Yours truly, beating the heat in my standard summertime uniform, during July 2008 as I checked on a couple of pork shoulders for some of that North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ that I whip up from time to time. A 6' high privacy fence now surrounds our backyard, a 2010 addition after two summers with our overly familiar (and clueless) nextdoor neighbors. Time now though for a scotch&water I think. Or maybe a gin&tonic?
Summer is in full swing here in our little corner of the American Midwest as it no doubt is for many of you in the Northern Hemisphere. July has been delightfully unusual so far this year. With the exception a day or two here and there, when the AC became necessary at night, it has been unseasonably cool and green, something that is not typical for this time of the year in the midst of Central Illinois. Usually by this time, it is hot, dry, and the grass is a uniform brown most places. Hopefully, August and September will continue in a similar temperate and comfortable vein. Cross your fingers and toes!
I am listening online this afternoon to Norwegian State Broadcasting (NRK), Program 1 out of Bergen on the west coast of Norway, a place where I spent a lot of time in a previous life about 15-20 years ago. The program features a pleasing mix of chat and a wide array of music from the last 40-odd years along with an announcer who speaks with a delightful Bergen accent. Playing at the moment is There She Goes from 1987 by The La's.
The song always reminds me of my wife since I used to hear it quite a bit on the radio during the winter and spring of 2000-2001 when the Grand Duchess and I began dating while in grad school at the University of Minnesota although neither of us realized just then that we were becoming a couple. It was all still pretty innocent movie festivals and coffee afterwards along with occasional late-night telephone calls during the week about non-romantic, work-related stuff. Or so it seemed at the time. And I've never really worked out which of us pursued the other though I suppose it hardly maters now. Funny how life works and good things sneak up on you when you least realize it.
Anyway, I'm still plugging away at the current group of five wagons for the supply and pontoon train that is taking shape for my mid-18th century fictitious armies, based loosely on the Prussian and Austrian armies of the same period. You can read all about my übergeek model soldier hobby of longstanding by visiting the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog. I finally decided some several years ago to wear my dweeb badge loudly and proudly. Hello, my name is Heinz-Ulrich, and I paint 30mm metal soldiers for a hobby!
The autumn semester begins again in about four weeks (sigh), and I received one of those emails yesterday morning, inviting me to a day-long professional development seminar on August 11th. You know the kind. How dare they encroach on our summer. Attendance is not mandatory you understand, but I feel like I ought to be there since it has been two years since I last did so. Guilt is a wonderful thing, and the powers that be know it. Just when it really began to feel like summer too. Well, at least it will be time to dress up for campus appearances and teaching again soon, so there is that one small plus I suppose. I've got a number of new items ready and waiting for the late summer and cooler fall months.
On the clothing and classic style front, the main point of this blog after all, not much to report. It's summer, so I've worn a steady diet of khaki shorts, madras and/or knit polo golf shirts with leather deck shoes most days. However, there is a four-season wool, navy pinstripe, single-breasted canvased suit by Southwick on the way that I picked up for a song (less than US$10 if you can believe it) via Ebay recently. After the usual minor alterations and dry-cleaning, it will replace a similar Jos. A. Bank suit, which has been part of my wardrobe for seven or eight years, but I've never been completely happy with the fit of the coat. Especially the overly large, boxy shoulders, one of several common complaints about Jos. A. Bank suits of more recent vintage. You know, since they started manufacturing their suits in sweatshops outside the United States back in the 1980s or 90s. Maybe it was earlier than that?
Otherwise, my thrifting habit continues but at a slower pace since my closet and dresser drawers are absolutely crammed full of stuff. I nevertheless stumbled on four like-new Kenneth Roberts silk foulard neckties a couple of weeks ago in my local thrift/charity shop, all made and finished by hand in Italy. The prices were so good that I picked up all four: one in wine, navy, yellow, and one in tan. I can wear 'em when the semester starts next month.
Summer vacation is a time for reading, and I've managed to get through a couple of detective thrillers during the last few weeks, for example Field of Prey by John Sandford and before that Breakdown by Sara Paretsky. Next up is one of the Harry Hole thrillers by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø. The title escapes me at the moment. I've also been working slowly through The Powers of Horror by Julia Kristeva, a somewhat less fluffy bit of feminist nonfiction that deals with the concept of abjection.
While terribly interesting reading, Kristeva's work is not necessarily something you breeze through in just a few nights before you drift off into dreamland. Not unless you want to have violent, disturbing dreams that is. And then there has been the fascinating book on the Art Deco movement, given to my by the Grand Duchess for our anniversary at the end of last month, which is really a collection of essays on the architecture, interior style, furniture, and clothing fashions of the 1920s and 30s. And of course, we've been working our way through the Midsommer Murders series via Netflix streaming, so it has been kind of busy around here since the spring semester ended at the very start of May.
Ahhhh. . . You hear that? The house is still at almost 4pm in the afternoon, the Young Master is having his daily Quiet Time, and the inside temperature with the windows open is ideal for an afternoon nap, so. . . That is where yours truly is headed next. A supper of fresh tomato sandwiches (courtesy of the Grand Duchess and her vegetable garden) along with fresh sweetcorn off the cob and iced tea, sweetened with sugar and flavored with fresh mint from the garden, will follow. After the Young Master's bedtime, it's back down here to Zum Stollenkeller for 90 minutes of hobby indulgence before a game of Scrabble or Yahtzee with the Grand Duchess afterwards. School might start in less than a month, but for the time being, it's still summertime!