Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

The Irish tradition, known as first footing, says that your year will be blessed if your first visitor of the new year is a red headed child. For those not so fortunate to have one of your own, I'll share my annual New Years visitor, a little red headed girl.

Scottish tradition, believing that the fair haired are the dreaded vikings, accept that your year will only be blessed if a dark haired man is your first visitor. Women are not welcome as first visitors. For you Scots (or female) I present Sir Sean.

May you each have a wonderful 2009.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Toad's Gratitude Journal

The end of a year seems to require list making. I neither make nor keep resolutions, but I do sometimes keep a gratitude journal. This is what is in mine for 2008.

Mrs. T. I am the happiest married man, anywhere, ever. I know what it is to love and be loved. I can't fathom a happier life.

Health. We've tried it both ways in 2008, being ill, and healthy. Health is vastly under rated.

Our families. They add such mirth to our days.

Chuck and Barney. For all their hard work on the kitchen replacement project. It looks lovely.


After,but still during renovation

Google, and each of you. Google for making Blogger available, for free. I hope to get the hang of this sometime soon. And to each of you. I appreciate the time you spend here, and your valuable comments. I trust we'll continue down this road for a while.

The Humane Society. For taking Gus back. Gus was Mrs. T's dog. She adored that dog while, every other sentinent being despised this evil cur. Sadly, Mrs. T became dangerously allergic to him, so he had to go. Health trumps love. As much as I disliked this dog, I cried like a baby when I dropped him off.

Our tailor Kaz. It's good to be the best dressed man at the poorhouse.

Mikey. For saving us from the aftermath of the hurricane.

That I'm a luddite. I am not an early adaptor or even a late adaptor, and may be the last adult in the world without an answering machine, cell phone, IPOD, or GPS. I leave home untethered and live to tell the tale.

Women. Women are about the coolest invention ever. I do not want any more than the one I have, and don't want to appear unseemly or raise the spectre of the green eyed monster, but...

Happy New Year to each and every one of us.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Ever Buy a Pagan Baby?

Most of my childhood education was spent in the hands of parochial schools, back in the days when nuns ruled the universe. The nonsense they taught made you almost unfit for humankind.

For those of you whom your parents loved enough to send you to public schools, or those who came in the pre-post reform days, think of Jake and Elwood Blues at the hands of the good sister in Blue's Brothers. The scene in the movie where the boys go back to see the penguin was not a joke to anyone educated in 1960's catholic schools.

Somehow they got away with the most egregious crap, but even the nuns knew they could carry it only so far, so to test the boundaries, they invented buying pagan babies. Let me explain.

One thing Catholic churches love is money, hard spendable cash, and someone, somewhere saw that the Easter Seals had a cash cow. RC's needed a similar scheme, so stole the idea, and moved the season to Christmas. Just after Thanksgiving, thousands of little Catholic kids were given books of missionary stamps and told to sell them to support foreign refugee camps and missionary priests, at a penny a pop, or a whole book for a buck. Money was due, and collections took place on Friday mornings.

Once your class collected a fin, you were entitled to buy a pagan baby. Best of all, it came with naming rights, and a certificate of authenticity.

Now, Catholic teaching is very particular about naming options for children. Either the first or second name had to be the name of a saint. No exceptions. When in doubt read a map of France. The Church there put an St or Ste. in front of every pagan location name, and created innumerable saints.

So imagine its getting close to the holidays. The kids are wound up, its Friday, they've collected their fiver and its time to name their new pagan baby. The rules were the kids raised the money, the kids got to name. If you think there are a lot of post pagan adults in central Africa/Asia named Mary Catherine or James Joseph guess again.

My class and most people I have talked to went all out. Depending on how much your teacher would let your class get away with, some of the names were spectacular. Especially the Asain kids who had many r's in their names.

Many Catholic school educated adults of my generation live in great fear of getting that knock on the door late at night. You open the door, an African or Asian man or woman a bit younger than you is at the door. You ask how may I help you?

Daddy, its me Joseph Vanilla Wafers, don't you remember me?

Wishing, won't make it go away.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Did ya Ever....

Did you ever want to pull up the draw bridges, throw 'gators in the moat, turn off the telly, and tell the world to go to hell for a while? Want to be Emperor or Empress of your own little part of the world?

Ladies and Gents have I got a deal for you. Vladi Private Islands for sale. Private Islands, Islands for Sale, Islands for Rent, Privatinseln.

Scenic and not so scenic locales made available by desperate hedge fund managers from around the globe. Happy shopping. The US choices are about half way down.

Should you find a property here, Mrs. T and I get to visit for a bit. You are on your honor.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have you seen?

Last Sunday's NY Times Magazine did a brief story on street fashion blogs and those who take the photographs. Scott Shuman of the Sartorialist got an honorable mention and ever the opportunist he subsequently posted the story on his blog.

One of the sites mentioned was garance doré . Admittedly, I am too old, too male to spend any time here, but there is something captivating about Paris. Only recently has Garance begun posting in English, but scroll back awhile. Many of her exclusively French posts are stunningly beautiful. Take a look periodically.

