Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Walk in the Park

The Kingdom of Fife crew decided to brave the cold today to enjoy frozen landscape of Mammoth Cave N.P.

Talon Arch . . .

Eye Socket Arch . . .

Ice, ice baby

Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Tis the season of reason . . .

We actually got a decent snow for the holidays here at the Kingdom of Fife . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time Traveler

Since I am apparently somewhat compulsive, I was curious as to what battlefields Dudeboy has visited over the years. Provoking this is our recent studies of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. So, of course, I am starting a list of the sites he has toured. Personally, I think visiting historical sites really can cement what is learned by reading texts and such. If not too obscured by modern encroachment, one can scan the lay of the land and almost envision what took place there all those years ago. So, here is a list (which, without a doubt, will be added to) of the battlefields Dudeboy has visited.*

The American Revolution

The War of 1812
  • Burning of Washington (White House and U.S. Capitol Building), Washington DC . . . August 24, 1814
  • Fort McHenry (Battle of Baltimore), Maryland . . . September 13-14, 1814

The Civil War
*I have probably forgotten one or two, but this is still fairly impressive for a ten year old!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kingdom of Fife Film School . . . November

Here is the fourth installment of the Kingdom of Fife Film School. These are the films Dudeboy watched during November with his ratings. As you can tell by the scant number of films . . . we were busy in November!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

John Fife . . . 1782-1848

John Fife (1782-1848) was the progenitor of our Fife family line in the United States. We have conflicting evidence of his parents, so he is as far as we can go back with certainty. It is said that John was born in Alloa, Scotland. His grave is located in the Dellview Cemetery in Hardin County, Kentucky. The grave of John's wife Nancy McGinnis (1788- 1858) is also located here, but her headstone is now lost to the ages.

"SACRED to the memory of JOHN FIFE . . . born June the 2nd 1782. died Aug the 5th 1848. Aged 66 yr"

Seven generations . . . John Fife (1st), Pa (5th), Vic and Scott (6th), and Dudeboy (7th)

Dudeboy found this little guy as we cleared the gravesite of dirt, weeds, leaves and such.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Backyard Bugs . . . The Tarnished Plant Bug

This tarnished plant bug, Lygus lineolaris, was found on a basil plant. Apparently, our little pretty is quite destructive. One site states that "the tarnished plant bug is among the most damaging of the true bugs . . . " And Wikipedia notes that "No truly effective or reliable management options currently exist."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Baltimore . . . Part 2

Saturday, November 6:

On Saturday morning we went to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine which is famous as the spot that inspired the "Star-Spangled Banner." We took part in a ranger-led flag talk which taught us the importance of Ft. McHenry and the U.S. flag. Did you know that the Star-Spangled Banner had 15 stars and 15 stripes, representing the first 15 states and the 15th was Kentucky? Merkin reminds me that sixty-four percent of all the Americans killed in the War of 1812 were from Kentucky while they made up only 4.6 percent of the troops! After the flag talk, we toured the ramparts of the fort as well as several buildings. Unbelievably, there were only four deaths from the 27-hour bombardment.

Fort McHenry

"Star-Spangled Banner"

The Ravelin

One of the bombs that didn't burst in the air.

We went forward in history a few years from 1814 to the 1860s and toured a Civil War-era ship, the USS Constellation. Its mission was to stop the African slave ships. We learned about how they restored the deck. I can't believe it's still around! I'm glad I got to see it.

USS Constellation

Powder monkey

We crossed the harbor and moved forward again in history to World War II. and toured the USS Torsk. It was the last U.S. sub to sink an enemy ship in WWII. It was neat to actually see the gears, levers, cables, hatches, and all sorts of its working parts. It's unbelievable that so many men lived in such a small area. The three historical sites we visited today show us how important the water is to the city of Baltimore.

USS Torsk

10 officers and 71 enlisted crammed in the Torsk.

Sunday, November 7:

As we left Baltimore, we stopped by Church Hospital where Edgar Allan Poe died. Then we went to The Horse You Came In On Saloon at Fells Point to see where Poe was last seen drinking (supposedly).

