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Solstice Dinner and Drinks on the Town. . .

The Grand Duchess and I took each other out (sans child) for a lovely, quiet dinner, dessert and some additional wine afterwards at a couple of East Lansing venues yesterday evening.  The students are all away now for Christmas Break by this point, so it was serene, adult, and extremely pleasant.  

Following a quick stop at the supermarket for a few items on the way home, we were back at the house and enjoying a fire in the library by 10:30pm.  Young Master, cats, and house all present and correct, safe, and sound.



The attire pictured includes my go to J. Press tweed jacket, a vintage Land's End bow tie, and an equally vintage double-breasted overcoat by Polo.  The shirt and cords too are Land's End, loafers by Allen Edmonds, and the braided leather belt from L.L. Bean.  All things that have been in the fall-winter-early spring rotation for five years or more.  In some cases, closer to 20.

And, of course, the schoolboy scarf, which has appeared here before, was a Christmas gift in the early 90s from my late mother.  It is a favorite item during the colder months. 

Ol' Mom gave it to me to replace another similar scarf that was eaten by African Drum moths that made the journey from the United Kingdom in a moving container that brought Mom and Stepdad's belongings to the U.S. from Southampton in very early January 1990.  

The moths later made short work of several genuine Central Asian carpets that former KGB agents helped my stepfather smuggle out of Russia at the end of a three-month stay in 1995 or '96.  He led a number of summer seminars in Moscow, U.N. and EU things,  back when it looked like Russia was changing for the better in those heady years immediately following the demise of the Soviet Union. 

Ultimately, Mom had to have their house in Pittsburgh bug bombed to kill the moths.  It was a sore point for quite a few years since the African drums from which the moths sprang were a last minute boot sale (flea market) purchase by my step-father just before the movers packed up their place in Southampton in November '89 for the move to Pitt.  But those are family stories for another time! 

For now, just ignore the aging face atop an otherwise pleasant combination of items.



Most exciting, I received news today that the new pair of Madshus Redline 3.0 Cold Classic cross-country skis, ordered last February, have finally arrived!  I'll pick them up and try 'em out next month when we escape for a long skiing weekend "up north" to the Roscommon-Grayling area in the snowbelt of Lower Michigan.   

I learned to ski on a pair of Madshus skis more than 20 years ago -- when living outside Trondheim, Norway, during a particularly snowy winter at that elevation -- and you can't beat them in my view.  I still use that pair, and they will become my rock skis for less than ideal conditions.

Fischer and Atomic skis are great, and I've used those too, but there is nothing quite like a winter's day out on the trails atop a pair of Norwegian-made skis.  As I mentioned recently to a skiing friend and colleague (who is from Northern Michigan), if only I could ski four or five days a week for half the year, even if just for 90 minutes at a time, life would be pretty close to perfect.

As I remarked to my wife one evening by the fire last winter, "I just want to ski."

-- Heinz-Ulrich




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