1300's, Alternate History, History, Revisionist History, Uncategorized

A New Concept in Cruise Lines. Charon’s Ferry

 

"Charon and Psyche" by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Just a quick swab, and you’re welcomed aboard.

 

History teaches us that every disaster is also a great opportunity.

Starting in grade school, we were taught to regard failure as a “teachable moment,” and every fiasco was a chance to grow and mature.  Boy have we been growing lately.

And it’s true, that a real catastrophe can stimulate reform, societal progress, repentance, and all that kinda stuff.

For example, without the bubonic plague of the 1300’s, The Black Death, which led to much greater freedom of movement for the peasants, we might still be mired in the Dark Ages.

We’d be subject to deadly epidemics, bizarre and ineffective eye-of-newt cures, fickle and thoughtless leaders, chronic conflicts and massed armies, endless labor to erect crenelated walls, crumbling infrastructure, superstitions running rife, distrust of science, …

hey…wait a minute…

Well anyway, suppose for the sake of argument, that we’ve progressed.

But let’s not talk about disasters’ silver linings.

Let’s talk commercial applications. 

Let’s talk how to profit from all this.

 

A guy who knew how to make an honest buck. And avoided that like the plague.

 

This train of thought started with an old-time Milwaukee mayor,

Byron Kilbourn

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of him.  A businessman/politician/crook, the kind we’re all so very, very familiar with nowadays.

Scandals, schemes & scams  – but none too sensational, or clever, so there’s nothing to imitate. Pretty honest, about all the bribes he passed out, and yet was never jailed.  He helped start the city’s “Bridge War,” by making sure the streets in “his” part of town, didn’t line up to connect with the other neighborhoods.

He was Mayor of Milwaukee, back in the 1800’s, and a big-time real estate promoter.  But a whole lot of his investors lost their shirts, and finally, late one night, he thought he’d better develop arthritis and move to Florida, where he raised some oranges and died, in 1870.  And he never came back.  For quite a while.

Back in Milwaukee, a century or so later, he was missed.

The history buffs here, picked three early mayors to be The Three Founders.  The first two were still around town, buried somewhere, but the absent Byron bugged the buffs — without #3, they didn’t have the complete set – the Fab Founding Fathers, the troika, the Merry Milwaukee Musketeers.

So in 1999, a guy named Frank Matusinec, in Milwaukee’s Historical Society, called up a lady in Jacksonville’s Historical Society, and asked if Milwaukee could have Byron back.  Since he wasn’t famous, or a Confederate, she said sure, and they dug him up.

But…he was in a ½-ton cast-iron coffin, and Northwest Air didn’t want to fly him.  A trucking company, and then UPS declined (this is all true).  So, Road Trip!  

Frank flew down to Florida, rented a U-Haul van, and drove back north, keeping the windows cracked open, got a flat tire, etc. but eventually, he and Byron got back to Milwaukee.

The locals popped the lid, like you would, if you bought an old used car at auction, took a few snapshots, some guys played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes, etc…. and Byron Was Back in Town!  just shy of 129 years after his first funeral.

So, that’s not much of a travel story, really, just one postmortem outing, 1,157.6 miles.

He was kind of a jerk, but he did get the city a working harbor, started a newspaper, founded a railroad, etc

Basically, he got some things moving.  And then continued to move, after he was dead.

And that started me thinking, and that’s never good.

As soon as you start thinking about it, wow, so many dead people, have logged so many miles.

 

I always try to stick some Shakespeare, or stuff like that, in my posts, to make it seem like I’m well-read. I thought this could be an ad called, “Totally Immersive Experiences.”  But Ophelia is useless for my project, which is “Long Distance Voyages by Dead People.”  I looked at a map of Elsinore (Kronberg Castle) and don’t see any little willowy streams like this, feeding into the Baltic Sea, or into the Øresund, the strait between Denmark and Sweden. As near as I can tell, she must’ve been in the moat, near the Café Brohus and across from the souvenir shop, and couldn’t have traveled more than 1/8 mile. But what a great painting.  [by Millais, in the Tate]

Look at this next restless soul:

Evita had a lot of good qualities, but also suffered from a strange form of kleptomania, as seen in this photo – – a compulsion to steal fancy bedspreads.

Eva Perón

(Better know as Evita, as in “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”)  Died in 1952, only 33, but was at least spared from seeing herself played by Madonna in the movie.   After she died, her body was displayed in the Ministry of Labour Building, then the Congress Building, then she was wheeled over to her office in the trade unions’ building.

And there she stayed, in her office, on display, for roughly two years.

Juan Perón believed he had some English ancestors, and thought the British custom of keeping dead, or near-dead, people in office (professors, bureaucrats, politicians, etc.) was charming.

He did plan on a huge monument, bigger than the Statue of Liberty, where Eva could be kept in the base, like hiding a house key under a candlestick.  Oh crap, I shouldn’t have said that, now I have to find another place.  But when he fled after a coup, he not only left all the lights on in the Presidential Palace, but he forgot to pack Eva.

The generals who took over, turned off the lights, and the body disappeared, for sixteen years.  In 1971, she was located in a crypt in Milan, Italy, under a different name, due to some sort of paperwork issue.  These things happen.

Perón had her shipped to Spain, where he was exiling, and kept her in the dining room (seriously?)(and again, this is all true).  He eventually returned to power, and after he died, in office, his 3rd wife had Eva shipped back home, displayed with Juan for a time, and then finally stashed Juan & Wife #1 in a special tomb, under a trapdoor.

And there, as far as I can tell, Eva remains at peace, except of course, for rolling over when they cast Madonna.   By a conservative estimate, that’s 13,931 postmortem miles, and of course that’s just air travel, and doesn’t include parades, side trips, and excursions.

 

photo credit: NASA/JIm Ross

Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) must have set some sort of record, because he, or at least, a sample of his cremated remains, went into space twice.  The space shuttle Columbia took him for a spin in 1992, and then in 1997, a Pegasus rocket took him up into space again, and he circled Earth, every 96 minutes, for over five years.  The Pegasus spacecraft burned up on re-entry, May 20, 2002, somewhere over Australia (where they figured, what’s a little more dust).   Probably something like 17,000 mph, so way above 122 million miles for Mr. Roddenberry.

(I checked, and that’s = the total mileage clocked by the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and the yearly mileage estimated for Santa Claus to complete his rounds.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.)

