Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Casey and the Technicolor Dream Sweater

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Rainbow Boy, lol—Looking spiffy on my bright red bicycle, wearing bright red sneakers, starchy dark denim jeans, a rainbow-colored sweater, and a navy blue beret—from France, of course. My grandmother knit that sweater for me. I remember she told me I could pick out whatever color wool I wanted for the upcoming sweater—even a rainbow variegated version—as long as I didn't tell anyone I knew she was going to make it for me. She wanted it to be perfect and I think it was a win-win situation. I would have loved anything made by her, but a sweater with every color in it was perfect! At about eight years old in this photo, in front of Art's closed store with Spring's first crocuses coming up behind me, I was styling!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Under the Grid—Flag Study Revisited

Flag Study—Under the Grid. Paint and polyurethane on three joined pine boards, Approximately 34 " x 20 " The American flag is represented in fifty equal squares of red, white, blue and black. Under this eroding patriotic grid lives the multicolored and intricate patchwork of humanity, our living, breathing, country.

Close-up Details:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reconnecting with Old Friends

And a Few Updates to Casey/Artandcolour

Early 1980s—Nancy and Bill, Dodge Dart and a pretty kitty.

Joining Facebook recently, I've digitally reconnected with several friends from my past, and it's not at all as dirty as that sounds, lol. It's fascinating the way Facebook works, and all social media I s'pose, in that it really emphasizes the "web" in World-Wide-Web. As far as finding old friends, you "friend" one person, who then puts you in touch with another friend from your past, and next thing you know you're zooming along in a flying Delorean back to your childhood.

An example of this is Nancy Evans Wolff, above, with her husband Bill. I've known Nancy since she moved to Guilford in 3rd grade. I've known Bill since high school. We've spent time together in Vermont, Maine and Nantucket and we formed a little cooking club back in the early 1980s. We traveled to Germany together on an exchange trip for our high school German class, and I was a groomsman in their wedding. But times change, of course. They moved away after their marriage, had four children—two daughters and two sons—and while I heard snippets of how they were doing through the intervening thirty years or so, we really didn't connect again at all. That is, until the past few weeks when I joined Facebook as I mentioned above.

Well, as it turns out, and I'm not at all surprised, Nancy is a blogger, too! She writes a column for Prudent Living Magazine, a Vermont-based quarterly magazine dedicated to green home renovations, alternative energy solutions, gardening tips and health information. According to the magazine's website, it's about "living smart, using resources wisely, preserving good health and safeguarding the planet." Nancy and Bill live in a passive-solar house they themselves built in 2000, garden extensively, keep a well-stocked pantry, and enjoy watching their electric meter spin backwards, lol! Nancy's blog has recipes, house-hold tips, gardening advice and personal anecdotes, and you can really learn new and useful ideas with each post. We certainly made some awesome meals "back in the day" and the whole idea of "prudent living" is just exactly right for today.

I hope all of my readers check out Nancy's well-written blog and, especially, enjoy her recipes. This girl can cook, lol! 
  • Nancy's blog. On the HomefrontPrudent Living website, click here. The newest post is a recipe for her Mom's Corn Chowder, followed by Storing Coffee and Starting Seeds Inside among many, many others. On the left side of her page, you'll find all of Nancy's archived blogposts. 
  • My loyal readers may also find Nancy's blog in my Blogroll, on the right side of my blog under Prudent Living On the Homefront
  • Prudent Living Magazine website, here. It's free pdf download, and really worth the fifteen seconds it takes to register!

