Life in Colour: Blues

Jude’s Travel Words blog’s topic for Life in Colour this month is the color blue. Jude challenges us to find “unusual” blues! OK, I’ll do my best…

Sky reflected in a car’s headlights
Glass art decoration at The Moorings
Selfie after modification by SnapSeed
Steps up to an Immersive Van Gogh presentation
Siberian bugloss
Dandelion after modification with SnapSeed
Aquarium at Brookfield Zoo
Chagall Windows at Chicago Art Institute

Several shades of blue in this shot of a church in Budapest
Blue door, blue bag in Budapest
Graffiti in Germany
Modern building in the outskirts of Amsterdam
Eiffel Tower at dusk

Monday Window: Ocean Life at Brookfield Zoo

Taking the theme from Ludwig for his Monday Window photo challenge, here are some windows into marine life at Brookfield Zoo.


These were the actual colors seen through the window.


Colorful coral




A moray eel peeks out from behind a rock.


Various types of coral and fish


Texas Blind Cave Salamanders


This penguin saw me looking at him through the glass, so he came over to check me out!



CFFC: Yellow

The topic of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is yellow.

Yellow building – Regensburg, GermanyDSC01662
Yellow rose – Chicago, IL
1st Presbyterian Church light fixture – Evanston, IL
Sunset at an outdoor concert – Elk Grove Village, IL
Brookfield Zoo entrance – Brookfield/Chicago, IL
Fish – Brookfield Zoo
Autumn color reflected in a pond with ducks – Des Plaines, IL
Flower – Arlington Heights, IL
Buildings – Luxor, Egypt
Yellow-breasted weaver – TanzaniaSONY DSC
Aspens turning yellow – Denali National Park, Alaska
Leaf – northern Wisconsin


CFFC: Make Me Laugh!

The theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is: Funny.

I looked through my photos to see which ones really made me laugh. Here’s what I came up with.

Fish mailbox (Dempster Ave., Des Plaines)
Speaking of fish, here are fish and duck Toby jugs:
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Dog Toby jugs:

(If you are scratching your head, wondering what a Toby jug is, I will be posting about it soon in my Open House Chicago series.)

Banana dog on Halloween
My cat, Hazel – she would rather quench her thirst on toilet water than from her water “fountain” with constantly running water.

When she gets new catnip, she goes wild – we attached a “carrot” full of catnip to her scratching post – here she is enjoying it by licking it (and getting a little high!):
Hazel loves to play “chase” – when we are upstairs, she’ll “hide” on the stairway and when we start coming down the stairs, she takes off!
phone photos 147I laugh also at funny political cartoons and signs, like this one at Resist Café in Des Moines, Iowa.
More (non-political) funny signs…
Good sign! (Fire and Ice, Marengo)
This one is a funny English translation on a sign at a beach in Buzios, Brazil.
Dale and I still laugh when we remember this sign we saw in Buzios in 2003!
This one is actually a bumper sticker.
Children can be funny! Here is my three-year-old grand-niece, Frances, pretending to dry her hair…
20180630_172155 (2)
…and playing dolls with her four-year-old cousin, Sylvia.
This last picture is hilarious – my grand-nephew (age 7, first grade) drew this portrait of his mom for Mother’s Day – and I just had to include it, even though I didn’t take the photo, because…
Ben's portrait of his mom-1st grade
it really MADE ME LAUGH!

CFFC: Things People Play With

The topic this week for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is Things People Play With. (I apply the term “Play with” rather loosely! 🙂 )

Discarded Barbie
Lost Barbie
Leaf and Ducks – Sweden
KODAK Digital Still Camera
Carnival Ride and Blow-up Slide, Des Plaines Fall Fest
18th century doctor’s tools, Des Plaines Fall Fest
Blocks, Des Plaines Fall Fest
20180916_155037_001.jpgVisitors try out a saw used to cut logs to make boats, National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque, Iowa
Stingrays – you were allowed to put your hand in and touch them if you washed your hands before and after! (National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque, IA)
Electric guitars and drums – band Size of Sadness, Chicago
Having fun painting at Bottle and Bottega, Park Ridge, IL
Mary paints a tree, Angela a dragon

Evanston: A Walk on the Lakefront & a Recital at Northwestern University

Yesterday, my friends and I went to Northwestern’s new Bienen School of Music to attend a recital. It had been a hot day and I had stayed inside most of the day, so the outing was welcome. We arrived early, had a light and delicious dinner at a vegetarian restaurant in Evanston called Blind Faith Café,

blind faith cafe

Image downloaded from Google

then went to Northwestern. From there, two of us took a walk along the lakefront in front of the university campus. There was a wonderful cooling breeze off Lake Michigan and the walk was so refreshing.  There are lots of winding paths through green and leafy areas for walking or biking along this stretch of the lake. (Some of the photos are not very clear because I was using my Samsung Galaxy 7 cellphone camera, which doesn’t do zoom photography well.)