I’m just not sure how to count the mileage for Dr. Eugene Shoemaker.  Some portion of whom was aboard the Lunar Prospector in 1998, when NASA crashed it into the Moon (on purpose, or so they said).   OK, that’s roughly 239,000 miles to get there, but…the Moon, and I hope I’m not offending anyone’s beliefs by saying this, is generally believed to revolve around the Earth, so do we count those orbits as travel time?   Or just the miles to get to the Moon, where Shoemaker is presumably firmly planted, dust to dust, and not moving.

 

“Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus” John William Waterhouse (1905). A couple of thoughts on this painting.  First, lax regulation of bottled spring water.  2nd, does it strike you that these two nymphs look more curious than horrified?  3rd, doesn’t that look more like a zither, than a lyre?  4th, how’s a head gonna strum that, either way?

 

I’ll just mention Abe Lincoln, whose legendary funeral train covered 1,654 miles.  His remains were the object of an attempted kidnapping in 1874, and were famously moved and concealed seventeen times before finally coming to a halt in 1901.  However, this was all in the Springfield, Illinois area, and one of the 17 moves was no more than eighteen inches.

Russell Shorto, in his excellent book Descartes’ Bones, details the complex travels and travails of the skull and bones of René Descartes, but he didn’t include a rule-book on how to score the mileage for people like that.  Heads, etc. off traveling on their own, I mean.  The Headless Society includes Haydn, Mozart, Mata Hari, and the Marquis de Sade.  Do we credit Albert Einstein with 2892.8 miles, when his stolen brain was removed from a beer cooler, and driven cross-country in a Tupperware bowl??  **

Well anyway, you don’t have to be a genius, to know there’s money to be made here.

 

If you don’t want to invest in a lengthy cruise, we’d offer day trips, too, just little jaunts around scenic lakes and rivers. Canoeing, kayaking, rowing, paddling…sculling.

 

So here’s the money-making idea.  All these vacant planes, tour buses and cruise ships companies, could be booking Departures for the Departed.

We can revive the travel industry, without spreading the epidemic, by sending dead people on trips.

It’s a lovely gesture, and expired tickets are so much cheaper than regular fares.  The tour groups can really pack ’em in, don’t have to worry about long lines for the buffet or food poisoning, finding clean restrooms, or getting a room with a view.  You can run the whole operation with a skeleton crew.

 

 

 

“In September for a while / I will ride a crocodile / Down the chicken soupy Nile”

 

And it’s not some passing fancy, cultures have been doing stuff like this for millennia.    The Pharaohs always had some boats tucked into their tombs, to go cruisin’ in the afterlife.  Canoes were used in funeral rites by ancient Polynesians, some Native Americans, Sarawak islanders, etc.  The British general Pakenham, killed at the Battle of New Orleans, and Admiral Lord Nelson, shot down at Trafalgar, were shipped home in barrels of rum or brandy, 5,060 & 1,300 miles, respectively.  In more recent times, lots of famous people – JFK, H.G. Wells, Neil Armstrong, Robin Williams – and countless others have been scattered at sea.

 

The Anglo-Saxons and Vikings practiced ship burials, and funeral pyres.

Although, apparently what they didn’t do, is set funeral ships on fire, and then send them out to sea, like they show in the movies.

Too bad.  When I was a kid, I remember asking my grandfather why they stopped doing that, sending people off in ships, it seemed pretty cool.

He said, during the Depression, when he was a kid in the Bronx, there were always guys seeing people off at the pier.  People who were dead to them.  But there were no boats, just a washtub full of concrete.  Farshteyn?  Ya get me?

So we’ve got Tradition, and Hollywood, Vikings, Good Fellas, and the Almighty Buck, what else do we need?

 

Folks in the U.S. have always been restless, a people in motion.

Movement, of all kinds, defines us, like the Beach Boys, hotdogs, or a rotten healthcare system, Americans Are On The Move.

So…why should a catastrophic pandemic mean you have to settle?  Why should dying mean you have to just lay around?

Before you even get started with objections – – how you hated “Weekend at Bernie’s II” etc. or how the local DMV told you letting dead people drive is a misdemeanor and non-moving violation, etc. — let’s just settle down, take a deep breath, get the historical perspective.  Release the deep breath now, while counting to ten.  Times like this, pard, you want to keep a cool head.  Even if you have to stick the head in a beer cooler, to do that.

This is in the worst possible taste?

Oh yeah?  Really?  After the last 3 years, 5 months, and 28 days, in a pig’s eye, comrade, good luck with that “good taste” argument.  And incidentally, Liberace and Jeffrey Dahmer were from Milwaukee, so we know a thing or two about good taste.  And if you didn’t take a deep breath, shame on you, do it now.  Count to ten while breathing out.  It helps somehow, and think of the all people we’re going to be discussing, that can’t enjoy this kind of thing, so just do it.

My goodness, tut-tut, you’ll see that you’ve known about, and accepted, postmortem travel all your life.

 

Just think for one sec.  One wordMummies.

(Maybe with mummies, I should’ve said extra-dry or brut, instead of sec?)

I’m sure some of you think I’m “not wrapped too tight,” well, styx and stones – – you must’ve seen a few well-traveled mummies, right?  Pretty much every old museum or art gallery I’ve ever visited has a couple.  The Met in NYC has thirteen, the British Museum has 140, for pete’s sake.  Even the college library near my hometown, kept one in the bottom of a stairwell – when I was a kid, I’d stop by to visit the mummy, all the time.  If I remember right, her toes were sticking out.

 

 

I calculate the body in the library stairwell, traveled at least 6,211.18 miles, figuring Abydos necropolis > Cairo > NYC > Geneva, NY.*

The University of Manchester recently sent 8 dead people out to cover thousands of miles.  The “Golden Mummies of Egypt” made it to Buffalo (in February!  brrr, better stay wrapped up!) but I imagine this tour unraveled as things shut down for the epidemic.  They were looking forward to swinging by Raleigh, North Carolina, before returning to the damp gloom of Manchester.  7,829 miles, not bad for dead guys.  And people say my posts wander!

 

Joanna of Castile, Queen of Spain, was expecting her sixth child, when her husband, Philip the Handsome, passed away. She’d just booked a stagecoach ride for two, from Burgos to Granada, non-refundable tickets, so she brought the body along, 413 miles.  OK, the mileage isn’t impressive, but they spent eight months on this journey.  Juana delivered a daughter, and stayed at monasteries and villages along the way, keeping the coffin and un-embalmed Phil close to hand.  This is a snapshot, taken shortly before his death, with the travel agent.  (Notice how everyone is pretending not to notice the huge rats running around the palace?  The Queen was known as Juana la Loca, because she fed them, thinking they were little dogs.)

