Thursday, December 29, 2011

Scraps and Oakum V

Winter Blues 

 Cleaned Belts*

 Wool Defense

Pub's Window-box

*Once every 5 years, or as needed.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Pie

Each year, I make a Christmas Pie for dinner.  In the past, it was filled with duck or goose from a blind, game bird from a field, venison from the woods, or lamb from a farm.  Since I have not hunted in the last few years, I have been making a Yankee seafood pie, with the ingredients harvested by local fishermen... and not by me.  

Lobsters, scallops, shrimps, and cod.  Potato, leeks, onion, shallots, and salt. 

Fresh from their "stovetop jacuzzi". 

 A butter-crust is the base.

 Lobster meat, leeks, salt, onions, added.

Our beloved cod... the darling of the north Atlantic coast. 

 Cod slices and scallops.

More lobster meat, leeks, salt, a tablespoon of heavy cream, and a pinch of pepper.

 A starch to bind the ingredients.

Baked for over an hour.

Gone in twenty minutes on Christmas Eve.

Two pies add nicely to your table full of friends, family, or strangers who could use a hot meal. Dessert is always Port and a dish of cracked walnuts. 

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mary Poppins and Wine Bags

I can't take credit for constructing this one... or even thinking it up for that matter. A Tuesday night cocktail party materialized as carolers were circulating the neighborhood, and this clever wee wine bag was given to the hostess (my wife) by a friend.  On said friend's other arm was a bag of home-grown satsumas from her parent's property in California, and were better than the Whole Foods variety.

As fireplace season started up again, the chimneys were swept in preparation for the annual delivery of split hardwoods next week.  Speaking of chimney sweeps, Mrs. bought the DVD of Mary Poppins and had a movie night (late day) with several young ones over the weekend. The scenes are lovely and timeless, and among the many, these shots caught my drowsy eyes:

Notice the triple frog-closures.

When the actual chimney sweep arrived on Monday, the disappointment to my child was instantly visible and borderline heartbreaking.  The sweep arrived by van and not by nimbly-pranced rooftop.  He looked nothing like Dick Van Dyke and worse yet, he didn't sing, dance, or actually get inside the chimney.  

"Ev'ry thing looks good here" he said as the small extended fiber-optic camera scanned the interior of the stack.  Jr. sat patiently and waited for a wink, a Cockney colloquialism, or some aerial acrobatics.  Instead the sweep's loud shop-vacuum just hummed away as he watched the monitor.  "All set, buddy.  See you in two years" said the surprisingly clean sweep, and he packed his extending brushes and left.  I explained that life is nothing like movies, and that very often things are not what one expects.  It was either that or ask my wife to hold an opened umbrella and jump off the roof.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Style Sins

...were the least of his horrendously a**holish and horrifyingly cruel sins.  His "tailor" continually let out his waistband, while 99% of the population had to keep theirs in as he starved them over the last two decades (since this is not a political blog, I have to tie it into men's clothing somehow).  Maybe his one-piece zip-front gray suits are flame-retardant, because he'll need that feature at his next stop.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Long Flights and Slippers

Before a party, I stopped by the tailor to find a matching button for a pair of pants, and was reminded I "don't look good in bow ties".  He also indicated that my shoes "must have been polished by the family dog."  After, I was happy to finally get out in the strange velvet jacket I had fussed over earlier this year.

As it turned out, about 10 other men also had been hoping to have their velvet jackets make their seasonal appearance.  Within a record four minutes, I had slopped cocktail sauce on my sleeve and called my hostess the wrong name.  By New Year, I hope to be down to three minutes.  My wife later explained that the charming older woman with whom I had been chatting was not flirting with me, and that the "winking" was involuntary on her part.  "She wasn't winking at me?" I asked. "No. Sorry, Darling."  I was moderately deflated.

One of the many velvet jackets that evening.

 A fine man and photographer friend (and fashionisto) gave me a pair of cherry New and Lingwood green velvet slippers, and like a gushing Cinderella, I accepted them.  They treated the brown velvet jacket well in an overkill sort of way, and it was remarked (with obvious disdain) by one woman that I "sure seem[ed] comfortable".  As a matter of fact, I was.

A day or two later...

A six hour direct flight to the desert southwest made the feet sore, but I had the foresight to bring along a pair of slippers for the plane... not for prancing around like a peacock, but to ease the ache of leather shoes and squirming.  Cold and rainy weather for the first few days required a heavy coat, then it went into the closet once the week warmed up.  A pair of brand new velvet Stubbs and Wootton slippers from Giuseppe made the flight slightly easier during the altitude-induced micro tissue expansions that afflict the feet.

