Friday, August 16, 2013

Biking in DC

The summer monsoon has returned to Columbia.  At least it is cool today.  It is mid-August and we still have not had a temperature of 100 this summer.  We have had more rain this summer than I can remember, and everything is green.  I wish we could send some of it out west!  Last Thursday I left for Washington, DC for two days while Susan was in the UK.  I filled the car with antiquarian prints for the auction house in Falls Church, packed my bike on the back of the car, and left.


 The car loaded with antiquarian prints heading to the auction house

I was hoping for a Thursday afternoon bike ride, but a heavy thunderstorm ruined this plan and forced me to go to Tyson's Corner Mall instead.  I stayed at the Tyson's Corner Marriott which has and is undergoing a major renovation since my last visit.  The hotel lobby has completely changed (for the better) with a open restaurant/bar that is quite inviting for a hotel. Because I am "special" (i.e., a Gold Marriott Rewards member), I was upgraded to an executive King room with access to the Concierge Lounge.

After dropping off the prints I opted to go into DC and save my bike trip for Saturday morning (a smart move as they had one of their hottest days that Friday) before I returned to Columbia.  I spent most of the day at the National Gallery of Art which has a fantastic exhibit on Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes, complete with costumes, videos, photos, etc.  I later went to the Hirshhorn Museum to see the found object art exhibit.  It was equally fantastic.  Before returning to Vienna and the hotel I went to the Kennedy Center to see what was playing at the Millennium Stage.  To anyone unfamiliar to the Kennedy Center, they always have free concerts/performances 365 days a year (including Christmas!) at 6PM sharp.  Susan and I try to see as many performances as possible since they are free.  Back in June 2008 I happened to be in DC for the 11TH Anniversary of the Millennium Stage and watched The Manhattan Transfer, along with a few thousand other people for FREE.  On this visit I had the pleasure to watch the Shanghai Students Folk Music Troupe, composed of 40 middle and high school students performing Chinese folk music with traditional musical instruments.  It was a great show.

On Saturday morning I drove to the Dunn Lorning bike stop, parked my car and rode for 20 miles (in 1:45).  I rode to Herndon and back, and now I have been on all of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) trail.

 A view of the W&OD bike trail from the Vienna Station (click to enlarge)

My self-portrait at the Vienna Station (click to enlarge, if you dare!)

There are so many ways to enjoy and ride the various bike trails in VA/DC.  You can ride to Mount Vernon  (done that), ride to Georgetown and up to Bethesda, MD (done that), ride Rock Creek Parkway to the Kennedy Center (done that), and ride the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail to Cumberland MD and parts west (I have not done that!), to name a few trips.  Wanda, we need to do some of these bike rides before we get too old...I can't get Susan to do them!...her last bike trip was all over Martha's Vinyard back in 2004 when Mathias was dancing in the inaugural Stiefel and Stars summer program.  She complained of a sore butt the whole day!

On the way home I stopped at Foamhenge, in Natural Bridge, VA. off US 11 and less than one mile from Natural Bridge.  For anyone who drives up I-81 in Virginia, please stop and visit this place.  It is a hoot and Susan and I have had the pleasure of meeting its creator, Mark Cline back on Halloween night (quite fitting), 2008.

My self-portrail at Foamhenge, Natural Bridge, VA.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Off to DC and Bicycling

My plans are now confirmed and I will be driving to Washington, DC on Thursday.  I will be bringing another car load of antiquarian prints to the local auction gallery in Falls Church for consignment, and then I will make another biking adventure on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.  For anyone interested in the print lots that will be leaving Thursday, please come by Monday-Wednesday during my normal business hours.  All prints will be 1/2 off original prices!  This includes all matted botanicals, maps, the large Shakespeare engravings, the architectural engravings, etc. 

Susan leaves for England on Tuesday and will return the following Wednesday.  Normal business hours will be conducted during her absence (except for Thursday-Saturday of this week).  I will hope to take some pictures and ride the only section of the bike trail that I have never been on.  I hope it doesn't rain too much.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Alive and well

The end of July was to bring some interesting changes at Mouse House.  They have been temporarily postponed by the Head Mouse because of her recent purchase (Thank you Henry and Linda!).

