Category Archives: Waxing Philosophical

The Great Patten Compromise

The Great Patten Compromise

Life is a series of compromises, isn’t it? Little things and sometimes monumental achievements come by way of compromise. Take a couple deciding where to go for dinner. This simple, yet oh-so-common dilemma can sometimes end in quagmire. That’s when compromise is most important, when two or more parties just can’t seem to get their way. Those caught in this struggle can give up and walk away, or they can think outside the proverbial box and find ways to give each party a little bit of what they want so that everyone is happy (or at the very least, reasonably content with the outcome.)

An example of this is happening as you read this. The Patten House—which was the home of Melville and Dudley Patten built in 1895 in front of his father’s home, The Gamble Mansion in Manatee County, Florida—was on the chopping block back in 2014 due to termite and water damage. The State of Florida, its caretaker, agreed to invest in a full restoration. The long, slow process was initiated and until recently looked as if it was at last in the final stages, then BAM! Out of nowhere, the State announced they had decided to demolish the home. There’s no need to hash out the reasons, the final decision was made and announced, and all who heard the news gasped.

How could this be? What can be done? Is there a way to save her?

There is, through compromise.

This House is No Stranger to Compromise

When Mrs. Patten died in 1966, after living in this home for 71 of her 98 years, the State of Florida agreed to accept the donated home IF the home could be picked up and moved some 50 or so yards to the east to allow for a better view of the Gamble Mansion from the road. This seemed a reasonable compromise. And so, the house was moved, repainted, furnished and open for tours as well as a meeting place for the organization which had rallied to save her, the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Remember, it was this same organization that in 1925 had rallied support and raised the funds to save the Gamble Mansion, built in 1845 by Robert Gamble. Because of their action, the Gamble Mansion is the oldest surviving home on the West Coast of Florida. And because of their fund-raising efforts in 1967, the house was donated to the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, instead of almost (literally within minutes) being purchased by an individual who showed up with a briefcase filled with the exact asking price in cash. The Patten House almost became a doll museum.

But way before being saved by the UDC and the move across the lawn, the Patten House was part of another, larger, more important compromise. Calling this the Great Patten Compromise will make sense, but let’s start from the beginning.

A Little History

Dudley Patten, the builder/owner of the Patten House, was born in 1861, the year the War Between the States began. After the war, his father, Major George Patten a prominent Cotton broker in Savannah, Georgia, relocated his family to Manatee. The family lived in the old Braden Castle on the south side of the Manatee River, a short boat ride across from The Gamble Mansion which would become their home in 1873 (after a long settlement process and payment of $3000 in back taxes). Dudley was a boy of nine on the Manatee County 1870 Census. Imagine being nine years old, moving to Florida, and setting up a new homestead on the once-bustling, now eerily quiet Gamble Plantation. What that must have been like for Dudley and his five siblings.

George Patten was listed as being 65 years old on that same 1870 census, and because he was too old to work the whole 3,500-acre plantation, he sub-divided the land into plots—some of which he gave to his children and his freed slaves (who had asked to come to Florida with him), setting one plot aside as a community burial grounds. The other plots he sold to interested buyers who arrived in Manatee for the same reason George had come, looking for a fresh start in a war-torn Southland. Once several plots had been sold and settled, this created a small community, which George Patten named Ellenton, after his second oldest daughter Ellen who was 22 when they moved to Manatee and was one of Dudley’s four sisters.

The Patten family lived in the Gamble Mansion, which was sturdy, but difficult to maintain as it continued to age. The Pattens had their work cut out for them; keep in mind, had moved into an almost 30-year-old home in the middle of the Reconstruction Era. They made do, raising their children and three of their eldest daughter Hettie’s children, after her death.

On June 20, 1891, Major George Patten died at the age of 85 in one of the the upstairs bedrooms at the mansion. That same year, his son Dudley married Ada Melville Turner and they moved into the Gamble Mansion to assist his widowed mother. Melville and Dudley’s oldest son, Roy was born in the Gamble Mansion.

Soon thereafter, Mrs. Dudley Patten asked her husband to build them a new, modern home. Rumors abound that she insisted because she disliked the crumbling old mansion or living her mother-in-law, but quite possibly it was a little of both. So, Dudley began work on the new wooden, 4-room cottage, and while it was being built, their second child, Ida Mell, was born at the home of Mrs. Patten’s parents near Tampa. Soon, the young Patten family was living in their own little place, in the shade of two old oaks, just a stone’s throw from the mansion that once stood like a shining bright beacon on a thriving sugar plantation.

