52 week's of Marie's Life

52 weeks captured through photos


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43. Single Tree (Week 16)

 “To climb a tree is for a child to discover a new world.”  Froebel

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One of Sarasota’s best kept secrets is the “living” museum at the John Ringling Museum.  The John Ringling Museum of Art and Ca d ’Zan (the home he built for his wife on Sarasota Bay) is the legacy that John and Mable Ringling left behind, but among the 66-acre garden of exotic trees and plants at the estate,  are 14 Banyan trees which is the largest collection in Florida.  Banyan trees represent some of the world’s largest tree girths and the unique growth pattern of their aerial roots and support trunks can cause them to cover an acre of ground in less that a century.  I am not certain if the banyan I have pictured here is one or more!

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We stumbled on this on a Monday visit to the museum and found that there is a wonderful children’s playground and picnic area that had been built just a few years ago  for the children of Sarasota to enjoy for free.  And aside from the man-made playground, the children enjoy climbing in the trees nearby, as well.

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The Ringling Banyan was cited in the Millennium Landmark Tree Project.  The following text about the project is from the America the Beautiful Fund Website:

“America the Beautiful Fund initiated the Millennium Landmark Tree project in the year 2000, with the goal of designating one historic tree in each of the 50 states for preservation in the new Millennium.

This program was supported by a grant from the US Forest Service as part of the White House Millennium Green Initiative. Individuals and their communities were encouraged to seek out the history of the trees in their area, and send a letter describing the type of tree they would like to nominate as well as any historical information pertaining to the tree.

The program was extremely successful in awakening public interest in preserving and protecting these Landmark Trees, which have stood witness to the historic growth of our country.

The Banyan Tree at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida was honored at the National Arbor Day Celebration on April 2000. The tree was given as a gift from Thomas Edison to Harvey Firestone, who gave it to John and Mable Ringling for their Florida garden to see if rubber could be produced in America.”

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5. Bird’s Eye View (Week 14)

“Veni, vidi, vici.” – “I came, I saw, I conquered”.   ~ spoken by Gaius Julius Caesar

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Vulcan is the Roman God of the forge.  The giant Vulcan statue in Birmingham was created to represent the industrial strength of the region.  And you can climb to the top to get a bird’s eye view of downtown.

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Of course, we took the elevator!

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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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10. Family Table (Week 33)

~  With people you have known for years,

or with brand new friends,

 the fondest memories are made gathered around the table.  ~

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Our second night in Natchez, Mississippi, Greg & I, the couple we traveled with, and a couple we hadn’t met yet moved to Bisland House.  Schelley, the coordinator of our “Maids on the Trace” event had arranged for all of the Motormaids and their traveling companions to soak in the historic atmosphere of Natchez by staying at one of the many houses and cottages in walking distance from downtown and not far from the bluffs of the Mississippi River.

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The Bisland House on Commerce Street, was 3 blocks from downtown and 3 blocks from the bluff.  The Evergreen Cottage was located on Cemetery Road on the bluff.  The remaining accommodations were on Pearl Street, around the corner from us – Clarimount House, Savannah House, Emsley House, Marcia’s Cottage, and Evergreen Cottage.

After we all met for dinner at Roux 61,  we were to meet back on Pearl Street to pick up the commemorative red shirts and patches that we had ordered. IMG_5827

It was fun to look into the other houses.  The Savannah House was not new, but much of the building materials were from old Natchez structures and in 2009 won the Historic Natchez Award for New Construction in a Historic District.  The 1852 Planter’s Cottage known as the Elmsley House won the 2008 Historic Natchez Foundation Award for Restoration as the result of a 2007 renovation.

Our bed & breakfast, the Bisland House, was a Circa 1904 Colonial Revival Historic Home, listed on the National Register of Historic Homes.  We learned from our conversations with the current innkeepers, Byron & Christine Tims, that they bought the house after losing everything in a hurricane that swept through New Orleans, Louisiana.  Since their purchase, they’ve been renovating in stages and have filled the home with antiques and period pieces.

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After a restful night, we looked forward to breakfast – this was a B&B, afterall!  When we sat down at the dining table, we felt like we were all at a family table as we all ate together and shared stories. Our innkeepers did not join us at the table, but they propped nearby as they served us and joined in our conversation.

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With breakfast over, it was time to thank our innkeepers and start our journey up the Natchez Trace Parkway, but first they requested a picture of us all in front of Bisland House.

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(L to R: Roy, Connie, Greg, Orlin, Me, Clara)

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A5. Reflections (Week 25)

“Vision without execution is just hallucination.”   ~ Henry Ford ~

I went with my husband to the 46th Annual Devereaux-Kaiser Antique Car Show held in Lakewood Ranch today.  He pointed out many cars that he had owned in his earlier years – ’67 Chevy Nova, ’62 Chevy Impala, ’64 Galaxy, ’57 Ford Fairlane,  Chevy Corvair, MGB, ’70 Mustang, …..

Thousands of people showed up to reflect on their past and enjoy their classic car memories.  More than a thousand vintage cars, 1990 or older, from all over Florida and neighboring states were on display.  This collector car meet was for any vehicle 25 years or older.

There was also a car corral for those wishing to sell their vehicles, vendors (couldn’t resist buying a vinatage sign), and refreshments provided by the Sarasota Bahia Vista Mennonite Church (had to buy a fresh donut and sloppy joe, of course!).

I was drawn to a table with old radio microphones and there was Norm who used to work for WKXY and WYND.  Ah yes – I remember calling in to make those dedications and song requests.

 

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This must’ve been a police car.

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There are always muscle cars with flames in the show.

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“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”  ~ Henry Ford ~

Some are drawn to the classier cars.

IMG_4169 IMG_4183   “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  ~ Henry Ford ~

Does this make you think of the family truckster and a trip to Wally World??

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And I appreciate the touches of humor.  He could’ve had a V-8!

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“When Henry Ford decided to produce his famous V-8 motor, he chose to build an engine with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block, and instructed his engineers to produce a design for the engine. The design was placed on paper, but the engineers agreed, to a man, that it was simply impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine-block in one piece.  Ford replied, ”Produce it anyway.”

Love the retro Florida touch, too. IMG_4185