Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Jockeys

My bride disparagingly refers to this as my race track suit and silently gives thanks that it has been too cool to wear it out this spring. Tuesday was glorious so I wore it to lunch, which is a long walk towards ADG's suggestion to follow up The Cricketers of Vanity Fair, with The Jockey's of Vanity Fair by the Russell March.

Vanity Fair's weekly prints were drawn by a several artists, the most frequent contributor being Leslie Ward, who drew as Spy. VF print purists memorize his autobiography "Forty Years of Spy". My copy, a 1969 reissue of the 1915 original, admittedly loses style points, but I have read most of it. We'll focus on Spy's drawings today.

I'm conflicted about horse racing. I love the spectacle of Derby Day, the women in their finery, the drunken bums in the infield, even the punters wagering the rent money at the local track. In better times I've even designed racing silks for our imaginary stable, and still I'm not completely convinced that racing isn't a step or 2 away from cock fighting. As with other beliefs you have it or you don't, and no amount of logic and rational discussion will sway.

One hundred years ago when Vanity Fair was in print no such qualms existed. The cavalry was the preferred military service, the ticket to higher postings, much like fighter pilots today. Gentlemen, owned turf and steeplechase thoroughbreds, polo ponies and draft horses. They knew horseflesh, and Vanity Fair which catered to the leisure classes was right there along with them.

Arthur Coventry

The Jockeys was a series of prints included over a 30 years span. The drawings were of the top jockeys of the season, always described as paradigms of Victorian manly virtue, who ride for Lord so and so, and never a hint of bad conduct ever suspected, unlike those other guys.

Tom Cannon

Remember that these prints were included in a weekly newspaper. The color and quality are remarkable, for which the artist was paid a pittance. The color sporting prints are the most sought after by collectors.

Captain Edward Rodney Owen

Captain Owen wouldn't look out of place on a London street today.

Fred Fletcher

The remarkable thing about the Jockeys is that they were, for the most part, not young men. When drawn most were in their late 30's and early 40's, and had been racing for 15-25 years or more. Careers were longer then, than now.


Thanks to Mister Mort for allowing me to use his photo of Ascot Chang's display as my summer header.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Silver Foxes

Paris Match photos

Rereading Lisa's (doyenne of Privilege) guest post at Rock the Silver on women transitioning to gray hair was timely. To my way of viewing the world the new head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine LaGarde has managed the transition very well.

Christine Lagarde

But then I'm a boy who started going gray in 8th grade who loves women with gray hair. Great post Lisa.

There must be something in the air, 3 cheers to all the women who have posted lately on their own transitions.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

goggles and the drivers test

Vanity they name is .....

Missouri has an extra special birthday gift for its citizens. Your drivers license expires on your birthday. Mrs. T's drivers license was scheduled to expire Sunday, and her anxiety of passing the eye exam was something to witness. She fretted about it for weeks.

I've worn glasses most of my life, without them I can barely see the ground. My child bride has never worn goggles and although she is fighting an eye infection, and can no longer read a menu without strong light and longer arms, that counts for nothing. She find a reading eye dog before she would not allow her license to be besmirched by any "need for corrective lens" restriction.

Occasionally I'd hear her mutter, "I wonder what's on the test. Maybe if I listen closely to the person in front of me and memorize the answer..." I'd reply, "I believe you know the answers, A, B, C, D" Judging by the abuse heaped on me, I was not a help.

Her big day came Friday. Armed with 3 forms of identification and a passing knowledge of her ABC's, Mrs. T arrived at the DMV office prepared for battle. The examiner verified her address, took her photo and check, printed her new license and never once administered an eye test. Instantly, the sky cleared and all was right with the world.

She lives a charmed life.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Ken and Thelma

To paraphrase Mark Twain, I used to be a good boy, however, lately, I must have become a very good boy. I know this because I received a surprise in the mail, a book from one of my favorite people picked up at one of my favorite book stores, Faulkner House in New Orleans.

The book was a copy of Ken and Thelma by Joel L. Fletcher, late of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Joel was a buddy of Ken Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces, and later befriended Ken's mother Thelma, becoming her whipping boy in her later years. Ken and Thelma is the story behind the story of the creation of "A Confederacy of Dunces", Mrs. Toole's struggles to have the book published after her son's death and her constant fight to preserve Ken's legacy.

