Beautiful Things: Antique Tilt-Top Table

Mom gave me this table from my great-grandma Bessie — her father’s mother.

Table in folded position.

Table in folded position.

I keep it in folded position in my bedroom. I don’t know if this is a table we’d ever use. At least not until we become delicate card-players and long in the tooth.

The table, unfolded.

The table, unfolded.

The art on the table is … interesting. Fascinating. Weird.

The serpent is being attacked by the warriors in the boat on the right.  Mermaids in the background, other soldiers standing at the ready.

The serpent is being attacked by the warriors in the boat on the right. Mermaids in the background, other soldiers standing at the ready.

The whole table isn’t even three feet across. Some of the art is very detailed.

It looks as if the soldiers are standing on a boat of some sort, being steered by the boy sitting in the back.  I'm not sure what that is between them. Another soldier? Another mythical creature?

It looks as if the soldiers are standing on a boat of some sort, being steered by the boy sitting in the back. I’m not sure what that is between them. Another soldier? Another mythical creature?

Europeans, missionaries, Greek mythology, Chinese astrology, Oriental legend, Asian folklore. I have no idea, really.

There is a close-up of the attack on the serpent.  Do you see the couple sitting in the front of the boat?

There is a close-up of the attack on the serpent. Do you see the couple sitting in the front of the boat?

We’d love to learn more about this art. The artist, the time period. We know that Bessie was born in 1894 or so, and that this table is probably 100 years old.

A close-up of the mermaids.

A close-up of the mermaids.

Some of the details are hard to see without the use of photographic close-ups.

The shields have sea creatures on them -- looks like mussel shells, a whelk or conch or some sort of snail, then a lobster, and then a dragon.  Run of the mill sea creatures.

The shields have sea creatures on them — looks like mussel shells, a whelk or conch or some sort of snail, then a lobster, and then a dragon. Run of the mill sea creatures.

Quite dapper.

Quite dapper.

And the people! Really fascinating to me. Who are they?

Just going for a stroll in the park.

Just going for a stroll in the park.

Love the print on the trousers.

See the larger man's lower body in the foeground?  He has women printed on his trousers, and a man's face peeking between his legs.  And then there's that sly man speaking to the woman over his shoulder.

See the larger man’s lower body in the foeground? He has women printed on his trousers, and a man’s face peeking between his legs. And then there’s that sly man speaking to the woman over his shoulder.

Looks like a beautiful estate back there, but also, I think I see a cross on the top of that building.

Looks like a beautiful estate back there, but also, I think I see a cross on the top of that building.

Dancing in the park, musicians on the right.

Dancing in the park, musicians on the right.

Very hard to see, and this is really small on the table, but does this lion have wings?  Is that a goat behind it?

Very hard to see, and this is really small on the table, but does this lion have wings? Is that a goat behind it?

This is some sort of mythical dog creature, I think.  Is this Argos, the dog that Odysseus left behind?

This is some sort of mythical dog creature, I think. Is this Argos, the dog that Odysseus left behind?

More mythical creatures in the border of the table.

More mythical creatures in the border of the table.

According to wikipedia, a hsigo is a creature from Chinese folklore -- a monkey with a human faces, a dog tails and bird wings. They are servents to the people that owned them, much like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.  Elsewhere online, I read that seeing one indicates a coming drought.  Is that cupid behind this one, aiming an arrow?

According to wikipedia, a hsigo is a creature from Chinese folklore — a monkey with a human faces, a dog tails and bird wings. They are servents to the people that owned them, much like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. Elsewhere online, I read that seeing one indicates a coming drought. Is that cupid behind this one, aiming an arrow?

If I could search the internet all day to figure this out, I would. But I only gave myself an hour. (And Sophie complied.)

Another monkey, cupid, and a snake, of course.

Another monkey, cupid, and a snake, of course.

The border of the table is filled with creatures and people and symbols.

Man riding a lion.  I think...?

Man riding a lion. I think…?

Genie from the lamp, perhaps.

Genie from the lamp, perhaps.

Beautiful Things: Sophie Jane

Sophie Jane

Beautiful Things: Wedgewood Stove

Early 1940s (?) Wedgewood Stove. With oven and broiler (on the right) and storage (on the left). Four burners and a griddle. Clock, timer, and light (untested and unused).

I love this stove.

When we moved in, we had some things repaired — the oven door springs were broken and there was a small leak in the range. Luckily, we have a local stove repair shop that specializes in antique stoves.  I really wanted to figure it out myself, but the door springs were too tricky.  Also, the gas supply line was really old. I was going to replace that myself, but chickened-out when there was a slight discrepancy in bolt size connecting to the stove.  Better to call in the professionals.  (They also had spare knobs on hand!)

We spent as much on repairs as we would have buying something so-so.  About $400.

