Tag Archives: Chicago

Fafa

baby

My husband/guest blogger Jamie “Punky” Buhr wanted to accommodate my photo tribute and I couldn’t resist. He’s only allowed on here once every couple of years though . . .

I wanted to provide proof of how much I loved my cat, and I think this does the trick:

I am opening myself up to well deserved ridicule, but I don’t regret the 3-4 hours I spent crafting this on a snowy drive home from Minneapolis last year. While the fact that I’m a little weird goes without saying, you don’t rework silly lyric after silly lyric, practicing multiple takes into the iPhone voice memo to get it JUST right, for some ordinary house cat.

My love affair with Baby AKA Fafa AKA The Striped Prince was one I never could have foreseen in 2003. I’ve always had a dislike for cats, especially when I met Lucas, who was Abbie’s cat. He didn’t exactly welcome me with open arms when I moved in, and it was clear he wanted no part of me once I was there. When Abbie decided she wanted to get another cat to keep Lucas company during the day, the conversation went something like this.

Me: You want to get another one of THESE?!?!

Abbie: Come on, this one will be more like our cat.

Me: Another Lucas…

I didn’t even go with Abbie to pick him out. I slept in, as I’ve often been known to do, and when Abbie arrived home she proceeded to tell me about our new cat “Antonio”. She had actually wanted this white Calico (breed talk) but “Antonio” would not let her get to the other cat. I still have dreams that she picked the other cat, and I’m so thankful Abbie saw what she saw in him. When someone from the shelter came to drop him off, I barely got a look at “Antonio” because he hid so quickly. After another few hours of still only having one cat, I turned to Abbie and said something like: “Great choice, we’re never going to see this one.”

An early snapshot of Baby, probably blurry because he was about to bolt out of frame
An early snapshot of Baby, probably blurry because he was about to bolt out of frame.

Things began to change fairly quickly. One, his name was in constant flux, Antonio was quickly followed by Henry. But because he couldn’t meow, managing only a pathetic squeak whenever his mouth opened, we simply started referring to him as The Baby and eventually just Baby. A second thing that changed was his presence in my life. When it was just Abbie and I at home, Baby was a regular on the futon or in the windowsill. But whenever a stranger was in the apartment, he knew it before anyone and would wedge his body into hiding spaces I didn’t believe were physically possible, even after I had witnessed them firsthand.

One day I awoke and Baby was sleeping next to me. Actually, right on top of me. I think Abbie had left for an early run and it was just the two of us. He stared at me for a moment and then got into what would become his prime napping position; a perfect circle with his tail safely tucked away. baby ballI still remember trying not to make any sudden movements, as I didn’t want to blow this new-found closeness. My position on cats began to evolve. Well, not on all of them, pretty much only Baby who I eventually mostly started calling Fafa. Lucas and I were still barely on speaking terms, but Baby quickly became a constant companion. When you’re around someone or something for that amount of time, it’s hard not to fall in love. Especially when the cost is simply providing them your love in return. That love is now burned into my memory through countless images I hope will always endure.

I can still picture how he sat in every windowsill, in every apartment we ever had. There were four in New York, two in Chicago. Baby Window Upper East

The back window of our apartment on West 29th street was like his own personal Botanical Garden, when the sun illuminated our back porch he would spend hours just watching the world around him. This one of him in the window of Abbie’s apartment on the Upper East Side before we moved in together is perhaps my favorite image of him (of Lucas too, it’s hard to be mad at him right now):

baby lucas window

I love it because it reminds me of everything that lay ahead in those next ten years Baby was in our life. I love the way he’s looking up into the sky. In that one look, those coming years always flash through my eyes. Our apartments, our cities, the dogs we did not yet have, the friends we did not yet know. I always think of my wedding day and then finally, of Leo. I’ll always be grateful that Baby lived long enough so that I have this photo:

Couch Nap

I’m also grateful that nine of the ten years I spent with Baby were before we decided to have kids. For what seemed like so long, it was just the four of us, then the six of us, and finally the seven of us when Leo was born last May. I’m grateful there was a time where it was just us, because things change before you even have a chance to catch up. This became evident when I was scrolling through my iPhone a couple days ago, desperate to round up every picture on every device we owned in case Baby’s prognosis became worse. The vet said his kidneys were failing and there was an unknown growth on his liver, potentially cancerous. She called his blood work “scary”.