In 1897, Dudley’s mother, Mary Thomas Patten passed away in her bed at the Gamble Mansion, marking the end of an era for the old home. The dilapidated tabby, brick, and stucco home would stand empty aside from frequent and random visitors. Melville and Dudley’s oldest daughter Ida Mell recalled later not truly understanding who owned the home, as different people always seemed to be staying there.

Whether one stayed in the new, modern Patten House or the old, run-down Gamble Mansion, one thing remained the same. People had to use an outdoor bathroom, or privy. Each home had its own outhouse, which was the rule of the day, for centuries. Chamber pots and wash basins inside the bedrooms provided emergency and night-time assistance when nature called. But for the most part, people were accustomed to traipsing outside, many feet from the main dwelling, to relieve themselves or cast out trash that couldn’t be burned in a rubbish pile.

The Patten’s cottage had an addition added in the early part of the 20th century. They acquired a dining room, kitchen, and back porch. It wasn’t until the 1912 addition of the two upstairs bedrooms and the wrap-around verandas that there was talk of adding a new-fangled thing called indoor plumbing. Imagine, five children begging their father to add on an indoor bathroom! Well, that’s just what they did. And here is what Father Patten had to say about that. “No. Absolutely not.” One can imagine him wagging his index finger at them as he sternly added, “That business does not belong inside the house!”

There was no arguing with Father. Children knew better.

But, being a wise man, and realizing the benefits of appeasing his family and the obvious convenience of a flush toilet and bathtub that could be filled and drained without heating water on the stove, Dudley Patten made probably one of his most popular decisions. He agreed to give the family a throughly modern bathroom, attached to the house, but three steps down and 30 paces out the back door! Hence, the Great Patten Compromise.

This Great Compromise became one of the first, if not the first, plumbed residential bathrooms in Manatee County.

This undated photo clearly shows the bathroom addition (and the marvelous screened porch) of the Patten House. One can almost make out the delineation between the downstairs bedroom and the bathroom, with its little square window.

Back to the Future

It’s our understanding that this Great Patten Compromise history was not known to those who drew up the plans for the current renovation/restoration project. The bathroom, which in the early 1970s (after the move to the east) had been re-added by the Florida State Parks, was seen as a 1970s addition RATHER than what it was—was a 1970s replacement of the original. The new plans include a 21st century ADA-compliant bathroom, but it won’t be attached to the house like the original Great Patten Compromise. The original was a gentle, yet awkward sloping roof covering what at once is still an outhouse, by all intents and purposes, but which settled a great dispute over allowing “that business” inside the home. Not having an indoor toilet, sink, and bathtub or shower something we can’t even fathom today.

What we can understand is that compromises such as this are important in all relationships. Keeping the peace should be something for which we all strive. It’s just a matter of being flexible and willing to give sometimes so one can take at other times. Push and pull, give and take, these are the natural struggles of humankind. Compromise is the solution.

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Posted by on March 8, 2018 in Waxing Philosophical


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What Happened to ME?


Dear Readers,

I have not posted here in a while. Life, as they say, gets in the way sometimes, even in the way of things that we love. But, I’ve come to the realization that I want to do more writing. I’d love to even monetize it somehow. And I won’t get that opportunity by ignoring the blog or the readers, will I?

So, I came back. 

It took a few tries. I had forgotten my password. (Am I the only one who hates everything having a password these days? Sheesh!) But, I figured it out and took a peek at the blog and found a draft from ages ago. I read it and, of course, it still resonated with me. So, upon giving it a little thought, I’ve expounded on it and posted it here. The newer writing picks up with ‘Am I complaining?…’

I am shocked that the passage of time has allowed me to think through this issue and come to a more positive outlook. I’m certainly glad of that, though. 

I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment in the comment section or on Facebook.





For 35 years, it was all about me.

I lived where I wanted, ate what I wanted, did what I wanted. Heck, if I suddenly got the urge to go buy a half-gallon of Starbucks Low-Fat Latte ice cream and eat the whole dang thing right out of the container… I could. And I did. (At least once, that I care to confess.)

Marriage at 29 shifted things… a little. Not much. But after that I had to consult someone else before most major decisions.

But when our first child was born in September of 2004, my world as I knew it simply vanished. Now, I know this is a universal law here. It happens to every, single, solitary parent on the planet. However, no one prepared me for it. Even my mom. (Sorry, but if you did, I wasn’t listening, as usual.)

Now hold on a minute.


I just wrote and wrote and wrote, re-read, then deleted a whole segment about my shocking difficulty with breast-feeding and the horror of postpartum depression. This is not the ME I am referring to here. No, that was some major crap, don’t get me wrong and probably has a lot to do with what I’m going through, but the selfish thing I miss the most is FREEDOM.