With the repairman here, he was able to show me how to take apart the range for cleaning (all exposed range parts are removable), and he told me more about the stove than I could possibly find on the vast internet.

This stove has:

  • Gas burners that light light up with force and power, much like I imagine an industrial range to have. We’re also able to get a nice low flame without it flickering-out.
  • Removable drip pans under the burners for cleaning.
  • A griddle between the pairs of burners which I’m in love with. Never has pancake-making been so effortless.
  • An oven, though small, which heats up quickly and steadily.   It’s sometimes a delicate operation working in a small oven; we have to rotate our goods if we bake more than one thing at a time.  And someday we’ll have the thermostat recalibrated, as the temperature is a little high.
  • A clock with timer, and a light. We haven’t plugged in the stove, so I don’t know if they work. I bet they do, but not interested in moving the stove out again to find the electrical outlet.  (The cord is in good shape, at least.)
  • A cupboard, which is pretty handy for storing all the cast iron. I wasn’t too taken by it at first — would rather have a larger oven — but it’s a good use of space after all.

Pancakes.

If you’re on the fence about buying or restoring an antique stove, it’s more than worth it.

The temperature gauge for the griddle. Not entirely useful, except when first heating up the griddle, as the food we’re cooking is normally a better gauge.  But I also know how hot the griddle will be by listening to the sound of the burners, and of course by the location of the knob.

You know what?  I broke the Wedgewood emblem when cleaning it (the knobby tabs that hold the emblem to the stove).  I’m going to MacGyver it though, don’t worry.

French toast. See the missing emblem? I haven’t been able to find a replacement, so I’m hoping I can fix it with some JB Weld and paperclips.  I am, after all, at least 25% grandpa.

Beautiful Things: Red Nesting Tables

I found these in an antique store in San Diego — near Hillcrest or Kensington or somewhere near there.  I was 23 with a new baby. I wish I had asked more questions.

Three nesting tables.

I know nothing about them, and neither did the antique dealer.  The shop sold things on consignment, and these were tucked in a corner.  At least I could have contacted the original seller.

But anyway, I fell in love.

Top of the large table.

A friend once remarked that they were incredible, and maybe from somewhere exotic — somewhere like West Timor or Java or I don’t know, some place where beautiful things are made by hand with care.

The middle table. It gets the least use, of course.

Or maybe they were somebody’s old tables, covered with paint and stencils and lacquer by a steady hand in his garage.

The baby table. The kids sometimes get to use this, but I prefer to have them leave mama's tables alone. (Note the chip on the left side.

(Know anything? Please leave a comment.)

Beautiful Things: A Heater for a Drafty House

We knew that removing the layers of carpet (Green! Shag!) and the particle board underneath was going to increase the draftiness of the house.  We also knew that the windows were desperately in need of maintenance.

We anticipated the high heating bills. We really did.

We encourage wearing layers here — at least put on a long-sleeved shirt, kiddo — and we try to be cognizant of how warm the house actually is.

But it’s hard to not just “turn on” the fire when it is this easy. And pretty.

Jotul 400 Sebago direct vent gas-burning stove.

This is where we sit in the morning, kids eating cereal before school, Sam on my lap, watching Pink Panther on Hulu.  Naturally, Booker likes to squeeze in front of the fire, causing us to lose some of our precious morning warmth (Move, Booker!).
 
It took months and months to get this stove.  I called around desperately when we were moving in, realizing that we didn’t have a source of heat.
 
You see, this is what was in the house before:
 

Old gas box heater. $20 appliance disposal fee at the dump.

But what I didn’t realize is this: we had an old house. Our existing venting system (direct vent) wasn’t used much anymore, and no one had direct vent stoves in stock.
 
Keep in mind that we moved in in November. Brrrr.
 
So we ordered one.  And when it arrived, it was the wrong size. A size too small, which meant we’d be running the stove a lot to get the house to warm up.  But the store installed it as a loaner, and promised that when our stove — the correct stove — came in, they’d switch it out, and we could pay them then. 
 
Small towns, you know? 
 
(So… the customer service there — they made mistakes and it was hard to get our calls returned, but they were sweet and considerate and made sure we weren’t raising kids in a house without heat. Forever grateful to them.)
 
We’ve added plastic insulation to the insides of some windows. We’ve found a lot of leaks, but haven’t fixed them. We know the doors need maintenance. And some day we’ll replace the windows.
 
It’s helpful that it’s been overcast at night lately — it keeps it a reasonable temperature in here.
 

Isn't it pretty? It gets hot.

Even right now, it’s probably 65 in here, and I’m wearing warm clothes and have no need to turn it on. But so tempting still. 
 
And we don’t have to deal with firewood ever ever ever again (oh, except for recreational fires in the firepit I imagine in the back yard, you know, the firepit that is over there near the deck with the hot tub? yeah, that one).