Friday, August 29, 2008

Camp Closed


Date:     August 29, 2008

Re:        Camp Closing Procedures

To:        Staff

I'd like to thank everyone for another successful summer at Camp Blandings.  Besides the usual transition issues, the summer seemed to go well.  In general, the maturity of the campers seemed slightly better than last year.  We can only hope this continues to be the trend, but as we phase in a teen-agers over the next two years it's best to not be too optimistic.

In order to be better prepared for next year's campers I am recommending the following:
  • A consistent policy on swim team.  The responsible party needs to be clear, either campers are always expected to go practice or practice is completely optional and attendance is determined by the whim of the camper, generally based on who will be there and what kind of snacks might be provided.  This year's counselor was greatly influenced by her own level of interest and energy which was based on who would be there and what snacks would be provided.  We need stronger leadership in this area.
  • It might be helpful if next year's counselor were a little more willing to spend time outside.  It is hot and it is buggy, but a more positive disposition might be in order.
  • While archery and marksmanship are not part of the regular curriculum, perhaps we should explore their addition to the schedule next year.  There seems to be a high level of camper interest in shooting, spearing and wrecking things.  Along this line, I believe pyrotechnics would be a popular offering.
There are a few general maintenance items that need to be wrapped up as well.
  • The sofa pillows in the mess tent are trashed.  While each camper claimed, "I didn't do anything!" all pillows are literally coming apart at the seams.  Please see they are repaired by the upholsterer immediately.
  • We are missing roughly 47 balls, the breakdown being something like this:  24 baseballs, 7 playground balls various sizes, 6 lacrosse balls, 8 golf balls and two tennis balls that were mainly used for playing with the camp hound.  Before restocking for next year please check all window wells, flower beds (especially the hydrangea and azalea bushes) and neighboring property.  They didn't walk away by themselves, folks.
  • The piles of books by campers' beds must be re-shelved.   Keeping campers supplied with books was often challenging, but I think we did a fine job.  Still, cabin floors need to be cleared so one can at least, well, walk through the room.

The policy of keeping the session free of worksheets and study guides seemed to work well for campers and counselors alike.  I recommend next year's staff replicate this year's staff's encouragement of brain deterioration and spotty retention.  

Thank you, again, for your help with a wonderful summer session.  As we say every year, "It went so fast."  We hope to see you next year.

Image, above, a view of the sunset on the inlet in Sag Harbor from the patio of our big city friend's home.  It is all that it appears. 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Finish Your Homework

I had a "work thing" last night.  You have no idea the giddy thrill it gives me to say this to Mr. Blandings.  "I'll be out Wednesday.  I have a thing for work."  In this particular setting people introduce me by saying, "She writes a column for Spaces." or "She has a blog."  rather than, "She has three boys, Kindergarten, 3rd and 6th."  While the later is exponentially more significant, the former leads to better cocktail party talk.

Anyway.  I'd managed homework and sports before I left and some recapping after I returned.  I had not posted yesterday as I had had a deadline.  Actually, I'd missed my deadline so it was really nose to the grindstone.  But, like exercise, it might be better not to miss two days as then I might be on a downward slide of sloth from which I might not recover.  Tuesday, when I was out hunting and gathering, I stopped in at Spivey's Books.  I'm contrasting this to Meg of Pigtown Design's "book thing."  This is the design department of Spiveys.  I know, a closet, but like Lewis's classic, this particular portal leads to wonders untold.  On this visit I walked away with Billy Baldwin Decorates.  Baldwin and the elusive and mythical Vogue book were the top two on my list and now Baldwin joins the fold.

So I sat, feet up, bracelets off (avoiding my re-write) to see if Baldwin offered any reference to Tuesday's post.  Oh, yes.  In Spades.  (Couldn't resist.)

Like linking the spelling words to their meanings in the grade school worksheet, one can draw the criss-crossed lines from '72 to '08.  Chairs, chairs, chairs, mostly French and many painted.  Chinoiserie table.  Chic and modern art.  Stunning wood floors with patterned rugs.  A mix of metal finishes both white and yellow.  Ceramic lamps.  Even pillows on the sofa, two matching, others different, carries through.

So with the boys in bed, notes for the article scattered everywhere and design magazines and books piled higgledy piggeldy I had that moment of calm.  All the answers to the universe are there for the taking.  The issues of space, balance and color remain the same.  All you have to do is finish your homework.