 

OK, I see I’ve run long again, so, as the ancient Pharaohs used to say, let’s wrap it up.  Spirit Airlines in Miami has expressed interest, and I’ll let you know when I’ve got Greyhound or a cruise line onboard with the concept.

 

 

P.S.   About the name for my new business. 

What do you think of Charon’s Ferry?  I think it sounds pretty upscale.  Don’t think I could get away with Grateful Dead on Tour, so I’m also considering Sic Gloria Transit. 

That phrase is based on an incident from the ’60’s, that would’ve been forgotten, if Van Morrison hadn’t written that tribute song.  Gloria was a street musician, with a cardboard sign “Sic.  Any $$ Helps”  When she finally passed away, some of NYC’s finest couldn’t be bothered to drive her to the coroner’s office, so they just snuck her onto a bus.  Where she rode for several days, before anyone noticed.

No one knew her last name, so the transit authority buried her in the Hart Island potter’s field, under the name “Gloria Transit.”  I think it would’ve been nicer to have her cremated, and send her urn traveling on the bus in perpetuity.  Maybe the S78 route on Staten Island, that always seems interminable.

 

* The mummy in the Geneva, NY library died around 320 B.C., during the days of the Ptolemaic Kingdom.  Did you know the ancient Greeks, who were running things in those days, didn’t have “silent letters?”

I thought they were supposed to be pretty advanced in science and art and philosophy, and stuff, and were aware of the concept of zero… and yet they hadn’t figured out how great silent letters are??  It’s true, and so without knowing better, they pronounced the “P” in words like “pneumonia” and “pterodactyl,” and “Ptolemy,” and when this Egyptian lady, the mummy in the stairwell, was introduced & tried to say “Ptolemy, Pharoah & Highest-Praised Priest of Ptah,” she got the giggles, and was executed.

**  The preserved body of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, of course, is displayed at a college in London.   His head was severed from the body, and the preservation process was not cosmetically successful, so they put a lifelike wax head in it’s place, and the real head sits on the floor, like a butternut squash gone bad.  But he’s of no interest to us, because neither he, nor his head, ever get out and about, they’re not a traveling exhibit.

 

 

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A cellphone snap from a walk around the College of Agriculture at Cornell.

A considerable campus, covering over 800 acres, with its pastures, greenhouses, labs, test plots, arboretum, etc.

so I was glad to see a map on the wall of an old barn.

It turned out to be unlabeled and not much use as a guide to the campus, but still kind of intriguing.

Not roads, I think, but maybe geologic faults?

or pathways only a cow would understand

 

P.S.

On ceramic or enamel surfaces, it might be described as “crazed with cracks,”

so maybe this is indeed, a sign of the times, as Dave suggested.

FLX, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Minimalist Map

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1600's, Arrant Nonsense, Colonial History, Early American History, History, New York City, NY, Revisionist History

Grub

 

Elegant al fresco dining & social distancing.

 

 

A few days ago, I posted some pictures of a young cardinal, and mentioned that even though the chick had left the nest, its parents would continue their GrubHub deliveries.

That prompted me to look up “grub.” Because reading the big dictionary, that’s the kind of excitement you can have, after months of quarantine.

I’d always thought that grub, in the sense of food, was cowboy slang – kind of surprising to find out, the OED lists its first use as 1659!

I took that as a Sign.

Thinking about 1659 + grub +cowboys . . .

I should write about Old New York, back when it was The Frontier.

 

 

Once upon a time, New York (then called New Netherlands) was the Wild West — a rip-roaring settlement, clearly no country for old men.  Like a colonial version of Dodge City – – cattle grazing, land barons, company stores, unprovoked attacks on Native Americans, gullible hayseeds from Weehawken, etc.

“Hayseeds” have been sticking around since 1577, but “hicks,” “yokels,” and “rubes” wouldn’t shamble along until much later, to provide comic relief, and to hire on as Barney Fife deputies (the ones whose only line is “They went thataway.”)   “Comic relief” wasn’t invented until 1783, and people pretty much just scowled all through the colonial era.

 

 

 

In those bucolic days of yore, Manhattan was a lush, verdant island, a little slice of Edam.

And the European settlers brought in livestock.

(Out-of-towners might say “Cattle drives?  in New York?!” and the locals reply, “Haven’t you ever been to New York?  They let anybody drive!”)

And I thought, they must’ve had cowboys.

But I was wrong.

It turns out to be an example, of just how badly History is organized.

Because according to the big book, there weren’t any “cowboys” to eat the grub in 1659.  That word didn’t ride over the horizon until 1725.

Before that, those folks were saddled with a lame, generic job description, just lumped together with “herders” (1625, from a Dutch word), and shepherds tending their flocks, sometimes by night (without getting paid time and a half).

So, if there weren’t any cowboys, just who was eating this antique grub?  And prior to 1725, did the cows just wander around, unsupervised and untutored, in the streets?

I checked, often they did.

“Milkmaids” (invented in 1552) had a surprisingly strong union, and refused to do any “herding, wrangling, or bovine guidance of any kind.”

Cattle & swine roamed freely for centuries, rooting around in gutters, eating the nasturtiums out of folks’ flower beds, leaving hoof marks on the Bowling Green, and making the tavern floors quite a mess.

With no cowboys to keep order, it was just the Dark Ages, practically, and you really had to watch where you stepped.

 

“Howdy!” The greeting is derived from the old-time, cheese-loving cowboys of New Netherlands, from their salutation “Gouda!”

 

 

Even when History finally had cowboys, and could’ve gotten things organized, it wasn’t that great.  Turns out, the harmonica, which to me, is another essential part of the oater scene, wasn’t invented until 1821, so for almost a century, these old-time cowboys had to lug guitars around, and maybe harpsichords.

And History didn’t think of “chuckwagons” for another forty-five years, so they had to brown-bag it until 1866.

Without chuck wagons, there’s no chance of carrying eggs for a Western Omelette, or ranch dressing for your salad.  “Sandwiches” had been created in 1762, but after hours in a saddlebag, no way they’re going to be in good shape.  Kind of a personal night mare.

If it was me, I’d ride down the interstate until I found a “diner,” but that’s even more recent (1935).  You see what I mean about disorganized history?  Nothing happens in the right order.

