Page 1


spring 2011



home of crossstitch



Vol. V / No. I I

from the editor

Spring 2011


Nathan Pettengill

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. You might recognize these words from the Tanach or the Bible, specifically the section that many Jews refer to as Shir HaShirim and many Christians refer to as Song of Solomon 2:11-12, in this case from the English language King James Version. Regardless of the source, the words alone are a beautiful tribute to spring … and even more so this year in Topeka after our particularly brutal winter. These words also inspired Topeka artist Anita Boatright (pictured below on this page and whose work and business are profiled on page 16 of this issue) to create an original cross-stitch art. Boatright translated these words onto her cashel linen canvas as a blossoming tree towering over a saltbox home, a spring garden and three raucous turtledoves flinging themselves about the air underneath a warm sun. For our magazine, she stitched in the “TOPEKA” masthead for the final cover image. Though it’s not particularly important to Boatright’s work of art, one part of the passage struck me as amusingly appropriate in the context of this spring edition—an edition that focuses on how spring weather affects everything from a bumper pepper crop (p. 20), to newborn raccoons (p. 28), to a lily-pad garden (p. 50) and even

designer / Art Director

Shelly Bryant COPY EDITOR

susie fagan advertising representative

to cross-country Harley rides with a fire hydrant in tow (p. 40). The original Hebrew version of the Song of Solomon text, confirms Rabbi Debbie Stiel of Topeka’s Temple Beth Sholom, unquestionably refers to “the voice of the turtledove,” not to the “voice of the turtle.” Indeed, the “turtledove” translation is the preferred version for most modern biblical translations, adds Washburn University religion professor Barry Crawford. Correct, but perhaps not as poetic. If the King James Version has an error or an ambiguity, it is a phrasing that makes me smile when I imagine a turtle somewhere along the Shunganunga Creek sticking out its head and singing for joy that spring has arrived. After all, birds can fly south for the winter, but the turtles have stuck with us for the long, cold times. Certainly, they know better how we feel once spring arrives. We hope this edition of Topeka Magazine helps you welcome the season among all the flowers that will appear on the earth and all the turtles that will make themselves heard.


Nathan Pettengill

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kathy lafferty (785) 224-9992 Ad Designer

Janella L. Williams chief Photographer

jason dailey contributing Photographer

bill stephens Contributing Writers

julie k. buzbee anita miller fry stacey jo geier KIM GRONNIGER CAROLYN KABERLINE Cheryl Nelsen Karen Ridder christine steinkuehler debra Guiou stufflebean GENERAL MANAGER

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faryle scott

Editor For subscription information, please contact:

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Topeka Magazine is a publication of Sunflower Publishing, a division of The World Company.

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Photo montage of Topeka Magazine masthead and The Song of Solomon, adapted and designed by Shelly Bryant. The “Topeka” masthead is copyright Sunflower Publishing, adapted and stitched (silk thread on cashel linen) by Anita Boatright. Song of Solomon is an original cross-stitch (silk thread on cashel linen) designed, stitched and copyright by Boatright. {Photography by Bill Stephens}



16 Home is Where the Cross-Stitch is

32 Casting the Cabaret

Talent and family come together for new nightlife performances

50 Ann’s Garden

A landscaper known for large-scale projects cultivates a well-nourished perspective for her life and home garden


In Every Issue

03 From the Editor 62 events calendar

DEPARTMENTS .............

topeka businesses

8 A Belgian Shade of White Retailer set to expand her customized line of home décor

12 His friend, Art

Framer and gallery owner Gary Blitsch wants you to meet someone

16 Home is Where the Cross-Stitch Is

Storeowner creates a cozy center for art, advice and crafty inspiration .............


20 Pepper Guy

Norman Hodge has perfected the pepper—from mild to hot

28 Rescued

Each spring, and throughout the year, a core of trained, dedicated volunteers saves the lives of hundreds of vulnerable baby animals .............

Home LIfe

40 Yard Art of a Hydrant Kind

Claude Belshe is on his way to decorating his yard’s perimeter with 100 fire hydrants

42 The House After

Couple transform a nuclear missile silo into their personal, post-Cold War oasis .............

24 ‘Of People They’ve Lost’ A military historian honors his father and veterans by sharing his personal collection



local flavor

44 Sesquicentennial Table Topeka chefs offer dishes linked to Kansas history


For the Family


What do you do with your best, earliest friends? Here are some ideas and advice for celebrating a childhood rite of passage


8 White x White

A Belgian

shade of white Retailer set to expand her customized line of home décor


hen Kristen White was 5 years old, she enjoyed tapping out purchases with play money on a toy cash register in her kindergarten class. During the summers, she would often linger around a real cash register, where her grandmother worked in a small-town general store. Kristen would sometimes spend her stash of real coins there, buying bone china figurines for her siblings. That fascination with decorating continued into high school when her Christmas list included an Oriental rug. Kristen’s background of retail savvy and design sophistication would not surprise Topekans who have known her for the past 24 years as proprietor of Gallery Classic, a popular antiques and home furnishing store on Topeka Boulevard. Nor would it surprise many that after nearly a quartercentury of retail, Kristen is unafraid to set off on a new venture. This year, she and her husband, Bob, are turning their attention to their growing customized wholesale line of decorative items and furniture, the White x White (pronounced “white by white”) collection. For Kristen, it is a culmination of her lifelong interests and growing expertise in Belgian-style décor.

Pretty things

Kristen sums up her approach to design succinctly: “I love pretty things, and I want other people to be able to appreciate them too.”



After years of retail, Kristen White is focusing on her original décor designs.

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10 White x White

For several years, she found many of her pretty things in inexpensive, unexpected places. “I discovered I could find older pieces for less money than new that had history and character. I started going to auction and estate sales and acquiring and upgrading my own collection of furnishings, which then led to finding a way to sell the surplus pieces through a retail store since there was no eBay back then,” she says. With her clients, Kristen preached the same decorating advice that she practiced at home: be creative and assess purposes. “We switch things around, take items off shelves in the bedroom and rearrange them on a buffet in the living room,” she says. “You can trade out items or upgrade pieces, but you don’t have to get rid of everything to create a new look. You just need to mix it up.” Even Kristen’s longtime retail location, a barn at 3400 SW Topeka Blvd., was an example of her approach to design and use. Built in 1907, the dairy barn became an English Tudor-style country club in 1920. Popular groups such as the Tommy Dorsey band and other swing sensations played periodically there until the 1950s. When Kristen purchased the structure, she left the original upstairs dance floor intact for her showroom. Developing a Belgian style

As Kristen transformed her Kansas showroom with exquisite, antique European furnishings, she became enamored of Belgian pieces. Regular sojourns, at first up to four times each year and then reduced to annual two-week trips, followed a grueling purchasing schedule involving packed sandwiches and pre-dawn rides down back roads to meet dealers. Despite the daunting hours, the Whites reveled in the excitement of the unexpected score. “We love to explore and unearth treasures, and we’re not too concerned about



Over the years of designing, Kristen’s tastes have come to focus on décor with clean lines and soft colors. These are the materials she features in her new White x White collection.

taking a wrong turn here and there since we intentionally avoid the typical tourist route most people prefer,” Kristen says. “We’ve bought pieces from a family barn in a field in the middle of nowhere and have seen wonderful castles and scenery along the way.” She captured her experiences in a guide she hopes to eventually publish that will include her photographs and practical tips for antiquing in Belgium. And the trips introduced her to a décor style that resonated with her own. “Belgian style is about repurposing, discovering something you love and then using it in an entirely different way,” Kristen says. “An old door can become a tabletop, or a doorless chest can become an open bookcase. That’s popular in the United States now, but it’s been done in Belgium for years and years.” The Belgian style began to influence her own designs. In 2008, she began White Haute, a line of home décor for a Los Angelesbased importer, and in late 2010 she debuted the White x White collection, which features items from reclaimed wood, recycled iron and sustainable materials such as natural willow. “It’s a very Earth-friendly green line with a Belgian style, very neutral with grays and soft colors,” explains Kristen. “You don’t get your color from the products. You get your color from flowers, pillows or décor items you add.” Late this spring, Kristen and Bob plan to close most of their retail operations, moving to a storage and small display section at Forbes Field. Giving up her cash register might have disappointed a certain budding, 5-year-old retailer, but the realization of her personal wholesale line is a dream come true. “I love product design,” she says, “and this is the natural progression of everything I’ve been doing in my life.”


