52 week's of Marie's Life

52 weeks captured through photos


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21. Industrial (Week 13)

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”  ~ Henry Kissinger ~

While visiting Birmingham, Alabama, a few weeks ago, we followed the recommendation of TripAdvisors and visited the Sloss Furnaces.  We read that this was an industrial museum.  There is no admission fee and, after checking in, you are free to wander around on your own.  If you are into architecture, industry, or photography – this is a place you must see.

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The city of Birmingham was formed to exploit the raw mineral resources of the area. Every ingredient necessary – coal, limestone, iron ore – to make iron was found within a 30 mile radius. In the 1870s, after a long financial depression, demand for industrial products was picking up throughout the nation. Agriculture had been the basis for Alabama’s economy, but the demand for cotton on the world market had declined causing people in the rural areas to seek out work in the mines, mills, and blast furnaces. Birmingham soon grew into the South’s leading city for heavy industry.

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Due to plastic pipe, ductile iron, foreign industry, and the Clean Air Act of 1970, Sloss Furnaces closed in 1971. In 1977 voters approved a bond to convert the furnaces into an industrial museum. Work commenced to restore the site and make it accessible to the public. Currently it is the only twentieth century blast furnace in the nation being preserved as an industrial museum.

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Sloss Furnaces is used as a backdrop for many concerts and community events.  As we wandered around the site, we came across preparations for their annual haunted house.  Incidentally, the site has been featured on Ghost Hunters.  I thought it would be appropriate to post this theme today, on Halloween.

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41. Shades of Gray (Week 8)

“Many men go fishing all of their life without realizing it is not fish that they are after.” ~ Henry David Thoreau~

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To see a bit of Old Florida, venture out to the working waterfront of Cortez.  This weathered gray shack is up on stilts in the waterway behind the historic Cortez Fishing Village.  I still haven’t quite figured it out, but it presents a great photo op!

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Cortez Fishing Village was founded in the 1880’s.  It is one of the last remaining fishing villages in the state and it provides much of the grouper and shrimp that is served in local restaurants.  This 2 mile square settlement has offspring of the original settlers living in the 1920 bungalos along the narrow streets.  All of the original families that arrived here from the southern edge of the Outer Banks of North Carolina to escape the Atlantic hurricanes still have a representatives here in the fishing industry.


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37. Part of a Whole (Week 5)

Apple Magic”  by Margaret Hillart

In every single apple lies

A truly magical surprise.

Instead of slicing down,

slice through

and watch the star

appear for you!

 

While we were at the friend’s house that I mentioned last week with the rusty train accent piece, I also spotted this large bold sculpture on the coffee table.  I knew we had “Part of a Whole” on our 52 Week Photo Challenge list, so I told him I needed to take a photo of his apple sculpture, too!

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48. Sun Flare (Week 47)

“Your husband called – He said buy anything you want.”  ~ amusing sign I’ve found in dressing rooms ~

Gazing up through the skylight in The Mall at University Town Center, I was lucky to catch this sun flare for my blog.

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36. Right Place At The Right Time (Week 42)

“I thought of that while riding my bicycle.” ~ Albert Einstein on the Theory of Relativity ~

Have you ever heard of a Strider?  This is a balance bike designed for children aged about 18 months to 5 years that encourages them to learn how to ride a two-wheel bicycle.  It has no pedals and the child would simply stride along,  learning how to balance, lean, and steer as they go.  Confidence builds quickly;  there is little fear of falling because their feet are always on the ground.

And as confidence builds, some children may want to step up their experience.  Sarasota is unique in that we have a dedicated Strider track next to the BMX track on the corner of 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue.  I’ve heard it’s the best in the country.

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One of my daughters and her family were coming down from Virginia for a quick trip to go to a family wedding.  The only free time we had was Wednesday evening to Friday evening.  As luck would have it,  the practices are held at the BMX track on Thursday nights.  I spoke to my friend Alice, co-owner of Haps Honda, because she has been an integral part of Sarasota BMX for over 30 years, and asked how I could get my grandson Ethan on the track.  She told me that loaner bikes and helmets would be available at the track and that he just needed to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt.  I checked with my daughter and it was a “go” – this was going to be the highlight of his trip!

