Monday, 8 September 2014


Bun In The Oven Cake

  One of my daughters had a unique way of telling us she is expecting her first child.  
She did so by serving the family this cake she made.   I'm now going to be a grandpa for the third time.

The Bun out March 16th, 2015

It's a Boy!  One week old. Grandchild #3

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Grand Children - Niagara on the Lake 

  Picture taken August 11, 2014 while visiting Niagara on the Lake, Ontario Canada.  I cropped the picture and removed the colour because the background was making a distraction from the subjects.  I brushed the colour back in by hand. That took a couple of hours or so. The bus in the background drove up just as I was about to snap the picture and the sidewalk was busy with people wanting to take pictures of the two actors.
  We visit Niagara on the Lake every year with the children  as it is only an hour from home and they love the park and the large wading pool.  They also love the ice cream, the Haunted store and the Christmas store.  Flowers in the park and around the town are quite a show.

Niagara on the Lake Wading pool fountain

Niagara on the Lake Wading pool fun

 Children having fun in the pool near the end of our visit.  Ice cream was next on the way back to the car.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Toronto Zoo Visit July 10, 2014

 Mother alligator having a rest near her nest.

 Baby alligators starting to hatch.

  Babies were hatching and were really hard to see.  Do you see the babies?

 I have pointed out the two that we found.

 Peacock courting a female

  This male peacock started to court a female who seems was not the least bit interested and after a while he got really agitated.

 Hippo basking in the sun.

  This big guy was basking in the sun.  His skin is red as a red fluid comes to the surface of the skin when out in the sun too long.  A secretion of the hippopotamus protects its skin from the sun and bacteria thanks to two pigments that absorb UV light and have antibiotic properties.

 A face only a mother could love!

 Pigmy Hippo

  This is a smaller version of the big hippo and has some different features in the bone structure and the amount of teeth.

 Lets check those teeth.

  The pygmy hippopotamus is a small hippopotamid native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, primarily in Liberia and small populations in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast. The pygmy hippo is reclusive and nocturnal.



 View while entering the Zoo while crossing a small bridge.

 Panda Bear

  We went mostly to see the Pandas but they were sleeping as they do most of the time when not eating.

  Peacocks wander everywhere.  This male has quite the head dress. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Our Chicago Tour 2014

  My wife and I took a tour of Chicago the end of June.  I took a few hundred photos and can only post some of them.  The panorama of the city of Chicago above was done by stitching  four photos I took with my Canon Powershot A640. Most of the pictures were taken with my Canon EOS Rebel T3i.
  We had toured New York City and Washington D.C. and did not know much about the Chicago tour which we enjoyed even more than the others. We would come back to Chicago in a heart beat.
  I got most of the information from American sites, so the spelling of many words is their versions and I did not bother to change to Canadian spelling of those words.
  Click on the pictures for full resolution views.

 The John Hancock Center

  The 7 pictures below of the City of Chicago and waterfront were taken from the 95th. floor of the John Hancock Center. The photo of the building with a swimming pool on top looks distorted due to the angle I took the picture through the thick glass.

  The 95th floor has long been home to a restaurant, the latest tenant being "The Signature Room on the 95th Floor". Diners can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. The Observatory attraction (called "360 Chicago" since March 2014) competes with the Willis Towers Skydeck (used to be called the Sears Tower) across town. John Hancock Center is in the heart of Michigan Avenue, a prime tourist hot spot in Chicago, while the Willis Tower is in the financial district. John Hancock Observatory allows a 360° view of the city, up to four states, and a distance of over 80 miles (130 km). The Observatory has Chicago's only open-air Sky Walk and also features a free multimedia tour in six languages

The Willis Tower (Tallest building on the right)

 Willis Tower (formerly named and still commonly referred to as Sears Tower) is a 108-story, 1,451-foot (442 m) skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois, United States. At the time of its completion in 1973, it was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the World Trade Center towers in New York, and it held this rank for nearly 25 years. Willis Tower is the second-tallest building in the United States and the eighth-tallest freestanding structure in the world. The skyscraper is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chicago, and over one million people visit its observation deck each year.
Named the Sears Tower since its opening, the structure was renamed in 2009 by the Willis Group, as part of their lease on a portion of its space.
United Airlines moved its corporate headquarters to Willis Tower from the United Building at 77 West Wacker Drive in August 2012. As of December 2013, United is the Willis Tower's largest tenant, with its headquarters and operations center occupying around 20 floors of the tower.


