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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Black Beauty

I would hazard a guess that I'm the only person in my town with a horse's bridle mounted on the downstairs bathroom wall.  That bathroom is sort of "cowboy chic," if you will.  I love finding fun things to put in there to play up the Old West feel.

Look at this handsome fellow I found over the weekend.  He sits on a ledge above the stall shower.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Today I learned a lot about flexibility. I’m a great one to make plans and not bounce back well when they don’t work out the way that I thought that they should. It is all about needing to have control, one of the least attractive things about me.

Off I went with my little plans to go to Starbucks with my dogs. It wasn’t too hot today, so I could go back to sitting outside with Lulu and Little Bit. Then I was going to go to a nationwide chain grocery store to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables. Loaded up the dogs. Check. Got the vente three equal six pump sugar free cinnamon dolce latte. Check. Greeted my Starbucks peeps. Check. Got said dogs settled down. Check.

And then the best-laid plans began to unravel. Someone else brought an aggressive dog. I tried to move the table out of the sun and the leg fell off. An older man with a rather loose grip on reality invaded my space and made me feel uncomfortable. I left.

I decide to drink my latte in the car and drive through some neighborhoods that I enjoy. I saw the idyllic scene you see below.

Took a walk with the doggies and saw this and that. They liked it better than Starbucks and so did I.

The pictures above are why they call it Waterview.

And then I found my vegetables from Charles Nixon’s stand here:

And brought home the vegetables here:

Many plans are in a man's mind, but it is the Lord's purpose for him that will stand.  Proverbs 19:21          

Green Glass

My dining room is green, designed to highight the green ivy Franciscanware which once belonged to my parents.  If you're very observant, you might have noticed that the Ricardo's used the very same pattern.  Can you pick out Lucy's china on my buffet?  

(pic courtesy of Vintage Memorabilia Shop (*Nk2mP0&product=kitchen)

That's my father on his pony in the green framed picture and my special green tea cup from when I was little on the same shelf.

A relative got me started with collecting green glass when she gave me the wonderful canister you see pictured on the top shelf,  far right.  Although it says "flour" on the front, it was used to pack potato salad for picnics during fishing trips near Hay Springs, Nebraska.  The canister was pulled from a wicker picnic basket stowed in a black and white 1954 Chevy Belaire like this one.  Right next to the fishing poles.  Everyone felt lucky if Eric didn't get car sick.

There was the potato salad, egg salad sandwiches, and a big cooler of home-brewed ice tea.  Dessert was pumpkin pie.  Later fried, breaded bullhead or perch was lovingly cooked by Grandma Fodge.  Eric would cry when she'd make creamed peas.  Eric went on to become a champion power lifter in Nebraska and finally stopped crying when people took his picture.

Since then, the green glass collection in various shades has grown, mostly with help from very reasonable Goodwill purchases.  When the light hits my green glass in the morning, I see jewels of peridot, emerald, and citrine.  Yesterday I relocated a picture from the other side of the dining room to a new spot above the buffet.  The colors in the picture enhance the colors of the glass. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Goodwill Chic - The Hall of Mirrors

Okay maybe it isn't this Hall of Mirrors in the palace at Versailles, but it makes me about as happy as eating cake did for Marie Antoinette.  Uh, while she was still able to eat cake, that is.

I have been collecting various things for this wall dating back to 12 years ago and really concentrating on getting it ready to go for the last six months.  My inspiration was partially Daisy Cottage Kim's red painted mirrors and partially pictures in my decorating books. 

Most of the items came from Goodwill.  All were under $5.  They ranged in color or finish from plain wood to metal to really ugly 1970's gold plastic, in the case of the the two large, oval mirrors.    I still have a few spots to fill in here and there.  These small areas will be the hardest to fill, as I'll have to keep a sharp eye out for the right size and shape.

It was really hard to take one pic which would do the whole wall justice. This area encloses the stairwell, so I had to try to convey the look by taking a few, graduated shots.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I want to....

I want to run over to this store on the corner and pull a cold Coke in a bottle out of a water-bath red cooler. 

I will ask Stanley Roman, the white-aproned butcher who owns the store, to give me 2 pounds of ground sirloin.  He will wrap it up in brown paper tied with skinny red and white string pulled from a dispenser hanging over his head.   Mr. Roman will lean across a spotlessly clean real butcher block to hand me this little package. My grandmother will make it into meatballs for spaghetti sauce.

 I want to put two little cans of white shoepeg corn , the meat, two Twinkies, and some Bon Ami cleanser into my red basket.  Mr. Roman will put this on my grandmother's account and bill her at the end of the month.  I want to see horehound and rock candy for sale near the cash register in clear glass jars with chrome tops. 

