Monthly Archives: October 2011

Re-entry, The Goldfish Has Landed. Terry Comes Home From TBI Rehab

October 16th, 2005 TBI and how we survived it. I kept a journal when Terry got hurt, these are entries from that journal and those times. I hope they can help someone else struggling down the same lonely road.

We brought Terry home from the rehab center yesterday. Its only been 32 days since the Deer Incident. It is amazing how far he’s come and daunting how far he still has to go. Thank you Darrell Allston for being such a friend and helping drag all the contents of Terry’s room at the rehab center room home–how did we acquire that much crap in such a short time?

It wasn’t all things we set out to collect, but we figured we are being charged for all this stuff so we now have 3 pink water pitchers, a jumbo sized roll of saran wrap, enough ace bandages for a mummy, a whole box of rubber gloves, assorted band aids, ointments, powders, and a tiny pink dish pan. My favorite: they actually have industrially labeled hospital bath powder in hotel sized containers. So help me, it is called, “Fordustin”, I
mean is that not original? I have to dig out the shampoo and see what it’s called, “Forhairin” maybe? or maybe “Forhairinwashin” ? The Deodorant should be, “Forstinkin” or “Forpittiin” or maybe”Fornosmellin”. It all reminds of the pseudo German jokes that made the rounds 20 or 30 years ago featuring Little Red Riding Hood and a bad
accent.  If you remember those you are showing your age–or mine.

Terry sits in his chair, like a cranky spider and watches teevee. But when he wants to go to bed he wants our world to stop, doesn't matter if its only 6 p.m., part of TBI

And other friends too, Brian Kessler–we have your foam mattress –thanks, it
saved us all from sleeping on the hospital cot with a mattress which felt like
a sack of empty pop cans. Terry did complain about being bounced around in the car on the ride home so I know he hurts but we made it and he loved the renovations. He
has viewed them several times–and each time they are new. He thinks he’s in a hotel
and wonders how we can afford it.

I had ten prescriptions to fill on a Sunday, that was fun–and to keep them straight I made up a little chart so I could tell when to give him what. He’s alive and doing better so I really don’t want to kill him by giving him the wrong meds after all this.

He slept most of last night, amazing after the weeks of restless wandering around
the rehab center corridors, its 11:30 in the morning and he’s had breakfast and
he’s back asleep. I hope the pattern continues with his sleeping at night
because we have discovered Mr. Davis has one hell of an independent streak that
could get him in trouble while the rest of us sleep the sleep of the exhausted
after hours of watching over him. His short term memory is impaired and the first
thing that goes with that is impulse control and the ability to weigh things
that might be dangerous–and not do them, like going for a midnight walk naked
in the middle of winter.

The most excitement we had yesterday was Torin yelling from the kitchen for
help. He was cooking dinner and had rice boiling away in the rice cooker when
Terry showed up fresh from a rest in his chair in the living room. He got a spoon and wanted to taste. Visions of steam burns etc., ran through my head as I sprinted from the bathroom with my plaster covered paws from the shower renovation.

Terry was downright cranky and nasty to Torin who was almost in tears trying to stop him from hurting himself. Lesson 1: do not let him get hungry because impulse control
being gone he will wolf down anything in sight including hot raw rice.
Lesson 2: Try not to tell him no directly. This was borne out yesterday when he
decided he HAD to get outside. I grabbed his house shoes and sprinted after him with the ring of keys to the garage. He demanded the keys, I demanded he put his shoes on and he wasn’t having any of it–emergency averted when I reached around him and unlocked the garage. He put on his house shoes like there had been no discussion and went into the garage. The bike was there and he said it looked like it needed some work. He started folding stuff up and putting it away but got distracted and went wandering back out and into the house. His attention span is about 2 -5 minutes. This is discouraging but it is getting better by inches.

terry tests out the new shower. These pictures don't even look like Terry. Eerie, how a face can change with the mind of the person inside.

