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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Magical Place - The Ward House

I love this stately old historic home in the next neighborhood over from mine.  Now do yourself a big favor and double click on the pic to see all the detail. 

The house sits right on the water.  The entire property delights me.  The architecture of the front porch area to the right pleases my eye.  I go a block out of my way every time I'm in West Park View just to see this charming place with the lovely and unusual white picket fence.

One hundred years ago today, Mrs. Ward sat rocking in her long white skirt on that same front porch trying to catch a breeze from the water.  She twisted her hair more securely up from her neck fastening it with tortoise shell hair pins while Sonnets from the Portuguese lay unread in her lap and a crow complained loudly of the heat in the trees overhead.  Or I'd like to think so, anyway.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Harrison Ford Made Me Sick This Past Week

Okay, here's the deal...I adore Harrison Ford.  I have loved him ever since Princess Leia said to Han Solo "I love you" and he famously replied "I know," one of the best withering lines in the history of the movies.

I still loved him when he divorced his rather plain wife Melissa who wrote the screenplay for ET.  I continued to love him even when he married a woman over twenty years younger, whose appearance makes me want shake her by her tiny, boney shoulders and say, "For the love of God woman, eat a Rueben sandwich."  They probably just hold her up to the light to do an x-ray.  She sort of reminds me of the Olsen twins, one of those smudgey-eyed women who look like feral night creatures.
(photo courtsey of Huffington Post)
But Harrison and I are through.  Finished.  It is over.  I've put up with all the other women, but the outrage below cannot be tolerated. It is abusive.
It is a good thing that I was already in my doctor's office when I read this because if I hadn't needed a check up before, I would have been sick after seeing this sacrilege.  AARP?????  Indy, my darling, say it isn't so.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Life and a Bike Route

For some reason, I have always struggled with spacial relations.  As you might imagine, this made geometry and parallel parking a nightmare for me.  I get nervous when I need to maneuver my bicycle in a narrow space.  Well, okay, a space which I perceive as a narrow. 

When I leave my neighborhood on my bike, I need to use the sidewalk for a block because London Blvd. is very busy. I make a sharp right hand turn at the end of Chesapeake Avenue and steer the bike through the handicapped ramp to the sidewalk.  I get concerned that a car may be turning into the neighborhood.
Even though I have negotiated this little space hundreds of times over the years, my stomach tightens every time I bike through it, which is at least ten times a week.  The second I start to get nervous, the bike begins to wobble, as my balance suffers because of my nervous thoughts. 
Instead of concentrating on the many times I have safely traveled in this space, I choose to concentrate on the remote possibility that I may fall or somehow steer into oncoming busy traffic.  In one second, I change from confidently peddling and enjoying my ride to a sick sense of dread. The moment that my thoughts focus on a bad outcome, my body does its best to help me out with that.

It suddenly hit me on Sunday as I rode my bike past that very spot that my situation is a metaphor about many things in my life.  If I proceed forth in the confidence that God is with me and I have all I need to succeed, I do well.  When I allow doubt about my abilities or God’s provision to assail me, I begin to wobble on that narrow road that I’m supposed to be traversing.  God wasn’t just throwing out random thoughts in Phil 4:8 when He told us to concentrate on what is excellent or praiseworthy, noble and true.   He was telling us how to hit the road, so to speak.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Finding Beauty in Unexpected Places

Sometimes you can miss the beauty in life when you fail to take it in all around you.  Saturdays I usually take a longer bike ride.  I head toward a marina along Scotts Creek.   The road that takes me there is Harper Avenue, actually a private road owned by the CSX Railroad.  Last week, I showed you all the Queen Anne's Lace that grows along these tracks.  The picture you see above is Harper Avenue's opposite side.  This area teems with egrets, Cooper's hawks, foxes, and rabbits.

If you were straddling your bike from the picture's perspective and looked over your shoulder, you would see locomotives and shipping containers in brown, orange, and bright blue; Maersk, Chiang Ming, Hanjin, and Hapag-Llloyd emblazoned on the sides.  Looking from the picture's vantage point, you would see my view this morning of nature and a pure white egret.

My focus during the bike ride can be a metaphor for life; something that psychologists call "framing."  We all have ups and downs.  For everything there is a time and purpose under heaven, as the Byrds sang, and God said eons before they made it into a Number 1 hit.  The key to life, and in getting a good picture, is to choose your focus carefully.  As a woman thinketh in her heart, so she is.

This morning, I could have focused on the industrial yuck of the tracks and the rusting containers with the ubiquitous white plastic shopping bag blowing along the tracks.  Instead, I focused on the egret I inadvertently disturbed into flight rising into the blue sky, the Queen Anne's lace, the sun on my shoulders, and the view of Norfolk's skyline as I reached the marina.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Evening Storm

The weather was oppressively hot yesterday. The rain began sometime after 9:30 p.m. My Grandmother Dunn would have said it was teeming. The rain came down in sheets, streaming down under the street light. and bouncing back up from the darkened street under that pool of light. I confess to loving a good ole thunder storm. I shut off the porch light and sat in an old fashioned black rocker as the light show began.

