Autumn in the wet

Just a quickie here, as I’ve been so very busy and not feeling quite up to par this past week.

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Autumn Wet-3 WM

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A very scary Hallowe’en morning indeed!

While looking out my window as I sipped coffee, I noticed a bit of smoke not too far away.

Oh, I thought to myself, someone’s lucky enough to have a fireplace on this damp, gray day!

Then I looked again, about a minute later, and saw this:

Definitely NOT curling smoke from a chimney!

Definitely NOT curling smoke from a chimney!

A minute later, I was still unable to determine what was on fire.

A minute later, I was still unable to determine what was on fire.

But a minute later, at 9:32 AM, I knew exactly where the now-huge flames were climbing!

But a minute later, at 9:32 AM, I knew exactly where the now-huge flames were climbing!

By 9:34 AM, the Chicago Fire Department was already at the scene...

By 9:34 AM, the Chicago Fire Department was already at the scene…

...their hoses streaming water under drizzly skies.

…their hoses streaming water under drizzly skies.

It took the better part of half an hour before the fire was struck, as little areas of thick smoke would appear, then be dissipated.

Quick action by the firefighters saved this building…

...a Sheridan Road former mansion now owned by the Unification Church.

…a Sheridan Road former mansion now owned by the Unification Church of Chicago.

I didn’t walk around to the back when I went over at 4:30 this afternoon (it was raining and my lens kept fogging up), but I’m certain the place has had not only fire damage, but is also soaking wet inside.

You can find the story here.

The cause?

Apparently, a space heater sparked from the electrical outlet, setting a mattress on fire.

The lesson to be learned?

If you are using a space heater, as many who live in older Chicago buildings are forced to do, PLEASE keep it away from any furniture, clothing, curtains, etc.

NEVER use an extension cord with a space heater; plug it directly into the electrical outlet!

SAFETY FIRST,  or your home could end up looking like this:

Unification Fire-7

I’d be lying…

…like a politician if I told you how much fun the past few days have been, but so much has been accomplished, my feeling of satisfaction trumps the aches and pains!

I mentioned previously that I would try to finish everything but the studio and then begin redecorating.

Yep, I did it!

Even the windows and blinds have been washed, some badly needed weather-stripping put in place, and a few paintings have been hung.

See for yourself!

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All my mismatched, second-hand furniture now looks great, although it took three coats of paint to get it right!

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If you think that was hard work, the tree specialists arrived Thursday morning, and put it four solid days work clearing the land next door, which began like this…

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and ended like this, taken early this morning:

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Here are the in-between images, arranged sequentially:

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This is the 'high man', whom I complimented the other day as he returned from lunch. He is an expert and works quietly because he directs his men with hand signals, which I found pretty amazing!

This is the ‘high man’, whom I complimented the other day as he returned from lunch.
He is an expert and works quietly because he directs his men with hand signals, which I found pretty amazing!

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This industrious crew should be applauded for their work, executed in what I consider a very short amount of time!

They kept me busy at every short break I took, and I’ll say I was truly awed, watching all these un-cared-for trees come down, seeing all the dead limbs, and listening to the sound of the chipper as I continued my little (?) paint adventure!

Word is that construction of the parking structure will begin before the end of the year…you can bet I’ll be at my window (and, on the ground!) covering the progress!

This past Saturday…

…I took a break from all the work and walked up the street to the ArchitectureChicago Open House, a city-wide event.

Of course, my sole architectural interests were a mere block and a half walk away!

The Emil Bach House Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1915

The Emil Bach House
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1915

As much as I wanted to see inside, I passed by because there was no waiting line next door at the Cat’s Cradle Bed and Breakfast, another renovation financed a few years back by Col. J.N. Pritzker of Tawani Enterprises, Inc.

The Bach House sure looked great from the outside, though the renovation is not yet 100% complete!

The Bach House sure looked great from the outside, though the renovation is not yet 100% complete!

As I walked up the steps to Cat's Cradle, I looked back and took a shot of the looong line at the Bach House. It was a beautiful Autumn morning, and the plantings at both properties were spectacular! But, I quickly turned, and entered a structure I've been very, very curious about.

As I walked up the steps to Cat’s Cradle, I looked back and took a shot of the loooong line at the Bach House.
It was a beautiful Autumn morning, and the plantings at both properties were spectacular!
But, I quickly turned, and entered a structure I’ve been very, very curious about.

Love this door which I believe is the original from 1919, and knew I'd also love the interior!

