Other random vintage musings

Day 3 of my new adventure

I’m about to start my third day of working at home. So far, all the people I’ve encountered have been wonderful. Lots of Skype meetings!

While I still don’t have my desk, I’ve done some things to make the space feel more like me–and more like an office. (Butters has already attempted to eat the spider plant several times.)

A whiteboard/bulletin board makes the space feel like an office.

A whiteboard/bulletin board makes the area feel more like a work-space.

I also hung up my pin-up girls…over my monitor, so they don’t show up during video calls, but I can see them whenever I look up.

Petty girls and Vargas pin-up

Petty girls and Vargas pin-up

On my desk, I’ve got a cool Rosie the Riveter mouse pad, plenty of coffee, and of course, the ubiquitous picture of my grandmother and her 1940 Dodge.

Rosie the Riveter mouse pad & my favorite photo of my grandmother for motivation.

Rosie the Riveter mouse pad & my favorite photo of my grandmother for motivation.

I’ve promised myself that I will leave the house every day for at least my first three months of working at home in order to fight my natural inclination to avoid people and become a hermit. Monday I went to yoga, yesterday I tackled the grocery store, and tonight I plan to hit up a yoga class again. Friday I’ll have lunch with a friend. Thursday night, Tim Waltner will choose our adventure and I’ll go wherever he takes me.

When people learn that I work from home, they typically respond with a statement like, “Oh, that’s great – you can spend all day in your pajamas!” But I can’t. Really, Skype meetings aside, that’s just not who I am. Call it part of my vintage proclivities, but I can’t bring myself to work if I’m not dressed, with hair done and make-up in place. When I taught college classes, I refused to grade papers at home if I wasn’t dressed. Somehow it just felt unprofessional to me. I don’t care if other people choose to work in sweatpants–if that suits them, then I won’t judge.

Pretty confident that situation won’t change six months down the road, but stay tuned.

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Choosing an adventure

My cousin Becky and her husband, Andrew, have a lovely Airstream named Rosie and wanderlust to match. They’re planning a cross-country adventure, which you can read about on their blog, Silverlinings.me. They’ve invited Tim and me to meet up with them along the way. Here are their planned stops: http://silverlinings.me/silver/?p=1072

We’re leaning toward the later part of the year, when they’re in the southwest. I’d love to see New Mexico–our friend Lisa loves it and she has good judgment, but the timing doesn’t work for us. We’re thinking Arizona’s a good place to connect. Any other suggestions?

Welcome to Arizona

Welcome to Arizona

Arvin the lefty

On Sunday, Tim and I met up with our friend Chaos at a New England Antique Radio Club swap meet. Chaos collects radios, and Tim was looking for some tubes for a sound project. I just like looking at old radios – especially the bakelite ones. And there were plenty!

A butterscotch beauty.

A butterscotch beauty.

I love the rotary dial on this one! The shape and the herringbone pattern in the speakers are great, too.

I love the rotary dial on this one! The shape and the herringbone pattern in the speakers are great, too.

Another stunner.

Another stunner.

I learned the difference between bakelite and catalin, thanks to a gentleman who saw me petting one of the lovely radios. He asked if I knew what it was made of – I told him I didn’t know exactly, but I would guess bakelite. Then he explained that they were similar, but that catalin was heated and cast, and if it was heated again, it would explode. I suspect there’s more to it than that, but my mechanical engineer husband and our physicist friend both said, “Basically,” when I shared my new-found knowledge. An internet search for “bakelite vs catalin” turns up a ton of results, most of questionable authority. Fortunately, I’ll probably never have to REALLY understand the difference.

A cluster of catalin radios.

A cluster of catalin radios.

One vendor also had my beloved Cobramatic turntable for $300, but I’ll wait. Someday I’ll get another one.

Isn't that green gorgeous?

Isn’t that green gorgeous?

Great color here, too. And I love the name "Bendix."

Great color here, too. And I love the name “Bendix.”

I am a sucker for typewriters. Would love to own this old Corona, but... where would I put it?

I am a sucker for typewriters. Would love to own this old Corona, but… where would I put it?

I kept going back to one table. Partly because it was a small-ish space and we were there for several hours, partly because I really dug one particular radio and the first time I pet it, the owner told me he’d give it to me for $30, as opposed to the $50 it was marked. Finally, about the fifth time I visited the radio, the vendor rolled his eyes at me. “You can’t just touch it and take pictures of it. Come on,” he said. I reached for my wallet.

And there was Chaos right behind me with money. “Happy birthday,” he said. “It’s an Arvin. And it’s a lefty – the knobs are usually on the right, it’s rare to find them on the left.”

So Arvin the lefty came home with me.

Arvin the lefty.

Arvin the lefty.

Close up of the display. Great 1948 styling.

Close up of the display. Great 1948 styling.

I love the glossy black shell, the font of the numbers, the white knobs, the richness of detail in the needles. I think I’ll build him his own shelf–he’ll get a special corner in my office. It’s one radio–not the start of another collection. I promise. I think. 😉

Geeky revelation

Last night, I had a revelation brought on by an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

A tenured professor at the university died: Sheldon, Leonard, and Raj all apply for the position, sparking competition between them. At one point, Leonard tries to chat up a member of the rank and tenure committee while on a treadmill at the gym; the result is beyond awkward. I had to stop watching because I was so uncomfortable, even though it’s only TV. It’s a sitcom, everything will be fine in the end. Right? If only I could watch long enough to get there.

