Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Still Kickin': Projects and More

I've been quiet on this blog for a week! So many things going on that my mind can't focus long enough to write. Seems like I need some quiet and some space before I can settle to write anything these days.

So what have we been doing? Well, gardens of course. We've put down a lot of mulch, got cucumbers and squash planted, also corn and beans, and all of the tomatoes are in. All we have left to do are pumpkins, peppers and melons.

I had some work to do just unpacking and putting away things from last weekend's Appalachian Festival in Cincinnati, and (blush) the stuff from the nature stories session the week before. I also had a presentation in Jackson, Ohio, presenting an Appalachian Ballads workshop. Then there was pickup from a few pickers, taking some things to our booths in one antique mall and going to pick up our April check and tidy up at Marietta. Speaking of which, here are photos of the last restock we did at the end of April--I left my camera at the mall and just got it back when I picked up our check.

First, we added this gorgeous china cabinet:


Also added this nice oak church pew--which has too much stuff on it to really see it. I'll fix that next trip!

Brought in an old Eisenhower jacked, vintage Coleman stove, and picnic basket.


I added a few small painted mirrors. These sell really well.


Also added the silver service, which took me a little bit to clean up.


I loved this plate, was tempted to keep it!


A friend sold me a half dozen old quilts in beautiful condition so I brought a few of those in too.


I am back into painting furniture these days, because this weekend is the big local flea market on the courthouse lawn. We're organizing things to take and I've got a lot of painted projects just about ready to go. Here's a few:


I just love the little bamboo-trim stand. It was fun to paint it and see it come alive.



This little guy was given to us. It was falling apart, literally. A lot of gluing and clamping, sanding, painting, new pulls, and some added decor elements and it has a new life.


That's basically been my life for the last week--running from one thing to the next and falling into bed at night to sleep hard. But I do take time to watch an episode or two of an old Sherlock Holmes series produced in 1954. It's in black and white, and I have to admit that while the story lines are okay, it's the costumes, the scenery and the decor in the series that fascinates me. I find it a nice way to relax after these busy days. Larry prefers just going to bed! The man sleeps 10-12 hours a day, no lie. I can't imagine sleeping that much.

Over the weekend my oldest son notified me that his grandmother on his father's side had died. She was 93 and had been in poor health for years. About 10 years ago my son brought her up from Florida and put her into a care home near where he lives as my ex-husband (her only son) did not do anything for his mother. My son, bless him, visited Grandma every day, and took her clothes home to his wife who laundered them to be sure they didn't get contaminated in the general wash at the home (she also shopped for new clothes and personal care items for Grandma, taking care to choose things Grandma would like). Even when Grandma didn't know who he was any more, he still went daily to see her and manage her care.

I am sad that she is gone, but glad she is finally at rest. She was my mother-in-law for 16 years and while we weren't close, she always spoke well of me and was proud of my sons, her only grandchildren. I hope my son can now relax a bit, with the worry of her care off his shoulders. Of course, he now has her estate to deal with, and that's never easy. He's one good man.

So that's all the news that isn't from this hill. I've got to get back to my painting, and hopefully finish up a few more things this evening.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Appalachian Festival: A Look Back


The Cincinnati Appalachian Festival is over for another year. This year marked the festival's 50th anniversary, and I was glad to be part of the celebration.

The festival offers something for everyone: woodcarvers, weavers, farm animals, coal and forestry exhibits, games for children, artisans of every kind, lots of good music, dancing, Appalachian region Native American and Civil War encampments, food of every kind and of course, Storytelling.






The weather was not what it could have been: it was cold, and often drizzly and overcast. But that did not deter the crowds who came to celebrate both the festival's anniversary and Mother's Day. For many families the festival is an annual Mother's day tradition and many took advantage of the dinner and brunch offered for the holiday.

 I was there to tell stories, and I had a great time. I told tall tales and family stories, ghost stories and historical tales and sang ballads to an ever-changing audience.



In between my sets I wandered around to see everything I could see. I ran into George Brosi, a seller of Appalachian books, and it was so good to see him again. Fred Powers was there to tell stories of a coal miner,


and Steven Hollen was presenting a variety of characters, from an advice-giving charlatan to a fast-talking politician and more. Steven teamed up with his friend, storyteller Paul Ingham to do a hilarious rendition of Goldilocks using the oddest facemask I've ever seen.



It was a great time, and we hated to say goodbye to Sue Cox, the organizer of the storytelling tent.We took the slightly longer way home so we could travel along the Ohio River, a quieter road than the recommended route, with a lot less traffic.


