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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:

Brick 19th century townhouses

[photo credit: cityofkingston.ca]

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.

limestone house with centre peaked roof

[photo credit: Google maps]

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.

Sigh.

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 construction equipment

[photo credit: Liebherr.com]

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.

Riverside Drive

[photo credit: Google Earth]

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?

More swooning.

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.

brick house (mine)

[Our house]

Well, okay, maybe not.

Yes indeedy, I told Practical Man: all we need is some classical music to swank this place right up.

Tra-la-la.

 

 

 


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:

amber depression glass curtain tiebacks

And two purple ones:

purple depression glass curtain tiebacks

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.

amber curtain tieback holding beige curtains

Note to self: get curtains befitting amber gorgeousness

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.

purple curtain tiebacks holding back red, toile curtains

Yep, this is more like it. Love the purple and red combination.

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!

Sorry.

Shake it off.   Shake it off.

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my book.