My Vintage Dollhouse, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

Here it is, my childhood dollhouse — proud and colorful from the front, a little shaky from the back. But isn’t that true of many houses?

Vintage Tin Lithograph Doll House Note that the landscaping is painted onto the front of the house… I wonder if I could try this at home? It certainly would be easier to take care of than my 3D landscaping is.

This find isn’t from my basement — it survived in a closet at my brother’s house.

What’s broken?

Tin Litho Dollhouse Garage door

Alas, I don’t think the garage door opener would work anymore (if it had one, that is).

The door can be repositioned manually, but then, the dolls didn’t drive, so there isn’t a car. The interior decor is painted on too, so the homeowners won’t be redecorating any time soon.

Vintage Tin Litho Dollhouse interior

There was still some of its furniture left, and one remaining doll. I’m hoping it all finds a home with a collector who can restore it. And yes, I’m still in love with that idea of painting the landscaping on the side of the house. Maybe then I could donate my yard tools and just paint some on the garage walls like this:

Vintage Tin Litho Doll House with garage and painted tools

See them to the left of the garage door? I might still need a 3D vacuum though.

Here’s to all our vintage toys, whether they’re soft like the Velveteen Rabbit — most of whose hair had been loved off — or sturdy, but in need of a structural repair and maybe even a modern “staging”, like my dollhouse.

Do you still have any of your childhood toys?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

A Midtown Garden Tour, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped

Imagine you could live in the middle of a busy city, yet still be enveloped by nature in a secret garden. Some lucky people do just that.

Midtown Atlanta garden tour Viewing greenery in the heart of Atlanta doesn’t get any better than on this open garden tour. Midtown Open Garden Stroll 2015When I’m visiting Sam, we often walk through this midtown neighborhood, admiring homes and beautiful front yard gardens. Yesterday we were able to go behind the scenes and see more. There were vintage treasures…

Midtown Atlanta garden tour - vintage flamingoand vintage music…

Midtown Atlanta garden tour - music And fountains, and picture-book doorways that led to secluded gardens.

If you’re viewing in email, please click through to the website to see the photos more clearly. These gardens are worthy of a closer look.

Now I’m back at home in the ‘burbs, and feeling inspired. My own back yard could certainly use some attention, even though it will never be as intriguing as these.

I don’t want to slow down the job of downsizing though… do you think pulling weeds counts as clutter control?

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped

For more on the Midtown Open Garden Stroll

English Ivy, Snakes, Clutter, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

Star Wars’ Obi-Wan said it:  “The force is strong in this one.” He wasn’t talking about English Ivy but he might as well have been.

English Ivy creeps sleeps and leaps

English Ivy, a force of nature (and oh yeah, maybe even the Darth Vader of plants). Here it is, trying to take over the sidewalk.

Some plants may be well behaved at home, but transplant them to an environment that’s a little too hospitable and they’re off and racing.  That’s ivy. When house-hunting, I thought the yards covered in ivy were gorgeous. I thought ivy would be a low maintenance ground-cover. What’s a little trim from time to time, weighed against the watering and weekly mowing that grass needs, I thought. Think again.

This house has ivy in front, at the shady top of the hill. At first, I was all for planting more. Then I noticed how often it needed to be trimmed off the walks, how quickly it climbed the trees, and how the ivy from my neighbors’ yards encroached on all sides. “The first year it sleeps, the next year it creeps, the third year it leaps” — the saying goes.

It can also hold surprises “Snakes,” said an article in yesterday’s newspaper, “… are just now waking up and can sometimes be found in thick patches of ivy.” Following that were these quotes from the owner of a lawn care company:

“In Georgia, you’re only about 10 feet away from a snake at any given time.” 

“Snakes eat insects, rats and other vermin. Got a nice yard? Thank a snake.”

Snakes? I have made overtures. Here are some photos from a “Walk and Talk” program on snakes that Sam and I went to a couple of summers ago.

McIntosh Reserve Walk and Talk - Snakes

They’re about to give me a snake-y lick.

McIntosh Reserve Walk and Talk - Snakes

Sam gets to rattle a rattler.

Snakes aside, it occurs to me now that the indoor equivalent of ivy is clutter, yet another force of nature that sleeps and creeps and leaps, putting out tendrils of messiness. I’m striving to get both indoor and outdoor forces under control. I won’t be inviting any snakes to help with the indoors, though, but now that I think of it, didn’t the ancient Greeks have “house snakes”?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Force of Nature

McIntosh Reserve Park

May the 4th be with you, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate

Here’s an intricate display from a Steampunk Exhibition at Dragon Con…

Steampunk display at Dragon Con

Aha – could this be a good use for those pesky extra kitchen utensils next time I sort out a drawer?

'The Device' with Bulbs or TubesI’m  not sure what The Device is for, but again, what a great (and sculptural) way to use up “stuff”.

These Dragon Con photos came to mind because it’s May 4 today — that’s Star Wars Day. I’m just barely in time to say, “May the Fourth be with you.”

Dragon Con parade:  Han Solo in carbonite

Dragon Con parade with Han Solo in carbonite

Yes, you can get your own Han Solo in carbonite, and no, there’s not one  in my basement… I’ve checked.

Downsizing-wise, I’m still sorting papers so I’ll be ready for the local shredder event later this week.

