Friday, April 30, 2010

Ask & You Shall Receive

DAG asked the other day about the photos on my closet wall. Since there is not much to tell, today is the perfect day to tell it.

For reasons completely unknown to me, and most uncharacteristically, last New Years Day, I found a coupon for Michael's, a chain of arts and crafts stores, and purchased a dozen picture frames.

Somewhere along the line,the idea for the picture wall took root. It's an idea I could get away with in no other room in the house. The rules were simple. No women. Surprisingly, nothing has ever been said, but I suspect there is a lot of eye rolling. My bride indulges me.

The photos have been for the most part liberated from various blog posts, and represent a current pantheon of explorers, adventurers, artists and writers.

George Mallory, the first European to attempt to climb Everest. He died trying. Liberated from Maxminimus
Peter Beard, artist, conservationist

George Mallory and Sandy Irvine. The same Everest expedition

Jim Corbett. British soldier, hunter, explorer

Ian Fleming by Cecil Beaton

Me, by Me

From Alan Flusser's book "Dressing the man"

There is positively no rhyme or reason for any of the photos selected. I have another batch of photos waiting to trade places with these. Mostly authors this time. Twain, Maugham, Dylan Thomas, Hemingway, Capote.

Mercifully, I am on the mend.


Thursday, April 29, 2010


I have caught the galloping crud. A toxic combo to spring allergies, tacos, and too many dogs. We're dog sitting for the next two weeks. So while I recover, or until tomorrow whichever comes first, allow me to share one of my favorite blogs.

Oddly, it rarely shows up on the blog rolls I visit, which is a shame.

For those who have not yet seen it, take a gander at Todd Selby's site The Selby, is in your space Todd is a photographer who specializes in capturing the essence of creative peoples homes and work spaces. His pix are uniformly fabulous, as are his subjects.

ADG, Allie and others dig deep into the archives for Tom Wolff's home.

I haven't kept up as well as I should, but I believe his book is just out, or very soon to be released.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

window shopping

I am happy to not need a thing for spring, but it hasn't stopped my window shopping. Most of the windows are on the other side of this monitor. It's been cold and rainy, and I haven't felt like hitting the real stores anyway.

First up is this great, club collared number from Epaulet. Clubs don't work for me, and this shirt will never be made to fit, but I still love the look.

Epaulet | Club Collar Red Oxford

II. Are you familiar with Lands End's Canvas line?

I remember Lands End from when it was a sailing supply shop. Most of its totes,and canvas bags were the staples which kept them in business. My favorite brief case of all time came from them. A canvas bag, which was perfect for a drummer constantly on the road. It was impossible to overfill.

Anyway, the Canvas line feels like a marriage of The Gap and J Crew. A bit too young for me perhaps, although I am awaiting delivery of a couple of shirts, which I am completely expecting not to fit. More later.

III. Buddy Ellie Stager when she heard about the missing bow tie, got immediately in touch, asking what could possibly replace my missing bow tie?

A blue chambray, says I.

A week later it magically appeared.

It took the longest time to figure out what to wear it with. I eventually found an ivory linen shirt in the closet. A white OCBD will work as well. Let linen season begin.

IV. And finally, my search for the perfect Johnny Apple red gingham shirt has ended. After a long search I found the perfect shirt, and discovered the color looks awful on me. Such is the way with the hunt.


Must watching for everyone

Watch this. D, you too.

Save this.

Watch it on airplanes, watch it on trains.

Watch it several times.

Pass it on.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Toad Suck Daze

Get your mind out of the gutter, jeez.

Just a tad north of Little Rock is the community of Conway, Arkansas, population 43,000.

View Larger Map

Each year, generally on the last weekend of April, the locals hold an annual festival, Toad Suck Daze, to raise money to support the community's colleges, and junior college scholarship funds. To date they have raised almost a million dollars. Guess what. It's this weekend.

Sadly, we will be unable to attend, although we approve in spirit. Conway is one of those places you just can't get to from here, although I don't, on principle, object to travel for cotton candy, fried snickers bars, funnel cakes or decent bar b q.

What does "Toad Suck" mean anyway?

