Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Thrift Extravaganza

Here is my semi-annual report on my Salvation Army, eBay and thrift shop finds.  Intervention not quite necessary yet (in my opinion; perhaps not in yours).  There's nothing on our beds but cats, and nothing on our chairs but books.  When the piles of Victorian Chinoiserie become threatening, then you can call Dr. Zasio from the Hoarders TV show. 

Limoges plates
I thought it would be fun to arrange this blog post in order of my top ten finds of the year. Of course there are more than ten...but these are the best! Oddly enough, there are no duds. (Another thing you may disagree on, as one person's treasure is another's trash.) Herewith, the List:

1.  Hammersley and Roses...and Tiles

All right, that's at least two items.  But if we're going to make this top ten thing work efficiently, I'll have to stuff them in.  Also, I can't decide which I love most, my flowery chintz Hammersley pieces, or my beautiful hand-painted Italian tiles.  Certainly, the lot together makes our pathetic closet of a 1960s kitchenette look Paradisal to me.

 Got these on eBay, from a man in Pennsylvania who brought them back from Naples in the 1970s.  The two together were $15.  Below, a Delft tile, after the Gerard Dou painting, of an old woman reading, and a hand painted Wheeling tile from the 1950s.

Hm, I packed rather a lot into #1.  Let's move on, then, to Plates.

2.  Big plates.  Turkish plate, found in Salvation Army.  I'm told it shows scenes of the comic Turkish folklore figure Nasruddin.

But as long as we're looking at large plates, I also love this one from Portugal (another Sally Ann find), and that also gives me a chance to show a pair of dear little Murano glass red birds.

And here's the plate with a piece of Parian ware on it.  Do you know Parian ware?  I first read of it in Little Women, when Laurie gave a piece to Meg for her wedding:  "I don't think the Parian Psyche Laurie gave lost any of its beauty because John put up the bracket it stood upon."  This reproduction is from the Met, and the price at Sally Ann was about a tenth of retail at the Met.

One more plate.  A Bavarian pretty, which is now home to several of my little animals.

And that brings us to:

3.  Favorite Animal.  Green Murano glass duck bowl with gold flecks is my favorite among the new beasts.

Moving on to another category...Boxes!

4. Blue Dresden Box.

(Paraphrasing Pete Seeger)  Little boxes, on a desktop, little boxes made of porcelain. There's a pink one (lots of pink ones) and a green one and a yellow one.  And they're all made out of porcelain, and Paul thinks they all look just the same. 

Haven't heard the song in awhile?
Though actually Malvina Reynolds, the original songwriter, sings it better.

Blue box seen above with Hammersley "Queen Anne" pattern leaf dish. 

Now, just one more box for you.  The square box on the right is new. It's from India, and is made out of hundreds of cut-up pieces of bangle bracelets!   A very intricately made, sturdy little jewelry box.   $10 at Salvation Army...

And now...

5.  The Best Vase

Too wonderful. Cobalt blue Venetian glass with Bacchus scenes hand painted all over it!  And I'm pleased with its surreal setting, with Prince Albert and the naif Japanese cat.

6.  An Interval for Cats

Tully's Blanket.

All the cats love this old-fashioned afghan which I bought on Etsy, but it is most peculiarly Tully's.  She looks like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, or she wouldn't piss on my shoes, which she most certainly has done.  She has expressed her opinion more than once upon a pair of bright yellow Michael Kors loafers.  (I'm afraid she's right actually.  A cat of good taste, if poor manners.)

Pindy's Footstool

Sorry no pictures of Marshy this time.  She is not a materialistic cat.

Paul Saves the Glassware
Paul narrowly saves a free-form Murano glass modern snake sculpture from almost certain destruction in the neverending war between the Great Enemies, Tully and Pindy. 

People are always asking, "Don't the cats break things?"  Amazingly, no.  Pindy in particular loves to tiptoe across that tinkling sea of flowered china on my computer table, and she places her little paws just so, with extreme delicacy, sometimes inside a dish, sometimes between.  Never breaks anything.  However, when they do break something it's spectacular - like the time Pindy and Marshy flew over Paul's living room with one bound for leverage on the coffee table, and their dual bellyflop strike took out five prized Venetian glass goblets like so many bowling pins. 

