Searching for a new home

cabinFrom my previous posts you know about the construction and destruction of the neighborhood where I now live. I have engaged a realtor, an old friend of mine, and am actively engaged in finding a new place to live.

This is a daunting task in many ways. First and foremost is the fact that I will soon be 70 years old. It’s not easy pulling up stakes at my age. I have lived at my present location for 15 years, which is the longest I have lived at one place in my lifetime. Being a Navy brat, my family moved a lot. I have lived in Florida, Texas, Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York. I have lived here in Virginia since the 11th grade. In the time I have lived in Virginia I moved 7 or 8 times. I am hoping this move will be my final move. I plan on dying where I move next.

All my friends, family, doctors, church, everyone I know, live in the Hampton Roads area. Ideally I would like to find a place to live in this area. The only problem with that is that I have grown to hate this area. I have a bit of a nomad still in me, and 50+ years in the same area is having its toll on me. Add to that the relentless development, construction, traffic, and just total urbanization of the area is distasteful to me. I want some country, not endless condos, new homes, shopping malls, etc.

I am trying to find a place where I am not elbow-to-elbow with people, I want some peace and quiet. I want to be able to look out on my back yard and see a deer, or a fox, or a racoon once in a while. I used to be able to do that here, but not any more. Plus, the cost of housing in this area if very high. You really can’t get much for what I am able to afford. If I find a house that I like, I find I don’t like the neighborhood, or if I find a nice location, there is something about the house I don’t like.

I also have a medium size dog, which adds to the difficulty of finding the right home. I would like to have a fenced yard for my dog, but I don’t want too big a yard because I will not be able to maintain it by myself for much longer. Plus I don’t need a house with a lot of square footage to take care of since it is just me and my dog. When I have found a home that suits my needs and that I can afford, it is usually too far from the church that I attend, and in which I am very active, to be able to commute to daily.

When I look at properties in the western part of the state, outside of Hampton Roads, homes are much more affordable and you can get so much more for your money. But then I would have to give up attending the church I have attended for so many years, and be distanced from my friends and family.

So as you can see, I have a lot of decisions to make. I have to prioritize what is most important in my life. And the decisions I make will be ones that will affect every aspect of what time I have left in this world. I have a great Realtor and she has been very helpful and supportive. I told her I would be finicky about where I would live. It has been tougher so far than I thought it would be, but it has also helped me to set some priorities about what is most important.

So the quest continues. I haven’t given up yet, I have placed it all in the hands of God. I will find somewhere to move to, somewhere where I can find a little peace and quiet, and hopefully escape the relentless encroachment of progress, at least for a little while. Pray for me or wish me luck, or both.

Progress

As I sat in the far back corner of the house to escape the construction noise, I thought I would give vent to my frustrations as to what is happening just outside my front door. I have lived in my present location for 15 years. When I first moved here it was a quiet, peaceful neighborhood. There were only seven houses in the entire neighborhood. Granted, it wasn’t exactly in the country, but it was nonetheless a nice place to live.

Today, 15 years later, there are 37 houses in the same neighborhood as well as a self-storage business. The self-storage was the first new construction, built on what had been protected wetlands. Somehow a waiver or exception was had and the storage facility built. Oh well, there goes the neighborhood I thought. Then the street I was on was widened, curbing and street lights added. Starting to loose it’s charm now.

At the end of the dead end road I live on there was a big parcel of land and two houses, one of them an old, beautiful, three story brick ranch. The adjacent acreage was eventually sold by the owner of the three story to a developer after a falling out among family members. Within a couple of years an additional 30 homes were built on the land. This of course resulted in a lot more traffic coming down my street, but at least the homes were a good 50 yards from us.

Which brings me to today’s construction noise. The two homes that were directly across from me were built on about 4 acres each, for about a total of 8.5 acres. They were both beautiful houses with many mature magnolia, oak, and fruit trees on them. Truly beautiful to look at. I enjoyed the view from my front porch for 15 years. Both owners died recently and both properties were sold to the same developer that built the 30 houses previously mentioned.

