30 November 2012

We're Having an Antiques Sale!

We’re having a Sale! 
This is a big deal for us, because it’s our first ever sale.  Our pricing philosophy (go straight to the bottom line and have a lot of turn-over rather than the best possible profit) has served us well for the last 25 years.  We have happy customers who come back, and we get to go to Europe twice a year, so this approach works for everyone.  So yes, this Sale is going to cost us money.  But what the heck, it’s only for a short time and it’s Christmas and it’s a good way to market the Website.  Can’t say we’ll do it again any time soon, but meanwhile lots of things on the Website are now being offered at a 20% discount so feel free to have a look.

The sale only applies to the identified items on the Website, even if they are also currently in the shop.  To get the 20% discount you need to contact us (phone, email or enquiry form – all shown on the Contact Us page on the Website) because this is a Website Sale.  Then you can collect the item in person if you like, or we can post it to you.
   A vintage Stratton compact
on the Website this week
A vintage Kigu compact
on the Website this week

 Apart from our Sale, the news this week is that it should only be a few days until the ship with our new stock docks in Brisbane, and we can’t wait.  Meanwhile, we’re still putting out nice pieces of jewellery and good vintage images, but we’ll be doing that for some time to come.  We visited an upmarket kitchenware shop in Noosa this week to look at their copper pots and pans, and ha! they were tinny, light-weight and hideously expensive.  Vintage, baby, it’s the only way.  How fortuitous that we have a rather large selection arriving into the country real soon.
Caleb & Calypso hanging out together
We went to the movies this week to see the new James Bond movie and I must say he had more fun at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul than we did.  Daniel Craig is my favourite Bond, followed by Sean Connery.  For some years we’ve only seen movies on planes to and from Europe, so it was good to see one on a big screen and in a comfy seat and it re-enthused us for the whole movie-going experience.  I think we might go again next week.  I fancy seeing Argo, which seems interesting seeing how it’s based on a true story, and of course The Hobbit is a given as soon as it’s released.
Caleb just hanging out
During the time waiting for the new stock to arrive I’ve been concentrating on a bit of moggie instruction.  Both Calypso and Caleb’s training has been going well, and now they both immediately respond to the commands of Sit, Wait (until they can take the food), Okay (that they can take the food) and Hold My Hand – the cat equivalent of Shake Hands I suppose.  

Calypso has also mastered High 5 and is currently working on Lay Down.  Her and Caleb’s Lay Down are both pretty sucky, more like crouches, but they’ve both got the idea and will master it as we practice a bit more.  Klaatu and Mischka are the total stars when it comes to responding to commands, and they both also undertake spectacular leaps to snag tiny pieces of dry catfood out of the air when I throw them.  Artemis is not one bit food oriented and will do nothing more than Sit, Wait and Okay (under sufferance).  The training of all the moggies is fun for all of us, plus a good bonding exercise. 

Random picture of Calypso because she's beautiful - it is the lot of the
Super Model to be gawked at and photographed nonstop

Hopefully, next Blog I shall be able to give a date for Unpack Day for the new stock but in the meantime don’t forget to have a look at our Sale.

22 November 2012

You Bubble-Headed Booby!

Last week was excellent for sales, but this week has started slowly so Fran (the so-called nurse who has no sympathy when I wound myself) and I spent some time amusing ourselves by nominating favourite characters in 1960s TV shows.  The constraint was that they had to be vintage shows, because we’re in a vintage shop so our discussion was somehow, however remotely, linked to work.

KAOS even had better work
T-shirts than Control, though
Control had way cooler cars
What does it say about me that I mostly favour the baddies?  That was a rhetorical question, by-the-way, so you can jolly well keep your opinions to yourselves. 

