Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Still Life on Scotts Creek

With all the chaos and uncertainty in the world, this was my peace this morning:
Walking beside waters so still that the trees were perfectly reflected in the water.
No fancy marinas along Scotts Creek, but well loved family boats of West Park View residents.
I love this stately Queen of the neighborhood.
Egrets and green herons feed in this marshy area of the Creek.  I feel grateful to be around this much nature, with foxes, rabbits, and raptors like Cooper's Hawks abounding...right in the middle of a city.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.
Psalm 113:3

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

And a Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven

Fall comes later in Virginia than it did when I was up North, as a child.
Now the days are ending early, but the flowers flourish.   Our temperatures are in the sixties and the seventies.  My flowers are happier than in the dog days of August and September.
The trees across the street are just beginning to put on their fall clothes.
The last daisy nestles with some apple mint. I am always sorry to see them go back to sleep until spring.
Geraniums are party animals, the very last to go, hanging out until last call, when we get a hard freeze.

"To everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven."  Ecclesiastes

Here's a gratuitous dog pic because I love her.  She's looking a bit more pit bull here than Labrador. That's one of her "babies" that I pick up at the Dollar Store.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Aerostat Flying Free

We are rejoicing over Bruce's new job as a senior instructional designer at Camber Corporation for a few reasons.

First, his normal hour and ten minute commute (one way) to another state is down to 25 minutes to Virginia Beach.

Second, the physical plant of his job site is in an upscale office park.  That is not the norm in military contracting.

The office park has a lovely little cafe, a gym, fountains out front, is well landscaped, with atriums in the buildings' centers. He and his co-workers walk during lunch along the trails which border the Lynnhaven River.  The "River" is actually a tidal estuary of the Atlantic Ocean.

Third, his pay increased tremendously.  Thank you, Jesus.  As my beloved Joyce Meyer says, "He's El Shaddai (Giver of All Sustenance in Hebrew), not "El Cheapo."

Fourth, Bruce had a word from God that he should leave his former company. He worked in the Quality Assurance department, creating videos to enhance safety, quality, and efficiency.  Bruce loved the actual work, which involved being highly proactive, productive, and creative. However,sometimes, I know, he felt like a voice crying out in the wilderness.

You know that big "blimp" that became untethered last week, taking down electrical wires, and leaving tens of thousands without electricity?  The media kept calling it a blimp.  It was actually an aerostat; a blimp designed to be tethered by lines, rather than to fly.  The media also stated that it was made by Raytheon Corporation.  That was also incorrect.

Raytheon was the primary contractor, but the aerostat was made by Bruce's former company.  The inaccuracy reminded me that the news media isn't too keen on fact checking, these days.

Walker Cronkite must be rolling in his grave.  When he said, "And that's the way it is, Thursday, June 2, 1972," you could believe it. Today? Not so much.

 I You-Tubed him and this made me cry:

Top Ten Walter Cronkite moments

When I was small, I thought that Walter Cronkite and Captain Kangaroo were the same person at different times of the day.  I related better to the "morning Walter." Modesty, professionalism, accuracy. The most trusted man in America. That's who he was.  Okay, back to Bruce's job.

The JLENS project (putting spy or commo stuff on aerostats) is now being scrutinized and, no doubt, the other countries (US allies) who buy the aerostats from the North Carolina company where Bruce used to work are thinking twice.  One source says the program is "hanging by a thread."     Not a good time to make aerostats  Bruce's job would have been highly jeopardized.

Thank you Lord, for speaking to Bruce's heart.  And thank you, Bruce, that you heard and obeyed.

Psalm 95:7
For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rest in Peace - Senior Trooper Michael Dooley Badge No. 1560

This is a hard post to write, but I must.  I returned from a cruise to the Caribbean to learn that my colleague, Trooper Michael Dooley, had died while I was gone.

Senior Trooper Dooley was one of the original troopers in my unit, the Sex Offender Investigative Unit, of a mid-Atlantic state police agency which I will not name.  Mike was a leader among us. He was well over 6 feet with a booming voice and a large demeanor,if you know what I mean.

