Tag Archives: Photography

Florida Panther Crossing

Florida panthers must navigate traffic, maneuver around walls and traverse ever growing human populations in the Florida panther’s habitat in south Florida. Here are panther crossing signs warning drivers in Naples, Florida, to watch for panthers.

I would have loved to have seen a Florida panther in the wild while in Florida this past winter, although it’s best that they remain away from people.

Florida Panther crossing signs show the perilous route that Florida panthers must take to traverse their territory. They must cross busy streets flanked by walls and navigate through the ever growing construction of homes in South Florida.  There are wildlife refuges for panthers to live in, but their actual territory is much larger, and even in refuges they can be hit by cars. The panther currently occupies only 5 percent of its former range.

Florida panthers are the larger of Florida’s two native cat species (panthers and bobcats). The Florida panther is an endangered population of the cougar (Puma concolor) that lives in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, and mixed swamp forests of South Florida in the United States, according to Wikipedia.

Panthers are listed as an Endangered Species under the Endangered Species Act.  There are approximately 120-230 adult panthers in the population, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).  There has been some progress in increasing the panther population since the 1970s and 1980s, when it was estimated only 20 to 30 panthers remained in Florida.

As the human population of Florida continues to grow, panthers will find it harder to find a place to live.  Twenty-one million people currently live in Florida; 16 million lived in Florida in 2000. It is one of the fastest growing states and is the third most populous. People are attracted to Florida because of its climate and long coastline, and I can’t blame them.  I enjoyed a month there this year.  Along with Hawaii, Florida is one of only two states that has a tropical climate, and is the only continental U.S. state with a tropical climate. It is also the only continental U.S. state with a coral reef named the Florida Reef.  Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 kilometers).

In 1982, the Florida panther was chosen as the Florida state animal.

Florida Panther Population Update.

About the Florida Panther.

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Marvelous Milkweed

A Gulf Fritillary Butterfly sips nectar from a Swamp Milkweed flower.

Over the years, I’ve planted many plants in my backyard to attract and feed butterflies with mixed results.  I’m lucky to have a lot of tall trees in my yard, but that also makes my little plot of land less than ideal for a butterfly garden.  I only have full sunlight for a few hours a day. Also, my garden adjoins the “rough” of a golf course, and those plants, including poison ivy,  invade my garden. Still, I get a few butterfly visitors who lay their eggs on my plants.

Ten years ago, I planted some Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), which grew vigorously, but the Monarch butterflies, which require milkweed, ignored it. Instead they preferred the tropical milkweed, which must be planted every year.  Perhaps the Monarchs were dreaming of their species’ winter quarters in Mexico.  So I  pulled out most of the swamp milkweed from my garden and dutifully planted tropical milkweed every year.

Swamp Milkweed in the rough of a golf course.

Since being mostly banished from my garden (because it takes up so much space), the Swamp Milkweed has now moved into and prospered in the rough of the adjoining golf course, where it is even vanquishing the poison ivy.  Hurrah! I hope the Monarch butterflies find this ever growing patch of Swamp Milkweed and don’t ignore it this time. There are beautiful blooms to sip from and huge leaves to lay eggs on, a great source of caterpillar food. Let us hope the golf course groundskeeper won’t mow it down.

To learn more about Monarch Butterflies, which are dwindling in numbers due to loss of habitat due to herbicides and other factors, go to Monarch Watch and Monarch Watch Blog.

Here’s on of my posts about Monarch Butterflies: How You Can Help Monarch Butterflies. Use my search box to find more on my blog.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on a Swamp Milkweed.


Swamp Milkweed has escaped my garden and is now flourishing in the rough area of the adjoining golf course.

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Filed under Biology, Butterflies, Gardening, Kansas, Photography

The Smallest Post Office in the United States

Customers visit the Ochopee, Florida, Post Office.

Traveling on Highway 41 in southern Florida, if you don’t blink, you’ll see the smallest post office in the United States. The 7- by 8-foot building, formerly a storage shed for irrigation equipment to water tomato plants, now houses a fully functioning post office.

