Friday, February 26, 2010

Mistaken identity.........

I paid for a shubunkin goldfish. It was in a tank with koi, shubunkins and fantails. It was about the same price so I didn't cheat Walmart.  I am not so sure that it might be a koi. It doesn't have the catfish-like whiskers on it, but I don't think the young ones do until they mature.  I really think the reflective gold on this fish makes it more like a koi, now that I see it more closely.  

The only way to know is to watch it grow.  If it actually gets larger than it is now by 2 to 3 times larger, it will be a koi.  If it doesn't grow much larger,  it is a shubunkin.  For this very reason, it is nicer to shop a places where the working force is knowledgeable about the fish in their tanks. It will be a nice mistake though if is a koi.

This guy is hard to photograph. He wiggles when he swims as that is how his fins are designed. It is almost like a wagging motion of the back tail to propel itself forward. They are always moving and don't soar like a streamed-lined fish. 

I haven't named either fish. I just don't name them. My kids at school always wanted to name the fish when I was teaching.  I never let them know that kids in different class had given them different names. They loved to come in and speak to Charley and Sophia and the next group would come in and call them Spotty and Sweetie.

When I set up an aquarium, I like to use natural looking materials so that it looks like the real thing. When I had my large tank set up, I used river rock from my driveway and rocks from the Minnesota shoreline.  Plastic plants are the only way for me though, as I can't put up with the expensive plants not growing or the koi eating them.

So, when you see this tank, it is my son's set up.  He has a great looking sunken ship and the rocks are natural ones, but the small rocks are neon colors.  Wow, it is bright and colorful and something I have never done before now.  His tank was ready for the grabbing and all I had to do was add water.  It actually makes me smile as I miss the son who lives in Maine, so it is like a bright sunny smile when I see it.   I have some closeups of the rock that I will post for my Photo a Day blog.  It is almost like looking at candy.

The tank cheers me up as I see the fish swimming around freely and it makes my day seem warmer. I really didn't need to add more s to feed around here but I am glad that I have it here now.

Take care out there all of you who are having snow storms again.  I hope everyone can stay safe and warm. Thanks for stopping by........

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cup of Joe......

 In the small towns of America, the restaurants were not chains but were locally owned.  The dishes used were apparently bought from the same retailer as cafeware was the kind mostly used in their businesses.  It is sturdy, thick, and heavy all to help keep it from being broken by the dishwasher and also to help keep the food warm, if hot food was placed in or on it.  The coffee cups varied but a lot of them were just plain small compared to our size standards today. I know one owner who would complain because it took so many trips to keep the cups filled with coffee. I think coffee was a nickel or a dime back then.

Some of the styles were very decorative. I know that they made special ones just for the train business. I have seen them with the company name and symbols on them. That would be great to collect but I don't live anywhere that those kind of mugs would show up for sale.

For those of my overseas friends, our culture liked hanging onto it's cowboy western interests so there were a lot of cafes that had the Western theme.  So as you can see the companies made cowboy ware so to speak.

I don't know if these companies are still in business but I know this one came from a Pennsylvania company. 


I have cafeware plates that came from a restaurant that my Grandmother Brooks worked in when she fist moved into town. That would have been in the early 1930s. Saullie's restaurant was talked about as the authority on how to cook food, from my Grandmother and then by my mom.  I never knew where the place was in Murray, Iowa, as it was long gone by the time I was born.  I can still hear my grandma say, "Well Saullies made their dressing for salads this way." I will always remember the Maffitt Cafe in town but it isn't in existence anymore. 

I know it seems like I collect lots of stuff, but I pick these up as they are a part of our history that is gone.  Price isn't that important, but I do want a good buy.  It is something that is on my radar, when I can't find anything else to buy in an antique store, or at a yard sale. I have more of these but didn't want to dig them all out.

