Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Front Porch

As you enter the gate and walk on the flagstones leading to my front porch, you'll first notice a big planter. Every spring, I buy some annuals to fill the planter, which is at least years old and make of solid concrete. Talk about heavy! My aunt wanted to take the planter with her when she moved from this house, but the management at her apartment building said that it was too much weight for the balcony.

This year, I chose purple petunias:

On the northeast side of the above antique planter sits a rain gauge, a Christmas gift from Claudia. Isn't he a cute little fellow?

Ever since 9/11, I've made sure that a flag is hanging from my front porch, except in the most inclement weather. I've had to replace the flag three times, and the present one is getting pretty battered now. The flag is probably the first thing one notices about my front porch.

This picture was taken in the fall of 2006:

Once you climb the few steps to the porch, you'll notice Mo and Osama, both enjoying a life of leisure next to the Adirondack chair which sits under my dressing-room window:

Turn right to enter the front door. Look who welcomes you!

Muslims aren't fond of visiting my front porch. LOL.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Mustang

My midlife crisis:

At the time I bought this beauty, it had a mere 6000 miles on the odometer. Now the odometer is close to turning over 100,000.

I bought this "pre-owned" Mustang GT convertible on my 49th birthday, with a bit of money which my father left me in his will.

After I'd gotten the salesman down as far as I could on the price, I pulled out my driver's license and said, "It's my birthday. What're gonna do for me?" He lowered the price another $200, which covered the fees for tags and title.

We've added a lot of dress-up to the Mustang, including the 18" wheels you see here, as well as interior billet-aluminum knobs and handles. We also added a chrome-plated fuel door, chrome-framed halogen headlights, a chrome frame to the third taillight, and an after-market grill. Chrome on the outside and under the hood; billet-aluminum for the interior.

Mr. AOW likes to think that the Mustang is his car. It's not! But I let him keep her shined up and add after-market chrome-plated, horsepower-enhancing goodies under the hood. Regrettably, I let him lower the car, so we have to be careful with that x-pipe exhaust when we go over speed bumps and come in the back gate.

I also let Mr. AOW take the Mustang to the drag strip now and then.

"How many tickets?" you ask. Well, I've gotten one speeding ticket. Mr. AOW has gotten too many to keep track of, but none lately.

In an odd way, my Mustang is responsible for my finding a circle of blogger friends. More on that later.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Our Cats

Cameo, so named because of the white spot at her neckline, will turn 6 at the end of July and is our youngest cat. She's 3/4 Russian Blue and 1/4 Siamese. As the dominant kitty, she's the boss around here! The following picture was taken on our front porch:

Dusti, named Cinderella by the rescue group who found her in a litter of kittens in an alley in D.C., turned 10 years old on May 5. The following picture, which I call "Dusti Greets the December sunrise," was taken when she was quite young:

Mysti, nicknamed "The Mystery Triller" because of the sounds she makes, was born in a Maryland barn of a feral mother who disappeared after one day, thus leading to Mysti's having to be bottle fed until she was 8 weeks old. She had a rough start because right after we adopted her, she suffered from a nearly fatal attack of coccidiosis and to this day has a very delicate stomach and a slight build. She turned 8 years old on June 18 :

My husband found Sheba in an alley when she was kitten. We thought she'd become a shed cat, but she turned out never to want to be on her own again. Today, she is quite senile and spends most of her time on her mat by my husband's recliner. She'll turn 19 years old on July 15. Click directly on the image to enlarge it:

Our Anniversary Trip To Steubenville (Part Two)

Next to the sign which marks the site of Dean Martin's birthplace stands a duplex. When I was in Steubenville in 2002 for Dean Martin Day, I met Francesca Monaco, who lived in one of these residences (the one on the right, I think).

Ms. Monaco saw me taking pictures of the site of Dean Martin's birthplace and came out her door, saying, "Are you a teacher? You walk like a teacher." We proceeded to converse for nearly a half hour. Ms. Monaco had been Dean Martin's teacher when he was in 10th grade! She was only a few years older than he; back in those days, when an aspiring teacher graduated from high school, in order to certify as a teacher, she didn't have to attend college, but only take a summer's worth of certification courses. I asked Ms. Monaco what kind of student Dean was, and she told me that he was quiet and intelligent, though he didn't apply himself in school.

Another interesting factoid I gleaned from Ms. Monaco, from a family of several girls: Dean's mother, a seamstress, made all her sisters' wedding dresses.

I have no idea if Ms. Monaco is still living, but the duplex where I met her is still standing:

Francesca Monaco informed me that the Crocettis lived only a few years in the house in which Dean was born. She directed me to another house in a better part of town, further from the railroad track. In this house, Dean's father worked as a barber on the first floor, and the family lived upstairs. I'm not sure if the following picture is exactly the correct address, but even if not, the building looked like this:

Sheer cliffs, showing lots of evidence of iron in the rust coloring, rise from the Ohio River on the West Virginia side:

The iron in the geological formations led to the establishment of the steel-mill industry in Steubenville. In the background of this picture, you can see the railroad track for the trains and the smokestack from one of the steel mills. I took this picture not far from the site of the previous photo:

In addition to being Dean Martin's hometown, Steubenville is famous as "The City of Murals." Here are two of those murals:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Our Anniversary Trip To Steubenville (Part One)

The following are two of the sights on Dean Martin Boulevard (Route 7), as one first approaches Steubenville:

The house where Dean Martin was born is no longer standing, but the lot is marked:

Dean Martin's home church, the church at which he was christined, was St. Anthony's of Padua. In the left foreground of the second picture below, you can see just a portion of our Mustang GT convertible. The weather was perfect, and we had the top down the entire time we were in Steubenville.

Dean's home church today looks as it did when Dean was baptized:

One of the reasons that we went to Steubenville this year is that we knew that Tom Stevens would be appearing. Of course, there will never be another Dean Martin, but, in my opionion, Tom is the best of the Dean impersonators. Deana Martin herself says that her seeing Tom makes her do a doubletake:

You can learn more about Tom Stevens HERE.