Category Archives: Photography

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

Why Is There a Ship Hanging in a Church?

Aarhus Cathedral Votive Ship Poster

Aarhus Cathedral, Denmark, Votive Ship.

In many churches in Scandinavia, you’ll see a ship hanging from the ceiling, a symbol of how important the sea is to the Nordic people. The ship reflects an old Nordic tradition of giving offerings for the protection of loved ones at sea and is a reminder of those lost at sea. The ship models are often called votive ships.

The ship model in the Aarhus, Denmark, Cathedral originally served another purpose — it was among those created (probably in the Netherlands) to show Russian Czar Peter the Great what the ships he ordered would look like. The cathedral’s ship (dated 1720) is named Enigheden (English: Unity). The ship carrying the model, however, sunk near the northern coast of Denmark, a reminder of the dangers of the sea. The model survived in good shape and was purchased by Danish fishermen as a gift to the cathedral, which is the largest church in Denmark. The Aarhus Cathedral model ship is also the largest votive ship in Denmark.

Akureyri Church Interior, Iceland Photo Print

Ship model hanging in Akureyri Lutheran Church in Akureyri, Iceland.

What is a Votive Ship?

More Photos of Aarhus Cathedral Ship.

About Aarhus Cathedral.

About Akureyri Church.


Filed under History, Photography, Travel

The Smallest Church in Iceland

Silfrastadakirkja Church in Iceland Photo Print


Driving around Iceland, you can see many small churches on the hillsides, mountain slopes and next to farm buildings.  On a visit to Iceland in August 2017, we saw this small church, Silfrastadakirkja, in northcentral Iceland.

The current Silfrastadakirkja Church was built in 1896, replacing the old church from 1842 that now is in Arbaejarsafn Museum in Reykjavik. According to a description I found of this church, this “new” church is thought to be one of the smallest if not the smallest church in Iceland. It is also octagonal, which is unusual. It sits next to a farm house. In the foreground is a hay field with hay bales wrapped in plastic to protect against moisture. A heavy fog hangs over the mountain behind the church.

Like many of the small churches in Iceland, Silfrastadakirkja is white with a red roof. Blue is also another popular color for church roofs. Despite the similarities, each Icelandic church has unique features.   In addition to the old churches, there are several new ones built in contemporary designs.


Silfrastadakirkja Church in Iceland Photo Print

Locations of Churches in Iceland.



Filed under Photography, Travel

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


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

The Ugliest Courthouse in Texas

The Titus County Courthouse was built in 1895, but currently looks nothing like its original brick exterior with a large bell tower on top. The building underwent a couple of modernistic renovations, one of which earned it the title of “Ugliest Courthouse in Texas,” although there are other contenders. In the 1990s, the building was restored to its 1940s Art Deco – Moderne appearance. Now I think it’s starkly beautiful.

The ugliest courthouse in Texas? Yes, definitely we needed to put the Titus County Courthouse on our field trip list.

On a recent trip to Texas, family members and I were looking for interesting historical destinations in northeast Texas.  Visiting courthouses usually takes you to scenic and historic areas in each county.  There are 254 counties in Texas, so there are a lot of courthouses to visit. A quick search online in our desired area found several notable destinations.  One place stood out: The Titus County Courthouse in Mount Pleasant was named as The Ugliest Courthouse in Texas. (There are several contenders to that title, according to several websites devoted to Texas.)

Actually, the Titus County Courthouse didn’t look that ugly in the photo — just dramatically changed from its original appearance when it sported a brown brick exterior and a large bell tower.  Bell towers on top of courthouses fell out of favor when they began to fall during high winds during severe Texas weather, so they aren’t usually a feature on Texas courthouses in modern times. The Titus County Courthouse, built in 1895, is the fifth courthouse building in Titus County.  The current courthouse underwent a couple of  renovations, including one that did look hideous, but the building was restored in the 1990s to its 1940s appearance of Art Deco and Moderne, which I think is attractive.  One quirk is that a loudspeaker blasts music, news and commercials from an area radio station in the area around the courthouse.  One website noted this, and we discovered it was true.  It was a Sunday and otherwise quiet in the courthouse neighborhood.

Mount Pleasant is a Texas Main Street City.

Titus County Courthouse, Mount Pleasant, Texas Postcard

Titus County Courthouse, Mount Pleasant, Texas.
Photograph by Catherine Sherman.

Click on these thumbnails to see full-size photographs.

We also discovered one of the most beautiful courthouses in Texas, the Old Harrison County Courthouse, which I’ll write about in another post, and also include other Texas courthouses.

Old Harrison County Courthouse, Marshall, Texas Postcard

Old Harrison County Courthouse, Marshall, Texas Postcard.
Photograph by Catherine Sherman.






Titus County Courthouse: The Ugliest Courthouse in Texas

254 Texas Courthouses Website.

Texas Courthouses.

A Link to Several of My Courthouse Photographs in Colorado, Kansas and Texas.


Filed under Architecture, Photography, Travel

History on Every Street in Jefferson, Texas

The Jefferson, Texas, General Store beckons travelers, tourists and residents with refreshments, clothing and all sorts of other enticements.

Whenever I visit my sister in Tyler, Texas, we go on tours of the many historic towns in her corner of Texas, called the Piney Woods.  On my recent visit, my sister took us (my mother and niece, too) to Jefferson, in the northeast corner of the state.

We happened to go when the city was preparing for its annual re-enactment of the Battle for Jefferson, a Civil War battle.  The re-enactment is reported to be the largest in Texas.  We didn’t see this re-enactment, but we saw many of its participants in town before it began.  You can check out the links below to find out more about this fascinating town, where there is an historic plaque or marker on almost every public building and on many residences. Shortly after the Civil War, which ended in 1865, Jefferson was the six largest town in Texas. Now, although it’s a small town, it retains its historic grandeur. The town, which is in Marion County, was named after Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.

Click on the thumbnails at the bottom of the post to see full-size versions of the collages.

Jefferson General Store

In the upper left, a cat leaves empty pawed from the Jefferson General Store, Jefferson, Texas. Shoppers in Civil War era clothing examine the goods in the general store.

Re-enactors in Jefferson, Texas

Re-enactors in Jefferson, Texas, for the Battle for Jefferson, a U.S. Civil war re-enactment, which takes place the first weekend in May. Some of the many historical buildings are visible in this collage: The Old Post Office, the Marion County Courthouse, Excelsior House hotel; and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Civil War re-enactors

Participants in the U.S. Civil War re-enactment of the Battle for Jefferson relax and shop in Jefferson, Texas.

History is on Every Corner in Jefferson, Texas

History is on every corner and every street in Jefferson Texas. From the upper left is the Old Post Office, now the historical society; The Excelsior House hotel; The Jefferson Carnegie Library, still operating as a library; and the Sterne Fountain.

Jefferson, Texas.

History on every corner, including old gasoline stations turned into antique stores, markers dedicated to residents who got famous and even old clawfoot bathtubs featured at an antique store.

Jefferson, Texas

Jefferson, Texas, offers tourists a variety of destinations to explore, including the Museum of Measurement and Time and the Jay Gould Railroad Car.

About Jefferson, Texas.

Visit Jefferson, Texas.

Jefferson Carnegie Library.

About the Battle for Jefferson.


Filed under History, Photography, Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, 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.


Filed under Art, Kansas City, Personal, Photography