Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spring Bouquet Early and Mourning Doves

We have been blessed with amazing spring-like weather here in Virginia for nearly a week.  I thank God for every lovely minute of it; for the beauty and for the reduced heating cost.

As I mentioned in my last post, some of our trees are blooming and the crocus in my front yard are pushing up.Two mourning doves are contemplating nest building in the corner of my front porch. I wonder what might happen with these early-blooming trees if the weather grows colder.
Mayura, my next-door neighbor, told me that the doves had been billing and cooing and loving on each other over the weekend.  We don't mind the nesting, but just enter and leave the house a little bit more quietly.  

Our doves are darling, unlike the Canadian geese in the back lot at work which chase state troopers who get too close to their nests. This is a bit funny to watch, but those geese can get ugly!

We love flowers in our house.  Camellias bloom in the yard even in the coldest winters.  My house is a hundred years old, so the camellia bushes planted years and years ago are now actually camellia trees over 12 feet high.

I gathered some pale pink camellias from the side yard. The flowers in the back of the bouquet came from a nearby tree on city property. The vase is a thrift-store find. Looking at it as the sun streamed in early this morning, I thought the bouquet looked a bit oriental.

My sweet friend Nancy who lives in the painted-lady Victorian on Scotts Creek keeps chickens. She's just a block away and what a treasure she is.  What with the warmth and all, her hens have been quite productive. She dropped off a dozen eggs; free and delivered at no additional charge last night!  (I think her fridge was full of eggs.)  

My Bruce is less enthralled having grown up on a farm, but City Girl here is amazed to be able to figure out which chickens hatched the eggs.  Amy is the one who lays the pale blue green ones.  The other girls lay larger ones ranging from pale tan to a frank brown.

Our church provides free bread from a parishioner who works for a very well known (and expensive) chain restaurant famous for having all-natural, "real" food.  The bread would be thrown out otherwise.  Throwing out bread and restaurant waste when there are hungry people around makes me frustrated.  I hope other branches of the store are making such creative arrangements to avoid food waste.  Many New York City restaurants donate leftover food to homeless shelters. 

Early this morning I cooked up French toast using the free eggs and bread.  Talk about cheap!  Bruce is a bit fuzzy in the mornings, but all he will have to do is nuke it and "crack open" a banana.  Even he can manage that while still half asleep!

I hope that you are also enjoying a lovely spring/winter day!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Invincible Summer

Albert Camus said, "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."

He went on to say "And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back."  And let me note right here that I agree with absolutely nothing else that he ever said or did!

My personal something stronger and better is God, pushing right against the cares of the world.  

This tree also has some invincible summer in its DNA. Somehow, when every other tree that I see has bare wintry arms reaching toward the sun, this cotton-candy charmer is blooming in splendor. Two weeks after a major snow storm. As I drove past, I did a u-turn and took a photograph.

This type of tree is planted all around Portsmouth; the white version down the median along London Boulevard and planted in numerous other yards in homes all around here. There will be another pink early bloomer in a bed and breakfast's yard; but not yet.  

Their glorious spring season reminds me of Jordan almonds or fluffy 1950's strapless prom dresses on giggling girls with "Dippity-Do" hairstyles and short white gloves.

Why is it that one tree above all others shows her splendor early on?   How do some people survive untold abuse as young people and thrive as adults while others hurt their fellow man?  Why do some folks bounce back from hard times better than before, but others turn bitter?

I don't know all the answers, but I do know that the ability to reach higher, to reach toward the sky and toward God makes the difference.  For this is a transitory world, rife with chaos especially now.  

The blossoms come and go, the leaves take their places, and then fall as well, leaving skeleton arms reaching to the sky.  Only God is eternal and ever present.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Five Frugal Things and Gratuitous Dog Pic

Disclosure:  This is a gratuitous pic of a dearly-loved family member having no relation to the content below.

1.  I set beef to marinade for dinner.  The marinade consisted of juice drained from canned pineapple for fruit salad. (I save the juice from canned fruit - not syrup.) I added Chinese Five Spice, sesame oil, and soy sauce.  I'll have a stir-fry this evening with rice I deliberately cooked too much of Sunday. Frugal Girl is correct - meal planning is da bomb. Having some of dinner completed ahead (the rice, the marinade) makes me feel better about having to cook after a long day.

2.  I made iced tea from bags, setting it on the porch to cool. No need to heat up the fridge.

3.  Breakfast was made at home.  I cooked an egg sandwich with a sliced tomato, a small amount of mozzie cheese, and a thin slice of ham. The egg was free from a friend who raises chickens.  The cheese, ham, and bread were discounted.

4.  I cook for four, but there are two of us. After dinner, I create "TV dinners" (my husband's term) from the leftovers for his lunch. Today's lunch was roasted acorn squash and a stuffed baked potato. The frozen lunch keeps anything else in his insulated bag cool until noon, even in the summer.

5.  This frugal thing may not work for everyone.  My husband had been using clinical strength antiperspirant which severely irritated his skin. Some people believe there is a health risk associated with using antiperspirants, as well. I remembered my frugal and immaculate grandmother used rubbing alcohol instead. We tried it over the weekend. If we were going to end up stinky, we didn't want it to happen during work!  The alcohol worked perfectly for us.  This morning, I patted on rubbing alcohol instead of antiperspirant: healthier and much less expensive.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

I don't generally talk a lot about the weather.  Bruce is in charge of weather monitoring.  Having grown up on a farm, he pays enough attention for both of us and some other unknown folks who blithely head out each day without proper outdoor clothing, boots, umbrellas, and all manner of dangerous weather ignoring behavior.