The pictures on my iPhone told how the story had changed. There were plenty of pictures that sprang up of him in New York, our move to Chicago, our old Sedgwick apartment, during Abbie’s pregnancy, and then they just stopped. I didn’t want to believe it, but as I furiously scrolled throw my library I knew what I was seeing. The day Leo was born, the pictures of Baby stopped. I knew it wasn’t intentional, but it was the emptiest I had felt since the first moment I learned just how sick he was. It wasn’t guilt that my love for him had dissipated (please see above video again) it was the simple reality that a new baby changes things more than you even realize. That is why I’m glad there was a time it was just us.

Baby (here on Sedgwick), always loved a good pile of scarves
Baby (here on Sedgwick), always loved a good pile of scarves

I will forever remember Baby because he was my first pet. He was the first animal I ever loved, the rare soul that always wanted to be around me, no matter how foul a mood I was in. There was rarely a time I could go 20 minutes on the couch without him eventually joining me. And if he wasn’t with me on the couch there was a good chance he was attempting to lure me off of it, either by bringing me a foam ball to play our favorite fetch game on the stairs, or by squeaking at me until I could ignore its cuteness no longer. It will take some time for me to get totally used to my life without that squeak, but I am no doubt a better person for having heard it for close to a decade. Although I know I will never forget the day I held his paw for the last time, as if fate was just making sure, hours after Baby breathed his last breaths, Leo took his first real steps across our condo floor. And like with so much of life, a chapter ends, a chapter begins.

Love Always.

Baby in the bathroom waiting to play with floss.
Baby in the bathroom waiting to play with floss.
Baby and Maeby napping next to each other one afternoon.
Baby and Maeby napping next to each other one afternoon.
1) Baby being adorable as usual. 2) A typical evening in the Buhr house; Pia and Baby on the Couch with Punky, 3) Fafa could never resist hiding under an open umbrella.
1) Baby being adorable as usual. 2) A typical evening in the Buhr house; Pia and Baby on the Couch with Punky, 3) Fafa could never resist hiding under an open umbrella.
Baby rarely ventured outside, but sometimes he was extra brave.
Baby rarely ventured outside, but sometimes he was extra brave.
Baby and Lucas fitting together so perfectly, sitting in the window on Cornelia.
Baby and Lucas fitting together so perfectly, sitting in the window on Cornelia.
The striped prince was never too shy to expose some of his beautiful stripy belly.
The striped prince was never too shy to expose some of his beautiful stripy belly.
Fafa posing on the cat tree one winter.
Fafa posing on the cat tree one winter.
Loving a nap on the bed in the sun.
Loving a nap on the bed in the sun.

Nimble Well

Committed-Chicago Green Wedding Alliance
Nimble Well booth at Committed-Chicago Green Wedding Alliance

I’ve recently been shooting for an exciting new company called Nimble Well, started and owned by a lovely woman named Kelly Connolly. It allows a bride/party thrower/wedding planner to have one of a kind goods and antiques for their events without having to hunt down, purchase and own the pieces themselves. I think it’s an amazing concept and am happy to be even a small part in exposing people to her through my photography. Speaking of, I was fortunate enough to photograph her booth last month at Committed, sponsored by the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance. Here’s some shots of her amazing pieces set up beautifully at her booth (see Kelly below in the black & white).
nimble well group

The event was held at Greenhouse Loft, which seemed like the perfect space. There was great food, delicious cocktails, and even a fashion show at one point highlighting bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. commited group

Here’s a link to the facebook page where Kelly posted several of my photos from the event. I’ll end this post with my favorite photo from the day. Who wouldn’t love a glitter covered heart shaped cake sitting on a bright blue cake stand?blue cake stand

Chicago Fire

Before you get nervous, don’t panic, I’m not about to report about the next Great Chicago Fire. Instead I wanted to share some highlights that I shot yesterday at the Chicago Fire vs DC United soccer game at Toyota Park in Brideview. Though I was wildly under-dressed (for some reason I didn’t think about the fact that I would be outside for several hours in the cold wind), it was a fun and education time had by all. I discovered the outing through the Chicago Photographic Center, and have been wanting to both get involved with CPC somehow and try out sports photography at the same time. The Chicago Tribune sports photographer Scott Strazzante met us at the field and gave us the rundown on where we could go as far as access, as well as a few pointers.