So before long I was a front seat observer to the destruction of those beautiful properties. The hardest thing to watch was the destruction of all those beautiful, old trees by heavy construction equipment. I have never been a tree huger but to see those beautiful trees destroyed like that, their beauty never to be enjoyed again, was heartbreaking. I will be grieving over their loss for a long time.

Now every day for the last month, until about November I am told, I have to see and hear the transformation of those beautiful acres into another housing development. Twenty five houses jammed into 8 acres of land. Look-alike houses, each sitting on less than a third of an acre. When it is all done, I will have a total of 55 new houses that did not exist when I moved here those 15 long years ago. Gone forever is the peace, beauty, and charm that once brought me to live here. I used to watch geese migrations  every year, watched foxes hunt rabbits at night, had the occasional racoon, deer, and other wildlife. All of that is gone forever now.

And that is what is called progress. So as I finish writing this, thinking about all that has changed in the last 15 years, all that has been lost, I feel this ache inside me that I know will be a long time in fading. I am actively looking for somewhere else to move, somewhere where I can perhaps regain some of that lost peace, quiet, and beauty. Wish me luck.

 

The Old and the New and other Stuff

Apparently I’m not very good at this chronicling my life stuff any more. Not much interest in writing in this blog any more. Guess over time your interests and priorities change. But I was sitting here this morning, on a beautiful day, thinking about life. I have just finished doing my morning devotionals. It usually consists of reading three or so devotions and their associated scripture, which gets me to thinking. I wrote last August about how things have changed where I live. That change has finally become reality as earth moving equipment has shown up on one of the properties that is being developed. I think that will be the last straw that motivates me to finally try to find somewhere else to live. Somewhere where I can live the rest of my life in peace and quiet. Not sure if such a place exists anymore but I’m going to try and find it.

A lot of the things I used to spend a lot of time on when I was younger have lost their lure. They have been replaced with other things. That is normal I know, people change as they grow older. I still love to read, but my reading interests have changed. I will always love photography, that will never change. And my love of science and technology has not diminished although the focus has changed. I am still very active in church and have recently started volunteering at the city animal shelter walking the dogs, cleaning the kennels, and doing whatever I can to make their lives better. It is sad to see the plight of these beautiful creatures. I don’t know their stories, how they got there, but I do pray that their stories will have a happy ending.

Old age is definitely catching up to me. It is hard to adapt life to a body that no longer wants to cooperate with you. Things I would love to do I can no longer do, or are much more difficult to enjoy to the same degree I used to enjoy. Hiking, camping, swimming, and just running have all had to be dramatically curtailed. I used to scuba dive, but due to health issues I had to give that up. I am applying for a new passport as my old one is no longer valid. I hope to travel soon before it becomes more problematic about traveling with my health issues.

But hope springs eternal. I try to stay optimistic. There is no value in feeling sorry for one’s self. I am blessed in so many ways. I have my family, friends, and Church. And God. With God there is always hope.

OBTW, I am writing this on my new laptop. It is a Microsoft Surface laptop. Much nicer than my old one. My old laptop was a beast. This one is much smaller and lighter and easier to use. That’s it for my ramblings this morning. Time to get out and go somewhere and do something. I hope you are going to do the same.

Progress Sucks, Mostly

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I have lived in Virginia for 51 years now, most of my adult life. I will most likely die in Virginia. Virginia is a beautiful state, rich in natural beauty, history, culture, and with wonderful people. I have seen much change during my life here. Going to 11th grade in Virginia Beach I remember how rural it all was. I used to go surfing at the Navy Dam Neck base and the road leading in was a two lane one, with a country store on the corner.

Today the areas I remember as a young man are almost unrecognizable. Progress has brought more roads, much larger roads, along with shopping malls, countless gas stations, banks, convenience stores, and housing development after housing development. Every city I have lived in in Hampton Roads has changed dramatically. Traffic has gone from a nice drive down a two lane road to a nightmare of constant traffic jams, endless tolls, and just a miserable experience trying to drive anywhere.

