Sunday, December 6, 2009

Carolina Ballet's Nutcracker and old friends

I am now over the long grueling drive to Denton, TX and back in the Penske rental truck for Susan's art installation, and I'm almost ready for another road trip. The next one will occur after Christmas when Susan, Mathias and I will visit Slippery Rock for News Years. I wish I could say that Alex will join us, but unless something drastic happens (like an apology to his mom for past ill deeds), it will just be us three. We did see him after Carolina Ballet's Nutcracker Thanksgiving Weekend. The conversation was pleasant and almost lengthy; however it is quite evident that he is not ready or does not want to right the wrongs that have occurred in the past. Enough said on this.

This performance of the Nutcracker will probably be the only one we'll see this year. For those who do not know Carolina Ballet, they are a civic company whose performances are composed primarily of students and very few professionals. Because of renovations to the Town Theater, their performance was on the larger Koger Center stage. I wish they could always perform here, but due to cost constraints it is impossible. Alex appeared in his 8Th Nutcracker and is generally cast as Mother Ginger. This year he was only a party gentleman and rode the Rat King onto the stage on a bicycle. He looked handsome on stage (as usual). The production, for a civic ballet, was quite good, with only the Snow King, Head Spanish male, and Cavalier Prince and Princess danced by professional or former professional dancers. I will fight the temptation to review the ballet and just say that Susan and I really enjoyed it. For professional productions it is hard to find a better one than Birmingham Royal Ballet in England, and this is the first one I've missed since Mathias joined the company.

During Thanksgiving week a received a video e-mail from my very old friend Robert Owen, who now lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and "three legged" cat. We grew up together in Norfolk, graduated from Norview High in 1973, and spent a lot of time together during our DeMolay years. About 4 years ago when Mathias was still at The Kirov Academy of Ballet (his senior year), I received a very unexpected visit from Robert on New Years Eve. He and his wife were returning to Jacksonville and decided to drop over for a visit. Susan and I have not heard from him in over 25 years and we had a nice visit. In his video he showed several pictures of both of us in typically wild 70's style tuxes which made me howl with laughter. I promised Mathias that I would save the video so he could get a good laugh too. I e-mailed him back and invited him for a visit the next time he is in Columbia.

I also called another old friend and former DeMolay member, Reid Howard, on Thanksgiving. He had e-mailed me when I was visiting Mathias in England in September and I finally sat down and called. He was surfing the net and found my blog (yea someone actually read me!) and sent me a e-mail. Reid was in our wedding and I have not seen him in almost 20 years!! He actually lives in Northern Va. but moved in 1994 and I never attempted to find his new address. I incorrectly assumed he moved out of the area. We had a nice chat, and Susan and I plan to visit the next time we go to DC (which I thought was going to be this past Thursday, but we had to cancel our trip... too many things going on here.

Finally, I sat down and wrote to my old buddy and best man Ron Rill and his family that weekend. I have owed them a e-mail for at least a year or more. I have not seen Ron or Teresa since December, 1996, the last time The Ohio State University went to the Rose Bowl. We paid them a visit before Susan, me and the kids flew to LA out of Columbus for $110 per person!! Boy do I wish I could find more travel bargains like that today (thank you Anna at Lenz Travel Service). One of these days I will venture back to Columbus and OSU. This will be the first Rose Bowl Game involving Ohio State that we will not attend since 1977.

In conclusion I have attached some pictures that I took during our trip to Oregon. Susan wrote a great post on out trip on the family blog. Check it out here.

This is a view at Umpqua Dunes. You can rent ATV's and drive all over these dunes.

