December first(ish) marks the start of my holiday season. The lights go on, the mantel is decorated, the tree goes up.
In our house, we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve at this time of year. We are more spiritual than religious but we still have family gatherings and dates with friends, snow-filled New-Year’s Eves at a favourite place in the deep, deep woods, and stockings filled with chocolate that you’re allowed to eat for breakfast (it’s a rule). Some years, we have a festive gathering in December, where we invite friends and family to join us at our wildly festooned house for snacks and visiting but this year, things are a bit different.
This year, we have an extra visitor and it’s the visitor no one wants.
Practical Man was diagnosed with cancer in September and started treatment in November. He’s supposed to be finished the actual treatments on December 20 (Merry Christmas!) but the side effect symptoms likely continue to worsen for a few weeks after that. His type of cancer has a good prognosis (everyone keeps telling us) so we’re hoping that this “blip” will be something we will simply remember years from now as “that time he had cancer”.
Say it enough and that will someday become a sentence that just rolls off the tongue, right?
Throat (oropharyngeal) cancer may be quite curable but the recovery from it seems especially cruel — the treatments wants to attack your speech, your skin, your swallowing, your saliva, your breathing, your nourishment and YOUR BEARD! Food tastes terrible and he chokes quite frequently and he is more tired than I’ve ever seen him. But, his treatment is manageable at the moment, if he rests. What the final few weeks will bring, we don’t know.
It could be a lot worse. We tell ourselves this with every new symptom and struggle. We are grateful that we can be together through this, without worry over money or time. We are fortunate not to have to forgo food or housing to find the funds needed every day for parking or new creams or medicines that could help. We are blessed to have supportive family and friends and to be enduring treatment with a likely positive outcome.
Lucky, lucky, lucky.
“You’re getting to the hard part now,” they said this week.
His “team” keeps close tabs on his symptoms and weight, prescribing jams and jellies with long names and lineups at the pharmacy. When you’re using the over-burdened Canadian healthcare system and you have a TEAM that meets with you every week, you get the idea that it’s fairly serious business. He endures the mask of torture with each of his 35 treatments and never complains, even though I see the toll it takes on him to be pinned to a table under an extremely tight web of fibres across his face and throat.
The Team warns constantly of the “cumulative effects of radiation” and what’s to come with worried eyes and check-ins that make my stomach drop out. He made it through a rare arterial hemorrhage, surgery to fix it, and repeated hospital visits and stays in week #2 of treatment.
But, that was early days–the supposedly “easy” part of treatment.
“You’re doing really well,” they also said this week, their tone telling us not to get complacent.
Despite everything that has already happened, I constantly feel like we are waiting for something large and mysterious to come down the chimney–and it’s not Santa.
When the treatment dates were revealed, it got me thinking about what our holiday season would look like this year. We have no children of our own, so who would miss it, if we didn’t bother with the lights going on, the mantel being decorated, the tree going up?
Practical Man endures the holiday palooza for me. He wouldn’t mind skipping it. So, why do it?
Um…have you met me? The one who loves little more than some seasonally-approved festooning?
Still, maybe we should just forgo the lot for this year, I thought. Decorations are really superficial, after all. He won’t feel well enough to attend many gatherings and we anticipate the height of pain and symptoms to be around Christmas Day. We should just skip it.
But, but, but.
A thought caught my breath in my throat: what if?
What if we were like my friend? Her daughter took her last breath on Monday as her body rejected the lungs that were transplanted in her only last year.
My heart breaks.
What if we were like others we know of who endure radiation and chemotherapy and still face a terminal outcome?
Would I want this Christmas to be festooned and full of light?
Or dark and passed over, as not worth the effort?
I realize how fortunate we are to worry about something so seemingly trivial. But, when I called it “silly”, Practical Man pointed out:
“If you turn off the lights before it’s time, you may never find a reason to turn them back on.”
And our decision to partake in the sparkle of the season is not to say everyone should do it this way. But, I am a silly, festive-loving person and even if the holiday festooning is a bit much for him, Practical Man loves that about me.
And I love him. So very much.
The lights are up and they get to stay on. Which reminds me again:
Despite this very cancer Christmas, we are so very blessed.
Merry Christmas and Happy Festive Season to all who celebrate at this time of year.
Our wish for you this year is a most precious one: good health for you and your loved ones.
Know someone who is thinking about becoming a doctor? My new book, “Just What the Doctor Ordered: The Insider’s Guide to Getting into Medical School in Canada” is now available.
Posted by Christine Fader in Inspiring Lives & People, Vintage Celebrations, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: Canada, cancer, christmas, decorating, family, health, holidays, illness, marriage, radiation, throat cancer, treatment
It’s nearly Christmas so naturally, we are going camping.
