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What on Earth!? Archive

Things we've found that the previous owners left behind. (Its a long story...)

June 13, 2003

What on Earth!? (a brief explanation of all this stuff...)

Category: What on Earth!?

We bought this 1914 bungalow from a woman whose family owned it for 70 years. With all that history and an interest in collecting (plus quite a bit of cash which they didn't spend ON the house), they'd developed quite a houseful of things from around the world. Like this:

As a result, we gave the seller a 30-day rent-back period after the official "closing" to sort through and remove her family possessions (well, we didn't charge her any rent, actually. Just utilities...we felt sympathy for her...there were so many things to sort through). Then, three days before she was to move, we received a letter...

Continue for more of "What on Earth!? (a brief explanation of all this stuff...)"

June 13, 2003

The First Batch

Category: What on Earth!?
While my computer savvier husband sets up an integrated website, I'm going to start posting picture of old and ends we find in the bungalow. Please be patient with us! There are so many odds & ends. Whew.

If you have a particular story or comments about the item, use the 'Comment' link below each entry. (As in" My grandmother had one of these, and she used to make us....)

You can send all correspondence to

Continue for more of "The First Batch"

June 16, 2003

The Second Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

Item #1

This is a Buddha from Japan in Bronze. He has an incense burner in his lap. I need to some research on his markings/history.

Thanks to Naomi M., I have more information about this little piece! (look under Comments for this entry...)

Item #2 - Happily Adopted

A Zenith H725 AM/FM "Portable" Radio. Works beautifully.

Continue for more of "The Second Batch"

June 17, 2003

The Third Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

Okay, we knew it had to happen sometime. Get down to some "nitty-gritty", marks on the bottoms of things, and all that. What is this stuff? Is there a market for it? (Albeit a small one) Can we finance our new bathroom tile and kitchen repairs from these things? Or just buy a new tea cozy?

Item #1--Has new home

Part of the "branded" collection. Tarnished silver top and filigree over glass. Between silver exterior "cup" and top is the word "Nestle" in the glass.

Continue for more of "The Third Batch"

June 18, 2003

The Fourth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

Well! I rummaged through the historical papers and postcards and tickets and menus and so on today while waiting for the pest control people.

This family is certainly well-traveled. And at interesting times too.

Picture is well after World War I. A young "L" enters law school at some point...single, attractive and smart. With well-heeled parents who have invested in international stocks and real estate (and I don't know what else) that allow her to "see the world" with a girlfriend DURING THE U.S. DEPRESSION (1929 - 1936). Her future spouse, W, is also traveling the world at this time. I don't know if they knew each other yet or not. But there they are, our globe trotting pair.

Item #1

Someone was in pre-WWII Germany in 1930.

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June 19, 2003

The Fifth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

J's unexpected journey through the linen a trip back into her grandmother's all-American "kitsch-en".

And yes, make us an offer on those things that haven't been adopted. We have thousands of things in this house. No kidding. And we will be having a garage sale within the next month. But wanted to give bungalow folks and friends a chance to see and perhaps even own a little Americana at garage sale prices.

You can send all correspondence to

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June 20, 2003

The Sixth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

Some Japanese and Chinese Items

Paper Items Sample: We know the owner brought back items from 1931 China and Japan...we just don't know which items are from "when." I believe they went back during the 1950's as well. We have other paperwork from 1931 that places at least the one of the couple before they were married in Japan.

Porcelain Items Sample:

Blue flower piece: Writing says "Nishikawa Japan" with a border above and below. I think there is an artist's signature (?), but I cannot understand it.

Spotted piece: This only has a signature or name. I cannot discern it.

Continue for more of "The Sixth Batch"

June 23, 2003

The Seventh Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

I am so tired from endless cleaning. You'll have to guess the story of these items and send in your guesses. Are they related? Are they even identifiable?

Items...Random or no?

Boy Scout Bandana!

Note: There's a neat story someone sent about this. Check out the Comment entry from WC...

Continue for more of "The Seventh Batch"

June 25, 2003

The Eighth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

More random (or no?) pictures of items from "the house."

Item #1 - Has new home

I am obsessed now. Many people who have come over to gape at the museum which is our house turn over everything they look at. Now they have me doing it too. Like I know what I am looking at?! This dish says "Royal Albert, Bone China, England, Cotswold." I was in Cotswold for a lovely weekend after working outside of London in June of 2000. Other than that, I have no idea what this "mark" means.

Item #2 < Adopted

There was nothing on the bottom of this coffee can. But there are a few different ones in the house and people seem to like them anyway.

Continue for more of "The Eighth Batch"

June 26, 2003

The Ninth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

It's Ladies Day (or Night) here at "What On Earth?" Or, at least, the stereotypical Ladies persona created by marketers earlier this century.

But I'm digressing into a rant about marketing and feminism. Which would pretty much wreck the lightheartedness of these pages. So, we can talk about that topic on postlacesociety when it is up and running. ("Lace" as in "shoelace" as in a bunch of clog, sandal and Teva wearing pals blogging about modern topics of interest. You know who you are.)

Note: These are all being handled as a seperate kind of sale to be announced later. Some are available online at the Estate Sale

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June 26, 2003

The Tenth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?

(A's on deck for the page tonight :)

Original Prints

Here are some prints that J photographed today...

And they're signed....

June 29, 2003

The Eleventh Batch

Category: What on Earth!?
kitsch, kich, n. items mass-produced for the American Market (i.e. souvenirs and the like); generally something that recalls a specific vintage genre through its symbolism. Sometimes these items could be considered outlandish. Generally they symbolize an "age of excess" and the items are of value in that they were of popular appeal at one time while now they might be considered sentimental and of "poor taste"...leading kitsch to a charm of its own.

tacky, tacki, adj. 1 : not having or exhibiting good taste: as a : marked by lack of style : DOWDY b : marked by cheap showiness : GAUDY


Today we present you with a variety of items. But! Are they "kitsch"? Or "tacky"? (Or neither?!) I'm still a beginner on this topic. "Kitsch" is actually a genre of collectible. And can create some really cute results when displayed the right way. But how does one distinguish between "kitsch" and "tacky"? Can you tell?

We're going to test your knowledge by offering some photos of items left in the house...and you can give us YOUR opinion.

Item #1

A tissue holder made of yarn. Kitsch? Tacky? Neither?

Item #2

Pictures made from the bark of trees. These are unmarked. Could be Mount Fuji in Japan. Could be something in the Western U.S. We're not sure. But they are all about being three-dimensional.

Item #3

A photo of Boris Yeltsin superimposed onto a hanging banner. Very tiny. Maybe 7 inches high.

Item #4

A slightly blurry picture (sorry) of a "faux" ship's wheel clock (unless the ship was 4 feet long...then it isn't faux it might be real!) from Telechron. It's electric and it still works.

Continue for more of "The Eleventh Batch"

June 30, 2003

The Twelfth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?
Tonight, we are playing a NEW GAME here on WHAT ON EARTH??!! It is called...


I have a brother-in-law named Mark. And, although he is a pretty cool guy, this game is not about him.

A "mark" according to one of the MANY definitions of the word in the Oxford Dictionary means a "badge, brand, device, emblem, hallmark, label, seal, sign, stamp, standard, symbol, trade mark."

Many things have a mark or label or signature on them. Picasso's signature is a "mark." The words "Coca-Cola" is a "mark." Even "Made in Japan" is a mark. People who watch "The Antique Roadshow" dig marks.

Marks can help you to discover the story behind items, even if that story is as bland as "Hmm. She bought this at Walmart."

Item #1

A mark can be very clear...but its origins can still be pretty mysterious. (The writing on the front of the plate says, "Combined Thresher and Harvester at work near Connell Washington.)"

Item #2

The statue base is wood. I know the statue is not plastic, but what is it? Ivory? Something else? And who is G.R.? And what's with the fish?

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July 1, 2003

The Thirteenth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?
Tonight, we are playing a NEW GAME here on WHAT ON EARTH??!! It is called... NAME THAT MARK

I'm ready for a loooonnngggg weekend. Which means less babble, more photos for a few days. Still! See if you can "Name that Mark!"

What do these marks tell us about these items?

Item #1

Continue for more of "The Thirteenth Batch"

July 2, 2003

The Fourteenth Batch

Category: What on Earth!?
I spent the day cleaning out the basement, so I don't have much time tonight. But here are some interesting artifacts from other countries for you to peruse. As always, you can respond via the Comments button or you can send a correspondence to . Item #1

Item #2

Item #3 Adopted

Item #4

Continue for more of "The Fourteenth Batch"

July 6, 2003

Batch #15

Category: What on Earth!?

It is time for another installment of "What on Earth?!!" Today's what on earth has us trying to sort out items that are very definitely future garage sale from possible private sale or eBay items.

Garage sale items are usually:

a) Too big or WAY too fragile to ship.
b) Just don't warrant eBay charges.

Some things are obviously garage sale, albeit some very COOL garage sale items. And when we get that garage "sale friendly" (i.e., there is room to PUT things in the garage), you're all invited. Camping in the backyard is possible for roadtrippers. Less adventurous roadtrippers could make a weekend of it in one of lovely Chicago B&B's or hotels. You may fulfill your garage sale dreams here. Or you may just enjoy all the bungalow and Frank Lloyd Wright sightseeing that our fair city has to offer. :)

Slidetrays and storage boxes. Four cardboard boxes of them. < Two boxes full of slide trays are adopted

A lovely pleather carry-on bag:

More luggage. A set of "That 70's Show" Samsonite:

More Samsonite. This a little the box. (Took out for photos) Oh yes. And all baggage has keys for locks. Nifty eh?

Continue for more of "Batch #15"

July 8, 2003

Batch #16

Category: What on Earth!?

Today's game is called...


We've found quite a few items around the house, which COULD belong to the bungalow era of this abode. OR they could belong to a more recent era (like the 50's or 60's...). OR they could belong to a different house entirely. (Remember, W was a collector...who knows where this stuff came from. We are still finding windows in the garage that we are fairly sure did NOT come from this style of house.)

YOUR job is to guess BUNGALOW...OR NO? And to also tell the rest of us what the item is.

There are many items that we hold up and play these games with. "Could be a hands-free clamp? An Art Deco cigarette holder? A torture device? Your call...."
Now it gets to be YOUR CALL!

For example, WHAT WAS THIS?

Continue for more of "Batch #16"

July 9, 2003

More...BUNGALOW...or NO?

Category: What on Earth!?

We're back with BUNGALOW...OR NO? Everyone has been so helpful in identifying things that we are starting to sort it out...sorta.

Here's the latest batch (remember to click on the picture to make it bigger):

This is A < Adopted

This is B

This is C

Continue for more of "More...BUNGALOW...or NO?"

July 11, 2003

Batch #18

Category: What on Earth!?