I want to walk home to 23 Wind Road  in red sneakers, a white skirt, and a white sailor top with red and blue trim.  I'd like to be able to hand the grocery bag to my grandmother.   Then we'll go  to Bride Tierney's next door to have a "nice cup of tea."

I want it to be 1968 and I look forward to school starting again at Sunset Ridge.  I want to play with my Barbies, pet Ginger the cat, and get some donuts at Fred Yankus' bakery in Hartford after Mass.  Dad and I don't tell Mom that we do this and wipe the incriminating powdered sugar from our lips in the rear-view mirror.

Well, I can still have a nice cup of tea in the cup I used way back then.  I think I'll go do that.

The market pictured was actually in an historic neigbhorhood in Raleigh, NC, where Bruce and I recently took a day trip.  But in my mind's eye, it can be right back in Connecticut, in 1968, where there was once a similar place. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Thrift Love - Goodwill Find

I've been looking for a trunk to put at the foot of my bed for years.  I found a wonderful old trunk at my FANTASTIC Portsmouth Goodwill (Hi Angela, Donna, Donna's mother, Rose, etc.  Please log on and comment!) 

The finish on this vintage trunk was a bit beat up.  It was more expensive than what I usually buy at $40.  However, upon investigation on the Internet, I learned that it was made by Klein Brothers of Long Island City, NY, a part of the borough of Queens in New York City. 

The Kleins were Hungarian immigrants who arrived via Ellis Island in the 1890's.  Sadly, this family firm went out of business durin The Depression in 1936.  The trunk's interior is cedar-lined.   I actually remembered to take before and after pictures, too!  I usually get so excited to start my project that I totally forget the before picture. 

The old linen on the top of the trunk in the "after" picture once belonged to my beloved friend (now in heaven) Hester.   She, like many women of her era, had some lovely (what I think they used to call) "bridge cloths."  Well anyway, my grandmother called them that because she played bridge. 

I think Hester used these vintage table linens when she entertained her Pittsburgh Presbyterian church ladies.  I imagine her now reunited with these old friends having a bit of a gossip in heaven over good coffee and some Panera pecan rolls.  

Or  maybe she and her Portsmouth friend Grant Creekmore are up in heaven having liver and onions the way they used to at Mama Jean's, when they'd straighten out all the problems at St. John's during lunch.  I think Grant Creekmore has to be the definitive patrician Old South old lady name, don't you?  Hester Kimpel was also a perfect old lady name, but Hester didn't have an old lady demeanor.  Another wonderful old lady name from my church was "Carter Vermillion."  You can't make this stuff is the South.

I remember Grant's beautiful snowy white hair and the silver necklace with charms of small children on it which she always wore, fitting for a retired teacher.  She had an imperious, high-pitched voice, pronouncing her name as "Grant Creekmo."  Grant didn't invite you over for a drink, but for some "libation."  She could have been another character on The Waltons, an old friend of the bootlegging Baldwin sisters or something. 

Anyway, I have digressed terribly.  I have used two of Hester's tablecoths (one aqua and one in a pink and white dogwood blossom pattern) in window treatments and one white one is folded on my bed.  A certain disreputable dachshund has claimed it when the morning sun sreams in the windows. 

A fourth one is so lovely, a time-worn white with beautiful openwork, that I just decided to leave it on the now-white trunk to enjoy up a little closer than draped over my window molding at 11 feet up in the air.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blue Jays

I'm not sure what's up lately with me and sentimental old pictures.  I have  few favorites...old flowery prints from the 1920's to the 1940's, old religious prints, and, just recently, bird jays and cardinals particularly.

This friendly little bird painting of blue jays on a wintery branch was waiting for me at Goodwill in a terrible gold frame with matting.  If this painting should have been in a metallic frame AT ALL, it should have been silver.  The gold was really outre.  I took that off and found a wonderful old oval frame, turned it on its side and cut the blue jay painting to fit.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Curbside and Goodwill Chic

I've been tweaking with this corner of my bedroom for I don't know how long.  I never could seem to get it the way I wanted.  Perhaps one of the reasons is the thin water pipe that runs through the area.  I'm not sure.

A while back, I found an old window curbside.  I used some craft paper to line the back of some of the windows and hung it as you can see above.  The teapot was a Goodwill find, as were the baby dresses.  I'm finally happy with the way this turned out.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Services Today

I went to church this morning with my big-tough-guy best friend, Jason. When something is troubling him, he often asks me to go to his church with him.

Jason is a police officer in a gritty, inner-city area who sees the very worst of broken humanity day after day. He’s a small-town New Jersey dude with a big-city attitude. He can either be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York looking at the Angel Christmas tree or winning a North Carolina BBQ contest with a big wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek. You just never know. He’s loyal, fiercely stubborn, and Polish to the core.

