Say Hello to my Little Friend – Part Two

I wrote a while back about riding my bike in the colder winter temps without my dog and feeding the squirrels  in her absence. The little guys don’t have as much to eat with the cold temps and thinned ranks of tourists on the lakefront.

I learned something new the other day. I stopped for a rest around Buckingham Fountain and was tossing nuts to a squirrel when I wondered if he would take one out of my fingers. I know they are wild animals (tiny, but still wild), but I thought if I held a long peanut, there wasn’t much chance of getting bit.

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I tried that andhe took it out of my fingers and scampered away to eat it. What I didn’t realize is that this apparently removed a barrier between us. He no longer considered my a possible predator, just a source of food. We had become buddies. The next time I was holding a peanut he ran up my leg to get it. As you can see below, I had my iPhone videocamera ready.

As you can see from the video, I was able to catch him in the act.

You can see my previous squirrely encounter here.

Tony

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… In the Eye of the Beholder

When I started writing this blog I said that I would be writing about and showing you things I consider to be beautiful. Yesterday when I was riding my bike, I thought about how beautiful the path I was rolling across was to me, then I laughed. You see, yesterday it was blowing snow here in Chicago and there was a lot of snow and ice on the places where I normally ride. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I want to show you a couple of photos. The first is the lovely Riverwalk along the Chicago River. Tourists come here and enjoy the view every day.

This is the riverwalk where I ride every day. Obviously there is no bike riding across this very pretty landscape.

This is the riverwalk where I ride every day. Obviously there is no bike riding across this very pretty landscape.

For a bike ride, however, this is treacherous terrain and not to be trifled with. Below is a photo of Lower Wacker Drive. It happens to be adjacent to the lovely Riverwalk, but as you can see it appears rather unseemly. It looks dark because it is ‘underground.’ The street lights are necessary during the day, too. Not very appealing compared with the pristine beauty of the Riverwalk. To this bike rider, however, Lower Wacker Drive is a thing of beauty. I can ride my bike there in any kind of weather and feel protected from snow and ice on the ground, falling rain and wind gusts that could blow me off my bike.

This is Lower Wacker Drive, not very pretty, but very protected from the elements

This is Lower Wacker Drive, not very pretty, but very protected from the elements. Absolutely beautiful!

If you use your imagination, you can see how beautiful Lower Wacker Drive is to this bike rider.

This is Lower Wacker adjacent to the Chicago Auto Pound, the fence on the right.

This is Lower Wacker adjacent to the Chicago Auto Pound, the fence on the right.

Tony

Ice Mosaic

The normal high temperature in Chicago in January is around 32 F. Last week we had several days where temps ranged up into the 50’s. As a result the usually frozen solid surface of Lake Michigan yielded.

I think the resulting ice mosaic is kind of cool.

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The sun  had risen an hour or so earlier, but was hiding in the clouds. I saw this on my morning bike ride.

My Yearly Mileage total

The year 2012 was a very good year …

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Getting through December in a four season climate like Chicago is a dicey experience for a guy who wants to ride his bike every day. You just don’t know what the weatherman will be serving up on any given day.

December usually has some of the most bizarre offerings, unfortunately. However, this year was one for the record books. No snowfall of an inch or more since March. This was the third most snow free season on record with 0.9 inch the lowest since 1939. The year 2012 was the warmest in Chicago’s 142 year observational record dating back to 1871.

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I just finished adding up my bike riding for the year and it comes to, wait for it … 8,433 miles. I don’t know if you are impressed, but I am. This mellow December has been most helpful in my biking. Normally, we have snow and really difficult…

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Chicago River Around Sunset

I think one of the best kept secrets in Chicago is the Riverwalk, the north and south walkways along the Chicago River. The walk starts at Lake Michigan and works west. I live at the lakefront so am very familiar with this area. I walk my dog there regularly as well as ride my bike.

I shot these to photos right around sunset on a late December afternoon at the end of a bike ride. I love this time as the light is the same as at dawn when the sun is just about to break over the horizon. Electric lights somehow seem charming.

I was standing at the Lake Shore Drive bridge looking west and north for these.

At Christmas time the trees are illuminated.

At Christmas time the trees are illuminated. Don’t you love the reflections in the river?

This shot simply looks farther west along the river.

This shot simply looks farther west along the river. That tall building is the new Trump Tower.

Chi-town is one of the beautiful cities.

Tony

Late December Afternoon

After sharing our splendid December day with you last week, it seems only fitting to pass on this one, too. Today was not a splendid December day at all. The temperature ranged slightly above average at low 40s F, but rain fell intermittently and wind gusts ranged to 35 mph peppering your face and body if you were out in it. Not a fun day.

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The rains and wind kept me off my bike till late afternoon when it slowed to a trickle. I rode along the lakefront for a while as the light evaporated. I was on the way home when I caught this view of Burnham Harbor and Navy Pier in the background. I was struck by the fading light and the character of the electronic illumination which had been turned on. The lack of daylight rendered a soft focus to the photo which really fascinated me. It reminded me of something Impressionistic, especially the way the lights seemed to have been dabbed on by a paint brush, not really defined at all.

If you look close you can see the sidewalk is still shiny from rain.

Tony

Fun Bicycling Videos

You don’t have to be a cyclist to enjoy these.

