Saturday, April 20, 2019

Castillo by Candlelight: Enemy at the Gates

This post should have been written late last year, but as you know, time had gotten away from me and I was not able to write it in a timely manner. I find myself with some time now, as a storm rages outside (let us hope I do not lose power and thus the use of my computer), so here goes...

On November 30, 2018, the last day of hurricane season, The Colonel and I found ourselves in the oldest city in United States, St. Augustine, Florida. We wanted to experience the event called, Castillo by Candlelight: Enemy at the Gates. The event also takes place during St. Augustine's Nights of Lights. Last year was the 25th annual lights event. Some three million lights adorn the historic district for two months (this year the event will run from November 23, 2019 to January 31, 2020).

The Colonel and I invited Spud and his girlfriend to join us. We made reservations for dinner at the Columbia Restaurant. As always the food was excellent and the company enjoyable!

Image from Internet

After dinner we made our way towards the Castillo de San Marcos. The Castillo is the oldest and largest masonry fort in the continental United States. It was constructed by the Spanish beginning in 1672 and was completed in 1695.

Image from Internet

We had to wait for our tour time of 7:30 p.m. Every 15 minutes, a 45-minute tour began. As we waited, we strolled around the Castillo and took pictures.

The Castillo by Candlelight: Enemy at the Gates event is a living history demonstration of the British Siege of 1740.

Spain and Britain were rivals in Europe. Both countries founded empires in the New World and their rivalry continued there too. In 1733, a British ship called the Rebecca, commanded by Capt. Robert Jenkins, was seized in the Caribbean by the Spanish Coast Guard. They had suspected that the British had been trading illegally with Spanish colonies (this was forbidden by both Spain and Britain). The Spanish searched the Rebecca. A fight between the Spanish and British sailors ensued. During the fight, Jenkins' ear was cut off by a Spanish officer, who then picked it up and said, "Take this to your king and tell him that if he were here I would serve him in the same manner!" When Jenkins reported the incident to British authorities, they used it as a reason to declare war on Spain in 1739. The war was called the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739-1748).

In June 1740, British General James Oglethorpe (the founder of Georgia) and an English fleet of seven ships arrived at St. Augustine.

Three hundred Spanish soldiers and 1,300 Spanish residents sought refuge within the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos. The British bombarded the Castillo and St. Augustine for 27 days. The cannon balls were ineffective against the Castillo's walls. General Oglethorpe decided to starve the people of St. Augustine by blockading the inlet at the Matanzas River and all roads into the city. However, some supplies were able to reach St. Augustine via the river, and with morale and supplies running low for the British forces, Oglethorpe had to retreat.

The time for our 45-minute tour had arrived. Our guide began our tour outside of the Castillo. We stopped at the British encampment and listened to the soldiers discuss siege plans.

We experienced the British side of the siege, it was now time to go inside the Castillo and see how the Spanish were handling the siege.

We were brought into the General's quarters. He was pouring over a map and asking questions of an Indian who was spying for the Spanish.

We then saw a few Spanish soldiers.

One of our stops in the Castillo was to the surgery. The el medico told us about medical and surgical procedures of 1740. He asked for three volunteers to help him "extract" a lead ball. The lead ball was encased in a wad of cotton and the volunteers had to use period specific medical instruments to assist in the extraction. Yam's girlfriend was asked to be one of the assistants. The "surgery" was a success!

Taking a tour inside and outside the Castillo by candlelight was an interesting experience. It certainly gave you an idea how the soldiers and citizens of St. Augustine would have lived within the Castillo during the siege of 1740.

Our tour was complete, so we walked around St. Augustine and admired the lights as we waited for the annual parade through the city gates to the Governor's House.

The parade began and when all the costumed people passed by, we joined the parade behind them. We walked with them to the Governor's House.

When we arrived at the Governor's House, the Mayor of St. Augustine (dressed in period costume) gave a brief speech and Spanish Colonial soldiers fired their rifles in salute. The flintlock rifles fired despite the misty rain falling.

