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Henry Flagler's Legacy

Is art a luxury or a necessity?

A treasury of history, art, and architecture lies within the gates of Flagler College. This campus was formerly a grand hotel built by oil tycoon Henry M. Flagler. During the Gilded Age of the late 1800’s, the hotel served wealthy guests who were eager to trade their snow covered homes for the tropical climate of St. Augustine, Florida.

Originally named the Hotel Ponce de Leon, the building is a masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Today students of Flagler College conduct tours to teach the public about this National Historic Landmark.

My husband and I visited the college in December. We met our guide in the foyer shown above. The hotel is decorated around three themes: Spanish, nautical, and religious. I was most impressed with the ceilings in each room.

These murals were painted with twenty-four carot gold paint.

The windows of the dining room were created by Louis Tiffany. The Edison Electric Company powered the building with steam heat and 4,000 electric lights. When it opened in 1888, the hotel was one of the first electrified buildings in the country.

Both sides of the dining room feature balconies where musicians played. Since the guests disliked any pause in the entertainment, one band would play while the other rested.

Our guide told us Mr. Flagler cared so much about his appearance, he installed a leather staircase between his suite and the dining room so he wouldn’t scuff his shoes on the way to dinner.

After our tour I wondered if Henry Flagler really supported the arts, or did he simply want to impress his guests with his wealth and decadence?

Internet research enlightened me on the subject. The Hotel Ponce de Leon accommodated visiting artists who hosted weekly receptions in seven on-site studios. Most Friday evenings, guests admired each artist’s work and often purchased a painting or two. In addition, a gallery ran along the north side of the building.

The first of the hotel artists to receive national acclaim was Martin Johnson Heade. One of Heade’s most famous paintings is “Giant Magnolias on a Blue Velvet Cloth,” gifted to the National Gallery of Art in 1986. Flagler was Heade’s most loyal patron and commissioned two of his large paintings for the rotunda of the hotel. Henry Flagler’s legacy as a patron of the arts lives on at Flagler College.

In 2007 the artist studios became part of the Molly Wiley Art Building. Flagler College offers an exceptional visual art program for undergraduates.

Some people think of art as a luxury, consumed by those with large amounts of leisure time and money. It’s true that Henry Flagler had both but I believe he valued art as a human need. He realized art is a vehicle whereby humans reach their full potential.

Art helps stretch your mind as much as exercise stretches your body. This year why not visit an art museum, gallery, or festival? Decorate your home with an original piece of art.

Leave a comment and share how art has enriched your life.

Are You Finishing Your Race Well?

The clock is ticking and 2019 is almost over. Were you able to achieve a goal you set for yourself last January?

If you’re like me, you stopped making New Year’s resolutions because you failed to keep them in the past. Why do some people fail while others succeed?

Setting Realistic Goals

One reason people succeed depends upon the goal they set for themselves. They choose a realistic attainable goal which they deeply desire. Achieving any goal requires an investment of time, energy, and sometimes money. In order to stay motivated a person needs to care enough to invest themselves.

Before setting a goal, decide if you’re willing to make sacrifices. If additional knowledge or skills are needed, can you obtain the resources to help you advance?

Recently, I watched thousands of runners cross the finish line in the Orlando half-marathon. Clearly these champions had set a realistic goal for themselves. They were physically healthy and committed to months of preparation. Some of the runners may have sought advice from other athletes or hired a personal trainer.

Visualize Success

Finishing a long distance race depends upon remaining focused and committed. I’m sure there were days when some of these runners wanted to do anything else but run. They had to say no to distractions which pulled them away from their training schedule. They had to get up early to work out when they wanted to stay in bed.

In order to press on mile after mile, runners may have visualized someone taking their picture as they crossed the finish line. They imagined the cheer of spectators and the glorious moment the shiny medal is placed around their neck. Very often our goals are achieved by picturing what we will look like when achieve them.

Be Honest

Take the time to evaluate your progress along the way. Honest evaluation doesn’t mean putting yourself down because someone else is faster or better than you. Seek help identifying any misconceptions you have regarding the way you are running your race. Often runners team up with a pacer who helps them maintain their speed.