  The Navy pier with it's large Ferris wheel.

  Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot-long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. The pier was built in 1916 at a cost of $4.5 million.

Wavy Condo

  The wavy condo in this picture was caused by the angle of the camera through the thick glass of the observation deck 95 stories up.  There is only one condominium on the waterfront as they are not allowed to build any on Chicago's lakefront. A loophole in the building code allowed this one to be built.  The building is built above ground on stilts.  This loophole was closed after this was built.

Chicago has a great waterfront unlike Toronto which is hidden by condos.

The Water Tower

  Pictures from the John Hancock Center looking down from the 95th. floor and the picture below, at street level.

   806 N. Michigan Ave.

A resplendent venue showcasing the work of local photographers and artists, the City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower, is centrally located along the city's famed Magnificent Mile.

The Chicago Water Tower is the city’s most familiar and treasured landmark. Constructed between 1867 and 1869, it was created for Chicago’s municipal water system, and originally housed a 135 foot iron standpipe used to regulate water pressure. It gained special significance as one of the few buildings to survive the destructive path of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Both the Water Tower and Pumping Station to the east were designed by William W. Boyington, one of Chicago’s most prolific architects of the mid-nineteenth century.

The Cloud Gate Sculpture

  Cloud Gate is a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois.
Most people call it "The Bean"

Reflection of buildings on the Bean

  Another reflection of buildings for a different side.  My wife and I are in the center, background, taking the picture.

 Fire Station on Michigan Ave. across for the Children's Hospital

 Fire hydrant beside the Fire Station.  

This citywide public art installation will feature over sized replicas of Chicago’s iconic standard fire 
hydrants designed, painted, decorated and/or dressed by noted artists, architects, and fashion and interior
A collection of 101 hydrants symbolically representing each Chicago firehouse. Locally manufactured in durable, weather-resistant white fiberglass. Each hydrant is approx. 5’ tall.

The Crown Fountain

  One of the highlights in Chicago's Millennium Park is the modern and spectacular Crown Fountain. Its two glass towers are illuminated with LED lighting that shows moving images of Chicagoans' faces.
Crown Fountain, Chicago
Crown Fountain
The fountain, financed with private donations including a 10 million dollar gift of the Crown Family, consists of two 15 meter (50ft) high towers flanking a 71 meter wide (232 ft) granite plaza. The fountain was designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and the installation was built by Krueck + Sexton Architects and Crystal Fountains.

Video screens
The most remarkable aspect about the towers are the LED powered video screens that show close-up faces of about 1000 Chicagoans. Each face is shown for about five minutes ending when the subject purses its lips at which point water spouts from their mouths, to the delight of children who try to position themselves under the water spouting digital gargoyle. Crown Fountain at night
Crown Fountain at night
After a short interval a new face is randomly chosen by the fountain's computer system.

The Chicagoans whose faces were captured were selected from a varied number of organisations, and include people of all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens. They were filmed with an expensive high-definition camera - used in the Star Wars movies - and were asked to make facial expressions. They were also told to pretend they were blowing out a candle. This actions is now synchronised with the water spouting fountain.

Glass brick tower of the Crown Fountain, Chicago
Glass brick tower
The towers
The walls of the towers are made of clear glass bricks. At night they seem to glow thanks to spotlights at the foot of the towers and LED lights that are installed behind the translucent bricks. During the day the LED lights show faces on the side facing the central plaza while the other sides are dark. During intervals between the display of different faces, the towers are completely dark.

Of course, this wouldn't be called a fountain if there wasn't any water involved. Besides the water The water spout of the Crown Fountain, Chicago
The water spout
spouting digital faces, cascades of water fall down the sides of the towers, creating a water curtain in front of the glass walls. And the plaza between the towers is actually a very shallow reflecting pool.
The fountain - one of the most popular attractions in the Millennium Park - attracts plenty of spectators, in particular when the weather is warm. The central plaza is often completely crowded. Children especially love the fountain; many walk under the water cascades or try to stand directly under the water spout.

