Monthly Archives: June 2012

Beauty and the 105mm

Beautiful colors meld together at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

When I travel, I put just as much time into figuring out my photographic needs as I do what to wear. Probably more (as anyone who has seen my wardrobe can attest).

Columns of water barely hide some flowers.

I hate lamenting missed photo ops due to the lack of proper equipment. Those what-ifs can drive me crazy!

Blue delphinium mix with pinkish coneflowers.

I knew for last weekend’s Chicago trip that I’d take my Nikon 50mm lens to capture pics at my great-niece Maddie’s party. But what other lens (if any) needed to come along for the ride?

Love these strawflowers!

Why, my beloved Nikon 105mm macro lens, of course! My mom had mentioned the possibility of a trip to the lovely Chicago Botanic Garden, close to where she lives.

A bee enjoys a mystic spire.

Even though the 105 is heavy, it’s far superior to the nifty 50 for snapping close-ups of flowers and bees. I gently nestled it in my bag next to my Nikon D300 and hoped I would get the chance to use it.

A brilliant purple flower stands out among the lily pads.

As it turned out, I didn’t regret hauling the big guy along at all! Its heft is more than offset by its performance (kinda like the Babe Ruth of lenses).

An evening lady dahlia

I’ve been to the Chicago Botanic Garden several times, and it never fails to amaze me with its beauty and sense of peacefulness. Each time I visit, certain flowers really stand out.

A Zach Roberts dahlia

This time it was the delightful dahlias that intrigued me most. CBG featured several different varieties.

The heartthrob dahlia

My favorite was the heartthrob dahlia. I really like the contrast of colors . . . as well as the name.

Reminded me of my three heartthrobs waiting back home for me!

Welcoming Our Newest Family Addition

My big sis (aka Bubbie) kisses Maddie.

My main reason for visiting Chicago always is to see my mom. But there was an added bonus for last weekend’s trip: I got to spend time with my big sis and her #1 daughter Becky’s family.

Kate has fun on the floor.

Last year Becky and her husband, Ken, hauled baby Kate from Seattle to the midwest to introduce her to family and friends.

Such a cute family!

This time it was six-month-old Maddie’s turn. Kate and Maddie are Irish twins, both having been born in 2011 (Kate in early January and Madds in late December). Becky and Ken literally have their hands full—especially when Ken’s five-year-old daughter Lily is added to the merry mix.

Four generations together: My mom, my big sis, Becky, and the two darlings.

The event was at Giordano’s, a great pizza place. I got to visit with my relatives (always a treat) and admire my two gorgeous great-nieces.

A little girl talk among the generations

Meeting her new great-granddaughter was so special for my mom. She and Becky—her first grandchild—enjoy a wonderful bond.

Great-grandma and great-granddaughter

And now that strong link continues to the much-younger (albeit sleepy) generation.

Welcome to the family, Maddie!

One-Word Wednesday

Two seagulls want the same sandwich at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Gulls!

“Get yer own!”

Birthday Zoo

There’s a great view of downtown Chicago from the Lincoln Park Zoo.

When I traveled to Chicago last weekend, I was fortunate enough to celebrate my little bubba’s birthday with him on the exact day (June 22nd). As did my mom, my big sister, and my bro’s wife and older daughter, Allie.

A gorilla stands still just for a moment.

We let the hot-shot Chicago lawyer choose where he wanted to go. He opted for the Lincoln Park Zoo. I was glad he did!

Does the vulture think I would be a tasty meal?

Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo brings back such wonderful childhood memories. Lincoln Park’s menagerie always has been free, so the four of us kids along with mom and dad spent plenty of days gawking at the animals way back when.

Sidebar: My dad used to call us “the animals” (as in “Eva, did you feed the animals?”). Made it easy to relate to our zoo brethren.

A giraffe checks out the crowd.

Of course, the zoo has changed since the 1950s and ’60s (as has my family). But it’s still a wonderful family venue.

This ostrich shared digs with the giraffe.

Checking out the beasts and chatting away with each other made for such a pleasant Friday afternoon.

The black-necked stilt was cute.

Getting together with my family always is a rewarding experience.

The birthday boy and our mom pose.

Especially for my mom, who enjoys being with her own lovable animals!

