Monday, December 22, 2008

Six things

I was tagged by Miss Janey a couple of days ago, and I've been wracking my brain since then to come up with six moderately interesting random facts about myself - oh the pressure! Anyway, there's a list of rules to be followed here:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself. (See below)
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. (See further below...)
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

And in no particular order, six random things about me:

1) Someone died in my house, but that doesn't particularly weird me out. I live in a 1917 worker's cottage in a 'village' built around a former cotton mill. Several years ago, I participated in a home tour for the village, so that descendants of the former mill workers could see what all us new folks had done with the houses. I learned that people just love to tell you about their relative dying - in your house! Honestly, I'd already lived here for several years at that point, and nothing particularly supernatural had happened, big deal.

2) My maternal grandfather came from a town called Hanging Limb in Tennessee. Swear to God. My parents, my sister, and I were all born in Michigan, but my mom's side of the family is originally from the South. Hanging Limb specifically, in my grandfather's case.

3) My Swedish Art Deco sofa is named Ingrid, after Ingrid Bergman. I know, it's weird. What can I say?

4) Ream-o-Rama and I were housemates in the early 90's when we both lived in Charleston, SC, and Smithy is actually her cousin. We lived in a funky (affordable) duplex near the Citadel, and threw at least one big party. (My memory is a little hazy now.) There was one especially outraged British neighbor who knocked on the door during the party, and trilled in horror that there was a man uuuuurinating in our front yard. Oh dear, way to class up the neighborhood. Oh, this came later, but ask her about the Devil Cow, I dare you.

5) The picture in my profile of me with the chimp was taken by my talented friend, Louis Cahill. A couple years ago, I got to tag along with him and his wife Kathy to visit behind the scenes at a smallish traveling circus, while Louis did a photo shoot with some of the animal keepers and their animals. He took my picture with Ricky, a 3 or 4 year old juvenile chimp. Later on in the photo shoot, some other folks and I were bystanders when a pair of Ricky's mature chimp family members attacked my friend Louis. 'Attacked by chimps' might sound kinda funny haha until you see it happen. Those were some cunning, powerfully strong, opportunistic bitches. They literally bided their time, and waited for the right opportunity to charge after him. He got banged up, and literally lost his shirt, but was very lucky not have been more injured. Even the camera survived.

6) On that same circus visit, I got to feed an elephant, and later on ride one. It was scary and completely amazing at the same time. And it was probably one of the most unusual things I've done in an otherwise pretty ordinary life. Ever since then, I've been fascinated by elephants.

Now, I'm a little stumped by who to tag next. An awful lot of the blogs I follow have zillions of comments, and aren't likely to see my little tag. Or in the case of Miss Janey and MrPenee, they've already played the game. But we'll give it a whirl and see what happens. I'll cheat a bit and tag back Reamorama, Monkeyshines, Reclaiming Miss Havisham, Architect Design, Maison 21, and Kwana Writes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In Which I Swoon; or Covet-Worthy Objects

Detail of French Art Deco 1930's oak sideboard with marble top

Who would I be if I had this amazing piece of furniture art?

Surely having a such a massive, beautifully crafted, utterly utterly French statement piece would automatically convey a slimmer, younger, more glamorous appearance just by being around it? It would just have to have a fabulosity aura around it, don't you think?

I mean, I think you'd practically be required to drink martinis or gorgeous little cockails out a perfect cocktail shaker if you were standing nearby. Perhaps a glass of wine would be allowable, but certainly nothing so prosaic as beer would be allowed within a 20' radius.

Horrible photo, but can you see how big that sideboard is?! Look for the black and white marble top below the verdigris figures. It must be 7' long!

And if one simply had to smoke, then tiny dark cigarettes would be the deal, and only if they were taken out of a beautiful silver cigarette case, and lit by only the most stylish of lighters. You can be sure that anything happening in the same room with this piece would be an event.

Or perhaps it's 10 years later, and you think that exotic figurative designs on furniture are so over. You want something a little more abstract, bit less decadent and a bit more refined. Fewer gin martinis, more Manhattans and scotch. The return of the tailored, fitted waistline and knee length hemlines. A little something like this just might fit the mood:

1940's Art Deco Dresser with inlay and brass rope drawer pulls, part of a 7 piece set

Sideboard and Dresser both available at Antiques and Beyond.