Yes, I know we live in Ontario, home of frosty windows and big, fat snowflakes and other wintery stuff (like -40 antifreeze for the car because we need that, yes, we truly do) but, camping in December is not such a stretch.
We’ve got trees in the forest on our property.
We’ve got a fire pit, around which to toast marshmallows and the like.
We’ve got the super-duper, flannel, camping sheet set and three or twelve duvets (and a partridge in a pear tree.)
We’re not camping.
That’s just Practical Man, driving around the lawn on your average Tuesday, towing our vintage Boler travel trailer.
I’m pretty sure the neighbours are whispering about me. They wouldn’t blame it on Practical Man because they all know him. I’m the mysterious person who drives up the driveway into the garage and disappears inside (away from The Nature). He is the guy who is always out in the yard on one tractor or another, or on the roof, or in the forest, or building something or growing something. Plus, he fixes things for the neighbours, regularly. People who fix things don’t drive around the lawn on your average Tuesday in December in Ontario, towing their travel trailer, unless they are very sweet and have been put up to it by an annoyingly festive ELF.
Like this one:
Or, as I like to say at Christmas, when I’m wearing an elf get-up that I made out of a green sweater, some felt, and a pair of socks:
Aren’t you glad you don’t live with me?
(The socks are at my wrists, in case you can’t concentrate, after my costume-making teaser.)
It all began when I joined one of those groups on Facebook–or maybe, I can blame the Facebook algorithm. You know the algorithm: it thinks I need bifocals and wrinkle cream.
Yes, let’s blame it.
Anyhoo, I kept seeing pictures from some group foisted on me by the evil, mind-reading algorithm. Disturbing, provocative pictures–you know the kind–pictures of pretty barns and burlap all swirly-dirly and bells and thing-a-ma-bobs that bring out the inner decorator dictator in me.
Mere minutes scrolling through these groups and I get obsessed with teeny, insignificant details…like angels and angles.
Now that sounded a bit confusing.
That is to say, I’m obsessed with whether the angels on our shelves are at a 45 degree angle to…I’m not sure what.
They looked so good on Pinterest.
There are evil algorithms there, too.
Algorithms and angled angels anon.
(That’s called festive alliteration.)
Lest you think I’m reaching, I’ll have you know that “anon” is the festive word for “and other junk that I feel the need to copy, for reasons that must be based in my primitive, lizard brain because it is un-explainable, even to me, why I would care about this kind of fluff”.
To get back to my point, I was on one of those groups and there were other vintage trailer weirdos like me and well, they don’t live in Ontario. They live in warm climates where there is still green grass visible on the ground, not to mention palm trees (public service announcement: it’s very un-Christmassy to blatantly display aka gloat about your palm trees at this time of year to a Canadian). Then, to add insult to palm-tree injury, they post pictures of their vintage trailers all dicky-doo’d up for the holidays.
I do love a little festooning and such.
So says the evil algorithm.
Insert lizard brain here.
But, I live in Ontario, home of frosty windows and big, fat snowflakes and other wintery stuff (like -40 antifreeze for the car because we need that, yes, we truly do).
Year-round festooning. What luxury is this?
The luxury is living in San Anbambino or some place where they don’t know what long underwear is–that’s what.
Still, all I see is post after post of cute, vintage trailers with Christmas lights and mistletoe and plaid blankets and stuff.
Sometimes with snow (why oh why doesn’t our snow fall when I have a camera in hand?)
Sometimes without snow (and avec the aforementioned gloat-y palm trees.)
‘Tis the season to be jolly.
Or, as I like to say,
‘Tis the season to be jealous.
At any rate, before I knew it, out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter.
The clatter being due to the fact that I had batted my not-insignificant eyelashes (Rimmel’s Extra Super Lash mascara) and asked Practical Man to hitch up the “sleigh” (aka vintage Boler travel trailer) and move it to a more photogenic location so I could get my festive festooning underway.
On the one day we haven’t had snow in the last 2 months, yessirree.
Practical Man is forever granting my Christmas wishes. Year round.
But, even he can’t summon the snow where the snow won’t be summoned.
Palm trees, either (although with enough notice, I have no doubt he would have grown something from a pineapple nub he got at the grocery store).
The point is, there I was, in the front of the front yard’s brown-ish grass, throw cushions and wreathes in hand, decorator dictatorship rearing its ugly head.
Cue the whispering neighbours.
My lizard brain was desperate to decorate and I love our tiny Boler but, its figurative chair (or vintage, metal lawn chairs, as the case may be) is never at our Christmas table, on account of it’s always put away for the winter at this time of year.
It’s kind of the Tiny Tim of our yard.