Not a Star Wars fan?  — If you’re wondering about Han Solo in carbonite, you can consult Wookieepedia.

Live long and prosper, folks – oh wait, that’s a different universe.

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate




Sleepless Nights and Closet-Cleaning (Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird)

What to do if you wake at 3AM and can’t go back to sleep? Here’s a thought — get up and sort something out. For example, these purses came from a deep dark corner of my closet, the result of an early bird cleaning session.

Purses from the closet

Some I’ve carried, and (good grief!) some still have the tags.

My favorite purse was one I bought on a trip to Rome, longer ago than I care to admit. It was a man-purse. Sam tells me this is now referred to as a murse (not to be confused with a male nurse), or better yet, a satchel. Back then, only Italian men were brave enough or stylish enough to carry handbags, and theirs had all these great pockets and card sleeves and zipper compartments that were then lacking in women’s bags.

My 1980s Italian Man-Purse

Here’s my man-purse with the back flap open to show a few of the compartments – I used it until it was shabby and had to be mended. People told me that I looked like a meter maid when I carried it.

A few years later, womens’ purses with pockets caught on here in the States. I bought one, then apparently became fearful they’d go out of style and I’d never find another, so when they went on sale, I “stocked up”. Either that, or they’ve been breeding in the back of the closet ever since.

Admission: that first photo didn’t include the worn out purses I found. Yes! Somehow worn out purses got saved too. Was there anything in them? — well, um, yes.

Among other things… Two membership cards to the now-defunct Hollywood Video, a boarding pass, two fortunes, and a partly used packet of 32 cent stamps (I looked it up — U.S. 32 cent stamps were in use from 1995-1999).

Purse - archival contents

Assorted packets of stevia and one of now-petrified honey didn’t make it into the photo.

That’s all from my closet purse-museum. If I wake up tonight, it’s back to the file cabinet for more papers to shred — that closet is way too embarrassing.

What have you found in your closet lately?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird.

Tools, Extending our Reach, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat

We saw this explosion of tools-held-afloat at the newly reopened Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in Manhattan last month. That’s ‘Tools: Extending our Reach,’ on until May 25 2015.

 Controller of the Universe (2007), by artist Damián Ortega in Tools: Extending Our Reach at the Cooper Hewitt

Tools Afloat at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum – “Controller of the Universe” (2007), by artist Damián Ortega

Here’s a closer look — Controller of the Universe (2007), by artist Damián Ortega - detail)This Robo-Bee is from the same exhibition. “The world’s first insect-scale flying robot has a wingspan of 3 cm (1 1/8 in) and is the approximate weight of a honeybee,” it’s designed to replicate the swarming behavior of bees and aid in the study of colony collapse disorder.

Tools, Extending our Reach (detail)

Wouldn’t you love to see one afloat?

Some food for thought, taken from the walls of the Tools exhibition —

Camera is a tool quote: A camera is a tool for learning to see without a camera. Cooper Hewitt.

Dorothea Lange

Elsie Mather (Yup'ik Quote)

Elsie Mather

Samuel F.B. Morse quote

Samuel F.B. Morse, of course. (Did you know he was also an artist?)

It’s hard to believe that at 10 years old I was relatively proficient in Morse Code. Back then I was helping my father study for his Amateur Radio license but now all I remember is … – – – …      I had to look this up to translate.

Do you know what Samuel F.B. had to say?

Meanwhile, on the homefront, I delivered a car-load of donations this morning and have another to deliver tomorrow. Now it’s back to the file cabinet to see what else I can get ready for the shredding event coming up the first week of May. Wish me luck —


For more on the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and on Tools: Extending Our Reach,

and on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat


Time, my Neck, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

I recently read the late Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About my Neck. I’m sorting books again today, and the clocks on the cover of this sci-fi novel made me think of the passage of time, which leads to the loss of physical energy and firm youthful skin — and now, I’m feeling bad about my neck.

Earth is Room Enough by Isacc Asimov

Time: it’s as fleeting and elusive as thin air.

Some women-of-a-certain age have plastic surgery. Some wear flowing scarves around their necks. But it occurs to me that there’s another solution — rooted in the past …

Portrait of a Woman 1633, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Portrait of a Woman 1633, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Photo courtesy of Web Gallery of Art)

Here’s my solution to the neck-thing — bring back the ruff! Too much trouble to launder, set, and starch, you say? No servants to help out? No problem — in the 21st century we have something better — 3D Printers.

Window display: 3d Printing display with Ruff potential

I saw this window display in Amsterdam (of course), and they aren’t ruffs, just examples of creativity in printing… still, see the potential?

At the Amsterdam Museum, there’s a corner where you can “take a photo of yourself as a member of the civic guard”…

Amsterdam Museum

Check it out: no turkey-neck! (but why is my ruff drooping on one side?)

Amsterdam Museum: Sam as Civic Guard

Sam’s turn.

What do you think of my idea? April Fool? (well maybe, but only a little bit)

Now it’s back to downsizing, and time to start sorting out the next shelf of books, but first, here’s the attribution for the book cover detail above.

Earth is Room Enough by Isaac Asimov, cover by Tony Palladino

Earth is Room Enough by Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), cover design by Tony Palladino (1930-2014), award winning designer and illustrator known for creating the book jacket and movie title typography for Psycho.

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral