Monday, August 31, 2009

Corn in the backyard 2009, week 14

August 23

My apologies to everyone who has been anxiously waiting for the photos from last week. Among other things, I think it is interesting (although a little depressing) to notice how long the shadows are at 9 AM compared to where they were 3 months ago. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peoria Historical Society River City Tour

On Lily's birthday (August 15) we celebrated with Karen's birthday present: a tour of part of Peoria organized by the Peoria Historical Society. The tour we chose was their "River City Tour" which varies depending on the tour guide, but hits a variety of subjects important to Peoria's past. Our guide was a gentleman that enjoyed studying architecture, so our tour was heavy on recognizing homes or public buildings with historic significance.
Our transportation for the tour was this cute bus built in the shape of a trolley and run by the company that provides public bus service for the Peoria area. The trolley is strong on charm, but weak on air conditioning. Our recommendation: don't take a tour on a hot day.
Here's the birthday girl and her younger sister trying to appear candid.
The tour began with a bit of information about Peoria Heights' fame as the center of bicycle manufacturing at one point in the 19th century, and then we proceeded to Grand View Drive. Completed in 1904, it was originally the destination of wealthy Peoria families that wanted to get away from the city to their "summer home" each year. The property values are still probably some of the highest in the area although most of the homes were built before World War II. The home pictured above was designed and built in the 1920s based on a dream a woman had. Her husband must have enjoyed indulging his wife's desires since he hired an architect and builder to create the home based on the woman's recollection of her dream. Unfortunately, the family lost a good bit of their wealth in the market crash of 1929, and had to sell the house after living in it for less than a year.
These photos were all taken from inside the trolley, so I apologize for reflections and poorly composed shots. The image above is a view of the Illinois River from Grand View Drive near the upper end of the Pimiteoui Trail. In 1910 Teddy Roosevelt named this road "The World's Most Beautiful Drive," and though I don't know what qualified Mr. Roosevelt as a judge of beautiful vistas, I think the drive is definitely one of the prettiest in the area.
This house is informally known as the "castle" house as its design was based on features a young lady had observed on various castles during her travels in Europe. Her father built this house and gave it to her and her husband as a wedding present. I hope my daughters have lower expectations.

This shot simply shows the interior of the trolley. Again, big on charm, not so big on warm weather comfort.
On to downtown Peoria where we observed the Peoria City Hall, as well as other significant structures. This building was built in 1897 and is one of several structures in town listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also downtown near the County Court House is The Soldiers and Sailors Civil War Memorial, dedicated in 1899. President McKinley and his entire cabinet were present for the dedication, probably because the president was a good friend of Joseph Greenhut who was involved in funding the construction of the monument. The inscription on the face of the monument on the left reads, "We write on page of granite what they wrought on field of battle."

Evidence of Peoria's wealth as the distilling capital of the world in the 1880s still exists in the homes on High Street. Many have been carefully restored, and they always provide viewing pleasure for our family.

Another of the unique old homes of High Street.

The tour was supposed to last an hour and a half, but our guide was so interested in sharing information that our tour stretched to two hours. The price was $8 per person, of which $7 goes to the Historical Society, and the last buck goes to the bus company. With the exception of the air conditioning issue, we enjoyed the tour so much that we look forward to taking another tour soon. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Genesis 9:12-16

And God said, "This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Corn in the backyard 2009, week 13

August 16

The plants are still green and show only the slightest hints of drying, so we'll trust the ears are plumping up their kernels. Thanks for visiting!

An Ambitious Amphibian

I stumbled across another frog (or toad) visiting our home a few days ago. The fact that the animal was present was not unusual, but the place where I found him was rather unexpected.

The picture is blurry because our simple digital camera had trouble focusing with the screen mesh between the lens and the amphibian. The screen is on the inside of the cupola on the top of the roof of our barn. The white sheet metal behind Mr. Frog are the louvers on the sides of the cupola. I'm not sure how that animal made its way all the way to the roof and up inside the cupola, but it must have been a long and arduous journey!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Corn in the backyard 2009, week 12

August 9

My apologies that the corn images this week were taken about 11 hours later than normal, but since we weren't home in the morning, an evening photo was the next best thing. Consequently, it's hard to pick out much color variation in the top photo. The close up shot of the ears doesn't look a lot different from last week, so I'm doubtful the smaller, lower ear is going to develop much further. Time will tell. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Meyer Weekend, continued

An element was added to the Meyer Weekend this year that had never been added before: a wedding.

