Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year'e Eve

The Scottish New Years celebration is known as Hogmany. It's imperative to wear a mask. The dour Scots are afraid someone will see them having fun, and call their parents. My daughter's in-laws hail from this neighborhood. Mercifully, my family is from a bit further west.

The Irish New Years celebration is known as drunken brawl. It involves consuming copious alcoholic beverages. Masks are periodically worn, to throw off the police, and the innocent victims.

Whatever your family tradition, party hardy, be safe and come back tomorrow in one piece. We'll leave the light on for ya.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What He Saw, What She Said

You've heard some pretty good stories over the years. This one is better, but before you hear it you are going to have to conjure up your own mental images. I'm not putting out. It is also imperative to know that in our pool house lives "the wayback machine", our pool house fridge.


You have seen the movie and know of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, the beast with a viscous streak a mile wide. Only the holy hand grenade of Antioch could dispatch it. Well, one of the rabbit's descendants lived in Mayberry, in fact here at The Park.

I went to retrieve vittles for our Christmas Eve party and happened upon the carcass of the Killer Rabbit's descendant, who ceremoniously had leapt, from a standing stop, to the top of the way back machine, believing with all his heart it was in fact, a ceremonial altar, upon which, saluting the Judean People's Front, he committed ritual suicide. That's my story. It's the only viable explanation, which fits all the variables, for finding a previously live rabbit, in a closed room, 6 feet off the ground. Unless of course it's Harvey, which this is not.


Foolishly, I mentioned my finding, and got an earful of this. "Something snatched that rabbit, so if you so much as let that puppy out unescorted, you'll be next on the top of the way back machine." Loving, no?

I'm certain one of her flying monkeys grabbed the bunny, but can't prove it.


The header photo is of a neighbor's house. I hope to buy it after my third lottery win.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Now that that's over with

You know the old adage about when you have nothing to say... I'm there.

In the mean time, drop whatever you are doing and see Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude law.

But I don't like Sherlock Holmes, you say. It's only a character's name. No elementarys, no deer stalkers, no resemblance to any Holmes you have ever encountered. It is a fabulous movie.

Age appropriate for those over 10. No sex, no language problems. Some violence, but less than a video game.

But what a movie. Long too. A tad over 2 hours. Perfect for droppping the kids off.

David of Midwestern Malaise, should you see it, I challenge you to who can have abs like Robert Downey Jr, by this time next year contest. Let the games begin.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

C'est Noel

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas


Photo shamelessly borrowed from Simply Seductive, who borrowed from Marie Claire Magazine, who...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fuzzy Slippers

Mrs. T received her first Christmas present of the season Saturday when Charlie arrived. His feet have barely touched the ground since.

Ted the Wonder dog is not amused.

Happy Festivus.

PS: Thank you all for taking me back for this, my 500th post.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It didn't snow in Mayberry last weekend. I'm not ungrateful. It did finally turn cold though and for that I may be thankful.

Finally, it's chilly enough to drag out the moleskins, the perfect pants for cold weather.

To the uninitiated, moleskin is the soft fluffy fur surrounding little rodents. It makes terrific pants since its .... No, no, no, what? Oh.

Moleskin is a brushed cotton fabric, similar to an extremely heavily woven flannel, which is luxuriously soft, durable, nearly wind resistant, and looks great. It's the perfect winter antidote for those sick of looking at men in khaki's. It's nearly impervious to wrinkles which makes it near nirvana for those of us with a more casual air. The downside is it won't hold a crease.

While shod in suede, moleskin is a terrific complement. The suede chukka boot mirrors the brushed fabric finish. Save for white or black, most of the suede boot tones work perfectly.

Adding to the cool factor, most moleskin mills are in Britain. The pants generally come in fall shades ranging from gray through the greens and browns. I've never come across a bad color.

Their durability and wind resistance make them comfortable hunting pants. Mixed with a Barbour and pair of wellies you can hunt or be in the field all day.

Later, change your shoes, add an old tweed or tartan jacket with perhaps a Fair Island sweater and you're ready for cocktails.

Heaven in a closet.


Monday, December 21, 2009


Family Astronomer Royal, Dr. Richard Schwartz reminds today is the winter solstice. High Holy days for for my ancient Celtic ancestors, and many current world religions.