The book is truly Thelma's story. Thelma wanted what she rightly believed was hers; respect, attention and the opportunity to sit at the head of the table wherever Ken, his book or his literary legacy were considered. She expected much and was often disappointed.

It's a good read. I've passed my copy onto another unsuspecting soul who I hope enjoys it as much as I did.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mrs. T's birthday extravaganza

Lest there be any misunderstanding, let it be known I adore my bride. Paraphrasing Auden (180 degrees out of context) she is my North, my South, my East, my West. I cherish our life together, and can't imagine any other life which would be any more worth living. Today, the anniversary of her birth, I am especially grateful, because I get to share my story.

As with most husbands, I'm the burr under her saddle. As long as opposites attract, we are opposites in everything that doesn't matter, and joined at the hip at those that do. Together we are indomitable. She's taught me to take the long view, I've taught her not to take the little things so seriously. They have been gifts from the heart, each to the other.

Mrs. T is not my best friend, she doesn't complete me, her life would be full and satisfactory without me. I on the other hand would be totally lost without her. She's my reason, she's my why and I adore and cherish her. Because of her I want to live forever. I'll need at least that long to convey what a lucky guy I am, how happy I am being married to her, how I treasure her love and each moment we are together, and how I love her mostest.

Happy Birthday my adored.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

The more things change....

Long time visitors may recall I mentioned the fellow holding up the post last July

Some thought I was in jest, that no one would really be allowed to travel in this day and age so attired. I wasn't then and I am not now. Our buddy is back in the news. Sayeth The San Francisco Chronicle:

"PHOENIX -- A man who flies US Airways in women's skimpy clothing, including little more than undergarments at times, said Wednesday that he does so to make business travel more fun, and complies with employees' requests to cover up - though they rarely ask...."

Follow the link above for the rest of the story.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Why its called self evident

View out our back/front door

I'm aware several designers, architects, developers and creative types stop here periodically. It's to them I write today. Like the architect for our last house who failed to include HVAC in his building plans, some things should be self evident, but often are not. A pleasant reminder, while unwelcome, is occasionally necessary. Consider our present house, a mid century brick farmhouse with several subsequent additions.

The most recent addition was an extension of the kitchen and family room. The designer had a clean slate to work with, as the owners brief was simple. Make a room. Put it there. Make it fit with the rest of the house, make it usable. Save my favorite tree. The owner liked the tree, what can I say? Looking at the photo above guess the favorite tree.

I'll grant it sounds simple enough, but execution is what earns the big bucks. So how did he do? The back door is THE entry to the house. Our front is a facade with no foot or automobile access. While custom says put the door in the middle, a creative mind understands problem solving involves getting the questions right.

To the right of the door is the kitchen, left is the family room.

The distance straight out the door to the all important tree is 4 Topsiders. About the same as your reach across a double bed. Perfectly positioned to aid furniture movers, Christmas tree haulers...

Building that door 2 Topsiders to the right would have made a world of difference.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

cricket anyone?

Michael Harrison-Bonhams

I apologize to my Anglo friends and visitors but I must admit upfront that I know positively NOTHING about cricket. Couldn't name the who's who, don't know the temples of the sport (everyone knows Lord's right?), haven't a clue who the teams are, have no idea what ashes are, couldn't save the gods of the sport if discovered in a police lineup.

In Mayberry, the only hope of seeing cricket played is to wander into the Indian neighborhood, or behind the Hindu Temple on weekends. I rarely stop, unless the food fair is going on.

Knowing nothing is not the same as disinterest. At a garage sale this week I picked up several copies of Cricketers of Vanity Fair by Russell March, not for love of the game, but simply for the clothes.

ADG could wax nostaligic and intelligently about Vanity Fair prints, I'm merely a poser, but a bit of history I do know. VF was published weekly in England from November 1868 until January 1914. On January 23,1869 it was announced that beginning the next week a full page cartoon of an entirely novel character would run. The ubquitous VF prints are its linear descendants.

Most of the following photos are taken from the book and were included in the original print run of the newspaper. Most are Victorian.

You have to appreciate any game adult males (is that an oxymoron?) play that has a dress code. Players trousered in white flannel with the ADG sanctioned 2+ inch cuff.

