Monday, December 13, 2010

The Most Beautiful Video EVER

This has to be the absolutely most beautiful video I've seen yet.  "O Come O Come Emmanuel" plays in the background - instrumental, while the video plays out showing Joseph and Mary looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem.  It makes me cry it is so very lovely.  Joseph tries so hard to secure a place for Mary to give birth - and finally, he has to settle on an animal enclosure.  If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and you happen to like the hymn, "O Come O Come Emmanuel", do yourself a favor and watch this - I've watched it about 10 times and after I post this, I'm going back for more.  The best part about it all?  It's true.  Jesus did come and He did live to show us His way, and He did pay the price for our sins in His death.  The human race need not fear death - He has conquered sin and death.  And it all started by God allowing Himself to be limited to the body of a human being, from birth to death.  

What a miracle.   My mind cannot encompass the whole idea.  I am in awe of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Great Freeze

It's not even technically winter yet!!  It's still December 13 and winter begins on December 21, officially.  I know not many people will feel sorry for us South Floridians, but feel free to feel sorry for my flowers, my plants and the critters that are here and may not be able to withstand freezing temperatures. 

It's been a lot of years since South Florida has had temperatures like this before Christmas.  And back then, I didn't own a back yard full of butterfly and hummingbird plants, most of which determinedly like warmer temps.

So tonight, when I get home from work, my husband and I will take the blankets and sheets (pretty much the sum total of my "linens") that I folded and left on the porch from last weeks cold weather(why put them away when more cold temps are coming??).....unfold them and attempt to drape, pin and tie them over my large and small vulnerable bushes.  We have to get out the ladder so my husband can throw a sheet over the top of the trellis. 

It's supposed to be very windy tonight - so others in the neighborhood could be watching my sheets fly by in spite of whatever we do to keep them in place.

I love cold weather.  I love when it gets into the 50's at night.  To us, our critters, the wild things and the plants - that's cold enough.  You get a little cozy inside, you have some hot chocolate, you maybe go for a brisk walk to enjoy the cool air - and you sleep with the windows open to get that crisp, sweet air flowing over you as you put a few extra blankets on the bed.

I do NOT love it when it gets into damaging temperatures.  The farmers down here have lots more at stake than I do.  I may not have enough blankets to put some extra on my bed because they'll all be in the back yard.  It sure looks funny when the bushes are all covered up.  I'm not taking the sheets and blankets down tomorrow morning either - it's going to be just as cold tomorrow night, so the bushes get to huddle in the sun tomorrow with their "coats" on. 

I wish I could just press a button and a giant dome would rise up out of the ground just in front of our fence on both sides and keep going until both halves meet in the middle.  Voila - house and yard in a bubble.  Or just yard.  Then we could control the temperature, much like a greenhouse - and we wouldn't have to fumble around in the wind on ladders with sheets, blankets, safety pins and clothes pins. 

I can hardly wait for January, when it is normal for us to get a few extreme cold fronts.  The fact that it has begun in December does not bode well for the rest of the winter. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Lyrics

My husband has an endearing/sometimes annoying habit (mostly endearing) of picking a song - usually Christmas or Amazing Grace or Home On The Range or Oklahoma - his repertoire is quite limited.  He'll sing the tune of the song, but put another song's lyrics in instead.  So, We Three Kings tune is sung, but the lyrics are Amazing Grace - and he embellishes and adds/subtracts his own words as substitute to the established lyrics.  In short - he is a music rule breaker.  But I happen to think it's quite clever - we are made for each other, after all.

Yesterday, on the drive to downtown Miami, we got in a boisterous exchange regarding the lyrics to "Let It Snow".

My husband thought that the couple in the song were walking somewhere outside in the snow together, which is patently wrong - he cannot have listened correctly to the lyrics.  And so we started.

"Oh the weather outside is frightful,
And the fire is so delightful"
"I don't think there's a fire outside unless they're homeless people, sweetie."

"Sure - they could be walking home after being somewhere that there WAS a fire."  

"No," I say, "it's a present tense fire, not past tense."

"You're such a literalist" he says.

I toss off the thought that she should not be letting her boyfriend drive home in the snow - he'll get in an accident.  Especially since the song was written in 1945 and the roads were usually windy two lanes (no super highways back then).

My husband says, "How do you know they're not married?" 
I say, "Because he's going home after their date.  If they're married that's pretty strange behavior."

He says, "Maybe they're at his house and SHE has to walk home." 
Me - "Oh - that couldn't be in the 1940's.  That would go against all conventional ideas at the time of the roles of women and men.  It would be improper for her to go to his house, and he could never let her walk home alone in a storm - you know that.  What a dumb idea!!  And even if there was a lout in the 1940's that would behave that way (and I'm sure there were), it would not be a feature of a widely known, popular song.  The song would reflect the better mores of the time, not the worst ones."

He reluctantly agrees.

He finally got me, though.  "How do you know he's driving a car home?  Maybe he's walking?"

Aha.  Let's check the lyrics

"And since we've no place to go,
Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping,
And I've brought some corn for popping,
The lights are turned way down low
Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight,
How I hate going out in the storm,
But if you really hold me tight,
All the way home I'll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying
And my dear, we're still goodbyeing,
But as long as you love me so,
Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!"

Darn.  He's right - there's no mention of a car.  He's probably walking home in a small town.  Sigh - the small towns of 1945 before huge thick ribbons of bland, banal highways connected everyone everywhere.

But they're not married, obviously.
And she's not walking home, it's him, of course.
And they're not walking together (he thought since she was holding him tight all the way home he'd be warm - that they were walking together.  Really clueless.)