Ochopee, Florida, Post Office Historical Sign.

The shed was pressed into service after a fire in 1952 destroyed the Ochopee general store, which previously had housed the post office. The post office is in Big Cypress National Preserve.

The building is small, but the Ochopee mail route is large, covering three counties and is about 132 miles long, according to Roadside America.

 

Ochopee, Florida, Post Office, Smallest in U.S. Postcard

Click on the thumbnail to see the full-size photograph.

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Key Lime Pie

Image may contain: dessert and food

Key Lime Pie is on almost every menu in Florida.  The original version with meringue is more difficult to find.  The more available version uses whipped cream, which is easier to serve.   My husband and I found the meringue key lime pie at the Key Lime Pie Factory on Tavernier Island just west of Key Largo. It was delicious! You can buy slices and whole pies, as well as a wide range of key lime flavored treats, including frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate on a stick

Key Lime Pie is thought to have been invented in Key West by “Aunt Sally,” the talented cook of William Curry, a prominent Key West resident and Bahamian-born immigrant who became Florida’s first millionaire. In the late 1800s, Aunt Sally used ingredients available on the island, which is at the end of the Florida Keys archipelago — easy to store sweetened condensed milk in a can (no cows anywhere near the island), local eggs (there are chickens everywhere on Key West) and the locally grown key limes.  Key limes are yellowish when ripe and are smaller and have more seeds than the bright green limes you commonly find in the grocery store throughout the United States.  In the original recipe, egg yolks go into the filling, and the egg whites are whipped into a meringue topping. More commonly now, restaurants and bakeries skip the meringue and use whipped cream, but the Key Lime Pie Factory in Tavernier Island in the Florida Keys still creates its pies with meringue.

History of Key Lime Pie.

Authentic Key Lime Pie Recipe.

What Makes a Key Lime So Special.

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The Miraculous Stairway in the Loretto Chapel

 

Loretto Chapel Miraculous Stairway, Santa Fe, N.M. Poster

The Miraculous Stairway in the Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

I took these photographs in April 2014 when I visited the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The chapel is famous for its “miraculous” staircase. The staircase has two 360-degree turns and no visible means of support.

When the church was completed in 1878, there wasn’t enough room for conventional stairs, and the Sisters of Loretto didn’t want to climb a ladder in the long skirts of their habits. They prayed for a miracle, the legend goes, and a mysterious carpenter came, who built the staircase. He asked for no pay and disappeared as mysteriously as he came. His identity is still unknown, and even some of his methods in building the freestanding spiral stairway have not been discerned, so it is indeed a miracle still. To read more about the Loretto Chapel and its staircase, click on the links beneath the photographs.

The bottom link is about Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy (October 11, 1814 – February 13, 1888). The archbishop commissioned the building of the Loretto Chapel. He was a French Roman Catholic prelate who served as the first Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the United States. The American writer Willa Cather’s novel “Death Comes for the Archbishop” is based on his life and career.

The miraculous staircase leads to the choir loft at the back of the Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

Musicians practice for Holy Week events at the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in this photograph from April 2014.

 

The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was designed by French architect Antoine Mouly in the Gothic Revival style, complete with spires, buttresses, and stained glass windows imported from France.

 

About the Loretto Chapel Staircase

About the Loretto Chapel

About Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy

Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy Statue Postcard

Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy

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Jacksonville, Texas — Tomato Capital of the World

Customized concrete tomatoes in Jacksonville, Texas, the “Tomato Capital of the World.”

Jacksonville, Texas, was once known as the Tomato Capital of the World in the 1930’s. The town still celebrates its tomato history with a Tomato Fest the second Saturday each June with many activities, including a tomato eating contest, tomato peeling contest, tomato packing contest, best home grown tomato contest, tomato archery — you get the picture! All things tomato. More than 200 vendors sell tomatoes.

A metal flamingo and a concrete tomato hang out at a Jacksonville, Texas, restaurant.

