June 2016

All posts in the June 2016 category

Is it a Kestner, Handwerck, or a reproduction?

Published June 14, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1
German bisque head doll 23 inches 6-13-2016

Is she the real deal or a knock-off Kestner or a Simon and Handwerck German bisque head doll? Either way she’s gorgeous!

She looks like a Kestner and/ or Simon & Handwerck German bisque head doll. She’s 23 inches tall and her body is composition (pressed saw dust and painted) which for its age appears to be in excellent condition. Okay, she’s my birthday present to myself. However, I have no provenance about this beautiful doll. I have no idea if she’s an antique or a remake of those lovely antique German bisque head dolls.

I surfed onto the doll reference website and still couldn’t find any answers to my questions. All I found was the number “13” stamped into the back of her head. Her wig screams and feels synthetic. Her glass eyes are stationary. Her mouth is open revealing an impressive set of upper baby teeth. Still though, it’s perplexing. I skimmed the doll collector’s database for more information about said doll. I know there’s a TON of reproduction German bisque head dolls on the market. I turned one up from 1987 and never bought it because it was too small (5″ high) and made in Taiwan, not Germany. And there’s a lot of fakes, too.

But the bisque head appears to be new? It just has me so curious. It’s a shade or two off in color from the body. Oh, and she’s not even high strung. She’s extremely loose strung including her head that has the impressive, and creepy ability, to do a complete 360 whenever she is picked up. Therefore, she must be handled with extreme TLC.

I noticed her in the antique store today parked beside a 1930’s big antique composition doll to her left. I naturally assumed the doll beside her looked kind of like child star Shirley Temple. And the Shirley Temple doll’s eyes not only opened and closed, but appeared to be made of plastic or something similar that would date that doll to about the 1930s or thereabouts. And then there was another even bigger bisque head Kestner—err, an outright copyright infringement counterpart sitting beside her blonde head counterpart on the right.

This enormous, almost bulbous head of the other doll just seemed “off” to me. It wasn’t nearly proportionate to the doll’s body and the clothes and its velvet hat weren’t antique. They were well designed clothes, none the less. And the biggest of the two Kestner-look alike dolls had a tag still attached. It was specially designed for somebody and the doll collector paid $225 when new. The doll had a name but I didn’t commit it to memory. And the bigger doll’s mouth was closed (no teeth) just painted on lips. And her body was a copy of a copy and all bisque. She was extremely heavy and I didn’t bother to lift her up to inspect her. The attached tag satisfied my burning curiosity about her.

And the dealer smacked $25 on her. The bigger doll had brown hair, brown eyes, although her hair felt more “mohair” or real than the other bisque head doll I was admiring. For years I’ve always wanted a German bisque head doll and would be happy with an original body and new doll head, or a complete original antique doll be if that’s the case too.

 

$35? I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I scrutinized the price tag very carefully. For that price I thought the dealer must have lost their marbles (I didn’t see any around) if said doll was an antique and completely original, or if it had obviously been poorly re-strung at some point in this doll’s past and it wasn’t a very good job at that that would account for the cheap price. I had to clear another all bisque German Piano baby-looking doll out of the way. Price tag on that doll stated: German bisque $25. But what I didn’t like about it was that it was missing it’s top and hair (so you could see down inside the doll’s head). There was a small piece of dark red felt glued to the open mouth of the doll. The stationary eyes had some sealant or goop poured around them to hold them in place and the doll head mold appeared too new, or so I thought. It could be an authentic antique German bisque doll, but finding an inset top to fit inside the head and then try to attach a doll wig on top of that would be a challenge and something that didn’t appeal to me. That, and it resembled too much of a boy doll, not that there’s anything wrong with that and dressed in a boy’s baby clothes.

There were two doll wigs for sale in the antique store; one dark brown hair, the other black. But it just didn’t ‘fit’ with the blue eyes on that doll, at least the mental image didn’t make me have any second thoughts. No, I tell myself.

First, for $35 something has to be seriously wrong with the doll other than she’s very loose and somebody didn’t re-string her correctly at all, regardless if she’s an authentic antique or not. Secondly, I’m garnering the money to repair the Victrola model “G” which has three mainsprings and just mailed that off today. And getting those fixed is going to set me back quite a bit if I ran my estimates correctly that is.

Third, my doll crib is crammed… and then I ran out of excuses not to buy this Kestner looking blonde-haired doll. She was everything I’ve been looking for in a bisque head doll. And she must be handled with extreme care because her joints and head just flop around. Oh, and she’s heavy which is another thing I didn’t anticipate when I first scooped her up and her composition legs and feet clacked the bench. Yikes! I hold her close to me for a while, then examine her facial features for any signs of hair line cracks. None to be found. I sigh. She can’t be a real antique doll, can she? For $35 (actually the store owner took a discount on her since I’ve done so much business with them on a regular basis and she was now $31). Am I sold, yet?

Let me think on it. And there’s a saying, “Don’t think on it too long.” It was a steal. One of those deals of a lifetime kind of thing. I practically tore myself away and placed the blonde haired doll back on the bench. I stood, my toes and heels not used to the open-toe sandals. I wanted to look beautiful today and wore a sundress. I didn’t feel like wearing Daisy Duke shorts or a thin shirt, either.

Being in those doll’s presence was like re-living a second childhood, if that make any sense? I know it must sound crazy, but place yourself when younger and let’s say you were an avid reader of Doll World magazine (now defunct). As a little girl none of the new dolls on the market could even compare to the likes of an original 1950s Chatty Cathy, Suzy Smart or even Thumbellina. I dreamed of someday finding those dolls and many antique dolls that would make me happy. My mom would tell me stories about all the dolls she had when growing up and it would always antagonize me although mom’s intentions were never about that.