But now, joy of joys! Thanks to Practical Man and my lizard brain, here was my very own Tiny Tim, in the front yard. So, in the repentant manner of Ebenezer Scrooge, I got busy with the festive festooning while also reflecting on the 2016 ghosts of past, present, and future.
- Practical Man had a near record maple syrup crop in the Spring.
- I learned more songs on the guitar from musicians too-soon taken.
- We met new friends who joined us as I twirled my way through our first Bolerama. And, Practical Man survived!
- We shared wonderful memories (and mosquitoes) with family and friends in the summer.
- We worried about people fleeing violence around the world and here.
- We cried for Practical Man’s Mutti, who died in October. She will be cried about for some long time to come.
- I made a snowman, tobogganned and shovelled snow with some English sweeties, before Winter was really due.
- We are trying to be advocates and people of hope in the wake of an earthquake-y election, even though it wasn’t ours.
I feel so lucky to have a small, safe place like a Boler.
It’s a little nest. A place to curl up and take a nap or maybe just stare around the inside or pretend you’re Laurie Partridge for a while (because when you’re a Boler geek like I am, that’s a fun afternoon).
Of course, the Boler is not my only blessing or refuge, by a long shot. I am sheltered and fed and loved and safe.
Occasionally, I have useful eyelashes.
I am so, so lucky.
I hope you all are, too.
Except for the evil algorithm.
That was my lizard brain again.
A Very Merry Christmas and Happy Everything from our house to yours.
Posted by Christine Fader in Inspiring Lives & People, Vintage Celebrations, Vintage Vehicles, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: algorithms, Boler, camping, christmas, Christmas Carol, decorating, Dickens, Facebook, festive, fibreglass, glamping, Humor, Humour, Pinterest, retro, RVs, Scrooge, tin can tourists, travel trailer, vintage
We started out this year’s festive season—as you do—with a day-long marathon of vintage chair re-upholstering. Yes, I had bought a lovely specimen (read: sagging, dusty number with potential) online to act as the final flourish in a multi-coloured spectacle of seats collected from assorted corners around the house.
Some of you are aware that I have a slight um… chair acquisition problem. I love ‘em. Each one has its own little personality, its own unique flair. They are like perfect snowflakes: unique and special in all the world.
Why are you rolling your eyes?
However, this is not one of those times when I succumbed to the power that is a snowflake/chair vortex. My excuse for this one is that I GENUINELY NEEDED IT to go with the newly-acquired kitchen table (handed down via my uncle, aunt and with a small detour via my cousin, but which actually used to be my grandparents where we ate Roast Beef and Leathers for decades – yes, that really is a thing – just stay with me.) But, when the vintage, internet, snowflake chair arrived home, I remembered that old saying that “objects on the internet are smaller than they first appear” (except, of course, for certain American politician-wannabe’s hair and evil-ness) and realized that the chair was, well, to phrase it in holiday terms:
I am approximately 11 feet tall in my red-and-white-striped Santa socks, but, seeing as how it was soon to be the season of all things merry and I am also a soft touch when it comes to underdogs and sad, forgotten objects that look unloved and are sure to be the last item on the auction table that no one wants, I immediately fell in love with the chair’s elf-sized proportions and proceeded to pull it up to the table with the rest of its rag-tag companions.
Gingerbread crumbs! It was, indeed, a vertically-challenged chair but, not wanting to hold that against it just because I happen to have knee caps that start higher than most, I opted to move another um… necessary chair to the kitchen (requiring re-painting and a seat cover re-do) and use the new, toy-making-sized specimen with my also vertically-close-to-gravity dressing table, instead.
The sound of giggling elves would have filled my head were it not for the seat springs of torture and upholstery of doom. There followed muttering, upholstery tack pulling, fabric ripping, straw removal, more muttering, sanding, priming, painting and other blah, blah, blah that all goes under the un-desirable category in my mind called “prep”.
I am not a fan. Thus, I justifiably consoled myself with holiday libations in the form of truffle hot chocolate, so there!
However, all of this blah, blah, blah was in the name of getting ready for the main event, my favourite part: the festooning, the fancifying, which was, in this case, the upholstering of the elvish chair into a thing of petite beauty.
It’s a small chair, I thought. Positively elvish in proportions. Even though the swoopy, curly bits of the back looked a wee bit tricky to me, I figured it would take a couple of hours, tops.
Practical Man spent a Sunday wielding a staple gun for approximately six hours straight, when he had intended to be spending a Sunday wELding (not wIELding) something fun on to his currently derelict but FREE fishing boat. I therefore tried to appear innocent and unconnected to the Elvish Chair of Evil and do my penance by untangling the outdoor Christmas lights.
