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Friday, December 21, 2012

My Own Private Idaho: Oh, Yes, It's Winter

My Own Private Idaho: Oh, Yes, It's Winter: Pete Autumn's been a time for rain, more rain, and lots more rain. With a sinkhole over our septic tank, the rain built up into a kiddie...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Umbrellas in Art



I enjoy looking at art that incorporates umbrellas and people hurrying along, going somewhere.


                               Or of furtive efforts to avoid the rain and wind on a dark evening near a Tokyo bridge.


I don't use an umbrella myself any longer -- I just pull up the hood of my rain jacket.  If I lived in a city instead of in the country, I would enjoy sitting at a window on a rainy street, watching people with umbrellas.
                                                 A lady out shopping, dressed in style.

People on their way home via the Underground . . . or the Metro . . . or the Subway
.



Naughty French girls stepping out of naughty French magazines.




The working girl.



The elegant woman in velvet.


Masses of umbrellas heading for sales I wouldn't be caught dead at.
.
  My love of umbrella art began my first week of school in the first grade.  Thank you, Sally.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tales of an eBay Power Seller




 It was a small pamphlet, circa 1932, titled something like, "Should Bird Houses be Built on Golf Courses?" I'd picked it up at a library book sale, along with other vintage bird pamphlets. It wasn't the subject of the pamphlet that caught Jay's eye as he divided his attention between Sunday football and writing descriptions for my eBay auctions, but the printed name of one of the foundation board members on the back of the pamphlet advocating bird houses on golf courses -- Robert E. Jones.

 "I think this is Bobby Jones," he commented.

"Mm-mm," I replied. "Put it in parentheses."  The strong suit of listing on eBay -- key words. I started the 7-day auction at $9.99.  Within a  day I'd had an offer of $250.00 if I would remove the pamphlet from auction and sell it directly. Another email came in warning me not to accept any offers to stop the auction, apparently from someone interested in winning the pamphlet. I never stop an auction, considering it unethical.  As you know, most bidding occurs in the last couple of minutes of a competitive auction.  When the auction ended, the pamphlet had sold for $1,400.00 to someone in Minnesota.  It turned out that this very scarce pamphlet (who would have saved it?) was a "completist" item for collectors of Bobby Jones memorabilia. A few days later, we watched a docudrama of Bobby Jones' life and really enjoyed it.

I am an eBay Power Seller.  I have been selling used and rare books, "and whatever else the cat drags in," on eBay since 1997, when it was still in its infancy, before Meg Whitman arrived to take it big time.  I've met some very interesting people through eBay because I always ask in my automated email thanking them for bidding, "Why did you want this item?" Curiosity is one of my finest personality traits . . . under the right conditions.  There was the firefighter in Connecticut who won the vintage memoir of a fireman that had inspired him as a kid to choose that career.  And a publication from the 1936 Berlin Olympics that was won by a Canadian, whose father had represented Canada at those games.

There are various methods of finding products to list on eBay. Because I am a late nighter and normally sleep in until 9:00 a. m., the most difficult was getting up at 5:30 on Saturday mornings in the summertime in Laramie to hit the yard sales. But I did it and was usually rewarded.  Laramie is a college town, and that means people read. It was like a groggy Easter egg hunt.  I found a British publication titled "The Titanic and the Californian," published in Great Britain in the 1960s. First edition in fine dust jacket. Sold to me for $2.00 by a British graduate student (the book had belonged to his dad back in England).  On eBay, it sold for $350.00.

One morning I walked into an old house that had been vacated except for a few things in boxes.  Leaning over one box, I spied an Alcoholics Anonymous book with dust jacket. I reached down and carefully pulled it out. The dust jacket was perfect, and the publication date inside was 1951. First edition, 16th printing.  I didn't really understand what I was holding in my hands, other than that someone years before started going to A.A., but must have stopped.  The book was unread.  "How much do you want for this?" I asked. "Fifty cents," said the man, who was probably the aging son of that book's first owner.  I did a little research, enough to know that I should mention that the dust jacket was original and not a reproduction. The high bidder, at $840.00, was a real estate developer in Chicago, who proudly told me he would be showing it off at his next AA meeting.  And that would be fine because I'd placed that beautiful dust jacket in a protective Mylar cover. Condition, condition, condition.

I sold a book on the history of the Hashemite royal family of Jordan to a silversmith in California, who'd spent time in Jordan, instructing King Abdullah in some of the finer points of creating  and finishing small silver objects.  It seems it is the King's hobby.

