Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A return to Rick's Boatyard Cafe

This latest post, another in a series that features images taken exclusively with my iPhone, comes with a bit of a confession ... a sort of "story behind the story." It's something that, for a few months, I've chosen not to talk about here, partly because many would consider it trivial, partly because it's bothered me a lot, and partly because it's embarrassing, at least as a photographer who has some years of experience.

First, a little background on the images in the post. Three years ago, for a milestone birthday, my four children surprised me by hiring a limousine to drive all of us to Rick's Boatyard Cafe, a restaurant developed along Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis and opened in the 1990s. While I knew we'd be going to Rick's, which is known for its atmosphere, pricey menu and fresh seafood, I did not know about the limo.

Unfortunately for my kids, the limo arrived at my house to pick us all up before the kids could get there to witness my reaction. Somewhere -- perhaps in an album on my Facebook page -- I have a photo of me taken alongside the limo in front of my house. But it was not with the images I saved to my archives that I took (also with an iPhone) that day on the drive up there in the limo and at Rick's.

The photos you see in the top portion of this post were taken Monday, when I made my first visit to Rick's since that birthday trip three years ago. I lead with a composition in which I tried to integrate the restaurant, the fountain, the reservoir, a sailboat and the reservoir dam (which motorists can see along I-74).

The skies Monday were much more overcast, and there even was an occasional sprtizer or two, but nothing serious. I did learn, again, that the iPhone does not do well when zoomed in all the way. Every shot I took that way was out of focus.

Photos shown in the bottom half were taken in 2012, but with my Canon Powershot G12. I usually don't delve much into family and personal matters with my posts here, but I was reminded, after reading through the text in the bio accompanying my blog, that I set out long ago expecting that I might do family/personal stuff from time to time, so ... there you go.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now for the story behind the story ...

Back in March, while shooting the dress rehearsal for First Folio Productions' spring presentation of "Much Ado About Nothing," I did something that I think would terrify any photographer who did the same thing -- I dropped my primary camera, a Canon 6D equipped with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens and a battery grip, onto a hard, tile surface. The camera landed flat on the bottom -- of the battery grip.

When I picked it up to inspect the gear, the lens looked fine, and it operated fine. But when I went to turn on the camera, I got nothing. No power. Nada. Fortunately for the shoot, I brought along my backup camera, a Canon 7D, and I completed the shoot with that. Got all my pictures. Guess I did something right.

The next day, I tested the 6D again, and there was power ... at first. I hit the bottom of the grip -- at the point where the gear had met the tile floor the previous day -- a few times until I saw the top LCD screen show signs of life. I brought the camera up to the shooting position, composed and got a few frames off, but then it went dark again.

Even at this point, it occurred to me that I should remove the battery grip and test it using a battery in the built-in battery with the manufacturer-issued flap, but ... I couldn't find the flap. I had removed so I could install the grip mechanism. I had this vague recollection that a year and a half or so ago, when I had installed the grip, I stored the flap in a compartment within the grip. But after a quick check of the grip, I didn't see the flap. I put the camera away.

Alas, I got to be so busy with other things (home projects were a big portion of that), and I was so bummed by what might lie ahead with my primary camera, more than two months passed before I had an occasion important enough to want to use it again. On Friday, I wanted quality images for my granddaughter's graduation from pre-kindergarten, so I grabbed the 6D and turned it on. It showed life, I surmised from the quick check, according to the top LCD screen, so I presumed the 6D was good to go.

I took the 6D -- no backup -- with me to the event, and wouldn't you know it ... power immediately flaked out as soon as I started using it. Repeated strikes against the bottom of the grip were the only things that could revive it (and then only momentarily). I got a good number of shots, but I missed a key one because I couldn't revive the power soon enough -- Addison being handed her graduation pail (the equivalent of a diploma in this preschool).

After that frustration, I was resolved to taking the camera to a repair shop or sending the 6D to Canon to have it repaired ... when Lee Ann urged me to find the original battery cover flap to see if the camera worked without the grip. If it did, she reminded me, it would mean I'd face a far-less expensive repair bill -- i.e., simply replacing the battery grip.

Initial attempts to find the flap were futile, so I went online to price a replacement grip. I came up the specs for the same grip model (Zeikos) currently on the camera, and something in the grip's specs jumped out at me: The grip has a compartment to store the small flap that covers the camera's built-in battery chamber. A light bulb went on, I remember that my hunt for that compartment was hasty back in March, so I grabbed the grip again, and looked carefully within this time. Sure enough. I had stored the flap there a year and a half ago ... and simply missed it in March (it's black, just like the grip, so it was nicely camouflaged).

