Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Vindicated - The elephant is no longer in the closet.

A while back I posted this image and a comment that I wanted my daughter to ride an elephant at the visiting circus because at one time I had ridden an elephant (although not at the circus).
Shared memories, that sort of thing.

I also posted the story on facebook.

And had a response from another facebook user that they remembered the elephant ride and had pictures of themselves on the elephant, but, alas, none of me. Why would they?

At least I was correct in that an elephant had been in my hometown.

Not to long ago I posted that I had started to have some of our old family films turned digital so we could view them and save what we could.

It was hard to let them out of my control, but they would have only wasted away if we didn't do something.

Well I have had two shipments done so far, about fifteen films.
Most have turned out pretty good. A few had almost reached the point of no hope. But we did get some images.

Well, in the least shipment, which we got back a few days ago was. . . .

. . . .a video of my brother and I riding on the elephant.

This image is just an IPhone photo of a paused image from the video.

But, in the film, you can really tell it is my brother and I. And you can also tell it is the same elephant and trailer as in the first photo.

Having proof of this is almost as good as when I found the photo of me on the RMS Queen Elizabeth on our voyage over.

National Treasure - Vera Lynn turns 100

Vera Lynn

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

George Orwell's other great work.

George Orwell

A Nice Cup of Tea

['Hangman' - Drawing by Maksim Barhatov]
If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several ofthe most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays ofcivilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject ofviolent disputes.
When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I findno fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others areacutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one ofwhich I regard as golden:
First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China teahas virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup oftea’ invariably means Indian tea. Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made ina cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be madeof china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produceinferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough apewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad. Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it outwith hot water. Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, ifyou are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoonswould be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea thatcan be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that onestrong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea loversnot only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger witheach year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra rationissued to old-age pensioners. Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the potit never infuses properly. Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference. Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle. Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is,the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfastcup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half coldbefore one has well started on it. Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using itfor tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste. Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one ofthe most controversial points of all; indeed in every family inBritain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, butI maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactlyregulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too muchmilk if one does it the other way round. Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in aminority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover ifyou destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It wouldbe equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to bebitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you areno longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you couldmake a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.
Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping thecarpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sureof wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of thattwo ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Family, history, airplanes and RAF

My dad, while in the RAF, was stationed on a field where the American Eagle Squadron was stationed.
While he was not assigned to the Eagle Squadron he did state that at times they would be sent over to help on the Spitfires.

Here I have found some art work done by Disney artists for the Eagle Squadron.

Over the course of the war, Disney artists designed more than 1,200 combat insignia for all branches of the US military and for its allies. Besides the famed Flying Tigers insignia, one of the most celebrated designs was made for England’s (UK's)Royal Air Force. Prior to Pearl Harbor, many American pilots joined England’s Royal Air Force as members of Eagle Squadrons 71, 121, and 133. An entry in a Hearst newspaper insignia stamp album stated, "Walt Disney artists were quick to chronicle the significance of this combat union with an American Eagle ‘on guard.’ Fiercely he advances to contest the fouling tactics of a barbarous and un-sportsmanlike adversary, as he moves in to the attack with his English ‘comrade-at-arms.’”

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sepia Saturday 350 - Windows unknown

This is the photo that suggests this weeks Sepia Saturday theme. And as usual we can take from it what we chose.
The photo is a fix of the photo on the left with a close up of a window on the right. One photo made into two. made into one, as it were.

We will never know why the young man is standing on the window sill.
Hope it was for good reason.

While I have been off with eye surgery (which is going great!) I have started sorting old family photos so that I can scan and save them all and make disc copies for all the family.

As you can see it will be a timely process.

As with all ventures of this nature we are left with some unanswered questions about some of the photos.

The pile below the key board is my pile so far of unknown family photos.

Mom, in her 90's was able to remember most, but we are still left with a few we do not know.

 I have chosen these two to go along with this weeks theme which I have decided (for myself of course) to call 'Windows unknown'

Both of these were probably taken in Selby, Yorkshire in the mid fifties.
Some sort of celebration or parade.

The only reason I would suggest Selby is because it was a ship yard town and in the lower photo one of the businesses is a Ships Chandler.

My Grandfather and an Uncle both worked at the ship yard, 'Cochran and Sons'.

I don't know if any relatives are in either photo.
None the less, it is fun to have these in the collection.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sepia Saturday 349 - post for this week. Things over the shoulder.

 This is the image that suggests our posting for this Saturday. And while it is left up to us to chose what we take from the photo, it can, well, be rather obscure at times.
If was first trying to find a photo of my dad with his camera bag over his shoulder. We always made fun of my dad because he would forget to take pictures because he would be waving his camera as he cheered us on in what ever we were doing that he was suppose to be filming.
He most not have done to bad however because we did end up with quite a bit of film.