Overloaded "to do" sleep. Quick random batch for all you "what on earth?!" fans out there. (And yes, there are things on this page that we have not figured out. Though we know the last one antique toaster. No joke.)

Continue for more of "Batch #18"

July 11, 2003

Staring at the ceiling at 4 am...

Category: What on Earth!?

I don't know why I can't sleep. But, man. Birds get up EARLY! They started their little morning bird songs at 4 AM! I wish I didn't know that.

But the "What On Earth?!" fans are excited because that means I'm going to try to go to bed early. So it's pictures of stuff, stuff and more stuff. (There's an especially exciting flashback for you North Park University fans.) And remember! Click on something to make it larger.

From vintage Japanese Comic books to Coca-Cola....

< See this on the Estate Sale Site

Continue for more of "Staring at the ceiling at 4 am..."

July 12, 2003

Bungalow Context

Category: What on Earth!?

I am starting to realize why I am as fascinated with the history of this house as I am with fixing it....I need context. The big picture. The story.

I mean, who slept in the room I'm sleeping in for all of those years? What did they think as THEY stared at the ceiling not able to get to sleep at 4 am?

I've been corresponding with a very nice person who I found by doing a search on the last name of the oldest deed we have on the house...Kjeldsen. I found her daughter's email address and, like a big geek, wrote her daughter about my research project. That day, the daughter's mom answered me...she is a first rate researcher and great geneaologist! I'll share more of what we found in the next installment.

Tonight, though, I need some bungalow context...

Like, this thing?

This needs a context.

Continue for more of "Bungalow Context"

July 14, 2003

Random Stuff

Category: What on Earth!?

I was just yanking stuff out of boxes today and taking pictures of it. For awhile, I tried to have a system. Now...whatever. But our garage sale this Fall is going to be a BLAST!!!

Part of going through things is wondering about how it ended up here. What was it originally intended for? And where did it come from? And when?

When I pulled this out of the pile, all I could think of was "Hmmm. Brainwashing little kids...1947-style...." (Click on the picture to make it bigger)

But when I opened up the record jacket (it folds open), I SERIOUSLY freaked out.

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July 16, 2003

Playtime with Batch #21

Category: What on Earth!?

Oh BOY!!! Look what we found in an old wooden chest!

Do any of these bring back memories for anyone? Or do you wish they did? :)

Item #1

Item #2

(Cut glass bowl not included...but we had to put the marbles in something close by...those are Peltier Banana marbles)

Continue for more of "Playtime with Batch #21"

July 18, 2003

Batch #22

Category: What on Earth!?

Just a box full of stuff.

< Some of these on the Estate Sale Site

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July 20, 2003

Stockperson at "Someone Else's Life Mart"

Category: What on Earth!?

It's like I've opened up the door to a big closet and all of the contents have fallen on me.

Some days there is wonder and other days (especially hot, sticky ones) it easy to feel like a lowly stock person at "Someone Else's Life Mart".

Continue for more of "Stockperson at "Someone Else's Life Mart""

July 22, 2003

Our Next Play Along Game...WHERE on earth...

Category: What on Earth!?

are these things from?

2 points if you guess the correct continent
10 points if you get the country
100 points if you get the city and can prove it (because sometimes I don't even know THAT!)

Just fill in your answers in the comment form below. You can use a "nom-de-plume" if you want to take a chance but don't want that advertised in our forum!!

p.s. I threw in 1-2 "ringers" so be careful....

GOOD LUCK TO ALL! Oh, and click on the picture to make it larger.

Item #1 < Adopted!

Item #2

Continue for more of "Our Next Play Along Game...WHERE on earth..."

July 23, 2003

Flotsam & jetsam

Category: What on Earth!?

It's amazing, how much there is to learn about things.

What do my things say about me when I've left them behind? The sweater on the little train in the Swiss Alps. My wallet in...many, many places like that field where we went on the Apple Holler hayride in Wisconsin. My car, also many places.

I guess these things say--"she's not paying attention to the details, is she?"

More flotsam and jetsam from the upstairs tonight...

You know, I don't think I ever appreciated their musical versatility until I heard the Sons of the Pioneers sing "Tumbling Tumbleweed" AND "Tiny Bubbles" on the SAME audiocassette.

Continue for more of "Flotsam & jetsam"

July 25, 2003

Lights, Cameras, Action!

Category: What on Earth!?

Someone I met today heard our story and wondered if the PO left behind any cameras. Boy, do we have cameras!

< Adopted

And that's just for starters...

Continue for more of "Lights, Cameras, Action!"

July 29, 2003

Hmmm. Where to research these?

Category: What on Earth!?

Sometimes, it is easy to figure what something is and where it is from.

And then, sometimes it is not.

No mark, but we don't care. It's perfect bungalow style and color. Picture doesn't do it justice.

< Adopted

We like the "crazy stork"...but he has no mark either. What is his story?

< Adopted

Continue for more of "Hmmm. Where to research these?"

July 30, 2003

Um. What is this?

Category: What on Earth!?

Okay. We give up.

What is it?

Here is the top of what we saw when we opened the box...(and yes, those cogs and wheels were just lying there.) (Remember to click to make it larger.)

Continue for more of "Um. What is this?"

August 4, 2003

New Game...Trash or Treasure??

Category: What on Earth!?

Tonight, in honor of my sister Elaine's birthday, we bring you....

le garage. And an edition of...

TRASH OR TREASURE????!!!! (Click on photo to make it larger.)

(Elaine IS a treasure...just wanting to clarify. She is the younger, smarter, cooler sister...and she is very TALL. And can easily clobber me.)

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August 6, 2003

What is value?

Category: What on Earth!?

Has something ever caught your eye and made you wonder...hmm? What IS it with that? It looks quite ordinary and yet...maybe not?

That's pretty much how we spend our days here at Chez Stuff. And 99 times out of 100, the article in question is quite, quite ordinary. Taking-up- too-much-floor-space ordinary. Hard-to-vacuum-around ordinary.

And then, there was this wooden bowl...which popped up (of course) at 3:00 in the morning when I couldn't sleep... (click to make the picture larger)

Continue for more of "What is value?"

August 7, 2003

Modern Design? or Mod Squad?

Category: What on Earth!?
Yes, I know. It is unusual to put two "What on Earth" entries in a row...but I've asked some designer pals to peer in this week and help me sort out my Modern Design from my Mod Squad.

Because, well, I have no clue.

So here is a random offering of items that could be Modern Design...or Mod Squad...or neither. (Remember to click on the image to make it larger...)

< Going to experts

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August 12, 2003

Chicago, My Kind of Town: Part 1

Category: What on Earth!?
Okay, time for the next installment of "WHAT ON EARTH??" Sorry for the delay, we've been cataloguing and moving books off of the 2nd floor in a desperate race to free up that space for construction.

Going through the historical paper and books in this house is like peeling back an onion. Layer by layer, we learn more about the previous owners. And it's just as FUN to share the wacky stuff as it is to share the "finds".

These are things we found from "Chicago". (Remember to click on pictures to make them larger.) If you were doing the bungalow archaeology in this case, what would they tell YOU about the previous occupants? :)

< Adopted
=Adopted < Adopted

Continue for more of "Chicago, My Kind of Town: Part 1"

August 13, 2003

Chicago, My Kind of Town: Part II

Category: What on Earth!?
It's kind of a testament to university loyalty when you find THIS much stuff connected to one place--the University of Chicago-in the house. We can't even post it all here. But here is a taste:

And not that I'm saying anything...but I'll let this 1959 issue of the U of C magazine speak for itself:

And, just for the record (off-topic), I think Al Franken is hilarious.

Continue for more of "Chicago, My Kind of Town: Part II"

August 17, 2003

The Tuba Mouthpiece of Michael Lind

Category: What on Earth!?

So, as we are leaving church this morning, C, a friend and neighbor who had come over in the first days of the house debacle, stopped us in the narthex.

We had found three mouthpieces in the house that C had investigated. If you are a professional musician, a mouthpiece is incredibly important and also can be very expensive (on a musician's pay!) Each individual musician has a mouthpiece that works best for them.

There were two that were given to another pal from the church who plays tuba and also has a neat band, Red Vinegar.

The third mouthpiece was a Vincent Bach-New York mouthpiece.

Continue for more of "The Tuba Mouthpiece of Michael Lind"

August 18, 2003

Is there such a thing as synchronicity?

Category: What on Earth!?

As I was typing in our website address to blog a new entry tonight, I had to laugh. Unconciously, I had typed "houseOFprogress" at a time I think that we are SO FAR AWAY from progress right now. A is much more positive. He thinks that we have made tremendous progress in our planning. I am more morose. I keep seeing the dust on every surface and wondering, "How will we ever be clean again?"

However, in exploring items and meeting people regarding the house, I am more curious about Jung's concept of synchronicity, that principle which explains "meaningful coincidences" such as a beetle flying into his room while a patient was describing a dream about a acausal principle that links events having a similar meaning by their coincidence in time rather than sequentially. He claimed that there is a synchrony between the mind and the phenomenal world of perception. *


Do I believe in the theory of the collective unconcious? I don't know. I don't NOT believe in it. Do I believe that Michael Lind's mouthpiece found him through us and C somehow? Or that an item here will finally find its "owner of purpose" least for the time being. Or that a house was meant for someone?

I don't know. I wish I had as much faith in those things as I do in my other kinds of faith :) Maybe I wouldn't notice the dust so much.

Tonight is a random collection as we sort out some plans and get back to you with those stories. I did not choose a theme for these, unless you are wishing it so of me from our collective unconcious.

This book from 1900 is fascinating for so many reasons. It documents the Palestine of the Ottoman Empire in photographs and gorgeous maps.


Continue for more of "Is there such a thing as synchronicity?"

August 23, 2003

what on earth?? random mix.

Category: What on Earth!?

OK. It's late and we just got back from JG's B-Day bash. Happy Birthday, big guy. You don't look a day over....40 :)

So, I'll make this one fast. Plus, I have a lot of very VERY cool news about possibly finding the relatives of the Niels Kjeldsen, the first owners of the house that we know of!!! (And maybe even the builder!) Or, they found us. We are so excited. We'll fill you in tomorrow.

Meantime, here are some randomly-chosen "what on earth" items to amuse and entertain...

Continue for more of "what on earth?? random mix."

August 25, 2003

What lasts?

Category: What on Earth!?

Too hot to do work in most of the house today. Our windows will be (hopefully!) fixed soon and we will have some ventilation. Until then, we hunker down next to the A/C and keep taking inventory.

I have been nervous about handling the historical paper. The house's dirt and dust have discouraged me...I don't want to ruin anything. Even the word for some of these paper items--ephemera--means "something that doesn't last, something that is transitory in time." But I don't want to be responsible for rushing it to an earlier demise! On the other hand, I've wanted to look around for ideas for Rubber Trouble at Slumberland.