Chicago skyline in the distance on the shore of Lake Michigan

20180526_191901We saw lots of fish in this inlet off the lake. I wondered if they were carp, which is an invasive species that has become a threat to Lake Michigan’s ecosystem. I showed my photos to Dale; he didn’t think they were carp. 20180526_191954Lots of students were out celebrating the weather and the end of the semester. Some were lying around in hammocks strung between trees,

while others donned their bathing suits and took a dip in the cold water or sunbathed. One group was roasting marshmallows for s’mores.  20180526_191237Earlier apparently someone had been flying a kite because the kite was stuck up in a tree!


20180526_184230We passed the shiny new Kellogg Business School and I also took some close up shots of alliums.20180526_190130

20180526_190046Along the lakefront, there are a lot of large rocks and Northwestern students over the years have painted many of them – some have specific messages, such as marriage proposals, while others are just colorful cartoons.


The new Bienen School of Music is affectionately or sarcastically called “The Cruise Ship” and it’s easy to see why!  20180526_184337Inside, the main lobby area is sparse with no furniture and minimalist artwork, such as this sculpture by Spanish artist Joan Miró.

The acoustics in the recital venue, Galvin Hall, however, are amazing. And so was the master’s recital we attended by Nathan Canfield, a young man who has been the accompanist at our church this year.  This recital was in fulfillment of his Master’s Degree in Piano Performance.

He played an entire program, over one hour, completely for memory. Although he modestly said he wasn’t totally pleased with his performance, the audience was highly appreciative and applauded long and hard for him!

The first piece he played was J.S. Bach’s Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother,  a short, moving piece. I’ve included a recording of it from YouTube here.

This will be my last post for nearly three weeks. We are going on a road trip to California, returning on Route 66, and I have decided not to take my laptop. So I’ll have a lot to blog about when I return!

Juneau, Alaska (Part 2): Salmon spawning, glacier & a lake

Mitch continued entertaining us with funny stories when we again boarded the bus to go to Mendenhall Glacier. He also told us some information about the land and weather in Juneau.

Juneau can get tides as high as 16-18 feet.  In 20 years, the land Juneau sits on will be higher than the water, eliminating the channel and Douglas Island will no longer be an island.  This is because it was glaciers that pushed the land down and the land is now rising as glaciers recede.  20,000 people (of Juneau’s total population of 33,000) live in what is known as “the Valley.” (This is the Juneau that most tourists don’t go to.)  The Valley gets less rain, sometimes only ½ as much.


Sitka spruce covered with a fungus

When we were about to arrive at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, Mitch told us we would have one hour.  He made suggestions as to what to do there – the Visitors Center had some interesting exhibits and a 15-minute film and there were two trails: one short one where you could see salmon swimming upstream to spawn, and maybe a bear (if you were lucky) who had come to catch some of them, and a longer trail that went to Nugget Falls, near the glacier. That trail would take a minimum of 45 minutes round trip, and in Mitch’s opinion, it was better to take the shorter trail – also interesting – so that you’d have time to see other things as well.


I’m glad we opted to take the shorter trail, in spite of always looking for opportunities to take long walks, because it was interesting to watch the salmon, now beginning to turn white and emaciated because they’ve stopped eating and put all their energy to get to their spawning spot.


Exhausted and emaciated salmon slowly make their way upstream.

Not sure if these are alive or dead.

We saw some dead ones too, all white.


Salmon count for six weeks of summer

Sockeye salmon count for 6 weeks of summer

I took a video of the salmon swimming upstream. Most of them seemed lethargic, if determined: they would swim forward, then drift backward a bit, thus making slow progress.  There was one salmon, though, who still had some spunk, splashing and jumping to fight the current.  We saw no bears.


