Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now...

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Things are looking blurry at The Bunny Bungalow!

Well not yet but after today, I am on my way to seeing more clearly. This morning I will have cataract surgery on my right eye. Then, if all goes well, surgery on the left eye will follow at a later date. Tall Husband found an excellent surgeon at Baylor College of Medicine here in Houston, so with those two guys, the doctor and Tall Husband, I'm feeling confident.

As I will have one eye covered with a patch, Tall Husband has promised to get a large parrot for my shoulder today. I've been practicing saying, "Arrrghh!" and keeping an eye peeled (ouch!) for ships.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Emily Brontë

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Emily Brontë

July 30, 1818-December 19, 1848

Early in the summer of my fourteenth year, I was totally under the spell of Emily Brontë as I read her novel, "Wuthering Heights." Each morning, with the novel in hand, I climbed the spiral stairs to the small tower room of Formosa and sat on the floor opposite a table that held the tiny death mask of an infant lost in the previous century. There in that oddly shaped room, filled with the palpable awareness of an infant death, I would read until my eyes filled with tears and my heart broke, as only the heart of a fourteen-year-old girl can. Then the next morning, I was back for more.

Ding Dong!

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At The Bunny Bungalow Tall Husband installed a new "old" doorbell from Rejuvenation Lighting and House Parts. It's attached to the original Arts & Crafts door. When you turn the outside knob it sounds like those bells at old service stations. You know, your dad's car would run over an old black hose in the station's drive, which caused a loud bell to ring; causing a polite young man to run out to fill up the car, clean the windshield and check the oil and tires. Oh, I forgot; you aren't old enough for that memory. Well, just take my word for it. I don't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Crash and Dash

And I had a couple of dings taken out last that very spot.

Hmm...wonder if the electronics still work.

And I was worried about getting a ding or hit by a shopping cart!

This is my old Bemer after I pulled the sideview mirror back into position.

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Some sleazebag sideswiped my beloved old Bemer and left the scene, as I shopped for groceries yesterday. A total stranger has decided how I will spend my time and insurance deductible. Were they on the phone? On drugs? On booze? Or perhaps all three? Whatever the reason, they left my sideview mirror smashed flush with the side window, a large dent and their white paint streaked along the side of my car. The only thing they did not leave was a note, taking responsibility for the damage.

At the police station, there was an interesting coincidence: An agent from my very own auto insurance company happened to be there, dealing with an identity theft situation for her elderly father. Not only does she know my agent but she gave me very helpful information on handling the hit and run. So I gave her the web address of Kim Komando, the Digital Goddess. Kim's website has information on all things digital including information on who to contact and what steps to take when your identity has been stolen.

Now I've got to go complete some paperwork on the accident and make some more phone calls. But if anyone saw a large white thing (Tall Husband believes the culprit was driving something large, like an SUV or van) sideswipe my parked Bemer in a Houston parking lot yesterday, let me know.

Hmm...I wonder if Kim Komando knows if my car could be repaired on line. I'll call her radio show and ask!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!

Happy Birthday, Miss Potter
July 28, 1866-December 22, 1943

Did you actually believe that we at The Bunny Bungalow would forget that today is the birthday of Beatrix Potter?  We could never forget the creator of such a delightful bunny world.  Happy Birthday, Miss Potter.

P.S. Click on the photograph of the Peter Rabbit cup to find the tiny "flaw" and learn why he is Peter Rabbit.  The other cup in the tea set is not thus endowed.

Heights Theater for Sale

Photos by Annie of The Bunny Bungalow
Heights Theater in the Historic Houston Heights
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On our early morning walk yesterday, Tall Husband and I lamented that the old 1920's Heights Theater is still vacant. It's such a great piece of Houston History and until earlier this year it was a retail space selling antiques. We found our first pieces of furniture for The Bunny Bungalow there, an oak mission library table and an English Arts & Crafts dining table.

The Greater Houston Preservation Alliance has a cool link about the history of this theater. According to them, Heights Theater began life as a Mission style space before being given a 1935 modernistic update.

