Saturday, February 28, 2015

What are you doing up?!

I'm really rather "off" this morning.
Normally the early hours of a day
are mine alone. Yet this morning
post stumbling out of bed I met an
oddly perky manifestation of my
significant other. For some reason
he was bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Doing laundry and stoking the fire
in his wood stove in the bowels of
our home. Initially I was shocked
by this early hour intruder. In fact
I was totally thrown off my game.
You see, I don't adapt well to change.
We all have our routines. Patterns
of behavior that help us navigate
the daily drudgery of life. While
some might think that a change
in rote would be welcome, for me
it's daunting at best. There's little
doubt that I adore Frank but even
the most ardent of lovers can turn
on their beloved prior to their first
cup of coffee. Once one's cadence
has been deferred I find it almost
impossible to regain my morning
mojo. Can we start it over again?
Former associate "E" is in a state of
transition. That period between here
and there can weaken the resolve of
the most stolid soul. After departing
a long term relationship the process
of healing has to occur. We rarely
allow ourselves enough time to fully
recuperate post trauma. Instead we
rush on to "next". Without having
fully worked through what and why
it's virtually impossible to figure out
what's best for us. Hence the cycle
of self flagellation simply continues.
When queried about how to handle
periods of purgatory - my advice is
establish a routine. During tough
times there is little we can trust.
So it's best to make sure one has at
least something to rely on - oneself.
Otherwise we wallow in a pit of ill
focused nothingness. A semblance
of sanity helps one clear their head
and move on. However some of us
decide to hide behind complacency.
And that fear of change stifles any
opportunity for innovation.
To be clear - there's nothing wrong with
a routine. A confirmed creature of habit,
I revel in rote. However being unwilling
(or unable) to welcome ebbs and flows
in said routine is problematic. Thus at
times we need Prince Charming's kiss
to awaken us from our malaise. After
Frank did some laundry and heated up
the joint, he took me out for breakfast.
Post some eggs and bacon suddenly
all was right with the world and I was
ready for anything. Talk about a wake
up call. What a difference a day makes!

Friday, February 27, 2015


Criminal offense
We spent yesterday in Billings. Due
to inclement weather we drove up
the afternoon prior and stayed at the
Northern Hotel. Given it was rather
frigid we opted to dine at TEN it's
restaurant. Two hours later we were
both certain we'd made a mistake.
Why do some chefs still insist on
putting complex items on the menu
that even they obviously can't cook
correctly? Less is more so I'll keep
my diner review short and sweet -
Bling it on
Complexity or quantity doesn't equal
quality. Much like accessorizing and
ensemble - piling it on only makes
you look like a Brassai madam. Sadly
the art of simplicity is something few
seem to easily master. Especially in
our world of over the top bling, it's
virtually impossible to separate the
wheat from the chaff. The very idea
that one can hide inferiority behind
excess embellishment is but a fool's
dream at best. Hence in the future
"Tuscan" will define white elephant.
Charm school
Elegance is rare indeed. However true
gentility is even rarer. Years ago I was
walking up Fifth Avenue. As I waited
to cross I spied a tiny lady of advanced
vintage. There stood Lillian Gish in all
of her timeless beauty. A true fan, I had
to stop her and gush. "Miss Gish, I'm
one of your biggest fans." To which
she graciously replied "It's nice to
know that at least one of you is still
alive." While she didn't have to, Miss
Gish allowed me to gush for the next
five minutes. Talk about a class act.
un petit oiseau
Often it's the little things that count.
My grandmother was a tiny birdlike
lady. At five foot three, the heart of
a lion beat beneath her diminutive
demeanor. A lifelong resident of
Manhattan's Riverside Drive, by her
mid seventies that neighborhood had
become rough. One evening she was
attacked and beaten her horrifically.
However she refused to let go of her
handbag. Ultimately her mugger gave
up bagless. However Nana didn't until
she'd picked him out of a police lineup.
Three times a charm
As a teen I visited an old folks home
with my church youth group. Somehow
I fell in love with a lady in her nineties
named Sadie Robb. Soon I was visiting
her weekly and we became dear friends
until her death. For whatever reason we
were kindred spirits and never lacked
for something to chat about. A former
beauty, she barely hit five feet in heels.
Yet even after losing almost everything,
she kept up her standards. Changing
ensembles for breakfast, lunch, and of
course... dinner. Now that's a survivor!
Complex matters
Sadly those tiny ladies of times past are
but a memory. Whether due to better
nutrition or genetic evolution we all
stand much taller. That's probably good
given most men of lesser stature rarely
handle their limitations with aplomb.
Instead they tend to over compensate to
Napoleonic proportions. In the end size
really doesn't matter. Those who keep it
short and sweet usually win. Therefore
it's all about when and how one rises to
the occasion. Nothing is as elegant as
brevity, compassion, and kindness.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Passion Pit Update - The "Library"