The route took us through the small town of Ripley, Ohio, where we stopped for a bite at Snappers, the local pub.

This door is no longer used, but it's a sharp reminder of the town's heyday as a tobacco market and auction town. It's nostalgic for me, as we used to grow tobacco and my guys had Pride in Tobacco hats.

We had the best time there--the locals made us as welcome as could be, and between stories and laughter an hour os so passed very quickly. I said something about when I was a girl (meaning when I was young) and the pub owner said, "So when did you have your gender re-assignment?" I was speechless for a moment before I figured out what he meant! So funny.

The owner told us he used to be a professional turtle hunter, hunting the big snappers that lived in the creeks that emptied into the river. I told him about a huge mud turtle I once saw on our road. I had stopped to look at the turtle,who seemed kind of annoyed at having to walk across the road. I pulled right up beside him and rolled down the window, and talked to him. Something like "What are you doing out here, big boy?" I can't remember exactly what I said but evidently the turtle didn't like it because he reared up and literally rammed my car so hard he made a dent in the door! You can believe I rolled up the window in a hurry, telling the turtle, "Well if you're going to be that way!"

So that's the story I told the pub owner, and when I finished, he looked at my husband and asked, "Where did you find her?!" I guess he didn't believe my story!

We heard about local history, an old h,ouse where odd things happen, about a ferry across the river we didn't know about and much more. One of the funniest moments happened when the plumber, who was working on one of the restrooms, brought in a new toilet and left it near the bar. Of course there were comments about that--how convenient, etc. Lots more laughter ensued.

Voila'!
We left regretfully, still laughing, but we still had a long drive ahead of us and it would soon be dark. But we will surely go back to visit this friendly little town. This was our second visit there (click here to see photos of our first visit) and I think a third one just might happen this summer. The stop was a strong reminder that stories--and storytelling--can happen anywhere.

We came home to a chilly house, as we'd left the windows open, so we hustled to get them closed and a stove or two turned on. Bedtime came early, and wake-up time this morning was late. But what a good weekend it was, full of stories and friends, both old and new.


Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Mercury Glass

In a recent online auction I bought a box of mercury glass. I didn't realize it was a thing many years ago, but since no one else was bidding on the lot, I figured why not, just out of curiosity.

Mercury glass, also called silver glass, has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. I see it in Walmart and other stores as candleholders and other decor. Its bright silver shine is certainly attractive. In my childhood, we had many mercury glass Christmas ornaments, most of them made in Germany or other European countries. in the mid-1800's.

Two mercury glass candle holders or vases, along with one of the copper vases we found in Wales, and a tall silverplate candleholder that could really use cleaning...again.




I can imagine the delight of housekeepers in the 1800's when this glass came out. The shine and look of silver, without tarnish and polishing? Yes, please! Of course, being glass was a certain drawback as glass breaks and silver doesn't.

What is mercury glass exactly? Wikipedia says it is "glass that was blown double walled, then silvered between the layers with a liquid silvering solution, and sealed. Although mercury was originally used to provide the reflective coating for mirrors, elemental mercury was never used to create tableware. Silvered glass was free-blown, then silvered with a solution containing silver nitrate and grape sugar (!) in solution, heated, then closed. Sealing methods include metal discs covered with a glass round or a cork inserted into the unpolished pontil scar. "Mercury" silvered glass was produced originally around 1840 until at least 1930 in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), Germany and was also manufactured in England from 1849 to 1855. Edward Varnish and Frederick Hale Thomson patented the technique for silvering glass vessels in 1849....Silvered "mercury" glass is considered one of the first true "art glass" types, that is, glass that was made for display and for its inherent artistic value rather than for utilitarian use."

It is easy to distinguish old mercury glass from the new variation; the old pieces will be double-walled, and will have a pontil, which is the mark made on glass where the glassblowing rod is disattached from the piece after blowing. Here's one example of a pontil on mercury glass:



The hole in the bottom of mine are not sealed. Whatever they had in the pontil hole is long gone. In most blown glass, the pontil is not open, but I suppose the hole was left in this  double-walled glass for the silvering to be applied.

The biggest problem with this glass is that the silvering comes loose with age. All but one of the pieces I bought are losing some of their silvering. Most had some painting on them, flowers and gold bands, but that too has worn away with age until there is little left of the original design.



I sure wish the cameo on this piece wasn't so faded.


Still, displayed on the mantle they are quite pretty, aren't they? 


The age of these pieces and their wear give them a distinctive look to me. I've listed all of these on ebay for a reasonable price, but if they never sell, I'm okay with that. I will enjoy them as long as they're here.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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