Looking Ahead

Today’s Chicago-area temps

This afternoon I leave the mild temperatures behind after a wonderful visit in Chicago with my mom and our relatives . . .

It’s hot in Houston!

. . . and return to the furnace that is Houston. I have a load of laundry, and I’m pretty sure the house (with the Mister in charge of our two sons) looks even more chaotic than usual.

But I can’t wait to take it all in! I wish I could click my heels together three times and be back in an instant. There’s no place like home!

Almost Paradise!

Cooooool beans!

These are the wonderful temperatures I’m enjoying (and will continue to love) while I’m in the Chicago area this weekend visiting my mom.

Our typical summer

This is what I’m leaving behind in the Houston area, along with the Mister and our two sons.

I miss my family. I do not miss the heat and humidity!

The Lizard Network

Not again!

Remember that little lizard that terrorized me and kept me captive in my home office last week?

Looks like he’s passed the word along to his buddies that they need to check out our place. This character was perched on my (needs new paint badly) back door last Sunday, waiting for me to let him in. I outsmarted the scaly scalawag—for now—by walking around the house and going in the front door.

For now.

One-Word Wednesday

The Mister is a proud father with our two sons on Father’s Day.

Pops!

Bombs Away!

Evan stays focused on the task at hand despite the goofball behind him.

Here’s a splendid example of photobombing. At last Tuesday’s handicap mini disc golf tournament, Tony jumped into the picture as I was snapping Evan putting. Glad Evan didn’t miss!

Lookin’ good . . . except for Tony.

Looks like it was (inadvertent) payback time later during the round, though. The foursome (Manish and Mike sandwiching Tony and Evan) all threw their discs around the basket. They were nice enough to pose before they each putted out. Notice how all of them look good except for the St. Louis Cardinals fan?

Did I get the last laugh?

Actually, Tony did, because he was the overall winner due to his fine score and handicap rating. I have a funny feeling that he’ll continue his photobombing ways—maybe that’s what brought him luck!

“Rock of Ages” Rocks Out

Everyone sang well.

Don’t see “Rock of Ages” for the hackneyed plot lines of small-town girl moves to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune, boy meets girl hoping for a love story, and a boozing rocker who seems off his rocker comes to his senses.

See it for the foot-tapping, pulsating 1980s music and choreography. It’s a good, silly musical that all four of us enjoyed on Father’s Day. If you’re like me, you’ll leave the theater singing “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” (while embarrassing the youngsters, who won’t be walking anywhere near you).

Sherrie and Drew fall in love.

There’s a lot going on in the film. First up is Sherrie (Julianne Hough), who moves to L.A. from Tulsa to become a singer. She meets Drew (Diego Boneta), a songwriter who works at a nightclub while hoping for his band to get noticed. Cue the music: There are love songs on the horizon!

Dennis and Lonny make a great team.

Then there’s the Bourbon Room where Drew works. It’s in financial trouble, as owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin . . . I didn’t know Mr. Conductor could sing) and his right-hand man Lonny (Russell Brand) try to keep it afloat. Baldwin and Brand were wonderful together (when you could understand Brand).

Patricia leads a show-stopper in a church.

Meanwhile, the mayor’s wife leads a group of adults wanting to silence that evil rock ’n roll. Catherine Zeta-Jones is superb as Patricia Whitmore—she and her fellow protestors did a great job with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”

The one, the only Stacee Jaxx!

Finally, there’s rock star Stacee Jaxx, the role that might one day define Tom Cruise. Jaxx is an odd duck swimming in bizarre waters. Cruise isn’t the most-powerful singer, but he gets the job done and is very believable in the role.

Also lending their considerable talents to the movie are Mary J. Blige (a lovely singer) and Paul Giamatti as Jaxx’s slime-ball agent.

Because I believe the best music ever produced was from 1964 (especially the British invasion) through 1975 (my sons’ opinions to the contrary), I wondered how much I’d enjoy the film. I only knew a handful of the songs. But I ended up liking most of the tunes (had to laugh at how “Can’t Fight This Feeling” was used). I’ll bet this was a fun flick to film.

Plus I love musicals. They may be campy. They may be too long. But I just can’t stop believin’!

Note: Even though this is rated PG-13, it’s definitely not for the younger teenagers.