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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Goodbye, Mr. Spock

I don't think that most people who know me would believe that I am a die-hard fan of the original Star Trek.  Isn't it amazing that a show that only broadcast for three years would have such a profound influence on our culture 50 years later?

My favorite character was Leonard Nimoy as the unflappable Mr. Spock.  I think I appreciated him so much because he always had control over his emotions.  I'm not always so good at that.

The Vulcan salute of "Live Long and Prosper" was Leonard Nimoy's idea.  He first saw it as a little boy in an Orthodox Jewish setting, as he saw watched Rabbis raising their hands over the congregation in blessing using that familiar gesture.

He talks about this here:

Live Long and Prosper

Thursday, February 26, 2015

White As Snow

So sorry to those of you who hate snow, but I love it!  Here's the tree outside my front door, all frosted and beautiful. You can hardly see the old Shea Terrace Elementary School behind all the fluff.

All this lovely whiteness reminds me of the comforting words God share's with us in Isaiah 1:18:

"Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

War and Peace

Yesterday started off with a jolt. 

I spend a lot of time in my take-home police vehicle, for which I am very thankful.  The radio squawks all day long.  I don’t typically need to use it, unless I am going to see someone I don’t know well.  I then check in with the dispatchers notifying them of my location, so someone looks for me in case I don’t check back out. 

Some of what you hear can be shocking. I frequently view this as an opportunity to pray.

Yesterday morning, the radio traffic was nothing less than life or death.  A pursuit started not too long after 8 a.m. with a driver who doing 76 in a 45 mph zone and would not pull over.  Soon he was clocked at 106 mph with several troopers trying to catch up.

He purposely rammed one trooper twice. The second time he rammed into the trooper, the driver lost control of his car, drove it into a tree.  The car looks as if split in half on impact.  The next thing I heard was a trooper saying that the car was engulfed in flames. The driver died, obviously.  I’m not stating anything that hasn’t been on the news.

One minute I was praying for the safety of the troopers and the next, I was praying for the driver’s family.  What has gotten into people?  What on earth was so important that he drove 30 mph over the speed limit to begin with?  What could the driver have done which was so terrible that he couldn’t just pull over to deal with it?  Some warrants?  A stolen car?

Now his body will have to be identified with dental records.  I was shaken. I can’t imagine how was for the troopers who were there.

It started snowing at 2:30 and by 3:15, it wasn’t safe to drive.  We don’t use snow tires here in southeastern Virginia.  I drove home, did some paperwork and started dinner.  I tried a new recipe for Genovese pasta I saw in the NY Times magazine on Sunday.   It was fabulous.

We walked in the snow after dinner.  We bundled up with hats, scarves, gloves and boots and put Lulu into her little orange coat.

All the city sounds were mostly muffled, with most people wisely inside and not driving.  It was so quiet that we could hear individual snowflakes hitting the snow already on the ground.  Peace washed over me as I finally let go of the tension from the morning.

We headed down to the partially-frozen Scotts Creek.  It is the prettiest spot in any season, with all kinds of wildlife; foxes, green herons, egrets, and Cooper’s Hawks.  The Creek didn’t disappoint tonight.  My pinkies were getting numb as we stamped our feet up the porch stairs and went inside.

My world is all peace tonight and another family’s world has fallen apart, as they surely must know by now that someone made a terrible decision.  And I pray that the God of all comfort will sustain the troopers and the family members this driver left behind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tiny House

I am entranced with tiny houses.  Every time I see one, I wonder if it was a perfect little spot for an aging mother-in-law. Or was it a workshop of some sort?  Here in the south, before air conditioning, folks had what were called "summer kitchens" which they used in the warm months.  The heat was kept away from the main home, although  the cook must have roasted along with the chicken and cornbread!

This particular little place has a fireplace and it looks as though there's some furniture inside. Yesterday, we stopped at a little Mom-and-Pop Italian place in Smithfield, VA and then noodled around north on Route 10.  We so enjoy the back roads, off the beaten path, which are so much more interesting than anything you might see on the highway.

We were somewhere between Surry and Hopewell when we turned around to take this shot.  There's a 1950's ranch house to the left, which doesn't fit the age or the style of this tiny house.  We were speculating that the house might have once belonged to the empty lot on the right, to a house that disappeared a long time ago.