Gallery Classic / White x White Through May 7, Gallery Classic remains open at 3400 SW Topeka Blvd. from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, visit www.galleryclassic. com or call (785) 266-5888. Kristen and Bob White’s online store is open at Kristen chronicles her trips to Belgium and the development of her White x White collection on her blog, This site will also have the contact information and hours for their new White x White retail space, set to open in Topeka by late summer.



12 TOPEKA BUSINESSES Framewoods and SouthWind Gallery

His friend,


Framer and gallery owner Gary Blitsch wants you to meet someone


f you don’t know him, you might know “Art,” his alter ego. Art is that bespectacled, beret-wearing, wooden stand-up mascot for Framewoods and SouthWind Gallery. Art’s the mysterious, silent type whose color tones are decidedly sophisticated and whose scarf is tied around his neck in a rakish attitude, appropriate for an art gallery mascot. But most strikingly, Art is a slightly slimmer, slightly shorter, slightly more Gallic and supremely more stiff version of the inordinately more personable Gary Blitsch, owner of Framewoods and SouthWind Gallery.

Gary Blitsch with “Art.”

Here’s how Gary met art, and then Art. In 1992, once he had already patched together the résumé combination of a Navy quartermaster (navigation and visual signaling) and a finance banker, Gary saw nothing comparably incongruous with his midlife decision to switch careers and buy a frame shop.



We asked Gary to select his three favorite views of Topeka and show each of them to us with one of his frames selected for that location. Gary holds a frame showing the Topeka skyline, looking west from Interstate-70. “This was how we would first see Topeka coming back from family trips to Iowa,” says Gary. “The ‘Queen of the Plains,’ we called her.”

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14 TOPEKA BUSINESSES Framewoods and SouthWind Gallery

From that point, as proprietor of Framewoods, Gary was in the business of art—or at least one of those industries that revolved around art. “It was strictly a frame shop; there wasn’t any art activity,” recalls Gary. At least not any art activity initiated on his side of the business. A frame shop is in the unique position of being on the receiving end of art representing all types and tastes. Art is in the eye of the customer who walks through the door carrying a striking oil landscape of the Flint Hills or a color-by-number, velvet-bordered, dogsplaying-poker print. They love it. You frame it. But the daily exposure to those unfilled frames allowed Gary’s mind to muse on what he would want to see in them. And there was his former training as a banker whispering into his ear. “What the banking business teaches,” says Gary, “is that you have the idea that you need to create the circle where one part of the operation brings in the other. We thought if we had art in here, it would feed the framing operation, and the framing operation would feed the art sales.” Following this line of thought, he opened a separate portion of his shop, SouthWind Gallery, in 1997. It also had frames, but it concentrated on the art inside them. He began by championing local artists and expanded to representing large names in local and Kansas art such as Stan Herd, Judy Mackey and Kwan Wu. Promoting the work of his artists, Gary says he eventually discovered that the

This site was a view of central Topeka from Burnett’s Mound.

world of frames and fine art were entirely separate. To this day, the frame shop and gallery remain approximately equal revenue generators under the same roof but distinct operations with Gary, his wife, Sharon Hotchkiss, and his staff moving between the two businesses as needed. Moving between two operations, however, became good training for what Gary eventually settled on as his role in promoting art in Topeka. The former Navy guy, former banker, sometimes framer and sometimes gallery owner has emerged very much as a matchmaker for art—introducing artists to buyers and creating events where those two worlds meet. His regular First Fridays showings are designed to entertain crowds with events such as in-house sculpting performances. “Otherwise,” explains Gary, “people will

Gary shows off the North Topeka skyline from the dining area of Top of the Tower, 534 S. Kansas Ave.




Framewoods of Topeka and SouthWind Gallery 3074 SW 29th St. (785) 273-5994 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday just have a cookie and go—this gets them to stay and really appreciate the art.” And recently, he has helped spearhead plans for this summer’s monthlong, citywide celebration of the arts and Kansas history, called “Savor Kansas.” Gary also champions “a personal connection to art.” That personal connection includes introducing young artists to their peers and encouraging them to learn from established artists and introducing potential patrons to new works and the artists who create them. You have to “show, teach, introduce and cultivate” people to art and the artists, explains Gary. His goal is that patrons will “know who these people [the artists] are, know what they are like … and get acquainted with them.” The friendly matchmaking isn’t always successful, and meeting art, Gary cautions, is not always love at first sight. “Sometimes they like them, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they buy, sometimes they don’t,” says Gary. “But it’s all part of the process of cultivating art.”

3400 SW Topeka Blvd. Topeka, Kansas

(785) 266-5888 Hours: Monday Friday 10:00 5:30 Saturday 10:00 5:00 email:

16 TOPEKA BUSINESSES The Sunflower Seed

home is where the

cross-stitch is Storeowner creates a cozy center for art, advice and crafty inspiration


hree-year-old Daisy greets visitors to The Sunflower Seed with wagging tail and mischievous eyes. As soon as a customer enters the store, the young beagle quickly pushes around a stuffed blue toy, signaling she’s ready to play. “This is only her third day here,” shop owner Anita Boatright says. “Betsy has been coming to work with me for six years,” she adds, indicating the white cockapoo preening in the corner.


The Sunflower Seed 4004 SW Huntoon St. (785) 228-0588 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday Boatright has been coming to her store north of Gage Shopping Center for 11 years, ever since her cross-stitch hobby outgrew her house. “I had a garage full of furnishings, and my husband said to either do something with it or get rid of it,” Boatright explains. “It didn’t seem right that a city of this size shouldn’t have a cross-stitch store, so I started contacting distributors. From there it just grew and grew. I bought stuff as I could afford it.” Anita Boatright displays her original work, The Song of Solomon, at her cross-stitch gallery and supply store in Topeka.



STORY BY Carolyn Kaberline | PHOTOGRAPHY BY bill stephens


18 The Sunflower Seed


Initially, and sometimes to this day, Boatright will encounter confusion about her store’s name. She’s even had a few people call and inquire about the seeds she offers. Boatright says the idea of “The Sunflower Seed” came after months of thought. Drawing on her western Kansas roots, she says the name seemed a natural, pointing to the sunflower details throughout the shop. “This is where great ideas are planted,” she adds. A couple of years after opening the store, she began designing and selling her own patterns, many of which have won awards. “Someone came in looking for a pattern with a Bible verse,” Boatright says. “I did a search and couldn’t find anything for her. I started looking at other designs and decided I could do that just as well. Now I can’t imagine not doing it.” Boatright says her patterns, currently numbering 150 or so, begin with an idea and progress to the actual design, followed by color selection and pattern charting. Finally, instructions have to be written before the pattern is submitted to a distributor. While she does offer a few cross-stitch kits in the store, she refers to her patterns as “build your own kit” projects, as she sells the designs and materials needed to finish a product. By doing it this way, the cross-stitcher has a choice of linen colors, thread types and embellishments, something that can’t be done with a traditional kit. While customers from Australia, France, Italy and Canada shop The Sunflower Seed online, those who visit the store in person—some from as far away as Texas and South Carolina—find the patterns and completed samples prominently displayed in the store along with many unique furnishings. These include a claw-foot bathtub, an antique blue and white stove, old-time student desks and antique Singer sewing machines. Other items, such as a child’s tricycle and little red wagon, bring back childhood memories, while shelves from a dry-goods store in Everest hold handdyed linens in a multitude of colors. There are also butcher block tables, antique oil TOPEKAMAGAZINE Spring 2011

Boatright, below, began cross-stitching as a young mother who was looking to fill in the short segments of free time when her child was napping. That hobby turned into a full-time business selling supplies and patterns, left, as well as Boatright’s own creations, top.