We had wind chills of -30 degree F. last night with our wind.  The 3 degrees was the low and we warmed up to 14 degrees F.  I set up a small aquarium today and bought a plant light so I have plans for survival. I worked on a painting of a Rembrandt tulip today and it is going well. Anyone out there that can tell me the difference of Parrot tulips and Rembrandt tulips I would appreciate a comment.
Thanks for reading and stay warm........

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dreaming of gardens not polar air currents.....

I received my newest issue of Garden Design today.  The gardens are way out of my league but I get free ideas from them.  Ted Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen have just a little bit more money in the bank than I do, but it is great to see their garden.  They matched the color scheme of flowers with their purple mountains in the background.

The article that I really enjoyed was the one about spring wildflowers.  I have seen some of these on our farm in southern Iowa when I was a kid, but I only have two of the wild ones growing in my yard. The Columbine and the Virginia Bluebells.  I have bluebells everywhere and I really like them. My neighbor has a yard full of them as they have destroyed the previous gardens in an area but the bluebells come up in droves in the grass. 


I have flag iris but it is not a wild variety or at least I did plant it myself. They didn't bloom last year and I really  don't know why.  I will be anxious to see that happening.  You people in the Carolina, Georgia and Washington-Oregon areas will be seeing these plants coming up soon, but we won't see them until March or later.

My wife and I went out to shop for a little while today and within an hour, the temperatures dropped 15 degrees. The windchill was 4 degrees blowing from the north at 25 mph.  We really regretted that we left the house. It is suppose to be arctic cold again tomorrow so we won't leave the house. I can't express to you at how discouraged I am becoming with this cold and snow. We beat our totals for snow and it looks like we are going for more.

I bought a plant light today to encourage my violets and orchid. Oh yes, I bought a calico fantail goldfish and brown and gold shubunkin.  I am going to set them up in one of my son's old smaller tanks and dream of the tropics.   Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A weak moment.....

I left my parent's home one day last fall and I turned and saw these salt and pepper shakers in a box. They were something that my mom bought on one of our summer travels out west. I had decided to toss the bunch. Stupid emotions make you do things that stopped them going to the landfill.  As you can see I grabbed the shoe box with a bunch of them in it and brought them home. 

They are watermelon heads. They are imports of course.......from Japan. You can see the makers mark on the salt holes as they didn't smooth out the clay bumps when they poked their tool into the top.  Three holes for salt, two for pepper.  

And catch those wonderful blue eyes looking out at you saying "take me home."  My sons will have to throw them away someday when I have been sent to the looney bin.  They are kind of perky in their own way.  

I have decided that anytime that I can't think of something new to blog, I will dig out another set. I have quite of few in which to display from  our world of ketch.

Thanks for reading......

Monday, February 22, 2010

A fish tail or two....

I have dug into my old folders and found some more fish pictures. I need to take more new ones and will. It is a busy life. These two comet goldfish live in my 55 gallon tank in the basement. They spend their summer outside in a stock tank buried in the ground. I don't even try to overwinter them outside anymore. 
I discovered a specs label was covering the tripod hole on my camera so I will take the tripod down and work the fish more with new photos soon.

A surrealistic view of the tank. Two koi in the tank following the large goldfish.  This is an old photo as the gold and black koi is bigger than the other koi in the tank.

As I have told in older blogs that I will not buy an expensive koi.  Five dollars is my top price and I will only buy when I see one that reminds me of a koi with traditional markings.  The gold koi is covered with metalic color as the white one with mottled colors has just a little metallic reflection.

My experiences of learning range from having new ones leap out of the coverless tank and commit suicide, to having a very large one freeze in my outside pond.  I swore off having any koi for awhile as new ones had leaped to their death and I was mad at myself for letting that happen.  I felt I was too stupid to own koi if I couldn't remember to cover the tank.  I think all life is too valuable,  even fish life, that people shouldn't be careless or not responsible owners. 

Our snowstorm went south so we escaped a few more inches of snow.  It will be spring soon everybody, think spring, and maybe we can see green again.  Thanks for reading......

