Monthly Archive: July 2006

Jul 19

Civil War Days

The kids and I attended the Lake County Civil Wars days event at the beginning of July. I went on Saturday to bum around by myself. The three of us headed back on Sunday to let the kids look around and witness the “Big Battle.”

Speaking of the kids, I was surprised by how much fun the kids ended up having. I know my son would like the battle – he went with me last year and was excited the first time he saw a poster for the event. My daughter, well, I didn’t know how she’d like to whole thing. She ended up finding it fun and interesting. They found it funny when some of the re-enactors asked them about things they were carrying – like a ballpoint pen, blue Gatorade and a hat with Alaska embroidered on it. This made the experience more real for the kids – these weren’t just actors spending time on the weekend playing soldier. These were individuals living like the soldiers of the Civil War lived.

The encampment was large, filled with re-enactors portraying the Confederate and Federal forces. There were also poeple who represented the civilians of the time – those who would follow the armies in their campaigns. My son wanted to see the blacksmith, and once we found him, he seemed interested but not too interested. This was my daughter’s first visit to the event and she was interested to see Mr. Lincoln and his wife. In addition to the encampments, there is a sutlery area where all types of items are for sale. Uniforms for re-enactors are available as well as other items. I didn’t get out cheap. The boy got a toy Civil War rifle and a Union cap. The girl got a handcarved Maple fife.

Saturday, I bummed around the camps and asked some questions. Talked with the gentlemen from Grant, Lee, Custer & Co. for a while. These guys are a living history troupe that bring the Civil War generals to life. I talked with “Custer” for a while and also with the other gentlemen. I saw how they interacted with the other visitors, especially the children – and they were great. Mr. Lincoln and Harriet Tubman were also there on Saturday. The culmination of the day was the skirmish that took place. That was fun and less formal than the Sunday battle. You can see a couple videos of the Union cannons firing on this page.

The men and women of the 8th Illinois Cavalry, the 10th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, the 154th Tennesee Infantry, Taylor’s battery, Battery G, the Lexington Rifles and other units put on a great show. (If your unit was there and it’s not listed, drop me a line or leave a comment below with a link to your site and I’ll add you on.) The weather was nice – sunny, not overly warm or humid with no threat of rain. We did have to have water bottles with us, but you need to do that in any kind of heat.

Well – enough of my rambling for now. Take a look at the pictures here. Check out the sites I’ve linked above and make plans to come out to Civil War Days next year. You’ll have fun and might even learn a thing or two.

Jul 15

More cloud images

I don’t know why I’m fascinated by clouds – maybe because they hold such power for life and death and yet they are truly ephemeral things. You can’t hold a cloud – it will simply flow around your fingers. These wisps of vapor cling together and build such mass through the pressure in the atmosphere to turn into storms that can bring life-giving rains or spawn tornados and hurricanes.

Anyway – here are some more images. I’ll be adding to these over the summer and fall as storms roll through the Illinois area.

Jul 12

New Neighbors?

Back sometime in mid-June when it was really wet here in Northern Illinois, we thought we might have some new neighbors.

These were special neighbors – immigrants of a kind if you want to call them that. Ones that didn’t mind the rain, the mushy ground, the long grass or the bugs. They were perfectly content with the environment.

I’m talking about a mated pair of Mallard ducks. One weekend, my wife and I looked out the back door and saw the male Mallard just strolling around the backyard in the light rain – fairly close to the deck and our back door. Now we both thought that this was cool, since we’ve never had a duck in the backyard – and he was so close to the door!

Male Mallard

Male Mallard

Well, we watched him for a while and then my wife made the discovery that there was a female hiding out too. Soon she was waddling around the yard and finally settled under one of our trees. As we watched her, my wife and I wondered what they were doing in our yard.

Female Mallard

Female Mallard

And then our eyes gravitated to the back corner of our yard. Here we have a flower garden of sorts – some lilacs, black-eyed susans and coneflowers. It looked a little overgrown with the plants that should be there and some other weeds. Then one of us said it – “You don’t think that they’re nesting back there, do you?” The male disappeared into the morass of leaves in the back and that just made us more interested. So, we just watched them for a while and then the two of them started patrolling the yard together.


After a while, they got a little tired of the scene in our backyard and flew over the fence to our neighbor’s yard and pool. Either they got tired of our place or we might have scared them since we wanted a little bit of video (click here to see the video – but finish reading first). Anyway, they didn’t make an appearance for the rest of the day.

So now it’s July and I have to report that they was no nest in the back corner of our yard, so we don’t have to worry about any new little mouths to feed around here. Once the rainy part of June was over a little dry spell settled in, and I guess the ducks headed for greened pastures. Not even the temptation of my neighbor’s pool could hold them here. So after we found out there was no nest, we went ahead and weeded out that area.

Would’ve been nice to see some of those little furry/feathery chicks around tho . . .