All pure fantasy of course, but YUM!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page

She will be missed.
Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Vampire Weekend

You know, when life gets weird, sometimes it just pays to drop off the radar for a little while....

First, I was berated by a homeless man - for being an uptight white woman who wouldn't give him any money, and for having (a little) gray in my hair.


I mean, all I said was 'no' and kept walking, and for that he got personal about some gray hair?! Stinky bastard - at least I didn't say that out loud!

Then, only a week later, I'd had a rough week at work and wanted to just chill out come Friday night. So I stopped at my regular bookstore, and was wandering the aisles somewhat aimlessly. At some point, I glanced around and noticed a guy a few aisles away. Didn't think much of it at first, but something seemed off. So I wander a little further away, and glance back.

And holy crap, the pervy bastard is um, ahem....fully exposed and wanking in the middle of Borders Books. After I stopped giggling with nerves, I told one of the employees, and security escorted him out. I am an unabashed book nerd, so this was really unsettling. I mean bookstores are my happy place, so that's just....nasty.

That same weekend, I also went with a friend who does dog rescue to check out a situation in AL. The short version is, the owner had some hard times befall her, so she needed to find new homes for her eight Great Danes - 8!! And oh, by the way, she lives in a cabin in the woods, and doesn't have heat in the house. She's got shower curtains across the doors so the dogs can come and go. Arggghhhh!

me with Cinderella, one of the 'Alabama 8'

So, let's just say that there were nine kinds of crazy going on with the dog owner, and the do-gooding families that came to check out the dogs for possible adoption. Four of the eight dogs did get adopted, just, it...wasn't good. It was a very good reminder of why I don't do dog rescue stuff any more. I promptly went home, locked the door, fixed a stiff drink, and curled up with my own dogs.

Is it any wonder that by the time Thanksgiving week rolled around, I'd had it with crazy? Sure I still had to go to Thanksgiving dinner with my family, but that seemed do-able - with alcohol. So, on a whim, I started the first book in the Twilight series, just to see what all the fuss was about. I thought, "Oh sure, teenager falls in love with a vampire, blah blah blah. And what's all this crap about sparkling?"

Five days, four books, and one movie later, I finally came up for air.

And ya know, I feel a lot better.

Twilight: Bella and Edward

Let me just say that the Twilight series isn't good, exactly. No matter what your age, if you're a reasonably independent-woman sort, much of it will make you screech with rage and/or befuddlement. But it's very very entertaining escapism - especially when real life is throwing (literal) wankers and Alabama rednecks your way, ya know?

Damn, I'm still a teenager - at least in my head.

I'd had no idea how huge the whole Twilight thing was until the movie hype started a few months ago. If you're old, with, like, gray in your hair and stuff, and don't know about it all, there's oodles of fandom sites out there. And they are absolutely rabid about the books, and the casting of the movie, and they take it all very seriously.

Actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, from Twilight

On the other hand, if you're like me and feel rather sheepish about liking the books, despite how silly some of it is, then please please check out the awesome Cleolinda's take on everything Twilight, especially her three theories on why it's so popular. It's a snarkfest, in a good, fan-ish way.

Oh, and yes, to be completely nerdy, Vampire Weekend (the band) was in my cd player all weekend.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Um, Happy Weekend Again!

photograph by Dorothy O'Connor

Clearly, blogging has not been a priority around these parts lately. That said, it's the beginning of the weekend and some unusual plans are falling into place. It's looking like an art-filled weekend, with a smattering of dog-related events thrown in for good measure.

Ever heard the term 'tableau vivant'? According to Wikipedia, a tableau vivant is "French for "living picture." The term describes a striking group of suitably costumed actors or artist's models, carefully posed and often theatrically lit. Throughout the duration of the display, the people shown do not speak or move. The approach thus marries the art forms of the stage with those of painting/photography, and as such it has been of interest to modern photographers."

Well, Atlanta photographer Dorothy O'Connor is hosting a party tonight during which she will have a model pose in an outdoor vignette that Dorothy has designed and previously photographed. There will be two 20 minute performances during the course of the party. Dorothy's work is amazing; you can find her work at The Composition Gallery in Candler Park. Lucky for me, Smithy and I were invited to the party through some mutual friends.

