Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#2 son

If you were paying attention last week, you would have figured out that today was #2 son's birthday, hence the 53 week part. Today's birthday boy is on the left.

He is bigger now, a forest fire fighter, this year in the Pacific Northwest. He has the job he has aspired to for a long time, a first responder, dropped off by helicopter as close as possible to a raging fire, followed by several very long hikes.


Off season, he's a college student on the 10 year plan. Unfortunately, fire season and school terms overlap.

With school and fire work, I haven't seen him in a couple of years, and miss him terribly.

Happy Birthday Bunky



Monday, August 30, 2010

Tonight Only

For one night only, New Orleans resident, Harry's Shearer's film, The Big Uneasy, which details the man made disaster of Hurricane Katrina, will be shown in theaters nationwide.

Tonight is that night.


Maybe-Maybe Not

I had been reading the NYT wedding section, amazed at the volume of non church weddings officiated by Aunt Marg who was granted a temporary license by the state for the day to marry anyone she may come into contact with when I came across this. Seemed fitting in a way.


The certficate declares:
I ________ having been subjected to the Rite of Christian Baptism in infancy (before reaching an age of consent), hereby publicly revoke any implications of that Rite and renounce the Church that carried it out. In the name of human reason, I reject all its Creeds and all other such superstition in particular, the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed by Baptism of alleged ORIGINAL SIN, and the evil power of supposed demons. I wish to be excluded henceforth from enhanced claims of church membership numbers based on past baptismal statistics used, for example, for the purpose of securing legislative privilege.”

I found this on one of my favorite sites, The Ship of Fools, an unofficial Church of England site. Mail in 3 GBP and you're off the list. If you haven't any GBP's, drop me a fiver and I take care of the rest.

Sponsored by the National Secular Society, who have made a killing off the sales. Or click your heels 3 times and say.....


Sunday, August 29, 2010

5 years on

Fairhope, Al.

New Orleans, La.
The Mothership

Mobile, Al
Home of the first Mardi Gras celebration in the US

Biloxi, Mississippi

You can kick Southerners, but you can't lick 'em.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

women we could love, given time

A pox on Chico's, the women's fashion retailer.

First they reopen old wounds by dragging all American California girl Lauren Hutton back into the spotlight.

Now they include the beautiful French model and actress Magali Amadei in their catalogs for our edification.

I realize my eyes may be the next thing to go, but in a certain light, Magali looks like she could pass as Lauren's darker haired, better ivoried... what? Granddaughter?

God forgive me.


Friday, August 27, 2010

You may not toss

Mothers have a propensity to throw a boy's best stuff out, especially when he's not home to defend himself.

How many kids go off to college, only to come home for the holidays to find their mother "cleaned" their room, tossed Farah Fawcett's wall art, and most of their really good stuff? My children's grandfather went to his grave bemoaning the treasures his mother tossed while he was defending his country. It ain't fair.

Boys of a certain age, were great collectors of the Wes Wilson designed Fillmore Auditorium posters in the mid '60's. I lived 2000 miles from San Francisco, and had a bunch. Every head shop in the US sold them for a buck or so. Tickets to the shows were less than $5. Ticketmaster wasn't even a dream. Gone, every last one, without even get a chance to say goodbye.

Today, original posters will sell for thousands. Copies near $50.

So mommas, a little respect. Clean their space if you must, but box it up, save it with the same love it was collected. Don't toss a lifetimes treasures. No toy soldiers, no toy cars, bikes, buttons or medals, especially stuff you don't like. Do and your kids will hate you.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir

Imagine, the Lord Chamberlain drops you note.

"His Majesty has commanded me to invite you to a formal party
at which he intends waving a scimitar across your brow
after which you will become forever, and evermore
known as Baronet

Would Friday next, say 1PM, be convenient?"

Written in pencil on the obverse is the following note:
Seems we are light on Barons in the Kingdom, and the King wants you to become one.
Ring up the College of Arms, see what they can do for a name and coat of arms.

Let me know.

If the recipient of said note had been a clothes guy, he couldn't have picked a better title.

Ist Baron Tweedsmuir.

John Buchan, today's birthday boy, was honored by his King for long and valued service to the Crown and Kingdom, as soldier, barrister, Minister of Parliament and Diplomat. He was about to appointed Governor General of Canada, and Betty's father had no intention of being represented by a commoner. Australia maybe, but not in Canada for god's sake.