He has been far more peaceful at home although he still cannot tell me he is in Olympia–when I ask where we are I get between the kitchen and dining room–or something like. Last night he was tired and crabby and about half asleep from 5 pm on. He demanded we turn the teevee OFF and it was turned down very low. This was at 8:30 p.m.

I am tiling the shower and trying really hard to get it done but what a job–I’m sure the sound of breaking tile didn’t help much, but I told him I had to do it and that was that. It is hard to find the balance between his life and Torin and I having a quality of life that is acceptable. I am looking forward to the professionals assessing him this week so we can get some caregivers in while I have one nerve left intact. In home rehab starts tomorrow too and that should be helpful. I want to learn what they do so I can keep stimulating his brain.

We have pretty much isolated the source of 70% of his pain as his right shoulder. I don’t think it got much attention in the fray and is now surfacing as a source of agonizing muscle spasms. I’m guessing he’s torn some stuff in there and hopefully we can get his doctor to take a look at it this week.

Terry and Nellie. She has never been allowed up on the bed before. Very odd.

I am in the process of trying to figure out how all this fits together—a new wireless connection in the living room means I can work in here and listen for him in there. This is like living with Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There are two Terry’s in there–one I don’t know or recognize at all and the other I get flashes of–the old Terry.  I hope we can reintegrate him so old Terry can send new Terry to stand in the corner and stay there. It’s hard to remember that he is a giant two year old with all of a two year-olds curiosity and lack
of fear when you are having a perfectly lucid conversation with him—except that he won’t remember in five minutes in most cases.

I keep telling him things will get better but mostly I think I’m telling me. I’m sure they will too, but no one has a written a road map for this peculiar territory and it’s easy to get lost. I can tell things are different–the DOG is on the BED and he invited her up. Whoa….. Toto we are not in Kansas anymore because in Kansas the dog is not allowed on the bed so you’d better enjoy Oz before Terry finds his ruby slippers and clicks the heels together and you get booted back to the dog bed.


Rabbit Loves Research

I love this hat! It's a Mad Cap, Bon Wit Teller Hat Couture. Looks like a velvet hershey's kiss. I smile when I look at it.

Sometimes I really wonder about myself….here I am up to ears in old clothes, beautiful older clothes and I can’t just take a picture and slap them up on the internet with a guess as to their provenance.

By LouBella Extendables, dates to the 70s research proves it

No. I am compelled to be a clothes cop, a dealer detective, an artful anthropologist, and find out exactly what I have in my hands. This is not new behavior. My need to know is one reason I have a heavy duty line of cultural anthropology and ethnography running through my art background.  I have a pressing need to know WHY.

It is definitely down the rabbit hole and beyond fascinating to me. I hope the people who acquire these pieces of history appreciate knowing what they are buying. A sale is two fold for me: the joy of sending something beautiful and well made back into the world for another round AND knowing where it came from. Of course, the research is devouring my studio time.

The first clue...

I have a round rack of clothes in my bedroom that I have to crawl around to get to the computer and the rest of the room. I have a feeling this is not changing anytime soon. Who knew how much fun the treasure hunt for labels and eras could be?

Most of the stuff I am finding and choosing is so beautifully cut and well made it just shames the clothes we buy now. The fabrics are better, the construction is to die for and the designs are as current now as they were then. Planned obsolescence eat your heart out.

Take for instance this nifty little Loubella Extendables shirt whose photos accompany thisentry. In the 60s we called these little ribbed beauties poor boys and wore them with hip hugging wide wale bell-bottomed corduroy pants or blue jeans, also bell bottomed.  In the late 60s and early 70’s lurex and metallic fabrics came along and we all jumped on them. For a big party in San Francisco in 1969 I wore a silver lurex mini dress, silver pantihose and silver sling backed shoes. All in a size 3.  Ah memories…. but I digress.

sparkly fabric and stretchy, so 70s cool

When this stretchy shiny stuff came along we wore it with a vengeance. When I saw this shirt I grabbed it.  I got it home and started doing research on it. I found a few other pieces in different Etsy shops but no history of Loubella.

