CFFC: Colors of That Grand Old Flag

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with a color theme, this week the colors of our flag (whatever that happens to be). Here are some photos featuring the red, white, and blue (and sometimes other colors as well!).

Holiday lights display at a house in Niles
Decorative pottery at Hacienda El Sombrero restaurant in Mount Prospect
At Ravinia for festival to celebrate Mexican Independence Day
Back of a Hummer in Glen Ellyn

RDP: Thingamajig or Whatchamacallit

Ragtag’s Daily Prompt word today is thingamajig. It is a word we’ve always used (or one like it) when we don’t know or remember the name of something. I looked up the word to see how it would be defined:
Merriam-Webster has a good, concise definition: something that is hard to classify or whose name is unknown or forgotten. 
I found the synonyms amusing: dingus, doodad, doohickey, hickey, thingamabob, thingummy, whatchamacallit, whatnot, whatsit (also whatsis or what-is-it)

I am often at a loss for words, so I’m likely to use thingamajig or one of its synonyms more often than most people. However, as I looked in my photo archives, I did find some objects that defied definition or name. These are some of them.

The Bottle Tree Ranch in California, on Route 66, is full of thingamajigs, doodads, and whatchamacallits. In fact, I think that is its entire reason for being. Lots of weird, rusty machine parts that I have no clue as to what they are even used for…
More such things are on display at the Overlord Museum at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. If your thing is machines used in war, this is the place to visit.20190620_124504
There was a lot of chaos on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as these displays attest to, so it’s only to be expected to find plenty of hoojiggies (another synonym!) there.  I trust that the men who were using these pieces of machinery had better vocabulary about them than I do!
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Enough of broken machine parts! What would you call this so-called piece of art, on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam?
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(Yeah, me neither, but scary, for sure…)

But – saving the best for last – I had to take a photograph of this weird whatchamacallit I spotted along a sidewalk in Chicago. I have no idea why it’s there or what it’s used for. (The water bottle adds a nice touch, though! At least it can be used to set things down on, and then forget them!)
If anyone can clarify what this thingamajig is, I’d be interested to find out!


October Squares: Artistic Lines

Becky’s Month of Squares challenge is back!  Hurray!  This month the theme is Lines & Squares.

In the past month I have visited two museums: the Chicago Art Institute and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Plenty of opportunities for lines!! Squares too, probably.

Here are the rules for Month of Squares:
Create your line square post, and include a pingback to one of my daily square posts
You can also add a link to your post in the comments on my post
To make it easy for others to find you and to generate interest across the web do include this month’s tag lines&squares
Preferably post daily but you can also post all 31 in one go at the end of the month, or if it is easier join us weekly.
You can even drop in occasionally with squares if you are away or really busy, and many do.
There is though only ONE challenge rule;
your main photograph must be square in shape!

At the Chicago Art Institute, after seeing the Manet exhibit, we went to the members only preview of an unusual exhibit entitled In a Cloud, In a Wall, In a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury. The general idea of the exhibit was to show how artists in Mexico (whether they were Mexican or not) were influenced by native art and how they used native art elements in their own work.

My main photo is this one, by  Ruth Asawa, “Untitled (BMC.58, Meander – Curved Lines),” c. 1948, pen, brush and ink on paper20190905_125432 (2)
Here are a few more in the exhibit:


Ruth Asawa, Untitled (BMC.127, Meander in Green, Orange, and Brown), 1946/49, collage of cut colored and coated papers


Ruth Asawa (American, 1926-2003), all untitled, hanging forms, brass, galvanized steel, copper and wire


Pitcher, c. 1950, Purepecha, Michoacan, Mexico, hammered copper


Cover of a book


Female Figure with Bold, Geometric Face and Body Paint, 200-100 BC, Chupicuara, Guanajuato or Michoacan, Mexico, terra cotta and pigmented slip



Cynthia Sargent, Linea Musical (Musical Line)


Sheila Hicks (American, active France, born 1934), Taxco el Viejo (Taxco, the Old One),  1962, handspun wool. this is one of Hicks’ works whose geometry draws from Mexico’s ancient pyramids, as well as from the weave structure itself.



Anni Albers (German, active United States, 1899-19940, Eclat 1976/79, silkscreen on cotton and linen


Sheila Hicks, Falda (Skirt),  1960, wool

Personally, I did not always see the connection between Mexican native art and the pieces on display, although I did notice style and color, which are very Mexican, from my personal experience. My favorites are the yellow and orange Taxco rug and the hanging wire forms. There were several more pieces in the exhibition not included here.

Blue Squares: Here It Is!

Becky has her monthlong square challenge this month and the topic is Blue.  (#JulySquare)

Last summer we took a road trip across 2/3 of the United States on Route 66. Between Arizona and New Mexico, we kept seeing road signs with this rabbit logo which piqued our curiosity (as it was supposed to!). We finally arrived at this store, with a sign saying “Here It Is!”
And the rabbit was very much an identifying feature even though the store had nothing to do with rabbits per se. Just an advertising gimmick to get you into the store! In fact, although seemingly of dubious quality judging from the exterior,
the interior turned out to have some very nice things, including Native American crafts, and I bought a couple of kachinas there!
I blogged about this and other Route 66 discoveries in my series Getting Our Kicks last summer!

