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

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Window Box...Finally

I think it must have been over twenty-five years ago when I read a book by Alexandra Stoddard in which she described her first apartment in New York City.  I was charmed to read that she had window boxes on the inside of her first little home.  If I remember correctly, she filled them with red geraniums at one point and also with blue hyacinths.  She had a tight budget at that time, but flowers were more important to her than lunch, which she would do without to buy the flowers.   Ever since then, I've had the idea of a window box hung on the inside of a window in the back of my mind.

You may recognize the window box as my Papa's tool box.  Before that, the tool box belonged to my grandfather, Jimmy Dunn.  Pop was an amazing man who used to dance with us standing on his feet.  He started out life as an orphan who worked in the mines in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania at age 7.  They liked to use young children as labor because their hands were small enough to reach into crevices where adult hands couldn't fit.  He went on to be his high school class valedictorian to college to graduate school to teaching to school administration.  He wrote and edited math textbooks.  He loved his wife dearly, his family, the children he taught, and ice cream.

I'm not too sure whether he got the paint on the tool box or my Papa, either one of them is fine with me. I also have my Pop's Scottie dog tie tack (all the rage during FDR's administration when Fala, his little Scottie, was in the news), a cool key and ring from The Owl Pub where he worked a second job to help put my mother and uncle through college, and his high school year book.

The window box is in my kitchen nook area.  The red glasses were a wedding present to Nana and Pop.  They look like juice glasses, but they were actually for wine. You can see the Art Deco influence on them. 

The wooden heart on the window is an odd thing.  I was walking my dogs on Sandpiper Drive one day and there were some wooden-handled kitchen tools, an amazing red checked apron with black cross stitching, and that heart in the gutter.  I guess they fell out of a garbage can on pick up day. 

When I saw the red tulips in Walmart last night, I had to put them in my new window box.  I must go, my dog's boyfriend is banging at the back door.  He wants to see Lulu and have a cookie, not necessarily in that order.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Getting Ready for Snow Yeehaw!

Do you have any friends who live in Florida?  I do.  One of the things they seem to delight in at this time of year is telling someone who lives further north what the temperature is.  Do you know what?  I don't care!

I confess it; I love snow.  Perhaps this love is kindled by the fact that we in Virginia rarely see it.  However, I've loved the snow since I was a kid in East Hartford and in New York.  I would make snow angels and forts with my brother.  We had a wonderful long driveway in East Hartford which started up higher, curved down around our Tudor-style 1920's home and ended at the double doors to the garage.  What a wild ride on our red-trimmed wooden sleds and round silver saucers!  We would come in red cheeked, with cold-pink hands for Campbells chicken noodle soup with Saltines crushed on top.

Lulu is all ready for the snow.  I think dog clothes are absurd for the most part and absurdly expensive.  However, my little peanut has very short hair and she gets cold.  I looked at an appropriate-sized coat at PetSmart but was staggered at the price.  Later the same day, I went to Old Navy and found this jacket on sale at Old Navy.  Apparently Lulu is a size 3 Toddler.  The sleeves have to be short enough that she doesn't fall over them and the business end needs to be clear of fabric.  This jacket was perfect and the cost was under $5.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Winter and yet...

By this time each year, all of us are totally over winter.  I consider camellias a true blessing, since they bravely bloom during the coldest Virginia months.  In fact, it seems that they thrive on the colder weather.

These white camellias are perhaps less spectacular, but more beautiful in a purer sense.

I found a few of these purple flowers sheltering near the back door under a rose bush. I'm not sure why a few of these are blooming...perhaps just a gift from nature to make me smile.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

And The Great Reorganization/Downsizing Continues

I’ve been determined to make the renovation to 256 as low to no-cost as possible.  In the process, I’ve realized that I have a lot of storage areas that I haven’t used very effectively.  Canisters and vintage containers abound, mostly empty.  Now they are for show, and as they say in the Navy, stowage.  For example, the large tin you see on the upper left with the Dutch children holds a lot of stuff.
One of my first steps has been reorganizing in the kitchen.  We’re back eating in there on an old enamel table from the 30’s with a drawer to store the silverware with an oil lamp sitting on a lap quilt on top.  Love it.

Here’s my reorganized spice area, inside my $99 Goodwill Hoosier cabinet that I saw on line for $2,500.  The little “risers” that give me twice as much room in the back were once part of a kindergarten play set used at the 1920’s school across the street.  When the school closed, the city was going to tear it down.  My neighborhood banded together, Sun Trust Bank bought it, and now it is an elderly apartment building.  I grabbed some of the wooden play sets and the kindergarten cubbies off the big junk pile.  The old wooden refrigerator from a kitchen play area in one classroom holds towels in my downstairs bathroom.
Here’s a little “office area” where we also brew coffee.  The red and blue wooden boxes on the bottom are the kindergarten cubbies.  I like to think of all the gold stars and red smiley faces on the purple mimeographed papers that were returned to students in them.
Here is the area where we will divide the house into an upstairs/downstairs apartment situation.  The stairwell will be covered with a wall and the upstairs person will use the door you see with the ladder in front of it.  Only the ladder will be on our side of the house, then.  We will continue to use the front door.

