A Necklace To Fan Over

A long time ago, I moved from Seattle to New Jersey. It took a while for me to get employed and back on my feet, so I frequently shopped at (or sold things to) a nice second hand shop. On one of my visits to the shop, I noticed an unusual necklace and it was love at first sight. I paid five dollars for it. Not a lot of money, I suppose, but at that time it meant I’d have to skip dinner. But I had to have it.

I wore it a few times, but it really did look dirty and sad, and the clasp was loose. So, it’s been tucked in the bottom of my jewelry box for… eons. This week I decided it was well past time to try to restore it to its former beauty. Here’s the ‘before’ pictures.

Damascene Necklace
A bunch of googling tells me this necklace was produced by the Amita Company of Kyoto, Japan, in the very late 1930s or sometime in the 1940s.
Damascene Necklace
It’s well-worn and shows its age, but nothing is broken. The clasp got a little loose, but it’s just a wedge of metal. I found out it was easy to bend by hand to get a tighter fit.
Damascene Necklace
I can see Mount Fuji in the background, and some cozy homes up front. I’ve now learned that what I thought was black stone is oxidized steel. Sadly, the hanging tassel is really scuffed up. It may be the first piece of the necklace I try cleaning up.
Damascene Necklace
There’s that easy-to-bend clasp. Each side of the necklace has four fans featuring birds, butterflies, and village scenes.
Damascene Necklace
I can’t wait to start cleaning this necklace up. I hope it sparkles!

Can I get a drum roll please! Here come the ‘After’ pictures! After doing lots of research, I used Q-tips, plain warm water, and ivory soap. My method: Dip the Q-tip in water, rub it on the bar of soap, then gently scrub each fan. I went over the entire necklace (including the clasp) three times. Those Q-tips looked disgusting, which I found encouraging. For a final step, I heavily soaped up my hands and picked up the necklace to give it a gentle soapy massage. Then it got a final rinse in clean water. I pinned it to a cork board overnight to air dry, and this is what I woke up to. It’s a very sunny day here, and it just glistens in the sunlight! I’m very happy. I’ll be looking for a reason to wear it VERY soon.

Restored Damascene Necklace
The large fan really cleaned up well. All the details of a fishing village in the shadow of Mount Fuji are there. The silver will always look muted, but now it stands out more clearly.
Restored Damascene Necklace
The tassle is much better. Before cleaning,the three flowers didn’t look like flowers. It’s still not perfect, but I didn’t feel comfortable scrubbing it any more than I did.
Restored Damascene Necklace
Everything shines!
Restored Damascene Necklace
A view of one side, and the clasp fastener. There are four different scenes, which are repeated in the same order on the other side. The second fan from the top has a muddy Mt. Fuji and part of the silver fan wouldn’t clean up. I notice the metal ‘handle’ isn’t shiny either. I wonder what happened to this fan?
Restored Damascene Necklace
This side, and the clasp cleaned up quite nicely. The chain looks a lot better too. Just soap and water, who knew?

If you are interested in learning more about Damascene jewelry (I know I am!) here are some links to get you going.

The History of AMITA Co., Ltd.
About Damascene Jewelry (with pictures of the process)
Vintage Damascene Jewelry
Damascene Jewelry – Art and Science in Two Hemispheres
Vintage Damascene Jewelry: Three Key Traits

Timberrrrrr!

On Saturday, August 24, 2019, the largest tree in our yard, a Black Locust tree that might have been as old as our Eisenhower-era home, changed its stance from vertical to horizontal. Enjoy the ride – and click any pic to imbiggen it!

Friday, August 23, 2019. Last known living photograph of the deceased.


The intrepid team of After Hours Tree Service spent some time wandering the back yard, deciding where they wanted to lay the tree down. And darned if they didn’t put it EXACTLY where they planned to. They made it look easy. Chainsaw out a wedge facing in the direction of the fall, then go around and make a deep cut right behind that, and let gravity take over. The tree cracked twice, loudly – and the cliches are correct! It sounded like gunshot. I don’t have words to describe the sound of it slamming onto the lawn.

After The Fall: Comes the Chipping. Much less exciting and glamorous than the CRACK CRACK THUMP part. The guys cut small branches off the felled tree and fed them into an industrial chipper, which shot the chips into the back of that white truck.

The chipper was super-impressive… until it jammed. They had secret meetings, poked it a lot, drove off, came back, and then it was working again!

Cutting branches loose from a tree this large reminds me of sharks feeding off a dead whale. Sorry, I watch a lot of documentaries.

And when they went to cut the main trunk in half, BOING! The tree had other plans. I had no idea it was a spring-loaded tree, but that was fun to watch.
We’d requested that a few feet of stump be left intact, for future creative purposes. Incidentally, directly under that felled trunk are a bunch of hens and chicks plants. About half survived, and the other half were turned into Has-Been Hens and Chick-en McNothings.

Yep, that’s a rotten spot in the stump’s center. No worries, we have a cunning plan. It involves expanding foam. ūüėÄ But first we’re going to let the stump dry out and settle. The roots are still trying to ‘feed the tree’. This may take a while. Stay tuned.

The view from my Girl Cave was a BIT different that day.

Chives watched everything from a safe spot with a great view. As you can tell by his body language, he was quite distraught. (He didn’t even flinch when the tree cracked and slammed onto the ground! That boy is fearless!)

