Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee all through the night

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Pardon me if I digress

Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee, all through the night…

Many was the night when Dylan Thomas’ mother, a simple and religious woman, sang this tune to her child as he drifted off to sleep. The original Welsh lyrics began, “Holl amrantau’r sêr ddywedant, Ar hyd y nos.” Translated to English, “All the stars’ twinkles say. All through the night.”

More familiarly, the tune was sung like this:

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber steeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O’er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night.

Sir Henry Boulton, 1884

I mention all this because I am of Welsh and English extraction, because I love the tune, I love the lyrics, the poet is in my soul, and because, like Dylan Thomas, my mother sang it to me.

Visions of fright turn to delight

Before there were night lights to keep a child company at bed time, the pale moonlight shining through the window brought comfort. Outside my room, the moon hung low over the blue Appalachian mountains.  Back then we slept with the window open, listening to the gentle rustle of the breeze through the trees, whispering the word, “Sleep.” But, the silence was broken by the screech of the cat, the bark of a dog, or the mournful cry of the night owl.

“Who?” it asked.

A frightened child, unable to sleep, was soothed by its mother’s gentle voice, all through the night…

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You have got to get up in the morning

It’s still dark outside, the dog’s in bed, and the eyes are closed. The night before, I partied late. I drank too much and sang that familiar old tune. If you were in the army, you remember it – Irving Berlin’s song about that hated bugle boy and the dreaded reveille:

‘Oh! how I hate to get up in the morning
Oh! how I’d love to remain in bed;
For the hardest blow of all, is to hear the bugler call;
You’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get up this morning!

I have to remind myself, I am not in the army anymore, and I don’t have to get up, I don’t have to get up, I don’t have to get up in the morning.

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Stickley Mission Beds

Gustav Stickley started a revolution at the turn of the 20th century with his New Mission furniture. It wasn’t called mission then, that would come later. It was an American Arts and Crafts design with a focus on craftsmanship. His notion was that furniture should be “honest and simple”. What you see is what you get. Materials should be natural.

Gustav Stickley used solid construction, what-you-see-is-what-you-get joinery, and the highest quality woods from North American forests, solid oak and cherry. But that would not have been enough if Stickley didn’t create enduring designs that reflect the lifestyle of Americans.

Take a peak at the new 2010 Collector Edition Console.

2019 stickley collector edition console

 

Christmas Past

Who remembers when?

These days, I find myself like an aging Dylan Thomas trying to remember those days when…

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

Though I may be confused at times, I do remember those days as happy times.

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Peace

College Days

Peace in the 60s takes on a new meaning for aging “flower children”.

Remember the good old days, when a looking for a Christmas tree was a trip with a saw to the forest in a Volkswagen van?:)

Santa Picks a Tree

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Childhood

When I was a child, it was grandpa with his white beard and boots, on foot. We parked the truck by the side of the road and walked through the deep snow. The snow rose to mid-thigh, making its way inside my boots, and quickly turning to cold water. The wind and the cold made my nose runny. And though I had mittens my fingers were smitten, nearly frost bitten.

When we came home with our prize tree for all to admire, Grandma was ready with a hot cup of cocoa, but not before she said to me, “Get out of those wet clothes, you’ll catch your death” and gave grandpa a look I took for a scold.

Dragging Home a Tree

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Oh, what a wonderful time. Dad’s woody wagon, a trip to the hill, sleds loaded in the back with the dogs, and whoosh!

Red Woody
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Monument to the Fallen, Hotel de Ville, Epernay Marne

Restlessness

Travel plays an important part in my life and restlessness is part of my DNA.

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It introduces me to new people and new places, to new ideas and ways of looking at things. It becomes a platform from which my old way of life can be seen with fresh eyes and appreciated.

It is good to travel, but it is great to come home, to rest.
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The hunt for the tribe

My daughter makes fun of my frequent comment:

“I am looking for members of my tribe.”

In this age of DNA, Ancestry.com, and genealogy, the human family seems to be obsessed with its family roots. The search for common ancestors and connections to distant places fascinates us. The idea of connections to royal families and historical figures a dream of every boy and girl. Beware, the ghost in the closet, the crazy uncle or aunt, the criminal convict shipped to Australia, the Irish who could not afford the price of a two-penny loaf and went to America, the pirate who sailed the seas, an outcast, hunted to the ends of the earth.

Like many Americans, I can claim to be a third-generation immigrant, that is, my grandmother was French. She hailed from the small village of Graffigny in the ancient region of Lorraine, France. She met my grandfather, an American soldier who came to France in 1917 and 1918, and fought alongside the French and British against the Germans. If I expanded my grandmother’s family circle, her father was German, thus it would not be hard to find cousins who battled my grandfather.

To the fallen, I dedicate this post.

We are all connected by common ancestors. So what?

No one is perfect, no one has a perfect pedigree. One said to me the other day, we are dealt a hand of cards, we have no influence on the dealer, but how we play our hand makes all the difference.

You’ve got personality

[For your amusement, listen to Personality by Loyd Price.]

I mean something different when I say I am looking for members of my tribe. By that I mean people of a common temperament and outlook. Humans have personality traits. Socrates and the ancient Greeks believed humans had four fundamental personality types: Sanguine (enthusiastic, active, and social), choleric (short-tempered, fast, or irritable), melancholic (analytical, wise, and quiet), and phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful).

