Weekends don’t get much better than that.
Since we’ve moved into the apartment, the route of our daily walk has changed and I’m finding new gardens to visit. My favorite this week was the lovely Arizona Cactus Garden on the campus of Stanford University. Originally designed and planted in the 1880s, many of the specimens tower overhead, making visitors feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland.
The late afternoon light of my recent visit was mesmerizing and best of all, I had the garden all to myself. I counted several different types of ripe prickly pears ranging in color from yellow to red to pink; yet as tempted as I was (prickly pear juice is delicious!), I limited my investigation to those that had already fallen to the ground, strictly in search of seeds.
I can’t wait to return to this lovely garden and when I do, I’ll try to capture better shots of the prickly pears, chollas, agaves and barrel cacti blossoms. This garden is addictive!
Have a wonderful weekend!
I don’t know why, but autumn always makes me crave chamomile tea and ginger cookies. It must be something about the warmth of the mug and the bite of the candied ginger, but it’s what I reach for each autumn when I come in from the cold after raking leaves or after a crisp morning spent at a particularly good estate sale – like the one we went to this past Sunday. We caught it on the last day (when everything was marked half off) and my husband scored some fabulous vintage National Geographic magazines from the 1960s, including the much coveted December 1969 – Apollo 11 issue …
for a dollar each!
How cool is that? In addition to the articles and photographs, we’re also enjoying the vintage advertisements. The following examples are all from the July 1960 issue focusing on Hawaii “Our 50th State” and NASA’s goal to launch a man into preorbital space via Project Mercury (with much interesting commentary regarding NASA’s late entry to the post-Sputnik era space race with the Soviets).
Aren’t these interesting? Although I grew up going to garage and sample sales with my mom, I had never been to an estate sale until a dear friend invited me to one on Chicago’s North Shore over ten years ago. I was instantly hooked and have been on the prowl ever since. Within the last several years, my husband started joining me and now he’s hooked as well. We love the thrill of the hunt, the unique wares and the incredible bargains. Since much of what’s sold today as “new” is of such poor quality (seemingly designed to be disposable), we’d rather buy vintage. I’ve found bargains on everything from stainless steel mixing bowls to furniture, garden tools to live houseplants, studio pottery to Persian rugs. And somehow, I always manage to get my treasures home in our little Jetta. As is often the case, there’s always one item that got away; this past weekend, it was a nicely framed piece of paper-cut art – priced less than fifteen dollars.
I’m curious, do you like estate sales? I’d love it if you’d tell me about your best find (as well as the one item that got away) in the comments. And as always, thanks for reading.
We’ve been house-hunting for something closer to our families, but we’re quickly learning that the task won’t be easy.
Once you’ve lived in something like this …
it’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine living in anything else.
This clip from Coast Modern, an independent documentary by directors Mike Bernard and Gavin Froome, sums up our feelings perfectly. One of my favorite quotes in the film is from Professor James Steele of the USC School of Architecture.
“A good piece of architecture is a habitable work of art. The best of them create this sensation where you feel like, my God, this is amazing! I want to live here. I want to stay here. I don’t want to leave.”
That’s exactly how we felt the first time we stepped inside our 1964 Eichler. We instantly fell in love with how the architecture connected us to the California foothills and how we experienced light and space. That house changed us. To paraphrase Dion Neutra, we came to embrace the comfort of being inside while enjoying the feeling of being outside. We
want need to recapture that feeling in the Midwest.
Did I mention that we prefer radiant heat to forced air, that we’d like to keep the size under 2000 square feet and we hate lawns?
Hang on kids, this is going to be one hell of a bumpy ride.
In honor of my dad’s birthday, I’d like to share a few of my favorite photographs. The following images don’t just document my father’s life, they’re also beautiful examples of early twentieth century portraiture and a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.
Born and raised in Pewamo, Michigan – a tiny German-American farming community in the middle of the state – he served in WWII as a medic in the 5th Army, landing on the beaches of Anzio – Hell’s Half Acre. He returned home from the war to marry his sweetheart from Detroit and for the next 43 years he worked at The Ford Motor Company while helping my mom raise six children: Bob (born in 1950), Tim (1953), Nancy (1954), Gary (1959), Kathleen (1963) and finally, “the baby” (as I was referred to for the longest time) born in 1967.
Like so many of his generation he didn’t talk about the war, but preferred to simply get on with his life, quietly and with great humility. When he wasn’t working long hours at “the plant” (as he referred to the Rouge River assembly line), he like to spend time with his family. Rather than join golf or bowling leagues, my parents saved every penny in order to take the whole family on a yearly vacation “up north” and in later years, down to Florida. As you’ll see in the images below, my dad had a soft spot for animals (he always had a pet dog or cat, and drove my mom to distraction by bringing home strays on a regular basis) and cars (though he didn’t buy a new car until he was close to retirement). Being a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy, he once informed my mother to lay off the casseroles by tossing a package of pork chops on the kitchen counter. She claimed the package was aimed towards her, he vigorously denied it – the jury is still out. His favorite food or “weakness” was ice cream … and Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without everyone asking / teasing dad if he’d like some pie with his whipped cream.
The quintessential family man, my father rarely drank, never swore (for the longest time growing up, I thought “B.S.” – as in, “that’s a bunch of B.S. !” – stood for “Bobby Schafer”) and condemned violence and cruelty. He enjoyed innocent practical jokes, but frowned upon crude humor. Despite only having graduated from high school, he was as sharp as a tack, religiously reading every issue – from front to back – of National Geographic magazine and keeping up-to-date on world events to the day he died. A devoted husband and father, he taught me the value of hard work, how to respect and appreciate nature, and most of all – how to lead a life well lived. We all miss him dearly.
October 4, 1947 – Holy Redeemer – Detroit, Michigan
my dad holding me – Detroit, 1969