2. This from EBAY. Two year Garden and Gun subscription . $6.99 Garden and Gun: The Magazine - eBay (item 280296870897 end time Dec-30-08 11:21:28 PST)

3. I know that there is a word for this, and perhaps knowing is half the illness, but there are 3 words I misspell EVERY time I type them. Should I blame my keyboard, my fat fingers, or the parochial school nuns who instilled in me a great abhorrence to sloppy spelling and grammar?

4. ?GOOD Magazine Goodmagazine - The 51 Best* Magazines Ever There are a few I think he missed including M, 80's edition. Whatta ya think?

Once again, Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy day before Boxing Day.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas

One of my favorite writers is Dylan Thomas. To best understand his iambic I need to read or hear his work aloud to catch the cadences, rhythm and the alliterations. Like many of his brothers in pen, he died far too young.

On behalf of our Welsh friend, Meg at Pigtown-Design
I present:

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
Part 1

Part 2

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Festivus

May the airing of grievences commence! I promised no more rants this month, (can't wait 'till January) so I'm out. See you at the feats of strength.

Happy birthday BBC!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Who's got the power?

This is one of two posts about television, a subject I know next to nothing about. It's tempered a bit by economics and I do know that part.

I do not think I am alone in having that 1 utility bill each month which gives me apoplexy, every time I write the check. You may hate the phone company or the gas folks, I hate Charter Communications, our cable, phone and Internet provider.

Charter, while ostensibly a public company is primarily owned, operated and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, so they have too much money available to fail, but not enough to spend wisely.

Approx. 2 years ago, Charter got into a pissing contest with the local CBS outlet run by Belo Communications. Belo told Charter, you're paying everyone who competes with us for eyeballs, we want to be paid too. Until then you may not rebroadcast our HD signal.

Charter figured they had 'em since a number of folks spent a great deal of money for HDTV sets last year and the Super Bowl was broadcast by CBS. Not here on HD. The fans bitched but there was no HD Super Bowl locally.

So finally this year, after years of very stiff competition the local CBS gang won the rating wars against the NBC folks. How did BELO respond?

They told Charter they have until the end of December to cough up, or to stop carrying their signal all together Jan 1. Charter told them to ******* off.

So, who wins? I have no idea what is on CBS so I don't suspect I miss much TV. Who broadcasts most of the Bowl games? Few local customers get their reception off air or via satellite. No broadcast via cable, no ad sales?

America at its finest. My money is on Charter. Allen can wait em out.


Raising my game

I was watching Elvis Costello's program Spectacle the other day (recommended) and his guest was Lou Reed, with film maker Julian Schnabel showing up towards the end.

Now I love Lou Reed. The Velvet Underground was the band that finally got me over the Beatles. Maybe it was Nico, but who cares? Lou is a national treasure.

So along comes Schnabel. And suddenly, I'm curious. How does one elevate (if that's the word) their game so high, that your signature purple PJ's with white piping (as designed by his wife) becomes acceptable attire? Throw on a sport coat and you're out the door.

I can picture it the first time. Your not feeling well, need a cup of coffee, or something from the drug store, so you throw on a jacket, run in and go home. How, several days later and feeling better, do you come to the conclusion that the jammies were a pretty snazzy outfit, and decide that is your signature look? How do you get it past the wife? How do you get past the derision of all you meet.

So I'm game. It's a new year and new years prompt new beginnings. PJ's have been done, and Hef has the silk robe market locked down. So what do you recommend? I'm thinking knee length Hawaiian shirts.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice part deux

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

A winter solstice gift from America's favorite poet, Robert Frost

Happy Hanukkah Jake, Becky, Haley, Steve and Vicki

Also, for those whose peeps have been here longer than mine, on this date in 1620 the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock.

Winter solstice part 1

One of the indeterminable beliefs surrounding Stonehenge is that ancient Celts built this magnificent observatory thousand of years ago to welcome the Winter Solstice. (the sound you hear in the background is Mrs. T saying BS, they don't know that)

Mrs. T and I were sorely at odds the day this photo was taken. Arriving at the car park near the monument I felt like I had come home. It was one of those places with which I immediately connected. It was mid May, pouring rain, very cold and the wind was biting. I found the stones powerfully uplifting. Ever the skeptic, my adored bride walked a few feet with me and then ran for the gift shop. She was having none of it. I spent an hour walking round and round soaked to the skin. She was dying for a cig. Mentioning Stonehenge to her is waving a red cape to a bull.

Whether an observatory or not, I dedicate this solstice to my favorite astronomer, Dr. Richard Schwartz. Get well soon my friend. In these troubled times the world needs your dry wit and boundless curiosity.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

I need a recommendation please

Friends, I am searching for a new cookbook.. Something long on vegetables, low fatish.

Our two go to books include the Cooking Light Series and most importantly, The Best Vegetable Recipes by the editors of Cook's Illustrated.

I would appreciate your suggestions.


Hunter's Hollow

I have had several questions about the picture used in the banner. Its known as "Holiday Time at Hunter's Hollow" by Dee Dann of New Haven, Missouri.

The image depicts a fanciful image of the town of Labadie, Missouri, which is not terribly far from Mayberry. Hunter's Hollow was the scene of Mrs T's wedding reception some years ago. It burned down several weeks after the blessed event.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Someone is going to buy this. Why?

