Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Historic Benicia: Frisbie-Walsh House - Marker 18

Right up the street from Wellington is the house with perhaps the most historic significance of any house in Benicia - known as the Frisbie-Walsh house. John Frisbie was General Vallejo's son-in-law. He had this house built in Benicia in the 1850s. It was a "pre-fab." The timber was cut and numbered, then shipped to Benicia. Captain Walsh actually lived in this house until 1880.The two photos above were courtesy of the MLS. This house sold two years ago. It was starting to get a reno when we moved into Wellington, but things seemed to be on hold until just a few months ago, when renovation began in earnest.

I first talked about the Frisbie-Walsh house on January 12th in this post.

The pic below was taken on June 12th, right after they finished replacing some siding that had visible dry rot.The three photos below were taken today. The chimneys were repaired a couple of months ago, then the new roof went on - just like the old one. Now they've finished the siding, primed everything and painted the house a bright yellow - probably the original color. They've also done a great reno job on the detached garage. You can see it from the alley. The Benicia Historic Society has a lot to say about renovations of historic homes, and I'm sure they wanted this one to be as true to the original as possible.The black and whites below are old photos taken from the Library of Congress. You can see that the neighboring properties were not built at the time these photos were taken. Other than that, not much has changed with this house. I got the photos here , the Library of Congress (dot) Gov site. This is the entry on the Frisbie-Walsh house in particular.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bungalow For Sale - Long Beach

I needed me a bungalow fix, and I got a good one. This absolutely fabulous bungalow is currently for sale in Long Beach for a mere $875,000. It was built in 1913.

Here is the sketch. Is it the cutest thing? And the kitchen has a Buck's Stove.

It has four bedrooms and two and a half baths in 2507 square feet.

There is also a full basement, but they didn't include a picture of it on their site. It's my new favorite!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wellington, The Penguin

Wellington is not the only Wellington in the world. There's a much older Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand has been in the news a lot lately because this chubby emperor penguin recently turned up on the beach there. No on is sure how he got so off course, but they've decided to leave him alone and hope he finds his way home. Biologists are afraid if they scoop him up and bring him back to Antarctica he might introduce diseases to his friends and family. Besides, he's been busily munching on sand which doesn't agree with his delicate digestive system. Poor little guy.

This is a cool old picture of Cuba Street in Wellington in 1883. Mary Taylor, a friend of Charlotte Bronte owned a general store on Cuba Street in the 1800s.

Below is a pic of Cuba Street today. It's a pedestrian area. I kind of like it better in the 1800s, except for the mud.Alas, my quest for Wellington-type architecture (bungalows) in New Zealand proved fruitless. But I did run across this evocative pic of three modern apartments on top of a 1908 warehouse in Wellington. Courtesy of Dwell. Couldn't be less like Wellington, but we don't mind. We like it anyway.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Garden Update 3 - Nasturtiums Galore

It's true, this is not a nasturtium. But isn't it gorgeous? It looks like a great big blackberry. You know what it is? It's a pincushion flower! Otherwise known as scabiosa which is a very ugly name. It's almost as bad as glechoma, which I also have in the garden and love. I've had the standard lilac-shade scabiosa in my gardens for years, ever since I saw it growing in Half Moon Bay and snagged a flower that had gone to seed. It's very easy to grow. Like dandelion, but better! This one is off a plant I noticed in the alley last year. It's in the garden of this really awful black house. I'm not kidding the house is painted black. But I use the word "painted" liberally because it's not only black, but it's pealing. The word "garden" can't really be used to describe the mass of overgrown bamboo and nasty bits of plants going to seed. I postively rescued this little seed from that awful place. Their poor little fig tree can't even grow a fig! Mine is swarming with figs (not ripe yet).

Anyway, I snagged this one little seed clump last year, and now I have this lovely blackberry pincushion. It's even gorgeouser in person.

Now to the nasturtiums. 70. That's how many I had growing in my garden at last count. I bought a bag of seeds from Home Depot in the early spring and scattered them absolutely everwhere. I have 40 plants in the front and 30 in the back. They're almost all orange, but some are yellowy and others are more reddish. I just love them.I just finished a lovely morning of gardening. I mostly pulled out the overgrown coreopsis which has gotten so stuck up you can't even SEE the other plants! A couple weeks ago I pulled two out on one side, today I pulled to out on the other side. They started life as a $3 six pack last year. And ended life in my green waste bin this year. Poor things. I still have two though. And I didn't take a picture of that area because right now it looks kind of sad. The other plants were so overwhelmed, they're currently gasping for air and need a few days to perk their little heads up, then I'll snap a pic.

Alright, just a little glimpse. Here:

This is our new door mat we got for $6. There's one on the back porch too. I love it, but Hugo isn't so sure about that bird. Everytime she comes in the house she steps very gingerly, as far away from that bird as she can get. Don't judge her. She's old.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Forgot to Revel in Spring

The new West Elm catalog just arrived. The catalog includes a section highlighting their fall line. Fall! Fall? It isn't even SUMMER yet. But it is. Just today. It started at 10:16 when I wasn't looking. I forgot to revel in spring. I was too busy wishing the rain would stop. The weather would warm up. I could get up in the morning and come downstairs without putting on a sweatshirt. And now it's hot, it's summer and spring's gone.