The dark sky had a slight orange cast from the city lights bouncing against the cloud cover, until flashes of lightening illuminated the night sky blue white. Fireflies swooped to shelter under the roof of my front porch. Bioluminescence they call it. I call it a miracle. They winked and danced under the eaves, glad to be in from the rain. I rocked with my hands on the broad painted arms of the chair.

The temperature dropped at least 15 degrees and a breeze hit my bare legs, rocking back and forth. The old live oak across the street swayed its branches just a bit. The tree has no plans to go anywhere. Nearly a hundred years of rain and thunder have raged around that tree and yet it stands.

Cars wooshed by on the rain soaked street and I kept rocking. My Grandmother Galvin's sleeping porch would have been an ideal spot last night with huge old-fashioned glass windows which pulled away from the screens entirely and hooked to the ceiling. The result was a screened in porch to sleep in up on the second floor under the trees. I longed to drag a mattress downstairs so I could sleep on the front porch listening to the falling rain all night long. But that would be too weird even for me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Queen Anne's Lace


Did you know that Queen Anne's Lace is a member of the carrot family?  I know, me neither, but I looked it up today.  How weird is that?  That old ironstone pitcher is a particular favorite; thrift shopped for my birthday by my friend Nancy, who always knows what I will love.

So, my kind of day.  I had breakfast at Starbucks with my sis.  Two days post surgery and I was able to ride my bike about 6 or 7 miles.  My bike and I are inseparable this time of year.

Queen Anne's lace is definitely a wonderful llustration of that old adage, "bloom where you're planted."  These particular lacey blooms were growing on Harper Avenue next to the CSX tracks when I picked them.  Or braced my legs and yanked hard on them.  They are tenancious. 

I like the marina and view of Norfolk's harbor at the end of Harper, but the area where these flowers were growing was pretty desolate.  Or was desolate until these flowers moved in. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mirror

Today I had one of those a-ha moments that wasn’t so fun.   You know, when you see yourself in the mirror and it isn’t too pretty?

I have a friend whom I admire very much.  He is the opposite type of personality than I am, a Type B, very cautious. He thinks things through before he does anything. I’m the opposite.  I’m glib.  A smart-mouth retort is often at the forefront of my mind.  It has served me well at times, but has also proven disastrous. 

Some of the very things I admire about him are those differences, his deliberate, measured approach to things.  I admire his dedication to duty and his dignity in the midst of a very tough professional situation which he did not bring upon himself.  I also admire his dedication to his children, which, without going into detail, has been considerable, even though they are now adults.   And there is a certain vulnerability there which I find endearing.
I thought I had been helping him with getting his credentials out there on LinkedIn and getting some of his thoughts down in a blog.  Today I was totally thrilled that a major police resource had picked up that blog.

And then the mirror.  In the course of a phone conversation where I thought I was encouraging him, he said, laughing, “oh you mean the part when you make me into something I’m not?”  I get my feelings hurt easily, so I am the master of hiding that and extricating myself from a phone conversation.  I was devastated.  I had a hard time continuing on with the professional task before me.  It is over two hours later and I still feel like someone punched me.

Could there be a worse message to someone you care about than trying to make him or her into something they aren’t?  Actually, the message you send is, “hey, you aren’t okay the way you are.”  I love to help people and be an encourager.  In this case, what I ended up doing was just the opposite.  Folks need to move at their own pace and do things in a manner comfortable for them. 

When someone has a problem, it is my natural inclination to fix it.  Terry doesn’t know all the bells and whistles of Powerpoint?  I can help her.  Jason has a long-term upset stomach?  I buy papaya enzyme and yoghurt.  Nancy has a heart episode?  I make spaghetti.  It is part of who I am.
You know the problem with that? People need to solve their own problems.  Sometimes, maybe most of the time, people just want you to listen to them and be their friend.  Maybe they don’t want to hear your smarty-pants suggestions.  Maybe they don’t even want to hear you piously say that you’ll pray.  Maybe the best thing to do is just keep your mouth shut and pray without saying anything. 

Today I learned with a few tears and a good dose of old-fashioned embarrassment, that the way I care may not always be received the way I intended.  So, I’m going to be more measured and cautious in my overt displays of caring and let my helping be in between me and God until I’m asked for more.  I have plenty of my own things to work on, my own blog to perfect, my own character improvements to make, and my own professional mid-course corrections to work on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Victorian House on my Bike Route

I love this Victorian house on my bike route.  I want have a writing room in the side turret.  I want to sip Earl Grey on the second floor balcony.  Look very closely.  On the first floor behind the tree there is an enormous round window.  I've not seen one like that before.  Please note on the upper left hand area of the second floor, the adorable windows and the red accents.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Papa's Repurposed Toolbox

Papa, my stepfather, was an accomplished carpenter.  His father was a caretaker at the DuPont Estate on Fisher's Island, NY.  Papa used to follow his father around and he picked up a lot.  He built the home his mother retired to on the Connecticut mainland.  Although he was a psychologist and an Episcopal priest, Papa could build anything; furniture, decks, plant stand wishing wells for the front yard, and fences with cut outs for hanging plants. As far as I know, he never used directions.

