Hobby for nosy people

I took up a new hobby last year – estate sale shopping. Like my “hobby” of ghost town collecting, this new pastime does not require amassing a large collection of finds that I have to find storage for, however. Going to estate sales is, for me, simply another way to satiate my nosiness.

But I have to make myself clear; I’m not nosy about other people’s possessions. Rather, I like to go inside houses to savor, comment, critique, enjoy, and marvel at their architecture. And the older the house, the better. At the Dallas-area estate sales I frequent, I have the opportunity to visit early and mid-century homes that had been owned by one family for decades. After the last of the parental generation dies off, their possessions go on sale and the house itself is also up for grabs. Often, that means that the house will no doubt become bulldozer fodder as the new homeowners wish to transform geographically desirable addresses into fashionably designer homes with the latest accouterments. I could pretend to be understanding in their desire to tear down the older homes to build more modern ones. It’s their money, right? And everyone wants the latest conveniences, right?

lamar county log house front.jpg

Not a modern house.

But I’d be lying. I LIKE the older homes. I think pink, tiled bathrooms, with built-in toothbrush holders, are awesome. I cannot contain my enthusiasm when I encounter a vintage metal kitchen, often painted in a cheery yellow. Massive brick fireplaces with wooden mantles, built-in corner china cabinets, transoms, stained-glass windows, arched doorways, crystal door knobs, telephone nooks, linoleum, shag carpeting, scuffed wooden floors, decorative plaster… I’m a big fan.

Estate sales offer the rare opportunity for me to see these hidden gems before they’ve been demolished, and without having to employ a real estate agent, either. Visiting these sales is like capturing a small moment in time, before the future obliterates the past.

Published in: on January 13, 2016 at 6:20 pm  Comments (1)  
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Insulator-ing

I consider myself very lucky because my son likes to take road trips with me. Sometimes, I feel as though I need to justify my trips, and what better way to do that than to just blame all the traveling on my son. Well, not really – I just like to get up and go, and ever since he was a small baby, he got up and went with me.

Now, he’s 12, and he discovered a hobby that combines my love of road tripping with a purpose: to find insulators. Glass (also ceramic and plastic) insulators were used to hold up and protect telegraph and telephone wires that were strung next to railroad lines. David likes to discover old right-of-ways that still have telegraph poles next to them and hunt for these utilitarian pieces of art. Currently, he has over 100 glass insulators in a variety of colors. He usually finds simple Hemingray 45s that are clear or aqua,  but sometimes he’s lucky enough to find blue and green ones, too.

A sandblasted Hemingray

While I’ve never been much of a collector, I must say these insulators are growing on me. They’re just so pretty, and some of them have interesting stories to tell. For example, I especially like the ones that still have a ring of soot on them – remnants of the days of steam locomotives.

If your curiosity has been piqued, here are a few websites that can tell you a lot more about this rather interesting hobby: http://www.insulators.info/ , http://www.nia.org/, and http://insulatorstore.com/

Published in: on December 3, 2011 at 3:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Relic gardening

“Oh no,” says the lone reader of my blog, “not a darn gardening post! They are SOOO boring!”

Well, stupor ain’t my middle name, so I’ll make this short… I just wanted to point out what great things can happen when an appreciation of history, a knowledge of native flora, and a historian who likes to play in the dirt collide.

Methinks that tiller's not going anywhere.

A looong time ago, I picked up several pieces of Thurber brick and made a walkway out of them. Alas, I dismantled the walkway because we moved. At the new-ish house (still an antique, but new to me), I made three garden beds with them instead. In the garden beds, I placed several native species of grasses, many culled from the sides of a dirt road in Montague County (psst, don’t tell!). I surrounded the plants with rock to create a southwestern feel. Then, I took a good look at my antique collection, which really consists of a bunch of rusty items that we’ve found at flea markets, along railroad tracks, or at Goodwill Stores over the years. I set them around the garden and, Bob’s your uncle, I created a pretty decent-looking garden!

A stop sign, old coca-cola ad, and broken insulators bring some ambience

But I’m no green thumb, so who knows how good this garden will hold up a year from now. I do know that I won’t need to water it much, so there’s that. Also, I wanted to “embrace the ranch” – we bought a ranch-style house, which is long but not wide, with a small front porch and large patio. I’ve always been partial to cottage and prairie houses, but this house was just a much better fit for the family. So, what better way to appreciate a housing style than to dress it up like I think it should be?

Old shovels lend themselves to garden relics.

Let me know what you think! As long as you’re kind.

Published in: on May 31, 2011 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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