I've even met some of my customers.  People in Wyoming expect to drive great distances, so it wasn't unusual for a customer from Casper or Cheyenne, or even Nebraska, to make arrangements to  drive to Laramie to pick up their winnings. And about a year ago up here in Idaho, the man who won Jay's childhood Lionel train set, drove a few hours from central Washington State to pick it up because he didn't want it damaged in the mail. We had a nice visit.  And once a regular customer and his wife from Calgary, Alberta, stayed with us for a couple of day as they toured Wyoming. It's a small world after all.

In the early days of eBay, it called itself an online community. And sometimes it is.

eBay Power Seller

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

All the Cats Have Come to Tea




This is Pete.  He adopted Mom over 5 years ago (a few months before she went into assisted living with dementia), having grown up in a neighbor's barn and becoming dissatisfied with his lifestyle.  He was not a nice cat - growly, hissy and spitty.  So, he had to live in the garage with Tigger, who had developed a bad habit of spraying furniture and walls (Mom has no sense of smell any longer, so she didn't smell it). We didn't think Pete would be house-broken, either. Well, Tigger was killed by a coyote in May and Pete had to live alone, which he didn't mind as long as Jay and I were in the house nearby. And if we kept Pepper the Brittany away from him.  Pepper ran Pete up an apple tree when he first arrived in May and Pete spent two days and nights in the rain there.  And apparently had an epiphany - he no longer growled, hissed or spit. In fact, he wanted to sit on our laps on the porch, as long as we kept the dog away. But, we moved up the hill into our new house in September and Pete was moved from the chilly garage into Mom's empty house (we have to keep some heat on so the pipes won't freeze).  We've been going down the hill twice a day to feed him, get the mail, deposit the garbage bag. Guess what?  He didn't spray in the house.  But it's become apparent that he's desperately lonely.  So, today, Jay brought him up the winding driveway through the pines and we put him in Jay's office and I spent half the day with him.  Our other two cats,




 Geordie and Harry, have always hated Pete and have discovered his presence.  So has the dog.


 This is going to take some time.


In the meantime, it was a lovely misty day. A view of the driveway and the valley below.


The bench on the hill behind the house from a second story window.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Living Photos of World War I





Back in the 1990s I picked up this photo at a library book sale.  A few years earlier I'd read an article about Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas, photographers, in Smithsonian magazine.  They visited U.S. army camps and posts, and navy and marine bases, posed the men and nurses by the thousands, and took iconic photos.  But this particular photo was not in the article. I wondered where it was taken.  The burgeoning Internet was no help at that point.




It wasn't until 2005, when I thought to search the Internet again, that I found an image of this photo. It was taken, probably in October, 1918, at Camp Travis, which was adjacent to Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. I've enjoyed having it. But now, in my effort to downsize my possessions, I've listed it on eBay here .

For a long time, Mole's and Thomas' work was forgotten. Then it was rediscovered.


How did they do it?  Very carefully. They must have used graph paper.  Eventually, the outline was drawn on a large photo plate.


They arrived at the military post and spent days laying out tape on the parade field.



A very high scaffolding was erected (or perhaps they were atop a building and scaffolding).


The troops were marched out and placed in position. It must have taken hours to get it right. Megaphones were used. Many more bodies were placed farther back than up front. I believe that I read 18,000 were used for this Statue of Liberty photo, but that 16,000 of them composed the torch element. Perspective, perspective.


Perhaps my photo was one of the last taken. As the war drew to a close, the deadly Spanish influenza pandemic broke out overseas and then on American military posts and bases, before it reached out into the civilian sectors.  When World War II came along, it was a very different war.  There was no leisure time to arrange a large body of men and nurses for a patriotic photo before shipping them off overseas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween on Vintage Magazine Covers

1913 Life Cover
Artist: O'Malley

Beguiling.  There were so many magazines being published in the first 40 years of the 20th century, it was a golden age for talented illustrators, men and women.  Holiday covers must have been a challenge.  How many ideas were rejected by the publishers?  Here are some that made it.

1908 Life
Artist: Victor C. Anderson
The early years of of cover illustration were romantic years.  This is a clever cover because it forms the face of the jack o'lantern.

1934 American Boy


You can't go wrong with a black cat. By the way, did you know that animal shelters won't allow black cats to be adopted during October in an attempt to protect their innocent lives.

