Jardin du Luxembourg en Hiver

My last afternoon in frigid Paris I walked all through the Luxembourg Gardens, taking pictures.  So many of the pics I found online were taken the other 3 seasons. I found it to be peaceful.  There were other people walking, talking, exercising, playing, reading, laughing.   fullsizeoutput_f7d1

fullsizeoutput_f7e6
one of my personal favorites

fullsizeoutput_f7d4IMGP6360fullsizeoutput_f7d5IMGP6383

fullsizeoutput_f7e7
Can you spot the Eiffel Tower?

fullsizeoutput_f7d6

The journey continues.

Cindy

P.S. If you want to use any of these pictures, please ask first.  And credit me.

 

Advertisements

15 Random Things I Learned in Italy

Just a few choice memories from my recent trip to Rome and Florence, Italy, with a couple of my travel photos. There are also a few tips for travelers included.

  1. I will no longer skip over the Italian wine section at home. I have a much better appreciation for Italian wines than I did before this visit.
  2. Many key museums here are far less expensive than in the US. Why don’t we let children go free here in the US? Note that it often helps to buy tickets ahead with a set entry time. And skip all of the obnoxious hawkers at the front of every tourist destination.IMGP6087
  3. Limoncello is considered a digestive aid. It is often given freely at the end of the meal. I had it served as a shot, on the rocks, and sipped. Room temperature or iced, it all tasted splendid.
  4. Using a printed map can be challenging in older cities that are not set up on grids. (Ie. like Chicago or New York). Having some phone data can help you find your way.
  5. Keys were my nemesis before this visit.–no longer! I worked a lot of very fussy keys in the two flats I stayed.
  6. Wash cloths and tissues can be hard to find. Bring your own.
  7. Renting a “first floor flat” often means walking 1 to 2 flights of stairs before you reach that flat.
  8. The doors. Huge. Heavy. A presence.IMGP6145
  9. I can get a lot accomplished working remotely, as long as I don’t need phone calls. No distractions wherever my office was.
  10. The many “cuts” of the meat in the window is appealing to shoppers, but that I can do without.
  11. For the cheapest meal in Florence, grab an aperitivo. It’s a flat fee for one drink (make it a special one!) and unlimited buffet of delicious food.
  12. Gelato can be eaten at any time of day. And found on every corner.
  13. Churches abound around every bend. It is NOT obligatory to visit every one, but pick a few. They are inspiring, humbling, surprising, awe-inspiring, or forgotten.
  14. Wear comfortable shoes. There are a lot of uneven steps and many sites to see.
  15. Finally, if I wasn’t a pushy bitch before this trip, I am now! You have to be, with all the groups clogging sidewalks, tour and tchotchke hawkers, people trying to sell, sell, beggars, distracted walkers, and potential pickpockets.

The journey continues.  Cindy

Playing Hooky

As we get ready to start a weekend, this reminder is for me leave some unscheduled time. And you, if you are interested.

img_7694
Sunrise Beach in Lake Bluff, IL

Last Monday morning our pantry was desolate, the laundry baskets overflowing, the garden needed weeding, pictures still needed to be hung,I had yet to pay mid-month bills, and I had to work. But you know what? I didn’t care one iota. Some weekends—especially gorgeous summer Midwestern days– are perfect days to play hooky.

The to-do lists, the chores, the having-to-fill every-moment with something productive hours can turn weekends to drudgery. Those 2 precious days can start to feel like the overburdened week days, if we cram them with minutia and busy work.

Last weekend was filled with entertaining surprises, as I tried to grab my free time with gusto.  Memories of my kids and friends could have skipped right by, if I had spent all my time on things I think I should have been doing.

Here is a short list of some of the fun, unanticipated moments to store in my memory bank.

–Sushi dinner with my kids, followed by going to see The Big Sick (highly recommend this movie!) where my daughter and I brought down the average age of viewers by about 20 years.

–Northwestern college tour followed by stunning, perfect views of Lake Michigan.

img_7669-1

–A 20 mile bike ride with friends. This workout was definitely about the destination, not the mediocre views along the way. The highlight was the stellar beach on Lake Michigan we didn’t plan to stop at, putting our toes in the sand.

 

–The former followed by an unplanned dinner al fresco with neighbors.

–Unexpected trip to the Chicago on Sunday afternoon. We were excited to finally lunch at the inviting 3 Arts Club Cafe   While waiting for our table, we wandered a neighborhood I can only dream of living in, and joined in on the Dearborn Garden Walk. Worth the wait!

img_7699
Having fun in the Restoration Hardware while waiting for our table. 
img_7708-1
Us at the lovely 3 Arts Club Cafe

Who wants to remember yet another trip to the grocery store? Boring! Go quickly, move along.