I don't know why.
These are known as wooly mammoth crocs. Fleece lined for extra warmth, same number of holes for extra snow. Nothing says winter like wet fleece on the feet.


window snow

Remember when you were a kid wiping on those waxy snow stencils onto the corners of your window panes?

I vaguely remember that the snow eventually evolved into an aerosol spray, and became a flock to spray on Christmas trees. Do they still have it any more?

I can remember, more clearly than this mornings breakfast, coming home from Kindergarten, the day Christmas break began and helping my mom stencil our few windows. In my mind's eye I can still see it, smell it, I can remember the stencils. I remember the excitement. As I recall, it was a genuine pain removing this stuff. The memory is so real, yet it happened 50 some odd years ago.

I hope they do still have it. We have a lot of windows.

Have a great,and happy weekend. If you have any great weekend weather stories let us know. Mt. Hood has had 32+ inches in the past 2 days.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mindy's coming home

The Lass above is my bonus daughter Mindy. She is a Junior, matriculating in Boston, and is expected to arrive this evening for her Christmas break.

Mind has been gone since late June which Mrs. T finds very upsetting,as she would prefer her youngest to be within striking distance at all times. They do have their mother/daughter contretemps, but all in all they get along pretty well.

If you have children away at school while having some at home, you know that there is a whole new definition of stress in a house when the college kid comes home. Fortunately, M being the youngest we escape that for now, except...

You know those conversations that begin, I may have forgotten to tell you..? Mrs T. and I had one last evening. They never bode well.

Ours went, I may have forgotten to tell you, but I told Mindy she could have your car while she is in town. Mindy's car is in Boston.

There are a couple of ways to look at this. 1. I just got out of a lot of pre-Christmas chores (unlikely). 2. I better finish my shopping NOW. (more likely) or 3. UH oh (most likely). I don't really mind, I drive about 50 miles a month so its not like I can't get around, and Camilla is in the barn if it gets too cold to walk. I would have prefer a bit of notice, but

If you have kids coming in, enjoy them. Be warned, the younger ones at home will not like their routine disrupted. Its a trying time, but I for one wouldn't change it for the world.

On this date in 1865 the 13th Amendment was ratified. 5 points to anyone who remembers what that did without looking it up.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I love these

I have long wanted Albert Slippers, but have never had the courage to pull the trigger. The darling Ms. Hollister Hovey displayed these on a recent post, and I fell in love immediately.
Displayed are women's, but men's sizes are available, alas in a heavier construction, in all the women's patterns, including monograms.
Cost is $180 and they take 4 months to procure. Oh, but a great alternative to Belgians.
Women's are less dear, are available in many more styles, and are available now. From By Paige
Toad (respectfully channeling Bunny)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mt Hood

For several years , #2 son, the forest fire fighter, had a winter job working at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort in Mt. Hood Oregon. Being young, reasonably poor, and/or cheap he lived in a VW camper in a parking lot somewhere near the base of the mountain, and would take a shuttle bus to the ski lift. I think that stopped several days after a major snowstorm which caused him to climb out a window to clear the tailpipe and gain access to the doors of his van. Mt. Hood has truly biblical snowstorms, that is, if they had snow in the OT.

This season, snow has been a bit scarce and the Meadows is barely open. Sunday they had a brief 16 inches, and as the winter progresses it is not uncommon to see them get 50 inches or more in a week.

I am not a skier and never have been. I do not like snow, I break too quickly and heal too slowly. I am impressed though by masses amounts of weather. Especially, if I am very far away.

This season #2 is in Mexico lying by the beach, making up for lost time.

My sole reason for sharing this, is if you too enjoy watching other people get lots of lousy weather check into this link periodically. It really does become impressive at times.
For those who have not been keeping up, today is also the 235 anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Picks pans and Ship of Fools

For many this may be a regular occurrence, but for me it was manna from heaven. I took the picture above at a KC gas station Saturday. Gas in Kansas City is 30 cents per gallon cheaper than Mayberry. I haven't seen prices this low since well before Katrina. Let us give thanks for happier days ahead.

Pick 1
A bit of serendipity. While under the weather a few weeks back, I became absorbed watching Book TV on CSPAN. Drumming his new book was Curtis Roosevelt, Frank and Elly Roosevelt's grandson. His book Too Close To the Sun tells of life at Hyde Park, growing up in and around the grandparents and fun times with the relatives. More on the book later.

Checking the local library web site for the book, I came across "Too Close to the sun, the life and times of Deny Finch Hatton". You may remember him from Out of Africa fame.

What a guy. While not Robert Redford, apparently he was extremely good looking, charming, brave, rich, and bored by conventional life. He found himself and Karen Blixen in Africa. While there he was a planter, land owner and great white hunter.
Out of Africa was apparently more fiction than fact, but he and Baroness Blixen were great lovers for as long as it was convenient for them. In the current vernacular seemingly he just wasn't that into her, while she was too needy for him. In they end, well you know the story.
It is a pretty good read though.

Pick 2

As a lapsed believer, I feel strongly that my life would be bereft if I were not versed in the Judeo-Christian traditions. My suspicion is that growing up in the bells and smells school left me unable to truly appreciate the richness of other alternatives.
To ease my back into the fold, I rely upon The Ship of Fools
If you are unfamiliar with the Ship, it is an Anglican site which in typically British fashion spares no effort in finding sport wherever possible while offering the Christian message. I especially like the Fruitcake Zone and the Caption Competition.

