May 20, 2018:


Yesterday Prince Harry married American Meghan Markle and I couldn't get enough of the royal wedding. What a gorgeous dress, the bride was radiantly beautiful and the church at Windsor - oh my goodness, the flowers alone were soooo beautiful. There's nothing like a good love story to make one appreciate how precious we can be (and should be) to each other.

I'm glad the weather was perfect yesterday for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding. I can't say the same for around here. Spring keeps teasing and then going away. This morning I woke up to a "balmy" 47 degrees F outside, rain, damp, and I turned the heat back on! It's May 20th, the heat. should. not. be. on. Period.

Last Thursday, however, was beautiful. I was able to get a goodly amount of yard and garden clean-up done over several days last week. I also took some photos of my flowering tree anchoring the north corner of my house and made the current collage. I think it's an ornamental cherry, and on the the other end of the house, I think that's called a purple sand cherry? I'll have to check that. The blossoms on the tree do not have a distinct fragrance, but the purple shrub that wants to be a tree (despite my hacking it back, back and back yearly - I'm losing, by the way) has myriad blossoms with a distinct fragrance. I can't decide if the scent is too beautiful to bear or too awful to smell, it certainly can be overpowering!

This coming week will be the third cut of the grass this season. We had rain late Friday night and then for several hours earlier this morning. This rain, on top of the rain we had over four days the prior weekend, and the grass is growing like nobody's business! I don't mind doing the grass, though, as long as it's not too hot, too cold, not raining, and not too windy. I'm not picky at all, am I...

I still have a lot of raking out of areas that suffered from snow mold over the winter, and have not yet really tackled cleaning out the north flower bed in the backyard. That will be a chore!

But Memorial Day weekend is coming. This coming Saturday I will be out with a friend (who has a nice large van - goody!) stocking up on potting soil, top soil to fill in never-ending low spots in the yard, grass seed, and lots of plants! For some reason, this spring seems busier than those in prior years. I can't figure out why that is...


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cleaning the Curio Cabinet

Hola everyone! Warning - LONG POST!

I am catching up here.  On Wednesday, 2/27, starting the night before with snow that clogged "rush hour" here, the snow started falling.  We were supposed to get 5  6 inches.  We ended up with twice that amount that, unfortunately, caught the city unawares.  The forecast was, you see, for much less snow, because the antiquated models do not take into account "lake effect" snow caused by Lake Michigan when the wind is blowing in a certain direction (i.e. OFF THE LAKE!)  and temperature differentials between land and water make a BIG different in snow fall totals as far inland as seven miles.  As the crow flies, I'm about five miles inland, so if there is lake effect snow, I get hammered.

And Maison Newton did get hammered, as did most of the rest of Milwaukee County! 

I've posted pics of the snow and drifts and snow banks, etc. in the two previous posts (scroll below).  What had been a relatively mild and snowless winter abruptly changed when February rolled around.  Sigh. February came close to breaking a record,  near 30 inches of snow just in one fricking month.  I'd rather have gotten it in December and January, when one expects lots of snow in SE Wisconsin, NOT at the end of February when one is waiting for spring to come and thinking the worst is over.  We barely had a decent White Christmas here!  That's just not right!

Conditions were so crappy early Wednesday mornng I exercised some discretion and stayed home from the office. Soooo glad I did, for it was awful out all day long.  As it turned out, at least 50% of our people were unable to make it to work that day, so I was not alone! That doesn't make me any happier about having to waste a PTO day in winter, but so it goes.

I spent a good part of the early to mid-morning (at least 4 hours), cleaning the curio cabinet. 

Out came the glass cleaner, water, rags and paper towels.  Voila!  Eventually it looked presentable again. 

I took lots of pictures of the contents, including new pics of my collection of pink elephants.  I know, I know -- who the heck collects pink elephants?  Well, I do. It all started when my Mom gave me Grandma Newton's pink elephant.  Grandma Newton died in 1962, when I was 11.  I loved her so dearly, and it still hurts so much to this day to think of her being gone.  I was very close to Grandma and Grandpa Newton.  But, as an 11 year old, I probably would not have fully appreciated the value of that little pink elephant and may not have taken so good care of it as I do now, so it's a good think Mom kept it put away for a later day.  But when I moved out to my first apartment, Mom whipped it out from somewhere (her undy-drawer, I think), and gave it to me. 