Which, were, of course NOT tangled because Practical Man had put them away and so, yes, they were labelled and wound in very orderly fashions on some kind of thing-a-ma-bobs that probably started life as something else like a bedroom slipper or a supersonic carrot peeler but have lately been wrestled into submission into something that you wind Christmas lights on to keep them labelled and orderly and not only that but they were secured further with twist ties so as to not escape the labelling and orderliness into which they had been placed.
So much for my penance.
I attempted to atone by flinging Christmas lights with festive flair into the bushes in front of our front porch, so if you happen to be driving by, it’s my fault they look like that. I re-fueled with more truffle hot chocolate and some flirting with the upholsterer to keep his spirits dashing and dancing while he did battle with fabric, fluff and staples.
The elf chair is nearly finished, but for the part that involves me heating up the not-so-innocent-sounding glue gun (my first clue that I shouldn’t be using a tool with this label) and burning myself repeatedly while attempting to adhere some kind of ribbon-y stuff–whose technical name is bric-a-brac. rick-rack, Cadillac or something–to hide the 6 hours of stapling that Practical Man worked so hard to perfect.
Anyhoo, it’s a magical chair and I think Santa will help with the final touches.
The Mensa puzzle calendar on the desk (not mine–I know you are shocked to learn) says Wednesday, October 15 and now, fresh from a day of Christmas shopping in nearly 13 degree weather in the middle of December in southern Ontario, I am slightly confused about what season it is.
But, the arrival of the first batch of fast-tracked Syrian refugees yesterday to Canada has reminded me: it’s the time when we invite those we love and also, those less fortunate, to come a little closer. A time for the elf chairs and all the others to celebrate together at our grandparents’ precious table.
Whatever the language or constructs of each of our faiths or beliefs, it’s the season of hope, of giving, of kindness and peace.
(And lots and lots of cookies, hurray!)
From our house and hearts, we wish you Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2016.
Posted by Christine Fader in Crafts, Fabric, Flea Markets/Auctions/Sales, Retro Decorating, Vintage Shopping, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: Chair, christmas, crafts, decorating, Eastlake, Elf, retro, upcycling, upholstery, vintage, wooden
As I’ve said before, not everyone appreciates a vintage life.
Case in point: Practical Man has been known to shake his head at something I’ve purchased while muttering, “I threw one of those out in 1978” under his breath.
It seems to happen quite frequently during yard/garage sale season. Lots and lots of head shaking and muttering.
But, I ask you:
Who will bring the ugly ducklings of the world home to be loved and cherished, if not I?
Especially when they’re vintage Lawnware for RVs (whatever that is) and only $1.
This particular vintage Lawnware for RVs needed a plug, but Practical Man is so very handy that a mere plug was no impediment to the purchase.
When I lived in England decades ago, I once wired a plug on to my newly-purchased curling iron after arriving home and remembering (when I went to use said curling iron and had only some metal wire sticking out the end of the cord) that small appliances didn’t come with plugs. That way, they could sell them all over Europe and everyone could put their respective plug on or electrocute themselves trying because they couldn’t remember how to do it since it was O level Physics the last time they had tried and there was a really cute teenager distracting them from Ms. Russell’s fascinating lessons on plugs and besides that was so long ago because O level Physics hasn’t existed in a generation.
I haven’t wired a plug since then, but I will assume that Practical Man did it correctly.
Possibly, while muttering.
Even I have to admit, this is kind of an ugly duckling. But, it has a style about its ugly duckling-ness, don’t you think?
Especially once the wasp nest inside and 40 years of gummified dust was cleaned off.
It will work perfectly for a romantic evening under the stars (or Ugliest Lamp in the World) celebration as we hang out on our $1 for the pair, vintage, metal, scald-your-legs lawn chairs (totally impractical but I l-o-v-e them anyway).
Or, it will look fetching and appropriately “Lawnware for RV-ish” in our ugly duckling, vintage Boler trailer.
It’s like the Lite Brite of lamps!
Who wouldn’t like that?
Practical Man seems to be raising his hand.
Posted by Christine Fader in Flea Markets/Auctions/Sales, Retro Decorating, Vintage Celebrations, Vintage Shopping, Vintage Vehicles Tags: camping, decorating, Garage sale, glampers, glamping, Humor, Humour, kitsch, Lawnware, Lite Brite, retro, RV, Trailers, vintage, yard sale
Apparently, I live in a hovel.
I came to that conclusion this weekend, after a friend invited me to join her on the Kingston Symphony’s annual Music Lover’s House Tour.
What’s a Music Lover’s House Tour, you ask?
Why, it’s the day when all us snoopers and gawkers can wander through really swanky houses in our community to see how the other 5% (2%? 32%?) live. There is some super cool, vintage real estate in my town, since it’s one of the oldest cities in Canada and all limestone-y and such.
