Category Archives: Photography

Last Old-Fashioned Optician

Steve Grabowski, the “Last Old-Fashioned Optician,” stands in front of his shop, “The Spectacle Emporium” in the Laramie Downtown Historic District of Laramie, Wyoming.

 
My husband and I were strolling the Laramie Downtown Historic District in September 2022 when we met Steve Grabowski, who owns “The Spectacle Emporium” in Laramie. People come from throughout the world to order glasses from Steve. One of his specialties is vintage eyewear for re-enactors and for actors in movies featuring earlier eras. Steve comes from a family that has lived in Laramie for many generations.

Laramie was settled in the mid-19th century. Laramie was named for Jacques LaRamie, a French or French-Canadian trapper who disappeared in the Laramie Mountains in the early 1820s. He was one of the first Europeans to visit the area. LaRamie’s name was attached to so many places, including a river, mountain range, peak, U.S. Army fort, county, as well as the city, the town of Laramie was called Laramie City for decades to set it apart from other landmarks and entities named for the lost trapper.

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Personal, Photography, Shopping

Lackman-Thompson Estate Farmhouse

A beautiful sunset sky is a backdrop for the historic Lackman-Thompson farm house in Lenexa, Kansas. The farmhouse is part of the Lackman-Thompson estate, which includes a brick barn, used for events, and several historic out buildings.

The Lackman-Thompson estate was once home to Margaretha and William Lackman, German immigrants who came to America in 1885. The Lackmans sold their estate to Kansas City horse and mule dealer Frank Thompson in 1908.

In 1932, the farm’s original barn burned down, which gave Thompson the opportunity to build a new brick barn — the barn that still stands today. The Thompsons’ son, Hugh, sold much of their estate to be developed into Southlake Business Park and bequeathed the remaining land to the Johnson County Community College Foundation.

The Lackman-Thompson Estate was placed on the Register for Historic Kansas Places — the only structure in Lenexa to receive the honor. In 1996, The JCCC Foundation offered the property to the City of Lenexa to preserve it and put it to good public use. Lenexa worked with many partners, including the Kansas State Historical Society, to honor the agreement.

The original Lackman house is now the home of the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau and Economic Development Office. The city restored the barn, preserving its historical character as well as modernizing it.

Lackman-Thompson Estate Farmhouse Products on Fine Art America.

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Kansas, Photography

Vermont Covered Bridges Jigsaw Puzzles

There are a little over 100 authentic covered bridges in the state of Vermont, giving the state the highest number of covered bridges per square mile in the United States. A covered bridge is considered authentic not due to its age, but by its construction. An authentic bridge is constructed using trusses rather than other methods such as stringers (a popular choice for non-authentic covered bridges).

Many of the covered bridges are on the National Register of Historic Places. Some are still in use on roads, while others have been retired but can still be visited.

Vermont Covered Bridges Jigsaw Puzzle Collection

Click here for Zazzle Coupons, Discounts and Promotions.

List of Covered Bridges in Vermont

Vermont Covered Bridge Society

Leave a comment

Filed under Games and Entertainment, New England, Photography, Transportation, Travel

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive in 2021

Martin City, Missouri, features its train traffic as part of its charm. In the upper right is a photograph of a modern Union Pacific freight train engine which roared through Martin City on Aug. 11, 2021. Soon after, Big Boy No. 4014 (center photo) followed. In the lower right photograph, Big Boy is shown when it paused for a few minutes after it passed the Martin City intersection.

Big Boy No. 4014 Locomotive steamed into Martin City, Missouri, on its 2021 summer tour of the Union Pacific Railroad network. Martin City is part of Kansas City.

I felt an exciting big rush as this huge engine roared past me on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. I saw this same engine in November 2019 in Lawrence, Kansas.

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, 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 Rail Giants 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.

Big Boy No. 4014 departed Cheyenne, Wyoming on Aug. 5, 2021, traveling through Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. Along the way, the Big Boy will be on display in the following cities during the tour:

Saturday, Aug. 14: Fort Worth, Texas
Tuesday, Aug. 17: Houston, Texas
Saturday, Aug. 21: New Orleans, Louisiana
Sunday, Aug. 29: St. Louis, Missouri
Monday, Sept. 6: Denver, Colorado
It is scheduled to return to its home base in Cheyenne on September 7, 2021.

My blog post about Big Boy No. 4014’s visit to Lawrence, Kansas, in November 2019:

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 Steam Locomotive Engine

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive as it nears Martin City, Missouri.

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive

Big Boy No. 4014 Steam Locomotive rounding the bend, heading toward Martin City, Missouri.

5 Comments

Filed under History, Photography, Transportation, Travel

Farewell to Sunsets

Pelican Rock Sunset, Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Pelican Rock Sunset, Dauphin Island, Alabama

“The Sea of Sunset”

By Emily Dickinson

This is the land the sunset washes,
These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;
Where it rose, or whither it rushes,
These are the western mystery!

Night after night her purple traffic
Strews the landing with opal bales;
Merchantmen poise upon horizons,
Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.

I love watching and photographing the sun peek over the horizon in the morning and slip below the horizon in the evening, a pastime of millions (probably billions) of people.