Crocodiles... but not the Lacoste fellow.  The design on the toe is beautifully embroidered.  These usually stay under the office desk, but I grabbed them at the last moment as the taxi arrived, and it was the best decision I made during the trip.  As I drove through the desert later that day, and early the next morning, uncharacteristically rainy days provided impressive rainbows over the rocks and cactus.

In all of it, a pair of slippers seemed to be one of the few comforts, and a long flight home this Friday will have the same.  Maybe the guy in the seat next to me will take the hint that headphones and my nose in a book indicate that I don't feel chatty after the one hour mark.

Slippers are fantastic little inventions, but they are delicate both structurally and socially, with wildly varying opinions and (if you read other blogs) odd fetishy-passion.  Yes, I was the guy in the suit wearing slippers on his flight across the country, but I was not the guy in the track suit and neck-pillow yelling at the gate agent.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Urban Practicality: Old Shirts and Tie = Wrapping Paper

An old blown-out shirt and a frayed tie.

 A few stitches with doubled thread.

 Buttoned up.

 A tie bow, not a bow tie. Brooks Brothers, college years purchase.

Off to the post office.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Early Winter Clothes

A last stroll through the streets after closing up my temporary office.  Papers shredded and coffee pot scrubbed clean... a small hillock of sand on the balcony from daily shoe emptying.

I was the fool in the lime green cotton pants and sockless ankles at the baggage claim at Logan Airport, collecting my USDA-inspected-and-stamped luggage. A fast cab ride home and a quick change for an afternoon Christmas party.

The old dames in the grand old house were charming, but let me know with Yankee code words that they had designs on the large ham in the middle of the table in the dining room, and a flicker of the eye made it clear that I was not to stand between them and the carving platter or mustard dish.  How are your grandchildren?  "My family is fine, thank you.  Yes, I saw your husband earlier upstairs at the study bar.  No, I'm not traveling for Christmas.  Cal told me that Chessy had a stroke, I'm sorry to hear it.  Chessy was the beagle?  I'm still sorry to hear it. "

These are the people who throw parties at noon and wear stylish duds until the day they keel over.  The white-haired men in the London bespoke suits that were made before I was born guzzle gin and Scotch, and spend the evening grazing at the candle-lit food table.

A dear old friend in a tweed three-piece spent half an hour decrying the insider trading in Congress and on Wall St. as we stood next to the swinging door to the upstairs wet-pantry where a few caterers were sub-stationed. Just as he said "insider trading" for the 80th time, a young catering server quickly flanked him and whispered "the oysters will be coming up the back stairs in about four minutes."  "Ah... thank you, Courtney" he said and suggested we position ourselves closer to the door from where the platter would likely emerge.   Insider trading indeed.

Pre-dawn breakfast at the only place to get eggs before 6AM on the Boston waterfront.

LL Bean wool sweater in bright red and those warm but crappily made wool socks from Polo.  Back to the reality of winter and hopefully a better shot at the carved ham at tomorrow night's party.  I love this season.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Panama Hats

...and other styles about which I will no doubt be corrected.

After wrapping up business and the last portions (fragments for me) of the recharging effects of the tropics, the flight home to New England will be met with mixed emotions.  In a recent post's comment section, a certain southern gentleman made mention of a hat pictured in one of the photos.  I needed little excuse at all to return to the hat shop to procure one.

The preference was stated, and the supply was bountiful.

I picked out the one that matched the order.

His band selection was a good choice: solid black.

It was tightened and measured.

Fitted and pinned.





Boxed and Shipped.  It will reach the Continental US before I will.  I hope it fits.


A day later...

Seems that it does. No gamble for ADG.


Then, at the last minute, I couldn't resist getting one for myself, with a band to match Jr.'s.

In the background, the first hat is ready, while mine is being measured for its band.

Mine in the foreground, Jr.'s smaller one behind.

$60 seemed reasonable, especially because I had spent $0 the preceding weeks, and it was the least expensive one there in my size.  Luckily, my taste for small brims was rewarded, because the brim diameter is directly correlated to price: smaller brim, cheaper hat.

Then, I got a tour of the other hats...

This one costs $6000... unfathomable to a Yankee.

I was then shown the $1000 hats.  Still, way beyond my tolerance, but beautiful at close examination.  I held my $60 hat next to it (mine is on the right) and you can see the difference in weave.  My hostess then held it a foot above my hands and dropped it to me.  It floated down like a silk scarf or a plastic shopping bag.  It was as light as a feather... and a surreal moment.

A closer shot:

"It takes over six months to make."  Judging by the impressively delicate hand weave, I'd say that is a generous production estimate.  Again, $1000 on the left and $60 on the right.

I'll be flying home soon, and sadly, the hat will have to wait until next summer to be brought out... just sitting on the shelf, reminding me about the grinding winter that will be yoking me soon enough.  I can at least get some miles under its grosgrain band for now.