While all in good fun, I find it hard to miss its more important message.

Only half a pan, but perhaps more a question.

Has anyone else noted that the ink in the current edition of Garden and Guns smears? Over the past several years even the worst offenders (New Yorker esp) have overcome this needless mess. I hope it is only me.

Its good to be back in full vigor. Let the bontemps rollez.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let's invent a word.

Dictionary writers would be up a creek if we didn't invent new words. No new words, no new dictionaries, no new sales, no new dictionary writers.

So unless someone knows the real name for it, I think we should invent a name for the series of letters that blogger spits up before allowing one to post comments on some blogs.

I propose: Nodda (noun) NA DA from the Mayberry: meaning comments not allowed unless.
"I wanted to comment on her blog, but wouldn't nodda"

You can certainly do better. Have a great weekend, I'll be in KC.


Photo is of Noah Webster Statue, West Hartford, Connecticut

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bill's Khakis

Since 1990 Bill's Khakis have been the gold standard of men's chino's. Made of heavy weight cotton twill they wear like iron, hold a crease and almost always look like a gentleman's pants.

Frankly, though I getting kind of sick and tired of seeing khaki's wherever I go. The ubiquitous uniform of khaki's and navy blazer or khakis and polo shirt are getting a bit long in the tooth. Sadly that presents two problems for me. First is Bill's are so darn comfortable what else are you gonna wear. The second is what else are you gonna wear?

Now I'll give flannels and fine woolen pants their due. They too are winter staples. But sometimes you want a pair of nice looking pants that are as comfortable as your good old Bills, but that are a bit dressier then that damned military tn that will go with something other than a blue blazer.

Gentlemen, I recommend the Bill's driving twill pants. They come in a variety of adult colors, including black, gray, British tan, and navy. They fit like Bill's, are as comfortable as Bill's, but look and feel like a man's pants.

The problem is that they are a tad pricey. I recommend that you shop around especially on EBAY. There are a couple of EBAY sellers located near Bill's Reading, Pa. plant that offer a fine selection of goods. Don't be afraid of irregulars either. If Bill's will let it out the door, it perfectly acceptable.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

For mothers of sons

Mrs. T and I blame most stupidity in the world on boys and beer. Perhaps beer is not always required.

I am still recovering, slowly, so sorry for the lame posts today. I'll return to full vigor soon.


Michael Bruno of 1stdibs

As a customer service I offer from Sunday's New York Times Style Magazine this blurb on Michael Bruno of 1stdibs. Click on photo to make it readable.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Plaza Lights

I'm stepping dangerously into Mrs. Blandings territory here, so I'll tread carefully.

On Christmas Eve, eve when I was 8 my family moved to Kansas City. As any 8 yo would, I hated everything about moving, especially so close to Christmas. What fun would all the new Christmas prizes be without friends or family around to play with or show off to. In short I was a jerk.

Amazingly, through a great many late hours my parents pulled off one of the best Christmas's ever. A day after the moving vans left, the tree was up, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, the favorite holiday ornaments and decorations made it intact. We actually had a marvelous holiday, although I think my parents snuck into bed as the kids were getting up.

Christmas night our parents drove us to see the Christmas lights in our new town. There was the usual smattering of lights here and there, nothing in the manner of today's home lighting displays, but a nice introduction to our new town. Then we got to the Plaza.

The Plaza, for those unfamiliar with KC, is a large shopping area in the middle of town. There is a strong Spanish architechural influence, many fountains and all the best shops. It's been the tony shopping area for nearly 70 years. Its still going strong. Think of it as the first Galleria, and you won't be far off.

Every night from Thanksgiving until early January, the entire Plaza is outlined in Christmas lights. It's stunning, especially in a light snow. To this day I look forward to seeing the Plaza lights. I don't make it every year, but I do try.

My KC shopping trip this year is this coming Saturday and Sunday. I'm like a little kid on Christmas eve, it brings back so many emotions.

Over the years I have lived in Kansas City twice. I have come to love the city. KC has it all, and is one of the hidden jewels of America.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A sign of the times

My daughter sent me this yesterday, and after getting phone calls from several friends who got Merry Christmas you're fired notices this week it somehow felt appropriate.

I don't mean to offend.


Monday's Project

Of the two people who make living at The Park possible, the most important is Chuck.

Long ago I came to an understanding about myself. I knew at the core of my being I could do a house project just well enough to say it was done, but poor enough that I would curse my handiwork every time I looked at it.

In my heart of hearts I knew I could work just a little bit harder and hire the craftsman who would do the job right, and in the end cost only a little bit more than if I did it, then hired someone to undo my mess and do it right. That's how we met Chuck.

Chuck is our Doer. For the past ten years, whenever we needed something done right, we have called Chuck. He generally shows up within a day or two of our calling, stays until the job is complete, and presents a bill that doesn't buckle our knees. Over the years he has become family, only like one of the successful family members everyone fawns over.

Today it was another crown molding project. The last room on our first floor without molding is this little powder room. Never heard of molding in a powder room? Most of our home has very wavy cement walls and ceilings which make the joins very uneven. Crown molding dresses it up quite well.

