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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Alexandria VA - Flowers and Exquisite Grounds

I love this brick pathway.  We are building a little one in the cottage garden.

I wish it had been a less hazy day last Saturday, but it was delightfully cool for walking.

Walking in Alexandria

Alexandria, Virginia is one amazing place...full of history and plenty to enjoy today.  When you visit Alexandria, you don't just get to see something about General Robert E.Lee, you see Robert E. Lee's father's house.  His name was Harry "Lighthorse" Lee.

Some rows are brick, some are wood frame
I'm not sure which I like better.

Here's a secluded porch right on the street, with some wonderful geraniums.
The shopping and residential areas are side by side, but each business has to conform to standards to "fit their architecture in."  I'm all over that.  We don't need a Wal-Mart here.
Some of the brick looks like it has been in place since the 1700's.
I can't figure out who would have used this tiny door - hobbits?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Walking Through My Friend, Sue's, Yard

This is my friend Sue's house.  Sue never met a stranger.  We met years and years ago when I was walking dogs who now live in heaven. We became friends when she was helping one of my offenders.  She is an amazing person who began a career as an artist after she turned 50.  Her house and property are magical.
She lives along Owens Creek, actually part of the same creek system that I live along, which feeds into the Elizabeth River.
This is a chippy blue green desk out in the backyard.
Some gorgeous hydrangeas growing along the fence.
Figs out in the backyard...Jesus doesn't need to curse these, they're being productive!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Debbie

Yesterday I drove down to Winston-Salem, NC to say goodbye to Debbie.

You see, her husband, David, called me Wednesday night to tell me that Debbie had been moved to Hospice Care and was "in the beginning of the active stage of dying."  It was such an odd statement that I had to ask him to repeat himself twice.

I've known Debbie for about 14 years.  She used to live at 106 Constitution while I live at 256.  She and her husband had married later in life.  David has an inherited form of blindness, while Deb had lupus, an autoimmune disease.

Despite having to get around on a walker, she worked as an editor and was at the Red Cross with me as a paid employee.  She always beat me playing Scrabble, even  after she went blind from medication complications. Scrabble has braille tile covers that fit over the letters. We'd often share a cup of tea at her house afterwards.  She had an exquisitely beautiful cat named Mischief.

Debbie never lost her sense of humor despite the blindness, the surgeries, and nearly dying.  She kept her puns and her humor at the ready after she was confined to a wheelchair, and then to bed.

Once, after she could no longer work, I stopped by at our usual time to see her.  I noticed that the electricity was out and it hadn't been back at work, a mile away.  The microwave was beeping and the house was dark.

"Hey its me, " I called out.  "When did the lights go out?"  She quipped, "About two years ago..."

Debbie had lost sensation in her hands to the extent that they didn't think she could learn braille. She did learn.  We went shopping because she liked my taste in clothes and later, we put on braille labels. She loved the feeling of one soft, fleece shirt and had me help her put on the new garment in the fitting room.

Later, we went out to our favorite Kelly's for dinner.  "Hey," she said to the waitress, "Does it say anything like "Re-Elect Bush" on my shirt?".  She is a liberal and I a conservative.

Debbie and David moved back to her native NC a number of years ago, but we kept in touch.  She had adaptive software and a computer which allowed her to continue writing emails and editing manuscripts.  She "read" the latest books and we talked about them, sharing a delight in reading.  I read with my eyes and she heard books via the Library of Congress, which has excellent services for the blind.

I knew that Deb's health was declining, but I was in no way prepared for that phone call.  I was devastated.

All the way down to NC, I kept thinking about an abandoned house.  The one in the picture above.  And in the pic below.

I was worried about what to say, but I shouldn't have.  She was in the most beautiful Hospice House.  The nurse advised, "Be careful with the door, there's a cat in there."  And indeed there was. Melchizideck, curled up on a window seat.

Debbie is surrounded by care and love.  Her beautiful voice was just the same, a cultured sort of a drawl, and the same piercing blue eyes, blind, but looking just the same.  What do you say to someone who has very little time left?
You pray.  You hold her hand.  You tell her you love her.  You try to ignore the lump in your throat. You hold the foam cup of sweet iced tea and bend the straw so she can drink. She is too weak to hold it herself. You laugh about the lime jello at Thanksgiving in 2004.  You try to offer comfort to her family.

"I can't believe you guys came down here.  It is an 8 hour round trip,."
"Debbie, if things were reversed, you would do it for me."
"That's true," she said in a strong voice,

Lupus is a horrible destructive disease.  I hate it.  Debbie's body may finally be losing its battle, but her spirit has never given in.

":Anne, " she said, holding up her hand, slightly gnarled from the disease. "I thought that when it finally came to the point when I couldn't type, I would give up.  I can't type anymore, but I was just thinking that if I could get someone to sit here with me and let me dictate and then type it up, I could finish my book."  Her spirit is so alive.

She was tiring from conversation, so we prayed prior to leaving.  "I'm not sure about what heaven is," she said when we finished. "But this right here, right now...this is sacred space."  Amen.

