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, February 21, 2017

"Sampling" Sturgeon Bay

On Sunday my mother and I wedged ourselves into my car full of sample bags and headed north to Door County.

With no appointments until the next morning we made a stop in one of my favorite spots in Wisconsin - the John Michael Kohler Center for the arts in Sheboygan.

I don't just come for the elaborate bathrooms, though I will admit I still get tickled when I open the door and get an eyeful.  It's always different art on display when I visit and you never know what you will find.

In Sturgeon Bay we stayed at the White Lace Inn, which was fine enough, but it was the meal at the Inn at Cedar Crossing that made an impression.  The cherry pie was the best I ever had!  With a hint of almond and a crust that was so fluffy it was practically cake I told the waitress when she came back that my mind was blown and life would never be the same again.

I was so anxious so start my day that I was up and walking the streets of town at 6:00 trying to burn off some nervous energy.  We've been experiencing a warm spell and there was no wind so it was an unexpected opportunity to get outdoors at a time of year I'm usually huddling inside.

John Purves tugboat

Even though I left Wayne behind I thought of him often and especially our tour of the John Purves tugboat at the Door County Maritime Museum.  It was very pretty all lit up for Christmas with a tree on deck too.

This upside down weather we're having must have confused the snowmen, because there sure isn't any ice around for him to slip on!  My first day as a sales representative is behind me, and while I must have been amusing to watch as I hunted for things and dropped things and looked incredibly awkward, by the end of the day I felt like I would be fine...soon I hope.  Still on the road, today I visit offices in Manitowoc and Sheboygan and after an early start I hope to get outside because it's going to be another beauty!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy President's Day

For Presidents Day I'll share a final post from my trip I took in January to the Presidential Museums.

Everywhere Katrina and I went on this trip we kept learning new things about our past presidents, even ones whose museums we weren't visiting.  Their names and deeds cropped up everywhere from podcasts we were listening to on historical events to the crossword puzzle book I picked up in one of the gift shops.  Here are a few facts we didn't know that I found interesting and maybe you will too!

John Adams 

John Adams, our first Vice President and second President, died on the same day as Thomas Jefferson which was July 4th of 1826, 50 years to the day after Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence!  That one was definitely the strangest one we came across.

Thomas Jefferson
Photo via <a href="">Good Free Photos</a>

  • Our third U.S. President had some profound things to say over the years, but he did not believe that women should be involved in politics, saying he hoped they were "contented to soothe and calm the minds of their husbands returning ruffled from political debate."  No one's perfect, I guess!
  • Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia which was the first university not centered around religion.  Of course it has been added to the list of places to visit, Sherry has posted beautiful pictures of it in the past!
  • What is the "Jefferson Bible"?  Follow this link to find out.  You can even buy a copy if you are intrigued. You'll also get a quick synopsis of "deism" which was a belief system of the time.

Abraham Lincoln 
  • Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election to become our 16th President despite his name being absent from the ballot of several states.   
  • He was the first Republican president, the party was founded by anti-slavery activists, modernists, ex-Whigs, and ex-Free Soilers in 1854, the Republicans dominated politics nationally and in the majority of northern States for most of the period between 1860 and 1932. The first public meeting of the general "anti-Nebraska" movement where the name "Republican" was suggested for a new anti-slavery party was held on March 20, 1854 in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. The name was partly chosen to pay homage to Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party.

Here's something both Katrina and I were surprised about: not all of our U.S. Presidents were married or had wives as First Ladies while in office!  We learned this while viewing portrait of the Presidents and their First Ladies at the LBJ museum.

  1. Thomas Jefferson and his wife had most of their children die in childhood, and his wife died at the age of 33 four months after the birth of their last child.  He had his daughter Martha who he was very close to after his wife's death as First Lady.
  2. Jackson's wife died shortly after his election and the duties fell to her niece.
  3. VanBuren's wife died 18 years before he was elected, so his daughter-in-law filled the role.
  4. John Tyler, President 1841-1844, had a wife named Letitia who died in 1842; he remarried in 1844. 
  5. James Buchanan, elected in 1857, was the only unmarried president to stay single his whole life.  The job of First Lady went to his niece, Harriet Lane Johnston, who assumed the role of White House hostess and used her proximity to power to champion several social causes.
  6. President Arthur's wife died of pneumonia 19 months before he became president when James Garfield was assassinated. 
  7. The last bachelor elected to the White House was Grover Cleveland in 1886, but he married in his first term. Grover Cleveland, President 1885-89 and 93-97, bachelor upon taking office, married 1886 (the only one to have the actual wedding take place in the White House) 
  8. Woodrow Wilson, President 1913-1921 remarried during his term in 1915, one year after the death of his first wife.