I'd sell my soul to find a pair of vintage cap toed cricket boots in some ancient relative's closet. Your soul too if they fit. Till then it's bucks for me, unless you have a pair to share. The jacket may be a bit much however.

A striped linen jacket would be nice however.

100 years on even Ralph has gotten the hang of it. Not so sure about the club collars. Is the young lad wearing girl shoes? At his age I would have been whipped like a rented mule before donning white sandals with socks. Even for money.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chick Magnet

That is my buddy Joe. He's 4 weeks old and good for drawing a crowd. Mrs. T and I were at a wedding Friday night in which his parents and siblings were attendants, so Joe's dad asked Mrs T if she would watch the little guy. Who wouldn't right, and he was good as gold.

Mrs. T had him for half, I for the other, which was fun since I had the pleasure of escorting Joe and my best girl out of church, while being on the receiving end of all the smiles and ohs and ahs directed at Joe.

After the ceremony, an attractive woman in bridesmaid regalia hunted me down and insisted upon my giving up the child. I told her to get her own.

She did get her own, his name is Joe. A most beautiful evening.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

Our family has long been blessed by having its own Astronomer Royal, Dr. Richard Schwartz, my son in law's step father. We've relied upon the good Doctor to scan the night sky, visiting distant galaxies on our behalf, informing us of the exact arrival of each solstice to our backyard. The photo above is of the Richard D. Schwartz Observatory located at the the University of Missouri, Saint Louis, the academic home of Dr. S.

Today's solstice most likely marks Dick's celestial farewell. He's been in declining health for several years, fighting above his weight, far too long with science, technology, dignity, and smarts on his side, yet still the bad guys are winning. Having spent countless hours looking out into infinity, it's nearing time for Dick to learn whatever there is to learn from the perspective of the other side. Ever the teacher, with a little boy's wonder in his eyes and joy in his heart, I fully expect Dick will be reporting back with his new discoveries before we know it.

Remember, The Day the Earth Stood Still? The remake with Keanu Reeves.

Picture John Cleeves and his office, that's Dick Schwartz. Curious, dryly funny and fully engaged. I'm going to miss him a great deal.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Marine Week

It's Marine Week in Mayberry.

After WWII, for beer money, my father joined the 3rd Marine Infantry Battalion, the Thirsty Third as a reservist. He had so much fun he talked 3 of his wife's brothers, each a WW2 vet, into joining up as well. Free work clothes was his sales pitch. The fun lasted until Reserve Summer Training Camp at Camp Pendleton in 1951.

While training in California, the unit was activated and the 3rd Battalion was quickly shipped to Korea. During hostilities the Battalion won the Presidential Unit Citation, each member of my family picked up 2 Purple Hearts, and I was born.

My dad stayed on as a drill instructor until his enlistment was over. My oldest memory of my father is his Marine dress uniform.

To absent friends.


Could be why your dog misbehaves

Is your dog acting out? Uncontrollable? Making life miserable for you and your family? Don't call the Dog Whisperer. Keep reading and all will be made clear. For all I know this is from the Onion of Jerusalem, yet there is just enough whiff of the true to make this believable. Even I couldn't make this up. From Yahoo News.


JERUSALEM (AFP) – A Jerusalem rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a dog it suspects is the reincarnation of a secular lawyer who insulted the court's judges 20 years ago, Ynet website reported Friday.

According to Ynet, the large dog made its way into the Monetary Affairs Court in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, frightening judges and plaintiffs.

Despite attempts to drive the dog out of the court, the hound refused to leave the premises.

One of the sitting judges then recalled a curse the court had passed down upon a secular lawyer who had insulted the judges two decades previously.

Their preferred divine retribution was for the lawyer's spirit to move into the body of a dog, an animal considered impure by traditional Judaism.

Clearly still offended, one of the judges sentenced the animal to death by stoning by local children.

The canine target, however, managed to escape.

"Let the Animals Live", an animal-welfare organisation filed a complaint with the police against the head of the court, Rabbi Avraham Dov Levin, who denied that the judges had called for the dog's stoning, Ynet reported.

One of the court's managers, however, confirmed the report of the lapidation sentence to Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.

"It was ordered... as an appropriate way to 'get back at' the spirit which entered the poor dog," the paper reported the manager as saying, according to Ynet.

Certain schools of thought within Judaism believe in the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation.


