Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Scotty Dog Planter

Reader Chris has two unidentified scotty dog planters for sale at the Pottery Auction site, and is looking for help identifying them.

I've unpacked my books, but alas have had no luck finding them. My initial thought is either a Morton Pottery, or American Pottery Co. (a/k/a APCO, or American Bisque), but I haven't found them in either of my reference books for those potteries.

Perhaps a look at the bottoms would help?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The tornado itself wasn't really worth blogging. We had to go to the basement Sunday night for a tornado warning, but it was an F0 that did a little bit of damage several miles from here. It didn't touch a thing near my house. What is worth blogging about is my dismay at our local officials' responses to the lack of siren noise in many places. Reference this news article for the whole story: I saw the same info on TV this morning.

It's been my experience that most tornado warnings are issued during thunderstorms, and most thunderstorms contain lightning and thunder, which is why they are called "thunderstorms" in the first place (clever, those weather people!). Why do we have a siren system that is vulnerable to "electrical interference because of the storm..."?? Seems like a design flaw to me.

Two sirens didn't work because of damage from a previous storm that no one bothered to fix. Never mind the fact that damage to the siren by a storm is proof positive of how much it is needed right there.

The most ridiculous quote of all comes from the director of the St. Louis City Emergency Management Agency:
Christmann cautions that the sirens are not meant to be heard indoors. They are for people who are outdoors and do not have access to a TV or a radio. He said, "If we turned it up loud enough for everybody to hear everywhere, we would probably end up blowing a lot of windows out of people's houses."

Um... so our tax money goes into a system designed only to protect people who are too stupid to come in out of a thunderstorm? Seems like a bit of a waste of money to me. People with a legitimate reason to be out in an awful storm (rescue workers, police, electric company linesmen come to mind) are probably already aware if there is nasty weather around. No one's asking for the siren to come up behind them and slap them up the side of the head, and its not realistic to expect tornado sirens to wake anyone from a sound sleep, but it would be nice to have some indication that a tornado is upon us.

I've experienced at least one tornado warning in almost every place I've ever lived (and several in Arlington, Texas which is firmly within "tornado alley" in most maps I've found). This is the first time I can think of where I heard no sirens.* I'm not saying that they have always been easy to hear indoors, but they have been audible enough for us to notice, even if we had to open the front door and step outside to make sure that was indeed what we heard. This time, it was our weather radio that told us what was up.

*We might have briefly heard a siren, but that was probably 15 minutes or so after the weather radio said to take cover -- long enough to corral two cats, lock them in the basement, fetch a small tv and drag that to the basement, go back upstairs for some chairs to sit on and drag them to the basement, go back up to find and capture the third cat and take her to the basement -- and the sound was only for a moment and might have been on television anyway.

So, if you live in either the City or County of St. Louis, the important takeaway is this: You're on your own. Get thee to a Radio Shack!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Remembering Doris

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of when we lost Doug's mother to an unexpected heart attack. We spent the holiday weekend with his father, eating and doing touristy stuff as much as possible, the weekend sprinkled with "Mom would have liked that" every time we saw something decked out in particularly bright colors.

As Dick was preparing to leave from spending the holiday with us, the anniversary was not marked with bells tolling, but with . . . birds.

It rained all Saturday night. In the morning, as Dick was loading the car, we heard a cacophony of birds. They were descending into to the trees near the house and in the woods at the back of the yard, covering the branches like moving Christmas tree decorations. My first thought was starlings, since they are about the only birds this suburban-dweller has seen in such a large flock, but closer inspection revealed they were robins. There must have been 100 of them, at least. Not the fluffy round robins I've seen at my bird bath in recent weeks: these guys were lean and on the move, no doubt heading to warmer climes for the winter. They chirped and sang the entire time Dick was loading the car -- through our acknowledgement that this was the day, and almost the very hour, of our loss -- and kept it up for about 20 minutes after he left. Then, once again, silence.

It seems appropriate that the anniversary of Doris' passing would be marked not just by any birds, but by the harbingers of spring. As they head south, we face the dying winter months without them. But we know we will see them again, as they return to remind us that the earth will spring to life again.

Doris would have liked that.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Robinson Ransbottom

Here's another email from Jim, who won a lot of 5 pottery pieces at auction. His description...

First ,it's stoneware and very well made.It stands 5 1/2" tall and is7" across the top and weights 3 lb 12oz..The glazing is two tone drip brown over green with a deep brown interior.

Now, do you have any idea as to who made it? There are no marking anywhere but looks to good to be done in a "shop" class. Anything you might think would really be helpful.

