Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene, good night!


Irene good night
Good night Irene Good night Irene
I'll see you in my dreams


Well, obviously living at the Jersey shore...the southern end, not the Snooki end...I did not have time to set up a post for this week...so I thought I would do a quickie on Irene...

"Goodnight, Irene" or "Irene, Goodnight," is a 20th century American folk standard, first recorded by American blues musician Huddie 'Lead Belly' Ledbetter in 1932.

A legendary singer and guitarist, he was raised near Shreveport, La., worked on farms in Texas, and began performing in Dallas, Texas, as a protégé of Blind Lemon Jefferson in the 1910s. (Leadbelly got his own nickname because of his deep bass voice.)

In 1917 he was sentenced to prison on a murder conviction; eight years later he literally sang a plea of mercy to the Texas governor and was pardoned. A similar episode occurred in 1935. In 1930 he had been sentenced to ten years for wounding a group of men with a knife; in 1934 Leadbelly composed a song for the Louisiana governor, and, with the intervention of the folklorists John and Alan Lomax, won a reprieve. Over the next year, Leadbelly traveled with John Lomax and recorded hundreds of songs that formed a cornerstone of the Library of Congress folklore archives. In 1938 he moved permanently to New York City, where he recorded for Columbia Records and became a celebrated figure in literary and political circles. His best-known songs include "Irene, Good Night," "Rock Island Line," and "Midnight Special."

As recent as 2005 and 2008, there were movies with the same title
...so the name Irene will never be the same for those of us who "survived" the hurricane, but I still say that I dislike blizzards more...I don't have to shovel "Irene"!




Sunday, August 21, 2011

“Some painters transform the sun

into a yellow spot; others transform a yellow spot into the sun.”
~Pablo Picasso

Well, I am getting ready to brighten up the exterior of the shop...the painters are coming...the painters are coming...see this set on the porch...that will be an accent color...we are going pure whimsical cottage look...building will be white...touches of green and yellow as accents.I have been thinking about the current times and reflecting on the 1970s...the set above is pure 70s. We sat in gas lines...odd/even days...mortgage rates went from 8% up to 13%, and President Nixon even put price controls in effect (no Federal Reserve in those days). Research shows that the country's inflation rate was running in double digits and the cost of borrowing money reflected this fact. Novelist Tom Wolfe coined the term Me decade in his article "The 'Me' Decade and the Third Great Awakening", published by New York Magazine in August 1976 referring to the 1970s. Wolfe describes this abandoning of communal spirit of the 60s and turning to New Deal politics as "taking the money and running." The oil crisis was front and center. We were still in Vietnam, the Soviets were fighting in Afghanistan, and the Mideast was in turmoil as was Africa. (History always explains things, doesn't it?)

But, in these times, color was everywhere...disco was in...
Somehow, despite the trying times, we managed to enjoy! As a writer commented, "Amid war, social realignment and presidential impeachment proceedings, American culture flourished. Indeed, the events of the times were reflected in and became the inspiration for much of the music, literature, entertainment, and even fashion of the decade."

Colors were bright green and blue, black and white, yellow and white, pink and purple, yellow and orange, yellow and green and also pink and green. Despite the shabby white, colors are creeping back into the decorating scene. Chenille bedspreads were hugely popular. Mushrooms, flowers and geometrics were popular themes and were always printed in bright or bold colors.

I still like the mix...and the new Flea Market Style magazine (available in the shop)is reflecting that.So, as we get ready to revamp the outside, the treasures inside will still be that unique mix of whatever strikes my fancy!

“Not to wax nostalgic about the 1970’s, but back then people got upset when they saw injustice. They got tired of seeing our air, land and water polluted. They were shocked when the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was polluted so badly it caught fire. And on one great day 20 million Americans marched all across this land. Politicians had no choice but to take notice.” ~John Kerry



Sunday, August 14, 2011

"What's in a name?

That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
~Romeo and Juliet(II, ii, 1-2)


Ah, so said Juliet to Romeo...and this week's topic came from a question on a business forum about what constitutes an "antique." Is it antique, vintage, retro? Or, repro or repurposed? The current economy is bringing new life though to "used" merchandise, and many consumers are realizing things like older furniture made out of real wood may be a better deal than new pressed sawdust pieces from China. Or, you can have unique vintage or retro jewelry that does not cost big money, and it is made from safe metals and materials.
Ebay was responsible for leveling the "antique" world playing field. Opening its cyber doors in 1995, it also distorted the reality of the antique world. No longer was something "rare" since there may be 1000 of the item 3 states over. As long as one was willing to pay shipping, it was all there in that new antique mail order world.