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sissy Cup......

My Ebay purchase finally arrived.  It came from a Canadian establishment and it takes awhile for it to get here. Ten days shipping was what I figured that it took to get here.

If you remember in an older blog, I had bought this saucer for a dollar in northern Minnesota at a flea market.  I liked the design on it so much I wanted to get a cup to go with it.  You can see the gold trimmed plate is that cheap plate.  The pattern is called Greenwood Tree.

As an inexperienced bidder I was playing games at the end with a bidder to see how high they had set their bid and I got stuck with the above cup and saucer for a high very large price. I went fifty cents over their top bid. At the beginning at the bidding all the unknown bidders of antique shops had made bids hoping to get it for nothing.  I had set my top price and I ended up going way over it.  Heck it was my first learning experience with something like this.

There was one problem that I now know was my fault, that I should have written to see what size it was.  The saucer is a normal size but the cup is a small thing.  Some of the people selling on ebay tell the size but this one didn't. I now know that I should ask if they don't tell.

At the funeral today I was reminded of a story. The wonderful woman, Lois, who passed away, had a dad named Andy Ewoldson.  His first wife had died and he remarried to a nice woman named Bonnie. After her dad had died, Lois remained a  good daughter to her and we were at Bonnie's house one evening.  While there she fed us ice cream and coffee.  As she put cups on the table, she asked if I wanted a mug or a sissy cup.  I said I wasn't sure what it was, but I was man enough to take a sissy cup.  So she gave me coffee in her fine china cup instead of a mug.  

So as a grown man, I bought myself a sissy cup.  I do believe that I will create a landscape painting around the design on this cup with it's old tree.  If I find a mug, with gold trim on it, I may buy it and then try to resell the cup and saucer above.   I really like the colors of the mug. I like that it is a piece made in England.  I like that pieces of the sets are showing up in Australia for sale and more in Canada.  They haven't been produced for a very long time so their value is not going to decrease.   

Well, enough on this.  I want to sell art on Ebay so it makes me more aware of what I need to tell the buyer about actual size.   Thanks for reading.......

Hey Nanook from  the  North here, we are suppose to get five more inches of snow through the next two days.  We will have clean, white snow again!!!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I've got nothing.......

It isn't that I haven't been creative. My timing is off. I can't keep up with the blogs I follow while trying to keep three blogs going.  I am being creative as I finished a painting today, after repainting everything everywhere, gazillions of times.  I am happy with that. I have another to finish and then I can continue on by starting a new one.  I received my ebay purchase in the mail from Canada and it is disappointing.  I like what I bought but it is so small.  It took ten days to get here from Canada. 
What I will show you for a visual is a large amount of bird houses at the Des Moines's Blank Park Zoo. It was a small crowded little jungle area, but on one wall were all these houses for the birds to nest.  I wonder if they have time to blog and get new ideas going.   
We travel today to Osceola for a funeral.  Not a great way to cheer oneself. A wonderful woman who lived a full, good life.  I hope our roads will be cleared by the afternoon as we have had another snowfall.  We have some farmers who never got their corn out.  Some picked a few weeks ago, but now the snow is too high.
Enjoy your weekend everyone and stay warm.. Thanks for following and stopping by.......

Friday, February 19, 2010


As I attended through all of my grade school years, we sat in wooden desks that had a hole manufactured in them  for the purpose of holding some device for ink.  Not once did I ever dream that there were actually a real inkwell that fit into those holes. I assumed that they would have been the glass bottles of ink that fit into them and students would have to dip their quill pen into the bottle.  Every student who ever attended school in the building had taken a pencil and followed around the inside indention making marks inside of that opening.

