Friday, May 31, 2013

Take it outside please

En plein air
In my youth the only sidewalk cafe in the city that I recall was The Cafe de la Paix at the Saint Moritz on Central Park South. This city was dirty and noisy so therefore most civilized New Yorkers preferred to be inside rather than brave the elements.
What a pest!
While I now adore dining al fresco, it was not always that way. As a young boy there was nothing I hated more than being outdoors. On the other hand, my Mother loved nothing more than sitting outside. Not hiking, not mountain climbing, just sitting. Ethel and Howard constantly dragged me from my climate controlled comfort to the dirty, pest infested world beyond. My aversion to insects made me itch at the thought of an exterior adventure. Wasn't lunch at 21 preferable to getting "antsy" at a picnic?

Ah wilderness!
Given Mother's adoration for all things outdoor, it's not a surprise that she loved camping. In her youth she spent weekends in the raw wilderness of Mount Kisco. Later on, she went to camp in the Adirondacks. After they married my parents annually camped in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Nothing made my Mother happier than lolling in a hammock gazing up at the trees. 
Totally camp.
On the other hand, I absolutely hated camping. Think about it... a fifteen year old aesthete stuck out in the woods with two fifty year olds... not my idea of paradise! Not only did I hate the great outdoors, I was bored.

Breath it in.
Even at home Ethel couldn't get enough fresh air. Her greatest pleasure was her large screened in porch in Williamsburg, Virginia. For whatever reason Mother thought nothing was better than sitting in +90% humidity while sipping an iced coffee. While I appreciated her passion,
I preferred to think that God invented air conditioning to save our souls. Therefore why submit oneself to moist conditions given advances in modern climate control?
Cabin Fever
On my first visit to Montana we spent several nights at Frank's family cabin. The silence, stars, and solitude were amazing! Suddenly I fell in love with just sitting in the woods and doing absolutely nothing. And realized that as always, Ethel was right!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Climbing up the walls

Gone but not forgotten.
For a long time wallpaper was out of favor.
It simply didn't feel "right". For years and
years I removed layers of it from my walls.
However suddenly I'm beginning to think
that I like wallpaper again. In fact it seems
to be the perfect option for our new Powder
Room in the Money Pit. So, I've started to
search for the perfect pattern and the options
are quite amazing. While I was only thinking
one room... once the bug bites... who knows?
I may paper the entire house before I'm done!

Mother knows best...
Ethel loved wall paper. That meant that poor Howard never knew what to expect on the walls. Mother constantly re papered as fashion dictated. From ivy covered bricks, to pink flamingos, to blue toile de jouy, to avocado striped floral. Oddly Ethel had an affinity for "Sanitas", a heavy duty fabric wall covering that was washable. While
I never saw Ethel wash down a wall, I'm certain she felt cleaner knowing that option was available should she need it.

Gather ye roses...
In our first home we had an odd configuration leading to the bath, all chopped up by hollow core doors. I papered the entire mess (and doors) in a floral pattern. It brought the disparate disaster together, but I couldn't abide the idea of roses thereafter.
Use your gray matter.
Frankly I've now become totally consumed with "grisaille". This time honored art pre dates black and white photography by at least a century. Initially I wanted to paper the Powder Room in some sort of grisaille mural. Then suddenly... I decided that rather than chocolate brown grass cloth, nothing would be more spectacular than enveloping the dining room in a grisaille mural of Montana. Given no such wallpaper exists, we've asked my best friend "T" to paint one for us. And... she agreed... how fabulous is that?

NOT my Mother's wallpaper.
Wallpaper has been making provocative statements forever and today the options are endless. So, what am I thinking for the Powder Room? MALACHITE. It's very Tony Duquette. Exotic yet elegant and definitely unexpected in Montana!  Please don't tell Frank as I haven't showed him anything yet (oooops... I guess I just did)! We can take a risk as it's only one tiny room. Unless I find something else I adore! Hmm... what about the guest rooms?!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A man walks into a bar...