I am told that he had more felony arrests than any trooper in the unit in 2014.  He took his job of protecting public safety seriously.  However, as one trooper related, he could go after an offender, yell at him, set him straight, and the offender would thank him afterwards.

The last time I saw him in uniform, he came into the office in the late afternoon and asked me where our Sgt. was.  This was odd because our Sgt. works earlier hours.  I looked at him, leaning on the door jamb.  I noticed that his normally ruddy Irish complexion was ashen.  When I asked him what was wrong he said, "I have a terrible headache."  He was diagnosed with a particularly vicious cancer shortly afterwards.

Police agencies are like families.  Mike's police family rallied around him from dispatchers to compliance officers to admin personnel to troopers to supervisors. I am proud that the professionals I work with went over many times to pray with him, meet his family's needs, begin work on a deck, take his two youngest children to the movies, do fundraisers, clean the house, fix the air conditioning, and to mourn with them at his passing.

It has been painful for his work family to experience his change from a unit leader to someone helped on and off the commode by his fellow troopers and his Sgt.   I am proud that my co-workers were willing to help him even in that most basic of functions.  He was barely recognizable from the way we used to know him.  Yet even in that helplessness, he had the power to affect all of us in both the way he lived and, more importantly, in the way he faced death.

My friend, Tony Jones, related in his moving eulogy that he first met Mike when Tony came to the unit from another part of the state.  I'll try to paraphrase what Tony said.

"I had met with the then Sgt. and was so discouraged that I thought I had made a bad decision to come down to the area.  I left and saw Mike Dooley filling his car with gas out back.  We introduced ourselves and I related my discouragement."

"Mike said, 'Oh, don't worry about him.  He just has his head in the clouds'  Only if you knew Mike, he didn't say in the clouds.  He said something else that I can't sat in church.  Mike told me to jump in his car.  He took me to Norfolk and showed me how to do the job while I rode with him for a few days"

All of us laughed and Tony went on, "I've prayed with Mike and I know where he is.  I am so thankful that he has gone on before because I know that when I get to heaven, Mike will be there to show me the ropes again."

Mike Dooley went home to God on his birthday. When you think about law enforcement officers, please think about this brave, hardworking, honest, and dedicated trooper who worked extremely hard and carried out his duties with integrity and professionalism.  I can still hear his voice on the radio in my mind, "This is 1560..."

Professionalism, dedication to duty, and the desire to help others is the norm for law enforcement officers. This is why it is big news when an LEO is video'd looking less than professional. The media doesn't run news stories about LEO's like Senior Trooper Mike Dooley, a consummate professional who did his duty to his utmost every day, because it doesn't inflame the public and raise their ratings.  Maybe they should.

In Memory of Senior Trooper Michael Patrick Dooley
10/21/57 - 10/21/2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rest in Peace...the Few, the Proud, Our Marines

Dear Abba Father please show us what is causing this sickness in our society.  Multiple news sources report 4 dead Marines in Chattanooga, a police officer in surgery, and a madman shot dead.  Help us, Jesus.

Eternal Father, grant, we pray,
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength, and skill 
Their land to serve, thy law fulfill; 
Be thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps.
Semper Fidelis, rest in peace brave Marines.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tweaking the Front Door Area

Over by the front door, I always have different items staged to go the mailbox or the recyclables or returning cold-pack grocery sacks to the car. I'd end up stacking them on the floor, an elegant look to be sure (eyeroll).

I had an idea while shopping at El Lotto Grande (as Alex at  Living the Small Life calls it) or Big Lots.  A box like this one was selling at a deep discount:

Whenever I am thrift shopping, I always look through the linens for vintage sheets which can be re-invented in all sorts of amazing curtains, tablecloths, and can be easily made in a simple skirt.  With the price of new fabric so high, I try to keep some on hand.

I raided my sheet stash and grabbed some spray paint I had from another project..

This is so much tidier than a bunch of stuff on the floor.  The box also makes for a comfortable extra seat.
I save the flowers Bruce brings from time to time and use them all around the house.  Seems like a sad waste to just throw them away. My front porch is one of my favorite things about this old house, but it is hard to get a good shot at the front door because of the shade it provides.