Once the salute was complete, The Colonel, Yam, his girlfriend and I walked around the park to admire the lights and the beautiful Christmas tree.

The Colonel and I very much enjoyed our first experience of the Castillo by Candlelight: Enemy at the Gates. We also loved seeing St. Augustine festooned in millions of lights.

A word of advice to anyone who would like to also experience St. Augustine's Nights of Lights...make your reservations for a hotel early (and to any restaurant in which you would like to dine)...the oldest city in the United States will be packed with throngs of visitors!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Chatting with Skip

The Colonel and I love the town we live in. One of the reasons we love it are the many beautiful murals that can be found around town. There are currently 30 finished murals.

The Punta Gorda Historic Mural Society (established 1994) is the entity that helps to make these murals a reality. Their mission is to preserve the rich history of the area through the beauty of mural art. They are part of the Florida Mural Trail.

The Colonel and I have helped to sponsor two of the finished murals. The first one we sponsored is entitled Our First Firehouse (2017). This mural is located in Fire Station #1, on the north and south bay walls. It depicts a slice of time in the fire station's history. It was painted by Skip Dyrda.

 Image from the PGHMS website

Image from the PGHMS website

Skip is an extremely talented artist. The details he incorporates within his paintings are incredible (he paints a red string in his works of art). The Fire Station's mural has over 52 items within the painting that you can search for (the mural society has a card that lists the items you can search for while visiting the mural). 

The second finished mural The Colonel and I helped to sponsor is called Ladies Remembered (2018). This mural is located on the walls of Bayside Eye Center in town. This mural presents seven women who were part of the area's history. The ladies range from the early years to more recent times. Their contributions came through various areas such as, education, business, history, healthcare, government and social causes. These ladies made a lasting impression upon the community. This mural was also painted by Skip Dyrda (I am sensing a pattern here in our mural sponsorship).

 Image from PGHMS website

Image from PGHMS website

  Image from PGHMS website

The Colonel and I have sponsored our third mural. The town's 31st mural is entitled Tails from the Harbor (2019). This mural will depict the rich marine life in Charlotte Harbor. It is currently being painted by Skip Dyrda (Yes, a definite pattern in our mural sponsorship).

A few weeks ago, The Colonel and I were strolling along the town's Harborwalk with My-Favorite-Mother-In-Law. The newest mural is situated along the Harborwalk, under the southbound U.S. 41 bridge that crosses the Peace River.

Skip Dyrda was working on the 31st mural the day we went strolling by.

We stopped to watch Skip at work and told him that we were sponsors of the mural and that we also sponsored the other two murals he had painted. We told him we are great admirers of his work.

I stayed behind and chatted with Skip as The Colonel and his mother walked a bit further along the Harborwalk.

I was glad that Skip took some time out of his painting to chat with me. He told me that the angle of the concrete under the bridge was a bit of a challenge when it came to painting the mural. The angle could make the fish in the painting appear too thin if he did not account for it. He also said that leaning over to paint all day could cause some strain on his lower back.

The mural is looking great! Skip has such an eye for detail. Remember I mentioned he paints a red string in each of his paintings?

And just look at the bug coming out of a crack in the weathered, wooden board.

I love the "Captain Nemo-ish" look of the portholes. I also love the rich colors...the Tarpons below look beautiful.

Below is the sketch of what the mural will look like when it is done and it is scheduled to be completed in April or May.

The Colonel and I are looking forward to the mural's dedication day. We attended the dedications of the other two murals we sponsored. A large crowd of townspeople as well as city and county dignitaries attend the dedications. At the firehouse mural dedication, there was a Bar-B-Que with all the fixins and at the ladies mural, all kinds of delicious finger-foods and desserts were served.

Given the depiction of local marine life in mural number 31, I wonder, will a fish fry be part of the dedication day? 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Throwback Thursday

This is a photograph of me in one of my high school years. I want to say 1977, my sophomore year, because I am "dressed-out" for a Powder Puff Football game later that evening. My sisters Kathleen (a senior) and Lori (a junior) were also on the team that year.

