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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I used to think I had a love/hate relationship with Halloween.

I loved Halloween when I was a kid.  I remember being a Dutch girl one year after my parents had visited Aruba (a Dutch colony).  I had wooden shoes and a blue skirt with a white lace apron over it.   There was a little starched white cap that went with the outfit.  It reminded me of Sister Bertrille on The Flying Nun.  I loved her. 

My mother took gold yarn and plaited two braids that she pinned into the hat.  Another year I was a Hawaiian girl.  I had a witch costume my mother made, as well as a pumpkin costume that she stuffed so full of the Hartford Courant wadded up that I could barely fit out the door of the den. 

We traveled up and down Knollwood, Birchwood, and Millwood Roads, as well as Holland Lane on Halloween.  A lovely neighbor, Bethel Cacase, used to have very special Halloween baskets for us with candy from Munson's Candy Kitchen.  Mrs. Cacase was not one of those cheapos who gave out Dots and disgusting orange circus peanuts.   The Popps, the Kokums, the Tynes, and the Burns' also had great candy in case you find yourself out in East Hartford begging door to door tonight.  Ssssh don't say I told you...

My love for Halloween has waned since I dislike giving candy to teenagers just because they dressed badly.  I love the little fairies and princesses and firemen, but twenty year olds can buy their own peanut M&M's.   It isn't a costume when you're attired like a girl when you're 20 on October 31.  It is just cross dressing.
Don't you love this posh Halloween bear.  He is stationed outside of the Williams School in Norfolk in one of their uniform ties.

So in honor of an innocent Halloween costume parade at Sunset Ridge Elementary School and stopping to show my grandparents, Helen and Bobby, our costumes, I wish you the kind of Halloween that took some imagination and the kind of magic that happens in Narnia.

The other Halloween?  The one with older teenagers, Freddy Krueger, horror movies, and smashing pumpkins?  Thats the one I can't stand.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This is the dog that lives here.  My favorite part of her little dog face is just under her nose, where the DNA said put the black here and then a little bit of pink to spice things up.  I love Lulu's face.  She has such a kind gaze.

And this is the dog that THINKS he lives here:
This is Spunky, hollering for me give him a Milk Bone.  He jumps the four foot fence that divides my back yard from his Dad, Roger's, back yard.  Lulu is his best friend ever.  He comes to the back door every morning and stands there hoodling until we let him inside.

By the way, lest you think you've seen something unsavory at the top of the pic, rest easy.  Those are fallen pecans I haven't had a chance to pick up yet.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Now that the heat of summer is over, the geraniums in the yard and on the porch are going crazy with blooms.  It is as if they are wriggling themselves into a comfortable chair and saying "ahhhhhh."

I made a few changes in the kitchen.  Somewhere, I saw a kitchen which had open shelf displays.  I'm not wild to show my cupboards in general, but this one skinny cabinet never held too much, anyway.  In one of my magazines, I saw a bowl with large polka dots which I fell in love with several years ago. I've been looking for one for forever.  I was so surprised to find it right here in Portsmouth a couple of weeks ago.  The cool Cracker Jacks lunch box came from Goodwill.

I love this Hostess Cupcakes sign.  It sits as a back splash behind my stove.  It is metal and easily wiped off.

Wowsers, I used to love Hostess cupcakes which I took with me in my lunchbox to Sunset Ridge Elementary School in East Hartford, Connecticut. 

New Camera on the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Trail

The wildfire has finally calmed down enough for me and my old friend above to go back out biking on the trail.

Only a few trees have started turning their leaves, but the air smelled of Autumn somehow.

The road stretched out empty before me, but it will be filled with folks 24 hours from now, as there's a 5K race planned.  Oh thank you, God, that I came today.

This old farmhouse looks abandoned these days.
But who left the Blue Willow China behind ?

The picture below looks almost abstract.  What you see is fall leaves drifting on the water's surface and the sky reflected in the canal.

I love these stairs down to the canal.
After about 7 miles, I emerged from trees lining both sides of the trail to this Van Gogh view

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Flat Iron Art

This New York City landmark has always fascinated me I love how it sits there in its place looking like the prow of a ship.
I had a fabulous breakfast across the street with the kind of potatoes they only really do right in New York, Something caught my eye at the very bottom of the building. The images were tough to photograph, so please bear with me.