After college, in Aplington, Iowa, I was rummaging through a century of old boxes and paper bags in a workroom of a store. There were old hinges and furniture drawer pulls and things like that.  One time I found a small  unopened wooden box  in the back of that old furniture store. It was the second generation person, my son's grandfather, who owned the store.  The box had been shipped to the store when the great grandfather was alive and was running the business.  Inside of the wooden box, which was nailed shut for shipping, six of these ink wells, packed in sawdust. They had already started to rust even though they had not been taken out of the box. The glass liners, ink containers, were packed along side of the metal outside pieces and a couple of them were broken. 
It took a little time to figure out what they were but then I thought that the school's probably ordered their school desks through furniture store's back then as there  wasn't any special stores that sold just school things. I do know in the past that the business had ordered caskets for the local funeral home of the time. 
I have an old school desk from an old country school that they fit in, but it is now stored in the basement, and the boys were never too impressed with the desk anyway. They thought the bench seat was uncomfortable to sit on, and they were right.  I sat on ones like that from 1955 to 1964 until I moved up to high school.
The glass bottle is an old ink container but I don't know much about it. It never had a lid and was found at a rummage sale when I was a kid.
Thanks for reading......

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Toy tractor.......

Another toy from the "John and Iva" collection

As a kid we lived on a farm south and east of a small town of Murray.  We did most of our shopping in Osceola which was the opposite direction.  The old highway 34 was hard to drive on as it had large  concrete edgings along is sides to help control water. They weren't level with the highway but stuck up four or more inches to keep the water on the road. They would have openings created for the water to drain away every once in a while.  It was built for model T.'s and the road was narrow.  New cars could get caught up on those edgings and if you hit a drainage area  with a tire you could go flying.  My dad would drive from the farm though the country to Osceola just to avoid that highway.  

It was a beautiful drive on the gravel roads as we would wind up and down to get to town.  One of the areas that we drove through had a road that headed down a steep hill into a river valley and it wound around a farm area. The road then  wound back up another hill.  On the way down that road, in a field, sat one of these old iron horses. It was so unusual to me because of the metal wheels that were on it. You could see the metal cleats that were at an angle to help give it traction as it plowed fields.  I would always marvel at the tractor sitting in the weeds all rusty and isolated and think about it's past life.

When I found this toy tractor it was all rusty also and it had the little farmer wired on so it wouldn't fall away.

The sound that it makes on a table or the floor is amazing as it clunks along on those different cleats. I painted it as a kid and I don't regret it as I really wouldn't sell it anyway. I am sure John put the wire on that farmer to keep it attached to the tractor.

Thanks for stopping by.......

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More variety with less talk.......

Filler flowers that I don't recognize. If it is baby's breath it is larger than the normal variety.

I didn't get this posted with the others.  I wanted you to see another before and after of the brass cleaning.

I actually ruined this piece of furniture with my aquarium leaking on it's top. I sanded it out some and maybe will work at it harder some other time, but for now it has some good water stains on the once perfect top.
In actuality, if I hadn't rescued it from a furniture store in Aplington, Iowa many years ago, it would be in a landfill right now as the new owners  of the store carted all the used furniture away to the dump.
The piece was originally a sideboard with a dining room set and had legs on it that made it taller.  I destroyed it's integrity by making it into a tv stand by removing a foot off of it's legs.  It also was stained this dark blackish walnut stain to even out it's color.  It is made from poplar wood.  The good kind of poplar not the paper and plywood making poplar.  I have a dresser and mirror that matches the poplar wood but not the design.

Thanks for reading......

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening.......

Some of my bloggers friends didn't know what these are so I will give a short explanation.  When the horses were harness up to take sleighs out in the snow, they would be draped with straps of leather with these bells attached to them.  If you have ever seen the Budweiser Beer ads and listened to the sound of the horses, you can hear the bells jingling.  The bells were given numbers for their different sizes.  In this photo you are seeing the number 11 upside down. On the other half of that part of the bell is "No." for the word number.

Vinegar and salt along with a very fine steel wool cleans brass.  My first experience with brass was when I was a kid.  I took home two fixtures from my grandmother's house that  had benn removed to put up modern ceiling lights.   They were black and as a kid finding brass that was shinier and more yellow than what the bells have, was just an amazing experience.  As I grew up and moved away, my dad gave them away, and I have forgiven him for that. 