So of the shows I remember, this who I liked best:
Lost in Space:  Dr Smith - source of the most excellent quote that constitutes this Blog's title.  I also like Oh the pain, the pain, which I often quote to Doug with no effect at all other than eye rolling.  I also learned from Dr Smith how to steal cake without being caught.  Whoever said these shows weren't educational?
Get Smart:  Sigfried

Bewitched:  Endora

HR Pufnstuf:  Witchiepoo

The Lone Ranger:  All enemy Indians

Mr Ed:  The Horse

Hogan’s Heros: Colonel Klink and Schultz

I Dream of Jeannie:  Jeannie’s evil cousin  - name escapes me

The Man from UNCLE:  Illya Kuryakin - technically a goodie, but Russian and therefore strange and exotic back then

 Star Trek (original):  Any alien trying to kill Captain Kirk - never liked Captain Kirk

Rocky & Bullwinkle:  Boris Badenov & Natasha Fatale - but mostly Natasha                                  

How could you not favour Witchiepoo over that bunch
of insipid Goodies?  Pufnstuf was clearly a bloke in a
suit, the flute was fake & didn't you just want to
strangle that stupid boy?  At least Witchiepoo was real. 
She was! 
The Flying Nun: Sister
Bertrille - but only cause
she could fly
Batman: Batman - but
only cause his punches
came with captions -
Wham! Pow! Kersplatt!

The Brady Bunch:   None
of them!  Hated them all. 
Maybe  the dog was
okay. Was there a dog?

Thunderbirds: Again, none of them.  Silly show.

Dr Who:  I know this is considered sacrilege by many, but I
hated all Drs Who until the more recent few in the modern
series, which I do enjoy and yay for once I like the Good
Daktari:   Clarence the cross-eyed lion - not a bad guy as
such, but he could eat you and therefore warrants Most
Favourite status.

I’m sure baddies abound in more recent TV series, just as
I’m sure I’m on their side too, but this was an exercise
on vintage shows.  Have I missed any good ones?

One of my current favourite brooches -
a spotted cat! French Modernist, c1930
In the shop the new things this week are really good vintage French costume jewellery and for the first time we’re offering the vintage French images unframed.  They’ve been offered unframed on the website for some time, so I figured that I might as well do the same in the shop.  They’re much cheaper to post and can be carried in luggage unframed, so a number of visitors have asked for them unframed and now I’m obliging.  Of course more people asked about the nice red wooden crate I put them in than the pictures themselves, but the crate is from my own kitchen (couldn’t find anything suitable among the current stock) and not for sale.  Still, I sold a few unframed images, so that was a good start.
Though it is excellent, you can't have the
red crate.  I have nice French wooden
bottle crates in the shop that you
can have.
Artemis is shop manager today, to give her a bit of extra exposure to strangers because we’ve noticed that she’s getting a bit shy when visitors come to our house.  Caleb was in the chair yesterday and it will be Calypso tomorrow and Saturday because we’re putting a bit more time into the manners of the spotted cats and that’s best done in the shop where they get one-on-one interaction with me. 

We’ve changed the moggies' shop treats from raw beef to raw chicken at the advice of our vet, and boy do they gobble it up. With a big full belly Caleb’s been totally living up to his secret nickname (Sausage) and after having a good play and a good meal he’s more than ready to settle down for a good snooze. And with none of his normal nonstop wriggling he provided visitors with excellent photo opportunities and was much admired. He’s so well behaved when he’s unconscious.
Artemis is totally harassing me for more chicken as I type, but her little belly will only hold so much before she projectile vomits. I know this from harsh experience. She is swearing to me that she’s hungry but she’s had plenty and some lessons you don’t need reinforced.
You want me out of the chair? Give me chicken.

Listen to me, you are under my power .... chicken, chicken, CHICKEN!



16 November 2012

Be Completely Criminal & Create Chaos – The Pussycat Credo

Caleb’s crime spree is continuing. This week Doug caught him trying to make off with the car keys. What fun that would have been, not being able to get to work because the cat stole my car keys – and I don’t even have an employer I can try out that excuse on.

Me, a Thief?  How could you believe such a thing?
Caleb’s been amazingly well behaved in the shop this week – suspiciously well behaved, to the point that I was beginning to think that he might be sick. He has a scraped and swollen chin at the moment, having undertaken a spectacular face-plant while chasing Artemis around the verandah, and I thought maybe it had become infected and made him ill. But no, our little boy is just growing up and learning good behaviour in the shop. Seeing how this is what I’ve been aiming for by bringing him in so often I shouldn’t be surprised, but he continues to be a ratbag at home so it’s good that he’s learning to compartmentalize and be well behaved in the shop.