I've been saving the vintage sheet I used for the top for about 6 years.  With a can of spray paint and a staple gun, I am mighty.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Walton's Mountain

I've always tucked the Walton family, from the iconic 1970's television show, in a special place in my memories.  I still watch old episodes on the Hallmark Channel. Like the Andy Griffith Show, the weekly exploits of  John Boy, Jim Bob, Mary Ellen and the gang comforted me during a chaotic childhood.

The incredibly special thing about The Waltons is that the actors portrayed a real family struggling and growing during the Great Depression in the Virginia Mountains.  The narrator in the television show, who was also the creator and the actual John Boy, was Earl Hamner, Jr.  And he grew up with his many siblings, parents, and grandparents in this house in Schuyler, Virginia which is now on the National Registry of Historic Places.

We thought it would be a great place to explore on July 4.
Located about three hours from my home in Portsmouth, Schuyler is a sleepy, pastoral country hamlet along the Rockfish River.
Speaking of Rockfish (Daddy was always delivering lumber to Rockfish in the television show) here it is, post office and all.
Lumber operations still flourish in Nelson County.
The Walton kids on television were always messing around at the river. Ninety years later, kids were tubing down the mild rapids and jumping off a granite outcropping into the Rockfish.
I watched them from this bridge listing to the sound of the lazy old river, making its way down to the James River as it has for centuries, the cicadas encouraging it on its way, and children delighting in it as it flowed along.

Up the river, we think we found Ike Godsey's General Store from the television series.  Although it has been sadly overtaken by nature, if you look closely at the front roof line,you can see where the old sign hung.  The large porch overhang sheltered the old gas tanks.
Little farms spread out across from the Rockfish.
Schuyler Virginia is a slice of Americana relatively unchanged in 90 years. Schuyler and Rockfish have no McDonalds, no Payless Shoes, no strip malls, no stoplights, and no gangs.  No graffiti, no litter, and no one rude honking a horn.

In fact, as we slowed to take a picture of these barns, a car pulled alongside to make sure that we weren't having car problems.  When we let the driver know we were visiting "The Waltons" she wished us well, waved good bye, and told us that the river was just up the road.

I guess the Waltons don't just exist in my mind, but Walton's Mountain is a real place with real people who choose a different way of life.  I'm so glad they're still there, aren't you?
G'night John Boy, G'night Elizabeth, G'night Grandma,...cue harmonica music.  The end.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Red Sails in the Twilight

I'm a frustrated Manhattanite.  Well,  maybe not frustrated exactly.  I have a constant wistful longing for Manhattan.

I grew up between divorced parents in Connecticut, where my family has deeply-set roots and New York, where my mother and stepfather lived.  I treasure my memories from childhood in the Greater Hartford area, don't get me wrong.

I recall nearly every moment of my childhood there: the screeching of my grandmother's storm door as it opened, the taste of horn rolls from Michael's Bakery, the smell of Sunset Ridge School, and the chill as I put my hands in the icy water of the Coke cooler at Stanley Roman's Grocery on a hot June day.  I would charge it to my grandmother's account along with some animal crackers and think I was a badass.

I lived in Manhattan as an adult and visited frequently as a child.  My grandparents would take me in to see the Christmas Show at Radio City.  I'd go into the City (as New Yorkers call it, for there is only ONE city that matters) to visit museums and go to Yankee games on the A Train.

Mostly I would walk for miles observing and experiencing the hot dog vendors, the store windows, historic architecture like the Chrysler and Flat Iron buildings and, once, the surrealist artist Salvador Dali who had only half a mustache at the time, walking an ocelot on a leash down Central Park South.
It looks like a regular ole kitty, but this is actually a "big cat" also known as the dwarf leopard. I think the cat's name was Babou.

I would also see the actress, Ruth Gordon, out walking nearly every day in my neighborhood.  It came to the point that she would put her cane over her arm and pat mine saying, "Hi Honey, how are ya, how are ya" with a big smile as we passed.  This was a lot better than her character in Rosemary's Baby who scared me witless.

Life took a different path for me and hasn't been too shabby since Bruce whisked me away to live in Hawaii, but that longing for New York continues.  God's Word says that He gives us the desires of our heart. I don't think this means that we get whatever we want, but rather that He puts the desires in there to begin with.

