Tiffany and Handel Lamps

In my previous life, before writing, one of my side businesses was antiques.  I had partners but my favorite and kinda specialty was glass of any type. I absolutely love glass antiques, so when I came across an article about Tiffany and Handel lamps, I knew it would be the subject of today’s blog.

The first Tiffany lamps with domed shaped stained-glass shades were made in 1895.  They became very popular and very expenses.  In December of 1980 Christie sold the “Pond Lily” created in 1903 for over Three Million Dollars.

Because of their popularity, other lamp and glass companies adapted the idea of how the Tiffany lamps were made and began producing less expensive reverse-painted glass shades colored glass and metal-trimmed shades and copies of the originals. None are as expensive as the original Tiffany lamps today, but some of the wider produced are considered important and sell for thousands of dollars.

One of the first to produce less expensive replicas was Phillip Julius Handel who made lamps in Meriden, Connecticut, from 1893 to 1933, and his reverse-pained shade lamps are now selling for upwards to $8,000.00. Almost all of his lamps are signed on the inside of the shade and on the metal lamp base. Its worth is determined by the design on the shade and the shape of the bronze base.  Recently, a Pennsylvania auction house sold a signed Handel “Elephantine Island” table lamp with a bronze base held by three winged griffins (shown to the left).  The shade is a painting of the ancient Egyptian ruins on Elephantine, a small island on the Nile. The lamp sold for over Five Thousand Dollars.

I don’t have any Tiffany lamps but love vases and other glassware and have lots of it.  My business partners where great to me because I’d buy something and then my heart wouldn’t allow me to put it on display for sale, so it’d come home with me.  Every time I go near a garage sale, I slow down but turn my head the other way as a reminder that I have way too much antique glass now.  So far it’s working!

Now I ask you, do you have a favorite item you collect?  Do you have anything special that has been handed down for generations that you want to share with us? 

To two readers who leaves a comment, I will give them

an eCopy of Out of a Texas Night.

Fall Traditions

Although the official date for the beginning of autumn is September 22nd, Americans traditionally mark the fall season from Labor Day through Thanksgiving Day in November.

I was born and raised in Texas, so my experience is based on the wild and wooly weather of the Texas Panhandle.  We can have triple digit days and snow the next.  Trust me, it’s the truth because it happened this year in late spring.  Weird but true.  We broke two weather records just last week with triple digits that went back to the 1930’s.

Now for the first thing we must do to get ready for next Monday. We’ve got to wear our patent shoes all we can because effective Labor Day they, along with our matching purses, have to go up on the shelves until Easter when they can come down for Spring.

I’m showing my age here, but although this year is different than a regular school year beginning, when I was growing up we always began in mid-September.  The reason was simple.  We had no air conditioning and had to wait until Fall set in to begin.  Now with A/C, school begins here in mid-August, under typical circumstances.

I grew up with a true Southern Grannie and I love sweet potatoes.  Any way, any how … but a Sweet Potato Pie is my favorite with real whipping cream on top.

My second favorite “turning to autumn” food is my first pot of homemade chili.  It’s always so good and easy to fix.

Centuries ago, farmers, ranchers, and other folks noticed animal behavior and habits that predicted the weather. Some of these are from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Here’s a few ol’ wives tales involving animals that I found interesting.

Expect rain when dogs eat grass, cats purr and wash themselves.  I found this interesting because my cat purrs when she’s in my lap or happy.  She washes herself continually, regardless of the season, and our dogs eat grass.  We’ve been in a drouth, so I’m thinking these aren’t indicative of rain.  Just my opinion.

Can Cows Forecast Weather?  Many weather adages involve cows because they were common animals on farms, as they are today on ranches.

  • If a cow stands with its tail to the west, the weather is said to be fair.
  • If a cow grazes with its tail to the east, the weather is likely to turn sour.
  • If the bull leads the cows to pasture, expect rain; if the cows precede the bull, the weather will be uncertain

There is some truth here. Animals graze with their tail toward the wind so that if a predator sneaks up behind them, the wind will help catch the scent of the predator and prevent an attack.  So, see there is still today some proof that animal habits tell a story. 