Jim, the jardiniere you found was made by the Robinson Ransbottom Pottery Company (RRPCo), from Roseville, Ohio. RRPCo, founded around 1900, was a competitor to McCoy and Brush, but unlike those other two companies they are still around today. I was pretty sure they had a Website at one time, but when I tried to go there now it seems that they have let their domain lapse. RRPCo is often mis-marked in antique malls as McCoy or as Roseville (a less utilitarian, more refined and expensive pottery) because they were made in the same city. The larger jardinieres may be marked "RRPCo Roseville, OH" but the smaller ones usually are not.

I am unsure of the date of the piece you have (I have three like it), but it is older, and that pattern was made in several different sizes. I know it's in one of my pottery books but I haven't unpacked them yet (correction -- I haven't found them yet!). Depending on where you are in the country, I would expect to see your size jardiniere in an antique mall anywhere from $12-25. It's a great piece!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

So Pitiful

Casper gets really freaked out in the car. So much so that we had all three cats sedated before the big drive to St. Louis (11.5 hours). The other two floated through the ride, with only a peep here and there. Felix seemed to enjoy the drugs, while Sienna would only meow when she heard Casper (her son) cry.

Casper meowed almost the entire way. It's not a polite meow like his mother, but a screeching, sharp, persistent meow that makes it sound as though he is being tortured by Satan himself. The meows per hour only slowed down for a couple of hours (yeah, even the cats thought the tollway in Oklahoma is a boring drive!) but other than that, it was a traumatic experience for poor Casper. Instead of getting sleepy, he got even more panicky, trying to claw and bite his way out of the carrier. His paws were bloody by the time we arrived.

We've been keeping an eye on him since then, and yesterday he started favoring one paw over the other. Well, one of the claws -- well, actually the space where the claw used to be, since he pulled it out -- got infected. We went to the vet today so now Casper sports a big red bandage.

If that isn't bad enough, Felix has been following him around everywhere he goes. I don't know if he thinks Casper has a shiny new red mousie, or if he is trying to kick him while he's down: I'd like to think Felix isn't that big of a bully. I closed Casper in a room by himself for a few hours just so he could take a nap in peace.

Assuming Casper doesn't chew off the bandage before then, we are supposed to leave it on for three days. After the bandage comes off we'll have to soak his paw in antiseptic once or twice a day. Between the bandage and the scabs on his nose (abraded from his attempts to force his face through the door on the carrier during the trip), he sure looks pitiful.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Some of My Best Friends are the Blues

Doug took me to a place called Finale Friday night. We saw jazz singer Karyn Allyson. Doug knows I'm not a big fan of jazz (I don't care for the randomness when they get carried away, and I'm a lyrics junky anyway), but he figured a vocalist would be a pretty safe choice. He was right: she was fantastic! Amazing how much musical talent has come from the midwest. Karrin is from Kansas City, and went to school at University of Nebraska. Her voice is simply amazing.

Her drummer was also from KC: he was fun to watch: one of the things I do appreciate about jazz musicians is how much they pay attention to the other musicians they share the stage with. Unlike rock, where everyone seems to be vying for the spotlight, jazz musicians seem to exemplify everything we learned -- or were supposed to learn -- in kindergarten: listen politely to others, wait your turn, don't be a show-off... I'm terrible with names and will have to ask Doug if he remembers, because they were all really good.

The bassist looked about as serious as can be, but of course he was great. I think he's another Kansas City guy. The pianist -- wow! He was a local guy from St. Louis. The man sitting next to us said he's an instructor (or maybe department head, the brandy made it hard to concentrate) at one of the schools, and his wife sings as well as he plays the piano.

If you live under a rock like me, and haven't heard of Karrin, check out some of here music at her Website. Her new disc won't be out till February or March, but I'm looking forward to it... she'll be covering tunes from the likes of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Cat Stevens. My favorite of the show was her cover of the late Shirley Horn's "Some of My Best Friends are the Blues," but I haven't been able to find a sample of her singing that one online.

Perhaps the best part of all this: Finale is about a 5-minute drive from our house, parking is close and free, the venue is small with table seating, waitresses will serve you food and/or drinks throughout, and the tickets were $20. Contrast that with the last concert we saw at the Nokia theater in Grand Prairie... 30-minute drive to nowhere, $15 to park even though the parking lot is only for that venue and there's nothing else around for miles (what a rip-off), if you want any refreshements you have to wait till intermission and get them yourself, and tickets were about 3 times more expensive.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Stuff that works, stuff that doesn't

We went to the big blue box store the other night for a few things... whenever you move into a new place (new to us, anyway) there are always a bazillion things you need from the big blue or orange boxes. The shower in the master bath was draining very slowly. So slowly that by the end of my shower I was standing in water midway up to my shins. We picked up a bottle of some really nasty stuff whose brand name implies that instead of paying some guy $75/hour to unclog your drain, you can essentially get this highly-paid guy in a bottle, pour him down the slow drain, and watch as the problem disappears virtually in front of your eyes (at least, that's what the commercials have led me to believe).