Well, the answer is quite simple... Long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn't, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock and Dam now spans the river. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern there, to the dismay of the folks living nearby, who said: "They suck on the bottle 'til they swell up like toads." Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend and fun live on at Toad Suck Daze.

From the official bulletin

Should you go, I would appreciate a full report. Most often they have biblical rains all weekend.

Further info may be found here and here.

Two other notable festivals occur this weekend as well. Should you find yourself near Breaux Bridge, La. it's time for the annual crawfish festival. You may enjoy Calvin Trillin's report of his visits to the Festival in years past here.

Finally, as long as you are near, why not stop by Natchez, Mississippi for the Natchez Bluff Blues festival?


Monday, April 26, 2010

Confederate Memorial Day

photo: Richard & Salena Marie Mann.

I like soldiers. I like ours, I like theirs.

Throughout history, soldiers have for the most part, been obedient kids, doing a job their elders told them to do without thought, or concern for the reasons why. They have done their work honorably, to the best of their ability for nothing in return.

I firmly believe that if the pool of conscripts began with 40 to 50 year olds, the world would be a much safer place.

Today, throughout much of the south is Confederate Memorial Day. Without turning the day into a apologist nightmare of code words, and hate speech, I find the tribute fitting.

Americans died during the Civil War, in places far from home, in venues hardly imagined. The memorial above is in Higginsville, Missouri, near Kansas City. The men memorialized there fought and died, some for a cause they believed in, some because fighting was expected of them.

History is not just about the winners. Today, we honor their sacrifice.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Winner & Odds and Ends

I've been remiss.

There were 9 entries to the "have I got a deal for someone" white coat giveaway. My thanks to each of you. Most of the entries were pretty straight forward although there was the odd story or two. A winner was selected by my favorite bride.

I waited until now to publicly announce the winner, because in a dash of gallantry, I wanted to make certain the jacket actually fit the winner. My deal with him was that he would send it on to the first runner up if it didn't fit.

In fact, he claims it fits very well. Congratulations Man of the 50's.

I'm so glad to get this out of my closet. Each spring I would drag it out, notice how I hadn't grown taller over the winter, and face the attendant shame of failure all over again.

II. Hell hath no fury.....

Is anyone driving the bus at Amazon? In the past 10 days I have received 4 emails from them. The first thanked me for my pre-order of Dominique Browning's Slow Love. The next warned me the release had been delayed and I could expect it mid to late May. The next two were nonsense. The book arrived yesterday.

I suspect someone at Amazon got a pair of stiletto heels up their.....

III. Have you ever stopped having a habit?

Have you ever had a habit, which unconsciously you stopped having, and didn't notice you'd stopped for quite a while? Other than say, being married?

For 25+ years, with a few exceptions, I have been a 3 cigar a day man. Get in the car (alone) light up, cut the lawn, light up. There is a motor theme here somewhere. There are a number of triggers.

The man in the brown truck showed up Friday. Mrs. T, not expecting anything that day, inquired if that was my monthly cigar order. It then hit me. I hadn't had a cigar since before Christmas. There are several on my desk, the paraphernalia is all about me. I'm just not tempted. Not to say I've quit, just stopped.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

A wonderment

The Complete Zac Posen for Target Collection

There is a boy expression, I hope I'm not thrown out of the club for revealing. Goes something like this.

" She has legs that go........." There are a number of variations, but hopefully you get the point. The slow may contact The Epic for clarification.

If you acknowledge that every pixel of this photo has been manipulated, and the poor girl looks unfortunately like Rachel Zoe, and then discount the heels, just where do those legs go on this Amazon? She's got to be taller than James.

Just wondering.


Friday, April 23, 2010

A New Rule

It's tough to make new rules. First, you have to care. Then you have to find others who care, devise rules, create penalties, become prepared to impose those penalties. The list is endless.

My new rule however is so practical, so beneficial, and so easy, that it will probably become the 13th or 14 commandment. Wanna peek?

I propose that no blowhard, anywhere, may publish, publicly pronounce, bloviate, or reference ANY scientific study which does not on the very first page provide all the names of those who funded the study, and when in summary announces said study results are better than..., must name and demonstrate all the better thans.