Steep Creek

Then we climbed the stairs to the Visitors Center, where we looked at the exhibits and saw short videos while waiting for the 15-min. film.  Eventually I calculated that we wouldn’t have time to see it: it was 5:48 and the film was due to start in 11 minutes.  We should have gone in at that point, but instead I waited and walked in just as he film was romeo-book-coverending.  Although I took several pictures, I did not take a picture of the taxidermied black wolf, although I saw it.  I later wished I had, because a couple of days later, I read the part in the book A Wolf Called Romeo where the author mentions the black wolf in the Visitor Center and what relation she might have had to Romeo (perhaps a sister or a mate…his mother? Probably not.).


This plaque along the trail to Nugget Falls commemorates the memory of the wolf known as Romeo.*

Mendenhall Lake was created by Mendenhall Glacier only a few hundred years ago! The glacier has been receding for more than 200 years.  A glacier’s ice mass is unstable, always changing its shape by melting and calving, always moving its position by advancing and receding.

Mendenhall Glacier and Lake

Glacial ice

Why does the glacier look blue? Compacted ice crystals over time form a solid mass of ice.  When light strikes these crystals, it is bent (refracted) inside the solid ice and only the blue spectrum is transmitted back to our eyes.

Close up of Mendenhall Glacier

With about 15 minutes to spare, we walked down a paved path below the Visitors Center toward the glacier and Nugget Falls.  I could see small figures silhouetted against the rushing white falls – people who had opted to take the long trail.  I realized we didn’t need it – we could see the falls just fine from here and this way we got to see most everything else.


Mendenhall Glacier and Auke Lake

Sand bar on Auke Lake

A ribbon of glacier-fed water trickles down the mountain.

*The photos of the plaque and of the book cover were downloaded from Google Images, from the web site . This web site summarizes the story of this beloved black wolf of Juneau and includes some wonderful pictures of Romeo and his dog friends.

WPC: Solid and liquid H2O in Alaska

WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge this week is on the subject of H2O (water). Here’s my take on it:

Reflection in water:  The native peoples of the Pacific Northwest carve beautiful images in wood and on totem poles. Many of their designs are symmetrical. Perhaps they were representing what the water looks like on a day like this.


Traveling through the Inside Passage in Misty Fjords National Monument one morning, the surface of the water was so calm that it mirrored perfectly the landforms and sky above.

For more pictures of this beautiful national monument, see my post Misty Fjords National Monument.

Falling water:

Nugget Falls is a river created by glacial runoff in the mountains. Nearby is Mendenhall Glacier.

Nugget Falls

Nugget Falls, Juneau

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Water-dwelling wildlife:

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Aquarium at Orca Point Lodge, near Juneau


Two salmon swimming upstream to spawn – note how thin they are and the white on their skin. This is from not eating for so long.

Solid H2O:

Glaciers can appear blue due to the blue light on the spectrum which reflects back to us. But glaciers take on other colors as well – they may carry with them chunks of mountainsides, rendering the ice brown or black, as is the case with Margerie Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier and Lake

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on all these beautiful things!

Catch it if you can in Ketchikan

August 23, 2016

Catch it if you can!

Catch what? Why, salmon, of course! Ketchikan, Alaska proclaims itself to be the world capital of salmon.

Dale and I both signed up for a shore excursion. His was salmon fishing! At the end of the day, I was delighted to find out that he had actually caught one, the type known as “pink!” Pinks are the smallest type of salmon and have a milder flavor than the popular “coho.”  On the fishing boat were five people, including him.  Although 15 salmon took the bait, only three were actually caught.  All the others managed to get off the hook before they could be reeled in!


My husband with the fish he caught!

Another man on the boat caught a coho, and since he didn’t want to pay the processing and shipping costs, the boat captain gave it to Dale, since he had elected to have his shipped. So both fish were deboned, filleted, fresh-frozen, and packaged and sent to us, a total of about 15 lbs.! Here is one of the delicious meals we’ve made from it so far:


Salmon (both coho and pink) with sliced vegetables and green beans. My stepdaughter made a wonderful balsamic-based sauce with spices! She used a recipe, but ad-libbed substitutions according to our own preferences.