I repurposed Papa's tool box to hold kitchen things.  The tool box was originally Pop's (my grandfather and his father-in-law's), so it holds a great deal of history for me.  My Pop started out life in the coal mines of Wilkes-Barre, Pensylvania when he was a small boy.  Children used to work in the mines because their short stature and small hands were good for many tasks.  He went on to be a school principal and a math text book author.  My Pop used to dance by standing us on his feet, holding our little hands, and sailing around the room whistling "Tea for Two" from his back teeth.

I'm so glad I have this tool box

Friday, June 3, 2011

March to the Beat of a Different Drummer

This is a doorway at an upscale apartment building along my bike route called "The Myrtles."  The complex is an arrangement of sided units interspersed with brick fronts.  I like it, because it breakes up that everlasting sameness of most large complexes.

Now two doors down, there is a resident I'd really like to meet.  She (I think of her as a "she" although I have no diea of her gender) has transformed her tiny front porch area into a little urban Eden.
Over to the right, if you look carefully, you can see the cheesecloth covering some type of fruit bush from the birds,.  At the front and center is a sunflower.
Lush green plantings off to the left-hand side with yellow lillies starting to bloom in the heat. I have no idea who this person is, but just by looking at her front door, I know that i'd like to be her friend.  She must be an avid gardener, making the city greener just outside her front door.  As they tell you in military life, bloom where you're planted, baby.
She lives along a busy street downtown.  Every time I bike on by, I think of sitting in my grandmother's breakfast nook and looking at a sentimental old painting with the words:

Let me live my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
Sam Walter Foss

Thank you my unknown friend for the beauty I enjoy at your hands every day.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

On Blogging Perfection

Last week I read an honest and poignant account of a fellow blogger’s marriage unraveling.    I had stumbled upon this blog the way you do, when you head over to a well-known old friend in the blogging world and look to see who they link to.   Brenda’s blog is called “Cozy Little House” and can be found here:

In the few months that I had been reading, I grew envious of the gorgeous pics and inspired prose which Brenda used.  Her talent is light years ahead of mine.  My heart almost hurt when I saw her gifting in this area.  Not that I didn’t want it for her, but that I wanted more of it for me.  So I was stunned to read, outlined in spare words and no direct statements, much as sketch artist renders a likeness with a few well-chosen strokes, her sad discovery. My heart ached for her.  Her two blog entries entitled “The Truth” and “When the Ship is Sinking Fast” just knocked me over.
This blogging world has given people who might never have found a niche in the traditional publishing world a forum for thoughts and images which bless others in profound ways.  I think of the marvelous work of Kim’s Daisy Cottage Blog which has led to published writing. 

I also think of my dear blog friends Debra @ As I See It Now and Judy  @ Anybody Home  Both are essentially shy women who stay busy at home blessing their families outside of the traditional work world.  With the incredible intimacy, immediacy, and access of blogging, their thoughts, humor, and dreams ripple out like dropped polished stones into this Internet lake, encouraging others through the waves and eddies their words ride upon until they reach some very distant shores.

All that being said, all of us who blog share only a portion of our truth with the rest of the world.  That’s entirely appropriate.  We choose to keep many heartaches private.  Some of the day to day routine is just boring.  For instance, I stepped in dog poop this morning, but that’s kind of gross to talk about.  I had a stir fry for lunch, but who cares?  I’m having eye surgery next week and even I am bored with all of it, never mind anyone else.

Bottom line?  We can’t all be Daisy Cottage Kim.  I can’t be my beloved Debra whose depth often amazes me.  I’m not as funny or quite as quirky (almost but not quite) as Judy.  My pics aren’t as good as Brenda’s at Cozy Little House.    God
called me to be the best Annie I can be, not the best Judy. 

So I’ve resolved to simply admire beautiful blogs, but not envy them.  Our blogs are extensions of ourselves, but not our entire truth.  We never know what lies beneath.  And I tip my metaphoric hat for Brenda’s courage in telling her truth as best as she was able.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Turkey Burglar

I love this song

You had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day

Now if you click the link and listen to the You Tube video while you read this, you'll see that on Monday, it became prophetic.
I was doing a large report in a team situation.  I am the team leader of a team of 9.  Half the team failed to follow directions, three team members turned in their portions late, and with the due date looming, I was about to rip my hair out.

A kind soul bought me a hot Starbucks and accidently tipped it all over my bare legs, notes, key board, and the floor.  Later in cleaning it up, I smacked my head on a stained glass window I have suspended from the ceiling as a room divider.  The day was starting to look up after lunch.  Then I discovered I had been committed to a social obligation at 7 which someone had forgotten to tell me about.   I quickly pulled together a menu of spicy grilled turkey burgers, potato salad with red potatoes, grilled corn, and squash with a fruit dessert. 

I set the raw burgers on the counter and went out to water the yard.  I came back in and discovered the most serious outrage.  I had been visited by the evil turkey burglar.  I know she looks like an intellectual in the pic, but she’s the devil, I assure you.  And she’s got some reach for a little dog, too!