Friday, January 31, 2014

Need Your Vote!

In the latest edition (Feb/March 2014) of Our Iowa magazine, the first round of their annual photo contest is revealed.  Specifically, the category is "Iowa Scenery" and my image Night Ride is one of the six finalists.  And now it is up to the subscribers to vote for their favorite.  So, if you receive this publication, I would appreciate you taking the time to cast your ballot.  According to the published instructions, subscribers can now vote via email by using "Vote Iowa Scenery" in the subject line and then in the email write "I vote for number ____."  As you can see above, my photo is #1.  Send the email to
Thanks and stay tuned as upcoming issues announce the remaining three categories and their respective finalists. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A BIG Bite

Hungry?  Obviously, this little guy is as he takes a sizeable bite of his ballpark pretzel.  Reminds me of what I do with a slice of Pizza Margherita or a soft, frosted sugar cookie.  Mmmmm!  And, while taking in a sporting event, there are plenty of tasty options, including nachos loaded with cheese sauce, hotdogs smothered in chili and popcorn drizzled with butter.  Anyway, I couldn't resist sharing this photo of such a cute boy thoroughly enjoying a yummy treat.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Little Levity

If you are tired of the weather, I thought this photo may lighten the mood and make you smile. Plus, it is simply one of those funny concoctions that includes not only a humorous statement but also three bird houses, a street address, a mini flag of the USA, a tiny toy figure of a member of the Simpson family (atop the roof of the blue birdhouse) and an outdoor thermometer seen from the opposite side.  How resourceful!  Do you or your neighbors have any interesting creations such as this that each time you see them make you grin from ear to ear?  If so, please leave a comment and describe that outdoor décor that makes you laugh.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tri-State Bridges water, a sunny blue sky, and speed boats motoring on the Mississippi River.  What a pleasant sight, especially while we are in the middle of a very cold, snowy and windy winter.  But, warm weather is sure to return and delight us all.
While enjoying this view from a bluff in Dubuque, Iowa looking to the northeast, you can first see the Julien Dubuque bridge that connects Iowa to Illinois.  Beyond that to the right is a big, blue-green structure that links Iowa to Wisconsin.  If you are a resident in these parts, you have probably traveled on both of these bridges many times. 
And, it is also interesting to note that my father has spent considerable chunks of time working on the Julien Dubuque bridge and can give some pretty interesting accounts of all the materials used and the process by which the bridge is constructed and maintained.  Of course, for obvious reasons, that work is not for the faint of heart -- whew!
Finally, a did-you know piece of trivia from some online sources:  since the Julien Dubuque bridge was financed with bonds, it originally was a toll bridge and operated as such until 1954.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunflower Unfolding

"The deep roots never doubt spring will come."

Friday, January 24, 2014

My 'Deer' Friend

Given all the cold, snowy, windy weather we have had in the last month, I tend to focus on staying warm myself and forget about wildlife trying to survive in the elements.  Obviously, in such harsh conditions, food, water and shelter become paramount to their survival.  So, today I put out some more birdseed and decided to post these photos of the doe that resides at a nearby county park.  When I visit during the winter she immediately comes to the fence, follows my every move and, whenever I pause, puts her snout through the gaps in the enclosure.  My guess is that she is looking for this human to give food to her; however, I do enjoy her company and think of her as my 'deer' friend.

Be sure to leave a comment telling about how you help our feathered and furry friends make it through the winter.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Birthday Girl

Happy birthday!

If you recognize the woman in today's photo, then you probably also know it is her birthday.  Be sure to send a greeting her way and go ahead and heckle her about her age.  But, just to note, her age is a MUCH lower number than the speed at which she travels on the freeway!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tidal Wave in Chalk


"You don't take a photograph, you make it."
                                                       --Ansel Adams

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Trailing Ivy

This still life is of another door in Galena...not a door to a residential dwelling but rather to what appeared to be a dugout in the side of a steep hill.  Honestly, I have no idea what this is/was but the deep-green, trailing ivy contrasted with the weathered terra cotta caught my eye.  To me, this seems like the perfect image for a kitchen wall or an Italian restaurant.

Enjoy this tranquil scene and remember to leave a comment about this image or any others I have featured as I love to read your remarks.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Yesteryear in Garber

Nestled among bluffs and divided by the Turkey River, Elk Port and Garber are two tiny "twin towns" in Eastern Iowa.  During the fall this area is full of brightly-colored foliage and lots of "leaf lookers" taking in the gorgeous scenery.  And, honestly, usually I just pass right through the two communities en route to Guttenberg, a Mississippi River town. 

But, this particular day, I happened to notice some glistening pampas grass a couple blocks from the highway and decided to check it out.  As I headed toward the river, I noticed some really neat relics that remain in that locale, including a former Catholic church turned private residence (can be seen in a post in October 2013,) a full-size "Standard" oil sign from what was once a corner filling station as well as this former "Texaco" gas station. 

Unlike today's world of 24/7 mega-convenience stores and self-service gas pumps, when I was a child most small towns had a couple "gas stations" (that was our term for them) in which a customer pulled in, an attendant came to the car window, asked how many gallons the driver wanted, filled the order, usually cleaned the car's windshield, visited with the patron and collected the payment -- either cash or a personal check.