Even at night Calypso
glows and is gorgeous.
She definitely glows in the sunlight.
Calypso is supposed to be Shop Manager today but it's Caleb again because he's enjoying it so much and being a good boy to boot. Mischka was in the chair yesterday and was in total disgrace.  She took a flying leap onto my desk, skid across it, crashed into a glass bowl I had a few hundred bakelite buttons in, and it went flying and smashed into a thousand pieces.  She had been playing up all day, demanding to be the centre of attention when I had a lot of customers to deal with, almost killing several people by wrapping her leash about their legs, but let me tell you after the bowl broke she hot-footed it to my chair, where she sat up straight and was very quiet and well behaved while the mess was cleaned up.  Then she snoozed away the afternoon on my lap, looking the picture of innocence. Ha!
Sure she looks innocent now, but Mischka entirely lived up to her sign
(Beware of the Naughty Cat) during her shift as Shop Manager.

In terms of stock, we are looking forward to the arrival of our new consignment, which so far is scheduled to arrive in Australia on 3 December. Then we have the usual song and dance with Customs and Quarantine, but hopefully we’ll be having Unpack Day by mid-December. Meanwhile, we have continued the archaeological dig of our garage and have come up with three vintage wash boards that we hadn’t even unwrapped from a few trips ago. Lots of people still use wash boards for hand-washing, particularly lingerie, so they always sell well and I can’t believe we forgot about them for so long. Though actually, when I look at the layer upon layer upon layer of our garage, I can entirely see how that happened.
Random picture of stock I:
cute tiny wooden elephant
Random picture of stock II:
French glass vase & blue bakelite Art Deco lamp
I'm always cautious digging about in the garage because we know that various snakes live there, although I’m yet to see the large python that Doug assures me is in residence.  He found a large snake skin at our carport this week, and brought it up to show to the moggies, who went nuts over it.  Caleb was practically inhaling it he was sniffing so hard, and naturally he tried to grab it and run off because he’s not big into sharing. But I have confiscated the skin and shall ration it out for special treats.  We have taken considerable steps to ensure that the cats don’t have direct contact with snakes, but they are very interested in them and investigating the occasional skin is a treat.

Poison bottles in the shop.  The big clear
one has POISON in raised script near the neck
You know I always tell you about Strange People who come into the shop, and this week’s candidate is a man who looked at a very large clear glass poison bottle.  It clearly has the word POISON in raised script in the glass.  Why does it say ‘Poison’? he asked.  I hesitated, thinking that this must be a devilish clever trick question that I was about to get wrong, but seeing how I couldn’t determine the trick I was obliged to answer.  Er, because it had poison in it, I said.  Are you sure? he asked.  Pretty sure, I replied.  He shook his head and frowned and Hmmmed in a I’m-not-so-sure manner, and off he went.  But puhlease!  It definitely had poison in it.  Put it this way – I won’t be serving lemonade out of it any time soon.  Except to my enemies.

Artemis, Trapeze Artiste Extraordinaire,
constantly seeks out every little bit of extra height she can find.

