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.

1980s

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.

1990s

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

2019

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

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #36: Around the Neighborhood in Des Plaines, Illinois

Lens-Artists’ weekly photo challenge this week is Around the Neighborhood. I selected some photos from my photo archive of the last few years that are “typical” of Des Plaines, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where I live.

More and more of these signs have popped up in people’s yards since the beginning of the Trump administration. This is becoming an increasingly diverse and open-minded city.  Des Plaines had been a predominantly Republican town, but as younger and more diverse people have moved in, this is changing. Republican or not, people want to show that we are welcoming.
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Des Plaines is known for traffic delays due to trains passing through. We have 37 street-level railroad crossings within the city limits! Both freight and commuter trains rumble through several times a day. This railroad track is a block from our house. Nearby, it meets up with two other sets of railroad tracks. It must be a nightmare to coordinate all this train traffic!
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Our neighborhood has a variety of wildlife, mostly birds, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, insects and an occasional deer. A fox has been spotted in the neighborhood from time to time. Lately, people have become aware of the decline in the monarch butterfly population due to urban development which has drastically reduced the plants they feed on. Now we are seeing a return of the monarchs as people make their gardens monarch-friendly!
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My husband and I often take walks around our neighborhood at any time of year when the weather cooperates. There are many forest preserves and walking/biking trails in our area. Here I am on the Des Plaines River Walk. The Des Plaines River gave the name to the city and we have historically had annual flooding problems. Heavy rains and snow melt cause the river to rise enough to overflow its banks in low lying areas.
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Besides wildlife, we have many pet lovers and usually we see people walking their dogs when we are out. There are also many outdoor cats. This one belongs to a friend and his name is Pal.
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People around here take great pride in their gardens and decorating their lawns. Some have kitschy lawn statues. This is a tasteful and pretty fall display.
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Autumn is the most beautiful season here. A few years ago, we had the most glorious fall colors. This is a typical neighborhood fall scene.20151021_151033.jpg
Because there is a Metra station in downtown Des Plaines, many people have moved in and rented or bought condos in the downtown area. But now there are condos going up everywhere – soon Des Plaines will be known more for its plethora of condo complexes  than its trains! (Planes, Trains and Automobiles really applies here – we are also near O’Hare airport.) Here is a typical condo/townhouse complex. And they keep building and building on whatever land is available. In downtown Des Plaines they are demolishing a whole block of stores and restaurants (including our local camera store) in order to put up a big apartment building!
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One more fall scene in the ‘hood!
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I forgot to list above one of our most often forgotten wildlife species – snakes! We don’t see them often and they are harmless. Three years ago, it was warm enough in February for a pair of garden snakes to make their appearance and lie sunning on a rock next to our house.
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It’s not common to see deer right in our neighborhood, but in nearby forest preserves it’s normal to see a buck, or a doe or two. I took this photo while on a walk in the Des Plaines River Forest Preserve (part of the complex of trails that includes the River Walk).
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Canada geese migrate and make their home here during the warmer months. It’s only March and we are already seeing signs of them. Hearing their honking as they fly above in V formation is a sure sign of spring! They come in flocks of vast numbers and occupy our lakes, ponds and fields.  At Prairie Lakes Park, they share space on the ponds with ducks.
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One of the best things about Des Plaines is our public library. It offers many services and programs, including concerts, solo performers, lectures, book groups, computer and photography classes, activities for kids of all ages and more.

This is a mural that was recently painted in a hallway.
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On the first floor, you check out books by scanning your library card and the bar code on the book or DVD.
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There are flyers of the current activities that you can help yourself to.
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When you can’t get to the library, or when you are out with your kids, you can borrow a book and leave a book in these “little libraries” that are scattered around town.
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I hope you enjoyed this tour of my neighborhood!

 

Walk in the Woods

All across the Chicago area are forest preserves with walking/biking trails, picnic areas, etc. Last Thursday was a cool, but sunny, beautiful fall day for a walk in the woods!20171103_144613_002

 

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This map shows the region’s system of forest preserve and trails. This particular trail parallels the Des Plaines River. North of here, trails lead to small lakes.

The trees were brightly dressed in their finest fall colors.20171103_145841

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We saw two women standing in the woods and soon realized what they were looking at: a deer couple – doe and buck! The women were able to get quite close before the animals took off into the forest.20171103_141212
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Deer are quite common around here, and it wasn’t long before we spotted another doe or two ourselves.

Of course, as with any forest, there were plenty of fallen trees, but I found this particular stump interesting because it looked like it had a giant bug on it!

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Near the end of the section of trail we walked, the path widened and went under a viaduct, over which cars whizzed along I-90, the Kennedy Expressway.  We finally got a view of the river.

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Unfortunately, under the viaduct was lots of ugly spray-painted graffiti. Still, I could see that some of the graffiti “artists” had some talent, and thought their creativity could be better harnessed by having them paint murals under the bridge. On the sidewalk just past the bridge on the way back, someone had used strong language to express their opinion of our current president (and while I would have used a less offensive word, I did agree with the sentiment!).20171103_143352

As we headed back, the afternoon sunlight filtering through the trees added to the brilliance of the colors.

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