When I was in the news business one of our axioms was that if the readers didn’t know a fact, it was news, no matter how old. So, I consider these videos as very fun news. They have been around a while, but are brand new to me.

I don’t know who Robin Moore is (the guy in the vids), but I am his newest fan.

Tony

A Splendorous Friday December 14 in Chicago

Triskaidekaphobics fear Friday the 13th, but we almost need to invent a new word on the other end of the spectrum for the Friday the 14th that Chicago experienced.

I posted a number of times on Fall Foliage and the experience of the changing seasons here in Chicago. Typical Fall goings on. The leaves turn colors and drop from the branches.

But, here it is a week before the official start of winter and it feels like someone has turned back the clock. To be sure, most trees are barren of leaves. But, we had spring-like conditions Friday.

Here is Monroe Harbor Bereft of boats, but glistening in sunshine

Here is Monroe Harbor bereft of boats, but glistening in sunshine. That’s Navy Pier in the background

The normal high for December 14 is 35 degrees Fahrenheit with a low of 23. We experienced a high of 49 F and a low of 31. Notice that the low is only four degrees under the normal high. In addition, we basked in a luxurious sunny day with very little wind. Most un-Decemberlike. The weather bureau reports that we have just set a record of 285 days without measurable snow. The last such snowfall was March 4. The latest “first measurable snow of season” – December 16, 1965.

Good for a double take - a sightseeing boat in mid-December

Good for a double take – a sightseeing boat in mid-December on Lake Michigan

The day started in the 30s, but worked its way up fast. I felt like it was an imposter 30s because there was no bite to the air. On my first bike ride, I didn’t take the dog, because she doesn’t ride in less than 45F weather. I enjoy having her with me, but I don’t want to be practicing animal abuse in the bargain. By the time I got home from the ride, however, the temp had risen above 40F and I knew I would have company if/when I rode in the afternoon.

I hope these photos demonstrate just what a gorgeous day we had here. Keep in mind that mid-December in Chicago could have blizzard-like conditions.

Gabi taking a rest on a bench wearing only a hoodie in mid-December

Gabi taking a rest on a bench wearing only a hoodie in mid-December

I ride my bike every day that I can, so the variance in temperature meant that I wore a different outfit. Also, I don’t take my dog with when we have less than 45 F.

Because I carry my iPhone with me on rides, I was able to record some of the day’s splendor.

This past Friday was indeed one to remember and for which to be thankful for to a generous providence.

Tony

Happy Birthday, Gabi

My little poodle, Gabi, has a birthday today. She was born on the 12th of December 2005. By a process of rapid calculation that works out to seven years old. I have to admit that I didn’t have a dog seven years ago, nor did I want one. How I got her is a story in itself.  I wrote it up for my other blog on healthy eating and living longer. If you would like to read it click here.

For the record, Gabi is a pure bred poodle. She was the runt of a teacup litter. Teacup poodles weigh around five pounds. Nonetheless, she currently stands 11 inches high and weighs just under 14 pounds.

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Words fall short in explaining her place in my life. She makes me laugh every day with her canine kookiness. I am not having a birthday party for her because she is a dog and wouldn’t understand it. But, I want to put this blog post together for her and for me.

I think one picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some of her. Below is a shot just after a grooming. Glamorous, no? Thanks to my friend, Maxine, for putting the photo together.

Next is Gabi on the Fourth of July with her festive bandanna.

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth!

This photo below is a prize winner that my daughter, Kate, shot. It was a Purina Dog Chow contest and the winners were displayed in Times Square. I was holding her over my shoulder and there was a fan blowing in her face.

Prize winning shot of Gabi in Times Square

Prize winning shot of Gabi in Times Square

The photo below is an ‘attitude’ shot. It is morning and I am on the couch reading, but she is ready for her walk. Her patience is running out.

Her patience is running out.

Her patience is running out.

I love this next one. She gets cold in the winter so I have bought her several hoodies. She doesn’t like the feelilng of them being slipped over her head. This shot shows her hiding her two front paws and her neck so I can’t slip it on her.

HIding her front paws and neck.

HIding her front paws and neck.


No collection of Gabi photos would be complete without one of her riding in my bike basket. This was shot by a Chicago newspaper photographer of us riding on Northerly Island. You can see the Chicago Skyline behind us. She rides several thousand miles with me each year and has had her picture taken on the lakefront hundreds of times by tourists from all over the world.

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Last, but not least, one of her puppy pics.

She was four months old here and I hadn't adopted her yet.

She was four months old here and I hadn’t adopted her yet.

Happy Birthday, Gabi!

Tony

Fallen Cloud

I was riding late yesterday afternoon going north on a familiar patch of path just above the Museum Campus when I saw this. It was just starting to hail and I was hurrying back home because I wasn’t sure how bad it would be getting. But, when I saw this I had to stop and take a picture to show you.

I have passed this sculpture hundreds of times and never thought much about it. Yesterday, though, with the clouds behind it from that particular angle, it just hit me that it looked like one of the clouds had fallen.

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Here is the nameplate. The actual title is Expanding Universe.

This is the nameplate for the sculpture.

This is the nameplate for the sculpture.

It certainly left me with a cushiony impression that mimicked the clouds behind it.

Tony