For the majority of retailers in the United States, the Christmas season is the busiest time of year. But for the cross-stitching world, the rush season is just about to begin. “If you’re going to make cross-stitched Christmas gifts, you have to start in July and August,” says Anita Boatright, owner of The Sunflower Seed. And for Boatright’s personal design work, the holiday rush begins even earlier. “I’m always designing something,” she says, adding that her Kansas Christmas series contains some of her most popular offerings. “The 10th one, which is supposed to be the last, will be out next year, and everyone says I must do another. One’s got a tractor on it. One has a cow; another, a grain elevator, and there are also pig and rooster ones.”

19 The Sunflower Seed

CrossStitching’s Most Magical Time of theYear


cans and metal suitcases strategically placed throughout the store, with an antique cash register used to ring up purchases. While Boatright found many of these props at garage sales and auctions, customers have brought in items as well. “They’ll say, ‘I found this in a garage sale and thought you needed it,’” Boatright explains. Boatright, in turn, passes on advice and expertise to her customers. She offered cross-stitch lessons in the past and now often provides one-on-one tutoring. She has plans to present classes as well. While the majority of her customer-students are in the 30- to 60-year-old range, she has some clients in their 20s and a few in their 80s. She even has helped a few male customers over the years who tout the relaxation that crossstitch provides. “It’s a great stress reliever. You’re not thinking of anything but what you’re working on,” says Boatright. “If I couldn’t see, I’d have to teach the dog to stitch. I’d have to have a stitching-eye dog. I’d have to do it somehow.”

20 NOTABLES Norman Hodge

Pepper Guy Norman Hodge has perfected the pepper— from mild to hot


Norman Hodge shows off a bumper crop of peppers grown in his southeast Topeka garden.



n each of the past 23 years, Norman Hodge regularly picks a peck of peppers in his southeast Topeka garden. But they aren’t pickled. His wife, Jenny, takes care of that. Beside pickling them, she turns Norman’s enormous crop of peppers into other edible delights such as stuffed peppers seasoned with tomatoes and garlic, colorful pepper salad, casseroles and salsas. Topeka’s pepper guy is really fairly modest when it comes to talking about his peppers. He gestures to the pepper presentation he has created on the back of a flatbed truck—peppers in rich shades of green, yellow, red, orange, ivory and purple burgeoning from the unique baskets he has arranged so they fill the truckbed. “This really wasn’t a good year for peppers,” he says of the bountiful display. For Norman, the crop may have been smaller than usual, but it was still an incredible sight. In a good year, he can fill the lower level of his barn with peppers. “Some people in Kansas think it is very hard to grow peppers, but it’s really not,” Norman says. But Norman is no typical pepper grower. He picks his pepper seed varieties through the winter months and then, come spring, nurtures the seeds into seedlings on his enclosed porch. He selects exotic varieties as well as those that are tried and true in Kansas and plants the young pepper varieties in rich soil near Shungaanunga Creek, in a garden that Norman regularly tends with his favorite hoe. His garden contains tomatoes, onions, carrots, beets, green beans, herbs and flowers, but mostly peppers. Norman grows from 75 to 100 varieties each year. He likes to try peppers from different countries and says many of the peppers he grows are bred in the Netherlands and produce well in Kansas. The Italian varieties, for example, are good for stir-fry “or any kind of Italian dish.” The Hungarian peppers, which he describes as “real, real mild,” are best for stuffing.

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22 NOTABLES Norman Hodge

He prefers to eat the mildest peppers and points to the Gypsy sweet peppers, which surpass the flavor of the traditional green bell pepper that most Midwesterners eat. Norman says he likes to grow peppers because they are such a prolific, clean-looking plant. Most years he puts in about 2,000 plants. Those that he and Jenny don’t eat or freeze go to family and friends, and he occasionally sells them at the midweek farmer’s market at the library or Statehouse or donates them to community organizations. “I find that a lot of people in Kansas don’t know a lot about peppers. They only know the green bell pepper,” says Norman, who spends time at the market educating people about peppers. “They don’t know what an Italian pepper is or what kinds I have.” Norman also feeds some of his peppers to his chickens, which provide the manure used to fertilize the garden each fall. It’s really a kind of chicken-and-egg situation, according to Norman. The family started raising chickens because of a son’s 4-H project, and Norman discovered that the manure was great for peppers. It’s come full circle, with the eggs from the chickens serving as a welcome byproduct of the fertilizer he needs for the peppers. The Hodges find that they and their pepper concoctions are welcome at their many activities, including danc...........................................................................................................................................

in Kansas think it is very hard to grow peppers, but it’s really not.” “Some people


Norman’s Slices of Pepper Advice * Peppers are ready to eat when they have a shiny gloss to them. When a pepper is fully ripe, it will change colors. They should be eaten or processed within 10 days. * Extra peppers can be frozen. Wash and clean them, then cut them into strips before putting them in the freezer in a freezerproof container.

–­Norman Hodge es and church events. Norman served four years in the U.S. Air Force, including a year in Korea. Retired from teaching, he now works at the Kansas Museum of History. Along with the bounty of the year’s pepper crop, Norman passes along his gardening expertise to his children and grandchildren. The Hodges have four sons— Chris in Dover, Scott in Topeka, Tim in Newton and Garran in Shawnee—and nine grandchildren. Tim and Garran are gardeners, and several of the grandchildren come over and help Norman in the garden. Even though growing conditions in a given year may not be optimal, Norman cultivates a philosophy about his peppers. “A farmer always has to think positive to the next year,” he says. With an abundance of peppers, Norman and wife Jenny Hodge share much of their crop with families and friends and occasionally sell them at the midweek farmer’s market in Topeka.




While Norman grows the peppers, Jenny collects pepper recipes. She finds many uses for peppers, from frying to stuffing to roasting to making paprika from a paprika pepper. She’s been making her famous pepper salad for 10 years, since she and Norman began attending potluck Thursday night ballroom dances at Croco Square.

Jenny Hodge’s Famous Pepper Salad 5 Italian variety yellow peppers 5 Italian variety green peppers 5 Italian variety red peppers ½ red onion ¾ cup sugar substitute ½ cup red wine vinegar ¼ scant cup olive oil ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning ¼ teaspoon basil 1 garlic clove, minced Salt to taste Pepper to taste Slice peppers and onions. Combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Norman and Jenny enjoy the bounty of their home garden.

24 NOTABLES Jim Nelson

‘Of People They’ve Lost’ A military historian honors his father and veterans by sharing his personal collection


Jim Nelson, above, turned his interest in military history into a public museum exhibit featuring historical scenes such as a bunker, top right.



im Nelson moved to Topeka in 2002 to become director of admissions for the Washburn University School of Law. Soon after the move, while painting a third-floor turret, he fell from a ladder and broke his back. Then, his wife, Nancy, was diagnosed with cancer. By 2006, his wife of 30 years was dead and his 30-year career in university administration was ended. For strength through that time, Jim looked at the World War II uniform once worn by his father and the shadow box displaying his father’s medals of valor to remember the courage his father had as a Japanese Prisoner of War. Corporal John Tillman Nelson was captured in the Philippines after the Battle of Corregidor on May 6, 1942. He endured jaundice, malaria and broken bones. Forced to work in a copper mine, he welded without goggles and was blind by the time he was released three and a half years later. It was his father’s legacy, perhaps, that had always spurred Jim’s interest in military history. Jim lived with artifacts he had collected from the time he was 8 years old, such as a Nazi flag, a 1902 American officer’s sword and a thumb-size “devil-dog” bomb, which was a piece of lead with fins. But what brought him the most comfort and inspired his writing were the old uniforms of his father, the World War I uniform of his godfather and the uniform his sister gave him after her fiancé was killed in Vietnam. The uniforms meant much more than the military history they represented; they preserved memories of family loved ones. At that same time, shortly after 2002, members of the Burlingame Historical Preservation Society learned of Jim’s expertise and military collection. They had recently converted the Schuyler Grade School into a research center and museum to showcase the town’s rich history on the Santa Fe Trail. Exhibits included a simulated one-room schoolhouse, an extensive arrowhead collection and a 1938 fire truck. Would Jim, they offered, like an area for his collection?