The Field Museum

  The Field Museum of Natural History, located in Chicago, is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. We spent some time in there before taking a water taxi back to the Navy Pier.

The Shed Aquarium

    Shedd Aquarium is an indoor public aquarium in Chicago,  that opened on May 30, 1930  We did not have time to go to this aquarium.but we will go to the new aquarium in Toronto first.  We would like to visit Chicago again as there if so much to see here and it is a beautiful city, clean and friendly.

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise

  We took the architecture river cruise and it was really interesting.  I have posted a few of the photos and information that I had dug up on the buildings that we passed.  There was a lot to see in an hour.

The Trump Tower

  The Trump International Hotel and Tower, also known as Trump Tower Chicago and Trump Tower, is a skyscraper condo-hotel in downtown Chicago, Illinois. The building, named after billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump, was designed by architect Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Bovis Lend Lease built the 98-story structure, which reached a height of 1,389 feet (423 m) including its spire, its roof topping out at 1,170 feet (360 m). It is adjacent to the main branch of the Chicago River, with a view of the entry to Lake Michigan beyond a series of bridges over the river. The building received publicity when the winner of the first season of The Apprentice reality television show, Bill Rancic, chose to manage the construction of the tower over managing a new Trump National Golf Course and resort in Los Angeles, California.

Trump announced in 2001 that the skyscraper would become the tallest building in the world, but after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he scaled back the building's plans, and its design underwent several revisions. When topped out in 2009, it became the second-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, after another Chicago building, the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). Trump Tower Chicago surpassed the city's John Hancock Center as the building with the highest residence (apartment or condo) in the world, and held this title until the completion of the Burj Khalifa. As of 24 November 2012 it is the twelfth-tallest building in the world.

The design of the building includes, from the ground up, retail space, a parking garage, a hotel, and condominiums. The 339-room hotel opened for business with limited accommodations and services on January 30, 2008. April 28 of that year marked the grand opening with full accommodation and services of hotel services. A restaurant on the 16th floor, named Sixteen, opened in early 2008 to favorable reviews. The building topped out in late 2008 and construction was completed in 2009. As of 2013, the hotel is one of three in Chicago with an elite five-star rating and the building hosts a restaurant that is one of three in Chicago with a five-star rating, according to the Forbes Travel Guide.

35 East Wacker Drive

  The light brown building in the center of the picture.

  35 East Wacker is one of the best buildings in the city of Chicago. Originally known as the Jewelers Building, it was created for the city’s diamond merchants and had an unusual security procedure – to reduce the chances that its tenants would be mugged walking between their cars and their offices, the building featured a central auto elevator that could lift cars as high as the 22nd floor. People would drive into this elevator and it would take them to the floor where their office was. Jewelers loaded down with precious stones and metals wouldn’t have to be exposed to a potentially hostile exterior environment. Though innovative, it was an arrangement that didn’t last very long. By the Second World War the auto elevators were abandoned and decked over to make more office space. Naturally, these kind of freight elevators required more mechanical space than regular passenger elevators, and the entire 24th floor was given over to that task, and as a maintenance shop for crafting replacement pieces for the building’s ornate terra cotta exterior and interior needs. This wasn’t reclaimed for office space until the very late 20th century.

More interesting is what is under the building's huge dome. This was originally a restaurant called the Stratosphere Lounge. It is said that during Prohibition it was run by Al Capone as a speakeasy. Today, the space is a showroom for famous architect Helmut Jahn.

35 East Wacker is a skyscraper out of time. Though born in the midst of the Art Deco movement, its form and decorative flourishes are clearly influenced by Roman, Greek, and Gothic architecture. Through its dome, its spires, its copulas, arched windows, and more it manages to combine differing styles to create an intricate visual delight. The terra cotta cladding was executed by Joachim Giaver and Fredrick Dinkelberg.