Here is a picture of Susan standing on the Jetty at Winchester Bay (click to enlarge)

One of many pictures I took on the John Dellenback Dune Trail at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

A view of Crater Lake from the Rim Center (click to enlarge)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mouse House to be open after Thanksgiving

Mouse House will be open on the Friday after Thanksgiving from 9:30-5PM and Saturday from 10AM to 2PM. All sales of mirrors, prints, Susan's original art work, and framed antiquarian prints will be sales tax free (i.e., I will pay the tax for you). These hours will help make up for the days that we are closed (Wed. Nov.18-Monday Nov. 23) because of our trip to Texas to install Susan's Blues Chapel at the Denton Arts Center. Please visit her blog to find out more about this exciting artistic opportunity.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Twenty-First Anniversary Sale at Terrace Oaks Mall

On November 13-14 (Friday-Saturday), Terrace Oaks Antique Mall will be celebrating their 21ST anniversary sale. All dealers will be offering special sales during this two day event. Mouse House, Inc. is pleased to celebrate this event by offering 21% off on EVERYTHING on our booths this coming Friday and Saturday. There are wonderful bargains to be had, including framed Harper's Weekly engravings from 1861-65, Blackwell's Complete Herbal engravings from 1780, other antiquarian prints (both framed and unframed), large decorative Audubon reproduction birds, linens, mirrors, etc. Mall hours are 9:30-5:30 Friday and Saturday. Susan will probably be there most of Friday afternoon. Come out and take advantage of this unique sales opportunity in Charleston.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Salisbury Cathedral

(click on images to enlarge)

During my last visit to see Mathias, I went on an overnight trip to Bath. One of the English cathedrals Susan and I have wanted to see since our first trip to the UK way back in 2001 was Salisbury Cathedral. However, it is too far away from Birmingham to be a reasonable day trip by train. I discovered, however that it was only 50 minutes away from Bath. So in the morning of my Bath trip I went to Salisbury to visit the Cathedral. What an incredible place! The Cathedral construction began around 1320 and finished approximately 30 years later! This is astounding for cathedral construction and explains why there is so little change from its original structure. I will not ramble about the Cathedral, but please go to this link to read more about the Cathedral. The Cathedral showcases one of 3 original copies of the Magna Carta and a medieval clock that is the oldest operating clock in the world. I spent over five hours during my visit which included a tour of the construction of the spire, which is over 440 ft. above ground. The tour itself lasted over two hours and was by far the best guided tour of a building's history and construction I have ever been on. We even ventured outside the Cathedral at 220 ft above ground for some incredible views of the city. Of course, I had great weather again and took many pictures. Here are a few. Later this week Susan and I leave for Oregon for a long weekend (real cheap airline tickets) and will be spending the nights in very interesting accommodations. These will be posted in Susan's family blog.

A view of the interior of the Cathedral for the organ level. This view is only available for those who go on the tower tour and is a MUST!

This is a view of the Cathedral's spire which climbs 440 ft. above ground. The tower tour takes you to the 220 ft. level.

Here is a picture of some of the support beams used in the construction of the church's upper levels. Many of these beams are over 600 years old

This photo shows the support beams of the spire which extends over 200 ft higher than the point where this picture was taken. Unfortunately we could not go higher which is probably a good thing since all ladders extend vertically and look really scary.

Here is a view of Salisbury from 220 ft above ground.

The picture above is a view of the Cathedral's spire which towers over 200 ft above this position. The walkway outside the church is barely 3 ft wide which makes taking these types of pictures a challenge and not for people that suffer from vertigo.

Please look at my very amateur video of Salisbury.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A view of a neat old building along the River Avon in Bath (click to enlarge)

This picture is of Bath Abbey taken from the River Avon. What a glorious day! (click to enlarge)

One of the neat things about Mathias living in England is the fact that Susan and I get to travel to many wonderful places in the UK when we visit. I finally got to go to Bath last month and visit Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths. Like Susan did earlier, I stayed at the YMCA in a single shared bath for 20 Pounds with a nice continental breakfast included. What a deal!! The location is great and close to all things to visit. While I was there, I went to the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, and the Bath Spa. The Roman Bath self-tour is excellent with headphones included in the price. Make sure you listen to Bill Bryson's commentary. The Abbey is almost next door and is quite beautiful. I unfortunately did not take the tower tour (sold out) but saw a wonderful needlepoint and collage exhibit that Susan would have loved. I took pictures for her. Later in the afternoon I went to The Thermae Spa for a two-hour swim and steam adventure. The rooftop pool is quite spectacular when the sun sets (I had great weather.. it never rains in England when I visit! well most of the time). The only thing wrong with this visit is the simple fact that I was by myself. Since I was not there with anyone, I felt like an old creep, trying not to galk at the younger women who were there in pacts of 3 or 4. However, the steam rooms were to die for and worth the visit. Here are a few pictures that I took in Bath. I'm getting better with my hand-me-down camera!

One of the stores in Bath featured some of the best looking sausages ever. Check out the ingredients and different varieties. (click to enlarge)

This is one of the standard views of the Roman Baths that people see in the travel magazines.

Here is a view of Bath Abbey taken from the Roman Baths. (click to enlarge)

Here is another view of the River Avon. You can take boat tours up the Avon from Bath. If I had more time I may have done it since the weather was so good.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hill Botanicals Framed

The Mouse House is proud to offer a wonderful set of 18Th century botanicals framed and ready to hang. The botanicals are from The Vegetable System by John Hill which were published between 1759-1775. A total of 24 were framed and two sold this past Saturday. All are hang-colored (early) and framed identically with acid-free mats with fillet and acid-free backing. The price for each is $225.00 which is a great price; it is not uncommon to find these prints unframed at this cost or even greater. These botanicals will be at The Mouse House for at least one week and later several will be offered at Terrace Oaks Antique Mall in Charleston. Below are a few sample pictures of three botanicals from this set. The image size measures approximately 10 X 15.5 inches with the frame measuring (outside dimensions) approximately 23.5 X 29.7 inches. Please contact me if interested.

(click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gallery Representation for Susan

(Entrance to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC. Click to enlarge)

As most of you know, Susan left for Austria last Wednesday to attend an embroidery workshop with her Swedish friends at Sara Lechner's farmhouse north of Vienna. Details of her adventures will be posted on her blogs when she returns on Sept. 28. Approximately 30 minutes before I took her to the airport, she received a phone call from Karen Kennedy at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC. Susan had been trying to obtain gallery representation with this prestigious fine craft art gallery adjacent to the Grove Park Inn for some time. She had sent up two pieces (a small In Box and an Elements of Architecture example) several weeks ago and was hoping to receive favorable reviews of her work. A promise of serious consideration and representation around November was mentioned. These pieces were not hung in the gallery but were evidently placed outside Ms. Kennedy's office and stirred quite a lot of interest. Needless to say that when she called and asked for more work, Susan was beyond excited! However, they did not want to wait until October, the earliest time Susan could personally deliver pieces to the gallery, so therefore, I delivered a car-load of wonderful images to the gallery on Friday for their perusal. I had not been to this area since our Easter, 1997 visit to the Grove Park Inn with Henry, Linda, Aunt Janet, and the boys. The gallery is visually stunning with fine furniture, glassware, pottery, textiles, etc. Ms Kennedy took 3 large In Box pieces, 6 Elements of Architecture, and 4 smaller In Box pieces. A large In Box sold while I was there to a couple from Oregon who came back after learning that more pieces were being delivered. Mary and Gordon Langston, our friends and long-time framing customers (they own a large piece of Susan's work) were staying at the Inn on Saturday. Mary had no idea that Susan had pieces in the gallery and called me with great excitement when she saw their hanging location. So Susan now has proper gallery representation and is not allowed to show her work anywhere else in the Asheville area!! Yea!! Susan doesn't know this, but we will be going up in Mid Oct. during the Southern Highlands Craft show so she can meet everyone associated with the gallery. Below are some pictures of the gallery.

