Saturday, February 23, 2013

One Old House Full To The Brim

When I am out picking the countryside, I get talking with people. It is part of the business, and a component with which leads are found. 

Plus, stories of all kinds tend to pop up. 

Some are funny, others are drama packed, a few are life enriching, and there are many that are highly educational.

Then there are some that are like this one.

On one of my trips, I was traveling in a remote area, and to my dismay hit drizzling rain. However, I ended up doing some scouting, and door knocking, and after very little success, I stopped at one farm yard. After a some conversation with the owners, and a tour about their property, I ended up spending much of a day some great folks. I hope to also reconnect with them in the future.

They happen to own what had been originally multiple smaller properties. They accumulated and put them together into one larger land holding over their some years in the area. This plain, but quaint little cottage was on one of them.

 Any old structure I see, in my mind, contains potential for treasure....

So I inquired about it, and got to see inside it.

This one was chock full...

But not of treasure.

What follows is the "Cole's Notes" version of the story related to me:
It was built in the early-ish 1900s by a young man..

A young man in love.

He constructed it entirely by hand, with walls built of logs chopped from the bushland around it. He carved out a yard site for the future homestead for he and his bride-to-be, in the remote backwoods, but part of a tiny community of like minded people carving out an existence in the woods.

View of the home's log wall structure, visible in the back of closet/pantry.
 As I said, it was full...but not of treasure.

Then what was it full of, you ask?

Actually, it is not "full," per say...

It is overflowing.... 

With a million pieces of one man's heart.
You see, when the home was finished, and the couple were soon to be wed, the woman deserted the young man, and left the community, all to be with another man.

A house built with love was never occupied

A heart had shattered.

A house never made into a home. 

A window that no one would ever gaze out with their partner at the life they built together.

One of the many quaint window details that would never be admired by an resident.
A view of the kitchen from the living room. The living room would hear no music, nor laughter; and the kitchen would never fill with mouth watering aromas of home-cooked meals and giggles of  a flirting, playful young couple. (The liquor bottle on the left and can on the floor is a contribution by a squatter/transient.)

What happened to the heartbroken groom-to-be?

He went to live with his brother. 

Neither he, nor his brother, ever married. 

Both remained bachelors their entire lifetimes

However, they stayed in the community.

They lived their entire lives within a country mile of this building.

It is a hand hewn testament of love, carved out of a tiny piece of the Canadian wilderness...

Which became only a little known monument to heartbreak.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Mark Balelo.

The name may be familiar to you, due to his brief appearances on the Reality TV show "Storage Wars."

This is not my regular article on a "Junk Celeb." Some respect of privacy is warranted, in my opinion. I realize that I do just relate "facts" I have found online and elsewhere, but seeing as I had yet to really delve heavily into researching  his background, I simply will not personally do that right now, out of respect.

If you still do not know who "Mark Balelo" is, he apeared on Storage Wars a few times and was the guy they nicknamed Rico Suave. Still not ringing a bell? He also carried a murse.   Remember him now?

You can decide for yourself which definition of Rico Suave they were going for....if you click on the highlighted "Rico Suave" in the previous paragraph you will bring up a page from, who give 6 definitions of this term.

Personally, when he first appeared on the show, I actually felt sad for the guy. My first impression was that something did not seem "right" in it all. Couldn't place my finger on it immediately, but something was "off" with him, as far as I was concerned. However, that said, Storage Wars being a TV program, that well could have been intentionally created by the producer(s). All part of creating a fantasy by setting things up, editing scenes heavily, camera angles, manipulation/fabrication of situations, etc, etc, etc.

 So, seeing as I did not know the guy, I didn't bother to comment. I still don't know anything about him in his "real life.". 

Regardless of what I, or you, or anyone else thought of the guy, he is now dead. Despite reports that he committed suicide, the facts really still have not been officially released as of the writing of this blog. They may never be released in their entirety at all.  Even if all the facts were released, the "rest of the story" may never ever be made public knowledge. 

 So, despite the guy's "TV persona", I will not make any judgements. I never knew the guy personally, nor any of his close friends or family, and I know from experience that what you see on TV is not always entirely (or at all) representative of the real person.

Whatever the story really is, we might want to just cut the guy some slack now...After all, he is dead, and perhaps we need to learn to show some respect for the dead, and if not for the dead themselves, then for their families & friends who are in mourning right now. 

Media goes over the line of decency sometimes; sadly all too often.  It is really is up to the public to make the decision to pull back and respect the person that, for all intents and purposes, they really did not know. The family, friends and associates of this person also need even more to be respected, and perhaps even protected.

Just yesterday I heard tale of a media crew going to the family residence of a young pilot and his two sons, who all, along with a young friend of the boys, were tragically killed in an accidental  plane crash here in rural south-western Manitoba. 

