Vaile Mansion, Decorated for Christmas

Vaile Mansion, Independence, Missouri, in Snow Poster

Vaile Mansion, Independence, Missouri.

Each Christmas season, the Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri, is lavishly decorated for Christmas in a Victorian style. I recently toured the beautiful mansion with a friend, who had visited the mansion when it was decorated for a previous Christmas season. Each Christmas season’s decor is different, based on a Victorian theme. This year was a Victorian Christmas Romance. Some of the themed rooms, all decorated by different designers, were Phantom of the Opera, Sunflowers and Music, coordinated by the Vaile Victorian Society. Mother Nature added her own touch with a blanket of snow on the lawn. It was all gorgeous!

The Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri, is decorated every Christmas season, coordinated by the Vaile Victorian Society, with a Victorian theme and is open for tours.


The follow information about the Vaile Mansion is from three separate sources, which I have linked at the bottom:

Built by Colonel and Mrs. Harvey M. Vaile in 1881, the Vaile Mansion was “the most princely house and the most comfortable home in the entire west,” the Kansas City Times reported in 1882. Situated on North Liberty Street, a mile north of the historic Independence Square, according to the Vaile Mansion’s website.

The three-story Gothic-like mansion includes 31 rooms, 9 marble fireplaces, spectacular painted ceilings, flushing toilets. This mansion is one of the best examples of Second Empire style architecture in the United States. The Vaile Mansion was designed by Kansas City architect Asa Beebe Cross (1826–1894) in the Second Empire style; its design was reportedly inspired by a large house visited by Vaile and his wife Sophie in Normandy. The mansion is constructed of hand-pressed red brick, partially trimmed with white limestone.

Servant gossip and a local newspaper reporter’s description in 1882 of the mural on the ceiling over Colonel Vaile’s bed caused tongues to wag in Independence, Missouri. An Italian artist painted the mural titled “Innocence” of a woman rising from a bed. Part of her anatomy is revealed, which was the cause of the scandalous talk.

The mansion features thirty-one rooms with fourteen-feet-high ceilings decorated by French, German, and Italian artists. All of the original furniture was auctioned off when the estate left the Vaile family (the house was refurnished by the Vaile Victorian Society after 1983); however, the interiors still boast much of the original paintwork, nine marble fireplaces (one of which cost $1,500), and two of the three original chandeliers, originally intended for the White House (Harvey Vaile was able to purchase them for $800 while he was in Washington, D.C., because there was some flaw in them). State-of-the-art amenities original to the house include speaking tubes, gasoliers, indoor running hot and cold water, and flush toilets; equipped with a built-in 6,000 gallon water tank, the Vaile Mansion was the first house in Jackson County with indoor plumbing.

This chandelier — or upside down — Christmas tree hangs in the entry of the Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri.

The mansion was originally surrounded by a 630-acre estate (now reduced to 5.6 acres), which included a grape vineyard and an apple orchard. Vaile had a wine processing plant on his property, as well as a wine cellar capable of holding 48,000 gallons.

A “strong supporter of the abolitionism movement” with a passion for politics, Vaile was among the founders of the Republican Party in Jackson County. Vaile built his wealth by investing in several business ventures, primarily interests in the construction of the Erie Canal; he was also part-owner and operator of Star Mail routes, with rights for the route to Santa Fe.

Sophie Vaile died in 1883. Her husband lived in the house for 12 years afterward. The Vailes were childless, and Colonel Vaile bequeathed the mansion to a college. Relatives contested the will. The mansion turned into a retirement home until it was purchased after the owner’s death by Roger and Mary Mildred Dewitt, who gifted the mansion to the city of Independence in 1983. That year neighbors formed the Vaile Victorian Society, and they’ve been meticulously restoring, decorating and caring for the house ever since.

Vaile Victorian Mansion Official Website.

About the Vaile Mansion.

Mansion Visitors Have Themselves a Scandalous Victorian Christmas.

Scenes from the 2018 Vaile Mansion Victorian Christmas Romance. Each room is decorated, even the bathrooms.

 

 

The Ladies’ Parlor features one of a pair of chandeliers, original to the mansion, that were intended for the White House. The White House staff rejected the chandeliers, because they didn’t match. Vaile was able to purchase them for $800 while on a visit to Washington, D.C.

Click on any photo below to see a large size.

 

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Armistice Day Peace and Remembrance Display

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, a light installation of scarlet poppies, movies and information, “Peace and Remembrance,” was projected on the Liberty Memorial for nine nights (Nov. 2-Nov. 11, 2018), honoring the nine million soldiers who died in the war.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.

~Lt Col John McCrae

Although, snow was forecast, a friend suggested we make a trip to the final night (Nov. 11, 2018) of the Poppy Display at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, a 45-minute drive. I was reluctant to go, but I’m so happy that we did. It was a very moving experience. And the snow waited until after we got home. The Liberty Memorial is part of the National World War I Museum and Memorial of the United States.

Although The National World War I Museum and Memorial is far from the battle zones of World War I, few Americans were untouched by the sacrifices made in that war. My grandfather, a farmer in South Dakota, was deployed to France at the end of World War I. Fortunately, he came home.

Liberty Memorial Poppies, Kansas City, Missouri Photo Print

According to the National World War I Museum and Memorial Website: “For the nine days leading up to the Armistice, the official WWI memorial of the United States was illuminated with a nearly 55 million pixel, 800,000 lumens display featuring more than 5,000 poppies each evening in a massive and moving light installation. Every 15 minutes, a special presentations of images, footage and details about World War I will appear. Peace and Remembrance marks the centennial of the Armistice of 1918 that brought an end to WWI, with each day of the installation leading up to the Armistice signifying one million of the total nine million combatant deaths of the conflict.”

Opened to the public as the Liberty Memorial museum in 1926, the National World War I Museum and Memorial.was designated in 2004 by the United States Congress as America’s official museum dedicated to World War I.

In 2004, construction started on a new 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) expansion and the Edward Jones Research Center underneath the original memorial. The year that this was completed, Liberty Memorial was designated a National Historic Landmark (September 20, 2006)

Why Poppies?

In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields to write a now famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’. After the First World War, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance.

The inspiration behind the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance.

National WWI Museum and Memorial
America’s official World War I museum and memorial, located in Kansas City, Mo. Home to the most comprehensive collection of WWI objects in the world.
National World War I Museum and Memorial Official Website.

Armistice Day Peace and Remembrance Display.

Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI.

About the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

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Elk Photo Shoot

Here are three of the seven bull elk that lounged and grazed in a neighborhood where friends and I stayed in Estes Park, Colorado.

My husband and I visited several U.S. National Parks in the last year and a half, and we didn’t see one large mammal — even in Yellowstone National Park, where you can always see bison.  I’d seen plenty of elk, moose and bison a few years earlier, but I had entered an animal drought. I was determined to see some elk on our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in early November 2018.  We stayed just outside of the park in the town of Estes Park.   I was very eager to shoot a few elk with my new camera.

We’d visited RMNP in August, and I only saw a large ground squirrel in the park.  During that visit, we’d hoped to see bighorn sheep at Sheep Lakes, where we’d seen a herd in a visit a few years ago, but the ranger report this year indicated that the sheep hadn’t visited in a week.  We waited for two hours, anyway, before giving up.

This “I Saw an Elk in the Rocky Mountains” hand towel was a gift from friends who knew how excited I was to finally see some elk.

We were returning from our second no-elk trip from RMNP, when friends texted me that there were seven bull elk lounging right outside our condominium building! My friends seen one or two elk before, but the elk had always eluded me. On our way to the condo, we saw a large herd of elk — females led by a big bull elk. They were so magnificent.  There were elk all over the town of Estes Park!  We went from visual famine, to visual feast.

The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, in the world, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Northeast Asia.

This bull elk groomed himself after rubbing his antlers against a tree near a condominium parking lot in Estes Park, Colorado, in early November. The rutting season was over, and this guy missed out on romance, but he’s keeping himself in shape and looking good. Maybe next year he’ll find success. In the meantime, he’s hanging out with his other male friends.

In early November, the rutting season was over, but these two bull elk decided to spar a little. They apparently didn’t attract any lady elk this year, but it doesn’t hurt to practice for next year’s mating season.

In Estes Park, Colorado, elk graze in neighborhood yards and freely travel the streets and highways. In the lower right photo, a bull elk bugles to his herd of females to follow him.

A herd of female elk, plus one bull elk, rest on a traffic island in Estes Park, Colorado. I took this photo through the car window, so it’s not that great, but it does give you an idea of how much the elk feel at home in the town.

 

Bull Elk Bugling, Estes Park, Colorado Photo Print

Bull Elk Bugling, Estes Park, Colorado

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I’m a Fan in the Rain

 

I recorded part of Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded” song (in video above.) I thought the fire and lighting effects were fun (I don’t get out much. Maybe this is standard at concerts now.) Although I hadn’t specifically followed Foreigner’s music and don’t own any Foreigner albums, I recognized every song from the radio.  Very singable music! They just don’t write songs the way they used to, this old timer says.

 

I’ve been a big Led Zeppelin fan for decades.  On July 17, 2018 (I’m a little late posting this…), my husband and I went to see “Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience” at Starlight Theater, an outdoor venue, in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Experience plays Led Zeppelin music exactly as I remember it.  It gave me goosebumps, and not just because of the rain. I always see Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin’s lead singer, when he performs town. Next time is in September 2018! My husband and I already have tickets.

I got soaked at the Starlight Theater concert, but it was worth it. After The Led Zeppelin Experience, we enjoyed “Whitesnake” (a guilty pleasure) and then the main act was “Foreigner,” a band I’ve always enjoyed on the radio. It performs in Kansas City every year, I think, but this was my first time to see Foreigner in concert. This band has devoted fans!

For the past nine years, Foreigner has welcomed a local choir to join the band in performing a song at every show on its tour. With each road stop, the performing school gets $500 towards its music program. St. Thomas Aquinas Choir to Perform With the Band Foreigner.

The “Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience” performs in the top photo. Speaking in the center is drummer Jason Bonham, the son of John Bonham, who was the drummer for Led Zeppelin.
In the lower photograph is David Coverdale, lead singer of Whitesnake.

Part of Whitesnake’s iconic song “Here I Go Again.” Sorry I didn’t get the entire song. Hey, it was still raining a little.

Set List for Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Starlight Theater, July 17, 2018
Set List for Whitesnake, Starlight Theater, July 17, 2018
Set List for Foreigner, Starlight Theater, July 17, 2018

My blog post about my love of Led Zeppelin.  Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin.

Jason Bonham Official Website.

Whitesnake Official Website.

Foreigner Official Website.

You can also find more information about these bands and their members on Wikipedia, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

 

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Elephants in the Mist

#WorldElephantDay

I’m reblogging an earlier blog post in honor of World Elephant Day. The post includes my husband’s video of about two dozen elephants moving quickly and silently through the forests in MalaMala Game Reserve in South Africa on their way into Kruger National Park in January 2013.

On a misty morning in January 2013, our group climbed into a Land Rover for a game drive through MalaMala Game Reserve in South Africa.   January is one of the rainiest months in this area of South Africa.  That morning, we were lucky that it was only sporadically sprinkling.  Birds were calling, but it was otherwise very quiet except for the rumble of the Land Rover’s engine.  We never knew what we’d see.  There was a surprise around every bend in the road. That morning we’d already seen a pride of lions lounging by a creek bed after a night of feasting (We’d seen some of the feasting, too). (

Read the rest of the post by clicking on the link below “Elephants in the Mist”.

 

via Elephants in the Mist

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August 12, 2018 · 8:32 am

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

Replica of the Harry S. Truman Oval Office in the White House, which is an exhibit in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum Independence, Missouri.

My daughter and I recently visited the museum and library of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd United States president, which is in Independence, Missouri. Independence adjoins Kansas City.

I’d only been to this museum and library one time before, which is shamefully negligent of me, considering it’s only about half an hour from my house and I was an American history graduate student.

Many people make much longer journeys to visit this library, which is very well done and full of fascinating information.  On the day we visited, a majority of the license tags on cars in the parking lot were from states other than Missouri and Kansas.

I haven’t been totally remiss in my Truman travels. I’ve visited the Winter White House in Key West, Florida, where Truman spent 175 days during his nearly eight years as president, and I’ve toured his Independence home and the grounds of his family farm in Grandview, where Truman spent most of his youth. I’ll post those photos in another post.

Your first sight in the library is a mural by another prominent Missourian, Thomas Hart Benton. Then the next stop is a replica of Truman’s Oval Office in the White House. He held press conferences in the original Oval Office, until it became too crowded with reporters and photographers.  Much happened during Truman’s presidency (1945–1953), including the end of World War II, the beginning of the CIA, NATO, the beginning of the Korean War and the Cold War. 

Truman was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice president and assumed the presidency when Roosevelt died April 12, 1945.  World War II was still raging.   

Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor informed Truman of her husband’s death: “Harry, the president is dead.”

He asked if there was anything he could do for her, to which she replied, “Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now.”

One level of the museum section of the library focuses on Truman’s presidential history, while another level features exhibits about his life before and after the presidency. Scholars can do research in the library. 

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is also the resting place of Truman and his wife Bess,  as well as their daughter Margaret and her husband Clifton Daniel.  The library is located on U.S. Highway 24 in Independence, not far from the house where Truman lived most of his adult life. It was the first presidential library to be created under the provisions of the 1955 Presidential Libraries Act, and is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The library’s replica of the Oval Office is a feature that has been copied by the Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush libraries.

Harry S. Truman had to make many critical decisions during his presidency 1945-1953.

During Harry S. Truman’s presidency: “The Buck Stops Here” sign was on Truman’s desk, meaning that he wasn’t going to ‘pass the buck” (decision) on to someone else; The end of World War II depicted in a newspaper; the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War; A newspaper headline gets the presidential election results wrong.

Official Website of The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum.

About Harry S. Truman.

About the Thomas Hart Benton mural in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.

The Day President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Died, and Harry S. Truman Became President.

Click on a thumbnail to see a photograph in a larger size.

 

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My Library Doppelganger

My library doppelganger SHER C often reserves books I want to read, have read or need to read. Here’s a book that my doppelganger reserved that I need to read! Don’t worry. I left it on the shelf or him or her. I just reserved my own copy.

When you order a book online from the Johnson County (Kansas) Library, you can pick it up on the shelf at the branch you choose. A shortened version of your name will be on the spine. My name is SHER C.  There’s another SHER C, whose reserved book choices are often so similar to mine.  I call him/her my library #doppelgänger.

My library doppelgänger SHER C often reserves books I want to read, have read or need to read. Here’s one I need to read!

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo.
In this case, the other SHER C is also my library angel. If anyone struggles with decluttering, it’s me! I’m practically a hoarder!
 The word doppelgänger is from the German Doppelgänger, a compound noun formed by combining the two nouns Doppel (double) and Gänger (walker or goer).

The Library Angel is a phenomenon described by Arthur Koestler in which information (typically in libraries) becomes accessible through chance or coincidence rather than through the use of a cataloguing system.

The Library Angel can be regarded as a form of synchronicity. Bernard Beitman, who conducted research in coincidence studies, found that 18% of his respondents had acquired information in an unexpected way.

Arthur Koestler coined the term library angel for frequently experienced meaningful coincidences in which the right book or reference suddenly presents itself at a moment of need.

Doppelgänger

Library Angel

Marie Kondo Website

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