If we were having coffee…this Sunday, it would be virtual no matter what since we are still in seclusion. Luckily, we’ve been sharing virtual coffee for years so we’re well aquatinted with the concept. Today we have nice strong French Roast or tea if you prefer. My wonderfully hubby, who bakes when he’s bored, made some chocolate and white chocolate Chip cookies last night that are to die for! Please take a few and tell me what you’ve been up to.
If we were having coffee... I would share that we’ve had an anxious week since we heard last Saturday that my father-in-law had unfortunately contracted the Coronavirus. The hospital checked him over, making sure his lungs and blood count looked good and since he was not coughing or having shortness of breath they sent him home to recuperate. He is over 70 and has diabetes but otherwise is active and in good health and seems to be on the road to recovery, thank goodness. Our worry now is that his wife and the other’s in his house will start to show signs of being sick too. So far so good. This is especially important since his step-daughter, her husband and their 3 year old son came to stay with them when all this craziness started thinking that his rural neighborhood would be safer than their city appartment. Irony at it’s worst.
If we were having coffee…I would tell you that those of us in this house, fortunately are doing well health wise. We are also fortunate because since my husband, my son and I are all school employees we are able work from home and still have an income. My only trips out have been to the grocery store every two weeks or so. It’s a very stressful outing. I don my mask and rush through the the aisles grabbing the things we must have. I’m usually exhausted the rest of the day just from the anxiety. I don’t think it’s that I’m so afraid of becoming infected, since our numbers in this area of NJ are thankfully very low, but more that I feel guilty being out, like I shouldn’t be leaving my house at all. I realize that’s not rational but it just goes to show the mental state I’m in!
If we were having coffee…I would share that one good thing that has come from all this time at home is that I am creating lots of artwork and learning many new techniques. I’m hoping to amass enough inventory to open an Etsy store. Here are some samples. What do you think?
Pinterest and YouTube have become my life lines! There are so many talented artists willing to share their ideas.
If we were having coffee…I would ask how you have been spending your days during this unusual time. I hope you have found a way to stay positive and connected. Please visit our host EcleticAli an catch up with some other bloggers sharing coffee, see what’s been happening in their world.
The name of my blog was always meant to be a figurative view: my observations on small town America, the life of a middle class family, the simple things that happen around me. Now though, four weeks into self isolation with four more weeks on the horizon, my world has narrowed drastically making the literal “View from the Porch” so much more than it used to be.
I’ve always loved our neighborhood with it’s quaint old houses and tall trees but now our street has become, not just my view but also, my window to the world and I’ve come to appreciate it all the more. Today, I realized, gazing out, that there are many stories I could tell just about the things going on right outside my door.
What follows is the first of what I hope will be a series of tales cataloging the world outside my window during this strange and unusual time.
The Porch Guy
Across the street and to the left of my house sit two enormous homes. Each was built well over a hundred years ago and both are grand old buildings designed with peaks, decorative molding and deep porches. They were probably the first two homes on the block and I can imagine they were once owned by well-to-do families with many children. Behind them, at the bottom of their property line, is an odd little dead end street. I’ve been told that this road was where the carriage houses and stables for those two house once stood.
The house closest to us, a big blue farm house, it’s brown roof dotted with dormers, had been converted into four separate apartments when we first moved here 16 years ago. There were two apartments on the first floor, one in front and one around back, one on the second floor and one up on the third that was accessed by treacherous wooden stairs climbing up the side. Then, about 8 years back, the house was taken over by a lovely woman named Gail and her husband, whose name constantly escapes me (Craig?). I think it was her family home since her daughter was already living in the top apartment and there has been no “For Sale” sign to state that they were actually “new” owners. I’ve never asked but I suspect that an elderly relative passed away and she and her husband were the next in line.
Gail and I are “Yoo-Hoo” neighbors. That means that we don’t hang out in each other’s kitchen drinking coffee or call each other on the phone but we do catch up any time we happen to be outside at the same time (Yoo-hoo, neighboor! What have you been up to?) Via these sidewalk conversations, I learned that Gail’s first order of business after they moved in was to turn the house mostly back into a single family home. The one apartment she left in tact was the first floor rear, which is accessed around the left of the front porch. It was this apartment that became the home of “The Porch Guy.”
