Category Archives: Kansas City

The Hottest Pepper in the World

The harvested crop of Carolina Reaper hot peppers are a brilliant scarlet. We’ve probably picked a peck of peppers, and there are more on the plants!

Last year, a friend gave my husband one Carolina Reaper hot pepper, considered to be among the hottest peppers in the world.  After my husband used the pepper very sparingly in chili and other dishes, he saved and planted the seeds.   The seeds sprouted and prospered.  He repotted the plants as they grew.  He kept four plants and gave away several more pots of pepper plants to friends and family, who said they liked hot peppers.  As the plants grew even larger, he gave away two more.  The remaining two plants produced enough hot peppers to destroy the taste buds of the population of our county.  The peppers didn’t seem to be as hot as the original pepper (the Scoville Scale link below explains why that might be the case), but they were still very hot — too hot for me!

Half of the ripe Carolina Reaper peppers have already been picked from these plants. Very prolific!

Many people do enjoy really hot peppers.  Last year, I attended (as an observer) the Hot Pepper Eating Contest in Palestine, Texas.  This year (2017), the Palestine Hot Pepper  Festival is Oct. 21. Links to the festival and my blog post about 2016’s festival are below.

The early growing stages of my husband’s Carolina Reaper hot pepper crop.

 

My husband kept four Carolina reaper plants, but eventually gave two more away. Like many pepper varieties, the Carolina Reapers start green, then turn yellow. In their ripe stage, they are a beautiful brilliant red color.

 

 

The City of Palestine, Texas, Hot Pepper Festival.

The Scoville Scale Measuring the Hotness of Pepper Varieties.

The Hottest Little Festival in Texas.

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Filed under Food, Gardening, Kansas City, Life, Photography

A New July Fourth Tradition — Picking Blueberries

Blueberries are worth getting soaked to the skin. My friend Pat invited me to pick blueberries with her at The Berry Patch in Cleveland, Missouri., early on the morning of the Fourth of July. It was fun, despite the rain.

My friend Pat invited me to pick blueberries with her on July 4th at The Berry Patch, in Cleveland, Missouri, which is about 20 minutes from where we live. I’d heard about the farm years ago, but had never visited so I was glad for the invitation.

The forecast called for rain, but we decided to go anyway.  Rain started as we drove, but optimistically we continued, thinking that at least we’d have the place to ourselves. Wrong.  There were about fifty cars parked there when we arrived at 7:25 a.m. The farm opens at 7 a.m. For some, picking blueberries on Independence Day is a tradition. Since blueberries are only available for a few months — several types of blueberries are planted to stretch out the season — July 4th is a good reminder to get to the farm.  You can rush home with your blueberries to add them to a red white and blue dessert.  Pat said that because of the rain, the crowd was actually quite thin.  When it’s sunny, you have a lot more competition for blueberries.  There are many bushes, however.  The Berry Patch is the largest berry farm in Missouri.  There are 30 acres of blueberry bushes and four acres of blackberry bushes. A store sells jams, syrups and baked goods, and there is a playground area for kids, and picnic tables for picnic lunches.

Thunder crashed when we got out of the car, but fortunately we didn’t hear much thunder or see lightning afterward.  It did rain a lot, though. After a while, you forget the rain as you pick pick pick those blueberries.

The Berry Patch provides white buckets with a plastic bag liner.  They provide twine so that you can attach the bucket to your waist so you have two free hands to pick.  After about two hours of picking, I picked almost six pounds and Pat almost nine pounds.  She had two buckets.   I bought some blueberry jam and blueberry syrup, too.

As we climbed into the car, we were soaked to the skin, but I was so glad we ignored the weather report. I hope to make blueberry picking a July 4th tradition. I may even go again this summer to replenish my supply.  I’ve already eaten two cups of blueberries today.

Thank you, Pat, for a fun morning.