As Mrs. T says, he is our Chuck, you can't have him.


Monday, December 8, 2008


John Winston Lennon
9 October, 1940-8 December, 1980

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Do you, would you?

I was reading a new blog this afternoon, Today's Gentleman in which our new hero told the story of how he took to dip. I've never tried it, and know few men who do. In fact, although we have never discussed it, I can think of only a few things which would find me single faster than coming home with a pinch between my teeth and gums.

I have a number of minor vices, but perhaps I'm missing something. Do you dip? Does your husband, boyfriend? Does it come recommended?

On a similar but different topic, I found myself at the local drugstore today and found they were stocking up on stop smoking gum in time to cash in on the New Years resolutions. The gum comes in original and mint. Do menthol smokers chew the mint gum and regulars the original?


Photo from Today's Gentleman

Am I just getting old?

I get about 3 pounds of catalogs a week from Ben Silver, a Charleston, SC haberdashery. Their marketing plan is primarily to offer very good looking gentleman's clothes, via the Internet, very expensively. I have in fact shopped there, but only from the outlet. Can't afford it otherwise.

While they do offer women's clothes, I generally am not privy to those catalogs, for which my mailman is grateful. Today I did receive an insert in my daily catalog which featured women's holiday wear.

Below are several examples. The models are store employees and are very attractive in a SC sort of way. The dresses I'm not so sure. The green numbers would keep me up nights.

Perhaps I have finally become too old for my own good.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Silk Knit Ties

I may have mentioned in the past that I haven't worn a long tie in many years, due to an unfortunate lapse in judgement on my part. I brought my bride to my favorite haberdashery, where she picked my tie to wear to her brothers wedding. It was so ugly we almost came to blows, and I have been wearing bow ties ever since.
Lately, I have become re enamoured with the old Rooster ties. Ladies, if you are of a certain age, you may remember them as the knit ties with the square bottom. (see above)

I understand that silk is the preferred knit these days, as opposed to the older cotton or wool, but somehow its just starting to feel right.

Should I hold my ground, or is it worth dipping a toe back into long tie land?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Shows

I am a sucker for Christmas shows. Every year I get sucked into TBS and ABC Family channel's 25 days of Christmas. I'm glued many a night.

Miracle on 34th street, The Bishops Wife, Charlie Brown's Christmas, A Christmas Story, name it I'm hooked.

The absolutely best, greatest, finest, most memorable Christmas movie of them all* is on AMC Sunday evening. It's the remake of Charles Dickens' classic " A Christmas Carol" starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.

If you haven't seen it, do so. If you're busy, change your plans, or at least set your Tivo. Let the kids stay up late. It's that good.


* except for Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol which you can find on YouTube any day of the year.

The second is home, finally

Kaz, the tailor has worked another miracle. The Black Watch tartan jacket has arrived. Single button, side vent, surgeon sleeves and ticket pocket. It's 16 oz wool, so its a bit heavy, but it moves well and drapes beautifully.

The hat is a bit twee, but it is cold outside.

Let the Happy Holidays begin.


Thursday, December 4, 2008


I Like Fruitcake
in almost all of its varieties, Panettone included. Unfortunately, I am off to a late start this year.
Each year my mother in law gives me a fruit cake from one of the local monasteries for my birthday, and each fall I bake a cake, while nursing a heritage cake in the fridge. I haven't made this years yet, and its starting to get me down.
James Villas in his book Stalking the Green Fairy has one of the better recipes and background stories about baking and saving fruitcakes I have yet encountered. His tale will bring even the most ardent fc hater into the fold.
Problem is, I'm bored with my cake. Anyone have a great family recipe they want to share?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The end of the traveling grandparent

It is a parents duty (no exceptions) to be completely involved with every school activity their children participate in. That the school and kids come first is the most important civics lesson we have to pass on to the following generations.

That doesn't necessarily involve grandparents.

While it is comforting to children to know their grandparents are interested in their school activities, it is no longer necessary for out of town grandparents to travel to the annual Christmas pageant, dance/piano recital or spelling bee. The Holiday pageant is too early, the weather is too bad, the.... The recital is like last years only different. Hopefully parents, you'll understand my objection.

Number 1 son taught me last year how to enjoy these dreaded events, from the comfort of my own home. I'll now share with you, so you can save yourself or someone you love for the really important must attends.

It's simply YouTube. Make your grand kids parents record the program with their handy digital camera, then upload onto YouTube. You get the best seats in the house, can see and hear loud and clear and can still praise the young thespians for their most excellent contribution to holiday festivities.
Imagine not having to show up hours early to save seats, or auditoriums filled with family. No SRO. Aunts, uncles friends and neighbors can watch too. Forever. Best of all you never leave home.

The imp in the white skirt/black top front row right is my grand daughter, Paige

Local Grandparents must still attend, no exceptions.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Have we come to this?

With good reason Mrs. T rarely turns me loose in a grocery store. Like most of my confreres I don't always limit myself to the produce and yogurt sections of the store and will sometimes go off wandering to the bakery or peanut and whiskey sections. A weekend foray uncovered this gem. Spray on pancakes.

