A new life;
same as the old life?

In March 2005, I took a new job in the Chicagoland area. So far living in the US has been everything I knew it would be, lots of fun, sometimes frustrating, and always a challenge.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Fabyan Forest, Villa & Windmill

Last couple of weekends I have gone out to take some photographs. I have a laundry list of DIY tasks on my list that I am supposed to be doing, but work is so busy that I don't really seem to have the energy. The family are out of town in the UK for a few more weeks. Yesterday I went to shoot Fabyan Villa, it's Japanese garden and the restored windmill, out in Geneva, Kane County. Unfortunately the garden was closed for three different wedding shoots; so I will have to go back some other time and maybe take the kids.

I was able to watch them put up the sails and start up the windmill which was very cool. The guy climbing the wooden substructure to grab the sail cloth and unfurl it, then watch on a windy day how they adjusted the sail to make sure that it wasn't turning too fast. From their website...

Fabyan Forest Preserve was once part of the large country estate of George and Nelle Fabyan. They came to the Fox River Valley in the early 1900s and bought a farmhouse and 10 acres on the west bank of the Fox River. Over the following 20 years, they acquired 300-plus acres and developed the property into a fabulous estate they called “Riverbank.” After their deaths in 1936 and 1939, the Forest Preserve District of Kane County purchased the estate for this amazing preserve.

On the east side of Fabyan Forest Preserve, stands the majestic Fabyan Windmill. The 68-foot, 5-story structure was originally built by Louis Blackhaus, a German craftsman, between 1850 and 1860. The Windmill originally stood on a site in what is now Lombard, Illinois. In 1914, it was purchased by George Fabyan for about $8,000, and moved here to Riverbank.

After many years, the Windmill had fallen into disrepair. Third-generation Dutch Windmill Maker Lucas Verbij was contracted by the Forest Preserve District to tackle the tough job of restoring the Windmill. According to Verbij, “The Fabyan Windmill is the best example of an authentic Dutch windmill in the United States. Actually, it's a treasure, and would be the most popular windmill in the Netherlands (we currently have 1,000 windmills). Restoring Fabyan Windmill was as much honor as it was duty. The timing of the restoration project was critical, as the main beams of the tower were strongly rotting. When you hardly have old original U.S. windmills left, preserving what you have is so important.”

“There is German, Swedish and Dutch millwright work on this Windmill,” states Verbij. “It is one of the few in the world that is restored to operate by natural wind energy.”

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Photo 365 v2

Yes I have started another day by day photo 365 project; and I am already behind! The winter hasn't helped me so far, and the weather generally has been blah. Click on the links over to the right and you can see the album and the rejects as I go through the year. Please feel free to leave feedback.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa Tracking

Christmas is a coming and hi tech is the latest thing! Someone told me about this website and I thought it was too cool not to share, so if you think it's lame..bite me!

I don't know how much of it is true, partially true or complete BS, but it is an interesting story. Apparently it all started in the 50s, when some store printed an error in their "Call Santa" hotline number, which took kids through to what was then CONAD, later NORAD.

According to their website, they have been doing it ever since. Now I definitely don't believe all the stuff about using jets, satellites, etc, but there is no reason why some computer simulation isn't doing it. So I am going to call the number on Christmas Eve and see if anyone answers, right now it is just a machine.

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Winter Is Coming...

...and apparently it is going to be one of the worst in forever. The weather has been decent this fall or autumn, depending on which country you are from. October has been another busy month, which ended up with waving the family off to the UK for an extended 5 week plus trip. As I write this, it is already 11 days and they have flown by!

I have been busy working, and took a couple of weekend trips out to take pictures. Also, as is always the case when the family goes away, I have a boat load of DIY jobs to try to get done. I have already hung two new doors, ripped the trim off the upstairs hall, and put up a new light in the office. The rest of the list is way too long to go through, but it ranges from cutting a new doorway in Cooper's room to simple stuff like touching up cracks, paint dings, etc.

I decided to check out the Naperville River Walk and it was excellent. We have talked about it many times, and drove through the city a couple of weeks ago to check it out when we were at the Morton Arboretum. The walk goes quite a long way, right beside the river in a few places, and across several covered bridges. It is not overly taxing, so it you are looking for a scenic walk, I can thoroughly recommend it. Even the little snakes enjoy it (check out the pics) NOT very stroller friendly however. Click here for a some pictures.

Whilst I was down in the area, I took the opportunity to make another trip to the arboretum, hoping that the colours would still be around despite the high winds we have had recently. There were still some great colours, but all the trees that had changed in early October were already leafless. Click here for some more pictures, including the ones from the beginning of the month.


Just this weekend, I went to Russell Military "Museum". I have driven by there so many times and thought it looked cool. At $10 it wasn't bad value. Most of the exhibits are trainers (it says on the side for those of you wondering), and have clearly been stripped for parts before coming to the museum, but still they are pretty cool.

It does look more like a military dumping ground than a museum, but at the price, it is still worth a looksee. Click here for some pictures.

More DIY this week, then I have friends coming into town for the weekend, so I expect there will be more pictures.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Montreal, QC

I took my fourth trip to Montreal this past week. On the previous three trips, I had not had much opportunity to go out and shoot photographs. Two trips were with Steve and so we spent most of the time out eating and drinking, the third trip it rained pretty much the entire week, and I thought this was going to be the same this week. For the first two days it rained pretty solidly, although I managed to sneak a few hours one evening.

I had been checking out many of the fountains on previous trips, and so I decided that would be good subject matter. Click on the picture above for shots from that evening.

