Thursday, July 24, 2014


The conceptual idea for this post was inspired attending a cousins reunion at my cousin Barbara's weekend shore home in Long Beach Island, N.J. on June 29th. A party with first, second and third cousins on my Dad's side, some I hadn't seen for nearly 30 years. I was amazed how quickly memories came back and the span of years instantly bridged.

John and I started collecting vintage cameras back in the 80's. I believe the simple activity and enjoyment taking photographs capture moments to become our lasting memories we all eventually share.

We don't remember days, we remember moments.
~Cesare Pavese~

All but 3 of our 28 vintage camera's are displayed along side personal treasures in our bedroom on a leaning Black vintage (from the early 80's) Terence Conran designed shelf. Purchased new at Conran's. The British store that once sold in the U.S. 3 folding cameras are hung on our hall stairwell wall. I showed a photo of them on an earlier post, now I will show you close ups of them. 

Love this Kodak, next to it hangs an actual photo taken of the Eiffel Tower back in the 50's. Someone's lasting memory we like and display.

A wonderful vintage green Koda 37610 by Eastman Kodak Co. hangs in the middle,

An Agfa folding camera. Now back to the leaning shelf in our bedroom for the other 25 camera's.

The top shelf has one of my favorites displayed. The Ciro Flex. It is a twin reflex camera made in Ohio during the late 1940's manufactured until the early 1950's. When John and I first started collecting camera's in the early 80's I would construct a scenario around each one. OK, over active imagination, trust me, I know, I agree. Often surprisingly film was left in the camera and we would develop it and see what pictures were taken by the original owner. But if not, I would just make up my own story about the owners, taking honeymoon and vacation pictures, babies first steps, Christmas Day ... 

We'd seek sometimes hard to find film to purchase and experiment with the cameras. WELL, that fizzled out when we dropped off our film at a local 1 hour processing lab and somehow they switched customer photos. We received photographs back that we wish we could forget ... Nasty images burned right into our Retina's! Don't ask, it was ugly! Fused into our minds eye. We never did receive our photos. That old clique of "Haste makes waste" is true.

The folding camera on the left is a Leiss Ikon, another wonderful camera worth noting.

Every man's memory is his private literature.
~Aldous Huxley~

My favorite is the Diana -F, an authentic camera (love the blue) from the 60's into 70's made in Hong Kong. This camera has become quite a cult collectible item. In the 1990's Lomography in Austria bought the rights to Diana -F camera's. Now there is even an app to take photos in the Lomography style, available for the iPhone.

Close up of the Diana -F, of all our cameras she is my favorite. 

Argus - Seventy Five is a little Bakelite beauty produced from 1949 - 1964, it takes 620 film.

2nd shelf down I want to point out the needle felted mouse in a Mickey Mouse costume.
I asked Penny White from Angelsdoor blog to create him recently in memory of my brother Michael. Mike was a Doctor with many interesting hobbies, one of his favorites besides Ham Radio was photography. He traveled to many remote areas, the Galápagos Islands, Bird-Watching in Peru. But of all the vacations he went on he was happiest at DisneyWorld in Orlando Florida.  As a kid I would call him Mickey Mouse. Singing M-I-C (see you soon) K-E-Y (why because I love you) M-O-U-S-E.

Three cameras displayed were gifts from my brother to help build our collection. All Brownie box.

Moviematic motion picture camera, ours is circa 1937 made in New York City. It produces 16 mm movies, snapshots and filmbook exposures and is wound with a key. Another camera I treasure. I can certainly make up lots of scenarios with this camera.

How sweet is my Mickey Mouse, Penny has magical fingers felting wool into cherished creations.

A close up of the Moviematic, ours is in excellent condition. Found at a flea market on a Sunday afternoon by John.

Moving down to the third shelf ... 

The photos are John's graduation and baby pictures.

I love Tin Tin and snowy, Plush gifts from John. 

Yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.
~Khalil Gilbran~

5th shelf, we have 4 matching vintage suit-cases, we've displayed 2 on the shelf. I use them to store stuff in, stuff I just can't part with. Remember the George Carlin comedy routine about stuff? That was my all time favorite of his.