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We arrived on time so we could get as much of the experience as possible.  Much of our family turned out to cheer him on and we were all so impressed with the track..

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I was told that the BMX practice was from 6 to 8, but if the Striders arrive early, they can practice on the big track from 5 to 6. Well of course Ethan wanted to try that out too!  We were here at the right place and the right time!

Our grandson approached the hill, took the ramp to the top, and paused.  Before he made his descent, my husband heard him say “Whoa” in awe.  And then he was off.

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He rounded the embankment and kept going.

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And we cheered and cheered, so proud of him.

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IMG_6423 Ethan looped the track over and over.  And when the time was up and the BMX pedal bikes came out, we moved over to the strider track again.  This time, he was ready to race!

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One boy wanted him to wait up, but you don’t wait if you want to race!

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My thanks to Alice Bixler for the Strider information and the opportunity to give my grandson and our family a wonderful memory of their visit.

This is the information I found on-line about the Sarasota BMX track:

Sarasota BMX has a dedicated Strider Track located next to the BMX track. Riders must have a USA BMX membership in order to ride on the track. We offer a One-Day-Free membership to all new riders so they can try out the track. The track is open on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6pm to 8pm for practice. Striders can practice on the BMX track from 5pm to 6pm. The practice fee is $3. Races are held on the 1st and 3rd Friday evening. Race fee is $5. Awards are giving to each rider. The USA BMX membership for one year costs $30 for Striders. With this membership the rider can ride at any BMX track in Florida and the USA. Strider racing is for children 1 yr to 5 yr. A child can stride on a Strider as soon as they learn to walk. Some have even learned to walk on a Strider. The Strider only weighs 6.7 lbs. light enough for the child to pick up and carry. There is never a need for a tricycle or training wheels. The child will learn to balance and goes directly to a pedal bike. For info call: Erma at 614-496-3999 also check us out on www.StriderBikes.com

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50. Urban Scenery (Week 41)

“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.” ~ Winston Churchill ~

The urban landscape of Sarasota is constantly changing.  This is very evident as you drive around the bayfront.  Everytime I go downtown, I see another building going up.  This is what you see as you approach downtown from the John Ringling Bridge.

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IMG_6857The newest construction project is to the left as you approach Highway 41 (locally known as the Tamiami Trail).

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The building is on the corner and it curves north along the Tamiami Trail.

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And if you turn to the right, you will see the “Unconditional Surrender” statue that I featured in my previous blog.

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The backdrop from one side of the statue is Sarasota Bay and the opposite view is of highrise condominiums downtown, as the Tamiami Trail turns south.

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45. Statue (Week 36)

“I never felt poor. There were always shoes to wear and food to eat — yet I knew there were things my parents did without just to make sure I was clothed and fed. “ ~ Elvis Presley ~

At milepost 260.0, we exited the Natchez Trace Parkway to go to Tupelo, Mississippi.  We rode through town in search of the birthplace of Elvis.  Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935, in this modest two-room house built by his father Vernon.

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Also on the site is a life-size statue of Elvis at age 13.

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Many travelers make a pilgrimage to Tupelo to visit the birthplace of “The King of Rock and Roll”, and this complex has evolved to include the ’39 Plymouth the family  drove when they  moved to Memphis, a chapel, an outhouse, and a museum.  I wish I could’ve taken  more time in Tupelo.  I hear there is a larger-than-life size statue in the center of town which depicts a popular photo of Elvis.  One hand holds a microphone and the other hand is reaching out to fans.  If there is a next time, perhaps I’ll visit the hardware where Elvis bought his first guitar and Johnny’s Drive In to see the booth where Elvis liked to sit and all of the memorabilia on the walls.  But this trip, we had miles to cover and people to meet!