And for all this progress, I can honestly say that I much prefer the Hampton Roads of my youth to the monstrosity it has become. I understand that progress is inevitable, but one would hope that progress would make life more enjoyable, but that seldom seems to be the case. Progress seems to be a lopsided trade-off between improving your life and making your life miserable.

Maybe progress is not the right word, rather growth. I just wish cities would do a much better job of managing growth so that as the area where you live grows, you don’t end up becoming a stranger to the place where you have lived your entire life.

I have often thought about moving, but the fact that my entire family still lives in this area has kept me from doing that. But it is coming to the point where even that will no longer constrain me from moving.

I have lived in Chesapeake for almost 12 years now. When I moved to where I live now, there were only five houses in the area. Two of them are beautiful properties sitting on six acres combined, both with beautiful trees and dirt roads leading up to the house. The two houses on either side of me are beautiful houses too, with great neighbors.

In the 12 years that I have lived here I have seen a self-storage facility built across the road just up a block from us. Then the old farm at the end of the dead end road I live on was sold and 30 houses built on that land. Now the owners of the two properties across from me have both died and the land has been sold to the same developers, who plan on building an additional 20 homes. So I have gone from living in a beautiful, rural area to just another over-developed area of the city.

There used to be a family of foxes that lived on the land that used to be the farm. I would see them almost every day. There was also the occasional deer. Since the 30 houses were built the deer have gone, along with the foxes. Now I see an occasional fox on the two properties across from me, but soon those properties will have houses on them and the foxes will have nowhere to live.

So the transformation is complete. My neighborhood that was once a joy to live in will soon become completely unrecognizable from what it was 12 years ago. I can’t even back out of my driveway any more without having to wait for a car to go by. And what has all this progress gained for me? How has it improved my life in any way? As I get older all I want is peace and quiet, and that is becoming increasingly hard to find anywhere in Hampton Roads.

So I think I have reached the point where I may be forced to leave the area I have lived for over 50 years. Progress has driven me out finally. Don’t know where I will go, but I hope I can find a place where progress will not find me for the rest of my days.

New Computer Build

ASRock

I have been building computers and electronics since I was a child. For Christmas I always wanted a chemistry set, biology set, 100-in-one electronics kit, etc. I learned to solder at an early age. I built a Heathkit shortwave radio for my dad for Christmas one year. More recently I have built 7 segment clocks, played with Raspberry pie, Arduino, and other electronic kits. I have also built most of the computers I have ever owned. My professional training is in Electrical, Electronic engineering, I think you get the idea.

Anyway, this will be one of several posts I hope to write documenting the building of my newest computer. I watch YouTube videos all the time about computers and electronics and it was one about the new ASRock DeskMini 110 mini-stx form factor 5×5 case with motherboard and external power supply that made me scratch my old itch. I loved the fact that it was so much smaller than the mid tower I build 5 years ago which I just recycled at Best Buy. It supports Intel i3, i5, and i7 65 watt CPU’s and uses SO-DIMM DDR4 memory. It has a lot of other nice features but instead of listing them all here you can check it out yourself here.

As it is a bare bones case I had to purchase the CPU, RAM, storage, and an operating system. I ordered the CPU, storage, and RAM from Amazon. The DeskMini 110 I ordered from Newegg. I found a way to purchase a legit OEM license for Windows 10 Home edition for only $27. I have already downloaded a bootable Windows 10 image which along with the license key will allow me to install an OS on my new build at a very reasonable price. Listed below are the specifics of the parts I bought. They should all be delivered by tomorrow or the day after. I can’t wait to get to building it. Wish me luck and I will be documenting the process here in another post.