I couldn't figure out why I kept thinking of that old, abandoned house until I thought about this picture.

St. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

Debbie's housing on earth is being destroyed inch by inch by lupus, much like this old abandoned house. Once beautiful and strong, age and neglect have rendered the house nearly useless.  But one day soon, like this picture, Debbie's spirit will fly through a broken window into joy, beauty, and freedom, straight to the throne of God.  And then she will truly see.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Flea Market Gardening - Potting Bench

I've been obsessed with all the gardening and potting shed pics on Flea Market Garden and Pinterest.  In particular, I've loved the different assembled potting benches I've seen.  Love them, love them, love them!

I was driving the scenic route home through Olde Towne and saw the little cabinet that you see as the back of the "bench."  It was at the curb for trash pic up.  It smelled weird and was all white (with stains).  Here it is after I got the doors off:

I put it in the back seat and considered my other options.  About 12 years ago, my friend, Tanya, came over with an old kitchen counter someone had discarded at the curb.  It was fabulously 1950's and in perfect condition.

I spray painted the inside of the shelf white and the doors bright red.  I could tell you that I wanted some balance in color, but the truth is that I wasn't sure if I had enough red spray paint for the whole thing.

I moved my little Herb Garden box around and added some fun tin buckets from the dollar store.

At Nancy's on Scotts Creek

Wow, Friday was such a crazy day that it took until today to process it fully.  On Thursday, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, VA staged an Active Shooter drill starting at 9 a.m.  Just after 8:30 a.m. Friday, a Navy ET (Bruce's rate in the Navy, an electronic technician) stabbed a young Master At Arms (Navy police officer) 8 times at the Navy Exchange.

The Hospital went to Code White, the highest alert level and the base was locked down trying to catch the bad guy.  My police radio was active with calls for the State Police to respond.  By the time I traveled back from dropping paperwork off at my office and seeing an offender, Portsmouth was teeming with police, FBI, Homeland Security, lights, sirens, news teams, and craziness.  I couldn't get to my next appointments because streets were blocked off.

And yet...1/2 a mile away in my own neighborhood, all was calm.  As I often do when troubled, I stopped at my friend, Nancy's, house.  This is the view from her yard...peaceful, lovely, with Cooper's Hawks swooping down from overhead and egrets feeding in the Creek.

Our hearts broke for this young Master at Arms, who was in surgery while we waited.  Channel 10 told us that he was a new father with a tiny baby shown off on his Facebook page.  His wife was devastated. Please pray for this young family.  God is so good, Justin Powell had surgery on Friday and his most recent condition report stated that he was doing well.  He does have a long road to recovery, though.  Pray especially for the total healing of his voice box; he was stabbed in the throat.

Please pray also for the young man who did such a horrendous thing.  He was apprehended at about 5:30 p.m.  At what point in our development as a society did we reach the stage when we face extremists at home and abroad, but sailors are attacking their own?  People say it is a lot of things; PTSD from battle, mental illness, side effects of the vaccines service members received before deploying overseas, depression, anxiety, the list could go on for paragraphs.

I believe that our efforts to remove God from our society have led to this point.  We have a generation of largely un-churched young people with broken homes who have no center to their lives.

Was my heart troubled for a time?  Of course, one can hardly stand in a friend's yard with helicopters searching overhead looking for an attempted murderer and not have the heart grieve in such a situation.  But, God is faithful.  I instinctively went beside the still waters and prayed.

Come unto Me all ye that travail and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Savor the Olive

We had breakfast out this morning and did some shopping in the Ghent area of Norfolk, Virginia.  Savor the Olive is a small, specialty gourmet shop that sells olive oils from many different countries and from various types of olives.  

The gates you see above originally came from a chateau in France. They're gorgeous with a rusted, old world charm.

Today I purchased one oil that had been pressed with Persian limes and another which was pressed with Blood Oranges.  These flavored oils are sublime in a summer salad. 

The store also sells gourmet salt, various varieties of balsamic vinegar, including one that is infused with chocolate.  Yes, please!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Spring Garden

I've been working on my garden areas for over a month and not yet posted about it!  Every time I tweak or plant something, I take a picture. Then I think that I'll just do one more thing before I post.  I'm stopping today to show you what I've been working on

I love spray paint.  I should buy stock in Rustoleum.  All the red items were spray painted and were acquired for free.

The cabinet was a curbside find following a neighbor's kitchen remodeling.  The "herb box" was fashioned from another curbside find. The table came from an abandoned house which was torn down...left out for the trash trucks.  At the very top of the cabinet is a sign with our family name made from old license plates  The little watering cans that are hanging on the door came from the Dollar Store and the flowers seem to be doing just fine in them.  I punched some drainage holes in the bottom.
Here's another planting area closer to the house.  I found the box hanging on the fence down in the basement. The ladder back chair was a curbside find, the two little red chairs were from thrift shops.  At the top of the picture is a red-trimmed vintage bucket hanging on the storm door.  It has an orange lantana plant inside.

Here's the front door area.  I found these fun "planters" at Walgreen's.  They were intended for icing down beverages.

More soon, if I don't post now I never will.