Category Archives: Life

The Rainmaker in San Diego

“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”  Mark Twain made famous this quote by his writer friend Charles Dudley Warner.

According to an account in Wikipedia, the citizens of San Diego so appreciated Warner’s flattering description of their city in his book, Our Italy, that they named three consecutive streets in the Point Loma neighborhood after him: Charles Street, Dudley Street, and Warner Street.

Interestingly, San Diego leaders later proved Dudley’s quote wrong by actually hiring someone to change their weather.  In 1915, the San Diego area was suffering a drought.  They asked Charles Mallory Hatfield to produce rain to fill the Morena Dam Reservoir. Hatfield, who was from the San Diego area, had already achieved some acclaim for bringing rain to other areas, including Los Angeles. Hatfield was a “pluviculturist,” a fancy term for rainmaker.  By 1902, he had created a secret mixture of 23 chemicals in large galvanized evaporating tanks that, he claimed, attracted rain. (He took this recipe to the grave.) Hatfield called himself a “moisture accelerator.”

The Original Rainmaker, Charles Mallory Hatfield was hired to cure California's drought.

The Original Rainmaker, Charles Mallory Hatfield was hired to cure California’s drought.

A Kansas native, but raised in California, Hatfield traveled western North America promising to bring rain to areas suffering a drought.  One of his biggest “successes” was San Diego, although he didn’t get paid because he “created” too much rain and was lucky he didn’t have to pay for damages.  Hatfield was hired by the city to fill the reservoir, which was only a third full.  Not long after he set up his apparatus filled with his secret chemical connection, it began to rain, and eventually the reservoir was filled  to overflowing and other areas flooded.  At least 20 people were drowned.

It’s likely the rain wasn’t the result of Hatfield’s efforts, but it was certainly a coincidence that more rain fell than usual.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), rain is most likely in November through March, with January, on average, measuring 2.28 inches.  NOAA didn’t mention January 1916 as being particularly rainy, though. When I visited my daughter in Huntington Beach, California, in January 2010, we had several days of perfect weather during which we watched a surfing competition and then a couple of days of really hard rain and high winds, something I’m no stranger to in Kansas, but golly, I came to California for the sun!  There was even a small tornado on the beach, which flipped over a car. (Click the link to my “Outgunned” post at the bottom of this post to see surfing competition photos.)

This car flipped over in a Long Beach, California, tornado in january 2010.

This car flipped over in a Long Beach, California, tornado in January 2010.

From the text associated with the YouTube video above about Charles Mallory Hatfield: “In 1915 the San Diego city council, pressured by the San Diego Wide Awake Improvement Club, approached Hatfield to produce rain to fill the Morena Dam reservoir. Hatfield offered to produce rain for free, then charge $1,000 per inch ($393.7 per centimetre) for between forty to fifty inches (1.02 to 1.27 m) and free again over fifty inches (1.27 m). The council voted four to one for a $10,000 fee, payable when the reservoir was filled. Hatfield, with his brother, built a 20-foot (6 m) tower beside Lake Morena and was ready early in the New Year.

On January 5, 1916 heavy rain began – and grew gradually heavier day by day. Dry riverbeds filled to the point of flooding. Worsening floods destroyed bridges, marooned trains and cut phone cables – not to mention flooding homes and farms. Two dams, Sweetwater Dam and one at Lower Otay Lake, overflowed. Rain stopped January 20 but resumed two days later. On January 27 Lower Otay Dam broke, increasing the devastation and reportedly causing about 20 deaths (accounts vary on the exact number).”

Despite Hatfield’s flood, San Diego is said to have one of the most ideal climates in the world.  When I learned that my paternal grandparents lived in the San Diego area in the 1920s, I took an interest in the area’s history.  My grandfather Jack Sherman was a civil engineer surveying projects there, including orchards. My grandparents left California when my father and his two sisters were still young, returning to the Sturgis, South Dakota, where my grandmother’s parents owned a hotel. My grandmother missed home and her mother was sick, but when I first heard about that, I thought, leave sunny southern California, hmmm?  They had good reasons to leave. In addition to my maternal great-grandmother’s poor health, my grandparents’ Escondido house had burned down after a worker knocked over a lantern, but the Black Hills of South Dakota are cold! Of course, had they stayed, my parents wouldn’t have met, and I wouldn’t be telling this story.
My blog post on the Surfing Competition called “Outgunned.” My lens envy.
Wikipedia History of Charles Mallory Hatfield.
San Diego History Journal Biography of Charles Mallory Hatfield.
Charles Hatfield is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.
Southern California Tornado in January 2010.