Then, at ten years old, I hit pay dirt in 1987  completely by accident one evening and found my first original 1950’s Mattel Chatty Cathy (I believe it was a Chatty Baby) in a junk store my mom and I found ourselves in. My mom worried quite a bit because she could see the look on my face and how much I wanted that battered old doll so badly. I wanted that Chatty Cathy high on top of the shelf that I couldn’t reach.

My mom worried because money was extremely tight even though the economy hadn’t even began to tank yet thanks to the “Second Great Depression” as I dubbed it back in 2008. But if I would have been more keen of my history, I’d know that there has been a few financial crashes throughout history during the 1860s and again in the 1890s I think that had a ripple effect through the generations and finally leading to the major stock market collapse in October 1929. And that has nothing to do with me and my first Chatty Cathy doll, but money was tight.

Did my mom get the Chatty Cathy doll for me? Yes, and we were very pressed for time. Like always I still have this bad habit of piddling which means I take my time when I browse. I don’t like to hurry and hate being rushed. I’m one of those types that likes to stop and smell the roses and I make sure to go early so I have extra time to browse. As a young girl, I was very selective of the other dolls that were within my reach in that junk store and none of them had that certain ‘pull’. Mom scooped the Chatty Cathy off the shelf and pulled its string… nothing!

But there was a glimmer of hope in my eye and I was about to delve into ‘how does it work’ with my brother’s help of course and we had partial success getting my first Chatty Cathy to spit out a garbled message, but that was all.

The sale’s lady (and I still remember her to this day) was a very cut throat type and stern. My mom haggled over the price of the doll. Chatty Cathy did not talk. My mom wasn’t going to pay $10 for a non-working doll. The lady behind the counter shot me daggers. My puppy dog look implored, and it did little to tug on the heartstrings of this sale’s woman if she took any pity on me at all. And again the lady wouldn’t back down. I don’t know how my mom managed to talk her down and five dollars was the ‘sold’ price. My mom fretted because she wasn’t sure if she’d brought enough money with her. The lady wasn’t about to take checks. And as luck would have it, my mom came through. We got the doll and left.

My first Chatty Cathy never survived into adulthood sad to say. She had completely disintegrated although my efforts to restore and preserve her as much as possible I would hope weren’t all in vain. As a ten year old I didn’t know plastic becomes brittle with age and does break. The doll’s fingers broke off, the eyes fell out of their sockets, Chatty’s teeth went next and her entire body just fell apart like a worn out clunker. I tried with what little knowledge I did possess in regards to ‘do it yourself’ improvised doll restoration and would try to find answers to my questions in the issues of Doll World magazine to no avail.

Years pass by and I’m drawn to another doll that gives me that same ‘pull’ sensation I had when younger and seen my first vintage Chatty Cathy high on a shelf. I try telling myself no can do, or rather forget about it attitude. She’s not coming home with me. I look around some more. I review another homemade cloth doll with horribly bad yarn hair, faded painted-on face, homemade dress, all cloth body. No, that didn’t satisfy me. I wanted that blonde-haired rosy cheek Kestner bisque head look-alike doll. The second largest doll out of the entire lot of three sitting on a child-sized bench.

Why did this particular doll call to me? And I tried to forget about her, pulled myself away and forced myself to look at other things. I didn’t fancy any 78s, surprisingly enough. I bypassed the Edison black wax cylinder records without a second look since I had already jotted down all the songs and artists from them the year before. And I wouldn’t accept an Edison Diamond Disc record if it smacked me upside the noggin’ with an insanely cheap $1 price tag. Well, I take that back. I probably would have bought an Edison diamond disc if it was a song and/or artist that I like. And the doll, too. 🙂

Arrg! No, I repeatedly tell myself. Remember, I still have to wait to hear back on the exact cost will come to for the mainspring repairs on the Victrola. Plus I left the house not knowing when my birthday cards were going to arrive. I was originally intending to browse the antique store and go home. Nope. Kestner bisque head doll is still on my mind.

I try reasoning with myself; “She’s must be a reproduction!”, “You’ll be sorry if you have to make the one-hundred yard dash across the crosswalk in these open toe sandals and accidentally drop your irreplaceable one-of-a-kind birthday present to yourself!”

And, “The doll crib is over-populated as it is. You don’t seriously need another doll no matter how antique she might appear.”

“What if the darn thing is haunted?”

“What if its one of those ‘cursed’ antiques, then what little Miss Money Bags?”

Why else would the price be so reasonable? And why, why, why ask myself twenty questions? Why not treat myself for once since I don’t consume sugar and having an ice cream cake would reek havoc on my system anyway.

I try hard to leave the antique store, but wind up looking over the selection of antique baby clothes instead. Some of these garments are lawn cotton, others hand made, and some in the mix look antique but have tags sewn in to the garments. Nope. My keen eye knows any baby clothes with early tags sewn into the neckline were likely produced sometime during the 1940s or thereabouts. I was hoping to find some antique Christening gowns from the Victorian and/ or Edwardian periods. Not having much luck other than turning up odds and ends in way of baby clothes, I returned to the booth (or room rather) where the display of dolls were. I noticed something amiss. I never leave a vendor’s booth without putting stuff up as I found it. How could I have been so careless? So absent-minded.The German piano baby doll was lying on its side on the floor, the hand made sleeping cat beside it.

