Thursday, November 12, 2009

November: Chicago Architecture Foundation's Chicago Model City exhibit

Mark and I went to the Model City exhibit at CAF (Michigan & Jackson) a few weeks ago but my silly camera batteries died (and hey, CAF, how about selling batteries in your gift shop?) so I couldn't take the millions of photos I wanted.  Yesterday I slipped out early and returned to do the exhibit full justice.

Sunrise on the river. The lighting is challenging for photographers because they simulate a 24-hour light change and even the brightest daylight is soft, to reduce shadows.

The exhibit is a completely fascinating sight, a scale model of the buildings of Chicago from Roosevelt to Halsted to (hmm, not sure of the north boundary) to the lake.  It's a lot of fun to crouch down and see familiar sightlines, and to pick out the buildings you know.  It even has a replica of the Bean!  I encourage everyone in town to go see it.  It was scheduled to close in November but someone from CAF let me know this morning that it has been extended.  So no excuses!

Website:  Chicago Model City

My Flickr set:  Model City

Here's a comparison:  the model view from UIC:
And the same view in real life:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November: Picture This Photo Contest Entry

My entry for this month's Picture This photo contest at Gardening Gone Wild. The theme is "The End of the Line," interpreted in any number of ways.

I took this picture at University of Illinois at Chicago today. The row of honey locust trees and shadows against the wall suggested prisoners grimly facing a firing line, and with a cold and windy winter coming, that isn't too far from the truth.

November: Campus goes to sleep

UIC's leaves have mostly fallen and the grounds (and the students) are getting ready for a long winter, but under today's autumn sunshine the campus was putting on a show.

When the leaves fall, hidden secrets within the trees are revealed

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

November: The Money Pit, part 5

After a full weekend of work, all of the carpentry is finished.

Saturday afternoon:
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A tiny issue with the roof:  it was visibly not level.  It appeared that the back of the roof was level to the siding and the front was level to the ground, and since the house is not level, the roof looked a bit twisted.  This morning's task was to make the roof the same degree of unlevel as the house, which they did successfully.  Of course, first there was much shrugging of shoulders and muttering amongst themselves in Serbian.  We don't speak Serbian but "Give the client what they want, even if it makes no sense to me" sounds about the same in every language.  Too bad!


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Pay no attention to the woman behind the tree; Foley does not like the camera flash and bolted for the door as soon as this was taken

Saturday, November 07, 2009

November: The Money Pit, part 4

Concrete:  done.  Porch:  done enough to be useable, so we no longer have to use a block and tackle to let the dog out (kidding!).  Roof framing:  being done even as I type.  Things are progressing quickly!

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Replacement post is firmly tied to original post and bolted into the concrete.

I think they cemented the coachlight a little crooked.  Oh well!  It won't be noticeable once the clematis covers it again (assuming the clematis survives all this ruckus).

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

November: Oh yeah, plants

In the midst of the excitement of tearing off parts of our house and grading a genetics exam, I haven't been reporting on the plants.  The garden has been put to bed, McHouse-style, meaning hubby mowed the leaves up and dumped them onto the prairie garden, and I cut back the perennials that were in the way of the concrete guys.

Viburnum opulus, fall color

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Calycanthus floridus, Carolina allspice, one of my favorite shrubs, has wonderful fall color.  It has developed its first and only fruit, a fig-like capsule that should persist all winter.  I'll cut it open in the spring and see what's inside.

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My witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, is blooming.  American witch hazels have such cool flowers but I usually forget to look for them since they bloom at an odd time of year.  They tend to have low seed set, something like 1%.  I haven't found any capsules from last year's flowers.

I have two strawberry plants running wild in the lawn. I'm told that this is a bad thing but we have such a hard time keeping grass back there, any successful green plant is okay in my book! Until I start smooshing red berries onto my clothes, that is.  We'll see if they survive the winter.

Foley dozes in the November sunshine.  She's definitely an autumn; the earth tones suit her.

November: The Money Pit, part 3

In one day, we went from this:

to this:

Don't you just long to go rollerskating on it?

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The house is still supported by magic and good intentions but at least the groundwork has been laid. Now we have to let the concrete cure for a few days.

Monday, November 02, 2009

November: The Money Pit, part 2

It sure doesn't take long for Murphy's Law to kick in, does it?

The pathetic excuse for a load-bearing post that I pointed out yesterday?  Not load bearing.  Not really touching anything at all.  What is keeping this entire corner of the house from falling?  The downspout?  I feel like I'm living in a Simpsons episode.

Bart Simpson: Ah, I wouldn't take it down if I were you. It's a load-bearing poster.

Maybe this explains why the back bedroom floor noticeably slants, and the walls have decorative features like this?

Anyway, the demolition is finished after one day, including the removal of the concrete.  Plans have been made to properly shore up the corner of the house, and the project has suddenly become more expensive and kind of scary.  However, the prospect of not fixing this problem is even scarier.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

November: The Money Pit, part 1

It's been a while since we've had any work done on the house, but rotting porch steps, a roof letting water into the house, and oceans of standing water on the patio have forced us to take action. We met with our Guy on Saturday and tomorrow some burly men will start tearing off parts of our house. Eep!


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Porch steps on their last legs; back of the house, including porch and roof and crawlspace to be rebuilt and patio to be replaced (it's not really that crooked, it's just the photo angle)

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Another view of the porch; a hodgepodge of concrete forms our patio

The patio, which a tree root has broken into four pieces

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Roof pulling away from the house; the post that supports the entire corner of a two-story house looks like this? and we never noticed??

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Outer wall of crawlspace, exposed for the first time after we removed some overgrown shrubs this summer; shingles on the roof disintegrating

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Inside the crawl space (yes, the paneling is held on with duct tape, and no, we didn't do that, but we didn't try to fix it, either); another part of the patio, including a sidewalk that doesn't go anywhere

Fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong!