Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive in 2021

Martin City, Missouri, features its train traffic as part of its charm. In the upper right is a photograph of a modern Union Pacific freight train engine which roared through Martin City on Aug. 11, 2021. Soon after, Big Boy No. 4014 (center photo) followed. In the lower right photograph, Big Boy is shown when it paused for a few minutes after it passed the Martin City intersection.

Big Boy No. 4014 Locomotive steamed into Martin City, Missouri, on its 2021 summer tour of the Union Pacific Railroad network. Martin City is part of Kansas City.

I felt an exciting big rush as this huge engine roared past me on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. I saw this same engine in November 2019 in Lawrence, Kansas.

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. They had a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which meant they had four wheels on the leading set of “pilot” wheels which guided the engine, eight drivers, another set of eight drivers, and four wheels following which supported the rear of the locomotive. The massive engines normally operated between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941. The locomotive was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles in its 20 years in service. Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the Rail Giants Museum in Pomona, California, in 2013, and relocated it back to Cheyenne to begin a multi-year restoration process. It returned to service in May 2019 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion.

Big Boy No. 4014 departed Cheyenne, Wyoming on Aug. 5, 2021, traveling through Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. Along the way, the Big Boy will be on display in the following cities during the tour:

Saturday, Aug. 14: Fort Worth, Texas
Tuesday, Aug. 17: Houston, Texas
Saturday, Aug. 21: New Orleans, Louisiana
Sunday, Aug. 29: St. Louis, Missouri
Monday, Sept. 6: Denver, Colorado
It is scheduled to return to its home base in Cheyenne on September 7, 2021.

My blog post about Big Boy No. 4014’s visit to Lawrence, Kansas, in November 2019:

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 Steam Locomotive Engine

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive as it nears Martin City, Missouri.

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive rounding the bend, heading toward Martin City, Missouri.

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Filed under History, Photography, Transportation, Travel

Real World Cat Consulting

These three cats enjoy living in the same household, even though they have different personalities and joined the family at different times. Each cat may need a different introduction routine. The gray and cream colored cats are older boys. The orange cat is a young female who can hold her own with her older brothers. Photo courtesy of “Real World Cat Consulting.”

If you need some advice about your cat, Bonnie Still of “Real World Cat Consulting” can help you.

I met Bonnie in 2010, when I began volunteering as a photographer at Wayside Waifs, an animal shelter in Kansas City, Missouri. I learned a lot from Bonnie’s kindness, wisdom and empathy, as well as from her deep knowledge of the ways of cats.

“Real World Cat Consulting provides compassionate guidance and support to people experiencing a disagreement or misunderstanding with their cat’s behavior, and to increase the likelihood that the family remains together in harmony.

Bonnie Still is a certified Feline Training & Behavior Specialist with over 10 years of experience working with cats. She has helped hundreds of cats overcome their fear of people, resolved litterbox issues, taught cat guardians how to introduce a new cat to an established cat (or dog), helped others to manage their cat’s aggression towards themselves or another pet in the home and more. She has also guided others to understand their cat better, which increased their bond with their cat.”

Learn more about “Real World Cat Consulting” through these links:

“Real World Cat Consulting” Website

“Real World Cat Consulting” on Instagram.

“Real World Cat Consulting” on Twitter

“Real World Cat Consulting” on Facebook  

Real World Cat Consulting’s email address is realworldcatconsulting@gmail.com

Rupert and Mufasa greeting each other. Photo courtesy of "Real World Cat Consulting."

Rupert and Mufasa greet each other.  Photo courtesy of “Real World Cat Consulting.”

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Farewell to Sunsets

Pelican Rock Sunset, Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Pelican Rock Sunset, Dauphin Island, Alabama

“The Sea of Sunset”

By Emily Dickinson

This is the land the sunset washes,
These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;
Where it rose, or whither it rushes,
These are the western mystery!

Night after night her purple traffic
Strews the landing with opal bales;
Merchantmen poise upon horizons,
Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.

I love watching and photographing the sun peek over the horizon in the morning and slip below the horizon in the evening, a pastime of millions (probably billions) of people.

My husband and I spent the month of February 2021 on a beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, the “Sunset Capital” of Alabama, where we could see both sunsets and sunrises. Twice the beauty. We don’t have a view of either sunrises or sunsets from our home, so this was a real treat.

