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Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

Rescuer of Once Loved Things:

The Art of Donna Castellanos

Dressed to the 9’s’

On a blustery Sunday, half past high noon, heading home from church, I found myself annoyed at the inclement weather which seemed bent on bending me away from my walks in the woods. On the spot (well, actually behind the wheel) I decided to take advantage of the time on my hands. I wrote Tom a text so he wouldn’t worry, and headed over to the Elmhurst Art Museum to see Donna Castellanos’ acclaimed exhibit.

The Elmhurst Art Museum sits steps away from the Elmhurst Public Library in Wilder Park. It is a small but remarkable gem in the western suburbs and hosts exciting, innovative artwork, community programs, experiential teaching, gatherings and more. The museum also houses one of only three remaining homes designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Using rescued items as varied as train tracks and typewriter keys, encyclopedia covers to sheet music, brass rings and old musical instruments, Donna Castellanos’s work invites visitors to not only enjoy her artistry, but, to imagine new ways to employ old things.

I wandered this small museum, amazed at the spectrum of Donna’s work and in awe of her vision. I felt the challenge of her art that implores the viewer to see everyday items in imaginative, fresh ways and dare to envision a renewed look in the “things” we have, we find, we toss away.

Rather than ramble on with my words, I invite you to click onto the photos – once, maybe twice – and look at the mixture of media employed by this remarkable woman. Her masterful marriage of  encyclopedia pages, old lace and Lionel train tracks, acrylic paint, fibers and tattered lace all make for a happily ever after in the innovative exhibit. This is a mere sampling of what this exciting exhibition holds.

I also invite you to head over to the Elmhurst Art Museum to experience Donna’s artwork on a personal level. Bring your kids or grandkid. The exhibit has several experiential areas for children to make artwork of their own.

 

 

https://www.elmhurstartmuseum.org/exhibitions/rescuer-once-loved-things-art-donna-castellanos

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When not in the kitchen baking with Kezzie, or stuck in the computer’s photo booth with this young man, we have been off on mini-adventures to familiar places with our Up North family who came for a visit.

Ezra has grown so much since we last saw him. He amazes me with his burgeoning intellect, eagerness and inquisitiveness. His attention to detail astounds me as he carefully builds tracks for his Thomas engines and shows signs of reading readiness. He’s a charmer, for certain, and knows he “has me” with just a pleading look in his sky blue eyes. Life is full speed ahead with Ezra.

I remain smitten.

We visited the Morton Arboretum’s children’s garden on a sunny but brisk March afternoon.  Kez & Ez explored the many features, including this rope challenge. I find it quite wonderful that places like the Arboretum have developed areas of their acreage for youngsters. Child-friendly, fun environments that bring children out into nature, developing respect for trees, flowers, animals, and all that our good earth provides.

Our adorable tree hugger,  this bundle of energy brings so much joy to our lives.

 

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February can be a heartless month to those living in a cold climate. Positioned at half-past winter and a quarter to spring, February’s single digit temperatures and snow might swirl in the wind one day and be followed by 60 degrees (F) the next. Warm temperatures bring fast melting snow – over a foot in our neck of the woods – followed by rain, rain, and more rain. We tire of winter in February and we long for green instead of gray.

A bright spot in winter comes, hereabouts, on the last weekend in February and the first in March when Orchids by Hausermann hold their annual open house. I went last Friday; a dour day with leaden skies and a muddy parking lot. As I was directed by employees to a parking spot, visitors leaned into the wind with boxes of greenery, long arching stems of glorious orchids peeking out. Inside the doors was a feast for famished senses, attracting orchid lovers, gardeners, and winter weary wanderers.

Oh, what a glorious adventure on a grim afternoon!

Aisle upon aisle of orchids were displayed in the Hausermann greenhouses. Every color imaginable, scents and textures, potted plants and air plants: splendor as far as the eye could see.

The yellows were radiant,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as were the reds.

Moustaches, whiskers, and other accoutrements- pretty in pink!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a joy it was roaming Hausermann’s, chatting with orchid lovers, photography buffs and even running into a few Elmhurst Garden Club friends.

My green thumb does not extend to orchids, so, I did not purchase a plant. I did, however, buy a small cut orchid arrangement, eager to bring a bit of Hausermann’s beauty home. The arrangement was small, as was the price, with an orchid and ferns nestled into a small container. The sun managed to come out and kiss my little arrangement, which is perched prominently on the kitchen counter.