Next to the bottles of nasty stuff was another product called "ZIP-IT." This wasn't a bottle of nasty stuff, rather a narrow piece of plastic about two feet long, with little sharp fins all along the length. Since I have tree-hugging tendencies, I bought that too: it was only a few dollars, figured it was worth a shot to get something that could unclog a drain that was easy to use and not a nasty chemical.

Like a dufus, I tried the chemical first. I didn't really believe the plastic would work too well, and I was influenced by all those tv commercials that show the clog disappearing as the chemicals work their magic. The instructions said to pour it down the drain, wait an hour, then flush with hot water. Well, I did that, and imagine my disappointment when I turned on the hot water and the tub began to fill with a nice combination of hot water and chemical. I let it drain and tried again. Same issue. Now not only did I have an extremely slow-draining shower, but it was rendered unusable because I am reluctant to stand in ankle-deep drain cleaner, even if it is watered down. Oh well, what should I expect from a company who can't spell "plumber" correctly?

After letting the tub drain again, I tried the ZIP-IT. After the first pull, it became obvious to me that the previous inhabitant of this house was a Wookie. A Wookie with alopecia areata. Perhaps even a Wookie with alopecia areata who blew his nose with tissue while in the shower. And it was obvious that the bottle of stuff was powerless to dissolve hair. Not only couldn't it dissove hair, but it couldn't dissolve tissue! How hard can that be? Anyway, after a couple more pulls, I had enough hair in the wastebasket to build a scale-model sasquatch, and the drain was flowing freely.

If you are a tree-hugger and have tried other tree-hugging solutions to a clogged drain, like vinegar and baking soda which makes a neato fizzy volcano effect (remember your grade-school science projects) but does pretty much nothing else, take heart. Try that ZIP-IT thing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Unidentified Elephant, Identified

A visitor named Max was able to identify one of my unidentified pieces!

Dear Angie,
The yellow elephant planter on your "Unidentified" page of the Junkey Monkey site is Referenced in Mark Gonzalez's book Collecting Fiesta, Lu-Ruay and Other Colorware on page 163 as being from the Sevilla line by the Cronin China Company. He states that it measures 3 1/2 inches tall and 5 inches long and is found in a yellow or white glaze. His reference is a 1940 G Sommers wholesale catalog.

Thanks Max!

Using Collectible Pottery for Food?

I originally started this blog as part of my pottery Website, but this move has been all-consuming of late. Well, it's about time I write something about pottery, and I received this letter from Jim that will let me do just that:

Morning,my friend !

I have a question from a customer that I need to answer.They wanted to know if a Brush vase I have up on eBay is safe to use as a Salsa (or dip) bowl.It is an older - mold J7- one and is glazed inside and out. Do you have any idea as to how safe it is for that?
Thanks for your time !!

Jim, Unless the piece was made specifically for that purpose, I would not use it in direct contact with food. If a food-safe container can be found to fit inside the piece, it can still be used as a decorative outer layer.

Some of the older glazes used lead, which would rule out any food contact. Even if lead was not used, one can't really be sure what might have come into contact with pottery pieces when you buy them second-hand. If harsh cleansers or bleach have been used on the pieces (I use Lime Away to get the crusty salts off of pottery that has been used for plants), and they have any crazing or chips, it is possible that the chemicals have soaked into the exposed pottery and could leach out later.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

If you will

I'm not exactly the language police, but there's another phrase that bugs me: "if you will."

I can understand it in the context of "Please hand me that box, if you will" because I'd interpret it as "if you don't mind." Not that it's necessary, but at least it seems to fit.

However, the traffic guys on Fox 4 pepper each report with that phrase in ways that I don't understand. "Traffic is unwinding, if you will." Like anyone would mind having traffic unwind? "There's a backup north of downtown along I35W, if you will." Um, if I will what??

Chip Waggoner has been using this phrase for years, and now Todd Carruth uses it as well. Don't get me wrong: both men are adorable. I just wish they'd stop saying that, if you will.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Jen is Evil (I Wasn't Using That Artery, Anyway)

I have been raving about the tiny little White Castle cheeseburgers that my husband brings back from St. Louis. I don't even know if they objectively taste as good as I think they do: Intertwined with the steamy little buns infused with the flavors of beef and the tiny little onion pieces are the memories of going to White Castle in Aurora (IL) when I was in 3rd grade, and the college road trips from West Lafayette to Indianapolis late at night, parking at the airport to eat the tiny burgers and watch the planes take off.

So Jen has to send me this link: White Castle Recipes. It wouldn't be so bad if the "Morning Crave" didn't sound so very very good to me: this will probably be the first recipe to dirty our new kitchen when I arrive next weekend (assuming I can find my dishes).