2014 in review

Thank you all for stopping by.  Happy New Year!  Hope to see you in 2015! The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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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

Lots of Locks of Love!

The Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia, is a popular backdrop for newlywed photos.  Here a couple stands on a bridge over one of St. Petersburg's many canals with the onion domes of the church behind them. In the red circle, not really visible in this photo, is one lock attached to the bridge rail.  I'm not sure whether this trend hasn't caught on yet in St. Petersburg, or whether previous locks have been removed.

The Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia, is a popular backdrop for newlywed photos. Here a couple stands on a bridge over one of St. Petersburg’s many canals with the onion domes of the church behind them. In the red circle, not really visible in this photo, is one lock attached to the bridge rail. I’m not sure whether this trend hasn’t caught on yet in St. Petersburg, or whether previous locks have been removed.

One of my favorite travel blogs is Gallivance by Terri and  James Vance.  When I read their post (linked below) on the trend of lovers placing locks on bridges and throwing the key in the river, I looked through my photos to find some examples of photos I’d taken of this trend. I only found these two, but never fear.  There are lots and lots more photos of locks in the Gallivance post, so don’t miss it!

Locks on a bridge in Nyhavn, an historic area of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Locks on a bridge in Nyhavn, an historic area of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Here’s the post by Terri and James Vance, which shows a lot of bridges where this locks of love trend has taken over, including one bridge in Cologne, which is bristling with so many locks you can barely see the bridge.

Cologne’s Locks of Love Bridge: A Romantic Fad or Steel Graffiti?

Here’s another post of some locks of love in Spain, which I stumbled upon

Locks of Love on a rail along the beach near the Anchor Museum in Salinas, Spain.

About the Church of the Savior on Blood, which is also known as Church of the Spilled Blood.

About Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Dogs of Peru

Peruvian Hairless Dog Post Card
Peruvian Hairless Dog
Photograph by Catherine Sherman

I love photographing animals.  On a recent trip to Peru, I saw hundreds of dogs, so my camera got a real workout.

We saw many kinds of dogs, including this Peruvian Hairless dog (shown above) posing on a street in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo), the village at the foot of Machu Picchu. We saw many dogs wearing clothes, but few wearing collars or on leashes.  Most wander freely, but seem to have homes or territories they return to. We often saw dogs sitting in the doorways to shops (and sometimes a cat inside) and at the front door of houses.

An ancient breed, the Peruvian Hairless Dog is the national dog of Peru. The dogs were kept as pets during the Inca Empire, but their history goes back even further. Depictions of Peruvian hairless dogs appear around 750 A.D. on ceramic pots and were featured on ceramic vessels in several Peruvian cultures. The Spanish conquest of Peru nearly caused the extinction of the breed. The dogs survived in rural areas, where the people believed that they held a mystical value. There’s a photo of another Peruvian Hairless dog in a shirt in one of the photos below.

Gray-Striped Dog in Cusco, Peru Postcards
Gray-Striped Dog in Cusco, Peru
Photograph by Catherine Sherman

We saw this dog near the main square (Plaza de Armas) of Cusco, often sitting in the grass. Here his coloring blends in with the ancient Inca stonework.

Dog Waiting in Front Of Blue Door, Cusco, Peru Post Card
Dog Waiting in Front of Blue Door, Cusco, Peru
Photograph by Catherine Sherman
A chihuahua shows off her fabulous dress as she stands in the doorway of a restaurant in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu.  Isn't she a cute little diva?

A chihuahua shows off her fabulous dress as she stands in the doorway of a restaurant in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. Isn’t she a cute little diva?

A Peruvian Hairless dog, the national dog of Peru, wears a shirt to protect his bare skin.  He stands on a walkway along the railroad tracks in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu.

A Peruvian Hairless dog, the national dog of Peru, wears a shirt to protect his bare skin. He stands on a walkway along the railroad tracks in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu.

A man and his sportily-dressed dog rest on a street in Lima, Peru.

A man and his sportily-dressed dog rest on a street in Lima, Peru.

I think these are police dogs in Lima, Peru.  Here they are resting, but a few minutes later they were all awake and standing by the policemen.

I think these are police dogs in Lima, Peru. Here they are resting, but a few minutes later they were all awake and standing by the policemen.

Look at this cutie pie on a street in Ollantaytambo, Peru.  You can see an example of the ancient Inca stonework in this town, where an Inca emperor had an estate.

