Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fulton Mansion

Teri and I have been visiting the Rockport/Fulton area for over twenty years, yet we'd never taken the time to visit the Fulton Mansion. During our latest visit to the area we had a cool, rainy day that kept us from our planned outdoor activities, and we decided that it was time for that visit.

George Fulton was an engineer, inventor, and ranching entrepreneur. Fulton was married to Harriet Smith, and it was her land inheritance on Aransas Bay that they developed into a ranching and meatpacking empire called the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company.

Fulton Mansion - Front
To symbolize their success they designed and built what was then known as Oakhurst, completing construction in 1877. It is considered one of the finest examples of French Second Empire domestic architecture, and was the only home in the area with gas lighting, central heating, and indoor plumbing.
Fulton Mansion - Rear
For our tour we entered through the back of the mansion, and were immediately impressed by the condition. Everything was freshly painted and in perfect shape. Once inside we learned that the mansion had been closed for the previous two years and had undergone a $3.4 million dollar restoration. It re-opened less than two weeks prior to our visit. How's that for timing?

Many of the original furnishings and fixtures have been returned to the mansion, with other correct period pieces purchased to fill the gaps. The rooms were stuffed full of furniture, which we were told was a sign of affluence at the time. 
Hot and cold running water was a unique feature of the home, and the bathroom featured a large copper-lined bathtub. It also had this curious piece of furniture. Care to guess what it is??
Mystery Appliance
A hint:
Onion Skin Toilet Paper
Yes, that is the state-of-the-art indoor toilet. Fancy!!

The Fulton's lived in the home for only 18 years, after which it continued to be used as a private residence, then a restaurant, and finally an RV park. There are some amazing pictures of travel trailers parked on the grounds between the mansion and Aransas Bay, with the dilapidated home standing in the background. Texas Parks & Wildlife acquired the property in 1976, with transfer to the Texas Historic Commission in 2008.
"Original" Room
One of the upstairs rooms was not restored, which allowed us to see damaged and exposed areas of the structure. It was an interesting look at the materials and methods used to build the mansion. You may also note that the plaster walls are covered with signatures. During its "neglected" years the mansion was apparently treated as a curiosity by visitors who explored the rooms and left their signatures on the wall. 

Oyster Shell Insulation
A curious building material used in the home was oyster shell for insulation. I don't know how good the insulating properties are, but there is a trap door that allows you to see oyster shell insulation between the first and second floors. 
Master Bedroom
We are happy that we finally took the time to visit the Fulton Mansion, and that we got to see it after the extensive renovation. An interesting part of Texas History to be sure.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Kind Of Cake Do You Like?

Are you visualizing chocolate cake with a rich, creamy frosting?  Or maybe carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or spice cake or angel food cake, or ...

Do you know what my favorite cake is?  Yarn cake!!  Ever heard of it?

We’re having a dreary, misty day so I decided to spend the morning doing one of my favorite past times - getting out all my yarn and organizing it. 

I don’t have nearly enough yarn!

At the beginning of the year I had 5 of these large tubs stuffed full of yarn along with bags of yarn in the closet and underneath the couch.  While in Florida this past winter I had to order quite a bit of yarn to finish up some afghans I was working on.  Now I’m down to 2 full tubs, a tub with ‘scrap yarn’ and a couple of bags with yarn that I’m using right now. 

So, what is a yarn cake?  A few years ago I bought a yarn winder.  It’s great for winding partial skeins of yarn.  It keeps them neat and tidy.  The wound yarn is called a yarn cake! 

I’ve separated all my yarn by color, weighted all my yarn cakes so I know how much of each color I have, made a list of colors and amounts, and got it all back in the tubs.  It was a fun morning!
We’ve got a wonderful craft store in Kerrville that carries all the yarn colors I need.  So, right now, I’m not worried about stocking up, there is yarn close! 

I’m working on a couple of afghans now that I will finish before the end of the year.  That will make 22 afghans that I’ve crocheted and donated this year. 

Here are a few I’ve finished recently: 
Jacob's Ladder - scrap afghan.  
A scrap afghan is an afghan made out of left over bits and pieces of yarn from other projects. 
Shell stitch - also a scrap afghan 
Scooby-Doo.  This is calld a graphghan or picture afghan.
I got a little sidetracked but there will be more "vacation" blogs coming soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Aquarium at Rockport Harbor - Part 2

Even though this is quite a small aquarium, there are lots of interesting and unusual fish to see! 
Aquarium at Rockport Harbor

These are Sharksuckers (Echeneis naucrates): 
They have a sucker on top of their heads to attach to anything that moves!  They are found attached to sharks, manta rays, turtles etc.  If you find yourself with one attached to you, push forward to remove!
He’s not dead!  This is a Tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis): 

It often floats on its side at the water's surface, the coloration and movements resembling that of a dead leaf. They are frequently mistaken for floating debris.  They normally weight from 5 to 15 pounds but have been found up to 50 pounds.
The Texas state shell is the Lightning whelk (Busycon perversum pulleyi): 
Lightening Whelk.  State shell of Texas.

Lightning whelks are unusual in that they have a counterclockwise shell spiral (lightning whelks are usually called "left handed").

This 'left-handed' characteristic is reflected in the lightning whelk's scientific name perversum, from the Latin word perversus, means turned the wrong way. Busycon, from the Greek word bousycon, (meaning large fig) describes the general shape of the shell. The subspecies name, pulleyi, honors Dr. T. E. Pulley, a well known Texas naturalist and teacher.  Its common name is derived from patterns of "lightning-like" colored stripes that radiate along the sides of its shell.

Females enclose each fertilized egg into horny disc-shaped capsules while constructing a tough cord-like membranous egg-case string, which connects 50 to 175 total egg capsules. 
Egg capsules
Each flattened egg capsule can be as large as a quarter and contain as many as 200 eggs. The eggs hatch and the young mature through all larval stages within the capsules. Miniature whelks, with their shells, emerge through designated capsule ports during late spring. 

Baby Lightning Whelks

I don’t think I’ve ever wondered how shells reproduce!  It was really fascinating to see these tiny little shells. 

Next time - more tourist fun!