Crazy Wonderful

Beyond fabulous, this ziggedy-zaggedy house in the Catskills…

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A silo, pretty in pink polka dots…

IMG_6860 A stupendous folksy-painted staircase…

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An iron step, declaring that a good time should be had by all who climb…

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Wooly sheep, grazing in lush, tall green grass…

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And, one more, snoozing in front of a nicely-carved gravestone…

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An artist-friend’s back porch…

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A collection of re-purposed industrial washtubs-turned benches, dressed in grain sacks and down, waiting to go to

The Hudson Mercantile

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A pile of cool stuff from a picker’s yard…

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Sleeping Willie, looking like a little bat-cat…

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The world is just chock full of wonderful things.  Sometimes they are disguised, mixed among the ridiculous

and weird.  Sometimes they actually ARE the ridiculous and weird. It is just a matter of perspective and

expectation and the willingness to see.

 

There’s Just Something About The Way They Look

People ask me all the time how I choose what to buy for my store. There are always

certain pieces that sell well for me: cupboards, tables, daybeds and interesting

accessories. But why this old wooden industrial drum?

It certainly wasn’t an easy piece to load and as more things were added to the trailer,
the decisions about how to get it all on became more serious.  The long trip home was
accomplished at a slow crawl, with constant stops to correct load shift and tighten straps.
Fortunately, this sweet, fat hitchhiker was spotted before we hit the road. I would
not have minded at all, though, if he ended up at my house.
And, why all the old car fronts?
Below, the  1930s Dodge Rum Runner…as evidenced by its bullet holes…is an all-time favorite of mine…
And the old, fabulously-patinaed truck doors…
A 70s Volkswagen Bug trunk with a nicely color-coordinated license plate…
What about this one with its cool Cuban license plate?
A refrigerated rail road door…
Why this table, with its divine storm of colors?
Or this one, in shocking orange?
And speaking of color…
Below, the long, bleached out tavern table (wonderfully lacking in color and a perfect match for the
practice balls in the box beneath it) was something I wished I had room for at home…
So, why do I buy these things?
There is something about the way they look that makes my heart sing. I know that this is my intuition
speaking, reminding me that if I love it, so will someone else. Happily, my intuition has never steered
me wrong.
Most items pictured above are/were in  The Hudson Mercantile.

‘Cause Doesn’t Everybody Need A Price Tag Room?

I think that deep down, no matter how lackadaisical we might be, we all
really crave organization. It just feels better when everything is in its place,
when the scissors are in the drawer where we need them, when the car keys
are there when we’re ready to roll.
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Even more, many of us want special places for doing the things that give us
pleasure: a place to wrap presents or to paint. And, in truth, we are so
affected by our surroundings, that we  experience a better time in spaces that look
nice than we do in chaos. Who wants to do laundry squeezed into the corner of a
damp basement when an attractive, sunny place would be so much more appealing?
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Trends come and go but the most interesting and, to me, astounding one a few
years ago was the advent of Costco Rooms. These large, expensive additions were
purely for stockpiling purchases made at the discount store, Costco. I still find it hard
to believe that the savings gained by the bulk purchase of discounted paper towels
would ever off set the price of the room itself.
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However, my own recent brainstorm for using a small barely-seen room in
my house has made me see that maybe I was too quick to scoff at the Costco Room.
For I am now the happy owner of a Price Tag Room…..
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Tucked in a cranny, under beams in the 1790 part of our farmhouse, the space has
been an unused bedroom, an unused sitting room and an unused writing room in our
time. One day while I was dragging my price tag bag around the house, trying to
decide where I should set myself up, I got the idea that this nice little room was the
perfect place to be. All I had to do was find a perfect table in the barn and I’d be ready
to go. Everything else was already there: an old wicker waste basket, decorated with
papier mache swags and fruit, paintings and other decor that I love.
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Store display cow heads, organ pipes with the most amazing patina. Beams!
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A commodious and oh-so-comfortable English wing chair…
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The walls were painted a few years ago to look like a forest by my friend, artist Jennifer
Lanne.  They are covered wall-to-wall with my favorite paintings of farm animals…
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Below, a study from Sweden…
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And this sweet-looking trio…
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But, what is going on here? Where are these barnyard friends going by the light of the

moon? Are they off to a seaside vacation? A night on the town? They say every picture

tells a story but this one, delightfully, leaves me with many questions left unanswered.

