|Carl Yastrzemski in The Red Sox Locker Room, 1969. Photograph from our archives|
Friday, May 31, 2013
So many of the good, old yards have at least one large stand of lilacs.
Even when they are not in bloom, the shape and texture of the bark of lilacs evokes familiarity and calm, especially next to lichen covered stones. This seems the case with so many heirloom trees, shrubs, and flowers.
But the blooms themselves, around for just weeks a year, add so much. The shots of color mark the imminent transition to summer. And the fragrance shifts from subtle to strong with the faintest wind.
Planting one’s own requires even more patience. Some wait up to six years for their first blooms. They like sunny, well-drained soil. And they bloom more if you leave them alone.
The lilac is the official state flower of New Hampshire (hardy like its residents they say) and was first imported from England and planted in Portsmouth in 1750.
|Most are a light purple but can also include white, pink, and a darker purple.|
|Un-pruned, lilacs can grow to twenty feet.|
|Apple blossoms are sprinkled everywhere this time of year.|
|Lilacs are ubiquitous - from harbors....|
|....to historic sites....|
|...and on the farms.|
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
|When you’re poor||When you’re rich|
|You’re a glutton
You throw your money away on booze
You breed kids like rabbits
You’re the town weirdo
You own a mutt.
|You’re a gourmet
You have a well stocked bar
You have a sudden attack of nausea
You’re blessed with a large family
You bring each other up to date
You’re the local eccentric
You possess a mixed-breed.
This was a favorite bit from Mad Magazine over three decades ago. (These days, however, you don't possess a mixed-breed but instead have rescued it.)
But an appreciated attribute of many old coastal New Englanders is never quite knowing if they are living a life of genteel poverty or are simply very low key with their wealth.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
“This obsession with family and genealogy became an enduring part of New England’s culture.”
- David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America
“The builders of the Bay colony thought of themselves as a twice-chosen people: once by God, and again by the General Court of Massachusetts. Other English plantations eagerly welcomed any two-legged animal who could be dragged on board an emigrant ship. But Massachusetts chose its colonists with care. Not everyone was allowed to settle there.”
- David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America
|Founders Memorial, Boston Common - William Blackstone Greeting (my husband's 9th Great Grandfather) Governor John Winthrop and Company. (Puritans, not Pilgrims.)|
Monday, May 20, 2013
|Here is something rarely copied from the L.L. Bean archives.|
While Shawn Gorman will no doubt receive a lot of advice, he could do worse than add Is L.L. Bean on the right track? to his reading list.
Then, while one can be pretty sure Shawn Gorman has read the thoughts of Leon Gorman and Chris McCormick in Leon Gorman's book, L.L. Bean: The Making of an American Icon, here are some especially interesting quotes from each:
- "Our overall strength was functional value – products that did what they were supposed to do, did it every time, and did it for a long time, all for a reasonable price. This was what L.L. Bean was known for."
- Quoting Gentlemen’s Quarterly – “…emphasis on simplicity, practicality and durability. Unlike “high fashion” where “look” is foremost and function secondary, the appearance of Bean apparel is guided by what the clothes are intended to do.”
- “We also never put a lot of editorial content or outdoors imagery in our catalogs. We relied on our products and their descriptions to tell who we were.”
- “L.L. Bean as fashion was a mixed blessing for us, and we all knew it. Our sales increased markedly in the near term but were unlikely to be sustainable long term. In addition, being fashionable was a serious contradiction of our character and brand positioning. It confused our positioning internally as well as in the marketplace.”
- “We continued to use our employees and their families, friends, and dogs as models. We didn't want to come across as slick or sophisticated (and we didn't want to pay expensive fees for professional models)."
- "I don’t want to overstate it but we were lagging on our sourcing competencies. I'm guessing 60 or 70 percent of our items were probably sourced in the (United States) then. Maybe a little bit less than that but not much. What the consultants pointed out is that the world had moved offshore. Yes it would be nice if we could keep sourcing products in the (United States), but, realistically, all those jobs were going offshore anyway. The competencies were leaving this country and from a competitive standpoint we really had no choice. The quality, by the way, would be just as good, if not better than the (United States). So we created the sourcing department and gave them marching orders to improve our margins and reduce our cost of goods sold."
- "To this day (sourcing) was probably the most successful thing that came out of the Strategic Review. Today maybe 20 percent of our items are made in the (United States), and the rest are offshore… The cost of goods initiative was probably the single biggest reason the year 2000 was as successful as it was. That’s when our business really turned around. It wasn't so much sales growth that drove the performance of that year, it was improving margins that improved profitability of that year."
|Some Bean's items from about 40 years ago. How many companies produced clothes in the 1970's that are still wearable today?|
Friday, May 17, 2013
“The sports shirt of choice is the Lacoste. Only the all-cotton model will do, the one with the cap sleeves with the ribbed edging, narrow collar, and two button placket (never buttoned).”
- The Official Preppy Handbook, 1980
Thursday, May 16, 2013
|Photo From Yesterday|
A slight airport delay provided the opportunity to catch up on some podcasts. This quote summed up some previous conversations as well as provided a stark contrast to the day's events:
“Hipster irony doesn't allow you to be serious about anything. ...Hipster irony is an inability to take anything seriously, or to be sincere about your relationship to anything.... Hipster irony expects you to say [of authenticity], 'this is silly.'”
- Bryan Lowder, Slate Magazine, in The Culture Gabfest Podcast: A Rhythm of Liquids
|Delivering the keynote (and book-signing, and poster-signing) yesterday at the Cyber Conference at the FBI Training Academy in Quantico. The audience, including many 20-somethings, thankfully take their jobs very seriously.|
|There are worse airports at which to whittle away an extra hour.|
Brooks Brothers and others have been experimenting with embracing hipster. The results, predictably, are below.
|A perfect combination may be taking one's jobs and responsibilities seriously without taking oneself seriously. Some earned whimsy at the end of a long day is appreciated. This flask, given to my husband by the conference organizers, epitomizes that.|
at 9:37 AM
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
|A Few of the Summer Cottages of Weekapaug|
at 5:58 PM
Monday, May 6, 2013
|Produce from the farmers' market on Portmeirion Botanic Garden Dishes|
Here is some of the local produce available (in some cases via cold frames or greenhouses) in early May, and some ways to prepare it (simply):
- Carrots: grated in salads; steamed as side dish; chopped in stews
- Broccoli: steamed as side dish; sauteed in broccoli/pasta dish
- Rhubarb: stewed and served over ice cream
- Beets: steamed whole with skins on (to preserves nutrients) then peeled, sliced, and lightly buttered
- Strawberries: eaten raw (and, in this case, mostly eaten before we took this photograph!)
- Cucumbers: raw and sliced in salads or just used for grazing
- Asparagus: steamed and lightly buttered as side dish
- Lettuce: raw in salads
- Spinach (not shown): steamed and lightly buttered as side dish
Saturday, May 4, 2013
|Jamestown and the Newport Bridge|
As a quick aside, it is hard not to appreciate the the emergence and even explosion of farmers markets and CSAs over the last five or six years. We live in such a great time for produce, with direct access to food.
|We may live in a great era for so many things, but the time of the more charming Vera Bradley patterns is long over. Some vintage bags meet a need, but there has not been anything new worth getting in a good many years.|
|Some farmers just sell plugs from their greenhouse or cold-frames this time of year.|
|The launch service had not yet begun, but a ride could be had if you didn't mind squeezing in.|
|Harbour Court was closed, but some local racers were getting in some early competition. The awnings were up, however.|
|How not to look dignified.|
at 6:16 PM