 

The Berry Patch Facebook Page

The Berry Patch Website

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Filed under Food, Friendship, Gardening, Kansas City, Photography, Travel

Passion for Photography

You can see my “Valentine Diner” photograph in the center of this ten-second video of Art Gras 2017, a juried art show in Leawood, Kansas.  The action is at 4x normal speed, I’m guessing.  After I watched the video several times looking for people I know, I saw myself in the first aisle closest to the camera.  My daughter appeared briefly later.  It’s our ten seconds of fame.

When you read a photographer’s biography on a website, you will often find the phrase “passion for photography.” It might seem trite, especially when you read it over and over. But it’s absolutely true. How else can you describe the overwhelming need to take photographs. The reason for the passion differs, perhaps, but the drive is the same. Many photographers describe this urge, mania or whatever it is as beginning as soon as they knew what a camera was. The evolution of photography with a camera built into a phone makes it easier to feed this passion.

A different passion is showing your art in galleries and art shows, which I’ve done the last few years.  I’ve included a few photographs of my adventures in the Kansas City art show world.  I’m not as enthusiastic about entering art shows as some are.  I only enter local shows.  Some people enter shows throughout the country, which means shipping your work, not an easy task.  That’s dedication.

One of the best parts of being in this art world is the many wonderful friends that you make. They are also very inspiring.

Here are some quotes from famous and not so famous photographers, who will explain this passion better than I can:

“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.” Alfred Eisenstaedt

My Photographs in 2017 Arti Gras Juried Art Show, Leawood, Kansas. “Valentine Diner” won first place in photography.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Ansel Adams

“The quickest way to make money from your camera is to sell it.” anonymous

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” Ansel Adams

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” Dorothea Lange

“Every viewer is going to get a different thing. That’s the thing about painting, photography, cinema.” David Lynch

“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.” Edward Steichen

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” Ansel Adams

“I’ve always believed that photography is a way to shape human perception.” James Balog

“Traditionally, photography is supposed to capture an event that has passed; but that is not what I’m looking for. Photography brings the past into the present when you look at it.” Julian Schnabel

“Photography is the easiest medium with which to be merely competent. Almost anybody can be competent. It’s the hardest medium in which to have some sort of personal vision and to have a signature style.” Chuck Close

Here a man enjoys reading a book in a quiet corner of Corinth Library where my photographs are on display. A photography group I belong to displayed some of the member photographs in the library, which is a branch of the Johnson County Library. The Johnson County Library displays a wide range of art in changing exhibitions.

Here a man enjoys reading a book in a quiet corner of Corinth Library where my photographs are on display. A photography group I belong to displayed some of the member photographs in the library, which is a branch of the Johnson County Library. The Johnson County Library displays a wide range of art in changing exhibitions.

“People think because it’s photography it’s not worth as much, and because it’s a woman artist, you’re still not getting as much – there’s still definitely that happening. I’m still really competitive when it comes to, I guess, the male painters and male artists. I still think that’s really unfair.” Cindy Sherman

“In a world and a life that moves so fast, photography just makes the sound go out and it makes you stop and take a pause. Photography calms me.” Drew Barrymore

“I never shot on sets, but if I was traveling somewhere or on location, I would always have my camera, and I’d always be – it’s that kind of fly on the wall approach to photography, though. I don’t engage the subject. I like to sneak around, skulk about in the dark.” Jessica Lange

“Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve the desire humans have for a moment – this very moment – to stay.” Sam Abell

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” Ansel Adams

Many art shows give patrons the opportunity to vote for their favorite artwork. My photograph of a “Rancher Starting a Controlled Burn” is on the left at the Buttonwood Art Space in Kansas City, Missouri. Perhaps being displayed over the ballots gave my photograph an advantage, because it won the “Patrons Choice” award in 2015 for “Visions of the Flint Hills.” Buttonwood Art Space has supported the Flint Hills area of Kansas and its through an annual art benefit featuring art of this essential grassland prairie.

My photography has been accepted in several local art shows, including Arti Gras, Leawood, Kansas; the “Visions of the Flint Hills” exhibit at Buttonwood Art Space, Kansas City, Missouri; “Art at the Center’s National Juried Exhibition” in Overland Park, Kansas; and “State of the Arts” juried art show in Prairie Village, Kansas.  My work has been featured at the Overland Park galleries of  InterUrban ArtHouse and Images Art Gallery, where I was a member and now continue as an associate.  My photography was part of an exhibition in 2016 at the Corinth branch of the Johnson County Public Library.  Additionally, I have art piled up all over my house!