Now, if only this building had a name worthy of its form. "35 East Wacker" is so clinical; so generic; so bland. This jewel of a building deserves better, even if it means reverting to its original name. That name may have vanished from the paperwork years ago, but echoes of it live on, as the letters "JB" etched repeatedly in the building’s facade.

Gold topped Hard Rock Hotel

  A great example not only of the art deco movement, but what happens when audacious architecture goes right. This historic tower doesn't just follow the traditional skyscraper form of the day -- it takes chances that few others did. 

The most obvious departure from the norm is its green color. When it was built, the tinted terra cotta and black granite facade made it stand out among the sandstone-colored towers it was competing with. Now, generations later, the unusual color helps it stand out among its glass and steel peers. 

The second audacious move was such extensive use of gold leaf to highlight the building's features. It's not just on the edges of the building -- it virtually coats the spire, and drapes itself across the shoulders and setbacks of the upper levels. But the glitter is not reserved for those in the stratosphere -- the gold accents continue all the way down to street level. This is a building that simply refuses to be ignored.

All that glitz isn't an accident. There is an urban legend which states that the shape and color of the building were inspired by a champagne bottle. It's not that hard to imagine it as a green curvy bottle with bubbly foaming from the top and dripping down the sides.

The building was erected at a time when such exuberance was expected. But the roaring 20's gave way to the depression and more sober sensibilities. This building's planned twin tower a block away was cancelled in 1929. It was to be called the Cuneo Building.

Michael Jordan 

  The Michael Jordan statue, officially known as The Spirit (and sometimes referred to as Michael Jordan's Spirit), is a bronze sculpture by Omri Amrany and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany outside the United Center in the Near West Side community area of Chicago. The sculpture was originally commissioned after Jordan's initial retirement following three consecutive NBA championships and unveiled prior to the Bulls taking residence in their new home stadium the following year. Depicting Basketball Hall of Fame member Michael Jordan and unveiled on November 1, 1994, the 12-foot (3.7 m) sculpture stands atop a 5-foot (1.52 m) black granite base. Although not critically well received, the statue has established its own legacy as a meeting place for fans at subsequent Bulls championships and as a rallying point for Chicago Blackhawks fans during their prideful times. 

 One of my son-in-law said I had to get a picture of this statue as he is crazy about Basketball, so here it is.

  Michael Jordan

The Henry Ford Museum

Dearborn Michigan


The Henry Ford Museum

  The Henry Ford (also known as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, and more formally as the Edison Institute) is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex and a National Historic Landmark in the Metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, USA. Named for its founder, the noted automobile industrialist Henry Ford, and based on his desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution, the property houses a vast array of famous homes, machinery, exhibits, and Americana. The collection contains many rare exhibits including John F. Kennedy's presidential limousine, Abraham Lincoln's chair from Ford's Theatre, Thomas Edison's laboratory, the Wright Brothers' bicycle 
shop, and the Rosa Parks bus.


1902 Ford race car

  We did not have much time to spend here as it would take at the least, two days to see it all.  It is totally amazing. 

 I must go back to this museum next year.  I don't think I could go back this year but I have to see the whole place.  It has everything from furniture to some of the biggest machines I have ever seen in a museum.
I took these train photos as we were leaving to go on our bus to Chicago.  A drive to Dearborn does not take that long.
On this tour to Chicago with our stop at this museum, I took over 300 pictures. Aren't digital cameras great.

Friday, 6 June 2014

  Very young Raccoons playing

  June 6th. 2014.  While checking my family of Robins, I notice these two young raccoons playing on top of an old telephone post that was used for clothes lines at one time.

   Had enough at the top of the post and on the way down now. 

   Two little bandits for sure.  Next generation of garbage can raiders to look forward to.

  Can't get down there.  They left along the fence line and I'm sure they will be back in the morning.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

 Robin in a Pear Tree #1

  Picture taken May 20th. 2014 of a young Robin sitting on her nest in a Pear tree next door to our house.  Picture taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i.  

Robin in a Pear Tree #2

  Another view of this Robin on her nest.  I will keep taking pictures as the eggs hatch and the new family progresses.