The fact they went to interview them is not unusual....but the  the media crew went there at 1:00 AM. The last time you were in mourning for a close relative, what were you doing at 1:00 AM a day after their death(s)? And how about if they died entirely unexpectedly? And were young, healthy, and children?  And were your husband and children? I'm sorry, but if I had been a neighbor and/or friend of the family and found out the media crew was bothering them at 1:00 AM, I'd have flipped out....

Where is the respect? Famous or not, when news involves someone's death, perhaps media should proceed with some common sense, and step back from being the ones to get that "scoop", and give the family some time to grieve.

Now, this is all just my opinion. 

However, if you were to step into the shoes of family members of any person/people who end up in the media mainly due to their sudden demise, you may find that you will suddenly realize that you have the same opinion as I do. 

Here are some articles on his death, and I will add more as I come across them, good, bad and ugly. You can decide which "cross the line," if any, or if all. You will find there is a broad range on views and statements, even just in the headings of the articles, from as simple and innocuous as things as basic and banal as "Mark Balelo Dead" to the completely unconfirmed, and some over the top statements in the vein of "Mark Balelo Gassed and Killed Himself Due To Despondency Because Of His Conviction of Possessing Illegal Drugs !"  Yes, they tend to vary...some are subtle, some are not so subtle!

Just click on the highlighted areas and they will bring up a page with the articles.  Until then, we may have to wait until Doug Limerick* does Mark's story. 
 (*Doug Limerick hosts ABC's "The Rest Of The Story" which was formerly narrated by Paul Harvey

Some of the articles I found were spot on, identical, "regurgitations" of another sites' stories,  and as I found a few that were near identical, I have not included those. Some of these are similar, but have enough difference that I put them in my list anyway. Apologies if they are so similar they begin to bore you...but I didn't write 'em!
Huffington Post 

National Post 


OMG From Yahoo News

Fox News (they even managed to slip in a mention of Dave Hester's lawsuit against A&E!)

Toronto Sun

MSN Entertainment - TV News 

US Weekly

Hollywood Life (Warning! There is an audio/video ad that will start on this article's page!)

Mail Online (UK Daily Mail)

E! Online 

Seattle Pi 

 Not an article, but many (and continuing) comments on REDDIT 

Akron News Now

****NOTE: If any of these become "dead links", feel free to let me know!

MORE LINKS may be added as time goes on....!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Picker Strikes OIL!

Remember my post about yesteryear's trash being today's treasures?

Well, one of the items you might remember was this little advertising flyer for 3 In One household oil.

 Ask yourself, and be honest now, would you have bothered to hang on to this, considering the horrible condition it is in? 

Frankly, I could have sworn I heard some of my associates' eyes rolling when they saw photos of the "trash" that I had rescued, especially this!

Well, you may be surprised to learn that I turned this heavily damaged "worthless" piece of paper into the grand sum of:


No, not big money, but pretty darn good for this piece of yesteryear trash.

How did I do it?

Well, I saw something more in it than what many folks would see.

Lost history.

Specifically, some early Canadian history of 3 In One Oil. 

You see,  some time ago, the WD-40 company held a contest looking for the earliest 3 In One oil container.

I had one, a very early bottle, but never did get around to submitting photos of it. (This was in the pre-email era, by the way.)

Later I saw photos of the "winner"...looked the same, if not slightly more modern than the one I had.

Oh well....that is the result of procrastination for you.

It actually looked very similar to the bottle pictured on the damaged flyer, actually.

Some companies are working to create or expand their archives; preserve their history. 

So, knowing this, off went an email to the makers of 3 In One oil, the WD-40 company. 
 Long story short, take a look at what I received as a "Thank-You" for taking the time to rescue the piece, and offer it to them, free of charge, for their archives. Yes, this is what I found in a package was delivered to my doorstep today, via courier:

Total value, after taxes are added (and not even including the delivery to my door), the retail value of these items from local stores is:


It may not be a gusher, but I did strike oil!

MORAL: History is worth preserving. No matter how horrible a piece may look in condition, with a little outside the box thinking on your part,  as well as some research, and if presented to the right people/person/company/group/etc, those pieces of trash sometimes can still be true treasures.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Down & Dirty Picker Pictorial

Ok, unlike my usual posts, this one is going to be long......

Um, ok, yes, I know some......well, ok, ok, ok...I stand corrected......MANY of my posts ARE long...but this one isn't going to be long in a wordy sort of way....

This one is full of photos....action shots, if you will.

I tend to get pretty dirty, cobweb covered, dust coated, etc, etc in many places I pick, and I do search through quite a few "sketchy" places, as far as their overall condition goes.......Yep, I tend to get Down 'n' Dirty.....

