Keeping the shop filled with inventory, upkeep on the building and working in the village gardens keeps me busy in June. The freezer is filling up with black raspberries. There are still plenty to share with my neighbors.
I took a friend to the hospital today for a test and saw many people fighting age and illness. A nurse walked by with a tomato plant in a wheelchair. I called out, “I hope your tomato plant gets better.” and she laughed.
I finished watching the Ken Burns and Stephen Ives DVD called The West. Once you pick yourself up from the floor, the history of settling the western part of the United States has much to teach us now.
This is the criteria of Cheyenne people when choosing a chief for the tribe:
He must be a father to all members of the tribe.
He must be good, generous, brave, courageous and must have concern for the welfare of the people.
He does not acquire wealth for himself; but to give to the people who are less fortunate.
He has led a morally up-right life and is respected.
This is how the people choose a spiritual father, a true servant of the people.
Four of the last seven governors of Illinois went to prison. They were very bad chiefs.
Stay strong America. We must have courage and not become apathetic. We must close our ears to the self-serving people who tell us good people are weak. That is a lie.
Good leaders know how to compromise for the well-being of the people, all of the people. Democrats and Republicans, throughout history, have used tactics to block the meaningful decisions of good leaders. That is wrong. We should not allow this.
We are Americans first. This is our America, all of ours. We must act and think like chiefs.
There are a couple of things that you need to understand to to use Regional Boxes through USPS.com via Click-N-Ship.
Ignore the term Regional. That was just a trick. Regional does not mean zone. It doesn’t mean anything to us.
The cost is determined by the distance between your zip code and the destination zip code. That has to do with zone. You’ll be led to that area by Click-N-Ship.
Now here is the secret information that apparently they don’t want anyone to know. I don’t know who they are. They are not the post office employees. The post office employees would like to know, also.
You have to select that you want to use Regional Box A or B under the PREFERENCES tab or the boxes will not show up as an option. And, you have to change it if you want to use a different box.
These boxes ship Priority and the shipping rate is substantially less than the regular Priority Boxes that are not marked Regional Rate Box B, etc. (Order the Regional Boxes on the USPS website. There is no cost.)
I used Box B today and the cost was 10.66. If my items would have fitted into Box A, the cost would have been 8.15. To ship regular Priority (using their box or your box) would have cost 23.90. If you sell on eBay and ship 10 boxes a day that is a 133.00 savings (13.30 each) for your customers.
By one o’clock yesterday afternoon we had three-quarters of the ground floor of an estate packed into a U-Haul trunk and a van and we were bouncing back down the road toward home. It is a friend’s connection and job, I was hired to fill boxes while he packed the vehicles. It was hard work under any circumstances but made more so because the previous owner was an antique dealer and artist with a pennant for iron, stone fossils and giant balls of string.
The string is not only visually interesting but more so because the tied together pieces were saved by people before the invention of rubber bands, twist ties, various tapes, Rubbermaid tote bins and other forms of containment. What would surprised the thrifty savers of yesterday’s string is today’s value of their frugality. Values starting at 300.00 proved that winding string was time well-spent.
Hidden away in the tiny town of Alden, Illinois, is my favorite antique shop, Sedge Meadow Antiques. I have wanted to write a post about my friend Robert Anderson’s building for some time. Finally, he asked me if I would like to come over and photograph his place to create a small time capsule of his project. This project, this work of art, this creation. It took more than a decade to complete. Though Robert says it still isn’t quite finished. Robert will do something as interesting in the future. But, for now, this building is going on the market.
Most of the antique components of the building were brought in and installed after the electrical, utilities, and plumbing were updated to today’s standard. From city and county, Robert found the architectural elements during a 30 year career as an antique dealer.
The exterior hasn’t changed since the 19th century when the building was, I think, the general store and the interior looks like it is original. That is the art. That is the magic of this place. It is like stepping into another age with all the modern components that make it comfortable and convenient.
Robert’s Apartment Above the Shop
A view into one of the baths illustrates the workmanship that went into creating it with its knock-your-socks-off cabinets. I particularly like the piece of tin from a pie safe hangin in the window. No need for a curtain when the light comes in through all the air vents pierced through the tin.
Dining Room and Living Room
A peek inside one of the three or four bedrooms. People raised large families in the upstairs of these buildings.
Visualize how cozy this room looks in the glow of three oil lamps on the coffee table. I hope I’m there some night when the electricity goes out. One of the things that Robert does so well is meld styles from many decades together in a way that makes them seem at home together. It is the way a house would be if families stayed in the same spot for generations.
The apartment wooden floor came from a tobacco barn. I love the worn part from the chair leg at Robert’s desk. Did you notice the laptop? It is covered with an interesting textile.
Beautiful 19th Century decorative curtain rod knobs kept the drapes from slipping off the poles. Shown in the above three photographs, people who admire the craftsmanship and design that went into making something that was functional is what this love affair with antiques is all about.