On the symphony House Tour, we enjoy live music at each house, remove our shoes (or put on little blue booties) and wander around, mouths hanging open, with choruses of whispered sighs and gasps emitting from our enchanted lips.
It’s good exercise for the diaphragm.
First stop was at 44 and 46 Colborne Street:Both 19th-century townhouses are quite unassuming from the street. In fact, you would probably walk right by them, if you didn’t know to look (unless you are a window gawker who lives for the nights when people are in their kitchens with all the lights on, like I am.)
I know it’s rude, but I can’t help it.
It’s even ruder for me to comment when the unsuspecting homeowners have their art and pictures hung too high on the wall (which they almost always are) but such was not the case at 44 and 46 Colborne Street.
They had the kind of art Practical Man dislikes: that is, lots of swoops and smudges and layers of paint, all abstract and mysterious in a way that makes his face crinkle all up because all he asks for is some real, ahem, talent, for pete’s sake–something that resembles…something!
The irritating-to-some art was all hung at the ideal height on the walls and surrounded by many other beautiful things: steel staircases and a living roof, art deco yellow and chrome chairs, penny-tiled bathroom floors and a covered patio perfect for dancing in bare feet with a sweetheart. In the living room, as this was a Kingston Symphony event, a tousle-haired teenage boy played achingly beautiful piano music from the score of Pride and Prejudice by Dario Marianelli.
Swoon, swoon, swoon.
Then, we moved on to Centre Street, where we visited an historic “cottage”–in the manner of “cottages” of the type owned by the Bill Gates-types of the 19th century–that is, to say large, with fireplaces, chandeliers and antiques abounding.
Object in picture is larger than it appears.A trio of musicians played in the salon as I oogled the place up and down, admired the gardens and wondered what was inside the Tiffany & Co blue box perched on a daughter’s dresser upstairs.
On to the next house, which was not vintage so it barely warrants mention here except to say that it too, was beautiful and had a “mast” running from the basement to the top floor. But, I really can’t understand how a family actually lives in a kitchen with 8 base cabinets and no shelves, no pantry–absolutely nowhere else to put dishes or food.
I think at least one of the home owners was from France, so that must be it. The French are very clever (and thin, come to think of it.)
They also had a LiebHerr fridge.LiebHerr! The people who make giant construction equipment. Apparently, they also make stainless steel “petite” fridges for the clever and French.
A woman played a soothing piece on the recorder in the living room while a harpist set up.
House number five on our route was the heartbreaker: a vintage 70s masterpiece on Riverside Drive that had been completely gutted and renovated in 2014.I wanted to hate it. They had divested this St. Lawrence River lovely of all that was retro and vintage and cool about the place and replaced it with…
Serenity. Beauty. A luscious solid walnut dining table that I couldn’t stop touching.
I have no idea if there were musicians. Seriously, I was getting into an unhealthy relationship with that table.
Everywhere you looked were calm, neutral colours and windows, windows facing the river. When I could tear myself away from the table and the windows, I fell in love with the light fixtures.
Swoony, swoony light fixtures.
Finally, to a house on Treasure Island (and yes, that’s every bit as fun as it sounds). Built on a cottage lot recently, the house was peaked of roof with the requisite “sea-side” (although it was St. Lawrence river-side) cedar shakes and a second floor that was entirely master suite. They too, had a fridge made by Someone & Someone (I can’t remember the exact names but it was a company I’d never heard of, let alone as a fridge manufacturer) but who cared about the fridge when there was a gorgeous view of the water from every window?
And then, it was over. Both gnashing our teeth just the teeniest little bit, I bid my friend goodbye and drove home to my house.
You may remember my house:
- Full of garage-sale, thrift store style (not designed by a professional) that could use a serious de-cluttering (and dusting)
- No stainless steel or construction equipment-manufacturer fridge (lots of cupboards for chubby people like me)
- Close to (but, not overlooking) the water
Apparently, I live in a hovel.Well, okay, maybe not.
Yes indeedy, I told Practical Man: all we need is some classical music to swank this place right up.
Posted by Christine Fader in Inspiring Lives & People, Retro Decorating, Unique Real Estate Tags: #housetour #music #ygkhousetour, classical music, decorating, interior design, Kingston, real estate, remodelling, retro, symphony, vintage
I interrupt this vintage joke to ask an important question:
Do you like orange?
It seems like one of those colours that people have a love it or hate it thing for.
I’m on the side of love it. Maybe that’s because I learned the magical, mystical power of orange when my friend, Grover, introduced me to Ugly Orange Sweater, way back in 1986.
Y’see, not only is orange the colour of creamsicles and beach vacation toenail polish, it is one of the few colours Grover can really identify, on account of the fact that he has colour blindness.