I start to berate myself, mentally that is, then quit. I’m not going to say that I’m stupid for simply forgetting about putting stuff away as it was. What has my mind so pre-consumed that I just faze out everything momentarily and walked off? I gingerly crouch down and my feet are shoved forward in my white heel open-toed sandals. I’m thanking myself I cut out all the sugar. I don’t feel sluggish anymore and amazingly the tendon in my knee no longer gives me any trouble. But my feet are straining as I pick up the home made sleeping cat and German bisque doll and place them back on the little bench. I so want to reach out and scoop up that 23” Kestner look-alike doll. I want to inquire about it and finally do. The store owners are always helpful and really couldn’t tell me whether or not it was antique or a reproduction. It appeared like an antique doll.

Willing to give it a try I happily said, “I’ll take it,” in the meantime browsed some more and finally settled on a grab bag of mismatched antique lawn cotton stained baby dresses and undershirts with no means of fastening them. No cute glass buttons, no itty bitty safety pins either. The two under shirts lack button holes. No sewn on snaps either. Well, since the doll’s body is all composition, pressed saw dust and painted, not all bisque (whew!) I wouldn’t have to worry about rust eating away at cloth, except for the under shirt itself. My mind’s made up. I will add some tiny glass antique buttons and button holes on the under shirts when I get home and after they’re laundered and dry.

I finally pay for my doll and she’s gingerly wrapped head to toe in butcher’s block paper and carefully placed in a sturdy box. I also got a free trash bag too. I always re-use whatever materials come home with me whenever I can. I returned home and first carted in my distilled water and my iced tea, then returned for my possible ‘antique doll’.

While on the way home I decided to part with one doll in my collection. It will be a tin head or metal head “Minerva” doll made sometime in the 1900s.

Someday I want to place all of my beautiful dolls in a sturdy cabinet with see through doors. They don’t have to be inset glass doors, just something that keeps out dust, spiders, and my cat and I may build such a cabinet so I can measure the shelves for the doll’s height.  I have been known to find my cat contently napping on top of my Frankenstein repaired Horseman doll in the crib on more than two occasions thus far and she feels snug like a bug in a rug surrounded by the other dolls as well.

german bisque doll in dress and shoes

If anybody has any information about my new, (hopefully antique) bisque head doll, please feel free to comment. Also, thanks as always for liking, sharing, re-blogging, tweeting, commenting, etc. I truly appreciate it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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The Edison C-19 story and how it all began.

Published June 10, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

It’s a long fascinating journey, and it’s very atypical of a young woman taking up as a serious hobby, but somehow things just ‘fell into place’ and took off from there.

 

It was right before my great grandmother passed away in 2003, I believe and I had been writing back home to her like clockwork about all the new antiques I was slowly, but surely, accumulating, so-to-speak. She was thrilled and wrote back one letter in particular that stated she wanted me to have some coal oil lamps for my antique dresser (at this time it wasn’t Eastlake, but it was from probably the early 1900’s). She went onto say that she wanted me to have her celluloid dresser set with hair brush and comb and corset cover. I have since acquired all those items, plus some cigar boxes that belonged to my great grandfather (her first husband) and his folding metal ruler with worn leather case. Oh, and dad got the Victrola, and in our family that was a big ‘to-do’. Rather it was more of a matter to see that it arrived safely to its new home and it did. In our family you had to help out with chores in order to earn the right to listen to the Victrola. And in 1990 during that one blazing hot summer, I received that same right to listen to the Victrola for the first time after I helped great grandmother wash dishes. At the time I was thirteen and likely had seen the Victrola  before at my great grandparent’s, but never took any fascination to it.

 

In fact, the fascination that surrounded that particular Victrola machine wouldn’t come back to haunt me (pun intended), until I was in my late Twenties. By this time my great grandmother’s health was failing and just how serious it really was was alarming since she’d always had the mind sharp as a tack and at the last we’d became very close pen-pals since I was living in the state over. Most of all she became my biggest ally during a time in my young teenage years when I had none, especially when it came to the topic of old music. She sided with me which I found astonishing when I was thirteen and she naturally shared a lot of my views as well. I later find out that the Flapper era (she was a part of at fifteen and married to her first husband, by the way) centered around pushing the envelope much like every coming up generation did or tried to do after hers. However, a flapper would smoke and drink (when prohibition was enforced and the country was dry), and powder her nose in public which was once considered taboo in my great grandmother’s time. And nowadays we just whip out the powder compacts like its nothing. She told me to wear my makeup because we earned the right and to treat it like gold. And she was right. Makeup is still expensive to this very day, but I found myself weeding out a lot of my old makeup like used mascaras and old eye shadows that wound up in the trash due to potential bacteria concerns. That, and I hardly wear makeup anymore because it irritates my skin.

 

Shortly before she passed away I wrote letters to her constantly not ever receiving a reply. My suspicion that something wasn’t right didn’t go unfounded for very long. At first I was kept in the dark about how she was being terribly abused by her caregiver. I often wondered after the fact if that’s why she never wrote me back. Perhaps her caregiver tossed my letters in the trash. And I also heard that my great grandmother would have her good days, and bad. Her mind was going and she wouldn’t be able to recognize family members at the very last. I had told my dad’s mother about not getting any replies and how odd I found it, and then told my dad’s mother that she must have been mad at me for buying an Edison phonograph instead of a Victrola (like we have in the family). Shocked over hearing my wrong assumption, my dad’s mother flew out of the house and told me that wasn’t the case at all, and then proceeded to explain to me that great grandmother’s mental health had been in decline since the death of her husband a year or so before and then she eventually suffered heart failure at the very last. And there was a lot of elder abuse by her caregiver as well which was frankly, horrible, shocking and inexcusable.

