Sweet, Beautiful, Fruitful Lives

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How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”   Isa. 52:7

In the late fall Minneapolis was flooded daily with the news of protests, occupations, marches, disruptions, camp-outs at the 4th precinct and freeway blockades.  An unarmed young black man was fatally shot in the process of an arrest – and the actual facts of the matter were (and are) blurred in the aftermath of outrage and counter-outrage.

street march

Black Lives Matter came front and center in the city.  Carpetbaggers arrived in town. Blacks and whites alike marched and demanded justice and swift retribution against the police.  Many folks also came to the defense of the men in blue, arguing the impossibility of their challenge to bring peace to neighborhoods riddled with violence and claimed by poverty.

Sgt. Bret Barnum hugs Devonte Hart in Portland during Ferguson protest -

Sgt. Bret Barnum hugs Devonte Hart in Portland during Ferguson protest –

Those of us raised in whitened suburbs and small towns have scant knowledge of  what it must be like to grow up on streets where guns are commonplace, fathers are often absent and your every act is under suspicion.

The marches and protests stretched across the city, through the holidays and into the new year until they reached Martin Luther King Day, January 18, 2016.  That day the Minneapolis Tribune carried a feature briefly quoting 6 local younger black leaders in many fields , along with their photographs.  Each person was asked to comment on Black Lives Matter as they contemplated it on that day.  They were all very interesting and thoughtful.

Chicago backyard

Chicago backyard

But there was one who spoke the kind of words that can open windows in the most closed of minds.  Her name is Brittany Lynch.  Brittany is 24.  She seems to have an interesting career working in the community as a radio host, in music and spoken word performance and creative consulting.  Her picture was lovely, but it was her words that have stuck with me.

Brittany Lynch

Brittany Lynch

“Not only do our lives matter, not only do we deserve equality, but we deserve to have sweet, beautiful, fruitful lives. We deserve to have our own spaces. We deserve to speak up when we see something unjust.”

Cafe in the sun by Tom Brown

Cafe in the sun by Tom Brown

‘Sweet, beautiful, fruitful lives.’  Yes!  That is what I want for all my children.  That is what I want for my grands.  That is what I wanted – and expected – for myself.  I did not expect it as a right, for no government in the world can guarantee such abundance –   but it was the way I would choose to live and I assumed like many white Americans that the only obstacles I faced were of my own paucity.

I’m not sure about Brittany, but when at 24 I pictured a ‘sweet, beautiful, fruitful’ life it looked something like this:  A family with love.  A handsome little house on Maple St.  A place where I could be useful and uncover strengths that were still in the shadows. Travel to foreign places to sit in sidewalk cafes and watch the people go by.  A bit of adventure.  Church on Sundays.  Friends. Books.  Music. Health.  Peaceful sunny days.

Beach Books by Karen Hollingsworth

Beach Books by Karen Hollingsworth

Equality is a much more difficult concept to get our minds around, we who grew up thinking that every American has a basic right to a high school education, to equal opportunity, to be treated fairly by every shopkeeper, every teacher, every boss, every cop, every judge.  We know now that it doesn’t play out that way for everyone.  Mr. A. and I were living in Memphis when Dr. King was shot and now we’re old, having lived through the sixties and subsequent decades and turmoils and leaders, some of whom we admired and some we did not.

Ben Carson - would that other candidates share his integrity

Ben Carson – would that other candidates share his integrity

I’ve always known I wasn’t equal to everyone;  not as bright as many, lacking in drive and financial resource, not much of a risk taker and too often hesitant to “speak up” as Brittany says.  Mr. A. and I both worked our way through the University, paying it all – and believing ourselves fortunate to be there.  He worked his whole life – and I kept the family.  However, people expected us to be doing just that and put no barriers in our way.  

Our first house in Memphis looked a lot like this - $17, 325.00 in 1964

Our first house in Memphis looked a lot like this – $17, 325.00 in 1964

Therefore I guess Brittany and I are different in many ways.  But a deep desire for a sweet, beautiful, fruitful life?  Yes, in that we share.

