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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Not too long ago, I got an odometer for my bike.  It is the only electronic thing on my vintage cruiser.  I was curious about how much mileage I was accumulating on the ole bike.   I recently hit this milestone of 400 miles.  I have ridden my bike the same mileage as from Virginia to New York City.  I'm amazed by this, because it represents plenty of time not sitting on my rear end.

My red cruiser parked on the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Trail.  Don't get nervous.  No cars are allowed!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving After Action Report

Many of us struggle with families and the holidays.  Sometimes I imagine that others lead idyllic lives with no emotional baggage whatsoever.   Upon reflection, though, I'm not sure that any of us live in "this present darkness" totally unscathed.  We exist for the blink of an eye in a fallen world and sometimes our family relationships can demonstrate that.

The media and popular culture do not help us.  Sometimes the pressure of expectations makes us feel that unless we have a Thanksgiving which looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, we are missing out. 

Now I adore Norman Rockwell, especially a painting called Breaking Home Ties, which tells a story if you look at it closely. 

Many of our families, however, don't resemble that picture.  We are imperfect, we lose sight of priorities, and we make mistakes.
I started to fall victim to that pressure of expectation during this long weekend.  Bruce set up a get together with the male relatives to go shooting and forgot to tell me.   This part of my dear family has more money than I do.  Let's put it right out there.  I became nervous and (as a friend of mine delightfully refers to it) twisted.  Maybe my house or my cooking wasn't good enough.  It was good enough five minutes before I knew I had company coming, why wasn't it good enough five minutes later?

I had to mentally shake myself by the scruff of the neck.  We are called as Christians to practice hospitality.  That means making available what I have that God has blessed me with, not "putting on the dog" and showing off to others.  I relaxed.  I prayed.  I served the turkey soup that I'd made from the leftovers to rave reviews, along with a sliced meat platter for sandwiches, and some fruit salad.  They loved my house, particularly because it does look different from what you can buy in a furniture store.  My dear cousin, who is so family oriented, just wanted to take pictures, so she could unite her kitchen and porch into one room, as we have.

How much do we miss with mistaken priorities and expectations over the holidays?  We let the anxiety bubble up and say harsh things that we should not.  How much do we bend over or even break under the weight of the baggage that we insist on carrying when Jesus stretches out His arms and says, "Here, honey, take a load off.  Let me have it."  Well that's what He whispers to me. What He officially said was, "Come unto Me all ye that travail and are heavy laden and I will refresh you."

During the rest of this holiday season, I am going to relax in Him.  He has only called me to be me, Annie, not someone else.  Forgetting what lies behind, I will press on and consider my relatives as I consider my friends. They are not here to meet my needs.  They are people like me with their own worries who love me.  And I resolve to take them at that and leave the baggage in the arms of Jesus.

Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.  John 12:35

And yes, I do realize that there are two different times on the alarm clocks.  As Chicago asked, "Does anybody really know what time it is?" I like them that way.  Attribute that to my general sense of quirkiness.  The King James version of the Bible says we are a "peculiar people" and, trust me, I fit right in.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some Fashion-y Blogs I Love

I follow some really varied blogs from a shy housewife in upstate NY who writes remarkable things to an irreverent single tattoo'd Brooklyn woman who lost about 80 pounds and rides around New York City on her Hello Kitty cruiser in high heels.  She writes the Bitchcakes blog  I also read a blog by cloistered monks in the desert and a couple of Amish blogs, heh.  The first part about the monks is true.

Anyway, I really love some of the fashion-y blogs out there.  Now I am more than sure that I wouldn't wear many of the ensembles that Kasmira or Vanessa wear.   Kasmira mixed plaids and animal prints which would just make me cross eyed if I saw it on myself in the mirror.  But on her...WOW WOW WOW!

What I get from these wonderful women are ideas on how I can make my own wardrobe go farther.  Because of reading their work, I have paired grey and yellow wihth terrific results.  I never would have done that on my own.  I wear red sling back high heels with my dressy jeans.  I combine necklaces. All because of them.  Maybe you'll enjoy these ladies, too. They all thrift a significant portion of their clothing.

The outrageous Kasmira, human resources girl, from Cincy and her husband, Beefy Muchacho, do the What I Wore Today Blog:

Vanessa the brave, from Big Girl, Small Budget, Tiny Town.  Think you have to dress in black and stand in the corner if you are a larger woman?  Think again.

Patti's Not Dead Yet blog.  I love the name she chose!  She runs a Monday feature with input from many readers modeling over-50 fashion which makes them look visible, rather than the invisible feeling that many women over 50 experience.

Paula is a vibrant artist who loves color, color, and more color in her wardrobe.  I love her style!

Check these bloggy girls out!  They are inspirational AND make frugal recommendations using thrift store options.  What could be better than that!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shop til you Make The Other Guy Drop?