On the island, I photographed every sunrise and every sunset on the days it wasn’t foggy or raining.  I posted several of my sunrise and sunset photographs on Print on Demand sites, such as Fine Art America and Zazzle, and I’ve included a few in this post.

Toward the end of the month as I tried to get the perfect sunset shot, I thought “Maybe it isn’t a good idea to stare at the setting sun through my viewfinder.” You’re all thinking, “Well, duh, that’s an idiotic thing to do.”

Orange Sunset on Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Orange Sunset on Dauphin Island, Alabama

And yes, dear readers, I apparently damaged my retina and worsened my cataracts. When I got home I discovered that I could no longer see clearly through the viewfinder with my right eye. I had Lasik 25 years ago, which corrected my right eye to be able to read without glasses in the monovision procedure, and I can still do that even though everything is a bit fuzzy when I look through the viewfinder. I thought my viewfinder was dirty, but the problem is my eye.  I never used my left eye (my distance corrected eye) to see through the viewfinder, but I’m training myself to use it.

My ophthalmologist told me that I should no longer take sunset photographs or even watch sunsets. There are probably ways to do it safely, such as using the camera screen rather than the viewfinder, but I’m probably not going to take the chance.

Eventually I’ll have cataract surgery, but I don’t think the solar retinopathy is going to diminish.

Be safe out there, everyone!

Sunset Sunbeams on Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Sunset Sunbeams on Dauphin Island, Alabama

Pelican Flying at Sunrise, Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Pelican Flying at Sunrise, Dauphin Island, Alabama

My Collection of Sunrise and Sunset Photographs on Fine Art America.

My Collection of Sunrise and Sunset Products on Zazzle.

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Filed under Personal, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Dauphin Island Beaver

Beaver at Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Beaver swimming in the ocean near Pelican Point on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

I expected to see pelicans, cormorants, gulls and dolphins at the beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, but seeing a beaver swimming along the rocks and edge of the beach was certainly a surprise. This beaver seemed to be exploring. I don’t think there was anything for him to eat along the beach, and ingesting salt water isn’t healthy for a beaver. Maybe he was lost. It was near sunset, a full moon, choppy waves, a lot of bird activity and even a dolphin cruising around. The next day, I saw a beaver swimming past a sunning alligator in the lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. That doesn’t seem very safe, either.

In articles I’ve read since, some biologists say beavers travel in saltwater to move from one environment to another. Other scientists said they are moving to brackish environments due to decreasing habitat. In these habitats near the ocean, the beavers have built their lodges to accommodate the tides. Biologists have found beavers suffering from saltwater poisoning, however, from consuming too much saltwater while while chewing trees and plants for lodge construction and while eating.

Beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. This was a North American beaver (Castor canadensis). Beavers are the second-largest living rodents after the capybaras. Their usual habitat is freshwater, such as rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They are herbivorous and consume tree bark, aquatic plants, grasses and sedges.

Dauphin Island is a barrier island at the mouth of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s called the Sunset Capital of Alabama and is home to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and other refuges, to 19th century Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, The Estuarium public aquarium, many white sand beaches, historic sites and points of interest.  Dauphin Island is considered one of the top four locations in North America for viewing spring bird migrations. The Sanctuary consists of 137 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp, and a beach. The three-mile trail system within the Sanctuary is a National Recreational Trail. The refuge is at the Eastern end of Dauphin Island, a 14 mile-long barrier island south of the Alabama mainland Gulf Coast.

Beaver in the Ocean, Dauphin Ocean, Alabama Poster

A beaver swims in the ocean near Pelican Point on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

In the top photograph, a beaver swims in Galliard Lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama. On the right is a Great Blue Heron. The beaver swam past an alligator basking in the sunshine.

In the top photograph, a beaver swims in Galliard Lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama. On the right is a Great Blue Heron. The beaver swam past an alligator basking in the sunshine.

About the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary.

About Saltwater Beavers in Canada.

Saltwater Beavers Bring Life Back to Estuaries.