An antique velveteen elephant is now more folk art than toy.
And everywhere there are original framed pieces of art.
Now to the back of the building, past the tenant’s downstairs apartment…
Robert’s downstairs back tenant is an artist.
Robert’s friend and ground level tenant has created a magical garden outside her back doors. I knew I would like this woman before I met her after viewing the joie de vivre held within her small garden and hearing the birds sing inside her apartment.
Near the barn, a Victorian planter rests.
Robert’s folk art wooden cats climb the barn wall.
A glimpse into Robert’s shop….
The packing crate walls in one of the rooms are original to the building. Probably put up to keep the building warmer; 100+ years later, we admire them for their cheerful, warm color and make-do attitude.
Customers, who let their gaze linger for a moment, notice that each piece was carefully selected with appreciation for its beauty and craftsmanship.
This cupboard boasts of six spice drawers. Perfection!
Patina, Patina, Patina
A handmade iron exterior lantern holder with pulley to raise and lower now hoists a bird-cage.
This European photograph shows how the bracket was probably used. The lanterns in the photo were probably converted from gas to electric. I think the one in Robert’s shop was lowered and lit by the lamplighter each evening. Robert would know if kerosene or some other fuel was used with this lantern.
A fabulous 1920s original pastel drawing.
Perhaps someone who worked for the circus in nearby Wisconsin made this for a lucky child.
Everything is art when viewed with the discerning eye.
The antiques and vintage things in the shop come from Midwestern auctions and from people who inherit things and come into the shop to sell them. I always ask about the people who owned them. I record their names, where they lived and sometimes I am given a photograph of the person which I pass on to the new owner. There are many different types of art in the shop and this month I have the pieces included here. I show customers (and children) how to tell the difference between a lithograph, etchings, engravings, etc. with the help of a jeweler’s loupe. It opens up an entire new world to people.
Jean Romano, a graduate from the Art Institute of Chicago, watched her plans for a commercial design career dissolve when WWII began. Shown above are two of her design ideas from 1939. The first and second photographs show some of her 3D kits for making shadow pictures. (Just double-click the image if you would like to see them close up.) The photograph to the right is of an advertising idea that Jean wanted to pitch to Ivory Soap. The prototype shows a bathtub toy duck that rode a floating bar of Ivory Soap.
The accomplished artist, William Thompson, began his career sweeping the studio floors of William Henry Chandlers studio. One of the stellar moments in the shop was when I met his niece. I think he was America’s greatest pastel artist.
Paul Krause painted church murals in the late 1800s. I easily found his grandson, a Milwaukee realtor. Paintings like this one would be presented to a church board as a sample of his work. The tiny details are mind-boggling.
I recently won this oil painting at an auction. It is larger than the section I am showing. It has a lot of tobacco smoke on its surface. It is so yellow now that I can’t read the signature. Someone has already spent a sizable amount to have the painting relined. See the back? Do you see the age on the second lining? It will be interesting to see if the sky is blue. I love this painting. I think it dates to the time when people let their cattle run loose and then had to go find them.
Hand-painted post cards mailed to an art benefactor by the artist Karl Priebe, one of the Six Magic Realists School of Art centralized in Wisconsin between 1920-1945. He drew an image and then had the image printed on postcards. The glossy surface of the postcards were wonderful to float watercolors upon. Karl used these for travel correspondence. He was quite a traveler and spent many vacations painting and drawing animals and birds at local zoos.
Sometimes, someone comes in whose family is part of an American dynasty. One of the Goes family autographed the back of my old “Found” print, originally painted by Albert Schenck. The Goes family ancestors created many of famous original prints we see hanging in shops and homes today. Goes Lithography Company has been in business since 1879. They created chomo-lithograph posters for Buffalo Bill, the Columbian Exposition in 1893 and the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair to name just a few of their many accomplishments. They sell prints of some of their famous posters and I am sure they are of the best quality.
So many lives, so many people, so much to do, so little time. Some roll through life in the comfort of routine and quiet dignity, some striving for but never reaching their dream, some reaching it but finding that it didn’t bring what they hoped, and always the love, the making do, the family, the fights, the love and always coming back to the love. All telling the story of the American people, your family, my family, there is no difference. We all belong in the family of man.
Last week, I had the most delightful surprise when three people found the shop through this blog. Melissa, from the Comfy Home blog came in the shop and I was so delighted to meet this warm and personable new friend and surprised to learn that her husband works in Northbrook. Northbrook is my hometown.
The next week, sisters Linda and Carol stopped in while they were on a day trip. They were having the kind of fun only sisters by blood or bond can have and we laughed a lot.
Later that day, I noticed this fabulous woman and her big chunky bracelets. She must be an artist.
All new friends united over shared interests and a love for this old stuff, the things that tell the stories of the American people, our great big family.