08 November 2012

Life's a Beach

Noosa Main Beach on a Thursday morning
Opposite end of the beach, with a storm approaching
Isn’t it nice to start the day with a walk along the beach?  Doug calls our walks Strategic Planning Conferences, because we do a lot of walking and a lot of talking about everything in general but often the business in particular.  Today the weather was incredibly variable, but we only got a bit wet.  My hair is still quite straight from the industrial strength straightening I had done the last time we passed through Singapore, so I’m still largely immune to the frizzy hair that rain and high humidity normally gives me. 
Lid of a large vintage Japanese themed
Cadbury's tin I bought at the Fair    
This week we visited a local Antiques Fair, which is one we are considering taking a stand at after we move on from the shop.  OMG you should have seen the prices!  I alternated between being outraged (as a potential buyer) and entirely encouraged (as a potential seller).  We could shut the shop right now and not change our prices and still have the best stand at the Fair and by far the best prices.  And we’re a retail shop, with rent and insurance and GST and business tax and utilities, etc, etc, versus $140 for taking a stand at the Fair.  Once we don’t have all the expenses that come with a shop our already low prices can come down even further, so we shall be unbeatable. 
This tin is nice and looks
vintage but is not really old
For this visit all I walked away with was two nice tins, one fairly new and one vintage.  It would be an utter disaster if I visited an Antiques Fair in England or France and only found two things that were worth buying and affordable.  And the new tin was only worth it because it was attractive, not because it was remotely antique – even though it was being offered at an Antiques Fair.  The lady tried to convince me that it is old, but it so isn’t.  It’s totally Buyer Beware when you buy at these venues.

I was spitting that I forgot to bring my camera with me because Gordon Brown (from the Australian antiques show The Collectors) was on hand to provide valuations.  And what a fascinating exercise that appeared to be.  I wasn’t able to watch for long because we did actually have a shop to open, but I did get to see his reactions to two pieces.
A hugely nicer Victorian ceramic salad bowl
than the one poor Gordon had to evaluate
The first was a Victorian ceramic salad bowl.  I’ve seen an awful lot of these bowls and currently have a lovely one on offer in the shop, but the lady at the Fair dragged out the ugliest I’ve ever seen.  It was Wedgwood, and that was its only good feature – its name.  As for the rest, it had three bulbous claw & ball feet in gold and two different designs on the body that in no way complimented each other.  It was seriously hideous.
Calypso spots a lizard, but Caleb is just chilling.
But our Gordon has learned the Art of Diplomacy:  Mmmm, interesting, he said. Noice, different, unusual I whispered to the woman standing next to me, which made her cackle very loudly and everyone turned to look at us.  We smiled innocent smiles back at them until Gordon returned to his discussion of a piece that was surely made by Wedgwood for people to give as gifts to their enemies when gift giving was unavoidable.
Artemis spots the lizard, but Caleb is just chilling
The second piece was a Chinese porcelain mug with a removable tea strainer and a lid.  The lady took the lid out first, and even at my distance I could immediately see that it was reproduction.  And up close, Gordon could clearly see that it was.  Mmmm, he said again.  He told her he was sorry but it was new, but she didn’t want to accept that because of the chop (signature in Chinese) on the bottom.  And yet it was new and he could not say otherwise.  She grimaced at him – I think she was trying to smile – and told him that it was good to know the truth, but given her reaction I wondered how much she had paid for it.

Even Klaatu comes to look at the lizard,
but Mr Oblivious keeps chilling
I was fascinated by these exchanges and wanted to stay for longer, but got dragged off by Doug so I could go and open the shop.  We popped home to pick up Caleb, who we brought in because I had been emailed by people who had read the Blog and asked to meet Caleb the Klepto Kitten.  Oh boy, what a commotion he caused!  A little bit of thievery has turned him into quite the celebrity.  Helped by how beautiful and sweet natured he is, of course.  He is well on his way to joining Calypso as the most photographed thing in Eumundi, and he’s just learning how to pose nicely for people so that went down very well with all of his admirers. 
Kim from Catwalk Bengals (Calypso & Caleb’s breeder) informs me that his grandmoggie was also a thief in her youth, with a particular preference for sink plugs.  So when you consider nature versus nurture, it’s not that he’s a poorly brought up pussycat at all – it’s an inherited trait – he’s Klepto by nature!

I have recommenced work on the website, with new jewellery and images being added this week.  We bought a whole lot of jewellery, vintage French pictures and antique English botanical images on this trip, so I’ll be adding new things for some time to come.
No matter how high your vantage point is, the view is better from just a little bit higher.