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Filed under Animals, Bird-watching, Birds, Environment, Photography

Lighthouse Jigsaw Puzzles

Key West, Florida, Lighthouse Jigsaw Puzzle

Key West, Florida, Lighthouse Jigsaw Puzzle

During the months of Covid 19 social distancing and the Stay-at-Home regimen, I created some of my favorite photographs as jigsaw puzzles, an entertainment that can be enjoyed at home by yourself or with family and friends. One of my favorite photographic subjects is the lighthouse, which is a symbol as well as a reality of safety and sanctuary throughout the world. Zazzle offers jigsaw puzzles in a range of sizes and levels of difficulty. You can upload your own photographs and artwork to Zazzle, creating your own jigsaw puzzles.

Click on the links beneath each jigsaw puzzle to read more about these historic lighthouses. Many of the American lighthouses are on the National Register of Historic Places.

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A Tale of Two Kitties

Lester and Oreo are both HIV positive cats, but they can still live long and healthy lives.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this post more than seven years ago, but didn’t publish it. I was waiting for an update on these two kitties in their new home, but I wasn’t able to get one. So this post has languished in my drafts all of this time. I decided to publish it anyway. I’ve been taking photographs of cats for adoption at Wayside Waifs for more than ten years. There are always cats as wonderful as Lester and Oreo, some with HIV, available at Wayside Waifs.

It was the worst of times, but then it was the best of times (to misquote Charles Dickens) for two kitties, Oreo and Lester, who were homeless. They were brought separately to Wayside Waifs, a no-kill shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, area. Because each cat tested positive for the FIV virus, they were isolated from other cats. The Feline Immuno-deficiency Virus is a slow virus that affects a cat’s immune system, but a cat with FIV can live a long, healthy life if well-cared for with a high-quality diet and kept indoors in a low-stress environment.

Both Oreo and Lester are very friendly and sociable cats, so they were lonely in their own rooms. Staff and volunteers decided to put the two cats together to see how they clicked since they both seemed so easy-going. Like humans, cats have a wide range of personalities, so finding compatible roommates is both an art and a science, which many of the Wayside Waifs staff and volunteers have mastered. Lester, 8 1/2 years old, was introduced to Oreo, almost age two, in his larger room, Cat Fish Cove. They bonded quickly and soon were grooming each other, wrestling and sleeping and snuggling together. Humans should be so lucky to find soul mates like this!

Lester and Oreo, a bonded pair

Lester and Oreo, a bonded pair.

A family fell in love with the pair, and now Lester and Oreo are happily settled in their new forever home.

The medical report on both cats explained their condition: FIV  “is an active viral infection results in immunosuppression of the infected individual resulting in an increased susceptibility to secondary infections with other pathogens. The virus is spread through direct contact, although unlike FeLV (which is spread through prolonged intimate contact, such as grooming) FIV is more commonly spread through bite wounds. The virus is not a hardy virus, meaning it dies quickly once outside the body – making spreading via fomites, such as food bowls, unlikely. Positive cats can live long healthy lives as long as any secondary infections are treated properly. However, due to the contagious nature of the disease, they should not live in multiple cat households unless the other cats present are also FIV +.”  

Here’s a great article explaining FIV in non-medical terms: FIV: Catching a Bad Case of Rumors

Why This Vet Thinks FIV Positive Cats Make Great Adoptees.

Before Lester was moved into Oreo’s room, he would wait at the door of his hug room, hoping for attention. Because he is FIV positive, he wasn’t allowed to free roam or interact with other cats, unless they were also FIV positive.

At Wayside Waifs, Lester and Oreo were very happy together, and easily entertained each other, but they still liked human company. They’d often come to the door for some attention when someone passed by.

Lester and Oreo love to wrestle.

Lester and Oreo, a bonded pair

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Tomato Plant Troubles

From the top left, clockwise: The tomatoes we brought to Colorado, where they ripened; damage to the tomato plant in the yard (what ate the stems?); the first ripening tomatoes; a squirrel claimed the first ripening tomato and then abandoned it; my husband’s tomato plants in pots on the deck.

Some gardeners can stick a tomato plant in the ground, and a month or so later are harvesting dozens of tomatoes.  I’ve rarely harvested a decent tomato, no matter what I did, but I keep trying.  This year my husband and I had some success!!! There’s nothing so delicious as a tomato you grew yourself. 