I'm only the messenger, however any resemblance to ........................................

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day

Stolen hook line and sinker from Within the Cranium



On January 1, 1863 US President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in states which seceeded from the US, except those in areas under Yankee control. Since the "rebellious states" viewed themselves as a separate country, the effect was the same as if the President had ordered the British from Ireland. Not until the end of the war was there universal emancipation.

In June 1865 federal troops under the command of Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to restore federal control to the formerly rebellious state. General Granger's third General Order issued on this date, enforced the Emancipation Proclamation and ordered that all remaining slaves in Texas be immediately freed.

On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official Texas state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, a Texas state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

sir paul

The cute, fully folicled Beatle, Sir Paul turns 69 today. My how the years have been good to him. What pleases me most is that in spite of his unfortunate divorce, the downturn in the economy, and the ugliness which fills our daily newspapers, is that he's kept his optimism. His future looks bright.

First he became engaged to long time girlfriend Nancy Shevell. Having learned his lesson from former wife Heather, Paul has jumped back into the marriage gig with both feet. Marrying for love and No prenupt.

More importantly he's heard there is loose cash about in North America so he's planning to tour this summer. Check out the ball parks in your neighborhood.


Friday, June 17, 2011


Have you ever had a British car born sometime between World War 2 and the American invasion in the 80's? If so, you know the sound. Brit cars audibly rust. Armstrong Siddeley's to Vauxhall's, rust buckets all. Their rusting keeps owners awake nights. I've had to move Camilla to the barn in able to sleep.

Now I'm kept awake by wisteria. Are you supposed to be able to hear wisteria grow?

I have a penchant for attempting to growing things that don't necessarily belong here. I've never seen wisteria in bloom in Mayberry, and understand it takes several years for the plant to mature before flowering. That didn't stop me when I saw a few plants for sale locally.

The 2 questions I always ask plantsmen are "is it deer candy" and "will it overwinter", no to the first is usually all it takes to tempt me to buy. Last fall I bought 2 wisteria plants, stuck them in the ground along the rusty farm fence and forgot about them. Last week I remembered they were there, took a look and was amazed not only that they survived but at how much they had grown. Now I look every day.

First I thought the noise I heard was our plague of cicadas. Now I know it to be wisteria in full second year flight. Presumably, as with ivy, first it sleeps, then it creeps, then it runs like hell. Can't wait. Now, if only the climbing hydrangea would flower.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Foo Dogs

In Chinese culture, the Foo Lion stands as a guardian of Imperial Palaces and tombs, Buddhist Temples, Government Buildings and the homes of important officials. Always presented in pairs, the male with his paw on a ball, the female, her paw on a cub, their mythical powers prevent evil from entering and offer tranquility to those inside. Over time the Chinese Imperial household bred dogs to mimic the appearance and determination of the guardian lions, hence the Lion Dog.

Foo Lions/Dogs do an important job, and one no less needed now than once upon a time. Meg, chatelaine of Pigtown Design , provided the example below from a home in Baltimore.

Mrs. T and I are strongly in favor of keeping evil spirits at bay, and more in favor of tranquility. While our home isn't as grand as that in the photo we have our own, ever vigilant Foo's.

Evil spirits can't crack this powerful defense.

100 years ago only 12 examples of these determined lion dogs existed, all in the Imperial Household of China. Every Shih Tzu is a descendant of one of those 12 saved from the Empress's kennels in the Forbidden City.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Food for thought

I hate generalities. There is no such thing as an average person, much less an average woman. We will not be bent, folded, spindled or mutilated. They are decent starting points for discussion though.

According to the recently published book "To Die For, is fashion wearing out the world?" by Lucy Siegle, the average woman purchases half her body weight in clothes each year (she assumes a 124 pound woman), has 20 garments in her closet she has never worn and has 4 times the clothing a comparable woman had in 1980.

Based in the UK, Ms. Siegle's statistics are gathered from research on British cloth imports, and while they may not jibe with reality or the headline, they are a clever way of demonstrating we purchase a lot of clothing. This is self evident to anyone living in an older home.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Separated at Birth

One is ADG of Maxminimus, one is reported to be Babe, the long suffering husband of Alice of Summer is a Verb .

I'm unsure which is which. Methinks they are the same guy. Neither Alice nor ADG is talking.