Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Time Travel Made Fun

This weekend The Colonel, Spud and I time traveled to the year 1066. We attended the Sarasota Medieval Fair. This year's theme was the Battle of Hastings.

We love going to festivals and fairs. The last medieval fair we attended was while we lived in Key West. We were told that Tampa has a larger fair than Sarasota, so we will definitely be looking into that.

We purchased our tickets at the gate. We used cash but a sign showed that they also accepted Master of the Card and Lady Visa.
Before the gates were opened William, Duke of Normandy and his entourage arrived and he addressed the crowd.

He told us how he was going to fight the Anglo-Saxon King of England, Harold Godwinson to become the next king of England (the real Duke of Normandy would be victorious in the Battle of Hastings in 1066). As he was talking to the crowds we heard running and shouting coming from the opposite direction. It was the King of England and his entourage. They arrived winded and exhausted (the real King of England had just repelled a Viking invasion in northern England and marched to southern England two weeks prior to the battle of Hastings).

Words were exchanged and it was decided that the two and their armies would do battle on the Human Combat Chess Field within the gates at 12 of the clock. That said and done, the gates were now open to the public.
The Colonel, Spud and I walked around taking in the sights, scoped out where the best fair food would be and planned our day.

We listened to singers of bawdy pub songs (made PG for the family audiences)...

We witnessed Todd Key's Flying Debris Show.

He juggled a can of Spam...

One of the highlights of our day was the jousting competition. Watching the knights atop their huge horses as they rode past, spearing brass rings with their lances and riding towards one another with the intent of unseating their opponent was like traveling through time. I felt like I was really in the year 1066.
Another highlight was the Human Combat Chess. At 12 of the clock the English and the Normans met one another on the chess field (remember it is the Battle of Hastings reenacted). The English king would order one of his players to move to a square on the field and then the Norman leader would order one of his to move. If two players met one another on the same square a battle would commence. It was fun to watch.

This "chess match" was part 1 of the battle reenactment. Part 2 would take place at 4:15 of the clock. We did not stay at the fair long enough to see that because we wanted to be able to visit The Colonel's parents and have dinner with them (they live near Sarasota) and get back home at a decent hour. I do not know who won the match, but it they were staying true to history, it would be the Normans who won.
The Colonel and I were granted honorary knighthood which was witnessed by the king's games masters. The Colonel through archery when he shot two arrows into a heart shaped target and me when I hurled a battle axe into the heart of the running man target.
Spud enjoyed getting his picture taken with one of the fairies that was walking around the fair.

Some more of the characters at the fair...

I just had to snap this photo. I liked the visual of 1066 meets 2009 through the cooler being cleverly disguised as a chest.

Before we left the fair we purchased a roasted turkey leg for The Colonel's mother. We knew there would be some at the fair and were prepared by pre-packing a Ziploc bag for transport from Medieval Fair to mother. She loved it!

The Colonel, Spud and I had a wonderful day as we traveled through time with the Lords and Ladies of 1066.

Stop and Smell the Roses

More than a week ago, we received this year's first Christmas card. This is the earliest we have gotten one...ever!

I was surprised to see a holiday card this early...Halloween is barely gone and Thanksgiving is yet to come.

My friend who sent the card gave her explanation as to why it was so early this year. She wrote in her holiday letter that last year she had not gotten cards out until very late and was making up for this by getting her cards out now. I understand her thinking and even forgive the by-passing of a holiday, but it did give me pause to think that all too often we are looking towards tomorrow (next week, next month, next year) without appreciating the now. We fail to live in the moment. What are we missing by not paying attention to the present? What am I missing?

It is a good thing the card came when it reminded me that I need to "stop and smell the roses" and enjoy the in the now.

The past is gone, I've already lived it. I cannot live in the future, it isn't here yet and is always ahead (like tomorrow never comes because tomorrow always turns into today. We've all seen or heard about those silly Free Beer Tomorrow signs). All I can do is live in the now. I can plan for the future...I just can't live in it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Viet Nam Memorial Wall

Last weekend Spud and I went to visit the Traveling Viet Nam Memorial Wall which was on display in our town.

Historians generally agree that the Viet Nam War spanned the years from 1959 to 1975. I was born in 1961 and graduated from 8th grade in 1975. I remember hearing about the war and seeing the images on television. I did not fully understand what was happening at the time. I don't think a lot of adults did either.

I have visited the real wall in Washington, D.C. The Colonel and I had our honeymoon in D.C., but to see this traveling wall made me realize again the scope of the loss of American lives that occurred during those sixteen years...over 58,000.

"War is Hell"
-William Tecumseh Sherman
During a presentation at the Ohio State Fair in 1880.