As a society, have we fallen so far off the mark to believe that pancakes from an aerosol can might be a great idea? Would someone rationally explain the benefit of canned pancakes? I weep for the youth and future of this country. (Last rant of the month, I promise)


Monday, December 1, 2008


Welcome back travelers. It's time to get back to routine, and prep for the holidays. If your in retail, you have our thanks and good wishes.

Four years ago Mrs. T and I spent the week before and after Thanksgiving in Spain. While not exactly correct we spent about a week in and around Barcelona and a week in and around Madrid. Spain is muy cool, and I recommend visiting there to most everyone.

Barcelona is one my favorite cities on earth. Its beautiful. The people are friendly, stylish and relaxed. The weather's not bad either. There is plenty to see and do, and the food is to die for.

Barcelona is in Spain it's just not of Spain. The local language is Catalan, not Spanish. The customs are Catalan. The Spanish are tolerated.

With all there is to see and do, if you happen to be there near Christmas look around the many Nativity scenes for the ever present Caganer. He will be found in a corner of every creche, public and private.

Caganer is Catalan for "the pooper", and comes in all manner of guises, from the traditional Catalan peasant shown above to images of the pope, W, the Simpson's, whatever. Tradition is not clear on exactly how or why he's there. Most have settled on the story of how Caganer demonstrates how we are all equal in the eyes of God, as we all poop. Later stories throw in a fertility rite, but that explanation is not widely accepted.

Welcome to December. The Holiday season is in full swing now. Start your own holiday traditions. Your children and grandchildren will eventually thank you for them.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

An infinty of little hours

As regular readers may have observed I prefer to read than watch television. Mrs. T prefers television. I make no judgements, on those with differing amusements, I only state mine.

Over the years we have reached a mutual accommodation in that whenever I pick up a book Mrs. T will ask me what I am reading. I'll tell her the name and perhaps subtitle. She really has no interest, but occasionally likes to appear interested.

Several years ago, our usual conversation occurred and I told her I was reading "An Infinity of Little Hours" Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order by Nancy Maguire. Oh it must be about David she says.

This was a story I never heard and coincidentally she said that as I was beginning a chapter about David. Turns out David is the son of Mrs T's grandmother's best friend, and now Dr. Maguire's husband.

Well I wrote to Professor Maguire and told her the story. Over time we continued to share family stories while she filled in gaps of her mother in law and I did the same from Mrs. T's family. Finally, she sent the photo above.

Look at it closely. Look very closely.

The photo was taken in Milwaukee during July 1927. The women are in furs. The gent in a summer boater. Someone did not get the memo. The woman on the left is my grandmother in law. She is the identical twin to my bonus daughter. The couple on the right are the Maguires.

An Infinity is a fascinating book of 5 men's early years in a Carthusian monastery in England in the 50's. Life in the monastery has remained virtually unchanged for the past 1000 years, as it will be 1000 years from now. It is austere, and unlike any other in religious community on earth. Infinity is also a very good read.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shopping tips for Gentlemen

Casual readers to our daily musings may not be aware that on two prior occasions (Sept 24, Oct 4) I have had the temerity to offer dating tips for gentlemen. My candid observations were met with public silence, but the private responses were in full vigor against. While deterred, I was not silenced as I offer my gentlemen readers these holiday tips.


Some of our single friends labor under the misconception that the back of church at the Christmas Eve midnight service is an appropriate venue for inviting the woman of your dreams to marry them. Nothing is farther from the truth.

If you have been fortunate enough to find and deserve the love of a good woman, and wish to marry her, any day is a suitable day to ask for her hand. However, bear this in mind.

While generally welcome, Engagement rings are not suitable Christmas presents. Nor birthday gifts for that matter.

It's lazy, its cliched, it's unbecoming. At the same time, if popping the question is on your mind, asking between Christmas and New Years is also unseemly. It appears an afterthought at best, or capitulation to palpable disappointment at worst.

If you want to ask, do it today. Christmas prizes are still required.


Friday, November 28, 2008

The first of two is home.

In all the excitement of the past several days I failed to mention that I picked up one of the two jackets I was having made. Naturally, the one I wanted most to be ready in time for Thanksgiving did not make it in time, as it turns out neither did I , so nothing lost. Gratefully, the rust herringbone is completed.

I'm still a bit put off by the sleeve length, but that will be corrected next week.

It feels and moves superbly, and already has become one of my favorite jackets.

Thanks you Kaz, the tailor.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Part Travelogue, Part Musing

Made it both ways safe and sound. Thank you very much.

While a drive across Missouri, Kansas and eastern Colorado may sound incredibly boring in fact it was not. Let me tell you a bit about it.

With most pure intentions to leave early in the morning I slept late,and didn't leave Mayberry until after 11 am. Tuesday. My first stop was Kansas City. For those unfamiliar with the territory, KC has THE finest restaurant in the world, a humble little hole in the wall known far and wide as Arthur Bryants. I have been going to Bryants for at least 45 years and although the place has grown a bit since its early days the size and quality of the portions make this a paragon of value. If you doubt me, you may remember that Mrs. Blandings held a virtual shower there for one of her friends a year or so ago. Whatever greater recommendation can there be?