Vintage advertising is fun for this. Art Deco, Art Nouveau...a lot of designs might look good as stamps! (Wendi would know more about what makes a good candidate...) A short stack of Harper's Bazaar magazines from the 20's and 30's looked like a good place to start.

-- Adopted

Continue for more of "What lasts?"

August 28, 2003

Preparing for the backyard BBQ with friends weekend

Category: What on Earth!?

In other years, on other holidays, we've had to scrape around for things to use for gatherings with family and friends outside.

This year, WE ARE SET!!! Kinda.

We have the "Beef...It's Whats for Dinner" thing...scary enough to make vegetarians dive into the bushes. (Click on picture to resize)

This is a SERIOUS steer. If I could only remember which ex-Bull player he looks me out guys!

Continue for more of "Preparing for the backyard BBQ with friends weekend"

August 30, 2003

Life hasn't changed much, has it?

Category: What on Earth!?

I took Wendi's suggestion (at Rubber Trouble) and scanned some of our old magazines for advertising. And do you know what I found?

Same stuff, different decade. Clothes, liquor, cigarettes, jewelry, furniture, perfume, lingerie, cars. Except everything was from the 1920's and 1930's. And most of the things were line drawings instead of photographs.

And there were fewer "truth-in-advertising" laws back then. Obviously. (click to make picture larger)

OUCH! The chin...THE CHIN!

Continue for more of "Life hasn't changed much, has it?"

September 5, 2003

Remnants & Bridges

Category: What on Earth!?

Remnants: a small part or portion that remains after the main part no longer exists

What will be the remnants of me?

It is hard not to think of these philosophical questions as we poke and prod on through these things.

Someone must have loved Alma Sutton very much to have made her this box for Christmas.

But...who was she?

Continue for more of "Remnants & Bridges"

September 6, 2003

Freak out factor

Category: What on Earth!?

You know, this house has a very high freak out factor.

So, we're researching and tagging last night with the full intention of still having an estate sale. Some of the items will only be sold through the website because we don't have time to go through them now (like most of the ephemera).

Today, we also found out the making the bathroom work will most likely cost more than we had planned for in our budget. So we were kind of down. Whatever leaked up there back in the 1950's seriously damaged the floor and ceiling below, possibly got between the walls and pushed out the wood lathe. Which can't be reused if that is the case. Some days, I want to weep for this house. It deserved better.

We squared our shoulders and kept tagging. But certain items kept drawing me back to them. Like this plaster or chalkware "sculpture" (?):

Continue for more of "Freak out factor"

September 13, 2003

Okay. Does EVERY home come equipped with a blowgun?

Category: What on Earth!?

One of the stranger items we found while dilgently digging out the basement this weekend.

Hey K! You're gonna put somebody's eye out with that thing!!

Continue for more of "Okay. Does EVERY home come equipped with a blowgun?"

September 14, 2003

Makin' Bacon

Category: What on Earth!?

The 70s was a wonderful era. Bell bottoms. Great rock and roll. Cooking bacon vertically...

Wait, cooking bacon vertically!?

Yes, now you too can cook bacon using authentic 1970s methods with the original "Bacon Maker and Meat Rack" by Nupac!!!

Why cook bacon vertically, you may ask? Well...

Continue for more of "Makin' Bacon"

September 16, 2003

different stuff different day

Category: What on Earth!?

sometimes it is enough to wander through the house and point the camera...*CLICK!*

You see Bambi-- Adopted

And a 12 foot long bamboo fly fishing rod

Continue for more of "different stuff different day"

September 18, 2003

Bungalow Sleuth Award :)

Category: What on Earth!?

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Nancy Drew.

Honest! Barbie? Bo-o-o-ring. She was so INTO herself. But Nancy? She had ALL of the fun. Always chasing bad guys and using flashlights and solving mysteries. THAT sounded like the best time to me!!

Continue for more of "Bungalow Sleuth Award :)"

September 19, 2003

Lost the manual?!

Category: What on Earth!?

Not these owners! Not only did they buy and keep everything they saw, they were serious about manuals.

Of course, there's more...

Continue for more of "Lost the manual?!"

September 22, 2003

Buried Treasure Mateys...Argh!

Category: What on Earth!?

Many more times than we have thought possible, we get a variation on the following comment when people hear about this house: "Man! You lucky ducks! All of that treasure!!! I wish it had happened to me!"


See, there's this thing about "treasure". It has a limit. When you stumble across a, say, really cool coin on the beach. Or a great bargain at a garage sale. THAT is fun! Because you can go home, put it on a shelf, look at it when you want to.

Then there is this.

Continue for more of "Buried Treasure Mateys...Argh!"

September 25, 2003

Hurray! Two people dear to us...

Category: What on Earth!?

...announced their engagement and I am digging through the basement for ideas about what to get them...(wink, wink)

(double-click to make the pictures larger)

This seems too anti-"equal rights"...

Continue for more of "Hurray! Two people dear to us..."

September 27, 2003

Amazing connections

Category: What on Earth!?

This house is full of amazing, wonderful and just unusual connections. Sometimes it is finding something that you remember from your childhood or from a movie set. Sometimes it is getting to witness someone else's memories (which moves my heart).

Sometimes you find things that make you wonder, "I wonder if this place still exists?" or "What was happening in the world when they bought this pocket watch?" And sometimes things seem driven by divine intervention.

Last night and this morning, I "met" a jazz musician from Portugal through his father, Mr. Lincoln T. Beauchamp, Sr., Attorney at Law.

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October 3, 2003

Foundry Design, or...the Die is Cast ;)

Category: What on Earth!?

What on earth is in the basement today?

Stuff made out of metal. Specifically, stuff that I think was made in a "casting process." What do I know about this process? Practically nothing. But my dad knows a lot.

I know this is a flower frog. You put it in the bottom of a vase or bowl and it helps your flowers stay arranged. I know that.

Continue for more of "Foundry Design, or...the Die is Cast ;)"

October 4, 2003

If it's is SO outta here.

Category: What on Earth!?

"What on Earth" fans will appreciate the next few weeks as we frantically try to catch up on the majority of your research and tagging. We live in the basement now...though that makes things awkward because Dave the Cat escaped twice today. He's been doing that lately.

Here he is looking all "What? Who? Me?"

Do not fall for his, "Oh, I am so tired!" act. This cat opens doors. With no opposable thumbs. That we know of. (If you look closely, you'll notice he really never sleeps...that eye on OUR right? Slightly open and incredibly alert.)

Continue for more of "If it's is SO outta here."

October 6, 2003

Fraternal connections :)

Category: What on Earth!?

It was a pleasure conversing today (via email) with KW of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University of New Mexico.

These connections are taking us all over the place.

It started with this:

Continue for more of "Fraternal connections :)"

October 9, 2003

The "Do Not Call...or send sharp knives...list"

Category: What on Earth!?

What ever happened to GOOD swag? Swag is the business person's term for "stuff given out by advertisers--promotional products" and is probably an acronym. I have no idea what it stands for.

Now, you get a phone call. And thus, the Do Not Call list.

GOOD swag used to include pen knives--those seemed quite popular. As in this folding knife from Swift & Company, meatpacker in Chicago who helped inspire Carl Sandburg...and a lot of labor organizers :)

(Click on a picture to make it larger)

But Swift & Company is no more! Still, its swag lives our basement.

Continue for more of "The "Do Not Call...or send sharp knives...list""

October 10, 2003

The Adoption Process

Category: What on Earth!?

Our new friends and neighbors, S & T, are NEAT people. They teach art in Chicago's schools.

They also bought a bungalow in need of some repair. Maybe not as much...they have excellent taste!

T is interested in vintage cameras, so we were happy to invite them over (they are two doors down) to look at the "stuff". Here we see S happily looking for treasure...

Continue for more of "The Adoption Process"

October 12, 2003

The things that lurk in the basement

Category: What on Earth!?

Just some more things from the basement. In no particular order.

Fire King Fruit & German Christmas china...

< Adopted
= Adopted

Continue for more of "The things that lurk in the basement"

October 14, 2003

Vintage Fashion

Category: What on Earth!?

You are getting two in one today :) At 5:00 am, my mind works overtime.

Did you ever wonder what they were wearing in the bungalows of yesteryear?

Wonder no longer. It was all in our upstairs bedroom or tucked into our linen closet.

We have pre-June Cleaver even! More vintage aprons than you can possibly imagine.

< See this at the Estate Sale = Adopted < See this at the Estate Sale

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October 15, 2003

Um, honey? There's a flea market in our basement

Category: What on Earth!?

How? How did it all fit in here originally? How?

These were pictures taken right before we went to bed on SUNDAY. With only 50% of the things we have in here brought down to the basement and garage. I couldn't photograph I did a corner. That's only 12% of what is in this place. (And we hadn't brought down some very good stuff at this point, because we nervous about fitting it all in!)

Continue for more of "Um, honey? There's a flea market in our basement"

October 18, 2003

The Collectors!

Category: What on Earth!?

You know, you pick up a whatchamacallit, and turn it over in your hands, and think...hmmm. And wonder, "can this be the only one?"

Well, no. Not actually. Because there are little niche groups of people out there...enchanted with...and maybe a little obsessed with, certain items.




We kid you not. (** This image is from Steve's website, and I posted it here because I REALLY want you to visit his site. And, unless you saw an example of the incredible stuff there, you might not click the link. So visit Steve and, if you love his museum, click to donate so these important artifacts can be saved...)

They are happy when they are sitting next to a Airline Safety Card Collector! (No in-flight turf wars...)

I've actually been fond of airline safety cards myself. A co-worker and I (Mr. J Brown!) kept ourselves awake and choking with laughter re-labeling our airline safety card on a late flight for a business trip. The original was, you had to be there, but it looked kinda like this...

Like I had to be there.

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October 22, 2003

What is all of the fuss about?

Category: What on Earth!?

I have to admit. Flying home on Chautauqua Airlines, I slipped the Safety Card out of the "seat pocket in front of me" and studied it closely.

All apologies to those who collect them, I still can't see the excitement. But maybe it wasn't a very exciting card. They do seem to be getting more generic these days.

It got me thinking about everyone who asks me about the stuff in the house. And my own surprise when I happen to get curious about something, plug it into the computer and find out that it is worth very little or something more. Sometimes the dollar value doesn't quite sync up with the worth that I would place upon it.

But that really doesn't matter in the world of collectibles.

< Adopted
< Adopted

Continue for more of "What is all of the fuss about?"

October 24, 2003

"The Boy Scout Room"

Category: What on Earth!?