I just HAVE to say something today.  The old thermometer next to the back door says 63 degrees.  On Tuesday, it read 9 degrees. Please note that my faithful writing companion up top was wrapped up in a blanket warmed in the dryer on Tuesday.  Today she has abandoned me for the backyard.
Here are the sad remains of the hula girl snowoman built by my next door neighbor in my backyard. She didn't ask, I just looked out back and she was building it.  I brought her out some hot tea (it was terribly cold) and asked her why she was building it in mine.  She said, "Your yard is prettier." Uh, okay.

My blog title: Adapt, Improvise, Overcome is a motto expressing the corporate culture of the Marine Corps...oooh rah!

The motto also works well for those who practice frugality or who want to leave a lighter footprint on the earth.

My shower curtain was looking its age of 16 years, so I was keeping an eye out for one on a deep discount or at Goodwill.

You can see the pink hue of my bathroom with the window treatment on the very tall window.  The curtain is a Rachel Ashwell sheet I picked up for a $1.50.  The only thing I found wrong with it was a tiny splotch of white paint that is not noticeable. 

The little dress was $3.50. I already had the necklace.  I got this together about 4 years ago.  Mostly, I am showing this to indicate the delicate pink hue of the bathroom.
I thought I had found the perfect color at Goodwill and took home a shower curtain I thought would match.
What was I thinking?  The hue was far too loud.  I put it through the wash three times with bleach...it was as loud as ever.

I mulled it over for a few days, hating to give up a shower curtain which was almost perfect.

Holding it my hand last night, it occurred to me to hang it up backwards.  Now it works!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

In the Bleak Mid Winter

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Okay, okay, it isn't soooo bleak...we just have had a blizzard! Up above you see the view outside my front door.
Here's my old-fashioned detached garage and the old pecan tree.  
You can have your hot water bottles, your socks filled with rice and microwaved, your electric blankets or your heating pads!  For all out comfort and warmth while the blizzard howls around your hundred-year-old house, up on the second floor, there's nothing like snuggling up with a mutt. 

And she was quite frugal by costing us nothing and giving us everything. Who rescued who?  

Whenever we have severe weather, I feel cozy up in our room.  The thunder sometimes shakes the house, we've had a very weird earthquake which also damaged the Washington Memorial.  We've gone through hurricanes and tornadoes.  Most recently, we've had a blizzard, but the old Shea house at 256 Constitution Avenue still stands unafraid. 

If she could talk she would say, "I am still here. I am unbowed. I have horse-hair insulation. I was built to last with 2x4's that were really 2 feet by four feet. I was built by a craftsman who cared and a family who loved me, not a developer."

The old Shea house at 256 still has a family who loves her very much. The great grand nephew of the original family lives a block and a half away. His uncle did upholstery for the railroad.  He was a generous man who also donated the land for the old school across the street.  Mr. Shea built the house next door for his mother-in-law.

So just like Mr. Shea did, we shoveled the sidewalks, stamped our feet up the steps and on to the front porch.  We made warm comfort foods while snow and ice fell so hard that we could hear the crystals hit the ground. 

The only thing that I can guarantee that Mr. Shea did not do after this storm was acquiesce to the request of the next door neighbor (nobody's mother-in-law) to take a picture of her in a belly dancing costume (no coat on) in the backyard for an online "Snow Goddess" challenge.  

She is an endless source of amusement without meaning to be, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

I've Grown Accustomed to His Face

I love this guy.  He is the mascot for a small-engine machine shop in the next neighborhood over from mine. This shop tends to be open on weekends only and I suspect some beer drinking is involved.

Here's his face close up.  They must have spent a fortune at the dentist getting those straight teeth.
I've become accustomed to his face.  The Tin Man is jealous.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Day Which Will Live in Infamy

Having lived at Pearl Harbor many years with a poorly placed street sign making it seem that the Arizona Memorial was in my backyard, this is an important day.  

The Memorial was often right in front of me in the Harbor when I worked for the American Red Cross.  You can't be affiliated with Pearl Harbor without feeling the pathos, the horror, and the valor which the Memorial represents as it still exudes a sheen of oil on to the water.  

Every day, a lei will be thrown in the water from tourists or service members who still remember the sacrifice of these men.  I'm sure that there will be hundreds of leis there today in their memories. Dorie Miller, pictured below receiving the Navy Cross, is a tangible hero of the War for me.

He was the son of a large family of Texas sharecroppers.  A high school drop out, he was a "messman," serving food and attending to officers' staterooms and laundry.  The rate doesn't exist anymore.  I guess the Navy figures that officers can do their own laundry now.

On December 7, 1941, Dorie Miller heard the call of duty.  He had been below decks attending to breakfast and laundry, but headed up topside. 

Although he had never been trained on using Navy guns, two officers coached him and expected him to load ammunition only. When they turned back to him, he was firing away.  

His years shooting squirrels to help feed his large family surely helped him. Just remember that God never, ever wastes the experiences in your life. This was just a bigger gun with bigger stakes  Dorie Miller shot down 3-4 enemy planes in addition to other heroic duties moving shipmates out of harm's way.

Sadly, he was killed in action in 1943 when a Japanese sub torpedoed his ship.

As my favorite poet, Langston Hughes said, "When Dorie Miller took gun in hand, Jim Crow started his last stand..."

I remember him today.