Images, other than my own, Mr. and Mrs. Placido Arango's Madrid apartment, Billy Baldwin Decorates, 1972.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcome Home, Mrs. Spade

Many of you have seen these images before.  Kate and Andy Spade's apartment in New York has become a bit iconic in the blog world.  (If folks who are immersed in technology are "techies" are those of us well versed in decor "deccies?"  You decide.)

Originally featured in World of Interiors, Kansas City's own design magazine, Spaces, acquired the rights to showcase them in the September Fashion issue.

In case you didn't know, Mrs. Spade is a native.  I know a few folks who call her Katie.  I actually lived on the same floor as her sister our freshman year at KU.  She and her roommate ditched the standard issue twin beds and brought in bunk beds to give them more room.  It also provided easy access to the ceiling which they proceeded to turn into something of an inspiration board.  Needless-to-say, I do not refer to the designer as "Katie" and her sister was far too cool to remember the likes of me.

Judith Fertig, a regular contributor to Spaces, wrote the engaging text that accompanies the stunning images.  

It's probably best I never meet Mrs. Spade myself.  I fear I would follow her around like a cloying wanna-be saying things like, "I adore your glossy, black interior doors.  You know, the doors in my hallway are black." or "We have so much in common!  Did I mention my kitchen is green and black and white, too."  Or worse, "Fab wallpaper in the bath; I just silver leafed vines on my sitting room walls, you should drop in to see."

Naturally, I would go on and on about Ted Muehling and his unbelievable candlesticks.

I missed the World of Interiors issue, so I am glad to have these images on paper, safely in my file in my desk.  In it's own yellow and white striped folder labeled "Katie" in black ink.

The September issue is on newsstands in town now.  If you are not in Kansas City and would like to get your hands on this issue, and you don't subscribe, you can email Spaces distribution manager at  to obtain a copy for $6.  

But you do subscribe, right?  

Monday, August 25, 2008

O fer

"My dear," said her husband, the cob, one afternoon, "do you never find your duties onerous or irksome?  Do you never tire of sitting in place and in one position, covering the eggs, with no diversions, no pleasures, no escapades, or capers?  Do you never suffer from boredom?"
"No," replied his wife.  "Not really."
"Isn't it uncomfortable to sit on eggs?"
"Yes, it is," replied the wife.  "But I can put up with a certain amount of discomfort for the sake of bringing young swans into the world."

So, now I have one week under my belt.  I'd like to say I ran to sloth, lolled around and wallowed in my solitude.  But I did not.  I began the great Blandings purge.  I am shamed by the amount of stuff that has accumulated.  The amount of stuff that has made it's way in while, apparently, nothing has made it's way out.

That being said, the expanse of unstructured time has freed my mind a bit.  I had visited this bench a few times and pined for it, but I did not have a good spot.  I have a lucite stool in front of my fireplace, and the room needs it, otherwise it will tip to something more like showroom aesthetic.  Unpleasant.  Then, inspiration struck.

Part of the restructuring has been a commitment to keep my vanity tidy.  Messy, don't forget, I tend to pile this handy spot with clothes, both dirty and clean, as they are shed.  Then, once a week or so (maybe twice) I sort and return things to their appropriate spot.

You would think this would drive Mr. Blandings crazy as it is the first thing you see upon entering the bathroom.  When asked, he replied, "Honey, it's just what you do."  Which is the kind of thing that defines him as a much nicer person than I; in a similar situation, it's unlikely that that would be my response.  So I've placed a few things here to deter the heaping and, so far so good.  (I'm out of silver polish, in case you hadn't noticed.)

I recently played ring-around-the-rosie with some light fixtures and moved this crystal pendant here.  Which I like, but it made me realize the whole thing needs a bit of spiffing up.  The sheer was existing and the stool moved from the old house - a "temporary" space filler, still there eight years later.  Eureka!  Chinoiserie stool, plain sheer and a mirror, done.  Except the chinoiserie bench is sold and my heart is broken.  Darn.

Then, looking for bottles or jars to place upon the bathroom shelf at Curious Sofa, I ran across this charming bench.  Perfect!  Just the thing to replace the coffee table, whose lip cuts into the back of your heel when you place your feet upon it to watch TV.

Just the right size, the patina is great, works with the ticking of the sofa.