 

 

If you’re planning on obtaining an animal this size, it would behoove you to actually read the operator’s manual, and go through an approved cow-owners’ training class, run by a professional cowboy. (“Behoove” from the Old English “behōf,” meaning, to not get underfoot or trampled by cows.)

 

 

Anyway, despite these obstacles, New Amsterdam had cattle grazing, out there in Big Sky Country (Manhattan), by 1625.

Amazon wasn’t around yet, but the West India Co. offered Free Cow Shipping, if you purchased land in the new colony (seriously).

There were even (honestly) honest-to-heck prairies in those days, in the Hempstead Plains region of Long Island.

And “desperadoes” (1647) roamed – this is a real reward notice from those days:  “And whereas complaints are made that the Gardens of many persons have been robbed and their Poultry taken away, if there be any one who can give information of the Thieves…he shall be paid five & twenty guilders…”  Yes, there were no trains or banks to rob, but chickens lived in fear.

 

 

Whoa, take ‘er easy there, Pilgrim. When New Amsterdam was founded, these Puritans had been living next-door in Plymouth for four years already. The Dutch remembered them, living in Leiden for ten or twenty years, and had wondered where the heck they’d gotten to.

 

 

New Amsterdam was a company town, just like Durango, Colorado – full of fur traders & colorful eccentrics, a Wild Bunch, on the frontier. Only half this bunch was Dutch (there were Danes, Swedes, Germans, Walloons, Sephardim, Huegenots, Holsteins, etc.), and it was a tolerant place, by the standards of the time — a wrangling, polyglot-trouble-spot of the good, the bad, the ugly.

And there were all those cows – then and now, The Big Apple was all about the bull market and branding.

 

 

Each year, more people are killed by cows, than by sharks. Cowboys monitor and prevent gang activity, and keep ’em on the straight ‘n’ narrow.

 

 

So by 1659, when people started eating “grub,” New York had all the makings of a good western – prairies, cows, sheriffs (called “schouten” in those days, as in “Fill your hands, and come out schouten!”), soldiers fighting Native Americans, a stockade, and windmills.

As far as I’m concerned, you have to have a clacking, creaking windmill for the right atmosphere, whether you’re filming Hans Brinker or Rio Bravo.

 

 

 

The stockade, along what’s now Wall St, was actually to keep out English & Yankees, not Indians, but again, a great backdrop for a western.  The beer was weak in those days, but a “vaquero” (1519) could have a medicinal shot of Holland Gin, good for arrow wounds, lumbago & sciatica, which you’re gonna get after a long day in the saddle.

But tragically, in its disjointed way, poorly steered, History still lacked chuck wagons, diners, harmonicas, really portable harpsichords, steam locomotives, six-shooters, and cowboys.

 

 

Cowboy’s Lament – the end of free range beef and traditional windmills

 

Sorry to say a discouraging word, pardner, but it’s kinda sad, thinking of those early Dutch herders,  home on the range, making sure the windmills didn’t spook the herd, and yet not considered to be cowboys.  Maybe some of them, who didn’t have horses, would just take the Broadway stage to work.  Glumly setting around the fire, eating their “grub” – probably pickled herrings, maybe a bowl of succotash – washed down by a tankard of warm heiferweizen.

 

And those colonial range riders, darned if they didn’t feel kinda unappreciated somehow, kinda…undefined, you might say, because they weren’t just herders, they were cowboys…but the word just hadn’t sprang into existence yet.  Dang it.

History is just a mess.

 

Yep, lose the fancy duds, trade that lace ruff for a bandana, and this Dutch feller’s ready to ride.  That looks to be at least a ten gallon hat.

 

portrait by Fredric Remington (born in Canton, NY)

 

 

Big hats, big boots, horses, cows, prairies, an addictive tobacco habit, windmills, lack of concern for personal hygiene…they were all set for to be cowboys, just didn’t have the right word for it.

But on a happier note, in the morning, there’d be cardinals singing in the trees, beautiful birds which they didn’t have back in Holland – the cardinal chick was what started this whole discussion, remember?  And about exactly the same time in history that people started eating “grub,” the Dutch also started coffee plantations, in Ceylon, India, and then Indonesia, so the 17th c. cow-herders could at least have a cup of Java with their donuts.

They’d sing an ol’ cowboy lament from the Lovin’ Spoonful, accompanied only by guitar, since there were no harmonicas yet:

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck gettin’ dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a cowboy in the city

 

Far as I’m concerned, it ain’t a real western without a few windmills.

 

 

When my relatives Out West, roughing it in the Wasatch Range, want to do some real cowboy-style cooking, they build a fire, shovel the coals into a pit, and do Cast-Iron Dutch Oven Cooking

 

A native New Yorker, and cowboy, of New Netherlands descent.  Teddy Roosevelt, at the chuck wagon. Lookin’ kinder ornery, like a man who spotted a saddle sore on his steak.

 

Yep, most a these here pictures are from The Nat’l Gallery of Art,
The Met & the U.S. Library of Congress.
I don’t hold with readin’ much, myself.
It’s jest a sight easier to make stuff up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of my grandmothers instilled in us a family custom, passed down from her parents, etc – – to celebrate the “first” of each summer arrival.

So, the first time you have any vegetable from the garden, for example, you’re allowed to make a wish.

When it’s fresh peas, or corn-on-the-cob, it’s also customary for me to wish for more.

These pictures are of the first cardinal fledgling I’ve seen this summer.  I really enjoy seeing cardinals, and certainly wish to see more.

The chick was sitting in a bush, looking a bit disgruntled, but she was the one who violated the stay-at-home order.

Apparently it’s quite common for young cardinals to attempt to fly prematurely.

No worries, the parents will continue GrubHub services, to feed the chick until it can fly.

Although I think it’s sunflower seeds, not actual grubs.

 

 

 

Birds, Nature, Uncategorized

First visitor of summer

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NY, Upstate New York

Walks Around Upstate New York. June. An old door.

 

 

summertime door

 

A cellphone shot of the door on an old shed, near Barnes Corners, NY, on the Tug Hill Plateau.

I like the faded colors on it, wish I had a striped shirt like that.

I tend to like colors that have weathered a bit – had some of the newness rubbed off, like faded blue jeans.

A lot of the old-time paints, some of the oldest, I guess, used things from the earth, like iron oxide.