I have an idea of what He is going to do with all this and it is exciting.  However, in the meantime,I was cooking dinner last night and dreamily thinking, "What would I be doing if I lived in New York?"

I'd have gone to a little grocery store (no room for big, huge supermarkets in NYC) such as they have there, like a Fairway, and picked out what I needed for a couple of days.  I'd choose my fruits and vegetables out front.
I'd wheel everything home in one of those personal shopping carts New Yorkers use and then hang behind the apartment's front door in between trips.

And then, and then...I mused while I cut carrots for salad and checked on the baking chicken.  I seized on just the thing, "I'd go to Riverside Park and walk along the water in the twilight," getting a little teary at my lack of Manhattan.

Then it hit me.  I live along a beautiful river, The Elizabeth, and the only reason I don't walk along it in the twilight is lack of planning or lack of gumption or pure laziness or lack of habit...who knows.

I walked along the river last night.  And was treated to this beautiful sight:
It isn't the Hudson, but I think this quite possibly could have been even prettier.  Bloom where you are planted.  I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, too, when I vacation there soon.  And get ready for what God has next.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Gift of a Letter

I have had the great good fortune in life to have had personal contact with notable people I admire. While I imagine that many people who are raised up on pedestal can possibly be found disappointing, happily for me, that has not been the case.

I have long admired the prolific writer, Alexandra Stoddard.  For those of us who enjoy creating a beautiful home, her writing is truly inspirational.

One of  Alexandra's books is entitled "The Gift of a Letter."  She doesn't use the computer, but writes her manuscripts using beautiful, French-made paper, gorgeous colored ink, and a fountain pen. Her hand-written letters show the same panache, as you can see above, written to me on China blue stationary with a silver ink.

Yes, Alexandra Stoddard sent ME the gift of a letter after I penned a condolence note regarding the death of her beloved husband, the attorney and author Peter Megargee Brown.  Alexandra has been so brave and open about how she is coping with his earthly loss that I felt compelled to write

Years ago, I read about her first New York City apartment in which she had window boxes on the inside.  Twenty-five years after reading about those "inside window boxes," I made one of my own from my Papa's wooden tool box, which had once belonged to my Pop, his father-in-law.

Alexandra's window boxes had geraniums in them, but I don't have enough light at the back of my kitchen for flowers.

I feel blessed indeed that every time I have reached out to someone I have admired, each of them has turned out to be as wonderful as I thought they were.

Alexandra posts a monthly newsletter on her website on the first of each month. An assistant posts for her from her handwritten draft.  Alexandra's newest missive should be up tomorrow or so.  Each one is wonderful.  I hope you enjoy it.

Alexandra Stoddard

Sunday, June 28, 2015

HOH- PAAAAH!!!!!!!!

I’m passionate about the movies.  

Favorites include Moonstruck, The Hunt for Red October,L.A. Confidential, Fried Green Tomatoes and a lot of film noir.  

Film noir movies always include a dame, a hard-boiled detective or other cynical male lead, with a stylish mystery.  To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Casablanca, Key Largo, and all those movies from the 40's and the 50s with Robert Mitchum and his sleepy eyes are film noir.

Here’s a peak at a film noir favorite with some of the classiest movie dialog ever written.  It ought to be fabulous, William Faulkner wrote it.

The Big Sleep Bogey and Bacall

One of my favorite movies of ALL TIME is My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Not only my favorite, but the top grossing romantic comedy ever produced.  Which is lovely for Nia Vardalos, the Greek star who wrote the screenplay and earned an Oscar nomination the first time out.  

Nia recently tweeted that MBFGW2 is in production.  Every one of the original cast members Lanie Kazan, Michael Constantine (Principal Kaufman from Room 222), John Corbett, and Joey Fattone have signed on for the sequel along with newcomer John Stamos (Uncle Jesse from Full House).  Nia took the pic above while filming.  John Corbett is looking pretty good at 52.

Years ago, my niece, Piper, quipped that any sequel should be called, My Big Fat Greek Wife.  I think she was 11 at the time.  I don't think they're calling it that.

BTW, the title word up there is Greek for Hooray!