Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #129

Favorite Images of 2020


Lens-Artist challenges us to go through our photos and share our favorites from 2020. Here’s a few I found.

It was a strange year with no travel since February and a lockdown.

You can see more favorite 2002 photos here.

Hoping for a better 2021.


It’s with a heavy heart that I share that the Gilded Age architectural gem, the Palmer House Hotel is in foreclosure.

Palmer House, exterior
Empire Room
Palmer House Elegance

The hotel was built by Potter Palmer, a real estate tycoon, for his young bride as a wedding gift. The hotel has faced disaster in the form of fires and financial problems before. I hope it’s not closed for good.

I can see how the lockdown and looting has affected all the downtown hotels.

Elegant Lighting at the Palmer House
Palmer House Hotel, Chicago

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee in person, we’d be at a small café called Leonida’s, which now has outside seating. Otherwise, I’d suggest meeting outside as I did with a couple friends. We chatted in the fresh air for an hour or so. It was so nice to see friends without a screen between us.

My family celebrated Father’s Day three times. On Saturday, we had a Zoom with my sisters in Connecticut and Utah and their families. They treated us to a wonderful take out dinner.  To abide by the 10 person government WuFlu guidelines, yesterday my brother in LaGrange and his family came for lunch, which we shared on our patio and my other brother and his family came for a barbecue. So glad we had good weather.

There’s a lot of drama at work and I’m trying to get a transfer. It’s a long shot, but my fingers are crossed.

I’m making good progress reading Proust’s Swann’s Way, the first book of his In Search of Lost Time. The style is beautiful and mesmerizing, so much so that I can only read 15 pages a day to savor it. It’s sad that a small number of hooligans can wreak such havoc.
I’m gleeful at the prospect of the library opening tomorrow for pick up. It’s been too long. I do still miss being able to select by browsing. One day . . . .

I’m disturbed by the wholesale destruction in parts of the country. If you want to have a piece of public art removed, you can petition your local government or request this at a town hall meeting. Some people see to get high on destruction and they don’t know that some of the statues are of abolitionists and people like Lincoln or Grant who fought to end slavery. Grant sent the national guard to the South to root out the KKK. Yet his statue has been pulled down in San Francisco.

Chicago had a horrendous weekend in terms of violence. Over 100 shot and 13 killed. Some of this is due to the governor releasing prisoners for COVID, but I really can’t explain the rest of it. Lots of theories for the cause (gangs, guns, but few solutions.

In Minneapolis there was a senseless shooting just 2 blocks from my nephew’s apartment. One killed and 12 wounded. I hope they soon find the shooters. I think a lot of the destruction isn’t about justice, it’s about power and evil.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you I edited a video my team at work did for a nearby town’s Virtual 4th of July Parade. We can’t leave our homes for work so 5 of us made small segments and I put them together added some graphics and music. It was a fun project.

It’s sad that a lot of towns canceled their July 4th festivities and many did so fairly early on. Mine did at the end of April. Two nearby towns are having “Reverse Parades” where people decorate their homes and their neighbors drive by them.

My nephew, who lives and works near DC, was still in town and so his mother had us for dinner. She invited her mother too. We ate outside and had a good barbecue. I like this opening up. Last Monday we resumed our summer tradition of gathering with some neighbors for cocktails and appetizers

I also took my mother to get a manicure. Again it was so nice to be out of the house and see other people. Things were different — plexiglass at each station, no drying machines, when you enter your temperature was taken and the whole process has slight changes. It’s interesting to have so many little changes to every common experience.


Yesterday I went to church for the first time since the lockdown. I had to make a reservation and when I arrived there were masks and hand sanitizer available at the entrance. I had my own mask but it was nice that they had some available. An usher showed me to a seat that was a safe distance from everyone else. Few churches have opened so this had a a physically-distanced full house. People in every other row and 6 feet apart but every available row was at capacity by the start of mass.

After mass they had a procession for Corpus Christi, which I didn’t expect. The clergy went outside with the Eucharist (Body of Christ) encased in a gold implement. Followed by the people they stopped at three different shrines to read the gospel and pray. I’d never seen this done at any of the other churches I’d gone to. Quite a surprise.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee this week, I’d still be unable to think of little else than the riots we’re seeing across the country.

I’ve been donating to worthy causes that counter violence and actually help. I’m praying and fasting for peace, justice, respect and kindness.

I have been rereading the sumptuous Swann’s Way, the first book of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. It’s a book I must savor and have to stop to look up references and words so it’s slow going, but worth it. I do need something quick though like a sophisticated graphic novel.

I began tutoring a new student from Afghanistan. Nahid is a young dentist who hasn’t been out of school for long. We’ve met three times and it’s hard for me to plan because it’s hard to determine what her English proficiency is so I’m looking for a free test that gives me a better idea. She’s very passive and we work on Skype. I have to refrain from doing too much of the talking.

My colleagues and I discovered that Evanston, a town we need to recruit in, is having a virtual Independence Day Parade. We’re trying to figure out how to create a simple video encouraging people to complete their census. I’ve also spent time learning about video streaming for work. Lynda.com has a really good course that gives the basics on using Periscope, Google, Wirecast Play and Instagram to stream. I’m rather camera shy so I don’t want to become a Social Media sensation, but I like these tools and I am thinking I could develop a How to Stream course and do it at a library.

A friend of mine suggested some videos to get a wider perspective on the problems of police brutality and racism. I’m halfway through this and it’s provided food for thought.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee this week, I’d be unable to think of a topic other than the riots we’re seeing across the country. I never dreamed this sort of mayhem would be so widespread. I can’t remember who, but someone said that people are seeing it in one city and going out in their own downtowns or malls.

