Shackleford

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Not all stories in this blog are about furniture, but someway I find a connection.

Percy Fawcett

There I was at the movies with my wife, drinking water because we are trying to be good, eating popcorn because we aren’t that good.

The movie, The Lost City of Z, based on a true story, one about British explorer Lieutenant Colonel Percival Harrison Fawcett, DSO, (played by Charlie Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon at the turn of the 20th century and discovers an unknown, advanced civilization of Indians. No not Machu Picchu, which is mentioned to give the movie an air of verisimilitude.

Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie and 88% rating. My wife agreed, I took exception to the broad time scope of the movie (from the Boer War through World War I and the Roaring Twenties), but liked the performances, especially Hunnam as the indefatigable Fawcett.

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James Murray – the foil

Every good movie has a foil, a spoiler who messes things up, and gives us a role model for what not to be. This time the role went to Angus Macfadyen, who played James Murray, second fiddle on the Shackleford Expedition, and stick in the mud on Fawcett’s quest for the lost city of Z.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE, and FRGS

Names have a tendency to stick in my mind, like gum on the bottom of my shoe. And so it was with the reference to the Shackleford Expedition. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE, and FRGS, was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. The Discovery Expedition of 1901–03 was famously unsuccessful with Shackleford’s ship becoming ice bound, the crew abandoning the ship, and heroically marching across the barren ice bound landscape to rescue. Shackleford would return to his quest, heading to the South Pole, and achieve some success.

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Back to the Lost City of Z.

Fawcett’s foil, James Murray, was, according to the movie, second in command on one of Shackleton’s ventures. This, and his money, gave Murray the gravitas to both finance and join in a second attempt to find Z. This attempt was a flop due to Murray, and a third attempt was necessary, resulting in the movie’s last few scenes. Fawcett is joined by his son and they go off in what appears to be a quixotic search.

Here comes the hook

I like adventures. I like true stories. I liked Shackleford’s.

I loved Percy and his story, part Horatio Alger, part Captain Ahab, part David Copperfield and a few other Charles Dickens characters.

I mention all this because of the Studio by Stickley dining table and sideboard below, which are part of the Shackleford collection.

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Shackleford dining table

Both pieces have that weathered distressed look that reminds one of the furniture one would find on a trawler plying the South seas, and I can picture Percy Fawcett and his son heading south to Amazonia on their final quest to find the Lost City of Z.

The city is there, I am as sure of it as Percy.  And we should go look for it.

“Ah, but…” as Robert Browning said, “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”

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Shackleford console

Now showing, the Shackleford collection at Traditions Home

Ain’t got time for a fast train

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A Stressless short story

It was Saturday morning and the first day of spring. The weather was cloudy and cool.Because I thought it might rain, I was wearing a short light grey trench coat, the kind Audrey Hepburn wore in Charade. But maybe, I was just trying to be incognito.

Five minutes before, I had just arrived after an 8-hour, sleepless flight from Heathrow to Dulles. The Metro was due to arrive in two minutes. Then my baby called, saying she had missed her connection in Atlanta. Next flight noon.

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Stranger things have happened

There it was, a Stressless recliner in the middle of the plaza.
That is strange, but stranger still is the fact that it was empty. No one, not a soul, seemed to see it. And baby, it was calling my name.

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The ultimate comfort

I felt relieved as I sat down. I stretched out my arms and back, and felt the chair magically adjust. I closed my eyes and began to sing, “Ain’t got time to take a fast train…”

And soon I was asleep.

Aer-o-planes and fast trains

 

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home

Wayne Carson wrote and composed “The Letter” after his father suggested an opening line, “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane.” The track was recorded in Memphis with a local five-man group in a session produced by Dan Penn. The band members were Alex Chilton on vocals, Danny Smythe on drums, Russ Caccamisi on bass, John Evans on keyboards, and Richard Malone on guitar. The session took over 30 takes to get it right, with Penn suggesting to Chilton he pronounce the title “aer-o-plane”. After the session, Penn added the sound of an airplane take-off.
The song took off and reached #1 position for a total of four weeks, Billboard ranked the record as the No. 2 song for 1967.

Peace of mind and body

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In yoga, touching together the tips of index finger with that of the thumb gives peace of mind and wisdom. This mudra or hand gesture is called Gyan, and it is said to boost enthusiasm and enhance curiosity. Sitting in a Stressless recliner gives peace of mind and body. It is said to be the most relaxing recliner in the Milky Way.

Like yoga, sitting in a Stressless recliner can be practiced anytime.

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Do we live in the Milky Way?

Yes, we live in the Milky Way Galaxy, which measures some 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter and is about 1,000 light-years thick. Imagine a long playing vinyl record. It is about 1.9 millimeters wide. The width of the Milky Way would then be about six records wide. If one is counting the days and years, it takes the Milky Way 230 million light years to make a complete revolution.

How fast are we traveling?

Now, hold on to your hat. Even sitting still in one’s Stressless recliner, the sun is moving though the universe at an astounding 483,000 miles per hour, and it is but one of over 200 billion stars.

As John Rhys-Davies (British actor of The Lord of the Rings fame) said, “If we named every star in the Milky Way and put them in the Hollywood telephone directory and stacked those telephone directories up, we’d have a pile of telephone directories 70 miles high.” Can you imagine calling up every star just to say hello?

Where in the Milky Way are we?

Every time we gaze at the clear night sky we are looking at the Milky Way Galaxy. And where in the Milky Way are we?

Why, right here, of course, trying to stay out of the way.

Don’t hurry

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Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?
My Losing Season by Pat Conroy

 

I have concluded that life’s best teacher is losing.