A view of the Upstairs portion of the gallery with fine hand-crafted furniture (click to enlarge)

Another view of the upstairs with beautiful quilts and furniture. Susan's pieces will probably hand in this upstairs area. (click to enlarge)

A view of a small portion of the downstairs area of the gallery. I purchased a new coffee mug created by Robert Crystal and a cool glass ornament for our wrought-iron Christmas tree. (click to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Terrace Oaks Mall Move-in Complete

Above are views of the new upstairs space that we have rented in Terrace Oaks Mall. Yours truly is standing and marveling at the wonderful hanging job by Susan. (click to enlarge)

We have officially moved into our new space at Terrace Oaks Antique Mall. Originally the move was planned in October when I returned from England, but due to a scheduling snafu on my part, we moved in last Friday. We now have a room where we sell framed mirrors, antiquarian prints and linens. The move-in frees up wall space that will allow me to feature more of Susan's artwork. The "sales area" room is to be painted while Susan is in Austria and will be a focal point for her artwork. We will still offer a fabulous selection of framed beveled and unbeveled mirrors, as well as more framed antiquarian prints. Updates on available framed prints will be posted in the next several weeks.

A view of our upstairs former bathroom area. In Susan's former life as a more than full-time framer, she actually took picture framing orders and even had a nice selection of mat corners! Now it is a nice storage area filled with antique framed art.

Above is a view of the stairwell area at Terrace Oaks Mall which is filled with our framed art.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mouse House Expansion

Susan and I have decided to rent additional space at Terrace Oaks Antique Mall in Charleston. We will offer for the first time in this mall a nice selection of decorative mirrors, as well as matted and shrink-wrapped antiquarian prints, linens, and other assorted goodies that we find at estate auctions. The room will be upstairs near our existing bathroom space and will greatly expand our wall hanging capacity. The move-in will occur on October 3 after I return from England. The downstairs sales area at The Mouse House will be painted in September when Susan is in Vienna and before I leave to visit Mathias and LJ. We are going to feature more of Susan's original art work, but we will still maintain a large selection of mirrors. We hope to have more framed antiquarian images, including the Hill botanicals and Culpepper herbals. A better use of space will occur at The Mouse House, as well as offering more of our merchandise in the Charleston area. We are very excited about our move and encourage everyone to visit Terrace Oaks Mall when your travels take you to Charleston.

Another Biking Adventure

Entrance to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington (click on image to enlarge)

Last Thursday Susan and I traveled to Washington, DC and attended another book and print auction at Quinn's Auction Gallery. We purchased some interesting items, including 4 shelves of Swedish books by Strindberg which she is going to use in her grave-rubbing quilt show next February. I'm not sure what she is going to do, but I know it will be incredibly cleaver. On Friday, Susan had her Artist's Way art day while I ventured with my bike on the Mt. Vernon Bike trail. She dropped me off at Dunn Loring and I rode all the way (finally) to Mount Vernon and back to Old Town Alexandria where she picked me up, had lunch, and visited The Torpedo Factory. Later I collapsed from a splitting sinus headache in our hotel room but made a complete recovery and drove back to SC on Saturday. The bike ride was approximately 30 miles in 90+ degree temperatures, and the weather was glorious. I have included some pictures of my journey. I still want to ride the complete W @OD trail from Purcellville, Va to DC., and Susan still refuses to ride with me!!

View of the boat launch at Mount Vernon taken from the bike trail (click to enlarge). You can catch various Potomac River cruises from Alexandria to Mount Vernon and visit the estate. I am about 1.5 miles from the terminus of the trail. The last .75 miles is all uphill and very challenging, especially when you have already rode 20+ miles!!

Another view of the Potomac River with Mount Vernon on the right side (click to enlarge)

This is a charming! self-portrait of yours truly taken at the end of the Mt. Vernon Trail. Notice the red face! I did use a lot of 50+ sunscreen as ordered by my doctor.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hill Botanicals, Ca 1759-1775

At a book and print auction many months ago, I acquired a wonderful selection of late 18Th century botanicals including 20 from John Hill's The Vegetable System. This monumental work was published in 26 folio volumes containing about 1600 copperplate engravings and was published between 1759-1775. The plate size for these botanicals are approximately 9.13 by 14.75 inches printed on beautiful laid paper approximately 11 by 18 inches. All plated are early hand-colored with very little foxing. Similar prints from other print dealers range in price from $300-400 each. My botanicals will be offered already framed and ready to hang using acid-free mats and backing at a similar price. Finished framed images and prices will be posted when they are done. Several images of the Hill botanical prints are shown below. Please click on images to enlarge. If anyone has any interest in purchasing these botanicals, please e-mail or call me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Pictures from England