Little Kids Sharing a Shake - Black & White Picture - Little Girl - Little Boy with Hat

I believe that it is the Lord who has put that desire within us.  And it is the Lord who brings sweetness and beauty and fruit to our lives.  This triumverate can be known in men and women who live in North Minneapolis and who live in Hopkins, in Queens and in Palm Beach.  It is not of our own striving.  Surely we must work for equality and justice.  But sweetness on our own soon turns sour.  Beauty by the world’s standard is just botox – and success is not the same as fruitfulness.

Jesus washing feet of disciples by Leszek Forczek

Jesus washing feet of disciples by Leszek Forczek

When it arrives from within as God’s indwelling, then all the circumstances of our lives can be met with tenderness, forgiveness and a light heart.  And then it can be passed on, a legacy worth more than an address on Mount Curve.

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** * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

However, a little cottage on Maple Street would be nice . . . 

cottage

 

Jessye Norman, Amazing Grace . . .

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Images courtesy of:  Man on Mountain;  bienetrecolorado.files.wordpress.com/2011/06,  Bret Barnum hugs Devonte Hart in Portland;  time.com,  Cafe in the Sun by Tom Brown; tombreownfineart.blogspot.com,  Beach Books by Karen Hollingsworth;  karenhollingsworth.com,  Ben Carson;  newyorker.com,  Kids and soda;  littlerosetrove.blogspot.com,  Jesus Foot Washing by Leszek Forczek;  revised.com.

May 1st Etsy Shop Open Again

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Just today, February 1, I opened the doors again to my Etsy shop.  In it you’ll find hand-painted wood plates and fish and little people.  Decorative painting is a work of pure happiness for me.  I’ve a 6 x 6′ “studio” in my living room – a table by the window where I can spend hours painting merry designs to my heart’s content.

I hope you visit!  https://www.etsy.com/shop/may1steverlasting

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“The happiest people I know are those who make things with their hands.”   Peter Hunt, 1945

 

 

Hooga Hooga!

Sea Smoke at Two Harbors, photo by Lou Walters

Sea Smoke at Two Harbors, photo by Lou Walters

We are in the dead of winter, but it’s not so bad this year.  At least in Minneapolis.  While Nashville drivers were careening off the icy roads and Philadelphians were neck deep in shoveling quandaries, Minneapolitans, in light jackets, were out and about, Caribou coffee in hand.  Chris and Sven, the weathermen, were grateful for the eastern storm so they’d have something to report upon.

New York City this week, January 2016

New York City this week, January 2016

It does appear that our fondness for winter peaks at about age 6 and continues for a decade when it then begins to dwindle, reaching nadir at about 65 when reasonable people wonder, “why am I living in Minnesota?”

Sandviken Norway, Village in the Snow by Claude Monet

Sandviken Norway, Village in the Snow by Claude Monet

Many of our friends now flee south for winter, choosing Florida, Arizona and in one case, Georgetown, Texas!  But one of our friends, George Steiner, founder of Orphans Tree, (http://orphanstree.org), who travels to Russia several times a year, always seems to insure that one trip will be in the deep winter.  We’ve been to Russia in winter and know of the hardships – and the beauty.  He’s there now and I can picture George slogging through the slippery sidewalks of Moscow and the waist-high boulevards in Ivanovo.  The thick forests on the Golden Ring bring images of wolf and stag.  Folks in the countryside are bundled in the winter wear of their ancestors, long heavy coats and fur hats.  I’m not sure if Russians embrace winter or endure it.

Snowstorm of the Century by Anton Mauve, Russia

Snowstorm of the Century by Anton Mauve, Russia

A friend on Facebook led me to an article on why Scandinavians do embrace winter, that is, Scandinavians in Scandinavia!   (http://qz.com/601561)  We all know about the northern European winters, Lillehammer Olympics, Land of the Midnight Sun, and all that.  But why are these frozen folk so happy?