Some of the bells are more worn than others but the line designs are still visible in this bell. It has a few cracks in it but still jingles with a good sound.

You can see the numbers on the larger ones but two of them do not have any markings even though they have the same designs and were made probably by the same company.

I won't remove the wire. That is just something I like to keep around. Some person for some reason put this S shaped wire into the bell for a reason, and even though it is rusty I want it to stay. It gives it more history.

Flowers for you, to thank you for putting up with my obsessive blog about bells.  The paperwhites do have a smell that you have to learn to tolerate after while.  I liked the smell at first but it is not at all so friendly anymore.  Our new dining room wall made a perfect backdrop for these flowers.  It is funny how the all sprouted up at different heights.  Maybe they got watered more on one side.  

Thanks for stopping by......

Box reveals ancient drawings......

I bet your first thought your were viewing Luscaux Cave drawings from the famous French caves. It is sort of similar but no, it is the box. Yesterday's blog shows a box which holds all of it's old things and  while I was dusting it off and looking at the box, I discovered a young boy had made his mark on the world.

The box came from the John and Iva farm.  It was a mystery about the drawings at first because I had forgotten they were on there.  A young boy probably stored his valuables in it and decorated it with pencil and crayon. The John and Iva farm sat four miles or less south of a town called Hopeville. They had four boys, Harvey, Lowell, George and Loren.  George was killed in the War and is buried over in one of cemeteries in France.  George was a little younger than my dad but he would have been born in the 1920's.  His older brothers, who are all still alive, probably are all in their 90's or close to it by now.

As I was brushing a little dust off of this box, with it's dovetailed corners, I spotted the name Lowell in a word bubble. If you click on the picture you can see it.  It apparently is a drawing of him, having just punched someone. I can figure out who the guy is laying on the ground seeing stars but I have a feeling it is a neighbor boy.  I may research that as I have a writing about them and their country school days. Maybe I can find a name that fits the poor handwriting.

In this photo you can see a dog chasing a rabbit with their little balloon descriptors above their heads. I like the color that he put along the bottom of the box.  I am assuming that products that were in jars probably were shipped in these kind of boxes.

In many ways I am so glad that I clung to the junk. Now I do go back and find this very interesting and do appreciate it.  I have said before that I was very close to John and Iva and even though their family was a whole generation beyond ours, I was able to follow them for quite some time.  Their son Loren, became the state's main administrator at the Historical Building in Des Moines but is now retired.  He kept track of my mom for years and now that she is gone,  he and I write every Christmas.  It is like clinging on to a one last bit of my childhood history being able to still know him.

I have to get to work now. Another snowed-in day with schools closed and roads in bad shape. Everyone stay safe.  Thanks for stopping by.....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What's inside your wooden box??????

A wooden box that had come along with all the other things that I received in my John and Iva Collection. They were an older couple who lived south of us on a farm that really did remind one of the Walton's on the tv program many years ago. They gave me the toys and this box must have been in that metal toy container.  In reality they were step family as my Grandmother remarried into their family and that is how we became so close to them.  The really liked my mom as they had four boys and their grandchildren were all out of state scattered so I was a grandson to them too.

Some of these things came with the box but a lot of them were things I collected as a kid from others also, who thought they were junk.  I am going to go into detail on other blogs about the individual things and the box has a story too.  The tractor of course was a John and Iva toy that I painted.  Some of the bells were theirs also.  I will try to photograph things individually and share some of their past. I will leave you today to just look and see what you can see.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Off beat and blaaahhh......

The paperwhites became very tall in the last couple of days.  One of my friendly bloggers bought the same product and asked me if I had smelled them.  They have a very strong pepper smell as well as a sort of sweet smell.

This is a plant blog today as you can see.  It is time to see a change in our season.  Photos of the most common flowers will be my change today.