Next on the agenda, the Atlanta Indie Craft Experience is having one of their huge pre-holiday sales. It's basically the equivalent of 100+ Etsy-style artists selling their wares in one huge studio warehouse. I was already intrigued when I read about it, since my friend Kathy has sold her Spa Boo soaps at previous sales. (Beautiful soap and bath products made with essential oils - check it out !) So, while scrolling through the list of vendors, I stumbled upon Skeledog t-shirts - now I've got to go. There's a Great Dane t-shirt that's calling my name!

I'm ready for the weekend, since it's been a week or more of really and truly going to the dogs. (More posts to follow.) It started with a call to a trainer, ironically followed a day or so later by a jail break by Jack and Ophelia. They dashed through the front door, and did a quick spin around the block, gleefully ignoring my calls to come back. Thanks to the help of quick-thinking Kathy and her diversionary tactics, crises were avoided, and the hooligans were safely captured.

So, also on the agenda for the weekend: breaking out my copy of My Smart Puppy, by the fantastic Sarah Wilson and Brian Kilcommons, a bag of dog treats, and a clicker. We're re- working some real basics, like Come when called. For info on their books see here, and for amazing (and addictive!) message boards see here.

Happy weekend all!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Weekend!

Ophelia and Jack, in their usual lounging positions

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It was worth the long wait!!

Starting at 7:15 am this morning, it took nearly three hours in line at my neighborhood fire station to get to the voting booth, but I came prepared with a book (of course!), a snack, and a happy outlook.

Our polling station is tiny, so the line of voters snaked out the door and down the block. I'm delighted to say that I have never seen anywhere near this kind of turnout at the precinct in the 11 years I've lived in the neighborhood. It could easily have been five times the usual turnout, maybe more. Literally everyone and their grandmother showed up today!

Luckily we've had gorgeous weather: low 70's and sunny, so no excuses for anyone. The poll workers did their best to keep things moving, and generally did a great job.

Since I had so much time on my hands while in line, I had a chance to catch up with neighbors, and meet new people. I even got invited to a neighbor's party on Friday night! For the most part, people in line with me were at the least pleasant, some even joyful. It meant alot to me to feel like such a part of my local community. All in all it was great to be taking place in a national event that felt so momentous, and I've been grinning all day.

Change is on the way!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

From Here, Sexy 1920's witch in Ispwich stockings.

In searching about for some Art Deco-themed Halloween images, I stumbled across the wonderful, saucy Sexy Witch site, and now I'm a fan! The Red Witch really knows her stuff, and has an impressive collection of, duh, sexy witch imagery -think white witchcraft - from the turn of the last century to the present day, as well as interesting information about all things witchy.

(I've only delved into the early witch images from the teens to the 40's so far; I imagine that the pics get a little racier the more modern they are. So, some images may not be safe for work - you've been warned!)

Promotional image of actress Dusty Anderson, 1944, one of several, from Here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All the Cool Kids Have One....

And sometimes more than one!
Unknown 1930's woman with three mantle Danes.

A young Jackie Bouvier (later to be Kennedy), with Dane, King Phar.

Marilyn Monroe, from an early calendar.

Early screen star Harold Lloyd, 1927, with his Dane Prince.

Clara Bow, 1926, with Great Dane puppy.

Mae West, 1937, as Peaches O'Day in "Every Day's a Holiday", with costar.

All images found on Ebay. Celebrity photos with Danes from this Ebay seller. Monroe image frome Here. Woman with three dogs from Here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On my radar this week

Osmanthus fragrans thunbergii

Despite the second really dry summer in a row, we are having a beautiful autumn in Atlanta this year. Temperatures have mostly been mild, and the leaves are starting to turn.

Unfortunately, due to two summers of drought and severe watering restrictions, I've lost several well-loved plants in the yard, so I'm feeling even more appreciative of the tough guys that are still hanging around in my Zone 7 yard. I thought I'd share with you a couple of the bright spots in the garden this month. The definite rock stars this week are the Osmanthus plants, commonly known as Fragrant Tea Olives. The standard Tea Olives are evergreen, and have small, not very showy, but very fragrant flowers that typically bloom in the fall. The bonus: they will often rebloom throughout the year.