We have this one room in our basement that we call "the Boy Scout room." It isn't actually full of Boy Scout stuff (anymore), but the previous owner was a Troop Leader for 20 years who was well respected in the community. This room is full of all the camping and outdoor equipment that he used with his troops. Many of the things are from his days in WWII. So you see a lot of Army issue, and Coleman, and signal flags, and camp chairs and cooking stuff and, well, more things than we can really catalog.

Continue for more of ""The Boy Scout Room""

October 25, 2003

Virtual Estate Sale

Category: What on Earth!?

Ever since we've moved in to "the house with all of its stuff", we've received many, many (MANY) suggestions for dealing with the contents. Everything from "Garage Sale" to "Dealers" to "eBay".

However, there wasn't a "one-size-fits-all" solution for our need to liquidate and move on.

The range of items is too diverse for appraisers and we really wanted to experience the fun of interacting directly with the folks who wanted a specific item for nostalgic or other reasons. There are too many items to do everything online. There are some fragile items that were suited to an "in person" inspection and not the shipping process. Some items would be handled too roughly in an estate or garage sale. Fixed price was better for some things that don't have lots of buyers looking the same week. Auction was better for more popular or well known items.

So, at some point or another, we will be sampling most varieties of "stuff" sales. And then stop. Because this isn't our priority...the house is. We want to combine efficiency, fun, ease and a fair return.

In some ways, it is a humbling experience. I don't think I have ever HAD to sell anything to afford something bathroom tile. Or fixing a ceiling before it falls on us in our sleep. But in our situation with this house, if we can reach our goals within 8 years instead of 15 and the stuff helps, be it. It is life. Most days it is lemons. So lemonade must be made.

A has created a new "Shop" link at the top of this page or you can read on for his description about the details...

Continue for more of "Virtual Estate Sale"

October 29, 2003

Holidays in a HOUSE! Oh boy!

Category: What on Earth!?

I had this HUGE realization last night...Halloween is coming and we're living in a HOUSE. A house! With a front door and door bell? Get it???


After years of living in multi-unit buildings, I realized that holidays would always make me feel wistful. No trick-or-treaters. No carolers. Sometimes I wanted to hike to a street with houses and just enjoy watching the kids goof around. But if you do that these days, people get the wrong idea. Which is sad. What is more fun to watch than a bunch of little kids hopped up on sugar with goofy costumes running around like crazy people?! Especially if you don't have to deal with the dentist bills.

But this year....Halloween! Candy! Dishing it out! Whoo hooo!

Couldn't find any Halloween stuff to show you. The drains were enough of a horror. But Christmas stuff? Since it is already on display at the local Target (say that with a French accent please..."Tar-jzay"), I hauled some out for your nostalgic pleasure.

Continue for more of "Holidays in a HOUSE! Oh boy!"

October 30, 2003

Christmas on State Street

Category: What on Earth!?

One more "What on Earth?" this week and then it is work, work, work for a couple of days.

I'm going to finish up the Christmas box and, in so doing, will salute that great street--STATE STREET--in Chicago. There is nothing like State Street in Chicago at the holidays.

First, Marshall Fields. My FAVORITE department store. Which is saying something. Because I'm not a shopper by nature. Fields has been around since 1852 and is pretty much the symbol of great stores in Chicago. There's nothing like tearing into a Marshall Fields box. :)

< See this at the Estate Sale
< Adopted

Continue for more of "Christmas on State Street"

November 3, 2003

What is this thing?

Category: What on Earth!?

Can you guess what this is? (We found it in the basement. Yes, we are still finding things.)

We think we finally figured it out. Do YOU know? It says "Ultrasonic #2400 Radionic Industries, Chicago 10, Illinois" A good quiz for a Tuesday. (If you are a family member and already talked about this with us, hold back for now and see if someone new knows :)

November 4, 2003

Loudspeaker...Blues Brothers Style :)

Category: What on Earth!?

Those were great answers everyone! To our surprise, Tully actually had the real answer! It's the thing from on top of Elwood Blue's car!

Continue for more of "Loudspeaker...Blues Brothers Style :)"

November 7, 2003

Things you might see on a bar

Category: What on Earth!?

Now it feels like we are playing "Password" here on "What On Earth?"...everything starts to look like it belongs in a category. Such as these things...

Did this really inspire the movie "Alien"? If you go to uncork the bottle, is it meant to scare you away from whatever is IN the bottle forever?

Continue for more of "Things you might see on a bar"

November 10, 2003

Chicago Mysteries that require Nancy Drew...

Category: What on Earth!?

This house, as I've said before, brings out the "Nancy Drew" in me...

Here's why...

The box says "Chamber Music" (most likely from our church way back when) but there are many more audio reels in there...

What did W record with the "Mobile Recording Studios"? What will we hear on this custom record?

Continue for more of "Chicago Mysteries that require Nancy Drew..."

November 13, 2003

Many big drawer

Category: What on Earth!?

Not everything is sorted out in our little house o' stuff. Often, we will find things that are from different countries and different decades sharing the same drawer or box.

It is a big puzzle we are unraveling.

On a different note, we get many emails on different topics or about certain items that we post here. This evening, I fell over as I discovered that my email "box"...valiently trying to sort out the volume of mail I receive from different sources...stashed a bunch of your notes in a place that I didn't expect. So I just found them. A lot of them. Which means that many of you think that I am unspeakably rude for not replying to you before now. This happened to me once before about 6 months ago and I am still unraveling that "glitch". It is what I get for relying upon technology to organize me. Friends, I'm slowly winding my way through your notes. Dear guests, if you have questions about certain items in the house o' stuff for sale, keep an eye on our Estate Sale page where we post things as often as we can. If you want to know when we have updated our pages there, try out Bloglines to notify's free and very nifty.

Here is a "drawer" full of things from near and far for you to poke around in...

These are mostly from "South of the Border", I think...I know they had traveled to Mexico, Peru, Columbia, Patagonia and other countries...

Continue for more of "Many big drawer"

November 17, 2003

Chicago, Part Trois

Category: What on Earth!?

We still find things. Last week, I grabbed a yardstick out of the pile we have and used it to measure something. Then, I read it.

Hm. "Leadership Beyond Measure." "Daley 1967." Wasn't that the same year that....yep. And right before...? Yep.

Continue for more of "Chicago, Part Trois"

November 20, 2003

The Crazy Wall

Category: What on Earth!?

This is a bedroom wall in our house.

Yes, really. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, you're right, there are small notes on the maps...we're assuming its places they visited. I don't know...I guess they just were ok with letting their son decorate it the way he wanted to.

We are thinking we will change this part of the house.

November 22, 2003

More of the Crazy Wall

Category: What on Earth!?

Due to popular demand, more pictures of the bedroom "I like football and maps!" wall...

We don't know why the Green Bay Packers are up here. If you are from Chicago, don't blame us :)

Continue for more of "More of the Crazy Wall"

November 25, 2003

Prepping for work over the holiday

Category: What on Earth!?

My students took their last quiz today and it's less than 4 weeks before I have to write the final. And the media project we are still working on is STILL giving us problems on the hard drive. And then there is work at my other job and A's full time job.

And then there is the house.

So, Thanksgiving is coming up and we are giving thanks that we even have jobs and a house and it has electricity. Not the plumbing we need but electricity and heat. Those are good things. So, I am going to throw some random "What On Earth?" stuff up here for you to gander at and then try to get some sleep.

Like this random pile of purses. (Just click on something to look at it more closely. Or don't if you would rather avoid the dust and details.)

Continue for more of "Prepping for work over the holiday"

December 1, 2003

Restoring a house? Get Nervine!

Category: What on Earth!?

Today was the official last day of fall for me. I'm a little behind. So, I spent the morning of my day off stuffing leaves into the "Blue Bags" the City of Chicago uses for recycling "lawnstuffs".

I also tend to listen to Public Radio a lot when I am home during the day. I love Public Radio, but I am TOO emotional--really--to listen to it all of the time. Current events have me a little, um, tense. On top of everything else. (You might want to click on these pictures to make them a little larger.)

So I ESPECIALLY got a good laugh when I came across this old booklet that tells the story of "OUR PRESIDENTS"...

...sponsored by...

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December 5, 2003

Something new that needs detective work

Category: What on Earth!?

So, we are still finding things in the house. The place where this was stored led to its being damaged and that is so sad. It is still beautiful, even with the damage. Rolled onto cylinders of dark wood, it is a painted rice paper scroll which is as long as our dining table (about 5'6")

(Click on the pictures to make them larger)

Continue for more of "Something new that needs detective work"

December 9, 2003

Ouch! And...Girl Scouts.

Category: What on Earth!?

Those two topics in the title only go together because:

a) I have a WHOMPIN' viral infection that makes typing this entry feel like my fingers will fall off. That is how much my body hurts right now.

b) I am going to post some things in a booklet I found to get out of a lot of typing.

Circa 1952 (click on the pictures to make them larger):

Continue for more of "Ouch! And...Girl Scouts."

December 12, 2003

Another Random Batch (while we recover)

Category: What on Earth!?

Some tiny things. Doll-sized things. Itty bitty stuff. Some of it, anyway.

(You can make these things LARGER by clicking on them :)

Like tiny garden tools for little kids. So they can have their own tiny co-op. (There is a tiny snow shovel, broom and dustpan around here too. Somewhere.)

Teeny Tea Cup with a parrot handle!

Continue for more of "Another Random Batch (while we recover)"

December 17, 2003

Ode to Stuff

Category: What on Earth!?

I wish that I would never see...

(Although some are as cute as cute can be...)

As many vintage coffee cans...

Or wood and bakelite camera stands...

Continue for more of "Ode to Stuff"

December 19, 2003

Paper Bells and other wall oddities

Category: What on Earth!?

We found this in the ceiling, in between the 2nd and 1st floor, when we took the bathroom ceiling down.

It was next to the place where the old electrical box was. It's about as large as my hand (but my hands are small).

Is it related to that? Perhaps a symbol for the folks who built the house out of parts that were milled elsewhere? (We think our house was one of a pattern that made 5 houses on this block...and which were assembled by the first person to live here.)

Is it an old Christmas decoration that slipped between the floors somehow? By how? And why only one?

Continue for more of "Paper Bells and other wall oddities"

December 21, 2003

Tiki Tissue Holder

Category: What on Earth!?

This thing is NOT in our house.

But someone searching for it found our website and we mentioned it in yesterday's entry.

Diligent reader KIM let us know where the real thing can be found. You can follow her link in the comments section of yesterday's entry.

This has to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen for sale during a holiday season.

December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas

Category: What on Earth!?

Merry Christmas from House In Progress.

And Laurelle Guild from Kensington Aluminum (Art Deco, 1930's).

January 1, 2004

What did YOU get for Christmas?

Category: What on Earth!?

I got some spare time to hunt around the attic. Because we really haven't discovered everything in this house yet.