Herbert Hoover

  • In 1931 President Herbert Hoover signed an act making "The Star Spangled Banner" the national anthem.
  • Hoover took office in 1929, when the very concept of "illegal immigration" was fairly new. For most of its previous history, the U.S. had encouraged immigration and threw up few legal barriers. The first permanent quotas on immigration had been put in place by the Immigration Act of 1924. And even that law did not apply to Mexico, or to any other country in the Western Hemisphere, because the U.S. didn’t want to alienate its neighbors, and needed Mexican laborers to help with the harvest. It did completely exclude immigrants from Asia, however, and set limits on immigration from Europe.  Hoover appointed the commission that brought abuses of the deportation system to light, and that the descriptions of a "Mexican repatriation" during the Depression don’t put the blame exclusively, or even predominately, on federal officials. They also cite actions by state and local officials, "job denials" by private employers, and pressure by labor unions. For more on this topic go to this link.

Theodore Roosevelt
  • On October 14, 1912, an unemployed saloon keeper shot presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt outside a Milwaukee hotel. Rather than being rushed to the hospital, Roosevelt insisted on delivering his scheduled 90-minute speech.  It's a great story, click this link for more details!
  • Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to call the official residence the White House.  He was also the first to be called "Mr. President".  His predecessors were called "Your Excellency" or "Your Honor".
  • He also sailed his presidential yacht on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and after strenuous walks along the Potomac, the president on occasion would shed all his clothes and take a plunge in the river to cool off.  This guy was monumentally cool, I can't wait to visit one of his historical sites and learn everything I can!
Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a painter.
  • He added the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto. The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the phrase be printed on all American paper currency. 
Richard Nixon signed Title X into law here is a quote from his statement:  I called for a national commitment to provide adequate family planning services within the next 5 years to all those who want them but cannot afford them. It was clear that the domestic family planning services supported by the Federal Government were not adequate to provide information and services to all who want them on a voluntary basis.

To implement this national commitment, I asked for expanded research in contraceptive development and the behavioral sciences, reorganization of family planning service activities within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and legislation which would help the Department to implement this important program by providing broader and more precise legislative authority and a clearer source of financial support. The National Center for Family Planning Services was established in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare shortly after my message.

Ronald Reagan
  • As president of the Screen Actors Guild he testified about entertainers he thought were communist sympathizers during the Red Scare.
  • He won a record 525 electoral votes for a second term against Democrat Walter Mondale.
  • In 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. The holiday, first commemorated in 1986, is celebrated on the third Monday in January, close to the civil rights leader’s January 15 birthday.

In relation to current events, the road to affordable health care for our citizens has been longer than most folks may realize.  Take a look at this display from the LBJ Museum.  I was surprised to learn it was George W. Bush who signed the prescription drug benefit for Medicare!

And it was LBJ who signed the Immigration and Nationalization Act of 1965.  I am horrified that immigration legislation is being attempted to be used as a means of discrimination again.  But I am also thrilled that so many citizens have stepped up and made it known that it won't be tolerated, from marches to the small acts ordinary folks are doing when they see discrimination in everyday life.  Democracy in action, spread a little of it yourself this Presidents Day if you can!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Workaholic Awakened?

Since I officially started my job on Monday this week I've worked 8-16 hours a day.  And that includes today...I am pooped!  What did I have to do that took so much time?  On Monday and Tuesday I drove out to Beloit and met with my regional manager for 4 hours each day of training on the company, the product and the protocols.  I also went in to my old job for a few hours on 2 days this week to help out since they haven't hired anyone to replace me yet.

The UPS driver will be seeing a lot of me from now on

On Wednesday my product finally arrived!  That was the killer day, I spent 14 hours unwrapping and sorting my frames...with a little help from my furry friends.

Believe it or not they chewed nothing, just watched!

Every time my eyes crossed from reading all those tiny numbers or when my brain just felt overloaded I switched gears and made Thank You cards for my accounts that place orders and handmade "hello" tags to go on treat bags for those cold calls I'll have to make.