Susan's new Tiara

We are still operating as usual but in the next few weeks a scale back in custom framing will ultimately occur.  Why?  Susan was accepted into both The Washington Craft Show (November 1-3) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show (November 6-10).  We will be selling her fabulous Stain-glass and InBox fiber pieces at two of the most prestigious fine craft shows in the US.  She has been busy creating work for the shows, but because of good gallery sales, many of her pieces have been promised out.  She will need more time to create work as we must take two full booths of artwork to the shows.  We are very excited and scared about these shows, as they are strictly retail and if we don't sell we don't eat!

 Our first craft show in February, The Buyers Market of American Craft in Philadelphia was wholesale and although it was more successful that we expected,  we both agreed that wholesale only was not for us. She applied for the above  shows in April.  She expected to be rejected by one or both venues, but to our surprise she was accepted into both of them.  This speaks wonders for Susan's amazing artistic talents.

We will be on the road for the first two weeks in November and during the next months she will be crazy busy creating art and myself (as her new artist assistant and lab rat) will be at her beckon call.  She promised me a few days off in October to visit Mathias in the UK if he dances the "Prince" in The Sleeping Beauty.  Susan leaves for the UK next Tuesday for The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, where she has a quilt in a SAQA show and will actually have some real mother-son time (they are not performing until late September).  She is also working on a solo show in November with completely different work.  So... we are going to be very busy and a framing sabbatical may occur.  We will keep you posted (at least she will in her blogs).

By Friday I'll know if I am going to consign more prints to Quinn's Auction next week when Susan is in the UK.  If I go I plan on bringing my bike for more riding on the bike trails in Va/DC.  I rode from Purcellville to Herndon (27 miles) on the Washington & Old Dominion bike trail two weeks ago when we were at the Sacred Threads quilt show , and I hope to ride into DC from a local VA hotel on this trip.  Sorry Wanda but unfortunately I did not take any pictures.  This time I will.

Self-portrait at Kew Gardens, London, UK in March, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Fate of Antiquarian Prints

Our English antique butterfly cabinet that doubles as an antiquarian print drawer (click to enlarge)

Yesterday I spent about an hour looking at the hundreds of 19TH century engravings that are contained in out antique butterfly storage cabinet we bought at Terrace Oaks Antique Mall nearly 20 years ago.  The owner of Terrace Oaks at the time, Jo Ann Parker (of the Parker pen dynasty) insisted on us buying this piece of furniture as a storage unit for our antique prints. When we originally bought this piece, the top of the drawers contained old wavy glass with a cheesecloth-like fabric on some of the panes for drying of the specimens.  There were small pieces of butterfly wings in some of the drawers.  We removed the glass from the tops of the drawers and actually used a lot of it when we framed antique images.    Until about a year ago, all of the drawers were filled with hand-colored botanicals, bird prints, architectural and natural history engravings, Harper's Weekly woodblock prints and many other wonderful engravings.  Within the last year we have reduced our print inventory and are planning to consign more in the near future.

Miscellaneous natural history engravings in drawer no. 19 (click to enlarge)

Miscellaneous black and white engravings in drawer no. 20

I still like perusing through our engravings, but at the same time its a little sad.  Most younger people do not decorate with antique engravings like in previous years.  Many of these prints have not seen the light of day in years.  This goes for the buckets of botanical and bird prints that we have in our gallery.  With our energies now turning to the creation and marketing of Susan's art (Philadelphia was better than expected), it is time for someone else to distribute and sell these engravings.  Our next trip to DC will include a stop at Quinn's Auction where a vast majority of our stock will be consigned.  The butterfly cabinet will be converted to a new home for Susan's art, as well as a choice select group of antique engravings.  I will never completely rid myself of antiquarian prints, but I'll be more selective with what I will sell (can't give up a good excuse for a business trip to a print auction).