Leaving Missouri is visually jarring for Missourians. Missouri is known as "The Show Me State" because of its profound adoration of the highway billboard. No vista in the state is so scenic that it cannot be improved by vertical litter. No vista in the state has ever been given the opportunity to test if this is true. On the eighth day Missourians created billboards.
Neighboring Kansas has not yet invented billboards, so as you enter the state it takes 25 miles or so before one realizes what's wrong. No billboards.

Next stop was Topeka, Kansas to visit with #1 son.
Sadly it was a hi and bye with #1 as I had miles to go before I slept, but since I don't see him as much as I would like, any visit is a good one. Mrs. T and I will be returning to visit with #1 and family in a couple of weeks.

I left Topeka to watch the sun set over Kansas, and drove straight to the lovely community of Wakeenan, Kansas.

Sometimes you have to search for mirth, especially on a solitary drive and I found it in spades in Wakeenan. Finally around 8:30pm I stopped, and pulled into a next to the highway motel. As I drove through the lot I noticed a young couple making out on a sofa in the lobby. Seemed like a nice place. I got out, the young woman straightened herself out, and walked behind the official counter. I suggested that perhaps they needed a room more than I, but the young paramour said no, they were used to being disturbed. She then proceeded to ask a number of inpertinant questions. name, address, phone, length of stay, did I have a AAA card, etc.

I was tired and not on my game so I answered he queries without humor, and then she turned the tables on me and attempted to play stump the chump.

My dear friend Jim Bob's sainted father spent a great deal of time in our young adulthood attempting to teach us, how if we did not take advantage of fools when they unexpectedly arrived, the gods would presume we didn't want to play and wouldn't send us any more. That would lead to a sad and boring life. We have honored his lessons throughout our lives.

After getting me to initial and sign, and provide other assurances the hotel matron stares at me coldly and asks, "in case of emergency would I need assistance?" I rose to the bait, like trout to a fly.

What kind of emergency?

I don't know, we aren't expecting any.

Since one rarely expects emergencies, isn't an emergency by definition, unexpected?

Huh? Please sir, yes or no.

Maybe, I said. Depends.

I got the worst room in the place, and she and boyfriend were back at it, by the time I retrieved my bag.


Western Kansas is beautiful in its own austere way. I greatly admire the people who make their living there, and can only imagine at how satellite TV, cell phone and the Internet have changed farm life positively. The one thought I couldn't get out of my head though, was how fragile life in these small farm towns could be. For instance, suppose in a generation, a disproportionate number of children of one sex were born. Within the children's generation a community could be wiped out. Probably doesn't happen, but ...

Arrived in Denver and had a wonderful visit and Thanksgiving dinner with my daughter and son in law.

Thursday afternoon they delivered me to a virtually empty Denver airport and a very full flight home.

Its good to go, its far better to arrive home safely.

Monday, November 24, 2008

One good deed deserves...

Dear Friends: Meg of Pigtown Design and I were discussing Karma recently, and she most correctly pointed out that Karma is best served up front, I couldn't agree more. Perhaps that is why my big mouth and I continue to get into warm water occasionally. Yesterday I volunteered to help a friend in need, and darned if he didn't take me up on it.

So Tuedsay, I am driving from Mayberry to Denver to deliver friend in needs car to my lovely daughter and her husband who will then drive it to its home in Seattle. I did offer to drive the whole route, but through good karma & divine intervention I was saved this time.

Sadly, I'll be out of touch for a couple of days, but I will have lovely stories about domestic air travel on the busiest weekend of the year, and fantastic photos of the great midwest when I return. Have a lovely and safe holiday. Save me some dark meat. I'll return Friday as usual.


Remember babysitting?

Remember how you disliked babysitting? Maybe not as a kid, but as an adult, watching your friends and neighbors kids? Especially, when you already had kids of your own and had some idea how it was done? Never really liked it did you?

Last weekend Mrs. T got a similar but as dreaded an offer. "Nana, wanna watch my dog next week, while my family and I go to Disney World?", asked our 9 year old grandson.
What ya got enough money to go, but not enough to afford a kennel. It is after all your 15th trip there.

So, early Sunday morning, the little beast shows up. Generally, I like dogs, this one, no. It is mean, destructive, and never a brow has been furrowed in thought concerning the most rudimentary training for this monster. Won't come, isn't housebroken, bites. Naturally, at its home, the sun rises and sets around this dog.

Wouldn't you know it too, it came with two single spaced typed pages of its needs and wants, which we lost before they were out of the driveway.

Fortunately, we have a trick up our sleeve and they know it. We put a leash on the beast, and pull the handle through Ted the Wonder Dog's collar, That way, Ted has to watch it, we know Ted won't run away, and the little beast is out of sight and out of mind.

God only knows how we'll have to make it up to Ted, but pay we will.


PS: Before you call the ASPCA, PETA or the sheriff be aware of two facts regarding this case.

1. Everyone involved knows that Mrs. T is dangerously allergic to many breeds of dog.
2. Although Mrs. T said yes, this naturally becomes my problem for a week. If you need me I'll be at home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book Report Day

With little to do and much time to do it this past week, I spent many a pre and post nap hour with a book in my hand. In an effort to provide timely advice I offer my picks and pans.

CALL ME TED, an autobiography of Ted Turner

I have mixed emotions about Ted. I've had the honor of meeting him twice in circumstances that were very enjoyable. He is larger than life, and one of the world's great salesmen. My twin cousin was a lobbyist for Turner Broadcasting in the early days and has very little good to say about him. Let's say the jury is out.