Updates to Casey/Artandcolour
  • Sharp-eyed readers will notice I recently added "Share" capabilities to my posts in my two blogs, located at the bottom of each post. This makes it easy-peasy to share my blogposts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other Blogger sites, as well as making it easier to E-mail posts. Please feel free to now share away with your family and friends.
  • Just this week, I've done away with the need for typed "captchas" to post comments. Blogger had made them more difficult and tedious, in my opinion, and I rarely had to delete an spam comments anyway. So far, so good. I've had three e-mail notifications of spam comments since the change, but when I've gone to those posts to delete them, I can't see the comments. Perhaps Blogger is somehow deleting them, perhaps as the blog "owner" I can't see them. If any of my dear readers every see a spam comment, please let me know. I'll leave the "captchas" off as long as the spam doesn't become unmanageable. I'd like more comments and more interaction, not less, but we certainly don't need to find links to Russian mail order brides, cheap Viagra or what-have-you!
  • As I mentioned in this post, I've recently joined the rest of the world on Facebook. I don't have a specific Casey/Artandcolour page, or Casey/ArtandcolourCars page yet, but I have a personal page for my oh-so-radical politics and like-minded friends, lol. I link back to my blogs, and post historical photos and remembrances of my town. I've found good music there, interesting stories and remembrances, and the aforementioned old friends. Come join me if you'd like, Casey Shain on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It Was a Playful Afternoon—Early 1920s

I can just imagine the sun glinting off the Sound, a light Summer breeze, blueberries being tossed at each other. This couple, friends of my grandmother's and caught in a playful moment, make me smile at the "realness" of the moment. This photograph could have been taken at almost any time right on up to present day. I have it hanging in our laundry room, right over the washing machines, to give our "chore" room a bit of fun. "Playful Afternoon," paint, paper and polyurethane on two antique chestnut floorboards, approximately 19" x 36".

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Kids are Allright—1933 School Photos

This Guilford class photo dates to 1933. My mom is third from the left, in the first row of standing girls. She graduated from high school in 1937, so she would have been in the 8th grade here. Her high school class only had about 35 kids in it, and there are about 45 kids in this photo, so I think this must be more than one class. I'm struck at how nicely dressed the kids are, and this was in the midst of the Depression. I'm sure everyone wore their "best" clothes for the school picture, but they also look happy and healthy. Whatever was going on at home at this time, whatever economic distress their parents were feeling, must have been kept from the kids as much as possible. My mother never got over her "Depression" mindset, though. Throughout her life she never wasted money, hated seeing people flaunt their wealth, and always looked after those with less, making sure those with the least in our community had decent healthcare and food for their tables.

And a Younger Class During the Same Period
Perhaps the same year as my mother's photo at the top of this post, her younger sister, my aunt Hoohoo was in the 1st or 2nd grade, in a school across the Green from my mother's. Hoohoo is in the bottom row of seated girls, 2nd from the left, wearing a dark "flounce" in her hair, and an outfit with a decorative V collar. Again, I'm struck at how "normal" these kids look, at one of the worst economic times our country has ever seen. This was the period of time, though, when Hoohoo was drawing on brown paper bags, cut up and flattened out by her mother, instead of fancy drawing pads. Times weren't easy, but it's clear everyone tried to shield the hardships from their children. 

"Paperbag Dreams," created from one of Hoohoo's Depression-era drawings done on a brown paperbag, instead of drawing paper. The photograph is a school photo of Hoohoo at the age she was when she did this charcoal drawing. My piece is on plywood and has paint, tissue paper, silver foil, and dried leaves, in addition to the original drawing. 24" x 24".

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rust, Roses, Rice Crispies & Relatives

Polaroid SX70 photograph of my 1964 Thunderbird, just before it was restored in 1980. Rust had ravaged the lower bodysides, with the exception of the removable fender skirts. They were never taken off the car, but were most likely made from aluminum which doesn't rust. If they were steel, like the body, they would have rusted out also. The 'Bird was in the shop for about six months and came back looking brand new. The color was called Diamond Blue—almost white. The interior was a medium blue pleated vinyl that shone in the sun.

This is an almost ten year old photograph, back in the film days and cheap processing at the local drug store. The flash bulbs were very "hot" and the fast processing always produced really oversaturated colors and deep shadows. Although I miss the medium of film, for historical purposes especially, I find I have much more control of my images with digital cameras now. I suppose if I had ever learned how to develop my own film, I would have enjoyed that more, but once a photo is developed, there's not much you can do to it to "fix" it.