I kept digging in search engines, and Eureka! after holding my mouth just right and putting in the right combination of words I found a clue. Trade Markia showed the Loubella name being used until 1997, when it expired. I also found the name of the principal in the company. Hiram Jebb Levy.

slinky blue shirt from the back

I remember seeing some of the pieces had a “Loubella Extendables by Jebb” tag in them. More hunting turned up pay dirt and even a photograph. There was a piece written about Jebb Levy in a temple newsletter honoring him and his wife for their activity with the temple.

The rabbi even included a biographical sketch. It turns out the Levy family came from Macedonia to Rochester, New York. Dad was Lou and mom was Bella. They were Sephardic jews who spoke the archaic language Ladino at home. How cool is that? Hiram got tagged with the nickname “Jebb” in his childhood and it stuck.

He and his brother moved from Rochester, New York to Southern California and founded LouBella Extendables right after World War II, named to honor mom and dad. The article said they were in business for 45 years.

So…I know the trademark expired in 1997. I know they went into business right after the war and the trademark was first used in commerce in 1950. I also did some digging and found the Extendables part was registered in 1977.

I also found the name was sold and the company reopened in 2002 in Van Nuys, Ca with another Levy. They apparently do manufacturing rather than running their own line these days.  This means I can date my cute little shirt to the late 70s with some accuracy. It doesn’t add to what I can sell it for, but it does make me happy to know that it really is vintage.

Incrredible blue silk and mohair suit from the 1940s leaves for Australia tomorrow

I have learned soooo much already. When zippers came along, when they migrated from the side to the back. Fabrics, clothes cuts that identify eras. I love it. I am a fashion archaeologist and everything on my Etsy site has been hunted down before it goes back into the world. I fell by accident into this particular rabbit hole, but I like it here and I don’t plan on leaving it anytime soon.


This jacket still has the original tag on it. $880! Armani from Italy.

The best part of all this is that there are so many women out there who love this stuff as much as I do. I just sent two jackets to Toronto, Canada and tomorrow a Lilli Ann suit and jacket leave for Australia. Two purses are headed for a new home in New Jersey.  The power of the internet has been demonstrated to yours truly, big time.

Okay, now to go research that plaid Armani jacket from Italy, or maybe that adorable hot pink Mister Sig Original, or that sexy Vanity Fair nightgown. There is Vintage fun to be had and I’m having it!





Its that Cemetery Time of Year…

I have a love hate relationship with the autumn portion of the year. I hate that all my gardens are descending into the winter; the plants I have delighted in over the summer will soon be droopy frozen mush and dried out sticks. All the artist’s yard ornaments come in and get stowed for the winter, pipes get wrapped and the winter coats appear. The winter birds are coming back and its time to stock up on soot and seed for my feathered friends.

I love it too. The leaves are turning bright colors and the air has a snap to it. Indoor pursuits are suddenly delightful and so are lap rugs. This is the cemetery time of year.

My favorite cemetery is right here at home

Little Lambs can be found on children's headstones from long ago

Confession: I love cemeteries and cemetery angels. I don’t think they are creepy or melancholy. Sad sometimes, like when I am wandering among the graves and run into a swath of old fashioned lamb-on-top headstones and know those were all children who died long ago. If I read the dates I can extrapolate sometimes that there must have been a virulent illness that swept through the small city taking the oldest and the weakest both.

Cemetery Angel of Olympia

Still, the cemetery not too far from my house is a beautiful and peaceful place. I love to just wander around reading headstones and watching the squirrels and crows going about their squirrel and crow business.

The fall seems so mellow and quiet under the trees

The day of our friend John’s memorial service a few weeks ago, I had a small camera with me me. It was a beautiful sunny day for wandering and wondering. I wonder what it was like to live with some of these names?

And is this the real Colonel Mustard? Resting quietly with Flora Mary Mustard right here in Olympia.

Colonel Mustard and Mrs Mustard?

Make up your own caption for Waddle....