Susan has safely arrived in Minnesota and is in her second day of "school" at the Split Rock Arts Program at the University of Minnesota. She returns on Saturday. Instead of painting I decided to clean out the attic of old Mouse House records, throw out old cans of various paints that have been stored under the downstairs sink, and creating small frames with mouldings that have been collecting dust in the garage since before the downsizing of the business, which, by the way, began 8 years ago today (Bastille Day!). Happy anniversary to us and especially to Susan! I have also decided to give the Mouse House a thorough cleaning. The downstairs gallery will be painted in September when Susan leaves for Vienna. Mathias leaves for Japan today for 12 days to guest dance with one of his "mates" at BRB. Dusty Button, the other SC connection at BRB, is also joining them. We also had an "Alex sighting" last Friday when Erica and Alex came over to the house to retrieve his air-compressor and attachments for a project he is involved in at CMFA next month. He had a chance to see the pictures of Mathias and LJ as a pirate and gypsy, respectively, which were taken in England. Susan and Alex did not talk much, mainly because Alex will not talk to his mom, but it was nice to know that he is alive and appears healthy but unemployed

Below are several pictures that I took on our last trip to England. Please click on these to see them larger. I think I'm getting better. Enjoy.

Here is Susan in all her glory posing on the pedestrian bridge that links Salford Quays with Trafford. It is a short 10-15 minute walk to Old Trafford where Manchester United plays their football. The bridge actually goes up when large ships enter this area via the Manchester Ship Canal. You can catch a cruise from Salford Quays (pronounced "keys") to Liverpool through this ship canal.

Susan is sitting on an outdoor art installation that celebrates the historical importance of Manchester and Salford Quays as a shipping mecca.

Susan is now posing with a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers that she picked during out stroll to Old Trafford. I hope it was not illegal!!

This picture is another view of the pedestrian bridge. The tall building on the left is where our rental apartment was located. The place could not be more convenient to The Lowry where BRB performed. If anyone ever goes to Salford Quays or to Old Traffford to see ManU play, this is a great option to stay; but book early. A link to the website that I used to secure this apartment can be found by clicking here.

This is a photograph of part of the Roman Wall that surrounds the city of Chester. Chester is unbelievably charming and has wonderful architecture. Susan has other pictures of Chester on the family blog, but I do not know if she has this shot.

Here is a typical shot of the shopping district in the walled area of Chester

Here we have Susan taking a grave rubbing from an old tombstone dated ca 1680. She writes in detail about our visit to Eccles and their charming Norman church on the Family blog.

Here is an interior shot of St Mary's Church in Eccles. Not a bad photograph.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Off to Salford Quays

Susan and I leave for Manchester, England today to visit Mathias and Laura-Jane and to watch them dance at The Lowry. We shall return on July 6. I will take pictures and hopefully post some beauties when I return. Susan leaves for Minnesota on June 12 for her quilting class at the Split Rock Arts Program at the University of Minnesota (on full scholarship!). She will be gone one week. This means the possibility of another room to be painted in her absence and considerable discounts on mirrors and framed work by Susan. I will make the decision after we return from England. In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys the 4TH of July holiday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Biking and The Boat Club

View of the Washington Monument from the Mount Vernon Bike Trail (click on image to enlarge)