But for many years after great grandmother’s death I began to have nightmares about that Victrola. And in all these nightmares I see myself glancing at the turntable and not seeing a 78 on it. I must add to that at this point in time I hadn’t received a record list of music in great grandmother’s collection. There were two records I distinctly remember hearing when I was thirteen, “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo” and it was on a black bat wing Victor 78, however, the artist escaped my mind. But Carl Fenton’s Orchestra had did a rendition of that song on a Brunswick 78 that matches the artist I heard that day so long ago.

And that same day in the summer of 1990 we also listened to rural comic, Cal Stewart “Uncle Josh in a Chinese Laundry” and “Uncle Josh on a bicycle”. I remember it fondly because great grandmother asked me what I liked to do for a past time, flashing me a wise all-too-knowing smirk, then happily flipped through those old leather bound record books before selecting a 78. I rattled off, “Skateboarding,” since at this time it was still very much a male-dominated sport and there weren’t too many girl skateboarders that were die-hard serious about skateboarding. When I say die-hard, they had the expensive top-of-the-line skateboards and high end ball-bearing wheels like I had on my beloved Mark Gonzales Vision ‘mini’-skateboard. Due to my pint size I couldn’t ride a regular adult skateboard so for a brief while they made mini-versions of the original sizes. Very cute and highly collectable and I’m kicking myself now for not hanging onto said skateboard and keeping it put up. 😮

 

Well, Uncle Josh lived long before the invention of skateboards and he passed away in 1919. I had to try another and I said, “Bicycle”. And great grandmother placed a 78 on the turn table, cranked up the machine and released the brake. The record spun around faster than anything I’d seen and she placed the steel needle on the 78. The sound just filled the room. The comic laughed with a now familiar laugh that will forever resonate in my ears and draw me close to a Victrola and/ or Edison. I have some of this same comic’s rural sketches on the Edison Diamond Disc too. And it will always take me back to that first moment I laid eyes and ears on that particular machine. And in my nightmares about that Victrola, no 78 existed. In my waking hours I couldn’t make sense of it. I mean, why now so many years later and after her death was I beginning to have nightmares about the family-owned Victrola?

My ex-boyfriend summed it up: it could actually be a sign that these 78’s no longer existed in her collection since I kept having the nightmare repeatedly for a year and half after her death. When the day came that my dad’s mother mailed me the record list, I held out a glimmer of hope, but wasn’t too disappointed to discover that neither copy of “Uncle Josh on Bicycle” or that of the song “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’” didn’t make the list. I mean, unless we had a Mandela effect happen back in 1990 that summer, those were the 78s we listened to. I also found out before my dad’s mother passed away that it wasn’t uncommon for great grandmother to throw away broken 78s simply because the sentimental attachment to them wasn’t there. Sure, they may be hard to find 78’s nowadays and eventually I found descent copies from eBay years later and it was well worth the wait. A very eerie twist to this Edison phonograph story is that I have almost duplicated all the copies of all of my great grandmother’s 78s long before I received the record list in hand, minus my collection doesn’t contain any of the Decca 78’s though.

As they say great minds think alike and perhaps there was this certain compulsion that drove me to spend hours in the freezing cold out in a shed of one antique store in particular during the winter of 2004 and in the heat of summer searching and sorting for foxtrots and early jazz with some instrumental and sentimental ballad 78s thrown in as well. I never did get around to itemizing a full list of my own 78s but really should do it sometime soon and then back them up to a jump drive or as like to call a ‘Tom thumb’ drive.

It wasn’t until 2008 amidst another family crisis when I finally did find a sense of closure and the nightmares about the Victrola ended when I visited my great grandmother’s grave for the first time. And on her grave I placed a personally inscribed Edison Diamond Disc that was too worn out to be played, plus I had said song on backup copy.

I didn’t go to great grandma’s funeral which shocked many in my family because we had been close in the beginning and also in the end, and she had been the only grandma with no fear that stepped in and helped my parents care for me when I was a sickly premature baby. I only found out years later I was her favorite out of the fifteen great grandchildren.

After the Edison C-19 came a few more upright antique phonographs and table tops too, but that’s the one that started all and still remains. The Edison C-19 took a major hit when I thought I wanted to ship it off and have it completely and thoroughly cleaned, then had a sudden change of heart. Something just didn’t feel right and I quick as I could made the place where I shipped it to send it back after much back and forth email exchanges where they tried convincing me they’d be more than happy to keep it for as long as needed. Mind you, at this point, there had been no work done on this machine, but boy howdy, did I learn a valuable lesson to never, ever ship off an entire mainboard assembly with the horn attached in a box several states away. Not only did the horn arrive broke from it’s lift rod, but the turntable platter appeared to have been met with a cheese grater and it the green felt was in almost near mint condition before I shipped it off. I did insure the machine for what I paid for it, but never filed a claim with an insurance adjuster because it would have been my word against the place I shipped it to, and it would have been difficult to pin point if it was a simple case of human shipping error on my behalf, or if the damage had been deliberately caused. Either way, I’m sure the place I shipped it too is laughing their butts off, figuring there wouldn’t be a snowball chance in heck that I’d be capable of repairing the whole phonograph to working order, and as luck would have, I did with my ex-boyfriend’s help. We worked hours soldering the horn back onto the lift rod, then spray-painted over the repaired spots with black paint, let it dry and still the biggest test was yet to come…

We’re our efforts all in vain? Or did we just fix the impossible? It wound up okay, and the horn lift knob had a burr in it. The wooden lever was broke and I had to buy a replacement for that plus another screw and believe me, you can’t find either at Ace Hardware. So those had to be special-ordered from an entirely different outfit with much better prices. And the horn still ‘hangs-up’ and won’t set down on the record which is due to the damage the phonograph incurred, that and I never did get around to fixing the lift knob yet.

It wound up alright and by 1: 45 am we heard it play again. At this time I was emailing another repairman who offered to sell me an entire mainboard assembly since trying to solder those old horns back in place were impossible to do. We did it using lead solder and fluxing compound (the old kind that plumber’s used to use) that my ex-boyfriend had lying around. And we also used a hand-held blow torch. So that Edison C-19 oak cabinet had been put through heck and back and I’m now more the wiser since my early days. It still plays and it still gives off that slight haunted vibe from time to time, although it’s faded through the years since I’ve owned it. But in the beginning owning this Edison C-19 was brand new to me. I didn’t always understand the mechanics behind them other than they don’t use electricity to operate. They use a hand crank that winds up the mainsprings, that in turn, play an Edison Diamond Disc.

Some other machines were sold here and there because I either needed the money for some other project or simply ran out of space. Mind you, all nine of these machines stayed in one bedroom along with the cylinder phonographs and table tops. And when I moved, I traded off a few to upgrade to a slightly higher end model of an Edison Amberola 75 and gave away one table top model and one suitcase model Victrola to my friend.

It’s the collecting part that’s half the fun, but its when these antiques are restored to their fullest potential that makes all those searches, all that time and money spent, all that hard, extensive hands-on work truly pay off. And I have the habit of preserving these 78’s on cd and upload them to my MP3 player as well.

And just some slice of wisdom; should you ever turn around and sell these antique phonographs you probably won’t get out of them what you put into getting them fully restored. People will try to price-gouge you as well. So be leery of the ‘want something for nothing’ types that will try to beat you up and walk all over you if the day should ever come you need to part with one of those beautiful wind-ups. I know as a seller of these antique phonographs it’s very much like working in retail. You deal with all sorts of online customers sight unseen, and if they want museum “mint” antique phonographs, why do they buy mine knowing well in advance nothing will be showroom perfect? I clearly state if the phonographs has had any repair work done to it and not to expect factory new results. These machines are very simple and they are what they are. There is no bass boost on a Victrola. If you use a Tungs-tone stylus or a Loud tone needle then you might break the sound barrier when you play John Phillip Sousa. And once the cabinets are refinished, they’ll lose whatever value they had to begin with.

 

So, my best advice to you: leave the cabinet alone, please and don’t attempt to varnish them. You will get more money out of it if it’s left un-restored.  Now rarity and price, I would be more than happy to share at The Victor Victrola page. Note: I don’t own nor operate this website. It is a database reference for makes and models of Victrola only. They do not cover Edison phonographs. There are books (in print) that are collector’s guides, but I’ve noticed nearly all of those are very expensive and don’t contain enough information (specs) about the machines other than showcasing some expensive (out of my attainable reach) museum quality phonographs. Now the best book for restoring these antique phonographs is The Compleat Talking Machine.

 

Thanks for reading, liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, tweeting. I truly appreciate it. There’s more to come but it’ll take me time to add to this blog and will as I can find the time to do so. 🙂

Homesteading, gardening, homemaking and the Mandela Effect.

Published June 8, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1
All things embroidery.

Practice embroidery hankie (above far left), two flour sack dish towels; one rooster and chicks design, other a snail washing its shell with the word “Wash Day” embroidered on it. Date of flour sack towels unknown, appears to be 1940s or earlier.

And I practically killed myself the day after last tilling more ground around my garden by hand. And then I began to do some serious weed-pulling, too. However, I was very quick to discover why I need to wear long-sleeved shirts and jeans instead of shorts and short-sleeves, I broke out. Yep, I have no idea if I uprooted poison ivy, poison oak, or whatever kind of rash inducing plants I yanked out of the garden and rose bed, but I broke out on my ankle, my arms, even my face.

 

I have been using banana peels, aloe vera leaves and a tiny bit of Lotrimin ointment (I know it’s used for athlete’s foot but it’s the only thing I’ve found that helps clear up these nasty rashes I seem to break out in once in a blue moon). So, between that and keeping up on mowing the back jungle—err, I mean backyard, I’ve become consumed with my gardening the most and working on my latest embroidery projects.

 

Homesteading, what is that? Do I live in a log cabin? Do I chop down trees and add on to my house from scratch? No. Homesteading originates as far back as the Pioneer days and even that of the Wild West. I like using the term ‘homesteading’ since I do a lot of back breaking labor outdoors myself with primitive tools. If I could do so, I’d likely mow the lawn with an antique manual push mower, but the kind of large yard I have would take forever in a day (possibly several) at that rate to finish. So I use the ‘pull your guts out’ non-self propelled cheap crappy lawn mower that gives me a work out and is difficult to push at times.

 

I don’t run to town in an ox-driven covered wagon, although riding in one of those would be a first for me since they are a non-existent form of transportation nowadays.

 

I don’t dress terribly old-fashioned unless there’s a special event that would call for such attire which never happens. And I don’t turn on the lights during the day and refrain from using my central air conditioning whenever possible to cut back on the high cost of utilities. Thankfully my small house doesn’t get unbearably hot in the summer unless the oven is going and I’m trying to dry another batch of celery, kale, jaopeno peppers, chili peppers, making homemade pretzel bread, etc.