In February my cousin Barbara and I were talking about Childhood memories when my Dad and his two brothers (Uncle Stanley and Bruno) on Sunday's would drive to Kingswood, NJ to help out at our grandparents commercial chicken farm. 

Sure we had chores to do, but we had fun. Grand mom along with our Mothers helping would cook a huge dinner, of course there was Chicken served. My memories of my Grandfather are faint, I remember he walked with a cane. He always made me smile and giggle, he said he liked seeing my dimples. It would take nearly a decade to understand what he meant and said when I smiled ... "A smile isn't a smile unless it is felt". He would take my brother Mike, I and cousins over to the closet in the hall off the kitchen. A floral barkcloth curtain hung from a rod and inside my Grandfather would show us the Franks Wishniak black cherry soda bought for us kids.  I remember lots of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer also in the closet! I thought the presentation of the soda and beer every Sunday was theatrical excitement. On the farms property close to the house grew a mature black cherry tree. Confession, I have an obsession with cherries. In the heat of August Grandpa would lift me up in the tree. There I'd eat to my hearts content. There were Raspberry bushes growing in the back of the farmhouse. I remember being handed a bowl to pick raspberries for dessert after dinner, but honestly I ate more than I put into the bowl. Another of my favorite fruits.

Our Dad's Father died when I was 5. Back in the winter at a party Barbara was talking with cousin Stanley about our Grandparents. Stanley is a few months younger than I. Stanley's memory of Grand Dad was of a green telephone chair in the farmhouse...

This chair!!! Barbara told Stanley she still had the chair in the basement of her parents house which has remained untouched for over a decade. The chair had moved to her parents when the Chicken farm was sold. Barbara asked me if I remembered the chair, I said ugly green vinyl? She said "Yup that's the one!" It sat near the stairs in her parents basement and we danced around it playing Beatles music on her 45 record player. My favorite Beatle was John.

Well the ugly chair after a hosing off of dirt was brought to the cousins reunion! The day was also a celebration of her weekend shore home's rebuilding, you see when hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast it caused major damage in Long Beach island. Many dumpsters still, much construction, some for sale signs dot the islands landscape. She placed ugly green in front of the garage. Such contrast to her beautifully designed and furnished shore home.

I asked Barbara why she had brought it to the shore, she replied "I'm giving it to Stanley, as his memory of our Grandfather, it should stay in the family". To which I replied laughing - Oh really, you think Stanley and Joey are going to take that into their style chic home? Sure ... Says Barbara it's his only memory of Grandpa.

When Stanley and Joey arrived I couldn't wait to tell them Barbara packed up the telephone chair, to which they replied with an "OMG - we saw it, can't miss that thing" as Stanley chuckled in disbelief, Joey, Stanley's spouse looked a tad bit in shock!

As the sun was to set within an hour, it was the perfect chance for a photo opportunity. I snapped away as Stanley had fun posing, as you can see. To tell you Stanley is the life of a party is an understatement, his wit and humor are a rare gift.

Too funny! Joey says to me, Vera you don't think he's thinking about bringing T-H-A-T thing home do you? As Stanley picks up the chair and loads it into the back seat of their car, Joey grabbed my arm, his eyes wide and Bambi like riddled with fear that made me almost pee my pants in laughter. I spoke with Stanley on Monday of this week and asked him if the ugly green made it home. Yes he said, but I put it into the garage - I'll bring it out on Halloween as a prop was his answer. As Stanley and Joey drove away with ugly green I said to my brother Kevin, we'll see that chair along side the road driving home. I was wrong!

Below Is a poem I wrote about Memories followed by my latest Ballet presentation of "By the Light of the Silvery Moon". I'll be back in August to post, unless I'm sitting in a black cherry tree making a stained mess out of myselfI' I'll bring you back to our row-house and I will share my most valued antique collection on my nightstand and give a little tour of our bedroom. John Lennon will make an appearance, oh what a tease! 