It's been one of my most prized possessions ever since.  It's value is in it's memories and sentiment.  It was made in Japan (mark is still legible on the bottom)  post-WWII?, and it has some gold paint trim and little red lips(!), and is different in form and style from all of the other pink elephants I've collected (or that have been gifted to me) over the years.  But I've no real sense that it is worth any $.  Not that it matters.  To me, Grandma Newton's pink elephant is priceless.  Well, maybe if it was worth $1 million, then I might sell it and fund a Newton/Villeneuve - Bellanger Family Memorial as well as an annual Newton Goddesschess Women's Open Chess Tournament with nice cash prizes!  Ah, dream on...

When I moved into my first house in 1986, one of the first pieces that went into place was Grandma Newton's little pink elephant and it held center stage on top of my t.v., and then was showcased inside a built-in bookcase.  But it looked lonely.  It was the only one, and sort of lost.  Once I build Maison Newton and moved in, I started collecting more pink elephants.  I wanted Grandma Newton's elephant to have company.  Oh I know, that sounds crazy, but that is the reason why, the true reason why, I decided to collect more pink elephants. 

Well, you can see from the flash showing up in the photo that I'm no photographer!  Damn!  That's the curio cabinet. It is made by Pulaski and is a beautiful oriental-style, with solid-brass fittings, in a medium-dark finish but not espresso, it's color is more like a dark rosewood (but I don't think it is real rosewood).  There are two old-fashioned fluorescent tube lights inside that have long since stopped working (cords dangle out the back) that I did not replace when they died.  Glass doors upper and lower, glass sides, mirrored back.  Solid wood, except for the back, unfortunately, which is just plain unfinished fiberboard, ugh! 

This baby cost me $700 back in 1986 when I bought it - a TON of money then, or so it seemed at the time, but I seemed to have a ton of money back then.  What the hell happened?  Yeah yeah, I keep committing the cardinal sins of blogging - one of which is I'm not supposed to mention the price of anything unless I bought it for $1 or at a rummage sale or something like that. Oops.  I keep doing it anyway.  Call me a slow learner.  I shudder to think what such a piece would cost today, if I could even find the equivalent in workmanship and materials.  But I fell that in love with it that I pulled out my wallet and never looked back.  I've not regretted my decision :)  When I think of this beautiful cabinet possibly being painted over in chalk paint some day once I'm gone and one of my relatives sells it at a rummage sale, not knowing its true worth, Oh Goddess, it makes me ill just thinking of it!  Incentive enough to live forever, or however the hell long I can, and that's a fact, Jack! 

The cabinet anchors the tall wall next to the open staircase to the second floor.  The foregoing photo is my view of the cabinet when I work at the desk in this room. 

I'm much happier with these photos than previous ones I've taken at night (which may have shown up in prior posts) - they didn't turn out well at all.  Today the light was excellent!  This is the top shelf.  You can see a reflection of the opposite wall in the mirrored back!