Jason struggles with his understanding of the Lord. He sees God as a punishing father just waiting for him to step out of line and do the wrong thing. Deep in his heart he is a person of tremendous faith, but his failure to see God as a loving Abba makes him incredibly hard on both himself and others.

The sermon was from Jesus’ parable about the servants staying prepared for their master’s return. The priest said that no one wants to meet his or her Maker any time soon. The priest continued to explain that one has to know God here on earth so that when you actually do meet your Maker at death, it isn’t the first time you’ve been introduced. He described how people in certain occupations, such as police officers and fire fighters, needed to be ready all the time.

Walking with God, he said, is an incremental process. If you try to think about the enormity of it, you will become discouraged. He recommended doing something every day, little by little, step by step. When I peeped over at Jason out of the corner of my eye, he had tears in his. I’m a terrible spy on people at church, I confess it.

The priest urged us to see the Jesus in those around us and Jason’s hand clamped down so hard on my knee that I winced. I debated putting that last sentence in this blog entry and thought about saying he grabbed my arm. But that wasn’t true. I’ll just say that there was nothing even remotely romantic about the gesture.

Finally, the priest talked about the enormous and immeasurable love that God has for his children. He preached everything I’d ever tried to talk to Jason about for the last six years.

The organ played “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and the choir sang. One soprano sang a descant high over everyone else’s voices, putting shivers down my spine and making me think of the angels praising God before His throne.

We walked out in silence and got into Jason’s squad car so he could drop me at home where Bruce was waiting to take me to lunch. He put his hands on the wheel, backed up the car, turned to me, the tears shining in his eyes and said, “Okay, I get it.”

I love when God does stuff like this.

As Bruce and I drove to Red Robin, I thought, “If only Jason could really understand the love of God and listen for His voice, he’d stop struggling.” And God whispered to my heart, “So would you.”

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rest in Peace, Papa

My heartsong is about my Papa, who died a week ago today. It is difficult to sum up an 82 year old life dedicated to the Lord and to his family in a blog entry.

My father was a missionary, a pastor, a psychologist, and a master carpenter with two doctorates who spoke five languages. He lived for his Lord and for his family. As far as my Papa was concerned, everything else was simply background noise.

We laid my Papa to rest on Thursday on a little rolling knoll on the edge of a national forest. He was carried there by his son, a decorated Army major, beloved sons-in-law, and his youngest brother, David. His youngest daughter and her two children sang Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Rise.” We buried Papa in the familiar vestments he wore as an Anglican minister.

Later, as the sun set, the deer stole in from the forest and ate the roses, daisies, and sunflowers which decorated his grave. The staff at the cemetery thought this was a drawback and recommended plastic flowers to my mother. My mother just isn’t a plastic flowers kind of person. We thought it was beautiful and fitting that those fresh flowers wouldn’t go to waste. There was no plastic. Papa loved deer.

I quietly looked at his prayer book yesterday, using his glasses because I couldn’t find my readers. In the liturgical tradition, this prayer book, or as we call it, “Daily Office,” contains the readings for church services in a three-year cycle. The entire Bible is read aloud in church during this three-year period. It is planned so that the congregation is instructed from the entire counsel of Scripture, as it is all God-breathed.

When I remember Papa, I will think of him sitting at a table or on the corner of the couch reading his Daily Office and making notes on a small yellow legal pad in his distinctive angular handwriting. Sometimes he was reading to prepare for a sermon. Frequently, he was studying for his own edification. After having been steeped in Scripture since high school, he still found fresh inspiration from the Holy Spirit every day.

The book fell open to the readings for my birthday in April, with my snapshot marking the page. My brother and sister were similarly represented. There were notes about whatever Scripture he had last been studying on scraps of paper…the back of an envelope and on an old grocery receipt.

My father was born to a French Canadian family on Fisher’s Island, NY. Fisher’s Island is a tiny enclave off the coast of Connecticut which has large estates of very wealthy families. Papa’s father was a caretaker for these families.

Papa was very difficult to buy presents for. One year I checked EBay for Fisher’s Island and found an antique postcard of the church he grew up in. He had tears in his eyes when I gave it to him. The postcard was tucked into one of the Gospels. In one of the last pictures we have of him, he was showing the postcard to Uncle David, who had never seen it. I am SO glad that I found it for him.

There was a note to my mother, “Maureen, I’m picking up my medication at Albertson’s. Love, Joe.” I found my sister’s graduation picture and an old black and white snapshot of Papa when he was an impossibly young missionary in Peru. And finally, there was a recipe for banana pudding from the side of the Nilla Wafer’s box. He had a huge sweet tooth.

His whole life was summed up in that battered Daily Office with different shades of yellowing tape holding the worn leather cover together. Well done good and faithful servant. We’ll all see you soon.