This reminded me, visiting The Cloisters, in Washington Heights.  Studying a medieval image – cracked, dim, remote – a docent mentioned that the underpainting, the layer under the face, was usually composed of greenish minerals, to tone down the pinks & reds, and get a more realistic skin tone.  But those ruddy pigments don’t last forever.  The face, no longer in the pink, now has a greenish cast to it, like an alien, just visiting this planet, whose disguise is wearing off.

The undercoat is called “Green Earth,” and as the image of some forgotten aristocrat fades, the Green Earth shows itself, “unaffected by light or chemicals.”

Isn’t that great?

Well, headed back to Milwaukee in about four hours, we’ll see what’s going on with those Badger State folks, see ya!

 

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Great Blue Heronry

 

 

 

Whether it’s Mexico, Chile, northern Africa, the Mideast, India, Australia, etc.  there’s constant news of water shortages.

Meanwhile, around the Great Lakes, collectively a fifth of the fresh water for the entire planet, people complain of damage to shoreline properties, from high water levels. Most of the shoreline trail at Sterling has been closed, due to erosion and falling trees.

 

 

The Great Lakes Charter & the Great Lakes Compact (agreements between U.S./Canadian states/provinces bordering the lakes) basically prevent the exportation of water outside the drainage basin.  Every once in a while, I see an article mentioning the possibility of pipelines to California or the Southwest.  These have always remained, well, pipe dreams for now.  Ocean-going tanker ships can access the lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway, and there have already been attempts to set up sales of fresh water to foreign countries.   I think such ideas will inevitably arise again with increasing urgency.

 

 

 

 

 

In the ’70’s, a local utility company purchased thousands of acres on Lake Ontario, for a nuclear power plant.  About sixty miles east of Rochester, and twelve miles west of Oswego.  There are already nuclear plants on the lake, near both those cities.   When the plans for this plant fell through, part of the land became the Sterling Nature Center, which preserves two miles of Lake Ontario shoreline. It includes woods, a beaver pond, and other wetlands; about nine miles of trails, and is a great place for bird-watchers.

 

 

 

 

A young beaver paddled around in circles, apparently curious about us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean Waters, Great Lakes, hiking, Nature, NY, Ontario, Upstate New York

Walks Around Upstate New York. Sterling Nature Center. June, early evening.

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Aye, the eyes have it.  Polyphemus moth.

 

 

Drama in the backyard.

I was watering a climbing honeysuckle yesterday, didn’t notice this creature at first, and inadvertently rained on its parade.

The damp moth fluttered to the lawn, and I took a snap with my phone.

It dried its wings for a minute in the sun, and flew across the lawn, but couldn’t gain altitude.

A catbird noticed, and swooped down.

And those “false eyespots” worked as advertised!

At the last second, the catbird slammed on the brakes and swerved away.

It then sat on a branch and studied the situation, but before it could dive again, Sarah jumped in front of the moth.  She likes catbirds, but told this one off, and suggested it go find another snack, and leave the moth alone.  A polyphemus moth has less than a week of adult life, that’s short enough, and the bird can find something less beautiful to munch on.

Polyphemus was a giant cyclops in Greek mythology.  When Odysseus’s ship landed on his island, Polyphemus invited the crew to his cavern, with typical Greek hospitality, and mentioned he liked seafood.  The Odyssey turned out to be a typical cruise line experience, an epic fail, with rampant gastrointestinal issues, a buffet buffeted by fate – by “seafood,” the cyclops meant seafarers, and he started eating the crew.

I don’t understand naming the moth after him – – the fake eyes are clearly in pairs.

And we clearly see it as a welcome visitor, and not to be eaten.

 

 

 

 

Nature, Spring

Moth vs Bird

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Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Nature, Spring, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. May. Bear Swamp State Forest

There’s a lot of places called “Bear Swamp.”

New York State has, I found out yesterday, two identically-named state forests.  I visited the one in the Finger Lakes region, just south of Skaneateles Lake.  It’s namesake is in Otsego County, about a hundred miles east, near Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame).  And a quick web search came up with lots of Bear Swamps, all over the country.

Bears apparently just love a good swamp.  And yet quagmires, morasses, even a good foggy fen – – you really cannot interest them.   You show them a sun-dappled marsh, spacious, move-in-ready, priced-to-sell, and it’s “Yeah, it’s ok I guess, I don’t need anything fancy, but this is just.. a bit…reedy, I guess.  Yeah, that’s it.  A bear needs trees, you know?

Peat bogs, forget it.  That’s more of an amphibian scene, and too acidic.

 

 

 

Well, we saw no bears, beavers, or otters, which were reintroduced into the area.  We did see numerous red newts, which always make me happy, and one red fox.

Despite it’s name, Bear Swamp has plenty of hills and woods, and miles of trails.  Depending on the website, it’s acreage is 3280, 3300, 3316, or 3539.

Perhaps it’s growing, that would be nice.  It’s a pleasant mix of old pine plantations and hardwoods.

 

And it included kind of a surprise – what, according to my map, downloaded from the state DEC site, was a little creek, yesterday appeared to be a good-sized pond:

 

 

I’ve never been to this spot before, and didn’t know if some of this is normally marshland, and just submerged by spring flooding.  (And I think that’s the explanation.).

Standing on the road with the pond washing over it.

The pond was lapping the edge of one of the access roads, and looked like it had recently washed over it.  The access roads are dirt, and were fairly rough, with some huge puddles, and I wouldn’t recommend driving down them without AWD.

 

This was one of the smooth stretches:

 

 

We saw some wildflowers, but what was unusual, were huge stretches of forget-me-nots.  And I’m pretty sure, these were Chinese forget-get-me-nots – – I guess they’re not considered an invasive species, but wow they really spread.

 

 

Some of this forest was reclaimed farmland, and so, predictably, there were patches of Vinca minor (“periwinkle”) near the sites of old houses – – apparently all the old-time farmers were absolutely required to grow this in their gardens – – but I’ve never seen so many forget-me-nots before.

[Editor’s Note:  One Paragraph Rant Warning] 

And also one of the banes of my existence.  Garlic mustard, which is really getting on my nerves.  A lot of folks who normally don’t visit parks & woods, have been venturing out this spring, while the epidemic has shut down their normal haunts, but I’m guessing they don’t recognize this plant as a horrible plague of its own.  I have not taken a single walk in the past few years, without seeing it.  It spreads along the access roads, then up the trails, and at this point, it’s impossible to take a walk anywhere in the region without tripping over the smelly stuff.  The deer won’t touch it – –  the leaves are bitter and contain cyanide (just a bit, they’re still edible, but it shows what kind of an attitude this plant has), and the allelopathic roots not only kill off native plants, but also the soil fungi which are beneficial for trees.  Whenever I stop for a drink of water, I yank it out, but it would literally take an army to clear an entire woods.  You can see it in this photo, the heart-shaped leaf, and by next year, it may have killed off that flower.