  • ASRock DeskMini 100 5×5 case Socket LGA1151
  • 16 GB G.Skill 2400MHz DDR4 SO-DIMM memory
  • Intel Boxed Core i3-6300 CPU 3800 GHZ
  • Samsung 850 Pro 256GB 2.5 inch SATA III internal SSD
  • Windows 10 Home Edition

 

 

A New Year A New Direction

I never make New Year resolutions because as the poet Robert Burns said:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men  Gang aft agley


I do however often use the New Year as the anchor point for starting off in a new direction in life. This new year marks one of those new directions. As the philosopher Yogi Berra said:


When you come to a fork in the road, take it.


2015 was a tumultuous year for me. I expect for most people life if tumultuous also. There has been the loss due to death of two friends, as well as the loss two days before Christmas of my beloved Golden Retriever Max. Both of my friends succumbed to cancer as well as my companion Max. Since I retired in 2009, Max had been my constant friend and companion. It was heartbreaking for me to watch him not only lose his battle with cancer but to go almost completely blind in the last months. So while the New Year will have its share of mourning, I also have much to be thankful for.


If you have read any of my previous post you might have noticed that I am a Christian. I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior some ten years ago. I have slowly (too slowly) grown in faith in those ten years. I have seen God move mightily in those ten years, especially in the last two years. If you want to hear of some personal testimony let me know as I would love to share my testimony with you.


Our church, Park View Christian Church (DOC) has struggled in the ten years since I became a member. There was a period of over a year when we had no permanent Pastor and our membership dwindled. We struggled as a church to define our mission and our relationship with the community. But God chose to bless Park View in the last year through many ways. We were blessed to have a new Pastor, Tim Campbell, as our permanent Pastor. He answered the call of God to serve our church and community. He did this despite knowing the circumstances that were facing Park View. We could not offer him much in the way of monetary compensation and from his research about our church had learned that most local ministers had written off Park View as a church that was certain to fail.


But Pastor Tim answered Gods call nonetheless as he knew that God had great plans for our church and our community. And in one year Gods plans have been made manifest in many ways. Our membership has increased by fourteen new members. Before Pastor Tim answered Gods call Park View only had forty plus members on the roll and average Sunday attendance was only twenty to thirty.


Our community outreach has grown tremendously. We have embarked on several new outreaches, including Paint Your Heart Out, Stop Hunger Now, pizza and movie night, a diaper drive, donations for an orphanage in India, mission work in Cambodia, Wednesday evening Bible Study, and more. Our stewardship drive this year showed a 29% increase from last year. Great things are happening at Park View for the Glory of God.


All of this has affected me personally in many ways. I have devoted far more time to reading Scripture, devotional and meditation time, more prayer time, and serving my community in more ways. I have agreed to help the Sanctuary of Hope and Bishop Frank Allen with their mission and outreach programs. I have attended Wednesday Bible study and teach a Bible study class Sunday mornings.


In short, the new path my life will be taking this year will be a spiritual one. Many of the old things I used to devote my time to have been put away. This doesn’t mean that I will become a Monk cloistered in a monastery. But it does mean that more of what I will be blogging about in the blog will be of a spiritual nature. I hope you will be OK with that.


Have a Blessed New Year!

Out and About

I decided to take a ride the other day and just go where my instincts pointed me. I ended up in the little towns of Holland and Franklin, Virginia. They are both quaint small towns located off U.S. 58 as you head west. I was hoping to find some interesting things to photograph. The weather was quite nice for a change and I really enjoyed just taking in the scenery.

Our Sunday school Bible class has started with a new book by Beth Moore titled A Woman’s Heart – God’s Dwelling Place. It is about the Tabernacle of the Old Testament. I have done the first weeks materials and am really enjoying it. I am also attending a Wednesday evening Bible study led by our Pastor. It covers the Acts of the Apostles and our Pastor really brings new understanding to my previous knowledge of the book of Acts.

That’s about it for now. I really enjoy this time of year. So many things to do and the weather is gorgeous. My brother Skip called and we are thinking of going to Skyline Drive in the Appalachians to take in the Fall colors. It has been quite a while since my last visit and it is one of my favorite places to visit.

God Bless.

College Football Go ODU!

Last week I went to my first college football game. I have been to high school football games, NFL football games (1), college basketball games, but never a college football game. My brother Jeff called me and invited me to go as he had an extra ticket. So off I went to see my first college football game. The teams that were playing were Old Dominion University (the home team) and visiting North Carolina State. ODU is a Division 1 NCAA team, while NC State is in the Atlantic Coast Conference. So ODU was playing the big boys and as it turned out, they were the big boys that day. Both teams had records of 2-0 and the stadium was packed to capacity and everyone was expecting an awesome game.

The weather was perfect, we had great seats at Foreman field and the atmosphere was electric. The rules for college football are somewhat different than those for the NFL, but for the most part, it was what I expected. There were a few surprises however. There were no turnovers, very unusual, and only two penalties in the entire game. Both teams utilized the no huddle offense, so the game proceeded at a quick pace, which I really appreciated. The ODU Monarch Marching Band was awesome, as were the cheerleaders. Although the final score was NC State 38, ODU 14, it was still a great game and I really enjoyed it. Did I mention ODU has a canon that they shot off twice? My brother warned me about it the first time but the second time I was caught unaware and jumped out of my seat.

Anyway, I took quite a few photos with my Sony a6000 and a 55-210mm telephoto lens. I also captured some video. Some of the photos are below along with a link to the video. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

Video of ODU Offense in Action

A Painful Week

Three days ago I was unfortunate to have stepped barefoot onto a swarm of fire ants. As a child living in Florida I well remember fire ants and stayed far away from them. I had no idea they had moved as far north as Virginia. Too bad I had to find out the hard way. When I first stepped on them it felt like I was being shocked. I immediately saw them and luckily I was only a few feet from the pool (the reason I was barefoot) and jumped in. I guess I was fortunate as I was only bitten about 30 times. The good news is that the pain went away within a few hours but the itching soon commenced. Fortunately the itching was not on a par with poison ivy or chiggers. But the bites look really nasty. I will spare you any photos of the damage. If you want to get an idea of what a fire ant bite looks like, try Google.

While I wait for my ant bites to heal I have been trying to stay busy. I took a ride out to one of my favorite places nearby and took some photos. I am still experimenting with my new camera. My lens collection now consists of the original 18-50mm lens, a 50mm f 1.8 lens, and a 55-210mm lens. I bought a camera backpack from Amazon to store all my equipment. I have not had an interchangeable lens camera since my film days. I’m really enjoying the versatility I now have. Anyway, the photos I am posting are from two little burgs named Rescue and Battery. They are very quaint, peaceful, beautiful places. I saw a home for sale there and I was thinking it would be nice to live there.

Anyway, here are the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

I Love Where I Live

I have lived in the Hampton Roads area since the 11th grade, which means since 1966. You figure out how old I am. Before that, as a Navy brat, I had lived in Newport, Rhode Island (my birthplace), upstate New York, Texas, Florida, and finally here in Southeastern Virginia. Although the area has seen tremendous growth since I first came here, not all of which has been good, I would still be hard pressed to find a better place to live. We are very close to the ocean and a 4 hour drive to the Appalachian Mountains. There are no really big cities in Virginia, which is fine by me. It is not as rural as it used to be, but it is still a wonderful place to call home.

There is a lot of history in Virginia, a lot of it very close to where I live. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, from the first English colony at Jamestown, to the Lost Colony at Roanoke, North Carolina, there is a lot to see and do, and most important of all, take photos of. Yesterday I took a little trip up to Smithfield, which is a beautiful, quaint town with lots of Colonial and Victorian houses and shops. It is also home to the world famous Smithfield Meats. Smithfield is also home to St. Luke’s Church. Historic St. Luke’s is the oldest church in Virginia and oldest church in British North America of brick construction.  Anyway, as I said this area is a photographers delight and Smithfield is a typical example. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took of the area.