Whenever you find yourself feeling unexplained happiness in your heart, it's from a precious memory you hope will forever last.
Remembrances you subconsciously store and occasionally draw upon from the long distant and nearly forgotten past.

Thoughts can linger and imprint without any kind of acknowledgement from us while dealing and processing through a seemingly normal day,
Triggers occur sending neurons of energy, pulsating to be stored in our memory part of our Brain, because we're just hardwired that way.

Memories of both joy and sadness are received constantly and magically one billion neurons fire energy and all memories can remain.
But the unconscious emotional memories can switch off key neural circuits and that explains the ability to suppress traumatic memories in our brain.

I'm fascinated by the ability of our mind, to be able to recall in a split second a stored memory or thought.
I've observed the frustration of faded memories, only to realize for some it's a battle daily fought.

Precious memories we hold dear without doubt are meant to be expressed and kept alive in stories we share,
And when loss occurs as it always does in the circle of life, you will be able to share your remembrances with an heir.

It is said our lives are an never ending continual story, stored in our memories so learn to tell it's stories well,
For shared stories are emotionally relived where precious memories in our mind will always dwell.

© Vera

My French Opera/Ballet theatre purchased from Doré Callaway of Burlap Luxe's etsy store sits on my dining room credenza. It is staged with a Ballet production every season. This year it is featuring an additional Summer ballet presentation. I placed it there to entertain guests like a dinner theatre production, Ha, Ha. But what is a constant is there are always mice dancing on the stage, custom designed by Penny White of Angelsdoor blog. Penny designs needled felted mice for me. Which are always named in memory of someone I love. Some might say ... But a mouse? Why yes, of course a mouse ... mice are beloved by me! 

Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.
~Marcus Tullius Cicero~

The 27th of July is my parents wedding anniversary and memories of them, their lives, their love, inspired me to creativity stage a tribute in honor of them. I grew up with parents deeply in love, romantic and freely expressing their affection. Yup, I one of those kisses and hugs kind of girls.

Dad had a wonderful voice, a crooner, as he would joyfully burst out in song. Singing Doris Day Lyrics "By the Light of the Silvery Moon". Sweeping Mom into his arms as he glided her across the floor. 

I made the 2 inch moon out of styrofoam, scattered rhinestones on the floor for bling. On a clear acetate we type set and printed in black ink placed on the back wall with the chorus of "By the Light of the Silvery Moon". Vintage silver tinsel garland adds shimmer. The 3x3 miniature painting "Silver Moonlight" was painted by Cheryl Bain. You can find her art in her etsy store, VioletHouseCrafts. The easel came with the art. The camera didn't catch the silver metallic paint highlights and the light dusting of glitter on it.

Fond memory brings the light of other days around me.
~Thomas Moore-

I've always felt my parents love and show of affection was amazing, Mom often would ask Dad to dress in colors to compliment her outfit.  Mom was quite a Fashionista. Memories flood my head today and emotions are accented by tears as I write ...

After years of waiting, they are reunited in the celestial heavens above. Hand in hand they dance under the glorious moonlight, kissed by the stars in external love.


All photos taken by me - Vera

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Our French Bastille weekend in Washington D.C.

This past weekend we were down in Washington D.C. On Saturday we displayed our 1972 DS Pallas Citroën at the Hillwood estate museum and gardens for the French Festival. The festival is presented in partnership with Alliance Francaise de Washington. Held at the mansion of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Our friend Judy who coordinates with the museum and Alliance Francaise a display of Citroën's that are part of the celebration. For 3 years John and I have been asked to display and join in by Judy, this was our first year we were able to attend. On Saturday the temps reached 93 and the humidity seemed to be 1000%! We spent the day with friends and by the time my touring the museum and gardens was completed I discovered appreciation in the grace of aging.

Marjorie Merriweather Post was a leading American socialite and founder of General Foods, Inc.
Heiress to Father C.W. Post and Mother Ella Letina Merriweather she inherited The Postum Cereal company that became General Foods, Inc.  Born on March 15th 1887 died on September 12th 1973 in Washington D.C. Living between her dash 1887-1973 Post left a legacy of a dedicated philanthropist and business woman for all. Post's first collecting passion was 18th century French decorative art.

