Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kitchen's Painted

 When we moved here over 28 years ago, getting the kitchen in shape was one of my first priorities. The oven was in sad shape and I replaced it with a new digital model from Sears. I'm happy to say that that in-wall oven still works perfectly all these years later.

 I also replaced a hanging light which apparently hung above a small kitchen table at one time. We didn't have a table nor did we want to use that space for one. Hanging down from the ceiling, the lamp wasn't just just an eyesore, it was dangerous. I replaced it with a ceiling-mounted light.

 I also painted the kitchen, staying with the all-white colors of the previous owners. Over the years we've gotten a bit tired of all that blandness. The silicone sealant I placed (not too well, actually) between the splash-boards and the wall had grown a dingy gray on top, cracked and even began pulling away from the wall. All in all, the kitchen needed a new coat of paint and some minor repair.

 On Monday I called Rieger Construction. They returned the call yesterday and stopped by the house and gave Mom and I an estimate. We approved it. They estimated the work would take two days. "We're available the next two days," Jordan Rieger told us. We didn't have anything on the schedule so we gave our go-ahead.

 Late yesterday Mom and began removing all the knick-knacks above the cabinets. We took everything movable to the dining room and piled it on the table, on the chair and on the floor. What a mess!

 Today, about 8:45 am, the Rieger Brothers (and one helper) arrived and began work.

 And here's how it was looking half-way through. They were having lunch while one coat dried and then they came back and added a second ...

 I think the walls look richer with a little brown added. This is the same color as the living room. I left the woodwork white enamel.

 Finally, here's contact information for the Rieger brothers:

For my own information, in case I ever need to match the color, here's the paint that was used:

 Many years ago, I painted the living room "Antique Ivory", an HWI color (2060-5). They've matched it with a Sherwin-Williams paint that is apparently called Egg Shell.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Cincy Sunday: Five Days Till Spring

 On our usual every-other Sunday schedule, this is my turn to drive to Cincinnati and spend the afternoon with Tom. It's a beautiful day - quite a change from only a few weeks ago - with the almost-constant sun driving the temperature up over 60°.

 It's a good day to be outside and re-visit a couple of sites.

 In front of Tom's apartment, this is Hamilton Avenue facing north. Northside is a beautiful community and still has many of its original Victorian buildings. It seems there are people coming and going around the clock. Just two weeks ago, this scene was quite different. Thick ice still stuck to the sidewalk and moving about was difficult. It's taken a few warm days and an early-week heavy rain to wash away all evidence of winter.

 To get to the door to Tom's apartment, one must unlock a metal gate and slip between two brick buildings. The one to the left of Tom used to be an A&P grocery. Some faded graffiti (or an ad?) is still visible. To the right, and between Tom and I, is the door that opens to stairs that lead to Tom's apartment. In the winter, the cold wind whips through this passage with some force. But also it offers some protection, depending on the wind's direction.

 We first drove to Findlay Market and made a quick pass through the interior before exiting on the opposite end and then making a complete pass around the outside where vendors have already set up shop. Vegetables will be sold there until fall.

 We then passed through the interior a second time. We were early enough that the market was only moderately busy. There's such a variety of unusual shops there - mostly food - and the people are so nice that it's a comforting place to visit.

 One of the reasons I wanted to go back inside was to buy a loaf of homemade bread. I chose a loaf of sourdough ... crusty thick on the outside and beautifully browned. The lady you see in the center of the picture is slicing the loaf on an electric slicer. In the foreground of the plastic case are loaves of salted rye. Tom tried a sample and thought it too salty. Of course that would be the main attraction for me.
 When we got back to the car, I sat the loaf behind us so it wouldn't be flattened ... and forgot it. Later, when I was already north of Cincinnati on I-75, Tom messaged me. "You forgot your bread!" he said. But it was already too late to turn back. Tom suggested he just enjoy the loaf himself and bring another to Pinehaven next weekend. That sounded like a good solution.
 Tom also bought a pound of Artichoke Pasta Salad, part of which he planned to send home with me. I (we) forgot that, too. Last evening Tom dug into it but wondered what he was going to do with a full pound of warm salad.. It must have spent the afternoon in his Prius.

 I've now visited Findlay Market twice and I hope we manage to get back there another time or two before this summer passes. For more information, click here. Tom and my reflection is in the right pane of glass.

