Sunday, November 21, 2010

Queen Anne Home

1890s large homes built for the upper middle class were classically constructed in what we call “Queen Anne" style. While our ancestor’s might have known most people ask: who is Queen Anne and why is this architecture her style?

Queen Anne 1665-1714, succeeded to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1702 as well as the title Queen of France (1707). She lived in a politically and religiously tumultuous time. During this period the political two-party system developed: “Whigs” And “Tories.” In spite of closer heirs, the crown went to George I.

The exciting part of this period of English history was the developments in architecture. Classic Queen Anne buildings are notable by rows & rows of sash windows flush with the brickwork, stone quoins at the corners, rooms built two-rooms deep providing an inner chamber and sweeping steps leading to the door. This English Queen Anne style was commonly built into the 20th Century.

A hundred years later during the Victorian Era, Americans romanticized our collective English heritage and made the Queen Anne their own. With classic American disregard the once British Queen Anne style became an American home hardly resembling its British architectural predecessor.

American Queen Anne has high pitch asymmetrical gable roofs, huge porches, variants in texture façades. This style was particularly popular with the socially upwardly mobile middle classes who buffered the upper class form the American working class.

Expected details of the interior of an American Queen Anne home include sweeping stairs from the foyer, with wainscoting throughout the public areas of the home. Private areas often included interior or double chamber space in the larger homes. Grand fireplaces placed throughout the lower areas with smaller fireplaces on the second floor provided warmth on the inside and contributed to the asymmetrical exterior style.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Remembering Dave Niehaus

Most of the stories about Dave Niehaus this week talk about the man who worked as a sports caster, the Dave Niehaus I’ll remember was my neighbor. In fact, his family lived right next door to mine. Dave was the Dad. My best friend was Andy, Dave’s son. The Niehaus family profoundly impacted my childhood in a good way.

Of course, having your best friend live next door makes for a good situation. There were actually three of us who were best friends: Andy, Frank & me. I played like my friends. I had trucks, cars and a sand box. I changed into play clothes when I got home from pre-school. They told me, 'you're as fun as any boy.' But Mr. Niehaus said I was the pretty little girl from next door. Then he’d wink at Andy.

I don’t remember what I wore for Halloween the year we went trick or treating together. But Andy became a clown. Marilyn had made the costume; it was the “wonderfulest costume in the whole wide world." Marilyn was a really great mom. She said I could call her Marilyn which made my mom flip out. I remember thinking: Andy is so lucky to have such a nice mom.

Tomboys tend to get bumps & bruises when they’re acting out on the boy-part. Andy gave me my first black eye. He slammed the gate and I miss judged the distance…Boom, black eye. He felt really bad. I had a great story for school and recovered quickly.

I remember clearly sitting on their back porch at the table. It was Andy & me and Mr. Niehaus & my Dad. Mr. Niehaus & my Dad were talking; Andy & I were playing cards. Mr. Niehaus asked to see the cards. He shuffled the cards and had me pick one. He shuffled and lined them on the table. There was my card. He shuffled and had me pick another card. Suddenly, my card was wherever I pointed my finger in the deck. He did this several times to my squealing delight. A magician! I had a magician living next door.

At some point, the Niehaus family moved to a different neighborhood. I remember they invited us over but my mother said we didn’t have time to drive 'all the way over there.' So, I lost touch with my first best friend, the boy-next-door. But I never forgot Niehaus family.

I’m not a sports fan and while I heard the name Niehaus mentioned from time to time, it didn’t occur to me that it was the same Mr. Niehaus from so many years ago. Until this week, when they announced his passing and had photos online did I recognize my neighbor, the magician.

I wish Dave Niehaus well in his new Magical Place because he put magic into my childhood.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Different Shapes

Daily reminders that we share our space with a plethora of creatures encourage the symbiotic nature of life on planet Earth.

Momma Earth provides the habitat for species to thrive or decline based on a variety of influences both naturally occurring and action consequence. Habitats for Earth-dwellers are ever overlapping producing an array of sub-species developed by natural selection and environmental impact.

I eat my lunch at a beautiful location near signage which reminds me: I Am Not Alone.

My virtually unseen companions are the local inhabitants. I recognize my intrusion into their territory and I act accordingly… respectful.

Often snakes are under appreciated. They serve a great purpose in keeping the rodent and small animal populations in check. We need these creatures to help maintain a proper balance.

Respect for the rattlesnake is a healthy position to maintain. They are venomous snakes whose striking distance often surprises their prey. In general, they strike out from a coil to a distance of two-thirds their length. Bites provide the mechanism for venom delivery.

Rattlesnake venom is most often an hemotoxic venom which causes blood clotting and destruction of tissue. Rarer but more deadly are the rattlesnakes that have neurotoxic venom which shuts down the nervous system. Medical attention is required for venomous bites. Treatment with anti-venom reduces death down to 4% of those bitten.

Rattlesnakes rattle when they’re disturbed; angry or fearful, but they need not rattle before they strike. Non-rattling rattlesnakes include the young or pre-button size rattlesnakes and water-logged rattles on rattle snakes. Water-logged rattles occur after a heavy rain. Still the rattle is a warning to back away which is better heeded than not.

When entering a rattlesnake habitat it behooves humans to wear protective clothing: long pants and high boots. Proper boots can stave off what could be a devastating conflict with one of Earth’s necessary creatures.