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Glass insulators

Glass insulators

Another glass item that I collect is insulators. I’m talking about the glass usually-cone-shaped things that are on the tops of telephone poles to insulate the electric wires.

Quite a few people collect insulators. The first time I saw an insulator was in an antique store. I was intrigued by it and had to ask what it was. When I found out, I got bitten by the collecting bug and never looked back.

Now I have a ton of them. I have them displayed along a fence rail around my back yard. They’re interesting to look at and they also make for quite the conversation starters.

I like to find insulators in antique stores and restoration-type stores. I don’t mean new stores in malls. I mean like those warehouse-type stores where you can find a ton of stuff usually covered in dust and ill-organized. But if you’re patient and persistent, you can unearth some gold mines.

Whenever I visit a new city, if possible I’ll go to whatever restoration stores I can find. They’re never centrally located to anything because they’re usually in a big warehouse, but I’ll take a taxi or rent a car and go track them down.

pompeiiI have found some pretty great insulators. One time I found an orange insulator from Pompeii. I have no idea how it made it across the ocean to this country or to the restoration site it ended up in, but I grabbed it. It had some distinctive markings so I knew it was the real deal.

Another time I found an insulator from the first telephone line that crossed the United States. It had the name of the line on it and a serial number, and those two pieces of information proved that it was the real deal.

Sometimes I’ll trade or sell my insulators. It’s kind of like old-fashioned Pokemon card trading that my kids used to do. I usually post online that I have a certain insulator to trade or sell, and then someone will message me back, and if all the details are in order, we’ll meet for the handoff.

I’ve gotten $500 for a glass telephone insulator. Several times. They were a particular make and variety. Most insulators don’t sell for anywhere near that much. Sometimes you can actually pick them up for like a buck.

I have also put some of my insulators onto eBay and some I’ve taken down to our local auction house.

Ebay bidding can get crazy, especially if you have two motivated buyers. Then it’s like all hell breaks loose. I remember once I had a pink insulator in an active auction. There were a couple of interested buyers that put in half-hearted bids. Thirty seconds before the auction ended, a bidding war started. Every second the price went up, as the two buyers bid each other up.

auctionsThey were both determined to win the auction. But when the bell was rung, so to speak, the auction was done and there was only one winner. The guy who paid $735 for one glass insulator.

Shot Collection

Shot Collection

I told you I collect bottles. I also collect shot glasses.

I know, shot glass collections aren’t anything original or unique. But I’ve been working on my collection for a long time, and I’m picky about the shot glasses I get.

whiskey glass I don’t just get any old shot glass from any old place. It has to be meaningful and significant in some way. Otherwise I’d have a million dumb shot glasses from places like Six Flags Over Texas or Round-up Pete’s New Mexico Gas Depot.

Nope, I try to be pretty intentional about what I collect. Especially now, knowing how many collections I have going. I just don’t have the space for endless assortments of insignificant trinkets.

So . . . the shot glasses. I decided when I first started collecting them that I would only get glasses from places where a significant event happened. That could be a significant social gathering/event like a wedding, or a significant conversation, or a significant life moment, or a significant destination.

Since much of my life, like anyone’s, is made up of mostly humdrum moments with a scattering of significant ones, it seemed a pretty reasonable way to pursue a collection.

So now I have maybe a hundred shot glasses, and each one does represent something special or meaningful.

court house I just realized that I don’t collect shot glasses from places where negatively meaningful things happen. In other words, I did not get a shot glass from the Wannahawkaloogie Court House on the date of my divorce. Or from the Lewis J Smedes funeral home after the services for my nephew. Or from Pratt County Millhouse on the day that I lost my job.

I don’t want to have memories of events like that. Probably some shrinks or 12-step groups would say there is something cathartic or healingly reminding in negative situations that are remembered, but I don’t care. That’s not for me.

I have three shot glasses from my second honeymoon. I mean, the second time I got married and I went on a honeymoon, I got some shot glasses.

I got the shot glasses because some really cool things happened on that trip, and not just because it was a honeymoon.

Our honeymoon was to the Cinqueterre area of the Italian coastline. We stayed in a little private villa in Riomaggiore. The villa was glued to the side of the steep mountain (along with all the other houses and villas) and had this incredible sweeping view of the Adriatic Sea. It was like a gem, most days—an incredible blue that shimmered like it was alive.

One day in Riomaggiore, we went down to a café at the bottom of the mountain for a coffee. There in that café, as we were sipping our coffee, I overhead a conversation. It was another couple, tourists, but not obnoxious ones.

To make a long story short, overhearing that conversation led to another conversation, and I found out that the guy of the couple was my brother. I didn’t even know I had a brother until that trip.