 Then, while we were downtown, Tom suggested we check out the Contemporary Arts Center. Trouble was, there seemed to be a marathon or some sort of run going on and many streets were blocked. Police were everywhere directing traffic. We drove - slowly! - around a few blocks and did manage to pass the CAC on one of them, but it hadn't yet opened for the day. Tom said admission in March is free.

 Here we're following the Cinderella Carriage. We tagged it for some distance. It had no passengers, just a driver and the clip-clop of a horse. The horse plowed steadily along, generally weaving in and out among the stopped cars and making better time than the higher technology. I thought: does the horse know he's working? He seemed to be looking around and enjoying the tall buildings that surrounded him.

 Then to Listermann Brewing Company on Dana Avenue. We love their Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter. A "growler" is $15 which can be filled in their taproom. We've had several of them now. I thought they weren't open on Sunday but Tom said they opened at noon. Perfect timing ... and I had an empty, washed growler in the trunk ready for a refill.

 Tom's holding the door for me but I'm messing with the camera. What else is new?

 In their small parking lot, a well-painted Listermann van waits.
 Another great Sunday in Cincinnati, something I wouldn't have imagined doing even a year ago.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

An Unusual Vintage Collectible

This blog entry is not appropriate for everyone.

 What single item can prevent death and also prevent life?

 A condom. Think HIV. Think pregnancy.

 It wasn't until the 1920's that the latex condom was invented. The history of the condom is one of various materials: goat's bladders, oiled silk paper, lamb intestines, tortoise shells, even animal horns (try that one on for size). By the 16th century "linen sheaths" were tried. Rubber condoms arrived on the scene in 1855 and that's when the generic name stuck: rubbers.

 In the United States, the Comstock Laws (1873) prohibited contraceptive information from being mailed. Various state laws banned both the manufacture and sale of condoms. Northern Ohio, being a center of rubber manufacture, apparently wasn't one of them.

 Some time back, Tom bought an unusual vintage tin. "I bought the condom tin from Hakes," Tom said, "a well known auction house pre-Internet." He lost track of it. It ended up here in a box of pins which I've posted on eBay for him.

 The little tin was the most interesting object in the box. Just 2-2/16" x 1-9/16" x 5/16", the item was certainly throw-away at one time but it's well-made and strong. The artwork is beautifully rendered.

 Not three, but "1/4 dozen". And nothing said about condoms at all! Just "Genuine Texide. Product of liquid latex". The manufacturer, L.E Shunk Latex Products, Inc., was located in Akron, Ohio.
 I remember seeing my first condom dispenser in a gas station bathroom when I was a little kid. I didn't know what they were but I wanted one. Dad explained their purpose but I can't say I understood a word.

 The reverse shows natives stripping bark from rubber trees.

 Latex, which is rubber suspended in water, was invented in 1920. Nine years later latex found its way into the manufacture of condoms. Latex condoms were something of a revolution: both lighter and stronger than rubber. It's still the favored material.

 Tom's condom tin is circa 1931 ... 84 years old!

 The tin, empty, generally sells for about $20 (2115 figure). If the box contains the three original condoms, it's value increases to somewhere between $60 and $80. "Open the tin," Tom said. "I think there is still a condom inside."

 "To open, press here" is printed on one edge. Do you remember the small metal tins aspirins were once sold in, to be carried in a pocket or purse? This is the same idea. When pressed on one edge, the tin's lid pops open.

And this, after all those years, is what I found ...

 Two of the three condoms are still there. One is dark and aged, probably ready to crumble. The other actually looks fairly fresh. Both are wrapped in thin paper sleeves. The third?

 It's shadow is still imprinted on the inside lid of the tin. Beyond that, well, we'll just have to guess.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Worm Moon Rising

 The March full moon is called the Worm Moon. The Algonquin tribe - mostly in Quebec but extending in the United States from Virginia west to the Rocky Mountains - gave this month's moon the name. Supposedly the anticipation of a warming earth and the prospect of earthworms and the expected return of robins, was the genesis.

 But the robin's breast this night is carried by the moon itself, a rusty red when I saw it first begin to rise from my seat on the sofa. I have a front-row seat to these eastern events without so much as standing up.
 I had watched for moonrise as I knew this was the night of the full moon. I walked a time or two to the back door and watched the sun put itself to bed. I knew that as the sun set, the full moon would rise. And so I'd peak through the curtains and watch the distant line of trees (about half a mile away) for some sign of light.
 At first there was nothing and then, when I turned away from the television and looked again, the moon had risen to my west-northwest, etched behind a tangle of trees.

 This is what I first saw, a golden moon just visible among the branches of a tree between Pinehaven and Venus Road. The scene was still fairly bright, the sun just set as far below the western horizon as the moon had risen above the eastern one. It is a balancing act, these full moon nights, the moon and sun exactly opposite in the sky.
 No worms tonight. The snow-covered fields are colder than ice, and the temperature is already skidding down through the teens. It will bottom out at +4° by morning as the moon sets and the sun rises, a convenient switch, a celestial balancing act.
 All the night, our Pipe Brigade activated (if you do not know what that is, you have not read Pinehaven), I am bedded down on the living room floor, Mom's goose-down quilt feathered across me, as warm as can be. From that vantage point I watch the moon lift into the clear sky and marvel at its now-white light trace an arc across the floor. I'm up at 2 a.m. and again at 5 a.m., checking that the pipes still flow with liquid water. All is well.
 When the next full moon graces our skies - April's Pink Moon on the fourth - I expect that the need to babysit the pipes will be well past. By then the average temperature will have risen from 35° to 47° and spring will be underway. The earthworms will be burrowing. The robins will have returned.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cardinal - Leucistic?

 I've seen this bird before, I believe. But yesterday this male (?) cardinal stopped by our suet feeder and took enough time there that I was able to get my camera and record what I was seeing.

 But what - pray tell - was I seeing?

 I believe this would be called a Northern Cardinal - Leucistic. In other words, a bird that hasn't developed the proper amount of pigment. As stated in the provided link, this bird seems to have normal eye, bill and some of his plumage color. This bird is clearly not albino (totally white). There are, of course, examples of partial albinism, however.

 The picture above was taken when the bird perched on a snow-covered branch of our maple tree, just outside the kitchen window. The bird has lost pigment (carotenoid) only on his right side. This side view gives a clear indication of the extent of that pigment loss.

 When he flew to a clear branch I was able to get a more head-on photo, even slightly favoring the bird's left side. There is some minor loss of pigment even there.

 Other Internet sources note a Gender-bender cardinal. I do not think that's what this is. Yet another source shows a rare albino cardinal. Again, this bird exhibits too much pigment for that and both normal eyes and bill.

 Surely there are some serious bird watchers who can tell me what this is? Comments definitely welcome.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

China Kitchen

 Tom and I are working in his storeroom on Saturday, February 28. It's not our usual Sunday get-together because the weather promises snow, maybe half a foot. I'm not into driving on any snow, yet alone that much. So I've moved the day to Saturday. We haven't worked that long when Tom says, "Let's go eat."

 "What are you interested in?" he asks. Well, both of us went to Taco Bell yesterday so that's out. It has to be fairly cheap, though. I've only got about $13 with me; Tom says he has $20. But fast food doesn't sound right, either. "How about Chinese?" I suggest.

 And so we go to the Chinese Kitchen on Ludlow Avenue in Cincinnati because it's 1. Chinese, 2. cheap and 3. open. Tom's suggested this place before but I'm usually in Cincinnati on Sunday and the Chinese Kitchen isn't open on that day.

 Parking is a bit of a problem. The restaurant's ample lot is full but a nearby parking area, originally for a now-closed grocery store, has a single spot open. I grab it and we walk up an ice-slickened alley to Ludlow.

 Tom orders tea which is delivered quickly, steaming hot with a tea bag steeping in the metal pot. Tom swishes it around a bit and the boiling water darkens.

 I take an obligatory picture of Tom. He is in his usual pose, hand on chin ... pensive ... smiling.

 I pass the camera across the table to Tom so I have a picture of myself, too.

 Our meals arrive quickly. Tom has ordered shrimp with cashews and fried rice on the side. There are lots of stir-fried carrots, celery, tiny corn-on-the-cob, chunks of broccoli and, I think, a few thin slices of water chestnuts. Tom said that he had five shrimp.

 I've order a vegetarian offering: Mixed Chinese Vegetables. It's mostly broccoli with tiny corn-on-the-cob, water chestnuts, snow peas and mushrooms.

 They also provide me with a small bowl of white rice, steamed perfectly. Each grain of rice is separate.
 Sitting beside us who were two Asian girls, probably students at the University of Cincinnati. Both spoke fluent Chinese. I never heard an English word from the two of them. Thus their conversation was quite private. The waiters also spoke Chinese.