The first time I entered “Valentine Diner” was the 2016 annual juried “State of the Arts” show in Prairie Village, Kansas. Only one artwork from each artist is accepted and it must have been produced within the two previous years. The juried exhibit is on display in the R.G. Endres Gallery every October. The photograph of the “Blue Swallow Motel” on the left is by my friend Marla Craven.

Some of my worst photos — fuzzy, overexposed, etc — I’ve taken at art shows. It’s hard to take photos when you’re holding a glass of wine and clutching a program. But I still want to document the event. Here, William Rose, a fantastic artist, announces the winners of the 2016 “Art at the Center” annual juried art show. Rose was the juror for the show.

I also exhibit online, where I’ve “met” and discovered thousands of brilliant artists and photographers.  One of my favorites is Fine Art America.  My website is  Catherine Sherman on Fine Art America. Another favorite is RedBubble, where I can found at Catherine Sherman on RedBubble.  You can find all of my work, including greeting cards and products on such sites as Zazzle and Greeting Card Universe gathered on my website: Catherine Sherman Website.

Part of my featured artist exhibit at Images Art Gallery in Overland Park, Kansas, in June 2016.

Part of my featured artist exhibit at Images Art Gallery in Overland Park, Kansas, in June 2016.

My photographs of night views of Kansas City iconic features, which was on display at Images Art Gallery, Overland Park, Kansas, in 2016.

My photographs of night views of Kansas City iconic features, which was on display at Images Art Gallery, Overland Park, Kansas, in 2016.

Some of my greeting cards available for sale at Images Art Gallery, 7320 W. 80th Street, Overland, Park, Kansas.

Some of my greeting cards available for sale at Images Art Gallery, 7320 W. 80th Street, Overland, Park, Kansas.

A tour of Images Art Gallery when I was featured artist June to July 2016.

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Filed under Art, Kansas City, Personal, Photography

Donate Old Towels for Cats and Dogs

This cute tabby cat is enjoying a pile of towels in her kennel.

This cute tabby cat is enjoying a pile of towels in her kennel.

In January, to start out the New Year, stores often discount bedding and towels.  It’s a marketing strategy called a “White Sale,” when bedding used to be all white, to jump start sales after the Christmas shopping season is over.  I don’t remember ever buying bedding or towels in January, but it is a good time to do an inventory of your old towels and sheets.  I keep a lot of old towels for cleaning rags, more than I need, so I donate some to Wayside Waifs, the animal shelter, where I volunteer. Animal shelters have a constant need for towels that are still in good condition. The towels are placed in the kennels to give the animals soft, cozy bedding. Old blankets and sheets are also needed. Contact your local animal shelter to see how you can donate. Wayside Waifs has a large bin in its entryway for donations, for example.

An old towel is also wonderful for people. In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” author Douglas Adams championed the importance of always having a towel with you when you travel the galaxy. I always carry at least one towel in my car on my earthly travels. It’s been very useful many times.

Towel Day is May 25, a tribute to Douglas Adams, author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

White Sale Marketing Strategy.

A dog enjoys a large sheet. Beyond is a blanket. In the next kennel, blankets cover a dog bed. Most of the bedding at the animal shelter is donated.

A dog enjoys a large sheet. Beyond is a blanket. In the next kennel, blankets cover a dog bed. Most of the bedding at the animal shelter is donated.

Towels can also provide privacy in a kennel. Here, two cats can hide behind the hanging towel, if they feel like having some privacy.

Towels can also provide privacy in a kennel. Here, two cats can hide behind the hanging towel, if they feel like having some privacy.

This animal shelter room, enjoyed by two cats, is furnished with many towels to make it very comfy.

This animal shelter room, enjoyed by two cats, is furnished with many towels to make it very comfy.