A real Ford Family—My aunt Hoohoo in the family's 1952 Ford F-100 pickup, and one of their Ford sedans in the background,a plain-Jane '52 Mainline. If you could have seen more of the driveway, there would also have been a beat up '51 Country Squire wagon, a '36 Ford Phaeton slowly turning back into the soil, and her gorgeous '58 Thunderbird. This truck was bought in the late '50s from a local guy nicknamed The Rebel. He owned a body shop in town and that's a custom gold and white paint job. Notice the "wide whites" and full chrome wheel covers, a pretty flashy touch for a Fifties pickup.

Another shot of my great uncle Art's store, this time in color. I'm surprised at the number of items that are still being sold today. Of course the boxes and logos are different now, but the brand names remain. Art was pretty "modern" having a large TV in his little store! Even though the store was about 10 steps from the house, it had an intercom system so Art could communicate to the people in the house without leaving the store. I thought that was neat. You just pushed a button and spoke into what looked like a radio and someone in the house would answer. I have audiotapes of "little me" talking to my grandmother through the intercom—they're reel-to-reel tapes!
The Sanborn family, circa 1930, Leete's Island, CT. Five year old Hoohoo on the left, twelve year old Veronica, my mother, in the back and my grandmother and grandfather. I think I may have posted this image before, but I found a better print of it this weekend and rescanned it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Music—Piano/Vocals from Bon Iver

This is almost 25 minutes of a studio session featuring Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Sean Carey, at Jagjaguwar Studios. These are "new" musicians to me. I know Bon Iver won two Grammies the other night, but I didn't realize just what an awesome talent they are. I found this YouTube vid on Facebook via Chris Cillizza, political pundit often on MSNBC. I've played it twice so far and I really think you'll love it, too. Among others, Justin Vernon covers a Bonnie Raitt song on the piano, I Can't Make You Love Me, and it's just beautifully rendered.
  • You can download this Raitt cover legally and for free, here
  • For more on Bon Iver, click to Wiki, here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beguiling Begonia—A Few February Flowers

Lots of light and humidity are key to wintering over begonias.

Not a lot of blooms in the house right now, but this Dragon Wing Begonia is doing well this winter. This is my "annual" begonia, which is almost ten years old now. I bring it in each fall and put it out again in the spring. Mary gave this to me in 2002, and it was so beautiful that first fall I just couldn't leave it outside to die. Every spring I cut it back when I put it outside, and then again in the fall when I bring it in, and it just keeps flowering. The blooms are this pretty salmon pink in winter, and darken slightly in summer.

Sittin' pretty last summer. I've made two other plants from clippings of this begonia.

Click on each image to enlarge.

Bonus Video
This video has absolutely nothing to do with my begonia, lol, but when I typed  "Beguiling Begonia" for the headline, I was reminded of that Swing-era song by Cole Porter, Begin the Beguine. So for no other reason, enjoy Artie Shaw's band performing this classic dance tune! ("Beguine" is a type of West Indian dance similar to a Foxtrot)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gary Carter, the Mets' World Series Pitcher, RIP

My eleven year old poster of Gary Carter's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, 2001.

Gary Carter, the New York Mets' catcher during their 1986 World Series year, has died at the age of 57. I'm not going to pretend to be the biggest sports fan around, truth be told, I've barely watched a full baseball game since my mother died in 1999. But my parents were both huge Mets' fans, and they both could tell you all the stats without looking them up. Gary Carter's name was a big one around our house. 

My parents watched all the games that summer of '86 as the Mets once again heated up, and it looked as if they might even be able to repeat their World Series win of 1969. At the same time, my father was losing his battle with coronary heart disease. As the Mets continued to rack up wins, my father's health deteriorated. My dad died in mid September, 1986, and never saw the Mets win the World Series that October. My mother and I watched the series though, every game, and we knew if he could, my father was watching them, too. 
  • For the Huffington Post article on Hall of Famer, Gary Carter, click here.
  • I was named for Casey Stengel. He was the manager of the Yankees at the time, but he went on to become the Mets' first manager in 1962.