I selected this picture of a herd of cattle because they seem to be confused as to what is expected of them.

I’ve spent time on a couple of ranches and even worked cattle, but truthfully, I’m no cowgirl and sure don’t know anything about how cattle stand because I’ve seen them in every position … and I do mean every position. There is one thing I learned, and it truly stuck with me, when you’re working the gate while cattle are being inoculated, do not wear a white t-shirt. You’ll never get the bull…you know what… out of the it and you have to wash your hair a dozen times.

I’m truly interested in knowing what you readers who own cattle ranches have to say about the ol’ wives’ tales.

When do you consider autumn beginning? What is your favorite fall tradition?  Also, don’t forget to wear those patent shoes because you don’t have many days left.

To one lucky winner I will give you your choice of any eBook of mine

or any short story collection I’m in from Amazon.

Just a note, I found patent shoes spelled patten, patton,

and a couple of other ways, so I had to punt!

Old Wives’ Tales Around the House


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I love The Farmer’s Almanac and have both an old version and I a newer one.  I enjoy reading about old wives’ tales around the house from days gone by and wanted to share some of them with you. I took this information from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Enjoy!

  • Never give a knife as a housewarming present, or your new neighbor will become an enemy. I grew up on a version of this.  In Texas we were told never to give a knife to anybody under any circumstances; so, we always did the next thing.
  • If you give a steel blade to a friend make the recipient pay you a penny to avoid cutting the friendship
  • When you move to a new house, always enter first with a loaf of bread and a new broom. Never bring an old broom into the house.  I never heard of this and only moved twice since we married 52 years ago and I always brought my old broom.  Hum?  Fact or fiction?  We’ve had a wonderful life in both house.

  • Never walk under a ladder, which is Satan’s territory. If you do, cross your fingers or make the sign of the fig (closed fist, with thumb between index and middle fingers.)  I knew never to walk under a ladder because it’d bring you bad luck, but never knew the name for the sign of the fig, which I think we all have used at one time or another.
  • To protect your house from lightning, gather hazel tree branches on Palm Sunday and keep them in water. How many of you have a hazel tree or can even get branches?  Not in my neighborhood.
  • To banish serpents and venomous creatures from the room, scatter Solomon’s seal on the floor. I have two issues with this.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a serpent or venomous creature in our house and I sure don’t know what Solomon’s seal is.  Do any of you?
  • Never pound a nail after sundown or you will wake the tree gods. Interesting???
  • Nail an evergreen branch to new rafters to bring good luck. An empty hornets’ nest, hung high, also will bring good luck to a house of any age. Well, here in Texas, we like to hang a horseshoe over the door for good luck.
  • Never carry a hoe into the house. If you do by mistake, carry it out again, walking backward to avoid bad luck.

I thought this had a bunch a fun superstitions and old wives’ tales from around the house.  There are many more takes about the house and home, but are they fact or fiction?  Often only time will tell.

Do you have a superstition you want to share?

To one reader who leaves a comment, I will  send you either

your choice of an eBook of any of my books listed on Amazon or

a $10.00 Bath and Bodyworks gift card.

 

Castles, Llamas and Texas

 

Texas is known for our longhorn steers, prairie dogs, and oil wells along with ranches, bunk houses and the wide open prairie, but little did I know about our famous ShangriLlama Castle. We have a lot of homes, particularly in Galveston, that could be considered castles, but this one is different.

On the grounds of a majestic Irish castle in Royse City, Texas, 30 miles northeast of Dallas, you’ll meet charming royalty such as King Dalai Llama, the leader, along with Prince Barack O’Llama, Duke Como T. Llama, and Earl Bahama Llama. There are a total of seven male pedigree llamas on the 10-acre private ranch and wedding venue.

This most unusual business began when Sharon and Paul Brucato’s son, Tommy, became intrigued with the wooly creatures while visiting a zoo. I personally got acquainted with a llama ranch in California, but never thought about one being in Texas.

The owners are quoted as saying that they thought owning llamas would be fun and a bonding experience for their family. They trained with a rescue animal before buying their own purebred llamas. The ranch evolved from there because of the interest of neighbors and friends.