Look at this cutie pie on a street in Ollantaytambo, Peru. You can see an example of the ancient Inca stonework in this town, where an Inca emperor had an estate.

Here's another dog photographer, capturing this dog who has just gotten a drink at a dog watering fountain in Cusco, Peru.

Here’s another dog photographer, capturing this dog who has just gotten a drink at a dog watering fountain in Cusco, Peru.

A hairless chihuahua sports a camouflage jacket on a street in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu.

A hairless chihuahua sports a camouflage jacket on a street in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu.

A hairless chihuahua in a camouflage jacket watches a man with a wheelbarrow on a street in Aguas Calientes, Peru, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. There are no roads to Aguas Calientes, so most goods come in by train and are wheeled around.

A hairless chihuahua in a camouflage jacket watches a man with a wheelbarrow on a street in Aguas Calientes, Peru, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. There are no roads to Aguas Calientes, so most goods come in by train and are wheeled around.

Most dogs we met in Peru ignored us, but this dog was friendly and stretched out in a greeting at the entrance to the ruins of Machu Picchu.  He didn't seem to want food, which is good, because I didn't have any. He was at the entrance both days we went to Machu Picchu.

Most dogs we met in Peru ignored us, but this dog was friendly and stretched out in a greeting at the entrance to the ruins of Machu Picchu. He didn’t seem to want food, which is good, because I didn’t have any. He was at the entrance both days we went to Machu Picchu.

A man has a German Shepherd on a  leash while the puppies obediently follow across a street in Cusco, Peru.  You can see another dog lounging inside the shop just beyond. A man has a German Shepherd on a leash while the puppies obediently follow across a street in Cusco, Peru. You can see another dog lounging inside the shop just beyond.

Dogs meet up on a street in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of Peru.

Dogs meet up on a street in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of Peru.

A woman takes her fashionably dressed dog for a walk in Cusco, Peru.

A woman takes her fashionably dressed dog for a walk in Cusco, Peru.

This friendly Shar Pei dog patrols his corner of a market in Ollantaytambo, Peru.  The Shar Pei, which originated in China, is considered one of the most rare dog breeds.  Its name derives from the Cantonese words "sand skin" and refers to the texture of its short, rough coat.  As puppies, Shar Pei have numerous wrinkles, but as they mature, these wrinkles loosen and spread out as they "grow into their skin". Shar Pei were named in 1978 as one of the world's rarest dog breeds by TIME magazine and the Guinness World Records. The American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1991.

This friendly Shar Pei dog patrols his corner of a market in Ollantaytambo, Peru. The Shar Pei, which originated in China, is considered one of the most rare dog breeds. Its name derives from the Cantonese words “sand skin” and refers to the texture of its short, rough coat. As puppies, Shar Pei have numerous wrinkles, but as they mature, these wrinkles loosen and spread out as they “grow into their skin”. Shar Pei were named in 1978 as one of the world’s rarest dog breeds by TIME magazine and the Guinness World Records. The American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1991.

A dog sits in front of a shop in Ollantaytambo, Peru.

A dog sits in front of a shop in Ollantaytambo, Peru.

I took the following photographs from our van when we drove from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, so I apologize for the marginal quality. I really could have taken photos of dogs all day, and wished we could have stopped.

A dog waits at a doorway.  On the wall and light pole near him are political posters.

A dog waits at a doorway. On the wall and light pole near him are political posters.

A dog in Cusco, Peru.

A dog in Cusco, Peru.

A little white shaggy dog sits on a sidewalk in Cusco, Peru.

A little white shaggy dog sits on a sidewalk in Cusco, Peru.

A dog watches cars and trucks go by on the highway from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, Peru. (Taken from my car window.)

A dog watches cars and trucks go by on the highway from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, Peru. (Taken from my car window.)

Dogs dig in trash bags along a highway near Cusco, Peru.

Dogs dig in trash bags along a highway near Cusco, Peru.

Peru Dog Rescue

Misunderstanding the Canines of Cusco, Peru

Not to leave out cats, here is a link to my son and daughter-in-law’s photos of the cat park in the Miraflores District of Lima, Peru.  Some of the about 120 cats descend from a pair that city authorities introduced in the late 1990s to control a rat infestation. Others were abandoned. You know you can’t resist clicking on this link!

Cat Park in Lima, Peru.