It had been a glorious Memorial weekend at my home in south western Michigan. The weather had been perfect and the kids seemed to truly enjoy being with Dad. Given they had a function Monday evening, I took them home early that afternoon.
Happy hour?
Getting a divorce is a lonely process. Suddenly your life changes and it's just "you". The last thing I wanted to do was return to an empty house without my kids. So, I stopped in "Boystown" for a drink.

All alone.
The last year had been one of transformation. After we separated I'd discovered a gay world I never knew existed. It's excitement made up for the loss of my family. However on Monday, May 29th, 1995 Halsted Street was a ghost town.
Walk on by.
I walked into Sidetrack, my preferred haunt. In those days I could still work a room. Yet that afternoon, the last thing I needed was a free drink. All I craved was to be loved and committed.
Boys will be boys.
Doesn't matter who they sleep with, commitment is not a priority for most single guys. They say they love you and never call again. I wondered, would I ever meet Mr. Right?

Hide and seek.
The place was empty and then suddenly, Frank walked in. While beyond interested, I had to play the game. The mountain had to come to Mohamed. So... I sat there and tried to appear like I didn't see him and... waited.
My one and only.
Slowly Frank made the rounds and suddenly he was standing next to me. The show tunes sing-a-long had just started and we both joined in. Frank edged closer and then finally he turned to me, smiled, and asked,
"Can I buy you a beer?".
Eighteen years ago.
With that question, my life changed. Since then I've loved the one who is perfect for me in all ways. Our life together has been truly a gift. I could not ask for a better friend and partner.
Happy Anniversary Frank!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Been there... done that

It's good. 
Isn't it grand? Isn't it great?

Well, yesterday I finally saw Baz Luhrman's
The Great Gatsby. After hearing more than
mixed reviews, I had to see it for myself.
So, my friend "C" and I took in a matinee.
From the sound track to the performances,
to the sets, to the clothes, WE ADORED IT.
But then again, why wouldn't I? You see,
odd as it sounds, I once lived in the 1920s.

Isn't it swell? Isn't it fun?
Isn't it... nowadays?

Now that you know that I'm certifiable,
you're wondering where my delutional
perspective comes from. I've always had
an affinity for that time and place. One
that is too innate, too deep, too natural
for me to not embrace the theory and
reality of reincarnation. Otherwise how
do you explain my strong connection?

There's men. Everywhere jazz. Everywhere booze...

My inner flapper finds that slicked back yet clean cut Arrow Shirt Man look beyond appealing. While I never thought I would say this, one must confess that Leonardo DiCaprio is incredibly handsome in the role of Jay Gatsby. His tender portrayal of the delusional gangster/lover was touching.

Everywhere life, everywhere joy, everywhere nowadays.

The twenties were one big party. An entire generation lost their friends and loved ones to the devastation of WWI and the Spanish Influenza. What better way to forget the past than to take off your corset, shear your locks, shorten your skits, drink some hooch, and DANCE! And who better to capture those decadent days than Baz Luhrman?
You can like the life you're living
You can life the life you like.
But nothing stays...

They say you can't go back. Yet part of me yearns to do just that. Maybe that's why The Money Pit means so much to me. Built in 1917-1918, it feels so right, so natural. I connect to it in a way I can't describe. Who knows... maybe I've lived there before? Deja vu or... round deux?

Monday, May 27, 2013


How can we ever forget?

In Montana the lilacs are just blooming on Memorial Day.
A tradition in Frank's family is to place lilacs on the graves of their loved ones. 
Since my parent's death, Frank's parents
now include Howard & Ethel in that beautiful tradition. 
To say I am touched by their tribute is an understatement.
Today I post virtual lilacs
to those I have loved who are now gone
yet live forever in my heart.

Ethel Blue Clark
Howard James Clark
Pamela Jean Clark
Margretta Marie Clark
Mildred Muller
Frederick Muller
Sadie Robb
Ruth Giordano Cordes
Marge Leppert
Anna Mane
William Mane
and all who my readers have loved...