That just goes to show you. You always want what you can't have. But in my defense, we didn't have much of a spring this year. Very recently it was stormy and cold, and today it was close to 100 degrees. Come to think of it, we didn't have much of an autumn either. I remember wishing for winter because my Halloween pumpkin was baking on my front porch. What is up with the seasons?

Enough lamenting. Look at the pics I took today while on my special quest (details to follow in the Turtle Blog). They go very nicely with the previous post published just today! If you missed it, be sure to click the "Older Post" tab below, then you'll know what I'm talking about.
But for now I'm going to go outside and revel in summer.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Guess What's Famous: Benicia

I just loving living in Benicia. It's the perfect blend of friendly home town and weekend destination. And we don't even have to go anywhere. As a matter of fact, I'm having a very hard time planning our summer vacation since we're already here! My neighbor is a member of that club where you swap homes with someone, ala The Holiday. So any day now I expect to encounter a strange European lurking next door. I'll direct him/her to the Visit Benicia site, because that's a great place to keep track of the goings on. Or you can just walk right down 1st Street and play it by ear.

And to top it all off, my new little home town is now famous because LOOK someone wrote an article all about it! I borrowed the picture above from this lovely article in Sunset Magazine. I'm awfully proud. They never put Wellington in there, though. Just some other house. Which incidentally just got a brand new owner - real estate in Benicia is HOT. You didn't hear it from me but the new people paid a cool mill for this darling Victorian. You can see it in the article. Go on. Have a look. And the house that is referred to in the article, the one that got shipped "around the horn" and reassembled in Benicia - lives in the next block up the street! It's getting a reno right now!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chicken Update: Narrowing the List

After speaking to Garland at Distinction Farms, whose name or may not be Wayne, I have decided on the following breeds of hen:

Barred Rock Hen - the beautiful striped one above. Is she gorgeous? And apparently she's snuggly and lays big brown eggs.

Buff Brahma Hen - the cute little one below. She is snuggly and lays brown eggs too. Plus I need this color.

Black Sex Link - bottom picture. I have to say that I hate the name black sex link and I was a little scared to google it, and I don't think I need to explain why.

But the reason it's called Black Sex Link is fascinating. This chicken was bred so that you tell the males from the females very easily, as soon as they hatch. The girl chicks are all black and fluffy, the boys are all black and fluffy with a white spot on their heads. Is that so cute! But best of all, they lay big brown eggs and like to snuggle.

The photos were taken from my two favorite chicken sites: Backyard Chickens and My Pet Chicken. Who would have thought so many other people would love chickens, too? I was reading in one of the chicken books I got from the library
that there was a huge chicken craze in the 1800s and chickens shot right up to $70 a piece for some breeds. That's like $1,200 in today's money. I'm remembering the figures right off the top of my head because I'm lazy. Plus I don't want to plagiarize. But it was something like that. A person can buy a perfectly lovely hen, like one of the ones above, for about $10 a piece. That's like 2 cents in 1840. I call that a bargain.

Okay, that's the update for today. Thank you to Wayne/Garland for all of his help in making my decision. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The One About Hugo

Once upon a time, around last summer, about July I'd say, 23rd, I was making dinner and waiting for The Hub to get home. The kids were away and I had a nice salmon ready to be grilled. I stepped out to the front porch to enjoy a little summer breeze. And of all the NERVE. This CAT was positively LOUNGING on my front wall along the steps. Like she owned the place.

Interestingly, I didn't have my usual urge to SCAT her away. I had been getting pretty sick of cleaning up cat poop around the yard. And I had never even OWNED a cat. But this little guy was LOLLING like a LION. I was smitten.

The picture above was taken with my old camera phone so I could send it to the Dot. You can see this cat was licking its chops after getting the merest smidgen of raw salmon.

When The Hub got home, I told him about the cat (not the salmon) and he accused me of bringing it home. I assured him I FOUND it right on the WALL. "Hmmm," he said as he fed it a piece of his salmon.

It's name was Hugo because that's the name that popped into my head, which is generally how things get named around here. We've had her in the family for about a year now.She's fattened up quite nicely. And when she's not sleeping she's either eating or doing tricks. Like this one. When we open the door a teeny crack, she will daintily put her paw in there and wait for us to open it the rest of the way. This is the back door.She had a little more trouble with the front door since it opens the other way and she is left-pawed. Here she is yawning. She's not mad:

One day we were out front gardening, Hugo was lounging on the steps, and a young lady walked by. "You adopted Samantha!" she said. She then proceeded to thank us for giving her a home, then tell us Hugo's story. Apparently her original name was Samantha. She was born 16 years earlier and lived in OUR HOUSE when it wasn't Wellington yet. When it was the original bungalow, built in 1920. This young lady grew up in Old Wellington and brought Samantha home as a kitten. When her family moved a couple miles away, to the west side of Benicia, Samantha found her way back to Wellington. Who knows where poor Hugo lived during those few years when Old Wellington was torn down, New Wellington was built and the builders moved in for the first year, with their own cat. But I bet Hugo was happy to see that the new owners (US!) didn't have a cat already.

