Friday, February 28, 2014

Visions of Spring

Those are snapdragons in my header picture.  I planted them on March 7, 2012, and I am so ready to start digging in the dirt again.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature seems to have other ideas about when Spring will make an appearance this year here in central Mississippi.  Two days ago, the low temperature was 18 degrees, and the forecast for the next few days is daytime temperatures in the 60s, with lows hovering in the 50s ... better than 18, yes ... but still not favorable for planting Spring flowers.

The growers were hit hard this winter, and the local nurseries are suffering too.  Their stock is way down and the plants they have on hand were bitten back by the extremely cold temperatures. Even Home Depot doesn't have anything, except for some straggly Pansies and a few Cyclamens.

I guess I'll just have to be patient for a little longer ... but in the meantime, I'd like to reminisce of springtimes past by sharing pictures of some of the flowers I planted.

Lavender Lantana, May 2013
 Sunpatiens, May 2011

Home Depot Mix, April 2009
Purple Verbena, March 2008
Red Verbena, April 2007

We have a new landscaping project in progress which I hope to share soon.  We've done the ground work and are now (not-so)-patiently waiting for the nursery to get some new plants in.  After looking at these pictures, I've gotten some ideas on flowers I'd like to use in the new planting areas.  I especially like the purple verbena cascading over the rocks along the stream in our courtyard.

I hope Mother Nature is being more cooperative where you live ... and I wish you a March filled with many happy hours spent digging in the dirt, with visions of Spring flowers dancing through your head!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Goodbye Moon, Hello Sun

A trip to the coast wouldn't be complete without pictures of a sunrise.  The pictures I captured on our recent trip aren't spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm going to share them anyway.

I took these behind our hotel and the view facing the East was the beach at low tide.  The water was calm and there weren't even many birds out.  As we waited for the sun to come up over Biloxi, I took some pictures of the moon going down over Gulfport ...

It was a nice way to begin our day.

I captured this picture a few seconds before the sun peeped over the horizon.
 It's amazing how quickly its position changes.


It was the beginning of a great day, with plenty of sunshine and bright blue skies.  We left Biloxi later that morning and headed West towards Bay St. Louis.  I hope you will join me next time to see a few of the pictures I captured there.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Shrimp Boats are A-Comin'

There was a song recorded by Jo Stafford in 1951 called, "Shrimp Boats," which included the following lyrics:

The Shrimp boats is a-comin'
Their sails are in sight.

They go to sea with the evenin' tide
And the women folk wave their goodbye.
There they go ... there they go!
While the [Mississippi] moon floats on high,
And they wait for the day when they can cry ...

The shrimp boats is a-comin'
Their sails are in sight.

It's a cheerful and catchy tune, and if you'd like to listen to it while you read this post, you can click on the following YouTube video.

During our recent visit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I was delighted to discover a fleet of shrimp boats docked behind the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi.

I couldn't help but wonder about the origins of their names ...

I spent about a half hour roaming the docks and was fascinated by the intricacies of the colorful tangled nets and ropes and masts.  I would love to see how they all work together during the shrimping expeditions. 

Some of the shrimpers offer "Shrimping Tours," but I don't think they would want me as a passenger considering I got "seasick" on a tour of the USS Alabama in Mobile several years ago, and it's in dry dock!

I found the ropes to be especially interesting ... and could imagine the weathered hands of the shrimpers as they quickly and expertly tied the knots, even though bone-tired after a day spent on the choppy Gulf waters. 

I used my zoom lens to capture the next picture of one of the barrier islands not far off the shoreline.   What fun it would be to explore the island and take pictures from there. 

The Blessing of the Fleet ceremony is a Gulf Coast tradition marking the beginning of the fishing season for shrimp fishermen. The blessing, given by a local priest, invokes a safe and prosperous fishing season for each boat in the procession.  Here is a picture I found on the Internet of a shrimp boat all decked out for the festivities ...

This year's ceremony is scheduled for May 29th through June 1st, and I would love to go back and capture the colorful procession of boats and imagine Ms. Stafford's lively tune announcing "the shrimp boats is a-comin' ... their sails are in sight!"

Perhaps I can get a ride out to that island while I'm there, too!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mary Mahoney's Old French House Restaurant -- A Biloxi Landmark and Treasure

The highlight of our recent weekend getaway to the Mississippi Gulf Coast was celebrating Valentine's Day a day early by dining at one of the Coast's oldest and most famous landmarks ... Mary Mahoney's Old French House Restaurant.

A little about the history of the house:  French colonist Louis Frasier built this home in 1737 as an outpost of European culture on the shore of a new world. It is proudly and magnificently French, with the same high ceilings characteristic of the Vieux CarrĂ© apartments in New Orleans.

Frasier built his home of hand-made brick, with wooden pegged columns of cypress. Slate for the roof came over as a ballast in the holds of French sailing ships.

The brick-walled cellar is unusual in this damp region, yet it is so bone dry that previous owners have used it to store books. It now serves as a wine cellar.

The Old French House predates American independence by more than three decades. French Governor Jean Baptiste Bienville commanded the entire Louisiana Territory from his quarters here.

Records are scarce, but we know the house remained with Frasier’s heirs until 1820. Before joining the United States with the Louisiana Purchase, subsequent residents were of varied nationalities as the colony came under French, Spanish, German and English influence.

The Old French House remained a residence until 1962, when it was acquired by Mary Mahoney, her husband Bob, and her brother Andrew Cvitanovich.

Great care has been taken to preserve the charm and character of this venerable landmark, with its exposed brick walls, heart-pine floors, and open fireplaces. 

When Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005, the Mahoney’s moved everything as high as they could. The 28-plus foot storm surge washed through the entire complex damaging the dining rooms, kitchen, and historical artifacts. 
After Katrina, the most costly and destructive hurricane in U.S. history, the Mahoney’s were able to rebuild and reopen within 9 weeks, even though several family members suffered the total loss of their own personal homes.

Mary Mahoney's is our favorite restaurant on the Coast, and has been a favorite of the locals since it opened in 1964.  It has also welcomed more than its share of world-renown diners, including Presidents Reagan, Carter, and Clinton. 
We arrived early and I spent a few minutes capturing some pictures (with my cell phone) of the beautiful courtyard area ...

[Above photo borrowed from the Internet]

The focal point of the courtyard, which was designed by the Mahoney family to favor New Orleans, is a magnificent live oak tree, known as The Patriarch.

Four tree surgeons were asked to determine the age of it, and all four thought the tree to be over 2,000 years old. The tree is registered with the Live Oak Society and survived Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Katrina in 2005.

I didn't want to intrude on the privacy of the other diners, so I didn't take many pictures inside the restaurant.  I did manage to capture a couple of pictures featuring the plaque on one of the mantels which shows Katrina's water line ... 

It was a perfect way to spend a special evening  ... in a beautiful old house steeped in Mississippi history ... a delicious meal, friendly and impeccable service ... all under the far-reaching canopy of an awesome 2,000-year-old live oak tree.