Halloween Night Sky


I took this photograph the other night as I was admiring a quarter moon through the tree branches. Something went wrong because instead of a quarter moon, the camera registered this. My neighbor walked by and I pointed to the sky and said, “A quarter moon in a ten-cent town.” quoting a line from the Emmy Lou Harris  song Easy From Now On. He laughed and walked on. Sometimes a mistake yields a delightful surprise.


Where Was I Before I Was So Rudely Interrupted?

This is where I left you last summer:





And,  this is the roof I spent most of September on.

I was tuck-pointing, roof-tarring, glass-glazing, window painting and dealing with other issues that needed attention in the back of the building. (Let’s not talk about it.)

Besides this work and the shop, I took care of six of the village’s gardens.  I added another garden to the list this year.  Many people stop to talk throughout the hours, as you can imagine. Gardening is a social event in a small downtown area.



It is autumn and I have been  washing and ironing the textiles I found over the summer. I still have more to do. These American quilts are wonderful, aren’t they? The blue on the Victorian postage stamp quilt is indigo dyed and the red color is the infamous Turkey Red.



Last night, I finished tucking in the last of the flower gardens for a winter nap. The night was warm with that kind of soft, wild wind that we have in Illinois in October.  I wanted to cross the gardens off my list so I gardened until 8:00 pm under lamp and moonlight.  The town is closed on Monday night so no one saw the crazy gardener in the dirt-covered blue jeans. I didn’t care if anyone saw me, anyway. It would be something to talk about.

And the “In a Pickle” dining room cabinet? I could have sold a half-dozen of them!





Left Behind

A small stack of paper sits on my desk today, all found after the removal of drawers from several pieces of furniture.


An old recipe for a coffee cake.


Three tiny cookbooks probably picked up at a grocery store. Two are from the 1920s; the Domino Sugar booklet gave customers more reasons to buy sugar with its tempting candy recipes.


Chocolate Popcorn in 1907?

This tiny Crystal Domino Sugar recipe booklet, dated 1907, lists “Butter, size of walnut.”  Another recipe in the booklet lists “Butter, the side of an egg” under the  ingredients. The King Arthur Flour website reports that walnut size equaled 2 tablespoons and size of an egg was 1/4 cup.

20-IMG_0189Jelke “Good Luck” Margarine Booklet

Dairy firms, especially in Wisconsin, fought to get laws passed to prohibit the coloring of margarine which was, originally, something like 80% beef tallow. I can understand why the dairy farms didn’t want beef tallow impersonating as butter.  Margarine use didn’t promise to cut calories, which it didn’t, of course, but as a less expensive alternative to butter. People didn’t find the white of margarine appealing. After all, it was basically a slab of fat,  so margarine companies came up with the idea to distributed a packet or capsule of yellow dye with the margarine. Which answered my question, why one would have to ask the dealer for the capsule? Now, it looks like it was a rather sneaky attempt to go around the law. In the U.S.A., sales of margarine increased during the Depression and then again during WWII.  Finally, in the 1950s, in America, the law changed to allow margarine coloring at the manufacturing plant.

My grandmother always called butter “oleo.” I never understood this. I can see why someone would call oleo “butter”…but the other way around? Well, I’ll never know the answer to that.


These three newspaper clippings from 1947 were found in the same piece of furniture. It looks like the basis of a mystery story, but unhappily, these pertain to a real event involving a midwife. I wonder what these clippings had to do with the owner of the dressing table.


The Best Find

Two engraved invitations to a September, 1908, wedding in Paris, and a colorful chromolithograph bread yeast advertisement.


How many oil cloth flowers produced $6,000.00 a month in 1947? I love this guy’s truthful response, don’t you?


This is a decoupaged double bed that I worked on this week. Double beds can be hard to sell, but this one is so pretty that I am hopeful it will find a home. I used wallpaper for the design.

6-IMG_0203Vintage clothing has taken over the workroom. It hangs on doors, from the arms of old floor lamps and on hangers from an antique coat stand. Now is not the time to sell clothing.


Peeking out the upstairs window tonight, I see the restaurants closed early. They have festooned the flower boxes with blue and purple lights to chase away the darkness. Are these the new colors of Christmas?

14-IMG_0129This is the tag on my Christmas lights. What? Do you think they are unsafe?


They look fine to me!


Travel Brochure to the Middle of No-Where

Last week, I found some furniture whose sale, I know,  will pay my winter utility bills. Five pieces of solid walnut furniture decorated with hand-painted scenes and fancy bird’s eye maple and mahogany veneers, very French, and some of the best furniture America ever had to offer after 1880.  I was in the right place at the right time. There were only about 25 people in the auction hall on a dark, wet autumn night in the middle of nowhere.

I made that drive five times this week to pick up the pieces. Each piece of furniture is so big and so heavy that I could only fit one piece in the truck at a time. Two mirrors  and a headboard were one trip in itself.

It rained all week,  Pouring rain or drizzling. Misting, than pitter-pattering. Sprinkling, drumming, Plunking.  It rained and rained. It was a great week to plant grass seed.


Each day began with pink skies.


 As the drives went on, the grass turned a rich, deep green.



All along the way, I saw barns of every style and size.. Most are in disrepair or falling down.

This farm is raising llamas. Sometimes, a big white shaggy dog was with them.

I saw pastures of black cattle, Holstein cows, sheep, small grey donkeys. There were ducks paddle-footing around in groups. A lone zebra, looking like he got off at the wrong stop, was in a field with some donkeys.


I heard on the radio while driving that the last of the feed corn won’t be cut because of all the rain.


This is a typical road through northern Illinois running along the Wisconsin border.  If the road is in tip-top shape,  you are in Wisconsin. When the road is pot-holed, you are in  Illinois. No map is necessary. One good aspect of the poor roads is that it keeps vehicles from speeding.


This is the typical fencing here and the colors of the maples are muted with dripping leaves and gray skies. This is when the smell of autumn is at its richest.


Did you notice the headstones?


 The Alden cemetery had the prettiest maples.

Photo by Jeremy Webb

I made the last trip today and I was so glad to get back to work in my little shop.  Cleaning the furniture before it comes in, is, as always, harder than moving it all by myself. Next, a hot bath and Agatha Christie’s Body in the Library. Tomorrow, I’ll light the boiler for winter.

A Sign of Spring

1930's Stone Lions
1930’s Stone Lions


Yesterday, the sun shone brightly and most of the day’s sales were for antique cement garden sculptures. These two 1930’s stone lions were kind of hard to let go. Aren’t they gorgeous? I like the way the paint wore and that they were being portrayed realistically. The modern cement lions often look cute or cartoonish. Just another reason to love vintage. Hope your life today is one spent in the sunshine.