LOVE this door which I believe is the original from 1919, and knew I’d also love the interior!

I almost felt as if I had somehow ‘gone back in time’, to a much gentler, more civilized era.

The Architect was a Mr. Newman, who drew much inspiration from FLW, as evidenced by the amount of fine woodworking, original wood flooring...

The architect was a Mr. Newman, who drew much inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright, as evidenced by the amount of fine woodworking, original wood flooring…

...and decorative touches such as this lovely lamp atop the newel post.

…and decorative touches such as this lovely lamp atop the newel post.

Cat’s Cradle contains five bedrooms, each with the flavor of that bygone time, yet each is technologically up-to-date.

I’ll title them in the sequence I viewed them.

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #1

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Bedroom #2

Bedroom #2

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Bedroom #3

Bedroom #3

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Bedroom #4

Bedroom #4

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Bedroom #5

Bedroom #5

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Because I’ve been so busy in the apartment, painting not only walls but also furniture, and doing some fall cleaning in between, I haven’t gotten around to processing any other images from this wonderful tour.

There’s just one ceiling area to give a third coat, and then only the studio remains…I’ll take my time and do that piecemeal, as it is small and requires a lot of shuffling things back and forth—and I’m pretty ‘pooped’ right now!

I did, however, have a fine chat with one of the Innkeepers, Wayde Cartwright, which was both informative and most enjoyable!

If you plan to visit Chicago on business or vacation, give Wayde or his fellow Innkeeper, Bruce Boyd, a call at 1.773.764.9851, or you can visit www.catscradlechicago.com.

The rates are extremely reasonable, especially when you consider the surroundings and all the amenities provided!

(Yes, that was pretty blatant advertising from me, but if I were visiting, I’d surely love staying here!)

It’s been a long, hard week…

…because I am still painting walls, thanks to the building management who provided the cheapest, chalkiest paint…which does not contain enough Titanium Dioxide to cover very well!

Both the bath and kitchen will require a second coat, while most of the other walls have taken FOUR coats, in addition to the original stain-blocker coat, and the ceiling in the bed area needs a second coat for sure, and hopefully not a third…I really expect to be finished, cleaned up and redecorated by Hallowe’en!

It hasn’t been as easy as it was in the ‘olden days’, when I could climb for hours or paint a room’s ceiling in fifteen minutes (including the cutting in!)…nor can I even climb every day, for that matter.

It’s been long, but (hint-hint to the building management!) could have been accomplished in one, maybe two, coats had the paint been of a better quality, but alas, they are known to be ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish’!

In between the painting, I managed to take hundreds of images of the demolition of the Shambhala Meditation Center next door…which, of course, I haven’t been able to do anything with just yet.

However, I can show you yesterday’s pix, taken at the end of a very long workday for the meticulous, hard-working crew involved.

I’ll call this “The Sham-Gone” series!

The day had been spent sifting and sorting, as huge dump trucks came and went with load after load of broken-up concrete and very sandy subsoil (this area actually used to be Lake Michigan before it was filled in many decades ago--hence, the sand...

The day had been spent sifting and sorting, as huge dump trucks came and went with load after load of broken-up concrete, various metals and extremely sandy subsoil (this area actually used to be Lake Michigan before it was filled in many decades ago–hence, the sand…

...and more sand...

…and more sand…

...and, even more sand!).

…and, even more sand!).

The crew is finished for now, so I guess the next crew will be taking down the trees.

The crew is finished for now, so I guess the next crew will be taking down the trees.

Though that may seem sad to some of you, it’s actually a good thing, as the owners of Shambhala were not very wise stewards, especially in maintaining the trees.

Lots of broken limbs and dead/dying stock littered this property…and a number of trees were allowed to sprout naturally, but were never regularly pruned to allow them space to grow well.

In addition, most of the trees had very shallow roots due to the sandy subsoil, so that as they aged, the potential for crashing down became greater with each passing year.

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I had spoken several times with the crew (mainly the shovel operator and his two assistants), telling them I thought they had done an excellent job.

Though they were all a little embarrassed at being praised, one assistant piped up,

“Well, at least somebody appreciates what we do!”

Ornamental Cabbage…

…is quite beauteous in autumnal floral displays, don’t you think?

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It seems to become an even more attractive plant when it is combined with another delightful Autumn tradition: the simple, yet always gorgeous, Chrysanthemum!

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NOTE:  The above images were processed in Photoshop (TM) utilizing the Watercolor filter overlaid with the Diffuse Glow filter (using pure white as the glow color).