TRACING THE PAST

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: TRACES OF THE PAST


FROM PAULA: “Quite often when I travel I take an unconventional approach. It is not about learning about buildings and places that I visit, or knowing all the dates and names; it is about stepping into the past, and if I am lucky enough to have only the company of my choice with me, it is like a time travel in which I write my own script.” 

Well put. I feel that way not only when I travel, but it is the reason I collect antiquities. Each is a physical piece of the past. I hold it and imagine how many other hands have held this piece of pottery or sculpture. Who were they? What was the world like? How did it happen that this fragile thing could survive a thousand years when, at any time, a slip of the hand would have shattered it.

Yesterday, my son gave me an old, small (as these things go) Victorian secretary with a glass display top, replacing a piece that I’d bought from a carpenter friend that was charming, but not exactly a great piece of furniture. I have spend the last 24 hours cleaning small things, finding things I’d forgotten I have, moving stuff around from this shelf, to that shelf. The former piece was open, no glass. There were just two shelves, one open top, the other 16-inches tall. The secretary’s shelves are about 13-inches high, so the taller things have had to move elsewhere, and some of the plates will fit, but not on their wood stands. Housing and displaying very old, delicate things is not as simple as it looks unless you have a lot more space for display than me. But, I did it. I gave away one picture — big 11X14 of the dawn over Ogunquit beach to my son and his partner. I have many things that need a piece of wall and there’s no wall available. I own the original of that print, so I can make another. Maybe I will. On canvas, this time.


I remembered something I’d put out of my mind and it saddened me. Last March, I (me, no one else, just me) knocked down a display cabinet in the living room. I wrote about it here: WHEN GOOD SHELVES GO BAD.

Qianlong (1736-1795) porcelain vase.
Qianlong (1736-1795) porcelain vase.

I had forgotten that the Qianlong (1736-1795) porcelain vase (the white vase with the Chinese characters) was one of two fatalities in that crash. I’m very glad I took pictures of it. It was probably my favorite piece. The prettiest and in the best condition of any of my antique vases. It was, in fact, almost flawless.

It no longer exists in this world. That’s the thing about the antiques and antiquities we collect. We collect them for ourselves because they are beautiful and rare and come from the mists of time. But we also preserve them so they will continue to exist in this world. Sadly, I failed in this and one other much older small vase.

There is more to collecting that just “having stuff.” Real collectors know this and it is probably more addictive than heroine. And possibly, even more expensive.

A SOUTH AMERICAN LOVE

A Romantic Player, by Rich Paschall


Let’s face it, Jon was a bit of a player.  In fact, he felt he had to be.  How else was a poor boy to get by in the world?  He had tried to make it in other ways.  Now he had to expand his possibilities in any way he could.  He was looking for a way up and out and the present circumstance did not provide it.

By the time Jon had reached his late teens, he decided he must move out of the small South American town where poverty was the only way of life.  He dreamed of the big city and when he got his chance to join an acrobatic troupe based in one of the largest cities, he was off.  High in the tropical mountains was a city of millions of people and Jon would join the many and hope for a better life.

A move to the city
A move to the city

He could not afford a place in the city, actually, so he took a small apartment in a poor suburb.  He kept the place neat and clean so that he could enjoy his few possessions in pleasant surroundings.  Jon trained and exercised daily for his job.  The troupe performed exhibitions and entered competitions.   Sometimes there was money, but for some competitions, there was nothing.

With his youthful good looks and confidence, Jon signed up with a modeling agency.  There was little placement for fashion models, but with his cute face and athletic body, they were sure they could get Jon into a certain type of modeling and even film career.  Jon was stunned at the suggestion and refused the work.  The agency encouraged him to come back if he ever changed his mind.