Am I the only woman in North America who finds it insane that people are camping out overnight to buy big screen television sets?   Sometimes I feel that way.

I have a confession.  I hate, loathe, and despise shopping.  I especially hate shopping at this time of the year.  I can't stand that Christmas starts the day after Halloween either.

Today a woman in California pepper-sprayed other shoppers, including children, to get an X-Box for sale at half price in the raee for Black Friday items. Staff from the same Walmart store reported injuries from shoppers trampling each other.  And the store stayed open afterwards.  Insanity.

What the heck are we doing?  We're in a recession.  So many are out of work and looking to save money. I understand that.  However, wouldn't it be better to just downsize Christmas, focusing on time together and a special meal rather than using weapons against each other to get to the bargains first?

We're celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  You know, that Jesus that told us to turn the other cheek?  The guy who said if someone asks for your cloak, to give him your tunic as well?  The Lord that said that peace makers were blessed?  The rabbi who suggested that you treat others as you would have them treat you?  The leader who said to consider others better than yourself because ultimately the last shall be first?  The one who said not to worry about what you will wear or eat?  The one who said that personal possessions were all hay and stubble?

I refuse to support any more of this insanity.  I don't care what bargains I get, they aren't worth being pepper sprayed or trampled to death as happened at Walmart last year.  Are any of you like minded?  I suggest you do, too.

This is the only kind of place that I want to shop in these days.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


thank·ful [thangk-fuhl] Show IPA
feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
The brussell sprouts are ready for roasting, infused with garlic and key lime spice mix.  The green beans are marinating in a mustard vinaigrette.  I made my Nana's lime jello mold with pineapple and cottage cheese.  It makes my mother shudder, but I don't care.
The apple crisp is in the oven. The smell of cardomon and cinnamon wafts through to the living room.  I am ready for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The last six months have been incredibly difficult.  But God is incredibly good.  God IS love.  He isn't just loving.  He IS love. 
Today I am thankful for so many things.  I'm thankful for my husband.  I'm thankful for my family, for medical coverage, for a roof over my head, and so thankful for sugar-free cinnamon dolce lattes.  I'm thankful for my education, for my friends (especially my amazing friend and spiritual mentor, Terry), for improving health, and for God's boundless grace.
And, God, thanks a whole lot for her:
What a gift, each and every day, she is.
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One.
And have a Happy Turkey Day

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dry Like Toast

Okay, so I know that you didn't expect this kind of picture.  You think I should have imported some picture of toast, perhaps slightly burned, for this post, right? Well, as my friend Varelly Margarita Blandon y Jarquin used to say, "hold on, boogaloo."

One of my favorite movies (along with To Have and Have Not, Moonstruck, and Hunt for Red October, among others) is My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  If you're like the one person in North America who hasn't seen it, this is the story of a loving, enmeshed Greek family's reaction to their beloved daughter's marriage to a non-Greek vegetarian WASP.  At one point the father, who is bewildered and frustrated by his daughter's love for this man emotes saying, "His whole family is toast....Toast People.  No honeys (sic), no  jam, no marmalade, just dry like toast."

My friends, I have been dry like toast spiritually.  No honeys, no jam, no marmalade...I have been one of the toast people.  Well, as Kostas, the father says in the clip, "This no work!"

King David knew that this "no work," too.  When he wandered in the desert of Judah he said:

Psalm 63

A Psalm of David; when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.
1O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is (Amplified version).

See, David knew that he was a toast person, too.   This is encouraging for those of us who struggle with our feelings during the "dry times."  David has hand-picked by God.  The Bible says so.  He was a "man after God's own heart" even in the midst of many terrible trials and mistakes and out-and-out deliberate disobedience.

But you know what?  David goes on to say this later on in this psalm:

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

I have thought a lot about God during the "watches of the night," but I haven't been singing too much in the shadow of His wings, if you know what I mean.  Psalm 91, another favorite says:

Psalm 91

1HE WHO [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (Amplified version).

This weekend, I plan to stay under the shadow of His Almighty wings and eat some jam.  Or Simply Fruit maybe, less impact on the blood sugar.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Autumn at Williamsburg

I like to change up where I take my walks, so this week I drove to colonial Williamsburg.  Lulu and I enjoyed the change of scenery.  She had never seen these before!
She told me this was the biggest dog she'd ever seen before.
That first house sort of just says "fall" with its orange door and shutters.
The air was crisp and the sky was a bright, cloudless, blue.
I've always loved Autumn, the jewel tones in the trees...
I've ridden in a horse-drawn carriage in New York City, but I just feel silly sitting up there.  But, oh my, how I love to see them clip clop by.
I feel so blessed that I can walk in such gorgeous and historical surroundings. 

Autumn at Williamsburg