Like a whole tissue wrapped box of embroidered and printed handkerchiefs. I am so not kidding. And here is one of them that has me completely puzzled.

Old Mother Hubbard,
She went to the cupboard:
To get her poor dog a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare:
And so the poor doggie got none.

Continue for more of "What did YOU get for Christmas?"

January 8, 2004

(Little) Folks in Uniform

Category: What on Earth!?

We haven't had a "what on earth" entry for awhile because we've been doing (oh my gosh!) REAL WORK on the house.

So it's the best time to do another What on Earth? Tonight's theme: little folks in uniform.

One of the previous owners was in WWII and he was a Boy Scout Leader for 20 years. And his wife was a Girl Scout leader for about 10+ years. Which makes things SUPER interesting. I mean, BIG merit badge flashbacks for me all of the time.

We've posted a few things already and I can't post the rest of EVERYTHING tonight, but here are a few new things:

Thin Mint cookies

Continue for more of "(Little) Folks in Uniform"

January 12, 2004

What on earth miscellaneous

Category: What on Earth!?

So tired. Busy weekend and week. Dave the Cat is missing somewhere in the house (probably in the walls) and we cannot find him which makes me sad and frustrated.

So here is what I have for "What on earth?" It doesn't have much of a theme or make any sense that I can see. Maybe a kind and gentle reader can link together the meaning of these objects sharing the same spece.

The Vintage handkerchief "Found Alphabet" game

Continue for more of "What on earth miscellaneous"

January 18, 2004

Living with History

Category: What on Earth!?

Just found out recently that The Palmolive Building in Chicago was renovated from offices to condominiums.

The Palmolive Building's elevator friezes were designed and sculpted by Enrique Alferez...we had found a signed piece of Alferez's work (2 years before the Palmolive) in the house early on. He did the work for the Palmolive in 1929 while he was still a student of Lorado Taft.

Continue for more of "Living with History"

January 22, 2004

Solving a few mysteries

Category: What on Earth!?

Late at night, when I cannot sleep, I look up the information I am finding in the stacks of postcards that we have found in the attic.

This one (click to enlarge):

was mailed from the town of Brillion, Wisconsin in 1921 by pastor's wife, Hulda Moor. It shows the M.E. Church and Parsonage.

Continue for more of "Solving a few mysteries"

January 28, 2004

The Mystery is Solved!

Category: What on Earth!?

Community Development Director, Heather Zander, of the city of Brillion, Wisconsin has been quite brilliANT when it has come to tracking down information related to our most recent mystery....(see previous story)

The "M.E." church on the 1921 postcard in our attic is....the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brillion! (Click to enlarge)

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January 31, 2004

Old books about babies

Category: What on Earth!?

I love old books.

I have more right now than I can keep....ever....anywhere. But I do love old books.

Came across this one the other night. And thought that it was very quaint for its day...

It is so funny to me that, in 1938, Dr. Aldrich (from Northwestern University Medical School) and his wife felt it IMPERATIVE that someone recognize the fact...yes, babies ARE human beings.

Continue for more of "Old books about babies"

February 5, 2004

Cabin fever.

Category: What on Earth!?

It's snowing a lot here.

A lot.

Continue for more of "Cabin fever."

February 7, 2004

Who's that girl?

Category: What on Earth!?

Who is the mysterious woman?

Is she Salome?


Continue for more of "Who's that girl?"

February 13, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day, 1888!

Category: What on Earth!?

Yes, I know. I know. We're a day early.

But, you know, before you left for the weekend and all, I guess...well....(kicks toe of house slipper against uneven floor board in kitchen)....we just wanted you to know that know....appreciate you. And all that kinda junk.

Whether Annie Hartman is your name or not. And even though we found this in the attic, it especially for YOU! Oh, absolutely. Er, well, it's the thought that counts, right?

p.s. A very belated apology to Richard Pratt, my classmate from the 5th grade who always pulled my hair and tormented me during reading class. It wasn't enTIREly a coincidence that I rhymed "Pratt" with "brat" on that valentine, but I hope it didn't scar you for life or anything. Especially if "or anything" means that you'll be showing up on C.O.P.S. with your face pixelated. Because that really would be terrible.

February 13, 2004

One more Valentine...again, 1888

Category: What on Earth!?

Which means that these Valentines are 116 years old.

That is really old. Love that old is a pretty cool thing.

February 20, 2004

Unraveling a Mystery: Prussia to Chicago

Category: What on Earth!?

Up late. Again. The scanner and I. I've had less time to look at stuff in the house since it is all covered up to protect it from construction.

So I pulled out something small and accessible. Postcards.

And thus began another mystery. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

So....who is Frank Dolde? Where is this 1909 postcard from? And where is 737 North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago? (Lincoln Avenue begins at 2000 North).

Continue for more of "Unraveling a Mystery: Prussia to Chicago"

February 29, 2004

Dolde, Laupheim and Who On Earth?

Category: What on Earth!?

Alert readers Beth and Chuck helped us to solve some of the mystery of WHO were the Dolde's and WHERE is Laupheim and WHY do these postcards have a now non-existant street number from Lincoln Avenue in Chicago on them?

We still don't know why they are in the house. Or what they say.

I was able to confirm Beth's suspicion on the street numbers and the 1910 Census Information when I found THIS postcard (click to enlarge images):

To Miss Elsie Dolde at 2836 North Lincoln Avenue in 1910. Go Beth!

Continue for more of "Dolde, Laupheim and Who On Earth?"

March 8, 2004

Yes, there's still more stuff here

Category: What on Earth!?

Thought we'd come to the end of "what on earth?" No, no! We'll be digging stuff out of here for years. Decades. Ouch.

I need to start taking pictures at a "brighter" time of day again. Unfortunately, three a.m. is my only free time.

Are you feeling "tied down"?
A little overwhelmed with your life? Do you LONG for the financial independence to do ANYTHING you'd like?

Well, YOUR DAY HAS COME! 5 acres and INDEPENDENCE! Because there is nothing like having a HUGE WORKING FARM to get you out from under all of those messy entanglements with responsibility!

Continue for more of "Yes, there's still more stuff here"

March 14, 2004

California Dreamin'

Category: What on Earth!?

It was cold again here over the weekend, which means that the little shoots of flowers that were starting to peek out were shivering in the ground. Just as well that we didn't take the storm windows down.

So we are dreaming of warmer weather. And places with warmer weather.

Like these postcards and pamphlets we've found of sunny California :) Ahhh, Catalina Island...decades ago.

Continue for more of "California Dreamin'"

March 27, 2004

Whoa Toto! Watch out!

Category: What on Earth!?

Found this interesting postcard today...

Continue for more of "Whoa Toto! Watch out!"

April 4, 2004

Another Year Older

Category: What on Earth!?

I have never been a big fan of my own birthday.

As the "sensitive to stimuli" type, the ruckus with the cake and the singing and the other kids and the protocol and the pressure makes it clear that I would have made a lousy Head of State. Perfectionism often shows itself in fear, as it did 2 hours before my 5th birthday party when I was practicing the "clothespins in the milk bottle game" so that I would be sure to get it ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.

Continue for more of "Another Year Older"

April 8, 2004

1945 Headlines From Our Attic

Category: What on Earth!?

If you were wondering what kind of insultation** we found in the attic, don't wonder anymore.

(** "InsulTation was a slip of the fingers on the keyboard. It should be i-n-s-u-l-a-t-i-o-n. Freud at work here.)

Between the sawdust layers and the fiberglass cotton candy clumps, we found this (click on an image to make it larger):

Because who DOESN'T love a Chicago Gangland killing from 1945 keeping their house toasty warm in the winter?

Continue for more of "1945 Headlines From Our Attic"

April 14, 2004


Category: What on Earth!?

Too much stuff. Overwhelming.

This, unfortunately, sounds like the name of a burlesque queen.

Continue for more of "Stuff"

April 23, 2004

Dusty old bookshelf

Category: What on Earth!?

When it comes to books, it is difficult for me to be impartial. I love them. Ink seems to run in my veins instead of blood. I still have the very first library card which was truly my own (from the Peters Township Library).

My mother tells me that I could read before I could speak (?) and this led to some awkward pronunciation issues. (I'm afraid that this still happens. I mispronounced the word "braziers" in a talk at a church potluck last week. "Brassieres" are not what I wanted to talk about.)

Since last June, on sleepless nights, I've alternated posting in this journal with reading the books found in the house. Because it is safer to fall asleep typing or reading than stripping paint.

Continue for more of "Dusty old bookshelf"

April 29, 2004

Local art from a trip long ago...

Category: What on Earth!?

These are lovely. I don't know anything about them. I do know that the previous owners took a trip to Japan in the 1930's.

Continue for more of "Local art from a trip long ago..."

May 6, 2004

More boxes, new stuff

Category: What on Earth!?

No, it really doesn't end. We will be pulling random things out of boxes and drawers and cubby holes FOREVER.......

And not be really able to explain them.


This couple looks very angry that they missed Cinco de Mayo...

Continue for more of "More boxes, new stuff"

May 11, 2004

Someone Was More Frustrated With This House Than We Are

Category: What on Earth!?

Something we omitted from yesterday's events....when The Attic Experts were up in the attic removing the last of the insulation he found a spent bullet!

How weird is that? Definitely a very "What on Earth!?" moment!

May 16, 2004

"On my honor I will do my best"

Category: What on Earth!?

In tribute to Wes, who became an Eagle Scout today, here's more Scout-related stuff we've found in the house...

Continue for more of ""On my honor I will do my best""

May 22, 2004

Vintage Marlboro? Smoke em' if you got em'!

Category: What on Earth!?

Rummaging around in the knee walls today J found an old pack of Marlboro Cigarettes.

Of course as the consumate researcher she went straight to Google. As of 8:20 PM this evening here's what we know...

Continue for more of "Vintage Marlboro? Smoke em' if you got em'!"

June 2, 2004

The Quest for the Provenance

Category: What on Earth!?

Until I began closely examining some of the items in this topsy-turvy house, I had no idea what a provenance was. Now, I do. The essence is is the story of something...its lineage. Who owned this object? This artwork? This book? And why?

We all have our own provenance, I suppose. And our belongings do. An article with an interesting "provenance" almost ALWAYS attracts the attention of the folks on shows like "The Antique Road Show." So tracking down something's provenance is not only outrageously interesting to people like me, it can value an item.

How do you track down a provenance? Let's start with this seemingly innocuous book by John C. Wright called The Great Myth.

It has a history that weaves together: American Indians, FDR, Woodrow Wilson, a collection of rare Indian artifacts, a few cities in Michigan, a few historians, some Chicago history "firsts", Hollywood, the Chicago Field Museum...the trail is long and winding if you follow it.

