Friday, July 22, 2016

Tomatoes in the Attic

Ah, tomatoes!


It's that time of year--at last! Our tomatoes are later this year for some reason. Perhaps all the rain in June and early July slowed down pollination. We've been getting a few here and there, enough to keep us happy, but now the boom is on. Yellow, pink, black and red are filling up the table on the deck as Larry brings them in. He prefers picking before they're completely ripe; I like to leave them on the vine as long as possible but since he's doing the picking, I'm not complaining.


I have always loved tomatoes. Some years we plant as many as 14 varieties, but this year I think we're down to 7 or 8. My absolute favorites are the black varieties--Black Prince and Black Crim. This year I could only find black cherry tomato plants so that's what I bought, along with some Cherokee Purple that seem like black tomatoes to me. Next favorites are the big pinks and deep golden yellows. This isn't to say I don't like reds! But these others are pretty much only available to us in summer, so I really look forward to them.


Our house at 514 East Quarry St, later renumbered
as 8807 Quarry Road, in Manassas, VA. We were
hard on that old place! You can see the attic window
in this photo.
I remember when I was 11, I would sneak down to the garden and get a half dozen tomatoes at a time, hide them in my pockets or wherever I could, then go up into the attic before Mom caught me. It was a trick to get into the attic because there was no ladder and the ceilings in our house were 12 fet high. First I had to position the bedroom door just right. Then I would get my feet on the doorknobs. From there I could pull myself up to the top of the door, and from there stretch to reach the attic opening. I would get my hands on the sides of the opening, and pull myself up until I could get a foot on top of the door trim. I could lift the attic trapdoor with my head, and then pull/push myself up and inside to fall on the floor. Now as I read this, it seems impossible, but at that age I was agile and strong and it seemed easy once I figured it out.

Once inside the attic I would tiptoe carefully on the boards that spanned the rafters, being careful not to let my foot slip and go through the lath-and plaster ceiling of the room below. That would have disaster! I'd have been in bad trouble and even worse, I'd have given away my hiding place in the dark, unfinished, hot attic.

There were three secrets, I discovered, in the attic: First, if I stretched out on the floor in front of the half-circle window at the front of the house, there was a most delicious, steady breeze. It was cool there even on the hottest northern Virginia days.


Me, at about the age I was in this post.
I remember Mom trimmed my bangs, and as she tried
to even them up, they just got shorter and shorter!

Then there were the boxes and boxes of old books. These books had belonged to my grandparents and when they moved a lot of their things ended up in our house, and up in our attic. There I discovered Janice Holt Giles, an author I still enjoy re-reading. There were many other books, all best-sellers from the 1930's, 40's and 50's. I read all that summer, eating tomatoes or sometimes Concord grapes when those came ripe.

And the third secret: from that half-round arched window, I could just barely see, if I positioned myself right, the blue Bull Run Mountains. I would look at them as I read Giles' The Enduring Hills, imagining myself living in a cabin in the mountains. How little I knew then that that is exactly what would happen.


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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dawdling Down Joe's Run

I rarely take the time to photograph mid- or late-summer flowers, but yesterday I took my time as I drove out of our hollow, to appreciate the rampant roadside beauty all along the way.

The WV Department of Transportation has not yet mowed so the growth is rife, even hanging over the road in many areas. This isn't unusual, unfortunately--we're often one of the last places they mow (or plow) for some reason. This year it's more understandable, given the massive roadwork that needs to be done to repair the damage from the floods in the areas south of us. The side benefit to the lack of care is that the flowers get to bloom and grow.

I don't know the names of some of these, like this first one. I think it is tick-seeded sunflower. Open to correction anytime!


Wild blue chicory is everywhere this time of year.


Black-eyed Susans and Queen Ann's Lace...


and above I heard screaming. I obviously had upset someone.


Yes, there he or she was, a beautiful hawk (red-tail? not sure) high in a black walnut.


Lavender bergamot, or bee balm, is coming into its own now. My cultivated variety has already bloomed and quit but the wild continues to beautify.






Mullein is not yet blooming, but close, its spiky head high above its neighbors.


And more chicory. Too, too pretty. And unpickable--pick it, and it closes right up.


Our little lake, really a big pond, is one of seven watershed control lakes to stop the local county seat from flooding. It's brought a nice variety of wildlife and waterfowl to our road.


 Yellow, white and blue line the road in places, almost overwhelmed by the green everywhere.


More bergamot, nestling as if planted by the gate.


This patch of some type of wild grass caught the sun and my eye.