So, when I stumbled upon this scene from times past, I found it sparked several memories and I thought many of you would find it interesting as well.  Would love to hear any of your recollections of the 'gas station' you used to know -- just leave a comment!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Handmade Footwear in Red

by James Sommerfeldt

These three images feature bespoke footwear made by some very talented individuals, James Sommerfeldt, Anne Marika Verploegh Chasse' and Amara Hark Weber.  Last summer I had the opportunity to see some of their creations and was impressed by the fact that all of their creations are made entirely by hand and yet are so precise and beautiful.  So, I thought you might also enjoy seeing some of their amazing work in these bold shades of red.  And, if you want to see more of the handmade footwear, check out the artists' websites and social networking sites. 

by Amara Hark Weber
by Anne Marika Verploegh Chasse'

Thursday, January 16, 2014


...are innocent, fearless and make us laugh!  While reviewing the photos that I took at this minor league baseball game, upon first glance I nearly erased this shot.  However, after looking more closely and reading the sign, I started laughing at how these two little guys really were just out having fun and running around in the outfield area of the ballpark.  Of course, the sign's cautionary statement is legitimate but seeing that they were oblivious to the warning and just being kids brought a smile to my face.  Gotta love the little ones.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DIY: Paper Flower Bouquets revisited

Looking for something to occupy your time during the cold-weather months?  Perhaps this project is for you as it can be used for birthdays, Valentine's gifts, sprucing up your décor and much, much more. 

And, yes, over a year ago I featured these photos and the post was very popular as folks were interested in this neat paper craft.  So, in case you need an idea to get your creative juices flowing, click on the following link to access the online instructions complete with photos for each step:

If you make your own, I would love to hear from you and welcome any comments regarding the project.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cupola Atop Courthouse

This photo shows only the very top of the Clayton County Courthouse in Elkader, Iowa on a lovely autumn afternoon.  As I prepared the photo for this post and read a little about the building, I soon realized that Elkader was not always the county seat.  Clayton County was formed in 1837 after splitting from neighboring Dubuque County, and the first courthouse was built in 1840 in Prairie La Porte, which, according to the online source, is now Guttenberg.  In 1844 another courthouse was built in Jacksonville, which is now Garnavillo, and later, in 1867, construction started on the building in Elkader.  As you might expect, this structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is known for some of its architectural features, including the cupola that includes a 45-foot clock tower. 

So, if you need a reason to get out of the house, take a little drive and see it for yourself -- I think you will also enjoy some of the unique downtown businesses.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Coiled Shadow

Any ideas about the original subject in this photo?  Hmmmmmm....  Take a guess and read on.

The story behind this image is that a couple weeks ago, when the temperatures were above freezing, I spent time outdoors with camera in hand.  One of my stops was at a county park where I planned to photograph the turkeys and deer that reside in an enclosure (which I did) but, as I wandered through the snow and actually felt warm from the sun's rays, my attention turned to the playground and all the cool shadows and shapes created from the equipment and the sunshine.  Hence, this is one of those images that is primarily shadows on the snow and some creative color to enhance the effect.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Gone Fishin'

Usually I associate fishing with warm-weather months; however, seeing these hardy anglers out on the ice reminded me that, regardless of the temperature here in Iowa, fishing must go on!  And, unlike earlier this week, the day I took these photos was actually quite pleasant with the thermometer reading in the 30s -- a heat wave for us!  Anyway, if you enjoy ice fishing, be safe and may many fish swim your way.

"Early to bed, early to rise.  Fish all day, make up lies."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Blossoms Below the Snow

One might assume that during the recent sub-zero temperatures I had a brain freeze that resulted in this image!  Honestly, I simply was soooo tired of all the cold and snow that I took some time to create this scene that includes blooms from previous summers.  And, as I thought about the winter, this picture does depict the season as snow now covers all the bright, colorful foliage that will emerge in just a couple months.  Anyway, in the meanwhile, stay warm and enjoy a good book or some other diversion.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Anybody Home?

No Answer, by Stephanie Funke
This is a shot of a door in downtown Galena, IL.  Lots of things drew me to the scene, including the red door (appears white in this image,) the lines on the panes of glass and door, the shadow, the light highlighting items inside, and, of course, the old-school mailbox.  Finally, take note of the door handle -- not so energy efficient but definitely helps make a great photo.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Still Frozen

 "It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake,
 the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. 
This crisp winter air is full of it."
                                                   --John Burroughs, "Winter Sunshine"

Brrrrrrr!  Hope all of you in these parts are staying safe and warm.  As noted yesterday, here a are couple more winter-morning scenes when Jack Frost left his mark as far as the eye could see.

Monday, January 6, 2014


With high temperatures forecast NOT to be above zero for a couple days, I thought these images mirrored the current frigid conditions in Iowa.  However, I have to say that these photos were taken a couple weeks ago when we experienced a brief "warm up" as the thermometer finally displayed a number above freezing!  And, therefore, there was fog in the early morning that created these frosty conditions that later gave way to a beautiful blue sky and sunshine.  To capture some of Mother Nature's amazing artwork, I spent over an hour outdoors traipsing through the snow and marveling at the intricate ice-crystal formations.

And, in case you wondered, today's photos are of a chain-link fence as the sun started to melt some of the ice crystals and left behind some rugged mountain-peak scenes.  Tomorrow, as the temperature here remains below zero, look for a couple more 'frozen' images.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fog on the Bend

In a recent online art competition, this photo, Fog on the Bend, received Special Recognition.  The exhibition theme was "Seasons" and there are some truly beautiful images to see.  Be sure to view the overall winners as well as the Painting, Photography and Special Merit divisions.  Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Post image for Artist Badges for Our Artists & Gallery Followers

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Escape to the Beach

For those of us stuck in the grip of winter amid snow, ice, frigid temperatures and few hours of daylight, today's photos provide a brief reprieve.  These images are of the beach just off of Paradise Island in Nassau.  May these gorgeous shades of blue, emerald and turquoise brighten your day and bring warm thoughts your way.