Continue for more of "The Quest for the Provenance"

June 9, 2004

Random Access What on Earth

Category: What on Earth!?

Because we have NO time today, I'm just putting together a random series of "What on EARTH?" objects for your viewing pleasure. It's kind of like, um, a reality blog. This is how WE find this no particular order.

So, you can block AND tackle.

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June 17, 2004

Where on Earth could you listen to this?

Category: What on Earth!?

Inspired by a kind note I received from a professor at the University of Chicago, I was inspired by an insomnia-fueled episode to explore the "world music" part of the record collection a little more closely.

I can't document all of them here and many of the oldest are 78 rpm in paper jackets...not interesting to photograph over and over. But some visually interesting selections did pop up.

Yma Sumac was the Peruvian sensation of the early 1950's...a mysterious figure with "a panther and a cardinal in her throat." There is more than one site on the Internet that pays tribute to her. And that's pretty fascinating to me.

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June 20, 2004

Junior Birdmen, UNITE!

Category: What on Earth!?

We are still messing with the walls of the bedrooms on the second floor.

Stuff falls out of them. Generally, this is stuff you don't want to keep. petrified raccoon party favors which made it from the attic into the walls (courtesy of balloon framing!) And lots of sawdust from the Balsa Wood insulation. And broken plaster keys.

And then we find things like this...(Click to enlarge)

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July 1, 2004

You get to guess it! (What on Earth?)

Category: What on Earth!?

Okay. What is it?

(Click on the image to make it larger)

More images...

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July 8, 2004

Traveling History Mysteries

Category: What on Earth!?

When I was younger, I loved to travel (still do...but it will be awhile before I sling on my backpack again.) China, Costa Rica, St. Lucia, Germany, Austria, France, Canada, UK, Switzerland, Italy. All magical, all memorable. No tours! Just a backpack, a guidebook, tiny bits of money and willingness to make friends with my fears.

To talk to ONLY natives to the country. To travel 2nd or 3rd class on the trains. (Except for China, we needed a BIG bed for Aaron. And it was still a couple of inches short.)

So when I found so many travel books in the house published in the early part of the 20th century, I was THRILLED. Especially over the photos.

"Italy without Sicily leaves no image in the soul--Sicily is the key to all." Goethe

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July 16, 2004

Card found behind wall

Category: What on Earth!?

When I was pulling trim to repair a few second floor walls, I was gently easing the trim away from the old lathe and *POP*!

Out fell this card from behind the trim.

(Click on the picture to make it larger)

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July 25, 2004

More House Archaeology

Category: What on Earth!?

Every evening, we come home to this light in the front hallway:

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July 31, 2004

More "What on Earth?"

Category: What on Earth!?

We are still cleaning out portions of the basement and the attic which we have never seen.

Don't laugh! You can't imagine the amount of things we still need to go through. So the alley folk are loving us yet again for the amount of of "things" making it out to the trash.

Doesn't everyone have a 50's Chevy Nova bike rack / collapsible pet cage from the '40's (with red painted wooden handle) / stacks of WWII mosquito netting / a box of picture frames from the 70's / miscellaneous plywood pieces / a vintage rack for golf clubs, golf balls and divots / burnt camp out cookware / a homemade grill with lava rocks / an old lock / 3 canvas sacks / a small homemade set of shelves / old campfire starting wool / among other odds and ends?

Continue for more of "More "What on Earth?""

August 8, 2004

Rocks...older than dirt

Category: What on Earth!?

I don't think people believed us when we said we found a lot of rocks in the house. Some of them were just rocks....bags of sand. Paper bags of gravel. We imagine that they were for gardening. They were in drawers and in cabinets, in closets and the kitchen and the basement.

And then there were fancy rocks. Like these:

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August 15, 2004

Self Help Retrospective

Category: What on Earth!?

I am slowly pushing my way (each sleepless night) through the books left behind in the house.

I have put together a collection for our counselor pal, Beth (who we met through Lisa & Chris...thanks guys!) because these selections seem...

Valuable? Hmmm. No, that's not quite it.

Absurd and will make her laugh? Yes! Yes! That's it!

I DARE YOU to push the very boundaries of yourself with this collection. :) Especially since the publisher has gone through the expense of creating this super cool, raised leather cover.

Privately printed--shocking, I know--in 1971 by William H. Danforth, the Founder of the Ralston Purina company who DARES YOU! to STAND TALL! LIVE TALL! THINK TALL! and, um SMILE TALL! (I was tracking with him until this last sentiment. If you are not physically tall, can you "smile tall"? If you were short but could "smile tall", would this look very freakish?)

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August 19, 2004

Okay, so I need sleep

Category: What on Earth!?

The lovely folks at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Sleep Disorders Center (thanks Julie!) were ever so kind to place little sensors all over me a few nights ago and then encourage me to sleep.

As if I can ever sleep. Ha!

But I have to say. Even with the sensors and wires and stuff attached to my face and in my hair, in the strange room, and even with an intercom and a camera trained on me? I slept. Because...hey folks...the room was CLEAN! And the walls didn't have holes! What is NOT to love about that?

So, I am feeling a bit loopy. I'm posting at random. I cannot be held responsible...until you let me have it tomorrow. Oh well-sy!

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August 24, 2004

Give us a clue...PLEASE!

Category: What on Earth!?

We have no idea what this is. It fell out of the basement ceiling (it was above the plaster.)

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August 31, 2004

Is it art? Or what?

Category: What on Earth!?

Art from the attic? A blue-eyed rooster?

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September 10, 2004

Say Cheese!

Category: What on Earth!?

This old photography brochure was very educational...I loved it! It was for the old Polaroid Land camera.

(If you click on the photos, they get larger.)

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October 5, 2004

Sing a Little Tune

Category: What on Earth!?

(Psst! Don't forget to vote in our "worst house project" contest! It's more fun than a barrel full of pundits!!!)

I am SO COLD! It is freezing in Chicago. September got away from us because of work and put us behind schedule. So, that insulation in the attic? Those stripped and repainted storm windows? The weather stripping?

Um. Those aren't done.

So, we freeze. And as we freeze, we sing to stay warm. Right? Oh sure. We're dunderheads that way.

We start off with "Whispering" because we are afraid to open our mouths too wide. Teeth will freeze.

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October 11, 2004


Category: What on Earth!?

I am tired from today's frantic scrambling towards winter-proofing the house before the temperature takes a permanent nose dive.

So. Here is some stuff.

Calamity Jane was a raccoon AND a cowgirl. And a musical. (I was wardrobe mistress for that musical in 7th grade, I think.) Also...a movie.

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October 18, 2004

Oh, it's always about the stuff

Category: What on Earth!?

Enjoy this collection of very, very random things.

Like this tourist guide to the Tokyo Olympics in 1940 which were NEVER HELD!!! A very strange relic indeed. (Click to make any image larger.)

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October 24, 2004

Spin It Right Round...

Category: What on Earth!?

Ever since The Evangelist posted some great track leads during HIS adventures with insomnia, I've been jonesing for some new music to strip paint by...

Here are some of the vinyl tracks that we discovered within our first few days of being in the house. Actually, there is more vinyl in here than a thousand 1970's jackets from the Rusty Zipper.

I can't wait to find a record player in this house so I can hear some of these...especially the classical tracks.

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November 5, 2004

Children's Book Illustrators

Category: What on Earth!?

If you're a regular reader, you already know that I am fascinated with books. I don't just like them. I don't just read them. I CONSUME THEM.

Because my memory is very poor, I can read them more than once and be content.

I really like children's book illustrators. Especially in some of the vintage books in here. They have this sense of style that is so...I don't know. Not being an illustrator, I can't describe it.

(Click on any photo to make it larger...)

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November 11, 2004 find.

Category: What on Earth!?

Yes, we are still finding things in here.

What on earth do we do with a very old SnoFog fire extinguisher? (Dig that crazy label.) Any ideas out there? We're wide open to ideas here...

November 23, 2004

Wizard Cam?

Category: What on Earth!?

We found this camera in the house last spring (and its case). Funny, it's a camera that has a very visible a role in the second Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

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December 4, 2004

First Night Stuff

Category: What on Earth!?

Wow. I ran across a group of somewhat blurry pictures of random things that were on top of the piles the first night we took possession of the house. It's a bizarre collection. I can't explain all of these things.

You can click on any one of these to make it larger.

Who was the public relations rocket scientist who came up with "Have a Great...Chicago"???? Granted, it was the 70's. The decade that also spawned "Ancient Chinese secret, huh?" and "Rosie and the Quicker Picker Upper"...

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December 19, 2004

We don't know JACK!

Category: What on Earth!?

No, really. We DON'T know Jack.

We're dying to know! Who is the illustrator who created these funny cards? They are done by hand and seem to be markers for something because the name of the person shown in each picture is on the reverse side of their card.

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December 31, 2004

Old Photos...A Reunion Story

Category: What on Earth!?

Everyone seems to be doing lists and recaps today...internet, TV, radio, print media. "What happened this year?" "Top 100 _insert your adjective and noun here__."

I'd like to close this year with something that made me pause with wonder and emotion last week. It is a story that began with a valentine. From 1888.

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January 5, 2005

Miniature What On Earth

Category: What on Earth!?

We were working on the laundry chute and found this between the floor of the "back attic" and the ceiling of the first floor.

It is a tiny, perfect clothespin for a doll's dress.

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January 11, 2005

Ephemera and other mysterious items from the attic

Category: What on Earth!?

Unpacking boxes still untouched in the attic, I feel bounced around the world and decades like the Super Ball I found in the backyard. It's dizzying and overwhelming. Except for being left behind in the house together, these items don't seem related to each other...

Like this issue of VOKS from Russia...the All-Union Society of Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. I don't know much about this organization or the connection with the house. In the timeline of things, this could be Stalin & Trotsky or Stalin & Krushchev. Either of these name combinations sounds like a maker of fine Russian leather the case of the latter, shoes would certainly be appropriate.

Continue for more of "Ephemera and other mysterious items from the attic"

January 16, 2005

My "What on Earth?" Drawer

Category: What on Earth!?

We didn't find many pieces of furniture in the house. I did save an old bureau which has a very special drawer.

I call it my "What on Earth?" drawer.

This drawer tends to collect the smaller things we come across when working on the house. Things that fall out of the ceiling or out of the walls. Things in the bottom of large boxes. Things I want to tuck out of harm's way.

If you opened the drawer, here are some of the eclectic things you'd find.

A group of miscellaneous things, including: a hand-carved folk art rooster, a clay marble, a wooden domino, a metal driving man, a package of Shaeffer's Skrip cartridges, something that looks like a wooden trash can for a doll's house, and a whole lot of glass marbles. (Besides these marbles, we have a whole bag full of Peltier Banana marbles in the basement.)