For instance, and I am totally making this up, suppose you read of a study that says dogs shouldn't chew bones. In fact, the results of this study appeared in my morning paper. Wouldn't I be well served to know that MilkBones funded the study? Or perhaps, that dogs eating bones was more harmful than .... eating cryptonite, but less harmful than Milkbones?

I'm willing to suspend disbelief a lot, but I bet my rule would stop a lot of nonsense.


For those paying attention today is the 394th anniversary of the death of Billy Shakespeare.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who's the parent?

Not in the womb, but shortly thereafter, I began making fun of old fat men with toy dogs. Now I'm am a dues paying member of that elite fraternity.

Charley, is Mrs. T's dog. She came with specific instructions that if it were cold, dark, inclement or inconvenient I could take care of her. I have a new best friend.

Several weeks go, she surprised me during her morning constitutional, with a head up, chest out gift of a hoof to ankle bone of one of the neighborhood deer. She was incredibly proud of herself. A quick search of the property yielded no other potential gifts.

Sunday afternoon, Mrs. T was away,the doors were open so the animals could come and go and the dogs outside, the papers were on my lap, a dumb movie was on the telly, and I tried valiantly to take a nap.

It was one of those afternoons, I'd just drift off and the phone would ring. It was one thing after another. I persevered though. Finally, dead to the world, all hell broke loose.

The dogs were, best as I could tell, on my chest reenacting the battle of Fredericksburg. Instead, Charley had found more deer bits. This time a rear haunch, and she wasn't sharing.

Attempting to separate the dogs from the bones was going to be a near death experience, and I wanted no part of it. Mrs. T came home, saw the carnage, and laid into poor innocent me. Who's the parent around here? If I've heard that once....

Brunswick stew anyone?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rest in Peace

Today is the 100th anniversary of the death of Samuel L. Clemons.

Like many kids of my generation, my first exposure to Mark Twain was Hal Holbrook's portrayal on television. In the mid '60's PBS was littered with Hal doing his one man Twain show. I came to Mark Twain via television, not his books.

Later, I found his books. For the life of me I will never understand book censorship. Busybodies, and improvers annoy me to no end. One of the few things I am intolerant of is intolerance. I had to read his books just because. Whenever a self appointed do gooder tells me no, I say yes. Mark Twain's writings have become one of the treasures of my life.

I especially enjoy his later works, mostly short stories, but most of all the book, Twain's family waited until 1962 to publish, "Letters From The Earth".

This is Twain at his full element. Completed near his death, its a diatribe against organized religion, a parody of the the book of Exodus, and beautiful satire.

If you are unfamiliar with "Letters From The Earth", it is on line here.

As Mark Twain wrote, "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand."


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Ugly American-With a side of Rant

The Ugly American tourist is no myth. I know, I've traveled with him.

Fueled by frequent flyer miles, people who should stay home, take busman's holidays to visit people and places they have no more business going to than I have writing the great American novel. Take my South Carolina relatives for instance. Please.

My brother in law and his wife have finally saved enough for the grand tour.

Carolina to London to Barcelona, cruise the Med,and back for a week in London. Sounds delightful doesn't it? I wish I were going, just not with them.

Since they leave Friday, they decided to give the trip some thought. This morning they phoned their travel agent to curse her for the volcano in Iceland. She is now on notice. Later, they stopped by here to ask what to see and do. They were most interested in knowing about London.

Dr. Johnson wrote "If you are tired of London you are tired of life." I hope to never tire of it. I adore London.

Somehow they scored a suite in a swank hotel in Mayfair. Walking distance to everything. I suggested for new kids the basic tourist stuff. The V&A, no we are not museum types. Does that include the Tower of London? Probably. St. Paul's? No, we're not churchy. A play on the West End? Nope. Bath, Stonehenge, Stafford on Avon? What's there?, they asked.

Why the ... are you going? I was starting to steam.

As long as I was getting nowhere I had to twist the knife.

Now remember, I told them, you are staying in the most elegant, sophisticated neighborhood in the English speaking world. Don't expect to be treated well if you don't dress at least as well as the doorman at your hotel.