01 November 2012

Mysticism & the 24th Century

We’re very much enjoying being back home and have spent a few quiet weeks, catching up on some reading and trying to catch up with all the TV shows our house sitters recorded for us.  Lots to go, but now it’s mostly Star Trek so I shall settle in for a Trek-a-thon real soon.  I’m currently finishing up a book on the role of the Hare in the mythologies of different cultures around the world, and although it is one of my favourite animals I must say I am still amazed at how prevalent this animal is in so many creation stories.  The ancient Egyptians even had a hieroglyph that featured a hare, which I have never noticed at any of the major sites around Egypt or the British Museum (home of so, so many Egyptian antiquities), the Louvre or even the Cairo Museum.  But now I will make a point of specially looking the next time I visit one of these sites.

I already knew from my studies in anthropology of the basic link that many cultures make between hares, the moon and women (fertility symbols, blah, blah), but now I wish I had further investigated this at uni because there are all sorts of inter-cultural connections and from them tangents that might have made for an interesting thesis.  And it has also reminded me that some years ago I bought two heavy French glass tiles featuring a hare and the moon, which I instantly loved and bought one to keep and the other to sell.  But then they disappeared into the swirling vortex that is our garage, so I must make the effort to dig them out soon.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying the juxtaposition of Star Trek on TV with ancient mythologies in my reading.

I’ve been phaffing about in the shop, putting out a few new bits and bobs. Mostly it’s been French costume jewellery (which I will also start listing on the website in the next day or two). Today I have also started framing the owl and falcon antique lithographs I bought in England, and I must say they look very elegant and will be beautiful on the wall of the shop. And now that we’ve started to dig through the garage and find things from previous trips that had been overlooked we found a couple of nice wooden stools and a lovely copper covered Art Nouveau box, so they have come out this week and are looking all nice and glowing after being thoroughly waxed.


I didn’t get a lot of vintage French linen on our trip, maybe ten pieces, because there have been too many articles in interiors magazines about how fabo vintage French linen is, and as a result the price has gone up and stayed up.  The days of my bringing home 40 or 50 pieces per trip are now a distant, fond memory I’m afraid and I was lucky to get what I did.  I burned my hand quite badly (although the heartless Fran, a so-called nurse, tells me it’s only superficial) in getting the linen nicely ironed for presentation in the shop, so I expect all visitors to exclaim loudly at how wonderful it looks.

One mystery we brought back is a bakelite set of dominos in a white bakelite box.  I know from the materials used that it dates to about 1930, and I know that the word on the lid almost certainly says ‘Dominos’.  But I have googled 25 languages and still have no idea what language we’re dealing with.  So if anyone knows, could you let me know?  Otherwise I shall die wondering.

If you let me share the
cardboard box I promise
to be good.

Actually that was a lie.

 Because I want the box
for my own self.
The moggies have now reconciled themselves to the whole concept of Rules again, and have settled down nicely.  Except for Caleb, who is only increasing his Klepto-Kitten tendencies, and we now have no plugs left for the kitchen sink.  We’ve looked everywhere for his stash, but so far no luck.  On the occasions I have caught him red-pawed in an act of thievery he realises pretty quickly that the jig is up and he stops all pretence of innocence and just grabs his loot and runs.  Then we have a hot pursuit around the house, which I always win, but that’s only if I catch him in the act.  If he gets away unobserved, then good luck finding what he’s done with his ill-gotten gains. 
Caleb lost his baby fangs this morning – I knew he was teething and have been watching the development of his canines, so now he’s officially a Big Boy with Big Bengal teeth.  I expect I’ll find his baby fangs imbedded in a plug when one day I stumble across his hiding place.

We had an alarming moment this morning, when we took the cats for a walk but it was quite hot so everyone stopped to recline for a while in a shady spot.  And a passing brown snake decided it would like to join us in the shady spot and made a bee-line for us, except that Mischka spotted it and leapt for it.  Fortunately, Doug saw what was happening and pulled hard on her leash, so she ended up being yanked backwards while mid-leap towards the snake, but better that than her actually catching it.  It was all over very quickly, with the snake making off at high speed and we all decided it was just as shady on the verandah, thank you, where passing critters can’t get you.

The Winner.  Ratbaggery always prevails.