Saturday, March 5, 2016

a compliment

It is always nice when someone pays a compliment to your work, or in this case,, my avocation/hobby. I don't really think of it as work because I do it for my own enjoyment.  If you haven't looked lately at my photo website I have done some updating. This comment is copied from my travel photo website and I was happy to read that someone not related to me (LOL- actually my biggest fan - my mom- has been gone more than five years...) finds my photos of value.

here is the compliment/comment - which was on the Cuba 2015 photos

of course Cuba is very hot right now as a travel destination- and I have photos on the website from both December 2015 and April 2012.  I also have photos from many of the nearly 80 countries I have visited.  These photos include some destinations that were not available to tour groups in the days when I took them (Myanmar and Bhutan come to mind) and also those that are off the beaten path for tourists and more frequented by travelers (Lijiang and Zhongdian come to mind there)

The website also includes thing published by the travel industry (city guides for Seattle and Warsaw; AFAR magazine; the Denver Post travel section.) So while I do not make a living from selling my photos I am pleased at the reception they have gotten over the years.

I include a few of my photos here just for the fun of looking at them again - because each time I review them I get to relive the journeys...

Bhutan- 2007 - A temple above Thimphu

Japan - 2004 - The early morning fish market in Tokyo

St Petersburg Russia - 2003 - altar in St Isaac's

Vietnam - 2009 - Cao Dai sect service in their Holy See

Burano, the Venetian Lagoon - 2006 - Hanging the wash to dry

Amalfi Coast - 2007 - Positano Hillside from the harbor below

Paris - not sure which trip - we go there at least every other year sometimes more frequently - a different view of the tower

Cleveland - 2004 - across from the West Side Market

some people say they know my work by its style but I think the photo should be about the subject. Admittedly there are things that really draw me to them for similar reasons of color and form -

here are examples of the kind of photos that some think of as my style- and you will quickly see why- I like shapes repeated or eye catching brilliant colors -

protea from Hawaii (ten trips in 15 years so I can't date this one without data from the meta file)

sake barrel offerings in a temple - Kyoto

snake wine (make you strong) near Cu Chi tunnels outside of Saigon Vietnam

souvenir Matryoshka dolls Russia

produce market in SE Asia

Lanterns for sale in Hoi An Vietnam (2003)

Dalat local market Vietnam (2009)

the night market in Luang Prabang - Laos (2009)

souk goods in Marrakech (2014)

water puppets Hanoi (2003)

Tajines in Tunisia (2012)

Lijiang market stalls (2014)

I am going to stop here because I could spend hours looking back over various trips and thinking about where to go next (actually we are headed back to Russia and the Baltic countries along with a bit of Scandinavia at the beginning and end - and next year we are headed back to south eastern Europe and to revisit  Slovenia and Croatia--- so we do have some plans already...) and as always my blog posts will follow along with the travels - so stay tuned....

Friday, March 4, 2016

the yard

as you may have noted along the way - we are in process with selling our house in Chicago in order to facilitate our "lock and leave" lifestyle of spending more than half the year away from Chicago (traveling and wintering in Florida where we now are legal residents.)  We want to live in a condo there during our summer months of friends, food, wine and fun (and traveling LOL) and in order to accomplish this we must first sell our house. Notice I call it a house - it has been our home for twelve years but now it is our house LOL- preparing for moving on - it has changed in our hearts and minds...

when we first moved in we did a TON-O-WORK on the place- we closed and had to wait several months to occupy while things were being done from painting to upgrading the finishes, to adding hardwood floors, and yard work (maintenance free and no grass to mow) to enlarging the deck and laying blue stone for a patio in the lower level of the backyard... then it was our home - now it is our house.

I mention the yard because over the years, despite the fact that our standard city lot is only 25 feet wide, we have made a pretty nice outdoor space given the parameters.  And that is our biggest condo issue- we want something with good outdoor space/balcony or deck- because we really do use the yard at our house all summer long. (Some may recall my longest rant on this blog being about the ordeal of getting a new awning installed for our deck once it was doubled in size - I would say LOL but it is still not funny what we had to go through with the asshat salesman Ed Ritzema the liar - OK so it is LOL- because someday karma will catch up with that guy for his lying - I am counting on it)

anyway I thought I would take a little time and space to memorialize the journey of the yard - especially in light of the sense of time fleeting and things being lost-

don't get me wrong I am ready to move on, but I also don't want to forget, after we have finished the process and left this house behind, how we made our house a home...