 On Saturday, I noticed a small puddle of water on the countertop, under the arrangement. I wiped it off and went about my chores. A short while later, there was another puddle. On closer look, there was a teardrop on the tip of a fern leaf. I watched it. Really!  Who watches tear drops on ferns? 🙂  Soon, the swollen droplet let loose and filled the formica lake.

Click onto the photos for a closer look. I don’t want to be alone in watching a fern weep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Come to the church in the Wildwood . . .

As often happens while gadding about, I was looking for one thing and  ended up finding something else, instead.

Zooming past on a wooded by-way at about 50 mph, I saw a sign for the Wayside Chapel. I caught a glimpse of the entrance before I had a chance to signal and made a silent vow to check it out soon.

Soon came a few days later. It was after a heavy snowfall had blanketed our little corner of earth. All things considered, the weather was stable, the roads cleared, and I had been itching to check the Wayside Chapel out.

The Antler Man and I bundled up and set off to see what was to be seen. We were both surprised at this newfound treasure not far from our home.

We didn’t walk far for it was close to dusk, but, there was a paved path that was shoveled clear of ice and snow and we were curious.

The air hung still and silent. There was a downy comfort of over a foot of snow which brought a measure of serenity and peace that we both needed – and it was there for the taking at the Wayside Center in Palos .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walked the short path to the Wayside Chapel enjoying the panoramic view and catching glimpses of the farm below. The Children’s Farm, across the road and accessible via a bridge further along the Chapel path, is part of the Center and somewhere I look forward to exploring. I was excited to see that the visitor’s center sells eggs from the farm as well as honey from the farm’s hives and many crafted items made at the Center.

There is a scattering of buildings for all sorts of activities from yoga to painting, meditation to work carving, social services to exploration.

As we explored the center, I felt a sense of tranquility come over me and the words come to the church in the Wildwood started playing in my head. An old version of the song by the Carter family is below and was found on YouTube. Do you have a favorite rendition of the song?

 

Information on the Wayside Chapel at the Center can be found here.

 

 

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How fortunate I was to have had these trusty engines stowed safely behind the driver’s seat. They kept me company and pushed me forward as I chug, chug, chugged along on my long ride home past farmland and forests, mists and moisture, sunshine and shadows in the peaks and valleys of landscape. At times it felt as if I had been dropped into a bowl of candy corn, the panorama of fall colors following me with views I never tire of.

While our Up North family has graciously travelled down several times in the past year, I have not had the opportunity to visit them until recently. Packed with pumpkin muffins and assorted granny goodies, I was anxious for a few precious days. I wasn’t disappointed.

One fine day, we spent a delightful afternoon on an island.

Nicolette Island is located on the Mississippi River which flows through Minneapolis. The island houses restored Victorian dwellings, De Lasalle High School, the Nicolette Island Park, an impressive pavilion, the Bell of Two Friends, the Nicolette Island Inn, and winding paths that afford amazing scenery and opportunities for young ones to explore, pretend, and appreciate nature. Our daughter and son-in-law, Katy and Tom, have instilled a healthy appreciation and respect for nature in their children and are to be commended for their efforts and example.

 

As we approached the Bell of Two Friends, we giggled a bit as the backside looked a bit like, well, like a backside. Once we went under and around the sculpture we were amazed at this stunning monument of peace.

Fall had come to Nicolette Island on what was a crisp, overcast day, displaying colorful splendor on this lovely island.

 

 

We walked and wandered, St. Anthony Falls and industry sharing the space, before crossing back into downtown Minneapolis and Penny’s Cafe.

 


The chef made our crepes on a large, heated wheel, across from the table we chose to sit. We all watched in awe as he balanced the orders, spreading crepe batter on the wheel, filling and folding, making sandwiches and other delectables on another slab to his right.

I chose a crepe fromage, which exceeded expectations! It was outstanding. Ezra, who chose what the woman who took our orders described as special, wholeheartedly agreed, saying it was special, as he energetically tackled his grilled cheese sandwich. Kezzie’s little stuffed fawn, stuffed in his special way, snuggled for warmth next to Katy’s coffee as we all enjoyed the food and the ambiance of Penny’s Cafe.

What a balm for the soul this little adventure was, with an attentive and caring mommy, two darling, inquisitive grandkids, nature and even nourishment in an establishment bearing my name. There were so many other moments of joy during my brief  trip; too many to mention in an already long post. I was grateful for my time with our Up North family and appreciate Ezra’s sharing of his engines as I wended my way home.

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It sounded like a raindrop.

Plop.

The rusty colored grasses and spent blooms danced in the sun-dried breeze.

Plop.

The cloudless sky’s likeness reflected on the water of the expansive slough which had receded considerably from its banks during the long dry spell.