The most fun and valuable part of the day however was carpooling with other people in the class. Not sure I’ll ever become a sports photographer but it’s always nice meeting other photographers, especially ones that are local- thanks Kathy, Will and Ted! Can’t wait to talk shop again.

Chicago-Fire

Beach bumps and baseball

beachbumps

The bump was treated to a little sun recently when I was able to scoot down to Florida one last time before the madness starts (also because I really shouldn’t be flying anymore). It’s amazing what a little fresh air, sun, long walks and naps can do for you. I also had to check out my Mom’s new pool which I had been hearing so much about. It definitely lived up to the high expectations.

Flash forward to opening day of the Cubs! I was finally able to see why people love/hate living in our neighborhood. For the most part I think it’ll be fun, though ask me again in a mid-July when there are drunk people stumbling all over the sidewalks and harassing the dogs.

cubs

cubs2

cubs3

Spring Day

It was absolutely gorgeous today here in Chicago, and Maeby and I had lots of good QT in the backyard and out and about. Even Pia came on our midday walk, and aside from a little diva behavior (I will admit it was pretty windy at times), she did great. As you can see I also started embracing Instagrams which is a whole lot of fun! Us old school photographers who learned our craft in the darkroom; you know who you are, can really appreciate the cool effects different types of film, paper and processing can give to your images. I will admit though it is much easier to click a few buttons on your iPhone.

dog-sign

maeby-yard

Sun and Snow

umbrella-shoot2

Shooting new products and uploading them to the web is one of my responsibilities at work. Mostly I shoot with strobes in the studio, but last week it was sunny and warm out and some rather large outdoor umbrellas needed new images. So we took advantage of the beautiful weather and shot on location at a park in River North. It was a nice change to be working out of the office even for a little.

Flash forward a few days and Chicago was hit with it’s first real snowfall of the year- not bad considering it’s January. It didn’t seem bad from my office in the loop but by the time I got home to Lakeview it was a winter wonderland.

chicago-snow

GUEST BLOGGER: Punky Buhr

For some insane reason I offered up the platform of my blog to my husband so he could share his trials and tribulations during last weekend’s Dave Matthews Caravan Concert. So for the first time EVER in abbieross.com history, I present:

Too Old for Dave?
by Jamie “Punky” Buhr

About 5 minutes into the shuttle ride I couldn’t get the voice of Gob Bluth out of my head. “I’ve made a huge mistake”.

punky-dmb2

The 45 minute trip on the Red Line had been trying enough, but now I find myself sandwiched on a shuttle bus between 2 girls who appear to be on the verge of a full fledged brawl. My guess is they can’t be older than 18 and their fight seems to stem from whether or not one paid the other for their alcohol. According to the more indignant one the fact that HER older brother “bought the case of bud light and Bacardi Limon” is an even bigger slap in the face. Things escalate and before I know it they are grabbing and shoving and for a brief moment I forget I’m jammed on a bus and start to enjoy myself. The cluster of intoxicated guys they are with finally take notice and intervene. “We’ve been waiting for this night our entire lives!” the drunkest of the group reminds everyone.

They separate the two girls and the accused freeloader retreats to the back of the shuttle, too embarrassed to make eye contact with anyone. Meanwhile I’m still brimming with questions. “Are they best friends who simply haven’t become used to each others drunken personalities yet?” “Are they rivals going after the same guy?” “Will they be hugging and making up by the time “Satellite” rolls around?” Sadly I know these questions will never be answered. But the good news is the shuttle has finally arrived at the venue.

As Abbie and I begin to wander the grounds I can’t help but wonder why anyone would ever pick this place for a concert venue. I thought I heard someone say it used to be a steel mill and it certainly has the charm of a place that used to be a steel mill. We make our way to the main stage and trip over the first of many small boulders we will encounter throughout the night. We find Abbie’s friends who have carved out an area close to the stage with several blankets. As I sip my beer and watch Ray Lamontagne begin his set I think to myself “this is pretty awesome”. I have never seen him live before and am enjoying myself thoroughly. Maybe it was the right call to get a last second ticket…

The very talented Ray Lamontagne
The very talented Ray Lamontagne

“Dave’s gonna start any minute!” someone shrieks from the area just in front of the long row of port-a-potties. These words seem to kick the bathroom lines into a tense overdrive. We have successfully executed a bathroom/food/beer run after Ray Lamontagne finished but it seems like time is running out. I find Abbie and we walk as quickly as you can walk while holding 2 full beers. As soon as we begin making our way back into the area we had left our friends and blankets I immediately have a bad feeling. I can make out roughly where we had set up shop but the big difference now is there are about 30 rows of tightly packed rabid Dave Matthews fans standing in our way. “Come on, we gotta keep moving” I hear Abbie shout as the crowd’s noise level rises in anticipation.