In winning, we celebrate, but in losing we learn the hard lessons of life and so become better. Perhaps in that sense, we should celebrate the losses and strive to take on more and more challenges in the hope that we will lose and by losing become our very best.

Life is full of contradictions, isn’t it?

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I am always reluctant to read books that do not have a happy ending in the strange and bizarre belief that we become what we read. I make an exception with Pat Conroy whose books often deal with dysfunctional family relationships.

If you are not a Pat Conroy fan, become one.

My Losing Season is Conroy’s story of the losing basketball season in his last year as a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He is an unshakeable though small and modestly talented point guard for his team. His father is a hard-core marine colonel. His capricious coach heaps withering scorn on his players.

Somewhere in all the pain and humiliation, Conroy is able to find resolution, strength, love and healing.

Don’t hurry this book. It is meant to be read leisurely. Read a bit then get up and go for a walk. Healing takes time and learning to love those who have been a little tough on us takes a lifetime.

It only takes a moment to enjoy to relax in a Stressless recliner.

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Stay, it says silently

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Out for a walk on a winter’s day, I come upon a fence. The fence is made of wood and falling down here and there, so I know that no one cares to make repairs and keep me out.  A thought by Robert Frost comes to mind that good fences make good neighbors. Hmm-m, I pause, I stop and watch the fence and yet it does not move. It does not keep the rabbit out nor the yelping dogs, and surely not the deer. They who run and jump love a strong and sturdy fence that says to those who carry guns, keep out.

Still, I shout, hello, to see if anyone replies.

Stay, it says silently.

With not a soul in sight to give offense, should I cross or stay? An old fence in the woods and far, far, far from home, it seems to me, is not so neighborly. And now a thought for an old man who is frail, and cannot climb a fence.

Would it be a crime, should I remove a log or two?

Oh, the winter is quite wicked with its biting, whining wind and snow. Oh, my careless woes.

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New Year’s Resolution

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If I am going to stick with a New Year’s Resolution in 2017, it might be this:

Go not where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The thing about resolutions is that they are often abandoned and forgotten like a clod upon a field. Still, if even a glimmer of the resolution is kept, we create a whole new person with a whole new outlook on life. This thought leads me along the path to one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl, who said:

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

Magic is a wonderful thing. It makes life exciting. It makes life likeable and livable. I am not speaking of Las Vegas magic, I am speaking of the magic of finding something new in life, of discovering that learning never ends.

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Home for the Holidays

This year, I will be home for the holidays.

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My grown children are arriving soon from Colorado and Texas. Dear guests will drop by. My aunt will  be making cookies and pie. I’ll be buying the beer and wine.  It is the least and the most I can do. And the cold days and long nights give rise to thoughts like these:

The highlight in December is Christmas
A day we are all waiting for
When family and guest gather round
To listen to the sound of carols
To share presents under the tree
To raise a spirited cheer
With a glass of wine
To throw a log of wood on the fire
And stare at the flickering light
But out in the hills and valleys and woods
At night
The animals gather too
Underneath the twinkling stars
To ward off the cold and dark
There below the heavenly skies

To experience the beauty of the snow and the silence

Home Sweet Bruges

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Where to find the best chocolate in Bruges?

Pralinette,
L’Atelier du Chocolat
Wollestraat 31b
B-8000 Bruges Belgium

http://www.pralinette.be/

Bruges is a beautiful city of cobblestone streets and market squares. One gets about by foot or if, one is in a hurry, by bicycle. But the best way to travel is by accident, exploring the back streets, the canals, and medieval buildings, discovering what makes this city so unique.

Serendipity is the idea of finding something nice by accident. Serendipity can also be sweet. Nice and sweet is the best chocolate in Bruges from Chocolaterie Pralinette.

Where to discover Stressless Bliss recliners?

Homefurnishers.com where one can shop online from anywhere for Stressless recliners and more.

http://homefurnishers.com/product/stressless-bliss-recliner/

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Stressless Bliss recliner, signature base, paloma rock

Color makes the difference

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Manhattan sofa by Ekornes

With its gently sloping contours, Stressless Manhattan is a stunning example of an original Stressless design. A fixed back and curved wood finishes gives the Manhattan a serene sense of style, cosmopolitan and elegant as the name implies.

Available in a traditional three seat sofa, a two seat loveseat, and chair.

The leather Paloma, the color metal grey is a time of reflection and a sign of change. Neither black nor white, the color illuminates the way forward in this sometimes cold world.

How color makes all the difference in the world.

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Like the sun, yellow signals a brighter day. Yellow communicates the beauty of the world. Yellow is the scientist and the poet, constantly analyzing, methodical and decisive, joyous and curious, looking and discovering what makes life meaningful.

What is your color?

Homefurnishers sells Stressless in all the colors of the rainbow.

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Gentle reader, let me leave you with this thought from John Locke, “We are all a sort of chameleons, that still take a tincture from things near us,” meaning: the color of the world we surround ourselves with gives substance to our souls. Locke wrote these words in Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), concluding with the observation, “nor is it to be wondered at in children, who better understand what they see, than what they hear.”

Gentle reader, we do not need to understand what it takes to be happy, it is enough to see it in the smile of a child who sees for the first time the beauty of a rainbow after the rain.

Let me ask again, what is your color?

Act

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Metropolitan

 

“God doth not need either man’s work or his own gifts;
who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.
His state is kingly.
Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and [watch].”
Better still, they serve who act while others wait.
They give, let others take…
Stay, I can’t be still when I know not
If I shall see or live another day.

John Milton’s poem, On His Blindness, was written while Milton was going blind, or shortly thereafter (circa 1652). At the same time, Milton lost his first wife after she gave birth. A son soon died. Milton went on to write his twelve-book epic poem, “Paradise Lost,” after becoming totally blind.