The Only Place Like It In North America – The Bahai Temple

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Images in this post taken by Rachel Wilder, Copyright 2012.

Today our travels take us north of Chicago to the suburb of Wilmette, Illinois, USA and the first Bahai Temple in the Western Hemisphere.  Persecuted in their country of origin, Bahai worshipers must practice their faith in secret in many places today.  Chicago is proud not to be one of them.  The sense of peace is immediately apparent when you step onto the grounds of the temple, regardless of what your personal faith is.  This is truly one of the most beautiful man-made structures I’ve ever had the privilege to visit.

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The pathway to the temple is between the tall hedges to the right of this image; the grass spreads out like a lap from the flowering trees in the garden.

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The gazing pool has several different colors of tile in its bottom, creating a complex reflexion in the surface of the water.

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The color here is primarily of the natural world, as the temple uses no colored stained glass in its windows.  The atrium is paned with clear glass and patterned with stone, so that when you look up from inside you see the sky through hundreds of tiny openings.  We did not go inside to photograph, as it would have disturbed the worshipers inside.

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The stairs surround the temple in a circle, allowing the visitor to fully engage with the structure as they walk up to the doors.

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The gardens surround the temple on all sides, full of lush flowering trees, shrubs, and plants.

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The walkways encircle the temple, allowing the contemplative to walk around it in silence as they consider the natural world juxtaposed with the temple itself.  This is truly a place of quiet contemplation.  The lower level houses a gallery and information center for those unfamiliar with Bahai faith.


Thank you for joining us for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave us a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

The theme at Noony’s blog, Explore the Worlds of A. Catherine Noon, is The A To Z of the Zoo.  Join her as she explores Brookfield Zoo and finds animals, birds, and insects from A to Z.

Noony’s theme on Knoontime Knitting – One Writer’s Journey Into 3-D craft blog is Letterforms In Nature.  She’ll be exploring her daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from Noon & Wilder; the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

Our friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and we’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

Welcome to Chicago with Noon and Wilder! Come Play In the Windy City – The Art Institute

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Welcome to Chicago with Noon and Wilder, and the A-Z of the Windy City.

Over the next month, we’ll be visiting parts of the third largest city in the United States – home of not one, but two baseball teams, (Go Cubbies!), an American football team, basketball and hockey teams.  And those are just the pros – the city is known for Chicago-style softball leagues, beachfront volleyball, soccer, tennis, and many more.  That’s just the sports.  We also have some of the best museums and galleries in the world.  Of course, the best part of Chicago, if we do say so ourselves, is the fact that our series The Chicagoland Shifters is set right here.

Image used under Creative Commons, retrieved 04/03/2016 from Wikemedia Commons.
Image used under Creative Commons, retrieved 04/03/2016 from Wikemedia Commons.

Our journey begins at The Art Institute, a museum and a school of art and design.

I first visited the Art Institute my very first week after moving here.  It’s a hard place to miss, I’m told – there are the famous lions standing guard out front, it’s right on Michigan Avenue, and it’s not far from the lake.

Image used under Creative Commons, retrieved 04/03/2016 from Wikimedia Commons.
Image used under Creative Commons, retrieved 04/03/2016 from Wikimedia Commons.

There’s only one problem:  Chicago is flat as a pancake.

To someone from the west coast, navigating using natural topographic features is second-nature.  The big mount is north, the lower range is west, etc.  How do you do that on the flat plains of the Midwest?  I asked this of my friends.  “Use the lake,” they advised.  “Lake Michigan, you mean?”  “Yup.”  “Um, how do I see the lake, if it’s totally flat and there are buildings in the way?”  “You develop lake-dar.”

Lake-dar.  Like radar, only for a lake.  What do I look like, I bird?

Birds have small iron deposits in their bodies that help them determine where north is.  It turns out, so do humans; it’s in the bridge of our nose.  It’s not lake-dar, but over time, I have been able to keep a handle on where north is and keep my bearings in a city that defies navigation by mountain.

My first visit, however, I set out with the self-confidence of a tourist and marched down the street to go visit the Art Institute.

And for the record?

I was going the exact wrong direction.

So much for lake-dar.

Visit us Saturday for a trip to Wilmette and the Bahai Temple.


Thank you for joining us for the A-Z Blog Challenge.  If you’re blogging in the challenge, please leave us a link so I can come visit you too.  If you have a moment, please check out these other fine blogs:

The theme at Noony’s blog, Explore the Worlds of A. Catherine Noon, is The A To Z of the Zoo.  Join her as she explores Brookfield Zoo and finds animals, birds, and insects from A to Z.

