Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fort Conde - A Short History Lesson

The Alabama gulf coast was originally part of French Louisiana. In 1723, work was begun on permanent fortifications to secure Mobile's position as a focal point of French settlement and colonial exploration. A large, bastioned structure built of brick on a stone foundation, surrounded by a dry moat, it was named after the Prince of Conde.  The fort's cannon controlled the point where the Mobile River flowed into Mobile Bay.

In 1763 the fort was turned over to the British, along with the rest of Alabama, due to an agreement that ended the French and Indian War. At that time the fort was renamed Fort Charlotte. The British even maintained a garrison at the fort during the Revolutionary War.

In 1780 the Battle of Fort Charlotte was begun. It was led by General Bernardo de Galvez of Spain, who commanded a force of Spanish troops and American volunteers in an uprising against the British. The British surrendered, and the fort remained under Spanish control until 1813. At that time it was occupied by U.S. troops under General James Wilkinson. In 1820 Congress authorized the dismantling of the original site.

However, during the 1970's approximately one-third of the original fort was reconstructed at an 80% scale. Fort Conde is the official welcome center for the City of Mobile.

Mardi Gras in Mobile off to Rainy Start

The parade of the Conde Cavaliers, which traditionally starts the Mobile parading season, was rained out last night.  They will try again tonight, immediately after the Mystic Pharoahs at 7:00 p.m.  This was apparently the first time they have been rained out since they first began parading in 1977. 

The Conde Cavaliers' have three permanent floats. The first is a train locomotive. I believe it is called the Cavalier Express.

The next is the 'emblem float,' which has the head of a horse at the front and Fort Conde at the rear.

The third permanent float has the head of Chief Slac on the front.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's Time for the Tim Tebow Bowl (I Mean the Senior Bowl)

This Saturday, January 30, the Senior Bowl, which pits the college senior all-stars from the South against those from the North, will be played.  Considering all of the publicity he's generating, I'm thinking they should rename it the Tim Tebow Bowl this year.  The last time one player generated so much hype was when Joe Namath played in the 1965 Senior Bowl.  Pro scouts from all of the NFL teams converge on Mobile for the week leading up to the game, as well as front office personnel, general managers, plus print and electronic press representatives.  This year the Miami Dolphins coaching staff will be in charge of the South team, and the Detroit Lions coaching staff will be guiding the North team.

Lord Love a Duck! (and a goose)

Each day to and from work I drive through my city's municipal park, which has become home to a rather sizable population of Canada geese.  There are some Pekin ducks there, as well as some Muscovy ducks. For the last several years I have been going to the park fairly regularly to feed them, and have attached a few pictures.  There are so many more, which I will share from time to time.

Rather than feed them bread crumbs, my friend and I would bring corn from a local feed store, which the ducks and geese really seem to like.  There is a bonus to the corn: the seagulls won't eat it. And yes, even inland, there are many seagulls at the park.

The two white ducks in the picture at left I called Daisy and Donald.  The little brown duck in the picture is their constant companion. I don't know if he somehow was orphaned and they 'adopted' him, but they are always together.

Since Pekin ducks can't fly, it's fun to watch them scamper hurriedly, wings flapping wildly, out of the water and up the bank to reach the corn. Meanwhile, their little brown friend simply lifts out of the water, becomes airborne,  and glides to shore for its food.

Oddly enough, the geese do not bother the ducks. They only try to intimidate other geese. Here they are all behaving pretty well. This was a rather large lunch crowd.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This Is One Game I Will Definitely Watch!

Tomorrow evening, the 13-4 Minnesota Vikings will play the 13-3 New Orleans Saints for the Championship of the NFC.  The winner of this game will go on to the Super Bowl.  Although I don't follow NFL football, this game has gotten my attention. They will be playing in the Super Dome in New Orleans, and since it's Mardi Gras season, I fully expect to see fans decked out in all kinds of outrageous costumes. That's always fun to watch.  Another reason I will be watching is because of the Vikings quarterback, Brett Favre. To be playing as a starting quarterback at the age of forty is simply amazing. But Brett is a 'local' talent. He was born in Gulfport, Mississippi and played his college years at the University of Southern Mississippi. So I will be pulling for the 'hometown' guy, Brett Favre, to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl.

If It's Saturday, It Must Be Parade Day!