The next 10 minutes are more or less a blur. It becomes clear to me pretty quickly that most of the people who had enjoyed their luxurious blankets and picnics during Ray Lamontagne have quickly lost the majority of their real estate. And they are not happy. It starts with a few glares and eye rolls. Those don’t concern me because they mainly came from mild mannered couples in their late 20’s or early 30’s. But the closer we inch towards our blanket (and Abbie’s purse) the younger and drunker the crowd becomes. And those eye rolls quickly turn to verbal jabs.

“What the eff dude!”
“Yeah, just walk on through!”
“She’s GOTTA get closer to see DAVE”

A quick side note to women out there. When you’re leading your husband or boyfriend by the hand through a crowd of highly intoxicated concertgoers who either just had their blankets trampled or think you’re trying to cut everyone to get closer to the stage, where do you think the brunt of the vitriol is going to fall? Here’s a hint: not the woman.

In Abbie’s mind we were justified making our way back to our blanket (if it even still existed) but it’s not like I could explain to every single person we bumped on our way “hey I swear we were sitting up there less than 30 minutes ago, you gotta believe me!”. No, there is no time for explanations in this scenario and even if there were it is too effing loud to hear them anyway. To these people I was simply the gutless asshole letting his woman lead him to get a better view of Dave. Finally I had enough.

“Abbie if you take another step I’m going to join the angry mob and turn on you”.
“But what about…”
“But nothing. We’re almost to the tanktop guy section, and there’s no way I’m venturing into their territory”

She finally seems to accept the fact that we weren’t getting back to our area that had been so perfectly reserved a mere half an hour ago. I do a quick recon glance behind us and am met by 20 or so eyeballs of pure disdain. To make it worse we are now standing right in front of a couple who are still sitting defiantly in their lawn chairs. The only thing missing is a giant spotlight on us.

All I can think to myself is “please start playing, please start playing, make everyone happy”. Each minute feels like an hour. I don’t dare look back again. I think I feel someone kick half a cup of beer at my legs. To add insult to injury a beach ball is batted back to me not once but twice. The first time I quickly swat it away the way you would a mosquito. The second time it comes from the side and awkwardly lands on my shoulder. I feel hundreds of eyes burn into my back as again I try to get that damn beach ball away from me as quickly as possible. I don’t think I’ve ever got the beach ball when I’ve actually wanted to bat it. But the one time I want to blend in, NEED to blend in the thing basically latches onto me like Velcro. In a vain attempt at redemption I do my best to make it appear that I’m lecturing and scolding Abbie about the foolishness of our endeavor and try to say things like “I don’t know where our blanket is!” and “we’ll just have to find your purse later!” as loudly as possible in hopes to win some sympathy from the jury behind us.

After what feels like 2 days, the music finally starts and the crowd erupts. I instantly feel the spotlight start to fade and I even give a half hearted fist pump. Still we are jammed in tight and the couple behind us is still defiantly sitting in their lawn chairs. It’s so tight that one misstep or bump could easily send me sprawling on top of them. As the set begins I try to enjoy myself as much as possible but it’s futile. I don’t know if it’s the lady in the lawn chair tapping her foot to the beat of the music and hitting my calf in the process. Or the fact that everyone around us seems to know every single word and I can’t even come up with the name of the last two songs. Or it could be the overly excited high school kids high fiving and saying things like “strong start!” and “2 for 2!”.

The author during happier times
The author during happier times

The moment it finally hit me what was really bothering me was between the 4th and 5th song where I let my mind start to wander and suddenly this thought crept into my head “I totally forgot that Ann Coulter is going to be on Bill Maher tonight, that should be great”. Holy shit. I am way too old to be this close to the stage. Way too old to be packed in with the diehards and kids who are drunk off liquor bought for them by older brothers or fake IDs. Way too old to be amongst the fans that recognize each song after the first chord. I finally have some clarity. I don’t belong here anymore. At least not this close.