1919 Today's Housewife

1924 The Household Magazine
I'm unable to read the names of these artists.


1936 The Grade Teacher

I remember bobbing for apples at a Halloween party in the 1950s. Apples were smaller than. Maybe it's easier now that commercial apples are so much larger to get your teeth into one.

1933 Collier's
Artist: Hans Kir n

Some humor in the depths of the Great Depression.
1934 Liberty
Artist: Vernon Grant

1911 Life
This cover was not created for Halloween, but I found it a bit creepy.  Since a lot of Americans will have snow on Halloween, perhaps these are the creatures that will come out tomorrow night.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Maps & Art or Where the Road Takes You

Sherman Oaks 405 & 101
Artist:  Lisa Fulton

 I've been pondering maps lately and why they fascinate.  Lines, of course.  Your eye can't see a line without following it, from one point to another, anyway.


Take, for instance,
The Mahmud al_Kashgari map (1072) of a "Turkocentric" world, oriented with the midsummer sunrise on top, showing the Caspian Sea to the north, and Iraq, Azerbajan, Yemen and Egypt to the west, China and Japan to the east, Hindustan, Kashmir, Gog and Magog to the south.  Blue lines are rivers and red lines are mountain ranges. And it is encircled by the ocean. You can see it at the Pera Museum in Istanbul. Artful, isn't it.

Humanity Rewarded
Artist: Jennifer Jefferson

My friend Jennifer often uses bits of maps in the backgrounds of her collages composed on recycled old book covers.

Snowshoe Rabbit
Artist: Jennifer Jefferson

I see it as tongue-in-cheek humor, for her subjects have instinctive maps imprinted on their brains. Only you, the viewer, would require one if you were intent on following them.


Woodpecker & Daisies
Artist: Jennifer Jefferson

 You can see more of Jen's collages for sale on her Etsy shop here and read her blog, A Country Weekend, here.

New York City Subway
Artist: Ingrid Dabringer

Ingrid Dabringer, who lives in Sault Ste. Marie, makes maps a focal point in her art. Her blog with other works is here.


Park City, Utah by James Niehues

James Niehues, a map artist, creates ski trail maps, which is also a practical pursuit.  His website is here.

Paphos section of Cyprus
Artist: Abi Daker

Abi Daker alternates between the U.K. and Cyprus and is an artist of illustrated maps and cityscapes.  Her website is here



As I pointed out in the beginning, map art isn't new.

L.A. 91 & 110 Garden
Artist: Lisa Fulton

But one artist, my new acquaintance, Lisa Fulton, wouldn't have found her particular metier if President Eisenhower hadn't decided to expand the American highway system in the 1950s.  Lisa discovered the engineered beauty of the cloverleaf. . .


Chicago: The Circle Interchange I-290 and I-90/I-94
Artist: Lisa Fulton

. . . the circle exchange . . .

On the New Jersey Turnpike: I-95 Junction with I-18
Artist: Lisa Fulton
. . . the turnpike. . .

I-95 & I-695 Baltimore
Artist: Lisa Fulton
. . . and the braided exchange. Sinuous, at times as visually puzzling as a cat's cradle, her art fascinates.

Be sure to view her interpretations of highway systems in foreign capitals.  Lisa's website is here .
And that's what I've been thinking about lately.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Chinese Ginger Jar



I have been reading a fascinating blog called Linosaurus, in which a retired Dutch physician, Gerrie, waxes eloquent about woodcut and other media artists and their prints from the first half of the 20th century. He's been blogging for two and a half years and I've read them all.  I'm learning a great deal from him. He has a love of flower prints especially and in two blogs he wrote of artists and old Chinese ginger jars.  Here

Artist: Bertha Plekker-Muller

The prints were all so lovely, and the small ginger jars so alluring, I wanted one.  So I got on eBay (a wonderful source for whatever one wants is eBay) and bid on the little ginger jar at the top of this blog.  This little jar was crafted by hand, most likely in the middle to late 19th century, and sent to California to the Chinese community with either ginger or some other food or herb in it.  Though intended for the common consumer, each side was first given a different embossed design, then glazed and fired. Really, it's a small work of art. Which is why ginger jars were so favored by artists of the Arts & Crafts Movement -- in Europe in particular.

When I told Gerrie that I planned to find a ginger jar for my own, he suggested that I put some rose hips in it.  And so I have.  Not satisfied with just a photo to show off, I played with my Adobe Photo program in an attempt to be painterly.  And this is the result.

The sponge effect

The watercolor effect