This isn’t about how hard it is to be a mother. It’s about loss of FREEDOM. Plain and simple.

I can not simply jump into the car and drive somewhere. Not to Walgreen’s, not to Starbucks, not on a crazy spur-of-the-moment road trip to see some band in another town. Now, I never did much of the latter when I was single, but I love the idea of it now. Because I can’t.


Am I complaining? Kinda. But not really. I love being a mother. I love having created a family. But I do, honestly, miss the freedom.

So, what’s a mama to do?

The answer is quite painfully simple: NOTHING.

Until the kids are out of the nest, until they have been properly emancipated, there’s no freedom for either of us.

Whoa. Think about that.

Putting it into perspective, I’m not the only one suffering from a lack of freedom. Would my first grader rather NOT have to get up, dress and go to school five days a week? Certainly. Does my fourth grader really lavish the idea of sitting in her desk for 80 minutes and have her fledgling writing skills assessed by the state? Nope. Certainly not. They have ZERO freedom as well. Hmmmmmm. My husband has to work to pay our living expenses and keep us insured and fed and protected. Would he rather go golfing or lounge in his boxers in front of ESPN all day? Sadly, yes.

So, I am gonna make an effort to stop this woe-is-me mentality and, although I may occasionally long for the freedoms of my young adult lifestyle, I will try to truly relish the moments of motherhood. These years are fleeting after all, right? Soon, the kids will move away and I’ll be able to have that freedom back. Okay, not exactly the same kind of freedom. Then it will be the freedom to shop for adult undergarments or pick the restaurant where we’ll use our senior discount any day we want to (assuming it’s before 4pm). But, that’s how life is, isn’t it? We will be totally blessed to have lived so long to enjoy it.

Life is like a really good book. The more chapters the better, huh? I’ve been told on more than one occasion that these parenting years are the ones we will look back on the most fondly. I hereby promise to make the most of them. No more belly-aching about loss of freedom. Nobody needs to eat a whole half-gallon of ice cream anyway, right?


Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Waxing Philosophical


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Dear Daughter: The Postscript

Dear Daughter: The Postscript.

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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Waxing Philosophical


Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you

Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you.

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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Waxing Philosophical


Proprietary SECRETS: What’s A Mama To Do?


The ingredient list reads: sugar, stevia, natural flavor.

Okay. It’s packets of a sugar/stevia blend that I’m attempting to use in my coffee each morning to save some calories while still ENJOYING my coffee. What the heck is this natural flavor and why is it in there?

My thinking: Isn’t it sugar (which is sweet) and stevia (which is also sweet) and aren’t I adding it to stuff like coffee and tea? Why is there an additional natural flavor involved?

Of course, I have 1,238 other things I NEED to be doing while the littles are at school, but I can’t stop thinking about this mysterious natural flavor.

So, I called the 800 number.

Trish was vibrant and pleasant and sounded like a real woman I would probably be friends with if we met in a social setting. She proceeds to search for the answer to my query. As she digs deeper and deeper into her database, I joke, “Well, it must be some super secret if you’re having trouble finding it!” Her reply, “Right?!”

Finally she finds it, buried far, far below where no one has ever searched before… Because let’s face it, most people don’t even bother to READ the dag-gum label, much less question a mystery ingredient and if they do, they NEVER take the time to call and ask, “What the heck are you people putting in my food?!?!?!?”

The answer?


I was right. OMG!

It read something like this:

“The natural flavoring is a proprietary blend which meets all FDA approval.”


So Trish and I had a good laugh over the fact that I was RIGHT and that they really don’t want us to know what’s in the stuff, then she says, “May I send you some coupons for more of this product?”

I said, “Sure! And let’s hope the proprietary blend doesn’t kill us!”

And don’t get me started on that label’s last line which explains that they LIED about the calorie content! It’s rounded down to the nearest 5? What?! Can I do that when people ask me my age? Or my weight? Sheesh!


Posted by on January 25, 2013 in FOOD!, Waxing Philosophical


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Goodbye 12, Hello Lucky 13!


{That’s us, last week, in front of the signal mirror from the deck of the USS Enterprise, on display at our second* favorite museum, The National Naval Aviation Musuem (check it out here) It’s not the most flattering photo, I know, but Mike’s dad was a Commander on this vessel, so it’s both meaningful and FUN!}

Okay. It’s New Year’s Eve.


It’s all the rage to stop briefly on December 31st and ponder the year that’s ending. To stop and consider what went well, what sucked and how much we have changed – for better or worse. I used to love to think back on all the New Year’s Eves passed and compare: Where was I living? What kind of work was I doing? And in the years before Mike, who was I dating? (Sometimes these changes were monumental!)