Lens-Artists: My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things is the subject of Lens-Artists’ photo challenge this week.

I love cats, especially my sweet tortie Hazel.
I love flowers and enjoy taking good photos of them.  There is plenty of this subject matter at Chicago Botanic Gardens! This is their May foxglove display.
My favorite thing in the world is traveling, and I always take my camera along! I like to take photos of buildings, especially doors and windows,


Old Jerusalem church door


Door at Peter of Gallicantu Church in Jerusalem


Arched entrance, Eskaleh Ecolodge, Abu Simbel, Egypt


Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem


Stained glass window, Jerusalem



Archaeological site in the heart of Old Jerusalem


Jewish graveyard, Jerusalem

everyday objects,


Tanzanians waiting for a bus in Arusha

landscapes, sunsets,


Sunset along the Nile, Egypt


Arches National Park, Utah, USA

wildlife…whatever there is to see!


Hyena, Tanzania

I also love art, especially folk art. (Below, Nubian folk art objects, Abu Simbel, Egypt)


Painting by Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral, Art Institute of Chicago



Tuesday Photo Challenge: Round

Frank at Dutch Goes the Photo’s Tuesday photo challenge this week is round.

circles of ice that formed inside the holes of the mat outside our back door20190222_161104
Sculpture at Dr. Evermore’s Forevertron (near Madison, WI)
Macy’s Christmas balls
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Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier in Chicago


A Photo a Week: Contrasting Colors in Nature and by Design

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week challenge this week is about contrasting colors, using a color wheel which shows which colors contrast with each other.

color wheel

In art, we often see paintings with colors that seem to pop out of the image. An artist may use what are called “complementary colors” (contrasting colors) to emphasize something in an image, such as an orange flower against a blue sky, or to create interest using contrasts. Here is an example by Georgia O’Keeffe, called “Trees in Autumn” (1920/21 oil on canvas, at Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico).
Here’s a photo I took of a tree in autumn.

As one can see from the color wheel above, the primary colors (blue, red and yellow) are matched with secondary colors (green, orange and purple) which provide the greatest contrast. Blue is matched with the secondary color that is created by combining the other two primary colors (red and yellow). Thus:

Blue’s complementary color is orange.
Red’s complementary color is green.
Yellow’s complementary color is purple.

Weavers are very adept in using contrasting/complementary colors to create colorful patterns. This is a close-up of a Peruvian woven sling I use to carry my water bottle. Note the green stripe against pink on one side and maroon on the other (both versions of red), or the blue stripe in the middle surrounded by orange stripes.
Nature is also excellent at creating contrasts:
We see this same contrasting beauty in architecture, such as Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel, with its famous golden dome contrasting with the blue sky and with the blues in the tiles on the walls. The artist(s) who created these lovely patterns with tiles had an innate sense of contrast, making the designs of the whole building stand out, impressing viewers.
The Christmas season is represented by red and green, which naturally complement (or contrast with) each other, making holiday decorations pleasing to look at.

Open House Chicago-Part 4: The American Toby Jug Museum

In Evanston is a small museum that most residents don’t even know exists. We didn’t either, until Open House Chicago listed it in the sites to tour in Evanston. In fact, I didn’t know what a Toby jug was. Nevertheless, located at 910 Chicago Ave. in Evanston, IL, the museum hosts thousands of visitors per year and has a collection of about 8300 jugs.  Once you enter the front door, you then go down a flight of stairs to enter the museum.
The Toby jug and its derivative, the Character jug, is an art form of pottery that dates back to 1760.
These jugs were made in various European countries and in the United States.

Some are beautiful, some are whimsical, some have the faces of famous persons while others are painted in the style of Delft pottery.

There are very large jugs which stand on the floor and tiny ones no larger than a thimble. There are jugs representing people in various occupations as well as many in the shape of animals.


Why the name Toby? There are a few theories, but the most plausible one is that it comes from a 1761 drinking song composed by Rev. Francis Fawkes, The Brown Jug. The song tells the story of an expert boozer named Toby Fillpot.

After Toby Fillpot dies from excess drinking, his body turns to clay and is found by a potter. So the potter formed a brown jug from a fat Toby!

Some Toby jugs have been put to other uses, such as an umbrella stand, lamp bases, and decorative spoon handles.


These photos represent only a fraction of the jugs on display. (Since most are in glass cases, it wasn’t always possible to capture the displays without reflections from the overhead lights.)

Before we left, I had to use the restroom, which was decorated with a Toby jug theme!
How about a shirt with Toby jug designs?
After spending about half an hour here, we vowed to return at a later date when we have more time.