However, like the economy of the real estate madness, it drove prices into areas that showed no common sense. Ebay is an auction, and all logic be damned at an auction. Granted the true illustrious high end antique world still exists at Christie's or Sotheby's, but I am talking about the little shop down the road or the antique mall on the highway.

But, some dealers still think the market is in the stratosphere. I got this bangle in an auction lot, and, since it was signed, I looked it up.
Kirk Stieff was in Baltimore and was America's oldest silversmith, but it seems in the 1960s they made a line of pewter cuff bracelets like the one above. I saw them listed from $30+ up to the hundreds!

Here is the problem - just because something is old does not make it worth big money. Technically this Limoge pitcher is an antique, but it is not priceless in the antique world. The term antique equals the 100 year tag, but that was simply to set up for import fees. If it came in at 100 years or older, no duty had to be paid. The wealthy were importing antiques and did not want to pay taxes. (I will say nothing!) An official definition of an antique is stated in the Tariff Act of 1930. According to Paragraph 1811 of that Act, antiques are "works of art (except rugs and carpets made after the year 1700), collections in illustration of the progress of the arts, works in bronze, marble, terra cotta, parian, pottery or porcelain, artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830."

This statement is clear in its application to imports and the payment of duty on them. But the year 1830 is more than an arbitrary date in the classification of American antiques. It was about this time that mass production and factory manufacture began to displace the making of individual pieces entirely by hand. Glass began to be pressed into forms by machine instead of being hand-blown. Chairs were the first piece of furniture to which assembly line methods were applied. Although the cabinetmaker, the glassblower, the blacksmith, and other craftsmen were not put out of business immediately, each succeeding decade brought an increase in mass manufacturing. Can you say Made in China?

Vintage was coined to fit those items that are Depression era up the the 1950s where "retro" kicks in. All style can co-exist though. Here is an antique Victorian blouse, a vintage straw hat, and retro pearls.

If you are looking for unique, the antique/vintage/retro/resale shop can provide that more than TJ Maxx can, and, in the long run, that merchandise still has more intrinsic value than new made in China products. But, as in life, all things in moderation and balance make for sensible living.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

As a well spent day brings happy sleep,

so life well used brings happy death. ~
Leonardo DaVinci

I normally don't go personal on this blog, but today "stuff" is irrelevant. My best friend of 35 years lost her 20 year battle with cancer on Friday. But, she truly had a life "well used" and surely had a "happy death," but those of us left behind are dealing with the pieces of our hearts that have been pulled out.
Peggy and I were like sisters, and, even though 20 years ago we both moved to opposite ends of the coast...she went to Florida, and we came to New Jersey, every week the phone kept us connected, and over the years, we would get together in New York City. One of the memorable times was when it looked like the cancer had finally been controlled. Her daughter Dana is as wonderful as her mother...Peggy did a marvelous job raising a wonderful woman...although she had some of my traits...super animal lover! When she would rescue another critter, Peggy would call and tell me that "my" daughter had done such and such... Peggy was very active in the political scene. Our trip last year to New York made a Kodak moment in front of a window display. She and Dana had to strike a pose!

The last event Peggy and I attended was Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity in our old stomping grounds in D.C. Although it was apparent the cancer had returned, she made the trip alone, and she even organized our hotel arrangements.
She was excellent at setting things up, and she and her husband, Marty, and Dana had all kinds of adventures.As she constantly reminded me in the last year, "I have had a wonderful life." And so have we because you were on this earth...but now I have to remember lines from a poem...
Do not weep for me for I have not gone.
I am the wind that shakes the mighty Oak.
I am the gentle rain that falls upon your face.
I am the spring flower that pushes through the dark earth.
I am the chuckling laughter of the mountain stream.
Do not weep for me for I have not gone.

I am the memory that dwells in the heart of those that knew me.
I am the shadow that dances on the edge of your vision.
I am the wild goose that flies south at Autumns call and I shall return at Summer rising.
I am the stag on the wild hills way.
I am just around the corner.

Therefore, the wise weep not.
But rejoice at the transformation of my Being.
Give your best friend a call today just to say hi...as for me, I am not being wise...the tears come in waves, but even as the memories fill the emptiness, I will miss you so much, my BFF.