Last but not least
It's funny but the room that was
transformed more than any other
is now my office. On the original
blue prints this was a "sleeping
porch" plus a servant's staircase.
By the time we purchased the
Passion Pit - it had been a studio
apartment with kitchenette for
over seventy years. This past
Monday our wonder contractor
Mike Wichman completed the
installation of new bookshelves.
Suddenly... it's a beautiful library.

Book 'em Danno
Before I begin - let me caution
all that the following photos
were taken by me (who barely
passed photography at Pratt).
The professional shots of our
new home are not retouched
and so you must bear with this
amateur. This new entrance to
my office/library differs from
the original floor plan. Hence
neither the location nor doors
are original. However we did
find said doors in the basement.
Before (above, left)
The original french windows were
long gone. Sadly replaced by an ill
fitting "picture" window. Honestly
this was the least of the challenges
in what have originally been the
"sleeping porch."

After (below)
New windows, new walls, new
ceiling, new floor, new shelves,
new crown molding. It's ALL
new and the transformation is
truly amazing.

Before (two above, left)
A servant's staircase at one time
sat in this area. Removed in 1937
and replaced by a kitchenette with
window (open to the stair hall).
To the right the floor level window
originally opened into the servant's
stairway. Behind the door lay a
closet and chimney moved for the
new Powder Room below.

After (below)
Now you know what it took to get
some new shelves and a desk.
Before (left)
On the opposite wall we removed
a laundry shoot and furnace flue
later installed within it. Plus sealed
up the original entrance door.

After (below)
Now in it's place is another wall
of beautiful custom shelves. Plus
the mega flat screen television
that Frank absolutely LOATHES.

Before (above, left)
Along with moving the door the team
removed a large closet with built in
dresser. This room was a "gut" down
to the studs. Also note across the hall
a door to the bathroom now gone.

After (below)
The new old door now sheds light into
the second floor hallway. The result is
a much larger "office" that is a beyond
a pleasure to work in. Now that the
interior of our home is finished - on to
the great outdoors once spring arrives!

Two years later - 
Want to see more of the Passion Pit transformation?
Here are links to prior blog entries...
December 19, 2014: PP Holiday Retrospective
November 3, 2014: PP Exterior
August 7, 2014: PP Entrance Hall and Stair
August 8, 2014: PP Living Room
August 9. 2014: PP Dining Room
August 12, 2014: PP Trees
July 15, 2014: PP Exterior
May 28, 2014: PP Fireplace Mantle
May 14, 2014: PP Restoration Update
April 18, 2014: PP Architectural Genre
December 2, 2013: PP First Floor Renovation Update
December 3, 2013: PP Second Floor Renovation Update
June 18, 2013: PP Kitchen Update
June 19, 2013: PP Master Suite Update
June 20, 2013: PP Second Floor Update
May 17, 2013: PP Bathroom Renovation
February 28, 2013: PP Architecture
February 19, 2013: PP Reveal
February 4, 2013: PP Demolition Begins
January 3, 2013: PP Purchase Announced

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Who me?
Yesterday we worked from dawn to dusk
chronicling the Passion Pit. Throughout
my career I've felt that photo shoots were
as exciting as watching paint dry. Boring
at best it was hard to keep my eyes open
as we collectively worked ourselves up
to the point of exhaustion. Thankfully by
the end of the day Frank was as "pooped"
as I was. Post a frenzy of cleaning up in
preparation we were plum tuckered out.
Then suddenly, it was all over. And all
we wanted was a nap. Yet I had to stop
and write today's blog! Wake up call!
Who's old?
It could be "retirement." However about
3 to 4 in the afternoon I get sleepy and
just can't shake it. Wherever I am, I will
drift off to la la land. It often happens
while on the road. Hence Frank watches
me like a hawk. Apparently I've been
known to insist that "I'm fine" only to
nod off while driving. Apparently it's
not just me. Otherwise why are there so
many Rest Areas along the highway?
Somebody is asleep at the wheel and
needs to stop, snooze, and text before
continuing on! I am not alone!
Who do that voodoo?
I've worked with more than my share
of males who seemed to suffer from
what can only be called narcolepsy.
During afternoon meetings their eyes
would suddenly start to flutter, soon
heads would roll, and before you
knew it, sleepy bye time! I've been
there myself and can tell you that
it's tough to battle the dark forces of
exhaustion or sleep deprivation. I've
bitten my knuckles, kicked myself in
the shins, yet nothing seems to be able
to break the urge to nod off. Zzzzzzz...
Who can resist?
Remember that rug you brought to
Kindergarten for nap time? There's
something about a calm silence that
makes one feel safe. Why not find
the adult equivalent within today's
workplace? We have legislation
for everything else why can't we
have siestas?! Women know the
benefit of some shut eye. At 3 p.m.
Ethel turned on the TV and tuned
into the Newlywed Game. Soon
she was snoozing and 15 minutes
later she was ready for anything.
Who knew?
Napoleon, JFK, LBJ, and Ronald
Reagan all had a routine. In the
office early and then a mid day
snooze. Per Winston Churchill -
"You must sleep between lunch
and dinner. Take off your clothes
and get into bed. Don't think you
will be doing less work because
you sleep during the day. That's
a foolish notion held by people
who have no imagination. You
will be able to accomplish more.
You get two days in one I'm sure."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A rose by any other name

V Day
Mother had a friend named Veda. To
this day I really don't know where or
how they met. All I do recall is that
as a child, "Aunt" Veda occasionally
swooped in for luncheon. Decked
out head to toe - her hat was always
a bit off as was her demeanor. She
was tacky. Hence, these tete a tetes
occurred on those "off" days like a
Tuesday when Mother had nothing
else to do. Ethel only set a table for
two and always had an appointment
about two hours after Veda's arrival.
Think pink
Veda loved hot pink or "future" as
she called it. Translated from her
Bronx Honk that's "fuchsia". This
boy rarely saw "Aunt" Veda except
once in a long while. But received
Christmas and birthday cards with
"Love, Veda" boldly scrawled in
pink ink. Looking back I can't recall
what happened to her nor why lunch
was suddenly no longer served. Now
both Ethel and Veda are long gone.
Yet oddly I occasionally wish that
I could go back to the "fuchsia".
Horse of a different color
Maybe it's the moniker. Veda was also
the name of the errant child turned
evil protagonist in Mildred Pierce.
"Mother, you're a scream." 
Even more awful was Monty, poor
Mildred's dashing playboy husband.
"Stay away from Veda." 
What was most appalling about Monty
was that he was manor born. Hence in
theory people like he should mind their
manners. Sadly those who think that
they're better than everyone else often
behave all the worse because they can.
No reservations
My distant relative was a film actor
named Monte Blue. His given name
was Gerard Montgomery Blue. He
had the lineage of a thoroughbred.
Yet he opted to become an actor and
that was something never forgotten.
The Blues were originally Danes.
The Blauws first landed in Nieuw
Amsterdam in the mid 17th Century.
The Gerards were equably equitable
relations. Through them we can trace
our lineage to 14th century France.
In theory, something to be proud of.
Counter revolutionary
After starting out in DW Griffith's
"Birth of a Nation", Monte went on
to have a long and illustrious film
career. Initially as a leading man,
later in character roles. Monte may
have channeled his lineage francais
as he played opposite Lillian Gish
in "Orphans of The Storm." None
of that mattered to my Great Grand
Mother Sadie Blue King. Our "blue
blood" must be protected therefore
NO transfusions were allowed! So
why did Monte tell a white lie?!
Honest injun?
Monte made a grave error of telling
a reporter he was descended from
Cherokee Indians. That "lie" forever
placed Monte in familial purgatory.
While nothing to be ashamed of it
wasn't even close to the truth. The
myth continues to this day - just
look at Wikipedia. Sadly the only
Native Americans in Monte's life
were the ones he played on the screen.
Ultimately Monte became a circus
advance man and died in Milwaukee.
Truth is stranger than fiction.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I actually do "do" windows.

Time well spent?
The last few days have been a total
wipe out. Tomorrow a professional
photographer arrives to snap shots
of the Passion Pit transformation.
Our hope is said photos will entice
a major publication to feature our
Montana manse in a future issue.
Not only would it benefit our tiny
town, it should help reinforce that
we aren't nuts for indulging in such
a major endeavor. This house is if
nothing else a labor of love. And
honey, we're working our tails off!
Rub me the right way
It's the little things that count. My
bestie "T" polishes door knobs.
While that might seem a tad odd -
in reality a gleaming orb on every
portal is quite welcoming. I can
easily tolerate a dust bunny under
the sofa. However display a piece
of unpolished silver or mahogany
and you've committed a criminal
offense. I abhor most things shiny
and new but I adore anything with
polished patina. Like Aladdin I
enjoy more than a bit of after glow...
Flush with activity
Almost a year later we still lack
household help. At some point
I think we both gave up (or in).
Rather than violate our valuables
we've been cleaning and dusting
on a regular basis. I worry that
Frank may crack. His primary
job is maintaining our master
bath which is almost a full time
job. Whereas I get somewhat of
a thrill rearranging a table scape,
he would rather swish anywhere
but in or around our men's room.
Awash with activity
After six months most of the residual
construction dust has been wiped out.
However I've found a few spots that
still require attention. Our windows
while new were absolutely filthy. As
we enjoyed a winter respite of warm
temperatures last week I cleaned all
the windows I could easily reach. It's
amazing how transformative cleaning
up one's act can be. As quick as one
swiped the squeegee our outlook
improved dramatically. Trust me it
was well worth the effort.
Hang in there
Yesterday I tackled the chandelier
in our dining room. Every facet
was covered by a glaze of grime.
As I wiped crystal by crystal the
transformation was amazing. If
only we had someone doing that
on a regular basis. All of this dull
domesticity has reinforced the fact
that we need help desperately. In
other words, we're totally helpless.
Hence I'm trying something new.
Next week I'm placing a "help
wanted" ad in the local paper!
Heavy lifting
I'm dreading the selection process that
will follow. How does one know if the
eager soul applying is a klutz or curator?
I have no desire to put our precious bits
at risk. Yet in order to be saved from a
sinking ship one must sometimes plunge
into uncharted waters. Whoever dives
into our domestic bliss will soon become
part of our extended family. So it seems
perfectly normal that I'll be supporting
another "child". As long as they clean up
after themselves (and us) we're certain to
live happily ever after. Imagine that!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

7th Day Surprise - High or low?!


The Academy Awards
and Downton Abbey
are both on air at the same time.
Should one go highbrow
or mass media?
All American or elegant Edwardian?
Upward mobility or upper crust?

Which will you choose?