Monday, September 21, 2009

THE haircut

I was at the barber earlier this week. Long time readers may recall the woman who cuts my hair is gorgeous, and barely street legal. As a reminder that I'm older than her father, I generally wear something, or drive something to my appointment older than she.

This week, in the next chair ( do they call them that in salons?) was a young woman getting THE haircut.

The guys know what I mean. It comes without warning or discussion. We're presented with a fait acompli, and our lives are changed, forever. Most never see it coming.

The women know exactly what I mean. It's the haircut that comes shortly after, if not the first, then certainly the birth of her second child.

Your girlfriend, lover, wife, mother of your children, is shorn of her beautiful locks. The tresses you've known forever. Gone!

Intellectually, we understand. She's busier now. Doesn't have time for such frippery as her hair. Tresses tugged at by infants. Grubby little hands smeared with oatmeal, baby food or worse.

It's the first public display that you've slipped a notch.

Gents, it will happen to you. When it does, there is only one response. YOU LOVE IT!!!!!!

Mourn quietly, alone.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Remember what happened to Howard Beale

I don't care to have that happen to me!

Friends, I have thought about this long and hard for the past several weeks, and I have finally come to the correct decision. It's time to go. I'm not looking back.

Thank you for the time you have spent here. You have enriched my life. In return, I hope I brought a smile to yours.

So, remove me from your reader, lighten your blog roll. I've been honored to be there.

I'll miss you, terribly.


Friday, September 18, 2009


Much of my misspent youth was centered around River City and its environs. If you took a generous view of what constituted a suburb, many of the local suburban Illinois communities were founded by German immigrants in the mid 1800's. The good Germans brought many of their traditions including drunken September street fairs.

For many years, the town of Columbia held the fair. Eventually times changed and instead of watching dad in his liederhosen, dancing the polka, the fun turned decidedly towards beer swilling and wurst sampling. The burghers of Columbia said, " we want these drunken kids here why?" And put the kibosh to the fun.

Next, the city of Saint Louis found a guy who was a great organizer, and who was leaving town sooner than he planned, and told him to throw the Strassenfest on main street. After a year or two of deadly street fights, drunken mobs, and more crime than the city dare report to the FBI crime stat bureau, even the polka king refused to show up. A couple of years later, after the cops said they would no longer patrol, the City gave up the ghost. The fest had to move on.

So what did they do? You're not gonna believe this.

They moved the fest to Mayberry.

Word is, we had a German tourist here once, so the town fathers, who wouldn't for love nor money have visited the city fair, decided why not have a German street fair as a remembrance. There needed to be conditions though.

This is where it becomes interesting.

1. No beer! No drinking and driving, no endangering the locals, no putting local girls at risk from underage/overage imbibers.

2. No public transportation. Buses need to be re routed. God knows they don't want that element.

3. No nearby parking. ALL attendees shall be bused to and from the fun.

Sounds like a whale of a good time doesn't it. Octoberfest without beer. Cuts down on the number of port a potties.

It's this weekend if you no other plans.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

You know those days...

Those days you can't wait to get everyone out of the house? Or look forward to a half hour alone in the car? Those days you just want to wallow in your own misery and self pity?

Do you allow background music? If so, what music do you play? Is there something you save for just those days? Something tried and true?

Barry Manilow has always done it for me. On those days even his upbeat stuff makes me weep, copiously.

Any other day he makes my teeth ache.

After an afternoon of Barry, I'll be back in full fettle tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

After the whites, before the tweeds

I had begun this post several days ago. Then things turned ugly crazy around here, and I stopped, picked it up again, stopped, and decided to either do it or forget it. I find if I am having trouble with a piece I am either unprepared or just not that interested and should drop it.

We'll see. I'm interested. No idea how prepared I am.

Then, I read The Elegantologist's piece this morning on a similar topic, twisted in only the ways he can. His life is much grander than mine, so often I live vicariously through his posts. I'm certain he wouldn't approve of what's coming next. I hope he forgives me, I love him anyway.

