NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Seeing Signs in Chicago

This post is an installment from a trip to Chicago in June with Katrina

While walking around Chicago on a hot and muggy June morning I had plenty of signs to read including the one on top of the Allerton Hotel and the one on its side telling me about the famed landmark.

Things are so tightly packed down there that a sign on top of a building gets kind of lost.

But the sign for the Inn of Chicago did its job and intrigued me to detour my route and go have a look.   Known as the Hotel St. Clair when it opened in the fall of 1928, it hosted many celebrities including Bob Hope, Gypsy Rose Lee, Judy Garland, Roy Rogers and Trigger, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Irv Kupcinet.

Not all signs touched the sky, a few restaurant signs provided a colorful change.

And the Pizzeria Uno sign made me wonder what we would have for lunch.

Lunch happened much later, first a trip to Magnolia Bakery to look at the cupcakes was in order.

I didn't get a cupcake, too much frosting for me, but I did enjoy the signs they displayed.  Here's a close-up of the one on the post above.

But the most moving sign was the one on the street corner announcing the passing of a local man who wished passers-by a good day.

Richland Center Post Office Mural

Tom the Backroads Traveler commented that they don't have post office murals where he is located.  With that in mind I'll provide two different links for you to choose from, the first is the WPA Murals website which I tend to use the most, but there is also a link to the Living New Deal website that can help you locate the murals and includes other New Deal projects including structures done by the CCC I believe across the United States.

On the road to southwestern Wisconsin

The links will let you choose a state and give you a list of New Deal art projects in U.S. Post Offices and other locations.  I'm trying to round up the last few I haven't seen in Wisconsin since I plan to move to Canada next year!

Richland Center Post Office

This oil-on-canvas mural entitled “Decorative Interpretation of Unification of America through the Post” was painted in 1937 by Richard Brooks and is located in Richland Center, Wisconsin.

From the website: “Often mistaken for WPA art, post office murals were actually executed by artists working for the Section of Fine Arts. Commonly known as “the Section,” it was established in 1934 and administered by the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department. Headed by Edward Bruce, a former lawyer, businessman, and artist, the Section’s main function was to select art of high quality to decorate public buildings if the funding was available. By providing decoration in public buildings, the art was made accessible to all people.” 

You never know what you'll see along the journey!

Many of them were community or postal themed in nature and provided much needed work for artists during the Great Depression.

See you next Monday!  Linking up to Monday Mural.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Great Lakes Cycle

This post is an installment from a trip to Chicago in June with Katrina

In addition to the wonderful discovery of the Chicago Mural we had an oppotunity to view some work by Alexis Rockman.  Unfortunately I took so long in writing about this so the exhibit closed on October 1st but it opens next week at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The main focus of the exhibit was The Great Lakes Cycle, a suite of paintings and other work developed out of Rockman's research, travel and interaction with people from the Great Lakes region who specialize in the lakes and their ecosystems.  The exhibit explore the past, present and future of the Great Lakes.

"Forces of Change"

These ecosystems are unfortunately threatened by pollution, climate change, invasive species, mass agriculture and urban sprawl. "Forces of Change" focuses on the area near Niagara Falls.  Horseshoe Falls is depicted in the background, with the Buffalo River in the foreground as it flows past industrial buildings. The sediment of the river is contaminated with mercury, lead and other toxins from industrial dumping.


Thousands of rivers and streams empty into the Great Lakes and are key to keeping them healthy.  Chemical runoff from farm fertilizers and pollution from city sewage is a hazard to these waters now and in the future.

"Spheres of Influence"

"Spheres of Influence" was my favorite in the series. The images explore how the Great Lakes connect to the larger global ecosystem which includes weather, migrating birds, airborne contaminants and humans who have traveled on the lakes from the early canoes to 20th century freight steamers. 

Close-up of Loon diving in "Spheres of Influence"

Beneath the surface lies a DC-4 passenger plane downed by a storm over Lake Michigan in 1950, and of course many ships lies beneath these waters as well. The air teems with birds and insects, reminding us of the poisons they encounter in the ecosystem. One of these is  C. botulinum which can be found in wetlands and lakes and often exists in a spore form that is resistant to heat and drying. The "disease environment" is typical during the hot months from May through October. In some instances the bacteria may remain viable for years.  Avian Botulism affects the peripheral nerves of the bird and results in paralysis of the voluntary muscles. This results in an inability of the bird to sustain flight that is observed in the early stages of botulism. Once this has occurred, birds suffering from botulism are commonly observed propelling themselves across the water with just their wings. The next effect to occur is paralysis of the inner eyelid membrane followed by paralysis of the neck muscles. This results in an inability of the bird to hold its head erect causing "limp neck" Loss of flight and limp neck is the most recognizable signs of Avian Botulism. Once birds reach this stage, death from drowning often occurs before they reach the next stage or respiratory failure.