We got to wear a jersey belonging to one of the high school's football players (the jersey does not look too big on me but it was. There was a lot of it tucked into my jeans and when I lifted my arms up, there was quite a surplus of fabric exposed). I chose number 79. I did not choose that jersey based on the football player, I chose it because it would be the year I would graduate from high school. If I recall correctly, number 79 belonged to Wally Jordan. He went to the same catholic grade school I did. He was a year ahead of me.

On a sad note, I searched for Wally (Walter F. Jordan) online and discovered that he passed away on February 18, 2014. He was only 54 years old. His obituary stated that he was an All-State defense tackle and football captain at our high school. He was a 4-year letter-man and he was an All-Conference defense tackle at Ball State University.

As I stated before, I was dressed and ready for a Powder Puff Football game in the above photograph. My team was pitted against another all-girl team. We would face-off during half-time for that evening's football game.

I do not remember if my team won (part of me thinks we did not) but I do remember wearing two little red flags. The flags were dangling from my belt. We could not tackle one another in Powder Puff Football. To signify a tackle, we pulled free a player's flag. When both of  your flags were pulled free, you were out of the game. Some of the girls were a bit aggressive. I remember some coming away from the game with scrapes, cuts and scratches.

We girls took our game just as seriously as the guys did that evening but I am sure a football field full of girls running around, passing/catching a football and grasping at flags was very entertaining for those in the stands.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Looks and Books

Over a month ago, The Colonel received a phone call from a representative of the local airport. She was tasked with getting some historical photos made for display on one of the airport's high-traffic hallway walls.

The chief planner of the city (The Colonel and I have worked with him before on designing and executing historical displays for the city) pointed her to The Colonel, saying he was the one to go to for historical photos and information.

The Colonel said of course he would help her out and he knew of a graphic artist who could help out too (read that as our daughter). He was informed that he had to get this done within a worries...The Colonel works best under pressure.

The Colonel had some pictures of historical buildings and areas of the town and sent them to the airport rep to see which ones she liked best. She wanted to have six pictures to hang. After she chose her favorites, The Colonel passed them along to Yam for her to work on. She turned them around in record time.

Once Yam's graphics were approved, The Colonel had the pictures made via an online company he has worked with before.

The finished products were sent directly to the airport. One evening, the rep called The Colonel to say the pictures were on the wall. We had just finished dinner and decided that we would go to the airport for a quick look. We called Yam to see if she wanted to meet us there to see her and The Colonel's handiwork on the wall. She said she would love to.

The pictures looked great! They also looked huge on the wall.

I am very proud of the work The Colonel and Yam did to make the airport's project a reality. I know they are too. I like that thousands of people coming to and going from our local airport will gaze upon their work.

The airport representative was so impressed by the work that she has asked The Colonel if he would be available for similar projects in the future....of course he said yes (he will also use his favorite graphic artist).

While we were at the airport, we saw this just down the hallway from the pictures...

It is called the Flybrary. Passengers leaving or arriving, people waiting for the passengers or anyone at all can take, borrow or trade a book for free. There are no fees involved and you aren't obligated to return any book you take. Naturally, the books for children are on the lower shelves. The Flybrary is located near the baggage claim and is partnering with the county library system.

Flying can be the perfect time to start a book. I know I always have a book with me on the airplane (I like to read, plus it may keep a "Chatty Kathy" in the next seat, at bay).

The Flybrary was developed based on the Little Free Library concept. It was creatively modified to have the aviation theme, be indoors and be large enough to accommodate the growing numbers of passengers to the airport.

The idea came from one of our local library supervisors. Reading material will be replenished by the library with paperback books, hardback books and magazines, using its excess inventory or donations from the Friends of the Library.

A Flybrary sticker will be added to the back of each book on the shelves. So, no matter where the books travel, their readers will be reminded of the local airport and area.

I picked up a few books while at the Flybrary. I will take them back once I have read them.

I love the idea of the Flybrary...heck, I even love the name Flybrary!