My first problem is that I always choose to live in shady areas. I love trees more than growing tomatoes. I have a sunny spot in my current yard, though, which gets sun about seven hours a day.

Some of my past tomato problems: No tomatoes form until the season is almost over; blossom end rot when tomatoes did form; split skins; squirrels bit into my tomatoes; deer ate the stems and leaves; and tomato horn worms ate the stems and leaves.  I’m still dreading finding a hornworm every time I check my plant.

But I’m glad I didn’t give up. I grew one tomato plant in our flower bed.  My husband planted the same type of tomato in two pots on the deck with a little less sunshine but better soil in the pots. We didn’t do a scientific comparison, but I think his plants produced a few more tomatoes per plant than mine did.

After weeks of no baby tomatoes, I bought some plant hormone, which I sprayed on the flowers.  Soon some tomatoes appeared. I don’t know whether it was coincidence or due to the hormone spray. Anyway, this year we got tomatoes!

The tomatoes started to ripen at about the time we planned a nine-day vacation to Colorado. We picked the reddening tomatoes, wrapped them in newspaper and took them with us to Colorado, where we ate our garden tomatoes every day! While we were gone, our daughter checked on our house, watered the plants, picked the tomatoes, refilled the hummingbird feeder and brought in our mail. We came home to a lot more tomatoes!

How Much Sun Do Tomato Plants Need?

 

How to Keep Deer Away From Tomato Plants.

In a previous year, this tomato hornworm (Hawk moth) grew very large eating my tomato plant!

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Bee-autiful!

Honey Bee Swarm on a Maple Tree. Inset shows the position and size of the swarm in the tree.

On my two-mile walking route in my Kansas City suburban neighborhood, I’ve seen a lot of interesting sights, including a bobcat, foxes, deer, a stealth bomber overhead, local pilots flying their planes in formation, plenty of golfers on the golf course and children fishing in a small lake, where mallard ducks, herons, Canadian geese, turtles and muskrats have visited or made a home.

This week I was treated to a new sight — a huge swarm of honey bees.

I heard them before I saw them — a huge buzzing sound like something out of a science fiction movie. The bees were swarming around a maple tree, which you can see in the video above. Which reminds me of how beautiful are the changes in the seasons on this walk with so many flowers and colorful leaves appearing in succession throughout the year.

They had taken up temporary residence in a maple tree near a yard full of flowering shrubs, including masses of lilacs now in bloom. When I first moved to my current house fifteen years ago, honey bees were frequently seen in the Spring working the flowers of the crab apple trees that line the sidewalk on my street. But there were fewer each year. This year I didn’t see any on the crab apple flowers!

I returned the day after I took the video and saw all of the bees were quietly clustered on the tree. Only one or two were buzzing around. I read that this is normal behavior as the bees await their scouts returning with news of a new nest location in a tree hollow or other cavity, which could be up to a mile away. On the third day’s walk, the bees were gone with no sign they’d ever been there. A lone bee flew around as if to ask “Where did everyone go?”

Swarming is a honey bee colony’s way of reproduction. In the process of swarming, the original colony splits into two or more colonies. Honey Bees are non-aggressive when they swarm, since they have no hive to protect. They didn’t seem to notice me. In most climates, western honey bees (apis mellifera) swarm in the spring and early summer, when there is an abundance of blooming flowers from which to collect nectar and pollen. When these favorable conditions occur, the hive creates one to two dozen new queens. Just as the pupal stages of these “daughter queens” are nearly complete, the old queen and about half to two-thirds of the adult workers leave the colony in a swarm. Successful scouts will return to the swarm to report the location of suitable nesting sites to the other bees.

In the temporary location, the bees decide on the final nest site based on the level of excitement of the dances of the scout bees, which will lead the swarm to its new home. It’s unusual if a swarm clusters for more than three days at an intermediate stop.

In the old colony, the emerging daughter queens will fight one another until there is only one surviving queen.

One of my first blog posts here was about saving bees and their importance to pollination: Saving Bees.

“Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.” Pollinator Partnership.

What is Pollination?

Honeybee Visiting a Sunflower Photo Print

Honeybee visits a sunflower.

Click on the photo to see the full-size photo.