Now, the old theater is for sale. Our hope is that someone will purchase the space to refurbish, turning it into a really cool retail spot.

Any takers out there? With deep pocket? By the way, for any of you out-of-state investment types: contrary to recent media hysteria, Houston has not been hit by the mortgage crisis or the "R" word.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Making Waves

1920's Wave Machines at David, Etc, Houston, Texas

When Tall Husband went to his hair stylist today, I tagged along with camera in hand. David, owner of David, Etc., designed his Salon, furnishing it with antiques of all sorts. My favorites are his 1920's wave machines. One is a Realistic and the other is a Silverqueen. They look like something out of the movie Brazil, sort of retrotech (Tall Husband's description of this genre of antique.)

The original 1920's Marketing Blurb for the Realistic is framed and hangs on the wall over the Machine stating:

"Start the season right! Install Realistic machines in your shop—now! Earn new prestige and profit. Cater to the tremendous popular demand for lovely soft, flat waves—CROQUIGNOLE waves—for Realistic waves! Use the handy coupon below. It means profit for you."

Okay, I'm going to Google CROQUIGNOLE right now.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Pompous Painter

Arts & Crafts Interior and Exterior Preservation Palette is courtesy of Sherwin Williams.

Brochure is courtesy of Ralph Lauren Paints.
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I have a great talent: I can paint. My rooms and exteriors are sheer perfection. I have been offered paint jobs by big contractors; I have had individuals drive by when I am painting the exterior, look at my work and beg me to bid on their jobs. Well, I do dress the part: all white with a painters cap. To look at my work, you would think that I love painting. I hate to paint but I hate poorly done work even more. And the lack of real painters has driven me to rolling my own.

Everyone thinks he is a painter, including the last disillusioned guy we hired and fired. By the way, he still sends us Christmas cards. I suppose he thinks that being a Christian makes him immune to the need for skills and talent. He has made me religious; I pray that he finds another line of work. Enough about him!

When speaking of painting, one cannot overstress the importance of preparation. Painting is the easy part. Preparation is the bitch. After proper surface preparation, the next three, most important tips I give your are: tape, tape, and tape; with tape being used as both noun and verb. I have heard other painters brag about not having to tape and I have seen their work; not a pretty sight.

When purchasing paint and supplies for The Bunny Bungalow, the Sherwin Williams store in the neighborhood is my favorite spot. Sherwin Williams has a palette of Arts & Crafts colors just for bungalows; colors like Dard Hunter Green, Hubbard Squash, Bungalow Gray, Roycroft Adobe. And our store has the best color-matching staff and computers, plus they calibrate their computer frequently. You thought all paint-store clerks and color-matching computers were the same or even infallible? Wrong, my sweet innocent one; you should see some of the color matches I have had foisted upon me.

For interior paint and colors at the Ranchburger, I love Ralph Lauren Paints. The entire interior is Tackroom White. It took Tall Husband and me two years of looking and trying paints to find the right white. The walls are matte white and the trim is semi-gloss white. I buy Ralph Lauren Paints at a wonderful local store, Bering's.

Always buy the top-of-the-line paint. Catch them on sale. Painting is so horrible, you don't want to do it frequently. Buy the best brushes and clean them with water soluble brush & roller cleaner at the end of each paint day. If you are painting things white, use water-based paint, as oil based will yellow. I buy white scrub pants, tee shirts and white sneakers for painting. You also need safe ladders of the appropriate height and lots of drop cloths.

When you are finished, keep extra paint for touch-up work. Retain a copy of the computer label from the top of the can so the paint store can simply enter the numbers printed there to achieve a perfect match. The wooden paint stirrers are great for color matching if you don't have the computer codes. Simply dip a clean stick into the paint you may want match; let dry; then on the unpainted part, write the name of the room or area for which the color is intended. Also make sure you write down the sheen of the paint (flat? matte? semi-gloss? egg shell?), as colors will appear to be different if the sheen does not match .

Neutral colors appeal to me. I had rather that color be added through art and flowers. I get frightened when a decorator, magazine headlines or book titles shout that color is going to solve my problems. I like what the the two Ann's* told Metropolitan Home, March, 1992, about color: "Take chances with white. An interplay of various whites on different surfaces give a room depth and intrigue..." Those two are my kind of women.

Go wild with white!

*Ann Holden & Ann Dupuy, interior designers, New Orleans

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Welcome A New United States Citizen

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Today our wonderful daughter-in-law becomes a U.S. citizen!

To Refinish or Not to Refinish?



You saw this child's small chair in previous posts. The chair was purchased for $22 in the neighborhood of The Bunny Bungalow. I asked, "Should I refinish the chair or leave it as found?”

Tall Husband asked the definitive question, "Where is the chair to live; in the Ranchburger or The Bunny Bungalow?"

The Ranchburger is modern (I do not mean "mid-century modern." I am not a fan of that design period, as I grew up with that style and have the Naugahyde burns to prove it.) By modern I refer to our licensed reproductions originally designed by
Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, Marcel Breuer and Eileen Gray. I also refer to original Wolfgang Hoffman (son of Joseph Hoffman). The Ranchburger has a touch of quirkiness to its interiors so the tiny chair would "fit," left unfinished. But The Bunny Bungalow with all its arts & crafts furniture, antique bunnies and birds' nests is a fantasy. So the tiny child's chair would find its home there, next to Harvey Ellis designs. It's yellowed, cracked varnish would not blend with the dark woods of the surrounding furniture. So "to refinish," is the answer.

After using a stripper and sanding, I used a mahogany Minwax with a sponge brush for the transformation. Of course age and price of the chair were considerations in my decision to refinish. At the Bungalow our really old pieces have been merely given a good waxing or have been refurbished by one of the best in the business, Robert Stallcup (who, with his partner, recently moved their business and residence to Brenham, Texas.)

I like the new look of this tiny chair but must confess that I miss the scratched and much used look it had before I intervened. Aah, there is no pleasing a woman!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stolen Identity

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This is my old electronic ticket to Musee Maillol in Paris, purchased the day we discovered that Lucian Freud had stolen Tall Husband's likeness.

Back a few years, Tall Husband and I were walking down the rue de Bac in Paris, when we spotted a discreet sign pointing the way to Musee Maillol, a small art museum/gallery that we like to visit when we are in Paris. At that moment, I remembered reading that Maillol was having an exhibit of British artists, including the big hitters, Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon.

We usually have this small, out-of-the-way museum to ourselves, however, it was crowded with Brits and Frenchmen this day. We strolled through the main exhibit hall, looking slowly and carefully at the paintings. Then suddenly, there loomed before us the life-size painting by Lucian Freud, "Painter and Model." If you have never seen Freud's paintings, suffice it to say that they are realistic to the point of brutality. In spite of this fact, critics term his approach "traditional representational style." The
model in this painting was a nude male, reclining immodestly on an ancient, brown leather sofa. It wasn't his pose that made me gasp audibly. No, the model in the painting was Tall Husband! Though brutally executed, the painting captured Tall Husband's every feature. I was without words and could not take my eyes away from the uncanny likeness. I calmed myself by thinking that Tall Husband would not notice the resemblance.

Then he quietly but firmly said, "We have to leave. Everyone is staring at me." I looked away from the painting and around the room; sure enough, every pair of eyes was fixed on Tall Husband. And in their faces, I saw expressions of disapproval or worse, morbid curiosity.

Now, I have not placed a photo of the offending painting within this post for two reasons: first I do not have permission to use the image and second, Tall Husband would not want you to be shown a nude picture of him. But if you click here on
"Painter and Model," you can find the image of the painting. And I haven't really shown it to you, have I!?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Historic American Building Survey: Online History of America's Architecture

"Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange, photographer, 1936; Portrait of Florence Thompson, a grape picker, with several of her children. Photograph taken for the Farm Security Administration, Office of War.

Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago Illinois; Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright; According to HABS, The Robie House is "...the most frequently requested structure in the HABS collection." Photograph by Cervin Robinson, August 18, 1963

Here's one from my birth city: Mission Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion de Acuna, San Antonio, Texas. Arthur W. Stewart, Photographer, April 10, 1936, South Elevation (side.) This is one of the oldest surviving mission churches in the American Southwest. Built in the mid-eighteenth century by Franciscan monks from Spain. It has a vaulted stone roof and twin towers.

Beacon Hill House, Home of A.C. Rice in "Surprise Valley," Newport, Rhode Island; 1927, Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer.

Le Pretre Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana in the French Quarter; built around 1836; The cast-iron column and capital are shown here in this measured drawing by U.J. Theriot and A. Boyd Cruise, April, 1940.

All Images are Courtesy of HABS

When we think of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, visions of the dust bowl and "Grapes of Wrath" usually come to mind, as in the powerful but familiar photograph of "Migrant Mother." However, I have just learned of another sort of photo project. This morning I was reading an interesting article by Russell Versaci, architect and author, in New Old House magazine, Summer 2008, page 10. In "Picturing Home," Versaci reports on the work of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) and how HABS "... became America's repository of its architectural legacy." According to Versaci, recording America's built environment began in the 1920's when Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), America's first woman photographer and photojournalist, traveled across the United States, photographing "endangered landmarks." Her photographs are now in the HABS online collection. Through the online preservation of drawings and photographs, HABS continues to collect and document a range of architecture, engineering and design across the United States.

As HABS is part of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, you can legally and free of charge download digitized records from their website and print art for free! Plus a great research tool. So I decided to take it for a spin, as you can see from the above photographs and drawings. I found a wonderful range of built environments: schooners, lighthouses, windmills, bridges, missions, churches, synagogues, school houses, commercial buildings, etc.

Don't you think that if Frances Benjamin Johnston were living today, she would be a blogger? She looks kind of wild and crazy like us!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beadboard UpCountry

When Tall Husband and I learned that Maryanne Flaherty and husband Peter, owners of Beadboard UpCountry, had redecorated the front of their boutique, we couldn't resist a visit to Brenham, Texas to have a look this past weekend. Also, I could not resist bringing home some of the pale, porcelain figs (photo below.)

Beadboard UpCountry, an exquisite Euro-country boutique, is nestled in the restored 1916 Farmers National Bank building on the historic square in Brenham, Texas. The light-filled space exudes the atmospheric chic of pale French-country interiors. It's no wonder that Beadboard UpCountry was the 2007 winner of "Best Commercial Interior," awarded by the Texas Downtown Association. The talented owners, Maryanne and Peter have gathered antiques, luxury linens, soaps, reproduction items and much more from North America and Europe. Whether you are desiring merely to create an original tabletop; slipcover or upholster a piece of furniture; or redecorate your entire home, this is your source. Maryanne and Peter also carry a stunning line from a Dallas company, Aidan Gray, whose furnishings, accessories and architectural elements appear to have arrived from Provence or Tuscany.

Click on Photos to Enlarge

Beadboard UpCountry, Brenham, Texas: Redecorated Storefront with Zinc Planters

Original Storefront (Photo from Advertising Card)

Shop Interior

Shop Interior

Original Floor of Old Bank

Ceiling With Tin Border

Ceiling: Old Wood Retained

Gothic French-Style Table (above & below) from Aidan Gray

Table Top is a Zinc-look Metal

Large, Wooden Trompe l'oeil Candlesticks with Metal Crowns from Aidan Gray

Chest in Beautiful French-Gray Finish, Aidan Gray

Antique Basket of Flowers

Charming Stone Doves with Antique Wire Basket

Distressed Stencil on a Side table, Aidan Gray

Sweet Stone Cherub with Antique Ceiling Tin

Porcelain Figs in a Bird's Nest
Thanks to Cote de Texas for first introducing us to Beadboard UpCountry!