The Porch Guy was an elderly gentleman who looks just like you would imagine a fine old grandfather would look, complete with a bushy grey mustache and soft flannel shirts. When he first appeared, we noticed that he spent a great deal of time sitting in the little chair beside the front door, no matter the weather or time of day. My kids would come in and say “Porch Guy is outside again” or “Do you think it’s too cold for Porch Guy to be sitting out all this time?” Sometimes he would walk up the street and back, not in a hurry, just a easy stroll. He also had a nifty grey sedan that he often took on short errands and we would speculate about where he went and what he bought. That was about all we knew about him except that he always had a wave and a “Hi-ya!” for anyone who walked past.
Over time, we learned that “Porch Guy” was actually Gail’s father-in-law and that his name was Larry. Not “Mister” something, just Larry. That’s what he prefered. So we took to shouting “Hello” to him whenever we came and went and he in turn learned our names (although he still refers to Miss Dee as “Girl” occasionally-“Hi-ya, Girl! How was school?”). The best thing about Larry though is his disposition. I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone as upbeat and pleasant. He unfailingly has good words to say to anyone who passes and has become the unofficial ambassador of the neighborhood. He also has the most wonderful laugh, often chuckling at his own jokes. It seems to come from deep down and bursts out with an unapologetic blast! Sometimes in the evenings, if the windows are open, we can hear Larry laughing and laughing with someone who has stopped to pass the time.
Three Springs ago we noticed that Larry had been absent from the front porch for some time. D-man ran into Gail’s husband who told him that his dad was in the hospital. He had fallen down, a result of ongoing health issues and would probably not be home for several weeks, if at all. We asked him to please send our regards and to wish him well. After that, we watched and waited, The neighborhood seemed so quiet. No one calling out greetings or making corny jokes. Finally, a month or so later, as I was getting out of my car, I heard a gravelly voice call out “Hi-Ya! How ya been?” There he was, right back at his post next to the front door. I crossed the street and stood there talking, catching up, happy to see he was still just the same joyful, positive guy. The first thing I said to my family when I went in was “Hey, Larry’s back!”
The last few years we’ve made a habit of taking a tin of cookies over to Larry at Christmas time and, of course, we never pass without exchanging greetings. He walks with a cane now and his hair is a lot more grey. I’ve also noticed that he doesn’t drive anymore but I don’t think he minds. There is always someone to talk to especially now with the shelter in place. Our street has become a parade of families out walking with children or dogs. Each and every one of them gets a “Hi-ya!” from Larry.
Our old friend being there with his kind thoughts and positive outlook, happy just to have his comfortable seat and a place in the sunshine, helps to remind me that this anxious time will pass and life will undoubtedly, go on.
Welcome! Here we are well into our third week of self-isolation. I feel so fortunate that my family and friends are safe and well fed and that the only challenge we have is finding ways to fill our time. We’ve been doing pretty well so far. My daughter and I lean towards “introvert” so we are more content than the men but they too have found ways to keep busy with movies and walks and little projects.
Last week, in search of a diversion, I was rummaging around in the Attic and came across this:
This belonged to my mother originally. I brought it home when my sisters and I were cleaning out and dividing up mom’s things after she passed away. She and I both had a love of trivia and puzzles so this was right up our alley and we did attempt to finish it back when it was new. However, this particular puzzle proved too much for us and we were never able to quite finished it. We could have used the poster that came with it but that didn’t seem fair. Some of the quotes were so obscure that we eventually gave up.
Luckily, Miss Dee and I now have the advantage of Google!
Yes, I admit, we cheated. That “enclosed poster with all the answers” has long since disappeared and some of these quotes are really challenging. For example:
“She believed in nothing; only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist”
Perhaps there are some of you out there who could easily attribute that saying toJean-Paul Satre but I’m just a chick from Jersey with a degree in Fine Art. This guy is way outside my range of knowledge. I did great on the movie quotes and D-man and Mr D were a big help when it came to American Wars or Politics. Miss Dee even figured out some of the more current quotes but since the puzzle was copy written in 1994, four years before she was born “current” was a relative term.
Whatever method we used, we still had fun matching the quotes with the proper person and it has provided a great distraction, helping to fill some of the unstructured hours. We even learned some new stuff. Now we are down to fitting the actual pieces together, harder than you would think since they are all the same size and you only have slivers of images on the edges to try and match up. It may get to the point where we give up and move on but for now I’ve been adding a piece here and there. Who knows, with at least another month in front of us, we might get it finished.