I removed the grip from the 6D and placed a single battery inside the built-in battery chamber and closed the restored flap. Hallelujah! It worked. And no flaking out. So  I let out a huge sigh -- only the grip was flawed. I ordered a new grip -- they come in handy during long shoots and for shoots with heavy lenses, so I won't abandon it. And I hope to be taking more pictures in the near future, now that I have that huge issue behind me ... and my 6D back in operation.

Above and below: Two views of the reservoir from the restaurant's lanscaped area.

Above: A look out to the reservoir from our table.

Above: A view from the outdoor cocktail lounge, where Lee Ann and I adjourned to after dinner to enjoy a bottle of Moscato (below). Bottles of wine are half-price at Rick's on Mondays.

Above, a full view of the restaurant from the far end of the fountain pond. Below, another look at the reservoir from near the gazebo (two pictures below). 


Son-in-law David is already giddy about the limousine ride treat, and we'd just started the ride. Below, from left, children Joey, Ben, Kelly and Elizabeth, who is with her husband, David, enjoying the wine stocked in ice buckets for the limo commute there and back.

The limo's beverage glass selection (above) and, below, our wine selection for the ride to Rick's. 

Above: On the visit in 2012, these live lobster were in a glass enclosure near the diners' check-in point. We saw no such exhibit on Monday when Lee Ann and I were there.

Above and below: Views of the slip and reservoir from our seat for dinner in 2012, when I had an Atlantic salmon dish on brown rice. The salmon, topped with an orange vinaigrette drizzle, was divine and was on the menu for Monday's visit. I planned to revisit it, but the server told us that the heavy weekend holiday traffic emptied the restaurant of its stock of Atlantic salmon, so I had the Cajun red grouper instead. It was enjoyable.

Above: The kids and I posing for an after-dinner photo. Taking the picture was our very helpful server, who had talked me into trying the Atlantic salmon. I've had only one salmon dish that could top the one I had at Rick's. It was salmon topped with raspberry drizzle and served on brown rice at Hal's Fabulous Vegas in Greenwood in summer 2013 during the Savor the Southside promotion. The chef who introduced that dish to Hal's no longer works there, which I sadly learned after a return visit a year later, so it is no longer on the menu there. 

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I have a sad bit of news to include with this post.

Just last week, I did a post about several eateries and drinking establishments I'd visited and photographed in recent months. This morning, I learned that the Garfield Eatery and Coffee, which led the list of places I presented in that post, had officially closed, apparently effective immediately.

I had been to The Garf just last Saturday -- first for brunch, and then again to pick up a couple quarts of its yummy potato salad to take to a cookout.

Owners David Sanchez and Dan Sassano had mentioned they were still struggling with some operational issues when Lee Ann and I chatted with them that day, and they mentioned they were heading to Chicago to enjoy a long holiday weekend with their son, Santi. But they gave no hint that might be the last time we be able to enjoy The Garf ... or to see them in their eatery.

We wish them the best.

As always, click on an image to bring up a larger, sharper version, especially if you're accessing this by mobile device.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Visiting a few places to enjoy meals, drinks

For this, my second post of miscellaneous pictures, or another photo potpourri, I bring you images of food and drink (and about establishments selling food and drink) that I've visited and photographed in recent months, again ... all with my iPhone. As usual, click on any image to bring up a larger, sharper version.

Leading off (both in the text and with the photo at the top of this post) is a place in my neighborhood, the Garfield Eatery & Coffee in Indianapolis, which I have frequented often since it opened late last summer.

The Garf, at 2627 Shelby St., opened in late August 2014 and is owned by Garfield Park neighborhood residents Dan Sassano and David Sanchez.

The place has undergone a bit of change in staff and its hours of operation in its nine months. Among these are the kitchen help (chief chefs) and the baristas, the source of baked treats sold at the counter, the hours when breakfast items are available; and the introduction of nighttime music and art -- first on First Fridays, then on Saturday evenings, and now there is a miscellaneous "open mic" on Thursday nights.

The addition of beer and wine to its offerings this year made keeping the establishment open later in the day (it closes at 5 p.m. most days) an appealing option once the weather turns warm, but it hasn't happened yet.

In case you're wondering, I really like the food here -- my favorite breakfast item is the ultimate breakfast (eggs; choice of meat; cubed potatoes; and choice of toast or pancakes). Breakfast is served all day Saturdays and Sundays and until 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. I have several favorites from the lunch menu, including the tenderloin, Garfield club and corned beef and Swiss sandwiches. The Reuben was good, too, when I tried it in one of my early visits, but I haven't had it for a while. My son Benjamin loves the breakfast burrito.

