Archive for February, 2010

Dog days of…Winter
February 25, 2010

While our friends Kelly and David have jetted off to the Bahamas to tie the knot, Amber has had the privilege of spending time each day with their dogs, Elvis and Madonna. Amber speaks dog (also cat, and horse) very, very well, and is having a blast!





We even pulled Hilary away from her schoolwork a couple of times to enjoy a run with the dogs, and some fun on the beach. DSC03831


Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers Florida
February 20, 2010

My favorite kind of History lesson is one I can see with my eyes, and while Henry Ford left an enormous impact on industry in Michigan, his dear friend, Thomas Edison, made his mark on Massachusetts, New Jersey and Fort Myers, Florida. Our family toured their winter estates and gardens, a museum in their honor, and Edison’s Botanical Lab. Edison home and Guest House "Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration."

-Thomas Edison 

The girls on Edison's back porch Thomas and Mina's Bedroom

Library and Sitting Room Kitchen and Butler's Pantry

I have far more respect for the person with a single idea who gets there than for the person with a thousand ideas who does nothing….

                        -Thomas Edison


DSC03781 Ford's front porch

 The Ford Estate

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

Ford Living Roon Henry and Clara's bedroom

DSC03768  Hils and Henry

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

-Henry Ford

Us with Tom in front of the biggest Banyan tree in the country.

The Laboratory…

Lab info

The Lab

Edison, Ford and Firestone each pitched in $25,000.00 in 1928 to build the lab for researching a domestic source of rubber. The impact of  WWI and their concern that the supply of rubber to our country could be cut off prompted the research. Each of their industries would have been greatly impacted.

Light bulb

While Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb, he was the man who made it better, more affordable, and reproducible . He tested over 3,000 filaments before he was satisfied. He was awarded 1,093 U.S. patents in his lifetime. His purpose for invention was to “transform middle class life.

His greatest accomplishment is said to be his discovery of how to economically generate and distribute light and power -the world we live in is “plugged in,” thanks to Thomas Edison.

His favorite invention; the phonograph.

Office in the Lab

Edison was a man who (like me) believed in “power naps”notice the cot in his Laboratory office. 


Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.   – Thomas Edison

Road Trip to the West Coast of Florida
February 20, 2010

Sugar CaneAfter a long, cold January, and plenty of time for our family to get established in our rental on the east coast of Florida, it was time to take a trip to the other side of the state. It was a bonus that friends we’d met while boating in Charlevoix have a winter home there. The drive was uneventful as we traveled through the innards of Florida, right through sugar cane country. We saw the huge plumes of smoke from the controlled burns on the fields and stopped at the edge of the Saint Lucie/Okeechobee Waterway to take a closer look. We also stopped to get a closer view of Lake Okeechobee, a course we would have taken had this been our “Way Big Great Loop Adventure” (come back in 10 years for that one!)

Lake Okeechobee

We arrived at Mike and Karen’s beautiful new home just before dinner.  Amidst the painting crew and in spite of the lack of furniture (thanks Mike for moving that last bed over for us!) we found our friends with an open home and open arms for our crew.  Karen said she is not yet sure how to decorate in Mediterranean style…I offered to take a trip with her to the Mediterranean, so the two of us could figure it out together…

DSC03742 A room with a view…





Sunset at Humphrey's

DSC03712After an amazing sunset from their patio, dinner, and a good night’s sleep, we enjoyed a boat ride before we set off on our adventure for the day. I always enjoy seeing towns from the water and Fort Myers, the “City of Palms” does not lack in beauty, or places to visit by boat.

The boys

 Fort Myers  

  boat ride

City of Palms

Joe's Crab Shack

“This is mission control Houston…”
February 12, 2010

“We are now at T – 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, Booster Ignition, 2, 1, and Liftoff of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on it’s way to the International Space Station to deliver a bay window view to our celestial backyard.”