If you are disappointed in your progress, find out what steps you can take to improve. If you hit a roadblock, or meet a setback, don’t let it tempt you to quit. Celebrate the small victories. If you’re attempting something new, you will not finish first, but you can finish the course.

Be Inspired

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

Scripture honors hard work and diligence, a concept often learned by participating in sports. I may never attempt to run a half-marathon, but seeing the joyful faces of the runners at the finish line inspires me to give more effort to anything I decide to do.

I’m looking forward to 2020. Are you?

Perfect Peace

Is perfect peace found…

In a cloudless sky?

Or could it exist in a hurricane’s eye?

Can it be perceived in the dark of night?

Or better displayed by candlelight?

Is peace our reward, when all work is done?

A prize for the victor, when conflict is won?

A mother feels peace as her child drifts to sleep.

A sailor knows peace where the waters are deep.

The teacher can’t wait ’till the final bell rings.

The hiker knows peace when the morning birds sing.

The judge proclaims peace when the last word is said.

The waitress will say it’s when everyone’s fed.

The busy store clerk awaits Christmas Eve.

A harried host smiles after everyone leaves.

Perfect peace

Strivings cease

Kept by those

whose trust grows

in the Rock of Ages.

Are You a Target for Advertising?

Now that the Christmas season is here, retailers are busier than ever trying to convince people to purchase their merchandise. I love to shop, but I need to remind myself that what looks good in an ad doesn’t always turn out to be the best purchase. In the past, I’ve bought clothes that looked good on a model, but didn’t complement my short frame. I’ve also had my hair cut like “that girl in the magazine,” only to be let down when I tried to style my hair at home. But one ad I can always depend upon is the Publix grocery flyer.

Publix follows all the seasons and holidays with their menu suggestions. Many of these ads also feature BOGO items. How smart! For example, my featured image of pot roast and mashed potatoes includes an inset announcing that the items needed to create this scrumptious dish are also on sale.

Even though I’d been trying to lose weight for months, I took one look at the pot roast and thought, I want that. I began to search the web for pot roast recipes which included mushrooms. I did not come up empty.

Recipe in hand, I drove to my neighborhood Publix to buy the ingredients before the sale ended. Later, when I was putting everything in the fridge, I told my husband, “I’m making something special this Sunday, but you won’t believe the money I saved at Publix.”

After being forced to eat nothing but big salads because I was the one a diet, Herb looked up from his book, “Sounds good, does the word special mean high-calorie comfort food?”

“Always. I think calories are very comforting.”

At long last, Sunday morning arrived. I followed the recipe and mixed up the ingredients in the crock pot before church. Upon my arrival home, the aroma from the roast made my mouth water. Then I received a text from my son, “Sorry Mom, I’m not going to make it to lunch today. Something’s come up.”

Then a second text, this one from my daughter. “Dad and I are tied up at the car dealership. We’re going to be late for lunch.”

“Oh no. I hope the pot roast is as good as it smells, because we’re going to be eating it for the next week.” I continued preparing the sides while my brother set the table.

We took our seats and gave thanks. Our plates looked just like the image in the flyer. I took my first bite. “I’m forgetting about calories today. This is delicious.”

Later, the rest of my family trickled in for the leftovers. Everyone thought the meal was outstanding. For once, I did not feel let down by the power of advertising.

If you are looking for some real comfort food this December, you can find the recipe for Slow-Cooker Pot Roast at this link. If time is a concern, it can be prepared with the crock pot setting on high.

Bon Apetit! Let’s enjoy counting our blessings instead of calories this holiday season. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of dieting foods on sale in January.

Tracing the Florida Crackers

Have you ever read a book you could never forget? A Land Remembered is one of my favorites. I am not alone, as the book has been ranked #1 Best Florida Book eight times by Florida Monthly Magazine.

Author, Patrick Smith tells about the life of Tobias Maclvey, a cow hunter who battled storms, rustlers, and mosquitos to build a kingdom out of a swamp. I enjoyed traveling back through time with Tobias as he rode his horse through the Florida scrub to round up free range cattle. Smith’s words inspired me to visit the cow camp at Lake Kissimmee State Park, where history comes alive.

Read on as we venture back in time to the Florida of 1876.

One hundred fifty years ago, Florida had few roads, no railroads, and none of the modern conveniences we enjoy today. Pioneer families survived by hunting wild animals. The early settlers discovered the land contained thousands of free range cattle and horses originally brought to America by the Spanish. A market for beef developed in Cuba and soon Florida cow hunters traveled by horseback through the wilderness, catching cows and herding them to Punta Rassa, near Fort Myers.

I meandered down the trail to the cow camp surrounded by huge live oaks draped with Spanish moss.

The camp consisted of a holding pen for the cows and a primitive shelter for the men.

Not exactly where I would want to spend the night.

My husband and I joined the group around the fire. Rick, the one and only cow hunter on the premises served us black coffee he had brewed over the open flame.

I took one sip and handed my serving to Herb. How can a place with so many cows, have no cream?

Rick explained that unlike the cowboys of the west, Florida cow hunters used trained dogs to drive their cattle. The many marshes, hammocks, and flatwoods of the Florida landscape prevented the use of the lariat.

The cow hunters carried a whip, known as a drag. The loud crack of the drag moved the cattle along. Because of this the cow hunters became known as “crackers.”

Rick emphasized that the crackers did not whip the animals, the drag was only a noise maker.

Once the cattle were delivered to market, the crackers were paid in Spanish doubloons. Gold became the common currency of the south Florida frontier.

The cow camp is open every weekend from October 1st to May 1st. For more information go to Lake Kissimmee State Park.

A Tiffany Window

Poetry inspired by art.

Earth fused with fire

minerals blend

amethyst stained

atoms suspend

colorful glass

fruit of the flame

carved into pieces

placed in a frame

blended together

images rise

fruit of the harvest

feast for the eyes

light opalescent

dispels the night

spirit awakens

dullness takes flight.

* My featured image is part of the Louis Comfort Tiffany collection at the Morse Museum of Winter Park, Florida. The museum is hosting an open house Thanksgiving weekend with free admission. Click here to read more about the history of stained glass.

Dear readers, this week is a time to count our blessings instead of calories. Thank you for following my blog. Happy Thanksgiving!

In Defense of Daydreaming

My favorite part of camping is sitting by the fire. When the logs crackle and orange flames flicker, I visit my pondering place. I love to daydream. I think of my daydreams as a kind of reality waiting for me in the future. Dreaming plants the seeds which will eventually grow to maturity and bear fruit.

Is dreaming a waste of time?

As a child, my teacher reprimanded me for looking out of the window during class. The outdoors seemed much more interesting than what was happening on the chalkboard. She tried to keep me from daydreaming by calling me up to the front of the room to work math problems in front of the class. I felt embarrassed. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop daydreaming.

Scientists describe daydreaming as “short-term detachment from ones immediate surroundings.” Think of it as a pleasant mini-vacation from your immediate location. When you daydream you use your mind instead of brain. Far from being a waste of time, mind-wandering allows us to think differently. Recent research has shown that daydreaming can be useful.

Here are some benefits of mind-wandering:

People who daydream are happier because hope and anticipation are related to the practice of imagining the achievement of our goals.

Daydreaming lowers blood pressure due to less stress.

Letting our minds wander can promote our creativity and problem-solving abilities. (I don’t think my math teacher understood this one.)

Time spent in reflection can help us become more compassionate because we can contemplate what others are feeling.

Daydreaming improves our working memory.

What did King Solomon know?

King Solomon is considered one of the wisest men who ever lived. Proverbs 29:18 reminds us “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Although daydreaming isn’t one of God’s commandments, resting from our daily routine is. Resting provides an opportunity to let our brains function differently. When our brain is relaxing, we are free to allow our minds to create and problem solve in new ways.

There are many settings conducive to excellent daydreaming. What is your favorite place to dream?