Since 2018, the Brucato family, including Tommy’s wife Jenni, have hosted llama-themed weddings, along with fun, fact-filled llama lessons and walks, where guests and llamas enjoy a serene stroll along the Enchanted Forest TraiI was born and raised here in Texas and never even imagined there being a majestic Irish castle in the state much less a llama ranch.

Do you have any experiences with llamas? And would you want to, if you had the chance?

To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, I will give you your choice of an eBook copy of my newest Kasota Springs romances or a Bath and Body Works gift certificate.

Cattle Rustlin’ and Hangin’

 

In the Old West, the terms rustling, and rustler had several meanings. Livestock who forged well were called rustlers by cowmen; meaning the animals could graze or “rustle up” nourishment on marginal land. A horse wrangler or camp cook was also a rustler, but the most widespread and notorious use of the word referred to a cattle thief.

On the vast open ranges of yesteryear, rustling was a serious problem and punishable by hanging. At its peak, one of the largest ranches in the Texas Panhandle had over 150,000 head of cattle and a thousand horses. Obviously, thieves could drive stolen livestock miles away before a rancher learned he had animals missing.

The vast distances to town, hence law enforcement, often prompted ranchers to take actions of their own. Court convictions for rustling were difficult because of the animosity of small ranchers and settlers toward big cattle outfits. Many times, “vigilante justice,” hang ‘um first…ask questions later, was handed down by organized stockmen. Like horse thieves, cattle rustlers could be hanged without benefit of trial, judge or jury.

Today, even with detailed brands logged in books, registering with state officials, inspectors, and the meticulous paperwork involving transportation, not to mention a new era of branding technology to keep track of animals, ranches still face cattle rustlers…those dishonest people who want to profit from selling cattle without the bother of raising them.

No longer is a single head of beef stolen for food or an occasional Native American slipping off the reservation to provide for his family… it is big business. Modern day rustlers often sneak onto rural ranches at night, or on weekends when the owners are away, steal and sell cattle. An average calf can bring thousands of dollars on the open market; so multiply that by a trailer, or even a truck load, of cattle and you can see why it’s a profitable business for thieves.

Amid warnings that cattle rustling is on the rise in Texas, recently the state Senate passed a measure that would stiffen penalties for stealing farm animals, making theft of even one head of livestock a third-degree felony drawing up to a ten year prison sentence and a fine. Until the proposal is signed into law, a rustler can steal ten or more head of livestock and the punishment is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the law of the Old West … hang ‘um high and fast. Cattle rustling wasn’t the only crimes of the 1800’s and earlier. Train robberies closed in on it.

But was hanging always fast and efficient? Maybe you can decide from the following!

I delved into the subject of cattle rustling and the methods of rustlers while researching for one of our anthologies where my Pinkerton Agent comes to the Panhandle to break up an outfit of rustlers. But I became interested in “vigilante justice” from my mother-in-law, who passed on ten years ago at the age of 92. A story teller, she was reared in Clayton, New Mexico. One of her favorite tales was about the outlaw Black Jack Ketchum, the first man hanged in the town. His execution turned into a big town event, with the lawmen actually selling tickets to the hangin’. As history has it, the sheriff had to use two blows of the hatchet before the rope broke. Probably because of their lack of experience in “structured” hangings, coupled with the lawmen misjudging Ketchum’s weight and stretching the rope during testing, he was beheaded. Ketchum was buried at Clayton’s Boot Hill on April 26, 1901.

But my mother-in-law’s story only began there. Three decades later, when she was in grade school, Ketchum’s grave was moved to the new cemetery. Because her father was Clayton’s mayor, she witnessed the reburial. According to her, they opened the grave and she and her cousin touched the bones of Ketchum’s little finger. I’m sure in those days a casket did not weather well.

Do you have a family story you’d like to share? What are your thoughts on vigilante justice of the 1800’s and earlier?

To one person who leaves a comment, I will give you a choice of an eBook copy of Out of a Texas Night or a gift card to
Bath and Body Works.