Church Hospital

The Horse You Came In On Saloon

On our long drive back, we stopped at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The C&O Canal was the B&O railroad's rival. They started construction on the same day and are both out of use now, but the railroad lasted longer. I was disappointed that they only had a small section of the canal preserved at that site. In the yard of the C&O Canal museum there was a WWII re-enactment encampment with men dressed as soldiers, airmen, sailors, and even a few Germans, including Sgt. Schultz. It was unexpected, but I'm glad I saw it. We kept very busy on our trip, but it was fun. I especially liked every historical connection.

Western Maryland Railway Station where the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park is located.

The canal

"Strudel . . ."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baltimore . . . part 1

Prelude to Poe: Last Thursday we went to the Frazier Museum for a “Nevermore: An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe” which was a staging of several of Poe’s writings accompanied by period music. My favorite story was “The Tell-tale Heart” because you felt like you were listening to the murderer talk about what he did. It was like the book in many ways; that’s another reason I liked it. It was a good prelude for our trip to Baltimore because Poe lived, died and is buried in Baltimore.

Wednesday, November 3:

Our trip to Baltimore started when Dr. J. had a conference, so Merkin and I just tagged along. On the way there, we stopped at the Civil War battle of Monocacy which saved Washington, D.C. from being attacked by confederates. The Union commander at Monocacy was Lew Wallace who later wrote Ben Hur.

Then we flew like the Raven to Baltimore just in time to eat dinner at Annabelle Lee’s, a Poe-themed tavern, where they served drinks like “Masque of the Red Death,” “Descent into the Maelstrom,” and “Ulalame.” Merkin chose a beer called “The Raven.”

Monocacy National Battlefield near Frederick, Md.

The Thomas House . . . where the most intense fighting took place.

Thursday, November 4:

We went to the Maryland Science Museum. There we saw a good exhibit about dinosaurs and talked to a person cleaning dinosaur bones. There was also a presentation about inertia which helped me remember several facts. I will list them here: objects at rest will stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force; objects in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.

Baltimore is home to the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) which is the odds and ends of self-taught artists—and I do mean odd. The buildings were works of art in themselves. Much of the buildings are covered (and filled) with mosaics that Mane would love. In the mosaics we noted little figurines of presidents. In the yard there was a bus and a giant egg covered with mosaics. There was a giant bird made out of old parts and a giant nest. Inside we found a Lusitania made completely out of toothpicks, and it was several feet long.

One of my favorites was an Abe Lincoln statue made out of wax. The gift shop was just as crazy as the museum: from rubber chickens to George bush voodoo dolls and all sorts of other items you wouldn’t find anywhere else. The person at the counter taught me several neat magic tricks.

The American Visionary Art Museum

Mosaics for Mane . . .

Friday, November 5:

The next stop was the B&O Railroad Museum which has one the biggest collection of American trains. The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) was the first commercial railroad in America. We saw one of the largest engines ever made: the 1604 Allegheny. Only two of these trains still exist. We also went on a train ride along the first mile or so of B & O track. This was my favorite place on our trip.

The roundhouse at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.

Moving on down the line . . .

The engineer of the 1604 Allegheny . . .

That afternoon was our scary tour of Baltimore including two cemeteries and the neighborhood of the Poe house. We went to the Poe house when it was supposed to be open, but it was closed! At least we got to see the outside. We visited Poe’s grave at Westminster Burying Ground. When Poe died, he was buried in one part of the cemetery with his father. Later he was moved to a spot near the main gate. Merkin says it’s a perfect graveyard for Poe. It’s full of ancient-looking above-ground crypts and there are even catacombs under the church.

The Poe House

Westminster Hall and Burial Ground

Notice Poe climbing back into his grave after a night of debauchery . . . or maybe it was just a bum passed out behind Poe's grave.

The original gravestone for Poe

We traveled from the spooky Poe cemetery to the park-like Green Mount Cemetery where several important Baltimorians are buried. John Wilkes Booth lies in an unmarked grave in his family plot, so we don’t know his exact grave. We also went to the resting place of Joseph E. Johnston, Confederate general. Since Baltimore is famous for its crabs, we went to Obrycki’s Crab House and stuffed ourselves with crabs. They covered the table with paper. They gave us bibs, knives, and mallets, and dumped the crabs on the table for us to demolish.

John Wilkes Booth

Joseph E. Johnston

As you can see . . . Dudeboy was very crabby this night.