Bins of 19TH cent. botanicals underneath the table in the Mouse House gallery

Various matted and shrink-wrapped prints on shelves beneath the Gallery table

The gallery will be weened of excess prints in order to make room for Susan's art quilts and mixed-media pieces.  We may also have a clearance sale in April during the Elmwood Park Tour of Homes of our remaining stock, although Susan frowns at the mention of a sale.  I will entertain any offers from anyone wanting to buy my engravings in bulk.  Please come by and see what I have.

As a side note, I just had two browsers (probably mother and daughter) looking at some of my black and white prints.  They were the third group of people that have come to MH to look at prints this year! They were sent by a decorator that we WILL NOT work with.  They were here for 55 minutes for some images for a small powder room!!  They took 6 images home on approval!  I wonder if the "decorator who will not be named" will come over and discuss framing options with Susan!  I bet the images taken out will not be anything like what she envisions; at least she was smart enough to send her clients over.  They could have bought one of the framed Piranesi engravings and be done with their search, but that would have been too easy!  I was polite, and they had no idea that the decorator is not allowed in the house without payment in full before any work is started.  This only confirms one of the reasons why I am going to liquidate my collection!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Observations from Philadelphia

Today is the opening day of the Buyers Market of American Craft in Philadelphia.  Susan is one of hundreds of exhibitors at this three-day event.  She has already posted about this on her blog.  My job consists of being a very overdressed delivery boy and sometimes security guard.   I play the role well.  I am not really needed since Susan can easily sell herself without me hanging around.  The show is an amazing learning curve for us.  We probably do not belong in a wholesale market, and we probably will not take any orders for her work.  HOWEVER, there has already been some interest from several galleries about representation and other high-end venues to sell.  This is the most important part of our journey to craft shows.

I dismissed myself from Susan and took the train back to the hotel so I could make this short post.  The mass transit system in Philly is excellent!  The downtown area is wonderful and architecturally stunning.  The grand hall of the Reading Terminal took my breathe away.  The Reading Market is eye candy to your stomach.  Tonight is the Niche Awards ceremony at the Convention.  Susan is a finalist in the Decorative Fibers category (she won this award in 2011).  I'll journey back to meet her at 6PM.  Tomorrow I hope to visit the city more since I do not have to hold her hand while she self-promotes herself.  I will hopefully borrow her camera and take pictures.  We will back up after 4PM on Monday, stay overnight and make the long 600+ mile drive to Columbia on Tuesday.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Accident Parasites

Self-portrait of me at Stonehenge, UK, late June, 2012

No, the above picture has nothing to do with parasites!  I just like to take self-portraits of myself when I travel.  The incident with parasites occurred this week.  I am still recovering from my moped accident from 12 days ago.  As Susan told me the night of the accident, it looks like I'll get nothing from the lady that hit me unless I sue.  Her contact number only allows outgoing calls, and her driver's license lists an old address where I'm quite sure no forwarding address was given to the Post Office.  I know with a little effort, me or my lawyer (for a fee) could track her down and serve her papers for the damaged moped.  I wonder what the "blue book" value of a 4 year old moped that cost $1800 is?  I also know that if you sue someone with nothing, you get nothing in return, i.e., "you can't get blood from a turnip".

Now for the parasite angle of this post.  Last Wednesday I got a call from out of the blue asking me if I was still healing from my accident and whether I still needed to see a doctor.  The caller asked if I was dizzy, if my back hurt, etc., etc.  They were willing to make an appointment at their clinic, take x-rays, etc. and send the bill to the person that hit me.  When I told them I was sore but OK, he politely said goodbye.  One minute later his supervisor called back and offered the same thing over again.  When I declined, he said that "he was going to take me off their list".  I thought "what list"?  When I told Susan about the phone call she laughed and said, "your accident is public record.  They probably pay people to monitor all traffic accidents to see if they can make a quick buck".  This was confirmed by Jerry next door who told me lawyers do the same thing (not him, he said!).  He called them "parasites".  I asked him if I would have accepted their offer and received medical treatment, could they come after me to pay the bills if she couldn't pay?  Absolutely!!  What a scam!!  It is no wonder why our medical insurance is so high in this country.  Too many people want something for nothing!  I am very thankful I survived with only a few bruises.

Susan drove the new licensed and insured moped today and did not like how slow it is in comparison to the old one.  It's fast enough for me.  One more week until Philadelphia!