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Filed under Environment, History, Journalism, Life

Have a Meowy Christmas and a Tail Wagging New Year!

This Gingerbread House, by pastry chef Greg Connolly, resembles the Wayside Waifs building with its characteristic silo.  It greets visitors, staff and volunteers who come to Wayside Waifs.

This Gingerbread House, by pastry chef Greg Connolly, resembles the Wayside Waifs building with its characteristic silo. It greets visitors, staff and volunteers who come to Wayside Waifs.

Greg Connolly, a pastry chef, created and donated this cute gingerbread house to Wayside Waifs, where it is displayed in the entry hall for the Christmas season. Wayside Waifs is a no-kill animal shelter in Kansas City, Missouri.

The house shows a cookie squirrel on Wayside Waifs’ signature silo rooftop. Along the dogbone fence, written in the snow in yellow, is “Fleas Navidad.”  Don’t miss the fire hydrant, and look for the dogs wearing Christmas sweaters and the grinning snowmen in the frosty yard.  Inside, I’m sure there are kitties tucked in bed, waiting for Santa to bring a jingle ball.

From the Wayside Waifs website: “Wayside Waifs is committed to finding homes for all adoptable pets. Wayside is the largest pet adoption center in Kansas City, placing over 5,400 animals each year in loving forever homes. Wayside does not euthanize adoptable animals, and there are no time limits for animals in our care. Only animals suffering from significant medical issues or those that pose a danger are humanely euthanized. Wayside Waifs is proud to be a part of Kansas City’s no kill community.”

UPDATE:  Here’s a video of puppies enjoying this gingerbread house.

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Filed under Animals, Humor, Kansas City, Life

Scenes From Autumn in the Missouri Countryside

Colorful Flint or Indian Corn
“Colorful Indian Corn” by Catherine Sherman

My friend Lynn and I took our cameras to a couple of Missouri farms that sell pumpkins, apples and other goods, offer hay rides and let children pet animals. The weather was beautiful, and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of the summer-like days before winter hits.

Ripe Red apples are ready to be picked.

Ripe Red apples are ready to be picked.

Old Farm Wagon in Hay Field Poster
“Old Farm Wagon in a Hay Field” by Catherine Sherman
The Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri, offers a variety of farm goods for sale as well as activities for children.

The Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri, offers a variety of farm goods for sale as well as activities for families, and is a place for receptions, church and school picnics and weddings.

This goat hopes I can read the sign at Red Barn Farm: Goat Feeding Station.  Lucky for her, there were several children who didn't even need a sign to recognize a goat in need of a treat.

This goat hopes I can read the sign at Red Barn Farm: Goat Feeding Station. Lucky for her, there were several children who didn’t even need a sign to recognize a goat in need of a treat.

Choose a pumpkin at Red Barn Farm!

Choose a pumpkin at Red Barn Farm!

The Farmer’s House Market near Weston, Missouri, sells locally grown and produced “farm to table” products such as vegetables, fruit, honey, cheese and farm and home related items.  It's a working farm where children, youth and young adults with developmental disabilities can live, work, play and grow.

The Farmer’s House Market near Weston, Missouri, sells locally grown and produced “farm to table” products such as vegetables, fruit, honey, cheese and farm and home related items. It’s a working farm where children, youth and young adults with developmental disabilities can live, work, play and grow.

A beautiful palomino horse stands on a hill against a bright blue sky at Red Barn Farm.

A beautiful palomino horse stands on a hill against a bright blue sky at Red Barn Farm.

A scarecrow welcomes visitors to the apple orchard at Red Barn Farm.

A scarecrow welcomes visitors to the apple orchard at Red Barn Farm.

Mini white pumpkins and other produce are for sale at The Farmer's House in Weston, Missouri.

Mini white pumpkins and other produce are for sale at The Farmer’s House in Weston, Missouri.

Bride and Groom scarecrows enjoy a beautiful autumn day at Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri.

Bride and Groom scarecrows enjoy a beautiful autumn day at Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri.

About The Farmer’s House.

Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri.

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Filed under Entertainment, Gardening, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Photography

Howdy from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas

Eiffel Tower, Paris, Texas Post Card
Eiffel Tower, Paris, Texas
Photograph by Catherine Sherman

On a recent drive home to Kansas City from a wedding in northeast Texas, we detoured to gawk at the Eiffel Tower replica in Paris, Texas.  Ok, I’m the only one of the three of us to gawk…I have this thing for oddball roadside attractions.

This Eiffel Tower isn’t the tallest replica in the world, but it’s the only one sporting a cowboy hat. Following a tradition of American cities named “Paris”, Paris, Texas constructed a 65-foot (20 m) replica of the Eiffel Tower in 1993.  Paris, Tennessee, dedicated an Eiffel Tower replica in the same year that was 60 feet tall.  (The Tennessee version was moved from Memphis and refurbished in its new Paris location in 1993.) The cowboy hat insures that the Paris, Texas, tower stands taller.

Both replicas are dwarfed by the 540-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica along the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, built in 1999. The original in Paris, France, is 984 feet tall.

Paris, Texas, calls itself the “Second Largest Paris in the World.” The town boasts 25,171 residents, as of the 2010 census.

Last year, we visited Paris, Arkansas, which doesn’t have an Eiffel Tower replica, but it does have a mural that depicts the Eiffel Tower, which you can read about and see in my blog post here: Every Paris Needs an Eiffel Tower  The post also lists other states with Eiffel Tower replicas and other states with a town named Paris.

Eiffel Tower Replicas Around The World

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Shattered

My shattered phone screen.

My shattered phone screen.

My luck ran out.  My Nokia Lumia 1020 cell phone fell out of my pocket and hit the floor of my garage.  The screen shattered. I never put my phone in my pocket, but we were having a garage sale and it seemed like a good idea at the time. (Yes, I swore I’d never have another garage sale. When will I ever learn?)

At first I thought the lines on the screen were a real cobweb, not a web of cracks. I was in disbelief and then angry with myself. I’ve gotten very attached to that phone. It sleeps next to me (actually it never sleeps) charging on my bedside table.

This is a re-enactment the next morning of where I found my phone at a Taos, New Mexico, motel.  My phone had fallen out of my handbag as I ran to escape the rain.   I didn't miss my phone until I decided to charge it an hour later. Then I couldn't find it. My friend Lynn and I looked for hours, not sure where I had lost it.  Later, I found it here, on the railing to the stairs.  It was wet, but it still worked.

This is a re-enactment the next morning of where I found my phone at a Taos, New Mexico, motel. My phone had fallen out of my handbag as I ran to escape the rain. I didn’t miss my phone until I decided to charge it an hour later. Then I couldn’t find it. My friend Lynn and I looked for hours, not sure where I had lost it. Later, I found it here, on the railing to the stairs. It was wet, but it still worked.

This is not my cell phone’s first escape attempt. It leaped from my purse in Taos, New Mexico, as my friend Lynn and I were rushing from the car to the covered portico of our hotel in the rain after dinner at a lovely restaurant on Easter.

It was our last night in New Mexico of our week-long trip. I wondered aloud what I would leave behind on this trip. There’s always something that goes astray. A toothbrush, some shoes, hat, gloves, scarf, jacket, a nightgown, a book. I didn’t realize that I’d already lost something — my phone! I discovered that the little dickens had gotten away when I looked for it so I could charge it. Lynn and I searched everywhere in the room, the parking lot, the car, the streets, even went back to the restaurant — twice — just before closing. Lynn called my phone five or more times, and we never heard it ringing. (Thanks, Lynn!) I roamed the parking lot in the rain, I talked to the desk clerk.

Finally, we gave up. I was already on the fourth stage of grief, when I decided to give the search one more effort. I remembered that I’d found a couple of phones in the past, one I had given to the desk clerk of our motel (it turned out to be hers), and the other I had picked up from the street and set on the curb. Maybe someone had placed my phone in a safer place? Minutes later I saw it, sitting on a stair post, sprinkled with rain drops but still in working order. I was so relieved.   How quickly we get dependent on these devices.  My grandparents had a party line phone, which was shared with several neighbors.

I was able to get my screen replaced locally.  It wasn’t cheap. I obviously need a case for it.  A friend demonstrated the protective qualities of his case by dropping his phone on the floor. No damage.

As I looked at my shattered screen, this song came to mind. Now I can’t get it out of my head.

Here a cell phone takes the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.  I can confirm from personal experience that it’s darned cold! Writing the check was much easier. Paying for the phone screen repair is also going to be a shock.

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Cycling in Denmark

Bicyclists are everywhere in Copenhagen, and they are very skilled at maneuvering in traffic.  Here, two young lovers hold hands as they speed down the street.

Bicyclists are everywhere in Copenhagen, and they are very skilled at maneuvering in traffic. Here, two young lovers hold hands as they speed down the street.

One of the first things my husband and I noticed in Copenhagen was that it’s a city on two wheels. The city is flat, has many bike lanes, a lot of narrow streets, limited parking in the city and everything costs a lot — at least for Americans. So bikes make a lot of economic sense. Almost 40 percent of the city’s inhabitants commute on bicycles.

A crowd of bicyclists peddle rapidly at rush hour on H.C. Andersens Boulevard at the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A crowd of bicyclists peddle rapidly at rush hour on H.C. Andersens Boulevard at the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Almost everyone on the bikes looked fit and attractive.  It was like being a Ralph Lauren ad without the pretentiousness. Copenhagen is considered the most bike-friendly city in the world. More people commute on bicycles in Copenhagen than in all of the much, much larger United States. Pedestrians need to be aware, because they will easily be knocked down at rush hour. There also were a lot of bikes in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, which is also a college town.

A mother and her son bike to the store together in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A mother and her son bike to the store together in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A father and son ride a tandem bicycle in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A father and son ride a tandem bicycle in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A pedicab enters an historic prison area at Slutterigade in Copenhagen.

A pedicab enters an historic prison area at Slutterigade in Copenhagen.

A biker crosses the courtyard of Amalienborg Palace, the winter residence of the Danish royal family.  The equestrian statue is of Amalienborg's founder, King Frederick V.

A biker crosses the courtyard of Amalienborg Palace, the winter residence of the Danish royal family. The equestrian statue depicts Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V.

Højbro Plads (Hojbro Square) is a popular spot for tourists and locals. On this July day, there were so many parked bicycles that there was hardly room for people.  Højbro  is public square located between the adjoining Amagertorv and Slotsholmen Canal in the City Center of Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Wikipedia, It takes its name from the Højbro Bridge which connects it to the Slotsholmen island on the other side of the canal while Gammel Strand extends along the near side of the canal.  The most striking feature of the square is an equestrian statue of Absalon, the warrior-bishop who has traditionally been credited as the founder of Copenhagen. It was inaugurated in 1901 to commemorate the septcentennial of his death.

Højbro Plads (Hojbro Square) is a popular spot for tourist and locals. On this July day, there were so many parked bicycles that there’s hardly room for people. Højbro is public square located between the adjoining Amagertorv and Slotsholmen Canal in the City Center of Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Wikipedia, It takes its name from the Højbro Bridge which connects it to the Slotsholmen island on the other side of the canal while Gammel Strand extends along the near side of the canal. The most striking feature of the square is an equestrian statue of Absalon, the warrior-bishop who has traditionally been credited as the founder of Copenhagen. It was inaugurated in 1901 to commemorate the septcentennial of his death.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How Denmark Became a Cycling Nation.

Wikipedia: Cycling in Copenhagen

Wikipedia: About Denmark.

The Official Website of Denmark.

The Danish Royal Couple on Bikes (Horses, Yacht…)

The Danish People are the Happiest People on Earth.

 

 

Some of my Postcards of Bicycles in Copenhagen:

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Dragon Boat Races in Kansas City

Thess dragon boat crew members paddle hard as they reach the finish in the International Dragon Boat Festival on June 14, 2014, on Brush Creek in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

This dragon boat crew paddle hard as they reach the finish in the International Dragon Boat Festival on June 14, 2014, on Brush Creek in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dragon boats full of hard-working crews raced on Brush Creek at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri,  today (June 14, 2014).  I enjoyed the race loafing on the banks.  It looked like hard work, especially turning the boat to return to the starting point, which was also the finish line, but I’m sure it was a lot of fun, too.  Two boats raced each other in each race.  Whichever boat got around the pink buoy at the turn first was hard to beat.

Dragon Boat races are a 2,000-year-old tradition in China that arrived in Kansas City ten years ago.

The two dragon boats make the turn in their race in the International Dragon Boat Festival on June 14, 2014, on Brush Creek in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Whoever is able to make the turn first has a great advantage.

The two dragon boats make the turn in their race in the International Dragon Boat Festival on June 14, 2014, on Brush Creek in the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Whoever is able to make the turn first has a great advantage.

The annual International Chinese Dragon Boat Festival in Kansas City was founded by Mr. Robert S. Chien with the Society for Friendship with China.  The crews debuted the four new fiberglass boats that were made for the event in China, part of a fleet commemorating of the death of Qu Yuan in 278 B.C.  The dragon boat tradition began, according to Chinese legend, because friends and admirers of the statesman and poet used boats, noise and food to scare away hungry fish after Qu Yuan drowned after throwing himself into a river.  Qu Wanshen, a 71st generation descendant of Qu Yuan, was on the schedule to attend. That’s some genealogy chart!

During the festival, sticky rice rice dumplings are eaten in honor of the rice dumplings thrown in the way two millennia ago. The rice dumplings, called Zongzi in Chinese, are sticky rice wrapped in bamboo/lotus/banana leaves. I, unfortunately, didn’t stumble across the food tent so I missed out on those.  Next year, that will be my first stop!

Chinese lanterns blow in the breeze on a footbridge over Brush Creek in Kansas City, Missouri.

Chinese lanterns blow in the breeze on a footbridge over Brush Creek in Kansas City, Missouri.

Qu Yuan was the earliest great patriotic poet as well as a great statesman, ideologist, diplomat and reformer in ancient China.  He lived in the latter part of the Warring States Period (476 BC – 221 BC). According to the Society for Friendship with China,  Qu Yuan was a minister to the Zhou emperor during the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC). He was a wise man who was strongly opposed to the corruption of the imperial court.

Because of Qu Yuan’s success, he aroused jealousy in his fellow ministers. They plotted against him and convinced the emperor that Qu Yuan was a traitor. Qu Yuan was banished, and returned to his home town. During his years of banishment, Qu Yuan collected legends and folk tales, and wrote poetry. He never lost his patriotic love for his emperor, and was greatly concerned about the future of the Zhou dynasty.

Eventually the Qin warriors overthrew the Zhou rulers and proceeded to plunder the country. On the 5th day of May, 278 BC, Qu Yuan learned about the fall of his capital city, and in a fit of despair, committed suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo River. The townspeople, hearing of Qu Yuan’s fate, rushed to their boats to try to save him. Since he was much loved, they tried to prevent the fish from eating his body by throwing rice dumplings into the water. They beat drums to keep evil spirits away.

To this day, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month is celebrated by eating rice dumplings (zong zi) and racing dragon boats. It is also a day for wearing talismans to keep away evil spirits. Adults drink Xiong Huang wine, and children wear fragrant silk pouches to guard against evil.

In Chinese culture, Dragon boat festival has been an important holiday for centuries, but in recent years dragon boat racing has become an international sport.

Four dragon boats are tied up at the dock, awaiting their races.  These boats were built in China for the Kansas City race.

Four dragon boats are tied up at the dock, awaiting their races. These boats were built in China for the Kansas City race.

 

Spectators have fun while waiting for the next dragon boat race to begin on Brush Creek in Kansas City.

Spectators have fun while waiting for the next dragon boat race to begin on Brush Creek in Kansas City.

Click on a thumbnail to see a full-size photo and a caption.

About the Society for Friendship with China.

 

 

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