I've been to the office supply store and the craft store on two different days, and today I had to drive to Janesville to meet my partner to pick up another wheeled bag. For some reason they only sent me one, the other two didn't have wheels and she had an extra.  The weather was like late spring today, and it was a needed break to get out in the sun and meet up with a friendly face after having my nose to the grindstone all week.  Maybe you recognize her girls, they are the lovelies who were in the family portraits I took earlier this year.  My new partner is my old partner who used to work at our company's Beloit office!

Happy girls straight from riding lessons and playing with goats and puppies

We are so excited to be working together again, it's just like old times with phone calls and texts shooting back and forth every day.  Yesterday we even met at my office in Lake Geneva and my co-worker practiced being the Buyer while I practiced being the Seller.  I got a lot of practice in while Jessica supervised me and made sure I did everything correctly.  It's a good thing, because tomorrow my mom and I hit the road with my bags in tow, I have 3 appointments in Sturgeon Bay on Monday!

Seen in Delavan as I zipped through on my way to Janesville

I'm calling it a day at 10:00 tonight, which has been the norm all week.  I'm looking forward to a leisurely drive up north tomorrow...after a few more hours getting things organized and packing first!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Lake Geneva Snow Sculptures Return

I don't know what's happening in southeastern Wisconsin this weekend, but last weekend the temperatures were hovering around 20F in Lake Geneva.  Believe it or not this was a good thing, our winter has been abnormally mild here and it was time for the town's annual Winterfest which includes the big snow sculpting event.

Lake Geneva on a chilly but sunny morning

Parking can be a problem on the busy weekend of this festival so I was glad to leave on Friday afternoon and not return until Monday, but shuttles are available.  Also available besides viewing the sculptures during the weekend are other events including a garden turned into an Ice Bar, a human dog sled race, and a Cocoa Crawl.

Sculptors at work

The mood was high as I walked around watching the sculptors at work, they all started cheering when the radio station that was playing over the loudspeakers announced the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition going on in Lake Geneva.

I don't know how they stay out there working in that weather.  Even though it was sunny it was a frigid 15F that morning with a light breeze off the lake.  I was wearing a long down coat and wool mittens and I was back in my car after a five minute brisk walk around the Riviera Fountain area.

The fountain is a replica of New York's Angel of the Waters fountain but is all covered up for the winter.  I'm not usually down by the lake early enough in the summer to see it lit by morning light, I bet it's beautiful.

My favorite was the entry by Maine, but there were more on Wrigley Drive as you continued along the street that were quite elaborate as well.  If you want to see more about the competition and the entrants from past events go to this link.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Soggy and Foggy in Door County

Since coming back from my big trip with Katrina down to Texas I've been a busy girl, which is why you didn't hear much from me in January.  My general rule is if I don't have time to keep the house clean then I don't have time to write my blog or read other blogs.  Not that my rule has kept me from sitting on the couch watching too much TV at times, mind you.

Harrington Beach selfie

Besides my recent Chicago escapade with an old friend I also dragged my mother with me up to Door County for 2 nights, with a stop along the way to put Pokemon in the gyms and stretch my legs at Harrington Beach State Park.  We were experiencing a winter warm-up that weekend and temps were actually above freezing so fog followed us all the way from Lake Geneva to Egg Harbor.

There isn't much to do in Door County in the winter, not even much shopping because a lot of the boutiques and tourist attractions close for the season.  The Patricia Shoppe in Egg Harbor was still open though, and I left with a bag full of stylish work clothes and a neat hat that was a gift from my mother.  I wanted to take home some of the funky re-purposed vintage jewelry but didn't find anything that spoke to me enough.  Maybe next time, because I've gotten some news that means I'll be up there again very soon and frequently returning...

A few reminders of Christmas are still around, I know these jaunty horses put a smile on our faces.

Everything was shrouded in fog, I'm guessing the warmer air hitting the snow was the cause but I'm no meteorologist.  In case you didn't know, I am currently an Optician and have been for many years, working part time with a very flexible schedule at a small practice.  Being able to go in and do paperwork any time that fits around my wanderings has been one of the reasons I've been able to travel so much over the last few years.

Why am I talking about my career choices today?  Well, I applied for a Sales Representative position with a great eyeglass frame company called Aspex Eyewear and I got the job!  I will be traveling the eastern half of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan visiting offices with my bags of quality optical goodies.  I officially start next week, so lots of regional traveling on my future agenda.  I'm thinking my other travels might be on the back burner until Memorial Day weekend when Wayne and I go on our first RV trip.  Ironically our plan is for northern Wisconsin and on up to Houghton, Michigan possibly, though we'll be wandering just out of my work territory most likely. Wayne gets a lot of vacation days, and so far it looks like we'll be sticking to the Great Lakes region this year.  I do intend to get on a plane to Newfoundland again at some point this year, and maybe a bigger roadtrip to Washington D.C. with my mother if the timing looks right.