Visitors can take a tour of the at least 175 concrete tomatoes throughout the city, which were sold to businesses and other institutions in the city by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce to promote its tomato history.

It’s fun to see how each business and public office decorated its tomato, each of which weigh 665 pounds. A Dairy Queen tomato looks like an ice cream cone, a business with a tropical decor decorated its concrete tomato to look like a beach ball, the McDonald’s tomato looks like a box of french fries. Other businesses feature their logos on the tomato.

Love’s Lookout Park is north of Jacksonville, Texas, and is worth a visit, especially if you’re on your way to or from Tyler. The park features a landscaped rest stop, a great view and concrete tomatoes.

About Jacksonville, Texas, Tomato Fest.

See more tomatoes at Love’s Lookout Park, north of Jacksonville.
Love’s Lookout Park.

Jacksonville, Texas, Tomato Capital of the World.

Jacksonville, Texas, the Tomato Capital.

In the fall, this Jacksonville produce stand featured tomatoes along with pumpkins.

Click on the thumbnails to see a full size of each photo.

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The Hoggs of Texas

The Jim and Sallie Hogg Honeymoon Cottage is located in the Governor Jim Hogg Park in Quitman, Texas, which was the first home of Governor and Sallie Hogg (Sarah Ann Leannah Stinson).

Americans might not know the names of many governors from states other than their own, especially not from decades ago, but Governor James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg (March 24, 1851 – March 3, 1906) of Texas could be an exception. Hogg was known to be a great governor, but non-Texans might recognize his name from the name he gave his only daughter: Ima.  Some joked that he had a second daughter named Ura, but Ima had only brothers, who had ordinary names — Will, Mike and Tom.

Ima’s name was taken from The Fate of Marvin, an epic poem written by her uncle Thomas Hogg.  Ima (July 10, 1882 – August 19, 1975) didn’t like her name, and had no middle name, so she often used only her first initial.   As soon as he heard of his new granddaughter’s odd name, Ima’s maternal grandfather raced to his son-in-law’s house to protest, but Ima had already been christened. She never married and kept her last name until she died.

Ima Hogg, around 1900, from Wikipedia.

Ima was known as “The First Lady of Texas.” She was an American society leader, philanthropist, patron and collector of the arts, and one of the most respected women in Texas during the 20th century,  Her father  was a lawyer, state attorney general and the 20th Governor of Texas.  He was the first Texas governor to have been born in Texas and was governor from 1891 to 1895.  I first thought of writing about Jim Hogg when I saw a highway named after him near Tyler, Texas, which I often visit.  Other places in Texas are named for him, too.

 Jim Hogg County in southern Texas is named after him.  There is a Jim Hogg Historic Site near Rusk, Hogg’s birthplace.

In 1906, Governor Hogg asked that a pecan tree be planted at his grave instead of a traditional headstone, requesting that the seeds be distributed throughout the state to make Texas a “Land of Trees”.  His wish was carried out and this brought more attention to pecan trees. In 1919, the 36th Texas Legislature made the pecan tree the state tree of Texas.  The Texas town of  San Saba claims to be “The Pecan Capital of the World.”

Governor Jim Hogg became his political career in Wood County, a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 41,964. Its county seat is Quitman. The county was named for George T. Wood, governor of Texas from 1847 to 1849.

Wood County Courthouse, Quitman, Texas.

 

To learn about the Hogg family’s contributions to the state of Texas, as well as what Ima thought about her unusual name, click on these links:

About Ima Hogg of Texas.

About Texas Governor Jim Hogg.

About Governor Jim Hogg Park in Quitman, Texas.

Jim Hogg Historic Site, Rusk, Texas.

About The Jim Hogg Highway, near Mineola, Texas.

Another famous name associated with Quitman, Texas, is the actress Sissy Spacek, who was born in the town and has a street there named after her.

A street in Quitman, Texas, is named for the actress Sissy Spacek, a native of the town.

Click on any thumbnail to see a larger size of the photo.

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