Sunday, September 30, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

These concrete structures are all that's left of a railroad line that ran through this area. The passage of time has dimmed the realization of how important the railroads were to the development of this country. Towns were made or broken on the decision of where the rails would be laid.

A little further east of here the rail bed is now a jogging and bike path.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Many people have reported hearing the corn squeak. I have yet to hear that from the cornfield, but you know it's fall when the corn begins to rustle.

It's always windy here in northern Illinois and nothing is more reassuring that the heat of summer will soon be gone that a field full of drying corn.

One of the farmers has started harvesting but it seems awfully early to me, and his corn is somewhat still green. There's a science to harvest and it involves the moisture content.

NOTE: Thanks to all who continue to visit and comment. The posts have been infrequent due to the continuing demolition/remodeling project after the basement flood.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

sisterhood of the traveling potato chip can

Do you remember the story of the homesick potato chips?

I had posted a photo of preparations for Garfield Farm Museum's first annual barn sale.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Loyal reader and Florida resident Susan view the photo and zeroed in on the Jay's Potato Chip can, which was a nostalgic reminder of her original home in northern Illinois. It's amazing what little things can trigger memories and emotions. Susan e-mailed me, asking if there was a possibility that I could purchase the can in her behalf. I was more than willing and Donna Neiler and Denise Morgan (pictured below)helped me with my task.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Soon the homesick potato chip can was on it's way to sunny Florida and it's new home with Susan, who would greatly appreciate it's value as an icon of Illinois culture. Yum.....the can was filled with a fresh bag of Jay's chips before it left on it's journey.

Susan was a good sport and agreed to give the can a complete tourist-worthy tour of Naples, Florida. AND she snapped this great photo of the can visiting Naples City Hall.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

If you've ever spent time away from the place you consider "home", you'll identify with Susan and her quest for the homesick potato chips!

Monday, September 17, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is a storefront that represents small town America. It's in Plano, Illinois but it could be in an one of a thousand communities across this land. It's in stark contrast to the slick storefronts at the "lifestyle" mall about 10 miles from here. I never seem dressed up enough to enter some of those places. Adrienne Vittadini has shuttered her shop at the mall. It seems that the demographics of our community haven't yet shifted fully in her favor. Farm & Fleet is doing quite well just 10 miles east.

Yet looking at the photo I realize that this image exists in large urban areas, just not in the swanky shopping venues. All the little neighborhoods surrounding downtown Chicago have thousands of small independent businesses, many with their own ethnic identities.

I believe I'm dressed just fine to enter this office supply store.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's been a number of years since I drove through Plano (Illinois, not Texas). A month or so ago I was made aware of a photography contest sponsored by a number of groups; Citizens Against the Sprawlway, Friends of the Fox River, Kendall Citizens for Farmland Protection, Valley of the Fox Chapter of the Sierra Club and Aux Sable Creek Watershed Coalition. The contest is entitled, "What We'll Lose" and the images are to emphasize what will be lost if the billion dollar Prairie Parkway highway project is constructed.

As loyal readers know, this is a subject close to my heart. It is, in fact, one of the premises of my blog - recording a rural way of life that is being paved under by rampant development.

Unfortunately, due to recent weather related issues here at home I've been unable to schedule the drive down to Plano. But the deadline for the contest loomed large and so with great anticipation I drove down Route 47, planning to spend a morning getting shots and an afternoon and evening editing and cropping. (No other adjustments allowed in this contest).

There are three categories in the contest - Agriculture, Rural (small town life), and Environment. Basically I came back with a few images but in reality, empty handed.

The very sad truth of the matter, and the only "story" I could find to tell was that it's already too late. It appears the genie is out of the bottle and has been for years. Huge swaths of farmland are blanketed with tract homes in subdivisions with names concocted by clever marketing departments. "Churchill Farms" employs a large barn to stake it's claim to the once green soybean field, now covered with a new crop of homes. Strip mall after strip mall line both sides of Route 34 and a large center with a Kohl's and Target have sucked business out of the downtown area.

Driving up and down searching for a viable working farm was an exercise in futility. Corn cribs rusted in the bright sunshine and other farmhouses had obviously been renovated into executive digs. Perhaps I simply didn't drive down the right roads.
The downtown area of Plano had a nice small town feel but my photos seemed uninspired. On to the "Environment" category.

I found a cool spot on the edge of town where there was a one-lane bridge. It crossed the Big Rock Creek and there was an architecturally interesting bridge in the background. Unfortunately the "too late" point was drive home again as this idyllic spot was covered with huge paving equipment, literally belching fire as it puffed it's way across the bridge, black stinky smoke obscuring the lovely view.

I was saddened by the trip and it's implications for those who seek to preserve a culture and a way of life. I'm saddened for the organizers of the photo contest because it appears the fabric of the area has already changed. If the Prairie Parkway is not built how will this narrow swath of land be saved from housing and retail developers?

Friday, September 07, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A quick search of my photo archives turned up this photo of "water". At this point it's the best I can do without firing up the external hard drive for pictures of the dam in town.

I didn't know what was in store for me the last time I posted saying "see you in a week." I returned without any interesting images from Hot Springs as my camera decided to misbehave.

On the return trip I stopped for the night in the very small town of Litchfield, south of Springfield, Illinois. This Hampton Inn was a big surprise and a jewel worth mentioning. Litchfield is just off the interstate and lies smack in the middle of millions of acres of corn and soybean fields, so it's not exactly the place you'd expect to find a hotel room that rivals some of the best rooms I've ever occupied. It was beautifully decorated, spotlessly clean and even smelled fabulous. They feature a bed that rivals Westin's "Heavenly Bed".

It's a good thing that the folks at Hampton pampered me on that Thursday night because as I snuggled in luxury sheets the farmer and the farmers son were dealing with some of the worst thunderstorms to hit northern Illinois in many years. On Friday morning I pulled into the driveway feeling all refreshed, which was a good thing because I walked in to find the power had been out and the battery back up pump had been overwhelmed by the deluge of water. Unfortunately the farmer slept through it all or he'd have fired up the generator. Water, water, everywhere..... filling the basement up to 3 inches.

The farmer's son is spearheading the demolition and clean up. I'm on his team and therefore posts might be spotty for awhile. Thanks Betty Western for your concern and the assurances that I do actually have a fan base!

I ask for some good thoughts at this point, but NOT for my family. A flooded basement is merely an inconvenience in our lives. I ask for your thoughts to be directed to the people of Honduras and Guatemala, who are victims of the latest hurricane. They are the ones that have been put in harms way by water. The wonderful people we met on our travels in Guatemala now face a more insidious danger - mudslides or lahars. These terrible events bury entire villages.

In the photo above our tour guide in Grand Cayman (last February) points out the areas damaged from the last big hurricane that tore across the island. I'm assured that Cayman was a lush tropical paradise but the hurricane had reduced it to looking like a scrubby little sandbar.