Mardi Gras season is beginning to get in gear. Today there are two parades on Dauphin Island. The parade for the Krewe De La Dauphine was rained out last week. So today it will follow the parade of the Island Mystics at 1:00 p.m. There will be no problem with the weather today...a beautiful sunny sky is predicted!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back Yard Transition (part 4)

These pictures were taken early last summer once everything had taken root and was flourishing. By this time the day lilies were blooming and the asters were still going strong.  I am really looking forward to seeing some growing things again.  It's very bleak right now, but, of course, that's nature's way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Grow, Baby, Grow!!!

A little blurred, but some sweet peas who are determined to grow. These seeds had been soaking inside for at least a week before the horrible cold weather, so I didn't put them out until Sunday. Somehow the dirt around them became displaced so after taking these pictures I pushed the seeds back into the soil.  When I planted them I wasn't hopeful that they would grow at all; they had already sprouted and were so pale as to be almost transluscent. Time will tell as to how many will actually grow.  I will get some more seeds and keep trying.  Next to pansies, sweet peas are my favorites. Their fragrance is indescribable!

Pastel Skies

I went outside in time to catch a glimpse of a lovely dawn this morning.  We have a beautiful day ahead...the high should be 68 degrees!  The sun reflecting off the clouds creates the most beautiful shades of pink.  It's easy to see several bird nests in the bare crepe myrtles in my back yard.

Signs of Life in the Garden!

I went out early to survey the potted plants on my deck. After the hard freeze of last week, I was amazed to find my precious pansies thriving. Even though they can tolerate the cold, I really didn't expect them to make it through so many days of frigid temperatures. What a wonderful thing nature is!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast?

I have been visited by possums and raccoons lately. The raccoon was captured and taken to be released into a more friendly habitat than my back yard. This possum's pal was caught in the trap overnight and awaits his next destination. Tomorrow we set the trap again in hopes of catching this fellow. He was making his way along the top of my back fence this morning.

I'm not sure if this is the same possum, but the bottom picture shows that a possum has been around since he was a youngster. Something (we're not sure what) had made a nice nest for itself underneath my house, so that was taken care of. The possums are not nearly as assertive as the raccoons, but I would rather them have a home in the great outdoors.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Little Bit of Paradise!

Dauphin Island is truly a gem and a fairly well kept secret to outsiders. While most of the tourists visiting the Gulf Coast spend their time at Gulf Shores (on the eastern side of Mobile Bay), Dauphin Island remains the quiet little town it has been for many years. There is some new construction, but for the most part, it's just the way the residents would like it to be--quiet, peaceful, and natural.

Mardi Gras 2010 Is Here!

Today the first Mardi Gras parade of the season is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Dauphin Island. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating for the Krewe De La Dauphine. It may need to be rescheduled. 

Dauphin Island is a barrier island located three miles south of the mouth of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. Entry to the island is made by crossing a three mile long high rise bridge which was opened in July, 1982 after the original draw bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Frederic in 1979. An automobile ferry from the eastern shore also offers an entry point on the eastern end of the island. The island is approximately 14 miles long and 1 ¾ miles wide at the widest point. The eastern six miles are inhabited while the western 8 miles are undeveloped and privately owned. It is estimated that 1300 permanent residents call Dauphin Island home. The number of residents soars during vacation and holiday times. The entire island has been designated as a bird sanctuary and thousands of visitors come to experience the annual migrations.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Back Yard Transition (part 3)

Early spring of 2009. The crepe myrtles had not leafed out yet, but the bridal wreath and azaleas were blooming.  By this time we had planted several daylilies, a russian sage, a few asters, some marigolds, and some dwarf mondo grass around the perimeter.  One of my outside kitties is in the bottom right of the second picture.  The vacant area behind the garage is where my green house now stands. There was nothing but wasted space there and the green house is a perfect fit.

"Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez"!!!

"Let the Good Times Roll"   It's time for Mardi Gras in Mobile!  Contrary to popular opinion, Mobile is the home of the first Mardi Gras, dating back as far as 1703. At that time it was called Boef Gras (Fat Beef).

The date of Mardi Gras is determined by the date of Easter each year. Also called "Fat Tuesday," it is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which begins the forty-day Lenten season.

Mardi Gras as we now know it was started in Mobile by Michael Kraft in 1830.  Having come to the end of a dinner party, but unwilling to call it a night, he and some of his friends took to the streets with rakes, hoes, and cowbells. Thus the mystic society, Cowbellion de Rakin Society, was born. In 1840 their first parade rolled along city streets.