January, 2016 was a month that had to be wrestled and flung to the ground. When it was good, the snow floated down lazily and soft under a sky the color of a grey kitten. I made pear biscotti and baked bread that I shared with the birds and squirrels. When January is mean, the nights are long, dark, and cold in old houses and buildings across town. The sharp wind rattles the old windows and sneeks in through gaps around doors. There was 1/8th of an inch of ice on the interior side of the steel door and windows. Inside, I wore big sweaters, snow boots and a scarf around my neck. Now, we have stomped on old January and walked over it.
The shop was closed for the whole month. Customers dwindle down to one or two a day when the sidewalks are covered with ice and snow. Some building owners don’t shovel or de-ice their sidewalks because they aren’t here. Even with a #10 shovel, I couldn’t break the sidewalk ice after sprinkling ice melt on it the night before. I held on to the buildings when I walked to the mailbox and took ginger steps. Two shopkeepers slipped on the ice; one broke her leg. One day, I went inside Sweet Angeline’s Gourmet Bakery and Cafe and spend a comfortable hour with my friends, Angie and Jim, with a huge, steaming cup of their fabulous coffee. It is the most welcoming place with pastry worthy of a Parisian boulangerie. Walking home while reading their new menu, that I will post under the glass on the shop desk, I am again amazed that we have such a cosmopolitan cafe in this little town of 2000 people.
Now on to February and I think we are going to have an early spring. The sun is out again and it feels strong. Almost all of the ice is gone from the sidewalks on the north side of the street. We have three new (and interesting) shops in Richmond.
This post is about something fabulous that happened. Last fall, I was walking around the corner of my building, carrying, with my friend, Roger, a huge replica of someone’s farmhouse that I bought at a barn sale. The house was quite big and a man, walking to a restaurant across the street with his wife, stepped up to help carry it. Everyone walked into my building and the house was set down. The man, Ron Warwick and his wife, stayed for a minute to talk and as one topic led to another I mentioned that I wished I had a replica of my grandparents house. It had recently been torn down in Northbrook, Illinois. A developer was building a McMansion on the property as happens everywhere now. Ron said that he would turn the house that we were carrying, into a house as close to my grandparents’ house as was possible. I don’t know what kind of a look I had on my face, but I think it looked like a big question mark. I said, “Why would someone do that for a complete stranger?” I realized later that he is simply a selfless artist who must create, for not only did Ron with the help of his friend, Rich, make me a replica of my grandparents’ house, but built a completely new house, from the ground up.
We sat down only a few times and talked about the house. On Google Earth, we watched as the last remaining images of it disappeared forever. Ron whipped rulers around and did some kind of complicated mathematical and geometrical figures in his head while I tried to remember where the windows belonged. Then he started telling me, from his calculations, where the doors and windows belonged.
Nothing like this ever happened to me before, nor will it, I expect, ever happen again. I told Ron, and it is true, that I like the house as much as I liked my brand new 1972 convertible Mustang on the day that I got it. Every time I look at the house, I get a joyous and magical feeling.
Now, the real house, our grandparents and their children are gone. And just as they had to go on living as they lost their loved ones, our generation must go on, too. It is still hard. But, we were lucky to have all those people once and I was lucky when I came around that corner and, just by chance, met Ron Warwick.
Some nights, after I climb up the 17 stairs to where I sleep, I make a mad dash to get under the feather blanket where it is cozy and warm. And sometimes, in the dark, I stand by the house and angle a flashlight to shine in one of the windows, just as the street lamp did and I can hear Grandma and Grandpa, in the den, singing the songs of their youth, following the lyrics on the television screen as Mitch Miller* smiles and waves his hands in time to the music.
*In the early 1960s, Miller became a household name with his NBC television show Sing Along with Mitch, a community-sing program featuring him and a male chorus: an extension of his highly successful series of Columbia record albums of the same name. In keeping with the show’s title, viewers were presented with lyrics at the bottom of the television screen, and while many insist there was a bouncing ball to keep time, Miller correctly said this was something they remember from movie theater sing-alongs and cartoons.
I put the exterior Christmas decorations together this year with garage sale ornaments, wreaths and garland. Plus, a lot of hot glue sticks and burnt fingers.
Every year, I make a wreath with vintage ornaments found over the summer. I was really lucky this year and found a large vintage flocked wreath to use.
My sister, Cindy, gave me two of these large snowmen. She is very creative and decorates the post office window in the tiny town where she works as post mistress. Sometimes she give me things she has used in the past.
I used found vintage planters again this year to make Christmas decorations for people’s desks at work.
A rare 1855 school-house map.
Do you see the chair on the right side of the dresser? It was ignored all summer, until I had it recovered. I had a set of three Eastlake chairs upholstered in the same linen fabric but in red rather than blue. People say there is no market for Victorian chairs, but the set (one large and two small chairs) sold as soon as I put them in the shop. I quickly took a photograph of one of them as the people were carrying them out.
What I really, really, really want for Christmas….