A California Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there were six little cousins. The eldest, most wisest of them all was Sherrie the Trailblazer.  Successor to her throne was Sharon the Serious. Following down the line of succession came Lori the Befuddled, Lonnie the Stoic, Dave the Adventurous, and Donie Who-Must-Be-Doted-Upon (the baby always gets that role).

The cousins were ruled by those in true power: the Almighty Parents, and the Ever-Indulgent Grandparents. All would gather together for the High Feasts; Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These holidays were celebrated at one of the three Mighty Fortresses each year in rotation, and so each location was featured every three years. These Fortresses were the Tower of Torrance, the Palace of Pasadena, and the Domicile of Duarte.

For a time, the three princesses were inseparable. The older two princesses took it upon themselves to teach the youngest one the ways of the world. With a little help from Gramma, of course.

Gramma taught the princesses many important things, like how to knit, how play Chinese Checkers, how to appreciate a well-laid-out pickle platter, and how to play the national sport of the land, shuffleboard. There was nothing that Gramma couldn’t do.

Gramma and Granapa’s home, The Palace of Pasadena, was filled with mystery and adventure.¬† The Hollow Walkway of the Front Porch seemed to echo with exotic voices from the other side of the world, while the Geranium Ramparts behind the palace, encircled by a short brick wall, simply begged to be scampered around, and around, and around upon. Behind the Ramparts was the door to the Heavenly Kitchen, from whence emanated the Smells of Wonderment and Delight. To the left, one can see the window into Granapa’s Office, a realm of fun with rubber stamps and other office supplies.

Of course, the princesses would sometimes fight over the Throne of Power, but it always ended in a tie.

And of course, every princess knew that swimming in the moat was *strictly* forbidden. Except, apparently, Princesses Lori and Sherrie.

For a time, the Enclave of El Monte was also the scene of many medieval burger banquets and raucous revelry.

On special occasions, Princesses Lori and Sherrie (shown here in matching royal ballgowns), were escorted to a Magic Kingdom in Anaheim by Gramma, the Grand Matriarch.

While exploring the Magic Kingdom, the two princesses took a trip to Wonderland, where they had many fine adventures with Alice. A haughty but helpful caterpillar acted as their conveyance.

Then accompanied by Snow White, they boarded a fine watercraft and bravely journeyed through the gaping mouth of a whale, emerging into an Enchanted Storybook Land.

Time Passed, as it does, and the princesses found themselves more often exploring the world on Grand Adventures of their own. However, their bond was strong, and having grown up together, they would always have a shared understanding of the world.

And of course, they sometimes found time to dance the hula.

The Palace of Pasadena, the scene of so many mad romps and adventures, continued to be a refuge, with Granapa and Gramma offering their unconditional love and support.

Princess Sherrie was a gift to us all. From her, Princess Lori learned that a woman could be strong and outspoken. She learned that a woman could lead. For as long as she was able, Princess Lori followed her role model.

This week, Princess Sherrie needed to leave us to travel to a far-off palace, one that she could never return from. But she left those who loved her with remembrance of good times, laughter, smiles. And Princess Lori was given the best gift of all, a delightful childhood filled with happy memories.  Thank you, Princess Sherrie, you will always be remembered and loved!

~ ~ ~

Bonus Feature! An early photo shoot with Princesses Sherrie, Lori and Sharon, in which Princess Sherrie really shows off her charms, as well as a talent for funny faces. Take that, Lucille Ball, here’s the real crazy redhead.

And then Granapa showed up to bring some class and decorum to the scene.

Of course, Gramma had to get in on the fun, too!

The Weekend Left A Good Impression

It’s been an extraordinarily rainy weekend. Rainy and windy, which means that all the windows facing south and east are providing a rather impressionistic view of the world.¬† This hazy, beautiful view inspired some watching of Amazon Prime videos to learn more about Paul Durand-Ruel, an avid believer in the Impressionist art movement, at a time when they were scorned, mocked and slandered by most of Europe. I was rather cheered to learn that America gave that particular art movement heaps of support and love‚ÄĒsomething that Europe couldn’t be arsed to do. Continue reading “The Weekend Left A Good Impression”

Cowboys Are Forever!

A longtime friend of mine writes gay romance books. What I love about his writing style is the hope and optimism of his stories – even when the characters are scared, depressed and giving up on life. Somehow, things usually manage to get set right, and I feel like I’ve met some wonderful people. ¬† B.G. Thomas has a duo of cowboy stories, and I thought I’d bring them to your attention. Enjoy! ¬†

Continue reading “Cowboys Are Forever!”

Speaking of Disappointing Politics and Snowstorms

William Henry Harrison gave the longest damn inaugural speech any president’s ever given, on March 4th, 1841. For an hour and forty five minutes a 68 year old guy shouted at a crowd IN THE MIDDLE OF A SNOWSTORM without wearing a hat, gloves or coat. After that, rather than getting some rest in the white house, he headed out to whoop it up at *multiple* parties. Continue reading “Speaking of Disappointing Politics and Snowstorms”

Smile? Okay!

When I was in 6th grade, I thought it would be fun to ride my¬†Flexy Racer down one of the steepest streets in my hilly suburb. It was great fun! I sat on the Flexy and steered with my feet and felt pretty damn bad-ass. But the street ended in a sharp curve to the right, and I couldn’t negotiate it with my feet. I couldn’t brake either, since my feet were controlling the combination steering AND braking pedals. I hit the curb really hard, flew off the Flyer,¬†and¬†landed in the gutter pretty much face-first. I scraped my face pretty badly and chipped my front tooth. It was the week of school photos, too.

Continue reading “Smile? Okay!”