Gary's cute 30-second commercial for Ivory Soap, made after the Mets won the '86 World Series.

Halloween Window Painting Contest, 1969

A Hoot and a Howl—This painting was a disaster from the moment I was assigned a large window instead of the small one I had requested. I really rocked those blue and white flowered pants and mini trench, though, didn't I?

Continuing with the "isn't it sad he still has the trophy" series, lol. this is my Halloween Window Painting Contest first place winner from 1969. I was 12 in this photo, holding my aunt Hoohoo's then 6-week old Miniature Schnauzer puppy.

This window painting experience was a horror show for me, lol. From what I remember, you could ask for a small or large window. I had asked for a small one, had planned my painting around a small one, had bought my painting supplies for a small window. Saturday morning when the window assignments were given out, I had been given a large one. From the get-go, I had to change my tightly planned layout and spread out the elements. In hindsight, I should have enlarged all the separate elements, but wasn't thinking too quickly on my feet that cold morning. I also had to have my father bring a ladder for me, to use on that slightly angled sidewalk, and I'm terrified of heights. I ran out of paint due to the larger size of the window and had to run out and buy more—which didn't match the original blue I had picked for the sky. I held it together until the clock had run out and I had to stop, but then I had one of my rare tantrums. I had really messed up the painting, was sure I had disappointed Hoohoo and my parents, but in the end, I won first prize anyway. I wasn't upset a week later, though, when it was washed off and gone forever. Until now, lol.

Elements in my original smaller vertical layout included a flying witch, a pumpkin inspired by Edvard Munch's The Scream, an owl, and for some reason, an outhouse, lol. It just didn't hang together when it was enlarged. I really should have had much larger details, and much less sky, but live and learn, I suppose. I roll with the punches a bit better now. Most of the time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

You Never Forget Your First

This faded and scratched Polaroid is just about the only photo I have of my first car. Originally black-and-white, I subtly colorized the image in Photoshop tonight and suddenly it looked just like it did the first time I set eyes on it in 1973.

1969 Mercury Comet Sport Coupe—Looking through a carton of old photos tonight, I was so happy to find this almost 39-year old Polaroid of my very first car. You'd think that I would have lots of photos of every part of my life, lol, but I just don't. This is only the second photograph of my first car I've ever found, and the first one is so faded and was so blurry to begin with, it was like not having any photos of it at all. 

My father came home with this Comet for me June 28, 1973, the day after I got my driver's licence. It was bought in town at the local Peugeot dealer, a friend of my father's. It was four years old with 44,000 miles. Even though the Comet was the bottom-of-the-Montego-lineup that year, this navy blue metallic example was equipped quite well. It had a 302 V8, automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, factory air conditioning and an electric trunk release. What it didn't have was carpeting, the first car I had ever seen with just a textured rubber floor covering. It simulated the look of carpeting, with a blue and black texture, but I always thought it was an odd omission for a "Mercury" level car! The poverty-spec dogdish hubcaps were soon replaced with four matching wire wheelcovers from a mid-Sixties Ford product, but that was it with the non-factory extras. 

I really liked my Comet—its pillarless coupe styling and simple lines, the deep dark blue paint and  medium blue cloth interior, and the air conditioning! Being an inexperienced first time driver, I dented the passenger door one day at the high school, cutting a corner too tightly as I backed out of a parking space, but my father was understanding, and it was soon repaired. I probably would have kept my first car longer if my Dad had not surprised me with the beautiful Caddy in the post below a few years after the Comet arrived—and if Hoohoo hadn't also surprised me with her Tbird at the same time, lol. I wanted to keep it, I really did, but my parents drew the line at me having three cars of my own, so my trusty high-school Comet was sold. 

But you never forget your first!

WooBoy, Almost Thirty Five Years Ago!

1968 Cadillac Sedan de Ville—My twentieth birthday present from my parents, early summer 1977. This very dark teal hardtop sedan, with matching dark teal brocade and leather interior, was nine years old with just 50,000 miles when my father found it. It belonged to an older widow in town that didn't drive anymore. It was really one of the most beautiful cars I've ever had the pleasure to drive, and I've owned some really nice cars in my lifetime. It rode like the proverbial flying carpet and it always got me home, no matter what. 

My almost twenty-foot long Caddy was stolen one night in New Haven, and used in an armed robbery!  I was able to  get it out of the police impound by 4 am but my parents were still awake waiting for me to get home . . . Another time it had to be hot-wired one afternoon at the beach in Newport after I broke the ignition key opening a bottle of wine with it. It didn't exactly lead a pampered life, although I also once used it to chauffeur tony guests at a shoreline house tour. I always kept it polished and vacuumed and it always looked like a million bucks. At 7-8 miles-per-gallon, it almost cost a million bucks to back down the driveway, lol, but I couldn't have cared less back then. I also owned a '64 Thunderbird at the same time, a gift from my aunt Hoohoo, for those times I felt "sporty," so gas mileage just wasn't on my radar back then. Believe me though, I've walked and ridden my bicycles enough in the past five years to make up for those "gassy" years!

For a night-clubbing sophomore at Vassar, life seemed good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Home Girl Hidden Almost 100 Years

I recently found this cardboard print behind a circa 1920 framed photo. I believe originally it was just a novelty item, a small print of a pretty girl. At some point, the print was cut at the bottom to fit a small gold metal frame and she became the background cardboard "filler" for a photo of my grandmother. R. C. Co., N. Y., The Home Girl, 1978, is printed along the bottom. I'm guessing "1978" is the print number, since it's obviously not the year. I googled the company name and found that they sold portraits and prints like this, in various sizes, from the late 1800s through the early part of the 20th century. Perhaps you could also order The Home Girl in a larger size for your wall. I was quite pleased to find her and will probably frame her by herself. Just in time for Valentine's Day, I think she will be quite pleased to be "out front" for the first time in almost one hundred years, don't you?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Halloween Window Painting Contest, 1968

"Even Martians Love Halloween"

R E M E M B R A N C E — My town used to hold a Halloween Window Painting contest every fall when I was growing up. It was usually one chilly late October Saturday morning, and the paintings, done on the store windows around our town green, would stay up for a week or so. I won First Prize 5-6 years in a row, every year I was eligible. I have to say though, that I always entered the "Singles" category, Hoohoo was adamant that an artist work alone, although we'd spend several nights planning my painting. Most of the kids, the vast majority of the in fact, treated it as a morning with friends, and painted in the doubles category. I did it for the art, though! For the year shown here, 1968, I painted "Even Martians Love Halloween" and have a little alien poking out from behind the large pumpkin. Notice his footprints which come from the bottom of the window and track over the pumpkin where he thinks he's hiding, lol. Also note my lovebeads. My father bought a lot of my clothes in Manhattan, and I was always up on the trends. Very few other kids in town were though, and I really was teased because of it. Well, that was one reason to tease me, anyway. On the right of the photo is the little trophy today! I still have the lovebeads, too, but am not quite sure where they are. I've seen them in the past few years.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston

One of the greatest singers of modern times has died, Ms. Whitney Houston. I rode in an elevator with her once back in the early '90s, at a posh New York hotel, the Parker Meridien. For all of perhaps two minutes, I was standing next to greatness. She was having a heated argument with a friend, lol. I was trying to pretend I wasn't there, but she was staying at the penthouse, and I was only one floor below. It was one of those New York Moments you don't forget. And just to say again, as I've been honest in this blog, with the life I've led, I really don't know why I'm still around and an equally troubled soul has left us. So sad. RIP.

Another Great Whitney Song

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Froggy the Gremlin—Pushing 75!

M Y   C O L L E C T I O N — Froggy the Gremlin first "appeared" in 1944 in the Buster Brown Gang, a radio show by "Smiling Ed McConnell," and went on to TV fame starting in 1950 with the same host. Today, my Rempel produced 5-inch Froggy spends his retirement years hanging out, literally, on a wall, with all of my other collectible creatures, including Wishnik trolls, antique dolls of all sorts, puppets et al. Though somewhat different in appearance than in the following link, my Froggy is stamped Rempel, 1948, and is thus pretty early in the run. Update: The Froggy I was looking at on the website was the larger 9-inch version. The 5-inch version looks exactly like mine. Yippee, lol!
  • Link to Froggy's homepage, here. Make sure to click on all the categories on the left for more details than you ever cared to know about this vintage character, lol!
  • For a Youtube recording of Smilin' Ed and Froggy, click here!

Not This Winter. Well Not Yet, Anyway

One Nice Snowy Day in January 2005
We may get an "accumulating" snow this weekend, and perhaps another one next week, but so far, we haven't had any more than an occasional dusting of snow since Halloween's surprise storm. I'm fine with that! It makes walking to town so much easier and safer! I thought I would post these 7 year old photos of a "real" winter, and I just hope I'm not inviting trouble, lol. Above, a rickety old shed is kept company by equally rickety old wooden chairs.

Snow forming "cotton balls" on this shrub make a nice counterpoint to the snow on the horizontal limbs behind it.

Interesting textures caught as soon as the snow fell in the woods.

This old shed remembered better days. Bowed, but not completely broken.

Undisturbed by squirrels or hawks. Yet.

 Rough bark catches the snow in a leopard skin-like pattern.

Drooping under the weight of newly fallen, and wet, snow, these evergreen boughs bend but don't break.

Glass windows long gone, snow falls inside as well as outside the shed.

I found cool old bottles, a few ceramic dishes, amazingly intact, and some usable vintage wooden boards in this shed. The structure was taken down just a short time later.

The quiet and solitude of freshly fallen snow. Soon, the "wildlife" and the sun would have these limbs cleaned off.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Must Have Been a Fun Night—Mid 1950s

I'm not sure what the context of this photo is . . . It's from the mid 1950s, which would place it in Germany, as my father was stationed in Stuttgart until 1960—where I was born in 1957. I'm guessing it must have been a fundraiser or charity event of some sort. I didn't superimpose anything on the image, all the scratches and discolorations are on the original. I'm not quite sure what the guy is doing at the bottom right, either, lol. He looks totally out of proportion. I'm guessing the subjects, the "boxer" and my dad in the bow tie, are standing on a raised stage, and that little guy is sitting below, but it's really an odd juxtaposition. I really like this photo of my father, though!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Photopourri—Art, Playbill, Dust, and More, lol

Waiting for Time
My latest pieces hanging out waiting for me to find time to finish them. One of my recently refurbished "Not Wrapped Too Tightly" footstools keeps them company.

No Dull Days
Novelty postcard from his area of town, Leete's Island (Leete Island on the card), dated October 1917, was sent to my grandfather by his cousin. My grandfather was at an Army training camp getting ready to leave for France to fight in the first World War. Ink initials on the girls' skirts and a scribbled name on the man's socks, probably were an inside joke between the cousins.
Barn Finds?
1949 Mercury and 1940 Ford coupe sitting around reminiscing about the good old days! Cobwebs enjoy their current days in the sun.

On Broadway in 1977
Almost 35 years ago, I saw The King and I on Broadway with my parents. My mother always loved Yul Brynner, and this musical, and it was a dream come true for her to see him perform in it live on the Great White Way.

Same Day Service, ca 1920!
An envelope containing some of my grandmother's negatives show just how "modern" the early 20th century was. Before the current digital age, "same day" service was still being touted at Photomats, CVSs and other photographic developing centers. For a sampling of her photographic portraits that were developed from negatives most likely processed by this pharmacy, click here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Aloha Mama, ca 1940

I recently found this photo (again) in a box of belongings I'm going through. There is no date on the image, but my mother was born in 1918, so I'm guessing she's in her early 20s here, ca 1940. It's a color photo, but which faded and was retouched at some point with watercolors. I also adjusted the colors in Photoshop to match the original as my scanner always adds a bit of cyan to an image. I have no idea the circumstances behind this Hawaiian-themed photo, but it looks like she was having fun! The embossed leather frame is nicely period, too.