But after 13 years of marriage and the addition of two kids the years now seem a muddled mess. Same house, same “job”, same unresolved resolutions. Really only the kids change now. I can’t believe this is Emily’s 9th NYE and David’s 6th. They are both old enough to kinda start understanding the idea of what a calendar year is and why we celebrate tonight’s rollover. Of course, they really don’t fully grasp the concept of time yet. And rightfully so… They just get up, eat, play, eat, make a mess, eat, bathe and sleep. (Nice work if you can get it, huh?)

But this year I want to do more with them in regard to looking back, being thankful, learning lessons and making plans to do better in the new year.

My years may seem like repetitive patterns, but theirs are just beginning to show remarkable personal changes every 12 months. The ever-expanding vocabulary, new interests, new friendships, old familiar friendships, and deeper memories!

Here’s part of my plan:

Over the next 30 days my kids, Mike, and I are taking the SendOutCards 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. Sending a card a day, for 30 days, to someone for whom we are grateful… teachers, friends, business associates, the guy who makes my latte, the folks at Publix… It’s a beautiful way to start a new year, don’t you think? If you’d like to take the challenge with us, click here or visit my website here. I think you’ll find that it’s a true win-win situation, as YOU gain immensely from showing gratitude (and only spend 62¢-a-day to do it!)

I believe the kids will learn to look at the people in their lives in a new way, by really examining the intangible gifts we receive on a daily basis, both big and small.

I sincerely hope your New Year’s Eve celebrations are joyful and safe and that your fresh start in 2013 is just the springboard you need to reach your dreams!

Happy New Year!


*Our favorite museum is our local gem, The South Florida Museum. Click here to check it out!


Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Waxing Philosophical


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Sometimes Being a Parent is HARD. Period.

Okay, I debated it.

Hubby and I discussed it.

I sought council from friends, family, clergy, psychologists, et. al.

Then I did it.

I spoke to my children this morning before school about the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

I didn’t use gory language. I didn’t focus on the madman. I didn’t use the words shot, shoot, kill or gun. I simply told them that something sad had occurred on Friday. That a man was upset and made a poor choice when he hurt some people, including some kids their age.

I explained that kids at school might be talking about it or they may overhear teachers talking… [In fact, I wasn’t sure if the Principal might say something on the morning announcements (God forbid).] I told them I wanted them to hear it from ME.

First, I assured them they were safe. I assured them that the teachers and staff at their school knew exactly what to do. I told them these types of things have happened throughout history, but they are very, very rare, which is part of what makes them even more sad. I told them again they were safe and very much loved.

Then I shut up.

And the questions started:

“Is the bad man in jail?”
“Did people die?”
“How did they die?”

It was not a fun conversation. It’s not one a parent dreams of ever having with their brood. But, I must say, I loved their thoughtfulness and their eagerness to ask questions. And their questions were completely appropriate, which kind of surprised me, although it probably shouldn’t have.

We focused on the heroes of the day: The school’s principal, teachers, the community’s first responders, the doctors.

I kept reiterating that they were safe and they were loved and that God was in control and to be trusted… No matter how crazy it all may seem.

I advised them, if a kid starts talking about it at school, for them to hold up their hand (in a STOP sign) and say, “I’d rather not talk about that.” Now, will that happen? I doubt it. I was a kid once, I know how much – even now – I enjoy discussing stuff like this. It’s sensational. It’s bizarre. It’s exciting, especially to a child. But I am hoping they can muffle the ‘noise’ on the playground or the lunch table and help squash the gossipy mess that spills out of kids’ mouths.

So, as I go about my daily work I can’t help but wonder what the conversation will be like in the car after school.

I hope this tragedy doesn’t come up.

But, if it does, at least I know I was the one who told them first and not some smart-mouthed kid who has been allowed to watch CNN all weekend and has all the gory details memorized. That was my greatest fear. I grappled with not saying a word. But I know it can happen. Some boy told my girl IN KINDERGARTEN what sex was – in his own graphic, yet amazingly accurate way. She luckily thought it was gross and went on about her business, but to think of her hearing about this from that same child sends chills down my spine.

Why is parenting so hard? Because we know crazy and evil exist. The kids see some in movies and books, but this is very much real and they need to know it, yet not fear it. Walking the fine line between equipping our children to cope and protecting their innocence is what makes it so difficult. At least for me.

I would love your feedback on this. What did you decide to do in regard to this subject? Do you find this kind of parenting thing hard? If not, how/why? What’s your secret? We all have our own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to parenting… I’d love to hear some thoughts on this.


Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Waxing Philosophical


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