Towels of every size are available throughout the animal shelter. On the lower left, a dog bed is made up with a couple of towels, ready for the next occupant.

Towels of every size are available throughout the animal shelter. On the lower left, a dog bed is made up with a couple of towels, ready for the next occupant.

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Dogs, Kansas City, Photography

Webster House in Kansas City

The historic Webster House has been transformed from a school to a beautiful shopping and dining destination. It stands next to the modern Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Missouri.

The historic Webster House has been transformed from a school to a beautiful shopping and dining destination. It stands next to the modern Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Missouri.

One of my favorite buildings to photograph is the Webster House, formerly the Webster School. It’s in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Missouri. 

Nutcrackers for sale at the Webster House

Nutcrackers for sale at the Webster House

It’s a beautiful work of art, designed in the “Richardson Romanesque” style.  What a grand place it must have been to attend school there! It’s lovely inside and out with fabulous interior wood woodwork. The school officially opened in 1886 and then closed in 1932. It was restored, opening in 2002, as a beautiful dining and shopping location. The Webster House has a beautiful bell tower, which is a reconstruction. The original was removed after another school’s bell tower fell during a tornado and caused the death of fifteen students.  I like to meet friends and family at the Webster House for lunch or dinner, served in a couple of lovely dining rooms, which were once school rooms.

Behind the Webster House are the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Bartle Hall Pylons, architectural icons and modern additions to the Downtown Kansas City landscape.

The Webster School was designed by the Kansas City School Board’s architect, Manuel Diaz. Webster House is one of the oldest remaining public school buildings in Kansas City and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Webster School was the last area school built with a bell tower on top. In 1886 a tornado caused the bell tower on the Lathrop School at Ninth and Broadway to crash into the school, collapsing the third and second floors into the basement and burying children in the debris.  Bell towers were no longer permitted on top of schools after this tragedy.

The old Webster School is now a restaurant and store. Here beautifully decorated trees display Christmas ornaments for sale.

The old Webster School is now a restaurant and store. Here beautifully decorated trees display Christmas ornaments for sale.

Beautiful cabinets that match the original woodwork of the old Webster School display jewelry for sale.

Beautiful cabinets that match the original woodwork of the old Webster School display jewelry for sale.

History of the Webster House.

History of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Crossroads Arts District.

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Filed under Education, Kansas City, Personal, Photography

Bountiful Butterfly Garden

A male monarch butterfly sips from a tropical milkweed flower in my neighborhood butterfly garden. Just a few weeks ago, almost two dozen Monarch butterfly caterpillars were feasting on these milkweeds. Is this an adult returning to his nursery before heading off to begin the journey to a winter in Mexico?

A male monarch butterfly sips from a tropical milkweed flower in my neighborhood butterfly garden. Just a few weeks ago, almost two dozen Monarch butterfly caterpillars were feasting on these milkweeds. Is this an adult returning to his nursery before heading off to begin the journey to a winter in Mexico?

As summer draws to a close, our neighborhood butterfly garden is now a flowering paradise finally crowded with bugs and animals. During June, July and August, the garden reminded me of a dinner party where few of the guests showed up, despite the mass of plants that bloomed all summer. We did get a lot of rabbits, who found the young plants very tasty and ate them almost to the dirt.  Joan, one of the hardest working neighborhood gardeners, built cages around the tender coneflowers and tropical milkweed plants so that they’d have a chance to provide food for other animals, and of course to be beautiful for our enjoyment.

A Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from a tropical milkweed flower in the neighborhood butterfly garden.

A Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from a tropical milkweed flower in the neighborhood butterfly garden.

I’ve seen many types of butterflies in the garden this week.  The two species I plant specifically for are the Monarch Butterfly and the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.  We plant food plants for the caterpillars and lots of flowering plants that butterflies and other pollinating insects prefer for nectar. For Black Swallowtail caterpillars, we plant bronze fennel and parsley. Monarch Butterfly caterpillars will only eat milkweed, and they sometimes are picky about which kind of milkweed.  Tropical milkweed is the most popular milkweed in our Kansas City area garden, and it has lovely scarlet and yellow flowers, too. Unfortunately, it’s an annual in our climate so it has to be re-planted every spring. I buy my plants from Monarch Watch on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas, at their plant sale in May. Monarch Watch sells a lot of plants for butterflies and other pollinators.  Their butterfly garden is worth visiting.  They also have an open house in September every year.