Sadly, all wrong with the rest.  The color was a smidge too gray, it's chic shabbiness was all off with the tub chairs and the tiger striped child's chair.  Reluctant to give her up, I tried to find her a home with a particularly stylish friend, but she was a tad too big for the space.  After much consternation, back she went. 

Darn, again.

"Children," he began, "I have news for you.  Summer is drawing to a close.  Leaves are turning red, pink and pale yellow.  Soon the leaves will fall.  The time has come for us to leave this pond.  The time has come for us to go."
"Go?" cried all the cygnets except Louis.
"Certainly," replied their father.  "You children are old enough to learn the facts of life, and the principal fact of our life right now is this: we can't stay in this marvelous location much longer...All things come to an end.  It is time for us to go."

If you have never read Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White you are missing something special.  Read it.  If you have the opportunity to read it aloud to a child, rejoice.  I am reading this to the youngest and a work of fantasy to the oldest, and while I enjoy both books, White's prose sings while the other clunks.  It is a book to not be missed.  

Friday, August 22, 2008

Does She or Doesn't She

Jennifer's gray at The Peak of Chic courtesy Mary McDonald.
Megan's gray at beachbungalow8 courtesy Ruthie Sommers.

Courtney's gray at StyleCourt courtesy Michael Smith.

Erika's gray at Urban Grace, her own design.

Mrs. Blandings has no gray courtesy of Shelby.  Hope you have a colorful weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Birthday Bounty: Boots and Boxes

Mr. Blandings treated me to new planters for the front step for my birthday.  It was a married kind of birthday present.  I did want them, but he wanted them first.  In fact, a friend of mine had seen them originally and been on the hunt; her permission had to be procured before the purchase.

The old ones, a sort of faux something, had a great grey color, but were deteriorating quickly, crumbling on the bottom.

These are metal, both the frame and the liner, and powder coated, so they should hold up for the long haul.  Which is good, because even half-filled with styrofoam peanuts, dirt and yews they weight about 50 bagillion pounds, or so estimated the youngest.

Being a lover of presents, I have no problem buying one for myself.  I emailed Hollister Hovey recently as I had become fixated on riding boots.  Real ones, not, say, J.Crew.  Which is funny, because this is just the kind of thing I would usually abhor.  Safari jackets for explorers, diving watches for divers, riding boots for equestrians.  But Hollister has captivated me with her style and I simply had to have them.

One friend warned that dress boots are not made to walk in necessarily and hinted they might not be so comfortable in dashing about town.  Undeterred, I headed out to CM Tack.  Oh, the wonder of a spot like this, unparalleled by even hardware and art supply stores.  A most delightful woman patiently helped me.  I had to have zippers as I am a bit claustrophobic and the pull on models were giving me the heebie-jeebies.  I also learned that I have "healthy calves" a new euphemism to apply to my aging parts.  

I brought them home and wore them around the house.  The initial fit revealed a lot about the evolution and practicality of the goose step.  In addition, I now understand why those WASP-y and elegant riders appear in photographs sanguine with legs outstretched and carelessly crossed at the ankle.  If you think I returned them to their over-sized box you are wrong.  After an hour the leather was already beginning to soften and give and, frankly, they had captured my heart before I'd even pulled them from the box.  

Form over function you say?  Perhaps, but I say "Hurry up Fall."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This & That

Out and about this weekend I spotted a few things of note.  These dining chairs, a set of 12 at Barbara Farmer's always charming shop, Parrin & Co.  They are not antiques, but a great look at a great price - $135 each.  And twelve.  Not always easy to come by.

A collection of silver birds would jazz up any tablescape for fall.

And, the swoon-worthy.  A green, chinoiserie confection that I would have snapped right up for myself except green is not so much my thing - I take my chinoiserie black -  and I did not have $1400 rattling around in the bottom of my bag.  It's worth every penny.  If this were on your dressing table, you'd start every day feeling like a swan.

Also, driving by to stalk my favorite gate (I'm starting to have visions of the front yard thanks to Cindy Sutherland's inspiration) I stumbled across this gem.

