Today is the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year and the official start of Winter. On the plus side, the days will start getting longer now. This picture is from northern Michigan, where they have been experiencing unofficial Winter for a few weeks already.
Went snow-shoeing at Fisherman's Island State Park in Charlevoix, Michigan today and saw several Bald Eagles. We got the distinct feeling they were glad to see us leave when one flew over our car, following the road in front of us but barely twenty feet overhead, as if it were showing us the way, or perhaps escorting us, out of the park.
Amazingly beautiful birds, whether they are glaring at the camera or soaring overhead.
A little pre-holiday getaway to the Little Traverse Bay area of upper lower Michigan. They've had way more snow than Chicago. This is the Charlevoix Lighthouse in the background and some cool icicles in the foreground. I'd never seen icicles form in a curvy pattern like this.
The Christkindlmarket is an annual event in Daley Plaza. German and American artisans sell their wares at little booths. They start after Thanksgiving and go until Christmas Eve. I'm pretty sure they have little heaters in their booths to help them through the cold days. These are just three of the many booths at the market. Now, I was there early in the afternoon so it wasn't as crowded as it gets in the evening and the weekends. The Gluhwein vendor is usually MUCH busier.
This little white-throated sparrow and several of his friends were enjoying Chicago's Official Christmas Tree in Daley Plaza. I guess the lights are welcoming (they're LED so probably do not give off much heat) and they have a steady stream of food from the Christkindlmarket that is also underway (brat bun scraps, pretzel pieces, etc.). I hope they stay out of the gluhwein, else they'll be flying a bit crooked.
The tree is a single 55 foot Blue Spruce tree. The city budget didn't allow for the usual jumbo tree (made of several tiny trees). The signs say that this is the first time since 1955 that the city has used a single tree. I like the natural and simple look of the single tree.
Yesterday was a winter blue sky day. Nice enough for a lakefront walk -- as long as you were wearing enough layers, gloves and hats. (Today, however, we have already gotten a light dusting of snow and temperatures are dropping.)
This is the gazebo by the Ohio Street Beach, it is between the Jane Addams Park and Olive Park so I'm not sure in which park it "belongs". It gives a nice frame to Lake Michigan, though, as it reflected that pretty winter blue sky.
This mural/sculpture is entitled Arbol de Vidal (Tree of Life). It is on the building that houses the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a research organization that focuses on sustainable urban living by looking at all aspects of a community - transportation, climate, energy use, technology, natural resources, and community development.
Two artists, Catherine Cajandig and John Weber, led the project, which was a joint effort of The Chicago Public Art Group, Youth Service Project, and Center for Neighborhood Technology. While the small artwork on the side are separate pieces attached to the building, the main Tree of Life section is permanently sculpted onto the building.
It's funny --when I first started this blog, I thought: "How will I find enough things to photograph for this blog?" Now, I think: "How am I going to be able to post all the things I want to photograph?"
These presents, kept from floating away with sandbags, were waiting to head down Michigan Avenue for the Holiday Lights Parade recently.
The North Avenue Baths building in the Wicker Park neighborhood dates back to the 1920s when, apparently, public baths and steam rooms were the place for big shots to do their wheeling and dealing. The building now houses a seafood-focused restaurant, where, surely, some wheeling and dealing occurs over business dinners. The monogrammed terracotta facade remains as a reminder of its origins.
The NAB monogram for the North Avenue Baths
More detail of the North Avenue Baths building facade
I like older buildings. There's always some fancy trimming, to give it some personality, that you don't see on the new sleek glass and steel structures. And sometimes they have names, too. Someone was so confident that the business was going to be there forever that he/she had the name permanently applied to the building.
This building is in the West Town neighborhood. I couldn't find anything about this particular business using my old standby Google. I did find some sort of archive-type document that made several references to Chicago and also stated that "Mr. M. Houlberg, who is a painter by profession, was elected president" of the Dania Society (which seems to be a Danish fellowship organization) in December, 1900. Perhaps the two were the same.
It is also interesting (possibly ironic, though the correct usage of that word has confused me since the Alanis Morissette song) that the current business in this building is a salon of sorts. So M. Houlberg was right: the building is still in the painting and decorating business.
While I am glad this is not snow, it is something related: road salt.
A huge pile of road salt.
This one, in the East Side neighborhood, is probably one of many stashes around the city (Chicago does stockpile and can be a little selfish about its road salt). I'm glad we're prepared but I hope we don't need to use all of it!
Logan Square has a small Firefighter's Memorial Park at the intersection of Diversey, Milwaukee, and Kimball. (Milwaukee is one of a few angle streets in Chicago that create six corner intersections where they cut through the "normal" grid pattern of streets.) It is dedicated to three firemen who were killed battling a fire in February, 1985. The centerpiece of the park is a large, colorful mural depicting three firefighters as angels.
I found this statue in the Jefferson Park neighborhood. I took a few pictures of it with different settings on my camera. I zoomed in to get the detail of the little bird on the bag near the film slides (I've forgotten what they are called).
Then I realized how easy I had it. I could take a bunch of pictures and just download them and delete the ones I didn't want - free and easy. But, in the "old days", this guy would have had to get the settings just right the first time because taking so many pictures and going through the whole development process would have been so very expensive.
Today's photo is a collection of the colors of Autumn from various places around Chicago. The one non-Chicago photo is the large tree with the moon, which is from the other side of Lake Michigan. But if you could see across the lake, you could probably see the Chicago skyline from St. Joseph, Michigan.
I almost deleted this photo. I thought I missed the little Ruby Crested Kinglet that was hopping around in Grant Park. Then I saw him in the photo - definitely keeping an eye on me from his "hiding place". He really blended in with the leaves.
Stumbled upon this school in the Lakeview neighborhood. The Nettlehorst School is named for Louis Nettlehorst, the Chicago School Board President from 1890 to 1892. This particular building was constructed in 1892 but it stands on the site of one of the first public schools in the Lakeview area.
According to the website, there is quite a bit of art on the inside of the building. The outside grounds are quite artistic as well. The "Nettle Horse", an art piece constructed this year, seems to be made from scrap picture frame corners.
The front doors are pretty enticing to walk through. And how about this big topiary dinosaur for a hall monitor?
All of a sudden (due to the time change) it is dark enough to see the moon rise when it does so at 4:18pm. Native Americans kept track of the seasons by, among other things, giving names to the full moons. The November Full Moon is called the Beaver Moon because it signaled that it was time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.
I'm not into furs so if I were naming moons this one would be called The Flannel Sheets Moon as it signals the time to change over to the warmer, cozier flannel sheets.
First of the month means Theme Day on City Daily Photo. November's theme is Doorways. I have to admit I wasn't all that thrilled about the theme when it first won the voting.
But then I found this doorway. And I had a complete change of heart. Suddenly "Doorways" as a theme was wonderful. I had a fun doorway I could use! But I didn't have my camera at the time. So I had to write down the address and go back to get this picture.