The cafe Americano is my beverage of choice, but I tried a few of the lattes in my early visits last year (the pumpkin caramel was particularly good). The eatery uses coffee beans sold by Liberation Roasting in Fountain Square and cheesecakes made by Lisa Laflin.

Above, a spaghetti dish from the early weeks of the Garf's opening, when the eatery would offer a "special" dish not on the regular menu. The spaghetti was OK; my favorite "special" -- a grilled skinless chicken cutlet served with mashed potatoes and a scrumptious brown gravy -- I saw offered only once. Below, a delicious pumpkin and cream cheese muffin, which makes periodic appearances. Lisa Laflin bakes many of The Garf's bakery offerings these days.  

Above: David Sanchez has worked the kitchen -- as a backup to the chief chefs, and as the primary chef in the transition periods. One day in January, when I was feeling ill from a cold and when a cream chicken "soup of the day" didn't appeal to me, he went out of his way to make a serving of regular chicken soup just for me, and it was a delicious, and welcome, surprise.

Above and below: Two staples on the Garf menu: Above, a half-club sandwich and soup (French onion), served with seasoned fries, and below, a tenderloin and seasoned fries. Non-seasoned fries are available also.

Above: Not long after the Garf obtained its license to serve beer and wine, it heralded the additions by serving mimosas on a Saturday when a new artist's work was displayed on the walls. I sampled one mimosa (these are cranberry juice and champagne; a traditional orange juice mix also was available) along with a Cafe Americano.  

Next up is Dooley O'Toole's in Carmel, Ind., which I visited for the first time on Feb. 19.

Dooley O'Toole's in Carmel dates to August 1985 and offers traditional pub fare, getting its best reviews for the chicken velvet soup and tenderloin and Reuben sandwiches. Dooley's prides itself on its meats, cut fresh daily at Joe's Butcher Shop and Fish Market in Carmel, and on the fact that it offers a soup of the day in addition to the chicken velvet, Irish stew and chili. The soup of the day was corn chowder the first day I was there.

It has a full bar that includes several local craft beers on draft. I had a Sun King Cream Ale.

Above: A look at a portion of the bar at Dooley O'Toole's, 160 E. Carmel Drive in Carmel, Ind. 

Dooley's heralded chicken velvet soup (above) is a delicious comfort dish before a meal. Below, a look at its chili, also very good.

Above, a half-Reuben sandwich and side (fries). The half-sandwich and soup comes with chips, which can be substituted for an extra $1. The Reuben is served with the traditional Thousand Island dressing on the side. Below, a look at the mini-tenderloin sandwich with chive fries. The tenderloin, which is pretty filling, also was served as part of a half-sandwich and soup or salad entry on the menu. Dooley's is known for its tenderloin, and it offers the small version (pictured) and a larger, "full" size, although the mini is plenty filling with all the toppings.  

Next up is Sisters' Place, which at 215 E. Terrace Ave., recently began operation under its second owner at this site, its second on the Southside of Indianapolis. 

Sisters used to be in much smaller quarters in the 2400 block of Shelby Street, on the southwest corner of Shelby and Hervey streets. It moved to its current site under its previous, longtime owners about 10 to 15 years ago. They closed the business last year, and it reopened under the same name but new ownership within the past six months or so.

I'd been to Sisters two or three times under the previous owners, and enjoyed both a breakfast and lunch items. My first visit to Sisters under the new ownership was on March 4.  

Above: A salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The salad was OK, but a few of the lettuce pieces look a tad wilted.

The Jack Daniels burger (above) -- bacon and cheese with a barbecue side sauce -- and liver and onions with green beans and mashed potatoes and gravy (below). Both main fares were more greasy than dersirable. 

Above: Simply a sign that made me smile at the growler dispensing station at the bar of Fountain Square Brewery, 1301 Barth Ave., on the south end of Fountain Square. 

Since spring of 2014, I'd come to enjoy periodic visits to Chateau Thomas Winery's location in Fishers, where I got to know not only the staff, but also fellow customers. 

It was a Friday or Saturday night in April last year that I dropped in there one night and first saw bluesman Gary Applegate performing, and I very much enjoyed the show. He was there almost monthly for a while, and it was at a July 5 performance that I took the picture of him (below) at the Fishers winery, on stage with harmonica player Joe Rock. Applegate is from Seymour, and plays most of his gigs in and around that area. 

Not long afterward, the Fishers store halted live entertainment because of a problem in which the winery had neglected to pay royalties to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for songs many of the entertainers had been performing at the Fishers store. That loss was a huge disappointment to me ... and it put a dent into the store's weekend traffic. I did see Applegate once in October at Chateau Thomas' store in Nashville, Ind., which apparently did not have the royalties issue the Fishers store had. 