Can you visualize the lifetimes of work involved, watching the stars, observing (a skill currently out of favor)the natural phenomena, laying the ground work necessary for the ancients to develop an annual calendar, first notice then dead reckon a lightest and darkest day of the year, sell the notion of a solstice and its significance to the local high priests, the annual wait for decent weather necessary to replicate its happening, and then to sign up your neighbors to rejoice in its coming, and hoping its not cloudy that day? The mind reels at the improbability. Yet it happened. Over and over. Civilizations around the world built solar observatories to await the solstices.

We are dismissive of early man's accomplishments, but many of their findings hold true thousands of years later. Things you or I couldn't do, were done by people before Google,Internet or wireless remote cable television.

So let us rejoice. The dark days are behind us, the days grow brighter, spring is not far.

Finally, in an annual tradition of my own, and to celebrate the miracle of the seasonal snow fall let's celebrate with Robert Frost.

Have a wonderful solstice.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

keith richards- cool guy

My My Hey Hey Rock and Roll is here to stay, sings Neil Young.

Tony Bourdain on Keith Richards during an interview in St. Paul, Minn.:Tony, I know you appreciate food and can put away large quatities in one sitting. How do you manage to keep trim? I don't get the impression that exercising with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth is the answer.

Anthony Bourdain: My diet and health regime is as follows: a healthy breakfast of coffee and cigarettes, a big lunch, sensible dinner. I don't snack. I don't eat Cheese Doodles. I don't eat Pringles and I'm not into desserts and sweets. I call it the Keith Richards exercise plan. Every day that Keith Richards still walks this earth is a validation of my workout regimen.

Today is Keith's 66th birthday, and 26th wedding anniversary.

According to those who proclaim to know, all it took was the love a good woman, in this case model Patti Hansen, to put paid to the "mad, bad, dangerous to know" Keith of old. He's mellowed into a thoughtful, loving husband, parent and general good guy.

Still though, I'd hate to see that mug in the mirror whenever I looked.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nupts- an irregular series

I admit I have recently given up reading the Sunday NYT Vows section. I became bored to tears of Dr. Superman meets Wonder Woman, Multiple PhD's at the day care center were they volunteer blah blah blah.

Seems like the Times became sick of it too, since at least this week they featured couples you may actually want to know in real life.

Take for instance:

Susan and Justin-They were married Saturday in Cincinnati. Regular folks with regular jobs. They met while living in the same apartment building. Justin bought two pumpkin pies and several canned goods for a church food drive. Once there he found they would not accept the pies so keeping one, he searched his building for someone to take the other. Seeing a door with Thanksgiving decorations he knocked and offered his pie. That's how he met Susan.

The following day she left a thank you note, and the following week as she was holiday decorating he asked her to linner. They have been together since.

Kaaryn and Demond- Kaaryn is a program director for several non profits. Until last March Demond was a project manager for an architectural consulting firm, He is now pursuing his bachelors degree.

Lindsay and Daniel-She teaches first grade, he's a personal trainer.

Aliza and Ariel-The couple met through mutual friends, but her never got up the gumption to ask her out. Finally, he manned up and asked her out, forgetting that was Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day he spends time at Synagogue, to read the names of family members lost.

To ask her to come would put her in an awkward position, so they met for drinks, and then he asked her to join him. She went.

In June 2009, he decided to propose during their first camping trip. He excused himself and went to get something out of the trunk of his car. He returned to the campfire wearing a suit, and carrying a rose and a ring.

She said yes, they celebrated with s'mores.

Thank you NYT for coming back to reality.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Please forgive me while I foment heresy.

At the urging of The Elegantologist and others, Mrs. T and I sat down to watch Julie and Julia over the weekend. After the first several minutes I had this vision, that won't go away. Perhaps you have it too.

Didn't you feel you were watching John Cleese as Julia and Meg Ryan as Julie?

Just saying.

BTW the newly single Ms. Powell has a new book out in time for the holidays. It's been skewered by most critics, but I wish her well.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I blame no one but myself, but I was unaware until this week that Jeanne-Claude Christo had died on November 18.

