A Vintage Candlestick Telephone, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow

Yellow is more than just a color. It can also be a greeting. I’ve called more than one friend who answered the phone, “Y’ello!”

I found this vintage candlestick telephone in my basement a few months ago.  It probably pre-dates “Y’ello”-

Vintage candlestick telephone

I’m not sure I have all the pieces of this telephone, but these were the basics. It looks so alive — like something Pixar could love. “Luxo Jr” might like to come over to play.

It’s originally from my father’s service station. It was his business phone in my early childhood, and was a relic even then. If you wanted to make a call, you picked up the receiver (or turned the crank? — it’s so long ago I’ve forgotten) and said something like “Hello Bernice, please connect me to the drugstore,” or perhaps the shorter, “Drugstore, please.”

The cabinet it once stood on is in my breakfast room now, holding dishes. It still has the little shelf he tacked onto the side to hold the phone.

Candlestick phone detail

Candlestick phone detail: long before phones evolved to be smart. Too bad it’s suffered some damage.

But back to Yellow. I can’t find any agreement on who first answered the phone with a color. Some say Homer Simpson, but I remember at least one friend who answered that way at least a decade before Homer was invented. Here’s one thing I did find:

On March 10 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the now-famous first telephone call.  “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you,” he said. Too bad there’s no mention of whether Mr. Thomas Watson said, ‘Y’ello?’ when he picked up.

Tell me — how do you answer the phone?


For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow

and, a concession to the intended subject  —

My yellow pansies in the snow, Feb 2014

My yellow pansies in the snow, Feb 2014


Re-purposing Vintage Photos and Furniture, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

We saw this photo-themed tree on the Marietta Christmas homes tour. The ornaments are re-purposed  vintage photographs…

Christmas tree with vintage photo ornamentsAnd that’s not all. Check out the garland of film — remember film? Isn’t it a nice touch when the lights twinkle through the sprocket holes?

Photo Christmas tree and film garlandAfter we left, Sam asked me if what I thought of the camera in the angel’s spot on top of the tree. I had to admit I was so agog at everything else, not to mention busy taking pictures of the pictures, that I didn’t even see it (there would have been a photo of it here if I had). Here’s another interesting re-purposing from the tour —

TV re-purposed as an aquarium

This vintage TV is now an aquarium/end table.

And yes, you could get an aquarium DVD or screen saver for your flat-screen, but isn’t this more fun? Plus, it keeps the vintage TV cabinet out of the landfill and available for appreciation.

VintageTV /aquarium detail

I’m sure this fish appreciates it too.

Here’s one more Christmas themed re-purposing —

Baseball card Christmas tree garland

Baseball card Christmas tree garland.

I’ve already given away most of the Christmas decorations I’ve found while sorting out the house. I say “most” because I kept a few shiny ornaments to display in a glass bowl, but also because there could be more here. I never know what I’ll find next. I discovered several strings of these last summer —

Christmas lights from the basement

Never used, but I wanted to prove they worked before finding them a home … and for all I know, they’re vintage too.

All this reminds me of my parents’ aluminum Christmas tree with the multi-colored light wheel. Now those are popular again and all over eBay…I hope theirs is alive and well and in use somewhere. As for me, I don’t remember ever having a Christmas tree of my own, though I did go through a phase of decorating pieces of furniture for the holidays. The hall tree (aka coat rack) made the most sense, but the fern stand worked nicely too.

 Have you done any holiday re-purposing?

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

Mourning, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone, but not Forgotten

This mourning brooch is made of gold, pearls, black enamel, and hair. Yes, that’s right — hair. On New York trips our favorite first stop is the Met Museum. In November, Sam and I checked out “Death Becomes Her: a Century of Mourning Attire” in the Met’s newly remodeled Costume Institute.

Mourning Brooch, 1868, Tiffany & Co

Mourning Brooch, 1868, Tiffany & Co. Hair was often used in jewelry as a memento of a lost loved one.

