Thursday, June 27, 2013

Deco Now

My mother, during her college days, earned recreational funds as a hat and shoe model. The black and white photographs of her wearing wealth beyond her years always fascinated me. The clothing! Beautiful suits, ensembled with  the perfect hat, jewelry, gloves, shoes.  Those images of my mother were a mesmerizing glimpse of  the person within. I cannot remember a time when my mother did not have the latest Vogue or Harper's Bazaar  magazines. I loved them too, not for the fashions therin but for the beautiful art in the ads.

One of my grandmothers and one of my grandfather's sisters were in the fashion industry. Thus, there were gatherings to hear all the new stories of  the latest buying trips to fabulous cities to purchase a fortunes worth of furs , gowns, something called "wraps" and all the glittery go withs.   I loved these stories and I keenly loved the fashion sheets my grandmother brought me. Think high fashion ads in black and white outline for me to color!

Think coloring books designed by Erte and you would be pretty close. It is true I did not receive the "fashionista" gene from any of these  awesome women but I am blessed to have been graced with their love for art.  I think these  early influences are the reason my favorite art has always been art deco style. They are in many ways my favorite architectural and design styles too. A few years back I met with a prospective client who had a collection of original Ertes! I was so eager to meet her and could not have been more disappointed.  She had not collected the Ertes. She had inherited them and had NO respect for the art itself. Just the monetary  value. This truth, coupled with her tacky passion for black, purple and crimson interiors I had to pass on accepting her as a client.

In art school students are exposed to every art form from cave drawings forward. There is much to learn, admire, respect but no style or period of art has ever replaced Art Deco as my first love. This elegant , exaggerated, graphic art form is perfect for posters. Certainly the posters of the period  remain  impactful today.

In Miami, a place which should be visited for no other reason than to experience the Art Deco architecture, they have fabulous Art Deco Weekends to support the historic districts.

But there is a new trend.

Not just for Movie and Event posters.

Have you seen these?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Boatworks

Blowfish is going to be the death of me.
Of course it will be attributed to an "accident" or "poor health".
Just someone please stand up at my memorial and shout out, "he did this!"

Back in February Blowfish decided he would dismantle our pontoon boat and refurbish it for the boating seasons. His plan was to take everything off above the pontoons and structural beams, replace the deck, re-carpet the deck and the seat  bases, upgrade the console, clean and seal all the rails and side panels , possibly re-upholster the bench seats and replace the bimini.

I've lived with this man for thirty years so my first response was "don't". For any of you out there who remember the visual from Blowfish "fixing" the hammock ...well you will understand.
Of course, I was not heard.

Next I guaranteed him Blowfish Boatworks would not reside at the Pond.
A war ensued. It was  ended by my absolute promise if he even started the process on this property there would be a  most unfortunate explosion. I encouraged him to lease warehouse or storage space and move the boatworks project off site. He did neither but somehow it came about the boat would go to his son's property where together they would have this wonderful project to bond over.

I think the stripping down to the beams part went pretty fast. Blowfish would frequently head to the truck with a jaunty step and a 12 pack. I would recommend keeping the pack on ice until the work was finished for the day. I was  waived off. When I asked after the progress on his stumbling returns the answer would be about having accomplished little on the boat project but oh what a great time they had "bonding"  at the shooting range results and the beer.

 Repeat that last sentence once a week for  three months.

During these months Blowfish would occasionally say  something like, "We probably can't have "turquoise seas" carpet  color Fishy, they  only have beige now. The economy. You know." This would prompt a 30 second trip to his Mac to fill that ginormous screen with the home page of the website for the carpet, the adhesives, the whatever you need because the name of the have it all site is ""  Then too, our boat is a Sweetwater brand and guess what?  Yes! They too have a website for ordering everything you need for every make and model of their boats.

Blowfish is definitely one who, if something works for him once, he will endeavor to have it work for him continuously. I do get that he spent years with secretaries and assistants of every sort but I was never one of them and have never wished to be one. Blowfish likes to refer to himself as  an "idea guy" so he will say something like,  "Listen Fishy, can you source a boat blablah while I think about how I am going to  use it"?

If I were not ever vigilant that man would suck my life down a black hole.

Recently when we were out and about crossing the double bridges
on the big lake  I sighed a bit too loud. Blowfish wanted to know why? Laughing I said it was just our luck we had endured years of drought but now  the lake is at full pool for the first time in five years and we have no boat!

Blowfish lamented with me because it seems, every time he had the opportunity to work on the boat, those Spring storms which filled the lakes and ended the drought had also prevented boatworks progress.  I do know this is true but had he rented warehouse space or better yet, sent the boat out to the pros then you would not be reading this post because I would happily  be out  on the lake.

On Tuesday Blowfish said,"Fishy,  tomorrow I will be  ready to put the carpet down on the new deck but first I want to roll it out here to check for flaws, cut off the extra 5 linear feet we ordered and take only the part I need out to the boat. Can you help me with this?" This was just an innocent sounding version of,  "Come into my house said the spider to the fly."

