From the Keyboard


Minton China Waste Bowl ( 1812-1815)

What are you saving?  Keeping in that drawer, or cabinet, or closet for the right moment?

I was brought up at a time when parents taught their children that there were play clothes and party clothes, school clothes and just-sitting-around-in-the-house clothes. We had  stainless flatware and silverware, everyday dishes and good china, heavy-duty glasses and crystal; and in every case, the latter was reserved for special occasions.

Recently, I read an article advising people of my generation to re-evaluate our treasures, their necessity in our lives, because our children will be overburdened by the task of disposing of them when we die. Pleasant thought…no? According to this expert, our kids don’t want our finery—the silver, china, and crystal. Nor do they want the carved and beautifully made antiques we hunted for and prized. Those things don’t fit their light-speed lifestyles. They’re too delicate,  require too much care.

And I find this terribly sad.

But I also think my generation is responsible.

We made our kids—because our parents made us—think about these things as too good or fragile for daily use. We passed on the belief that the things we valued were not serviceable, and that the damage to, or loss of any of them was a tragedy.

And that is so wrong-headed.

Sterling should be used every day, at every meal. My mother-in-law did that, and as a result, her silver never tarnished. Its patina, like its design, grew warmer with use, the love of being used. And fine bone china should also be put to service. It wasn’t meant to lay hidden in a credenza, or gather dust on cabinet shelves. It was meant to be eaten off of, enjoyed.

Likewise with crystal stemware. If you can afford to have it, it should be filled with wine or water or juice or soda, and every drop that comes from it should be savored.

I understand we all have different tastes. And I also understand that antiques need care, sometimes repair and refinishing. But eventually, so will every piece of furniture. It all wears. A new bureau or table may look simple and fresh when delivered, but eventually its veneer will wear. Its joints will dry, its surfaces will stain, and its hinges will fail.

And that good clothing we were conditioned to save for special occasions? That elegant dinner out? Night at the opera? New Year’s Eve party? By the time those occasions arise the clothing may not fit, or moths may have had a good meal out of it.

Nothing lasts forever.

So, for anyone who’s reading this and thinking their parents’ treasures are too much trouble because they can’t be used all the time, remember: that’s just plain wrong. And your parents were wrong for making you feel that way. All of those things were meant to be used. So use them. And when you do, remember who used them before you, especially if they passed through many generations.  And when those things break or fall apart, if they can’t be fixed, then be sad and say “Goodbye,” and think about how much joy they gave you.

Loss is part of life.

So live.

©2017 All Rights Reserved




“Landscape with a Mill in the Moonlight” by Aert van der Neer (1613-1677)


There’s a legend about justice and equality, balance and retribution. It’s an ancient tale whispered in front of hearths on icy nights, or handed down from old to young. The elements have changed from era to era, storyteller to storyteller—for you must remember, it is a legend, but its lesson has remained the same: for each new life, one must be forfeit, and for each gift gained, another must be lost….

Read the rest here.

©2017 All Rights Reserved


Move it…

“Move it” by Jackson Pollock

Since the inauguration, I’ve read and heard a lot of analysis about every appointee, statement, move, and edict. All of it is well-reasoned and well-intended, and designed to bolster up and feed into a growing sense of alarm and outrage. Unfortunately, while it has rallied believers, it is being ignored or discounted by non-believers, many of whom will be harmed by the people and policies being rammed through.

Why? Because they have been, and are being fed a constant stream of distorted or false messages targeted at their guts rather than their heads.

And this is a major problem.

The power bases on the Left, both in the media and government, have gotten so good at over-explaining, over-analyzing, muddling, and appealing to reason, that they’ve forgotten that most people do not respond to these sorts of appeals. No, most people respond to messages and images that hit them squarely in the gut, that stir up emotions in a deeply personal way.

Advertisers know this. So do salesmen. It’s how they get you to buy that expensive face cream, or bulky kitchen gadget you’ll use once and then give away.

Look at one of the Right’s campaign battle cries: “Hillary Clinton will take away your guns.”

The fact that this was untrue was irrelevant. It was leveled at an important segment of the population’s tender spot: it threatened  their freedom. For some, it threatened their abilities to feed their families, and it threatened their way of life.

The Right knew this, and used it every chance they got, as one weapon in an enormous arsenal which succeeded in opening wounds and making people bleed fear and loathing. And the weapons were used at a rate which ensured that the bleeding would not stop.

It’s propaganda through and through, simple and effective.

Unfortunately, most on the Left still haven’t figured this out, or learned how to use it, cut away the excess, streamline, change their language, go for the gut.

But if they’re going to reach the people they lost, regain their support, impress upon them that we, our democracy, our liberties, our world are truly in danger, they will have to be willing to attack the Right mercilessly and simply, in language that not only inflames, triggers emotions, and calls people to action, but does so in a way that feels both universal and personal; and they will have to do it non-stop.

Before it’s too late.

©2017 All Rights Reserved

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