Continue for more of "My "What on Earth?" Drawer"

January 20, 2005

"What On Earth?" Drawer: Take Two

Category: What on Earth!?

More items from the very cluttered "What on Earth?" drawer in my little bureau.

A baby doll with moving arms and legs. I am afraid to scrub her because she seems to be made of a material that is like paper mache only MUCH harder. I don't know how she should be cleaned. So I feel a little sad for her. Maybe because I can relate so well to never feeling clean.

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January 30, 2005

"What on Earth?" Drawer: Part 3

Category: What on Earth!?

Button, button, who's got the button?

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February 11, 2005

What on Earth...Is Cooking?

Category: What on Earth!?

The irony of these items found in the house is that I am not the best cook in the world. know. Food! From! The! Fifties! (and even earlier) The forerunner to Poundy's Weight Watchers recipe cards.

First you have to send away for your recipe book. With a postcard that says (and I am quoting)..."Gentlemen: Please send me the big SPRY cookbook containing all those tempting recipes my family will enjoy."

Not "might" enjoy. WILL enjoy. They will be forced to enjoy them. Thank you.

p.s. And click HERE for the full dish on Aunt Jenny, who will flog you with her Spry-i-nator until you are a better cook...

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March 2, 2005


Category: What on Earth!?

More sheet music...these are older photos we took but never posted. Some of these will look very nice framed.

Serenade from the ballet "Les Millions d'Arlequin" by Riccardo Drigo, circa 1911. Mikhail Baryshnikov danced a pas de deux to this piece with Cheryl Yeager in 1982.

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March 13, 2005

Stuff from Nooks and Crannies

Category: What on Earth!?

Again, old photos that I never got around to posting from some of our first days in the house. Odds and ends. Stuff.

Mostly bowls and cups.

I love these Asian bowls (? Teacups?). The designs are so beautiful.

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April 5, 2005

Sing a Song of Spring

Category: What on Earth!?

After this cold, dark winter....

I will be very happy if it is very warm for May :)

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May 2, 2005

Million Dollar Recipe

Category: What on Earth!?

I caught a preview for Million Dollar Recipe over the weekend...and it made me laugh. Especially since we have such an incredibly large collection of vintage Pilllsbury Bake-Off cookbooks and other old cookbooks in here.

I know from talking to a friend who has participated in Pillsbury Bake-Offs that they can be EXTREMELY intense and competitive. Crazy competitive. Aunt Fanny takes her special Crunchy Cranberry Bran Muffins With A Twist VERY seriously when there is one million dollars on the line.

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May 4, 2005

Mad Props!

Category: What on Earth!?

This week, on the latest episode of HouseInProgress: The Surreal World...What On Earth Edition, Aaron and Jeannie are contacted by Peter Gelfman, mad props master for such movies as Crossing Delancey, Men in Black, and Curse of the Jade Scorpian.

He wanted something out of the basement for a new movie, Fur, about the life of photographer Diane Arbus and starring Nicole Kidman. The glamerous prop he wanted? This...

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May 17, 2005

The Last of the Songs in Here...I Think

Category: What on Earth!?

More sheet music. Does it ever end in here? I want to run away to Cali-for-ni-ay.

Continue for more of "The Last of the Songs in Here...I Think"

May 22, 2005

We Really Need to Set Up a 'TrashCam'

Category: What on Earth!?

So all day Saturday we returned to an old theme--cleaning out the stuff that was left behind in the house.

We were proud to make three trips to the local charity resale shop, and they were definitely thrilled to see us. The woman behind the counter commented on how much we had, so I gave her the short answer: "Well, we bought this houses that was full of stuff..." "That sounds great!" she responded. I just said "yeah, it sure is." Some things defy simple explaination.

Beyond donating to charity, we've come to terms that there's some stuff here that just isn't worth the effort. And so, we turn to that magical exchange of free goods in Chicago--the back alley.

Not only is there someone out there to take things off our hands, the process serves up plenty of entertainment too...

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May 24, 2005

Donating a Garage Sale to Charity

Category: What on Earth!?

Because a few folks are curious, I'm posting the list of all of the things we just donated to "It's New to Me", it's interesting to record for posterity yet another list of all of the things that were left in here! (At the very least, I want to make sure I'm recording this for folks like Cory Doctorow :)

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May 26, 2005

House, Looking for Owner

Category: What on Earth!?

I have finally been able to reach some of the photographs that we packed away carefully last Fall. In sorting through them, I found this:

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October 7, 2005

Chicago Antiques Guide

Category: What on Earth!?

Someone asked me recently if we had finished taking photos of everything that was left behind in the house. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is still a LOT here. Sigh. In the attic. In the basement. In the garage. In fact, there are things in the attic that WE haven't even seen yet because we haven't been able to get back there. Gah.

Until I get the energy and time to begin hauling things out and photographing them again, here is a site to check out...


The Chicago Antiques Guide..."What is it worth?" It's like an Antique Roadshow for your computer!!!

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November 30, 2005

Chicago Cab Medallion c. 1928

Category: What on Earth!?

It's been awhile since I've had the time or energy to do a "What on Earth?!" entry, although there is still PLENTY of stuff left in here to document.  But this was really too good to pass up.  We found it when we were (yet again) cleaning out more of the garage a couple of months ago.


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January 30, 2006

Weighing In

Category: What on Earth!?

Since I haven't been able to begin any projects that would take longer than 15-20 minutes (the amount of time segments my life has been reduced to in these first months), it was BACK TO THE ATTIC!

Today, we took the opportunity to use a vintage Jay Bee Baby Scale to weigh the munchkin...


Grammy is lending a helping hand.  Thanks Grammy!

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March 3, 2006

Tales from the Past...Old Postcards

Category: What on Earth!?

Three a.m. has been an excellent time to wash bibs and go through old postcards that we found in the house.  Don't ask why I've been up at three a.m.

We have hundreds of postcards from the 1890's through the 1980's.  In rummaging through  them, I've noticed that many of them are ongoing conversations that span many postcards so I only get a short idea of what is being said.  Sometimes the messages sound like the ones which Garrison Keillor reads on his Prairie Home Companion Show...snippets of information sent through Keillor to the folks listening back home.  Other times, the lack of context can be very confusing.  For example...


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March 7, 2006

What is it worth? Um, more than we thought.

Category: What on Earth!?

Way WAY long ago we found an interesting turned wood bowl in the was one of my "insomnia discoveries".  And we packed it away offsite for safekeeping.  I've always been meaning to go back to it and get some idea of what is what worth.  That was almost three years ago.


So, I wrote to my pal, Brian, at the fabulous Chicago Antiques Guide.  Brian is "in the know" about such things.

If this is true, we may just be able to get the footing for the sunroom fixed sooner than I had hoped.  (You'll have to click on the link to see the surprise.)  And digging through all of the trash left in this house, as well as having to clean over and over and over again, will have been worth it.  It may have even been worth sleeping in this room, with no heat or ventilation or light, for two years.

So, remember!  Turn over those things you find in your house!  Look for those marks!  Someone's trash really CAN be treasure after all.

By the way, Brian and his team organize estate sales.  So, if you are looking to sell your treasures or seek out some new ones, sign up for their email notices for upcoming sales.

Continue for more of "What is it worth? Um, more than we thought."

March 31, 2006

Cash in the Attic Basement: Part 1

Category: What on Earth!?

Those of you who have been following along know that we sent photos of some of the items that were found in the house to Brian at Chicago Antiques Guide to get some guidance on what to do with them. Two of those items were a bowl by James Prestini and a maquette by Enrique Alferez. In regards to the bowl, we initially got a nice surprise from Brian...until I actually unpacked the bowl again and realized that I had given him the dimensions for the wrong bowl! (Argh. It had been three years.) Yes, we actually have TWO Prestini bowls, but the larger one has a crack in it. The smaller bowl is still worth something, though, just not as much as a pristine larger bowl would be. Sigh.

Why are we so interested in auctioning off these two items? Well, in the spirit of one of my favorite shows, "Cash in the Attic", we have a problem that needs to be solved. And the solution will involve raising some cash. Here is the problem:


Continue for more of "Cash in the Attic Basement: Part 1"

April 2, 2006

Cash in the Attic Basement: Part 2

Category: What on Earth!?

(Read this first to get the whole story)

Brian at Chicago Antiques Guide was immensely helpful in connecting us with a reputable gallery for our two items.  I sent him very specific information about the Prestini bowl and the Alferez maquette, including digital photos from many angles, measurements and weight.  (Accurate detail is important when asking for an estimate or referral.  A lesson I learned all too well when I gave him the wrong measurements for the Prestini bowl.  The estimate was 50% with the corrected size.  Ah well.)

The gallery reviewed the photos and indicated an interest in accepting the items in an upcoming auction.  So, I set to find out a little more about the auctioneer, John Toomey Galleries of Oak Park, Illinois.


Continue for more of "Cash in the Attic Basement: Part 2"

June 8, 2006

There's always someone worse off than you are...

Category: What on Earth!?

Whenever we feel frustrated about how our own house was packed full of stuff when we bought it, we seem to come across examples to remind us that it could always be worse.


July 27, 2006

What on Earth: Gerber Knives

Category: What on Earth!?

It's been a long, long time since I've looked in any of the remaining boxes, trunks and whatnot from the items still in the house.  Yes, still in the house.  Over the last three years, we've gifted items, sold items, donated items, recycled items, pitched items.  And there are still MORE THINGS!

Just for grins, I took some quick photos of a wooden box that I stumbled upon while cleaning out a drawer in preparation for some work on the first floor.



Looks innocent enough, eh? 

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August 14, 2006

Buried Treasure

Category: What on Earth!?

My family was in town this past weekend for Grace's christening and it was great fun to have everyone here.  My brother-in-law, Mark, brought along his trusty metal detector since he had heard about our house of "stuff" and was intrigued by what else we might find.



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August 17, 2006

A wire shopping basket

Category: What on Earth!?


Another basement find.  These are pretty common in the city... 

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August 23, 2006

1928 Edition of "World's Greatest Newspaper"

Category: What on Earth!?

What did we find under the kitchen floor?

The publishers of the Chicago Daily Tribune were very confident in 1928 that they had every other newspaper--IN THE WORLD--beat. 


All that bravado for only two cents an issue!

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August 24, 2006

1928 Edition...Continued

Category: What on Earth!?

The World's Greatest Newspaper, found beneath our kitchen floor, continued from yesterday.

Oh, those wacky topers in D.C.!  Always voting for something that they won't hold to themselves...  (1928 = Prohibition.  Toper = drunkard.  Click on a picture to make it larger.)


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September 19, 2006

Edgar Guest on Talk Like a Pirate Day

Category: What on Earth!?