Once the carpet was checked, cut to size and re-rolled guess what? " Someone" needed to go with him to the boat because he could not do everything bulky and so forth.  Blowfish's son has MS so working in the hot sun is a serious no-no. Because the boat did not get finished during the cooler months, he was no longer available.  I knew his question was a set up. But, I also thought it was a bad idea for him to be out there alone. The weather prediction was for no rain yesterday and today, with temperatures  93-95.  I did not want to get involved in this project but it IS June and family are saying, " is the boat ready?"

The carpet is installed. Straight, no wrinkles, no cuts , no blobs of glue mar the carpet.

Blowfish and I look like disaster victims. He has no skin on either shin. One shin has a goose egg the size of a chicken egg with a skinless gash through the middle. One of his trips to the storage shed resulted in his surprise descent between the storage  building and the steps. It was not pretty.  We had to do a bit of first aide so he would not bleed onto the new carpet. We were too hot and  tired to go home and come back so we cleaned him up with bottled water , did a 5 minute compression and  applied every bandaid we could find. Somewhere in the Hell of the afternoon I realized we were both on the verge of heat stroke so we cooled ourselves down with the melted ice from the cooler. Blowfish has stents and a pacemaker so he takes blood thinners. His forearms are discolored from elbow to wrist with every shade of bruise and contusion, from assorted scratches and punctures and hits. He looks like someone tried to beat him to death with a baseball bat.

Well one of the things that did not get ordered or rented was the weighted roller needed to properly install the carpet. So how was it done? Yes!  Of course! With a  RollerFish on hand who needs industrial  equipment? Think hours in direct sunlight, in 95 degree temps, on hot marine carpet made of spun polypropelene, with my nose sniffing carpet glue while my knees were burned into raised blisters from the heat and friction while I strained every millimeter of my arthritic spine  trying to fuse the carpet onto the deck.

Guess what?
Today Blowfish brought the newly carpeted boat platform and all the unattached parts home.
Why? He says he wants to work on it here.  So I can assist him.
 Y'all be sure to say something nice about me at the wake.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dog Priorities

I jerked awake  this morning aware of my mother.
Trying my best to catch a glimpse of her like the Wolf  seeking Isabo in Ladyhawke.

It wasn't to be. No matter. I do not grieve for her although  I continue to yearn for her wit and wisdom.
Lately my thoughts about her have been about dogs .
 I realize it must sound strange to link my beloved mother with dogs and yet I cannot think of my mother without a dog.  For her dogs were more than family or companionship, they made her feel safe.  My mother trusted dogs more than humans, something she made no apology for either. Growing up we had a variety of dogs. In my youth we always had medium large dogs as my mother had no great love for " little  yappy dogs".  Dad traveled frequently leaving Mom as the parent on point with a house full of kids.  Our dog(s) would be outside during the day but inside with us at night. Sometimes, when I am drifting off to sleep,  I hear the recording in my memory banks of the  click-click-click of dog toenails on hardwood floors as they patrolled from window to window while we slept. I doubt  my mother would have ever slept without a dog protector in the house.

In her later years my mother progressed to smaller dogs, ending with Chihuahuas. We are not talking about sweet faced little darlings like Boxer's  Henry. We are talking  horrid  excuse for a dog type of Chihuahua.
While my mother preferred to share her chair and her bed with "the rat",
she at least was never one to carry it with her in a purse, talking baby talk and acting like an old fool.  I try not to focus on these later dogs.

When  I reached my early teens lots of things changed for me. One of those things was I developed allergies. I would have terrible sneezing spells, sneezing as much as 50 times in a row. This sounds funny but it is not. You cannot do anything while having a massive sneeze followed by dozens more.  My throat and ribcage ached, my eyes watered and my voice turned raspy. At first this was  an occasional event but things progressed to daily then to multiple times a day and so on.

Sadly, I was found to be allergic to a few food groups and environmental things like Pines, Cats and Horses. In revealing this diagnosis to my mother and I, our family doctor finished with,
 "probably dog dander is the chief offender"
 There was the briefest of pauses before my mother said,
 " Well, what do you plan to do about this? There are as many Pines as people in the world, plenty of cats, horses and dogs too. The world will not change because Fishy has allergies so there has to be something you can offer."
" Any chance you can limit your animals to outside only?", inquired the doc.
" No."
Her answer was swift and absolute. I had a momentary fear of being adopted out to some dogless Huns with a sterilized house and a cleaning fetish. Truly, there was not even the tiniest pause in her response which sort of irked the doc who said,
 " Maybe you and Mr. should talk about this  before we make decisions."
" Mister", responded my mother, " Is not here to make a decision. I am. Since you cannot issue an order for every Pine in the state to be removed or every shellfish to be taken off local menus or euthanize every animal with dander then the obvious solution is to prevent Fishy from having a reaction to any of them. This is a very basic issue.  The world is not going to adapt to Fishy therefore your job is to help her adapt as needed. She cannot sneeze a thousand times a day."