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Below, a farm wife in a blue apron pours fresh cool water for her pretty girls. I
place myself in her wooden shoes and feel the joy of her spectacular surroundings.
I know it is work! But just look at the expression on her face! She is providing something
nice for those who provide for her. While wearing cool clothing! All that beauty just
has to make her day brighter.
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Below, all is primitive and perfect, from the ladder leaning on a thatched roof to the
chickens enjoying breakfast in the sun.  Someday, when I become a painter, I want
to be just like this artist who (imagining two suns or just not planning ahead), cast
shadows from the trees and from the ladder from two different angles.
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Cows in art are always wandering down country lanes.
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Wandering down lanes. Drinking cool water. Eating fresh green grass.
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In beautiful places.
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Places we would like to be ourselves.
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It all seems so wholesome, so simple, so easy.
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So peaceful.
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Is it any wonder that century after century artists want to paint these scenes and
we want to own them? They make us feel so good.
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What else makes me feel good? Sitting at my desk, looking at this fabulous
6 foot x 6 foot painting (below), another by Jennifer Lanne. I asked her to paint me
something with a bookcase and a chair. She knows me well so there’s no need
to say more. There are two paintings within this painting: one of sheep
on the middle shelf on the left side of the bookcase and the other a painted
pillow on the chair (the pillow’s scene is hard to see in this photo).
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And, of course, the reason for the room:  the price tags!
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I guess it begs the question, why a Price Tag Room?
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It all goes back to the price tags themselves. I have been in the antiques business
for many years and have always wanted my tags to be as unusual and interesting
as the pieces they represent.
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Just like the desire to have my surroundings be appealing, I want the work
I do to please me, to please my eye, to be fun for me and, hopefully, be fun
for the customers in the Hudson Supermarket where I have my public show
room. Writing price tags isn’t a chore for me. It is part of what makes me love
what I do. Having a perfect place to do this enhances the experience in ways I
didn’t expect when I decided to give myself this room.
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In the early years, I made price tags from photos and other printed paper
of heavy stock. There were old tattered hand-made linen maps, restaurant
receipts and anything else that caught my eye.
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When I started selling industrial furnishings, some of the private pickers with whom I had
developed relationships had items, such as the metal machine labels (pictured above),
which I couldn’t resist. I asked for more and now have such a huge collection that, even
if I never purchased another tag, I would be set for life! While a Sharpie does work on the
metal tags, a paper sticker on the back side does an even better job and looks nicer.
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The one above is my all-time favorite. I use it for pricing my most favorite pieces. It has
everything going for it… Money! Trouble! An old car! I just know the waving driver of
this 1940s dream car is having fun, maybe even looking for trouble. The speed lines
behind the car seem to prove me right. I don’t mind at all that I have to reinforce the
string hole. And speaking of string…
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The string is important, too! I use everything from heavy electrical wire to fat cotton fishing
line. The brown waxed twine is from France, the brown with pink at the bottom of the photo
has copper wire inside its cloth webbing. I match the string to the mood of the piece of furniture
and the tag. This is all very time consuming but so much more satisfying, for me, than
writing on the same old, same old, same old little white Office Max tag with its wimpy white
string.
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Storage is a key component of my happy life! Interesting containers make all the difference.
Which brings me right back to that Costco Room which, suddenly, doesn’t seem so weird,
after all!

Who’s Interested?

We were headed down a country road on the way to Vermont the other day and
spotted this gang of sheep seeking shelter under a tree from a storm that was
definitely headed our way.
One little renegade left the flock and ran to see what what we were all about.

He was just like a wooly stuffed animal and it was so hard to get back in the
truck and leave him behind.
I looked back and saw his mother (or some other sheep in authority) coming to
fetch him back into the fold.  The storms were brutal that day and I was glad
to think of him warm and dry under the wide branches of that tree.

Another Year…

 

Another year, another baby…

This darling newborn (above) belongs to the mother with the red tack.  A second
one (below) belongs to the horse with the blue tack.
They put on a nice little show for us and didn’t seem to mind my camera at all.  We were
lucky again this year to be in the right place at the right time and look forward to
seeing the little ones grow.

“What Are Those Things?”

A customer came here the other day, a set decorator I’ll call D, who I really like

a lot. She was looking for mostly workbenches and industrial pieces for an up-

coming movie she is designing.  She brought her friend along, another set designer

from California, who I will call S.  After my house, they were continuing on to the

Finger Lakes where they both have family. 

As we wandered through the house, on the off-chance that something for the movie

was lurking around inside, S asked “what are all those things you have everywhere?

I love them!” 

  They were, of course, grain sacks.

But why had she never seen grain sacks before?  A set designer! From California!

Well, she just hadn’t!  But, now that she had made this miraculous discovery, she

wanted two for some chairs.  So, while D and Ken went out to the barns to check

out the big stuff, S and I went to work picking out the two very best sacks in the

bunch.

This was no easy task given the hundreds of choices and, at some point, S said  “I

wish you only had two!”   We started with the new-old stock (like the ones above),

which most people who are new to grain sacks prefer for its less well-worn presence. 

      

And, graduated quickly to the old-old sacks.  S is a set decorator, from California,

after all, and was thrilled with the old hand-worked repairs, the darnings and

patches that I love.

    

We tried different ones on the back a chair,  made piles on the floor and, in what

felt like no time ’cause I was having such fun,  found the perfect two. 

Customers always offer to help put the grain sacks back on the shelves and I always

decline.  There’s nothing more relaxing than being alone with my grain sacks, folding,

stacking on the correct shelves : wreathes with wreathes, plows with plows. A bonus

that day was finding Mitten, sound asleep and not even pretending to help. I guess I’m

not the only one who relaxes around grain sacks.

Great Blue Heron

Driving through Vermont, we passed what looked like just a wetland, pretty with the

Green Mountains majestic behind it.  However,  many of the marsh’s  trees were topped

with weird  blobs, looking like fantastical tall,  skinny cartoon people with funky big hair.

Of course, we had to go back to check  this situation out.  In spite of being on a highway

with not much of a shoulder for leisurely parking and photo-taking.

Nests full of herons.  And babies!  The parents took turns guarding, flying off to eat and

returning with a meal for a baby.

The tiny black question mark-shaped thing in the nest is a baby’s neck and head. Even with

my stabilized telephoto lens, the distance and the shake of the truck make these birds hard

to see. I wish the photos were better. But, the thrill of this siting made me want to have them

here anyway. I’ll try to do better next time.

Tiny Prancer

There are three new babies down the road from us, one for each of the

beautiful buff-colored mothers to whom they stick so closely. 

When I went to the fence to take pictures, the mothers came to investigate,

hoping for treats that I did not bring…not knowing the rules about such things.

Quickly, the babies ran to catch up and their spirited gait made me think that,

had Elton John seen babies like these, “Tiny Prancer” would have been his

song.

I love knowing that I don’t have to go very far for excitement.  Whether in the

city or the country, nature- or handmade, excitement really is all around us.

 And, wherever it is, there is no place like home.