Getting Our Kicks with Route 66 Kitsch (Day 7, Part 2)

June 14, 2018

Catoosa, OK has at least 3 attractions worth stopping for:

Interested in river history?
Arkansas River Historical Society Museum, 5350 Cimarron Rd., Catoosa, OK

Ready for a hike and a picnic?
Redbud Valley Nature Preserve, 16150 Redbud Dr., Catoosa, OK

Want to see something kitschy (hokey) that has even appeared on a TV commercial?
Blue Whale, 2600 N. Hwy 66, Catoosa, OK
Yes, this is the one we chose to visit!
This historic, restored Route 66 roadside attraction is no longer open for swimming, but it is open for visiting, picnicking, and of course, taking pictures!
There were a couple of families there when we arrived and we saw that the children were dressed in their bathing suits. I pointed out to one of the moms that swimming is prohibited here. She said she knew that but that they were going to “the pool” afterwards.
There are also restrooms…

Picnic tables…
The wreck of an old boat and mushrooms, neither of which seem to have any use whatsoever…

Conclusion: The Blue Whale is an altogether kitschy place, a must-see on Route 66!

We breezed through Claremore, passing up these attractions:
Belvidere Mansion, 121 N. Chickasaw, Claremore, OK – 3-story Victorian mansion built in 1907.
Will Rogers Memorial Museum, 1720 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore, OK – 12-gallery museum containing “extensive & comprehensive collection of art & artifacts pertaining to the inspiring life of Will Rogers.”
J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum, 330 N. J.M. Davis Blvd., Claremore, OK – world’s largest privately owned gun collection with more than 50,000 items. (Darn! I’m sorry I missed this one, although I might have said something offensive about gun ownership and the NRA while there.)

Foyil, Oklahoma is a bit off the beaten track, even off Route 66, but Ed Galloway Totem Pole Park at 21300 Hwy 28A (use your GPS to find it!) is an absolute must-see as one of the kitschiest places I have ever been! Our Oklahoma Route 66 booklet told us about this place: “Listed on National Register of Historic Places, this park’s eccentric totem poles, sculptures & a unique building are a long-time Route 66 icon.”

The building referred to was built with 11 sides and originally was the folk artist’s home, called the “Fiddle House.” It is now a gift shop, which was closed when we got there.

Admission is free – you can just wander the grounds and look at Galloway’s work – and the centerpiece is “The World’s Largest Totem Pole.” I don’t know if this claim is accurate: I saw some very large totem poles in Alaska and British Columbia, but the claim probably draws people to the place.
The “World’s Largest” Totem Pole? Perhaps because of that “antenna” on top…
One thing I can say about it – it definitely is unique!
Lots of whimsical birds…
Sandstone lioness, carving by Ed Galloway, c. 1915, donated by his grandson, Gary Galloway. It looks as though it had colorful paint on it at one time.
There’s a picnic area here, too.


The next place I was sorry to miss was the Cable Creek Civil War Battle Site, just off Route 66 on Hwy 28E in Adair, Oklahoma. By this time, it was late afternoon and we were due in Springfield, Missouri by evening.

dsc05993.jpgWe did stop in Miami, OK long enough to take a few photos of the Coleman Theatre (103 N. Main St., Miami, OK), which was originally a vaudeville theatre and movie palace. Its exterior architecture is Mission/Spanish Revival style.


Further down Main St. is Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger joint (915 N. Main, Miami, OK), originally a fast-food chain in the 1960s. Everything is cooked to order and they supposedly have delicious burgers and frozen desserts.
Also in Miami is Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum (128 S. Main St.) which includes over 100 personal items of Evel Knievel, including the super van he used for his Snake River Canyon jump. It also has a large gift shop.

Miami is just south of the border between Oklahoma and Kansas. Route 66 passes through the southeast corner of Kansas, through the town of Galena. In Galena, KS is the Brush Creek Bridge (5.4 miles west of Galena, via SR 66 off SE Beasley Road, which is the historic Route 66). It was built in 1923 in the “Marsh Arc Rainbow” style and is the last of its kind on Route 66. It carried traffic on the 66 from 1926 to 1961, when it was bypassed by the new Interstate 44, but it is still drivable via a one-way road. Below are two photos of the bridge, at left, photo by Guy Randall; at right, by Local Ozarkian Photography; both downloaded from Google Images.

Entering Missouri, we did NOT see the Thomas Hart Benton Mural & Exhibit in City Hall in Joplin, the only autobiographical mural by this Missouri artist (602 S. Main St., Joplin, MO, 800-657-2534). There are other Route 66 related murals at the same location (click on link above).

If you are into knick-knacks, there is the Precious Moments Chapel, at 4321 S. Chapel Road in Carthage, MO, (800-543-7975), which was created by artist Samuel Butcher, creator of the Precious Moments porcelain figurines.

The first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi was fought in August 1861 at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in which over 2,500 men lost their lives. A self-guided auto tour, museum and visitors’ center at this site on the National Register of Historic Places is at 6424 W. Farm Rd. 182, Republic, MO, south of Springfield. Admission is $25.00. However, since it is part of the National Park Service, if you have a lifetime Senior Pass, you can get in free!

We arrived at our Best Western lodgings in Springfield around 6 p.m. This BW hotel has a Route 66 theme in its décor.

We went to the Springfield Brewing Co. for dinner, sitting outside on a patio on the upper level. We watched as ominous storm clouds covered the sky and were able to get to our car just as it started to pour!

Our Route 66 adventures continue in my next Getting Our Kicks post, coming soon!