 

 

I always think of swamps as low-lying, but Bear Swamp is the high point of the county.

Not culturally, I mean the land around the swamp, soars to 1860 feet (over a thousand feet higher than the county’s lowest point). OK, the Rockies it ain’t, but on the other hand, the Rockies don’t have these cute red-spotted newts.

And it turns out, the forest is indeed growing a bit. The local land trust acquired 145 acres along the creek, and it’s now been attached to the state forest. This watershed drains into Skaneateles Lake, which serves as the reservoir for the city of Syracuse.  They’ve managed to keep the water so pure, that the city essentially does no filtering. Isn’t that good to hear?

 

 

 

Standard

If you ever find yourself in Wampsville, and run out of things to do, I have a suggestion.

 

A lot of the state forests are reclaimed farmland, and even after 60 – 90 years, there’s still evidence of houses and barns from the old days.

 

You might think,

as I did,

that living as we do,

picture-perfect lives,

or at least,

lives we can photoshop into something presentable,

and not having the faintest idea where it is,

it’s not likely

you’d ever end up

in Wampsville.

 

An old twisted drainpipe, in the corner of my eye, looked for a second like a discarded snakeskin.

 

But we never really know what twist of fate is in store, or is perhaps back-ordered, just waiting to unload on us, when we take a wrong turn.

Yesterday, I happened upon Wampsville, about seventy miles east of my hometown, on my way to a nearby state forest.

Turns out, it’s a real place, bustling with 534 residents, right on NY Route 5.  I’ve never driven too far on that road, because it’s mostly two-lane, slowing down for lots of little villages, and basically parallels the Thruway, which is a heck of of lot faster way to cross the state.

For a 67 mile stretch, including my village, Route 5 is a fellow traveler with U.S. Route 20, and “5 & 20” is a scenic tour of mostly farmland and small-town America.  In the days of the Iroquois Confederacy, the route was a path from the Hudson Valley to Lake Erie, and later, it took settlers and soldiers to what was called “The Niagara Frontier” in the early days of this country.

As a boy, in the 1930’s, one of my grandfathers used to travel along it, going to visit relatives in Detroit.

This road has kind of defined quite a stretch of my life, too.  I grew up a few minutes walk from “5 & 20”, and one of my grandmothers lived in Avon, at one end of the combined route.  My first experience as a museum docent was at the Seward House in Auburn, the other end.  Someday, when I’ve got a few weeks, I’d like to drive the length of Rte 20 – – 3,365 miles, from Boston, Mass. to Newport, Oregon.

Despite it’s bantam size, Wampsville is in fact the county seat for Madison County.

(Which has 124 bridges, if that topic comes up.)

(And 143 large-size culverts, if Streep & Eastwood make a sequel)

It’s mostly rural – – the Chobani yogurt company is based there, and although it uses at least 25 million gallons of milk, each week, it’s a myth that cows outnumber people in the county.

People hold a least a 2-to-1 edge.

 

 

Like the county I grew up in, the old-time residents couldn’t agree on which town would be honored as the county seat.

The solution in my county, was to have two county seats, and build courthouses in each, which they still maintain.  I believe they finally settled on Waterloo as the primary county seat, but I could be wrong, and don’t care to inquire.  The one time I asked a local official, during a Memorial Day gathering, he wandered off into an endless legalistic history of the “two-shire system,” etc. and I woke up two days later from a coma-like state, with a headache and no memory of the entire weekend.

Madison County picked the town of Cazenovia as its HQ in 1810, but then five years later pitched camp in Morrisville, and stayed there for over ninety years, even though they had to rebuild after the Loomis Gang burned down the courthouse in 1864.  But in 1907, when several towns competed for the honor, John Coe stepped up & offered his apple orchard in Wampsville as a site for a new courthouse, and that settled it.

There are two theories about the name.

The first, was that a large “S” went missing from the original village signboard, and those thrifty 19th c. Dutch and Yankee settlers didn’t want to purchase a new one.  They figured it would turn up, by and by, and eventually found they could get along fine without “Swampsville.”

In the second (and real) version, the town was named for Myndert Wemple, descended from an old New Netherlands family, but at some point, people decided Wempleville or Wempsville sounded funny, and wisely opted for Wampsville instead.

It just has more “oomph” to it.

 

 

So anyways, to return to the original point, if you’re in Wampsville but if there’s no trial on, I’d recommend driving due south to Buck’s Corners, and Stoney Pond State Forest.

(And that is the way they spell it, “stoney.”  I just read that most people spelled it that way, prior to 1850, and it’s still an accepted variant in Webster’s.)

This is a relatively small state forest, less than 1500 acres, but it has a nice 44-acre pond, and a smaller beaver pond, too.

 

There are miles of pleasant trails, through mixed pine/hemlock/maple woods, and sometimes with views toward distant hills covered with windmills.

 

Volunteers groom the trails in winter for cross-country skiing.

 

 

This was eroded farmland, reforested in the ’40’s and ’50’s. The area began being farmed by settlers of European stock beginning in the 1790’s. This mossy old stone wall, mostly intact, runs for at least a mile through the woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This flower was tiny but beautiful.  I think it’s Polygalaides Pauciflora (please correct me if that’s wrong!).  As formal names go, that’s pretty musical-sounding.

It’s common name, “Bird-On-The-Wing” is also great, and “Flowering Wintergreen” & “Fringed Polygala” are OK too.

Then things go downhill a bit, with “Fringed Milkwort”  which is a bit odd-sounding, like a disease, but apparently in the old days, they’d feed this plant to cows, to increase milk production.

It would make a nice picture, to see a farmer offering a bouquet of these to the herd.

 

 

Leaving the forest, and taking a more direct route back to the highway, you’ll pass through Peterboro, and the remnants of the 19th c. Gerrit Smith estate.

I’ll leave Gerrit for another day, but he was a fascinating guy, who ran for President three times, and used his fortune to support abolition, temperance, women’s suffrage, integrated colleges, non-sectarian religion, John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and probably a dozen other causes I can’t bring to mind.

The ocher-colored building above (1830) was the laundry for the estate.

Well, lots of interesting stuff, it turns out, I hope to poke around this area again some time.

 

 

 

 

Nature, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Walks Around Upstate New York. May. Stoney Pond State Forest

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Kind of a nice home office, when you work in Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home.

 

 

Lots of attention on working-from-home, so I thought I’d do a post about Taliesin, where Frank Lloyd Wright worked, lived, and taught.

I work at a busy university, but in a seldom-visited ell off an old building.  Some days my only visitor, is someone checking if I’ve watered the office plants in the window of the common space.  (I haven’t.)  Other than a couple of meetings a week, I’m used to working solo — I spend my day on computers, email and phone — so the adjustment to working and attending college from home really wasn’t too traumatic.

Apparently though, based on the continuing flood of online advice, it’s been a real sea change for a lot of folks.

Lots & lots of articles floating around, or rather, we’re floating in a sea of articles, about remote learning and working.

 

 

 

Taliesin is very close to the Wisconsin River, but this pond is a reservoir, created by damming a little stream. The overflow was used to generate electricity for the house.

All this advice is eddying round and round my head, kind of confusing.

Here’s some of my notes:

~   ~   ~

Turn on drone music.

Analyze your neural pathways & practice brain-hacking

Need to hack a pathway through shrubs for drone pizza deliveries. 

Do we have oregano in spice cabinet

~   ~   ~

Learn to better communicate with your animal companions.  

Resolve relationship crises between cat & dog.  

Evaluate pets as an emergency food source. 

Order a larger crock-pot. 

One with a lockable lid. 

Buy more oregano.  Catnip?  Horehound?

~   ~   ~

Maintain Focus! 

Research-Backed Secrets to Concentration!  

💐 Let your mind Wander🎈🌻  It will create Wonder💐

Remember, a wandering mind, like a Labrador, almost always comes home by dinnertime, carrying with it, something interesting. 

 

An online motivational voice tells me to live in the moment.

But his accent makes it sound like mo-mint, and I realize how long it’s been since I had a York Peppermint Pattie.  Doesn’t mint kill germs?  Was it peppermint or spearmint as a plague preventative?  Mandrake?

Then I wonder if it’s true, that if you breathe through a hookah filled with mint mouthwash, the air will be cleansed of germs.

Would people stare at me, if I did that on the bus.  Not in my neighborhood.  But if they see the hookah, will they think it’s a bong, and approach too closely, to ask if I’m holding?  I’m not a pothead, but I’m often mistaken for a homeless guy, when I wear  my favorite old jacket, and don’t shave or comb my hair.

What if I just wear that horrible old jacket, which has been encouraging social distancing for years, before that was a thing, and is infused with organic scents (citronella, lemon eucalyptus oil, raisins, and wet Labrador) and just keep popping York Peppermint Patties?  What about tabbouleh with fresh mint, would that kill a virus?  Are there any Lebanese delis in this town?  Do they sell hookahs?  Is that an offensive stereotype?

When I was a kid, my grandmother walked me through her herb garden, and handed me little snips of every plant as she named them.  I put them in my jacket pocket, and forgot about them.  Then when I was riding on the school bus, I kept thinking about pizza all the time.  After a couple of weeks, I realized, my jacket was full of pizza spices — oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme, etc.  I left them in the pockets, I loved having a pizza jacket, but they didn’t prevent me from getting frequent colds and ear infections.

Buy fresh mint when you get the oregano.  See if they have mandrake in the Goya aisle. 

 

And so it goes.  I don’t think my mind is coming back anytime soon.

But let’s get back to architecture, we’ll be minty fresh & on point.

 

 

Walking toward it from the visitor center, Taliesin resembles a little hilltop village.  The hill was one of Wright’s favorite spots as a boy, and overlooks land that was farmed by his relatives.  The visitor center itself is fun to visit, designed as a restaurant, but not finished until after his death.  It does have a small restaurant operating in the building also, which had terrific food.

 

Like a lot of people, housebound, I’ve been thinking about how our surroundings and architecture influence our mood, and our thoughts.

Lots of studies and articles – – by architects, artists, home decorators, psychologists, color psychologists, etc.

 

 

Wright designed a schoolhouse for his aunts, within walking distance of his house. The whimsical-looking “Romeo and Juliet” tower in the distance, was a functioning windmill, to pump water for the school, as well as a pretty cool observation spot.

 

In this monograph, we will explore how manifestations of this current crisis complicate our societal work-centered dynamic & we will deconstruct the underlying cultural sources of pandemic-induced burnout.

 

Just kidding, were you scared?

Interesting stuff, but this column isn’t structured to construct or deconstruct much of anything.

I find too much structure, grammar, stuff like that, disrupts the feng shui of my site.

It’s Spring, and barbeque season, and that brought to mind a trip during April of last year, to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home/school/workshop in Wisconsin.  A place of beauty and really bad fires.

 

 

“I knew well that no house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and home should live together each the happier for the other.” FLW

 

If you’re gonna work from home, this is the way to do it!  A fascinating, sprawling place, in a bucolic setting.  The house, studio, and outbuildings total 37,000 square feet, and if you add all the other buildings on property he designed (Hillside School, theater, sister’s house, barn, visitor center, etc. ) it collectively covers almost two acres.

Arriving there from my 700 square foot apartment, it felt…spacious.

 

 

 

 

The almost-invisible corner, formed by two panes of glass, was one of Wright’s distinctive design elements.

 

 

 

The hilltop is a whole complex of buildings – – the main house, guest house, drafting room, carriage house, farm structures, garage, etc.  It was a place of constant modification – a chicken barn, for example, was converted into a dormitory at some point.  The courtyards have lawns, stone paving, pieces of Asian and Wright’s own art, and a patio under an arbor covered with vines.

 

 

 

 

Inside & out, are examples of Asian art, that Wright brought back from his trips.  For a time, he had a successful side business, selling Japanese woodblock prints.

 

 

 

 

The house is not as dark as it looks in my terrible photo, there are hundreds of windows, and it’s filled with light.  In my defense, I wouldn’t describe the tour as rushed, but neither did it allow time for photography.

 

 

 

 

Some of the Asian antiquities, rescued from earlier house fires, were incorporated into the stonework.

 

I was a docent at a house museum, and at the Jamestowne site in Virginia.  So I understand that you cannot talk about every aspect of a place, in one tour.

