We're two sisters who are craft book publishers and found ourselves in the midst of an avocado grove. We bought this house where we planned to conduct our publishing business and in the deal got 4 acres of avocado trees thrown in. Now we're not only publishers but ranchers as well! This blog is all about avocados and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sepia Saturday #187 What To Do With Your Old Books

On Sepia Saturday this week the photo prompt is of some old bibles. I don't have any old bibles, but I sure have a lot of old books.

I'm a real sucker when it comes to old books, especially children's text books. But sometimes these books are literally falling apart. Can I throw a falling apart book away? NO!

So what can I do with these old books? Just lately I've been using the book covers as art. I carefully tear off the cover of the book (saving all the old pages) and then do a collage on the back of the cover. Besides old books, I have stacks and stacks of ephemera that can go into the collages.

When I saw the photos of the old bibles, it reminded me of one of the collages I did. You know how people keep track of their births and deaths in the family bible? Well I found an old book (here it is)

It's called Poetic Jewels. Someone had used the inside front cover to record the births of their family.

I thought this was kind of unusual. Maybe the Duke's didn't have a bible. They used this poetry book to record their little "jewels" instead. There is Landis, Charley, Virgie, Winnie and Elvin, all recorded in the poetry book.

So I decided to make a collage incorporating this family information. We looked up all of these people on Ancestry and found all of them.  So I used the census listing of the Dukes in the collage. They were all listed - Landis, Charley, Virgie, Winnie and Elvin. Isn't Ancestry wonderful?

Here's the completed collage of the Duke's "family bible".

The photos aren't really Dukes. I couldn't find photos of them so used some old yearbook photos instead. I'm thinking he looks like a Charley and she looks pretty much how I picture Virgie.

So that's something you can do with an old falling apart book. It's fun, it's creative and it's recycling. And I thought this was just going to be a hobby. But Barbara posted some of my book cover collages on her blog and one of our local art dealers saw the blog and wanted to purchase four of the collages!! So I guess it's not just a hobby anymore. I'm going to have to get serious.

For other stories about vintage books and bibles see Sepia Saturday

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sepia Saturday #186 Women with Sticks

When I saw this week's photo of the woman warrior, I immediately thought of this photo in my collection. There is a similarity, isn't there? Although the woman on the right doesn't hold a spear and shield. Instead she holds a banner for K. Lundberg Clothing. Let me introduce you to the model - her name is Alice Staten. I could find nothing about her. I thought she might have been the Christi Brinkley of her day, but if so, there are no traces of her. 

I also could find no trace of K. Lundberg Clothing. But there was a K. Lundberg listed on a 1900 census for Marinette, Wisconsin and he had a boarder named Edward Staten. Mmmmm. Could Alice have been Edward's sister? Mr. Lundberg in urgent need of a model for his new clothing line offered Alice $2.00 to pose for this photograph. Do you think her gown was a Lundberg creation? And why the funny crown? There's writing on the crown but I can't make it out. Maybe some of you photo sleuths can figure it out. 

In the meantime you might enjoy this You Tube video that goes along with this week's theme. It's from Wagner's Ring Cycle. I thought the opening scene was spectacular. Is Busby Berkeley still alive? Only he could have rigged up those popsicle stick-looking slides for the Valkyries to make their entrance. Genius. But don't watch the whole video if you don't enjoy opera, just the opening number. (And when you're finished watching, click here for other stories about women with sticks Sepia Saturday.)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sepia Saturday #185 Parapluies, Umbrellas & Bumbershoots

Whatever you want to call them, umbrellas are a necessary and functional tool in all our closets. But they're also colorful and arty and make for some nice photographs.

Here's a group of people from a tour we did in Ireland. It was a little wet that day as we viewed the Wicklow area.

That's me with the red umbrella.

While on a visit to the wine country in Northern California I encountered this little bus stop - it's not quite an umbrella - but it's there to keep you dry.

Here's my favorite kind of umbrella. The type that shelters you from the sun as you sit around a pretty pool having a glass of chardonnay. This was from the same trip to the wine country.

