Winter Fence

Victorian window screen. This is a portion of a fence we built in our back yard. I’m including this today because it’s so dang hot, I thought a cool visual was in order.

My husband and I wanted a portion of our yard to be dog-free but given our personalities, something normal and easy was out of the question. While doing our research, we serendipitously discovered window screens stacked in a back corner at an antique reseller. Iron, sturdy and decorative, they seemed perfect. We bought 12 in several designs, then the fun began.

It took most of the summer to remove the paint layers — some of them had 6 colors — using metal brushes, paint removers, steel wool, and lots of elbow grease. The sections aren’t very tall — 3 feet max — and we crouched over them or sat on upturned paint cans. The work went on and on, but…when they were clean, painted black, installed by my husband, it made the yard unique. As for keeping the dogs out, ha! If there’s a squirrel sassy enough to flick a tail in Pushkin’s yard, that dog’s over it in a flash.

I was in high school when Daddy gave me the words that prepared me for stripping Victorian iron, or tiling a bathroom, or learning to make pizza from scratch. He sat at the piano, playing, while I decorated the family room for a party. I went up a ladder, taped crepe paper or other decoration in place, climbed down. Moved the ladder. Climbed up again. It took a long time and when I was finished, I said, “I don’t like the way it looks but it’s the best I can do.” Daddy stopped playing and said, “If you don’t like it, say so, then be brave enough to try again.” So I removed my work. The second iteration was better; lesson learned.

Enjoy the cool picture. Drink lots of water. More on Wednesday.

Carnival Glass Bowl

Carnival glass is molded or pressed glass with a shimmering finish created by applying metallic salts while the glass is still hot.  The name came from the belief that these inexpensive Tiffany knock-offs were given as prizes at carnivals; in actuality most of the pieces were purchased.

This piece was given to me by my Aunt Sylvia.  When I was young, she seemed the most fun adult I knew, always ready to roll down a grassy hill with the kids.

Aunt Sylvia was really my mother’s cousin, one of 10 on that side of the family.  The oldest and the youngest were boys; the eight in the middle were girls, born in sets of two.  The girls were raised close and remained close, even after they had married and moved away.  In later years they started a tradition of “cousin reunions.”  They also had a traveling letter (remember those?) — when the letter came to you, you removed your last missive, read the others, wrote the new news and sent the packet on.

Aunt Sylvia was a librarian and worked with many Chinese exchange students.  Eventually she got to spend a year in China.  The job was advertised as helping setup a library but she ended up teaching English, helping graduate students with their papers.  She didn’t speak Chinese; on the trip over, it was explained to her that she’d have to change trains to get to her destination.  She had one of her stateside students write in Chinese where she was going.  She pinned that note to her coat and went off, in her words, “just like a kindergartener.”

This post is in her honor!