Call me Ted is a hymn to the converted. Ted sees himself as a hard working guy who has done his best for his company and country. This is undeniable. That he is an honest, straight shooter in business I cannot say. His friends like him, his children have come to like him and all his many wives and girlfriends are still in touch. Self praise at the highest level.


For the life of me I cannot understand why I spend the time I do reading autobiographies and biographies of recently dead celebrities. I have yet to read an autobiography that proclaims the subject to be a sniveling ass who hates children and should be arrested and locked away for his crimes against humanity. (Hope springs eternal since I will read W's book in hope of the truth).

Mr Plimpton's life is told in fragments by his many friends and enemies. If the subject interests you at all, you may know many of the more famous stories, his interests in sports and fireworks, his wide interests and many friends among the beau monde of the literary universe. If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Plimpton you could give this pass and live to tell the tale.

I though he came off an insufferable ass.


I tend to exit colds by becoming ravished, and since this is not a cooking program, this may be one of only two recipes you will ever see here. In fact I know my way around a kitchen pretty well. I may not be a really good eater, but I can cook up a storm.

This is the a recipe for one of my favorite pies which I adapted from one publish in the NYT several years ago.I believe it is trademarked under the name Derby Pie. Suitable copies are known as Dixie Pies.

For the uninitiated it is a pecan pie with chocolate chips. Best served slightly warm, late Thanksgiving night with an Irish Coffee or an Irish Creme and a cup of strong coffee.
The pie itself is so sweet as to make your teeth ache. Enjoy in moderation.


1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (use pecans if you're a purist)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place crust on pie plate and prick bottom with a fork. Cover lightly with a sheet of foil. Bake for 10 minutes then remove foil and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl combine the butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Add the brown sugar and flour and mix thoroughly. Using a rubber spatula fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.
3. Pour batter into the crust. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

I am back to health, and thank all for their well wishes.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Katy Day

My father died almost 25 years ago, and hardly a day goes by that I don't think of a question I'd like to ask him. With that in mind shortly before her death I asked my mother how my youngest brother got his name. Her reply stunned me.

"Your father was a Notre Dame football fan." I knew the man 30 something years and this was news to me. And, I asked? Your brother was named for ND's then football coach.

I chewed on that for a while, and imagined saying to my children's mother, "I want to name our first born Parseghian". I'll bite says she, Why? Because that is the name of ND's football coach.

To this day I'm unsure as to whether that would lead to a very short conversation, or a very long monologue. Either way it would undoubtedly be poor for my self esteem.

I wish I had known this some years before.

Once upon a time, Notre Dame had a very good football team. In fact they were undefeated going into a Thanksgiving Day game against the Air Force Academy. The game was to be nationally televised in the afternoon.

Around noon on Thanksgiving my wife said it was time to go to the hospital NOW! Our first born to be was well done and wanted to greet the world.

Naturally, the mom to be's OB was a ND grad. He had the day off, and a houseful of guests gathered to celebrate the holiday feast with a historic football party. His partner was on call.

By mid afternoon the backup had 4 moms waiting, and he needed help. Dr.ND was called and showed up just in time to deliver my darling daughter, Katy, and miss a historic game. He was pissed and let everyone know. We were ecstatic, and still are. That's why today and every year on this date we celebrate Katy day.

Happy Birthday Dahlink


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Truth is strange

If you let yourself lie about for several days, the darnedest things will cross your path.

The first is the photo above, which was taken by Robert S. Van Fleet and showing the November 1958 fire at Silliman Hall at Northfield Mount Hermon School. It was the AP 1958 sports photograph of the year.

The second still on a football theme demonstrates how truth is much stranger than fiction.

According to wire service sources yesterday, the nations only blind marching band, from the Ohio State School for the Blind will march in the 2010 Rose Bowl Parade. Fair enough.

The Marching Band was created in 2005 when a neighboring school, The Ohio School of the Deaf was looking for a band to play at its football games. Even I couldn't make this up.

They need about $30,000 to cover expenses. If you can help give them a call.

Recovery is taking longer than I want, but I'll return in full vigor soon.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beaujolais Nouveau

One of the great marketing coups in the world was continued this morning when at 12:01 Paris time as the 2008 vintage Beaujolais, the first wine from the new harvest, was released to an undeserving public. In the days of the Concorde trendy New York restaurants would have it available for luncheon. Now it may take until dinner, and certainly by Saturday it will be in your local grocery store.
If you have trendy or sophisticated friends you may be invited to a Beaujolais Nouveau party this weekend. I beg you to reconsider going, or at least to take proper precautions.
I think the British say it best. This is plonk. Before you take that first sip remember that these grapes were on the vine in September. Many of the less fastidious amongst us will quietly admit to having grape juice in the fridge older than this wine. Our more experienced readers will recall that Boone's Farm aged longer, since it was aged in transit, typically by truck from far away.
If you must go, I suggest the following. Ladies bring a large purse carrying a bottle of good stuff. You'll thank yourself in the morning, as this has an aftertaste which is not readily dissolved. Gentlemen, this would be a great opportunity to bring a flask.
You have been warned, and well advised.