trails through parks and other areas.

20150815_02420620150815_02423320150815_024341It was Saturday, so the traffic wasn’t heavy anyway, and if it weren’t for festivals and other special events going on in the city, there would likely be fewer people out and about – it’s the last weekend of summer before school starts, and many families and friends like to spend sunny, warm weekends at summer homes outside the city on the archipelago. (In fact, we’d seen many such houses between Helsinki and Stockholm, and the scenery reminded me of northern Wisconsin – which I suppose is why the upper Midwest has the largest number of Scandinavian immigrant descendants in the USA!)

Kayakers on Lake Malaren
Kayaker on Lake Malaren
The boats in this marina are all made of wood.
The boats in this marina are all made of wood.

Swedes are sun worshippers, understandable for a people who live in a northern climate where winters are extremely cold and dark – although they don’t get as much snow here as we do, because of ocean currents. Their lakes and rivers do freeze over, though, so it’s no wonder that skating and ice fishing are popular winter sports. And kids here are required to learn to swim.

While it seems that in the U.S. we continue to build more prisons, Sweden has been closing some of theirs.

Sweden has closed some prisons, including this one; it is now a school.
Sweden has closed some prisons, including this one; it is now a school.
This building housed wardens of the prison; now it is a hotel.
This building housed wardens of the prison; now it is a hotel.

Below, a path through a park. I was worried we would be taking the path to the left – fortunately, we didn’t!

20150815_031456Below, view from a bridge:
20150815_032107 20150815_032128This crowd of people are gathered in the park for a swim meet.

20150815_033458We made a rather lengthy stop in front of city hall.

In front of city wall, with statues and fountains
In front of city wall, with statues and fountains
Courtyard within the grounds of city hall
Courtyard within the grounds of city hall
Looking toward the lake through the arches
Looking toward the lake through the arches

20150815_035807On the left bank of this river is the royal palace.20150815_040917Nearby was a statue of a folk musician.20150815_043042There was a festival in town that weekend. We rode among some of the props.20150815_041320Fellow bikers

20150815_041826“I don’t see a hill, I see a possibility.”
I pondered, and rejected, the notion that Joachim would take us into the old part of town – with its narrow, cobblestone streets full of tourists. However, I was wrong – Gamla Stan was the last area we rode in before returning to the dock! The tourists there seemed rather perplexed by not one, not two, but more than a dozen bike riders invading these narrow streets, forcing them to get out of the way.

20150815_043750 20150815_043814 20150815_043818 20150815_044247 The cobblestone streets made the ride bumpier and in places, more challenging. One of the last streets Joachim took us down was a turn to the left where there was an archway and then downhill. I kind of squealed when I took the plunge, but made it safely. At the bottom, we got off our bikes to wait for the others (only one person could realistically ride down that street at a time). I wanted to take a picture and when I lifted my cell phone and snapped the picture, I realized I got a great picture of my husband Dale coming down that narrow passageway!

20150815_045009On this 3 ½ hour bike tour, I admittedly was the slowest and weakest rider, although no one seemed to care. One of the older men in the group said he was impressed that I was able to keep up at all, considering I hadn’t biked for awhile. To keep me going, he kept reminding me of something Joachim had said early on, when we confronted our first hill: “I don’t see a hill, I see a possibility.”

The rest of the day
It would have been nice to end the tour in Gamla Stan, where we could all relax and have lunch at an open air café, but we had to ride back to the dock so we could return to the ship. If I weren’t so tired and sore after the bike trip, I might have been up for returning into the city; instead, we went to Lido for lunch and mostly relaxed the rest of the day. The ship left port in late afternoon, and we took some lovely pictures of the archipelago with those summer houses we’d been told about.