Robin in a Pear Tree #3

  Picture taken May 21st. 2014.  Keeps an eye on me when I'm taking pictures.  I'm waiting for her to leave the nest to see if I can get a picture of how many eggs she may have.  She shifts them now and then before sitting on them and changes position quit often.  Would have been nice to see her build the nest, but I missed that part. Picture taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i.  Focal length: 250mm, f/7.1, 1/400 sec.

 Robin in a Pear Tree #4

  Just arrived back to the nest from getting something to eat.  Must be boring sitting on eggs all day and night.

 Robin in a Pear Tree #5

  Making sure I didn't touch them and giving me the eye.  Male bird came by to check me out but flew away before I could snap a picture of him.

 Robin in a Pear Tree #6

  She got a little scared when I tried to get the camera high enough to see in the nest.  Couldn't get high enough to see and she took off to the fence behind the tree for a minute  or so.

Robin in a Pear Tree #7

  Came back for another check and then settled down to sitting on the eggs again.

 Robin in a Pear Tree #8

  Picture taken May 30th. 2014.  Eggs hatched but can't see them from this vantage point.  She giving me a bit of a warning.

 Robin in a Pear Tree #9

  June 2nd. 2014.  Checking on the little ones.  Don't know how many there is yet.

 Robin is a Pear Tree #10

  June 2nd. 2014.  Change vantage point but was hard to focus as I could not use the view finder and use manual focusing. There appears to be two little ones but at the time I took this picture, only one poked it's head up looking for food.

Robin in a Pear Tree #11

  June 2nd. 2014.  Mom bringing back some dinner. Still did not get a picture of the second nestling.

Robin in a Pear Tree #12

  Picture taken June 12th. 2014.  Lunch time for the nestlings and oh my gosh--there is three little ones, not just two.  

 Robin in a Pear Tree #13

  June 4th. 2014.  Yup, there is three that I can see.  That's going to keep mother busy.

 Robin in a Pear Tree #14

  Just how is three going to fit into that little nest as they get bigger?

 Robin in a Pear Tree #15

  Wrong again.  Looking at this picture, I can now see four nestlings.  WOW!  I guess mother did not lose any of her eggs.  The nestling on the right side in the foreground  looks a bit on the small side.

Robin in a Pear Tree #16

   June 4th. 2014.  Nothing for you guys right now.  Mom is constantly leaving for food. The little one must not get much as the others have longer neck and bigger mouths.

 Robin in a Pear Tree # 17

    June 6th. 2014.  Little ones are getting bigger by the day. Mother is going for food non stop.

 Robin in a Pear Tree #18

  June 6th. 2014.  How all these nestlings will fit in the nest in the near future should be a challenge. 

 Robin in a Pear Tree # 19

  June 6th. 2014.  Now I'm a bit puzzled now.  Is this the Mom and the Dad or two Moms.  Could this be a communal nest?

 Robin in a Pear Tree #20

  Both adult Robins had brought food.  Both appear to be the same tone of red on the chest area. I thought females were a more washed out color.  

 Robin in a Pear Tree #21

  Could two Robins use one nest?  Does a male Robin also feed the nestlings?

Robin in a Pear Tree #22

  I guess I will have to research this and find out how to tell a male from a female of if two can lay eggs in one nest.
  I looked it up on the internet and it seems Robins lay four eggs at a time, one day apart.  The male also guards the nest.  The male has a slightly darker head so I guess the one on the right is the male.
Chest color does not seem to be too much different on these two.
The little ones should have flight in about 10 days from now.  I will continue taking pictures.

 Robin in a Pear Tree #23

  June 6th. 2014.  Getting bigger by the day and feeding is ongoing but I fear one is missing.  I can now only count 3 nestlings and I counted four yesterday.  The smallest one seems to have vanished.  I did not see anything on the ground so I don't know if the mother disposed of it or something.

Robin in a Pear Tree #24

  I can't hold my neck up any longer.  Just bring me some food!

 Robin in a Pear Tree #25

  Maybe if I stretch my head up high enough, mom will get the food here sooner.

Robin in a Pear Tree #26

  See!  It worked.  Lets do it all over again.

Robins lay eggs twice a season.  Maybe they will come back and try again in this tree.