Wednesday, November 28, 2007

wind break

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Hidden behind the trees stands a more modern home which stands in the middle of a couple hundred acres of farm fields. The people who built this have evidently lived in the country for awhile, because when building the house they understood the necessity of planting a wind break.

The trees hug the house along the west and north sides, providing a break from the prevailing winds. And believe me, in northern Illinois the wind can be quite a problem. Unfortunately about a mile from here is a subdivision of very large homes with stand alone and naked against the approaching winter storms.

Older farmhouses were further insulated with hay bales around the foundations.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


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When man leaves, nature takes over and reclaims her territory. Abandoned properties are soon overgrown in a chaotic tangle of vegetation. Wildlife moves in to the house and buildings that were once man's domain. This is a old building where milk was kept cool until it could be shipped to the dairy.

It reminds me of a Grimm's fairy tale.

Friday, November 23, 2007

tin roof

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Not rusted, but definitely dangerous.

Many of the abandoned properties in this area eventually become downright dangerous. It's not a good idea to go poking around by yourself. There are hidden dangers, such as old well or cisterns hidden under thick overgrowth. The buildings can actually collapse at any given moment.

The tin roof on this old machine shed has been pulled loose by the force of the infamous Illinois wind. It was flapping in the breeze when I arrived and one good windstorm will rip it completely off. It will go flying and become an airborne danger. Many of these properties are knocked over when they become too much of a hazard, or the local volunteer fire department burns them down for practice.

In another space and time this farm was someone's home and provided them with a living.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

a time for giving thanks

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This is a day to reflect on our lives and give thanks.

I am very thankful for family, friends and the wonderful people who come into my life through the portals of this blog. The internet has given the world an opportunity to connect and I marvel at that the similiarties and common themes in our lives, whether we're in rural Illinois or far flung lands.

I'm thankful for having been poor at times in my life, as it has given me a reference point.
I'm thankful for having been raised by people who saw the importance of sharing what we have with others, no matter how little we have.
I'm thankful for having the opportunity to support a child in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and I ask your prayers (or good thoughts) as the family seeking to adopt him from Haiti face many difficulties in the process.
I'm thankful for the difficult challenges that I've been presented with as they have given my life depth and meaning.
I'm thankful for having been able to travel widely and recognize the awesome power of opportunity and how people, given opportunity, can transform their lives and the lives of their families.

And thanks to all who take the time out of their day to visit my little part of the world. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

what's left

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This is all that's left of a large and impressive barn.

Many of the decaying properties decline at a slow rate and then things simply fall apart. This is a small portion of the original barn. This space contained stalls for the livestock, the large attached barn simply collapsed during a wind storm.

I can't imagine the sound involved in such a collapse. The pile of debris seems to insignificant in relation to the large volume of the barn itself. The gigantic 16-sided Teeple Barn in Elgin left an equally small pile of debris when it collapsed in a windstorm. It's gone forever, the debris pile removed and fresh grass is growing as if it never existed. But it did time and space.

Monday, November 19, 2007

rear window

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I was fascinated by this broken window at a nearby abandoned farmhouse. It brings to mind the subject of "point of view".

Recently I met local high school student Shannon and her family for lunch. Shannon is taking the advanced photography class at school, her dad Dave is the publisher of a new local blog entitled, Mill Creek Times. We got together to discuss photography, blogging, culture and community. It was an enjoyable discussion.

Shannon's class is doing a project on abandoned and decaying properties. I shared the location of a few prime spots to photograph and her and some of her classmates visited the various properties. Shannon remarked that she was surprised how each photographer came away with very different photographs of the same subject.

I have experienced the same phenomenon after a photoshoot with fellow members of Chicago Photobloggers. I guess we all see with a different eye and perspective. In my case I try to "see" what might otherwise go unnoticed. This broken window is a good example. Looking around the place I noticed the trees reflected in the remaining shard of glass and thought it might make an interesting photo. The next step in the puzzle comes in the way in which the photographer crops the photo. There was a bit of annoying tree branches on the upper right and I cropped them away.

Good luck to the Geneva High School photography class on their very interesting project.