7.  Department of Teacups

Let's get this out of the way.  Here is my solution to keeping all the teacups off our tiny kitchen counter or higher in shelves than I can reach:

And here are some pretties.

Venetian Latticino

The most golden one of all. 

Antique Hammersley, sitting on top of the Limoges plates.

8.  A little bouquet of Carnival glass

9.  Starting to move on to the end quickly...Small French Limoges plates.

The pictures are Chamonix, Napoleon and Montreaux respectively.

And speaking of small collections, here are my Eggs:

I can sense you calling Dr. Zasio.  Hoarders!  Well, I'm almost done, so before she gets here...

10.  To finish with a flourish - Paul's Peacock!  Murano glass.

Oh, dear, Marshy (Martial the Epigrammatist Marsh-wiggle Marshmallow) is feeling left out.  She is far more beautiful than a gaudy glass peacock, so I will close with a picture of her instead.  As I said, her sin (if cats can sin, which I doubt) is not Materialism but, alas, Gluttony...

Here she is saying what she thinks of me going on about all these thrift shop baubles, instead of keeping to the proper topic, which is Cats. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Into King's Canyon

Me and Peter in King's Canyon

It's been a long time since we took a road trip, all three of us together, because usually one of us has to stay home with the cats.  But this time we left them in the good care of neighbors Pam and Richard for a few days and took off to one of our favorite places, Cedar Grove Lodge in King's Canyon National Park, which is the northern part of Sequoia National Park. 

Peter and Paul by the river

Just before Memorial Day is a great time to go, for the crowds haven't arrived yet - and King's Canyon never gets the traffic of the more well known parks like Yosemite.  Perfect weather, but it's been an extremely dry year in the Sierras, so the King's River that flows through the canyon wasn't raging as it normally would be now, but was rather low.  They're predicting a bad fire season.

Cedar Grove Lodge

Cedar Grove is a modest, inexpensive lodge, unchanged in any detail for many years, and that's why we like it.  We used to go to Sequoia all the time - usually every month or so - until they tore down the 1930s cabins ostensibly to protect the sequoia trees, and built a monster modern lodge, Wuksachi, instead.  It's not near the sequoias but is a sterile unatmospheric structure that could be anywhere.  So we quit staying in Sequoia, and when we need our escape from Los Angeles into primeval wilderness, we now choose the area around Mammoth in the Eastern Sierras, or King's Canyon.

Peter and Paul at our favorite spot on the porch.

The great thing about Cedar Grove is the unchanging peacefulness.  You sit on the porch, with the river rushing by, smell the incense cedars and fragrant fresh air, and are visited by Stellar's Blue Jays.  The snack bar is sort of minimal and not cheap (the rooms are inexpensive, though), but you can get an eggy breakfast and a steak or some grilled trout for dinner. Then we went for walks in the forest by the river, which is as soul restorative as anybody could wish.  We didn't see any bears this time, but plenty of deer.  King's Canyon can be hot in summer, as it's in the bottom of a canyon at only 4,000 feet, but in May it was perfect.

With a river behind me

On our last day we drove through Sequoia and had a hike on our old favorite Sugar Pine Trail.  To my surprise, the knee that's so dysfunctional in the city (from post-ballet injury arthritis), ran up and down the trail like a rabbit's joint.  Possible explanations could be 1) endorphins from hiking 2) dirt trails being much easier on the knee than city pavements, and 3) my hiking stride, from the hips, doesn't bend the knees much.  Whatever the reason, it was a double adrenaline joy to realize that I can actually still hike as well as ever!

Indian pinks in Sequoia on the Sugar Pine Trail

On the drive home, we finally gave in to some modern technology and figured out how to use the GPS on Paul's Android, and to very good purpose.  We were wanting to stop for a Basque dinner in Bakersfield, which although an uninspiring Central Valley city, has a Basque community famous for its restaurants.  But we didn't know the names of any, or which were good.  So (since it's a long drive with nothing to do) Paul read out all the restaurant reviews, we picked one, and laughed like savages seeing their first Coke bottle while the GPS lady voice instructed us how to get there.  The Wool Growers proved to be one of the oldest and most famous, and we had a thumping good dinner of hearty bean soup, lovely Frenchy salad, sheep tongues, oxtail, and other hearty delicacies. 

Paul at the Wool Growers Basque restaurant