I was sorry to read in the papers a last week that Seward Johnson had passed away. His name may not be familiar to some, but here in New Jersey, where he was born, we remember him fondly. Mr Johnson was lucky enough to be heir to the Johnson Pharmaceutical fortune but more than that, he was an amazing artist who created hundreds of works of art. He was also founder of a lovely place, not 45 minutes from my home, called Grounds for Sculpture.
Grounds for Sculpture, opened in 1992, is a magical place in Hamilton, New Jersey, not too far from Trenton. Beyond the vine covered walls you will find 42 acres of gardens and rolling hills featuring hundreds of Seward Johnson’s works along with those of other local artist. The park is filled with meandering paths, beautiful landscaping and surprises around every corner. Some of the pieces there belong to Johnson’s Monumental Scale collection, towering statues 20 feet tall, as well as many of his Beyond the Frame vignettes where the visitor can step inside famous Impressionist paintings. These are among my favorites along with his Celebrating the Familiar series. Several inside exhibits and restaurants are also on site. Miss Dee and I visited there in late August, our last outing of the summer break. Here are just a few of the lovely things we saw.
We had such a wonderful time exploring Grounds for Sculpture. We’ve already made plans to go again because our feet gave out before we saw even half of the many pieces on display. I think the Fall would be a great time to go back. Every season in fact, will add something new. Seward Johnson, in his 89 years on Earth, certainly added a great deal of beauty to the world.
Hello friends! Welcome! Come in and sit and let me pour you a cup of something nice and hot to help ward off the bitter March winds.
Let’s catch up.
If we were having coffee…I would ask you how your week has been? Mine seemed very long. I’m afraid that this month in general will feel very long. Not being a winter person, by March I’m really missing the sun and the ability to open windows. Also, I’m really sick of my warm weather clothes and am ready for short sleeves and light material. Maybe “springing” the clocks forward this weekend will help.
This week at school we celebrated the magical Dr Seuss with Read Across America. Each day was a different theme, silly sock day, crazy hat day, and the favorite, Wacky Wednesday where everyone is suppose to have wild hair-dos and wear their clothes mismatched or backwards. The students came up with some really creative outfits and hair styles for that day. One little kindergartener even had her hair in the shape of a donut complete with icing and a plate! I don’t generally take part in this though because I feel after the age of fifity, Wacky Wednesday looks more like the begining senility. I mean I spend time checking each morning to make sure my clothes actually do match, that I have on the same color socks and the same shoes. Some of you ladies get that, right? Anyway, the students enjoyed it.
With that in mind, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite “Seussism” (there are so many good ones to choose from!)
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
So thanks for stopping by. Now go be A GREAT YOU and have a wonderful day.
And also make sure to GO to visit EclecticAli our Coffee Share Host so you can experience some extra adventures.
I live in a dry town. Although that may sound like a weather condition, it actually means that there is no alcohol sold within the town limits. Considering that we began as a Methodist meeting camp that took root and grew into year round bungalows, it’s not surprising that the drinking of alcohol was frowned upon. What is surprising, considering our dry condition, is that apparently, microbreweries don’t fall under the same law that keeps our town free of bars and liquor stores. We now have two up on Main Street and a few others in neighboring towns. I am definitely a fan of these cozy little watering holes. They promote casual gatherings, and a provide friendly welcoming atmosphere for the nearby college students, young couples and even old folks like us. The D-man and I have been known to stop by occasionally to meet with friends or just to have a “lets welcome the weekend” drink.
But here’s the thing,
Microbreweries sell fancy beer.
Beers with names like *Peach Brulee, Crimson Skull or Pink Guava Lime Gose. Beers with discriptions that say things like “The 5th iteration of our revolving hop, house pale ale features Simcoe, Amarillon and all-new Cryo Lemondrop*” I’m pretty sure most of that is English but I have no idea what any of it means.
Now I certainly enjoy an ice cold beer, especially in hot weather or down the shore accompanied by fresh crabs (YUM!) but, I lean towards basic beer. It’s how I was raised. I grew up imersed, if you will, in beer. My dad worked for Schmidts Brewery in Philadelphia his whole life as did all his brothers. Cases of beer or a tapped keg were basics at family barbeques and holidays. There was no wine or hard liquer, and the only beer allowed was Schmidts. That’s what put food on the table in our family so it was the only brand they would drink.
When I was older and on my own my friends and I drank Coors Light. We liked it because it was cheap and we were in our early twenties and therefore broke. We didn’t know the difference between imported or domestic beer. We didn’t care if it was an ale or pale. We drank what we were used to. The fanciest I get these days is when the D-man and I order a Blue Moon and it comes with a little slice of orange. Classy, right?