Most of the clothing on display was for women. In the Victorian era, the century in question, men normally wore black suits, and the addition of a black armband, cravat, or hatband was often enough to qualify them as mourning. Besides that, the proscribed mourning period for men was not as long. The ladies had new black dresses made, or dyed their existing ones (with, by the way, toxic dyes).

Death Becomes Her - stylish mourning attire

Something for the stylish mourner.

 After all that, what a relief to see the gift shop, full of jet black jewelry and… breath mints.

"Mystifying Mints" in Ouija-board boxes.

… Mystifying Mints! a la mystifying oracle I presume? Yes, I’m mystified.

Next stop, the Greek galleries. I didn’t realize the “mourning” pattern of this tour until later, when I looked at my photos. Here’s just one example.

Marble Stele of a Woman, Greek, mid-4th century BCE

Marble stele (grave marker) of a woman, Greek, Attic, mid-4th century BCE

Next day, lower Manhattan: even if I’d known this topic was coming, I couldn’t have done a better job of finding things gone (but not forgotten). We took a walking tour of New Amsterdam sites, now mostly replaced by history markers. In 1653, New Amsterdam became an official Dutch city. The City Tavern became the Stadt Huys (City Hall).

New Amsterdam remnant. Yellow bricks mark City Hall foundation.

Now City Hall is gone, but the outline of its foundation is marked in yellow bricks.

Then on to the old Custom House building, now the Museum of the American Indian. I was feeling a bit mournful myself by that time, and the only photo I took was of this staircase.

Stairway at the Museum of the American Indian

When it was time to head back, we walked past the World Trade Center site. I didn’t know until after we came home that it was the day 1 WTC opened.

World Trade Center, September 11 Memorial and 1 WTC

September 11 Memorial in the foreground

Now back to that Greek stele for just a moment: the curator’s note suggests it’s reminiscent of Aristotle’s description of common beliefs about the dead –

“In addition to believing that those who have exited this life are blessed and happy, we also think that to say anything false or slanderous against them is impious, from our feeling that it is directed against those who have become our betters and superiors.”  — Of the Soul, quoted in Plutarch, A Letter to Apollonius

And of course we also find it hard to let go of their possessions, which is the main reason I started this blog. I get letting go of the things mixed up with fear of letting go of the person — this was my mother’s quilt, Bob’s book, my aunt’s chair, my father’s handkerchief — that’s the root of my problems with downsizing. It’s past time I got over that. Life gets better every day, even though some of my loved ones are gone. I shouldn’t need the evidence of all this ‘stuff’ to remember them. Being here is enough, and as long as I am, they’re not forgotten.

 Now tell me — what do you think of the mourning clothes?

Related sites:

Death Becomes Her, at the Metropolitan Museum through Feb 1, 2016

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone, but not Forgotten

National Museum of the American Indian

Amsterdam Orange, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

One of the first things we noticed on our trip this fall was how all things orange tend to converge in Amsterdam. Waiting for departure in the Atlanta airport, I noticed a well-dressed woman in orange tights and shoes to match. A closer look: her glasses frames were orange too. “What’s up with that?” I wondered.

Sam got it right away. “It’s the House of Orange,” he said. And he was right. Orange is the color of the Royal Family, dating back to William of Orange.

Oranges in a cafe window in Amsterdam

No, I’m too polite to take photos of women in airports (so far at least)… but here are some oranges from a cafe window in Amsterdam.

This is a lazy post, necessary after a holiday week visiting family — when hoarders come home they have to get busy un-hoarding, right?

But before I get back to this week’s clean-up tasks I’ll include this Gallery of Orange. This format may not translate well to email, so if you’re reading that way and you have time, please click through to the website for a better look.

 Have a great week and don’t forget, wherever you are, watch out for the harmonic convergence of color. Have you seen a color convergence lately?

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

For more on Amsterdam and the color orange