I felt myself being so fascinated reading blog after website about tiny homes and downsizing, not knowing why.  God was preparing me and I can’t wait to see what He does next.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Half of 256

We’re making some changes at 256, inspired by some of you out there who have downsized to a smaller house.

The house at 256 started off life as the Shea family's house.  During World War II, Portsmouth had a severe housing shortage, as the shipyard worked feverishly three shifts per day, seven days a week. The patriotic thing to do was to take in boarders or divide your home up into apartments. The Shea family did its best to help.  The house remained as two apartments, one up and one down,until a family in the early 80’s reunited it back into a one-family house.  However 256 remained zoned as a two-family house and the electrical meters were never changed back to one.

You know where this is going, right?  We are going to recreate the apartment on the second floor and move into just our first floor.   All we need to do is put up one wall and turn our huge closet upstairs into a kitchen again.  This little pantry area above is an old Victrola case I found left out for the garbage man. The turntable is missing, but that's where I have my cansiters on top.  Underneath, the two doors fold to each side.  There's a lot of room for canned goods.

As part of phase one, I set up a nook so that the kitchen is eat-in once again.  Not only is this an efficient use of space, but it also uses my beloved church pew which I absolutely cannot part with.  I like to think of all the other people who sat in the pew and prayed while I sit in the same spot doing my devotions.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Red Barn

There's something about a red barn as I drive past
Sturdy, permanent, built to last
Bright painted red it makes me smile
While another sags grey down a half a mile

Friday, February 3, 2012

An Online Survey I Liked


The author, Alexandra Stoddard, writes a monthly newsletter published on her website.  In February's issue, she included a series of questions that a newspaper reporter from Rhode Island asked her.
Here are my answers

Age: 50
Occupation: Managing Editor, Law Enforcement Today
Residence:  Portsmouth, VA
Born, Raised & Grew Up in:  Hartford, East Hartford, Greater New York City area
Favorite way to spend my time: writing
Proudest accomplishment: Earning my MCJ (Master’s Degree, Criminal Justice)
What I hope to be remembered for: the people whose lives I’ve influenced.
Top Item on my bucket list: Living in New York City for a year.
What I wanted to be when I grew up: A television news reporter.
Person or experience that has influenced me the most: my childhood
Favorite book/author: The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman
Anne Ortlund
Last book read: The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio.
Favorite song: Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”
Favorite movie: Moonstruck
Favorite TV Show:  Bluebloods
Favorite pet: Lulu
Favorite food: potatoes in any form
Amount of time I spend a day on Facebook:  less than five minutes
Trait I most admire: Compassion
Pet peeve: Arbitrary rules
Favorite quotation: “If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it, blame yourself, for you are not poet enough to call forth its riches."  Ranier Rilke
My favorite thing about our little corner of the world:  the river and the sea
Can't live without: Starbucks
Little known fact about me: I’m actually an introvert.
Best advice I've ever received: "Anne, the only time that you won’t be criticized is when you do nothing. Decide what the right thing to do is and do it.” 
Master Chief Edwin T. Yamashiro, Command Master Chief, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Advice I best like to give:  Life’s lessons repeat themselves until you get it right.
If I ruled the world I would:  Be the sunshine in your universe.
If I won the lottery, the first thing I would do is: get up to use the restroom because I would be dreaming.
I drive a: black Honda Accord
Always in my fridge: a large jar of dill pickles that has been in there for about 8 years.
If I could have dinner and a conversation with anyone in the world, past or present, I would choose: Jesus and I'd have him choose the wine

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hint of Spring

The weather was so unseasonably warm tonight.  Even though I rode my bike earlier today, I drove over to Norfolk through the tunnel with Lulu to take a walk this evening.  The Ghent neighborhood is eclectic, a my kind of place with an Orthodox Jewish community, trendy shops, unique stores, and a wonderful coffee house called CafĂ© Stella. 

Lulu and I walked under the street lights and past the neon lights of restaurants, past the Donut Dinette, past people in outdoor seating at pubs – giddy with the warmth of the unexpected rush of a spring evening in bleak mid-winter. 

Down 21st Street we walked, past the tiny ballet students, hard at work, all pink and black leotards with little froths of tutus like frosting on cupcakes.  First position, second position, plie, hands on the barre, arms curved gracefully overhead.  Degas on a warm February night.