Photo Time! Sunset of Seasons

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IMG_3508Well my fog morphed into a bit of an end-of-summer cold, so I’m a little less creative than I’d like to be. So how about a few more pictures? These are from a sunset a few days ago. It was pretty spectacular.

There’s something about the sky in Chicago in late August. The clouds seem more solid, abundant even when it’s not considering rain,and they hold the sun in a way as though they’re trying to keep it here for as long as possible.

Their efforts are in vain, of course.

You can’t stop theIMG_3640 IMG_3526 shift in seasons here, but you can admire them as they roll through.

And here’s this one on the cusp of change.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Photo Time! Skokie Lagoons

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IMG_4018Photo time again! I know it’s been a while since a photo post, but it’s also been a while since I took any photos. Today, I’m sharing pictures from the Skokie Lagoons, which is pretty poorly named, given that they aren’t actually in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, but instead spread over parts of Winnetka, Glencoe and Northfield.

Apparently you can fish there with a license, and you can rent canoes and kayaks. I did none of these things. Instead, I got a ton of mosquito bites, despite copious amounts of bug spray.

I also got some interesting shots! I saw some great birds, though not even a fraction of the species living there. I am a terrible bird spotter. But an excellent mosquito attracter.

This time, interestingly, I didn’t break out the little camera, there was just so much new stuff to capture with my real camera. Hope you enjoy your bite-free visit!
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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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More Butterflies! So Many Butterflies!

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IMG_3099I shared a single butterfly yesterday, and I know it’s been a photo-heavy week, but I can’t resist sharing more. The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Butterflies & Blooms exhibit — a permanent structure with net walls and a net ceiling — absolutely teems with a wide variety of butterflies. Some of them are the size of small birds, and just as fast or faster.

Not easy to capture.

Plus, my camera battery died, which is a frustrating moment. I need to get back up batteries. Or at least a back up battery. But I had my little camera, and got a few shots with it as well.

I have no idea of any of the species, so feel free to identify if you do!

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I wish I’d gotten some pictures that really gave the sense of the ethereal loveliness of the masses of them flying around, but it was tough to capture.

And now from the little camera:

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Photo Time! Lincoln Park Zoo (Again)

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Well, a change of plans and an extremely crowded Michigan Avenue — three parking garages attempted, three parking garages full — resulted in another trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. This time I hung out with the small monkeys, as well as some of the great apes, but I didn’t get super awesome pictures of the great apes.

One came right to the glass of the outdoor enclosure, it was pretty incredible. But the glass was really reflective. I got an OK pic from the little camera, though, and I’ll post that.

Some of the monkeys seemed to get that they were in nicely-appointed prisons, and looked depressed. The lighting was low there, though, and I didn’t get any usable photos.

Others seemed to realize that a quiet life with food-on-demand and without predators isn’t so bad, and were as interested in us as we were in them. So here are some pictures!

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This is a pied tamarin, but I think it’s a bat-faced monkey who is half-bat-half-monkey created when a witch cursed a monkey. I’m sure it’s very nice, though.

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So the black monkey was sleeping on the branch, and the golden one clearly wanted the other one to wake up. No dice.

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I was taking a photo of the lemur on the right, and the other one was looking away. I SWEAR the one on the right nudged the one on the left, as if to say “Hey! Photo!” and the left one looked around until it found my camera. They stopped short of asking me to tag them.

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Mom and baby, proving that goofiness is, in fact, genetic.

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The underground viewing area for the seal/sea lion pool.

 

 

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Baby zebra!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now from the little camera:

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Super reflective. That’s me in the striped shirt, reflected twice.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Photo Time! Independence Grove Forest Preserve

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A reminder: I will be doing a Q&A tomorrow at noon Central U.S. time for Comedy Book Week on Facebook, of all places! Come hang out, ask questions, and take a stab at the fun contest, which will be live later today. I’ll update this post with the link. Here it is! Can you define the word I made up? Come play!

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Another day trip, another round of photos! I really got some beauties. It was a completely new place for me, the Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Lake County Illinois. It’s got a beach and a marina, and it’s just a lovely, lovely place. So much green!

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Photo Time: Chicago Botanic Garden or FLOWERS! FLOWERS! FLOWERS!

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IMG_1295A visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden on a gorgeous Saturday yielded some nice shots, and I got a chance to play with the little point-and-shoot in a natural environment. Though in past visits to the Garden, the birds were generously cooperative, they were less so this time.

I heard them, oh, did I hear them, but I couldn’t spot them. I don’t think I’d make a good birder.

Though I enjoy trying to find them. Except when I don’t. Find them, that is.

Gardens are beautiful places, but they also have their mystery, with dark little corners, curious animals, spots for hiding. They can be a great source of writing inspiration, though for me, on this particular trip, no sparks were sparked. But there’s always the possibility of looking back at the photos and seeing something in them you didn’t see before.

 

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Oh formatting. Sorry, I can never get the photos to go where I want them.

And now for some of the pictures from the little camera. I played with the single color function again, and found the results really interesting.

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I used the “vivid” function or something to that effect, and it did increase the color saturation, I think.

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The miniaturization filter strikes again! I think it works, as long as there are some man-made elements.

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In case you couldn’t guess, I used the filter to emphasize the purple. It was the truest color of the color filters I tried; these petunias are definitely purple.

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These are the same begonias as the other ones, isolated for red.

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The begonias isolated for orange.

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I think the yellow is the most successful in this experiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Characters are Everywhere (Writing Prompt)

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IMG_0995You might remember this stingray from yesterday’s post of photos from the Shedd Aquarium. At least I think that’s the same lovable dork.

