Welcome to Beer House

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We don’t get many trick-or-treaters on our doorstep, for a few reasons. For one thing, our home isn’t very far from a busy(ish) intersection. For another, there aren’t many families on our street with small children. So, on Halloween-occasions when we DO hear a knock on our door (followed by hearing three familiar words), it’s an exciting moment.

For the first time, last night, we received a few visitors who were well into adulthood. (Which I fully support – Because I, too, adore Halloween. And I’m not the sort of person who believes that Halloween festivities should be reserved for kids.) When two “matured” trick-or-treaters knocked on our door, wearing amazingly detailed “Día de Muertos” costumes (that were, also, homemade), Hubby thought it was only right to say, “You both look amazing! Hey, can we offer you guys any beer, instead of candy?”.

The man, out of the costumed couple, started to look as if he was just told he’d won the lottery. “Are you serious!?”, he exclaimed.

“Sure! Wait just one moment!”, said Hubby, leaving and returning with two chilled bottles of Yuengling. The costumed couple was very appreciative, needless to say.

After they left, Hubby and I returned to our living room, where we were watching “Insidious” for the first time. (Which was awesome, by the way!) About thirty to forty-five minutes later, we heard another knock on our front door. When we opened the entryway this time, we were greeted by a new costumed couple. The man’s costume wasn’t impressive…I think he went dressed as a cockroach. The woman’s costume, however, was AMAZING. She was a winged devil, with these bat-like wings that would fully extend, as if she was about to lift into the sky and take flight. “You guys look incredible!”, I said. (Really, only referring to the woman’s costume.) With that, I extended a few pieces of fun-sized Milky Way candies into each of their bags.

About ten seconds of silence went by, with the couple staring down at my chocolatey offering. “Um…Thanks.”, said the winged lady. “So…Is this the house where we can get some free beer?”

To me, this was hilarious. Graciously, Hubby retreated back to our kitchen; and reemerged with a single bottle of the chilled drink. “Ok…”, he said. “But, this is our last bottle. So, you two are going to have to share it.”

The couple didn’t mind, that they’d have to share. They thanked us and went on their merry way.

Hubby and I just looked at each other. “Well, hon…”, said Hubby. “I think our job, here, is done for this year.” With that, we pulled the homemade “Trick-or-Treaters Welcome!” sign; and turned off the front porch light, as a signal that we were closed for business.

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Life Imitating… The Others

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Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down.  (It has been, ever since I was a small child.)  I just love the feeling of possibility and magic, during this time of year.

When I’m in the mood to watch a film to enhance the “spirit” of this season (and, yes, I just went there), one of my first choices is The Others.  Set in 1945, Nicole Kidman stars as Grace, a devoutly religious mother of two ailing children who has moved with her family to a mansion on the English coast while awaiting her husband’s return from World War II, though he has been declared missing. Their children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), both suffer from a rare photosensitivity disease that renders them extremely vulnerable to sunlight, prompting Grace’s rule of having only one door open in the house at a time. When Anne begins claiming to see ghosts, Grace at first believes her newly arrived family of eccentric servants to be responsible, but chilling events and visions soon lead her to believe that something supernatural is indeed going on.

If you’ve never seen this movie before, I don’t want to spoil anything for you.  All I’ll say is that it makes me want to visit the English countryside; or, curl up in a comfy chair with a thrilling book and soft lighting.

That is, aside from putting me in the mood for a ghost-hunt…

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  1. Medium Etched White and Gold Night Light Hurricane Lamp, Lamps Plus
  2. Churchill Leather Chair with Nailheads, Restoration Hardware
  3. Leather Monira Ankle Boots, Ralph Lauren Collection
  4. Silk Pleated Dress, Jil Sander Navy
  5. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. Skyscape A-Line Wool Coat, Nanette Lepore

S&S Exploring… Coral Castle

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Though I’m unable to recall the way that I was first introduced to Coral Castle, I can say (with 100% certainty) that I was instantly curious about this strange destination.  Nestled between the Florida Keys and Miami, Coral Castle is an astounding monument to one man’s determination. Often referred to as America’s Stonehenge, it has baffled scientists, engineers and scholars since its opening in 1923.

Coral Castle is a stone structure created by the Latvian American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin (1887–1951) north of the city of Homestead, Florida.  The structure comprises numerous large stones (mostly limestone formed from coral), each weighing several tons.  Local legend claims it was built single-handedly by Leedskalnin using reverse-magnetism and/or supernatural abilities to move and carve numerous stones weighing many tons.  (There are, also, legends of people viewing UFOs from the site.  Due to its scientifically accurate replication of the solar system.)  It’s estimated that 1,000 tons of coral rock were used in construction of the walls and towers, and an additional 100 tons of it were carved into furniture and art objects:

  • An obelisk he raised weighs 28 tons.
  • The wall surrounding Coral Castle stands 8 ft. tall and consists of large blocks each weighing several tons.
  • Large stone crescents are perched atop 20-ft.-high walls.
  • A 9-ton swinging gate that moves at the touch of a finger guards the eastern wall.
  • The largest rock on the property weighs an estimated 35 tons.
  • Some stones are twice the weight of the largest blocks in the Great Pyramid at Giza.