Plop.

The distinctive smell of rain, petrichor, was non-existent; the earth dry as a bone. We needed rain.

Plop.

 Then there it was,  the gentle folding of a stem, a leaf, a flower gone to seed.

Plop.

It was the weight of grasshoppers landing on the leaves and stems and faded flower past their prime that were making the sound; a prelude to Autumn’s splendor.

I sat on a bench for a bit, listening to this primal sound of nature. I never heard it before – or had I forgotten what I heard? I remembered catching grasshoppers as a child, wondering if it was really tar that grasshoppers ejected, but, not this sound. The simple pleasure of discovery on an October afternoon.

As I rested on the bench, I continued to hear the plop, plop, plop of grasshoppers. I thought of the plague of grasshoppers that wiped out all of Pa’s wheat in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, “By the Shores of Plum Creek”.  The grasshoppers, which were actually Rocky Mountain locusts, first appeared as a black cloud on the horizon. They dropped down and decimated the Ingalls’ crops and neighbors’ crops, destroying all of that year’s wheat harvest. Then, they laid eggs which meant more grasshoppers the next spring. They destroyed the following year’s crops. To make matters worse, the grasshoppers flew into the little house, down the chimney, through cracks in the chinking, covering the floor, clothing, everything. A natural disaster, for certain, and one I would not want to experience.

I arose and continued on my walk. Yellow finch flitted past, here and there with their distinctive, dipping flight pattern, darts of golden energy. Bees hummed on their nectar finding missions and a flock of geese came in for a landing, honking like harried cab drivers in the Loop. Geese never arrive unannounced, unlike the great blue heron that swooped in without a sound and landed on the reedy shore.

My walk ended, but not my amazement as I noticed that the maples were starting to turn color. I held the hope in my heart that we just might have a colorful fall after all.

Plop!

 

 

 

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I

have been

chasing sunsets.

Ever since August’s solar eclipse, which cast its spell on random groups of strangers, I have been wandering off our little acreage just before to sunset to bid farewell to the day.

While we reside in a semi-rural area nestled underneath a generous canopy of trees, the windy city’s skyscrapers loom to the east and suburban development rises to the west. We are not in the best of spots for capturing the rising or setting sun.

So it was the other day, with nary a ray of sunshine shining upon on our little prairie, that the Antler Man encouraged me to head down the road in search of the sunset. He reminded me of the many times we’ve driven up the hill only to be blinded by the setting sun as we reached the apex.

Thus encouraged and energized, off I went and sure enough, I was startled by sunlight before making my way around the bend in the road.

I headed over to an unlikely spot on a well-traveled road that the locals frequent. My cell phone app conveniently told me the hour and minute the sun would set, giving me an ETA with ten or fifteen minutes to spare.

There were several cars already parked in the narrow wayside at the Saganashkee Slough. A few fishermen set their lines over the rail while two teenaged girls were having fun with what appeared to be carpool karaoke. I could see them mouthing words, gesticulating and bouncing to music, which I could barely hear (thank goodness) as they politely closed the car’s windows. A serious photographer had what looked like an intricate camera perched on a tripod and other sunset-seekers were sitting on portable directors’ chairs while a few children did what children do – they ran around laughing and shouting and bickering and hugging.

Two boys, around the ages of eight and ten, darted to and fro, stopping to ask “Papa, did you start it?”. “Yes” said Papa, patiently, while another child, a girl, a few years older than the oldest boy read a book in a nearby chair.

I found a spot along the rail, looking toward the descending sun, then turned my back while I engaged my cell phone’s camera.

“Did you set your camera to time-lapse?” a younger voice asked me.

Well, no, I had not, and told the older boy I was just taking photos. He thought I needed to do a time-lapse. I had a few minutes, Papa indicated it was okay, and I was given a mini-lesson in time-lapse photography by a ten year old boy!

I looked across the slough, really a big lake, and told my two new friends that it was time.

“Papa, are you ready?”  He was and I said “There goes the sun. Let’s start counting down from 3, 2, 1!” The sun disappeared as we exclaimed our collective delight. The children’s father thanked me for being nice to his sons and I thanked them all for showing me how to work my camera in a new way. Cars were started, the karaoke kids stopped performing, fishing poles and tripods were dismantled and another day was done.

As I opened the door to my car, the older boy ran up to me and asked if I would come back another time. I told him I would and that I hoped we could all watch another sunset.

There have been other sunsets to chase since then, and there will be more in days to come, but this one sunset gave me a just a few extra rays of hope in this troubled and turbulent world we live it.

 

 

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