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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Old Mirror from Ghent

Ilove to restore or reuse old things. One night when I was walking in Ghent near the Donut Dinette, I found an old mirror left for the trash. I'd rather fix something that was trash picked than have someone give it to me new. It is also "green" and re-cycled... just think, the old mirror isn't in a land fill. The mirror reborn as a chalkboard sits over a cedar-lined built in storage "locker" that I just love.

Also trash picked is the pie safe you see at the end of the hallway. It was apparently an old chicken coop and had the chicken poo poo on it to prove it. I cleaned it, sanitized it and Bruce lined the doors with chicken wire. It is one of two real chicken coops I have in my house. Bruce finds this odd having grown up around the smell of chickens. I grew up around the smell of the subway, so I find him odd because he knows how to milk a cow by hand. That reminds me of a funny scene from one of my favorite movies, "Witness," but I digress

I've had a passion lately for chalk boards/slates. I think I first saw Kim at Daisy Cottage writing little messages on slates. I love them because when I see little quotes or things I want to remember, I have my own little soapbox to say what I will.
We pulled out the broken mirror, leaving the frame and spray painted it white. I traced the outline of the mirror's inside and used chalk board paint on the wall. I leave little notes for my husband or what have you on this little framed chalkboard.

The rest of what you see is my long, dark, narrow hallway that I painted a sunny yellow. It is also a TALL hallway, the ceiling is 11 feet high, so you can't even see the vintage lamp. The pic looks odd at that angle, but it is the only way to include most of the elements in the hall.

Autumn Fresh Flowers

I love this primitive yellow tool box with the "Fresh Flowers" on it. I've filled it with pansies and fall mums and put it on my front porch. If you look closely, you will see that the handle of the tool box is made of a spindle from an old staircase. The handle still has traces of wonderful old green paint on it.

The white you see behind it is mosquito netting that we use when eating outside. I don't like the look of screening on a front porch. I think it makes the front of the house look kind of blank. The netting looks prettier, I think.

Another one of my odes to Autumn.

Peeping Tomasinas and Keys

Did I ever tell you that I'm a Peeping Tom...or I guess a Peeping Tomasina? My goal is not to see naked people or even people at all. I want to see people's decor. I want to see their wall colors, their window treatments and how they hang pictures on the wall. On my evening walks, I'm always delighted with the people who leave their blinds up. That's why I love some blogs so much, because they are another way of peeping into someone else's house. So here's a peep into mine.

I've always been fascinated with keys, particularly skeleton keys. My grandfather, whom we all called "Father" to distinguish him from my own father (a man who I assure you could never be referred to as "Junior," though he is one) was an attorney. As an aside, you can see my father's sepia colored graduation pic in the round frame on the left hand pic I've posted.

Father had acquired a large number of skeleton keys from estates he had settled. They were kept in a canvas bag in the wonderful old pantry my grandmother had, third drawer down. How I'd love to have that pantry now! When I worked at the old church, we re-keyed after renovation and happily, I ended up with all those old keys.

I also have a precious key from "Pop" my other grandfather. You can see this key in the first pic, it is the one that hangs down lower than the others. My Pop had a kind, smoothing voice and sparkling blue eyes. He looked like Jimmy Cagney. He worked in at a pub called "the Hub" (which according to the key chain, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1959!) after teaching all day so that my mother and Uncle Jimmy could go to college. The wonderful old Bakelite owl key chain with the key to that bar in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania was found amongst his things after he went to Heaven.

So many keys found their way to me that I decided to use them in my decor, as a sort of chair rail border. You can also see an ancestor's old pocket watch. I also used some old things that I found in the yard, like a big old hook I found when digging a garden. You can also see my homage to Tina at Cherry Hill Cottage, in the little teapot with the flowers. She did something similar a few weeks back.

Jesus said that he gave us the keys to the kingdom of heaven, so I'm glad those hundred of keys hang there to remind me of that.

The Donut Dinette

This is the Donut Dinette in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, just 4 miles from my house through the Midtown Tunnel. This tunnel takes me underneath the Elizabeth River which separates our two cities, something I contemplate as I frequently drive through it.

I often wonder what size of ship is actually navigating through the harbor right over my head there as I drive underneath. It could be a dear red tuggie, a Navy ship, a coal barge or even a Mickey Mouse ship, the Disney Magic, which was overhauled in the Titan drydock last month.

Ghent is an eclectic, trendy area of lovingly restored old homes, gorgeous apartment buildings from the the turn of the century with names like "Princess Anne" carved into the lintels, a bird sanctuary and all the hip restaurants. Ghent is so cool it has TWO Starbucks and and an independent coffee shop, too.

The Donut Dinette isn't contrived retro. It is just the way it has always been, with a vintage Coke signs that aren't just old-LOOKING, they've just been there for over sixty years. Authentic old-timey is so much better than "let's try to make this look old."

The "Donut" has only vintage stools inside and what used to be called a lunch counter. It is tiny and there is no room for any booths. These are the kind of stools I used to spin around on to make myself sick as a kid at Shady Glen in East Hartford, CT! In the temperate months, they have tables and chairs out front. However you have to go inside to step back into the past when it almost seems as though you could look down at the Virginian Pilot paper to see where Tommy Dorsey was playing live and learn that Mrs. Roosevelt was visiting in West Virginia to inspect working conditions in the coal mine.

The Donut is one of those places I've passed about a bazillion times and thought, "how cute, we should go there." One night, Bruce and I went for a walk in Ghent. As we passed The Donut, I noticed the that someone was inside the closed restaurant making donuts with his dog; a white dog with a big black patch over his eye curled up on the black and white tiled floor. Okay, the Health Department would have freaked, but I considered it perfection! I had to go.

The Donut's staff are perfect, too. In an age of sometimes surly serice, they are friendly and talkative. They seem to be throwbacks to another time, too. Customers come in, cheerfully teasing each other and staff, reading the paper and "talking story" (as they say in Hawaii. Is that pidgeon English term not a perfect word picture?)

The cooking grill is right out in the open, behind the counter. Two can have the breakfast special and coffee for under $20 with tip, which is A-okay in my estimation. Last time I was there I had eggs over medium and rye toast (no grits for this transplanted Yankee, read a vintage decorating magazine, spun around on my stool just a little, held hands with Bruce and thought of how sublime life can be.