Monday, May 25, 2015

Thank You...


...to all who served...praise God for their safe return to hearth and home...

...but we remember on this solemn day all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and we honor their memory...

In Flanders Fields

Flanders Poppy on the First World War battlefields.
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
On a sunny afternoon in late May back in 1969 my twelve year old self stood on a platform in front of women in flowered dresses and gray haired men in faded military uniforms and recited that poem.  I didn't understand the meaning then, and wondered at the solemnity of the occasion marked by sober faces and heartfelt tears.

Many years later my youngest son announced he was going to war, and when he was headed to Afghanistan I dreaded the worst.  From those fears - thankfully unfounded for me though sadly a reality for thousands of others - sprang this short essay of a parent's nightmare.


The Former Things

by Terry Hare. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.


They were hanging in the shop by their leather laces, draped over a drawer handle, looking masculine and out of place in a corner full of old dishes and kitchen items.







I imagined their owner, maybe fifteen years old back in 1943, rushing in from a workout and placing them there in his mother’s kitchen on his way upstairs.



“Get those things out of my kitchen!” she might have yelled to him. “That’s not where they go!”


“I will, Mom,” he would have replied, “as soon as I wash up!”








Perhaps his older brother was fighting in the war, and too young to enlist, he slaked his thirst for combat and vanquished his fears of conflict by dabbling in the sweet science, the manly art of self defense. His mother cried over the bloody noses, the puffy eyes, the split lips, but he endured these indignities and wore his scars of battle with a mixed sense of duty and pride.


The war ended before he came of age, and his brother returned home – or didn't - forever changed by the horrors of war, or eternally enshrined in the hearts of his family for his ultimate sacrifice.



The younger brother outgrew his need to box, moved on to other challenges, lived his life...while there in his mom’s kitchen his gloves hung for sixty plus years until I spotted them on a beautiful fall afternoon, transported by fate to Tom’s Treasures along the coast of Lake Michigan.




Time did its certain work on the gloves, changing their handsome, dark, sheen to a faded, light brown, their once supple leather now cracked and chipped with age.

But the years couldn’t erase their history, and the sweat, tears, and blood of past battles still resonated in them, animating them even as they hung motionless in the corner.




“How much for those gloves?” I asked the owner, seated behind the counter.

He peered up at me over his bifocals, trying to decipher my true intentions, gauging my ability to pay.

“Those are real leather laces, you know,” he replied, avoiding an answer for the moment. “They don’t make gloves with real leather laces anymore…you know that, right?”

“From the 1930’s or 40’s,” I say, pretending I’m knowledgeable on all things boxing.

“Got them at an auction in Traverse City, an estate sale, good family with roots back to the 1800’s…” he continued.

He rambled a bit, as horse traders must, while I feigned interest, wondering how long it might take to actually get to the price.




“Forty dollars,” he finally allowed, “and I’m giving them away.”

Eventually I paid him twenty nine plus tax, and he shook his head in dismay at his Achilles heel of generosity.

I hung them in your old bedroom, under your picture…that black and white one of you in your tank top and your hand wraps, fists held in classic boxer’s pose.




They give your photo a timeless quality, a sense it might have been taken fifty years ago, or yesterday.




Though you never wore them, I know those gloves fit you, as they speak of your courage, your commitment to hard work and sacrifice, your dedication to finishing a task no matter how difficult or strenuous.








Sadly, unlike their original owner, your war didn’t end before you could join, and you never made it home, changed or otherwise.




Now I see you boxing, running, laughing in my memories only, or worse, imprisoned there in a picture on my wall.












It’s unnatural, outliving your child, not the normal order of things, but I’ve made my peace with the Lord and so I don’t cry anymore.










I know we’ll see each other again some day on heaven’s gentle shore, and I’ll hold you then, a long, satisfying, embrace when I’ll feel the solid press of your muscles against my own. You’ll smile that million dollar smile of yours, your blue eyes shining with joy and contentment, and I’ll tell you to your face how much I love you.




Ok, I’m weeping now, a father’s anguished tears for his fallen son, but I won’t then, no, not in heaven, not when we’re finally together again.


“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”


- Revelation 21:4


Sunday, May 17, 2015

RAIN...

...2015...great Beatles tribute band...went to their concert this past Wednesday and it was spectacular...they put on an outstanding show, tracing the different eras of the Beatles, from the very early 60's through their break up in 1970.

My favorite part is the early phase, when they burst onto the American music scene in 1964.  Besides doing spot on renditions of their hits, complete with Paul McCartney's flash bulb smile and little head bob, the liberal use of video from back in the day immerses you in that time in musical history.

As an added bonus, they use actual tv commercials from the early 60's, including a Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble tv ad for Winston cigarettes...a complete scream.

my favorite cavemen relaxing with a smoke...
But make no mistake, the music is why you should catch their show...remember the Beatles' "better than Jesus" scandal?  Well Rain's rendition of their hits is "better than the Beatles", and it's all live...no pre-recorded music is used at all.

The 1965 Shea Stadium concert

a moving cover of Yesterday...

It's Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...
I'm not a fan of Paul McCartney - in fact he can kiss my ass for his inappropriate political statements about George Bush while headlining an Obama White House event - but I do love the music he and his fellow mop tops produced a way on back in the day.

Rain is well worth your time and money whenever they come to town.

Feels like summer is actually trying to break through now...and Karen got lots more done in the back yard this weekend:


a panographic pic...perspective is out of whack, but the contents are all there...


Watched a couple of great flicks this weekend...Gatsby on Friday, then Four Weddings And A Funeral on Saturday.  Gatsby is the best movie version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic I've ever seen, and the opening is a brilliant blend of the novel and real life.  It starts with Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway being treated in a sanitarium for morbid alcoholism.  Of course Carraway is the the book's narrator, but Fitzgerald did battle alcoholism, and that seamless blending of fact and fiction is a perfect way to kick off the story.  If for no other reason, watch the movie for all its beautiful, art deco pieces.

And of course a very young Hugh Grant dominates the talented ensemble cast of Four Weddings.  At age twenty two now, the movie is as fresh and funny as ever...well worth a look.

Got a new firepit today...

Cool look...gonna be nice for summer evenings...
 

Tonight is "go live" with some new software so I'm over an out for now.

Later, mcm fans.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rainy...

...weekend...but Karen made a lot of progress this week on the backyard...it's undergoing the annual transformation into the resort / oasis look I've come to know and love over the last several years.  With all the flowers and plants Karen added this week, and all the work she did in the gardens, painting the deck and fences, etc, now we're just waiting on things to bloom and grow.

May is a gorgeous month in Michigan, and almost makes me forgive the transgressions of winter...almost...
lilacs in bloom, looking like luscious grapes...

if only the blooms would last longer than a week...

So we struggled through another week in the salt mines, and stumbled into the weekend.  Friday night we watched "How To Marry A Millionaire" - Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall - 


a clever story from 1953 about three scheming single women focused on snagging a rich husband.  As always Marilyn steals every scene she's in...whatever "star power" is, she had it in spades, and anyone unfortunate enough to be on camera when she is gets instantly relegated to background scenery.

Saturday was pretty low key, a day filled with gentle, spring rain and lots of clouds...so we decided to browse antique shops.  No big finds, but did  latch onto this:
That's a Cutty Sark bar lamp we purchased at Lost And Found on Century Ave...pretty cool...so of course I had to try some Cutty Sark, a blended Scotch whisky.  Supposedly got its start in 1923 during the prohibition era when a Colonel McCoy began importing it to the states to supply (illegally) the thirsty masses.  Allegedly, the colonel was so rigorous re: the quality of the alcohol he provided that we got the saying "the real McCoy" from his honest dealings in the dishonest profession of bootlegging.  Go figure.

Got roses and perfume for Karen for Mom's day...and today she wanted to trek down to Saugatuck / Douglas.  We browsed the antique mall there but didn't see anything compelling.

After that she wanted to bowl a few games at the Lakeview Lanes - 
...only it's not the Lakeview Lanes anymore...some other name that escapes me at the moment.

Anyway, we bowled three games and didn't do terrible, so that was a relief.  Had supper there afterward, then drove into Saugatuck proper for a cup of coffee and a little more shopping for Karen.

Now we're ready (? didn't win the lottery this week so I guess...) to plunge into another week.

Before we do, here's another installment of the wildly popular video series, "A Day In The Life Of A Vintage Toy"...


Later, mcm fans...


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fatima...

...returns...complete with lid now, courtesy of #4 son, Chris.
I was expecting to pay him for his efforts, but apparently, Happy Father's Day to me...Thank You, Chris!

As you may recall, Fatima is a cigarette / cigarillo dispenser made by the Kindel Graham company in San Francisco, dating back to the 1920s.  You push down the button and out comes a smoke...pretty cool.  This one was probably made in the 1930s, and polished up pretty nicely.  Still works just fine, and now that she has a lid again, she takes her place as another beautiful, art deco, objet d'art in my collection.  How exciting...ok, so I'm exaggerating, but it is a cool conversation piece and a slick way to get a cigarillo.

We opened the pool this week:
...and started procuring flowers for the back yard...now that really is exciting...love how Karen turns our backyard into a beautiful, resort like oasis of peace and serenity.  After a very long winter, the transformation is finally underway.  Stay tuned, more to come.

On Saturday we went searching for more flowers and garden accessories...perhaps a statuette, or a fountain, etc.  Instead, we found these:

We found them at Myrtle May's Boutique, which is attached to a garden / landscaping business on the beltline...I think these particular statues were Art Prize entries over the last 2 or 3 years...pretty cool.  No, we did not buy them...not sure if they're for sale or not.

Finally had decent weather both days on the weekend, so we spent a lot of it outside, just relaxing and enjoying being in the sunshine and warmer temps.

We did watch a good movie on Friday night...Forget Paris (Billy Crystal and Debra Winger).  That is an hilarious movie that handles the ups and downs of a serious relationship very well...highly recommended.

And speaking of movies, here's entry #2 in the "Day In The Life Of A Vintage Toy" series:



Later, mcm fans...