Snowy Hills by Dean Mitchell

Snowy Hills by Dean Mitchell

Evidently they have a concept, known in Denmark as “hygge”, pronounced loosely “hooga”, which is untranslatable in English.  Maybe the concept is also, given that we often seem to be happiest when we can legitimately gripe.

Barn Snow by Andrew Wyeth

Barn Snow by Andrew Wyeth

“Hygge”, according to Jaime Kurtz, a James Madison prof who teaches a course on Scandinavian happiness – and don’t forget that the Danes are certifiably the happiest people on earth – ANYWAY . . . . hygge suggests both coziness and togetherness.  In other words why Scandinavians embrace winter is because it gives them ample opportunity to not only snuggle under a blanket with a glass of wine, but to light the fire, pour the wine and sit around conversing intimately with people they care about, feeling safe and content.

Winter Evening at Soder, Stockholm 1889 by Georg Pauli

Winter Evening at Soder, Stockholm 1889 by Georg Pauli

It’s that with other people part that sets hygge apart from cozy.

Believe me, drinking a cup of hot chocolate while checking Facebook doesn’t cut it.  Watching TV night after night under a faux fur throw gets old.  Year after year I’ve depended on January pastimes, reading, painting, stitching, to get me through happily.  Mel and I are at a point in life where we can take in an afternoon movie.  (Have you seen Brooklyn?  We loved it!)  We go to the Y three times a week, early morning, to keep moving.

Winter Motif from Asogatan by Carl Larsson

Winter Motif from Asogatan by Carl Larsson

We’re a tad ancient to keep on skating and sledding and never did pick up snowmobiling or skiing, unfortunately.  (These are the main reasons that most Minnesotans love the state in winter.)

But if the Danes can be happy in winter, so can we!  Happiness is most often a choice.  

A Street Scene in Winter - Copenhagen by Paul Fischer, 1901

A Street Scene in Winter – Copenhagen by Paul Fischer, 1901

We can choose to see beauty.

Winter Trees by Dean Mitchell

Winter Trees by Dean Mitchell

We can choose to hear the silence.

Winter by John Henry Twachtman

Winter by John Henry Twachtman

 

We can welcome the perfectly fresh icy breath of air.

at the Stuga, photo by Lou Walters

at the Stuga, photo by Lou Walters

We can choose to understand seasons as a gift and metaphor for life.

We can choose hygge as winter grace.  

We may not have a fireplace, but we can light candles.  Our spaces may be tight, but there’s always room enough for two more; two more to share a bottle of wine,  a bowl of soup and an evening of conversation and laughter.

Hooga, hooga!

Sunrise in Winter Forest by Anatoly Dverin

Sunrise in Winter Forest by Anatoly Dverin

And then we can choose hope.  My heart was filled with hope this morning as I read Emily’s most recent poem, “Grace Again”.

grace again

beneath the snow
the vernal seed
awaits the weeks
when cold recedes
through wintry term
that labors long
the seed forgives
so reaps the song
and bud and leaf
are surely sought
in springtide air
not near forgot
for sown we are
in Gardener’s grace
and grace again
reveals the place
and perfect time
of winter’s end
the greener days
His fullness sends

Winter Walk by Tony Cook

Winter Walk by Tony Cook

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. – John 1:16

(Emily’s work is available on Silver Pennies;  http://emilyawesanderson.com)

 

Bedrich Smetana’s The Moldau, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra . . . .

 

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Images courtesy of:  NYC;  media.wnyc.org, Sandviken – Village in the Snow by Monet;  interagir.com,   Snowstorm of the Century by Anton Mauve;  visual history.ru,  Snowy Hills and Winter Trees by Dean Mitchell;  greenwichworkshop.com,  Barn Snow by Andrew Wyeth;  rebubble.com,  Winter Evening at Soder by Georg Pauli;  massimogienda.blogspot.com,  Street Scene in Copenhagen by Paul Gustave Fischer;  ipaintingsforsale.com,  Winter by John Henry Twachtman;  athoughtfuleye.wordpress.com,  Sunrise in Winter Forest by Anatoly Dverin;  fromrussiawithart.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Like Your Face!

