Sunday, November 30, 2014


Emily was my niece.
Emily came from an upper middle class family; her father is a high-level scientist and her mother was a high-level international banker. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate her nuclear family as 8.5 on the dysfunctional scale.
When Emily started high school, she became a little chubby (I think the true cause was parental neglect and abuse--but that's a family secret). In 11th grade, she relocated to Los Angeles with her mother and sister (father had remained here). During the summer between her junior and senior years in high school, Emily went back to Houston to stay with her best friend for the summer. This is when the bulimia really took off.
Her mother, despite my warnings, remained in complete denial--saying that Emily simply looked great now that she was watching her weight.
College brought more challenges. The little neglected girl developed more compulsivity and the bulimia worsened. Emily lived with me for more than 6 months. I did managed to get help for her and talked with her father, who simply didn't have the skill set to be a productive parent. Ditto her mother.
Over the years we have tried many avenues for treatment, hospitalizations, counseling, family interventions........ My daughter (her cousin) has spent all of Emily's life being her confidant and mentor. Her aunt and uncle on her father's side have been second parents to her.
Only a month ago, I had Emily all lined up to be hospitalized for another condition, which would also have placed her bulimia front and center. A few hours before I was to pick up her, Emily told my daughter to "call off the dogs" (that would be me).
Emily died last week at just 30.
She had isolated herself from every single friend and relative. Dao and she had texted (Emily didn't want to talk) the week before.
As a family, we are devastated. No one could alleviate Emily's internal struggles. No one could fill the internal void which she tried to fill with bulimia.
Emily was very smart, charming, funny, caring, extroverted and an animal lover.
We are grief stricken and guilt stricken. What else could have been done? Why couldn't Emily receive all of the love that was being given? Why did she hide her condition from her parents and doctors? Why, why, why--there is no answer. Perhaps, there was just nothing more that we could do. Maybe she had cried wolf too many times; so we didn't pay close enough attention?
I do know (and see) that Emily is now at peace, her demons snuffed out.
Please share this post with any parents that you might know who are struggling with a child with bulimia or any other eating disorder. The best time to start treatment is early on--as soon as symptoms are noticed.

LOVE YOUR CHILDREN!! Love them with all of their adolescent, boundary pushing, obnoxious behavior and clumsiness. Love them when they are at their most impossible and demanding--this is when they need you the most.


PS. Prayers please for Jones as he tore a nail down to the bed and will have to have surgery tomorrow. Thank you.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today as we gather to give thanks for what we have, I pray that, as a nation, we can truly see our brothers and sisters who are in need. I pray that, as a nation, we see the injustices and inequalities that persist in our society. I pray that an end to racial descrimination and its brother, racial profiling, finally becomes our No. priority. I pray that, as a nation, "the greed factor" which has come to be acceptable, is viewed for what it is: human beings acting from their lowest ego points with little regard for humanity. I pray that, as a nation, we are able to put away the me-first and money equals might mentality in order to arrive at a truly democratic form of government by the people and for the people. Compassion with justice and a sense of fairness should become an unalienable right.
As Americans we are incredibly blessed which means that we are commanded to be a blessing to others.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Here is what she looked like at The Auction

Here is what she looked like mid-way through her facelift

And here she is--faux marble top and ready to go.
(I'm not too happy with my photos--the lighting at shop is abysmal)

I am so grateful to Sharon and Roberto for their help and wisdom. I'm going to apply a bit of patina and some clear wax and polish the escutcheons (just a bit) and then I'll take another set of photos.

I think I'm all set--1st round of pies in the oven; stuffing makings all chopped up; cranberry chutney ready; ginger sweet potatoes scheduled. AND THE TURKEY is at Dao's house with the roaster and waiting for me to get there tomorrow morning. (The kids all want legs; so I got extra legs for the six of them).


Mary & Jones & Cole
(Jones cannot have any turkey--but he'll love the sweet potatoes and other stuff)

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I've been working on these guys for quite a while. I woke up one morning in June and thought "what if".... But the problem was finding a ready made pagoda. Finally found almost what I was looking for, and then they popped up on another site (and quite a bit less pricey--still expensive). And then, the first pagodas arrived damaged; so had to get a replacement pair--which I still had to rework and strengthen. Strip and paint and apply the touches of gold for that Chinoiserie effect. Of course, ordering the faceted rock crystal, coral and turquoise is another adventure: all of these semi-precious beads come from China. I know the photos don't show the scale: the pagodas measure 30" in height and those are 1.75" slices of turquoise. The larger faceted rock crystal beads measure over an inch and the coral beads are about an inch in diameter.
Here are some detail photos

Of course, the question now becomes: does anyone else think that these guys are interesting enough to buy? I'd love them on a period Regency credenza or a mid-century piece. Hollywood Regency?
Tomorrow I'll go to Michael's to purchase little votive candles for the four levels.
I've been busy--and I haven't gone to auction in three entire weeks--the withdrawal hasn't been too bad--and it feels great to finally push these projects forward.
I'm getting ready to cook--I purchased an organic, free range turkey. These premium turkery are so delicious--hope that we'll have left overs (turkey sandwhiches with lettuce and tomato--Yumm!!) I'm making my usual cranberry chutney and the pies in addition to the turkey (everyone else will do the rest). I can't help it--I just love to cook and bake.