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26 NOTABLES Jim Nelson


his father’s legacy, perhaps, that had always spurred Jim’s interest in

It was

Jim collects individual military items like these hats, left, but he says he prefers to present an ensemble of articles, such as full uniforms and equipment, below, to help people “have a sense of what a soldier or sailor looked like.”

military history.

The result was Jim’s creation of “The Veterans Tribute” exhibit representing all branches of service using primarily original militaria, with few reproductions. Glass-encased dioramas staged combat with model ships, aircraft and tanks. One closet became a replica bunker, another closet housed a WWII U.S. Army tent. Uniformed mannequins from the American Revolution to the present campaign in Afghanistan were outfitted with helmets, knives, cooking utensils and any other things soldiers would have carried. When asked if there was anything that he would like to get his hands on for his collection, Jim says, “I’d like to find more Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I artifacts at prices I can afford. Dealers have really driven up prices in these areas, now bordering on astronomical.” When collectors do not participate in resale, it can put a pretty hefty dent in the pocket. Guns used in the Civil War can start at a minimum of $1,000, as does a WWII M-1. Jim says a working Browning automatic rifle costs a minimum of $3,000, and a Thompson submachine gun costs $7,000. But for the museum collection, Jim prefers to concentrate on the wider perspective instead of particular items removed from context. “Many antique dealers will strip down uniforms and cut off buttons and patches because they can make more money that way,” says Jim. “I see my role as putting things back together so people have a sense of what a soldier or sailor looked like and perhaps resurrecting memories of people they’ve lost.” After losing himself in a hobby, Jim has found happiness again. He loves honoring veterans and giving museum tours. He also recently remarried. He and his new bride, Jean Koch, will visit the Philippines this spring. There, he plans to put the finishing touches on his new book dedicated to his father’s war experience, The Rock and the Hard Place, which should be out later this year.




The exhibit …

Jim Nelson’s “The Veterans Tribute” can be seen at the Burlingame Schuyler Museum, 117 S. Dacotah St., Burlingame. Admission is free. The museum is open 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (785) 654-3170.

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28 NOTABLES Wildlife Rescue

Rescued Each spring, and throughout the year, a core of trained, dedicated volunteers saves the lives of hundreds of vulnerable baby animals


his January, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad employees found something unexpected lying on the top of a boxcar—an injured juvenile great horned owl. Not knowing how to deal with the wounded bird, they called the Northeast Kansas Wildlife Rescue hotline. Linda Hines, a rehabilitator for Wildlife Rescue, responded to the call, arrived on the scene and covered the bird with a sheet until it could be taken to Gage Animal Hospital, where volunteer veterinarian Dr. Robert H. Shipman, Jr. treated a gouge in the owl’s breast. “Those men in the rail yard went out of their way to take care of this bird,” recalls Linda. “It was so good to see big, grown men caring about a little animal.” The rescue was only the first step. After treatment, the owl was placed in the hands of a volunteer rehabilitator. After 15 days, the owl began showing guarded improvement. This spring, if his cracked pelvis heals, the owl will be released back to the wild. This baby owl is only one of the 1,500 to 2,000 injured or orphaned animals rescued or treated each year by Northeast Kansas Wildlife Rescue. During the birthing season from April to July, volunteers field as many as 50 calls daily, passing on advice and crucial information that has enabled them to reach an average successful rescue rate of 50 to 60 percent. When the Topeka-region volunteers are not caring for or rescuing animals, they are often out in the public, educating people about wildlife—and the sometimes dangerous (for animals) overlap of critters and people. The volunteers must complete an introduction to wildlife rehabilitation class offered by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council in addition to in-house training given by the organization. Of the 24 volunteers in the organization, 16 are rehabilitators. Others maintain the hotline or pick up and deliver animals to rehabilitators. Dependent on donations, pro bono veterinarian services and volunteers, the organization faces constant money issues. Marty

This barred owl was treated by Northeast Kansas Wildlife Rescue in spring 2010.



STORY BY Cheryl Nelsen | PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jason Dailey

30 NOTABLES Wildlife Rescue


Birrell, biologist and head of the group’s wildlife rehabilitation program, says she would love for the all-volunteer organization to have the resources necessary for someone to organize fundraising efforts. Volunteers understand that donations will be used to buy formula and medications and to pay for X-rays, but when those run out, expenses are paid out-of-pocket, Marty says. “Just doing the animal care is a huge consumption of time, and people are trying to juggle their jobs and their families and their animal care,” Marty says. But sometimes, caring for animals becomes part of a family’s time together. Jim Browning and his daughter Abigail, a student at Kansas State University, both have state and federal care licenses. Jim, manager of three concrete block plants, has been taking care of animals for the rescue group for about 10 years. Because Jim lives in a rural area, he can care for bigger animals in pens and release them back to nature from his home. “One time we were asked to raise a opossum to be used in a program to take to schools. We have seven kids, and we raised them and the opossum right in the house,” Jim says. The mission of local volunteers is to rescue Kansas wildlife, but occasionally exotic animals confiscated and pending court outcomes have been nurtured. One such animal Jim cared for was a 4-foot-long alligator. He kept it for a month in a fish tank and fed it five huge goldfish a week. “His disposition never changed. He tried to take you every time you came close,” Jim says. Other wildlife Jim has successfully rehabilitated include snow geese, owls, coyotes and red foxes. Marty says some rehabilitators like to specialize, while others like to have a little bit of everything. Linda, who rescued the owl stranded on the rail car, started as a rehabilitator by caring for a opossum crippled in its mother’s pouch. To this day, she doesn’t mind sharing her bathroom with tiny birds or opossums in cages on heating pads. Once the animals she cares for are older, she releases them in a prairie area west of Topeka. In the five years Linda has volunteered for Northeast Kansas Wildlife Rescue, she has cared for ducks, robins and rabbits, but she prefers opossums. Last year she rescued 50 opossums and cared for 33 at one time. “I love animals. Lots of people see opossums as hissing things, but they’re sweet. They’re like any other baby,” Linda says.


Wildlife volunteers often develop a specialization in treating a particular animal such as a robin, far left, a raccoon, left, a brood of chimney swifts, below, and oppossums, opposite page. All these animals were rescued and treated in spring 2010.


Who you gonna call? Several resources are available in the Topeka area to assist people who find orphaned or injured wildlife. But whether people contact a veterinarian or an animal hospital, the rescued wildlife often wind up in the hands of one of the 16 rehabilitators with Northeast Kansas Wildlife Rescue. Marty Birrell, head of the wildlife rehabilitation project, says the public often wants to be helpful but doesn’t always know what to do. One of the resources available through the organization is the hotline donated by Westar Energy. A phone call to (785) 575-1991 will connect a caller with trained volunteers who answer questions, give advice, make arrangements to have an animal picked up or assist the caller in getting an animal to a rehabilitator. Information from the volunteers is educational and helpful, but sometimes it is not what a caller prefers to hear. Keeping a wild bird or mammal as a pet is illegal in Kansas; therefore, hotline volunteers are not allowed to provide information about how to raise wildlife. Marty says a common question received over the hotline is what to do with a baby squirrel or skunk. Although they are cute, these young animals can be dangerous to people. “Baby skunks can pick up rabies through the uterus. Almost all the rabies in the state is found in skunks,” Marty says. Deer are another animal that local wildlife volunteers cannot accommodate. Because of chronic wasting disease, the state has requested that fawns not be rehabilitated. The wildlife rescue group has a website with more information at

The Talent:

Vicki Trembly Her Guild: Independent actor Her Role: Comedian Her Line: “We can be a little more edgy and outsidethe-box. The stage is small, and you can’t get too wild and fall off into somebody’s spaghetti, but it’s small enough that you get energy back from the audience.” Her Supporting Role: Waiter (with attitude)



Casting the

Cabaret Talent and family come together for new nightlife performances Story by Stacey Jo Geier Photography by Jason Dailey