And, even though he is super talented and great at lots of things including but not limited to gift giving and swinging on non-pinchy-bum swings, Grover couldn’t really appreciate the nuances of periwinkle blue, Tiffany blue, or the colour of a certain Leonard Cohen raincoat.
So, orange it was.
Then came the day that his mom (if I’m remembering the legend correctly) knitted him a gigantic orange sweater. It was (let me emphasize again) gigantic and orange and the wool kind of pilled up and the sweater ended up looking like a gigantic and orange, wearable muppet. Grover (who I also think of as a lovely, wearable muppet, hence his nom de plum) named it Ugly Orange Sweater (U.O.S.) and it became a Thing.
If you don’t get the significance of a Thing to teenagers, you need to stop everything and read more John Green books.
Anyway, ever since 1986, I have loved Grover and U.O.S. and orange.
I found these two melamine plates recently and even though I have enough vintage melamine to host the entire cast of the Mary Tyler Moore show, they had to come home with me.
On account of the orange.
Yep, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Even though I keep putting “tiny house” pics on Pinterest and we’re supposed to be downsizing, not bringing even more stuff that Practical Man gave away in 1976, into the house. And, even though the orange in these awesome plates is not really the same colour as the orange in U.O.S.
These are vintage Maplex (from Toronto, Canada). And, even though I’m definitely down-sizing, I just love their funky, flower-power motif.
Of course I do.
They go so well with the vintage daisy Pyrex (that my friend Shades gave me) and the vintage orange melamine (that we found in the melamine-mecca of Ompah, Ontario two years ago) and the little Japanese creamer that almost looks like the same flower-power pattern (that I found for 10 cents on a sunny morning of yard sale-ing with my sister-in-law in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, four years ago).
It’s as if they were all meant to be together, from the beginning. So, if you happen to find this Maplex pattern anywhere (I can’t find it, even online), please save it for me because, these would look great in our vintage Boler trailer.
Yes Indeedy, I am incurable.
It might be Grover’s fault. Too much cozy orange scarf and not enough non-pinchy-bum swings or U.O.S. sightings.
But in the end, all that really matters, of course, is:
Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?!
Posted by Christine Fader in Inspiring Lives & People, Retro Decorating, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: 50s, Boler, camping, daisy pyrex, decorating, dishes, downsizing, glamping, jokes, Leonard Cohen, maplex, melamine, orange, Pyrex, retro, tiny house, vintage
The Camptown Ladies sing this song,
doo da, doo da,
The Camptown racetrack’s five miles long,
Oh, de doo dah day.
– Stephen Foster (1826-1864)
I have been humming this very vintage song lately. Not because I’ve ever been to the camptown races (or even know what they are, if I’m honest).
I have a rather frilly and can-can-esque vision of the “camptown ladies” from the song in my head (probably wrong and sexist to boot but I’m a little afraid to google “camptown ladies”) and I had no idea that the song’s writer was walking around (and probably humming some annoying song from his village mistral), well before Canada’s confederation.
I can’t help but be impressed. 200 years is some serious longevity for a song that isn’t, y’know, required singing like the national anthem or 99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall.
I wonder if, in 200 years, people will be walking around humming one of Taylor Swift’s extremely catchy/annoying songs.
Ack! Just a second while I (groan) shake it off, shake it off.
Or as we’ll sing it in the year 2214: Shake It Off 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall while We Stand on Guard For Thee.
Anyway, back to the camptown races because yep, that song is annoying me almost as much as Taylor’s is these days, and I believe it all started with the doo da-s.
Yep, it’s all their fault.
On account of the fact that I have recently become the proud owner of four of them.
Doo dahs, that is.
Two amber ones:
And two purple ones:
I can’t decide which colour is my favourite. The purple ones remind me of the beautiful glass we have found while beachcombing in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Apparently the process used to make glass back in the day meant the clearness (insert technical glass-making term here) wasn’t stable and over time, glass would turn a lovely purple hue.
I love beautiful mistakes, don’t you?
So yes, the purple ones are wonderful. On the other hand, the amber doo da-s are like owning a piece of tree sap that has turned into something mystical and fairy-like and gorgeous. As a result, both pairs have been given pride of place in our living and dining area.
I looked these flowery beauties up online and they were frequently described as “antique, Victorian depression glass”.
I’m not quite sure how something can be of the Victorian and depression eras simultaneously.
Sounds a bit like time travel to me.
But, despite their muddled pedigree and annoying accompanying campfire races ditty, I really do love the doo da-s. They used to sit on my friend, Mother Nature’s window sill, catching the light and sparkling it around on the beamed ceiling at her house. Before that, they were at Mother Nature’s oldest sister’s house, having been rescued from a yard sale, auction or some other upcycling venue.
One lovely day, Mother Nature asked me if I wanted the doo da-s for my very own.