Noony’s theme on Knoontime Knitting – One Writer’s Journey Into 3-D craft blog is Letterforms In Nature.  She’ll be exploring her daily round, looking for shapes in the natural world and build environment.

The Nice Girls Writing Naughty have a new home, and we’re blogging in the challenge again this year.  Throughout the month you’ll be hearing from each of the Nice Girls, and during the RT Booklovers Convention from April 12th to the 17th, you’ll be getting live convention reports.  Join the conversation!

The Writer Zen Garden’s brand new website is up and running, and we’re bringing you posts from Noon & Wilder; the talented Darla M. Sands – a blogger in her own right, see below; as well as Grace Kahlo, Evey Brown, and author Tina Holland.  Check it out!

Our friends who are participating in the challenge (and if you’re not on this list, tell me and we’ll add you!):

Write on, and Happy Blogging!

Saturday Sojourn – Travel and Research

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So, when you’re planning a writing retreat, don’t invite the pissed off, territorial racoon.

Jus’ sayin’.

This particular one snuck up on us.  My buddy and I were walking back up to our cabin and we both froze.

He’s staring at us, Ray…

Here’s a couple other travel tips:

  • Consider timeshares.  This one is on the mountain above Ogden, Utah, USA, and is absolutely gorgeous.  They tend to be very reasonably-priced.
  • Don’t overfill your agenda.  Pick, at most, one special thing to do each day.  People like to sit around and gab.
  • Set the atmosphere.  A candlelit dinner can pull people together.  Let each person talk about what they’re proud of that happened in the last year.  (And as a tip, have some tissues handy.)
  • Bring some story prompts and a timer.  Getting on the page can be a lot of fun, especially on a trip with a new setting.
  • Set the menu plan ahead of time.  It saves money to shop at a local grocery store and to make meals at the event.  If you have a kitchen, it’s super helpful.

What about you, Dear Reader? What’s your favorite tip for group events?

Tuesday with the Tauruses – Travel Tips

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I’ve met some of my closest friends online.  (I’ve also met some nutballs, but I’m choosing to ignore that.) Way back when we met, in 2008, (which is the dark ages as far as the internet is concerned, lol), I knew that I wanted to meet in person.  I thought the idea of having a retreat together would be buckets of fun.

That dream became a reality and we’ve been meeting ever since on an annual basis.  It reminds me, to be honest, of my friend’s family reunions – when she started, it was just a few people, but she’s grown it to a huge affair with over a hundred people.  Now, I don’t intend to have such large gatherings for our modest little writing retreat, but here are some travel tips I’ve put together for people who’d like to meet in real life, and not just virtual.

Five Travel Tips

  1. Pick a weekend and camp on it.  For example, the last weekend in such-and-such month will be our regular meeting time.
  2. If you can, host it in locations where a member of your group can have people camp out.  It’ll be like a giant slumber party, but for adults.
  3. Watch out for time zones.  Traveling from Chicago to Portland, for example, means going back two hours in time zone, so you want to account for that when making travel plans.  This means, allow for a day to travel on either side of the event itself (say, Friday and Monday for travel, which allows a full day Saturday and a full day Sunday for play).
  4. Not everyone is used to travel.  Make sure to prepare a list of everyone’s travel plans and include their mobile phone numbers, as well as their spouses who have stayed behind, in case it’s needed on travel days.
  5. Not everyone can afford to travel.  Avoid making someone feel left out and utilize technology to your benefit.  Google Hangouts and Skype are both free, and with some careful scheduling, the people who can’t attend in person can attend virtually.  Make sure you have someone, or more than one someone, take photographs and document what’s happening during the retreat as well – this will be for your own memories, of course, but also so that people who cannot come can feel like they’re a part of it.

What about you, Dear Reader?  What are your favorite travel tips?

A to Z Challenge, Day 9: I Is For Island

Goose Island, Chicago, Illinois.  An actual island, it’s located in the middle of the city of Chicago and has several large bridges for access.  There’s no residential property on the island itself, just lots and lots of light industrial and warehousing.  It’s a shame, really, because it’s a neat location close to downtown and in the midst of an urban renaissance.

In researching a forthcoming book, Rachel and I went to Goose Island and wandered up and down the streets, peering at the map and stopping the car in the middle of deserted streets to stare up at deserted buildings.

It wasn’t completely deserted, though.  One car, with livery plates (meaning he was driving a limo for hire) waited by a sidewalk next to an empty warehouse.  The driver got out, went around to his trunk, got something out or put something in – we’re not sure which – and then watched us with no expression on his face at all.  He looked like James Gandolfini in the Sopranos.  Rachel wanted to take his picture but, come on, he might BE James Gandolfini in the Sopranos!

What geographic locations have caught your fancy, either as an armchair traveler or in person?