"Pioneers" shows the glacial ice sheets from 10,000 years ago which carved this area and then filled with the meltwater to become the Great Lakes. These lakes have been colonized by many varieties of fish, and unfortunately humans have interfered in this process such as when ballast is ejected from freighters as shown in the painting.  That water can contain dozens of invasive species from across the globe and wreak havoc on an ecosystem not prepared for them.


Humans have used the Great Lakes as a resource since the Paleo-Indians of the Ice Age.  The lakes provided resources for European explorers in fur trapping, hunting and trade. In later times logging, mining, commercial fishing and transportation have made their impact as well.  Individuals, governments and communities are all responsible for trying to protect these lakes for future.

The paintings were stunning, these photographs of course aren't the same as seeing them in person.  I really appreciated how they told a story and had a message that was so powerful and hope to see more art like this on my travels.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Chicago Mural

This post is an installment from a trip to Chicago in June with Katrina

While walking around Chicago with Katrina I saw a poster advertising some art exhibits at the Chicago Cultural Center, which I had visited in the past and was eager to share with her.

photograph from display

Artist Keith Haring came to Chicago in 1989 to create a 488 foot long mural with 500 Chicago public high school students.

They painted 122 panels each one 4 feet by 8 feet over the course of 5 days.  The 36 panels on display at the Cultural Center seemed immense laid side by side, I can't even imagine 122 of them!

These panels were on display at Midway Airport for years, and now that the exhibition at the Cultural Center has concluded they will be given to the Chicago Public Schools for conservation.  Apparently the other panels have already been distributed to various schools and other locations throughout the city.

Chicago residents are probably sick of seeing them over the last 29 years, but they were a new sight to me.  Haring produced more than 50 works of public art between 1982 and 1989 including the Chicago Mural.

He also created a 6 story mural banner commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty with 1,000 children in New York City and a mural painted on the western side of the Berlin Wall before its fall.

Sadly, 9 months after completing the Chicago Mural the artist died of AIDS related complications at the age of 31.

The colorful and gritty imagery in the mural was a jarring contrast to the classic architectural style of the room where it was displayed.

This building was the first Chicago Public Library, hence the CPL etched within the design above.

Gorgeous ceiling ornamentation

The large galleries that are now used for exhibits were designed to let in lots of light for folks to read.  Speaking of reading, there is a lot of bickering going on in Wisconsin between Governor Walker and his challenger Evers over who is better for education.  Walker would like to claim he has increased funding for education...but that was only after drastically slashing it years ago.  And for at least a decade the state ranks among the worst in the nation in racial equality not only in education but also for income and rate of incarceration.  Just as bad, only 40% of 8th grade students are proficient at math in Wisconsin! Yikes!  Wisconsin has the worst record in that category for the disparity between white and black students in the NATION with white students 5 times more likely to be proficient than black students.

There was another art exhibit on display that day, I'll share that tomorrow. Be patient with my sporadic postings, I've been very busy with work and plans for our relocation to Canada next year!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Waupaca Post Office Mural

I found this New Deal art mural at the Waupaca Post Office.  Unfortunately I overwrote the original showing the whole wall when I cropped it, but its location looks the same as all the other Wisconsin Post Office murals right down to its placement over the postmaster door and the bulletin board nearby.

The title is “Wisconsin Countryside” and it was painted by Raymond Redell in 1940.  I've got a few more to follow in the coming Mondays, and a few left to find in Wisconsin before I move away next year!

Linking up to Monday Mural, the host is featuring an IGA with a stunning mural so take a look!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

La Jolla Cove

This post is from my trip to San Diego back in June, 2018.

Jack and Cooper

I have more from San Diego to post about, but let's start with the fantastic breakfast my mother and I shared at Shorehouse Kitchen in La Jolla with Chris and his family.  I'm hungry now just thinking about it!

Decadent French toast

 With our bellies full we headed over to La Jolla Cove to see the seals and sea lions, but not the sun on that day.

Something that is good to know in advance is that the Children’s Pool (Casa Beach) where they tend to congregate is closed from December 15 to May 15 to protect the newly-born seal pups. 

Tourists on La Jolla Cove seawall

Whether in the water or on the shore, it's smart not to get too close or take photos with the animals, wave selfie sticks in their faces, or yell at them. Even though the group at the Cove is better socialized than most groups of seals and sea lions, they will still bite if they feel threatened.

Mom was excited to walk out close to them on the seawall

I've mentioned seals and sea lions a few times this year already, including the ones in Astoria and my recent post about the white one I had as a gift when I was a child.