Shar Pei Dog, Ollantaytambo, Peru
Shar Pei Dog
Photograph by Catherine Sherman

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Dogs, History, Photography, Travel

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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Salt Pans of Maras, Peru

Peruvians have been harvesting salt from these salt pans near Maras, Peru, since before Inca times.  The beautiful salt pans have become a tourist attraction, too.

Peruvians have been harvesting salt from these salt pans near Maras, Peru, since before Inca times. The beautiful salt pans have become a tourist attraction, too.

We were near the end of our visit to beautiful, amazing Peru, with a free afternoon.  My family and I had visited Cusco and Machu Picchu (too briefly) and now we were in Ollantaytambo, a town in the Sacred Valley of the Inca, where the Inca had won a battle against the Spanish.  In the morning, we’d climbed the ruins overlooking the city, the site of this battle.

We were walking to the Plaza in Ollantaytambo, deciding what to do and see during our afternoon, when a taxi driver approached us, saying the magic words “Moray, Salineras.”  Soon we were in his car for an hour-long taxi drive to the spectacular terraced salt pans, called Salinas de Maras, high in the Andes Mountains, and later to Moray, an Inca agricultural site. The trip with its stops took about four hours.

You can find salt harvested from the Moray salt pans available for sale at the market at the salt terraces.  The salt is available in a variety of flavors, such as basil, garlic and cumin.

You can find salt harvested from the Moray salt pans available for sale at the market at the salt terraces. The salt is available in a variety of flavors, such as basil, garlic and cumin.

Halfway there, we left the paved highway and drove on a dirt road that bisected pastures where shepherds watched flocks, where a rainbow arched across the valley after a rain shower, under the towering snow-capped peak of Ch’iqun (Chicon), which stands at 18,1400 feet.  In the distance, smoke curled from pastures being burned to renew the grass.  (Ranchers burn pastures in the Flint Hills in my state of Kansas, too.)

The driver stopped the car at an overlook, where we first saw the 3,000 beautiful multi-colored terraced pools of the Salinas de Maras (Salineras) stretching down a hillside in a valley fed by spring water.

Peruvians have been gathering salt from the terraced salt pans near Maras, Peru, since before Inca times.  Salty water originating from the Qoripujio spring is carefully channeled into shallow man-made pools. The water evaporates, leaving behind salt, which is harvested by the 600 area families that own the ponds. There are markets at the entrance, where you can buy food, woven goods, pottery and other souvenirs, as well as salt, both plain and flavored, harvested from the site.

The salt ponds are near Maras, which is 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Cusco, in the Cusco Region of Peru. Cusco is the ancient Inca capital.

More than 3,000 salt evaporation pools in terraces spill down a valley near Maras, Peru. Peruvians have been harvesting salt from these ponds since before Inca times. The unpaved, narrow mountain roads don't stop tour buses and taxis from bringing many tourists to see this beautiful place.

More than 3,000 salt evaporation pools in terraces spill down a valley near Maras, Peru. Peruvians have been harvesting salt from these ponds since before Inca times. The unpaved, narrow mountain roads don’t stop tour buses and taxis from bringing many tourists to see this beautiful place.

A woman waits in her shop, selling food, woven goods, salt and souvenirs at the market at the salt pans, near Maras, Peru.

A woman waits in her shop, selling food and souvenirs at the market at the salt pans, near Maras, Peru.

 

We were inspired to visit Ollantaytambo and other Peruvian sites by Terri and James Vance, who write a wonderful travel blog at Gallivance.  Here is one of their many fascinating Peru posts.  Ollantaytambo, a Living City of the Inca. Here is a listing of their Peru blog posts: Gallivance: Peru

Here are some posts I found from other travelers who visited the salt pans near Maras.

The Sacred Valley of the Inca — Moray and Salinas.

A Visit to the Salt Pans of Maras

Off the Beaten Track: A Visit to Salinas de Maras

Wikipedia: Maras, Peru.

 

A sculpture in the center of the Plaza in Maras, Peru, displays some of the sights in the area, including Salineras and the Moray Inca agriculture circles.

A sculpture in the center of the Plaza in Maras, Peru, displays some of the sights in the area, including Salineras and the Moray Inca agriculture circles.

Salty spring water flows into the terraces of the salt pans  near Maras, Peru.

Salty spring water flows into the terraces of the salt pans near Maras, Peru.

Salt Pans of Maras, Peru
Salt Pans, Maras, Peru
Photograph by Catherine Sherman
Salt Pans of Maras, Peru
Man with a Harvest of Salt, Maras, Peru
Photograph by Catherine Sherman

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