When I was little, I had the same reaction to the Paddington Bear books–poor Paddington doesn’t know the culture, so he gets into embarrassing situations. As a child, I found this tremendously upsetting. (My dad found my inability to cope with conflict upsetting, but that’s a different blog. “You wanted me to read this to you, now you want me to stop because you don’t like where the story is headed?”)

Anyway, in the past I thought my freak-out was based on sympathy for the characters involved. I feel bad for them. Last night I realized I’m actually freaking terrified that THAT’S ME.

I am Leonard Hofstadter digging myself a moat of social awkwardness and NO ONE IS STOPPING ME. Damn you people, letting me make an ass of myself. GAH.

I’m getting less awkward as I get older (or less concerned about my awkwardness, which probably amounts to the same thing), but last night was a reminder it’s clearly an ongoing concern.

If you see me being awkward in a way that has potential long-term repercussions, please promise that you’ll play Penny to my Leonard and bail me out. That’s all I ask. I’d do the same for you.

Break time is over.

I apologize for the lapse in posts. Tim and I have had an extraordinarily busy summer. Work got crazy…my department took on several huge new projects and lost two people, so the workload increased dramatically. Add in a few trips, and…little time for blogging, lots to catch up on.

My Anne Taintor luggage tag, as customized by Butters.

My Anne Taintor luggage tag, as customized by Butters.

My current challenge: packing for two weeks on the road including three cities, two trade shows, and a family vacation. You may recall that I refuse to check a bag when I travel, so I’m trying to plan all my outfits combining a few pieces in different ways so I can pack efficiently. Naturally, I still want to be comfortable and look like myself–I learned a lot from our trip to Japan. Last time I was in Las Vegas, I bought a ton of wrap skirts…you’re supposed to be able to turn them into dresses and wear them 85 different ways, but even with the tutorials, I’m inept and can’t do it. They’re comfortable and versatile, however, so I’m bringing a few of those.

I’m also bringing both my Heartbreaker Milan dresses- I loved it in Lake so I ordered the Slate a few weeks ago. These dresses travel beautifully and make me feel pretty. I wore the Slate version at a tradeshow on Thursday when I had to get up at 4 a.m. to drive into Boston and set up a booth…and I got compliments all day long, despite my lack of sleep.

It makes me feel like a pin-up.

It makes me feel like a pin-up.

In addition, I’ll have at least two–maybe even three–chances to wear the awesome Rocksteady dress Bernadette gave me a while ago, pictured here.

The thing I’m having the toughest time with: narrowing down my shoes. I love shoes. Preparing to traipse all over Disney and San Francisco, do six days as booth-bait, and look good without sacrificing comfort in situations running the gamut from super-casual to cocktail party? Challenging. To make matters worse, my old ankle injury has been rearing its ugly little head for the last few days. Gah. Seems to be better now, but not really what I want to deal with on vacation!

More flea marketing

On Sunday, Jack came up again for more adventures at the Hollis Flea Market.

Green ladies' Corona typewriter

Green ladies’ Corona typewriter

Newsreel: MacArthur - Manila Bombed

Newsreel: MacArthur – Manila Bombed

Clock. And some kind of wave frequency device Tim and Jack investigated.

Clock. And some kind of wave frequency device Tim and Jack investigated.

Cool dress. Waaaay too small for me.

Cool dress. Waaaay too small for me.

Zenith Cobramatic radio and turntable. An impressive amount of bakelite, that.

Zenith Cobra-matic radio and turntable. An impressive amount of bakelite, that.

Music geek note: The cover of The Cramps “Blues Fix” features a photo of Poison Ivy listening to records on a Cobra-matic.

The needle housing is shaped like a snake's head, complete with a little eye.

The needle housing is shaped like a snake’s head, complete with a little eye.

Love the font on the name of this Toastswell.

Love the font on the name of this Toastswell.

Tim bought a record player full of tubes for $5. It makes an awesome warm humming crackling sound when plugged in. He’s not entirely sure what he’s going to do with it yet.

I got a very cool leather jacket for $8, but I’m not ready to share photos yet. Watch for a fall outfit post.

There were some vendors with a ton of old magazine covers and photos of ’40s actresses as well….something to look for again next time!

Packing Apathy

Normally, I am a very prepared traveler. About a week before I leave, I start making a list of what I want to pack and start doing laundry to ensure that everything is clean and available. I run errands to buy everything I need for my trip. Two days before departure, I pack everything except my makeup and things I’ll need the day I leave. I have a system, and it works.

Except for this trip.

I actually have two back to back work trips coming up, and I’m completely unprepared.

Which kind of sucks, as I leave tomorrow morning and the only thing I’ve packed are pajamas and a belt. Not helpful for a business trip. Also, my go-to black strappy cute retro-feel heels have broken. Grrrr.

I’m going to go mow the lawn. Maybe outfits will magically appear in my head while I labor. Wish me luck.