This to people who think long trousers are an imposition.

No shorts, no tennis shoes. Wear a sportcoat or suit, if you want your presence to be acknowledged in any local restaurant. Act like adults.

It was clear they thought I was on drugs. I can't wait to hear about how their excursion went.

Londoners, I apologize. I promise they won't be back.


Monday, April 19, 2010

In preparation for summer

In Mayberry, cream soda is red. Don't judge me, I don't make the stuff. You gotta roll with what ya know.

When we were kids, as a rare summer treat, my mother would get what passed for a 2 litre bottle of Vess Cream Soda and a half gallon of vanilla ice cream and made ice cream floats.

My dad didn't like root beer, so I wasn't to learn of root beer floats until much later. When I did learn, I accepted the superiority of root beer as a convert accepts his new faith, forsaking all others.

So Mrs. T returned from the grocery yesterday with the old "give this a try. Let me know what you think", says she.

As soon as I come up for air, I'll let her know. In the mean time stock up. Works great as a stand alone, or in floats.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Two stories...Both True

Mrs. T and I have a long standing double date on Friday nights. Sometimes a movie, this week was dinner.

I glanced across the restaurant and there was the father of a grade school classmate. A few seconds later it dawned on me I hadn't seen the man in some 40 years, and he was old then. The guy I was thinking of had probably been dead 25 years or more.

I was looking at my classmate.

I hadn't seen him in 40 years either. God, he was old. Turned into his father too.


Someone did a post on the joys of cleaning her steam iron this week. Sadly, and I apologize, I couldn't for love nor money tell you whom, but my immediate reaction was you clean coffee makers the same way, so what. But the post stuck with me.

Somehow, that what we all hope our posts do.

I went to the cookie jar, grabbed another Madeleine, and was transported back a decade or more.

When we met, Mrs. T was addicted to television shopping. QVC, HSN, The Commercial Network, she was hooked on them all. She didn't shop much, but she did watch.

One day, she announced that thanks to her steady viewing she had found the iron of her dreams, and by gum she had ordered it. I didn't know her that well, and who was I to criticize. She wants it she should have it.

Curiosity finally overcame me and I had to ask. Guys, never ask. You don't want to know. Pray, I asked what's so special about this iron?

This iron is guaranteed to reduce ironing time by 20%.

I posit the iron has reduced ironing time 100%. After 3 moves, it still lies safe and secure in the box it arrived in. The things to be ironed basket is a proverbial black hole of laundry. I have shirts in there I haven't seen in 10 years. Mercifully, they no longer fit.

Before you get uppity, yes I can iron. I'm great on shirts, I simply prefer to send them to the cleaners. They use better starch.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Do I have a deal for someone

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, do I have an offer for you, it comes with several conditions however. You are on your honor.

I have a coat in my closet. It has never been worn, other than to try on. I got it on EBAY once upon a time, it does not fit me well, and I am unwilling to spend a bunch to have it tailored. Before I return the coat to EBAY I offer it to you.

It's a POLO size XXL. I do not know what size Ralph says that is, but I am guessing it's a 48 long. As you can see, the sleeves have working cuffs. The white is a surprisingly heavy cotton. Too hot for summer in the South or Midwest.

For $10, which includes US and Canadian shipping, it's yours.

Now the catch.

The jacket must be for you, or an immediate household member, unless you have a REALLY good story. I'll put the story to a vote here.

You can't resell it. If it doesn't work for you, you must thrift it. You are on your honor.

If interested get in touch.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Hermes must be in the air

Long time readers of Summer is a Verb are used to the travails of Alice's long suffering husband Babe. The poor devil lies awake nights in fear of the UPS man's next delivery. Naturally, when his birthday or other gift receiving opportunity comes his way he meekly asks for a shopping moratorium. Can you blame him? How can something so petite, be so expensive?

While reading Steven Hitchcock's blog, The Savile Row Tailor yesterday, I found the perfect gift for Babe from Alice.

Now I am not certain Alice would be willing to pull the plug on this, but as a demonstration of her love, it would be hard to top.