The Talent:

Kayla Supon-Carter Her Guild: The Boa Brigade Her Role: Boa Brigade founder and performer Her Line: “[The Boa Brigade] is burlesque-y and lots of fun. We can do our show here on an easier timetable. The boa girls are all full-time students, and we have jobs. This gives us a creative outlet.” Her Supporting Role: Totally boa



Chris Schultz


Gourmet Cabaret Dinner Show

The Break Room - 911 S. Kansas Ave Regular Friday performances cost $22. Pre-performance cocktails begin at 6 p.m. Acts are not recommended for children. For more information about tickets and performances, call (785) 215-6633 or see

By day, the Break Room at 911 S. Kansas Ave. caters to downtown office workers with a breakfast buffet, a lunch menu featuring hot dogs and coffee drinks, and even a small section of convenience items such as gum, aspirin and duct tape. But come Friday night, “all this stuff goes away,” says owner Chris Schultz. “The furniture moves, the curtains move, and the space is transformed into a dinner cabaret theater.” Schultz says he wanted to start a dinner cabaret in Topeka for a long time. But only in 2009 did he discover that a chef and his talented circle of friends and family were the necessary magic blend to bring his Gourmet Cabaret Dinner Show to life.



The Talent:

Michelle Bryan Her Guild: Break Room staffer Her Role: Head Chef Her Line: “The concept behind my menu is tapas—small foods with a Spanish influence—and family-style Italian pastas.” Her Supporting Role: Brings a sense of perspective. This professionally trained chef also lived for a while in Tibet, where her kitchen had only a one-burner stove. “I learned how to be creative with food during that time,” explains Bryan.

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“My background is theater,” Schultz explains. “My brother Frank is in theater, and my sister Kim is an accountant. Mom is the glue that holds us all together. Add a chef and some willing performers, and we have a theater that wraps food, fun, entertainment and friends in one package.” Chef Michelle Bryan choreographs the dinner portion of the evening, serving her specialty tapas and adding Italian pasta dishes. While the menu changes based on Bryan’s innovations, the cabaret performances also vary from week to week based on who takes the stage. “Some folks in theater can’t commit to a three-month theater show, so we give them a creative outlet to get up on stage,” says Schultz. “They put their own acts together, and it serves as a creative workshop for them. It’s a special treat for our

The Talent:

Jesse Baker His Guild: Break Room staffer His Role: Bartender His Line: “We have some awesome, wonderful talented people singing, dancing and performing magic.” His Supporting Role: Makes coffee and runs the cash register during the day. Known to jump onto the cabaret stage at times and throw out a few stand-up jokes.

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The Talent:

Frank Schultz His Guild: Schultz family, older brother to Chris His Role: Show tune singer His Line: “I have made many friends from simply getting on stage and singing a song. I love to see people smile or even sing along with me. It makes me feel like a rock star.” His Supporting Role: Built the stage, designed the sound and light systems. If he’s not singing, he’s backstage with an apron helping cook meals.

guests to see performers they might not see otherwise.” But it’s hard to say exactly who has top billing. Various acts take the stage during the fivecourse meals while the wait staff often entertains between courses. “The food and entertainment are mingled,” says Schultz. “The food is part of the night. It’s what makes our venue unique.” The Gourmet Cabaret Dinner Show does announce the week’s main acts in advance, but Schultz suggests that guests prepare for variety and welcome the evening’s rhythm. “The show changes, the food changes. Every week you just don’t know what you are going to get,” says Schultz. “The shows are such a diverse mix of talent. We may have opera or jugglers. You just never know what will happen.”



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40 HOME LIFE Claude Belshe’s Hydrant Home

Yard Art of a Hydrant Kind Claude Belshe is on his way to decorating his yard’s perimeter with 100 fire hydrants


f you plant them, they will grow. That gardening truism evidently holds for Claude Belshe’s colorful fire hydrants—now at number 90 and counting—that provide some heavy metal beauty to his central Topeka yard at the corner of S.W. Fifth and Taylor streets. Claude’s hydrant collection includes many makes and models, bright colors and contrasting two-tones. There is the red, white and blue patriotic-themed hydrant, the crimson and blue University of Kansas hydrant and the rival purple and white Kansas State University hydrant. There are also the green and orange, the gold and black, not to mention the teals, greens and reds. “I started collecting them six or seven years ago,” says Claude. “I had seen one at my son’s school and told the janitor if he knew where to get one, I was interested. “Well, I got one and planted it, and it grew from there,” he adds. By planting, Claude means he prepares a hydrant so it has 12 to 18 inches of pipe remaining beneath it. Then he digs a hole and anchors it in the ground. Some hydrants come with 6 feet of pipe attached that Claude removes. Among the hydrants are three indicator posts, which are instruments used to tell whether a water line is open. These collection items are taller, thinner and much lighter than the hydrants, which weigh from 200 to 300 pounds each. The teamwork of two to three people is often required to lift a single hydrant. As Claude tours his yard, he names the various hydrant manufacturers showcased in his collection: Bourbon Copper and Brass Works, M&H Valve, Clow, Ludlow Valve Mfg. Co., Mueller Co., Dresser, A.P. Smith Mfg. Co., R.D. Wood & Co. and Waterous Co. He also describes the hydrants’ features: the top “bonnet,” the spacers that give some extra height, those with hexagon bonnets and hydrants, and the wet barrel hydrants with the water valve on the side. Claude Belshe, bottom, shares his fire hydrant collection through a display in his yard.



story by Anita Miller Fry | photography by jason dailey


got one and planted it, and it grew from there.” “I

– Claude Belshe

Claude recites details and facts about the manufacturers like a walking hydrant encyclopedia, sharing knowledge he picked up as he collected them through the years. “One of my favorites is this R.D. Wood’s with a double bonnet, 1928, from a small northwest Kansas town,” Claude says. “I think it’s just cool.” Claude knows of no other local hydrant collectors but can talk hydrants with his stepson Jeff Ard, who does the painting work on the collection, and his son Jon Claude, who has a lot of experience with the hydrants, including a close encounter when he rammed into a hydrant while playing yard football. The hydrant won. Jeff’s colorful painting is probably what makes the collection stand out to those passing by. “Sometimes he asks me what color I want to see, or sometimes he just buys the paint and I paint them,” Jeff says. “If I didn’t paint them, they’d be red and rusty just like when he puts them in.” If someone donates a hydrant, Claude lets that person pick the color. That’s why some hydrants bear school colors and why one is green—the neighbor who donated it lives across the street and wanted to look at a green hydrant from her window. But Claude has brought home most of the hydrants, following leads from friends and family who know he is interested in adding to his collection. His mother, Jeannette Dimitt, has been involved in finding or picking up five or six of them. One that she found was painted white with black spots, like a dalmatian, and another his mother found at a yard sale dates to 1903 and is the oldest in Claude’s collection.


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Claude also locates hydrants through online classified sites and makes cross-country road trips on his motorcycle pulling a trailer to pick them up. Three years ago, he made a trip to New Jersey via Wisconsin and Canada to pick up a $10 hydrant. He has also traveled to Texas, California and Indiana. “The trip to Indiana was a red-eye trip, 28 hours on the road, and I just grabbed the hydrant,” he says. Doing a hydrant run on a motorcycle is more fun, Claude notes. “It’s amazing the looks you get from people when you’re riding a Harley and pulling a trailer with fire hydrants,” he says. “Even in California,” adds Jon. Claude’s latest batch comes from a small town in northeast Kansas. These rusted hydrants rest in a corner of the yard, waiting to get sized down. “When we get ready to plant them, they will go over here,” says Claude, indicating the back part of his yard that isn’t yet lined with hydrants. Lawn space eventually may limit Claude’s collection. But for now, his immediate goal is to plant enough hydrants so he can be included in an online honor roll of people across the nation whose yards have reached the 100-hydrant mark. That magic number is a bragging right for collectors. But does Claude consider the colorfully painted hydrants a collection, an obsession or an art? “It’s redneck yard art,” he replies with a smile.