She said she wanted to give them to me because I would “do something with the doo da-s”.
Do something with the doo da-s. Haha.
See how I almost wrote an annoying song there?
Anyhoo, we brought the doo da-s home and Practical Man got out the measuring tape so they would end up equal distances from the floor, once installed.
Boring measuring and blah blah blah but, with happy results.
They make me smile (and hum an annoying little tune).
Yes ma’am, I think to myself, those are some mighty fine doo da-s.
Doo da, doo da!
Shake it off. Shake it off.
Posted by Christine Fader in Fabric, Flea Markets/Auctions/Sales, Retro Decorating, Vintage Shopping, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: antique, curtains, decorating, depression glass, ear worms, flea markets, garage sales, glamping, interior design, music, retro, Taylor Swift, tiebacks, victorian, vintage
All that rain recently and The Nature has become a bit mutant.
The kale in the veggie patch looks like some kind of science experiment. The yucca has sprouted its 8-foot tower topped with bell-shaped blossoms. A torrential downpour or two has made things bend and droop in unbecoming ways. Returning from a few days away, it was obvious that we had to do a little hacking back of our flower garden.
Do not weep for the abundant daisies, lupins or black-eyed Susans, my friends. They are strong, resilient and weed-like in their proliferation.
(In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re in cahoots with the actual weeds. Why else would they snuggle up so tight with the enemy?)
Despite their suspicious dalliances, these tall, billowy flowers also blow and tra-la-la in the wind in an English-garden-around-the-manor-I-do-not-own manner that endears them to me. So often, instead of pruning them into the compost heap, we cut them off at the pass and I put them in this vintage vase.
Behold the retro, bubbly texture of the glass. So fun!
Today, it was the Susans that were mis-behaving, so they got the snip. There were so many of them that they made an instant bouquet, sneaky devils that they are.
Only the truly heartless can throw full-beauty blossoms straight in the compost, no matter how invasive their tendencies.
So yes, I’m going to need a lot more vases.
Once upon a time, there was a very shiny, brown, plastic-y kitchen cupboard.
Naturally, I fell in love. Y’know, as you do when something is–ahem–shiny, brown and plastic-y. With fake gold handles.
Did I mention that it was also $15.00 (CDN)?
That’s practically free in many parts of the world (like England, where I paid an outrageous $38.00 for a one month supply of contact lens solution in 1996 but I forgave England because her chocolate bars were so cheap and Wispa love cannot be measured in mere dollars/pounds/euros because Wispa love is forever. Especially, when it’s a bargain.)
But I digress. I was in love with a brown, plastic-y thing. Said plastic being manufactured during the last decades under a variety of monikers, which shall remain nameless–except for Arborite. Did you know that quintuplets can basically ice skate down an Arborite table surface and it will lose none of its durability or give even a hint of the real wood underneath? That stuff is practically indestructible. And, oh-so shiny and plastic-y with its fake wood grain.
What’s not to love?
Oh sure, there are people who go for the obvious lookers of the furniture and decor world, all gleaming teeth and hair (or as they say in furniture and decor and seemingly every single show on HGTV: granite you-know-whats and stainless steel blah, blah, blahs.)
There’s no challenge, no thrill of the hunt, no wallflower’s revenge in that!
I tend to find the least desirable thing at the auction/flea market/thrift store/garage sale and suddenly, my heart is overwhelmed with desire for, um…shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness.
Practical Man, that’s who.
As soon as we entered the shop, he immediately started sidling, as if drawn by an invisible magnet or the force of my slight hyperventilation–towards the most downtrodden, bits-missing, unloved, dented, moth-eaten, fake wood grained, shiny, brown plastic-y, ugly ducklings of the lot. He knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I honed in and it has become a race between us–to see who can leap on the most pathetic specimen of all, first.
I won, this time. MWAH, HA, HA, HA.
This ugly duckling had pristine, original 1950s etched glass sliding doors and perhaps most important to a co-dependant, against-all-odds, happily-ever-after gal like me: POTENTIAL.
Practical Man had that look on his face: the one that said “wee-hoo, that is one ugly specimen, as usual” and then he had the look on his face that said, “and where, exactly, is she going to put that thing?!” but then, magically, his face transformed into the face that said, “well, it does appear to have lots of practical hide-y holes for useful stuff like levels and flashlights and lock washers” and then, most compellingly, he got the look on his face that said,”at least the darn thing is cheap.”
Then, he went to work with his superlative haggling skills.
I love Practical Man.
Then, not unlike Cinderella, our shiny, brown, plastic-y cupboard got some:
- sanding (ugh) to scuff the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness,
- priming (double ugh) to make the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness more receptive to paint and
- painting (by which time Practical Man had swooped in to rescue me from the ughs) to hide and transform the shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness and
Voila! Presto-Bongo! Abra-Cadabra! Our ugly duckling was further bejeweled with my collection of vintage Pyrex and suddenly, it turned into a vintage swan.