And here we go!

This barn looks relatively safe and intact, right?


Ok, maybe not!

  This wall waved back and forth when a breeze started....

  Yes, I walked around on this...that is the LOFT, by the is a good story and a half up. I do not recommend you do something similar, tho! I do have over 20 years of this sort of thing under my belt!

To say that the structure of this place was not the best was an understatement.....beams were cracked and breaking, etc. All the time I was working here I kept my ears wide open for creaking, cracking, etc!

I have an affinity for old cellars...Why? Curiosity! That is where I always think the GOOD STUFF IS.....! I admit, that is not always the case, but I like to check everything out thoroughly
Unfortunately, there was no way to find the trap door to access this house's cellar...too many leaves, debris, etc....access wasn't through the normal trap door...The cast iron cook stove, gravity and mother nature co-operated to create access to this one.

This was a picking a building that was quite clean, and in use...but the crawlspace had not been used since the 1950s...and the access to is was moved to a part of the building that only had a 2 foot space between the floor joists and the ground...then you back crawled/shimmied under the floor, and within a couple feet dropped down into the deeper portion of the cellar. It is an all dirt floor...quite dry, but that also means quite dusty..Each movement you make on the floor, or shifting something created a cloud of dust.

Respirator time!
 REALLY dark! No lights in here!
I feel far more grungy than I look....

Sorry for the dark photo....per usual, there was no electricity in this building. What you see here is an estate that was stored in a barn for about 15+ years.  This was a hog barn...and became infested with rats, mice raccoons, and who knows what else. Roof also leaked.  I saw this stuff 15 or so years prior, but the family that owned the stuff was still hemming and hawing about what to do with it. At that time, I saw that there was about a few thousand dollars worth of stuff.  When I obtained the opportunity to sort through it, many years later, this is what the pile looked like (above & below)
After diggin' through the pile a couple hours.
Some items rescued....most of the furniture was destroyed by rot, mice, and the end, the grand total realized from this mess was under $400!   There were a few pieces of furniture here that WERE $500- $1500 pieces when I looked at them years back...and they were reduced to nothing more than glorified FIREWOOD...and not even that, with some of the parts so rotten that you could squeeze water out of them. THAT is what happens to items when they are left in uncontrolled conditions.

That is enough grunge, dirt, and dust for today....will post more photos of some of the stuff I have encountered soon!

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Truth Behind The Junk Celebs: Danielle Colby of American Pickers

The first thing I know many of you will be wondering is: 

Why is he writing about Danielle first, instead of Mike Wolfe?

Well, I'm a gentleman at heart, and thus, "Ladies First.

Anyway, no, I don't have a crush on her like half (or more?) of the show's viewers seem to.  She seems nice enough, interesting enough, seems to work hard, has some great ideas, and all, but she is a Reality TV personality...thus I don't know the real her now, do I?

Besides, I am happily married. 

Even though she was not....

Married, that is. (Whether it was "happily" or not is really no ones business but hers, and thus is not for me to know nor decide.)

Yes, that is correct, she was divorced . The TV interview she makes mention of that relationship here. 
 Shortly after initially posting this blog,  I found out from another source that Danielle has re-married! Sorry to burst your bubbles/fantasies guys and gals. (yes, that is right, I said gals, this is 2012, after all!)
Her husband is now Alexandre De Meyer. Her store, 4 Miles 2 Memphis, is also selling his screen printed T's, under the "Neuf vies," or "9-lives" label. 

I wish them all the best!

It does seem "Reality TV" and all it involves takes a toll on marriages, especially when you examine the track record of the reality TV "stars" and their relationships.   

But, that is another blog posting entirely.

So, Danielle is Danielle. Not 100% acting, pretending to be someone else while on screen or elsewhere in the public eye, which is an action to admire. Being essentially yourself on and off screen takes guts.  I realize the producer(s) of the show have some say in how she is portrayed, but compared to some of the other "reality" show personalities, she's in with the more "real" ones.

She is a proud mother of 2 children, as well. It is amazing to think that added to her family commitments, and her role on American Pickers, she has several various business/artistic/other interests that keep her very busy, including:

Burlesque - She dances under the name "Dannie Diesel" in  Burlesque Le Moustache

Fashion Design - 4 Miles To Memphis  - Which is also located formerly located in LeClaire, Iowa (same city as Mike Wolfe's first "Antique Archaeology" store) but she relocated it in Chicago, Illinois.

Supporting/assisting her father financially and I am sure emotionally. He is currently dealing with Leukemia.

 Roller Derby - She was part of a team of ladies that rolled under the name BIG MOUTH MICKIES.

She promotes and chats a bit on her Facebook page, also.

Well, that should keep you Danielle fans busy for a bit!