What I’m saying here is that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination a beer connoisseur. In fact, I’m probably about as far from one as you can get. The beer I grew up with was just basic beer, beer that anyone who knows about brewed beverages of that sort would probably shudder at the thought of.
That means that on those occasions when my hubby and I visit one of these cool new microbreweries, I’m completely out of my comfort zone, totally intimidated by those hand chalked signs over the counter. I stand there trying to figure out what the difference is between a lager and a brown ale or what exactly is a black and tan? Turns out it’s a cream ale mixed with coffee. Who knew, right? Standing there, shifting from one foot to the other, I contemplate the benefit of having a Pummel (as naked as a larger can get) over a Silver Queen (made with 20% white corn) or possibly a Not For Anything IPA (an iteration of our hazy methodology features a meg-adjunct grist thanks to our indomitable mash filter*) Yikes!!
I’m certain these are all amazing beers and that all this “brew speak” makes total sense to most of the other patrons. Just not me. Luckily most microbrewes offer something called “flights” which are sample sets of several different beers of your choosing. That’s my fall back and most times I come across one that I like or that at least tastes close to what I’m used to.
The whole idea is to try new things. I get that and I do most times but, what I’d really like, and I think I’m going to suggest this to the owners next time, is a post script on that chalkboard menu that says:
<BORING BREW– For those patrons with unadventurous taste buds who mostly just came for the atmosphere.>
Wouldn’t that make sense? It would save me all that indecisive anxiety and I bet I’m not the only one. What do you think?
*All photos and beverage descriptions are courtsey of the BONESAW GRILL and NECK OF THE WOODS microbreweries here in NJ. Both have excellent brews and are really cool and welcoming establishments. Visit if you get the chance!
Good morning! Welcome to a sunny, crisp Saturday in Southern New Jersey. I’m hiding inside for now with a nice hot cup of dark roast coffee and a cinnamon bun. Care to join me?
If we were having coffee…I would appologize for missing our coffee date last weekend. I started a post but just couldn’t get it off the ground. I think the continuous rain and dreary weather last week zapped my motivation. Plus, the third graders I work with, and me as well, are still getting used to our new teacher. Our routines haven’t settled in yet and some of them are pushing boundaries, behaviour wise. I really like our long term sub and I think she will get them settled eventually if we can all make it through the adjustment period. The teacher that left is still waiting on the arrival of her baby boy since her due date isn’t for a few weeks yet and she does check in with advice from time to time.
If we were having coffee…you would hear Miss Dee moving around upstairs. This is her usual wake up time on days she doesn’t have classes. It’s nice that she has Fridays off as well because then she can stay caught up on work and still have leisure time. She has a bunch of group projects again this semester that are time consuming especially when the rest of the group likes to wait till the last minute. It drives her a little crazy. Oddly enough, she is also stressing over her ceramics class which I encouraged her to take as an elective because it thought it would be relaxing! Apparently she is having trouble throwing pots on the wheel which can be challenging. I enjoyed it when I had ceramics back in college just because I loved the feel of the clay and enjoyed watching the weird and wild shapes you could make. Her, not so much. Guess she’s too result oriented to enjoy the process. Probably why she is a marketing major and I was an art major.
If we were having coffee…we could say hi to my hubby, D-man as he comes in from his morning walk. It’s a bit cold for outdoor exercise if you ask me but he is never deterred. Our 24 year old son, Mr D is exercising also but he went to the gym where it is warm. He misses out on the whole “fresh air” benefit of the walk (gym smells are a bit more intense!) but he is planning to head down the shore with some friends later on so he’ll get his fresh air then. The beach in February doesn’t appeal to me but he said he just needs to see the ocean so he can get out of his mid-winter funk. That I totally get.
If we were having coffee…you might ask what I’ll be doing today, since the rest of my family seems occupied. Well, let’s see? A bit more coffee, a scan of the news and social media, some housework and laundrey, then maybe some artwork. A co-worker asked if I would try to paint a portrait of her son’s dog that just passed away. She wanted to give him a gift to remember his furry friend. She sent me some photos and I’m going to give it a try but I’ve always found dogs and cats quite challenging to draw. I never seem to be able to capture individual personalities and the shape of the heads always seem off. We’ll see. If it goes well I’ll show you the results the next time you stop by!