That's why he had his people get in touch.

Were that all he was, he would have been forgotten years ago. John was also a very good mystery writer. It's how he earned his living.

His best known work, The Thirty Nine Steps, was broadcast on Masterpiece, this year.

Written in 1915, posed as a look behind the causes of the First World War, it's the story of a plot to have Russia declare war on Germany. The plot hinges on a cabal to assassinate the Greek Prime Minister, and a German secret society set up to overthrow the British government. Depending upon which printing you select it may or may not have had antisemitic undertones. Subsequent print editions and all movie versions have omitted that part.

Alfred Hitchcock filmed a version in 1935. Two remakes have been released as well.

My favorite Buchan series is John Macnab.

"Three high-flying men who suffer from boredom concoct a plan to cure it. They inform 3 Scottish estates that they will poach from each two stags and a salmon. They sign collectively as 'John McNab' and await the responses."

Thirty Nine Steps will be easy to find. Other Buchan stories are often located in collections of short stories. Give them a try.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Winton's Children

This is from Gives me Hope. It's a story I was unaware of, and as great as the story is, the video trumps. Let me know if you watch it with dry eyes.

GMH #50245

In 1938, Nicholas Winton helped 669 Jewish kids escape certain death from the Nazis. He never told anyone that he did this.

While on ski trip in Switzerland, Winton took a detour in Czechoslovakia to help the children of refugees. Nazi Germany had recently annexed a large part of Czechoslovakia and the news of Kristallnacht, a violent attack on Jews in Germany and Austria, had just reached Prague.

Winton set up a rescue operation for the children, filling out the required paperwork for them to be sent to homes in Sweden and Great Britain. He had to raise money to fund foster homes for all of them, and then he sent 669 children away from Czechoslovakia on trains before the Nazis closed down the borders.

Winton told no one that he did this, not even his wife. In 1988, his wife found a scrapbook full of pictures of the children and letters from parents in their attic. She arranged to have Winton's story appear in newspapers.

Many of the children Winton saved went on the BBC television program, That's Life, to meet him for the first time since the war. They refer to themselves as "Winton's children".

Winton is now 101 years old and has received awards from Israel and the Czech Republic as well as Knighthood from the Queen of England in 1993.Popout
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    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Friends Help Please

    Friends I need help please.

    I received this email today

    "My bosses mother is losing a battle with leukemia, and to make things worse the hospital has lost her favorite robe. She is wondering if maybe you can help.

    Looking for a women's Seer Sucker robe. The color pattern alternates pink, white, blue, white, pink, etc… It had faux buttons that were actually snaps. She has no clue where or even when she got it. Can you help?"


    A thousand thanks


    #1 son

    My sons are Irish twins, almost. They are 53 weeks apart.

    Today is the first's birthday, #1 son, aka Paige's dad.

    It has been an exciting year for him, work has treated him well, his beautiful family is magnificent, they bought their first home.

    I am incredibly proud of him, for all his accomplishments.

    Most of my truly odd posts are at his suggestion. He is a unique character.

    Happy Birthday #1, I love you bunches.


    Monday, August 23, 2010

    for Mom on the Run

    Ever read Abnormally Normal? You should.


    Del Toro, A couple of kids trying hard

    Mrs. Blandings and I have been trading emails this past week comparing our experiences with the good kids at Del Toro. Her tale is not mine to tell, my experience has been very good.

    Keep in mind, I'm not on the take here, just sharing a story.

    One of the hardest notions to get your mind across when buying clothes off the peg, is that the size on the label is just a number. You can like the number or if you hate the number, you may do something about it, but you are never absolved from the dictate to buy clothing that fits YOU.

    I'm especially leery about buying shoes unseen. My foot is wide. If wide is unavailable, sometimes you can substitute extra length in a medium width shoe to compensate for missing width. Let the buyer beware however. Acknowledging my shoe difficulties, I took advantage of their try it on for size offer, and I am grateful I did.

    I ordered a half and a whole size larger than normal, figuring one or the other would fit perfectly. I could get neither on my feet.

    Two days later, Matt, one of the founders, gives me a call. He seemed genuinely curious. I told my story, he told his and promised to send replacements. 10 days later they arrived. Butta!

    So here's the problem. He sent the black to try on. Originally, I didn't want black, but now I do, so I'm keeping these. I wanted brown, and an embroidered blue pair, and a monogrammed black pair, and a...