While traveling around the internet, I found these other umbrella photos which are quite fascinating.
This is a colorful canopy of umbrellas in the streets of Agueda, Portugal.

And this one is really amazing - cement figures dangling from umbrellas within an office building in Prague by Czech artist, Michal Trpak.

I'll end this umbrella blog with the trailer for one of my all time favorite movies - what else but the Umbrellas of Cherbourg. I'd suggest that you just view the first minute of this video, unless you really like watching two forlorn lovers singing into each others faces for about 5 minutes. But the music by Michel Legrand is beautiful you'll have to agree.
For other umbrella-related stories click here: Sepia Saturday.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sepia Saturday #184 Beware of Ticks

This week's Sepia Saturday is very timely for me. It's about the discovery of the rabies vaccine by Pasteur. I'm not concerned about rabies right now, but another deadly disease called Babesia. This dog disease is caused by those deadly little insects called ticks.

Unfortunately my poor little dog is suffering from this tick disease. She's been under my vet's care for the past month and it's been a real roller coaster ride. Her blood platelet count has seemed like a yo-yo going up and down drastically depending on the medication she's taking. She's had pills, shots and 3 days in the hospital.

She's very pitiful and looks at me like she's saying "Please help me":

Babesia is a tick disease more commonly attacking cows. It was discovered in 1888 by Dr. Babes. It's transmitted by the brown dog tick. Babesia affects red blood cells, and as a dog's immune system tries to eliminate the infected blood cells, anemia, pallor and general weakness results.

Luckily, Tootie (sorry, she was named by my late mother-in-law before she died and willed her to me and I didn't think it would be proper to change her name) is doing lots better. She has one more treatment and then hopefully she'll be back to normal. I have my wonderful vet, Dr. Jones to thank for her recovery. He's been absolutely obsessed with treating and curing her. 

If you have a treasured dog, you'll appreciate this video which is a little corny but very apropos:

So keep Advantage or Frontline on your dogs and cats. Those little tubes might seem expensive but in the long run it will save you lots of money. I can't even tell you how much I've spent so far!! But it's worth it, especially when I see little Tootie getting stronger and better each day. It's been a crazy month.

For other rabies related stories, see Sepia Saturday.Sepia Saturday

Friday, May 31, 2013

Sepia Saturday #179 What in the Heck is Boho Style?

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt is a photo of a gypsy caravan. I didn't have any family photos of caravans, so I've decided instead to write about fashion.

Lately I've been hearing Boho Style this Boho Style that. Boho Jewelry, Boho Look, Boho everything. Just what in the heck is Boho Style? I consulted Wikipedia and this is what they said:

"Boho" is an abbreviation of bohemian. Vanessa Nicholson (granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, one of the pivotal figures of the unconventional, but influential "Bloomsbury Group" in the first half of the 20th century) has described it as a "curious slippery adjective".[1] Although the original Bohemians were travellers or refugees from central Europe (the French bohémien translates as "Gypsy or Roma people"), the term has, as Nicholson noted, "attached itself to individuals as disparate as Jesus Christ, Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes". The writer and historian A. N. Wilson remarked that, "in his dress-sense as in much else", Winston Churchill was "pre-First World War Bohemian", his unbleached linen suit causing surprise when he arrived in Canada in 1943.[2]  

Does this look bohemian to you? Maybe a little unconventional and might I add, very wrinkled.

But just in case you want to get on the bandwagon (the gypsy bandwagon, that is) here is your guide to dressing Boho:

No, I don't think I'm Boho. But I do remember dressing kind of this way in the 60s. It sure is true that everything old is new again.

My sister, Barbara, was way ahead of this trend. Back in the 50s she was already dressing Boho, but I don't think she knew it. Here she is on Halloween in her Boho (er, uh Gypsy costume):

I guess my brother and I hadn't yet gotten on the Boho bandwagon.

Check out other gypsy caravan stories here Sepia Saturday.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sepia Saturday #178 Family Portraits

When I saw the photo of this beautiful woman, our photo prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday, I thought about portraits and most particularly portraits of my family members. I've posted the portraits along with photographs. Can you see the likeness?

My mother and father both had these drawings done when they were in their 20s. I have no idea who the artist was. Maybe a friend of theirs. Unfortunately they're unsigned.

A later photograph of my father, but still looking a lot like the drawing:

Here's the one of my mother:

and a photograph at a similar age, but without the reverse roll hairstyle:

Barbara, my sister, was in a show recently where everyone had to enter a self portrait. Here's her entry:

And here's the photo she used as her inspiration:

My uncle Glen started painting in his late 70s. He had a wonderful career as an artist, entering shows and winning many awards. He kept painting well into his 90s. Here's his self portrait with a photo alongside. Glen was my father's older brother. You can see the resemblance.

After a trip to California, Glen decided he wanted to paint a portrait of my daughter, Megan, but he didn't have a photograph of her. So he used a photo from one our books in which she had modeled.

Here's the photo from the book cover:

To see other artistic offerings, click here Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sepia Saturday #176 My Brush with a Scientist

It was 1964 and I was browsing through the classified ads looking for a better job than the one I had. I spotted one that sounded interesting - a secretary for a geophysicist at Cal Tech (Californa Institute of Technology in Pasadena).

I went on the interview which was conducted by the scientist himself. He asked if I took shorthand. I said, "sure". Which of course I didn't, but I wanted the job really bad. Cal Tech is just such a beautiful campus and I thought it would be interesting to work there.

 So, what do you think? I got the job. Then I had to deal with the fact that I really didn't take shorthand. I had two weeks to figure out what to do. Not enough time to learn shorthand. That takes years and years.
Real Shorthand

 So I took a two day course in Speed Writing (a cousin to shorthand). There, I was ready for the job.

Speed Writing
At least I thought I was ready. The first day on the job the good Dr. dictated an 18-page letter just chock full of scientific jargon that I couldn't even spell in Speedwrite. I was sunk. I thought for sure I'd be fired after only one day on the job. But no, he decided to keep me on the payroll. He admitted that he didn't care whether I took shorthand or not, he just liked my mini skirts.

No, that's not the Dr. or me. But it will give you an idea of how we dressed in the 60s. Not near as short as the skirts now. But it turned out that the professor was a real letch. It was my first experience with sexual harassment on the job. Only in those days there was nothing you could do about it. Just grin and bear it, which I did for a whole year.

He once asked me to come to his house to work. What could I say? I was really scared, but I didn't want to lose my job. So I went to his house and met him in a guest house in the rear. He opened the door with an African mask on his face! Talk about panic. But since his wife was in the main house, he behaved like a gentleman.

Here he is, the mad scientist. He's the one on the left, groping the meteorite.

Check out other scientific stories on Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sepia Saturday #175 What's A Prisoner to Do??

I'll bet almost every prisoner smokes. But after they finish that last pack, what do they do with their trash? Here's what they do, or at least some of the prisoners do. They make lovely pieces of art. You can call it prison art or tramp art but whatever you call it, you've got to agree that it's pretty darn creative.

This is a piece that I bought at a Thrift Shop for 50 cents. Can you believe that? Look at the amount of work and hours that went into this cigarette pack heart. I've always loved this and so continued to look for more prison art. I now have a small collection.

I'm not sure what pack this is made of. I'm not a smoker so I don't recognize the brand. Here's a closeup in case any of you want to take a guess.

My next purchase was a little purse. I got this at a swap meet and I think I paid quite a bit more, maybe $10.00.

I love the design of this purse. Especially the way it closes around that square tile and also the addition of the beads. This makes me wonder if it was actually made in prison. I'm not sure if the beads would be available in the prison store. I often wondered if some prisoner made this purse and then gave it to his girlfriend.

Here's a closeup of this one since I also don't know the cigarette brand used:

There's a very informative article about all different types of prison art  that may be of interest.

It's amazing how many different types of art prisoners are into. So many amazing pieces are made from matchsticks, toilet paper, cardboard and just about anything else an inmate can get their hands on. But by far my favorite (besides my own pieces) is this wonderful work of art by Michael Harms. He must not be a smoker because his medium of choice is Ivory soap. Here is one of his intricately carved chairs:

I understand that they're trying to ban smoking in British prisons. Is this true? Then what will those inmates do to while away their time. I guess they'll have to start hoarding their soap!

For other stories about vending machines, cigarettes or the dangers of smoking, click here Sepia Saturday.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sepia Saturday #174 Newspapers for Kids

Here's our prompt photo for this week's Sepia Saturday.

When I saw it, I immediately thought of a photograph of my daughter when she was about 10. We had taken a mini vacation to Long Beach, Ca (about 1 hour from our house) just to get away. I had some sort of coupon to stay at this ritzy hotel, so why not live it up?

This was Megan's first time having room service. She seems to be enjoying that waffle so much she got a little whipped cream on her nose. She's pretending to read the newspaper just for the photo. I guess to show how grown up she feels during her hotel experience.

Now Megan is 38 and she doesn't read a newspaper (not that I know of anyway). She gets her information on line just like most 20 and 30 somethings. These "kids" will never know the joy of reading a real newspaper.

But some clever inventor has come up with a way for kids to enjoy and understand a newspaper. This is an app which allows children to hold a smartphone over the newspaper to see a child-friendly version of the text. 


Or maybe everyone will just grow up to be dummies like these:

Store window in Bilbao, Spain

For other stories that are black and white and red all over, click here Sepia Saturday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sepia Saturday #173 Toulouse the Chef

When I saw the photo prompt this week of the boy holding the two geese I never thought I’d be able to find an old family photo to fit this theme. No one in our family hunted.

But what does Toulouse-Latrec have to do with this week's theme?

The photo of the geese reminded me of a cookbook that my sister had in her collection:

Who knew that Lautrec applied his exuberance and meticulous artistic technique to the art of cuisine? He invented recipes and cooked new dishes as beautifully as he painted his Parisienne surroundings.

Toulouse, after cooking and consuming a delicious dinner

He planned his meals carefully and made beautifully decorated menus.

Here’s his recipe for Confits D’Oies Du Languedoc

(For non French speakers, D’Oies means geese and Du Languedoc is a region of France).

Take four geese fattened to the point when they can no longer move about, cut them in four, removing wings and legs but leaving the skin. Set aside the fat livers. Scrape and remove all the fatty tissues and let them melt on a gentle heat in a large copper pan.
Drop in the carcasses, the wings and legs.
Salt the pieces, arrange them in big stoneware jars and pour over them the liquid fat.
You have in this way the preserve which can be kept for several months.
It can be eaten cold when it comes out of the pot, with no further preparation after the goose grease has been melted.
But people prefer to serve it either with peas or with a tomato sauce, or in a cassoulet, or with rice in stock, a second cooking being usually recommended.

Mmmmm. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
Wouldn’t you give about a million dollars to sit down to one of Toulouse’s dinners and take home one of his beautifully decorated menus? The menu itself would probably be worth a million dollars!

Take a gander at some other goose stories by clicking here: Sepia Saturday.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sepia Saturday #172 Windy in Patagonia

This week's Sepia Saturday theme is hiking. I've never been much into hiking or mountain climbing, but my daughter sure is. In 2007 she and her then boyfriend, Martin decided to go to Patagonia.

I was a little worried about her. Why couldn't she go to Paris or Rome or some normal tourist place? No, she had to be extreme. She jumped out of a plane, swam with the dolphins and hiked all over New Zealand, traveled alone all around India.

They went on a hike to the Torres del Paine mountains seen above. It does look beautiful and I can understand why people would want to go there. But not this person. I'd rather sit in my armchair and just look at the photos.

You'll see why when you view this Youtube post of Megan (with hiking poles) and Martin on their "little hike", I thought OMG that looks so dangerous. You'd never catch me there. She did manage to make it back in one piece. Will a mother ever stop worrying?

Take a hike over to Sepia Saturday to see other climbing adventures.