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Filed under Animals, Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Kansas City, Natural History, Nature, Photography

The Battle of Little Bighorn

Visitors climb the path to Last Stand Hill where marble headstones mark where members of the United States 7th Cavalry fell in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, including that of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

 

When I started studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence in the Dyche Museum of Natural History, I saw the preserved body of Comanche, a horse that survived the battle at the Little Bighorn despite grave injuries. I became fascinated with this beautiful horse and his history, especially when I learned that the horse lived for a time at Fort Meade, near Sturgis, South Dakota, where my father grew up. Comanche spent a lot of time at forts in Kansas, my home state, before his final spot in Dyche Museum.

The Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana (June 25–26, 1876) has been depicted widely in paintings, books and movies from many viewpoints.  Visiting the battlefield adds much more to the story as you travel over the rolling hills of grass, reading how the battle occurred.  My husband and I have visited this battlefield twice.  Horses graze in the pastures there, bringing to mind the many horses who tragically were involved in the battle.

Seventh Cavalry Horse Cemetery Memorial at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Memorial, Montana.

My first memory of learning about the battle happened when I was a Girl Scout tour guide in the late 1960s at the open-air museum Cowtown.  I saw a painting depicting “Custer’s Last Stand”  in one of the buildings in Cowtown, an “Old West” museum with more than 50 historic and re-created buildings, in Wichita, Kansas.

In 1970, when I started studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the popular movie “Little Big Man” debuted.  Based on a novel by Thomas Berger,  “Little Big Man” depicted scenes from the Battle of the Little Bighorn, known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass by Native Americans. There is too much to write about Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his U.S. Army 7th Cavalry fatal encounter with the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native Americans, but I’ll add some links at the bottom of this post.

About the Battle of the Little Bighorn (from Wikipedia)

A marker shows where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer fell on Last Stand Hill at the Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument in Montana.

 

 

 

The horse Comanche, photographed in 1887. Comanche survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He is one of only four horses in United States history to be given a military funeral with full military honors. His preserved body is now on display at Dyche Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas.

Indian Memorial Sculpture, Little Bighorn, Montana Poster

Indian Memorial Sculpture, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Memorial, Montana.

Custer National Cemetery, and the History of National Cemeteries.

 

I hate that animals are forced into the battles among humans.
Comanche, the horse that survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Wikipedia).

Comanche, the horse that survived the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Custer’s Last Stand Suicide Myth.

THE 7TH CAVALRY HORSE CEMETERY (Little Big Horn). A very interesting history lesson.

Once sung by descendants of the 7th Cavalry, Irish air “Garrymore” will no longer cause pain for Native Americans.

 

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Colorful Face Masks to Help in the Fight Against the Spread of Contagious Diseases.

Spiral Rainbow Tie Dye Cloth Face Mask

Spiral Rainbow Tie Dye Cloth Face Mask

by Groovyshop

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of cloth face coverings1 as face masks to supplement social distancing in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. While the CDC’s guidance recommends even homemade cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of the virus, now you can go a step further with a beautifully decorated face mask covering with a disposable mask insert slot. The insert slot allows you to insert a disposable mask inside (sold separately) to provide extra layers of filter protection. Our custom masks provide for personal style to match your look from fun designs to photos and even logos. With these customizable cloth face masks, you can show your personality even from six feet away!

Zazzle’s cloth face masks are NOT surgical masks, personal protective equipment, or N-95 respirators – these critical resources are reserved for the brave healthcare workers who are on the front lines, taking care of our loved ones – but rather are intended for general, everyday use while out in public when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. We made sure that our face masks had all the most-important features to keep you safe and comfortable:

Click Here to See a Collection of My Face Mask Designs.

  • Easy to use (CDC guidance on how to wear and remove a mask )
  • Reusable (Wash with proper sanitization after each use)
  • Machine washable
  • Comfortable 100% polyester fabric (Decorated front material is a poly sheeting, and the back is made from poly microfiber)
  • Sturdy over-the-ear elastic straps for a snug fit
  • Machine washable and reusable
  • One size fits all (7″ x 3.5″) to cover your nose and mouth
  • May be worn alone, but designed with an insert slot for an optional surgical mask or a disposable mask which acts as an additional barrier to fluids and particulate materials (not included)
  • Please note that the our face masks are not intended for medical/personal protective equipment which requires flame resistance or skin sensitivity testing

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