My husband has some wonderful talents, but musical ability, both tonal and lyrical, is not one of them.  But he sure keeps me laughing and we sure have a great time discussing these oh-so-important subjects.

Miami River Cruise

I know I haven't written here in a while.  I could say I've been busy, but I haven't been any more busy than usual, really.  The actual truth is - I wasn't motivated enough to post about anything.  I even went on a brief vacation to Myrtle Beach.  When I go through the pictures from that lovely interlude, I'll post about that. 

Today, hubby took me on the Miami River Historic Cruise - an early Christmas treat.  I love history and although there is very little left of old Miami along the river, I like to imagine what it used to be like.  Those are my favorite stories - about the early Miamians who had a jungle around their house and panthers in the back yard.  It must have been beautiful, but buggy, at least in the summer.

Without further ado, here are today's pictures from the cruise up and back down the Miami River. 

The picture at top is all that is left of some Indian Chieftain's palace or worship center from 2000 years ago.  It is the Miami Circle, right at the meeting of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay.  This must have been the only cleared area for miles and all around it must have been jungle.
Below is what is at the mouth of the Miami River and Biscayne bay today.  I guess it's beautiful in it's own way, but I always prefer nature and the original way things were.

Below - the Miami Skyline - pretty impressive if you like city skylines.

Above - what is left of a wall created for a big Bicentennial plan that fell short.  This wall is just at the north entrance of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay.

Above - Julia Tuttle's house.  This is what was originally on the North side of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay.  It was part of Fort Dallas.

The building above was slave quarters in the same area on the north side of the Miami River mouth.  In the 1830's William English built a plantation here and these were the slave quarters.  Later, during the Seminole Wars it became part of Fort Dallas.  Today this building resides in Lummus Park along the Miami River.  You can see the picture below on Flickr.  It is not my picture.

Above and below - Fort Dallas in the early 20's

Above is Sewell Park - a little piece of land on the Miami River that looks like it should.  The land back of the river slopes up on a limestone shelf - interesting in an area that is characteristically flat.  This is called Sewell Park after E.G. Sewell, a four time mayor of Miami.

Two photos up - the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami next to a much more modern building.
Above is what the original dredge marks along the Miami River look like from 100 years ago.  that is limestone and the dredge cut right along the edge to both widen and deepen the original shallow river.

Above shows some rare greenery along the Miami river.  The little hillock looks interesting among the trees - wonder where it led?

Above - original Miami River edge - at least the rocky part.

I  cropped out the city looking edges and just left the trees and the old house.  It's a commercial building today, but it looks like I imagine the old river might have looked before all the greenery was bulldozed.

Above - the Miami River Inn bed and breakfast.  It's the only bed and breakfast in Miami.  I cropped out the bottom of the photo because it shows what is across the street from both old wooden buildings that comprise the bed and breakfast:

Above is the uncropped view of one of the wooden houses.  Sigh.

Above - a canal that leads to an Indian cave - yes, a small cave - that is next to Sewell park, but is on Indian land, so it is not open to the public. To the left is a piece of a brochure about the Miami River, specifically about the "Indian Cave".

The piece of land above is more inland.  It is the original site of the tower shown below in the old postcard view.   It was called Car Dale Tower.  Look at the clothes on the ladies - it must have been the 1890's - that's ancient history in Miami.

An old dingy along the river.  It's seen better days, just like the river it's on.

Two photos up - a very small condo of three stories, facing the river.  Each had different color closed curtains, so I thought it made an interesting picture.

Under that photo is a scan from a book called,"Highways & Byways of the South", published in 1904, so the picture is earlier than 1904.  I believe a Seminole Indian is one of the peole in the boat and it is coming down the Miami River from the Everglades.  Below is a map of the Miami River up to the point of the "Miami River Rapids which is indicated by the small number 18 on the far middle upper left of the map.  The rapids are where the original boundary of the Everglades were.  From the Everglades, the river dropped about 6 feet gradually and that difference made the rapids.  Remember, you have to click on the image to see a larger view of it - this is true of all but the old images in this post.  Unfortunately, some of the old pictures I've copied from web sites do not enlarge when clicked on.

Above is another scan from the same book as above.  It shows a man about to enter the rapids.  You see how shallow the river was.  It didn't have very solid banks in some places.  This man is just coming out of the Everglades and heading to the coast.  The rapids, such as they were, are in front of him some feet away.

Above is "Musa Isle", another attraction that once existed along the Miami River not far from the original entry into the Everglades.

Below is one of the only remaining WWII training buildings left.  It's in pretty bad condition and so are the old docks.

I did take other pictures, but they are pretty much all the same story - "progress" in the form of development.  I love to imagine what it must have been like from the remaining records of early settlers.  Dirt roads, jungle like growth everywhere, lots of wild animals - and the beach, river and ocean clean and pristine, unpolluted by chemicals and sewage.  

Looking South at the mouth of the Miami River, which is pointing west.  I think the house is Brickell's - lots of jungle like growth.  Look into the distance - just more of the same.  It must have been wonderful right on the beach.  Today this whole area comprises the Miami skyline (picture above).

Above is an early view of Miami Beach, South.   A little different than today's Art Deco area. 

Above is the Miami river on the left, in 1913.  Already by that time, the Miami River canal was being dug and dredged.

Just contrast the pictures above with my photos - just a little different, isn't it?  It's like any big city - like Manhattan - it's very difficult to imagine the original. 

Oh - and if you are curious about what Manhattan was like before the white man came - this is a fabulous web site where you can look at any address in Manhattan and see what it was like - literally at that spot - before 1620.