I've noticed that every year around this time, when the whites, seersucker and colors have been put away for the season, local gentlemen tend to go overboard towards the khaki, shooting sports, and tan poplin side of the spectrum.

September first opens dove hunting season, and today is opening day of archery season for deer.

Although I don't hunt, I find my wardrobe reflects local tastes. The weather will stay comfortable until near Halloween. Khaki pants, a cotton shirt and light jacket will do for the next month or so.

I find myself reaching for this jacket for around the yard, or trips to the hardware/feed store. It has a sort of "you might be one of us" look, so important when hob nobbing with the Range Rover crowd. It's a classic shooting jacket modeled after a safari jacket without the cumbersome belt.

I am amazed by the things I pull out of the pockets at the end of the day. Whatever I can't find I look here for it first.

My next go piece of kit is this photographers vest.

I've had this longer than the shooting jacket, and although its rather heavy, it molded to fit me. Again too many pockets by half.

As I mentioned last week my closet is full, and I am trying to keep from filling it further with stuff. However, last week I received my annual Kevin's catalog from the quail hunt country in southern Georgia. I'm captivated by this jacket.

It has a number of nice touches and is fairly priced. Mercifully, the size that fits my chest leaves the sleeves dragging on the ground. The tailor could fix that, but..... That's the trouble with off the rack SML sizing.

Around the same time the weekly Orvis catalog arrived. It's filled with temping odd vests. Ignore the listed prices, they are cheaper on line. I'm hoping for even cheaper holiday sales.

Last fall, I searched high and low for an affordable gray shawl collared cardigan sweater. This isn't gray, but it is a shawl. I have several already, this being an Orvis staple. Each year they change the color and the price. I'm holding out. Should you find one let me know.

Finally, there is this vest. It's hemp (linen).

I have no idea how long you could get away with wearing this into the fall, but I like the look. Alas, not for me this year.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Any thoughts?

I know, my closet is full, but I have this suede shoe thing.

The shoes are on EBAY, my size, and I am selling two things whose auctions close soon. they are alleged to be off white. Presumably they are sitting on a white cloth, so they can't be that white can they? Are the fall-able?

G, I need your help.


Advice to young fathers, and a reminder to others

Gentlemen: My father in law, Oscar the Grouch, generally begins these sorts of lectures with, " Free advice is worth what you pay for it, so ... I think that..."

This is one of those lectures. I get off sharing this with you, because I'm older than you and care about your well being.

My friends, your wife, the mother of your children, wears many hats throughout her life. She wears them proudly, and with as little complaint as necessary. She's wife, lover, daughter, sister, mother, friend... besides what her chosen career may require.

The gods willing, you two will live to have 80 years of wedded bliss. However long you have, if you remember this one thing, know this in your heart to be true, your life will be happy. Ignore this at your peril.

Of all the hats your wife will ever wear, truly, deeply, to the bottom of her soul, the only one that really matters to her is MOTHER.

No matter how old you are, no matter how long you're married, you will never rank higher in her love than 1 place below the number of children she has. Competing for better is predestined to failure.

To know this, and accept this, is to be a happy husband.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Carla Bruni

Ladies, please work with me here.

It's Friday, late afternoon. You've had a tough week. Your beloved, who has thoughtfully sent the kids to the grandparents for the night, greets you at the door with a glass of wine. You kick off your shoes, settle onto the sofa, where a foot rub and nibbles await, while you regale him with the trials and tribulations of your day.

He's listens raptly, focused on your every word.

Then it's his turn to speak.

He suggests that for this season (for he thinks of your life together as a televison series) that you pretend not to live in Utah. He says he wants to introduce a new character to the show. Thinks life would be better together if you had a sister wife.

He's thinking Carla Bruni for our series. She's Italian, so may know her way around a pasta machine. She's also French. Married to the French president, but that might not matter. Probably has a pretty good head for wine and cheese. May have some contacts at the better vinyards.

Speaks English better than most natives, sings well, not offensive to the eye, and has her own pocket change.

Seems perfect to me, but I'll be dashed if I can sell it. The head of programming forcefully says NO!