So it wasn’t a complete surprise, when the guide at Taliesin, didn’t mention the ax murders.

So I asked.

Mostly out of curiosity over how the docents would handle the topic.

I don’t want to do a hatchet job on the tour, or the house, so I shouldn’t exaggerate.  No one was actually killed with an ax.

It was a hatchet.

Wright was already married, with six kids, when he ran off to Europe for a year, with a married client, Martha Cheney.

He built a house at Taliesin, and Martha and her two children lived there with him.

A husband & wife from Barbados worked there as a handyman/cook team, but had just been fired.  The mentally-unstable handyman attacked and killed Martha and her children, and four others, poured gasoline on the bodies, and set the house on fire.

 

Instead of fleeing the site of the massacre, Wright rebuilt it.

It burned down again, from an electrical short. (It seems ironic, that one of the first homes he designed in the area, for his sister, was featured in a magazine article “A Fireproof House for $5000.”  Wright later set the theater wing of his architecture school on fire, trying to clear some brush.)

Wright rebuilt for a third time, on what some people might have felt was an unlucky sort of spot, or at least, too far from the nearest fire department.  The current house is sometimes called Taliesin III.

And here’s one thing – – no one on the tour, including myself, felt the slightest sense of creepiness.  The house is light-filled, calm and lovely.

I’ve read that traditional Navajo will burn or abandon a home, when someone dies inside it.  Some cultures practice purification rituals, burning sweetgrass or sage, etc.  Perhaps they’d feel that the two fires served as a cleansing process, or that ghosts need a physical fabric to attach to a site.

Well, it struck me as a lovely spot.

Across the little valley, a Shingle Style chapel is visible, with the interior designed by Wright, and where some of his relatives are buried.  He was originally buried there as well, for about 26 years, but his tradition of controversy, family strife, and fire continued even after death.  In 1985, according to the wishes of his third wife, but apparently without the knowledge or consent of other family members, he was disinterred, cremated, and the ashes taken to Taliesin West, his studio in Arizona.

 

Fireplaces were scattered throughout the house, some so narrow that the logs would’ve been placed vertically.

 

 

Home ownership isn’t a guarantee of serenity, is it. The guide explained that this cracking was due to the ground settling, over many decades. But some of the stonework was not quite professional-looking, and was probably done by his students. I was surprised to find some of the recessed lighting was pretty cheap-looking.  But our guide pointed out, that this was a home, and workshop, and not a glamorous project with a wealthy client footing the bills.

 

I’ve now toured a number of Wright structures – the Darwin Martin complex in Buffalo, Graycliff (a lakeside estate for the same client), Fallingwater, Pope-Leighey (a small “Usonian” house in Virginia), the Guggenheim, as well as individual rooms, that were rescued from buildings being demolished.   I’ve viewed others in Rochester, Milwaukee, Chicago, etc.  They are all wonderful.

But quite often, you see or hear about problems and staggeringly expensive restorations – – cantilevered floors that had to have I-beams retrofitted, at huge expense, ceilings coming down, etc.  Some of that is simply a function of age and weather.  One of his principles, that a house should be an organic part of the landscape, integrated with its surroundings, is famous, and now seems kind of inarguable.  But sometimes his houses seem to want to disintegrate into the landscape – most tours of Wright structures include recitations of repairs and restorations, and pleas for contributions.

But even during his lifetime, there were problems.  The shellac that he specified for exterior woodwork, peeled off, repeatedly.  Ask a few carpenters sometime, if they’ve ever used shellac on exterior wood.  They’re just going to look at you funny, while they shake their heads, no, never.  A famous story was about a client, calling about a skylight, leaking water all over his desk.  Wright’s reply:  “I guess you’re going to have to move your desk.”  Leaks in flat tar roofs, cantilevers that weren’t up to the task, rooms heating up because the windows were without drapes or shades at his insistence, etc.

 

Much of the woodwork, inside and out, is bald cypress, which he started using during the ’20’s, although it isn’t native to NY or WI.  Projects in the west sometimes used redwood, and later houses, mahogany.

 

Kentuck Knob Museum website

I’ve never taken an architecture class, and know very little about Wright.  But I’m going to stick my neck out, and express my uninformed personal opinion.  Wright’s houses are wonderful, they’re timeless designs, and I guess you don’t need me to explain that to you – – but sometimes…they seem to have been constructed like stage scenery, not intended to last.  Wright was an artist, a theatrical person, leading a life filled with drama.  Very Hollywood.  An abandoned wife & family, notorious affairs, financial insolvency, dozens of automobiles, a lurid mass murder, and what some would see as a flamboyant arrogance.  The guy wore a cape, for heaven’s sake.  And a cardsharp broad-brimmed hat.  The house was modern, organic, “natural style,” but the narration inside it was gothic.

 

 

These houses are like fantastic home theaters, for the residents to strut their hours on the stage.  Phone calls from clients, full of sound and fury, complaining of leaking roofs, do not signify — there’s not a note that worth the noting.  He created these scenes, and left it to the home owners — the actors and stage managers, mere players — to fret about impracticalities & drips.  “Reason and love keep little company together…”  Bob Vila mentions a number of leaky houses created by famous architects — Philip Johnson, Le Corbusier, Frank Gehry, etc. — and a story about someone visiting a Wright house in Tulsa, during a rainstorm.  There were containers all over the house, to catch the drips.  The owner just said, “This is what happens when you leave a work of art out in the rain.”

So, what are the takeaway lessons for working from home?  Think creatively, stretch, take time for recreational pursuits, like other people’s spouses, put new batteries in your smoke alarms, and don’t leave sharp objects laying around when you’ve fired your staff.

Oh yeah, and try to create something revolutionary, beautiful and serene, that people will admire forever.

 

Looking toward the back of the house, a clear line of sight. I don’t think it’s visible in the photo, but you can see a glimpse of the sky, through the front windows.

 

The complex included a carriage house and garage.  Wright loved cars, and owned fifty of them during his lifetime.  Jaguar, Bentley, Lincoln Continental, Packard, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, etc.   This was one of them – – a 1930 Cord L-29 cabriolet, in Taliesin Orange. It’s in the Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, IN. The photo is from the Library of Congress.  Obviously an economical, modest little runabout.

 

 

 

Guest house, forming one side of the complex.  The masonry was made of thin cuts of local stone, designed to suggest the way natural rock layers are visible in outcrops.

 

 

1920's, 1930's, architecture, wisconsin

Taliesen. Working from home.

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