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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunset on the James

 I had dinner here last night, a grilled steak salad and a nice chilly glass of Pinot with my mom, her cousin Marianne and Marianne's husband, Bill.  The sun was setting over the James River and the temperature was nearly 80 degrees yesterday.  Amazing.

Funny how things happen.  My mother has had a home at Kingsmill for over twenty years.  It is a resort and golf course with private homes built around it.  Marianne went exploring around and said, "Hey what about that restaurant on the River?"  I'm not sure what we all thought it was, but we'd never been there.  Just goes to show what you can see and find when you look at things from a new perspective.

I had that familiar pain when I saw my father's jacket hanging near the door on the way in. We leave it there.  The jacket is a sort of talisman or something, I notice we all touch it lightly from time to time.

Most of the time, I don't have to think that often about my father's death.  My mother and I did the talking on the phone, since my father was rather deaf.  I don't think he enjoyed talking on the phone even when his hearing was better.  They lived most of the year in Atlanta, so it was not unusual for me to go for periods of time without talking to him.

But when I walk into the house at Kingsmill and he is not in his old familiar spot on the couch rising up with a smile to give me a hug, I can't really push his absence out of my mind.  In some ways, the distance is good because I can carry on with my life.  In this way, however, it is bad, because I experience his death all over again every time I go through the door.

I'm kind of glad that we didn't discover the restauarant on the water until after he was in heaven.  This gives us a new memory to make with the family as it is now and not as it was.  Life goes on and God's mercies are new every morning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't You Love Before and After's?

Okay, obviously the above is a "before" shot of a dollhouse that I found left out for the trash.  I'm always so eager to get started on a project that I often forget the "before" shot.  I nearly forgot again!  I had already started "aftering" the dollhouse and then remembered to run in for the digital camera.

The simple dollhouse made me sad when I rescued it.  Some "Papa Joseph" or "Daddy Tom" or plain ole Grandpa must have lovingly made it from plywood for a small girl he cared for very much.  He carefully cut some extra flooring for the kitchen and different colors of carpeting for the other three rooms.  My heart hurt to see it out there for the trash.   I felt like I was witnessing the Velveteen Rabbit story gone wrong.  I HAD to rescue the lonely dollhouse.   

Here's the after, the finished project, bolted to the endless weathered fence around the back yard.  This is on the front yard side, actually.  I thought the finished treatment gave the house some curb appeal.

Here's a close up on one of the cubbies or pukas as they say in Hawaii.  Since I lived in the Aloha State for many years, they are pukas to me, too:

Those are just Goodwill and garage sale things, painted in the three kindergarten simple colors I use outside the house. 

Ahhhhhhhh, I feel so much better.  This is a much happier place for Grandpa's loving work than the trash!  Honestly, I felt almost outraged that the dollhouse was there.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blue Skies After the Storm

Whew!  Last night was a little scary, with a tornado warning and massive thunderstorms...all part of that killer storm that started out in Texas.  I had the basement door open and ready as a refuge and lit the oil lamps. 

We were very fortunate here in my town, but there were 7 deaths in our area.  God help the survivors in Gloucester, Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

God's mercies are new every morning.  Today dawned a fresh spring day with blue, blue skies.  I headed to Starbucks on my bike.  I don't think I've mentioned lately here how much I love my vintage red bike with the basket in the front.  Forget about high-tech mountain bikes, stupid biking shorts, gears, speeds, making time...none of that works for me.

Just give me a pair of jeans and a hoody sweatshirt.  Let me peddle at my own pace, stopping to look at lovely gardens or porches with white wicker or gingerbread architecture out front.  I want to take pictures of the Craftsman-style cottage and surrounding fence, created with little round stones. The cottage and the fence both have the stone finish. Hansel and Gretel live there, not sure if you heard about that.  Want to see it?  Follow the trail of bread crumbs.

I don't care if the cool peeps in the Portsmouth Riding Group pass me by at all.  I see no reason to dress up like a court jester to ride my bike, let's just start there. 

Secondly, no offense to all men who love biking shorts, but I don't need to be able to see whether you are circumcised or not.  C'mon, you're not Lance Armstrong, you're just the former assistant city manager taking a bike ride on Sunday morning.  To be honest, men in bike shorts (and Speedos for pity's sake) all look like they're trying to smuggle plums.  TOO MUCH INFORMATION.  Go to Europe, they love that kind of thing.

So I pedaled in my modest fashion (but still got my heart rate up there) wending my way along Constitution to Peninsula to Spratley to Navy Avenue to Crawford to North to Starbucks.  Please note that there are no trendy names along the way containing words like Trace, Arch, Trail, or Crescent, instead of Street, Drive or Avenue, nor any neighborhood where all the street names are kinds of trees.  And none of the houses have two-story Palladian windows.  Just sayin'

So I had my vente three equal sugar free vanilla latte thanks to a sweet friend who put so much money on my Starbucks card (for my birthday) that it made me blush and read the New York Times.  This is Sunday afternoon for me this time of year.  I think it is pretty swell.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Happy Friday! 

This is the wisteria bush right outside my back door.  If you look very closely you can see my little Lulu staring at me as I take the picture. 

The wisteria vine is twined around another bush that blooms yellow at this time each year.  I have no idea what the yellow blooms are called.  However, the two gorgeous pastel colors mixed together makes me think of Easter.  I'm very pleased that someone long ago decided to grace my house with this beauty.  Thank you, thank you so much!