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42 HOME LIFE Missile Home

The House after Couple transform a nuclear missile silo into their personal, post-Cold War oasis


olorful flags wave from atop two massive turrets standing on gently rolling land in rural Shawnee County. “They kind of give the place a little bit of the Disneyland look,” says the towers’ owner, Edward Peden. That incongruous, prairie-land fantasy look is intentional. Since he purchased the property 27 years ago, Edward has been trying to change the atmosphere of the site, originally built by the U.S. government in 1960 as a $3.3 million Atlas E nuclear missile launch station. Those towers, converted fuel tanks, cover the missile site’s former escape hatches and lead to an underground space—now home to Peden and his wife, Dianna Ricke-Peden—that once contained a 4-megaton hydrogen bomb 320 times more powerful than the weapon dropped on Hiroshima. “I view it as a transformation process, a swords-to-plowshares kind of thing,” Edward says of the years he and Dianna have spent remodeling and retrofitting the site. The site is divided in two sections—the launch control center and the missile base area—each slightly larger than a school gymnasium and connected by an underground tunnel approximately 120 feet long. A portion of their home is above ground. An enclosed greenhouseporch area allows light and air to flow inside to the underground section where the Pedens use glass bricks, stained glass and shiny corrugated tin throughout to keep it as airy and bright as possible. The living room, formerly the site’s launch control center, holds a gorgeous stained-glass window that came from the small Methodist church in Dianna’s hometown of Hazelton. In a foyer leading to this room is a small section filled with historic reminders and photos of the site’s operational days. This history section includes a rotary-dial black phone bearing the number LC07749 on its face—the Cold War communication device that could have conveyed orders during a nuclear confrontation. “This is the room that needs all the help it can get,” explains Dianna. “We have really tried to transform this room into a temple room. We see beauty in all religions.” So now the room contains the stained-glass window, along with Iranian prayer rugs, American Indian statues, a goddess tapestry, Hindu religious tapestries, African ceremonial masks, a Buddha statue as well as Christian and Eastern Orthodox religious items.

Dianna Ricke-Peden and Edward Peden walk through a tunnel, top, connecting their home’s living quarters that include a transformed former missile generator room, bottom.



story by Julie K. Buzbee | photography by Jason Dailey

The blending of history and transformation continues throughout the home, which they call Subterra Castle, and includes the smallest details of texture. “We had to soften it,” explains Dianna, pointing to the arches over doorways. Other soft touches include scads of beautiful antiques, each with a story or personal connection behind it. “We have brought things with us to make this ours,” says Dianna. Several antiques line the walls in the home’s primary kitchen, which the Pedens installed in a portion of the home they created by building an elevated level inside the underground structure. Central areas are filled with hardwood flooring, baseboards and doors from wood that came from various locations, such as an old Army barracks at Medicine Lodge, the house of Dianna’s grandmother and the home of a family friend. Other favorite finds include a triangular corner cabinet from an old stone schoolhouse that Edward once owned and a Hoosier cabinet with a big flour sifter built into it. The second, lowest-level kitchen, which is at a cooler temperature, is reserved for special occasions such as parties or events and for canning, which last year produced 70 quarts of tomatoes and about as many cans of apples. The lower-level bathroom is unique with its military-issue side-by-side toilets. The Pedens have removed a rusted set of metal

Dianna and Edward brought in stained-glass work, religious artifacts and comfortable furnishings, above, to transform the former military site. Some areas, such as the control panels, bottom and right, were left as reminders of the home’s original purpose.


Living in the

ColdWar Relics For the Pedens, living in an underground missile silo has led to personal and business connections involving other underground and unique properties across the United States. See their websites and www.missilebases. com for tours of their home plus various sites as well as real estate— everything from an 8,800-square-foot, $750,000 underground missile bunker near Russell to a $2.8 million Titan 1 missile site near Denver. ..................................................................................................................................................................................

dividers between them but chose to leave both toilets, Dianna explains, because they did not want to close off any plumbing lines. The couple have a separate master bedroom as well as their own hobby rooms. Edward’s man cave room is lined with rough, dark cedar walls that hold his flute collection. A musician, Edward spends some of his time in this room composing music, mostly folk ballads. In one section of this room, compact steps lead up to a guest-area sleeping loft. Dianna’s room holds her personal altar with pictures, rocks, feathers and other items. “You just have your own little artifacts,” she says, showing off a teddy bear that once belonged to her mother. The biggest underground section of the launch control center, however, is a cavernous space that was once the missile’s generator room. It now serves as a greatroom for parties, drum circles and band performances with a large snack and seating area surrounding a huge stage. The crew of the house-transformation television program While You Were Out decorated that stage, outlined with silk drapery and velvet benches, in 2005. After the crew left, the Pedens placed further modifications: bright, colorful small flags dot the top railing around the huge room. “These are various flags, prayer flags, goddess flags, flags with various religious symbols,” says Dianna. “It continues to add to the transformation of this space. This was all built for one purpose— destruction. Hopefully, that purpose has been muted and transformed into something more nurturing and more in balance to moving forward in life in a positive way.”



Local Flavor

44 a kansas menu


Sesquicentennial Table Topeka chefs offer dishes linked to Kansas history


favorite foods are as varied as the people who have settled in the region during its 150 years of statehood. Many of these new Kansans have come from across the country and around the world. They left most material possessions behind but brought recipes as a link to their past and re-created them with the produce available in their new homeland. As our state celebrates its sesquicentennial, Topeka chefs carry on a culinary tradition by offering dishes that give a nod to Kansas history with a tasty modern twist.

A Trail Treat

Cowboy fare on cattle drives typically included a lot of beans and beef. But even on the trail, a few delicious treats were available for special celebrations. Brickyard Barn Inn’s Scott Nickel re-creates a cowboy pie. Plenty of vinegar supplies a tangy citrus taste for this surprisingly delicious departure from a lemon chess pie. It is not too sweet, and Nickel suggests the sugar could be cut by a fourth without affecting the taste. Sugar was scarce on the range, but flavor was full—as this dessert proves.

Vinegar Pie 1 basic unbaked piecrust 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup cold water 4 eggs, beaten 5 tablespoons vinegar 21/2 tablespoons butter Place piecrust into appropriate-size pie pan and set aside. Combine sugar and flour in 1- to 2-quart saucepan. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and beat with a whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick; mixture will bubble and thicken. Pour into the prepared piecrust. Bake in a 375-degree oven until the crust is brown, about 20 minutes.



Scott Nickel

STORY BY Karen Ridder | PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jason Dailey

Local Flavor

46 a kansas Menu

Consistent Taste

Although railroad service simplified travel to and through Kansas, food on the journey remained notoriously bad. “The problem was that every place was different and there were no standards. You didn’t know what you were going to get, and you had no idea of quality,” says Nickel. Then, in 1876, Topeka became the home of the first Harvey House restaurant. These revolutionary diners started by Fred

Harvey quickly became the standard for travel food in America. Harvey’s idea was to make food service reliable and delicious. It was a sensible combination of good food and a good price. Train travelers could order ahead and expect their plates to be served steaming hot at the next stop. This savory dish is a tribute to the practical and tasty food available from a Harvey House.

Dry Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Applesauce

1-2 tablespoons oil 2 Fuji apples (or other sweet, firm-fleshed apple), peeled, cored and sliced Salt, pepper and sugar to taste Tenderloin

1 teaspoon kosher salt or regular salt ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon chili powder ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) ¼ cup maple syrup, honey or water 2 whole 1-pound pork tenderloins

For Applesauce: Place the oil in a large skillet and warm over high heat. Sauté the apple slices until slightly browned, stirring often. Remove from heat and cool. Place half the cooled apples in a food processor and process until smooth. Add spices to taste. Dice the other half of the apples and add to the pureed apples. Sauce should be somewhat chunky, slightly sweet and lightly spiced to taste. For Tenderloin: Combine all the seasonings well in a small bowl. Rub the maple syrup evenly over the tenderloins. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the tenderloins. Place the tenderloins on an oil-coated baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove tenderloins from refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. Place on a preheated grill over medium heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer in tenderloin registers 135 degrees. To prepare in oven, place tenderloins on baking sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven. The key to this moist meal is to not overcook the tenderloin. Remove tenderloin from heat, cover with a tent of foil and let stand 5-10 minutes before slicing. This will allow the temperature to elevate to approximately 140 degrees (cooked medium) and the tenderloin to reabsorb the juices. Slice and serve. Makes six servings.