Here's a neat fact I didn't know before today: when seals poop the nutrients and nitrogen from their deep ocean diet are made available to feed planktons and algae that other animals eat. Without seals, these plants would not get enough nutrients and would die, along with many other species including leopard sharks.

Cutie patootie

It's all about balance in an ecosystem, right down to the poop! 

We enjoyed watching the would-be surfers who had to be rescued, it's so easy to feel superior dry on the shore.

And spent a weird amount of time watching a particular seal trying to catch a wave onto a rock.  I've spent longer watching prairie dogs though, so who am I kidding?

Cooper and I traveled along ahead of the others looking for adventure, but mostly stood around watching all the activity on the water.

Seals are much more quiet than the vocal sea lions like I heard in Astoria and only move on land by wiggling on their bellies, whereas sea lions are able to “walk” using their flippers.

If you plan to visit, be aware that parking is scarce and though street parking is available you may have to walk a bit.  That's alright as there are things to see along the way besides seals.

Seals and surfers weren't the only ones hanging around, cormorants were plentiful and didn't seem to mind sharing a rock with the seals.

Brown Pelicans were common as well, and it was cool seeing a line of them soaring across the water.

We tried to do a little tide pooling but didn't have a ton of luck.

A few critters were found in the sandstone crevices, but I'm guessing the best pools were still underwater.

See the crab on the upper right side?

If you want a better look at a crab like the one in the tide pool, here's one that was crawling on the rock.

For the most part the rock was easy to walk on, but look out for spots that have algae as that is always slippery!

Even my mom walked all the way out to see the wave action! It was good clean fun, don't pass up a visit just because it looks busy if you're in the area.  And have some of that French Toast for me!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Farewell Newfoundland

Boat beached up at Swans Cove, Placentia

The time has come to say farewell to Newfoundland's Avalon peninsula, so let's take a look around and see what we'll be missing and why you should consider a visit yourself...

Jumbo sized ship model in Ferndale
 The greater Placentia area has a lot to offer, from scenic vistas to historic sites and don't forget that Cape St. Mary's Ecological Preserve is just a short drive away.  There you can view thousands of gulls, razorbills, common murres, black-legged kittiwakes, northern gannets, and double-crested and great cormorants nesting in the warmer months and 20,000 scoters, long-tailed ducks, harlequin, dovekies, thick-billed murres, and kittiwakes winter there as well.  We didn't have time for a drive out this visit unfortunately but it's at the top of my recommended list for others to go see.

Flowers at Wayne's mother's house

Newfie hospitality is unrivaled, so if someone asks you to come over for a meal or wants to give something away to you just accept that you are somewhere that the people want you to feel at home.  There's nothing quite like it anywhere else!

Traditional saltbox home in Placentia

There are plenty of places to stay popping up, I really liked the new rentals down by the marina at the bridge in Placentia.  Bright and cheery and the location can't be beat.  Check out Air BnB, there are lovely rentals available for under $100 a night!

Rental in Placentia by the bridge - come stay awhile!

See if you can enjoy some time on the water, whether you bring your kayak like we did or fish on a lake or charter a boat ride.

Swans Cove, Placentia

Castle Hill is a must, and you get views of Placentia where Wayne's family lives and views of Freshwater where my family lives!  Argentia lies on the other side of that big hill in Freshwater, so unfortunately you won't be able to see that, but now I wonder if there's a spot on Old Settlement Hill where you can get a view down on Argentia...I bet Uncle Matt knows!

View of Old Settlement Hill in Freshwater from Castle Hill

Lots of cemeteries to explore if you are into that.  I know I like taking a spin around a cemetery now and then to get an idea of who came before.

Freshwater cemetery from Castle Hill

Freshwater doesn't have the attractions that Placentia does, but is conveniently located 5 minutes from the ferry and if you're not staying at the Sunset RV Park in Argentia you can check out Castle Landing which is a renovated convent that has twelve ensuite rooms available.

Freshwater wharf
If you stop in Freshwater see if there's anything going on down at the La Fontaine Club, often there is live music and maybe you'll see some of my people hanging out there!

How many of the Griffin crowd here tonight?

That's where Leacey got screeched in.  To be an official Screecher you have to be visiting Newfoundland for the first time, prove you can speak like a Newfoundlander, drink like a Newfoundlander, and kiss the almighty Cod. She was a real sport about it! 

Who knows, maybe you'll even see us hanging out there.  After's official that we're moving back next summer! Though we may be too busy to hang out at the club!

It's unclear where in the greater Placentia area you will find us, but just look for our RV or drop me a line on the blog if you want a tour of the area!  And you know how we love an adventure, if you're continuing on across the island we just may join you!