The result was a prescription for something called "ornade spansules" which years  later became available without a prescription by the name "Contact". Along with the prescription I was encouraged to not touch my face after touching an animal or being outside until I had washed my hands. I  wore a bandanna over my nose and mouth when grooming a horse or bathing a dog or cleaning a stall.  I was not "cured" but the situation was  managed.  I stayed on that prescription for 20 years which, along with the behavior modifications, did a pretty good job of desensitizing me. I've always viewed this as divine intervention because I am sure my  mother could live happily without me there but not without a dog. Then too, she did not wish for me to "endure" a life without  a good dog.

Decades later, when my Mom was having a hand wringing  melt down about a sibling living alone without a dog I asked her how it came to be she did not feel safe without a dog. Her response astounded me.

Although it was rare at the time, my mother's parents divorced before her second birthday. The judge in the case must not have found either parent to his liking since he awarded custody  to her  paternal grandmother. So she would at least have the same surname. Some criteria!  When my mother was 4 the question of where would she start school arose. Where indeed. In those days the guidelines were you started Kindergarten if you turned five before the end of the calendar year. My mother has a Winter birthday meaning she would be one of the youngest in the school and would start school at age 4. It was decided  she should leave Granny's and live with her Dad who had moved across the country with the railroads.

In the beginning all was wonderful. Dad, daughter and dog made a happy little  family. This particular grand parent was sort of a dog whisperer in that he could train a dog to do just about anything. One of the things he taught "Brownie" to do was to walk Mama to school while she, a petite 4 year old, held  onto his collar. He also taught the dog to  return later in the day to wait at the school gate to walk her home.  Part of this training was because of his schedule.  On some "runs" he would leave home around 4am which left Mama to Brownie's guardianship.  My grandfather would leave her breakfast wrapped in a cloth on the table, have her school clothes laid out on a chair, her shoes polished. Brownie would make sure she got up and got to school  on time with  her lunchbox.

Because he disliked others knowing his business he did not rely on neighbors to look after Mama. He relied on Brownie to look after Mama in his absence. In fact my mother swore he would cuddle the dog before opening the door saying, " Now Brownie, you best take good care of our girl".

This apparently worked out pretty well until the schedule changed and my grandfather was moved to a run with one overnight a week. On the new schedule he would be there to see Mama off to school and would be back home by bedtime but, on one night of the week he would be away. In this day  and age, it would be beyond crazy to leave a 4 year old in the custody of a dog anytime, never mind overnight.

But Brownie was not just some dog.

He was a trained companion dog, guardian dog and hunting dog. 

My grandfather trained my mother as well as the dog for this schedule change. Both knew the rules. Brownie would bring her home from school and they would stay home until he came back the next morning. There was a backyard with a bit of a garden and fruit trees which they were allowed to enjoy after school for a while. Dinner would be simple; peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a piece of fruit, a glass of milk and a cookie.  Mama was taught to feed and  keep fresh water for Brownie. When she went to bed, Brownie came with her and stayed until morning.  Mom said she always felt safe.  Her Dad regaled her with stories of great protector dogs, of stories of dogs as man's best friend  through all  the ages.  She was proud to be the child of a dog.

She was taught to not mention " family matters" to teachers or neighbors. 
 Eventually they got caught.

 Bad weather  in a mountain pass had delayed the run and school authorities became suspicious about Mama's circumstances when she came to school with sardines and crackers as her lunch. They sent Mom home with a note requesting a parent conference.  There was  no reply.  Sadly, for my mother, the end result was thereafter she would be sent to boarding schools. Where there were no dogs.

I had heard much of this story growing up. At no point had I understood  how young she was or that she, at four, was left overnight in the custody of a dog. I immediately understood why my mother always had a dog, why she felt safe with a dog and was frightened when she did not have one.  I understood why our Dad accepted her need to have a dog in the house and why he often referred to our grandfather as that "crazy old man".  All her life my mother trusted dogs more than humans. All her life every woe could be lessened by a good  dog, and maybe a mug of crackers and milk. Dogs were her family every bit as much as we kids. Maybe more as the nest emptied of husband and  kids but never of dogs.

Mermaid lives alone and does not have a dog.
I think my mother is displeased with this circumstance.

Mermaid  likes big athletic dogs. Ones which could go hiking with her or keep up with a horse over a long distance. I met a lovely  Beaucheron along a hiking trail in France. I had never met one before.  She wanted to make sure I understood I was not to harm her sheep. She was very polite about this, but also very firm.  This is a  big dog at 75 -100 pounds, dining table height at the shoulder, fast, athletic, loyal, protective, likes horses and other animals. So I have been researching them. There is a breeder in Memphis.

I might have to visit there soon.