Egg Harbor on a foggy morning at dawn

Still, lots of places for me to stop with my camera while I pursue my new career, and though I've cleaned out my Honda CR-V to make room for my inventory I still have a spot saved for my hiking boots, hiking pole and my copy of the Ice Age Trail handbook.  Yes, I purchased that vehicle this fall knowing that I wanted to branch out into this new evolution in my career in Optical and would need the room and I was preparing for this change when I got that carpal tunnel surgery taken care of as well.  Even though my income will allow for hotel stays I still plan to camp quite a bit because I love sleeping out under the stars and listening to the owls and coyotes sing to me, so I'm hoping some new campgrounds and hiking trails will pop up on the blog.

No tent on this recent trip to Door County though.  My mother and I liked our stay at Bay Point Inn in Egg Harbor so much last spring that we stayed there again this time for a reasonable off season rate.  While she stayed back at the Inn enjoying the quiet of the nearly empty Inn and her cup of tea I headed over to Cave Point County Park.  I found the fog to be a little less intense but the ice formations I've seen in the past were gone due to the unseasonably warm weather.

Wearing my Yak Trax in case the stone was icy!

Keep your eyes open for those fossils while walking out on the dolostone.  Scientists don’t know what animals roamed or swam through ancient Wisconsin because there is a major gap in the fossil record. Almost 400 million years of geological evidence is missing - it's assumed that layers of rock continued to form, of course. But much of this soft rock was probably eroded by water, and then what was left was scraped off by Ice Age glaciers.

I'm looking forward to my next business related visit up to the Door, I've already started a list of new things to see!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Chicago Tribune - Chicago Walk Part 3

Sorry I keep leaving things unfinished, I've got a lot of distractions at the moment, but more about that in my next post.  For now let's finish up with my walk on Michigan Avenue with my pal, Andy.

After we left the LondonHouse we crossed the Michigan Avenue bridge.  The bridge was built in 1920 and in 1928 sculptures depicting scenes from Chicago's history were added to the outward-facing walls of the four bridgehouses.  The one above is called Defense and it depicts a scene from the 1812 Battle of Fort Dearborn.  If you want to see another one, here's a link to my post from last January when I crossed the bridge.  If you want a good laugh about the "rule" of crossing the bridge go to this link from the Chicago Tribune.  I broke the rules since I fall under the categories of tourist and lollygagger.

The Tribune Tower looms over 25 foot tall Abraham Lincoln at street level

Speaking of the Trib, the Tribune Tower was our next stop.  In 1922 a competition was held to design the building; 23 countries were represented in the competition and most design entries came from the U.S. and Europe.

Aesop's screen over the front door added by sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan

New York architects Hood and Howell won with their design of a Gothic Revival tower that used architectural ideas borrowed from the past. The lower office block is sheathed in Indiana limestone with vertical piers and horizontal spandrels characteristic of Art Deco. The building's crown recalls a Medieval European tower, imitating the Butter Tower of the 13th-century Rouen Cathedral in France. It is a stunning blend of two very different styles.

Canonball from England 

The building is like a treasure hunt, with so much to look at on the exterior and in the lobby that I felt like I could have sat on the floor and stayed there for hours.  I like this quote about the building from Blair Kamin, one of the writers for the Tribune: "By transforming the precedent of the medieval cathedrals into a modern skyscraper, it elevated the grubby business of gathering facts and getting the scoop into a higher calling."

The lobby entrance from inside the building

 Hood and Howells' design appealed to the newspaper owners' sense of nostalgia, history and moral purpose. The lobby's travertine marble walls are filled with famous quotations from Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, praising and exalting freedom of the press.

In this time when our President mocks and degrades the press in an attempt to sow mistrust, freedom of the press is more important than ever.  Is some news fake news?  Heck yeah!  That absolutely does not mean that all journalists are liars as he likes to imply.  Take the time to research the facts, something that really isn't difficult with easy access to the facts right there on the phone in your hand, right?  Maybe someone should point that out to our president since he seems to talk before checking facts for accuracy every day himself.  The man is so ridiculously impulsive I'm starting to think at the very least he is ADD, and I say that with no disrespect to those so afflicted since Cory is on medication for that himself.