S/he got me thinking about inspiration, and, more specifically, inspiration as it applies to characters. I can’t tell you whether the personality I see in this photo is simply a product of my human experience anthropomorphizing a stingray, or if it’s just an animal who loves his/her gig.

I’ve got to say, I think s/he loves her/his gig.

That aside, it really doesn’t matter, because the inspiration exists no matter what the objective reality. This stingray is a character.

I’ve got an edge in converting him/her to character status, as I write science-fiction, and alien species can abound. But even if I wanted to take the essence of the spirit I see, I could work that energy into a cozy, for example, or a fantasy, or even a romance (though probably not a main character. Then again, why create limits?).

Inspiration for your characters is absolutely everywhere. You don’t even need a human to spark you into bringing someone fictional to life.

Which gets me to the point of this post (yes, yes, hypothetical reader, I love to meander).

Writing Prompt: Use this photo to create a character, and write about the character in any form you choose. 

If it’s short enough, feel free to post your results in the comments (and I know I have some microfiction visitors 🙂 ). If you think it’s too long, go ahead and post a link. We’ll visit.

Have fun!

Oh, and if this stingray doesn’t do it for you, feel free to use any of the photos from yesterday to grab a character. We’re not picky, are we hypothetical reader?

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Chicago Summer Back Again

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IMG_7980So here we are, nearly at the end of June, and time has gotten slippery. The days themselves don’t seem to speed by, but they pile up on (upon?!) one another, careless paper, fluttering away.

Without much of a thought, I’ve gone from heavy coats and hats and boots to reminding myself I don’t need to grab a jacket as I head out the door.

It’s summer.

Real ice-cream-eating, long, languid days of daylight-giving, sweat-inducing summer. Welcome back.

I’ve never really thought about how the change of seasons might influence my writing. Perhaps how I write; dark winter days with a mug of something hot sounds like romantic writing at its finest. And maybe bright summer days should be spent out in the world, away from a keyboard, doing, experiencing.

Maybe.

In Chicago, we earn our summers through slushy wet sidewalks and sharp, needling snowflakes. Through slidey roads and a wind that drives half of your molecules from your body and into the cold beyond.

But our summers melt all of that away, under broad blue skies and a lake made of shifting blue. The humidity can settle down, heavily, and yet people smile.

After all, it’s summer.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Random Photos for Tuesday

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Though he looks like an ox,this guy is a goat. A very, very large goat.

IMG_0117As I’m waiting for the miracle of coffee to kick in, I’m sitting here, window open, a slightly damp light breeze coming through. I think it’s going to rain.

This morning is quiet, no banging from the units beyond, no horns or sirens from the streets. Just the quiet drone of cars, and the occasional roar of a motorcycle.

Why do motorcycles have to roar?

Anyway, I’m trying to get my brain out of first gear, but the clutch is stuck. So let’s do some random photos instead!

Some of the zoo pictures I never posted, other pictures, whatever catches my eye from my very deep hard drive. We’ll find out which pictures those are together!

Sorry for any weird formatting of the photos, they’re not cooperating. So they’re not in any particular order.

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This one was sitting right by the glass inside. But when the building closed he came outside where the people were.

This one was sitting right by the glass inside. But when the building closed he came outside where the people were.

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This gorilla made me sad. The zoo gorillas often make me sad.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Playing Hooky by the Rules: Photographic Evidence

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The rules of hooky are simple: avoid all tasks on the to-do list. Enjoy day. Repeat as needed.

So yesterday I ditched everything I should have been doing, and went for Ethiopian food at Chicago’s Ethiopian Diamond restaurant. The pics right there are from their website, which isn’t totally functioning, so I’m not linking, but it gives you an idea of what the food is like.

I was so excited to dig in, I completely forgot to take a picture for everyone. We didn’t do dessert — I actually came home with a to-go box that must have weighed six pounds (it doesn’t anymore!) — but you can see how the food comes on one giant patter, resting on a base of Ethiopian bread, which is called injera.

The injera is soft and spongy, and is tangily-sour. It’s adds a layer of flavor as you use it as a utensil to grab the fragrant stewy food.

My favorites are the vegetarian dishes, though I’m not a vegetarian. But the meats are also wonderful. While the end results can appear similar, every dish has a distinct flavor, but the spices never overwhelm the ingredients. Some can be very spicy, so watch it if you’re not into heat!

After lunch I headed over to the Lincoln Park Zoo, where I broke out my trusty camera. I have mixed feelings about zoos, as I understand their purpose in terms of conservation, but some of the animals just seem so depressed.

Lincoln Park Zoo is just north of downtown Chicago, and it’s free. It opened in 1868, and some of the structures still have that look of animal jails, with the tiny exhibition spaces. But with extensive remodeling in recent years, animals are getting bigger and more natural habitats.

It’s still a zoo, though.

Sometime between 1897-1924. I think that bear is considering whether it can clear that jump.

We focused (ha!) mostly on birds this trip, and they, at least, seemed pretty contented with their lots in life. There was one open room of tropical birds, and they seemed to enjoy the interaction with visitors.

In fact, I’d swear they took turns making sure they had their pictures taken.

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A family! Not sure what they are…

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Wasn’t sorry there was a fence between me and this vulture.

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This little green guy looked like a cartoon character.

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Check out those skinny, skinny , skinny legs and that skinny, skinny beak!

 

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Just love this guy’s swagger.

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This bird had the most amazing scarlet under its wings.

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I’m convinced the snowy owl was the inspiration for the dragon’s face in The Never Ending Story.

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These flamingos made me giggle. There’s such humor in the angle of their beaks.

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In contrast to this ostrich, who had had. E. Nough.

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This bird was such a friendly cutie, it let an 18-month old get super close before finally flying away.

We’ll save the other animals for another day. I hope you enjoyed your vicarious zoo visit!
Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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