My Uncle Cecil and Aunt Beatrice  are buried here. My father’s uncle and aunt. Dad used to talk about his crazy logger relatives in the northwest. It was amazing to find out we landed up in the same town over 50 years later. Cecil was long gone before I came here, dying in the 60s, but I love that I have family roots.

And then there are the angels,

All over France and the USA, I take pictures of cemetery angels. For some reason I just love them,their eternal gentleness speaks to me. Its almost Hallowe’en. All hallows eve, I may just get my camera and make another visit, its that cemetery time of year you know.



One Two Tray: Plant it Here!

With fall coming on I am sadly looking out the windows at my gardens which are in their last burst of bloom. The cool weather has revived all the impatiens that were limping and limp. The hortensias (that’s what the French call hydrangeas) are still in full blue and purple bloom and its time to drag everyone who will freeze off to the green house.

Table destroying plant pots moving indoors for the winter

Orchids and cacti will be going away for the winter in a day or two and all the garden rabbits will be stowed on their shelves for the cold season. I always take in the garden ornaments so they won’t freeze and blow themselves up. There are a few plants, mostly the major members of the begonia family, who will be moving indoors to bask on the kitchen table for a few months. This means I have to think about keeping them from leaking on everything when they get watered and about how to keep them under control and in one place.

Raw materials. An old pizza tray, spray painted flat black, flat glass marbles, E6000 glue and tinfoil.

This is the tray I made for Robin's house. I used a great big tray made of wood I found at Goodwill. Holds a ton of plants and saves the furniture from wet pot rings.

Solution: A cool plant tray that is made with recycled and renewable materials. Green plants and a green plan.  Find a tray that will work for you. I found an old 99 cent pizza pan at a thrift store. A ratty old tray, a cookie sheet, anything that has a really solid waterproof bottom.  Buy a can of flat black spray paint and give it a good coating of paint on both sides.

fit the flat backed glass marbles into your pan. Make sure you have enough.

If you prefer a shabby chic vibe, paint  your tray flat off white and choose pinks and matte colored glass pieces. After your tray, whatever color you chose, is painted and is good and dry bring it in and assmemble your materials. A few bags of those flat marbles in your favorite colors. Go solid, go water colors, go wild! A tube of E6000 glue, the best stuff on earth if you ask me, (get it at Michael’s and craft stores) some tinfoil, a popsicle stick for spreading glue and a pair of scissors to cut your foil.

Don't worry about pattern, you are just checking for fit at this point.

After you fit the marbles in, pour them back out and get your tinfoil out. Flip the tray over and use the base for a pattern. If you push the foil down where it meets the edges of the tray it will leave a mark you can use to cut out a piece of foil to fit inside the tray.

Foil laid out on the back of the tray to figure out what size to cut it.

Cut out your foil, check the fit and squeeze some E6000 around your tray, especially around the edges. It doesn’t take a ton of glue. You aim is to securely fasten down the foil because you are going to glue on top of it. The foil back gives an extra bit of waterproofing AND it reflects light up from the bottom of the tray for a little gleam of silver.

Time to stick down your glass marbles.

Now, glue and goo the inside of the tray and stick your marbles flat side down all over the tray into the glue as close together as possible. When you are done, tip the tray up gently and find any that are loose. Dab glue on the bottom of the loose marbles and stick ’em down.

All finished with a silver back for a little extra relection. The foil should only be on the bottom of the tray, not the sides.

Pat and flatten the whole surface to make sure they are all set. Then take the next 20 minutes and peel the glue off your fingertips. Arggh.

All done! Put the plants on the tray and enjoy your new pretty and waterproof plant protection device.


another view of a happy begonia

Easy, under ten bucks and possibly a good project for an older child –with good glue skills to tackle. Happy constructing!



Revving up the Christmas Rabbit: Teddies and Tea Sets

Tiny tea sets everywhere! Waiting to be sorted and put on tea trays for the Victorian Teddy Tea Party Tree

Yes, it’s not even Halloween yet, but Christmas is underway around the rabbit’s rancheroo. Seven weeks and counting down from here to Christmas Forest and the Victorian Teddy Tea Party Tree. My 2011 extravaganza actually started the day I finished last year’s tree.

bunches and bunches of bears. 211 to be exact. All but 23 are wearing clothes.