Catch it if you can! Downtown Ketchikan

Meanwhile, I was on my own quest in Ketchikan.  My excursion (to Misty Fjords National Monument – see separate post) got back in early afternoon, so I decided to look around the town. The tour guide on the excursion had given us all maps as we stepped onto the pier.

Looking at the map, I saw that there were two historical walking tours, one of downtown and the other the western part of town.  Our tour guide had suggested visiting the former red light district, but I sort of forgot about that in my quest for totem poles.

I looked at the map and started the downtown walking tour.  I decided to just see what I wanted and not worry about following the numbers.  First was a sculpture with statues of various figures that represented the people who settled this area.  A Tlingit woman tells the story of these settlers, which include explorers, gold seekers, native tribes, missionaries, etc.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

“The Rock”: A Tlingit woman sits with her drum, singing a song of Ketchikan and its inhabitants – Tlingit, loggers, miners, fishermen, pilots, pioneers.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Then I walked up the street with a sign arched over it that read, “Welcome to Alaska’s 1st City, Ketchikan, the Salmon Capital of the World.”


Downtown Ketchikan – the neon welcome sign can be seen over a main street.

I came to the historical Episcopalian church, a simple white structure with nice, but not elaborate stained glass windows.  Built in 1904, it was the first church established here.  Since I had no $1 bills, I emptied out all my change as a donation to the church.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

St. John Episcopal Church

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Interior of the church looking toward altar

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Drum used in some services

KODAK Digital Still Camera

I followed that street up to a small park with a totem pole at one end and a historical clock at the other.


Chief Kyan Totem Pole. This is a replica of the original which belonged to Tongass Tlingit Chief George Kyan, whose brown bear crest is the figure at the bottom of the pole. Above Brown Bear are Thunderbird (middle) and Crane (top).

Whale bench!

Bench in the park

There were other totem poles, each with a sign telling its meaning.  The native peoples did not have a written language and used these carved poles to tell the stories of a person or family.

Chief Johnson totem pole

Chief Johnson totem pole (No, I don’t know the woman standing in front of it!)

Top of Chief Johnson totem pole

Top of Chief Johnson totem pole

I then headed up Steadman, where there were a couple more totem poles, then headed up Deermount to find the Totem Heritage Center.


KODAK Digital Still Camera

St. Elizabeth Catholic Church

St. Elizabeth Catholic Church – at the side is an entrance to the Ketchikan mortuary!

Catch it if you can: Totem Heritage Center

For anyone interested in totem poles planning a trip to Alaska,  make time to visit the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan. You can spend half an hour up to two hours there. It’s not very big – only three rooms.

Admission was $5.00, which got me a guide to the exhibits, but I found it more useful simply to read the placards next to the displays.

Totem Heritage Center

Totem Heritage Center

At Totem Heritage Center


This totem pole commemorates those who gave of their time and funds to establish the Totem Heritage Center.

A group of people has been collecting old totem poles, many of them in pieces, partially destroyed and all lacking their original paint.  A docent there, Margaret, told me that the native peoples used three basic colors derived from materials used to make the colors.  These poles told the story of a family, she said, or an individual, because they had no written language.  Each carved figure represented something: raven, bear, wolf, fish, whale; and many had human faces carved on them also.



Heraldic Pole, Haida. This stood in front of a community house where many related families lived.

Dinosaur at the top of a totem pole??


This mortuary pole is kept inside a glass case. This pole shows a figure of a man holding a large club and a sculpin.

Once the poles were erected, they were left to deteriorate gradually and naturally. Western red cedar weathers the moist climate fairly well. The poles on display were carved in the mid-19th century. They provide examples of traditional carving for inspiration and teaching.


Raven mortuary pole, Tlingit (see next pic)

Raven mortuary pole, Tlingit

In an adjoining room were displays of masks and rattles.


Masks of the Northwest coast, created by instructors of carving classes at the Totem Heritage Center.

Halait (shaman) - Tlingit style mask, 1979; artist: Duane Pasco

Halait (shaman) – Tlingit style mask, 1979; artist: Duane Pasco





Eagle Transformation dance rattle, 2003, by Norman Jackson, Tlingit; Carved from yellow cedar and decorated with acrylic paint. Inside are pebbles and spruce root.

I had limited time – less than an hour – to see the entire exhibit before I had to return to the ship.  I would have liked to spend more time talking to the docent. The other people in the museum were a couple of young people who were there to learn about carving traditions, and they had many questions.