At first, I did not understad what I was looking at. Then I realized that the artist, perhaps in a bow to economic times, perhaps just because she wanted it this way, had created mobiles from only plain white "to go" cups, magic markers, and fishing line. Please note the cup "painted" below as an homage to Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night," You can also see the reflectios of the City Market across the street and a truck driving by.  There are camera filters which can screen out such reflections, but I kinda like how this looks.
Here's another view, with an apartment building showing through from the other side. There look to be hundreds of cups. I thought the whole exhibit was so eye-catching, so creative, and so....well...different.

The artist is Gwyneth Leech. She is also a blogger and her blog can be found here

Sunday, October 9, 2011

More Farm Stand Action - on Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village

You all know how I love farm stands.  And boy oh boy do I love a farm stand in New York City.

I'd like to live in the second-floor apartment on Bleecker Street, walk down a flight, and pick out my pumpkin.  I'd carve a man-in-the-moon kind of face (instead of anything horrifying) and put my pumpkin in the center window with a candle inside, to shine Autumn down on Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village. 

And every other week,those non-pumpkin weeks, I'd fill my apartment with something from the flower side of the farm stand like these:
So Van Gogh....
A sight like this provides me with the same sense of delight I feel when I see the rows and rows of varied color nail polish and lipstick in a discount store...only better!
On Bleecker Street
Simon and Garfunkel

A poet reads his crooked rhyme
Holy, holy is his sacrament
Thirty dollars pays your rent
On Bleeker Street

I head a church bell softly chime
In a melody sustainin'
It's a long road to Caanan
On Bleeker Street

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gardens in the Concrete Canyons

I love gardens in the City....roof top gardens and gardens carved from unexpected places.  One of my favorite gardens in the City is the Clinton Community Garden.  Hell's Kitchen is pretty chic and pricey now, but as you can imagine from the name, the neighborhood wasn't always this way.

The space below was once a nasty vacant lot with old cars and construction debris strewn about.  The sight of a self-seeded tomato plant on the site inspired community activists to reclaim this long-abandoned City of New York property into the gorgeous neighborhood green space it is today.  Volunteers work in the community garden area or have plots of their own to plant.  You can compost your kitchen waste here, right in the center of New York City.

I saw this little grotto area in a convent just down the street from the Clinton Community Garden.

I have found, through years of practice, that people garden
in order to make something grow; to interact with nature;
to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth,
to leave a mark.  Through gardening, we feel whole as we
make our personal work of art upon our land.
--Julie Moir Messervy, The Inward Garden

Finding Meaning in the Midst of Horror

I visited St. Paul's Chapel the other day.  The chapel stands near the former World Trade Center site in New York City.  You may remember coverage in the news back ten years ago of this historic church which miraculously remained standing after the Twin Towers collapsed.  It stood while George Washington worshipped there and it continued to stand and minister to God's people when the foundations of our very way of life shook.

This was the church that ministered to the rescue workers who went to work in the recovery efforts, day after dusty, discouraging, horrifying day. 

In liturgical churches (such as the Roman Catholic, Episcopal or Greek Orthodox traditions) pastors wear vestments.  Or, as a priest I once knew said to a kid I took to church, "Hey, how do you like my dress?"  One of these garments is called a chausible.  At St. Paul's Church, the pastor wore a red chausible which his mother had made for him. 

No one knows how it started, but one weary cop or firefighter or EMS worker or whomever, took the patch from his uniform and safety-pinned it to the red, hand-made by Mom, chausible.  This cry to find meaning in the midst of unspeakable horror resonated with many of the rescue workers who slept in the venerable old chapel on cots.  One after another they pinned their own patches to the chausible.  And when it become too full to take another patch, they begin to pile them on the floor around it.

The pastor officiated at religious services in the red chausible, the fabric nearly hidden by so many patches from all over the world.  I saw a patch from Tel Aviv, from a German Police Department, The German Red Cross, from Queensland Austrailia, and from every spot in the United States you could think of.  Each represented one person who traveled from far away to stand in solidarity with all of us and found meaning in faith while they were here.

It was one of the most moving things I have ever seen in my life; breathtakingly beautiful in a homey, organic, and from-the-heart kind of way.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Lime Tree Grows in Manhattan

A lot of people see New York City as this big, impersonal metropolis.   That's not how I see things at all.  New York is simply a series of little neighborhoods, block by block, that end up being one of the biggest cities in the world.

As I passed by, I noticed this lime tree which is thriving on 51th Street.  They must really have babied this tree during the winter of 2010, when there were several major snow storms.

I heard a clip-clop, a sound you wouldn't think you'd hear in New York City, with its typical city song of sirens and blaring horns.

And then another:

and then this comforting message
And God really was calling me.

And at the next corner, this restaurant

That means, "everything is going well."

And so it was...everything IS going well.