About 4 years ago now, I planted a pair of hard-to-find cultivars that have orange flowers instead of the typical white ones. Osmanthus fragrans aurantiacus is every bit as fragrant as the species, but have slightly larger, peachy-orange flowers. It took them a few years to actually bloom, but they are wonderful! The shrubs are typically denser and (probably) bloom more in full sun than in the partial shade of my yard. Here's an example:

There' s a Tea Olive that I may like even better though. This one is Osmanthus fragrans fudingzhu, or Nanjing's Beauty. The flowers on thisdifficult-to-pronounce plant are bigger and showier than the species, cover much more of the plant stems, and the plant starts blooming at a much younger age. Two or three years ago, I planted a small, one gallon plant in my sunny side yard. This week, after two extremely dry summers in a yard with no irrigation system and no babying, the Fudingzhu plant is nearly four feet tall and loaded with sweet smelling flowers.

There's even a pale yellow flowering Tea Olive, Osmanthus fragrans thunbergii, shown in the image at the top of the post.

I highly recommend any of the plants; they're durable, fast growing, can take sun to shade, and have a fantastic fragrance! Photos shown here from the Nurseries Caroliniana mail order website, a fantastic resource for unusual plants. Gardening geeks like me will love the catalog.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Simple Makeover

Nautical light 'before'

I continue to drag my feet on starting my master bathroom update. Part of the problem is that when I do it, I want to knock everything out at more or less the same time. Sounds logical, right? The problem is, I'm still on a quest to find the 'right' vintage sconces, for a price I can afford. The key to that statement is the price; I've found zillions of great fixtures on Ebay, but the prices of the best ones have been routinely been near or above the $300 mark. I'm determined to stay below that number, so...the quest continues.

In the mean time, I thought I'd show you some pictures of a quick spruce up I did in our guest bath. It's a full bathroom, but it's a tiny space. There's nothing functionally wrong with it, it's just been a bit dull.

You may remember this light, and some talk about pinup girls...
Nautical light 'after'

Well we've got 'em now!

I found the brass anchor mirror on Ebay, and some of the girls were simply cut out of a brand new calendar and framed. The girl above the mirror is a picture that I found at a local thrift store.

Since the anchor mirror is a lovely, old-looking antiqued brass, I decided to add some brass accents to the ceiling light to tie it all together. So I changed out the finial for one with an antique brass finish, and I painted the spokes and frame of the wheel with a metallic, antique brass colored paint. I'm hoping to rewire the light fixture and hang it this weekend - cross your fingers.

As a last bit of near-overkill, I changed out the switch plate on the wall, antique brass again, since it was going to be seen so close to the mirror. And I put some brass-toned cabinet pulls on the medicine cabinet and vanity cabinet.

I went really budget friendly on all the items, and landed good deals for the light and anchor mirror on Ebay. So my approximate costs for the whole thing including thrift store print/calendar images, Ebay light, Ebay anchor mirror, frames, lighting finial, switch plate, and cabinet knobs came in around $115 to $120! I'm going to try my hand at rewiring the light, and hopefully my dad can help me install it, so I'll save on those costs too.

It was great to do a simple spruce up on a modest budget, but really, best of all, the whole saucy sailor girl thing combined with the silly light cracks me up and makes me happy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Perfect Weekend

I had the best weekend in a looong time. Here's a little teaser, with more to come, probably tonight.

The weekend started out something like this on Friday night

with a visit to the Bone Garden Cantina, home of great Mexican food and crack margaritas, near us on the west side of town. The restaurant has a Day of the Dead theme, cheap good food, very strong drinks, and a very heavily tattooed staff. Bald-headed, full-sleeved Joey-the-waiter is my new buddy. I love it!!
(images via this flickr site)

Saturday included going flea marketing with Ophelia in tow (yes, I got some funny looks), time in the garden just relaxing, and -of course- cheering on SNL' s coverage of the VP debate. Smithy and I have adored Tina Fey for while, so you can imagine how much we love the Palin spoofs.

On Sunday we went to the best party ever. In a nutshell, a group of my sister and brother-in-law's friends started planning this event not long after BIL's brain cancer diagnosis last spring. (For info on their health journey, see here.) They booked his favorite touring alt-bluegrass band, Chatham County Line, to play a private party at the home of one of the couples.