Over Memorial Day weekend, Susan and I recently went to one of our favorite cities, Washington DC, to a book auction in Falls Church. I also packed my bike and went bike riding on Friday on the wonderful bike trails in the area while Susan went to Arlington Cemetery and contracted poison something. I guess she put her hands on the wrong tombstone for a rubbing for her ongoing grave rubbing quilt series. Northern Virginia is the Mecca of bike trails. You can travel the whole length of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (145 miles!), ride to Mount Vernon, transverse the 44 mile Washington and Old Dominion trail from Shirlington to Purcellville, bike into DC via Georgetown and up to Bethesda, MD, and so on. These trails are automobile-free, paved or hard gravel and are safe for just about any type of all-terrain bike. I try to stay on the paved trails as I have smaller racing tires on by bike (yea right, racing tires!). In the past I have usually stayed at a motel in Virginia that is near to the W & O trail and have attempted to ride all the way to Mount Vernon (about 22 miles or so one-way, depending on the location of the hotel). I have never made it all the way (real close one time- within 2 miles), but I will real soon. On this trip I rode from Dunn Loring down to the Custis Trail which leads to Rosslyn and the beginning of the Mount Vernon Trail. I took this trail through Old Town Alexandria (note that this area does use public roads for about 2 miles but I have found it very safe in the past), past the Wilson Memorial Bridge to a park near Belle Haven Marina and turned around. I then biked into Crystal City and wussed out and took the Metro back to Dunn Loring. The total biking distance was about 30 miles. Not bad for an old man but I've done better! Next month I planned on being in VA at another book auction when Susan is in Minnesota at the Split Rock Arts Program. My hotel is adjacent to the W & O Trail in Herndon and I am going to try to ride to Purcellville. Wish me luck! Below are a few pictures I took along the way. Please visit this website for a complete listing and links to the bike trails in the DC/VA/MD area.

View along the Mount Vernon Bike Trail at Mile marker 16. The bridge in the distance is The Memorial Bridge (US 50) into Washington DC. (click on image to enlarge)

Same location looking east. Note how nice the trail is paved! (click on image to enlarge)

Downtown Richmond, VA, on the other hand, is not bike friendly. While Susan was visiting historic Hollywood Cemetery, I ventured down toward the James River to find the location of the old Virginia Boat Club or as I remembered it as a child of 5 and 6 (Ca 1960), The Boat Club. This private club was located on Mayo Island but was abandoned and eventually bulldozed or destroyed by the Floods caused by Hurricane Agnes in the early 1970's. This is where I learned to swim, fish for catfish, and play handball. I am not sure if my father was a member or whether General Motors Insurance Co. had a membership, but we spent a lot of time here. As I remember it was a pretty swanky place. According to some rudimentary research this was a real society club. He obviously was moving up in GM; they actually provide him our house in Richmond in 1957. I always believed "something" happened between my parents (actually I know something did happen and it wasn't good), his work situation, etc. that caused my dad to take a lateral move to Norfolk in 1961. I was too little to remember the details but I know my older brother was never the same after we moved.

The bike ride was challenging as Richmond is very hilly and some of the roads lead to Interstates where bike are not allowed. The fabulous Richmond Canal Park forbids bikes on their trails so I had to ride on sidewalks and cobblestone streets to Shockhoe Bottoms to Hull Street (US 360) and cross over the bridge to Mayo Island. I parked and walked the former site of the Boat Club and the old baseball field. As a child I remembered seeing a railroad trestle from the pool. Today there is some building (vacant I think) on the original site and I roamed over to the train trestle and took some pictures. I later discovered on the Internet some old pictures of the site Ca 1956 which probably show the old Boat Club Ballroom. I have also learned that the Valentine Museum has over a million photographs of Richmond and they have other pictures of the Virginia Boat Club. One day I am going to return and do some more research on my life in Richmond. Richmond is a great city and one that Susan and I would like to live in if the right opportunity occurs. In the meantime here are some photographs that I took of the James River and Mayo Island. Susan and I may actually be back in Richmond this Friday (she needs to return to Hollywood Cemetery for more grave rubbings!).

A view of the footbridge over the James River that leads to Belle Island. I don't know why I did not venture over this bridge! Next time I will do a little more exploring of this area. (click to enlarge)

A photograph of the train trestle over Mayo Island. I found a really cool bent rail tie and cast iron washer for Susan (click to enlarge).

Another view of the railroad trestle. In the background is an abandoned building where I think the swimming pool of the Boat Club was located.