For the longest time the philistine side of my brain rebelled against Christo's environmental installations. Wrapping Miami Beach in fabric. Give me a break. It took "The Gates" in New York's Central Park so soon after 9/11 to show me the light. I found it incredibly uplifting.

Jeanne-Claude was born the same day, as her husband, only minutes apart

For 51 years she was Christo's muse, manager and spokesperson. It was said they spoke with one voice, hers. They did everything but 3 things together. Jeanne-Claude explains,"They do not fly together, I do not draw, and I have deprived him of the joy of working with our accountant."

They married in 1960, and emigrated to New York in 1964.

Together they completed 19 installations. It was JC who led the good fights to get the necessary permits and approvals to continue their work.

Her complete Guardian obituary can be found here: Guardian obit


Monday, December 14, 2009

Second floors

Chiropractors are thick on the ground in Mayberry. One of the few Chiropractic colleges is located here, and it seems young students come, like it and won't go away. Which has its good and bad points.

Certainly, its good for commercial real estate. Young professionals saddled with debt appear to prefer to hang out their own shingle rather than team up. It's better for business I suspect.

For a long time, I thought it was peculiar to Mayberry that a large number of crack a backs chose to locate on the second floor of strip malls and roadside commercial properties. I suspect the rents are cheaper than street level, which works out pretty well as long as you don't trouble to concern yourself about your patients needs.

Now put yourself in the patient's shoes, or perhaps you are a shoe wearing patient. You've been hurt, you're in pain. Your back's killing, so what do you do? Dig out the Yellow Pages, remember them?, and look for a Crack a Back nearby. Ya make an appointment, show up a few minutes early, get out of the car and look at the steps.

If you could climb the steps, you wouldn't need a doctor.

As I said, I thought this may have been a local phenomenon, that is until I Googled images for "2nd floor Chiropractors". There are hundreds if not thousands of images.

Somewhere you would think they would teach these kids how to run a business, wouldn't you?


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Guess who's winning

Last spring I posted about a group of neighbors who were jealous because one of their own installed his very own art display and didn't ask his neighbors to join in the fun. This being America, those left out sued.

They sued in local, county, state and Federal court. The local court punted. The municipality said they had nothing on the books to prohibit art displays. The county said, as long as it is safe... They eventually dropped the state suit and went to the Feds, who being in no particular hurry, set a hearing date for several weeks after the rapture. In the mean time construction continues.

It may come as no particular surprise to learn that the closer you live to this project, the less excited you are about it. Known as "The Holocaust Revisited" it exhibits the subtle interplay of religious expression and property rights.

Especially for the back yard neighbors.

The display shows best a night. It's well lit, lest trespassers trip over the art.

The artist is one angry dude. So next time one of your neighbors offends,take a deep breath. Your house is probably sellable. You could probably leave. Not these folks, not only must they face this everyday, but the have to face the regular special neighborhood assessments to pay the lawyers. The artist, whose legal defense is provided by the ACLU and several Jewish groups, is also being sued for not contributing to the suits against himself. Go figure.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Laughter Encouraged

Happy Holidays and have a great weekend. See ya Sunday.


You're having a good day when...

We are all creatures of habit. Mrs. T for instance is unable to drive without a cell phone in her ear. Her routine is specific. Sit in car, remove phone from purse,search for keys, dial phone, start car and go. The phone is key.

Yesterday, I screwed up big time. I left my wife's cell phone in my pants pocket, and threw them in the washer. After 2 spin cycles, I remembered my gaffe, pull it out, recharged the battery AND IT WORKED.

Mrs. T is free to continue her holiday shopping now. Let us give thanks.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tux shirt shopping

I was minding my own business this afternoon, window shopping on line, sorta unsuccessfully looking for a tux shirt, when I came across this number.

Brought to you by the wonderful folks of Pakeman Cato and Carter Seemingly the back is the same polka dot mix.

Have you ever?



Perhaps some of you have rightfully repressed these memories, but I was scarred for life, as 10 year old, when my mother made me sit in the back of the room while she attended a meeting of TOPS, Take Off Pounds Sensibly.

In those days, the women met in a church basement, had a several minute rah rah session, and then hit the scales. Watching adult women with tears in their eyes, approach a scale was spectacle enough, but the punch line came shortly later.