I think I will start with a photo from just days before we listed the house for sale-  and then go back to the very first spring we lived in the house-

when we moved in we had a few crummy bushes and a small deck that wasn't in terrific shape - despite being coated with fresh stain- and in less than two years someone had a chair leg fall through the deck...  thereby moving the deck project up to the top of the list---

here is where we started - with AC units blasting below us (and making quite a racket) and open steps and looking generally lackadaisical about maintenance and curb appeal...

so we went to work right away and in the first spring did deck patching and painting and some yard work - and fencing upgrades- and adding an awning to our south facing deck to make it much more usable in the sunny summer weather- here the very first of the work is done - the bed stones around the yard and a few small plantings- haven't yet painted the deck but soon....

next the deck is painted and the awning installed - so this would be roughly July1st of the first summer... we were having a big party and I remember worrying about whether the awning would be installed in time (it was by one day!) and at least the AC units don't stand out so much next to the gray of the deck.

we still had our plastic table and chairs from the days of the Roscoe roof deck and were doing things step by step... I had some witch hazel planted at the corners of the beds and hydrangea in the garage bed... along with a new trellis to hide the neighbor's ugly siding- which we planted with annuals and perennials (so we cover from the first year as the kiwi vines grew over the years) and my yard guy found these lovely trellis (he made the big one along the garage walk) for the clematis-

we were also working on the front yard and side yard at the same time- I love boxwood so we used it and ivy extensively - the first year we still had a little grass as we slowly but surely became grass free.

the side yard - pachysandra all the way because as with all gangways in the city- not a lot of sunlight

The next year we put in the blue stone patio to replace the backyard grass and got patio furniture shipped from Arizona (where they had a ton more selection than in the Chicago area) and we replaced the plastic table with a crate and barrel wood set- the plantings from year one are filling out-

and we had planted along the west side of the yard - we had been to Japan in the summer of the first year and I fell in love with bamboo--- so that is where we headed with the west fenced side... and pay attention to the state of it in this photo because the bamboo is a big element in the yard plantings..

by the way the border along the whole patio is planted in wonderful plumbago - which has beautiful blue flowers in summer and turns red gold in the fall

and in year two we also finished off the grass in the front yard as well- - I put in a flagstone path with bluestone chips and covered the front yard with ivy...

then over time we had to replace the deck (too many patches and holes) so we put in an IPE deck and enlarged the square footage by roughly 50% which then gave us the option of moving some of the cushioned furniture up and the wood table down and getting a round table for the deck-

a photo from the fall- (mums in the pots) instead of the petunias I plant for the summer-

my usual summer pots-

then tragedy struck- and the Chiberia winter claimed my beautiful bamboo-

I was heartbroken- I had trimmed so diligently for nearly ten years and made it into this lovely lush wall of green... my overarching theme for the yard was VERDANT... and losing the bamboo really was a complete and total bummer to me...

So we went forward with new plantings - and while we were at it we need a new fence (the eastern boundary had been done a year earlier but I hadn't wanted to disturb the bamboo on the western boundary) and the table legs of the old wood table were completely shot so we opted for aluminum and all weather wicker resin chairs for withstanding the winters (as best we can)---

so that is where we are today- a new awning to ensure coverage for the whole enlarged deck-which has four cushioned chairs (or chaise) and a table for 4-6 people to dine around, and then the bluestone patio with room for 6-8 to dine... our house was designed for our lifestyle with entertainment and social areas being the majority of the space and work areas (for when we both worked at home) and finally bedroom space...

google made this "effects" photo of the new awning over the deck- it is retractable for we could have open sky at night and shade in the heat of the day-

I think this is a nice little photo story of the yard and its evolution over the time we lived in this house and when we called it our home... and since I keep harping to our broker about needing outdoor space I thought I would close with photos of the winter condo's outdoor spaces and why we are seeking some outdoor space for the summer condo...

the screened porch - 24' by 7.5' gives us room for a table - four chairs, a chaise and two chairs with ottomans and a side table, along with a deck trunk for cushions and yard tools etc...

 (and comes complete with its own cat! LOL)

and on the other end of the house we have a courtyard of 12' by 16' to 18' (there's a diagonal cut out of one corner).... with beds for growing plants and trees - and the whole thing is caged - protected from the falling leaves of our live oak and other jungle like vegetation just outside the courtyard wall-

so there end my musings about outdoor space and landscape design and installation - years of work went into making our yard a lovely outdoor entertaining space and I hope that our eventual buyer of the house appreciates what went into it....

so onward we go- moving forward - or at least what appears at the time to be forward... stay tuned...