 

My appliances use electricity to operate and I’m still joined at the hip to the electric company. I do dream of the day when I can see my homesteading/off grid plans come to fruition at some point in my life (hopefully before I get too old to enjoy and physically unable do them). And I don’t plan to live in the city my entire life long, either.

 

I would like to see myself on a mini-farm and raising chickens on a patch of land. Depending on where a person lives they can have backyard chickens in the city, but per city code a chicken coop must be fifty feet from the house and in the area where I live, a person is only allowed to have fifteen chickens. I had chickens once long before I put in my big garden and out of the five, one of the pullets actually turned out being a very arrogant and aggressive psycho rooster. I named him Boss Hog after the Dukes of Hazard character, Boss Hog of Hazard County (a fictional town in the show, I believe). And also because Boss Hog lived up to his reputation and ate every scrap of leftovers and chicken scratch and wouldn’t let the hens eat anything! I also grew to fear going outside because Boss Hog attacked me constantly. Laugh all you want, but until it happens to you, you’d never relate.

He saw me as a threat to his harem of ‘girls’ and he left me with bloody scratches and gouges. I still have scars on my legs to this very day.

 

Boss Hog was very hard to catch when it came time to put the chickens in the coop for the night. I remember when my mother and I built the chicken coop using scrap lumber, we placed it up on top of cement blocks so wild animals wouldn’t gain access and kill our chickens. We kind of went in together owning chickens. She’d pay for the chicken feed, and I’d care for the flock. No doubt having eggs was a huge bonus and they tasted ten million times better than store bought. They were also smaller in size and the yokes were orange (not the sickly pale yellow store bought eggs have). We collectively decided to give the hens free range and be cage free as long as I was there to supervise. The only mistake we made was tacking wire mesh fencing to the bottom of their coop, but laid down ply wood to they’d have something to walk over and built inset nesting boxes. As it turned out, it was a sturdy chicken coop with a roosting bar built in as well. At night a wild animal bit off the claws of two of the hens I found out one early morning as I was running late to get ready to go to church. Thankfully the hens survived and we built a fence around the coop.

 

The only other bad flaw we ran into was the coop faced the north, and when those cold winter winds would blow, they’d seep right into the chicken coop. I didn’t keep the chickens very long much beyond the first summer and fall, I believe. I was dismayed that the hens and Boss Hog especially decimated my first garden. And Boss Hog constantly crowed at all hours. That was annoying on me and I also worried that I’d get turned in because the darn rooster wouldn’t shut up.

There was a neighbor on the same block that had a rooster when I moved to the location. I didn’t mind hearing that rooster crow since it was off in the distance. I was later told that the neighbor was turned in and the rooster was never heard from again. That’s the downside of trying to homestead and have a mini-farm in the city is neighbor-issues that can potentially arise. Not all neighbors will be bothered by it. But there might always be one out of the bunch that’ll never be satisfied or begin to see the money-saving, homestead benefits of city micro-farming or even understand when there’s a supermarket nowadays just about on every block. But some people such as myself prefer a more productive way of life. There’s an adage: You reap what you sow. If you plant a lot of seeds, you’re crops will yield food. If you raise chickens for their eggs, you can be certain you’ll never run out. If you raise a goat for its milk and cheese, then you can save yourself the time, frustration of waiting in long lines with only two checkout stands open out of say 12 lanes, plus you waste less gas going to and from the store.

When I kept my first chickens I didn’t raise them to turn around and slaughter them. I know since for the longest time I did eat chicken and meat, but my primary reason for keeping chickens was the expensive cost of buying eggs at the store, that and due to the very inhumane and horrendous living conditions those poor big chain store egg producing chickens exist in is awful. If you ever get on youtube and watch a few of those big cooperate farming operations and the shady (and shocking) things they do to the animals it might turn you vegan overnight.

 

I let my chickens run free all over the backyard. They kept the grass mowed for me. I didn’t have to wrestle with the lawn mower nor have it self-propel me all over god’s green earth. I liked that the chickens also kept the insects at bay and one of the hens in particular was very easy to catch and hold. She was a Buff Orpington. I named her after one of my great, great grandmother’s sister’s “Alta”.

 

And there was Fannie, Birdie, Opal, Boss Hog and my resident four-legged tenant: my cat. My cat and I at this point hadn’t formed a bond. She hissed at me whenever I came close to dump out the compost, yet she’d hang around and watch me work in my garden. She ate baked potatoes and devoured French fries like I’ve never seen a cat do in all my years. I fed her cat food too, but had to keep that away from the chickens since it does contain some of their distant relatives of the chicken family. That, and I’ve always been told DO NOT ever feed meat to chickens because it will turn them carnivorous and then they’ll peck and eat each other to death. So my cat also had a few feathered contenders to deal with when came to the compost and who got what.

 

My cat used to run from Boss Hog and that was funny, then if I was outside, he’d run up from behind and either head butt my legs, or peck or kick me with his spurs. Then he’d crow a really loud, almost air-horn sound. I eventually had to carry a tennis racket on my person, and believe me, trying to keep him at bay and hang laundry and pick what measly produce is left in the garden one-handed is a challenge! Boss Hog was making my life a living hell. It wasn’t a matter of who stays and who goes, I simply gave up trying to raise the hens and one very arrogant rooster. Trying to raise chickens from pullets was my first learning experience and I went at it not knowing that roosters will be placed in with the pullets in those farm and feed stores and they all look alike when hatched. I thought I was getting all hens when my mom and I picked them out on a whim (which again is very bad, by the way) since almost nothing other than the chicken coop had been pre-built. We had to construct a flimsy fence as the hens and rooster became old enough to go in their coop.