My husband and I spent the month of February 2021 on a beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, the “Sunset Capital” of Alabama, where we could see both sunsets and sunrises. Twice the beauty. We don’t have a view of either sunrises or sunsets from our home, so this was a real treat.

On the island, I photographed every sunrise and every sunset on the days it wasn’t foggy or raining.  I posted several of my sunrise and sunset photographs on Print on Demand sites, such as Fine Art America and Zazzle, and I’ve included a few in this post.

Toward the end of the month as I tried to get the perfect sunset shot, I thought “Maybe it isn’t a good idea to stare at the setting sun through my viewfinder.” You’re all thinking, “Well, duh, that’s an idiotic thing to do.”

Orange Sunset on Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Orange Sunset on Dauphin Island, Alabama

And yes, dear readers, I apparently damaged my retina and worsened my cataracts. When I got home I discovered that I could no longer see clearly through the viewfinder with my right eye. I had Lasik 25 years ago, which corrected my right eye to be able to read without glasses in the monovision procedure, and I can still do that even though everything is a bit fuzzy when I look through the viewfinder. I thought my viewfinder was dirty, but the problem is my eye.  I never used my left eye (my distance corrected eye) to see through the viewfinder, but I’m training myself to use it.

My ophthalmologist told me that I should no longer take sunset photographs or even watch sunsets. There are probably ways to do it safely, such as using the camera screen rather than the viewfinder, but I’m probably not going to take the chance.

Eventually I’ll have cataract surgery, but I don’t think the solar retinopathy is going to diminish.

Be safe out there, everyone!

Sunset Sunbeams on Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Sunset Sunbeams on Dauphin Island, Alabama

Pelican Flying at Sunrise, Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Pelican Flying at Sunrise, Dauphin Island, Alabama

My Collection of Sunrise and Sunset Photographs on Fine Art America.

My Collection of Sunrise and Sunset Products on Zazzle.

7 Comments

Filed under Personal, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Dauphin Island Beaver

Beaver at Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Beaver swimming in the ocean near Pelican Point on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

I expected to see pelicans, cormorants, gulls and dolphins at the beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, but seeing a beaver swimming along the rocks and edge of the beach was certainly a surprise. This beaver seemed to be exploring. I don’t think there was anything for him to eat along the beach, and ingesting salt water isn’t healthy for a beaver. Maybe he was lost. It was near sunset, a full moon, choppy waves, a lot of bird activity and even a dolphin cruising around. The next day, I saw a beaver swimming past a sunning alligator in the lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. That doesn’t seem very safe, either.

In articles I’ve read since, some biologists say beavers travel in saltwater to move from one environment to another. Other scientists said they are moving to brackish environments due to decreasing habitat. In these habitats near the ocean, the beavers have built their lodges to accommodate the tides. Biologists have found beavers suffering from saltwater poisoning, however, from consuming too much saltwater while while chewing trees and plants for lodge construction and while eating.

Beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. This was a North American beaver (Castor canadensis). Beavers are the second-largest living rodents after the capybaras. Their usual habitat is freshwater, such as rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They are herbivorous and consume tree bark, aquatic plants, grasses and sedges.

Dauphin Island is a barrier island at the mouth of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s called the Sunset Capital of Alabama and is home to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and other refuges, to 19th century Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, The Estuarium public aquarium, many white sand beaches, historic sites and points of interest.  Dauphin Island is considered one of the top four locations in North America for viewing spring bird migrations. The Sanctuary consists of 137 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp, and a beach. The three-mile trail system within the Sanctuary is a National Recreational Trail. The refuge is at the Eastern end of Dauphin Island, a 14 mile-long barrier island south of the Alabama mainland Gulf Coast.

Beaver in the Ocean, Dauphin Ocean, Alabama Poster

A beaver swims in the ocean near Pelican Point on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

In the top photograph, a beaver swims in Galliard Lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama. On the right is a Great Blue Heron. The beaver swam past an alligator basking in the sunshine.

In the top photograph, a beaver swims in Galliard Lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama. On the right is a Great Blue Heron. The beaver swam past an alligator basking in the sunshine.

About the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary.

About Saltwater Beavers in Canada.

Saltwater Beavers Bring Life Back to Estuaries.

1 Comment

Filed under Animals, Bird-watching, Birds, Environment, Photography

Lighthouse Jigsaw Puzzles

Key West, Florida, Lighthouse Jigsaw Puzzle

Key West, Florida, Lighthouse Jigsaw Puzzle

During the months of Covid 19 social distancing and the Stay-at-Home regimen, I created some of my favorite photographs as jigsaw puzzles, an entertainment that can be enjoyed at home by yourself or with family and friends. One of my favorite photographic subjects is the lighthouse, which is a symbol as well as a reality of safety and sanctuary throughout the world. Zazzle offers jigsaw puzzles in a range of sizes and levels of difficulty. You can upload your own photographs and artwork to Zazzle, creating your own jigsaw puzzles.

Click on the links beneath each jigsaw puzzle to read more about these historic lighthouses. Many of the American lighthouses are on the National Register of Historic Places.

7 Comments

Filed under Games and Entertainment, Photography, Travel

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.

10 Comments

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.

 

1 Comment

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

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Biology, Bird-watching, Birds, Natural History, Nature, Photography, Travel