My very favorite is this adorable Victorian style bear, I don't know if I can 'bear' to give her up!

Buried in bears in my studio loft. That's my foot. I had to wedge me in with all the bins to sort the furry beasts.

I  started thinking about 2011’s tree before 2010’s was even up! I understand from the other designers that is S.O.P. We all slink around and look over the other trees on display and start plotting on how we can top ourselves and them-next time.

These two are the most exquisite and valuable of the bushels of bears. Both handmade and incredibly high quality. I got one for 10 bucks and the other for 20 bucks. Probably 300 dollars or so, retail. Gotta love being a Value Village vulture.

And bear gear: buggies, rockers, chairs, prams, tiny desks, even an upholstered granny style rocker. A year of hunting paid off.


I found so many Victorian style dressed bears, the Victorian Teddy Tree pretty much named itself.

Sorted by size and style and binned with the number of bears inside on the bin. Whew. That's a lot of bears! I don't want to see any green on the tree, just bears, tea stuff and treats from top to bottom.

These are teeny tinies. So adorable! A whole box of fun.


I haven't even counted these yet, unpacking them was staggering enough for a start.

I started thinking about my concept a year ago : Bears and a teaparty. I loved the song, “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” as a little kid. To that end and with something Teddy Bear Picnicish in mind, I have been collecting bears and tiny sets for a year. This weekend it was time to go up into my loft and begin the sorting process, bears up and tea sets down.

From right after WWII, made in Japan. Can't you just picture a little girl getting this set for Christmas?


Exquisite, only one cup. Some of these are so beautiful they will stay in my own trinket collection. Trust me, there are so many tea sets here, no body is ever going to notice!

I have mostly been standing on the first floor and throwing bears overhand up onto the loft bed, or carrying them up and just stashing them and all the bear accoutrements overhead and ignoring the whole mess all summer. How many bears? How many tea sets? A bunch.

Teeny tiny Spode tea saucer. Wish I had the whole set.

Other side of the Spode saucer, cute no?

My goal with this tree of tea toys and teddies is to transfix every small child who sees the tree. I want to create something so magical they’ll remember it for years.

The teeny tiniest tea sets are in this cigar box. Doll's house tea sets perhaps?

I am going to use rubber cement to fasten the tea things to the tea trays and furnish the buyer with instructions on deconstructing the tree. It is my biggest wish that whoever buys this tree will take off every tea tray and tea set and every teddy bear and give them to a child. I kind of hope a pediatrician buys the tree, that would be perfect.

Funky little set from the 50's, tres cool


Gorgeous antique child's teacup with a parrot handle. I found 3 of them at an estate sale.

Tiny teapots!


teeny weeny sugar bowl, probably holds about 3 grains of sugar

My personal favorite? This Miss Muffet tea saucer. Mine,mine, mine.

antique blue willow tea set creamer. How cute is this?

Even if a few bits that aren't in sets stay behind to remind me of this amazing experience, I don't think we'll have a shortage of tea sets. I counted 14 tiny teapots yesterday and I didn't even try to count cups and saucers.

Christmas forest raises a ton of money for the Providence St Peter foundation. They do so much with the money, including providing health care for moms’ and kids’ without insurance, that I am glad to add my own funds to match theirs, along with all the time and effort it takes to do one of these trees.

Over the next seven weeks I will be posting how the tree is put together from making the giant tea pot tree topper to the “cupfakes” decorations. Furniture refinishing and detailing is taking place already. My friend Linda is waiting for measurements on the bear bed to create hand made linens which will be gorgeous. My Christmas crew is standing by and mid-October we launch all the fun details. How to projects will be shared so readers can create fun at home too.  This one is going to be fun for all of us who never really wanted to grow up, starting with me.