Sunday, April 29, 2012

Visiting Hemingway's Home in Key West

After separating from my daughter, sister, & niece, my mom & I headed to Hemingway's Home.
I was excited to see his famous polydactyl cats!!!

Here's a picture of his study which was upstairs in a little building by the pool. My favorite part was a piece of artwork that hung on the walls that showed a 'ghost' Hemingway, in his study, alongside some of his cats! The cats could 'see' him, even though he's a ghost.

Here's a tour guide, not ours, feeding one of Hemingway's cats.

The Hemingway house has approximately 50 cats, all of which carry the polydactyl gene, though only about half of them have the physical trait of having 6 toes (rather than 4 or 5). Hemingway was given a 6-toed cat by a ship's captain, and the cats are descendants of that original cat.

There's a cat cemetery on the grounds and each of Hemingway's cats are buried there. I was impressed that the guide (above - feeding the cat) said he knew the names of all 50+ cats!

And, just a self-portrait in a mirror in the gardens!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cruise Excursion: Key West

While on our Spring Break cruise, our first day on shore was at Key West, Florida.

We had a gorgeous view when we arrived and were thankful our balcony
was on the correct side to see us pull in!

Our excursion plan for the day: going on a "Big 3" adventure - sail boat, kayak, and snorkeling. HOWEVER... we got a note the night before that our excursion was CANCELLED! So, we sadly made alternate plans...

We took a "hop on/hop off" tour.

We drove by the "southernmost point in the continental USA"...which had a long line of people wanting to be photographed next to it.

We saw several "Conch Mobiles" which are each unique and painted to reflect Key West.

After this, we 'hopped off' and separated. My mom and I headed off to see Hemingway's house and a couple of museums while Alex and her aunt and cousin went to spend the day at the beach

Friday, April 27, 2012

All aborad! Our first cruise!

Last month, Alex & I went on a Carnival Caribbean cruise with my mom, my sister, and her daughter. My mom has been on quite a few cruises, but I just wasn't sure if it was the right type of trip for me. However, it sounded like a great way to take a 'girls' trip' and to see some places we've never seen before: Key West, Florida and The Bahamas!

We've been to Galveston quite a few times and it was neat to watch the familiar sites shrink away as we sailed off on our great adventure.

This is a gorgeous view off the back of the ship. As we traveled, it was often incredibly windy on the outside decks. They had a jogging track around the ship and some people were using it, but I couldn't imagine jogging into that wind! So, I spent some time here, in the back of the ship, where it wasn't so windy.

There are lots of activities on board a cruise ship - especially in the evenings. Our favorite two shows were a magic show (wonderful!) and a juggling show (although he wasn't 'perfect', he was incredibly entertaining!). We also went to see karaoke several times, and my sister participated! And, we watched a comedy show (they have early 'family friendly' shows, and later 'adults only' shows). Usually, we ate the more formal dinners where you are served course after course of delicious food. I was disappointed in the buffet food, though - it was pretty much 'buffet' quality! And, it was hard to find food early in the morning, though room service was FREE - but not very reliable.

Most of my photos were of the excursions, so I'm disappointed to not have more to share. But, I'll leave you with this one of Alex participating in an Animal Quiz Show. She was in the final THREE out of the 30-40 who started! Mostly adults! And, one of the 'final three' was a couple and the other was a zoology professor!!! I'm very proud of Alex and her knowledge of animals!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crystal Bridges Art Museum

This weekend, Alex & I went with my husband's aunt to see a new art museum: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The museum, which opened in November, was founded by Alice Walton of the Walmart family. The museum is a nonprofit organization and admission is FREE because of a grant from Walmart.

The museum buildings are amazing and it sits on a gorgeous 120 acre site with over 3 miles of walking and biking trails. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we didn't go out on the trails.
From the site: "the Museum complex encompasses a library, the hands-on Experience Art Studio and Drop-in Studio, a glass-enclosed gathering hall for lectures, films, and other events, a Museum Store, a restaurant, and areas for outdoor concerts and public events. (Above: part of a trail and sculpture taken through large glass window.)

The collection of American art is divided into 4 sections: Colonial, 19th Century, Modern, and Contemporary. The Colonial collection included art by Gilbert Stuart (the Constable-Hamilton portrait of George Washington shown above), John Trumbull, John Singleton Copley, and Samuel Finley Breese Morse (of morse code fame and whose art I discussed here).
Trompe L'oeil by Haberle from Wikipedia
The 19th Century area includes some trompe l'oeil which is art that tricks the eye into thinking it's 3 dimensional. One piece was by Haberle, though it isn't the one I posted above. There was also work by Mary Cassatt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and John Singer Sargent (whose art I copied for my charcoal portraits).
Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter which was on Saturday Evening Post (from Wikipedia)
The Modern and Contemporary sections included art by Norman Rockwell (one of my favorite artists!), Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns (who we studied here), Louise Nevelson (who we studied here), and Jacob Lawrence.
I loved the layout of the museum. There were two places where you could stop and rest and look at art books or get on iPads to learn more about the art. And, there were two hands-on activity centers. Unfortunately, one closed just as we found it. But, we spent some time in the other. It had quite a few activities (including a dressing up area and places to build and to learn about art). Alex and Aunt C had fun making butterfly art!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring on Our Oklahoma Ranch

We currently live in Texas, but last January we bought almost 400 acres in Oklahoma! We now have 97 mama cows - all of which have either already given birth or are getting ready to. Yesterday, my mom came to see the land for the first time. We went exploring with Alex and found lots of 'signs of spring'.....

One of our hay fields is just starting to pop up.

We have 7 ponds.... and there were THOUSANDS of tadpoles! And we saw a few frogs - very tiny frogs!

We saw dozens of dragonflies...including this one who had just emerged from its exoskeleton!
He was busy chomping on a leaf.

We bought 5 bulls this weekend! (Our cows are black angus and black angus mixes.)

One of my snag trees that stands in the middle of a field. I love it! I've asked them to NEVER cut this beauty down. And, our ranch manager said he's seen a bald eagle on our place...twice! I don't know if it's used this tree, but the tree is open for whoever wants to use it!

We have a 'grove' of black walnut trees! 19 of them! They are just starting to get leaves. My mom had a black walnut tree in her backyard while she was growing up, so she can help us process the nuts!

One of the beautiful wildflowers we saw. I'll have to learn how to identify them!

We have an underground natural spring that has been tapped into. We were getting some water out of the spout and saw this garter snake! (But, you all know I love snakes!) We also saw a garter
snake swimming on one of the ponds.
Not a great photo, but these are the first ducks I've seen on our property. When I zoomed in, I was able to see identify them as blue-winged teals! Very cute!!