I can’t think of times when many cities rioted at the same time. That could have happened in the 1960’s and I would have been too young to remember. There’s a lot of information swirling around, but it’ll be a while till we know what really went on and who instigated all this.

Tonight I’ve come to think that this is the wrong time for peaceful protest. I hope the peaceful folks take another day and time to voice their opinion and therefore don’t give the bad actors any cover. In Chicago, about 20 miles south of me, the Michigan Avenue, home of the Art Institute, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Symphony and hundreds of restaurants and shops, State Street, again full of premiere stores, have all been vandalized and looted.

Many of us have seen churches burned. Our monuments like the WWII Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial defaced. This destruction is nihilistic and evil.

One young woman who had been protesting did go downtown to help clean up yesterday. On television she explained that it was okay that the buildings had been vandalized because the destruction “just hurt things.” She didn’t realize that a lot of people have been injured and some have died. She didn’t realize that it’s not okay to demolish or steal other people’s property. Certainly property is subordinate to life, but I wonder if this woman had siblings who ever went into her room and messed things up or whether a sibling destroyed items she cared about. We all feel badly when our belongings are destroyed.

On a bigger scale a business owner and his or her employees do put their heart into their work and don’t deserve to have their livelihood ripped away. If you think beyond the “it’s just a material object” is short-sighted. By destroying a business, you are causing hardship for these people and their children.

I pray this violence comes to an end tonight.  George Floyd would not be connected to this mayhem and evil.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee this week we’d be outside in the sunshine. The weather’s getting better hear and that gives me hope. We had some downpours, but that mainly made the grass and shrubbery greener.

I’d ask how week 10 of this lockdown was. In some ways it’s not so hard, but to cut out face to face socializing has been tough. It’s taking its toll on many, particularly parents with young kids who need to be homeschooled.

I’d mention that my nephew graduated from high school out in Connecticut and my parents and I “attended” or rather watched a Baccalaureate Mass on Friday and his graduation on Saturday morning. Both events were virtual and the school tried to check all the ceremonial boxes, but virtual just doesn’t hold up for me. I feel badly for these kids who aren’t getting the usual transition out of high school.

Work is bumping along and I’ve got to accept that the environment is full of people who like power and secrets. People who’re poor communicators and quite disorganized.

We’re still here on lockdown with no easing up yet. Our state has not been adding up the testing data correctly, which is troubling as thee numbers are used to determine when the state opens up.

I’ve started rereading Proust’s Swann’s Way with a friend in Washington state. We choose classic novels and discuss them via email. Swann’s Way is so packed with allusions and precise language that I’m constantly looking things up. It’ll be a slow, but delectable read.

My nephew dropped by to introduce us to his new puppy, Blue. Blue’s a mild-mannered Australian shepherd with one light blue eye and one brown eye. I’ll have to get a photo up.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you how you did during week 9 of the Lockdown. April dragged along and May seems the same. I wrote that last week but it seems we’re just going round and round. People are losing patience.

I can’t believe last week was Mother’s Day. That seems ages ago.


I’d been engrossed in Paul Johnson’s Heroes, which I got via Hoopla, one of my library’s ebook services. One thing I don’t like about these services is there’s no way to renew. You’ve got three weeks and poof! they take back the book. So it’s a longish book and I’m busy so I needed to pick up the pace. Well, Wednesday, though the book’s still checked out to me, when I open it, all I get is a white page, which can’t be flipped. I try repeatedly, then i clear my cache, turn off the device and try again. Same problem. Then I uninstall and reinstall Hoopla. No change. I email Hoopla for help and I still haven’t heard anything. I’ve tried repeatedly to fix this, but all I see is white. I’m not big on ebooks to begin with so I’m even less impressed. I’ll have to buy this book.

(I did check Libby/Overdrive and they don’t have Heroes.)

Last night ESPN showed the final two episodes of The Last Dance about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. All I can say is “Wow.” Watching the final episodes of this four star documentary was practically a religious experience. So much drama and heart.

Illinois is still locked up tight. The mayor has the lakefront all locked up. It’s a wonderful place to go for a walk, run or bike ride and getting some fresh air, sun and exercise are terrific for general health. I sent the Chicago Tribune a letter to the editor in March suggesting that the City open up this public space and hire life guards to insure adequate behavior like physical distancing. It wasn’t published.

A couple Chicago churches dared to hold services while practicing physical distancing and the mayor threw up last minute Tow-Zone signs in the vicinity of these churches. Then she had all the cars towed. So residents including the elderly and healthcare workers got their cars towed. It could be that churchgoers came by public transit. So this overreach has punished the innocent. What recourse do they have? It’s costly to sue the city to recoup the expense of getting one’s car back. There are more positive ways to modify behavior.

Our governor is very strict on lockdown, yet his family is staying in their equestrian estate in Wisconsin, a state that opened up on Friday, after 7 weeks in Florida in that mansion. It’s horrible that he doesn’t have his family stay in Illinois in one of their residences.

The week at work was quite stressful. More on that later. Suffice it to say our managers are very anxious and they haven’t explained why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Travel Now? Where?

airbus aircraft airplane airport

Photo by Manfred Irmer on Pexels.com

This morning I caught a bit of the stock market show Squawk Box. Jim Kramer, one of the hosts, opined about the state of travel and why people aren’t traveling. After all some people aren’t scared about the virus.

That is true. I’d say I’m able to assume the risk and take precautions. I’d love a cheap airline ticket. However, Jim, just what would I do when I got to my destination. I can’t think of a museum, national park, theater or site that’s open. On top of that restaurants are closed. All the pluses of travel are shut down.

Just because something’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile.