Category Archives: Photography

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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Filed under Animals, History, Photography, Travel

The Bald Eagles of Money Bayou, Florida


In this short video, one of the Money Bayou bald eagles calls to its partner on the nest in another dead pine tree nearby.

Bald Eagle and Eaglet in a Nest in a Dead Tree in Florida.

A bald eagle pair living near Money Bayou, Florida, have become local celebrities. Residents in the area have observed the eagles for many years, including the very difficult time when Category 5 Hurricane Michael hit the area in October 2018 and destroyed the nest. The bald eagles returned to rebuild the nest.  People are often parked near their nest tree and nearby perching tree to watch and photograph them. The pair raised at least one eaglet in 2020.

My family and I enjoyed watching the bald eagles, too, during a visit to Money Bayou in February in 2020. We first saw one of the bald eagles flying over Money Bayou Beach and then perching on a tree overlooking the bayou and the beach beyond.  Eventually, I saw the nest.  I didn’t learn about the bald eagles’ celebrity until I saw the book about “Jack” and “Elizabeth” and their eaglet “Miracle” in the Indian Pass General Store.

A bald eagle does a little beach combing on Money Bayou Beach, Florida.

The story of the bald eagle pair is chronicled in this book The Bald Eagles of Money Bayou: An Almost True Story by Valerie Seyforth Clayton. You can read about the book here: “Chronicling a love of eagles as life lesson.” The book contains a lot of great photographs of the eagles.

The bald eagles in Florida’s Gulf County area fly to Tennessee in the summer, according to Sophia, a biologist at the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve,  which is not far from Money Bayou. There are also bald eagle nests in the Buffer Preserve.

Bald Eagle Pair at Money Bayou, Florida Photo Print

Bald Eagle Pair at Money Bayou, Florida

 

 

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Christmas Cookie Family Favorites

Sherman Family Christmas cookie favorites include sugar cookies and date bars.

 

Every year my family looks forward to my mother’s cookies and fruit cake.  She bakes yule logs flavored with molasses, date bars, rolled sugar cookies, and fruit cake.

This year, I followed her recipe for sugar cookies and for the filled bar cookies, using chopped dates.  She sometimes substitutes part of the water with orange juice. I added a quarter teaspoon of orange extract.

 

My mother rolls her sugar cookie dough and then cuts them into shapes. I was lazy so I formed the dough into balls and then pressed them flat with the bottom of a glass.

This are my Mother’s recipes as she wrote them:
Filled Bar Cookies

Make date or other filling.

Preheat oven to 400°.

3/4 cup margarine 1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 3/4 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Mix margarine and sugar together thoroughly.

Mix together and stir in flour, soda, and salt.

Stir in oats and mix thoroughly. Place 1/2 the

crumb mixture in a greased and floured 9 x 13

pan. Spread with cooled filling. Cover with

remaining crumb mixture……patting lightly.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned.

While warm cut into bars and remove from pan.

Date Filling: Mix together in saucepan; 3 cups

cut-up dates (24 oz.), 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 1/2

cups water. (I have substituted orange juice

for part of the water.) Cook over low heat,

stirring until thickened. (About 10 minutes)

Cool.

Prune Orange Filling: Mix together in saucepan;

3 cups cut-up cooked prunes (drained), 1/2 cup

sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tbls. lemon

juice and 2 tbls. grated orange rind(optional).

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until

thickened. (About 10 minutes) Cool.

Fig, Apricot,or Raisin Filling: Use date recipe

and replace with figs, apricots, or raisins.

 

 Sugar Cookies

4 1/2 cups sifted flour      2 cups sugar

  1/2 teaspoon salt          4 eggs, beaten

4 teaspoons baking powder    1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup margarine              2 tablespoons milk

Sift flour, salt  and  baking powder  together.

Cream margarine  and sugar together.   Add eggs

and vanilla.   Add sifted ingredients and milk.

Roll and cut. You will probably have to add

more flour as you roll. Sprinkle with sugar and

bake on an ungreased baking sheet in  375° oven

12 minutes.

To Fill Cookies:

Roll out dough  and cut  into  circles.   Place

teaspoon  of  filling  on  half of the circles,

keeping it away from  the  edges.   Cover  with

remaining circles  and  press  together  around

edges with tines of a fork.  Bake as for sugar

cookies.

               Raisin Filling

2/3 cup sugar    2 cups raisins    Dash of salt

2/3 cup hot water         3 teaspoons margarine

Combine ingredients and cook until thick. Cool.

                 Fig Filling

1 cup chopped figs   1 cup water  Juice 1 lemon

 1/2 cup sugar     2 tbls. flour   Dash of salt

Combine ingredients and cook until thick. Cool.

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Filed under Christmas, Holidays, Life, Personal, Photography, Recipes

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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National Cat Day #NationalCatDay

I’ve been a Cat Lady since 1991 when we got our first cat, Malcolm, a little Maine Coon kitten from Wayside Waifs.

Lucky me, since the summer of 2010 I’ve played with cats and kittens every week at Wayside Waifs when I take their photographs for the adoptable cats section of the Wayside Waifs website. I also photograph dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and ferrets. But mostly cats, maybe 15,000 so far.

Sadly, Malcolm and Paddington have both passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

#NationalCatDay I’ve been a cat lady since 1991 when we got Malcolm from #WaysideWaifs. #Purrfect Love (Top Left to Right, clockwise) Malcolm, Bones, Inka and Paddington.

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Bull Moose at Dawn in Rocky Mountain National Park

A bull moose stands in Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, at dawn.

A bull moose stands in Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain Park at dawn in late September 2019. The moose seems to be posing for the many photographers who lined the lake. I was lucky to be one of them, thanks to my friend Lynn who drove me there. She also took some great photographs.

Moose (Alces alces) are the largest members of the deer family. On average, an adult moose stands between five and seven feet high at the shoulder. Large males can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds while females are roughly three-quarters of this size.

National Park Service: About Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Where to see moose in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

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