Close up of the top shelf, left side: porcelain vase with pastel iris and butterflies was puchased at one of the last top
end furniture stores on old 16th Street (today the area is overrun with illegal aliens) in 1986.  The furniture store
location is still there, but the type of goods sold there today is much different than what used to be stocked.
Porcelain plate with pastel irises to the immediate left was a birthday gift many years ago from my sister, Debbie. 
Of the three elephants that you can see in this photo, those on the far left and the far right were gifts; the larger
clear pink glass elephant in the center is by Fenton and was purchased at one of my outings to the Fireside Theatre
in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, at one of the gift shops there.
Yadda yadda.  This is the right side of the top shelf.  Chicadee plate purchased from Hamilton Mint eons ago.
The little bud vase to the right is from an ancient relationship, a man I still think of with sadness.
Large glass elephant to the left is a recent purchase (last year) ; center rear pink elephant is by Fenton
and purchased at one of my outings to the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin (one of several purchased
during many outings); the little glass elephant elephant to its ight, ont he black stand, was a gift from my
honorary god-daughter, Michelle.  And, the little cloissone elephant in front, also a gift from Michelle.  It's
actually a miniature box that opens.  So precious!
Second shelf: Holds the bulk of my collection of  pink elephants. Oops for hands holding camera clearly visible!
You're going to see a lot more of me in the following photos.  They were taken at close quarters -- I wasn't
about to tug the sofa out of the way to take photos of my curio cabinet contents!  Several of these elephants
were gifts, the rest have been purchased over time.   Grandma Newton's prized pink elephant is at the front,
on the right. See the little redlips curved in a tiny smile?  True, some of these elephants aren't "pink" per se,
but they all hve at least a touch of pink on them :)
Tried to get the entire second shelf in this photo.  Grandma Newton's little pink elephant is center, front.

 There she is, Grandma Newton's pink elephant (center, front).  She's a very pale pink, looks nearly white in contrast to the
other elephants.  You can see some of the gold painted highlights still on her after all these years.  Interestingly,
many of the pink elephants in my collection were also manufactured in Japan, and date back to post-WWII and
the 1950's.  A few of my pink elephants (they are actually planters with a space to put a small plant) were made
in the USA and date back to the 1930s.  Some of my elephants don't have a "provenance," but I bought
them because I liked them :)
Fourth shelf:  This is my prized Roses and Thistles porcelain chess set that was given to me by a co-worker just
before she retired, a few years ago.  They used to hold whiskey :)  Yes!  Some of the pieces still have the
original seal and cork in them, but the whiskey was either drunk and then the cork and seal put back or
it has long since evaporated if it was left intact!  My co-worker, a tax accountant, worked for many years for a major
oil company in Texas and traveled the globe, often traveling on Caledonia Airlines.  These pieces were
a promotion at one time by Caledonia Airlines and were handed out to passengers.  The rarest pieces
today are the pawns.  If anyone has eight black and eight white porcelain Roses and Thistles pawns that
they want to sell, please contact me :)  I have the original boxes that each of these pieces came in. 

Here are the two Queens:  Black Queen is Mary, Queen of Scots; White Queen is Elizabeth I.  The two
Queens were cousins in real life.  It was Elizabeth's unfortunate duty to eventually sign a warrant for
execution of her own cousin, Mary, because of continual plots surrounding resurrecting the Catholic Queen
Mary to depose Elizabeth and become the Queen of England.  Interestingly, it seems that the black
porcelain pieces are slightly smaller in scale than the white pieces -- I attribute it to prejudice
against the black pieces by the original creator of the set.  Or maybe Caledonia just made the
white pieces first, and was running out of money when they started manufacturing the black pieces...'

Fifth (bottom) shelf:  Miscellaneous gifts from over the years, except for the piece on the far left...

Isn't she beautiful?  This is another piece of Grandma Newton's.  It's a little planter.  Years ago, unfortunately,
it got broken while moving from one apartment to another, and I didn't glue it back together very well.
But she's still here with us.  This piece, and the little pink elephant, are my most valuable possessions.


  1. Love reading this post - wow - what an education I feel I just had - your elephants are precious ( I used to collect them in the 70's and 80's and couldn't tell you where any of them are today !!!! )
    You really should be watermarking your photos!!!
    Let me know if you need help doing that - big hugs,

  2. I found your blog full of the joys of life - small and large - they are the gems that make our lives shine. You have a lovely touch for the creative, and it's fascinating to hear of your weather while in Australia, we have weather at polar opposites to what's happening on your side of the world.
    Those photos are precious. My dad had the huge 'brick' of a radio on which he'd listen to the cricket and Australian Rules football, which is said to be what you get if you cross USA football with ballet - having taken off the protective gear.
    Your chess set was a reminder.Our son has bought a house with (strangely) a front garden that has been tiled large checkerboard style. I think we'll get him some giant chess pieces for Christmas.