After a leisurely breakfast at The Willows, we all made our way east to the Ottawa Boat Club, strategically situated in a scenic site at the confluence of the Fox River and the Illinois River. The ceremony was held on the veranda overlooking the Fox River.

The groom and his men anxiously awaiting the appearance of the bride. Actually, in this shot I think they were enjoying the performance of the flower girl. For reference, David, the groom, was marrying Karen's brother's daughter, Kristen.

The bride's family found these blind, homeless, street musicians a block away and they agreed to add music to the ceremony in exchange for reception food.
Okay, they're not really blind, or homeless, or street musicians. They're friends of the family, but I can't resist poking fun at those that embrace grunge.

The groom's brother served as best man and also preached the sermon, which was less than an hour and a half long...

The happy, celebrated, photogenic, and officially-married couple.

The bride and groom's cake decorated with what appear to be chocolate therapods. If you look closely, you'll see one is wearing a bow tie, while the other has long, flowing hair.

Jacob, Uncle Dan, Nathan, and Aunt Debbie demonstrate their adept use of the dinosaur pinching toys found at each place setting while they wait for the bridal party to make their appearance.

Uncle Duane and Aunt Susan's family couldn't stay out of trouble either.

Finally, David and Kristen make a fast getaway before the paparazzi get out of control. Thanks for visiting!

Birthday Girl

Alas, more evidence that I'm a bad dad: I didn't take a photo of Gretel on her birthday. Since the family reunion was in full swing on Saturday, she didn't get much special attention, but she had lots of fun being with family doing non-typical things.

Gretel has grown up a lot in the last year, and continues to add a perspective to our family that none of the rest of us can quite match (or even comprehend sometimes). We are glad God added her to our family, and we look forward to what God has in store for her in the future. Happy 13th birthday Gretel!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Meyer Weekend

Many years ago, Karen's maternal grandparents started a tradition of spending a weekend vacation each year with as many of their children and grandchildren as they could. Since grandpa covered all the expenses over the years, it was easy enough to join the crowd and it was generally pretty easy to have a good time. Unfortunately, grandpa and grandma are no longer with us, but the tradition lives on.

Our home for the weekend this year: The Willows Hotel in beautiful Utica, Illinois.

A gathering of the primary planners for the day discusses our strategy before we head out for our first adventure.

The destination for the morning: Matthiessen State Park, just four miles south of Utica. Frequently overshadowed by its more popular neighbor, Starved Rock State Park, our family believes it offers much more scenic and interesting hiking. Here our group decides to avoid the mud in the middle of the walking bridge.

The most interesting and challenging trails in the park actually follow a small stream through a canyon of rock formations and mineral springs. This morning was so humid that my glasses fogged up frequently, so I'm not sure if the fogginess in the photos is actually humid air or fog on the camera lens.

Karen and Lily easily won the award for best dressed hikers on the trails as voted by the entire population of visitors to the park that day.

Gretel and her grandpa were both in their element today, as they easily covered more trails together than any of the rest of us. Gretel would frequently remove her shoes since she found that her "bare feet get better traction on wet rocks" than her shoes did. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Corn growth chart

I realize most of you have already plotted the corn growth data we've gathered over the past 11 weeks, but for those of you that haven't got around to it yet, here's how it looks.

I'm no expert, but this looks like a pretty typical growth curve. I still think the sheer volume of vegetation grown in just 10 weeks is pretty amazing. Thanks for visiting!

Corn in the backyard 2009, week 11

August 2

The corn is no taller this week than it was last week so it must be putting all its effort into putting kernels on those ears.

A close up view of one of the stalks. The upper ear looks like it's filling out nicely, but the lower one could use a little help.

Here's what you'd see if your eyes were 10 feet off the ground: tassels as far as the eye can see. Thanks for visiting!