On the last night I decided to check out what is supposedly one of the best attractions in Montreal, the Bio Dome in the old Olympic stadium. I have to say that whilst I thought it was kinda fun, and the exhibits were good, I really didn't think it was all that!

The one thing I did do when I was there that impressed the heck out of me. I went up to the botanic garden, planning to shoot some flowers and maybe some night landscapes, but what I discovered was the 19th annual Chinese lantern festival. This wonderful event detailed below was the most incredible sight. Click on the picture to see all that I shot that night.

Every year, the botanical garden presents the Magic Of Lanterns on a different theme. This process takes almost a year, each year!

Through Fall & Winter, a theme is decided for the following year, technical drawings are made in Montreal. Precise drawings are made for each lantern, including dimensions, colours and even how it is assembled.

In the Springtime, artisans in the Shanghai region make each lantern by hand, following the technical specifications made in Montreal. In June the lanterns are shipped by boat to Montreal.

In July/August, the lanterns are painstaking assembled by team of electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders, and assorted other helpers.It takes over a month to build the stands, lay the cables and set up the lanterns.

The lanterns are then displayed from early September through the end of October; lighting up the Chinese garden. This year's theme, the 19th year of the Magic Lanterns, marks the 20th anniversary of the Chinese garden, and is built around the theme of "The First Emperor's Procession". On display are over 700 traditional lanterns and an additional 200+ themed.

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

My Name Is Gordy...

and I am a blogger, it has been over a month since my last post! Seriously, where does the time go? September has been a super busy month, with the end of summer and everyone trying to squeeze in their events before the weather starts to turn.
WARNING; monster post, lots of pix, grab a coffee/G&T!
Every year, the rules are that everything opens up for summer on Memorial Day and closes on Labor Day (this year Sept 5th). With this in mind, I took a day off work in the middle of the week to do some stuff with the family, including a day trip to Six Flags Great America. Well I guess Labor Day came early in Gurnee, because the Wednesday that we went to Six Flags, August 31st, they were closed! WTF! Fortunately they were still open weekends and holidays, so we used our season passes to spend a couple of hours there on the Monday night of Labor Day. We even managed to get Addison onto one of the water rides, twice! Only a few pictures of the fun and games as it was a short evening.

Waukegan Air Show was our second event of the month. There are many air shows in this area every year, but this one promised something the others never did. The ability to get up close and personal with the aircraft, close enough to touch, though in most cases they asked you not to. The event itself could have been better organised; with the start time of 10am, but nothing in the air until 12, (NOT mentioned on their web site) we missed out on the air part of the show due to a prior commitment for Steve's daughter's 1st birthday. We will just have to go back next year. Needless to say there were plenty of pictures from the day!

Next on the calendar was the Highland Park "Touch A Truck" event. I had missed this last year, I think maybe because I had been here in Montreal (where I am as I write). Lots of big trucks for the kids to climb on, play with, honk horns, etc. The highlight for me was the two story cherry picker, where they you took you up for rides; although I was disappointed to get grease over my shorts and brand new shirt! It was a beautiful day, the views were spectacular, and even Addison who was scared on the way up did not want to come back down. Again lots of pictures of the whole day.

As the month rolled on, and we weren't even near the end yet, we headed to the Fall Festival at Heller Nature Center. We had done this event before and missed out on the hay ride, so the first thing we did when we showed up as early as we could was to ask when the hay ride finished. "Don't worry you have plenty of time". Imagine our disappointment when, once again, the hay rides seemed to finish super early with some BS about not being able to see in the twilight, despite the tractor having lights! Not withstanding that continued frustration, we had a great time, pumpkin patch exploration, painting with feathers, watching the bonfire, and Cooper had a blast playing in the cave/tunnel/den. Obviously some pictures were taken!

The penultimate event of the month was Addison's 4th Birthday shindig. We had planned a trip over her actual birthday (see below) and so we held the party a day earlier than the actual day. There was a pretty decent showing for a Wednesday afternoon. Lorraine had baked her trademark apple cake, food was procured mostly from Trader Joes, and a select group were invited. Addison got a good haul of gifts including her first ever princess dress, accompanied by a Rapunzel/Tangled doll with super long hair! Click here for the pictures.

Finally for the month we planned a short trip to Traverse City, MI, hoping to catch an early view of the Autumn colours. We were going Thursday thru Sunday, until I realised that I had committed to a business trip, flying early on the Sunday. Undeterred, we cut the trip by a day and headed off early on Thursday morning, IN THE RAIN, AGAIN. The last road trip we took to NYC, it rained the entire first two days, guess what, it rained the entire first two days, despite the forecast of "showers". However, we made the best of it and had a fun time exploring the local area around Traverse. We didn't actually spend any time in Traverse City, beyond sleeping, but we visited Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Haven, Glen Arbor, Deadman's Hill, and too many others to name. It did clear up for the last day, as we drove home :-). Click here to view the "small" selection of pictures.

In between all the high jinks, I also managed to find some time to visit the Chicago Botanic Gardens two or three times, took a bunch of pictures of the kids and finished my Photo Project 365, including rejects! Click the pics or links below to view any of the pictures you like the look of :-)




Did you make it this far? Well done!
Check out the photobook I made from my project 365.

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Monday, September 05, 2011

British Institution

Growing up these VW campers were all the rage. If you had one you were definitely cool. They were better than caravans, more spacious than cars, almost like the original mini van. Well now you can buy a piece of this nostalgia in the shape of a four man tent.

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