Toad, still the happiest married man ever.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Patch Tweed Scarf

This is another great idea that has a thousand fathers, and whose fate may depend upon you and one very creative woman.

For the past couple of years I have been toying with the notion of patch tweed and/or patch tartan winter scarves. I want it long, say 6 foot, and appropriately wide.

The plaid, on plaid on plaid on plaid outfits in the photos below are the inspiration. I love how the the plaids are all different, yet when worn together make for a cohesive whole.

To bring my idea to fruition I asked bow tie creator extraordinaire, Ellie LaVeer Stager, if she may be interested in taking on the project. I got a firm maybe.

I don't intend to speak for her, but I believe her hesitation was sourcing a suitable selection of tweed and tartan jackets at various yard and thrift sales to make this worthwhile. Tartan jackets may be a real pain to locate.

My plan was to use a basic wool, or other winterish fabric. Seems more readily available to me. I however am not the doer, I'm just the idea guy.

So, what do you think? I have no details about the three c's, cost, color or cut, but if the past is any guide I believe the product will not only be beautiful but affordable.

If there is a suitable level of interest Ellie just might be persuaded to put together a batch. Not soon, but in time. Anyone want in? I get mine first.


My apologies to the photographers. If anyone knows where these snaps came from, will you please let me know so I may credit the artist.

Lower photo, The Sartorialist

Friday, September 11, 2009

Location, Location, Location

Mrs. T's TIVO never, ever shuts off. It can be infuriating at 1:30 Am to try to watch a program only to find TIVO is already recording 2 programs. To counter that we have developed a routine.

TIVO lives in Mrs. T's office (our bedroom). For years, just as we turn out the lights we watch a couple of minutes of HGTV's House Hunters, or on a good night House Hunters International. We've seen them all, but never remember which they choose, so its always new to us. Who can focus at 2 AM?

Last night, we're watching Pierre shop for a pied a terre in Paris. He's only willing to spend 500K Euro's, so by Parisian standards he's looking for a large closet. He's happily content looking at 650 square feet. Remember we're talking at a grand a foot here.

Finally, the agent takes him to a palace. 800 square feet, and he's undaunted by the 550k Euro price tag. Moderately out of the way, but he can have a bed and a table in these palatial digs. If he picks a small bed, perhaps there is even room for a plant. The floors were gorgeous though.

As we're becoming excited for Pierre, out of the blue Mrs. T announces, Pierre's spending $700,000 for property the size of our swimming pool!! Ruined my night's sleep.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Final Bill

Mrs. T well understands that if bill paying fell under my area of responsibility we would be homeless in several months. For better or worse this area of our domestic relations fall under her bailiwick, and I know better than to question or comment.

That's why I got the hairy eyeball yesterday when I opened the small envelope that arrived from the sewer company in yesterday's post.

Each of us has bills they have to grit their teeth to pay. For some its the cable, for others the phone bill. For Mrs. T it's the sewer bill. Why? It's a simple, but ugly story.

We are not sewer company customers. We use septic, our rain runoff drains into our lake, which overflows onto our creek to the neighbors lake. Sewer Company customers we are not. Yet we get a bill.

The sewer company, in a most ingenious and highly recommended, if you can pull it off, scheme, decided they could raise revenue exponentially by billing people who were not their customers, for services that they had not provided. The rationale went like this. Although you don't use our services, you benefit from them, so send us $10 per month, subject to late fees and future rate increases. The moral equivalent of my billing you $120 per year, in mutual hope my grand daughter becomes a doctor and saves your sorry self some day.

We bitched and screamed and eventually a class action lawsuit was filed. Yesterday we received this letter.

Think we'll ever live to see a refund?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tailgate Mel

I am uncertain whether Mel of I Pick Pretty will remember this shoot. Taken at a UT football tailgate party.

One can tell it's Texas by the boots and funny hats they wear there.


A Wedding Question please

Mrs. T and I were discussing the upcoming wedding of the daughter of friends and a question arose neither of us could answer. I look to you for guidance.

Collectively, we have been to probably a hundred weddings in Churches of most every denomination, but have never attended a Jewish wedding in a Temple/Synagogue. Are weddings not done in the Jewish faith?


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ted's bad night

It's tough being owned by the world's dumbest dog. When he understood that the universe revolves around him, and that humans are only there to further his aims, the game was lost.

Ted the Wonder Dog hasn't left the porch, or driveway in a week. The ground has been wet, and he fears getting his dainty paws muddy, he's been sleeping like a cat. Can't say that I much blame him, but after a while, a dog has to go out and stay out for a while.

Just as we were getting ready for bed last night he decided he was going out. Heaven only knows who he was meeting, but he was going out come hell or high water. So I let him out and went to bed. Usually when he wants in he'll let us know.

In the morning I opened the door, expecting to see his sorry self asleep in his favorite spot on the porch. Only a semblance of him was there.

The savage beast must have spent the night chasing wild critters far and wide. He was covered in burrs so badly he couldn't open his eyes, and he wasn't at all happy about his inability to see. I spent my first hour picking burrs, thorns, sticks and grass from his wooly self, but he wouldn't let me anywhere near his face.

I was genuinely worried for him. The noise he made trying to free the burrs from his eyes was heart wrenching. Ever try to locate a vet on a holiday? It isn't easy. In desperation we called the groomer, bring him right over, she says. Within 10 minutes she had one eye uncovered, but felt the other required the clippers.

So shaved he got. The poor dog. Every time I look at him I laugh. His self esteem is shattered. Ever since he came home he has been curled up in a ball on his rug.

Betcha he doesn't leave his porch for weeks.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Peter Beard - Cool Guy

I've been taking a ramble through post WW 1 Africa lately. Idina Sackville's biography, Out of Africa by, and West Through the Night by Berle Markam. The three women were contemporaries, didn't necessarily like each other, but each shared lovers.

Coincidently, the Sundance Channel has been showing a biography of photographer, artist, activist, Peter Beard which I watched recently. If you haven't seen it I recommend it,with this warning. If you are watching with adolescent boys bare in mind, many of the models forgot to bring clothes.

Passed on without comment

I am not so naive to suspect that I am the only male blogger to receive this email. If you are interested in photography and especially the details of men's clothing give this guy a look. Very well done.

Dear Toad,
Thank you very much for your blog - so many interesting things.
I am artist and director of gallery Senko Studio, Denmark,
I will be glad to introduce you my new project
highlighting men's style in a personal manner.
Maybe for your blog info?
Here is press release
CLOSE UP AND PRIVATE is an on-going project which looks to capture the spirit of modern style, as seen through the subtle shades of the individual.

Through these details a complex discourse between clothing, fashion and image takes form, offering new perspectives on contemporary fashion and identity in a personal manner.

CLOSE UP AND PRIVATE is dedicated to the visual language of men's style – celebrating classic details and contemporary looks

through unique photographic documentary.

Kind regards Sergei
Sergei Sviatchenko
Senko Studio Office
Sct. Mogensgade 12
8800 Viborg
+45 40627154

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Old Notebook

Off and on for many years I've kept a notebook of pithy sayings, ads that caught my eye, cartoons, notable quotes and generally good ideas. Sadly, I haven't done it for a while, as I've traded my PC for paper.

I find I've missed it, so Friday I decided it was time to go back to paper. I picked up a Moleskine which I'm not yet happy with. It's too new, perhaps the wrong size and cumbersome. My fault, I should have paid more attention while shopping, but eventually I'll come to appreciate my new version.

Completely unexpectedly, I uncovered an older notebook Saturday afternoon. The day was cold rainy and generally miserable, so I spent an unplanned afternoon reviewing the past. Most of the entries date from the mid 90's, and I thought I'd show how the more things change the more my tastes remain the same.

Consciously, I couldn't have told you what was in here. As soon as I dove into the pages I was flooded with old and mostly very fond memories.

This was the cover page, stolen from The HitchHikers Guide to the Universe

Perhaps one time wished for , but never, ever happened in real life.

I'm not a scotch drinker, but have always loved Calder. Four years or so ago, Mrs. T and I went to Madrid. Late on a wet, cold Sunday afternoon we were both getting a little homesick and walked into the Museo Riena Sophia to get out of the weather. Hidden in the back was a Calder exhibit which just took my breath away. That Sunday made the whole trip worthwhile.

This was my life, 24/7.

The linen suit obsession festered for a very long time.

Hidden within those pages was my daily exercise routine too. I better get back to it.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Bolter

Last weekend, Melissa recommended the Bryant and May mysteries of Christopher Fowler. I prefer reading series from beginning to end, but the local library only had a few so I picked up The Water Room. I'm thinking I missed a lot coming in at the middle, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The White Corridor is sitting on my nightstand. If you are into British modern mysteries give them a try.

Remember Nancy Mitford's classic, The pursuit of Love, and Love in A Cold Climate? If you do, you'll remember the narrator, the niece of Uncle Davy. Her claim to fame, and shame was that she was the daughter of The Bolter. One day mom just ran off. Left husband and 3 children behind to take off with a man she hardly knew.

The character, The Bolter, was based upon the real exploits of Idina Sackville, cousin of Vita. Her father was the 8th Earl of De La Warr. Family as old as England. One of the earliest Earls was Royal Governor of Virginia, and later gave name to Delaware.

Idina was young, rich, beautiful and knew everyone. Hers is a fabulous tale. A morality tale gone wrong.

Written by her great granddaughter, the story is told with all the warts. Don't pick it up, late at night. You'll never get to sleep.


Friday, September 4, 2009

The Doctor's Challenge

Thursday was strange at The Park.

We went to bed late. As I was about to turn out the lights, I noticed a bat flying around our ceiling fan. Visions of Mrs. Blandings and her battle of the bats in the attic. Flying bats in the bellfry are harder to ignore than mice. Trust me on this one.

Fortunately, it wanted gone as much as I wanted it gone, and after opening a few windows and doors it escaped fairly quickly.

A restless nights sleep ensued, and at 9 I was cooling my heels in the waiting room of my long time GP. Time for my semi-annual chastising.

I am fairly healthy for a fat man. Blood pressure 100 over 70. Total Cholesterol 140. All the tests were quite fine thank you.

When I go to the sawbones, I expect to hear 3 things. Lose some weight, lay off the cigars, get some exercise. I've been hearing 2 of those for 20 years or more. Sound advice I'm sure, but we both know he's chirping to the wall.

So after having his way with me, he stands me to a challenge. At face it's so simple, I can't wait to see how it turns out. Here is what he said.

Make an appointment for 6 months out. In the mean time lose 1 ounce per day. If you do it, next year is on me. If not pay double.

One ounce per day? Sounds easy, put like that, doesn't it?

I'll let you know just how easy it is.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Your opinions please

Friends, ADG asked over the weekend what my new blog, In High Cotton was about. I have neither the skills or attention span to write more than one blog, so IHC was created as a test bed for layout and template changes I have been considering.

Frankly, I'm torn. I like the current set up. I am used to it. I know it. However it may be time for a change.

Teach an old dog...

So I solicit your opinions. Click on the link. Take a look see, and let me know what you think. It needs some tweaking, but it may be viable.

To the Manner Born

I await your broadsides, and thank you once again.



It may occasionally be easier being male.  I have finally reached the point in my life where my clothes closet is full. I have a lifetime worth of shirts and shoes and can probably with judicious weight loss and gain outlast most of my wardrobe.  Style is more my thing than fashion.  I'm never fashionable.

Other than a few accessories I may be done.  Or so I thought.

The photo above is from Scott Schuman's book, "The Sartorialist".

Looking at the above photo, I realized I'm short on waistcoats.  I generally avoid three piece suits, and have consequently not given much thought to vests.  What I didn't consider was the option of the odd vest

I have been scouring the fall catalogs for available styles.  I am thus far suitably unimpressed by fabric and cost, but I have been fabric shopping. Moleskin and tweed.  Something complimentary to go with tweeds in the closet.

My favorite Polish tailor is visiting the old country until mid October.  By then I may have some clever ideas for him. If you have a great source drop me a line.