 

When they’re cute little chicks you can’t tell them apart until they produce a comb. And the other hens I had were developing mean streaks as well, minus Alta, who would honk like a goose. She was a blonde chicken and easy to catch, quite lazy, and friendly out of the five. My next door neighbors loved the entertainment value I so frustrating provided for them unknown to me, of course. Often times my neighbors would trespass into my yard just to see what my chickens were up to. I was aware of this because at the time I happened to be in the house when I overheard my neighbors talking and converging close to my bedroom window right where the fence line is. Now I don’t mind if they’d at least knock first and see if I’m home, then ask to admire my chickens. But that’s rather gutsy to just walk onto somebody’s property and automatically assume the neighbor won’t mind.

But one thing that doesn’t seem to exist (at least where I’m at) is privacy. That goes right out the window when you have neighbors close by. Thankfully they didn’t knock over my measly fence posts and wander in the backyard. Boss Hog would have put the run on them. I mean that rooster was psycho nuts toward anything that walked and would just attack for no reason. So I got to the point where I carried a super soaker water gun, and when that failed, I put the run on Boss Hog, and when I did catch him, I’d clamp his beak and pack him around tucked under one arm being mindful of his sharp talons. He hated being babied and carried around, but when I’d release him it was right back to attack mode after he got over his wounded pride.

 

When the day came I gave away my chickens and their coop for free that ended it for the neighbors wandering over anytime they felt like without my knowledge or consent. And I was glad of that. I don’t mind neighbors, but do like to have my privacy. Next time I will invest in a high privacy fence to block the view and design a much better chicken coop and face away from the north. Around this time I was heavily involved in my church and other activities that I was biting off more than I could reasonably chew. I was still piling on the sugary foods, the soda pop, and the pre-processed garbage that it showed. Even though I was physically active, the weight never left and I knew in order to improve my outlook on life, I first had a lot of cleaning up to do starting with my diet. I remember going around feeling sluggish, had almost no energy which was very odd considering I hadn’t even reached being over-the-hill age and that was still light years away for me. Something had to be done. I didn’t feel quite right mentally or even emotionally and the emotional turbulence is what drove me to go nearly almost all vegan like I am now and cut out all chemicals in my food and just recently in my laundry soaps since a lot of them can contain cancer-causing dyes and perfumes. My clothes don’t have any scent to them, but at least the 20 mule Borax team and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (made for laundry only) gets them clean. And I don’t use dryer sheets, either.

 

Gardening is, and always will be, my second love. I’ve been a gardener since I was in my teens and became a full-time gardener now as an adult just this year. And when I couldn’t garden in the places where I rented from in the past, I’d have a garden space over at my parents. I was never without a backup source of home-grown food and it all boiled down to what I wanted to grow. In the beginning it wasn’t much more than spearmint and tomatoes. I didn’t get seriously into water-bath canning until 2013. And I must point out that I have NO experience whatsoever using a pressure canner, sorry. Those are just plain creepy for me because the contents are under pressure, and if something were to go wrong, the unit itself could explode. I have heard of various other food preppers say they can their own meats and chicken in pressure canners. But boy howdy, I don’t know about eating chicken from a mason jar. I know it can be done, but I’d be more worried about food poisoning personally and more leery of the chemicals, growth hormones, and antibiotics that are cooked out of the chicken and meats.

 

I have had a lot of success water bath canning my own tomatoes and cabbage even though according to the USDA they claim not to can either since there’s still a risk of botulism. However, tomatoes are acidic. The cabbage (if you’re me and make sour kraut) will contain vinegar and thus brings up an acidic level. And I tried making my own hot salsa but… wound up using way too much vinegar which I don’t believe the recipe even called for. I was making dill pickles that same day and somehow ingredients tend to get mixed in with each other. I have yet to make hot dill pickles or even can okra but do plan to try that this year hopefully.

 

I’ve been reading and like always, watching numerous youtube videos in my spare time about this soon-to-be phased out role of homemaker. Whether or not there’s any truth in all this, who knows. But making it illegal to be a homemaker that sounds to me to be very impossible. And then again maybe the videos I’ve been watching are simply all bunk or nonsense rather. And after watching many cookie cutter videos on the Mandela effect, I’ve come to realize too that yes, some product labels aren’t what I remember them as being/ looking like. For example Oscar Meyer vs. “Mayer” like it’s spelled now. That means you’d have to sing the song as, “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener…” Mayer? Nah, from my memory it used to be “Meyer” and there’s more subtle changes with certain versions of the bible and the Lord’s Prayer being altered to having lines in famous movies being mysteriously replaced and there’s all the Quantum physics theories and the time parallel universe, time shift, alternate realities some claim in their videos were now living in the end times in regards to the logos and scripture changes, and a host of other things and it all has to due with Cern, and so-on, so-forth.

 

I finally suffered from extreme exhaustion from doing so much tilling and mulching my garden, having supper at a late hour than usual, then working on embroidery and watching those darn youtube videos that kept me up until the wee hours of the morning that I need to curtail it.

 

And after about the fifth Mandela effect video I came to the conclusion that it’s all repetitive with no new examples being presented. And it seems to be the narrators in these Mandela effect videos believe they have stumbled upon something freakish, creepy, and major that’s taking place. I believe it’s all to get views. Maybe they’re getting paid to produce such videos on the Mandela effect. But what the comment section doesn’t ever point out is that everything in these videos is the same the explanations are all alike in many cases as well. It kind of reminds me the old movie The Stepford Wives.