How many faces do you see?

How many faces do you see?

Winter mornings at the cabin I would awaken under the colorful quilt to hear the crackling ice on the lake, to smell the coffee and to greet the man in the birch outside my window.  The bare branches formed his strong face.  I thought of him as Native American.   He dissolved in the spring, hidden in layers of leaf, but would kindly reappear come October.

ice

I thought of the man in the birch this week while reading of a local artist who has painted a large mural on a wall of his house, in which he has hidden 23 faces.  The artist said that his painting refers to a common human inclination of seeing faces in the natural world.  This inclination even has a name;  “pareidolia”.

cloud

Pareidolia was a new word to me, but the inclination was not.  I see faces in cloud formations, in houses, in trees, in buttons, in landscapes – as do you.  Some folks have seen the faces of Jesus or the Virgin Mary in stones or fabric or toast and made shrines hoping for special blessings.  Who is to say how the Lord may fill that yearning in their hearts?

mountain

 

Evidently we are born looking for faces.

Found this tree on a walk by Lake Harriet

Found this tree on a walk by Lake Harriet

I’ve been reading about studies that demonstrate that infants show a preference for looking at faces and face-like stimuli.  And they are very discriminating.  They prefer faces with open eyes and will gaze longer at happy faces, preferring smiles to frowns or fearful looks.

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I wonder if they like surprised faces?

Further research indicates that even though brand new babies can’t see very well, especially at the center of their vision, it appears that babies can learn to recognize faces in the first few hours of life. 

In one study, (Bushnell et al 1989) babies were presented with video playbacks of women’s faces.  These babies were between 12 and 36 hours old – and they showed a clear preference for watching their mother’s faces, rather that the faces of strangers!  We all have photos of newborns we love staring into the faces of their moms or dads.

Son Seth and Gustaf, 1 day old

Son Seth and Gustaf, a few minutes old

And we never lose our fascination with faces.  I remember one Sunday at dinner staring at the face of my dad, memorizing the line of his nose and the particular creases in his handsome contour.  It was my last Sunday with Dad, but I remember his face in detail.

dad

While Mr. A. had many things going for him at the age of 19, it was his face that won me.  Is it not true of you and your beloved?  Just yesterday Emily looked at her daughter Susie who was grinning as hard as she could muster, and Em said, “Look at that face.”  She loves Susie’s face.  Of course!  

“Enemies are people who’s story you haven’t heard, or who’s face you haven’t seen.”   Irene Butter

The face reveals the mood and even the slighted lift of the brow can tell the whole story.  The eyes can began to twinkle before the lips relate the joke.  Sorrow and joy are given away.  The heart of the person is made known through the face and his character uncloaked.

by Richard Hook

by Richard Hook

I wonder sometimes if I had been friend to Peter and John and been part of the following crowd, would I have studied the contours of His face, the line of his nose as I sat at table with them?  For 2,000 years artists have tried to paint his face, a sun-weathered Jew, full of God and man.

by Bobby Shaw

by Bobby Shaw

We believe we would recognize him.  But even his friends didn’t recognize him on the Emmaus road – or right away on the shore that early morning when he was fixing breakfast.  Had his face changed – or had their hearts not yet?

The man in the moon was an enigma to me until I was thirteen and got my first pair of glasses. I was astonished! My poor near-sightedness had hidden the dear man along with a billion stars.  

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And yet, by the great mercy of God, who gave light to the stars and is doing so still, we can know his character and even his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.       2 Cor 4:6

by Mia Tavonatti

by Mia Tavonatti

Clearly God made us pareidoliacs – people who see faces all around.  The psalmist said, “My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.”  Amen.

 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.     Rev. 22:1-5

Jesus Christ, Liberator by Willis Wheatley

Jesus Christ, Liberator by Willis Wheatley

 

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David Phelps – We Shall Behold Him . . . 

 

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Images courtesy of:  Stones;  opticalspy.com;  Iceberg:  http://mnmcapedorsetnewbies.blogspot.com/2012/07/an-icy-pareidolia.html,  Cloud;  milnersblog.wordpress.com,  Mountain;  cdn.fiboni.com,  Building;  dmax.com.au,  Smiling Jesus by Bobby Shaw;  becuo.com,  Man in the moon;  americanlivewire.com,  Piece of Crucifixion Mosaic by Mia Tavonatti;  mosaicartsourye.wordpress.com,  Jesus Christ, Liberator by Willis Wheatley, 1979;  phillipchircop.com.

Not What I Used to Be

New Beginnings by Jill Krasner

New Beginnings by Jill Krasner

The coat rack at the Y was stuffed full and the wiry old gal beside me grouched, “Never seen so many coats on this rack!”  It was the Monday after the 1st and I said, ” Must be New Year’s resolutions.”  “That’ll last till Valentine’s Day”, and the old gal finished off our brief exchange.

Motivation

Motivation

It’s so true isn’t it?  Actually lasting 6 weeks with a resolution isn’t bad.  Diet and exercise are probably number one on the resolved list come January 1st, and a box of chocolates on February 14 can often sabotage any remaining will power. (Make mine any combination of dark, sea salt, creams, caramel and nuts, no jellied centers thank you.)  So far Mr. A. and I have endured 10 days of a healthy diet and trips to the Y.  In the first week he without much effort lost 7 lbs.  Don’t ask me.

Agnes by Lowell Herrero

Agnes by Lowell Herrero

In Bible study this week we were discussing the deep distinction between resolution and relinquishment.  These two actions widely diverge when it comes to real change within.  I’m guessing that’s a whole other blog and worth pondering.  But not today.

Sarasota Bay by Tom D'Auria

Sarasota Bay by Tom D’Auria

I’ve said it many times on May 1st that I am not a goal setter.  I’m neither bragging nor bemoaning the fact; simply stating that I tend to go with the flow.  It’s tempting to say with Paul that “By the grace of God I am what I am”.  (I Cor. 15:10)  How often we leave off the grace part and just quote the second part as all encompassing excuse for our meandering, our outbursts, our sloth, our stinginess.

Time to Go by Maryanne Jacobsen

Time to Go by Maryanne Jacobsen

But every now and then there comes a change or a determination brought about by a profound urging – or desire – or in this case, by a comment from a friend.

I had never thought of myself as a particularly late person.  Mr. A is always prompt so we do arrive at events on time – or early.  Discovering this about Mr. A was quite a revelation as my parents always arrived late for church or movies – and it seemed we were invariably the last to arrive at family parties.  I just assumed it was because we were the biggest family.  In movies it was our habit to arrive after the feature had begun and then after it was over sit thru the newsreel and cartoon and early part of the feature.  (I naturally thought that all theaters were eternally pitch black.)  Now the man and I arrive so early that our pop corn is finished before the previews – but we do get a good seat.

Archer Theater by David Doherty

Archer Theater by David Doherty

 

It must have been one morning about 20 years ago when I arrived at Northland Inn for a monthly sales meeting which I was leading.  It was 10 minutes past the time that I had set for the meeting.  This was my normal.  I would dash in about 10 minutes late.  It was also normal that my friend and colleague Marlys was there, completely set up for the meeting, patiently waiting, coffee in hand.  On this particular day the other women were milling about and chatting.  

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I apologized to Marlys for being late (again).  And then she said something to me that changed a habit overnight.

by Jeffrey T. Larson

by Jeffrey T. Larson

[In kindness and civility] . . .”Sue, you are always late because you try to do one more thing.”

Anna Maria Sunset by Alexis Baranek

Anna Maria Sunset by Alexis Baranek

She must have caught me in a rare teachable moment as her words sunk in and for the first time it dawned on me that yes, just that morning I had decided to make a dry cleaning stop on the way to the meeting – – – -without giving myself an extra 10 minutes to do so.  I thought of the myriad times that I had stopped at the post office – or bank – or grabbed a phone call as I was leaving the house – or thrown a load in the wash – or – or – or – – -and I thought about Marlys and all the countless “10 minutes” that she had been waiting for me. I have learned much from this dear friend over the years, but no lesson was captured so clearly – or so easily.

lifeguard

I decided to stop doing ‘one more thing’ and to honor the gentle folks who have shown up at the appointed hour.  And overnight I left a habit behind and began a new one.

Sunset on Mallory Square by Maryanne Jacobsen

Sunset on Mallory Square by Maryanne Jacobsen

Just don’t bug me about my outrageous sweet tooth or love for buttery croissants or crusty French bread.  After all, I am what I am.

Florida triptych by Helen Tilston, Mary Rose Holmes and Violetta Chandler

Florida triptych by Helen Tilston, Mary Rose Holmes and Violetta Chandler

 

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Bill Conti’s Gonna  Fly Now / performed by the Korean Pops Orchestra –

 

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Images courtesy of:  New Beginnings by Jill Krasner;  jillkrasnergallery.wordpress.com, Agnes by Lowell Herrero;  world gallery.co.uk,  Sarasota Bay by Tom D’Auria;  sarasotaday.com,  Time to Go by Maryanne Jacobsen;  maryannejacobsen.com,  Archer Theater by David Doherty;  rippop.com,  Vintage Beach Art;  https://img0.etsystatic.com/000/0/5127321/il_fullxfull.6795450.jpg,  Shared Treasures by Jeffrey T. Larson,  jeffreytlarson.com,  Anna Maria Island Sunset by Alexis Baranek;  fineartamerica.com,  Guard Station;  sarasotaday.com,  Sunset on Mallory Square by Maryanne Jacobsen;  maryannejacobsen.com,  Florida Triptych by Helen Tilston, Mary Rose Holmes and Violetta Chandler;  pleinairecottgeartists.blogspot.com.

Is It Too Much to Ask?

Mr. A. a few years ago

Mr. A. a few years ago

The man hasn’t asked for too much in life.  In fact we’ve often teased him about loving the circumstances of his life to the excess of pride.  With each passing year however, I have come to see that this fierce loyalty – to place, to church, to team, to company, to friend, to opinion – is born of a deep sense of satisfaction with life.

“The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.”    Zig Ziglar

Every place we lived Mr. A. put down deep roots, took in each nuance of culture with a passion, loving to show visitors the sights and delights of the landscape.  He staunchly believed in every company he worked for;  in their product, in their integrity, in his future.  He believed in his bosses and in his employees.

J.R. Watkins, Mel's first company

J.R. Watkins, Mel’s first company

Though he cannot bring himself to tell them outright he thinks he has the best kids in the world.  (He is a Norwegian after all)  He’s never met a food he wouldn’t try.  I think it’s prideful to think one’s church is the best in the world, but that doesn’t stop Mr. A.

the dreaded lutefisk

the dreaded lutefisk

There are only a handful of things that this man has ever wanted and never gotten and I’m not talking about stuff (with one exception).  Let’s begin with me, his mate.

There are several human qualities that Mr. A. holds in high regard.  These include skills in cooking, gardening, music, fitness, athleticism and telephone communication.  Of these I have none, nor have I had any inclination to acquire. He’s had to settle for my other [fine] traits.

superwoman-flying-9539898

The only material thing he ever yearned for was a Mercedes convertible, though lately he’s said if he could afford it he does dearly love the Audi colors.

1960 Mercedes Benz

1960 Mercedes Benz

There are only two other things which remain unfulfilled in this man’s heart:

Experiencing in person a Rose Bowl victory for the Minnesota Gophers and

 

ncf_rose-1993

A Super Bowl victory for the Minnesota Vikings.

 

Super-Bowl-Trophy

During our college years the Gophers did in fact go to the Rose Bowl twice, winning the second time in 1962.  However we were young, poor married kids, scraping together rent and tuition money and totally unable to make a cross-country trek.  But that was 1962, for heavens sake!

Minnesota coach Murray Warmath meets with the offensive backfield for the national champion Gophers, who lost to Washington in the 1961 Rose Bowl: halfback Dave Mulholland (40), halfback Bill Munsey (28), quarterback Sandy Stephens (15) and fullback Roger Hagberg (36). (Associated Press file photo)

Minnesota coach Murray Warmath meets with the offensive backfield for the national champion Gophers, who lost to Washington in the 1961 Rose Bowl: halfback Dave Mulholland (40), halfback Bill Munsey (28), quarterback Sandy Stephens (15) and fullback Roger Hagberg (36). (Associated Press file photo)

This year alone Mel’s beloved Gophers lost the Little Brown Jug (to Michigan), Floyd of Rosedale, (the coveted pig to Iowa) and Paul Bunyan’s Axe (to Wisconsin).  This was really too much.  We lost our coach and our energy – though we did manage to win a bleak Detroit bowl game to a so-so team.  (Washtenaw County Technical School or some such).

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It's not Pasadena, but hey -

It’s not Pasadena, but hey –

Truly as the Big Ten slips farther and farther down in the nation’s roster of football giants fans seem to be touting more and more the excellence of Big Ten education and research.  Yeah.  At least we have Ohio State.

Which brings me to the Vikings who own Mr. A.’s heart, lock, stock and barrel.  Since the franchise began in 1961 this man has worn purple – wherever we lived -St. Louis, Memphis, Chicago, New York and Rhode Island!  He can recall minuscule details  of players and plays.  He died in ’69, ’73, ’74, and ’76, all Super Bowls, all losses.  He’s rooted for Tarkenton and Brown and Carter and Moss and Foreman and Krause and Peterson and Voigt.  He’s ranted and raved and whooped and hollered.  And never more so than when the Vikes play the Pack.  My year got off to a great start on Sunday evening, (giving up Downton Abbey for Vikings), when the beloved team bested Green Bay and Mr. A. could breathe again.

Jan 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates after the Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers 20-13 at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates after the Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers 20-13 at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

My dearest man will never own a Mercedes convertible.  He will never have an athletic wife who can properly cook a duck l’orange, while singing on pitch and tending her roses.

Singing-while-cooking-306x372

BUT sitting in Pasadena after the great parade on New Year’s Day watching the Gophers whip Alabama or . . . . .

popping the Super Bowl champagne after the Purple  trounced the Patriots . . . 

1762913-champagne-bottle-cork-popping-with-sparkling-fireworks

Is it too much to ask?

 

Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolitle in My Fair Lady – not asking for much!

 

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A Christmas Present

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How it happened that Tony began to paint merry designs on furniture and plates in the style of Peter Hunt I will never know. I can only surmise that it was through Dollie, who though not an artist herself, had her ear tuned to what was happening in most corners of American life in the 30’s and 40’s.

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Dad gave me his autographed copy of Peter Hunt’s Workbook when I began folk painting and somewhere along the line I lost it. (This “losing things” deal was part and parcel of our many cross-country moves. Even my too-small wedding ring was lost for 2 decades and only serendipitously found 3 years ago  ) I digress.

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By the time I lost the Workbook I had pretty well absorbed the book, stories and illustration, so I could still create Peter Hunt designs on a whim. Then a young man in our Sunday School class inherited a house and all its belongings in Orleans, Massachusetts – and this old house came with a copy of the Workbook, which my dear young friend gave to me.

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I’m way ahead of myself in this story.

Back to Tony. It was shortly after the War ended in the mid-forties that Dad began to paint. I’ve told you before how even today the smell of oil paint and turpentine puts me in a happy state of mind. My brothers and I would be in bed when up the stairs would drift that delicious smell. Dad was painting! He’d lay out sawhorses in the living room to stretch out the boards which would become our dressers and bunk beds. He painted sunny scenes of nursery rhymes, (“Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady upon a white horse; rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes.”). I’m sure Dad had Peter Hunt’s Workbook open to catch the particular flavor of Peter’s hearts and tulips and colorful folks.

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Dad went on to paint in the Swedish style, painting our kitchen cabinets, plates and lazy Susan’s and oil cloth placemats and all the cupboard doors for a local kindergarten. He gave up painting before he turned 40 – sadly as he had a steady hand and a good eye for color. He never thought he was any good at it, but he was wrong.

Peter Hunt Hutch

Peter Hunt Hutch

“Peter Hunt” became part of my lexicon therefore as a child. Peter’s impact on the resurgence of folk painting in the country was huge. Today there are thousands like me who decorate furniture and plates and almost any surface with painted design.

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Rosemaling is the particular Scandinavian style, especially popular in the mid-west where so many immigrants from Sweden and Norway settled, including Per Lysne, a Norwegian folk painter who influenced thousands of rosemalers in the states.

per lysne

per lysne

traditional rosemaling design

traditional rosemaling design

The Swedes painted “kurbits” on their walls, paintings often depicting Biblical scenes with elaborate borders –

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Jo Sonja is a contemporary folk artist whose style caught on in the 70’s and is known through her books and signature paints.

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Pipka is an artist in Door County, Wisconsin, who began teaching classes in the German folk art style and sequed into creating collectable St. Nicholas sculptures.

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But it is Peter Hunt who forever has my heart. Peter Hunt was a New Jersey kid who eventually fell in love with Cape Cod, in particular Provincetown in the 1930’s. There in this old fishing village it seemed that everyone had a craft – wood carving or scrimshaw or quilting or whatever! These people were influenced by European peasant designs carried over by the whalers and seamen. In the long cold winters when all the tourists had gone home they plied their crafts late into the evenings only taking breaks to walk the dunes and visit one another.

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Peter had spent many winters in Europe, particularly Paris and was drawn to the colorful painted designs of the continent and began to decorate old furniture. It was not long before his painting caught on and was bought as high art by city patrons. Even Dupont used Peter Hunt designs to market their paints.

Peter and apprentice

Peter and apprentice

Peter’s workshop for many years was in Provincetown where he employed a few painters and they all sat side by side painting and turning mis-shapen, Victorian relics into works of art. Eventually Peter moved to Orleans on the Cape where his last workshop, Peacock Alley, still remains in part.

How fun to be painting here with Peter Hunt!

How fun to be painting here with Peter Hunt!

Peter was a character, swathed in long black cape, walking the streets of Cape Cod. He tried to resist the mass marketing of his work, insisting on every piece being hand-painted and he soon became known as the painter with a “blithe spirit.”

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My friend Cass and I began painting together in Chicago and both loved Peter Hunt painting. Once we took a little trip to Provincetown in search of Peter Hunt – and had a couple of beautiful days walking the streets and the dunes in Cape Cod. I blew my budget buying an original Peter Hunt painted pail which has been my treasure for years.  Then a few years ago Emily gave me a fabulous small bellows painted by Peter.

Percy Drinkwater was a student of Peter Hunt's

Percy Drinkwater was a student of Peter Hunt’s

 

These days my painting has taken a contemporary Scandinavian turn, but I cannot help but turn to a Peter Hunt design now and then – for the pure happiness it brings me.

 

A plate of mine, modern Swedish, I call it ;)

A plate of mine, modern Swedish, I call it ;)

On Christmas morning this year under the tree was a large, beautiful hand-made blue box tied with a yellow ribbon.

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It was a gift from Emily and Darrick, Ben and Rachel, (two of my children and spouses ).

Inside the box was a painted doll chair . . . . .

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painted by Peter Hunt.

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What a gift to be known by your children.

Wishing you all a happy and joyous 2016!

 “I’m Going Home (Royce Hall Concert) Sacred Harp / Shape Note singing, early American folk music . .