Not a fan of my opinions on our current president?  Thankfully we live in a country where freedom of the press matters, so feel free to express your opinion below.  I will point out that I have made it clear that the opinions expressed here are exactly that and not facts.  Any true facts that I have included in this post are from reliable sources and any mistakes I have made are my own. Insert winky face here.

Colonel McCormick, the owner of the Tribune, asked his international reporters to gather fragments of some of the most historically important buildings in the world to incorporate into the building's exterior. They vary from ancient Rome to the Alamo to the World Trade Center.  If you want to see them all go to this great link, otherwise here are a few that we took the time to notice.

Wrigley Field in Chicago has a piece that sits alongside an ancient temple in China and the old general Post Office in Dublin.

I really liked the piece from St. Peter's in Rome.  It's one of the places I keep meaning to get to.  Maybe I'll finally get to Europe this year?  We'll see.

The building was sold for $240 million this fall, and the Michigan Avenue facade is thankfully protected from alteration. No plan is in place yet and construction is not expected to begin until the fall of 2018.  If you are interested to read about what could happen to the 3 acre property here's a link to a good article on the subject.  As I hinted in the opening, I have news of my own.  Not anything worth printing in the Tribune, thankfully!  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sculptured Chicago - Chicago Walk Part 2

Every time I swing by the Chicago Board of Trade I forget to look for the two five ton Greek goddesses that went temporarily "missing" after the old building was demolished in 1929.  It's a great story, check it out here.

The statues originally stood on a ledge over the main entrance of the old Board of Trade building, which was built in 1885.  Representing Agriculture and Industry they now stand in a plaza that was renovated in 2005, back from their years of lounging around in the woods to hold court in downtown Chicago.

Andy and I also popped in to The Monadnock Building which I haven't visited since I was on a walking tour many years ago with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  It was built just before the turn of the century and was a testing ground for some of the new steel frame techniques in architecture.  We weren't allowed to go up the stairs, just admire them and photograph them.

The best rooftop in town is the Harold Washington Public Library which was finished in 1991 and features aluminum acroteria that includes owls at the corners.  Can't get more bookish than that, right?  Apparently Chicago's Chinatown branch is even more inspiring and quite outside the box, literally, with rounded edges.  I'll have to get over there and "check it out".

While I was framing a shot of the only mural that caught my eye next to a very unique blue skyscraper the "L" train made its appearance.  The "L" is short for elevated, and is the third largest mass transit system in the country after the Washington Metro and the New York City Subway.  I only rode the "L" once, but whenever I see it as I walk around town it reminds of the movie "While You Were Sleeping", a great little romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock.

The beautifully sculpted blue building contains dorm rooms of all things and belongs to Roosevelt University, named after Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt. The university was founded in 1945 by a group of Chicago educators who objected to other schools' use of quotas limiting enrollment of African-Americans and Jews. Many of the first Roosevelt students were returning World War II soldiers, including Harold Washington, who served as Roosevelt student council president before becoming Chicago's first black mayor.

We spotted this enormous sculpture with an equally enormous name I won't bore you with sculpted by Frank Stella in 1993.  Built from salvaged metal it supposedly reflects Chicago's industrial origins and is also inspired by the sailor Steelkit from Melville's Moby Dick.  Andy and I stood back and looked it over but just couldn't get the feel of it, celebrated artist or not.  I'm more easily impressed by aluminum owls and the bronze lions that have guarded the Art Institute since 1893.

Another statue we passed I mistook for Cubs announcer Harry Caray, but was actually his predecessor, Jack Brickhouse.  But it was the statue next to Jack that was really hard to miss.

Just before the November election Chicago received a sculpture titled "Return Visit" which is on display in Pioneer Court near the Chicago Tribune on Michigan Avenue.  The 25 foot tall Lincoln is talking to a modern man holding a copy of the Gettysburg Address.  That speech given back in 1863 still can instruct us during the turbulent events we are experiencing since our recent election.  After all, the fight for equality and popular democracy did not end with the American Civil War in 1865.  To see and hear current figures including past presidents reciting the Gettysburg Address go to this link.

If you need a refresher: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
And the ending: "...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Words to ponder as our current president tries to block out immigrants, steps all over women's and LGBTQ rights, and has sparked more demonstrations and protests than I remember ever seeing all within 2 weeks of taking office.  Hopefully citizens will not lose focus and will continue to participate in making their voices heard to the current administration and fighting for equality in the years to come. I used to look down on social media, but I must admit it has been very effective in getting the word out lately and sparking public debate!