So yeah, it was a life-changing event. And I got a shot glass from that café!
All Cleaned Up

All Cleaned Up

 So this is a blog about collections and collecting and collectors, except for this particular article, which is going to be about home maintenance.

I know, it doesn’t relate but it’s just what I’m thinking about right now.

I had decided that the outside of my house was looking like it needed freshening up. I mean, top to bottom. The roof (I have orange clay tile) had gotten streaked with black mold, my gutters were all green, I had some mold growing on the side of the house, and the driveway and sidewalk were pretty black.

pool-deckOh, and the pool deck out back looked pretty bad. Moldy. And my pool furniture was green, too.

At first I thought I needed to maybe get the house repainted. Then I thought I’d just try a good deep clean from top to bottom and stem to stern, and then I’d see what the situation was after that.

I got online and looked for central Florida pressure washing companies and also central Florida power washing companies in the local area. I found several and called them all. Some of them sounded pretty rinky dink and I could imagine them showing up with a Home Depot pressure washer and wanding everything and taking a week.

One I talked to said they could do the whole thing, roof and all, in a day, and it would cost $2500. After I picked myself up off the floor, I said, no thanks, that’s a little outside my price range.

Then I found an outfit called Appearance Pressure Washing Saint Cloud. Those guys said they’d come out later that afternoon and look over everything and give me an on-site quote followed up by an emailed written quote. Sounded professional and like they knew what they were talking about.

So the guy came out. He said they do roof cleaning central florida as well as pressure washing central florida and power washing central florida.

roof-cleaningFor the roof cleaning, he described their low pressure roof cleaning process and said that some people call it soft wash roof cleaning. And some people call it chemical roof cleaning.

He said his company does low pressure house washing as well. This is a system where a diluted chemical mix is used to get rid of mold and insect residue and environmental pollutants. And it’s way better for the surface of the house than just blasting it with 3500 psi of water.

For the pool deck cleaning and screen enclosure cleaning, he said he sometimes uses a surface cleaner on it, but that can mess up the paint, so more often now he uses the same house wash mix, and that gets the decking clean. He can use the same mix on all the furniture, including the umbrellas, and it’ll get everything clean.

For the sidewalk cleaning and driveway pressure washing, he said he pre-treats with a chemical mix and then power washes or pressure washes it. He said he could get up all the mold, even the dark spots.

He sounded like he totally knew what he was talking about, and then when he quoted me $1000 for the whole thing, including the roof, I said, Great, when can you do it?

He came three days later and did the whole thing and it’s perfect. I’m a happy man.
The Red Bottle

The Red Bottle

I mentioned I got the red beer bottle at the tip of Chile in South America.

the americas

That bottle actually came with quite a few pretty amazing memories. I have had that bottle for many years. I got it on a trip that I took down through the Americas when I was in my early 20s.

I was part of a loose caravan of travelers that decided to drive in old beater vans down through Central America and South America all the way to the bottom of Chile.

We took sleeping bags, camping gear, camp stoves, and various other basic necessities that we would need on the trip that would probably last for several months.

I had my camera and my sketchbook also. Those were the things that I wanted most along on the trip so that I could record the unique aspects of the landscape and the people and the terrain.

That trip turned out to be unforgettable. Memorable in almost every way. They were several vans that went down and a number of people in each van. If I remember right, there were about 12 of us that actually left California altogether. I think by the time we got to the end there were only six of us. We had a lot of deserters.

But that didn’t matter. We didn’t care. We were very loose and easy about the trip. There weren’t expectations. There was just a core of us that wanted to get down to the bottom and the rest of them went by the wayside and that was fine.

It took a long, long time just to do the driving part of the whole trip. Some of the roads were decent and some of them were miserable. I don’t know how many flat tires we had. We only had one or two small fender benders when it came to accidents. So we really lucked out in that department.

We charted a very loose route and we followed it very loosely. We were able to see some spectacular things that we actually planned to see and then we also saw a lot of sites that we just happened on. So those ones were very serendipitous.

We got along fairly well. There weren’t too many of us that rubbed each other the wrong way. We worked out a pretty easy and fluid relating style and design of living on the road in our vans.

It was good to have the camping because it gave us a bit of an escape from the vans.

I got the red bottle like this. . . .

dirt trackIt happened on the night that we decided we had officially reached the southernmost point that we could reach. There was a dirt track that we stumbled on, and we followed it back to where it ended: in front of a bar made of corrugated iron, painted all red.

We went inside for a few drinks, and I had beer out of a red bottle. I knew I had to take that bottle with me. I had to. Turned out there was no drama taking it. I just asked and they said, sure.

So that’s my red glass bottle from the bottom of South America.