 

Until recently as somebody pointed out to me I’d never heard of the Mandela effect before. The Mandela effect is where a collective group of people remember something a certain way, while another group of people will remember something in a completely opposite way. And the lump sum that don’t know any better are spoon fed everything they see, hear, consume fall in the age range of pre-teen to Twenty-something hipster that doesn’t know any different because they were likely just born in the late 80s/ early 90s or even in the 2000’s sometime and just aren’t able to recall the way things once were because they weren’t around to see or experience it.

Twenty something hipsters and younger will spout off (like a know-it-all) everybody else 30 years and older are loosing their minds and our old age is getting the better of us and everybody 30 and older all suffer failing memories, weak recall, dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc. and the younger generation tend to laugh and be disrespectful. They do not question things in their environment and have no independent thought process and simply weren’t paying attention, if indeed, these changes have taken place.

 

And to those young things I say this: go eat your CAPTAIN Crunch. It was never, ever called “Capn’” Crunch when I was growing up. Whether this was due to cut back on the expensive marketing of this cereal, or what have you, if folks from many walks of life can recall there’s been a definite change in how logos once appeared to them, then maybe there is truth in the Mandela effect after all. Froot Loops is another one. It used to be Fruit Loops. Now I won’t argue that it could be due to marketing changes.

 

But it would be very easy to trick the masses when it comes to altering antique advertisements in print if said advertisement is scanned, then ran through a photo shop program to alter it, but that would take many hours to manipulate. Now the bible scriptures being changed was a new one on me. However, I’m not one of those that devotedly knows the scriptures by heart, either. I have several different versions of bibles, and all are vintage (1941-1990s). I have yet to turn up an antique bible from say the late 1800s/ early 1900s in English to see if these changes also exist those copies too.

Everybody’s heard of the Lord’s Prayer, and depending on which version, it does contain either lines: “Forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us,” This was the common one I was taught in religious schools growing up. The new one that stuns many religious folks is something to this effect; “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” But I’ve heard both used. And the “On earth as it is in heaven,” has changed to “In earth as it is in heaven.” Something nefarious, perhaps? Or could it be just a simple trick of the mind? The way I remember that line was always, “On earth as it is in heaven.”

 

And there’s more about the one particular bible verse that has people going back to their old bibles and re-reading, “The lion will lay down with the lamb,” and some now claim it states: “The wolf will lay down with the lamb,” and there’s many who stand by their bibles and claim that “wolf” was never found in this parable before.

 

My mother pointed this out to me a while back and I was very much in the dark, so to speak of the Mandela effect. Yet, even I myself have noticed lately a few subtle changes on products that caught my eye. I have noticed the Captain Crunch cereal now saying, “Capn’” instead of Captain and a few more logos that no longer look like the way I remember them being.

 

And I’m going to fall in line with all those “cookie cutter” Mandela effect youtube videos, but here it goes:  Kit-Kat is missing its hyphen. Here again this could all be due to simple label/ company changes for who knows  what or why. Companies change their products so often anymore that most products I don’t even buy if it doesn’t look familiar to how I remember seeing it. And if it states: “New look, same great product,” or “New look, same great taste!” this might be an indicator that the company was a.) either bought out or b.) outsourced their labor to either China or Mexico c.) are ready to go down the tubes and disappear entirely. And sometimes even d.) all the above.

 

But how does the Mandela effect have any correlation blogging about homesteading, gardening and embroidery? Not much, but the idea that homemaking might become illegal was extremely vague even though I did try to research this and came up instead with one article that dealt with Stay at home mom’s and keeping a house and the myths and the biblical teachings that were more geared around the Christian mindset. And even that didn’t fit my interpretation of ‘homemaker’ and keeping a home.

 

The other articles I found deal with “in home” health care services and they tend to blur the lines between ‘homemaker’ and ‘housekeeping’ which appear to be used in the same context when in fact, a homemaker is a person that keeps a home. They make sure the house is presentable and company-ready, clean and tidy, plus if they’re on their own with no husband to help out, they also do outside yard work and minor house repairs as needed if they’ve got a knack for it.

 

A housekeeper does the house chores like sweeping, mopping, doing dishes, dusting, vacuuming and maybe some meal preparation is involved if it’s part of their duties. But all these in-home health service articles aren’t what I’m getting at. In fact, they were and are way off the mark. I’m referring to a wife back in the 1950s and before that kept a home that kind of homemaker. Not a homemaker of today’s times who is licensed and board certified to go into disabled people’s home and help out. That’s what a care-giver does, not a homemaker. I’d wish they’d quit confusing the terms and replace the word home maker with ‘care-giver’.

If I type too much info into the goofy search engine I will wind up way off track and I’m not even past the first page of garbled wrong results. And since I can’t find any evidence that a woman’s role in the home as a homemaker is about to or will ever become illegal, I’m going to safely assume that the youtube video narrator got their facts wrong and could provide no concrete source(s) and/ or links to verify or even clarify this. And they were simply too vague when they said homemaking will become illegal in the future.

 

Well… I’ll believe it when I see it. But until that time comes (if it ever remotely does in my lifetime), I will continue to be a homemaker and a homesteader. 🙂

And the embroidery patterns are something that I collect, scan (if they won’t take to a hot iron anymore), trace onto fabric then I embroider them. It takes time depending on how large the image is, but worth it. The two flour sack dish towels aren’t my own creation. I simply purchased them because they’re vintage and/or antique.

 

Thanks for reading, liking, re-blogging, commenting, sharing, and tweeting. I sincerely appreciate it. 🙂