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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Abandoned Houses

Am I the only one who passes abandoned houses on country roads and wonders what became of the families who once built a life there? Virginia creeper vines insistently twist themselves into any crevice or crack, filling the vacuum that nature abhors. Neatly trimmed yards fill with weeds and trees self seed in a haphazard way. An occasional faithful perennial planted long ago by a young wife in a feed sack dress lifts its face to the sun or twines along a sagging fence.

How did the ties to the community grow loose and finally disappear? Did elderly parents pass away and educated children move to greener pastures? Doors stand open and windows gape blankly. The house remains silent.

Abandoned houses are best captured in black and white or sepia tones. They have their own stark and sad beauty. Does the house still contain the echoes of little feet and the growth marks in pencil on the pantry door? Did Grandma rock gently on that porch? Did a mother peer down the road waiting for a son to come home from war? Did the rain beat a tattoo on the tin roof as a young couple made love underneath? Did a middle-aged farmer sit on those sagging steps, wearily pushing his sweat stained hat back on his head as he read a foreclosure notice?

We will never know, because the abandoned house along a country road keeps its own counsel and shelters its own secrets.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thinking Globally

I've always been fascinated with globes, geography, and different cultures around the world.  I love ethnic food, ethnic dance, ethnic music, and learning about the different ways we express who we are through our culture. 

Time Life published a series of books called "The Foods of the World."

I think there were about a dozen volumes, "The Cooking of Japan," "The Cooking of Italy," etc.  I devoured every volume, because not only was cooking discussed, but also the culture of the area.  Proving that there is a picture of everything on the Internet, I found this shot of some of these favorite cookbooks next to...a globe, of course.

When I moved to Hawaii, I didn't know that there was a country named Tonga.  By the time I left, I had Tongan friends.  Through my Red Cross service, I learned about far off places like Kwajelein Atoll in the Pacific and Diego Garcia, BIOT (British Indian Ocean Terrority). 

I went on to supervise multicultural outreach workers.  I learned about their experiences as Vietnamese boat people, as Somali refugees who went to a high school graduation and ended up never seeing their families again.  I worked with the primitive Hmong people from Southeast Asia who worship animal spirits.   I learned that Vietnamese are largely lactose-intolerant, the Chaldean people of the Bible are still around, and Somalis have strong teeth because they drink camel's milk which has a high calcium content.

Lately, I've been stumbling across globes for under $5  in my thrifting adventures.  I love to search them out in junk stores and Goodwill.  Vintage status is easily determined by looking at Africa and checking for  Zimbabwe or Rhodesia.  Rhodesia means vintage.  Looking at Eastern Europe helps, too.

My upstairs hallway is long and dark.  It is hard to get a good shot in that area.  The globes are sitting on a bench storage unit.  The top lifts and there is a cedar lined storage area inside.  It is sort of like a window seat with no window.  The best part of this little vignette is that it keeps me from piling stuff on the bench

I found the frame for the chalkboard left out for the trash in a swanky neighborhood and spray painted it.  The scrollwork against the yellow wall pleases me.  I couldn't find a piece of wood that would fit behind the frame, so I just painted the wall with chalboard paint.  I change the message on it several times a week.  It reminds me of cleaning the chalkboard and clapping the erasers when I was at Sunset Ridge Elementary School and had Mrs. Thierfeld for fourth grade.

The chalkboard reads:  "He's got the whole world in His hands.  1 Samuel 2:8.  That Scripture says, "The foundations of the earth are the Lord's." 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Church Pew

Many years ago my mother graced our front porch with a vintage church pew.  It was rather non-descript initially, but in my mother's own special way, she jazzed it up. 

Mom once won a prize for having the most beautifully-decorated Christmas home in East Hartford, CT. She used a birdcage in her Christmas decor before shabby was even chic. 

The house with the church pew was in a beach community in New York and had terracotta colored shutters.  Mom painted the church pew to match.  She placed two huge round terracotta planters on either end and planted orange impatiens that spilled over in rioteous color.  The house was a not uncommon looking Cape Cod, but she made it look special.

Ever since then, I have wanted an antique church pew.  Not long ago, I was able to barter some blog work for a business in exchange for the pew I'd had in mind since I was in my teens and a marvelous metal tray with a sepia-toned chippy landscape on it. 

I thought the stairwell area needed a little something, so I made a wreath out of coffee filters.  I also got a small third-degree burn on my thigh from dripped hot glue, but we won't talk about that.

I was on a vintage roll that week, when I stopped in Goodwill for a spotting operation and found Webster's Unabridged Dictionary from 1935.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Early Christmas Present

Someone really wonderful sent me this especially handsome and colorful rooster, which you can see on the left-hand side of the pic.  I found the gray rooster at Goodwill.  I was thrilled that he matched my gray counter (which I painted about six months ago), but the corner was just a little drab.  Mr. Colorful Rooster punched things up, don't you think?  The platter was $1 at Goodwill.  I stole the idea from some magazine article and just wrote on it with a red Sharpie.

Here is the second part of the gift, a hand-made table runner wth a red, yellow, and blue rooster pattern.  I love it!

Here's a close up:

Last year, this same kind person sent me a rooster calendar.  I put Mr. February, Mr. November, and his other colorful companions in some inexpensive frames.  I love how they look.