The Hardware Store in Blue Island, IL

During my recent trip to the Chicago area I had to take drastic measures after being locked out of the house.  I had to gain entry by breaking a small basement window, which allowed me to turn the latch and open it so that I could crawl in.  First problem solved, new problem created: broken window to fix.  Not being from the area, I had to locate a hardware store that would be nearby, able to cut glass and have glazing and tuck points.  And, there was the question of would a locksmith have been cheaper?
Turns out buying the materials and doing it myself was the best option. Total cost: $8.60!  Plus my labor.  Finding the hardware store was probably the hardest part of the process.  It was tucked away in a difficult to find neighborhood that is part of the old Blue Island area.  Jeben’s Hardware is hidden away on the south side of the Calumet River on Old Western Ave in a wonderful old building that is dated 1894.  The building is only part of the charm of this place.  First you need to take time to look in the windows, they have a sampling of hardware history on display.  Going inside will blow you away, especially if you love a good hardware store.  One display as you enter is an exhibit of all manner of tools and whatnot in a beautiful wood and glass case.  The main part of the store feels very much like it probably did in the early part of the 20th century.
Besides the hardware store, there is also a fantastic restaurant next door that I highly recommend, The Maple Tree Inn.  Try the Voodoo Nuts!  It’s an area that I hope to go back and explore more fully when I don’t have a window to fix, capped off with a cold beverage and some Voodoo Nuts.  Plus take time to check out the Irish Saloon and the Latin Rhythm Lounge across the street.


The Spirits of Light

Another segment of, “Playing With Light.”

Once again I was just minding my won business when the spirit of light and color interrupted my day and made its presence known to me.  And I’m not one for ignoring such interruptions.  When the spirit moves me, I move to get my camera!

Things In An Apple Orchard

I recently visited the Dumas Apple Orchard which is run by my aunt and uncle and located along old U.S. 12, just west of Long Lake, Minnesota.  The trip for me is not just about the apples, it’s also about wandering around the orchard with my camera.  My uncle, besides running the orchard, is one of those rare people who does some amazing tinkering.  For an idea of what I mean, take a look at this video.  For a brief tour of the orchard, there’s this video.  Apple season is nearly over and it was a good year for the orchard, so if you happen to be near the area, I hope you will stop in, say HI! and pick up some apples.


I had another one of those day where my sports shooting schedule went awry, so off I went to find something else to do with my camera.  This time I ended up at Ft. Snelling State Park, which is along the Minnesota River, just below the MSP airport and not far from the wildlife refuge I visited awhile back.  My wanderings took me to a backwater slough being used by a flock of Canadian geese and several white egrets.  The geese were being pretty laid back, but the egrets were busy feeding in the shallow water on the small fish that were also enjoying the slough.

Road Trip, Old School Style

On my last trip from Duluth to Minneapolis, I needed to make a stop in Rice Lake, Wis. to photograph a vacation home, which made my usual 2 1/2 hour drive about twice as long, plus the time to do the shoot.  What made the trip unusual was that I was returning my late father’s car to my mother’s house.  I had to borrow it when my car needed work and I had to go to Duluth.  The car in question is a 1992 Buick Roadmaster station wagon, a vehicle that I consider to be the original minivan because of the third seat facing the back.  It will seat at least eight, maybe nine, not sure if there are three seat belts in the third seat.  The car is showing its age, the body is missing some of its trim, has a bit of rust, the A/C doesn’t work, brakes need work and the turn signals don’t work, but other than that, it rides smooth.  It amazes me how many people, when they see the car, have stories about having one of these in their family when growing up.
Cruising down the highway in northern Wisconsin, then over to the St. Croix river valley before hooking up with the freeway on my way to the western side of the of the metro area, I fully enjoyed how the car floats down the road.  If money were no object, there is a part of me that would like to restore the car and take it on a cross-country trip.  Although, that big 350 V8 would cost me a bit of gas.
As far as the journey itself, I made a short stop at a roadside rest area along the St. Croix River just north of Stillwater, MN and snapped off a few shots of the wild flowers, the river and, of course, the Roadmaster.

Mall of America: The Unplugged Edition

Yesterday I posted images from my visit to the Mall of America and a fellow blogger asked whether I had considered presenting one or more of the images in black & white.  In response to that, I present the following: