Thursday, July 10, 2014

snails, spirals and shibas

We're still here, still, kicking, still chasing baby bunnies.

Our much adored shiba, Cool Hand Luke, went downhill fast after that last post - ending up in full blown congestive heart failure by the following morning.  Bad enough that he had to be carried in, and the vet warned us he would likely not make it out of the office.  Every damn test was negative, except for the x-ray that revealed hip dysplasia and a rather large kidney stone...  But neither of those explained what was wrong.  We never did find out what was going on, other than it appearing that he may have had a blockage.  We took him home after he had been re-hydrated via iv, and stayed with him 24/7 for the next several days until he was able to eat again and perked up.  Just as we thought we were out of the woods he relapsed and we were back to square one.  We're repeating the same meds as before, and again he seems be to recovering - still not eating, but he at least attempted to capture a rabbit today.  We think this may be the beginning of some sort of bowel failure, and hopefully keeping him on the prescription diet will keep him healthy for the time being.

So, we haven't done much other than pet the dog and stay with him in the air-conditioned bedroom.  We did pick up that mystery couch (settle, bench?) I mentioned, and it's enormous loveliness hasn't left the entry room.  It's a curious piece of furniture, and looks as though it may have been a built-in at one point judging by how it's pieced together and has been reinforced.  It's Art Nouveau, with some Arts and Crafts influence in the carving, and looks to be solid mahogany with fruitwood inlays. I'd guess that it's pre 1910, and almost definitely European.  It has many flaws, but then again, it has satyrs, so I can forgive it anything...

Art Nouveau inlaid fauns

antique couch?  settle?  bench?  

I only just now noticed these are snails.  how utterly marvelous...

I think we've established I'm obsessed with spirals
If you couldn't tell, that's not our house.  It's been too frantic around here to even think about trying to clean enough to take photos.  But if there are any secret Art Nouveau aficionados out there, I'd love to know what you think, a piece like this definitely had a maker, and I'd love to put a name to their beautiful work.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

five feet long and luminous

Soul Coughing really pinned my mood down tonight...

A piece of furniture I loved is missing from our old entry room, and I'm absolutely ecstatic about it!  The giddiness is twofold.  About a month ago I found a piece of furniture I adored (no holds barred obsessed with).  The seller didn't reply to my e-mail and I assumed it had sold.  A few days ago it appeared again for a much higher price, but the seller was kind enough to agree to sell it for the previous price.  This in itself is a good thing, but to subsidize the purchase I decided to sell a lovely old Victorian wingback I had.  It needed work, and with so many projects around here it was languishing and taking up space.

"I'm gonna be a star!"

A day after I posted it someone e-mailed to buy it, but this was no ordinary buyer.  As it turns out he was a buyer for a production company, and would be buying it for use it an upcoming movie (yes, I know what and who, but would rather not risk ruining a good thing).  He and the set decorator went though every room taking pictures of every detail, cataloging things they may be interested in renting for future projects.  It was so lovely to meet people for once that loved my worn and dilapidated antiques as much as I do.  Even better, our house has been added to the list of possible filming locations for the company.

Now I'm not one who has ever dreamed of being a movie star, but seeing some of the objects we've rescued, let alone our home, on the silver screen would be utterly thrilling.  I'm pretty sure this is how pretty young starlets feel when they book their first embarrassing pharmaceutical commercial.

It's not all rainbows and kittens around here though, the red dog is sick and in pain, and Daphne won't shift into anything but second.  Nothing's ever simple...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

more of other peoples' houses

Since everyone seems to enjoy my estate sale photos, here are some from the past couple of weeks (none today though, I might as well have stayed in bed).

Last week we stopped at a house in Schenley Farms, a historic neighborhood here in Pittsburgh, and found something rather amazing still in operation...

That's an original built-in vacuum cleaner.  So very cool!  Also some nice art tile (Grueby, Moravian?) with brass lantern sconces on the fireplace.  They also had a lovely copper and glass awning over the back door. 

Another house was full of original details (and also so full of people I couldn't take many photos).  There were so many closed and caution taped doors that I missed most of the house, the few I peeked into were original/untouched bathroom and closets.  But since I was in ninja picture mode, no pictures..

Another rather unassuming house had both it's original 40's bathrooms, including colored fixtures and patterned linoleum.  Sadly, I don't think the future bodes well for their continued survival.  

A nice hex tile floor at a storefront near us (it also has a great early light fixture that I don't have a picture of). 

And just a pretty rear view of a couple of houses in Shadyside.

And lastly, some nice details from a Mt. Lebanon Tudor Revival.


 Hopefully you all had fruitful weekends, if not, hope you had a nice spot to lounge

Thursday, June 19, 2014


We've been keeping the purse strings pretty tight around here while saving for the wrap-around porch build.  Although we still religiously check craigslist and estate sales, things like ebay and salvage yards have been strictly off-limits.  Luckily, I could start a salvage yard of my own out of my basement, and given it's state of utter chaos, wandering around down there has become a bit of an adventure.  Typically, this amounts to finding most everything I need if I just root around down there long enough - and knowing what I have somewhat determines which new projects I start.  However, sometimes my memory fails me, forcing me to actually buy pretties like these...

Antique screen door hinges, I'm a sucker for the spirals...

We had a bit of a Memorial Day party here, which prompted me to begin the EPIC painting of the house by starting with the back porch.  And since huge projects are never quite huge enough, I decided I'd begin fixing up the door, transom and screen door while I was at it - under the mistaken impression that I would have everything I needed to gussy it up somewhere in the house (really, just a crowbar made a huge difference).  Well, I had most everything, but it turns out the antique screen door hinges I had didn't match one another and were lacking in the aesthetics department.  Ebay was more than happy to come to the rescue...

One purchase however led to another, and now this month I've already bought hinges, sikaflex, a new dripless ergonomic caulk gun, wheels for my scaffolding, two new tires, and some moldings.  Ouch.  Luckily, I didn't have to buy these...

antique brass screen door knob and latch

All this, and the screen door still will never fit in the opening properly.  Oh well...

And once the floodgates opened, there was nothing to stop me from buying this lovely doormat when some wonderful person posted it on Pinterest (but why oh why doesn't anyone make nice mats for double doors?).

He never learned the art of being welcoming...

Monday, June 16, 2014

the albatross

When we lived in Miami I broke down and bought my dream car (under duress), a '71 Karmann Ghia autostick convertible.  The thought was, when else am I going to make the leap?  The reality of it is that for a "dream car" (I've been pointing these out every time I saw them since I was 10) they're relatively cheap, can be dependable, make a good daily driver in tropical and flat Miami, and we had an awesome repair shop that specialized in vintage air-cooleds (The Wizards in Coral Gables).

I'm pretty sure she much preferred the weather in Miami
and going to car shows instead of watching us work on the house 24/7

Now when we moved to less than tropical Pittsburgh, a garage was supposed to be a requirement for anything we bought.  We know how that worked out...

We left Daphne in South Florida safely tucked into my parents garage until we figured out exactly what we would do.  We eventually bought one of those tarp type carports, and assembled it on our concrete slab in preparation for bringing her home.  Unfortunately, by the time she got here her shed was full of house parts.

Our first "garage"

This is the part where I reveal just what a horrible person I am.  Before we got the shed unloaded to park her inside for the winter she got a flat tire, and ended up parked under a tree that first winter because I convinced myself I needed to save up and buy a set of whitewalls ($$$$$).  That following spring we moved the schoolhouse, thinking we'd have it up and built by the end of the summer.  We moved the carport to store schoolhouse parts, landlocking the ghia until the shed could be moved.  We never did order those tires...

stranded between all the woodpiles

Well, another winter has passed, the schoolhouse is built but all the siding is still neatly piled up inside, and Daphne still sat under her tree.

Two days ago I saw a groundhog crawl underneath her.  It was more than I could take.  With nightmarish visions of warrens of groundhogs making a home underneath her I pulled off the cover - half expecting her to be stuffed to the brim with leaves and acorns.  Nope, only some very large spiders.  She was pretty well rusted into place, but we freed her up by jacking up the tires to loosen them up, and with help we got her rolled out of her resting place.  A new battery, tightening up the belt, fresh gas and 10 minutes of trying to turn over the engine and she sputtered to life, blowing out a billow of black smoke and spiderwebs out of her tail pipes.  Two plain old tires are ordered and on their way here.

 I have to say it's nice to have one less thing eating away at me, and she makes a nice little escape pod for when the house gets to be too much.