1 envelope unflavored gelatin ¼ cup cold water ½ cup fresh mango ½ cup sugar 1 cup heavy whipping cream ½ teaspoon vanilla ½ cup orange liqueur (Grand Marnier) ½ cup passion fruit puree 1 17-ounce package ladyfingers Pour gelatin and cold water into mixing pan. Place mixing pan over a second bowl of hot water to dissolve. Place mango and sugar in food processor to blend, then pour into saucepan and heat mixture until sugar dissolves. Add to gelatin and mix well. Let cool to room temperature. Beat whipping cream to stiff peaks. Add vanilla and gently fold into cooled mango mixture. Mix orange liqueur and passion fruit puree in a bowl. Working with one at a time, roll the ladyfingers in the liqueur/passion fruit mix and place at bottom of an 8-ounce glass. Top with mango mixture and repeat, forming two layers of ladyfingers and mango. Chill for several hours or overnight. Garnish with fresh mango and a mint leaf. Makes four servings.

The farm experience became and continues to be pervasive across the state. Generations of Kansans have grown up on farm-home cooking and small-town picnics where community is built around the table. Young chef Amanda Broxterman describes her own smalltown farm food experience as “a very relaxed atmosphere … laid back Amanda Broxterman and comfortable.” The 18-year-old graduate of the Washburn Institute of Technology’s professional cooking program usually creates original recipes for the Kansan Grill buffet. A Topeka cook to watch, Broxterman recently won a $25,000 scholarship in a cooking contest that is sending her to culinary school. For her version of a Kansas coleslaw, Broxterman replaced part of the sugar with sweetened condensed milk for extra creaminess.

a kansas Menu

Mango-Passion Charlotte Russe

Home-grown goodness


As settlers poured onto the plains of our new state, they brought with them an assortment of culinary traditions. Good food and sugar became plentiful, and tables began to feature stylized European desserts. George Armstrong Custer was reported to enjoy a frontier version of the Charlotte Russe as a luxury at formal dinners. Topeka chef Luis Guillén created a mango-passion version of the Charlotte Russe. The hard ladyfingers in this dessert soften as they soak up the orange liqueur and passion fruit puree, making for a surprising combination of high flavor in a smooth and creamy treat.

Local Flavor

Mix of Cultures

Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw Dressing

½ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup granulated sugar 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk ¼ teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3 tablespoons white vinegar 1 tablespoon poppy seeds Slaw Mix

2 red bell peppers 2 large green Granny Smith apples 16-ounce package coleslaw mix Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and set aside. Thinly slice the red bell peppers and green apple. Toss all slaw mix ingredients together. Add dressing and gently toss again. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, before serving.

Luis Guillén

Thanks to Mary Maddan,

the director of education and outreach, at the Kansas Historical Society for historical background information. For more information on the history of food and recipes in Kansas, check out the historical society’s publication, Food in Kansas: A Cookbook for Young Kansans. TOPEKAMAGAZINE Spring 2011


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The Alternative to Plastic Surgery or Injections.

story by Christine Steinkuehler



photography by Jason Dailey


A landscaper known for large-scale projects cultivates a well-nourished perspective for her life and home garden Ann Palmer’s garden in central Topeka grew from a life decision in the late 1970s. At that time, she was a 33-year-old high school teacher, qualified with an additional master’s degree in communication. But she began wondering if teaching was what she wanted to continue doing for the rest of her life. Her husband, Jerry, gave her the advice to “take your time, make a list of everything that you like to do. Pay no attention to talent or education. Don’t judge it before you put it down.” After three days, she and Jerry sat down and went over the list. She had narrowed it to wanting to do something that she could “see, feel and touch—something with physical work, with plants, working outside.” They both reflected on that, and Jerry asked: “Don’t they have something like that at K-State?” That was the beginning of Ann’s journey to become a landscape architect.



She had narrowed it to wanting to do something that she could “see, feel and touch—something with physical work, with plants, working outside.”

In spring and summer, Ann Palmer’s home garden is a collection of small, focal points full of blooms and color.



After taking a botany, art and photography class, she stepped into a new graduate program in landscape architecture at Kansas State University for the fall semester of 1978, enrolling and commuting each day with fellow student and friend Barbara Meidinger. This was a time when commuters and nontraditional, mature students were rare. “It was the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life—I can’t believe I did it,” recalls Ann. “My ego was destroyed and I had to build it back.” Ann graduated in 1986, the same year her son Chris graduated from high school and daughter Andrea graduated from middle school. She says she has never been sorry about her decision to pursue a new calling. Her extensive background in all aspects of landscaping—“very heavy on design and construction,” says Ann, “a lot of drainage and grading”—served her well as she set up her business, first LandDesigns, with Meidinger, and then as a sole business, Designscapes, since 1998. Though she works alone and often contracts for construction portions, such



as bricklaying, her technical knowledge allows her to focus on large-scale projects, such as the landscape design for the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. Regardless of the size of a project, Ann says most landscaping projects in Topeka start by solving one problem. “It is always drainage. It is always water,” explains Ann. “First you drain the site, then you get to work. It isn’t glamorous.” Glamour comes after digging. And Ann says she has been heartened by a ground shift of attitude since the 1980s in regards to what makes a beautiful garden. She finds people more willing to use native materials, more concerned about effective use of water and more interested in working with what is available. She also has seen a dramatic decrease in the use of herbicides and pesticides. “If you use the right plant material and the right amount of water, you shouldn’t need it,” she explains. “You are going

Ann Palmer, opposite page, designed a home garden with cascading water and a pergolacovered pathway leading to a koi pond.

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to kill off one bug and make the one that comes after it that much worse. It just doesn’t work.” Ann’s home garden in central Topeka is a delightful, living example of that belief. And though she’s known for large, landscaped projects, her home garden is a series of small, intensely loved and cultivated focal points. But, then again, the attention that a small garden demands is also something she has known since the beginning of her journey.

Ann says she has been heartened by a ground shift of attitude since the 1980s in regards to what makes a beautiful garden.

The koi pond replaced a smaller pond in Ann’s garden. The pond’s Victoria water lilies, above, bloom as early as June or as late as August depending on the intensity of the summer heat.

“A line from school that has proved to be true—well, most lines from school have proven to be true—but, a professor once said, ‘If someone asks you to landscape 10 acres, you can do it in a week. If someone asks you to design a complete landscape for a small city backyard, it will take you a month,’” says Ann. “And that is true. The smaller the area to be designed, the more intensively it has be done.”

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SHAWNEE COUNTY PARKS & RECREATION 3137 SE 29th Street Topeka, KS 66605 (785) 267-1156

For the Family


old friends


forever What do you do with your best, earliest friends? Here are some ideas and advice for celebrating a childhood rite of passage


our-year-old Topekan Corinne McNish pours a cup of imaginary tea for her stuffed animals and talks to them as only the young can. The bears and other fluffy critters are now among her most trusted friends as they listen to the secrets she shares with them. For most kids and stuffed animals, however, this friendly bond breaks down as they grow older. Sometimes, even seemingly overnight, the role of a stuffed animal in a child’s life changes from confidant to decoration. And, perhaps, over the years

these stuffed friends will be relegated to closets or simply forgotten. Surely stuffed animals, our best friends from childhood, deserve better. Even though we as adults have long outgrown the need for stuffed friends, we often cherish the memories our favorite stuffed animal holds. How we encourage children to treat them as they outgrow them, therefore, becomes a lesson in how to mature, how to relate to one’s past and perhaps even in how to treat our oldest, truest friends.