I was intrigued that Post owned a pair of 20 carat diamond earrings which belonged to Marie Antoinette and that she donated millions of dollars to charities. The Kennedy center in D.C. received $100,000.00 from Post. She was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government. Throughout the day on Saturday I learned about this amazing woman full of grace as I leisurely spent the day with friends, exploring in the air conditioned museum and walking the gardens and observing the exhibits. 

"And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!"
~Audrey Hepburn~

A painting of Marjorie Merriweather Post in her later years. throughout Hillwood nearly on all surfaces and hanging on walls are photographs, portraits, oil painting of Post. At first glance one might almost think she was narcissistic. But quickly you understand the complexity of this socialite and her sincere gracious lifestyle. A savvy shrewd businesswoman secure in her own skin, comfortable with her maturity, glowing from within.

"The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in the woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows."
~ Audrey Hepburn ~

Post was married 4 times...
Married Edward Bennett Close in 1905 and had two daughters with him. Adelaide and Eleanor
In 1919 they divorced and Post started collecting French decorative arts.
Next married Edward F. Hutton and had their daughter actress Dina Merrill.
The marriage to Hutton ended in 1935
In 1937 - 1938 Post lived in Russia with her third husband United States Ambassador Joseph E. Davies in 1955 that marriage ended and Post purchased Hillwood in Washington D.C.
In 1958 she married Herbert May divorced him 6 years later.
In 1973 as Post's final act of philanthropy she opened her estate as a museum as a gift to the public. Living in her dash Post's profound passion for the arts grew her collections. Displayed in the mansion as when she lived there and touring the museum you are able to view everything up close. Now onto the Citroën's on display outside in the motor court.

This amazing 1950 Traction Avant 11CV Berline Legere belongs to our friend Brad. Brad, his wife and his daughter drove down from PA to display their Traction Avant which means front wheel drive.

Once upon a time this 1981 CX Pallas belonged to Princess Grace. It was in the Prince of Monaco car collection and went up for auction from Prince Rainier's Palace fleet. Our friend Brian from Washington DC owns it, nicknamed "The Princess" Such is a stunning car. Brian and his fiancé Alicia enjoy this rare beauty with history.

See the Principaute de Monaco license plate

Mon amie Judy's adorable Citroën Truckette. It is a derivative of the 2CV. Brought over from France, Judy lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

The 1972 DS Pallas belongs to John and I. Driving down from Philadelphia around Baltimore John says to me "Did you just hear a funny noise?" I said no, nothing unusual ... well notice the left front hubcap? That funny noise was our hubcap blowing off!!! Today John located 2 mint condition vintage DS hubcaps, one for replacement, one a spare. C'est la Vie, it's always one thing or another with these vintage French motor babies.

Judy, Alicia and I toured the mansion, but I will concentrate on the private areas of the house.
This is Marjorie Post's bedroom suite. Decorated in French style as the downstairs is.  We honestly lingered admiring the richness and sense of her spirit which seems to still be present in Hillwood.

As in the rest of the house exquisite chandelier's have rock crystal drops. Rock crystal is my favorite and these are magnificent. The table case is filled with around 50 items and each is made from Bloodstone, Marjorie Post's March birthstone. Aquamarine is also March's birthstone. Bloodstone is a dark green opaque quartz flecked with red, it symbolizes courage. 

Photo of Post's private sitting room. Notice the Black and White framed photo on the right, a picture of JFK and Jackie.

Off the bedroom is a silver and pale blue dressing area. My favorite section of Post's bedroom suite. Marjorie not only dressed here but also had breakfast here and conducted business in here.

This photograph of an amazing sconce is hands down my favorite lighting in the house. There are four identical sconces on the walls, the dressing area is stunning and allowed a greater understanding and appreciation of this confident woman.

Be still my heart... the next photos are displayed behind glass in her dressing area. As though  out the buildings I used my iPhone5, no flash, many photos shot behind glass ... I tried my best.