I turn to Abbie and shout into her ear “You want to move back?!”. She gives me a look that says “I thought you’d never ask” and I love her for it. As we make our escape the insults fly in similar fashion to when we made our reckless trek toward the stage:

“Bathroom already!?”
“Yo, the show just STARTED bro”
“See ya loser!”

Only this time I don’t care because I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. After a few minutes of weaving the crowd finally gets lighter and I feel the anxiety melt away. The further we walk the more it makes sense. Now we are among the people who STILL are on blankets and even playing Frisbee. Look there’s someone dancing with some glow sticks! I nod knowingly to myself. Yup. This is where we should have been sitting the entire time. Sure we don’t have the best view but who do we think we are? 19? No, no, no. I’m 29ish. I’m a little disappointed it took me this long to figure it out. Even during Ray Lamontagne we had out kicked our coverage in closeness to the stage. I didn’t know it at that moment in time but I was about to get a hard lesson in outdoor concerts.

You see there are many types of fans and you just have to know what your lane is and stay in it. If you studied the people from closest proximity to the stage to furthest it would probably look something like this.

1) The diehards who will find a spot by the stage 5 hours before the show begins and not move. They’ll pee in a diaper before they risk losing their spot.
2) The meatheads (usually shirtless or in tank tops) who don’t necessarily know the words to the songs or even the names of them. But they are big enough to get as close as they want because no one’s really going to say shit.
3) The fans in their late 20’s or early 30’s that in their Dave Matthews heyday knew all the words and have fond memories of their late teens and early 20’s at a venue much like this one. More than likely their blanket has been trampled and they mutter amongst themselves how many “punk Dave fans” there are these days.
4) The people who get it. They don’t care how close they are as long as they can hear the music and at least see the two giant screens. Their blankets have not been trampled and they seem to be enjoying the hell out of themselves. Some are playing Frisbee. Some are pulling bottles of wine from their picnic baskets. Some even seem to be on some pretty awesome drugs. This is where I belonged.

As we finish the second half of the concert comfortably from our new found spot I keep glancing to the area we watched the first 5 songs from and can’t help but laugh. Now it looks like you’d have to helicopter in to have any chance to get back to Abbie’s purse. Luckily her friends saved the day and grabbed it before it was passed around by people looking for money or pot.

Now we could both relax and enjoy the music. I feel better knowing I will walk away from this experience a little savvier and wiser. I vow my next concert will either involve an assigned seat or an 8 by 8 area that will never be compromised by stampedes. Even if that means the parking lot. And as if the concert gods finally decided to throw me a bone I was able to recognize the next 3 songs and even kind of sing along to them. And thanks to the power of DVR “Real Time” will be waiting for me when I got home. I wonder if Ann Coulter’s trip into the Lions Den had worked out any better than mine…

Maryink

This isn’t exactly a post about photos but it’s somewhat related and I wanted to share it. Last weekend I went to the Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park and there was all kind of inspiring stuff for sale or just to look at. Silkscreen, lots of letterpress, pottery, fiber arts, jewelry and photography just to name a few. I also had a minor Etsy celebrity sighting as well. Maryink, an adorable couple who run their own silk screen studio in Nashville, was there selling their amazing t-shirts (and a few other things), and I recognized them from one of Etsy’s wonderful “Handmade Portrait” videos on their site. Basically it’s a short video profiling different artists that sell on Etsy. Long story short, I chatted them up a bit and bought one of their shirts for a bday present. Please check out their video above, and when you have a few spare moments there are tons of other great ones in the video section on Etsy’s blog page. A running friend back in Brooklyn actually produces a bunch of them and I think she has about the coolest job on the planet.

A Busy August

I’ve been having a hectic month filled with traveling, seeing family and friends, and some really great weekends locally and away. Relaxing up north at Becky’s beautiful place on Bear Lake . . .

bearlake

Visited my Mom in Florida, spent some time with her adorable new dog Riley (aka “Boots”) that she adopted from Animal Haven when she was in New York helping us move. Also helped get her new cooking and lifestyle blog, Ninth and Olive, off the ground which I encourage you to check out!

riley_florida

Completed my first olympic distance triathlon right here in Chicago in 90 degree weather.

The transition station
The transition station at 5am

Am now looking forward to the fall, settling into more of a routine and the temps getting a little more livable!