Live entertainment had returned to the Fishers store for only a short while in early 2015 when Chateau Thomas decided it would close the Fishers location at the end of February, apparently because it had not been profitable for some time. The two images below this paragraph were taken on Jan. 17, one of the last times I was there before the store closed for good after a run of five years. There was a very nice crowd there that night, many of them regulars who spent a good chunk of time huddled at the tasting bar to commiserate about the upcoming closure. 

The performers that night (second photo below) were Two For the Show, a duo normally consisting of Bruce Lucas and Jim Harris, but one of guys was unable to make it that night, and a young guitarist sat in instead and did a very nice job. 

While we're on the subject of food and drink, these beverages (in my favorite glasses at home) were a knockoff of Ruby Tuesday's Ruby Relaxer -- coconut rum, peach schnapps, vodka, pineapple and cranberry juice, and a splash of grenadine. Yummy.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Miscellaneous projects at home
... and a (very) quick look at Modoc, Ind.

I've rarely devoted a full post to more than one subject or topic, but the next couple of posts will reflect images taken with my iPhone from various shoots in recent months. It's classic miscellaneous, or a photo potpourri, as it were. (I wondered long ago if some day I'd smile about the decision to name this blog. Today is that day.)

Today's post shows pictures taken during some of the house projects I mentioned I've been immersed in since last fall. Leading off the post is a silhouette taken of the mason who dismantled and rebuilt the top portion of the porous chimney on my house. That photo and the on on the right, a perspective shot (he also tuck-pointed the midsection you see there), were taken not long after he finished the job, which was about a month or so ago.

Finishing the chimney enabled me to bring in a plaster repair and patch tradesman, who did a nice job patching quite a few ceiling and wall stress cracks. That, in turn, enabled the living room walls and ceiling to be painted.

Well before any of that happened, I replaced the carpeting in my house. The three images below show the old carpet -- a view from the dining room toward the French front doors -- and the installers beginning to remove it. The carpet's once rich brown hue had faded over the years (so much so that it looked olive green in places). If I didn't have feet sensitive to hard floors, I would have considered simply restoring the wood and forgoing the carpet. Alas, I needed the cushion, so maybe the next owners will go that route.

Below those pictures are two shots taken after the new lighter, and better padded carpet was installed.



Even before recarpeting -- in fact, way back in late August of last year -- I took a huge step in hopefully securing the stability of my house's foundation. I had a trench and sump pump waterproofing system installed. It took four days for the contractors to create the trenches, which line the perimeter of the basement and crawl space interior; install the sump pump, dig outside trenches to lay PVC pipe to draw water away from my three downspouts safely away from the foundation; then chemically treat my full basement for mold.

Below are three "before" and two "after" pictures of the basement. You can see the mold and mildew near the floor in the "before" photos. Again, the contractors treated the entire basement for mold at the end of their work. I've not had a drop of water in there since.

It's difficult to illustrate the job "after" it was completed; the "after" photos reflect the sump pump station and a closeup cross section of the cemented-over trenches along one of the floors.



A month and a half after the waterproofing work, Matt and Mindy -- the couple whose wedding I photographed at Indiana Dunes last August -- came over and, as partial compensation for my photography work, installed a ceramic tile floor in my kitchen. Matt is a general contractor, and his wife did as much of the work on the floor job as he did.

One of the most recent projects was to install a privacy fence in my back yard where there was none yet. I had a fence along the north and south borders, but that was installed by those neighbors. I closed the remaining sides on the east and west. You can see the result in the pictures below. In the first image, you can see where my new fence (featuring a gate) meets a neighbor's older fence). The second photo is the west fence along the alley. In the foreground is my circular garden, where my tulips were in full bloom, and buds were just sprouting on the red bud tree.

The final images in this potpourri post is a sort of inside joke with a few former colleagues at The Indianapolis Star. If they see this, hopefully they'll get a charge out of it. One of the former colleagues told some of us quite a few years ago that where he grew up (which was in Anderson, Ind.), the term "modoc" was street slang for moving quickly, much like the colloquial verb "book," as in, "We booked it before the cops arrived!"

Well, last September, I had occasion to drive through the Randolph County town of Modoc, and I stopped to grab a few pictures, hoping some day I'd be able to show them to my colleagues, perhaps over a few beers and have a few laughs. Here are those photos. The first two are shots of the Modoc United Methodist church exterior and service/event times; the third is the sign above the Modoc Food Market.