Wouldn't Babe love his favorite navy blue blazer lined in Alice's Hermes scarves?

Personally, I thought Steven's client went a bit overboard with the pull out breast pocket, but that's just me.

Imagine the fun Babe and Alice would have shopping for replacements.

Donations of old scarves may be sent here.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

A final kid question

On another kid topic...

In this era of universal dosages of high self esteem in children, is any graduating high school senior simply told, "No you may not attend college here"?

We have a nephew, who since birth has been continually reassured the sun rises every morning simply to brighten his path. He is one of the enlightened, all things are within his reach.

So the kid bought into the story, why not, I would. Now, he is a senior in a local suburban high school. His GPA is near 5 on a 4 point scale, but he has never been pushed. He's a bright kid in a pretty average place. In a world market of candidates, just another pretty face.

His college applications went to the schools suited to his expansive hat size, with a fall back, some French sounding place in Indiana where an uncle is on the acceptance committee.

To date, only two schools,his uncle's and someplace in New Haven, Connecticut have flat out said NO.

Now we could argue all day that he made some poor choices in the schools he sent apps to, (you taking the con position) but it doesn't change the facts.

There seems to be a new twist, added since my bonus kids were going through this process. He has received a number of "you are on our wait list" notifications. Or as we say, don't call us, we'll call you. Is this the new no?


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's a parent to do?

Mercifully, this is a problem that is not necessarily my problem, but I'm sorta curious anyway.

I was searching Google Images this afternoon, looking for a photo to refute The Epic's claim to be Carla Bruni's paramour. This is an issue that was settled long ago. You may find the details here.

I don't particularly care that the future first lady of France was comfortable having photos taken of views normally reserved for her OB/GYN. I went straight to the bigger issues.

* How easy 'tween boys have it today.

* Google must be destroying Playboy's business model.

* I wouldn't have a kid who was too stupid to override Google's safe search mechanism. So what's a parent to do when THE search engine is also THE porn deliverer. Is there a magic parent button somewhere?

It must be hell having boys around the house these days.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Television can be so broadening. Once upon a time I wrote about the book "How the states Got Their Shapes". You can find my earlier post here.

Last week, The History Channel had a program which covered many of the salient points of the book, and added some filler to make the program less dry.

One of the filler bits explained a bit of local history I knew a bit about, but never understood the why. Being a history geek, I had to explore.

South of Mayberry, in the river towns along the the Mississippi River, improbable as it may seem, are several pockets of French speaking communities. They are authentic holdouts from pre Louisiana Purchase days. The argot is an ancient French, unique to the area, and includes many words which long ago died out in France. Inbred? You bet, suspicious of outsiders too.

Originally, these were communities of French fur trappers, with the occasional missionary priest thrown in for good measure.

Many of the trappers took local Indian wives, permanently settled and their descendants are still there. Prior to the Louisiana Purchase the land traded hands between France and Spain every 20 years or so. French trappers were wary of the British so English never caught on.

The history aspect involves the village of Kaskaskia, Illinois. Kaskaskia, has several claims to fame. Originally a French fort, built in the 1730's it was destroyed by the troops to keep it from falling into British hands, at the end of the French and Indian Wars.

Located where the Kaskaskia River meets the Mississippi River, it was the first state capital of Illinois. Today, it is a village of 9 lost souls for Kaskaskia, now an island, lies on the western side of the Mississippi.

Technically, being on the west side of the Mississippi,it is in Missouri, it shares the zip code of St. Mary's Missouri, yet they are Illinois residents.

And so ends today's history tour.


Monday, April 12, 2010

By the Yard

My bride and I have an ongoing skirmish. She doesn't much cotton to theme rooms. Remember how flexible the enthusiasms of Toad, of Wind in the Willows fame, were? I'm much the same and tend to create themes quickly albeit accidently. I come by my name honestly.

The battles generally involve what goes where on bookshelves. The problem revolves around the fact that one of us is an eclectic reader, one of us rarely picks up a book. Our home is littered with shelves. They are in most every room, except the rooms you want them.