In honor of this past Veteran's Day, I want to say thank you to all of our veterans of all the wars for your service and sacrifice. God bless you and God bless America!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

3 Days of Family Fun

The Colonel, Spud and I spent a long weekend with Yam at the Eagle Family Weekend 2009. Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) holds a family weekend each year.

After checking into our hotel we made our way to Yam's dorm room. It was near dinner time so we decided to eat at the university cafeteria a few yards away from Yam's dorm (Yam may have wanted to eat somewhere else, but majority rules).

The food was delicious. You could choose from all kinds of food. There was a salad bar, waffle bar, ice cream, hamburgers, pizza, fish, soups, cereal and a dessert bar. For a nominal fee you could eat all you wanted. Spud was instantly sold on college life. As parents who are paying for our college student's meal plan, it was good to know the food we pay for is delicious and plentiful. I had blackened Talapia, rice and green beans. I also hit the ice cream machine. Hey, I had the healthy fish for dinner.

After our fine dining experience we went to the Student Union's lobby to check-in for the family weekend. Upon check-in we were given rubber wristbands. These were our "tickets" to get into the weekend events for free (excluding the 5K Fun Run/Walk... yeah, like that was going to impact us anyway).

We were also given T-shirts commemorating the weekend and a nice tote bag. We soon put the wrist bands to work by going to an FGCU hockey game. The last time I was at a hockey game was back in high school, 30-odd years ago. I did not understand the rules of the game then either. I just know that they are fun to watch.

We met up with two of Yam's friends. Thank goodness Yam reminded us to pack a jacket and long pants because it was chilly in the arena. FGCU was pitted against Life University out of Marietta, Georgia. Both schools claim the eagle as their mascot, so you couldn't just yell, "Go Eagles!!" without some sort of clarification following your cheer.

The FGCU Eagles won the game with a score of 7 to 2. It was exciting to watch, fast-paced with plenty of action. Hockey is a visceral sport for both the players and spectators. Towards the end of the game there were a couple fights that resulted in banishment to the penalty box for the offending players. It was just a matter of could feel all that testosterone on the ice. This was the first hockey game for The Colonel and Spud. We all agreed we would like to watch another hockey game one day. Maybe we will bone-up on the rules of the game before then.

It was late when the game ended and we got back to Yam's dorm. We dropped both kids off; Spud stayed with Yam in her room. He was getting more of a taste of the college life.

End of Day One

Since our family opted out of the "Fun Run" and it's check-in time of 7:00 a.m., we slept in. The next big event was the Eagle Family Weekend Cookout which started at 11:30. We met up with Yam and Spud and headed for the cookout.

We got in line and filled our plates with excellent pulled-pork BBQ, rolls, chips and cole slaw. I had some ice tea with my lunch. It was called Tradewinds, just like my house. A Reggae band was playing as we dined.

After we finished lunch we partook in some of the craft activities available. We all tie dyed a T-shirt.

I washed our shirts after we got back home. They all turned out beautifully. Next Yam and I made some sand frames.

We then went to check out the library. Besides being a beautiful building (sorry, did not take pics...what was I thinking?) it was very impressive inside with its many floors of books, study/meeting rooms and computer stations. From there we went to the FGCU Arts Complex for chocolate tasting and an art show. The chocolate was delicious, but I must admit that the artist's work left a "bad taste in my mouth". I did not care for his work.

We had some time to burn before the Hypnotist/Illusionist, Wayne Hoffman's show that evening, so we went to our hotel and Yam and Spud hit the pool and hot tub while The Colonel and I read our books as we rocked in rocking chairs. Then we also had a delicious dinner at a local restaurant.

Wayne Hoffman was very entertaining. His tricks and illusions were incredible. Right before our eyes he made an opened, empty, semi-crumpled Diet Coke can become like new; unopened, full of Coke again and chilled to boot. He had opened the can at the beginning of his show and was drinking from it throughout the show. If you ever get the chance to see him, do so. He was also very funny. I was able to shake his hand after the show and snap his photo.

After Mr. Hoffman's show we went to the Super Target's Midnight Madness sale. They had kept the store open for FGCU families. We went at 10 p.m., not midnight...that is way past my bedtime.

End of Day Two

At 10:30 the next morning we went to the Eagle Family Weekend Farewell Brunch. It was catered by Jason's Deli. There were all kinds of breakfast and lunch items to choose from as well as coffee, juice and water. The room was nicely decorated.

The university president, Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw was at the brunch walking around the room. Yam and I spoke to him and had our picture taken with him. He also chatted with The Colonel and Spud. He remembered us all from the meeting we had with him last year through The Blanchard House Museum (a small, local museum we volunteer at and/or are board members of). Dr. Bradshaw is very friendly. I told him he would feature in my blog and he was tickled by it.

After brunch it was time to head for home. We dropped Yam off at her dorm and said our goodbyes. We all agreed we had a great family weekend, both as our own little family and the FGCU family.

End of Day Three