Not every weekend is as open as the last one, but hopefully you can accept some last minute invitation for FUN.  Projects can wait for another day. Be spontaneous!

The journey continues.

C

New Orleans Scenes

A bit delayed, but here are a few shots of the characters and character of New Orleans.

IMGP4853IMGP4839IMGP4851

IMGP4850
Great people watching–anything goes! 
IMGP4845
Louisiana Loom Works has a myriad of cats, working looms, and amazing pieces.  Worth a visit!
IMGP4852
Daytime street view of never-ending live music. 

IMGP4859Next trip I should have better plan of what to focus on.  We were so busy with varied days this visit it was hard to have a single shooting goal….other than the pre-wedding pics from last post.

The journey continues.

C

Biking in the Woods…of Memories

img_6230

©Cindy Kennedy

The leaves crackle under our bike tires, burying the path underneath the trees.   There is a sense of golden aura, with splatters of rust and green throughout, as we wind along the trail flanking the river. The geese chatter, the slight scent of decay emanates throughout.

As we ride past the mirrored lake, the swing set adjacent, I am transported immediately to my past. I remember coming to these same Captain Daniel Wright Woods often as a child. We would spend the day with our neighbors, the boys and dads fishing, the girls running, laughing, chasing dragon flies, moms relaxing with a smile.

img_6215

Afterwards all we kids played together with new friends, made up games on the jungle gym. The picnic was unpacked onto long wooden tables, my mom offering up delicious pans of fried chicken still warm in foil, bowls of cut fruit, homemade chocolate cookies, the rare treat of a can of soda.

When I was in high school, my dad taught me to cross country ski on these snow filled paths. The woods turned magic, covered with sparkling snow, as we careened through the forest.

As we continued on our current bike ride , those memories morphed into later visits, when we brought my kids, their cousins, and our dogs to enjoy that same playground. We clomped over the bridge to a hidden pond for the kids to catch frogs, skip stones, and throw bread bits as the fish broke the surface again and again.

I hope that someday my kids will come visit here, and they will remember all the times we came to the forest preserve with poignant smiles. And better yet, I hope that they can create their own memories here with their friends or family.

img_6226

A Welcoming View

They all congregated around the towering spitting Crown Fountain, gazing up at giant eyes or to the puddles or to their friends with selfie sticks, digital cameras with ginormous lenses, iPads, iPhones. Some skipped capturing the moment but were laughing, pointing, hugging, ignoring, whispering a sweet love word, lost in music, chasing, resting, reading, working.fullsizerender-2

One small blond girl in a mint-colored swimsuit was oblivious to everything but the changing mosaics and the handprints she formed on the dry pavement. She alone made people gaze, hunger for their children to slip back to innocence for one day, or to reminisce in their minds about a secret day in their life of such abandon.

They were of every ethnicity: grandparents, families, students, hipsters, business women, runners, homeless, parents, children, a dog, tourists. Heads were topped with neon orange hair, purple hair, no hair, hats, braids, head sets. They spoke multiple languages, looked to be from a wide swath of backgrounds and economic stratospheres, walkers, strollers, painters, dreamers, rappers.

And you know what? Despite the never-ending sorrow we hear in the news, the horrible daily stories of lives cut short, in this group of people milling around, brought together on Michigan Ave, there was peace, smiles, exchanges. No one cared about the differences between us. We were One, if just for that snapshot in time.

We all enjoyed the art, the destination and this swampy, summer-like Chicago night, the moment. A smile, a nod, a wave to those around. I wish for more lovely moments like this, slowing the undulating motion in the city.

C

As Seen on a Bike Ride

These are photos from yesterday’s bike ride along the Des Plaines River Trail in the Lake County Forest Preserves.  Our path took us through some happy memories of places we took our kids when they were younger and a few unknown miles. We traversed through woods, fields, a hotel, abreast a subdivision,  and along the Des Plaines River on a glorious Chicagoland morning.  All pics taken on my iPhone, since it was the only camera I had.

img_5831
Field of golden joy. (Half-Day Preserve)
Same spot as above, opposite side of path. Fall colors starting to arrive.


Captain Daniel Wright Woods. Buckthorn cleared out here–amazing.


Double-crested cormorants (I think).  So cool–wish I had the DSLR. 

  

Along the Des Plaines River Trail