Category Archives: Kansas City

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

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 Steam Locomotive Engine

Thousands of people thronged around the Union Pacific’s Big Boy Steam Locomotive 4014 when it stopped at the Union Pacific Depot in Lawrence, Kansas, on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.

 

On Nov. 19, 2019, My husband and I drove to Lawrence to see the Union Pacific’s Big Boy Steam Locomotive number 4014, which is touring the Union Pacific system throughout 2019 to commemorate the transcontinental railroad’s 150th anniversary. We knew there would be a crowd, but we didn’t expect the thousands of people who showed up.   I love trains, especially old steam whistles. I love to feel the rumbling of the train as it races by. Kansas City, where I live, is the second largest rail transportation center in the United States. If I had really been on the ball, I would have followed Big Boy’s schedule more closely and seen Big Boy when it roared past on the tracks less than a mile from my house on its way to Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, on Nov. 17.

The locomotive began its journey in May 4, 2019, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Its circuit ends on Nov. 26 in Cheyenne.

“The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad May 10, 1869, is recognized as one of our country’s biggest achievements and one of mankind’s biggest accomplishments.

It’s been compared to the Apollo 11 moon landing in terms of the vision, dedication, innovation and collaboration needed to connect the country with a ribbon of rail.

In May 2019, the whole world observed the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike, which marked the transcontinental railroad’s completion, and Union Pacific led the celebrations.”

From the Union Pacific Website, linked at the bottom of the post:

“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, Wyo.

There are seven Big Boys on public display in various cities around the country. They can be found in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Green Bay, Wisconsin; 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 RailGiants 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 “

My video of Big Boy 4014 at the Lawrence, Kansas, Union Pacific Depot.

About the Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Locomotive Engines.

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014’s 2019 Schedule.

Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Locomotive 4014 Journey.

From the Missouri Department of Transportation Website:

“Missouri is home to an extensive rail system.  Railroads are essential to the state’s economy and the region’s economic competitiveness. Missouri has the 10th largest number of railroad miles in the United States with approximately 4,800 miles of track, 2,500 miles of yard track and about 7,300 public and private highway-rail crossings. Twenty freight railroads operate in the state, carrying the fourth largest amount of freight tonnage in the nation.  Kansas City and St. Louis are ranked as the second and third largest rail transportation centers in the nation, respectively. Overall, the state’s rail system moves the equivalent of more than 21 million truckloads per year.”

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Filed under History, Kansas City, Photography, Technology, Travel

Kansas City Ikebana 2019 Spring Exhibition

The Japanese Tea Room was open in conjunction with the Kansas City Ikebana group’s 2019 Spring Exhibition. The Loose Park Japanese Tea Room and Garden, dedicated in July 2006, was conceived as a cultural exchange between the Sister Cities of Kurashiki, Japan and Kansas City, Missouri.

Beautiful floral artworks were on display the first weekend of April in the 37th annual Kansas City Ikebana Spring Exhibition in the Garden Center in Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri. The 2019 theme was “Branches & Baskets” in which many of the displays used branches “bestowed on Kansas City by this winter’s storms.”

The Ikebana exhibits are not judged ~ they are an exhibit of the art for its own sake.

Kansas City Ikebana, begun in 1978, is a group of people who study, teach and create displays of Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging in Kansas City.

History of the Japanese Tea Room in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City Ikebana Group

A tea tasting was offered in conjunction with the Kansas City Ikebana 2019 Spring Exhibition at Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Go Chiefs!

Neptune wears a football jersey in a fountain on the Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri.

A statue of Neptune wears the uniform jersey shirt of a Kansas City football team member in honor of the team’s advancement to a playoff game.

The Neptune fountain sculpture sits in the Country Club Plaza Shopping Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The sculpture depicts Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, holding a trident. Neptune sits in a chariot pulled by sea horses. Water gushes from the horses’ nostrils. This cast lead sculpture was built by the Bromsgrove Guild of Worcestershire, England in 1911.

Miller Nichols purchased the 8,000-pound cast lead fountain for its weight in scrap metal. It was found on the top of a train car full of scrap metal at a salvage company. Nichols transported the rescued sculpture from Great Britain to Kansas City, where it was refurbished and installed on the Plaza in 1953.

Miller Nichols was the son of J. C. Nichols, who established the Country Club Plaza shopping Center in 1922. The Plaza was designed architecturally after Seville, Spain. The Plaza was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.

Kansas City, Missouri, is known as “The City of Fountains.” There are 200 officially registered fountains in the metropolitan Greater Kansas City area. That number excludes the many fountains at corporation and sub-division entrances, office atriums, private gardens and homes.

One of the messages flashing on a Kansas City bus is “Go Chiefs!”as it drives through the Country Club Plaza Shopping Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

UPDATED: New Photo Added

Pomona Statue Wearing Dee Ford’s Kansas City Chief’s jersey on a fountain at a restaurant in one of the courtyards of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Country Club Plaza Christmas Lights

The shimmering Christmas lights of the Country Club Plaza Shopping Center are reflected in Brush Creek, Kansas City, Missouri.

Every Thanksgiving, the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, comes to life with Christmas lights that glow until mid-January. The Plaza was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. Established in 1922 by J. C. Nichols, the Plaza was designed architecturally after Seville, Spain.

Full Moon and Giralda Tower, Kansas City, Missouri Poster

Full Moon and Giralda Tower, Kansas City, Missouri

A friend and I wanted to photograph the full moon rising over the Plaza on the Saturday before Christmas.  We were hoping for a reflection in the water of Brush Creek, but the moon was hidden by clouds.  Then the moon appeared almost magically like a huge ornament in an opening in the clouds next to the Giralda Tower. This night is definitely one of the busiest times of the year on the Plaza, so many people were able to enjoy this spectacle.  The sidewalks, stores and restaurants were crowded with people.

The Giralda is a Kansas City landmark. It stands 138 feet (42 meters) tall at the corner of West 47th Street and J.C. Nichols Parkway. When urban developer J.C. Nichols visited Seville, Spain in the 1920s, he was so impressed with the 12th-century Moorish tower of Giralda that he built a half-scale replica in the Country Club Plaza. The tower was officially christened by then-Seville mayor Felix Morena de la Cova, along with an official delegate in 1967, the same year in which the both cities became sister cities.

The original Giralda tower was the minaret of the 12th century Muslim mosque; a Christian belfry was added in 1568. The name Giralda means “she who turns” – girar is to turn in Spanish, after the weather vane on top of the tower, a statue representing faith called El Giraldillo.

Plaza Carriage Rides, Kansas City, Missouri Poster

Plaza Carriage Rides, Kansas City, Missouri

Horse carriage rides are a popular activity on the County Club Plaza, especially during the Christmas season, when the buildings are aglow with tens of thousands of lights. I do worry about the horses, though.

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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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Filed under Architecture, Christmas, History, Holidays, Kansas City, Photography

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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