    I especially like the cool racing stripe at the back. Call Matt, he's got my info.


    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    As we begin year 3

    We've been together 3 years now, It feels, in many ways like yesterday. My intent was to share some of what was on my mind, old family stories and some bits of news and gossip with my far flung offspring. I never imagined anyone else would ever read these pages.

    I'm gladdened and humbled you're here. Everyday I'm astonished by your generosity and willingness to share your knowledge.

    Below is my first post. Not much I would or will I change, 'cept maybe to throw Charlie in periodically. Thank you each and every one of you.
    Blogs have long fascinated and scared me. I have wondered where in the world people found so much to say. How such interesting people had the time or the inclination to share their lives with the masses. Frankly, I felt inadequate. My life isn't that full.

    However, I do have a few things to share, and I hope as time passes we each do our bit to make this world the best of all possible worlds.

    I promise to rarely rant. I am no Howard Beale. I promise not to preach. Frankly, I just don't care enough. Free advice is rarely received and never welcome.

    Over time I'll tell more about myself, my family, life in Mayberry, Ted the wonder dog, and how if I were king the world might be a different place.

    I look forward to sharing time with you.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010


    Ernie wasn't all that old when he checked out. The poor guy looked 100, but was merely 62. I blame the beard.

    Since our visit to EPL last weekend I have been, under vigorous protest from Mrs. T, sporting the cool guy 5 day growth with aplomb.

    Each time I try this stunt it always sets me back a bit as I realize my beard is white. Since what little hair I have is also white, I'm unsure why this comes as a surprise, yet it always does. Now I too look 100.

    So I figure I have 2 choices. The holidays are coming. Maybe, I can find seasonal work at the mall, as Father Christmas, or I can show up in Key West next July for the Hemingway Festival. Either of those choices would entail lawyers, hers and mine.

    I'm shaving.


    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Freeze-Part 3

    I am not much of a believer in coincidence, but every now and then it bangs so loudly at the door it cannot be ignored. I have shared the stories of how our family freezes grapes and peaches, and received a beautiful email from a reader asking a clarifying question or two. Towards the end of the email she slid in how she spends half the year in Antarctica.

    Now in a saloon, you might quietly slide down to the other side of the bar, but I 'm intrigued. Apsley Cherry Garrard's "The Worst Journey in the World" his book about the time spent on Scott's fatal expedition to the South Pole is one of my all time favorite books.

    So we have passed emails over the week, and I came across a story about things other people freeze.

    Seems Ernest Shackleton left behind a stash of Scotch Whisky in his hut when he abandoned his trek to the Pole. "Scientists" in the name of "research" recovered a case of Charles Mackinlay & Co's best from Shackleton's camp, and hightailed it to New Zealand, where they are "testing" the whisky to see if it is any good, all in the name of science.

    In my wildest nightmares I can't imagine than any distiller, of any potent potable would be interested in cold storing their wares for 100 years, so the practical aspect is lost on me . The Kiwi's plan to return the leftovers to Shackleton's camp when the party, I mean research is complete.

    The tent photo above is actually Scott's. If memory serves, there is a pretty good cellar there too awaiting "research". My correspondent has stayed there, and calls it one of the most beautiful places on earth.


    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Mindset list Part 2

    Yesterday's post on the Beloit Mindset list offered a number of cultural milestones separating those paying (adults) from those consuming (their children). It occurs to me though we missed something important.

    Suburban Princess, does it. So will Legally Blonde Mel of I Pick Pretty All parents do it when their children are young. You just forgot.

    Remember how you would spell things to each other, so that the kids wouldn't know what you were talking about? Secretly, you cursed when the kids learned to read.

    Our kids aren't dolts, they are just unlearned.

    If the kids can't write, and/or presumably read cursive, that's good news for us. We can go back to leaving secret messages to each other, upfront, on display on the kitchen counter where they belong. In cursive.


    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    sometimes we presume too much

    Each year Beloit College, in Beloit, Wisconsin publishes for their staff and faculty a list of of the touchstones in the lives of the incoming freshman class. It's a guide of reference points for teachers. Things we tend to forget about as we age. The Mindset List for the class of 2014 has just been published. I find it fascinating. Please Enjoy.

    From Beloit College I present the Mindset List, Class of 2014 edition

    Beloit, Wis. – Born when Ross Perot was warning about a giant sucking sound and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of this fall’s entering college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow.

    Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. The Mindset List website at www.beloit.edu/mindset, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.

    The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.

    Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them. A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.

    The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

    Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.
    For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

    1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

    2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

    3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”

    4. Al Gore has always been animated.

    5. Los Angelenos have always been trying to get along.

    6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.

    7. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.

    8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

    9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.

    10. A quarter of the class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority…unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.

    11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

    12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

    13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.

    14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

    15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

    16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

    17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.

    18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

    19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

    20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

    21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.

    22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.

    23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.

    24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.

    25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.

    26. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.

    27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

    28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

    29. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.

    30. “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.

    31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.

    32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

    33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.

    34. “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always been an alternative to hospitals.

    35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.

    36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.

    37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.”

    38. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

    39. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.

    40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.

    41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

    42. Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.

    43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

    44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

    45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.

    46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

    47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.

    48. Someone has always gotten married in space.

    49. While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States.

    50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.

    51. Food has always been irradiated.

    52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.

    53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?

    54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy.

    55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.

    56. They may have assumed that parents’ complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.

    57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.

    58. Beethoven has always been a dog.

    59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola’s new Tab Clear, it was gone.

    60. Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.

    61. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.

    62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

    63. Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.

    64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.

    65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

    66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church.

    67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.

    68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.

    69. The Post Office has always been going broke.

    70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.

    71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.

    72. One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been.

    73. Silicone-gel breast implants have always been regulated.

    74. They’ve always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi Channel.

    75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.

    Beloit College - 700 College St. - Beloit, WI 53511 - 608.363.2000 - webmaster - Copyright © 2009

    I don't have a clue what #17 is.


    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Frozen Grapes

    Our peach and Kashi fetish has been outed. If this is news, Ms. Browning will explain here. In my defense, I absolutely, positively forgot granola existed. Is it still grown? I remember believing for a time, that granola grew on trail mix bushes, but maybe not.

    I have another confession to make. We freeze grapes too. Red Seedless. Year round. As far as I know, we are the only earthlings to do so.

    Try as you might, you'll never be able to wrap your head around the why of this.

    My beloved bride snacks on a bowlful overnight, in her sleep. I used to wake in the middle of the night thinking we had mice. Not so lucky. There is a boy expression, goes like this, "I wouldn't throw her out for eating crackers." He'd think again if it were grape sticks and stems.

    Over the years we've modified the plan by destemming before freezing. That way I can sleep soundly knowing half the choking risk has been eliminated.

    Surprisingly, they do make a pretty good snack while awake too.


    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Dirty Bucks

    My bucks, at 7, have reached their half life. Well broken in, as dirty as can be, comfortable as a Saturday afternoon. Dirty bucks are a staple in my fall wardrobe.

    For the longest time I thought chocolate brown bucks would be the bees knees. I was determined to invent them if I couldn't locate a pair. It took 3 years of waiting for them to appear.

    They look god awful to my eyes. Is it the sole? I'm so glad I waited. If they are your thing, you can find them at Orvis. I won't comment.

    It took a while but I discovered what really interested me about the choco shoes. It wasn't the color, 3 other pair of Chocolate suedes live in my closet, I wanted something different only the same. The folks at Bass offer this option, the Barret. A dressyish dirty buck brogue. Check out Google Shopping. For around $70 they won't break the bank.

    Just in case, it comes in Chocolate too.

    This is Charlie's opinion of my Albert slipper search, a story for another day.


    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    I saw, I learned

    I didn't plan for this, but I must grow a beard.

    After a self inflicted trip to the dog house in what will forever after be known as "the brisket fiasco", to soothe the waters, I offered a trip to Eat Pray Love.

    This is not a review, I haven't read the book, I have my biases, so I will only suggest that if you want the whole theater experience, the Dolby sound, the big screen, the popcorn, do not dally. You are going or not going regardless of what I say, so enjoy. It's not as bad as "The Deep End of the Ocean", our family's nadir.

    Back to the beard. I have worn a beard on several occasions, usually when I'm on my last tether and have given up the ghost. You see me in a beard, and most likely, I'm depressed as sin. But....

    All the cool guys, in EPL sported that particularly stylish 4 day growth. How do they do that? By day 5 it looks scraggly. By day 6 it's itchy. Must they stay home 3 days out of 4?

    Is there a tool, or an electric razor attachment? Need I stand farther from my razor?

    I've never been, and have hardly ever aspired to be one of the cool guys, but after nearly a year at the gym, and with an upcoming junket on the Orient Express I'd better learn how.


    For Meg of Pigtown Design

    Thank you for your wonderful magazine.


    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    M Magazine The Civilized Man

    M Magazine

    Gentlemen: mayhaps you were not alive then, or are just late to the party, and are curious about what all the noise was about. Here is your chance to find out. 13 issues on EBAY.

    Naturally, I have no interest in this auction, and will not be bidding.


    Thou shall not swim

    Few things are as relaxing on a hot summer day than to dip your toes into a refreshing swimming pool. Within seconds, you're taken to place far from ringing telephones, deadlines, responsibilities. Time in a pool stands still.

    As our friend Rat says "There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing, messing about by a river, or in a river or on a river. It doesn't matter which". River, of course, is Victorian English for swimming pool. (Boat is substituted for River in the movie versions. Boat is wrong and wrongheaded)

    Except of course when you can't.

    Each morning, as is my habit, I take the dogs out, walk the grounds, check to see what the deer have eaten overnight, when recently I noticed how still it was. Why was the water level in the pool a foot less than when I went to bed?

    A pipe had burst in here overnight.

    The pump sprayed a geyser draining the pool inside the pool house. The flooded pump was destroyed. The electrical panel...destroyed, the pool sweep destroyed, the rare, no longer available heater tubes, destroyed.

    While waiting for all the pipes, parts, wires, tubes and gaskets to arrive the pool turned to

    Mercifully, all are finally back together. With all new pieces we should be good to go, worry free for years. In a few days the pool will clear, the temps will fall, and it will be time to close the river until next year.

    That will give me time to rid the lake of its duckweed infestation.


    Friday, August 13, 2010

    History, Mystery,

    (I've never read it, and I prefer the Peter Ustinov movie version)

    Today marks the anniversary of the first run of the fabled railroad the Orient Express. On this date in 1888 the OE made its maiden run from Paris to Istanbul in 81 hours, 41 minutes, an unheard of cross continental speed at the time. It immediately became the preferred escape route of European refugees.

    Fabled for its luxury and the elegance of its passengers, the OE became THE way to travel. Agatha Christie may have mentioned it somewhere or another.

    While today marks the anniversary of the first trip, the OE has not been in continuous service. World Wars have periodically interfered. OE Dining Car 2419D has played a momentous roll in both world wars.

    November 11, 1918 at 11:11 AM local time the German army surrendered to the allied forces in car 2419D. The French government had the car transfered to a museum shortly after the war. Placing this plaque on the door.


    In June 1940, as a thumb in the eye gesture, Hitler had Dining car 2419D moved from its museum and had it transported to Paris for the signing of the French surrender. In their haste the German soldiers overlooked the sign.

    William Shirer, then a CBS radio correspondent who was present that day had this to say:
    Hitler reads it and Goring reads it. They all read it, standing there in the June sun and the silence. I look for the expression on Hitler's face. I am but fifty yards from him and see him through my glasses as though he were directly in front of me. I have seen that face many times at the great moments of his life. But today! It is afire with scorn, anger, hate, revenge, triumph. He steps off the monument and contrives to make even this gesture a masterpiece of contempt. He glances back at it, contemptuous, angry - angry, you almost feel, because he cannot wipe out the awful, provoking lettering with one sweep of his high Prussian boot. He glances slowly around the clearing, and now, as his eyes meet ours, you grasp the depth of his hatred. But there is triumph there too - revengeful, triumphant hate. Suddenly, as though his face were not giving quite complete expression to his feelings, he throws his whole body into harmony with his mood. He swiftly snaps his hands on his hips, arches his shoulders, plants his feet wide apart. It is a magnificent gesture of defiance, of burning contempt for this place now and all that it has stood for in the twenty-two years since it witnessed the humbling of the German Empire.

    Mr. Shirers full account of the day may be read here.

    As prospects for winning the war dimmed, Hitler had the car destroyed. It has since been rebuilt and is again in a French museum.

    After the war, air travel, and the cold war took their toll. The Orient Express fell out of favor. However luxorious, a small rail car was no place for an elegant woman to dress for dinner, and the one loo down the corridor..

    Oddly, for all its luxury, it's still a miserable place to sleep, railroads being what they are.