Kind of a green swan and to my new friend, Disney Dancer, who I recently met in Colorado, I know that I’m mixing Disney/Hans Christian Andersen metaphors a little, but you get the idea.
Whatever the story, one thing is not in question: Practical Man is like a real, live, fairy godmother for my shiny, brown, plastic-y cabinet.
I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.
Posted by Christine Fader in Flea Markets/Auctions/Sales, Retro Decorating, Vintage Shopping, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: 1950s, 50s, arborite, cabinet, cupboard, decorating, dresser, furniture, kitchen, painting, Pyrex, refinishing, retro, vintage
My sister emailed from Tuscany this week and told us that her hotel room had only skylights in the ceiling, but no windows.
Poor, poor thing.
Not that I’m jealous of her trips to the Italian markets or the daily gelato she’s eating (it’s a cultural experience) or the million Fiats surrounding her that she’s probably not even noticed.
Nope, not jealous. After all, working with university students is kind of like Tuscany, without the markets or gelato or million Fiats.
Anyway, it got me thinking, what with my poor sister’s hotel room being what she affectionately calls “the dungeon”. There is no sympathy because that dungeon is–let’s review–in Tuscany, but I did get to thinking about windows.
No gelato (boo hoo) in these parts, but boy-oh-boy, do I have windows.
Tuscany should pine for these windows:
Tall ones, paned ones, broken ones, curvey ones.
All vintage. All drafty, single paned and in need of regular painting, no doubt. Some with wobbly, bubbly glass that would have been good and rattly in a storm (or when you stomped down the stairs in a huff because you weren’t in Tuscany).
All forsaken for new, shiny, vinyl things. Bleech.
Some were abandoned, heartlessly at the side of the road, where, yippee, we picked them up. Yippee!
By “we”, I mean, Practical Man leaped out of the car while I clapped my hands in glee. Yippee! He is what you call the “strong, silent type”. Being the strong, silent type is perfect when you are asked to rescue another one of your wife’s collectibles, without the need to sigh or contribute snide remarks.
Apparently a little rolling of the eyes is permitted, however.
He may have been rolling his eyes, but he barely batted his incredibly long eyelashes recently when I bought two (more) vintage windows that we found, for a steal, at a sale.
Windows that my unfortunate, deprived sister doesn’t have in Tuscany, no siree.
I have big, big plans for these. Yep, I do. Uh huh.
Sometimes, I also buy doors (and then hang them sideways on the wall, because why wouldn’t you?)
Other times, I create a scene using bristol board, my giant box of craft paper and UHU glue (so I can regress to age 15 and pretend I am still in Germany eating Black Forest Cake for late afternoon snack.) Plus, UHU is so fun to say, especially if you say it the German way: OOOHOO!
Now you know: OOOHOO!
Then, I call it art and hang it up, boldly, as if I am an artiste.
This piece (real art is always called a “piece” isn’t it?) is called “Waiting for Ferdinand”. I was inspired by The Story of Ferdinand, the little bull who loved to smell the flowers.
I like to pretend I am a Spanish sinorita with a flower in my hair.
Ferdinand, Ferdinand, wherefore art thou, Ferdinand?
He doesn’t respond, except to say, “UHU!”
This next one doesn’t have a name. It’s from a time before I called things like this “pieces” and pretended to be an “artiste”.
I look at it while I’m trying to play Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven or the Apple commercial piano jingle. It makes me feel as if I’m playing wonderful music by the seaside from my home in a lighthouse.
Yes, my home in a lighthouse where I fly my hot air balloon to the mainland to get warm, fresh-from-the-oven baps and buy rhinestone sunglasses, once a week. Tra, la, la.
Sometimes, I just put windows on the fireplace and then add a bunch of empty antique frames and favourite, vintage books.
These make me smile but they make my friend Bamboo Guy’s wife, very, very puzzled. She doesn’t understand why every fireplace needs a copy of Peter Rabbit.
Sometimes, I’m not sure we can be friends.
Here is the view from our living room window these days: autumn in southern Canada.
That’s the pool shed: doesn’t it look quaint? It has great, old-fashioned windows.
Now, I just need some gelato and I’m all set.
More window ideas: http://eclecticallyvintage.com/2013/07/10-unique-repurposed-windows/
Posted by Christine Fader in Crafts, Retro Decorating, Uncategorized Tags: Apple, Black Forest Cake, crafts, decorating, paper art, Peter Rabbit, retro, Story of Ferdinand, Tuscany, UHU, vintage, window art, windows