Diamonds and Pearls ... Sigh

Aquamarine - Marjorie's other March birthstone

Marjorie's private bathroom is in her bedroom suite/dressing room area.
Alicia and I commented about how the scent of powder, of talc had permeated the area, still lingering in the air ... Marjorie's essence remains if you still yourself and feel her lingering presence of elegance.

Marjorie's bathroom is small but feminine.

Perhaps it is what I feel and suspect, Marjorie's spirit is still present. I spent time observing her private area, reading encased letters to high society socialites, thank you's, invitations and photos of the events. A brilliant business woman and one of the wealthiest woman in America.
Throughout the mansion there are portraits and photos of her taken throughout her lifetime. Each displaying a woman of grace and beauty one of confidence, one truly comfortable and happy in her own skin.  Long before Botox or fillers, just natural beauty and poise.

I photographed so many rooms and French decorative items in the mansion but chose to only concentrate on the personal side of Marjorie. Believe me the Icon Room is filled with cases.
Fabergé eggs, music boxes, Fabergé clocks, all beautiful ... But it was learning about Marjorie which was my reward of the day. I have a different slant now on the aging process and I will embrace the decades of self discovery and the gentle creases of time. Truly I feel ready to embrace, to accept the process of age, oh sure I will continue using my Micro Retin - A 1% but Marjorie imprinted on my soul ... Kid you not.

Shall we look at a few photos I snapped with my phone before I got in trouble with the guard in the Cartier exhibit? Yup, you heard me right an entire exhibit in a building housed on the 25 areas of gardens. Gems and items on loan from the Smithsonian.  John and I toured this exhibit arm in arm as I dreamed of wearing such dazzling gems! 

Wish the guard hadn't caught me, as I wish I had more snaps to share.

Marjorie's dressing table grooming set. Elegant silver, Art Deco.

Coral bracelet, earrings and ring, OK I agree bad photo!

The painting has the Cartier jewelry Marjorie wore with this black velvet gown.

Emeralds, dazzling ... Sigh

Photo of the cutting garden. Throughout the 25 acres there are amazing vivid flower gardens, a puting green and garden statuary. Before we headed out Judy and I went to Marjorie's Rose garden, breathtaking beauty, lovely fragrance. Judy and I sat and chatted and reflected on the days activities.

There were continual scheduled activities. Dance and flirtation of the fan performances. Baroque Guitar, strolling Mimes, strolling Nobility of French whimsy Madame ToutseSuite and Marquis Aubergine. 

But the biggest effect the day had on me was the realization to be more mindful of aging gracefully. I felt the presence and left empowered by the inspiring woman named Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Before I take you to Le Chat Noir, I leave you with my poetry inspired by the day.

Mirror, mirror - oh dear!    

It often seems growing old in our culture is considered taboo,
but what is true is that it will certainly happen to me and you.

Slowly and softly as you go through your life year after year,
Creases of time, those tiny little laugh lines start to appear.

So do those crinkles and wrinkles have you buying lotions and potions?
Truth is, the cosmetic industry is playing off our vanity and our emotions.

Consider your face a visual time capsule of learned insight,
Embracing your radiance and wisdom is your intended birthright.

You realize your own unique beauty has always come from within,
where grace and elegance dwell in your heart and has always been.

© Vera

6 of us ate dinner at Le Chat Noir, Judy, Les, Alicia, Brian, John and I. Le Chat Noir is a French owned restaurant on 4907 Wisconsin Ave.NW. A French neighborhood restaurant & Wine lounge in Friendship Heights.

Menu of Le Chat Noir

inside Le Chat Noir

I was intrigued by these waxed and pressed real leaves spot glued to the wall.
Lower left corner I captured a smidgen of Les. 

Another photo of these leaves, you better believe I will be doing this somewhere at sometime in the near future. But with my coloration in our row-home I believe I will wait for the painted leaves of Autum. The silver wavy head belongs to hubby John.

Please join me on July 25th back at our row-home as I post a very special post about memories which will include our vintage camera collection and special tribute of a ballet presentation. I bounced that post feeling inspired to sit down and write this one.

Photo sources:
4-7 taken by hubby John

All others by me - Vera