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Above: Other tourists wander through Leedskalnin’s creation.  (By the way, there is nothing holding the blocks of stone together, other than the sheer force of gravity.  No mortar, nothing.  Isn’t that incredible?)

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Above: The infamous crescent moon…With a colorful little visitor perched.

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Above: A view of the “throne” that Leedskalnin carved.  There is almost no “actual” furniture on the property; only pieces fashioned out of the stone.

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Above: My comrade for the day, and good friend, Marie.

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Above: This is where Ed Leedskalnin lived, during the time in which Coral Castle was being constructed.  He lived pretty simply, with just the few personal belongings that you see here and as you continue below.

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Working alone, Leedskalnin (who is pictured life-sized, above) labored for 20 years – from 1920 to 1940 – to build the home he originally called “Rock Gate Park” in Florida City. The story goes that he built it after being jilted by his fiancée, who changed her mind about marrying him because he was too old and too poor. After wandering around the U.S. and Canada for several years, Leedskalnin settled in Florida City for health reasons; he had been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

He began building his coral home in 1920. Then in 1936, when a planned new subdivision of homes threatened his privacy, Leedskalnin moved his entire home – and its many tons of coral – 10 miles to Homestead, where he completed it, and where it still stands as a tourist attraction.

How Leedskalnin managed this feat of engineering has remained a mystery all these years because, incredibly, no one saw him do it. A secretive man, Leedskalnin often worked at night by lantern light. And so there are no credible witnesses to how the small, frail man was able to move the huge blocks of rock. Even when he moved the entire structure to Homestead, neighbors saw the coral blocks being transported on a borrowed truck, but no one seems to know how Leedskalnin got them on and off the vehicle…

The Art of Tim Burton

One of the first artists ever to influence me is the incomparable Tim Burton. He influenced the way that I process images and visual storytelling, so early in my life that I didn’t even realize what was happening, as I was learning. (Most people don’t realize that he was an animator for Disney, before he became a renowned director. He contributed as a storyboard and concept artist to Disney’s The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron – which are two films that I loved, growing up.)

Though I’ve been less thrilled with most of TB’s film-projects, following (the stunning) Big Fish, I still consider myself a big fan.  And, when I heard that some of his closest friends and colleagues were collaborating to celebrate him, by publishing  a book of his (never-before published) artwork, my heart immediately started to pound!

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Hubby surprised me with the DELUXE EDITION, as a Christmas present.  (Not only that, we managed to snag it in time, to get it as a FIRST edition!)  Above, a bookplate that was signed by the man himself.

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Above: A special-edition lithograph, signed by the man himself.

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Above: An illustration drawn by Tim Burton, as a child.

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Above: Concept artwork of Catwoman and the Penguin, for Batman Returns. (I was obsessed with this version of Catwoman, growing up. In 1992, I was Catwoman for Halloween; and I still remember how awesome that costume was!)

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Above: “People in line for Rocky Horror show.”

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Finding Micanopy

Last Fall, my mother-in-law introduced us to Micanopy – a tiny, sleepy, little town that you’d completely miss, if you blinked while driving along 441. My mother-in-law knows of all sorts of interesting places that are under the radar, from a time in her life when she owned a motorcycle; and conducted a lot of her own exploration. I completely trust her judgement, when she insists on showing us someplace new!

Just south of Gainesville, Micanopy is a hidden treasure. Here are some interesting facts, about this Southern delight that’s cocooned in a time-capsule from the 20th Century:

  • It’s romantic.  I fantasize about returning to Micanopy for a long weekend… Staying at the Herlong Mansion, leisurely strolling in and out of the antique shops that pepper the main street, and eating homemade comfort food in the cafes that populate downtown. (Doesn’t Herlong look amazing? It’s, also, pictured below; and I fantasize about lounging on its wrap-around porches with a great book and a mint julep.)
  • It’s a haven, for antiques.  Or, it’s “heaven” for antiques. Whichever way you want to look at it! There’s so much vintage eye-candy in Micanopy, I thought I might go into sensory-overdrive. Authentic, Ball mason-jars from the 1920’s…incredible, wooden furniture…Relics galore, that you wouldn’t believe would be collected in one location, outside of a museum. And, (almost) all of them, for sale. On my next return, I’m making it a point to put some cash aside, to invest in quality pieces.
  • It offers other great shopping.  If you’re not into antiques; but you are interested in purchasing decorative items for your home, there are other options. The Shop is a fantastic little space, offering a huge variety of decorative items and folk art. (Thanks to my visit to The Shop, I now know of Johanna Parker – who has become a staple in my home, when decorating for Halloween.)
  • Bring cash.  It’s the 21st Century, now; so, most of the businesses accept debit/credit cards. However, I emphasize that this is a (wonderful) little town that’s very dated; and it’s better to be safer than sorry, in a financial pinch. Bring cash, just to stay covered.
  • It’s, secretly, famous!  Ever hear of a little film called Doc Hollywood, with Michael J. Fox? That was filmed in Micanopy. (In fact they used Herlong Mansion, for the exterior shots of the mayor’s home, during production of the film!)

Enjoy the photos below – and, if you want to see my full gallery, click here.

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