Thanks so much for joining me. Before you go, tell me what you’ve been up to. I hope your week was full of exciting events and some quiet times as well. Please swing by our host site EclecticAli and check out some of the other Coffee Share Posts. Have a great week!
I’m so glad you stopped by and I’m also very glad that the sun has stopped by as well. It feels like it’s been raining for years around here! I don’t even mind the chillier temperature. In fact, since it is February and we are in the northern hemisphere, “chilly” is absolutely correct and expected.
Let me get you some coffee and a nice fresh baked donut that my husband just brought back from his morning walk. I’m always pleased when his walks take him past the bakery! Pull up a chair. Let’s chat.
If we were having coffee…I would ask you if you experienced any of the crazy weather patterns floating around yesterday? Here in Southern New Jersey we were treated to some hurricane strength winds and possible tornado activity that sent all of the adults and students in our schools into a “Shelter In Place” situation. What that means is that we all needed to move someplace safe, in this particular case that meant the interior hallways where we were away from any windows, and continue our day as best we could. Some of the students were, understandable, bit alarmed but our Principal and the rest of we adults did our best to downplay the situation and keep them focused on other tasks. Luckily, we had the forethought to grab their laptops when we left the classroom so they were able to work on some of their writing projects and math websites. Finally, after about an hour, the warning was lifted and we were able to go back into our class. Fortunately, none of the more severe weather came too close to us. There were towns near the coast (about 45 minutes south) that were hit much harder. I don’t remember having quite so many excessive weather systems when I was young. Perhaps it’s just that we can track them better but I suspect that Global Warming is the real cause.
If we were having coffee…I would tell you that we have a sad social occasion this weekend. My son’s girlfriend Miss K, lost her grandmother last week and her memorial service is tomorrow evening. We never had the chance to meet her grandmother, who sounds like a very sweet lady, but Miss K and Mr D have been together for several years and we are quite friendly with her parents so we will certainly stop by to show our respects. I’m always so happy to see evidence of the fine young man my son has grown into whenever situations like this occur. He took it upon himself to purchase a nice plant and a card for her family the night after it happened. Then he spent the evening at her parent’s house talking with them and helping them with any thing he could. He is a really good person to have around in tough situations, just like his dad.
Speaking of the D-man…
If we were having coffee..I would probably brag a bit and tell you that my husband has started teaching a graduate course at our nearby university. The course is in school counseling, which is what he does for a living. It is attended by students in their final semesters doing their in-school internships. He is running an evening class once a week and also supervising the student in their placements schools. I’m pretty proud of him and so happy that he is being recognized for the amazing work he has been doing in the school system for the past 20 years. I’ve always thought he would make an excellent educator. Anyone who has the patience to counsel middle school students, with their raging hormones and tendency for drama as well as aid families in crisis and student in sad and difficult situations all these years and not lose their mind, must have the capacity for anything! Now the graduate students in his class will benefit from his years of experience as well.
If we were having coffee…I would probably glance over at the clock and realize that my Saturday has begun without me! Time to “shake a leg” as my mother would have said.
I’ve certainly enjoyed catching up with you. You should definitely stop by our host blog Eclectic Ali and visit the rest of my Coffee Share friends.
It’s confusing because we used to be so close. We were always in sync, completely in tune with each other but lately he’s been aloof, distant, only stopping by when he feels like it.
I think the riff started back when I was in my late forties. Menopause came around and I started spending a lot of time with those troublesome hormones. They were always showing up unexpectedly, all flashy and hot, sometimes in the middle of the night. I think Sleep got jealous, tired of them intruding on the good thing we had going.
Whatever the cause, he sure has made himself scarce lately. I’ve tried all kind of tricks to bring him back, yoga breathing, visualization, exercise, even warm milk but it’s just no use.
Sometimes the problem is my brain, comfortably cradled on my pillow yet suddenly filled with EVERY SINGLE conversation or thought that has crossed it’s path in the last twelve hours. Sometimes the problem is more physical; aches and pains, restless legs, night sweats. I’ve become so unpredictable and high maintenance that it’s no wonder Sleep has gotten tired of me.
Most often during these lonley, Sleep-less nights I just lie in bed watching the hours pass, wondering what I could have done to drive him away. I also wonder how I’ll make it through the next day, red eyed and groggy. Some nights I’ll get up, read a book, have a snack, (write a blog post,) but usually I just wait…
…wait for Sleep to return.
He can’t stay away forever, right? I really hope not.