I've always struggled with deadlines. Procrastination and I go way back. I tried to dump Procrastination but he was like the Navy seaman Jon Something-or-other who had a thing for me in 1979 and kept popping up outside our kitchen window, scaring the bejeezus out of my poor mother, until 1984 when he showed up AWOL and got put in the brig and finally left me alone.Read More
You did not misread that headline. I'm not writing about a "cold snap." In my Wisconsin world, this is "cold crack" season and I dread it like I dread a pile of unfolded fitted sheets.
To be honest, it's not exactly the crack that's cold. It's the upper jowls of the buttocks that retain coldness with an awful tenacity.
But "cold crack" has a nice ring to it. It's an anatomical alliteration that was invented by my friend Mike. He talks in rapid fire double entendres and makes puns in his sleep.Read More
I used to work in the adult fiction room at a suburban library -- the greatest job I ever held. It was better even than working as a counselor at a French camp where I received $200 a week for making moon eyes at a guy named Jean-Michel from Winnipeg. At the library, I brewed coffee, compiled reading lists, led a monthly book discussion, recommended titles to patrons, and never ceased to be amazed that every ten days, someone handed me a check for such "labor."Read More
No photoshop here. This is an actual snapshot of my high school classmate, circa 1980. (To protect his identity, we can call him "Ken Nelson.") On the eve of another New Year's, let's talk about that cliché of all clichés: high school parties. If you hate reading about stupidity in action, skip to the end of this post. You'll see an odd little party accessory from 1941 that I am selling. The proceeds will go towards an old debt incurred during the most epic high school party I ever had the good fortune to attend. However, if you got a thrill out of the cracked Steuben egg in Risky Business, then read on.Read More
I don't know where to begin with this post because it is about loss and suffering - tough subjects to write about at Christmas time. But the truth is, this season is difficult for many people. Sadness does not take a holiday.
And Genna, the lovely young woman in the vintage dress, knows this too well.Read More
We are just back from a quick trip to London and Paris where we saw old friends, made new friends, and shopped flea markets under a warm winter sun. We had other touristy adventures as well but I'm limiting this post to "friends" and "flea". No Eiffel Tower pics today, sorry!Read More
I'm begging you. Make a decision this holiday season to consider a vintage or antique gift. In fact, I'll make you a deal. If you purchase an antique or vintage gift for a loved one that doesn't bowl them over, get in touch with me here and I will make you an offer. (White elephants excepted.)
If you are already a convert who knows that plastic has its limits, then skip to the bottom of this post for a bonus quiz with a prize involved. It is the season of giving!Read More
My dad grew up in Hamadan, Iran, one of the oldest cities in the world. Situated in the shadow of the Zagros Mountains, Hamadan is also one of the coldest places in Iran. My dad remembers winters so frigid, the dead could not be buried.
Moving to Chicago wasn't a complete weather shock for my dad, though he admits questioning the whole idea of a tornado - it's just wind! - until the day he saw a Chevy Impala lifted off the pavement in front of his in-law's house.Read More
This house-shaped photograph tells all my dirty secrets: I have an unnatural fixation on objects; I might be mildly OCD; and Jane Austen is my spirit animal.
And you thought this was just another Pinterest-worthy photo taken from a birds-eye view?
Actually, this type of birds-eye photograph is technically called "flat lay" and thanks to Instagram, it has swept the visual world. Objects loosely arrayed in a pleasing composition on a neutral background and photographed in natural light that allow the viewer a new view of everyday things. Open any magazine and you'll see flat lay photography everywhere. (#flatlaystyle #flatlayoftheday)Read More
Do you see the Bells of Victory songbook discreetly perched here on my bar? This Temperance Society hymnal belonged to my grandmother, a teetotaler from a long line of teetotalers. I'm not sure how this book came to be in my possession but I absolutely treasure it in a vaguely irrational way. In fact, I've just spent $150 having it rebound by a professional book restorer and it was worth every penny.
For those of you who snoozed through the lesson on the temperance movement and prohibition, let's do a quick review.Read More
I'm leaving on a jet plane. No, not headed to Canada, though it feels good, getting off this planet, even temporarily. The plane ascends rapidly and I let out more breath the higher we climb.
Visibility is excellent today. We are nearing Chicago and there is the distinctive lacy dome of the Baha'i Temple. A moment later, Wrigley Field, which for all its larger-than-life history, looks so small, like Casey's diamond in Mudville. Then, south of the skyscrapers, the large swathe of green in Hyde Park where President Obama will build his library.Read More
The election season has been a pox upon us all. With one more week to go and no sign of relief, how do we inoculate ourselves from this madness? Humor, my friend. Humor.