Sending blessing for a gorgeous Thanksgiving--a little early in case I don't manage to get off another post.

I'm saddened by the death of the Duquesa de Alba--what a lady and what a gloriously well-lived life.

Be well.
Mary & Jones & Cole

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I know......why show the "ugly" underside first?? Well, to me this underside is absolutely GORGEOUS. I learn so much more about an antique piece of furniture if I can turn it over. This is a charming smallish late 18th c. (maybe), but definitely early 19th c. French Louis XVI commode. (That's Roberto standing beside her)

I just brought her in on Saturday. She is mahogany, but some one painted her from stem to stern in either the 1950's or 60's. The most acceptable method of painting commodes is to only paint the fronts or "showing" surfaces so that the age and construction of the piece are readily visible....but the painter only left the underside visible (and thank goodness he (probably not she) did.
I could strip the backside down to the bare wood (expensive and there would still be traces of the paint left in the grain), but I've decided to leave her "as found". She does retain her original hardware and locks (but not keyes). The drawer fronts are fielded and the fronts are very thick (good sign) with a thin gilt fillet outlining the fields. The same gold fillet outlines her sides. Note the thick uneven dovetails.
All in all, I think she's pretty cute. 

This has been one of those weeks......I cleaned out (am still organizing) my bedroom and office--it feels realy good and fresh. 
And I've spent time stretching and hopefully growing--not always the easiest of tasks. I'm getting ready (physically and spiritually) for the new, which I can just about feel bursting through. We'll see. The little Louis XV chest should be ready on Friday....I can't wait to see how the faux marble turned out.
Jones desperately needs to get his hair cut--hopefully I can get him squeezed in this week. But he is pretty cute shaggy, too.
Sending blessing for a fantastic week.

Mary & Jones & Cole

Friday, November 7, 2014



Here she is.....I've layered 4 different colors/shades in light coats of paint on her surface. I still have to apply the patina--have decided to do that myself (it's not as tricky as I thought). I took the commode to Sharon this afternoon--Sharon will paint the faux marble top surface and highlight the lip around the drawers and edge of the chest in a shade just a bit darker (hopefully more gray) than the case paints. We chose a deeper slate gray for the marble base color with darker and some lighter veining.

With the first layer of off-white (which I then had to sand down) I didn't remove the hardware....but quickly realized that I needed to

at least I got a good shot of what the hardware looked like prior to polishing. You can see how dark it is. Andrew polished it today....

I had assumed that the hardware was not original, but once I removed the handles, I realized that they were original and there were still traces of the original gilding on the backs. It is amazing that after about 250 years, the gold held its integrity and was still bright. I love how the hand chased details of the bronzes were revealed when cleaned.
Here are a few more detail photos of the commode.

I can't wait til I pick her up and put on the finishing touches. Roberto will replace the hardware and go over the commode with a clear bees wax and then she'll be ready for her new home.

I think Jones and I will skip the dog park for today...

Have a wonderful fall week-end. It's hotter than you know what here (93* at 2 pm) and the wonderful sweet rain is just a memory.

Mary & Jones & Cole

Sunday, November 2, 2014

PROJECTS (and helpers)

Here's a shot of one of my project assistants--Mini Beast just loves to stay close so that he can keep an eye on me (just in case I might be making a trip to the cat food cupboard). Jones is always close, but he hates to have his picture taken......
When I brought the little 18th c. French commode home and really studied her,


I found traces of old paint. So my brain started envisioning what she would look like painted and I decided to take the plunge. I had never (and now I have) painted an 18th c. piece; so I knew that this would be a learning-on-the-go effort--and I promised that I would not berate myself if I had to redo some sections.
First, Andrew and I completely sanded and filled the shrinkage cracks and sanded again. The top is a 19th c. marriage; so we sanded down the sharper edges to a soft bevel--this takes time and patience I learned. 
I painted one drawer first (there will be at least two additional colors applied) with the Swedish(?) off-white (boy do I wish that Loi were here to coach me on colors) that I chose.

It was a first attempt--and I put too much paint on--I'll sand the surfaces to remove A LOT of the paint and I think it will be fine.
But--by the time I got around to painting the sides, my head and hand were working better (I also watered down the paint)

The bottom front panel has a little centered detail which the darker green/blue/gray will pick out nicely with the second and third coats.

My wonderful painter, Sharon, will apply a faux marble finish to the top. Probably a very subtle marble and then she will apply the faux patination to the entire commode. This last step is tricky and I'm not going to go there.

I am so immensely grateful. We had a deep soaking rain Friday night into Saturday morning (at times it really poured). And right on schedule, the rain stopped just before I had to head out the door to shop. We need many many more rains like this to bring our lakes and water table to any where near normal. Please keep California (and the entire West) in your prayers.

Well, I'm off to start painting again. Wish me luck.
Blessings for a beautiful week.

Mary & Jones & Cole