"Here you go. I'm your cat now." That's what she was saying when she was lolling there, last July 23. She was right. She always is.

Friday, June 10, 2011


How much do you love the word Australorp? Even if it didn't mean this pretty little hen, I would want one.I would love to meet the person who's job it was to name chickens. Because this next one is a dorkling. I'm not kidding.

This one if a frizzle.The best part about all of this, is that these are the hens I like best because they all have nice dispositions, like to snuggle, lay large eggs and lay frequently. I sort of made up that snuggle part. But if they have nice dispositions, it only stands to reason that they like to snuggle, so I'm snuggling me some.

This one is a brahma which I want just because it has a nice disposition, lays large eggs, lays frequently and likes to snuggle. Not because of its name because brahma is kind of boring. But isn't she cute?

Ooh. I just can't wait to get me some chickens. Didn't I tell you I'm getting chickens? Well, not for sure yet. But Hub is thinking of building a chicken coop, and if he does I'm definitely shoving some chickens in there. I'd say chances are strong to quite strong. Well, medium strong. I'd say medium to low probability. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rocky Wellington

Here is Wellington with his new rocks! It might not look like much in this pic, but it's about 900 pounds of Century Stone which are reclaimed, 200 year old cobbles from the streets of Holland. They look great in front of Wellington. Not only do they bring out his colors - tones of greys, blues and browns - but they transformed that bank into a rock-wall planter. No plants in it yet, but I'm telling you, it looks gorgeous. I didn't even realize this needed to be done until the husband decided he wanted to do it. That's usually how projects go around here. I'll sit here all content and relaxed and Hub will say he's thinking of doing whatever. In this case, getting rocks for in front of the pittosporum. I had no idea what he meant, but then we went to the rock store where he picked out the Century Stones, brought four home and calculated how many we would need.

We started with 90. I estimate that is about 700 pounds of stones. Mostly he brought them to me and I laid them out in the back of our trusty old pick up. I tried getting them myself out of their wire cages, but I got scratched and the angle was wrong for someone of my height (littlish).After laying the first 90, we decided we needed 25 more, so we went back the next day.

We filled in with dirt behind the wall, which is two stones high. We already had the dirt. Because when we moved in and chopped down the weeds (by "we" I mean "Hub"), we found two planter beds in the back yard near the neighbor's pealing garage wall. I didn't want to use these beds for planting, so we have gradually been distributing the soil all over the yard. This job finished it up.

The Century Stones aren't necessarily 200 years old. They're probably older. And they're not necessarily from any streets in Holland. But the rock people called them "cobbles" and weren't sure of their origin. They are definitely reclaimed, though. So we're choosing to imagine they're from some old, quaint streets in Holland. Making them many centuries old. Isn't that fascinating?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Post: Nightingale Wood

Just finished this book by Stella Gibbons, who wrote Cold Comfort Farm. It was very cute and satisfying. It's a Pink Book, but it stands apart because not only is it about the 1930s, it was actually written in the 1930s, so it is more true to life than many books of that time period. At times I would think, "Yeah, right. They didn't do that back then." But they DID. The writing style is unique as well. It's not a tough read by any means, in keeping with the Pink Book genre. But it's a cut above. I'm thinking of reading Cold Comfort Farm next, which I always thought was about a farm somewhere in America ala Fried Green Tomatoes. Which isn't about a farm, incidentally, but is the book I always thought of when I heard anyone talk of Cold Comfort Farm.

By the way, did you realize Harper Lee is still alive? I was surprised to read that just now when I googled Fried Green Tomatoes to see if it was about a farm (it isn't). Apparently Harper Lee recommended it which totally floored me. Speaking of Harper Lee - recently I saw a great old copy of To Kill a Mockingbird at the Friends of the Library bookstore up the street. I wanted it, but didn't have $1 (!) with me at the time, so I put it back on the shelf. I forgot about it until I was recently doing some research about first editions and came across what appeared to be the same edition of To Kill a Mockingbird which was selling for (eeek) $7,260! I ran up to the library but it was GONE. I wouldn't have sold it anyway, but I would have bought it, put it on my shelf and cherished it that much more. It looked just exactly like this:

But better. (I borrowed this pic from First Editions and Antiquarian Books again. That link will bring you to the To Kill a Mockingbird page which shows the $7,260 one and a different edition for $726.) Rats.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Junuary 4th, 2011

Haven't shoved a good old pic of Wellington on the blog lately, so here it is. Doesn't look much like this right now, though, on account of the rain, rain, rain. They're calling it Junuary and it's starting to irk me. Although I did enjoy standing on the front porch this morning with The Husband and a cup of tea while the rain poured down on my garden. But my soul needs sun and it needs it soon.

One of my favorite blog writers (in that >>>> column) was talking about her record heat and her cute little farm animals. Makes me want record heat and cute little farm animals. We have one fat guinea pig, one old cat and one angry turtle. I guess that's enough for now. But two or three chickens would be nice.

This pic was taken on May 22.