Royal Albert Hall from Hyde Park in London, UK, late June, 2012.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A week in review at The Mouse House

Last night (Saturday, January 26), I attended the annual Columbia Classical Ballet's Lifechance Gala at the Koger Center with Dolly Patton, her daughter Sims and her friend.  They were all "dressed to the nines". Susan was not in attendance as she was returning from a workshop in Cary, NC.  It was nice to see Brooklyn Mack dance again.  I haven't seen him dance in two years and his stage presence is as wonderful as ever.  I am not going to critique the performance; I know better!  It is unfortunate that so few people in Columbia will ever witness Mathias' ballet skills and the superiority of Birmingham Royal Ballet.  For instance last night Mathias and Principal Dancer Nao Sakuma closed the annual Birmingham Royal Ballet's "Evening of Music and Dance" Gala with the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.  For a link to their performance, click here.

Our new Motofino 50 cc moped.  Click on image to enlarge.

Susan and I now own a new moped.  Last Tuesday I had a rude encounter with a car that pulled out of a parking lot in front of me.  The front of the moped disintegrated into many pieces and required a tow truck to take the rest to car and moped heaven!  I was fortunate enough to be only bruised a little bit; I was wearing a helmet.  It could have been a lot worse.  It only took the Columbia Police 1 hour and 15 minutes and two 911 calls to respond!  I guess that since I was not dead, they did not feel that this incident was important.

Hopefully the poor lady that hit me will help with the purchase; she was driving without insurance (she thought the car was insured... long story), was given a $450 ticket, her car was impounded and her driver's license was suspended.  She was very lucky not to be taken to jail; she was resigned to this fate.  I have spoken to Jerry next door just to be safe.  Hopefully I won't have to go the legal route for compensation.  She has bigger problems than me.  She called the next day to see how I was feeling.

We are three weeks away from our great adventure in Philadelphia.  As a reminder we will be closed from February 13-19 for the trade show.

Two early 19th century botanicals available at The Mouse House (click to enlarge).

More framed botanicals.  We also have several nice sets of framed Ca., 1860 birds from Morris's Birds of Europe available.

Monday, January 14, 2013

More Mouse House Pictures

One of the other things on my 2013 agenda is to publish more pictures at The Mouse House and from my travel adventures.

Here is a photo of our front gallery filled with Susan's artwork and hundreds of antiquarian prints.  Click on any image to enlarge.

Here is a photo of our front foyer where you can see many framed mirrors.  In fact the walls throughout Mouse House are filled with mirrors.

Here is a photo of the Brighton Wheel taken from the famous Victorian Pier in Brighton, UK.  I visited on December 6, 2012 when I went to see my elder son, Mathias, as the Prince in Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of Cinderella.  It never rains when I go to England!

More pictures will be published soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A new year

2013 will bring on some interesting changes at The Mouse House.  I will have consistent Saturday hours (10AM-2PM) whenever I am in town.  There will be more of Susan's artwork on display and (of course) for sale.  She has recently finished many framed key pieces (please click here and scroll down to her January 10 post to view this unique artwork in detail).  These make wonderful and affordable gifts ($50-$130) and are all unique Susan creations.

We are busy preparing for our first wholesale fine art craft show on February 16-18 at the Buyers Market of American Craft in Philadelphia.  Susan is hoping for more national exposure and gallery representation, as well as many orders for her stain-glass fiber pieces.  This is an exciting, scary, and potentially life-changing venture!

The Mouse House will have an open house during the Historic Elmwood Park home tour on April 13.  Susan will be present and demonstrating her artistic talents, unless she is fortunate enough to be awarded an artist residency during this time.  We will NOT be participating in Columbia's Open Studios in March as I will be in the UK hopefully watching Mathias fly on the magic carpet or conjuring up some magic as the "blue body paint" Genie in Birmingham Royal Ballet's London performances of Aladdin.

We still have a great selection of mirrors and some really fine antiquarian prints (framed and unframed).  Please come by and shop.

Piranesi Engravings, Ca 1800, $250.00 each 
3 are available