Wisteria blooms should be the flowers that grapes come from, don't you think?  Actually, the wisteria plant is part of the pea family, of all things!  The aroma as I go out the back door to play with the dog or hang laundry is piercingly sweet.  My wisteria is a little grace note in my day that I appreciate.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Heart Mowing the Lawn

Okay, I don't have anything as fly as the Flymo, but I love mowing the lawn.  I really do.  I live on three city lots set on a corner, so there's a whole lotta lawn to love.

I love mowing the same way I love to iron.  To me, they're kinda the same.  The only difference is that you can iron and watch "Law and Order" rer-runs and still appear virtuous and busy.  One must always appear to be both virtuous and busy.

They're the same thing.  You kinda push your "machine" up and down and smooth things out.  The feel-good results are instantaneous.  Ahhhhh look, now doesn't that green row look tidy, neat, and oh-so-Leave-it-to-Beaver? 

It could be a green plaid shirt or my lawn, it doesn't matter.  These chores are methodical and predictable.  Well, aside from the occasional rock that flies up or a smocked bodice.  I didn't really need this parenthetical thought.  I think I just wanted to type "smocked bodice" which is a phrase I don't often use.  The Queen's dresser may use this phrase more than I.  Getting part of the task of either mowing or ironing done just makes you want to finish the whole thing.

Mowing the lawn smells good.  I love the smell of cut grass.  Ironing smells good too because I get this lavender scented item I call "sniffy stuff" at The Dollar Store,  It isn't spray starch. 

Just my thoughts from sunny Portsmouth, Virginia.  The back is mowed.  The front remains.  I have to make an apple crisp for my dear friend Joseph who was just in hospital.  I didn't forget the "the" in that sentence.  He is British and that's how he says it.  I am doing something exciting with a doll house and picking up a prescription.  I bring Lulu with me in the Jeep to go through the Navy Rx Drive Through and she get's a dog treat.  I'd like a little chocolate cupcake with pink frosting, but the Navy thinks that's a little over the top.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't Let Her Sweet Look Fool You

So you think this is a cute looking dog, do you?  I beg to differ. 

Meet the tyrant of the household; 18 lbs of teeth and attitude.  She just knocked over the lentil soup I had left out for lunch and ate it.  I don't even want to think about the digestive celebration which will ensue in about six hours.

She is smart. Little Bit is aware of the exact geographic center of a king-sized bed in case you might be thinking of bathing her. And on that bathing subject, she's filing a complaint with PETA.

This is the only dog I have ever encountered who growls when she wishes to be petted.  I'm not quite certain where or how she picked up this little trick.  I keep trying to tell her that supplication is much more effective.  She tells me she is a student of Donald Trump and finds intimidaton works better for her. And that I'm fired cause her kibble just isn't cuttin' it.

Little Bit, a deceptively adorable name by the way, picks fights with big dogs.  She's like the little guy that always starts the bar fight by sucker punching the meaty football player.  She'll bark like a ferocious lunatic until the offended dog wanders near.  Little Bit has always been walked along with bigger brothers or sisters over the years.  If it looks like the other dog might be trouble, she casually walks underneath a taller canine sibling.  She keeps calm and carries on, just like Queen Mary.

Or should I say the Queen of Sheba, because Little Bit must occupy the choicest spot in any given room. She searches out the freshly-washed quilt on the back of the sofa, the newly-changed bed with the sheets dried on the line, or a new living room chair, and parks herself right on it. She owns it, you see. It is hers by the divine right of kings or should I say queens? She is, after all, Little Bit. Where else should she lie down?

Saturday, April 9, 2011


 I like to go in to Pier One, but not for the reason you might think.  It is rare that I buy anything there.  For the most part, I think Pier One is really over-priced.  You can occassionally find things on sale.  No, the real reason I enjoy browsing in Pier One that I greatly enjoy looking at how they stage and display items.  They do a lovely job of it.  Sometimes I get ideas for table settings.  Other times, I see an intriguing color combination that I might not have put together.

Today was different.  Today that sweet tray with the blue bird on it had MY NAME ON IT.  And now it is mine.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


This antique chair once had a caned seat that someone's bottom eventually wore clean through.  The chair didn't sell at a friend's yard sale, so I rescued it and painted it red.  I should buy stock in Krylon Spray Paint...I really should. 

I found a basket that fit right in the seat.  I drag a chair like this out every spring.  I'm going to find a nice grapevine wreath for the fence and create one of my little outside "rooms."

I filled my "fresh flowers" container that is made with salvaged materials, including part of an old staircase.  I keep it full of something April to November...pansies, geraniums, mini-pumpkins, etc.

As my grandmother Helen used to say, "it's a good drying day."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

White Roses

If I could have a rose for every time I thought of you, the world would be empty of them.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Spring Saturday

and how I went to my very favorite place, McDonald's Garden Center and picked out lavender, purple coneflower, hydrangeas, and other flowers for the cottage garden.  It is still just a bit too cool for hydrangeas, a flower I truly adore.  They are a magificent pink or blue depending on soil acidity and look even better when dried.  I should have just left the hydrangeas at McDonalds, but I just couldn't leave such beauty behind.

What you see is the result.  While the weather warms to welcome the hydrangeas, I will enjoy them inside my fireplace in a large basket.  I like the way the mirror reflects light in the back.  And now that I look at it, my coffee table.  Which was trash picked from someone I don't especially like.