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16. Group Portrait (Week 34)

“Take any road you please…it curves always, which is a continual promise, whereas straight roads reveal everything at a glance and kill interest.”   “Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion”  ~ Mark Twain ~

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When traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway, it is helpful to follow the Milepost Gazetteer on the Natchez Trace Parkway National Park Service map.  I know, that’s a mouthful!  This guide helps you to know where you are on the 444-mile stretch of road.  As many settlers and farmers in the 1700s looked to the rivers to get their goods to market, it was easiest to get back up the river by an overland route.  This is why the mileposts are now numbered from the south and run north.  The markers are simple yellow posts with an engraved number.  The Trace travels through three states:  Mississippi (milepost 1-310), Alabama (milepost 310-344), and Tennessee (Milepost 344-444).  The idea of the Trace is to slowdown and enjoy the scenery;  speed limits do not exceed 50 mph.  As we rode our motorcycles, we would encounter an occasional bicyclist along the route.  There are no restaurants or gas stations on the Trace.  You would have to familiarize yourself with the mileposts to know where to exit.

One of the detours off of the parkway takes you to the Windsor Ruins (milepost 30.0).  All that remains of the Windsor Plantation are twenty-nine 45-foot eerie stately columns.  This Mississippi icon was the destination for our group photograph for all those who were involved in the “Motormaids on the Trace” ride.

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The antebellum mansion was built by Smith Coffee Daniell, a wealthy planter, beginning in 1859 and finished in 1861 just before the Civil War began.  Unfortunately, at age 34, Mr. Daniell died a few weeks after its completion.  Before our trip, I purchased “Guide to the Natchez Trace Parkway” and I read:  “The four-story house had 25 rooms with 25 fireplaces, and attic tanks supplied water to the interior baths.  The basement floor had a school room, dairy, and supply rooms.  The roof observatory was used to signal confederate troops about Union advances.  Twenty-nine 45-foot-tall columns were joined across the front with an ornamental iron balustrade.  Windsor was used as a Union hospital during the Civil War and survived intact.”  Further research on the web shows that this plantation has many stories to tell in legends and history.  Mark Twain would visit the mansion in his riverboat piloting days and he wrote of its elegance in his book, “Life on the Mississippi.”

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So many mansions were destroyed during the Civil War, but this one, on 2,600 acres, had survived.  Ironically, In February 1890, a party guest accidentally dropped left a cigar on the third floor balcony, causing the Windsor to burn to the ground.  There are no known photographs of the home and historians have had to rely on blueprints to imagine what the mansion would have looked like.

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Actually this site, though eerie, was quite tranquil.  Many of us took photographs and then were called in for a group photo.  IMG_5982

We then “saddled up” and found our way back to the Trace.

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21. It Happens Over Time (Week 32)

“Life is short – eat dessert first.”  IMG_5778

Finally, our first scheduled “Maids on the Trace” meet up was for lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard.  We were to look for a 28-foot high structure on Highway 61, south of Natchez, Mississippi, that was of a smiling mammy wearing a red kerchief, white blouse, horseshoe earrings, and red skirt, holding a tray.

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Mammy’s Cupboard dates from 1940 when it was constructed for Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gaude.  A mammy character had been portrayed in the 1939 film “Gone With the Wind”, about the same time plans for the restaurant were being made.  Along with now being the embodiment of political incorrectness,  the building is also unusual in that its architect was a female, which was not the norm in 1940.  Mrs. Gaude operated the restaurant, which was built as a compliment to an existing service station.  Many tourists were drawn to the bright red skirt, as they came through the Natchez area for the antebellum mansion tours.

This roadside structure has been many things over time – a gas station, restaurant, gift shop, and craft center. It had gone through quite a bit of decay over the years, but it has had its periods of renovation and restoration.   The exterior bricks, which form the skirt, have been repaired many times and the red skirt is given a fresh coat of paint periodically.  During the Civil Rights period of the 1960’s, Mammy’s “skin” was repainted a lighter shade.

Currently the restaurant operates Tuesday through Saturdays, offering a lunch menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and made-from-scratch desserts.  As you enter the restaurant through a door in her skirt, you will step into a gift shop and dining room.

~ Good friends.  Good food.  Good times. ~

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There was a feeling of nostalgia, as we were seated at one of the old fashion tables of varying sizes throughout the room.  Then we watched arrivals to see who was going to be doing this ride with us.  It was fun to see faces we knew and also to introduce ourselves to new friends.

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As more would come in, we’d finish eating so we could give up our tables and then congregate outside around our parked motorcycles and a picnic table.

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And of course pictures needed to be taken!

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(That’s me to the right, and Clara to the left, of Schelley from MS who put this all together.)

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