How you answer questions like, do you plan your trips? speaks volumes about you. Tour group or solo, cruise or car, speaks to your social interaction, your desire to lead or follow, to find something new or be pleased with what is.

Modern behavioral psychology has expanded the description of personality traits to five factors: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, which, for the sake of memory, is gathered into the acronyms OCEAN or CANOE. Surely, we possess elements of each factor in varying degrees, but one or another predominates. I am a homebody, or I like to party. I start something, I get it done, or what the heck, put it off until tomorrow. Get along, go along, or strike out on my own.

We see these traits in others, in our spouse, in our children, but seeing them in ourselves is the trick. Caught up in the daily routine of surviving, we do what we are, subconsciously.

Sometimes, in a rare moment in a cafe in France, on the beach in Greece or Spain, in a pub in England, we come across a kindred spirit. We strike up a conversation and find the joy in discovering a tribe member, who like ourselves, enjoys, the sight and sounds of the place, the joy of conversation, the beauty of life.

“C’est la bonne vie!”

And, if you know what that means, you are most likely a tribe member.

In a Comfy Cottage I Read

 

“I would rather be poor in a cottage full of books than a king without the desire to read”

Or,

“What a blessing it is to love books as I love them; – to be able to converse with the dead, and to live amidst the unreal!”
― Thomas Babington Macaulay

First Baron Macaulay (1800 – 1859), British historian and Whig politician, widely read author of The History of England from the Accession of James II and other works, who sadly had little appreciation of cultures other than his own.

A child prodigy who would become a social historian,  the three year old Thomas, gazed out of the window from his cot at the billowing chimney of a local factory, is said to have asked his father whether the smoke came from the fires of hell.

There are none so blind as those who do not read, excepting those who refuse to see and, just as bad, those who see only what they want.

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Who, what, and where is Gat Creek?

Is the question, who is Gat Creek, where is Gat Creek, or what is Gat Creek?

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Who is Gat Creek?

The name behind Gat Creek is Gaston Caperton, Gat to his family and friends.

Where is Gat Creek?

Gat’s story is that growing up in West Virginia, he and his family lived in home in a forested valley surrounded by mountains. Like most kids, Gat and his brother spent their days playing along a nearby creek that wound its way through the valley. Being a year older and bigger and taller than his brother, Gat saw the creek first and proclaimed it his by way of conquest. Gat’s brother protested to his parents, who gave into the fatigue of chasing two boys under the age of five, finally relenting in Gat’s favor,

“Okay, it’s Gat’s Creek.”

The name stuck and now appears on maps, along with a road of the same name.

What is Gat Creek?

Almost 30 years later, Gat Caperton fell in love with a local furniture company in Berkley Springs that built antique reproductions using local craftsmen and women as well as Mennonites and Amish workers from Pennsylvania and Ohio. The company was Tom Seely.

Gat was interested both because it was a local West Virginia company and because Gat was in love with the idea of designing furniture. A background in business and finance helped seal the deal.

“I am fascinated by people who buy troubled businesses, then fix them and make them profitable,” Gat would later say.

He bought the company and eventually gave it the name it now proudly carries. Twenty years later, Gat Creek is still American made, using solid wood cherry, maple, and ash. And now sells through a network of 200 national retailers from coast to coast.

One of these retailers is Tradition Home. We are proud to say that we were the first Tom Seely and Gat Creek retailer west of the Mississippi, having earned our spurs working with May and Bud Ledtke at Village Antiques in Vienna, Virginia.

* Footnote

It is interesting to say that during World War II, Tom Seely served with the Flying Tigers in Kunming, China; and Bud Ledtke was a B-17 pilot with the Eighth Air Force flying out of England, where he met his future wife, May, who work alongside General Curtis LeMay.

Gat Caperton is named for his father Gaston Caperton, two time governor of the state of West Virginia. The unusual last name traces its origins back to Lincolnshire, England and before that to the bailiwick of Caux in Normandy, France. It is said that the Caperton family was descended from Le Cappere of Ayncourt (Aincourt), and was granted lands by William the Conqueror, their liege Lord, for their prowess at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

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Summer is Past

Labor Day is past, the rain is falling today, all day, and the cat has decided to stay inside and sulk. Summer is officially over. It is time to get out the scrap book, update the photographs, and take stock of the experiences and memories we enjoyed this summer.

Summer is past, or is it?

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Was it real? I ask.

Can I hope to hold on to that perfect moment in a world that never stops? Can I save it with a photograph or a work of art?

Is memory more real than reality?

To Plato’s statement by way of Socrates that Art can never truly represent Reality, I say:

“Phooey!”

Our world, as we experience it, is many things. Uncertain in what he sees, Socrates calls these “a collection of mere appearances like reflections in a mirror and shadows on a wall,” but our experience, and our reality, is more than that, it is not mere sight, but the sense of the thing, the sum of all our experiences, the laughter, the tears, the trips and vacations spots with family and friends, the diaries, and postcards, and pictures, and yes, art.

Life is the sum total of our memories

Consider, there are countless chairs in the world. There is the cradle that keeps the infant safe, the rocking chair for the child at play, and the royal throne for the king, who uneasy wears his crown.

But the perfect chair is the one we were sitting in when a special moment took place.

tiki with 5 chairs, vintage art, red horse signs
Tiki with 5 chairs, vintage art, red horse signs

Get your perfect chair at Robyns Lake House down by the Tiki Hut

Tiki Hut

What do philosophers know of life? Plato’s Republic in PDF format