If I owned this charming little place, I'd paint the door bright red, put black shutters up,and hang some Goodwill lace curtains in the windows.   Then in the Spring, I'd put up two window boxes planted with red geraniums and trailing greenery, like ivy, perhaps.

We'll need a grapevine wreath, simple, just spray painted white with one silk geranium on the door. I'd put a big, vintage watering can to the left side of the door and a wooden chair with the bottom out of it to the right, fitted with an old red handled pail and planted with red, trailing petunias. I think a red or black vintage bike with no gears should be leaning up against the side.

It could be precious at Christmas with a fresh, evergreen wreath on the door and little white lights around the windows.  Two vintage wicker chairs are needed about April 1, pulled out to just where the snow is right now. A black cat should be snoozing in the sun nearby from time to time.

Wouldn't it be just swell?  It makes me think of a sentimental old adage that hung in my grandmother's breakfast nook, "Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man."

You know, I was just thinking that in My Father's House,there are many mansions.  I hope there are a few fixer uppers.  It may not be biblical, but I do so love expressing creativity this way.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

McFarland, USA

We saw a wonderful movie yesterday:  McFarland, USA with Kevin Costner.  No foul language, no gratuitous sex or violence...just a straightforward, heartwarming story of a down-and-out coach who assembles a team of migrant workers and inspired them to become the top cross-country team in California.

At the same time, it is the story of how Coach White, in turn, was changed by his encounter with the team members, who work before and after school in California's fields, picking the food we eat.   He takes the grit and determination they use to survive every day and translates it into a hunger for success which allows each team member to do well, despite inferior uniforms, the pressures of having to work in the fields every day, and lack of funding to support their team.

It is also a lovely portrayal of the best of Hispanic culture, from the special birthday girls celebrate at age 15 (quinceanera), to the incredible work ethic these folks demonstrate, to their love for family and friends which is perhaps demonstrated more visibly than in many other cultures.

Finally, one scene depicts the runners getting on their knees to thank God after winning the big race. I can't remember the last time I saw that in a movie.

As I watched them picking cabbages, I couldn't help but think of my late sister-in-law, a migrant worker, who met Eric, my brother-in-law, when she was hoeing beets in Jim Shekal's fields close to his own family farm.

Margaret was stunning, as Bruce would say, she was a south-of-the-border Farrah Fawcett-Majors. Their daughter, Heather, is just as stunning and runs a business as a personal trainer. Margaret died, tragically, in a single car accident more than a dozen years ago.  Any stereotype you might have about migrant workers would be shattered if you had known Margaret, one of the most dignified women I ever met.

Go see this movie and support Hollywood when they produce righteous family films!  And the next time you make a salad, cook fresh spinach, or eat beets, please remember these extremely hardworking folks who picked that food, like my late sister-in-law and her family or the kids who ran for victory in McFarland, USA.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Muslims in Oslo Norway Protect Synagogue

 I haven't seen too much media coverage of a wonderful story from Oslo in Norway.

The Times of Israel reports that 30 Muslims plan to form a protective ring around a synagogue to show solidarity after the Copenhagen Islamo-facist attacks.

They probably realize that ISIS and other Muslim extremist groups kill other Muslims in their terror attacks, as much as they kill Jews and Christians.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Isn't This Where Jane Eyre Lived with Mr. Rochester?

No, this is actually "Virginia House"in Richmond  owned by the Virginia Historical Society.  We love to explore off beaten paths and found this beauty after lunching in Richmond's Carytown section, the closest thing to New York's Greenwich Village that I can find in the area.

This building was purchased in England and shipped, in part, to Virginia to be re-assembled. Originally a priory which was dissolved when Henry VIII declared himself head of the Church of England.  Henry being, of course, the Christlike model of moral rectitude for which we all know him - NOT.  The priory was originally built in 1100.  Fancy that being here in the United States!
Virginia House

Financier J. P. Morgan did the same thing when he bought a medieval cloister and re-assembled it at the northern tip of New York City, establishing The Cloisters, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  BTW I refer to him as "financier" because "noted rich guy" sounds common. The Cloisters is one of my favorite spots in the City.
The Cloisters

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kernels From the Cobb (County) - Occasional Quotes from my Sister

Anne, I'm totally listening to everything you are telling me, but I think Mom is burning down the house, so hold on, I need to check on something...