On their own sweet time

Local experts suggest that each child has a unique timetable in deciding when he or she has outgrown a stuffed animal—or a toy that fills the same role as a stuffed animal. “For most kids approaching middle school or a year or two before, the stuffed animal loses predominance,” says Meredith Williard, school psychologist for Avondale West Elementary School and Chase Middle School. “The animal might be in the room, but not as front and center. They go from sleeping with it at night to

Corinne McNish and her grandmother Shirley Myers honor Corinne’s stuffed animals with a tea party. Parents who encourage children to treat their early, stuffed friends with respect provide a useful life lesson, according to a few local childhood experts.



STORY BY Carolyn Kaberline | PHOTOGRAPHY BY Bill Stephens






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For the Family


old friends

burying it under clothes or placing it in a box in the room or in the basement.” Williard adds this is not unusual as stuffed animals serve a “different purpose for different kids at different ages.” Furthermore, she says, children at this stage tend to travel back and forth between ages. “Watch middle school kids walk down the hall,” Williard suggests. “They range in height from 6 foot 2 inches to 5 foot 2 inches. Their emotional and social development is all over the place too. One minute they want to be 16; the next minute, 6. It’s especially noticeable among the girls: One minute they want to be grown up, the next they want to be little girls.” She notes that if a child has a transition issue, such as moving to a new school or divorcing parents, he or she might cling to a stuffed animal a little longer, or they might take a favorite stuffed animal to college. “Girls can get away with this a little easier than boys,” Williard says. “For [boys] it might be a Star Wars character instead of a stuffed animal, but it’s more difficult for boys to hang on to them.” In any case, she also notes that the youngster is the one who will let others know when he or she is ready. “If a parent asks about putting the animal away or giving it away,” says Williard, “the child’s answer may dictate the approach.”

Eggenberger explains, adding that there came a point when the girls were about 6 and 4, respectively, that they began to ignore a lot of them. Because of this, he began boxing some of the toys and taking them to the rescue mission, telling the girls if two weeks later they could name what was taken, he’d “buy them back.” He adds that he’s never had to replace or retrieve any of them. 2) A new role in life

Sometimes, a childhood stuffed animal receives a new role in life, such as one family’s heritage “get well mouse.” David Zimmerman, 24, who works for the state revenue department, remembers asking for his family’s stuffed mouse during a recent hospital stay. “My mom was given a pink mouse when she was in the hospital getting her tonsils out during her senior year,” Zimmerman explains. “Since then anyone in the family who is ill or in the hospital gets the ‘get well’ mouse.” Most of Zimmerman’s stuffed toys from childhood have been passed down to foster children that his parents took in, donated to the Salvation Army or sold in garage sales. But he does keep two teddy bears sitting on his dresser—one from when he was a baby and the other that his great-grandmother owned—both family legacies that could be tapped for a new role.

3) Retirement party

Another idea is to do just what Corinne is doing—throw a stuffed animal party. But this time, the child is slightly older and the party is a “retirement” party for a stuffed animal guest of honor. Toasts can be said to honor the service of a well-loved bear. Family members can share stories about the child-and-stuffed-animal adventures they remember. And they can use the occasion to praise the child’s growth and development. In this way, the child, rather than being ashamed of the stuffed animal, can see the creature as a physical symbol of how much she or he has changed. A retirement party then becomes a way to celebrate a child’s achievements while honoring old friends. Once “retired,” the stuffed animal can enjoy a well-deserved rest in warmer climates, other homes or attic boxes— and, perhaps every once in a while, make an appearance. Just recently, Eggenberger came across a stuffed mouse and a teddy bear from his childhood. “When we found these in a box in the basement recently, the girls wanted to play with them,” he says. “I don’t know why, but I couldn’t let them.” Perhaps it’s because even adults never really quite outgrow their stuffed friends and the childhood memories they hold.

Three ideas for afterward

Once the stuffed animals are set aside, parents often wonder what to do with them, especially if the child has a large number. Here are three approaches. 1) Box and wait

“While some might not be ready to give them up totally, they might be willing to put them in a box in the basement that we’re saving for them in the future,” Williard suggests. “That way if they find they still need the animal, we can go down and get them.” Alan Eggenberger of Berryton used a similar approach with his daughters Amber, 9, and Sara, 7. “The girls had tons of little stuffed animals, mainly horses and a few polar bears,” The party is ending, but some of the stuffed animals might remain treasured items for decades to come.



Events Calendar

BEST BETS in March-May 2011 March SANKOFA: LESSONS LEARNED March 1-30: Sixteen quilts by local artist Marla Jackson represent the trials and triumphs of women’s lives. Free admission, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Brown v. Board of Education Museum, 1515 SE Monroe St. For more information, call (785) 235-3939. FIRST FRIDAYS ARTWALK March 4 (and the first Friday of every month): During this monthly event sponsored by ARTSConnect, Topeka’s galleries, studios and public venues host art in social settings from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For a complete listing, see or call (785) 271-0065. GOURMET CABARET AT THE BREAK ROOM March 4 (and most Fridays): Inspired and sometimes zany stage acts are paired with a gourmet meal (see article on p. 32). Tickets cost $22 most weeks; cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. Break Room, 911 S. Kansas Ave. For reservations or more information, see www. or call (785) 215-6633.

April TULIP TIME AT LAKE SHAWNEE April 1-24: View more than 100,000 tulips and daffodils in a landscaped setting. Donations accepted; open all day. Ted Ensley Gardens, SE 37th Street and West Edge Road, Lake Shawnee Park. For more information, call (785) 267-1156. AMAZING ANIMALS: KANSAS ENDANGERED ANIMALS April 4: This children’s presentation and activity, including making a “toad abode,” focuses on endangered Kansas wildlife. Free admission; 4:30 p.m.-5:50 p.m. Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave. For more information, see www. or call (785) 580-4400.

May SUNFLOWER STATE FILM SERIES May 6-27: The Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library hosts a series of films focusing on the people and places of Kansas. Free admission, 7 p.m., 1515 SW 10th Ave. For more information, see or call (785) 580-4400.

A MAGICAL, MYSTERY DAY: THE BEATLES FAMILY DAY March 5: Family activities and free admission to the Mulvane Art Museum’s exhibit of Beatles music and memorabilia. 1 p.m.-4 p.m., 17th and Jewell streets. For more information, see mulvane or call (785) 670-1124.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE March 17: Head downtown for one of the city’s biggest public events. The 32nd annual parade includes the Great Topeka Bed Race (a charity event to benefit Housing and Credit Counseling Inc.), which begins at 9 a.m. from Sixth and Jackson streets, as well as the gala parade starting at noon at Fourth Street and Kansas Avenue. For more information and a complete schedule of events, see LASTING LEGACIES OF THE CIVIL WAR March 27: A group of scholars lead discussion about the lasting impact of the Civil War, and particularly the Missouri and Kansas border crisis leading up to the war. Brown v. Board of Education Museum, 1515 SE Monroe St. Free admission, but attendees are requested to reserve a space in advance by calling (785) 235-3939.

DOWNTOWN TOPEKA FARMERS MARKET April 9: On the market’s opening day, hundreds of vendors bring a season of fresh produce and baked goods. Market open from 7:30 a.m. to noon each Saturday at 12th and Harrison streets. For more information, see or call (785) 249-4704. COUTURE FOR CANCER April 16: American Cancer Society’s seventh annual shopping, social and charity event at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, 4 p.m.7p.m. Tickets cost $65 per person. For more information, see www.topekacoutureforcancer. org or call (785) 438-5607. COMBAT AIR MUSEUM PANCAKE FEED April 30: Topeka celebrities flip your pancakes to benefit the mission of the Combat Air Museum, Forbes Field, Hanger No. 602. Admission is $5, 7 a.m.noon. For more information, see www. or call (785) 862-3303. 57th ANNIVERSARY OF BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION May 17: Special exhibition focuses on the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision as a part of an ongoing civil rights struggle pre-dating the Civil War. Free admission, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 1515 SE Monroe St. For more information, call (785) 235-3939.




Topeka Magazine Spring 2011  

Topeka Magazine Spring 2011

Topeka Magazine Spring 2011  

Topeka Magazine Spring 2011