Protecting and fostering pollinators is good for the environment and for our food supply. A large percentage of our food plants must be pollinated to produce a crop. On a recent visit to the garden, a ruby-throated hummingbird whizzed by me. Ruby-throated hummingbirds, which are also pollinators, also visit the feeder at my house.

The Monarch butterfly population is in serious decline, so I would encourage everyone with a yard to plan a butterfly garden.  To find out more click on this link: Monarch Watch.

In the upper left is a Red-spotted Purple butterfly. The lower left is a Painted Lady butterfly. Can anyone tell me in the comments what the other two butterflies are? Can you see the insect lurking or resting under the petals of the coneflower?

In the upper left is a Red-spotted Purple butterfly. The lower left is a Painted Lady butterfly. Can anyone tell me in the comments what the other two butterflies are? Can you see the insect lurking or resting under the petals of the coneflower?

In the top left photo, a Black Swallowtail caterpillar eating fennel. In the lower left photo, a crowd of Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat parsley. In the upper right photo, two Monarch butterfly caterpillars thrash around as their antennae meet. In the center right photo, a Monarch butterfly caterpillar eats Tropical Milkweed. In the bottom right photo, Black Swallowtail butterfly eggs glisten on the narrow leaves of a bronze fennel.

In the top left photo, a Black Swallowtail caterpillar eating fennel. In the lower left photo, a crowd of Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat parsley. In the upper right photo, two Monarch butterfly caterpillars thrash around as their antennae meet. In the center right photo, a Monarch butterfly caterpillar eats Tropical Milkweed. In the bottom right photo, Black Swallowtail butterfly eggs glisten on the narrow leaves of a bronze fennel.

Here is a collage of photos from the founding days of the neighborhood butterfly garden. The top photo is from 2012, a hot summer in which I had to bring gallons of water from my house to water the new plants, because the sprinkler system didn't provide enough water. The bottom three photos are from 2013.

Here is a collage of photos from the founding days of the neighborhood butterfly garden. The top photo is from 2012, a hot summer in which I had to bring gallons of water from my house to water the new plants, because the sprinkler system didn’t provide enough water. The bottom three photos are from 2013.

An empty Monarch butterfly chrysalis hangs from a butterfly bush.

An empty Monarch butterfly chrysalis hangs from a butterfly bush.

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Filed under Butterflies, Entomology, Environment, Gardening, Kansas City, Life, Natural History, Nature, Photography

Melvin

Melvin, 14-year-old cat.

Melvin, 14-year-old cat.

Melvin melted my heart the minute I met him at Wayside Waifs.  He certainly wasn’t beautiful in the usual sense. His ears were crinkled and bare, his fur was patchy, and he was missing his front right leg. He was probably close to being deaf. He’d had ear infections.  He could barely get up to greet me, but he tried and tried until he finally made it to the front of the kennel.  He is a very sweet and affectionate cat.

He was thought to be 14 years old when he was brought to Wayside Waifs.   Little was known about his history.  He was transferred from another shelter when it ran out of space.

I admit that my heart is easily melted, but Melvin tugged even harder at my heartstrings.  I seriously thought about bringing him home, even though my house isn’t set up for a cat that can’t get around very well. My two resident cats, who don’t get along that well with each other, were also a consideration.  Melvin worked his special cat magic on a lot of volunteers and staff members at Wayside Waifs, who called out “Hi, Melvin” whenever they passed his kennel. We were all so happy when the boyfriend of one of them recently adopted Melvin so that he can live out his final years with love and in comfort.

I’ve met a lot of wonderful cats and kittens during my six years of volunteering as a photographer at Wayside Waifs, a no-kill animal shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, but Melvin will always hold a special place in my melted heart for him.

About Wayside Waifs

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Kansas City, Personal, Pets, Photography