After the Civil War, Joseph Stillwell Cain garbed himself in full Chickasaw Indian attire and dubbed himself Chief Slacabamorinico. He and six of his friends were determined to lift the spirits of the local citizenry. They called themselves the "Tea Drinkers" and paraded in a decorated coal wagon pulled by a mule.  Joe Cain was a founder of the Order of Myths, the oldest mystic society in Mobile, and the last to parade each Mardi Gras season.  Because of Joe Cain's involvement in the carnival activities, each Sunday before Mardi Gras Day has been designated as "Joe Cain Day."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Back Yard Transition (part 2)

My daughter's design and my son-in-law's hard work came to fruition two years ago with the completion of the circular planting bed in the middle of my back yard. We started with two knock-out roses and two coreopsis opposite each other in the 'pie pieces.'  I planted some dianthus along the edges of the walkway. The bird bath came from my daughter's house, as did the stone pavers. They were no longer needed due to a huge landscaping project in her back yard.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lady Marmalade

This precious kitty is lost. She wandered into my daughter's yard yesterday. Right now she's being taken care of by the vet.  We are hoping someone will 'fall in love' with her. She's so sweet!

The Back Yard Jungle

After digging up my back yard to make a nice cottage garden, things quickly got out of hand. I enjoyed the variety of flowers, but soon the weeds got the upper hand. Also, I learned the hard way that packaged bird seed was a bad idea, unless you really like weeds. Sunflower seeds became the food of choice but even after two years I am still dealing with the repeat offender weeds that reseed each year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bare Back Yard - March 2005

My back yard had a lovely green carpet
of grass but that is not what I wanted.  I just
had to have a huge flower bed in the middle
of the yard.  You see, I had in my mind that
a cottage garden would be so, so easy, because it just looked like it took care of itself.  Everything I had read said, NO~! Cottage gardens take effort to make them look so effortless.  I found out the hard way, as you shall see in future posts..... stay tuned.

Backyard Makeover

This is the drawing my daughter made for a suggested makeover for my back yard two years ago.  The basic circular design has been done and I have been thrilled with the results. More work is needed on the perimeter, but not too much. Pictures to come....

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Have Brunch on the Brain!

Maybe it's the weather, I don't know.  I looked at recipes all weekend, because it was too cold to go outside.  Here is a recipe that will feed a crowd (8 servings) and it's another make-ahead concoction. I don't know the source, unforunately.

Breakfast Casserole

White bread                                                                  Package of Canadian bacon
Cheddar cheese or 1/2 chedder, 1/2 pepper jack          6 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt                                                                   1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dry mustard                                                      1/4 c. minced onion
1/4 c. minced green pepper                                           2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 c. whole milk                                                              Dash of Tabasco or to taste
1/2 c. butter                                                                  1 c. bread crumbs or cereal, crushed

Butter bottom of 9 x 13 casserole dish and line with bread slices with crust removed. Layer with Canadian bacon (cut in about 1/2" pieces) and shredded cheese. Top with another layer of bread slices. Beat eggs and seasonings with milk, onion, and green pepper. Pour evenly over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

In the morning, melt butter and pour over top of casserole and top with cereal and bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let sit for ten minutes before serving.  Pork sausage or ham may be substituted for the Canadian bacon. Green chilies or spinach may also be added to the egg mixture.

Signs of Life at Fort Kitty Cat!

Here is one of the kitties, Jimmie or Snickelfritz (I can't tell them apart) finally emerging from the fort yesterday afternoon.  It's supposed to get above freezing today!

Lonely Bird

Here is a 'daddy' cardinal waiting for me to add more seed to the bird feeders in my back yard. I filled the feeders three times yesterday!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fort Kitty Cat

What we won't do for our pets! Two electric blankets, six fleece throws, 5 cat beds, two card tables, two comforters, and two tarps went into the construction of Fort Kitty Cat. All in the interest of protecting my outside kitties from the bitter cold we have been having since last weekend.  It isn't pretty to look at, but it serves its purpose.  For what it's worth, I think they still spend most of their time under my house.  Fortunately, God gave them the sense to seek the best shelter available to them.  The real-feel temperature this morning at 7 a.m. was 9 degrees, with an air temperature of 21 degrees.  I've all but given up on my plants for this season. Sad.