I found this picture in the basement (one of the many things left behind in the house) and thought, hmm.  How would Edgar Guest have said this on Talk Like a Pirate Day?  Well, hey!  It IS Talk Like a Pirate Day!  So let's see:



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October 4, 2006

Voices Gone But Not Forgotten

Category: What on Earth!?

As you know, there was a lot of stuff left behind in the house by the previous owner.  Including a pretty large collection of vintage LP's and 78's that I have been wanting to listen to.  So, with my allowance money, I purchased a turntable that could "rip" vinyl to our computer.

Before I have time to dig through the collection already in the house, I need to address something very special.  There are three records in my possession.  Special records.   


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January 4, 2007

It Came from the BASEMENT

Category: What on Earth!?

Wow.  It's been a long time since I've been able to post anything that is "What on Earth?" related.  I'd say that 85% of the stuff left behind in the house has been dispatched out into the world.  Between Christmas and New Year's, Aaron and I attacked the basement and hauled three more station wagon loads of stuff to the Salvation Army in Evanston. 

While I was digging through yet MORE BOXES, I came across what looked like plain wrapping paper folded up.  I couldn't resist peeking inside before I pitched it and I'm glad I did.



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January 5, 2007

Weng Block Prints

Category: What on Earth!?

Scans of the prints we found really don't do them justice.  They are very beautiful.  They aren't reproductions, but they also aren't numbered.  That is a bit confusing to me, as I thought linoleum and woodblock prints were always numbered (?)

It's a bit difficult to see the detail in the jpeg's of these scans.  Like the reflection of the rabbit in the pool of water...


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January 9, 2007

Another (Red) Thing

Category: What on Earth!?

I totally forgot about this little red gem that I had set aside for myself a LONG time ago when we were first digging through all of the things that we found in the house...



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March 27, 2007

Postcards from a Vacation

Category: What on Earth!?
Yes, the circle of life spins around once more as I find these postcards in the house among the stuff left by the previous owners. Especially interesting to me? This postcard, which also happens to be...


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April 20, 2007

Hmm. Steer horns?

Category: What on Earth!?

Doesn't everyone have a set of these in their basement? You know, for emergencies or something? (I'm not talking about the table saw.)


May 2, 2007

Ephemera: Chicago Advertising

Category: What on Earth!?

I can't sleep so I'm amusing myself by scanning some ephemera found in the house. I am so fascinated by the fonts and the copy. The mark of a true "paper geek".

This is a more pleasant ad for Wellsworth Glasses than their "Death At The Steering Wheel" Ad. Say that out loud. Can you say it normally? Because when I say it, I have to make my voice very serious and loud and very much like an old time radio announcer. Thank goodness everyone else is asleep right now!


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May 9, 2007


Category: What on Earth!?

This is for Jamaila who is as much of a font geek as I am. Here is a book that I found in the house.

60 Alphabets by The Hunt Brothers. 1930.


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June 2, 2007

(Growing Accustomed to) Robert Downey Jr's Furry Face

Category: What on Earth!?

During a late night, couch-sitting, laptop-typing session after the baby was asleep (I know, we're just fools in love, aren't we?), we finally rented Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus. We didn't really care about the story (I think Arbus was a very imaginative photographer, this movie is not about her real life), we just wanted to see if that weird medical device we sold to Peter Gelfman back in 2005 ever made it into the film.

Perhaps you remember the Western Reserve Portable Resuscitator, Oxygen Inhalator and Anesthesia Machine from 1955? It was in our basement. It came with the house.

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July 25, 2007

A rare find…number tacks

Category: What on Earth!?

Back when everyone had wooden storm windows that had to be taken off and replaced each season, you could find nifty numbered tacks at any local hardware store. They were used to match up the wood storms with the window jambs that they were fitted to. Now, they are nearly impossible to find or, if you do find them, each tack has a separate number which have to be combined to make double digit numbers.

And then, I was digging around in our stash of stuff that was left in the house for some extra window hardware.

Voila! I hit the motherload of numbered tacks.


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September 14, 2007

What is It? Japanese Comic Book?

Category: What on Earth!?

It's been awhile since I've posted anything that we find in the house, but I came across this the other day and I can't find out anything about it.

It appears to be a Japanese Comic Book of some kind. Anyone recognize this? (I put these in here as pop-up images, so you can click on the photo and make it larger.)

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October 17, 2007

What is this? Russian?

Category: What on Earth!?

Found this (in the house, natch.)


It's tiny. It's a pin. It looks like Russian letters but I'm not entirely sure.


October 25, 2007


Category: What on Earth!?

Found while cleaning out the woodshop today. These were left by the previous owners.


I love vintage advertising. I love old fonts. And I love the word Shinola.


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November 8, 2007

Philately...the forgotten stamps

Category: What on Earth!?

I visited a lonely corner of the basement today and found this.


A little wooden box filled with a child's forgotten stamp collection. It isn't very looks like it is from the late 1950s or early 1960s.

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December 19, 2007

More Doll House Memories and My First Woodworking Project Ever

Category: What on Earth!?

The plastic doll house furniture came with the House in Progress. The WOODEN doll house furniture? That came from my mom's attic and it used to be mine. (Read all the way to the bottom for an early example of my woodworking prowess. Nick, Trissa and Jenny are going to be OH SO PROUD!)


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February 2, 2008

Have a seat.

Category: What on Earth!?

A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous. -Mies van der Rohe

You know that What on Earth isn't finished yet, right? That there are still things left in this house that I have not yet photographed or researched or even examined?

Like this chair.


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February 21, 2008

In Memorium: Siegfried R. Weng

Category: Daily Diary

I'm sitting here with the laptop, watching the Democratic debate, and checking my email. And I received this note:

I was just on line looking for the obituary for Uncle Siegfried when I saw your post.

Mr. Weng died Tuesday night in Evansville, Indiana. He was nearly 104. He was my husband's uncle.

K Kramer

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February 29, 2008

Dead Mouse or....?

Category: What on Earth!?

I had to take apart the old dryer the other day (don't ask) and found this underneath it.


In the dark corner and covered with plaster dust and lint, it looked like a flattened, dead mouse. (And is it at all surprising that I know what a flattened, dead mouse looks like? No, it shouldn't be.)

Instead, it is a...

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March 4, 2008

Dog. In a Top Hat.

Category: What on Earth!?

I suppose to question the inspiration of 1950's graphic designers is to not appreciate the influence of the three-martini lunch on their craft.

But what is with the dog in the top hat?


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May 9, 2008

What on Earth is Back!

Category: What on Earth!?

Because I need something to distract me from the disaster that is under my sunroom, I am reviving What on Earth?

All of you junk hounds can commence high-fiving each other now.

If you don't know what What on Earth is, you probably need to start reading here. Give yourself a few hours, maybe even a day, to go through those entries. I had a lot of insomnia when we started working on the house.

I'm going to try digging through a box in my attic and writing about something I find every Friday. I may write about things more frequently than that, but I will at LEAST write about something every Friday.

Rummaging around in the attic we go...

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May 12, 2008

Help I.D. This Mid-Century Melamine Plate

Category: What on Earth!?

I'm helping out a local not-for-profit on this one. They were cleaning out the ancient kitchen in their basement and preparing to put boxes of items on Craigslist. I spotted these plates from across the room. They are magnificent.


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May 20, 2008

Vintage Postcards

Category: What on Earth!?

So, there are still some items that were left in the house that we have not examined very closely.

Like the boatloads of vintage postcards.


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October 14, 2008

A hunka, hunka burnin'.... rose quartz?

Category: What on Earth!?

Aaron found this in the basement, among the things we still hadn't investigated that were left behind in the house when we bought it. (See more about THAT here.)

It's a hunk of rose quartz.

It's huge. Fourteen and a half pounds. Of rose quartz.


What would YOU do with this find?

Doorstop? Garden ornament? Sell it on eBay (if it is even worth anything)?

It is Grace's alternate birthstone (January), but I think it is a bit large for gifting, yes?

January 16, 2009

Oh My! Are You Looking in My Drawers???

Category: What on Earth!?

A friend from another city IM'Med** me yesterday about the pink drawers full of treasure that I referred to in my last blog post.

**Instant messaged

"You don't really have stuff left over from when you moved in, do you?"

Oh. Don't we? Yes, we do. To Aaron's dismay. We've managed to unload quite a bit of it, but you don't get rid of 70+ years of debris overnight. Not when you are married to a research wonk.

Behold, the wall of pink drawers.


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December 2, 2009

Stick 'em up.

Category: What on Earth!?

From the junk drawer this morning.  Found while I was looking for a pen.  It was left in the house. 

From Kane County Sheriff's department.  Heavy brass.  Looks like some kind of seal in the center. 

Anyone want to write a short story about how it ended up here or its history?  Because this is the kind of thing that HAS to have a story.  Possibly involving a doll or a dame, and a guy with a fedora.

Cross-posted at LifeinProgress

January 1, 2010

Back to the Boxes!

Category: What on Earth!?

Wow.  I haven't used the word "boredom" for a looooooong time.  I believe that the last time I used it was before we bought this house, and it was certainly before Grace was born.  Therefore, after four days of an enjoyable stay-cation, after having finished scrubbing the basement floor on my hands and knees, and after having purged BOTH bathroom built-ins of expired over-the-counter medications, I was at a loss for how to entertain myself when Aaron offered to take Grace to an indoor playground.  Leaving me all alone.  Alone.  Alone without any work (that needed to be done indoors or could be done in weather colder than 43 degrees Fahrenheit.) 

What's a Type A girl to do?  I had already caught up on all of my episodes of Glee.

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January 2, 2010

I LOVE a Good Mystery, Especially When It Gets SOLVED

Category: What on Earth!?

It was exciting to open up my email this morning and get a note from Beth in Chicago (researcher par excellence, obvs) who has tracked down the identity of our vintage baby announcement family.  And the story, as it unfolds, is pretty cool.  I've omitted some of the more personal information she found.

The surname is spelled with an old style 's', so the name is actually Ressinger. Paul, the father was an executive with the American Typographical Society, which explains the fancy print. I believe that I found John A. Ressinger listed as an alum of Northwestern University. According to their records, he was from the Class of 1964. So, apparently he is still alive.

After receiving Beth's note, I did a little digging around regarding Paul M. Ressinger.  Here's what I found:

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January 2, 2010

Ephemera Project

Category: Daily Diary

Earlier this week, I began a scanning project for the ephemera left behind in the house. I would love to post the results both here and on the LifeInProgress blog, but can't. The software for the LifeInProgress blog is better suited to entries with multiple photos and is more efficient. So, if you are interested in that project, you might want to keep checking in over there or on our Flickr feed. Thanks all!

May 3, 2010

What do these things have in common?

Category: Daily Diary

A set of lovely painted scrolls from Balinese painter, Ida Bagus Rai?


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