If a women gained a couple of ounces, she was whipped off the scale, and had to put on a pig hat, and recite, "Oink Oink, I'm a big fat pig". That's when the tears really began.

Even as a 10 year old that didn't seem motivational to me. I wondered why they didn't stay home. To this day I shutter when the subject of diets comes up.

After dinner on Thanksgiving, my non-competitive SIL invited my bride to join her at Weight Watchers. As any boy, born of woman knows, when mom is on a diet the family is.

Saturday, the girls sign up. Mrs. T is in full competition mode. She knows her points,she has a plan. Now, we both are at the gym daily, it's cardboard and gruel at our house. SIL never went back, and I'm feeling like Oliver Twist.

Last Saturday was the second weigh in. Mrs. T is fuming since SIL didn't go, but very proud of her loss. Occasionally, she'll ask how I'm doing. My lips are sealed.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Please Give

Most of us are a comparatively privileged lot. We have jobs, a decent Rolodex, resources. Many do not.

Mrs. T and I work at a food pantry once a week. For years the client count has remained fairly stable. For 2009 that count doubled. In November, it doubled again.

The recent upsurge is directly attributed to a sudden factory closing. In spite of the news, a lot of people are not seeing the end of the recession anytime soon.

Much like the 3 men who accosted Ebenezer Scrooge, I come to you, to ask for your generous contribution for those in need.

Many churches, shopping malls, movie theatres and others have food collection drives this time of year. Please take advantage of them.

The folks in need are your neighbors,most never expected to be in this position, and are grateful for your gifts.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

One Project Down

Once again, I wish to thank Mrs. Blandings for posting the photo of her new stair runner. I shamelessly stole a photo of her beautiful home and used it as the inspiration for my sales pitch for our holiday project. Mrs. B you are my hero.

With the help of our buddy Chuck, who has made a career of saving me from myself, together we tackled the design and build of our copy cat version of wainscoting. If you ever are in need of a bit of holiday mirth, sit two adult men down and watch them design a house project.

I designed, Chuck revised, I redesigned. We fought like sisters. So certain was I that I had communicated my plan than I didn't look at the panels until late the night before installation. They were awful.

Chuck showed up in the morning, saw that I may have been sorta right, gathered up his material and left. He returned in several hours with truly astonishing great pieces.

When did you last use a protractor? I haven't since high school Geometry. In our discussions we had to figure out which angle to use when cutting the end caps at the top of the stairs. Chuck begins with the " I think its a...."

Stupidly, sometimes I've just got to be right. Not often, but occasionally the mood hits. So I pulled our trusty protractor out of the desk to suggest the angle may be... but I couldn't read the numbers. We both fell down the stairs in hysterics.

As you can see our house is small, the stairway and corridors are narrow and dark, but I think the paneling and white paint help make it seem brighter.

Most importantly, my bride likes the finished product, completed on time and under budget. Let the holidays begin.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Silk Maps

Boys save the darndest things. I have always loved maps, and globes. The older the better. Heaven on earth for me was finding a very old map, with country names that will never exist again.

During the cold war that meant finding pre-war maps that included the Baltics, or colonial maps of Africa. I'm still searching garage sales in hopes of finding a British globe on a large library stand from about 1890.

One of the great map inventions of the 20th century was made by the Royal Air Force near the beginning of WWII. The silk map. It was little, light,did not disintegrate in water and contained a great deal of information useful to a downed pilot.

The U.S. Army Air Corps "borrowed" and expanded on the idea to include silk maps all the war theatres. The photos below are of my favorites, from my modest collection, covering the air routes from The Philippines to Japan.

During my Air Force days, warehouses of these maps existed, and they were there for the taking. Mostly war surplus, but new ones were still being printed. Many Air Corps veterans used them, after the war, as linings in old flight jackets, or odd their favorite hunting coat.

The military sold surplus tons of them to the likes of Banana Republic to provide an authentic military look to their clothing.

I have enough silk maps to make a lining, and have the coat I would want to try it on, but somehow it feels disrespectful. Kind of like wearing decorations you didn't earn.

Should you find any old maps in the attic,let me know. I'd be happy to take them off your hands.