The party turned into a beer, barbecue, and bluegrass fest that was a celebration of life among 70+ friends and family, and the love and care that went into the planning still leaves me in awe. The weather was absolutely perfect, the food was beyond plentiful, the band played two sets and they were easy going and gracious. Here's just a few pictures....
BIL Bert on the far right, with his buddies

BIL on the right, two organizers on left, and the friend in the black shirt
flew to Atlanta from Idaho to attend the party!

The organizers built a plywood stage for the band!!

Chatham County Line
Group shot!

We even went home with swag! One of the hosts of the party has an in with the legendary Hatch Show Print folks in Nashville, and had 100 poster made by Hatch Show for anyone who wanted a poster. (See the image at the top of the page. ) And the band signed the posters! And even the plastic cups were printed with the event info and the band's name. Now that's attention to detail. Wow!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Remedy for Economic Cataclism

The Great Dame Recommends:
One of these

plus this

plus a glass or three from this

A very sobering conversation earlier this week with an architect, a conversation about the dire state of the economy as of this week, a conversation about just what all this may mean for designers like us, had me heading straight for the biggest bar of medicinal dark chocolate I could get my hands on. No one quite knows what all this will do to our industry, but everyone agrees that it's looking like a bumpy ride.

For the record, the chick lit book and the wine came much later, after work, once I got home.
I swear. And it's taken Smithy and me two days to work through the giant candy bar.

None of the above is likely to fix anything, or make the economy better, but a little comforting couldn't hurt right about now.

For what it's worth, the Crusie book is a blast: it has backstabbing Southern belles, hitmen (plural), a mafia princess or two, assault by frying pan, a fixer-upper mansion, and wild flamingos. Pure escapism gold.

I'm thinking of doing more of the same this weekend.

Monday, September 29, 2008

If the Gas Shortage continues much longer...

I may have to rig up something like this to get to work!

Surely,Miss Ophelia wouldn't mind.

All Great Dane owners are all too familiar with statements like "you need a saddle for that thing!" or the ever popular "who's walking who?!", so we might not even raise an eyebrow.

I'm kidding of course, but the gas situation here in Atlanta is pretty serious, and it's not looking like it's going to get resolved quickly. The latest word is that the shortage will continue for a few more weeks. People are freaking out, gas stations are literally out of gas, and I read that in the midst or all this, our governor is traveling in Europe today!

While the idea of a dog cart isn't likely to be a realistic mode of modern day green transportation, I did do a quick search on 'dog carts'. There is a historic tradition of dogs being used as draft animals to pull small carts - either as recreation for children, or used by tradespeople to transport goods. There's really interesting info and pictures here at this site.

And there's a modern spin on dog carts as well. See this site and this site for a sport and exercise options related to carting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beautiful Visuals

Over the weekend, Smithy and I had an 'accidental' Lee Pace mini film festival. That means that I picked out two movies, without realizing that he was in both of them. Lucky me!

Anyway, even though not all critics were kind, I highly recommend The Fall. Lee Pace (of TV's Pushing Daisies) is hospitalized in 1920's California after an accident. He befriends an immigrant girl who is also a patient at the hospital, and he weaves and elaborate story about 5 epic heroes for her. As often happens in movies, reality and fiction begin to blur - that's all I'll say.

Pace and the girl, a Romanian newcomer, both do a great job, but if nothing else appeals to you, see it for the visuals alone. They're amazing, and the location scenes were shot over a 4 year period in something like 18 different countries. For example, the Taj Majal and the Alhambra, and maybe Hagia Sofia were among just a few of the settings for the film. The following are just a few of the production photos from the movie.

Movie number two was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, of which much has already been written. Frances McDormand plays the title character, and she is fantastic - funny and full of dignity at the same time. I rented the movie as much for the Art Deco scenery as for Miss McDormand. It was an added bonus that handsome Lee Pace has a smaller role as one of Amy Adams' suitors. Please see this one too, if you haven't already. Seriously, it has a fantastic Art Deco apartment and night club, beautiful 1930's outfits, Frances McDormand, Amy Adams as a perfectly delightful ditzy blond, Lee Pace in a tux and playing piano, and the craggy-but-handsome Ciaran Hinds (who will always be Ceasar from HBO's Rome to me.) Not a heavy hitter, but pure fun.