In that spirit, let's address the question of who among our candidates and their spouses is truly qualified to carry out the heavy responsibility of picking out presidential china.
Before you call me frivolous and click away, give me a moment to make my case.Read More
Hanging in our back hall is a poster, “The Rules to Always Being a Gentleman.” Please take a moment to read it. Catchy and clever, right?! I bought it on Etsy and when my son was moving into his new apartment, I offered to get him one too.
He said “No, thank you.”
“Why in the world not?” I asked.Read More
Paul Kantner, rhythm guitarist of Jefferson Airplane, once said, "If you can remember anything about the 60s, you weren't really there." Luckily, posters like this gem still exist as reminders of that craaazy time. The title of the poster is "Groovy Happening Sunday Afternoon", and it depicts the Summer of Love, the giant messy five-month music fest/love-in that took place in San Francisco in the summer of 1967.Read More
Hello! It's a short post today, as my photos can speak louder than my words. This is a new vignette in the shop, which I've titled "Murderous Rue Morgue Halloween Vignette". Isn't it gorgeous?
The collection includes a framed antique etching, a set of six Halloween classics, some pretty antique objects, along with two authentic skulls and two fake crows. Also included is a pair of wall brackets. (Only one is visible.) The candlesticks are so heavy, they're lethal. The little polished wood bottle holds precisely two drams of whatever liquid you prefer. And the pair of skulls was found in our woods (remember the coywolf?) and have been soaked in bleach for several weeks. They're lovely. Lovely bones.Read More
When I first walked into The Dovecote, I swore. Dang it! This is exactly the shop I want to open! As I filled my arms with ridiculously cool things at surprisingly palatable prices, I never stopped muttering like a jealous Othello.
Then I met the proprietress, Ellen Hildebrand, who's one cool chica, and I knew I was going to stalk her.Read More
I use an editorial calendar for my blog, and a long time ago, I penciled in "thoughts on thirty years of marriage" for today's post. So all last week while my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary with a trip to the Pacific Northwest, I kept watching him, puzzling over what wisdom I could share. He'd catch me staring at him as he tucked into a plate of meat and potatoes and ask, "What? What'd I do?"
So here's the first thing I'll share. When you're in love with a high metabolism, it's hard. My mother-in-law used to quip that what her son liked most about me was my family's chain of grocery stores.Read More
Today’s post begins with Temple Grandin, the world’s most famous spokesperson for autism and ends with me trying to sell a cow. If you are new here, this is the pattern. I pick something in the shop and use it as a creative writing prompt. Often, the writing is humorous. But no promises on that score today because Temple Grandin is serious about her purpose. Like many autistics, she’s a black and white kind of gal.
For those who don’t know, Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She first made a name for herself as an inventor who designed more humane animal chutes that minimize livestock mistreatment and injury. She holds a phD in animal science, along with many honorary degrees, was named to the Time Magazine 100 list of most influential people, and has authored more than a dozen books, including The Loving Push, published this year. She gave a TED Talk which you can watch here. Or watch the HBO biopic with Clare Danes playing Temple Grandin.Read More
I grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, and on the prettiest street a block from my grade school, there is a quaint brick driveway leading up to the traditional colonial owned by Jane and John Freeland. I've known them nearly all my life, but hadn't seen them since my father's retirement party. Recently, they agreed to let me photograph their beautiful, art-filled home.
The house was built in 1929, but don’t be fooled by the demure exterior. Inside, a bold color scheme of black, white, and green provides a graphic backdrop for exotic curiosities and modern furniture collected over half a century by two people who just can’t stay put.Read More
Have you seen the new movie Florence Foster Jenkins? It's a nice film about true-life soprano wannabe Florence Jenkins whose onstage gumption almost makes up for her mewing like a cornered tomcat. But what interested me more about the film was the underlying story of Jenkin's syphilis, which she unknowingly contracted on her wedding night. She was eighteen. The film's director, Stephen Frears, sprinkles gentle references to the disease throughout -- we see a doctor's bedside visit, a hairless head, a scarred hand. The film is mostly a sentimental feel-good vehicle for Streep, and honestly, what a waste. She would have relished the chance to go a little deeper into the story of an ugly disease that forced Florence into a shameful and frustrated celibacy and that wrecked her musical ear, her heart, and her psyche. Now that would have been dramatic.Read More