Marshmallow World

It's a marshmallow world in the winter,
When the snow comes to cover the ground,
It's the time for play, it's a whipped cream day,
I wait for it all year round.
The river is frozen out past the docks, very unusual.
While I know that everyone north of the Mason Dixon line is thoroughly sick of snow at this point, I am so happy to see it here in Virginia.  No work for either of us today and no school for this bunch.
The pleasant little canals in the park are frozen.
Today was the perfect day to try Starbucks brand new Tiramisu Latte. Just as the song says,after all, its IS a whipped cream day!

Gabby Giffords - This is What Courage Looks Like

Mark Twain once joked that the "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."   Gabby can say the same thing.  When a madman opened fire on her Arizona constituent meeting, NBC News sadly reported her death.  

But, you see, they didn't know much about about the heart and spirit of this truly valiant woman. Look at this face, because it is the face of true courage under fire.

Gabby continues to face recovery from a traumatic brain injury four years after that terrible day with courage, style, and a sense of humor.  Here she is with a music therapist.  Researchers have discovered that when speech is affected due to a stroke or other causes, the part of the brain that can sing or remember lyrics remains unaffected. As the Bible says, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The sun will come out tomorrow, Gabby, bet your bottom dollar.  May God constantly bless you, Jewish daughter of the King, apple of His eye.  Thou  o Lord, are a shield about her, You're her glory and the Lifter of her head.  You go, girl!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Truth Being Stranger Than Fiction...

Everyone should have a friend like my friend, Rebecca.  She is a lot of fun.  Rebecca is also a Proverbs 31 woman whose faith I really look up to.  My own sister, Kerry, is such a blessing that I can’t even adequately express it.  Rebecca is just a bonus sister, that’s all. The really wonderful thing is that her husband, Mark, and Bruce are just as friendly with each other as she and I are.  That, in my experience, is a rarity.

My friend, Barb New, first inspired me to research my genealogy.  Rebecca further spurred me on and gave me a lot of good tips on how to research and record information.  Rebecca is from a Virginia-based family.  Her research has been extensive, with many trips to the mountains to research documents, graves, or homesteads.  My family is from the North.

Years ago, my grandmother, Helen, told me that “Mrs. Galvin” (her mother-in-law) came from “old Connecticut Yankee stock.”  However, all of the family that I knew details about were Irish Catholics on both my mother and father’s sides.  Being Irish Catholic, in addition to being a religious background, also speaks to my heritage and culture.  It has been how I thought about myself until very recently, although I do not worship as a Catholic.

I’ve been looking into that old, Connecticut Yankee family of Mrs. Galvin’s, born Ella Bella McCullough.  On an aside, she is not the only member of my family with a rhyming name.  My mother has a cousin named Sally O’Mally.  Seriously?

Great Grandma Ella’s “old Connecticut Yankee” family were the Brainards, also spelled Brainerd as you research further and further back.  I have traced them to my 10th great grandfather back in Braintree, Essex in England in the 1580’s.

My family, at least the Brainerd/Brainard  branch, were Puritans not Catholics. They came to the United States to worship Jesus as THEY saw fit.  They settled in an area called 30-mile Plantation in Haddam, Connecticut in the 1600’s.  A note about them in a genealogy book at the Connecticut Historical Society states, “This family was known for its talents, wit, and piety.”   A wonderful legacy which I hope I can emulate.

One of my forebears was David Brainerd who ministered to the Native Americans in New Je
rsey in the early 1700’s.  He was part of the “Great Awakening” revival of that era.  The notes of his Indian ministry indicate that he bought land for them when their own ancient property was threatened and established a school and an infirmary.  He was my seventh great grand uncle.

David died of tuberculosis when he was 29 in the Massachusetts home of Jonathan Edwards.  Mr. Edwards was the most famous of the Great Awakening preachers.  David was in love with Jonathan’s daughter, Jerusha, and her father was his mentor.  They would have been married, but for David’s terminal illness.
David left diaries of his struggles and triumphs in the Christian life which Mr. Edwards thought would be of benefit to other Christians.  He published them in a book (still in print) called, “The Life and Diary of David Brainerd.”

And this brings me back to my dear Rebecca…who is the great some odd great niece of, wait for it, Jonathan Edwards.