Nasa photo

Photo credit: NASA

Tyler is wrapped in his favorite fuzzy blanket. I’m in my pajamas, robe and fleece coat. It is 4:14 am and we are sitting on the dock facing due north as we witness the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor.  A “fire ball in the sky” is the best way that I can describe it. It’s fiery tail was visible until the Solid Rocket Booster burned out and separated. We could clearly see the separation, just a few minutes into the flight. We watched for almost ten minutes, until it disappeared from our sight. My video did not turn out all that well, because at 75 miles away, my camera could not figure out how to focus. I’m sharing my best picture…Shuttle

…and a much better video can be viewed at the NASA web-site. The mission is STS 130.


Just 12 hours before the launch we were on a tour of the Kennedy Space Center. We drove by the building where the astronaut’s were taking their afternoon naps, in preparation for the early morning launch.  There was so much to see, so much to take in, so much to learn, that one day is not nearly enough to understand all the history, current events and future plans of what NASA has in store.


We also have NASA and space science technology to thank for many of the things that our children take for granted. Cell phones, laptops (and the batteries that power them), and artificial limbs are just a few…



Here Tyler is standing in a node, much like the one that the space shuttle is delivering to the Space Station right now. These giant “coffee can-like” structures are where the cosmonauts eat, sleep, and work in the space station everyday.

DSC03526 DSC03525

The Saturn V rocket is the largest and most powerful vehicle ever launched in the history of space exploration, and was used during the Apollo and Skylab missions…It is also, one of the most massive things I have ever seen! I wish photos could show the enormity of it!


DSC03540Apollo missions that have landed on the moon…


There were a total of 6 moon landings, two men each.

DSC03527 DSC03532

DSC03536 DSC03534


My own little “Rocket Man”…I guess there is a chance that he could see this place again in his lifetime… “but I think it’s gonna be a long, long time!”

A trip across the ocean and back in time…
February 3, 2010

We recently had dinner at the home of our new friends, Mahmoud and Alia Hadid. Mahmoud, is our landlord (fishing buddy, chef, and landscaper…from a previous post) and is an ex-patriot of the Middle East. He was born in Nazareth, spent much of his childhood in Greece, and then moved to Washington D.C. with his family during his teenage years. He speaks many languages, and travels abroad 6 times a year. As far as we are concerned he is a walking history book (he has lived it), which is great for my two daughters who are studying World History this year. His wife Alia is originally from Kuwait, where she lived until they married in 1992.

 After touDSC03457ring their home, the gardens and the grounds, it was time for dinner. Alia prepared a delicious Mediterranean meal for us, and their beautiful, eclectic home is mostly Italian Renaissance. They are both talented artists, and have an art and artifact collection that not only spans the globe, but also dates back to the time of Christ.










(Roll mouse over photos for descriptions)

Olivewood pot from Nazareth: (with some newer ones) for grinding grain, very much like the one Mary Magdelene would have used


    Grecian Pillars - Italian Renaissance painting

  Artemis: goddess of the sun

Alia's most recent piece  Mamoud's first piece, (hanging) a gift for his mother

Authentic piece of the Kiswa that covers the Kaa'ba in Mecca Artifacts, jewelry, weapons...that date back to the times of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires - except for the bug


This is one of several prints in their home of Momoud’s great, great…grandfather (no kidding), Dhaher Al-Omar ruler of Syria during the 17th century.

Daher el-Omar is considered by many Arab nationalists as a pioneer of the Arab liberation from foreign occupation. He succeeded in creating an autonomous territory in the Galilee, helped by the governors of Mount Lebanon (the Vilayet of Tyre), Egypt, Russia, and to some extent the consuls of France.

He is also remembered in reference to his approach to minorities, showing tolerance towards and encouraging Jews and Christians.

                                                                                                                               Internet Source: Wikipedia

 In the mid-1700s, Dhaher al-Omar, an Arab native and ruler of the Galilee and Acre who was hostile toward Ottoman rule, rose to become the most dominant figure in northern Palestine.

                                                                                                                                                    Internet Source: Nablus Guide


By special request, I am including a picture of his new, reconditioned pride and joy, a 1973 Rolls Royce; Mahmoud is also a collector of automobiles!

Now back to the 21st century…and time to leave. As we said goodbye, our gracious friends gave each of our children gifts. Hilary, Amber and Tyler were so surprised, and so grateful! A place, a dinner, some friends that will not be forgotten, and a History lesson included!

Gifts... More gifts...

and more gifts.