 When we're finished they bring the bill to the table with two fortune cookies.

 Our bill: $15. That's within my limited budget today. And we're both full. With all the broccoli, I'm even a bit too full.

 My fortune is on top. The reverse of both shows a Chinese word and the characters for it.

 Just before we left the manager (I assume) came by our table and saw my camera. "Oh, you take-ugh a picture?" I told him that I always did. As we leave I take one last photo of the outside of the restaurant.
 Now it's back to the storeroom where I load a few of the items into my car to bring home for our storage space.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cincinnati - Lunch and the Taft

 I drove to Tom's on Sunday (02/15) and we went out for lunch, as is our usual custom, and then went to the Taft Museum, which has free admittance on Sunday's. But first, the food ...

 We went to the Parkside Cafe, formerly a Frisch's location. It still has some of the checkerboard-painted glass dividers between the seating.

 I ordered a four-cheese omelette. It nearly filled a large plate. And "Parkside potatoes" and wheat toast. Everything was great but for the potatoes ... too well done in my estimation, a little too dark (burnt?).

 Tom ordered French fried green beans, thinking he'd get them as an appetizer, but they came with the rest of the meal. It was too much, too late, so we asked for a box and took almost all of them back to his apartment so that he could have an evening snack. We tucked them away in his refrigerator. Did you remember them, Tom?

 Tom's main dish was a huge salad ... lettuce and spinach with crumbled blue cheese, tomatoes, avocado, bits of bacon and strips of chicken. Who knows what else was in there. This was a meal in itself.
 Then to the Taft ...

 On the way I was intrigued by this building which I caught a glimpse of as we drove. Tom said it was Cincinnati's newest skyscraper. Most notable is the open metalwork on top. I shot this through Tom's dirty windshield, thus the spots. The building is 41 stories (665 feet) tall and is located at Queen City Square.

As we got closer I was able to get a better view of the metal grid. It's the headquarters of the Great American Insurance Company. Considered postmodern architecture, the building was begun in July 2008 and opened in January 2011.

 This statue of Abraham Lincoln is near the Taft but in Lytle Park. We had to park about four blocks away and walk. I asked Tom what he thought the temperature was and a lady, walking nearby, said it was 15°. My guess would have been colder.

 Information on "Barnard's Lincoln" may be found by clicking here. It has hands and feet that are disproportional to Lincoln's size. And yet the face, in my estimation, is spot on.

With fingers a bit numb, we arrived at the Taft Museum. We were issued a sticker to place on our clothing ...

I'm not quite sure of the purpose. Since the museum is free on Sunday, it couldn't have served as proof that we paid for admittance. But on other days of the week, that's probably the purpose. Maybe Sunday it's continued out of habit? Or maybe it's some sort of souvenir?

 The Taft Museum, located in the Baum-Taft House, is a National Historic Landmark and was built in 1820.

... and here's the history of the house.
 I took pictures of just a few of my favorites pieces of art there. Some areas (the current exhibit called Wild West to Gilded Age: American Treasures from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, for instance) did not allow photography so I opted to take fewer pictures than usual.

 Rookwood Vase

 Will Rogers on Soapsuds - 1936
Sally James Farnham (1869-1943)

From the 1500's, wonderful, intricate  relief 

 A view into one of the exhibit rooms

 The lighting was dim enough that my camera had to take slight time exposures (I did not want to use the flash) so the pictures are a little soft and blurred at time.

Edward Satchwell Fraser, Jr. - 1803
Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823)

 I particularly liked this painting. This artist lived in the United Kingdom.

 Tom stops to admire a painting on one of the Taft's many hallways.

 Just beyond the front door of the house (the museum entrance is on the side), this is the view visitors would first see in the nineteenth century. Tom said Abraham Lincoln was a visitor here.

The Cobbler's Apprentice - 1877
Frank Duvenek ( 1848-1919)

 Pretty impressive, isn't it? Up close you can see the "boy's dirty fingernails and the ash of his cigar". Here, let me show you ...

 This was the home's dining room.

Another room of the museum. How do they keep all the carpet's clean?

 This Visitor's Guide shows on its cover Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair (1633). I'd like to have photographed the original but thought perhaps it wasn't permitted. The fine detail of the lace about the man's neck seems exceptionally detailed from a distance (up close it is not). I suppose the mark of a great artist is being able to pull off illusions of this sort.

 Other artists worth seeing at the Taft include Gainsborough, Whistler and Farny.