Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ode to 2009

The year 2009 has gone by so fast

In a few hours it will be in the past

As a mother of two and a wife

I began this year a blog about my life

Highlights I have recorded here

Some silly, all of them dear

I am looking forward to 2010

When I will begin blogging again!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Diggin' the Past

My DSIL (Darling Sister-In-Law) set up and paid for a fossil expedition as part of our Christmas presents from her. Mark Renz was our guide. He has been featured on the Travel Channel and is a published author. He was very friendly and helpful. His dog Darwin came along on the expedition too.

The day before the expedition we set out the supplies we would need. We all had boots, extra pairs of old tennis shoes, two pair of socks, dry clothes to change into when we were done, hats, drinks, lunches and the above pictured sprays and lotions.

The morning of the expedition we loaded up two vehicles and hit the road. We would meet up with Mr. Renz roughly 30 minutes north in a Burger King parking lot. We carbed up for breakfast at a neighboring fast food restaurant before Mr. Renz's arrival.

Mr. Renz arrived, introduced himself, then we caravaned to the area we would be fossil hunting. We pulled into the park which was nestled against the Peace River. We would be hunting fossils in the Peace River.

Mark Renz gave us the tools we would need; shovels, screens and waist pouches to put any of our finds in. He also told us how and where to dig once we were in the river.

The water was cold as it filled our boots or shoes, but your feet and legs soon got used to the cold (or maybe just got too numb to feel anything). The day was warm and there was little or no breeze which made tolerating the river water easier. We carefully made our way into the water; some of us stayed near the shore as others ventured further into the river.

We shoveled and screened for a couple of hours, took a lunch break and hit the river again.

I stayed in one area of the river and continued working the same hole, digging deeper and deeper. I got so deep that the river water was chest high. Mr. Renz said deep down is where you could find the older fossils. At times the current of the river was a bit strong which made remaining steady on your feet as you dug a little dicey.

Darwin watching from the shore.

We all found fossils...nothing museum quality.

My Mother-In-Law found a piece of Mastodon bone. I did too.

I found the bone of an extinct horse. This bone would have been between the leg and hoof of the horse (what we would consider the wrist in a human).

We all found some rib bones of ancient Dugongs.

The Colonel and Yam found some ivory (upper right-hand specimen in picture below). The other items in the picture are the horse bone and a partial ancient shark's tooth.

We found many small shark's teeth fossils.

The Colonel and I found pieces of Chert; a type of sedimentary rock used by ancient people in forming tools such as arrowheads. The pieces we found were the cast offs from the tool making of the Indians long, long ago.

What an experience fossil hunting in the Peace River was and what a great Christmas present. Thanks DSIL!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Christmas Day went from this...

To this...

With lots of family, fun and food thrown in too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When Did This Happen?

My sister took some nice pictures of Spud when she and my mother were here last. When I saw the pictures I had to ask myself, "When did my beautiful baby boy turn into this handsome young man?"

Answer: Before I knew it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas K.I.S.S.

Remember this...K.I.S.S...Keep It Simple Stupid? Well, I'm keeping the Christmas decorating around the house simple this season...maybe even a bit spartan. As I am the main decorator, I didn't feel like going all out this year and the less I put up, the less I have to put away and I think that is smart not stupid.

The tree is small and can fit on a table. It took one strand of lights and 24 Martha Stewart ornaments to trim it.

I have a table runner on my coffee table.

I hung over sized ornaments from the chandelier above my dinning room table.

I cannibalized silk flower arrangements and put them inside my candle centerpieces.

Outside I decorated even more simply. I hung a wreath at the side door.

And made the front door of the house look like a Christmas present (Yam did help me with this).

As well as the cottage's front door (again with Yam's help).

Finally, the cats have little stockings hanging in the garage.




I believe in the old adage of Less is More...I always think a few nice things tastefully strewn about the place makes more of a statement than lots of over-the-top gaudiness...that, and not really feeling the urge to decorate for Christmas this year.

The Gamble Mansion in Sepia

Gamble Mansion 1844

The Gamble Plantation Mansion is the oldest building in Manatee County and the only surviving antebellum mansion in South Florida.

Major Robert Gamble built his mansion along the Manatee River and established a sugar plantation of 3,450 acres and 182 slaves. He owned the plantation from 1844-1872.

The ruins of the sugar mill; roughly 3/4 0f a mile from the mansion.

Gamble sold the mansion to Captain Archibald McNeill, a Confederate blockade runner. It is believed that the Confederate Secretary of State, Judah P. Benjamin took refuge here as he was fleeing the country after the fall of the Confederacy.

The mansion passed through the hands of more families before falling into disrepair in the early 1900's. At one time it was used to store fertilizer. The fertilizer was of the un-bagged, organic variety, if you get my meaning.

In 1925 the United Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the mansion and 16 acres of land and donated it to the state of Florida. It is now a state park.

The Colonel, Yam, my In-Laws and I visited the mansion last weekend. Spud did not come with us. He had just returned from a two day drill competition on the Atlantic coast and wanted to stay home to rest and study for finals before Christmas break.

The Gamble Plantation was hosting a small reenactment day at the mansion. On the grounds there were soldiers in tents and soldiers firing off cannons.

There were others in period costume.

The park was holding free mansion tours. I was eagerly anticipating the tour as it was my first. The park is near my in-laws home and I have driven by the mansion many times and have been on the grounds a couple of times but had never been inside.

My mother-in-law, Yam and I took the tour; The Colonel and his father opted out and walked the grounds inspecting the soldiers and cannons.

I was surprised to see that the mansion was only one room deep with a hallway that ran on one side of the mansion. Upstairs, where the tour began, there were two bedrooms and a storage room. Downstairs were the overseer's office, parlor and dining room. The work room and kitchen were separated from the main house by a breezeway or dogtrot. As we were taking the tour we heard the cannons firing outside. I couldn't resist myself and said to Yam and my mother-in-law, sotto voce and in my best southern lady accent, "The damn Yankees are coming."

I enjoyed my tour. I love going through old and historic houses. After the tour we all had some lunch. There were food vendors on the grounds. I had a delicious chopped pork sandwich. When we had finished lunch we walked the grounds and I snapped many photos. I chose to take my photos in a sepia tone. I thought the tone lent itself very nicely to the effect I wanted; that of old antebellum photos.