I bet right now there is three foot of snow sitting on top of this flower bed.  I will be going out and scooping walks again tomorrow.  I did really enjoy the Olympics ceremony tonight Canada.  It will be nice to see a few of the competitions.

Thanks for reading......

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday fiddle faddle........

To make a long story short, this is a piece of an old Amish barn, the barn had burned down.  The indention that has been chiseled out was the location where a bracket once was positioned.  The bracket was removed and is going to be reused in our old town interurban depot.  Two brackets with rollers will hold up a sliding wood door that will move back and forth to cover things posted on a wall.  
Even though it is not so much decorative, the craftsmanship has to be admired.  It the barn had not burned that one person's work, which was essential for that door to be hung correctly, would have stood maybe another century. 
A footnote to what I said here, the barn was from out east and it was on the man's brother's property. Amish are building new barns now where they have settled, more in Missouri than in Iowa.

 Another tea pot that I hadn't included with the one blog in which I talked about decoration.  This one had a stencil line outline placed on it and then it was hand painted as you can see where they painted sometimes outside of the lines with quick brush strokes.

Just like a good soldier, I finally moved the very last of the Christmas decorations to the basement. It was a couple of boxes that sat there for awhile, and today, I just did it.  In ten months I will bringing it back up. 

I have  been painting and reworking paintings and getting back on the bicycle again.  Painting is a skill but when it is also an expression you have to warm up the process to have success.  I painted out a sky three times today and still don't have what I want.  Maybe tomorrow I will get it done.  Thanks for stopping by.....Friday

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Here comes the sun........

I am taking pictures of the sunlight and if there is snow in the picture, I am not recognizing  it.  I thought I should get an updated photo on my poor red bench under the old apple tree.

Here it is, the sun is shinning today.  The red dots are compliments of my camera, I don't know why or how but they are there.

Find the missing two tiered bird bath.  This is the first time ever that I  have seen it totally covered up by that white stuff.  I again wanted to show you the spot of sun in view.

My good friend blue ball hangs in there, but a couple of more snow falls and we will be at the peak of its demise.  More snow coming over the weekend.

We got ice.  The sun really isn't melting much but on one side of my house where it is so heavy, it did cause some it to fall to the ground because of it's weight.

Going out for salad and pizza tonight to celebrate still being alive and well.  On a serious note, my sister-in-law lost her mother today and even though it isn't immediate family, it is immediate hurt for everyone around her.  My brother may come back for the funeral, which is the only good thing coming out of this time.  I miss  seeing both of my brothers who live in the warmer climates of Arizona and California year round. 
Thanks for stopping by and looking at my sunshine........

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wednesday's findings.....

I have this antique firetruck. It came from an older couple,  John and Iva Horton. They offered many old, very old toys to me when I was helping them to move them into town.  I was still in high school and didn't want to be greedy.  Gosh, I should have, could have, but  didn't take  a lot because as a kid I thought I shouldn't.  The rest ended up in the dump I found out much later.  
It is missing lots of pieces and I ruined it's value by painting it, but I still like it.

I was digging in my cabinet, formerly an oat sprouter, and found another car of the collection.  It too is a Tootsietoy.  I didn't know the Tootsietoy is what makes matchbox cars.  Also is the little plane I found that came with the John and Iva collection.  They lost a son in the War and he is buried in France.  Ironically they had a lot of war toys in their toy barrel. This plane is a WW 2 plane replica but I am not sure about models of planes.

I mentioned an oat sprouter above and if you want to check it out I blogged about it a long while back last year.   Show me the Oat Sprouter.

The three male cardinals were disgusted as they had to wait for the squirrel to get off their feeder.  I sent Barney out to send him on his way.  It isn't a close up but if you click on the photo you can see the bright red hungry cardinals a little closer.

We lack 6 inches now of having had 5 feet total of snow for the winter season so far. It is a record and we will hit the 5 foot total easily.
Thanks for stopping by.......