I've often wanted to post pictures to bemoan the monsterous McMansions, but have not as they are, in fact, someone's house and that would be unkind.  But to my great delight, this new construction is going up in one of the most lovely neighborhoods in Kansas City.  I have kept the image tight, as I don't know the owner and they might not want their home on the internet.  (I will know by noon as one of my friends will email or call to say, "Don't you know the so and so's?)  Anyway, they tore down a very bland and ignoble split level that will not be missed and are replacing it with this gracious home.  The significance of this not just the style, which will nestle right in, unnoticed as a newcomer in this gracious burg, but its proportion on the lot, which is... appropriate.  Bravo.

Then, on a trip to the grocery, I spied this across the street.  Harry.  Well, not Harry, but a look alike of the car my father purchased circa 1970 and allowed me to name.

Nearly all the joy of my early childhood can be summed up by this car and it was such a surprise to see one exactly the same in my own neighborhood.  Amazing.

And, a trip to the Antique Mall resulted in the very conservative purchase of one book, "Heart of Darkness."

 It was the first book I bought on the attraction to the cover alone, then, upon googling it, find I can't wait to start it.  Some things work out.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Care and Feeding of Magical Creatures

My youngest son goes to full-day Kindergarten today.  My oldest begins middle school.  I can remember when my first headed off for pre-school and we packed his blanket in his bag, his slightly-too-large, golden blond head peering over the side at the little square of security that was to go with.  When he walked in he had a tentative look in his eye, but a steady gait and I thought, "Maybe if you have to take your woobie with you, you are too young to go to school."  I was wrong, of course.  They had a train table and blocks and his first chosen friend, William.

At dinner on Sunday I voiced the thought that had been bouncing around in my head.  "Every day now, from 8 until 3:30 I will be here alone."  All three boys and Mr. Blandings stared back at me, momentarily speechless.  Being at home alone is not something of which any of us has much experience.  "What will you do?" one asked, and then they started filling my days with wonders only they could imagine.  "You could watch Sponge Bob ALL DAY."  "And eat Skittles."  "Or popsicles, I would eat popsicles all day."  "You won't be alone, you'll have Rosie."

And what we could all sense is that it is a big transition.  Alone, for all of us, has both positive and negative connotations.  What is the point of watching Sponge Bob and eating Skittles all day if there's no one there to eat the green ones for you?

While cleaning up, Mr. Blandings assured me that if I got lonely he would come home for lunch to keep me company.  I'm not one who has usually equated being alone with loneliness.  I'm afraid that I will be busy, but fruitless, so anxious to do so many things that have been on the back burner for the last twelve years that I will just be in a limbo of false starts.

Mr. Blandings's routine will not change.  He has always walked in around six to find us at home  practicing, studying, horsing around and on the rare occasion, cooking.  The rest of us, me and the boys start the day with a bit of excitement and trepidation.  All prepared and all wondering, "What comes next?"  

Monday, August 18, 2008


In the June issue of Met Home, I noticed a lot of rectangles.  Their Design 100 list included "gold."  Illustrating their point was this image of the fretwork screen from Armani/Casa and the gold ingots from Conran touted as the chicest of doorstops.

Michael Berman's collection for Kravet.

Toronto designer, Elaine Cecconi's home.  This could be a "Highlights" magazine feature.  How many rectangles can you find?

So maybe someone at Met Home had a bit of an AHA! moment.  This month, their trend alert is bricks.

Blandings, naturally, are ahead of the trend.  The shameful secret of our Chicago trip, is that the very first place we went - after driving half the day and checking in - was the Lego store on Michigan Avenue.  It was a conundrum.  Listen to, "When are we going to the Lego store?  Are we going now?  After breakfast? After the Cubs game?" until we went or fulfill every wish, go first and lose all leverage for good behavior for the entire stay.  I'm old.  They won.

They each had pre-determined budget.  Reasonable, but healthy.  Research had been done.  It was a relatively painless and highly successful mission; everyone got what he wanted.  But, a few days later at Science and Industry, Mr. B and I spied the Hancock Building and the Sears Tower.  These had not been at the store.  I had to have them.  Me.  The boys never saw them and I bought them anyway because they were

Even on the Architecture Series says, "Coming Soon."  I feel like we were in some kind of Lego time warp.  These Chicago landmarks were the first in the series but many, many more buildings are planned.  Architecture is a partnership with Adam Reed Tucker, an architecture artist and a Chicago native.  He has created intricate Lego sculptures of architectural masterpieces worldwide that you can see on  He has developed more manageable models for the 10 & up crowd.

Like me.  I'm 10 & up.  Way up, but still.