Up on the roof
Up on the roof

While standing on the roof of his apartment building and looking down on the rooftops and poor people below, Jon got an idea.  He had to meet new people.  He had a phone and could easily steal WiFi from in his apartment, so he decided to meet people and make friends from other areas, even other countries.  Since he thought the United States might be a good place, he decided to try to improve his little English and meet people.  Jon charmed his way into many lives under the guise of trying to learn the language.  He was really trying to find friends.

When there were some extra pesos in his pocket, Jon went to an area in the city that was frequented by tourists from other parts of the country and as well as “gringos.” Sometimes Jon went alone, sometimes with friends.  They would take a small table or sit at the bar in a popular night spot.  There the young and handsome men would accept drinks from older men or women tourists.  Sometimes they would get an offer to go back to a hotel for the evening.  Jon liked the free drinks, but declined the extra opportunity.  None of the people were right for him.  He did not want a one night stand, no matter what the offer.

Trolling for "friends"
Trolling for “friends”

While “borrowing” his internet connection from a neighbor, Jon started to become good friends with a few people he met online.  One stood out for Jon because he seemed to take a genuine interest in him as a person.  Jon talked with George about everything.  When chatting online Jon would use a program that would translate messages as they came in.  It is true it was not helping Jon learn English, but he did make more friends through faster communication.

George seemed special to Jon.  He told him all about the city where he lived.  He talked of his job and life.  He asked Jon about his life, his job and his interests.  No one else wanted to know anything about Jon like George did.   Soon Jon wanted to use something other than the language site to communicate.

“Can we use Google or Messenger or something else?”  And they did.  They followed each other on facebook and called on Messenger.

“Send me the camera, George.”

“What do you mean?’

“I want to see you.  I want to see where you live.”

So they made virtual visits until one day things changed.  Opportunity for Jon was at hand.  George had vacation to use and nowhere to go.

“Come to me, George.  I want to see you.  Please.  I like you so much.  Please.”

After a few days of pleading, George was hooked and scheduled a visit to a continent he never dreamed of travelling to.

When George arrived as promised, Jon did not seem to notice, or at least not to care, that George was much older.  They went around town like tourists and had a good time seeing the sites by themselves one night, and with some of Jon’s friends the next.  They were both pleased with the country, the city and with themselves.

Seeing the nightlife
Seeing the nightlife

Jon took advantage of the situation by offering to cook their meals rather than go to expensive restaurants.  Of course, they had to go to the markets where Jon made sure to get extra dry goods and fresh meats to last past George’s visit.  It was OK with George, even though he paid for it all.  He recognized what Jon was doing, but buying extra food for Jon was certainly cheaper than eating out every meal.  It was a win-win according to George.

When the brief visit was over, and George was at the airport, Jon cornered him down a hall way and told him that he loved him and thanked him for coming.  Then Jon looked around to be sure no one was watching before kissing him.  George was more than a bit surprised.

The next day Jon met with a favorite girl friend, Vanessa.  She asked Jon about the visit of the stranger from America.

“He is very nice,” Jon told her.  “I think I will marry him.”

Vanessa looked at him as if she did not understand at first.  Finally she spoke.

“What?”

 

Related: For George’s side of the story, see “I Love You (No You Don’t)”

ODDBALLS IN THE LATE AUTUMN

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: 2016 Week 44


I really am having trouble figuring out what’s an oddball and what’s art. I’m beginning to doubt there’s a difference. One person’s oddball is someone else’s artwork. So, given that I’m confused but always game for a challenge …

Ambrotype Chrysthemums
Ambrotype chrysanthemums
A back street in town.
A back street in town.
Symphony Hall near Christmas
Symphony Hall near Christmas
Looking into the woods from the open teepee door.
Looking into the woods from the open teepee door.

cob-banner-oddball

NIGHT IN THE CITY — PHOTOS & JONI MITCHELL

Black & White Sunday: Nightscape



72-BW-Night-Main-St-Uxbridge2-121015_126
December night, downtown Uxbridge
Symphony station, Boston, mid-December night
Symphony station, Boston, mid-December night
75-BW-CityNight_079
Midtown Boston, December