I however could not find that photo.

So I chose to go with the theme 'Off the Shoulder'
The gentleman above has on an apron to protect him from the chemicals he uses in his photography.

In my photo, all the young lads have a service bag hanging from their shoulders.
My dad (foreground in black standing at attention. Very start from his RAF days) worked for St John's Ambulance Brigade for a number of years after the war in Selby, Yorkshire.
He loved the job. And while with the Brigade he worded with their youth program (a job he also loved). Sort of similar to the Scouts over here in the U.S.
I would imagine the boys carried first aid supplies in their shoulder bags. This era, from the war on, seemed to be a time when many people carried some sort of shoulder bag; for helmets, gas masks, etc. And they look so smart when they all match.

I have yet to find a shoulder bag that works for me, other than the one I used for 37 years as a mailman.

Sepia Saturday blog

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Yet another new 'favorite' artist e jeffrey

I had not heard of e. jeffrey the illustrator till today while reading Alan's blog.

I have always loved the artwork in books about
Rupert the Bear,

and Hal Foster's Prince Valiant.

But I had never heard of Toby Twirl with art by e jeffrey.

 This one has the Rubert feel about it. . .
. . . while this one has a Prince Valiant feel.

I am going to have to check out more of his work.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fireplaces in kitchens

I love old kitchens.

If we could afford it I would get modern replicas of old appliances to have in the kitchen.

But what I would really like is a fireplace in the kitchen.
Not just for looks, but one you would sit around while you eat. or do home-work or have a cup of coffee (tea).

A lot of the modern kitchen designs with fireplaces have the fireplaces, it seems, more for looks than function. Often not any where near where someone would sit and enjoy it.

At least not anywhere 'close' where you could use it with out moving the chairs from where you want them.

Nope, you have to be able to stay at the table to take advantage of the fireplace, or having something that works just as well.

While not my favorite design, it comes close.

Yep, I would love to have an old kitchen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon - What an interesting childhood!

What an intersting life. My love of animation art lead me to discover more about the author of How to Train Your Dragon.

Cressida Cowell: my real-life dragon island

The adventures of Hiccup the viking in the How to Train Your Dragon books were inspired by the writer Cressida Cowell’s memories of childhood summers spent on a tiny Hebridean island owned by her father. Here she reminisces about the danger, excitement and glorious isolation of it all

When I tell the story of my childhood, it always sounds like I am making it up. I am a children’s book writer, after all; making things up is what I do for a living. But I assure you that the Isle of Berk, where the character Hiccup in my How to Train Your Dragon books lives, is a real place (though it isn’t called Berk, of course). It is a place where I spent a great deal of my childhood. My father is a keen birdwatcher and a lifelong environmentalist, and although I grew up in London, every holiday was spent on a tiny uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland.
The island, which has been owned by my father for about 45 years, is so small that when you stood on top of it you could see sea all around you; a tiny little piece of rock and wind and heather in the middle of the stormy and unpredictable Hebridean sea.
There was nothing on the island. The last permanent human inhabitants were said to have been driven away by a plague of rats early in the last century. Though I never saw any rats, there were lots of birds – but no houses, no shops, no electricity, no television. When I was a baby, soon after my father bought the island, my family would be dropped off like castaways by a local boatman, who would pick us up again two weeks later. There was no way of contacting the outside world: no phone connection, no radio contact. I recently asked my father, 'What would have happened if somebody broke a leg or came down with acute food poisoning or something?’ He answered, vaguely but triumphantly, 'Well nobody did break a leg, did they?’ My father is not the worrying type.
We cooked on an open fire and camped, sleeping in an inch of water with rain dripping down from the roof of the tent. I remember staggering out into the rain, through ferns that reached up to my four-year-old neck, clutching a soggy roll of loo paper, looking for a nice secluded rock to go behind.

It took eight years for three men – off and on, when the weather allowed – to rebuild one of the small crofter’s cottages on the island, laboriously ferrying out materials, equipment and furniture. Then my father got a boat, so we could fish for enough food to feed the family for the whole summer. From then on, every year, my parents, my sister Emily, one year younger, and my brother Caspar, six years younger – and I – spent the whole spring and summer on the island. The house was lit by candles, and there was still no phone or television. In the evenings my father told us tales of the Vikings who invaded this part of Scotland 1,200 years before, of the quarrelsome tribes who fought and tricked each other, and of the legendary dragons that were supposed to live in the caves in the cliffs. There was a hillside behind our little stone house that looked exactly like the back of a sleeping dragon. On stormy nights, when the wind howled like a fury across the Hebridean wilderness, I would scare myself silly imagining it was that dragon shaking off its stony incarnation to come and kill us all.
For London children, the freedom was intoxicating. We climbed cliffs, explored caves and played in the little ruined houses where Vikings would have lived 1,000 years earlier. We went out on our own in a rubber dinghy and nobody seemed even remotely worried. There was an old bell hanging outside the front door that my mother would ring when it was time for lunch. Otherwise we were not bothered by adult intervention.
Our lives revolved around food: catching it, cooking it, eating it. My father took us out in the boat in storms when the waves were so high and breaking over the deck so hard that we had to bail the water out as we went. When it rained (this was Scotland, after all), we played cards, painted and made up games and stories. We wrote plays and acted them out. We read vast quantities of books. In fact we were out there so long that I ran out of children’s books and started reading the adults’. By the time I was 13 I had read Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich – a fascinating inside account of Nazi Germany, but not normal reading for a 12-year-old – three times, as well as half of Dickens.
Here’s the thing, you see: nowadays we spend the whole time desperately trying to entertain our child­ren and trying to prevent boredom at all costs, but perhaps boredom is good for children. Being bored is certainly excellent for inducing creativity.
One aimless sunny day when he was six, Caspar tried to work out how to catch edible crabs in the harbour. We could see the crabs from the rubber dinghy as we drifted above them, not a life-jacket between us, but the water was too deep for us to dive down and catch them. So Caspar devised a method whereby he would jump into the water holding a large, heavy stone, thus sinking quickly to the harbour floor, drop the stone, grab the crab and rise to the surface with his prey. Ingenious. Crazy, but ingenious. We watched on as he doggedly carried out this plan with increasingly large stones, the whole endeavour charged with the interesting possibility of one’s little brother drowning himself in the pursuit of scientific experiment (and food).

My family still owns the island, and I take my own children back there now. Maisie, Clemmie and Xanny are 15, 12 and nine, and they love the island. It has magical properties for all children. They do suffer withdrawal symptoms, because it is one of those rare places left on God’s green earth that still has no mobile-phone connection and no hope of Facebook, let alone television or Mumford & Sons (or any music at all). But once they are over that they play card games and acting games, watch otters and catch fish, paint and explore caves, and get bored – just like we did. They refuse to eat eel or winkles, of course, or even crab, and nobody has read Inside the Third Reich, which still sits on one of the shelves, all damp and mildewy at the edges. You have to be there for a whole summer to get hungry and bored enough to do that.
But none the less they experience a little of the danger and the boredom – and the beauty and the spirit – of living in the wilderness in the way that our fathers and forefathers did for countless generations. And I reckon that is good for them. After all, as my father would say, nobody has broken a leg, have they? So far…
Cressida Cowell’s latest dragon book, How to Seize a Dragon’s Jewel (Hodder), is out now. An exhibition of her work, A Viking’s Guide to Deadly Dragons, is on at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, in Newcastle


Friday, October 21, 2016

Sketches by Robert Bateman

When you think of wildlife artists at the top of most lists would be Canadian Artist Robert Bateman.
I have had the chance to view many of his works over the years in seveal locations.

Last year the St Louis Zoo featured some of his work.
This painting was one of the them.

But just like good animation art and comics, I like the behind the scenes work that goes into most art.
Following are some sketches by Robert Bateman.

 His home?
 Even when being whimsical, he is a great artist.
 Sketches later used in a larger finished painting.
Field notes.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Mapping times and places. . . .

My daughter has taken it upon herself to complete my dads map of state coins.
With her own quarters she added three yesterday that my dad had not found before he passed away.

She then made a list of all the ones she still needed to finish the map.

While doing the coins she spotted the one for Tennessee and said, "This one has a cabin on it, and Daddy it looks like your cabin."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I love small town fairs - NEMO Old Thrashers weekend.

 Well Saturday we got up to farm town and attended once again the Old Thrashers event.

Chance to watch and see how the old equipment was used.

This truck seperated the corn from the cob. I am sure there is a name for that process but I didn't catch it.
 Ah Shucks!
 Another view of the truck.
It doesn't look like it could still run but it does.

 Another old steam tractor.
 This machine seperated the cobs from the stalk.

And still worked.

This machine attached to a very large steam tractor thrashed oats.

And unlike festivals in larger towns where it is okay to sell Vietnamese Kabob's (among other non-related things) at Scottish themed Festivals, evey thing seemed to have a purpose with what was being celebrated; old farm life.

 Making new friends.
 Very young.
 "This town ain't big enough for the three of us philgrim."
 How to make apple cider
 Lots of old tools.
 And some ideas I had never seen before (which is not unusual.)
 My favorite parts are the kids rides that are home-made and tractor driven.
 All tractor powered.

 And made with stuff from around the town.

Pulled by tractor, made out of barrels and on the go all day.

It is also fun to see the same people year after year doing these rides again.

 And of course there are lots of other things going on.

 Rope making.
What a great day!