Not surprisingly, I abhor empty shelves. Non-public rooms I'll stuff them with ancient magazines, catalogs, almost anything. For several years I had most of a Jaguar engine hidden on one in a game room. When it's an exterior wall I call it cheap insulation. Later, I fill them in.

To satisfy both a need for books, and a current whim I got in touch with the folks at Wonder Books. Amongst their other services they offer books by the yard.

I emailed, told them of my current interests, some of this, none of that, got a quick reply, and photos. How 'bout this? they asked.

Two days later 50 pounds of books arrived. Perfect, and reasonably inexpensive.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Maybe-Maybe Not

Admittedly, I am starting my weekend a bit early. Before I do however, allow me to present a new series, Maybe-Maybe Not.

Some of the items portrayed may in fact exist. Some may only be products of too much imagination, or boys and beer.


Thursday, April 8, 2010


Like all good dog people, Paige never, ever lets anyone talk smack about her dog, and get away with it. Especially me.

Seated with Paige is her buddy Roscoe. Roscoe's part this, and part that and all feisty. I'm uncertain he is a dog at all being convinced it's a flying squirrel.

Whatever Roscoe may be, he is certainly loved, and will now be missed.

Roscoe found his eternal reward today after being assaulted by a much larger brute over the weekend. It was unfair fight, sadly witnessed by his nearest and dearest.

Paige darling, I share your sadness, and hope you soon come to learn that good dogs stay forever in our memories. You will have more dogs, but never another Roscoe.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why not get hurt too?

Not even deep down, actually very close to the surface, I despise my daily routine at the gym. That said, I am glad I go. Builds moral fiber.

Thus far I've been fortunate that I haven't hurt anything permanently. So I decided why not tempt the gods, just to see if they are paying attention.

Today I start yoga class.

Mrs. T and I tried this several years ago. I silently cursed every minute in class, yet curiously left exhilarated. Fat men are not (yet) as limber as the young women who populate these classes. It is certainly not a competitive activity, but still I hope to keep up. I'm near certain to tear something, most likely something I've never seen.

Wish me luck. If this doesn't work, I may have to resort to Tai Chi.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Privet Lives

My personal experience with privet extends to the sorry end of a pair of clippers. As I remember it, the sound of privet growing is not unlike that of rust spreading through an English car. Ceaseless and unrelenting.

With that in mind,and all the confidence a nursery catalog can instill, last spring I felt I must have a privet hedge to encircle the back of the drive. My planting instructions were, place the stick in the ground and jump back, lest their rapid growth hits me in the eye.

My results were otherwise.

I am a too patient grower. It pains me to pull out dead plants. It's growing roots I tell myself. Eventually, truth wins out, and I start over, but somehow these survived the winter.

Does privet need sun, water, sweet soil, love, protection from deer? I hope not for I cannot offer any of that. Grow it I must however.

Have you seen Perry Guillot's book, Privet Lives, An Imaginary Tale of Southampton's Iconic Shrub?

I have the bad habit of pulling it off the shelves every year about this time, and wistfully plan how our landscape would be so much better with such luxurious shrubbery.

If you have not seen the book, it is a whimsical look at the shrubs surrounding the homes of the residents of that famous burg.

Each page is a watercolor drawing of green fantasy, and clever caption. It can often be found on Alibris for a couple of bucks.


Special note for my children: Today is your mother's bd. Don't forget!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Heaven, I'm in heaven....

One of the sweetest phrases ever spoken, begins,"Pan Fried, please allow 30 minutes".

Even I draw the line with KFC's headlong rush to kill off their remaining customers. Suicidal I am not. Should come with a side of angioplasty.

For serious:


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Guilty as charged!

I stand correctly tarred as one of those mules, who often doesn't finish what they start in a timely manner.

Not that I don't have a thousand great stories why not. Occasionally, I'll cave and say," I'm wrong no excuses, but.... " Where's the fun in that.

I've put off finishing the pool house since the monsoons of August began. By now I have even shamed myself. So, while you are enjoying your weekend, I'm painting.



The walls are NOT baby blue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They are cloud.

Vanity will probably be matte black with silver knobs.

Happy Easter.