Postcards from Chicago – Highlights of an Architecture Tour

Greetings from the Windy City!

I meant only to send a few postcards, but as often happens, I found I had a lot to say about them!

First of all, did you know that Chicago is home to the world’s first skyscraper? Well now you do!

So no trip to Chicago is complete without an Architecture Tour, and we’ll start by heading up the Chicago River from Lake Michigan.

There are many notable and historic buildings that line the river but I’ll only share a few of my favorites, starting with the tall, wavy building on the left, the St. Regis Chicago.

St. Regis Chicago

Isn’t she a beauty? At 101 stories, it’s the world’s tallest building designed by a woman, architect, Jeanne Gang. It’s also the third tallest building in Chicago. Though it only opened recently, I can’t imagine the river entrance without it.

Here’s a view from the other side.

Next is the Wrigley Building built in 1924. William Wrigley Jr, you may recall, was famous for his chewing gum. Back in the day, he had the market with his spearmint, doublemint and juicyfruit gum. His name is also affixed to one of the country’s oldest and most iconic baseball stadiums, Wrigley Field.

Wrigley Building

Across the street is the Tribune Tower, an iconic gothic structure, where Ann Landers finished her career answering your questions (she took on the role of advice columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1955.) I grew up reading Ann Landers in Seattle’s P.I, rather than her equally famous twin, Dear Abby.

Tribune Tower

Next up is, dare I say it? Trump Tower, the second tallest building in town. Surprising isn’t it, that he would allow his name to be attached to anything ranked second? Still, it’s a fine looking building.

Trump Tower

Next is the smaller but more sophisticated Carbon and Carbide Building, which I thought looked like a giant tube of lipstick.

Carbide and Carbon Building

Built in 1929, and according to our tour guide, resembles a Champagne bottle to protest Prohibition. The top is covered in a (very, very) thin sheet of 24 karat gold, the height of luxury and excess.

I’ve shown you the second and third tallest buildings in Chicago, now here’s #1, the Willis Tower. When built in 1973, the ‘Sears Tower’ as it was then called, was the tallest building in the world, at 110 stories, 1,451 ft. tall, and it remained the record holder for nearly 25 years.

Sears Tower

That will do from the river, but I still have a few more pictures to show you. The Water Tower is one of the only structures remaing from before the great fire of 1871.

In fact, it was the fire that turned Chicago into a blank slate, for architects to build upon.

Chicago Water Tower

Next door is the Hancock Tower, the fifth tallest in the city and the only one I’ve been to the top of, on previous trips. The observation deck is on the 94th floor and the views are great. It’s still possible we’ll make it up again before we leave town.

Hancock Tower

Before I go, here’s another shot of the Skyline from the lakeshore, at the Shedd Aquarium, where the ‘Sears Tower’ dominates.

And that will conclude our tour!

At least for now.

– Susanne

What do you see in the Woods?

I see trees that block the sun

and swallow men.

That lean and bend before they fall

and are buried.

I see trails


by monsters

and camels, ready to give the weary hiker a lift.

What do you see in the woods?

~ Susanne

Where’s Benji’s Playground?



Anywhere he wants.

Inspired by Sunday Stills, Pets and Playgrounds.

~ Susanne

Splish Splash Taking a Bath – Birds in my Garden

This week has definitely gone to the birds!

After several days of record-breaking temperatures, I’ve been running the sprinklers in the early morning, which has drawn even more birds than usual. So, while I sit on the deck with my coffee and camera in hand (not at the same time) I enjoyed all the birds who stopped by for a bath and a bite to eat.

The first stars of the show were the Wilson’s Warblers, though if you kept up with my last post, I originally mislabeled as Goldfinches. The Goldfinch is Washington’s state bird and is resident year-round, though I rarely see them in my garden. These tiny warblers are only here in the Northwest during breeding season, and this is the first time I’ve seen them.

Here’s a few more pictures of those cuties, the female first, lacking the shiny black cap of the male, which follows.

I often see Spotted Towhees in my yard, but this is the first time I’ve seen a male and a female together. The Towhee is a handsome, large sparrow; the males also have the darker black head, the female lighter in color.

I also enjoyed my regulars including black-capped chickadees, house finches, and juncos.

Surprisingly the hummingbirds have been scarce the last few weeks, off nesting I believe. When I have seen them at the feeders, I’ve not had my camera in hand, or haven’t been quick enough to get good photos, as you can see below. Even so, I wanted to include them.

And that’s enough of the birds this week.

~ Susanne

A Visitation of Goldfinches! Updated!

Sorry to do another bird post so soon – it was only yesterday I shared with you the nesting house finches in my garden – but I couldn’t wait.

Because even though the Goldfinch is the Washington State Bird, I rarely see them, especially in my yard, and when I first published this story, I thought they were indeed goldfinches.

A little flock of bright yellow birds visited me yesterday. After several days of record-breaking heat in the Seattle area, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees, they were no doubt seeking water.

I had just put the sprinkler on and sat down to rest and see who might show up.

I soon caught flashes of bright yellow – what a treat! They stood out among the regulars who blend in more easily with their surroundings – chickadees, house finches, juncos, and nuthatches. I thought surely, they were Goldfinches.

But when I later, posted the same photos on my Facebook PNW Birders group, I learned they’re actually Wilson’s Warblers, which according to the group is even better, as they’re only here for breeding season and hard to capture. So, there you have it. You learn something new every day! 🙂

~ Susanne

Nesting Finches in the Garden

I saw this couple of house finches nesting in the garden yesterday.

I look for them each year as the clematis grows high, knowing that’s where I’ll find them in the shrubs and surrounding trees.

The male looks dapper in his rust-colored tux,

the female pretty in pink, adorned by clematis.

Happy together.

~ Susanne

Can you have too much Lavender?

They don’t think so in Sequim, Washington, the lavender capital of the Northwest.

Every July, lavender takes center stage in this sunny town on the Olympic Peninsula, which lies within the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains.

And every year for as long as I can remember we try to make it over to enjoy the lavender in full bloom along with the festivities. Check out this year’s festival – here.

The pictures below are from our various trips over the years.

The rest of the season I rely on my own backyard and try to squeeze in a lavender plant whenever a space opens up. The bees are grateful.

#Sunday Stills Color Challenge – Purple

~ Susanne

I went Looking for Ducklings at Coulon Park …

I walked as far north as the trail allowed – some parts are under construction.

The Olympic Mountains were out,

and so was the Seattle skyline.

I saw moms walking Coulon style,

turtles basking,

fishes jumping, but no ducklings.

Until I passed by the swim beach

and that’s where I found them.

Of course.

Swim test required.

~ Susanne

Abstracts in Nature

I don’t normally appreciate abstracts in modern art as I tend to prefer ‘reality.’

But nature is both real AND abstract when seen up close, as with this raspberry.

I was chasing a butterfly in the picture below – I mean with my zoom lens – and got this rather blurry photo, which looks abstract to me.

I found a ponderosa pine tree in a campground on the other side of the mountains, and was intrigued by the little hole in it, perhaps made by a woodpecker.

Finally, do you know what this is? It’s a mistake in focusing. I zoomed in for a close-up of the red berries on the nandina in my yard and this is what I got.

Sometimes mistakes turn out for the best. 🙂

Sharing for Cee’s CFFC Challenge – Abstracts

~ Susanne

How does your garden grow? Ask a Clematis

It’s been a slow start to spring but the clematis has woken and started its annual climb

using its twining arms and little curlicue feet.

Sharing with Cee’s Flower of the Day.

~ Susanne

%d bloggers like this: