A Non-Gargoyle Moment

It seems as if everyone is posting at least one gargoyle, oftentimes many. The gargoyles of Notre Dame of course. They are interesting and spectacular in what they represent, but usually they are the same as someone else has just posted, so I thought I’d find something different. And I did, the guy displayed below. I believe him to be just darling and a worthy comment for us. He will now look over us.

Cinou Delcuvellerie Follow · 4 November · David Burnham Smith-Great Britain -

David Burnham Smith-Great Britain

By the way, there were some posts about some people being taken aback by the forms of the gargoyles, apparently not having seen them before. As I understand it, they are to reflect back to evil, (Evil vs. Evil) and drive it away. If there were sweet loving representations on the structure, they would drive goodness away. This is the same principle as the mirrors you will find on some Chinese structures. The mirrors send back to you that which you are.

I don’t think our guy above will drive anything anywhere. I believe he’s just watching with a very friendly and loving spirit.

Mum’s Hatbox

When I was a wee child I used to play with my mother’s hatbox, kept in the only storage closet we had, on the second-floor landing of our new home. She said it was something that belonged in every woman and girl’s luggage, something you did not travel without. It was a wonderful and beautiful piece of luggage, black with gold snap hinges for closure. Inside there was room for a few select hats, and small elastic-topped silk pockets for hatpins. It was round, and the cloth that covered it felt like a rippled velvet. Inside were three hats that she had kept through the years.

My favorite was a small black top-hat sort of thing, with a magnificent veil. The veil was black to match the hat, but there were rhinestone diamond-like jewels in place here and there on the netting. The veil itself was able to be lowered in stages, to whichever length was preferred. This was done by hooking the netting on miniature, tiny butterfly-jeweled pegs on either side of the hat. The hat was magical to me. To put it on was to be transformed, to be flown away to a different time, the capture of something ephemeral.

My mother had left me with instructions to be carried out upon her death. The hatbox was to be given to a niece who was in the garment trade, Chanel to be specific. Of course it suited her and was well met to her profession. I gave the hatbox with the only hat left inside, the little black one with a veil, to my brother to give to her.

Still, all these many years later, I long to see that hat, to put it on and pull down the veil, to be thrown into that space that is the metaphysical, transcendent. And to run my hands across that hatbox that every young lady would have among her luggage.

The hatbox that my sister-in-law threw away.




Vintage Fashions & History


Posted by Vintage Fashions

L.E. Hansen           My mother had dresses like this, shown in black and white photos. She would say that I couldn’t imagine what the colors were like —not at all like those we have today. She said they were just “off” of a sort, the most lovely shades of green/not green, peach/pink and cream/not cream, and most of them had the lace (tatting?) across the top/bodice. I so wish I could have seen them in the real.
          She also said the times (the 20s era) did not last as long as they were portrayed, nor were they as they seemed to be. They were not that pretty and sweet. There was a lot of dirt, and dirty roads, and rambling old vehicles that you could run after (should you need to) and catch up for the ride.
         She told a rather sad story of someone who ran behind their vehicle after being wounded in a raid where they were making bathtub gin. He had been shot and they had to take off or they would all be captured. He ran after them, lame from the shooting and could not catch up. They learned afterword that he had died in custody. They didn’t know if it happened at the hospital or as a result of the police capture. Things were not as fun as they were portrayed, as is obvious from this story.
          About that bathtub gin: that was not as depicted. It was not gin at all, but stuff imported from Canada that they added other liquids to: rubbing alcohol, homemade “hooch,” sometimes pure moonshine. Anything that was in liquid form and didn’t walk was added to the mix. They didn’t call it bathtub gin, but hooch. Sometimes it was actually mixed up in a bathtub, but usually not, rather in a wash tub, barrel, or whatever was handy. And people did die from it, so it was risky when you went to a party. That didn’t seem to deter anyone though. And the dresses and 20s apparel were only displayed in the towns where there were dances, not in the back country where most of the parties and drinking occurred.
        It seems the import of this vignette is yes, the dresses were worn, but they are not the history of the times, something I was not aware of knowing until writing this piece. The history goes much further, and deeper. Still, I would love to wear the gowns and indeed I would, fashion or not. Bathtub gin or hooch, I’d probably drink that too.


I’m eating Twinkies. I haven’t had one since I was a child. And it was rare then, only upon occasion.

Then the mailman’s name was Ray, and the mail was delivered twice a day. When there was a letter he would ring the doorbell or shout through the screen door. If it was a letter from my brother he would persist until someone answered. (My brother was off fighting whichever war we were giving then.) He didn’t have to persist often or long—we always watched for the mail.

There were milkmen who delivered milk in glass bottles and you could hear the bottles clanging in the carrier as he walked to your door. Some people got chocolate milk and we knew the houses they went to.

We played softball in the street in front of my house and quit when the streetlights came on. We had to go home then. If earlier and some other reason to go home, you would hear someone’s father’s whistle. We all knew the different sounds and pitches that belonged to us.

Those nights you could hear the sounds of laughter, and children’s voices, and cicadas calling with the tree toads, and a few birds still visiting. Sometimes you could hear wandering bullfrogs calling for their mates. And crickets. The sound of crickets was the music we fell asleep to. Once in a while you would hear a car go by, and the thump, thump of the tires as they went across the tarred strips.

It was quiet on Sundays, after the morning of ringing church bells. Whole families walked down the streets to the Church, girls wearing dresses and gloves, just like their mothers, men with hats, and suits and ties. Almost everyone went to church and afterward you came home to your big Sunday dinner and the readying for Monday—schoolwork, newspapers, clothes laid out, shoes polished.

We knew all of the neighbors and the houses around our block, and the stories they held. We knew the house where the woman had hung herself in the basement because her husband went out with other women. We knew the house where the poker parties were held on Saturday nights. Sometimes there was a special game on Friday night and you knew because of all the cars parked in the alley.

After supper you had to eat your desert inside, before going out. You couldn’t walk out with a Popsicle unless you had more to give your friends. And you ate your Twinkies inside, or out on the back porch.

stanisław wyspiański (1869-1907), portrait of józio feldman, 1905, pastel (national museum in kraków, poland)

stanisław wyspiański (1869-1907), portrait of józio feldman, 1905, pastel (national museum in kraków, poland)


Catching Up


Today the haunting began. I can go only so long without writing or reading, or thinking the thoughts of beginnings and endings. Updike liked centers. I don’t. The centers are suffocating, stagnant, the places of boredom and illness. We stir around within them, buying things, sleeping. Sleeping. Sleeping may be the singular warning of middles. That’s where you can hear the other voices and you drown.

Anne Packard (1933) Barca a remi sul blu

Anne Packard (1933) Barca a remi sul blu

In this painting you cannot see the line on the horizon. You might think you can, but you cannot hold it. It looks as if it should be one solid blue, top to bottom. But it is not. The water ends where the sky begins, though they merge. It isn’t just the horizon line, you see, it is also the boat. The boat, and the rower, the oars, traverse the blue and say: this is it, this  is the water through which we travel. And this is where we are.


Those Were The Days

Quite a few years ago my son and I were talking about music and playing a variety of records. At that time, back in Iowa City, most everyone had a turn table and a collection of records. I had a very large accumulation myself—everything from classical and blues to folk and rock.

Janis Joplin was playing, loudly and passionately while we sang just as loud and just as filled with passion. After all, it was the only way to listen to some things. We had just moved into the game of “Oh! Remember when this came out?” when he asked to play Peter Paul and Mary. “Well,” I said, “we can, but I’m really not all that into nostalgia.”

He feigned a look around the room. “I don’t see any shag carpeting…”

Not getting the connection I responded, “What? Nobody does shag carpet anymore. There hasn’t been any for years. New anyway.”

“Huh. And you do know that Janis is nostalgia, right?”

I was shocked. I didn’t know. I didn’t know then and I don’t know now. With some things the old days get carried right along with you to whenever you are.


Janis Joplin on her Psychedelic Porsche, 1968. Photographed by Jim Marshall