Wild blue lobelia crowds along another section of road.


I have photographed this cabin in almost every season, numerous times.


And finally back up on the ridge, a patch of sweet peas and Queen Anne's Lace, with a little yellow-flowered type of clover whose name I cannot recall.


Even the heat of July can't take away the beauty of our wild roadsides. I hope you have time to dawdle along somewhere in your part of the world and enjoy what's there for you to see.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Back to the Booths: An Update on Marietta and Riverbend Antique Malls

Now that the storytelling rush is over for a bit, I can turn my attention back to my booths. Not to painting yet, because I cannot get inspired to paint just yet. Maybe soon. First I need to take care of things like housework, putting up garden produce, working on my booths, and catching up on paperwork.

We did get some booth work done this week. Not a lot, just a few change-ups with some new items and some moving around of current items.

First, Marietta: we added a nice oak dresser here, which necessitated some shifting about to make space. Fortunately the treadle table was sold so we could move it to the storage area of the antique mall. That opened up some space.


I did a grouping of most of the clocks I had in the booths on top, and added the two milk glass lamps that were not in ideal locations before.


The old phonograph moved to a new spot; this is really a unique piece. The "guts" are really old, and they work. The cabinet was handmade of American Chestnut by a West Virginia craftsman, probably in the 1940's. It's a beautiful piece.

In the corner cabinet, a new Hall "Aladdin" teapot was added, along with a Thomas Kinkade "cottage" teapot and a small made-in-Japan (so pre-1990, probably) porcelain teapot on the bottom shelf.


A medley of kitchen items on a tabletop including a set of Pyrex in sunny shades, some Hall mugs, a mid-century snack set, a couple reproduction coffee grinders, and two vintage sifters--one large, one smaller Androck with pretty red tulip trim.


and in a cabinet, a big green coffeepot,  and an amethyst Pyrex bowl.

On another shelf, blues and greens, whites and a touch of pink. The cobalt vase is Fenton, and we found it on the muddy, filthy floor of a garage (!). It cleaned up nicely. The blue pottery piece is RimRill, a Redwing pottery piece. It's lovely but has a few tiny chips on the rim. The little pink vase in the middle I have not identified. The cobalt bowl is a Blenko "sunflower" bowl, and the milk glass candleholders are Imperial diamond point, which I've also seen called English hobnail. I don't know the maker of the cobalt bookends or the plain white salt and pepper shakers. The green mug of course is Fire-King jadeite, and the green pitcher and tumblers is Morgantown Crinkle or Seneca Driftwood. Those two are very similar, and I'd have to do some research again to tell you the difference.


On this shelf, you can see part of a yellow Blendo pitcher with 6 juice glasses, two Fenton barber bottles, some MacBeth-Evans dishes in Monax--this glass has that glowing "fire" inside when held to the light. That's a Viking amberina dish on the right, and a corner of a Jeannette set of two platters, a pitcher and juice glasses.

The ruby shelf! Well, mostly amberina and amber, actually.


The old Hoosier-style cabinet is still there, not sold yet. These cabinets do sell, but slowly. It takes someone with some space to buy one of these.


I added a silverplate service, just for contrast, to the items on the Hoosier.


Not quite as many photos of Ravenswood this time, but I will be back over there later this week so I'll get more.

I think my favorite add was this church pew. It was an adventure getting it home, and then to the booth because it's over 8 feet long. So it went from the very back of the van all the way to the front, but the passenger seat had to scoot all the way up to get it in! That meant one of us sitting in the back on whatever we could find. But I love it--the man we bought it from originally planned to put it out by his firepit, which would have ruined it in a short time. That's why he agreed to sell it to us. It will be awesome on someone's porch, or in a big family room. It's all oak, heavy and sturdy.


We brought this little table in to replace the small rustic washstand we'd brought in to replace the washtubs we'd brought in to replace the Tappan range--this corner has had a lot of sales recently!


I needed more shelf space, so these stacked apple crates are filling in.


On the Hoosier, a bright yellow scale, Pyrex "Primary Colors" bowls, and some American PresCut glass from mid-century, around 1960-1970's. Some mushroom mugs stacked in the center, a set of six.


A little bit of a French theme here, with Eiffel Tower lamp, votive holder, and plate.


Another cool find was this big battery jar. These were used to hold batteries for home electrical systems prior to the establishment of a national power grid. You can read about how these worked here. A jar with its lid intact (this one is a crockery lid) is a pretty rare find.


That's a bit of what's new in the booths!

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